Don’t get me wrong, I was your typical dark-haired, extra chubby,
marshmallow, but from a young age I showed a natural gift for
physicality. I tried, and played, almost every sport, but gymnastics
became my childhood passion. Many people enjoy the grace and beauty
of gymnastics. But me? It was all about the intensity. Those feelings of
pushing my body to go higher, to last longer, to endure more, that was
the part of gymnastics that spoke to me. Long hours training and
conditioning turned my young body into rock hard muscle. Other seven
year old girls were flexible and lithe, I was walking around with biceps
and an eight pack. (I still hold the elementary school record for most
Simply put, I was born with the enormous potential for
However, life has taught me that “strength” is much more than being fit and muscular. You need resilience. Emotional resilience. Mental resilience. Spiritual resilience. Financial resilience. These were parts of myself I’ve had to fight to develop, improve and maintain. Like most everyone, I have experienced my share of hardships and challenges. Some of my hardships are very public and known. Some have been extremely tortuous silent battles within myself. Both have developed the woman I am today.
My past involves a teenage pregnancy, (obviously followed by being a young mother), an abusive, unhealthy marriage, a divorce that continued to make life difficult until my youngest turned 18, losing a brother to suicide, and in the midst of it all, battling my own anxiety, depression, self doubt and CPTSD.
For a few of these tough years, I mentally checked out.
I was going through the motions of being a mother. I handled life the best
I could and continued to show up, but I was struggling immensely inside.
How does a person break through the fog?
How does someone find life again?
About ten years ago, I felt inspired to try a figure competition. Growing
up I saw a fitness pageant on TV. (Remember the pageants with the
gowns, the tumbling routines, and the obstacle courses?) I had always
wanted to try one! My gymnastics background, and that old
connectedness with my body, made me think fitness could be right for
me. Little did I know, that these fitness pageants were fading out, and
figure competitions were taking their place. I found a trainer and started
to put in the work. Like I said, I was born strong! Putting on muscle was
my forte! Trying to stay lean and not get too bulky? That took WORK! I
made it to Nationals and felt content with my efforts. At the time I didn’t
realize that Fitness was helping more than just my body, but looking
back, I can see that having a goal, working hard, developing
resilience helped me stay present, fitness was building me up as a
Along with my inner purpose Tanner is a driving force in my passion for helping others with their own health, mental
health and wellness. His life, and death, have pushed me to learn coping skills, live presently, and keep pursuing a
life that lights me up and inspires others to do the same.
Round 2 of life came out swinging. In the middle of a extremely toxic and
painful divorce, my little brother, my incredible, loving, smart, kind, funny
*younger brother, took his own life.
Devastated. Destroyed. Distraught.
If you’ve experienced any kind of grief, you know it's emotionally,
mentally, physically and spiritually derailing. I didn’t have the emotional
or mental bandwidth to deal with so much distress and trauma, so I
reverted to numbness. But fitness, yoga, wellness and an inner
knowingness I was gaining a lot of wisdom. There is an undeniable
purpose for all of these deeply transformative life lessons. All of it gave
me a RESILNT™™ inner foundation, spiritual mission and a path to work my
way out of the heaviness, fog and confusion.
In addition to fitness, I also had two daughters to take care of. I couldn’t
let myself wallow. I felt a strong pull to get back into kickboxing.
Previously I had used fitness kickboxing classes to get back in shape
after pregnancy. But this time, MMA was on the rise, and I kept seeing
fights on TV. Socially, I liked to go watch local fights with friends. So this
time, I wanted to find a gym with real bags, mitts, and possibly some
sparring. I found a fight gym, started learning true technique, how to
create a fighter's mindset, strategy and just an overall understanding of
It was like the heavens opened, and the fitness Gods gave me my
own little miracle.
The workouts were just what I needed. Learning combinations was
stimulating for my foggy mental status, the physicality of it was producing
endorphins, the speed and complexity of it required concentration and
focus. The full body workouts sculpted and leaned out my physique. I
built confidence, resilience and found myself feeling more upbeat and
hopeful. I would leave each class dripping with sweat and exhausted, but
feeling stronger, more capable, more like myself, and less burdened.
I kept at it, and as I improved, I started to spare lightly.
Learning to take a punch and keep going is empowering.
With every workout, with every new skill I learned, I found more of ME.
Very few things are more cathartic than having a horrendous day, feeling
full of turmoil and grief, and then going to the gym and getting a great
workout in. Life feels manageable again.
All of those emotions, all that self-doubt, all that pain and mistreatment.
Instead of letting it fester inside of me, I left it to die at the gym.
Taking the next step to fight an actual person is a big decision. And let
me be honest, my first fight did not go well. I was nervous and jittery and
my mental game was way off. I was embarrassed and disappointed how
it all played out. I mean, my whole life I’d been the strongest. I’d been
the toughest. But on that night, in that cage, that was not the case. So, I
had a choice. Wither up. Turn inward. Give a voice to the doubts in my
head. Let mental weakness cripple me again, OR keep training,
improve, bust my ass, and keep evolving.
My second fight went much better. My family, my closest friends, my
kids--they were all there to watch me. I came out with the win, and more
importantly, I was pleased with how I performed and I wanted to do it
If you passed me on the street, you would never guess that I am a
fighter. I’m not just talking about MMA, I am talking about the war I have
waged with myself, to become a better, stronger, healthier, joyful person.
Fitness, fighting and yoga gave me the tools to strengthen my body,
ease my mind and in the process, I found the will to fight for myself
and become RESILNT™.
Is every fight a victory? No.
Do I come out on top everyday? No.
But I know how to pick myself up and keep going.
From kickboxing and WMMA I have ventured into strengthening my
mental game by continuing to learn new mindfulness practices, yoga and
I don’t say these things to pat myself on the back, but to help you
understand that because I have fought to learn about myself, I can
empathize with your fight. Keep fighting for you.
Learning resilience is the process. Being RESILNT™ is the outcome.
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