Disabled Girls Who Lift

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E04: Chasing Gains & Finding Yourself ft. Christy Milan

November 25th 2019

On episode four, DGWL welcomes their first guest, Christy Milan. Christy is a strong mom and powerlifter out of Miami, Florida. Christy shares her experience after being diagnosed with Juvenile Rhe... More

this is disabled girls who lift, we are reclaiming what's rightfully ours one podcast at a time, it's mary Beth Chloe and Marcia bringing you the thoughts and unpopular topics to get you out of that? A bliss comfort zone. Yeah, episode four disabled girls who lift, are you ready on this episode? We have our very first guest, she's from Miami like me and we're talking about chasing gains chronic illness, finding yourself being a mom, all the serious heavy ship, but we're going to have a good time again. My name is Marsha, I'm coming in from south florida, I'm Chloe, I'm from Iowa, hey, it's mary beth from California. We are so, so excited to bring on our first ever guest on the disabled girls who lift podcast. Her name is Christie Milan on instagram at Christie Pickles Milan coming from Miami over with Marcia, she's, she's a badass um in powerlifting, other strength training, she's also a mother who um is a chronic illness warrior herself, so welcome, thank you so much ladies for having me.

Hey everyone, uh this is my first time ever doing a podcast, so I'm really, really excited, so definitely happy to have you on and I think we could probably just start with our listeners just, I mean everybody, it kind of starts in the same place, right, like what the am I doing and who am I? So when do you, when do you kind of define that moment when you have a chronic illness because you don't wake up with it right? Like mary Beth and Chloe have their have their issues, right? And you kind of live with it and however your childhood win, whatever, whatever. When you have a chronic illness, you're like, oh, I think I'm fine, and then you're not right. Right, right. Is that for you? So, for me, um I didn't actually find out, I wasn't diagnosed with rheumatoid until I was, sorry. So I have rheumatoid arthritis. Um to clarify that I was diagnosed when I was 22, um I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which means that I was actually born with it. Um I just, I didn't have enough symptoms and enough complications until I was 22 to really have a doctor look at me and say, oh my God, yes, this is rheumatoid arthritis, and if you were dealing with these problems your whole life then you were definitely born with it.

Um I was born in 84. So my guess is that there wasn't enough information and research done on juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the time, that it just wasn't common enough of a thing for any pediatrician to look at me and say, you know, I think this child might be at risk of having our a but by the time I was like age three I had developed some deformities and my fingers and my toes. Um and then by age nine I had severely flat feet, collapsed knees. I had a lot of pain when walking. Um I just at that point wasn't a very active child, had no interest in being active? Um It was just hard for me, I was constantly really tired, Just no motivation to live an active normal life, like other kids were um In the summer of 94 I had reconstructive arch surgery on both of my feet um with a bone graft from the hip, so that took up a whole summer. Um I was very young, that's a very serious procedure to have done at such a young age.

Um the surgeon at that time said that I wouldn't, you know, be very active after that, that it was kind of going to limit my future of playing sports, any possibility of playing sports. Um and of wearing heels as an adult. I remember that, like, it was yesterday, I remember that really sticking out in my mind as a nine year old, like, oh no, grown ups too, I can't be a grown up, right? Um So I don't know if that statement and telling me, you know, like you're not gonna be able to do these things was like the motivating factor to work really hard and try to live a normal life, but I went on to play sports, like not, well, I was never really athletic. Um you know, I played on teams, but I was never like a star player, I always felt like I held the team back because I just wasn't really talented in athletics? Um But you definitely did try. Absolutely. And when you were younger before you were diagnosed, were you just not interested in sports? Were you interested more in music or was it because of like, all of these?

Um Yeah, exactly, and the joint pain, all of that stuff, like, did you Limit yourself at 1st? Yeah. As a child? I mean, I when you're that age, you're not like my joints hurt, it's just like I hurt, you know, I don't know, you know what joints were? Um I just knew that something I didn't really know, you know, I really couldn't identify with what it was, I just didn't understand what was going on, so I didn't have the motivation to like try anymore. Then I found um dance, I I dance for most of my life When I was younger. And then um I just became obsessed with it in high school uh in college and I kind of like left sports behind. Um so I continued to dance into college, and then when I was 22, when I started to have a lot of health complications, um I'm sorry, from like 19 to 22, I was in and out of rheumatologists office and with my primary um doing blood tests, all the tests came back negative, like nothing was wrong. Um until like my knee swelled up one day to the size of a grapefruit and I went and I had it um a bunch of synovial fluid drained and that was when a rheumatologist just clinically diagnosed me and said this is rheumatoid arthritis.

This is why you had surgery when you were nine um to try to fix your feet back then there, you know, it was so uncommon that it's just a doctor wouldn't look at you in a child and say that. Um So, right, so then, you know, a lot of things looking back on my childhood started to make sense. So it's not that I there were a lot of factors going into me, like um leaving kind of giving up on sports and pursuing dance. Um It was, you know, it wasn't easy to try and like suck at sports and be around people that were good and feel like you're like holding them back. Um you know, there was like bullying involved when I was a child because people didn't know and um but you could just tell that there was something like physically wrong. I walked, I walked like a duck as a child and I just, I hated running. I didn't want to do it because people would make fun of me constantly. So that was, you know, that was a factor that played into just not feeling welcomed in, like, an athletic environment. I just didn't like feel like I fit into that world.

Um So I pursued dance. Yeah, you found it through dance. What, what type of dance was it? I did everything. I mean, I even went on to do, like, point as a ballerina. Which, yeah. Which my orthopedic surgeon would have, you know, never imagined. I'm sure I didn't do it for a long time because it was really painful. But just to be able to say like, you know, I did that. Um I did tap dancing. I really loved hip hop. I was um my last I was actually in in college to pursue a degree in dance education and kinesiology. Um until those health complications in my, in my early 20's started up again. Um I was dancing on the dance team at IU there called the Golden Dazzlers. Um and I was on a lot of predniSONE, just test doing a lot of tests with doctors, unable to figure out what was going on. Um I gained a lot of weight from the predniSONE because I was cycling on and off um for about two years. So I probably put on like £20 of bloating weight and that was really frowned upon by my dance coach who was a former Miami dolphins cheerleading captain.

You know, the weight yeah, so the weight gain, you know, caused some challenges for me on the team. My coach literally pulled me aside and was like, it's really sad that you've gained this much weight, you know, from 19 to 20 years old. Yeah, those were like her, her words were like, it's sad that you look like this in your 20. Um so she put me on weight probation. I wasn't allowed to. Yeah. Yeah. I I couldn't dress out in the uniform because I was apparently like too heavy for it. I didn't look good in it. I just I had I had become the aesthetic that they didn't want, you know? So like, that was dance was my world. It was what I wanted to do for the, you know, better part of my life as a career. So it was like, my world came crumbling down. Um and then after that, shortly after that, like, the next year is when I was diagnosed with our a so, you know, things are starting to make more sense, but also it was like, I felt like my world had just ended because I'm like, what am I going to do with my life now?

You know, I didn't want to be anything but a dance teacher and choreographer. Um Sorry, So did your dance, do your dance coach know about you being on the medications or was that just kind of something you took? You kept to yourself? No, I kept it to myself because I I was also working. So my doctor at the time didn't really um warned me about the side effects of the weight gain, I guess, at that kind of, at that age, a doctor doesn't want to, I guess scare you into like not taking the medication. So I was taking it and I didn't really understand that, that was a side effect and I didn't, I had never seen a problem with my wait until she said that to me, so I was like, wait, I'm fat, what? You know? So then, yeah, I developed like, um really serious, like body image issues and um a lot of that time in my life, you know, for like the next 78 years, I engaged in a lot of like, self sabotaging behaviors as a result of like the denial I was in and the shame, you know, that comes along with a diagnosis like that.

Um even though it's totally something against my control, um It's not going away, I have to deal with it, but it took about 7, 8 years uh before I actually started to adopt healthier lifestyle habits um and started to take charge of things that I know could help treat at least relieve symptoms make me feel better, makes me feel stronger. Um You know, but there was a lot, there was a period there of like some really, really dark days where I didn't do anything about dealing with my chronic illness just pretended like it didn't exist. You have to, you have to unpack a lot. I mean like from start to finish your, the awkward kid and then you go to, okay, dance is my life okay, Dance is no longer my life. Oh, I have what now? Oh, oh, so now I'm fat. Okay, but it does really suck because not all dances like that, like there are so many dance genres or dance companies that are more positive in body image, you know, modern ballet?

No 100 days too skinny. I mean you're too fat, you're too short, you have to be tall and skinny. That's right. Like hip hop, I'm sure you found a little bit of that. Absolutely. And like nowadays that was more of what I was into like hip hop and street dancing. And then like um as I grew like older um like burlesque style dancing um has a history of very curvy, voluptuous women. So like yeah, those were the styles that I started to gravitate more towards, but I didn't pursue it as like a career type things because um you know, it was like someone told me that I wasn't good enough for what I wanted to do and I believed it, I believed it and that sucks that I, you know, was so torn down by that. But I let like one person's opinion um you know, take that away from me. It's really not just that one person's opinion though, because you have to start from, you know, you went from how many people saying you're not gonna be able to do this and you went from kids saying like, well, hey, by the way, you suck.

So like, you know that just like pounds on and pounds on and you kind of like, stuff it down, you don't unpack, you don't deal with it until finally, someone just hits you with the hardest one. You're like, well, funk, I don't know now what Yeah. And that's before even like recognizing that you had a chronic illness that's people not understanding just the little, you know, the little side effects that came from it now. Imagine what it would be like if you were to finally tell them. Well, like I have this, I have that, um, some symptoms are, are bloating, like I on top of the feet and the joints, like as a child, like having to explain that, like, I wonder like, would that have been easier? Would they have understood back in those days or not at all? But they have just don't even know, I couldn't tell you because that particular team, they were so driven on, like an aesthetic, you know, had a certain way.

I doubt it too. You know, I mean, I doubt it right right in that culture. No, no. Um, so, you know, in a way, like, I'm, that was a blessing that I was able to uh, just rid myself of that kind of culture because now the kinds of activities I want to get involved in and the people I want to be around are not that I know that, you know, I don't want to be around people where, you know, you have to look a certain way to be accepted. Um So it's kind of like where I'm at now I'm trying to like find myself like where do I stand now with all this experience um of not knowing what was wrong but knowing something was wrong and then finding out and like making all this sense out of it like and then having 78 years of my life where I just completely put everything my health, my goals on the back burner because I I just didn't know how to deal with it, you know? And so the barbell sports like how did you, how did you find that?

Was that in in high school? Was that later on in life or you just went to the gym one day and you're like, I want to do that the biggest, a big challenge for you. So um Barbell sports, I had my first experience with the barbell actually when I was in middle school. Um My stepfather is a football coach. Yeah, my stepdad is a football coach. Um And he also used to teach weight training strength um bigger, faster, stronger was like a big program back in the day for football athletes. And so um alright I was not interested in football ever, but weight training was was appealing to me, he used to take me to the gym one summer in seventh grade and he taught me how to squat on the smith machine. Um uh And you know. Yeah and right, and You know, after that I didn't really pursue it because at the time, um girls, I was in middle school, I was like 13, yeah, 13 girls were not in the weight rooms.

Um so it just wasn't socially acceptable, like uh sport to pick up for myself, so I just did that with him that one summer and then I didn't pick up a barbell again until Uh 2016, I was living in Chicago, I just picked up like commercial gym membership. Um I was starting to eat better. I had finally found a medication um that I was treating my rheumatoid arthritis with, which is an injectable called Edinburgh, that completely changed my life, I was just adopting better lifestyle changes um to kind of take me in that direction, to be healthier. And I had some friends that were working out like at a different kind of gym, it was like, looks like a dungeon and like a warehouse of or like a basement of like this whatever in Chicago, but they were like squatting and using like chains, and it just looked really hard for, and I was like, whoa, um just a little music playing in your head when you think about, it was literally like what they were listening to, and I was just like, I just, it appealed to me because I had nothing going on in my life but working as a bartender in bars and sleeping like, that's literally all I did for those 78 years.

So, you know, you can imagine like the lifestyle that that is, it's being in bars all the time, seeing my friends partying drinking like um that got old, you know, as you get older, that ship gets old, and I was just feeling like I I needed to do something else with my life. Um So that was really interesting to me, I hit up one of my friends um who was a personal trainer at Rockwell Barbell, which was the gym um in Chicago that I started, yeah, that I started training and power lifting at um and I don't know, after my first session, my first session I squatted Maybe like £95, you know? But it was my first time squatting with like, a freestanding rack And, you know, I did like three sets of 10 reps, and I It was just like, man, that's £95, like, I didn't I didn't know looking at the weights, like, how much it was, he didn't tell me until after. Um So I felt really good about that, I was like, I never I don't know, I've never had £95 on my back, like, first of all though, I love that, like, you weren't intimidated by all of that, like, I'm and I'm pretty sure that jim that you went into didn't have very many women women just like, in middle school, or they probably did, but like, seeing the chains and all the bars around.

Yeah, I'm sorry. So let me go. So after middle school, I didn't pursue any more like weight training um the, when I joined Rocco Barbara, this was like 2,016, 3 years ago. So um that was where like all the trainers were in the gym with like, like power. That was the first time I've seen power lifting with like chains and like that many plates on a bar. I was like, what are these guys doing? Like, they're gonna hurt themselves. So I was just interested in that kind of kind of yeah, at my own pace, you know, I knew realistically that I probably would not like to like reach a goal like that, you know? But I I knew that I had squatted before in a smith machine and I really enjoyed it and I didn't hurt myself, so I was like, let me see what I can do with this, but I can relate to what you were saying about middle school in the weight room because I I used to play sports, I did soccer, you know, like the football and all of that, and I mean, the football team got to go to the weight room as a class, like, that was a class in the middle of the day, he lifted weights, nobody ever said, oh girls soccer should be in the, you know how fucking amazing I would have been if I was squatting like, but no, the girls basketball, soccer, we weren't even allowed in, there was not a thought in anyone's mind whatsoever.

No, no, not at all. So when you kind of come from that where you just like, even as a kid, you're like, oh yeah, you can play sports, but I know this room, this room is not for you. Right. Right, right. So I can relate to that feeling. Yeah, it helped that I had known like a couple of the guys at the gym for awhile awhile and I was just comfortable because of the people that were there really and you know, that's why I really, I am a firm believer that like the people you surround yourself with and your environment is really, really imperative to like your, you know, your success in dealing with chronic illness because the people around you have a big impact on your mental health and they should be a good impact. And I feel like a lot of people that go into power lifting that are women go through that exact same mindset like because I discovered it in college, but our weight room up to this day, like it's still intimidating to women. But back in back in when was that 2009, 100% like bros 100% guys just like not even not talking to each other just breathing and like, like, like, like this weird grunting and heavy breathing, that's all that like the girls talked about like, yeah, I don't, I don't ever want to go in there and everything outside of that.

We're pools, ellipticals or whatever. So that's all, that's the the women did unless they were in a sport that required strength training until like, until one of those bros are one of those like guy friends like brings you along to show you how to squat. So I also did start on the smith machine. There's no like um raw genuine movement from that. No. Ah well also like missing a hand. I was like, no, there's no way that I could actually use a barbell um in a squat rack, like it'll fall off. Like something's going to happen on the smith machine was just so like comforting to me until I realized like this isn't the proper movement. Yeah, but definitely that that huge gain in self esteem that you can squat £95. Yeah, it's a huge different. But I was um I don't know if we talked about Chloe, how did you find your gym or get into your gym because it seems like most of us have pretty similar stories.

Like you knew someone that was there and you kind of got eased into it and then you're like, all right, this is some shit, I'm cool here. Um It was, I was about to, I knew I was gonna no longer have access to our community college gym, that's where I was lifting. I didn't really know what I was doing. I would just go in and kind of lift, play around with the barbells. Um So I found the anvil jim on like a google search one night and I was like, okay, so I called the owner and I ended up having to do like a phone interview because he doesn't let just anyone come in. What? Yeah, well, it's, it's a very little specific, yeah, So um I guess I passed the phone interview, I was welcome to come in. Um that was back in like August or September 2013, So that's how I started power lifting in the original, like, originally I just wanted to lift and get bigger.

But um the owner of the anvil jim can at that time, he had said, well you're actually kind of strong, like you should consider um competing and I was like, oh God, no, I could never. But yeah, eventually he convinced me to compete and but yeah, here we are, six years later. So yeah, I love that you said Chloe that you just like went into, went into like the general fitness gym and just started playing around with bars, like, people don't just do that. People don't do that. I wish I had videos because it was like, it was like, well, I'm sorry, what was that? What helped you decide? Like, hey, I want to try and squat. Um I wanna, I don't remember the exact moment, but I want to say this was around when like I was using social media more.

Um I was, I was running at that time. I hated running and I started seeing pictures of Crossfit women and I was like, that's what I want to look like, how he looks like that. And I learned that they were lifting with barbells dumbbells, so I was like, okay, I'm going to start doing that. Yeah, that's awesome. Um I think it's, I don't think I even started as like bare bones as you because you just went in because I still, I still like, I still had a safety net, you know, I was with my husband boyfriend at the time and like my best friend and they're both men. So I have like my little like insulation, Like I didn't go by myself. Oh yeah, I was by myself. I guess that is kind of weird looking on it, but I don't know what that means. I'm glad you did it. Good for you. It's possible. It will be okay. Yeah. Well since we heard the baby crying, let's talk. What's that baby that baby that is? Oh yeah, my um yes, sorry about that.

I'm in a room locked up and I guess she knows she's found out that I'm in here. That's my daughter Mia, um she'll be two in december december 12th. She'll be too um So that is another recent development in my life that is very very challenging to take on. But it is honestly the best thing I've ever done in my life. She's the best, she's really awesome. That is awesome. And were you able to because you were lifting before you had her? Yeah so um 2016 was when I discovered power lifting in Chicago at Rockwell. Barbell really got into it. I was also not training with the intention of competing because I never wanted to bench press, I was like nope that I'm not doing I don't want to do it. Um I I only wanted to squat and dead lift. Um So I was doing that and then I got pregnant in 2017 and I had started learning how to bench um Yeah. Yeah so it got to a point where once I couldn't lay flat I had to stop benching.

Um So I I continued to power lift throughout my pregnancy up until I was eight months pregnant. Um Not with a coach just on my own, so I didn't do anything crazy, I didn't try to like hit any prs or anything, I just wanted to um I just wanted to move and and feel like not lazy and fat. Um so I was doing you know just like high volume work still just like £95 but it was pretty funny being like eight months pregnant at a gym in boca and having like you know, men walk up like are you like do you need any help? Are you okay? Like you're good? Okay like um it was cool. That was a good feeling. My Obi actually told me during my pregnancy that my hormones pregnancy hormones might even clear up the R. A. And miraculously it did, I felt really really good my whole pregnancy. Um Which I'm not sure if that is for everyone, if that happens, it's the more common, the more common thing is that when you have an autoimmune or that sort of issue during your pregnancy, you're usually you feel way better but then after the pregnancy crash again.

Yeah so I was able to get off my medication, I was still lifting up until you know I gave birth, I took off, I took off a year. So yeah I didn't take up Power lifting again until last year in December 2018, hired a coach. Um Trevor Jaffe is my coach. Um so I've worked with him. Yeah, I wasn't ready until like one year postpartum like building up even the core strength to put a barbell on my bad, I mean it's crazy what pregnancy does to your body like I uh just after even walking I just felt like oh my God I don't even know how to explain it, like a noodle walking, like my core strength was just, I was so wobbly, it was literally spread apart and then got put back together again. Yes, right, right, so I took the first year more of like a postpartum fitness approach um just to like lose weight um and build up core strength, Really took my time um and then hired a coach in 2018, I didn't, again, I had no intentions of competing Um but like four weeks into my training um I just kind of, I just kind of changed my mind and I was like, you know what, fuck it, I wanna do, I wanna do a competition next year and I want to go back to Chicago and do it where I started power lifting, it was the Rockwell Barbell midwest challenge that, that jim was putting on, you know, I want to see my friends and I want them to see me as like this new person, I just becoming a mother, I was almost like, I feel like I gained like this superpower and um the pregnancy was a surprise um she wasn't planned, you know, so this was, I wasn't ready to be a mom, but I, you know, I had to prepare myself and get ready um so I felt like if I could, you know, overcome something like that and not only like, get through it, but also like be a badass mom, you know, like why, why can't I train as an athlete and do a competition?

Um so that like becoming a mother kind of like changed my mindset and like, like my ability to just like take on challenges and and do really well at them. So um what is to stop and applaud you because like, like literally literally just like we're like so in uh desensitized to, to like women, women's pregnancy throughout a nine month period and then postpartum and the postpartum depression that comes along that, but like you're being able to balance not just um post pregnancy but babies, I mean taking care of your child um and on top of like getting back into strength training all at once with your chronic illness with rheumatoid arthritis, you you like found your your world, you found your priority, which is your child and you didn't drop any of your hobbies, you know?

Yeah, yeah, that was really important to me because um getting pregnant and having to give up, you know, a past lifestyle and you know, I was traveling for work at the time as a bartender, working like music festivals all over the country. Um I needed something to identify with that I wanted to do um because I had to reinvent myself, you know, as a mother. Um so the programming and the strength training for me. Um it was also really nice shift in the mindset of like, well I'm training as an athlete now, so rather than, you know eating well, um you know, training and trying to make myself stronger, my recovery, my rest, my physical therapy, my mobility, like rather than doing all those things as a response to feeling like my body hated me now I'm doing these things because I want to love my body and I want to make it last.

Um and for my daughter, I want to show my daughter high we can see you now clearly has appeared has appeared I'm embarrassed to tell you guys that I realized I didn't turn the webcam one so well done. Um So yeah, so now, um, another thing about becoming a mother and training myself as an athlete and to live, you know, and adopt habits as an athlete does. Um it helps me to view this intense health regimen as something that I do because I I love my body, you know, I've spent so many years hating myself and hating my body hating parts of my body that, you know, I'm done thinking that way I'm going to make the best of what I've got. And, you know, there are parts of my body that I hate. Yes, but there are parts of my body that I absolutely love And like, thanks to power lifting two and um like living in that context allows me like to choose those strategies and it's really like, it's really been, it's really brought my mind a lot of peace in dealing with chronic illness, but how many people could even say like I know that I've grown up with my mom hating her body, diet, culture.

She's always trying something new ship. She always wants bigger boobs, she always wanted to be smaller. Like can you imagine what my life would be like if I grew up with a mom that's like I'm a boss as bitch And you can be 12 like that. Yeah, Mia is a lucky child. Yeah, you're you and you're lucky. What was it? What did they call you? Lucky I forgot. Wait mine. Yeah my lucky fin. Oh they called it monkey monkey was talking about her baby Mia, she's a lucky daughter not talking. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah and that that means a lot to me because real life inspiration it is and it's like when your when your child is. So yeah, I've also been a stay at home mom for the two years um and working on the weekends when she's away with her dad. So I mean it's really at first being a mother is kind of like it doesn't feel that rewarding because your child can't communicate to you in the ways that you're impacting their lives, you know? But now that she's getting older um you know I take her out to her little she's got a gym membership at a baby gym.

Oh yeah, yeah, it's called Gymboree, she's been there for a year um and yeah she does really well, they're the teachers love her and like people, I got a lot of comments on her like how you know some people are like wow, like your child wow, she's intense, you know? But some people are like she's strong, she's bold, she's fearless and it's like yeah motherhood is intense but like man, but to hear that about my child, like I wasn't, I didn't feel like I was those things when I was a child, you know, so like even just that and itself is really rewarding to see that like the I'm able to pass down those ideas of strength and confidence to her even though like I'm still working on building strength and confidence in myself, you know? And although she's not, you know vocal about how much she like looks up to you right now, I promise you that you know come 15, 16, 17, she will, she will start that because like I grew up with a single mother um I think I was five when my parents divorced and the ship that I saw her go through, I never talked about, like I kind of like hugged her when she cried about all the guys that she was dating, you know after um after the divorce and I like I just sat there and and um I tried to You know be there with her while we like moved around to different houses and um I understood that she worked three jobs for me but I never said like thank you for working three jobs mom, but but like she is my biggest inspiration and she doesn't know that like I try and tell her as a 27 year old um every day like how how much she fought for us and and for the family that she's built now too.

Um And she wasn't a power lifter like what she did all the other ship but not like you know like everything that you you've upheld since then um with and while living with rheumatoid arthritis is just looking awesome. Thank you. Thank you. That's so sweet. And so what are you, so what are you doing now? That's crazy that you're like a traveling bartender but um you've made some career changes. Yeah. So right now, you know at the beginning of this year like I I was just so unsure about what I wanted to do. I know I knew I didn't want to stay like bartending and having to work long nights, you know late late nights um And you know 12 15 hour shifts on the weekends so that I could be with my daughter during the week. Um So I actually I'm waiting for a gym to open down here called Miami Strong, I'm gonna be working there full time. Um And I'm actually studying to certify as a personal trainer.

Um So that is like a big step for me because I I don't I don't have a lifelong background in athletics or in strength. Like this is something that's still really new to me, but I think that in the time that I've had um I've learned enough that I can help people like myself um that just want to adopt um different habits to just take steps slowly um to like achieving success in managing a chronic kill me a lot goes into it, but you know, I've learned a lot about managing the american healthcare system, um navigating the healthcare system and health insurance. I learned a lot about pain management, I learned a lot about nutrition and exercise um as you know, a supplement as a form of medicine. Um I I want, I just want to pass along the information and like the experiences that I've had um and if it impacts even one person to like feel some kind of like freedom in their bodies um then for me, like that is a really like purpose filled life, I I'm just looking for a bigger purpose and how I can like put like this energy that I've put into myself and healing myself, I just want to put that energy back into the world to help other people.

Um My goal is not to be like a power lifting coach at all, power lifting is just kind of like my thing that I want to do for myself. Um but I am um looking into more like mobility training and functional functional fitness to help people just like kind of, you know, that deal with chronic pain just to live their best lives daily and get through, get through a day, you know, like if somebody just wants to be able to like bend down and tie their shoes comfortably, like and I can help, you know, facilitate that like that, that would mean a lot to me. Um I'm looking into a poorly trained to be a Pilates instructor with my yeah, with my background and dance. Um I used to do a lot of Pilates, it was something that came like naturally for me um and you'd be pretty surprised at how much strength you can develop in Pilates and it's a lot of like body awareness and control. Um So I feel like going that route to help people that manage chronic pain and chronic illness is a little more, it's less intimidating than me pursuing like trying to coach somebody in power lifting.

I'm still so new to it that I need a coach still, you know, um but the thing that has a Pilates or that's separate, Sorry, what was that? The gym, the gym that you're, that you're going to work at has a like a reformer and all that stuff or you have to go somewhere else, you know, they are going, they have plans to build out a Pilates room. Yeah, I kind of just have my sights like set on on that and I've I've told them that that that's my plan for next year, I'm going to work on a continued education and Pilates. And so they're like, well when you're certified, let's talk what a lot of people don't realize too is our coaches are personal trainers, they are life coaches. Like a lot of the times people come and hire personal trainers because they want to do like a major weight loss or um life change or um they saw somebody lifting a barbell and they want to do the same thing and get get stronger. Um but like a lot of that comes with like life shit going on, say you can't come into the gym 3 to 5 times a week anymore.

You have to break it down at two or three days a week because of um childcare because of um you know, hospital visits, whatever it is that we need to do. And those coaches, those personal trainers have to understand that and say like, hey, I went through that, I'm still going through that and you're spreading awareness and educating, you know, your your future clients already, I can tell you will be, yeah, that's why it's so important that the people out there in the fitness world aren't just, you know like your f. I. U. Dancing and structure, Everybody should be tiny and cute and like, you know, like that's not what we're here for. We're training because we just want to be healthy and strong and healthy and strong. It looks different. Exactly, Exactly. That's the big thing. We need, we need more personal changes with chronic illnesses. We need more with curves, you know, we need more from different backgrounds and all of that because that's, that's the only way that we will show people that like, you deserve to be here.

Exactly. You don't feel like you deserve to be here because they don't see themselves, right? Yeah. The representation is really important and that's why I like moving forward in this like career change. I'm just trying to find my people and help people like me, um deal with this stuff. It's and even if they don't have are a, like, someone could be suffering from anxiety and depression, someone could be suffering from um, fat phobia still or uh, you know, just everything that comes along with it or um what is it? Bulimia and anorexia? You know, disorders and all that. There's definitely a lot going on and I definitely do see that there's some changes. I mean when you, if you find yourself in the right circles online, you could find, you know, you know, inspiring people and people that look like you, you know, like we exist now, disabled girls who lift is a thing, but like, you know, when I leave my house today and I go to my gym, like you guys aren't there.

So it's like, I am always in your heart, Marsha, Oh my God carry us around everywhere in a little pocket. Yeah, but like that's what are we crying on this episode? Is that what we're doing? Yeah, I don't have any Kleenex now. We're starting to be okay with being, you know, vulnerable and also the fact that that's not mutually exclusive. You could be vulnerable and still be like a badass at the same time. Yeah, yeah, true. I agree with strength and softness, the Ultimate Badass three. I, I just hate the idea that you have to be cold and closed off. Can you see me? Yeah, I can see, you know, I haven't been able to see anyone except myself. So um I hate the idea that you have to be cold and closed off and with your emotions and vulnerability in order to be perceived as strong. I feel like um when you are open about your struggles and what you're going through um and how it impacts you, um I feel that there's a lot of strength in addressing those uncomfortable parts of yourself and and you know, coming to terms and saying like God, I'm not perfect, but you know, I'm kind of, I'm here.

Yeah, I'm still like, the first step is addressing is addressing it and like accepting it And what we were talking about was that like some of the generational differences that we've noticed was um and this obviously doesn't happen with all folks over 60 that have a chronic illness, but What I've noticed in my family or friends, family is that um they start seeing themselves as a completely different person from when they were 40, and like they're starting to notice changes in there, they're they're building or how, how they, you know, see their family and they start pushing everyone else away regardless of how much they try to help them. Um and it it creates this barrier, you know, this chronic illness is to blame for this, the change in this person um and not everybody has control over that strength or over that confidence that they can move, that they can move forward with their same hobbies, they can move forward with the family that that they love and it's close to them instead, it's like this, this looming gray cloud that constantly follows them and they just want to die, you know?

Um It's it's really disheartening, but it is, it is, and I hope I get a chance to work in the future um with people that I've reached like that at that point in their lives where they're looking back and just kind of like, resentful on all the years lost. Um you know, I really want to advocate to people that, you know, life, life doesn't stop with an illness and an illness doesn't stop, you know, shouldn't stop you living your life, like I feel like um sick people are some of the strongest, like most positive and hopeful people that I've ever met in my life. Um and I just I want to encourage people to like live with all they've got, you know, it's like this is the time to not play safe and just like risk everything you have on on your goals and your dreams because life doesn't have to stop, it doesn't have to be this big, looming cloud of sadness that follows us and consumes our life.

You know, like when you start to view your life as something beautiful and like find the beautiful parts in life and start to um prioritize the positive outcomes that those things can bring. Like that's when that's when we really start living. Yeah, perception is everything because you're going to have the chronic illness, you're going to have this disability visible or not, whether you're doing something or you're not doing something so you might as well fucking do it, it's going to be there either way, these these God, like, and we have to just reiterate like, these types of conversations are so necessary still because the stigma that we get is disabled folks are disabled Children. Like it's still happening in oh hi leah does Mia want to say hi or she doesn't care about us. She just wants your mom. Yeah, she doesn't care about that, she wants to know what Mommy's doing. Hello guys, our listeners won't be able to see her, but we're going to go on instagram for tons of cuteness.

But yeah, these types of conversations are still having in like birth control. Like if you discover that your child has a chronic illness or has autism, like they decide before, you know, their first trimester that they want to to end their life. You know, um, like these conversations about disability are happening before the disabled child is for and made by and everybody has that, that, um, freedom, You know, everybody has 100% control over their body, but it's just, it's just sad to me. Like sigma starts before you're even board. It does. Yeah. They do some genetic tests. They do those chromosome or whatever. You have a high risk pregnancy and the doctor pulls you aside. So I don't know. And remember I work with, with, with, with sick kids saying I met these parents and these kids, I mean there's levels, some of them walk, some of them don't. Someone talk, some don't, but they all have the same story.

Oh, my doctor told me she'd never laugh or smile. My doctor told me that she had passed away by the time she was one of my doctor told me and this kid doesn't even exist yet. And you already put that negative cloud over them. Like Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That's another thing like, um, with my past experiences as like a child, You know, hearing from my orthopedic that I would not play sports or be an active child, you know, live a normal life. It's like, where's the hope here? Like, So, yeah, I'd also like to advocate to future doctors of the world. Um you know, we're not, our life doesn't end when, when this diagnosis comes, like, give us some hope, you know, I just feel like a lot of people will, a lot of doctors in my past experiences will just like write you a prescription for pain pills and just tell you to get as much rest as you can. It's like, that's it, That's not good enough. No. Right, Well, a lot of the times these doctors are to blame for the um like the high suicide rate that we have in the disabled community or in the chronic illness community because we're told that we just can't move on after this, you know, like, oh, I can't play baseball anymore, I can't I can't do dance anymore because of this new diagnosis.

I feel the same. I've always felt this. So why now? Or what if people have lived with this all their lives? Like Chloe and I have lived with our disabilities for all our lives and um, we can probably go go into this at a later time, but like, I am a survivor of um of suicide, you know, I tried taking my own life in middle school or no, sorry, early high school and this ship is real. Um because we feel as though we don't fit in or all this other ship that comes with it and it starts in Western medicine they're making millions of dollars off of us. Yeah it starts with Western medicine. It starts with you know women aren't women aren't shipped but baby makers and you know like casserole cookers like it starts with all of that all that just gets wrapped up and fed to you and like you come into this world and you're like well what? Okay I guess like now it's like that I love you guys, I love you too.

I know that but oh my god. Yeah no the conversation is important because it's easy to feel like isolated from the rest of the world. Um You know it can be a hard thing to pull yourself out of, it's hard to it's easy to get caught up in like the victim mentality and feeling alone and isolated. It's hard to to reach out to people and say man like I've got this heavy ship that I deal with. It makes me feel like not normal and I just I want to be a normal person and be able to like talk about my struggles like everyone else and overcome them and it's like there's also shame and opening up right and being like feeling like we're asking for pity and it's like it's not pity. This is just like this is such a big part of my life and who I am, it's not who I am, but it is a big part and I, you know, we can't just um try to avoid, yeah, I'm just gonna sweep it under a rug or we can't just shut it off when we're with like others when we're with people who don't experience the same thing, like I'm not going to act like I'm totally fine, I'm comfortable enough in my body to just be able to talk about it and not have you like, pity me.

That's the biggest thing, like you look at me and you feel so bad and I'm like, well actually I'm thriving. We don't want to be Chloe's favorite word. We're not inspiration either. Yeah, those people so Christy to conclude um if there's a word of advice that you can give to folks that are, are following your path or that have struggled with similar things that you have, um that could be, you know, rheumatoid arthritis, it could be um being a, being a mother to a child with a chronic illness, like how, what are your words of advice to them? Um My guess biggest words of advice or two, you're going to have to be your strongest advocate, you know, never give up hope on yourself. Um no one's going to do the work for, you know, doctor is going to give you the solution and say like here these pills and rest are going to make you feel better. You're gonna have to like take matters into your own hands and really take charge of of your life and you know, do the things that make you feel happy within your illness um within your boundaries, you know, if it's going out for a walk every day, that makes you happy, if it's spending time with your family, like if you do want to get strong, like commit to yourself and really believe in yourself that you can do these things and I just feel like our bodies are so much stronger, we are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for and when you have a chronic illness, it's just scary to take that step and to take the risk.

Um but it's like the reward is so much better when you do, you know, because like the amount of work that goes into moving forward and staying in the same spot, the amount of work mentally is the same, okay, it's just that staying in the same place and staying stagnant is torture, it's torture and that's work, you know, so why not do put the work in to make yourself feel a whole lot better and confident about yourself and you know, then put that energy back into the world to help other people, can you say that sometimes it's okay if they have like one very like depressive day and they don't feel as though they can go out into the world absolutely a Nice balance of the two part of like a big thing of acceptance of dealing with a chronic illnesses that not every day is going to be good, You're gonna have bad days. And um that's why I have surrounded myself with um people that in powerlifting, especially that will show that their regressions to that like progress is not linear.

It's not, you know, it's not going to stay on the same on the same scale, It's not going to keep going up. You're going to have a bad day and you're going to have to regress and take some weight off the bar and yeah, that's really frustrating at times, but like that just makes the good days even better. You know, I have a bad day that I need to stay in bed and just like recover and rest. But then in my mind, I'm saying, God, I can't wait to get back in the gym and kill my next squat day. And then usually it is, it's a really good workout because I listen to myself, I I honor my body and I give it rest when it needs to rest because if I don't, my body will shut down on me and it will decide for me that I'm not doing this anymore, totally hashtag honor your body Shirt Shirt. Yeah, everything she said, Times two agreed. Do we have anything else to add to this already awesome episode. Alright, disabled girls out. Thanks for listening to disabled girls who lift.

Don't forget to follow Right And like us on Spotify, ITunes and Player FM. You can also find us on instagram at disabled girls who left.

E04: Chasing Gains & Finding Yourself ft. Christy Milan
E04: Chasing Gains & Finding Yourself ft. Christy Milan
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