My name is Tiffany, and I am a United States Army Veteran. I started my fitness journey on April 1, 2015 after finally hitting a breaking point. I weighed 220lbs at the height of 4’11’’. I did 3 deployments as a Military Police Officer and little did I know, that the 3rd deployment would turn my life upside down. Without going into too many gruesome details, I sustained shrapnel to the hip and back after an IED blast. It was discovered that I also sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury. At this point, no one believed that I would survive this attack, let alone be anything other than a vegetable. I was given the odds of never walking again, or never being my “old self”, as they put it. Apparently God had bigger plans for me…
Fast forward to 2015, I was overweight, depressed and miserable. I played the victim card…
I did learn how to walk again, I did regain function as a normal human being, well as much as could be expected from that. This is when I decided I had enough. I made the choice after countless nights of research on the internet about weight lifting for women, to step foot into the gym. I was scared of being in pain, and I was scared of being laughed at. But to my surprise, no one laughed at me, and instead of pain, I felt relief.
6 months into my fitness journey, I got the diagnosis of a brain tumor. I was supposed to be dead by Thanksgiving. I was mad; I was terrified, and I started dealing with depression again.
But I still felt the push of continuing into the gym. I pushed even harder, and sure enough, God still had bigger plans because I am still alive despite that diagnoses. It was an uphill battle with treatments because they couldn’t do traditional methods of cutting into me (bleeding disorder), so not cutting into my brain had its own set of challenges, so it was rounds and rounds of experimental drugs, which made me sick and moody. But despite that, I still pushed. I was feeling better, the weight was coming off and muscle was going on, but I still struggled…
July of 2016, I got the diagnoses of Hypothyroidism. It’s where your thyroid is under active (not producing enough hormone). April of 2017 I was diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus from having mono as a child (The virus flares up when your immune system is stressed to its max) So with these diagnoses on top of everything else going on with me, I nearly thought I wanted to die.
I started falling more into depression, and started recognizing that I was seeing signs of PTSD, which I tried to ignore…until I tried to take my own life one night because I could no longer take what felt like emotional and physical turmoil. If it weren’t for my former roommate barging in at the right moment because he felt “something wasn’t right”, I wouldn’t be here to write this story.
The physical pain from everything that was going on took such hell on my fitness success. I was always tired to the point that I felt lethargic, I was unable to concentrate, my body felt sore all of the time that no amount of recovery could fix, and I was sick all of the time. Mentally, I was mad, I was sad, and I hated everyone/everything. I was never in the mood sexually, I never wanted to interact with others (this is huge considering I can talk to anyone!) and I started imagining ways to die…I knew something had to give. The flashbacks of things I saw were hitting me one right after another, I started drinking more. At this time, I was still going to the gym but wasn’t seeing the progress I was hoping for because of all of the things going on. Mental stuff can have an impact on training just as much as your physical side. I spent time in counseling and this is when I started really paying attention to who was in my corner.
I am sitting here writing this because of God, my former roommate, my Military Muscle Family, and because of my gym. Being a woman in this sport is very difficult. You have so many negative attitudes towards what women are suppose to do versus what women are actually doing. When I walk into that weight room and see all of that iron, I become fearless; I become powerful, and I strive to become better than what I was yesterday. It hasn’t been easy, and what works for normal women to lose the weight/gain muscle, hasn’t worked for me because of all of the challenges I have to face…but that’s the fun of it. I am being challenged and I am determined to succeed. It hurts and it’s mentally taxing, but I must keep going! Failure isn’t an option! I came from the diagnoses of not being able to function as a normal human being to deadlifting, squatting, and kicking ass!
As I write this, I stand currently at 150lbs and a size 10. 2 ½ years ago, I was at 220lbs and a size 22. My ultimate goal is 115-120 lbs. So if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I am here for you; I will be that push you need and I will be your cheering section. Let’s support one another, and motivate each other on these journeys. Always be kind to people because you never know what they are going through, and for goodness sakes, if you see your battle buddy struggling, help them!!!! We lose too many of our brothers and sisters in arms because we are trained to go to war but never on how to come home, so we must fight for each other; We must lift them up and fight when they can’t.