By Stacey Francis (North Vancouver, B.C.)
I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy in the early years of my life. Cerebral Palsy is a complex disability that affects everyone differently in terms of severity. For me, it affects mainly my balance and my muscles. It was my Cerebral Palsy that pushed me to want to be as active as possible. I knew that it would benefit me in the long run. I am also very competitive but was never really into sports, so bodybuilding gives me that fulfillment. You need to work hard to win.
Growing up I was always independent and I never wanted to be seen as different. I faced the same challenges that any child and youth face with insecurities and so on. I remember being told that I was never going to walk. I always carry that memory with me. But from a very early age, I learned that when someone tells me I can’t do something I will find a way to do it and I did. In elementary school and high school, I used a walker. I walked everywhere. I even went horseback riding.
When I moved to the city that’s when everything changed. I was persuaded to get a wheelchair because of the longer distances. I did not want to but I did. And in some ways, I am thankful for it and in some ways not so much. My wheelchair makes my life easier because I can get places faster, and keep up with my friends and, go on long outings without tiring. But I developed a dependency and that wasn’t good. I started using my wheelchair all of the time and as a result, my muscles became weak and I gained weight. I couldn’t walk as much as I used to. As disappointed as I was, I convinced myself that maybe this is just the way it was from now on. I was getting older after all. Eventually I realized, that statement wasn’t true.
My mobility was important to me and I must get it back. So, I bought a gym membership. I would only go a few times a week and I wasn’t feeling any different. I really wanted a trainer. I needed someone to give me that motivation and really push me beyond my limits. That’s when I met my current trainer and started my journey at Team Fitness.
Since I started working with my trainer, I am stronger and I have my mobility back. I am eating better and I feel amazing. I would have never thought that I could or would be where I am today only four months ago but here I am.