Are You there God? It’s Me Hope,WTF?

11 11 2018

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It‘s beginning to feel like a big prank. I am looking around for someone, or maybe something like a hidden camera because I love a good joke. But it could be karma or some kind of payback, or maybe it‘s just you God, testing me again? For what, I‘d sure like to know. Seriously, who is this puppet master behind this life debacle and what exactly is it that I did to be thrown all these crappy things over the last few years? I‘ll admit I was a mean girl in high school when I kissed Suzi‘s boyfriend Bill. But I only kissed the guy once, I didn’t screw him. They even got married!!! Meanwhile look at who got cheated on and divorced. And how about that surprise open heart surgery tossed my way in 2016? That was no walk in the park. Seriously, I just finished paying my medical bills and along comes another one of life‘s surprises. Enough with testing my strength. It’s weakening my savings account by paying lawyers and medical bills. Money that needs to instead be going towards two weddings and a facelift. Who or what decided it was time to pull an Alan Funt with a “Surprise You have breast Cancer.”  (for those of you under the age of 50 insert Ashton Kutcher for Alan Funt)  Regardless of the 5 Ws, I am shocked because I know I am not being punk’d but once again being tested. Someone is really trying to break me. However, I am a competitor and I love a challenge. Let me remind you, I hate to lose and my track record reflects that fact. So cancer, you probably should have checked with Karma, God, Suzi and even my ex-husband because they all would have told you, you picked the wrong bitch. I fight hard and I fight dirty. I am a Philly girl. #fucancer #bringit

                                 A LUMP OF FAT ( and it goes a little something like that)

While on vacation in Iceland, I felt a slight pain on my left side of my chest. I see several heart doctors who routinely ask “Are you experiencing any chest pain?” My answer is always no, and I always find this a rather strange question. The doctors have all told me that my heart is strong and healthy and that I just had a bad valve. So I‘ve never looked for nor worried about chest pain. However, being out of the US, I began to worry. This slight pang came and went so I remained calm knowing in less than 24 hours I would be hearing the pilot say “Welcome to Philadelphia.”  Once back in the City of Brotherly Love, my plan was to call my cardiologist first thing in the morning. However, that quickly changed to my gynecologist when I discovered that evening that this dull pain was not coming from my heart but rather an oddly shaped lump in my left breast.  Oh boy was I relieved. 

To say I know my body is huge understatement. My unknown congenital heart defect began to show signs when I was in my mid-forties and the complaints I voiced to my doctors were dismissed constantly for 6 years with them all telling me I’m fine, it’s stress and of course the reason all women are crazy…MENOPAUSE. Turned out it was a bicuspid aortic valve that formed an aortic aneurysm. This thankfully a new doctor caught it in time before it had ruptured. From May of 2017 up to my diagnosis of breast cancer on February 2018 I had this eerie deja vu feeling. Instead of hearing the words “You‘re fine“, I heard “There’s nothing there.” First, after having a breast exam by my Gynecologist I was sent for a diagnostic mammogram and an ultra sound of my left breast. All of these tests came back normal showing no mass. So, I was told to wait 4 months until my next visit because it was “probably a lump of fat or a lymph node” and “would likely go away on its own.” When I was still feeling the lump 4 months later in September I was sent to see a breast surgeon. I was excited that this appointment would give me peace of mind and a definitive answer as to what this lump could be. I was, after all, seeing “Philly’s Top Doc” of breast surgeons so she should know, right? Ushered quickly into an examining room I am informed that the doctor has a meeting so she needs to see me right now. My vitals will be taken “after” the doctor examines me. “Everything off from the waist down. Ties open in front.” I am handed the gown in a plastic bag in which I change into and I sit hopeful, my legs dangling off the end of the table and my boobs dangling in my gown. Without even looking at my face, the doctor entered the room, introduced herself as she went to the sink and washed her hands. She asked me a couple of questions.  “Does breast cancer run in your family?” “No,” I said. I was instructed to lay back. Normal for a breast exam. When did you first feel the lump“The end of March, but I need to stand up to find the lump for you.” She told me to sit up, and I watched as she quickly made some notes on the computer and then stood up and walked to the door. The “Top Doc,” said she really doesn’t feel anything and that it’s probably a lump of fat or a lymph-node and that I should come back in a few months if I’m still feeling anything. Before I could get a question out she was gone. She did have a meeting“But Doctor… can I get an MRI?” I have questions, “umm is she coming back in? What about my vitals?” These questions weren’t really asked. No one came back for me to ask them too.  I tossed my lovely gown in the bin, got dressed and left. Vitals? Not taken. My blood pressure was HIGH! I did however go get that second opinion you should always get. Surgeon number two and her tech could not find a mass on the ultrasound, so once again I was told it’s probably a fatty deposit or a lymph-node. This time I asked the doctor for an MRI but am told to come back in 6 months if I still feel something. As I leave, I am frustrated but know regardless I will not be back to this hospital, they don’t even have a Starbucks.

 

PAGING DR. GOOGLE & MS. KNOW-IT-ALL

To speak beyond ones sphere of knowledge is called a ultracrepidarian. Dates back to the story of Apelles, a famous greek painter who heard a cobbler criticizing how he had rendered a foot in a painting. The painter remarked back to the cobbler that he should stay in his own station and not go “beyond the sole“, hence the latin phrase ultra crepidam.  Often, when I am running my mouth about something I just made up, half read, googled, might have overheard, my really good friends will laugh in my face knowing I am talking “out my ass“, hence the verb “bullshitter”.

My daily research on breast lumps, bumps and lymph nodes was giving me a feeling deep in my gut that I needed to be persistent, so I kept an appointment I made way over 3 months ago and went and saw surgeon number three. Facetune_04-11-2018-15-56-24I was prepared to be an ultracrepidarian. Sitting in the exam room, I knew I wanted an MRI, and therefore wasn’t leaving without being sent for one. Petite Dr. Julia Tpchou entered the room and I don’t just jump on her, I attack. Full on crazy patient with tears. Here‘s where the movie director will add the violins: For 6 years I saw zillions of doctors complaining about not feeling well, only to find out I had a BAV and an aneurysm. I know my body! There’s a lump in my breast that should not be there. It’s not fat! I know my body! I know that mammograms are 87% correct in identifying breast cancer (I just threw that stat in my blog) and all of my ultrasounds shown nothing but I can feel the lump. I know my body! Dr. Tpchou told me that when she was in medical school a professor taught her that when a patient says they know their body, they usually do. Thanks Mr. Professor. She examined me thoroughly and she felt the lump, and she sent me for an MRI. That Friday afternoon following my MRI, I received a phone call from an office assistant with the results of my test. Great news. My MRI report was normal.

 

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“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
Edgar Degas

THE RENDERING WAS WRONG. THE COBBLER WAS RIGHT!

That Monday morning following my Friday afternoon call, I received a call that Dr. Tchou wanted to see me at the hospital immediately, so I knew something was up. I finished training a client and drove straight to The University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Over the weekend, Dr. Tchou explained that when she saw that my MRI report had come back normal, without even a “suspicious mass noted, she decided to look herself at the MRI images. She pulls up my MRI on the computer. With my eyes focused on the screen she fired away at the enlarge key, and I watched as this tiny white dot appeared and grew bigger.  “There’s your lump.”  Finally a doctor who listened. I was scheduled for an ultra sound guided needle biopsy. University of Pennsylvania being a teaching hospital, usually has a fellow who checks on you before the attending physician. “The lump gets lost when I lie down.” This fell on deaf ears. The fellow, although determined to locate the lump on the ultrasound, did not succeed. Moments later the Radiologist entered. Petite woman, with a rather large presence, and she says to me “find the lump.” I need to stand to find it, so she firmly says, “Stand up. Find itPut your thumb on it.” She took the cold, gelled probe, placed it firmly right where my thumb was and instantly started measuring the white looking image, aka: lump that appeared on the sonogram screen. In what was her last year of residency, the young doctor commented to me how she learned something new today. Was it that you can do a breast ultra sound to a standing patient,  or that you should listen to what a patient has to say? Days later I found out that all six samples from my ultra sound guided needle biopsy had all come back inconclusive. I would next be scheduled for a lumpectomy. You know to remove a lump of fat.

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BIG GIRLS DO CRY

I am told that I wear a tough exterior, but these past few years I know I have become softer inside. I cry a lot easier, which according to the real Dr. Google is hormonal. But the kind of crying that takes your breath away, leaves you unable to speak, feels like a panic attack… well, that has only happened twice to me. The first being when I put my dog Rocki down, and the second was when Dr. Tpchou phoned and told me that I had breast cancer. When I finally caught my breath, I replied “I really did not expect “it” to come back positive. I know what you’re thinking. Really Hope? Yes really! No one in my family has ever had cancer. Sitting on a Bosu ball in the private place where I went to take this call, an empty aerobic room, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought this can’t be happening.  I call my very quiet, kindhearted boyfriend who not only listened to my crazy lump stuff for the last 6 months, but also spent his birthday sitting in a hospital while I had my lumpectomy. In-between sobs I very angrily tell him that I’m not a hypochondriac and “it” wasn’t a fucking “lump of fat.” I HAVE FUCKING BREAST CANCER and yes, I was right. I‘m always right! It wasn’t nothing and go ahead dump me. He should dump me. I would dump my sick ass. We’re not married so heres your chance to get out now. RUN! I  won’t be mad at you. When I was done with my well justified rant, he assured me he wasn’t going anywhere because he said “That would be really bad juju.” “Ok then, sniff sniff You know I am so fucking mad.” He knew. With my adrenaline up I stuck my headphones back in walked out of the aerobic room and finished lifting. #chestday I did not tell my family, friends or announce it on Facebook. I knew nothing so there was nothing to tell. But what I did confirm is I have a few special people in my life whom I cannot thank enough for their help from my appointments to answering my questions to just being there. 
In February, 9 months after I first discovered that darn lump I had a lumpectomy, followed a few weeks later with a lymphadenectomy. The latter is done to see if the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes. Thankfully it had not. While I personally experienced more pain and difficulty in healing from my lymphadenectomy, I did not have a mastectomy, and would not dare to compare my procedures to the surgery of a mastectomy.

THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM

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Lumpectomy, Lymphadectomy & Proton Radiation (skin reaction 2 weeks after Proton partially due to  sweaty jog bras)

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Now

A slice of my tumor was mailed off to a lab for an Oncotype DX breast cancer test. The information gathered from this test would determine my cancer treatmentI needed this test to come back with a number that would allow me to skip chemo and jump right to radiation. While most patients discuss the side effects of their treatment with their doctors, I just needed to know if I would complete my treatment in time to go on a safari in Africa. For this amazing trip, tops on my bucket list, I was lucky to be asked to be part of prior to my diagnosis. The results of this tests held that answer. I sat weeks waiting for my oncotype score (because of a mix up) but finally got the results. I would not need chemo and that meant a shorter treatment plan. This was a giving me hope for Africa. It was now time to  meet my “C” team. To my list of doctors I now add an Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist, and a Cardiology Oncologist. The last doctor, who will approve my treatments, Dr. Joseph Carver, wears giant red Beat-like cordless stethoscope headphones. His specialty is cardiac problems and cancer. He is my bonus doc because of my heart valve replacement and other leaky valves. 

                                                               LET THE GAMES BEGIN

As if I was just here yesterday, I ran around the busy Perlman Center alone at Pennsylvania Hospital. Dressed in my work clothes (gym clothes), there I am squeezing in and out of crowded elevators, grasping my files, holding my Starbucks, running up and down the escalator, dropping papers, meeting doctors, googling words, spilling my coffee on myself, scheduling test appointments, checking my Facebook, and ducking familiar faces all while thinking, “is this for real?” The only things that have changed were the locations of the waiting rooms and the doctors. First, I see the quarterback of my team, my Oncologist. She sketched everything out for me. Explained and confirmed that there was nothing I did that gave me cancerNot even drinking from the hose while playing outside as a kid. Having lost my period at 43 years old this caused me to enter menopause at a rather early age, and therefore produce higher levels of estrogen, which most likely fed the tumor causing it to growI found this tumor that wanted to hide and a lot had to do with having low body fat, and the pain I felt causing me to explore that area. But it was also found with persistence. Had I been older, heavier, would I have found it? Would I have listened to the doctors and have been satisfied with what they were saying along with the normal test results? My doctor assures me that my cancer cell being fed earlier gave it a chance to be found earlier and that was actually a good thing. I caught it at at stage one. 

When cancer came calling I was ready. Since I live with the belief that exercise is a gift and something you should not take for granted, I am always in training for life. Knowing I have an upcoming open heart surgery within the next 8 to 10 years, possibly sooner, I will be prepared.  As with most health issues, it’s always quite fascinating how several people can have almost the same exact diagnosis, and yet have totally different methods of treatment and recovery. Your overall health plays a major role in this.  For my game plan, I sat with Dr. Gary Freedman and he sketched out for me several radiation options. All of the standard treatment plans would span 8 to 10 weeks. However, in a circle on the right side of the paper was the word “PROTONS.” Explaining the difference between photons and protons, Dr. Freedman informed me that I was an excellent candidate for Proton therapy. This treatment would in fact be a better option for keeping the radiation away from my heart.  He offered me twice a day treatments, early morning and again later in the day that I could bang out in one week. I could hear the elephants from the savannah at that moment. Timing was perfect. I’d finish with enough time to grab my safari hat and my anti-malaria meds. But before I began any treatment I needed to tell my home team, my “A” team, my daughters. Tell them why an awful lot of their calls have gone to voicemail this past year, and why I’ve seemed so short lately.  I have one living in NYC and one away at PSU, and I am their only parent. So I must do what I do best at times like this…..lie. I just found this little lump in my breast and the doctor took it out. (Insert joke and laugh) it was a little cancer, blah blah blah, it’s gone, went bye bye. Mom’s all good now.  Just going to get a couple quick zaps of radiation before I go away….. And like deja vu from a few years ago when I gave my “I’m having a little heart procedure” speech,  it worked perfectly for one of my two favorite daughters.  Cue: violins, beating drums and  cello …..Tears, anger, and fear.

 

THE WORLD AIN’T ALL SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS

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Wanted: women of Russian/European decent for extras in Creed II, being filmed in Philadelphia. According to my mom mom, and backed up by my Ancestry.com results this describes me. I love the movie Rocky, named my female boxer Rocki, and have seen all of the Rocky movies. This is my chance to use that college theatre degree and hopefully see Sylvester Stallone and Dolph.   So what are my odds of receiving an email saying I was selected to be an extra for Creed II and it’s in the middle of my proton therapy? Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 3.13.27 PMI‘ll tell you, according to real data much smaller than this Askenazi Jew of Russian decent getting breast cancer. FU cancer! #iwillbreaku

 

I thought I was strong and could do this myself, but apparently I was wrong. The 6am driving into the city was easy. I would come home and train one or two clients, workout, shower and then drive back for round two. While I was told, fatigue would kick in by mid week; it never did. Nor did it really kick in the following week. The metallic taste came quickly by day two. But seeing all of the children with cancer, nothing could prepare me for that, and the sadness that still resonates inside of me.

IMG_3026There are five treatment rooms that contain four gantries or cyclone machines and two waiting areas.
IMG_2993That week I sat in the same waiting area with the pediatric cancer patients from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia dressed in my hospital gown and them in their own little gowns. Children of all different ages. A college kid popped in every day in-between his classes. I listened one day as he sat talking to a parent giving her hopes that her daughter would get the same positive outcome he was having. I’ll never forget my second treatment on my first day. When I came out of the dressing room in my gown, an entire family filled the patient waiting area. This little boy, about six, was giving a tour of his super cool looking proton cyclone to his huge family. They had all come to celebrate his last treatment. “They look like spinning space tunnels”, I said to his parents. I learned that he and most kids didn’t know the cyclone spins because they wear a molded mask to keep them immobilized and often use headphones to listen to music.

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Making My Mold

These masks, some painted by the patient to look like a fake super hero, hung along side my body mold and too many other real super hero’s masks all week. When the little hero rang the bell, which is a distance away in the main lobby area, I was laying in my proton bed awaiting the beam, but I heard the bell, the applause and the cheering. It was a beautiful ring. I knew I was a lucky mom and a lucky woman. That week, twice a day I sat in the waiting room like the kids in a routine matter and when one of the Proton techs said  “Hey Hope… Let’s do this.” I too would pop up and go into the space tunnel. Cause I too thought it was really cool

 

 

Hey Nike, this is what a fitness addict looks like. My athletic apparel took me from the gym floor to the cyclone, and back to the gym.  I even taught a spin class.

 

 

On my last day I thanked the wonderful technicians who pulled, pushed and aligned my body up so precisely for the proton beam. With my left arm stabilized over my head and my bare boobs marked up, tattooed up and stickered up, I would wait for the beam to be directed to my cyclone.  IMG_3118Every treatment seemed surreal. On my final day I bent down to say  goodbye to a little boy about age 7, who was playing a video game on the floor. He had a brain tumor that had grown back for the third time and now he was trying Proton therapy at Penn.  “Hey buddy I never ever want to see you here again. Ok?”  Ok, strange lady, is what I’m sure he was thinking as he looked at me oddly and then went back to his video game. His mom told me that everyone says that to him, but he doesn’t get it. I think to myself, that’s a good thing.

Friday night around 6 pm at the time when most people are rushing home from work or to happy hour to hang with friends I concluded my proton therapy. Check out from this weeks stay included one last visit with Dr. Gary Freedman, who is the brilliant doctor that prescribed my beam’s precise pathway, it’s dose calculations, and everything needed to stop the protons in the bad area and keep the healthy organs and tissues healthy. While knowing that I do still have follow up appointments with my other doctors regarding future treatment, I ask Dr. Freedman the magic question, “Do I still have cancer?”  He tells me I am a survivor. So like a little kid, on my last day I showed off my super cool cyclone spaceship to my daughter and my boyfriend who came to celebrate my final treatment with me. We then headed straight to the usually very crowded lobby so I could go ring that big silver bell. I pushed open the door and proclaim a big WTF? It’s 6:30pm on a Friday night the lobby is bare. The pranks just keep on coming. I rang the fuck out of that bell. ( Actually God it would have been even more funnier and pathetic if Madison and Kevin had not been there and I had to go ask someone to take my picture)

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THE BIG “C”

Cancer, yet another eye opener in my life. I got even more clarity on where I stand in peoples lives. Your actions, not your intent, not what you post on social media, or who you claim to be, speaks louder to me now. Busy people make time for people that are important in their lives. Selfish people are always too busy, and only make time for themselves. Having a stressful day or a bad week is not an excuse for rude behavior. It’s called being a selfish asshole. Have a blessed day, you’re not sitting having cancer treatment. 

I discovered I had this lack of knowledge about cancer and the medical “scientific facts”, and was woken up to people’s ignorance they are willing to spew from non-scientific sources. I do not have cancer from foodmedicine, surgery, traveling, or too much exercise.  Using organic soap and essential oils would not have prevented me from getting cancer. #womenlovewastingmoney Yes, people asked me some of these questions. Yes, I am a trainer. Yes, I am well aware I‘m not as strong or cut as I use to be I don’t need you to point this out. I‘ve been kinda busy. Yes, I eat a healthy diet. No, I am not giving up meat. There is no scientific evidence that changing your diet to just eating “alkaline”  rich foods such as fruit, green vegetables, and other plant-based products discourages the growth of cancer cells by raising blood pH levels. This is not going to change the pH levels of your blood, because they are tightly regulated by the kidneys and lungs regardless of foods consumed. While a good diet is always important, it can’t cure cancer. (Please stop saying that a certain food “cures” cancer) There are cancerous cells in the body of every person that at any given moment and through lifestyle choices can become a full-blown disease. Some these cells will divide and become abnormal and cause cancer for no reason other than bad luck. Breast cancer does not run in my family. I am the first one to have been dealt this unlucky card. That does not mean my daughters will get breast cancer. So before you ask, I did get genetic tested. In fact I got the entire breast cancer panel test done which included the following genes: ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, CDH1, CHEK2, PALB2, PTEN, STK11, TP53 (a total of 9 genes). All were negative. Regardless, this does not mean I will not get any of these cancers; it just means I am not carrying the gene. Just as if any had come back positive, it does not positively mean I will get that cancer. It just means I carry a gene and depending on other factors my odds would increase. Having a genetic counselor through Penn’s Cancer Risk Program conduct these tests, and a full evaluation of me and my families medical history pertaining to cancer and discuss how this all works was very comforting and informative. Probably fewer mastectomies would occur if all women had access to these tests and also had genetic counseling.   #healthcareforall

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ON WEDNESDAY’S I WEAR BLACK (Actually everyday I wear black)

Around the same time I received my diagnosis of Stage 1 breast cancer a friend was diagnosed with a much more invasive cancer. It sucks that my friend’s battle is tougher,  and all I can do is drop off food, a FUCK CANCER tee and drag her out to dinner and a cabaret. #thecountessandfriends  There’s no ribbon for her rare cancer. Plenty of pink ones for mine. I find nothing pretty in pink about cancer and am not one to be a member of this pink ladies gang.  It is, however, the color associated with the most successful marketing for a cause in history, raising a lot of money in the name of breast cancer awareness, but not for prevention and finding a cure. Despite all the pink products being sold, each year 40,000 women die from breast cancer.

While breast cancer is one of the top 4 cancers, it is lung cancer that kills more men and women than breast cancer and the other three top cancers combined. Just saying the word “cancer”, one feels they must whisper. She has cancer.But no one whispers she has heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of all women, more than all cancers combined. I‘m all for saving the tata‘s, but if the heart ain’t beating do I really care about my breast? Being that there are over 100 types of cancer can we just agree they all suck, wear a black ribbon for all of them, and have 100% of the money raised go to finding a cure for this awful disease? Please? Oh, that’s already taken by skin cancer. 

Another storm survivedMore contacts to the list, more tests pre-scheduled and now these awful meds I am being told I should take to prevent breast cancer from coming back. But who knows what storms lie ahead or in my body, and if there is anything to stop that storm from coming.    

September 2018 MRI

9/18 Post MRI Coast Looks Clear

If I learned anything this past year,  it would be that no matter how physically prepared I am, I might not be mentally prepared to have the words when fate is questioned. I don’t need to always have the right words or the right answer but I will always speak from my soul and of course beyond my sole. #ultracrepidarian

 

 

 

I don’t know
Only god knows where the story is
For me, but I know where the story begins
It’s up to us to choose
Whatever we win or loose
  And I choose to win               

So God, Please NO MORE DRAMA in my life!          

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CANCER, KARMA AND YES YOU TOO GOD ……I WIN!

My intent for writing this blog was not just to share my experience, but that hopefully someone who is ignoring a lump reads this and goes and gets it checked. I also found it frustrating that as a fitness professional over the age of 50, and someone who entered into menopause at and early age, 43 there were no blogs or info that I found giving me insight into treatment, recovery and especially the medicines and their effects on post-menopausal women who still lift weights..heavy. There are plenty of blogs and articles from ladies in their forties and below in the fitness profession who are pre-menopausal.  Maybe eventually I’ll get to writing something for the fitness gals in their 50’s and 60’s who are still hitting the heavy weights, doing pushups galore etc. and discuss more of my personal issues. In the meantime feel free to message me if you have a question. As for the treatment plan I chose moving forward after my Proton therapy and the medications that were offered to me to avoid breast cancer I’ll leave it at this.

Everyone has their own journey and sometimes you have to go with your gut. 

 

 

AFRICA – KENYA 2018 Checked it off the bucket list! (Thank you, Jill Schuler) 

 

Please help CRUNCH out Pediatric Cancer. This past September these amazing folks rode with me at Crunch Fitness for this great cause. Please donate to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cancer Center.

 

I also was so fortunate that during this past year, the weekend following my Lumpectomy to be part of an event that was so close to my heart nothing could have stopped me called the PHILLY SPIN-IN. A giant cycling event raising funds for pediatric heart disease. This event was truly amazing. A giant event for little hearts.  This year the Philly Spin-In will take place March 9 & 10. If you would like to make a donation or be part of my team HopeHeartStrong please message me for information.  Corporate donors for this event are always wanted! hope@motivatehopestrength.com

PHILLY SPIN-IN

 

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Email Hope@motivatehopestrength.com

 

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Not So YOUNG, a Little WILD and Valversary THREE.

12 04 2018

 

Each year as April 8th approaches I look forward to going to the hospital and taking tests.  My goal is to pass tests and  by pass the surgeon. And by that I do not mean not bypass surgery, I mean do not have a reason to see the surgeon.  By heart I have the day’s routine down. Quick Cat Scan and off to Ultra Sound. Let me give a shout out to Ben at Penn Medicine for the “extra touch” of music videos.  Seriously watching Coldplay and then turning my head to see the ultrasound monitor showing my valve open and closing to the beat of Adventure of a Lifetime was  paradise. Really was cool.

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Once my tests are complete, I sit in a room in my surgeons office.  And although I know I feel great and that I exercised and trained hard this year to make my heart my strongest muscle, I sit and stare at the door in hopes Dr. Bavaria does not walk in.  Seeing him in his blue blazer over his scrubs would mean something isn’t pumping right, or he’s about to tell me the words I fear to hear one day that  it’s getting close to valve replacement time.  Knowing that this day will come and my aortic valve will need to replaced again is what drives me to take care of myself.  I am determined to walk in and walk out upright.  (Tissue /bioprosthetic valves have an average lifespan of  10 to 20 years) 

But lucky for me, GOD the name I like to call my surgeon, did not enter the room. I passed my tests, hit the elevator button, hit Schuylkill Expressway  and of course hit the gym for a long sweaty heart-pumping workout.  Another year down and time to train again for the life I so appreciate.  Diet and Exercise… if a doctor could write it on a prescription pad it would be the most prescribed medicine. Because people love to medicate then prevent. Gym floor or hospital floor?  Why would anybody choose the later.  While I have learned that my genes and cells  have come preprogramed for me at birth and that although I might do my best to live a healthy life style, I can’t out run, out lift or out program what unfortunate I was dealt with. What I can do is to be  physically and mentally strong to deal with anything that should be thrown my way.   A healthy heart BEATS a sick one.   So I workout like my life depends on it, cause it does.

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THREE YEARS  AGO , 5 DAYS POST OPP PEDDLING FOR MY OWN HEART.

THIS YEAR I PEDDLED FOR LITTLE HEARTS AT THE PHILLY SPIN-IN

I couldn’t of thought of a better way to celebrate my 3 year Valversary than to be one of the instructors at the Philly Spin-In for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.   Words cannot begin to tell you how appreciative I was to be a part of this event to raise money, awareness and a cure for congenital heart defects. To hear the stories, see the signs, see all the teams spinning and feel the love for all the heart warriors is a day I’ll remember and one that makes me feel blessed. The fund will run till the end of April so please donate cause little hearts need to grow up to be big hearts. You can donate at: Philly Spin In

It’s been another heart full year.

Hope

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Hope’s Heart is Spinning at The PHILLY SPIN-IN

12 01 2018
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This is my cousin Scott. We are both members of the zipper club. A club neither of us chose to join but came with the Congenital Heart Defect membership we both received at birth. That’s the reality for many parents. One of every 120 children is born with congenital heart disease.Others are diagnosed with a heart condition during childhood, and some acquire heart disease as they grow. All told, there are millions of children living with some type of pediatric heart disease. That is why my heart is spinning and why I need your heart to spin too. 
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On Sunday March 11, 2018 I am so excited and proud to be one of the Spin instructors at this years Philly Spin-In for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — a fun, high-energy, indoor cycling party to help children with heart disease. It truly is a big workout to help little hearts.  Like my cousin Scott who was born with a congenital heart defect known as TGA-Transposition of the great arteries Scott spent his first 17 days of his life at CHOP. Turning 14 years old next month Scott is a normal healthy active boy with no restrictions.  His parents are thankful for the amazing doctors, nurses and the whole team of professionals at the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
I am Spinning for a cause that couldn’t get any closer to my very own heart.
I was born with a CHD, a Bicuspid Aortic Valve and found out at age 50 when an aneurysm developed. But no parent should ever have to hear the words “Your child has congenital heart disease.”  That is why the Philly Spin- In is raising support for the Cardiac Center to make tomorrow’s breakthroughs possible at Children’s Hospital.
Please join me, other cycle instructors and hundreds of people for this amazing event to benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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RIDE/DONATE or DONATE 
Be on my team Hopeheartstrong  by making a donation and signing up to ride at this link:
As a team we need to raise $1000. The more we raise the more bikes we will have at the event. 
Or please DONATE.  You can make a donation to the event
Details on the Philly Spin-In at: PHILLY SPIN – IN
Philly Spin-In
Corporate Sponsorship info is also available on-line and by contacting
Amanda Calabrese
Associate Director, Peer to Peer Fundraising
3401 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
267-426-6477 ● f 267-426-6530
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While I am passionate about Health and Fitness and am a preacher of heart health even more so now after my open heart surgery, anyone who knows me well knows I am a Spinning lover! ( I am sure people who take my classes have other adjectives to describe me)  However, having been an instructor for almost 20 years I credit spinning and so did my doctors to the reason I made it to age 50 with a CHD.  Spinning gave me a strong healthy heart, a genetic defect gave me a bad valve.  On Sunday March 11th at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia I plan on spinning my heart out because I physically can! Because I am grateful for those that provided me the medical advances, technology and skills that keep my heart pumping. I hope that events like the Philly Spin – In forge new discoveries in cardiac care, bolster training programs, advocate for children in underserved communities, and quickly respond to new opportunities that may — one day — cure all children with pediatric heart disease. Please donate.
Thank you from my heart ❤  Hope
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Open My Heart Now Baby – Day 16 Post Op.

25 04 2015
DAY 16 POST OP Pumping little pink weights and getting the blood  flowing.

DAY 16 POST OP Pumping little pink weights and getting the blood flowing.

It’s been 16 day’s since my open heart surgery.  In these past  16 days I learned some things. That I have an amazing support system of friends and relatives, that I don’t like sitting in the back seat of the car and that Kevin Bacon has nothing on Dr. Bavaria when it comes to six degrees of separation.  It seems like everyday someone emails me or tells me that Dr. Bavaria did their father’s surgery, their mom mom’s valve replacement or they’ve worked with him, for him, or think he’s god. I think he’s god too.

DAY 1 -  Post op ICU hours after surgery. Today is the first time I have seen this picture. Wow

DAY 1 – Post op ICU hours after surgery. Today is the first time I have seen this photo.

It was kinda neat in an eerie and peculiar way to have a nurse stop by my room to tell me she watched my surgery and how 4 fellows, who are doctors doing their fellowship, pulled the wires that were holding my sternum closed while one fellow wired, sewed and glued me shut. Her words: “It was so cool. They literally leaned  back with their body weight and pulled on the wires while one fellow closed you up.”  I’d actually like to see my video. My post op report came in the mail today and I learned I was cross clamped for 160 minutes and on bypass for 217 minutes. Technically dead for a large part of my 6 hour surgery.  Body temperature lowered and then brought back to life by reconnecting my heart.  My father with his disposable flip phone took a picture of me in the ICU and sent it today.  My emotions vary looking at this picture, but mainly I’m thinking that I couldn’t imagine seeing one of my kids like this.  In the 16 days since surgery I’ve made some progress.   And although you would look at me and never know I just had major surgery I am dealing with  daily killer headaches, went  AFib two days ago and I get dizzy and light headed if I get up  too fast. I have noticed I am burping a lot but am totally blaming that on the pig valve, lol. I am not craving bacon, have not regained my love of coffee and peanut butter yet but chocolate still makes everything better.

Over the years I have often got asked while working out what I was training for? My response always was on the likes of “My next birthday”  but my usual response was “life”.  I just didn’t know I was actually training for open heart surgery. My abs made sitting up on day two without assistance easier, my thunder thighs from spinning made getting off the toilet easier and  my glutes from squatting made getting out of bed a tad less difficult.

I have eased back to work teaching spin off the bike, giving orders for TREAD & SHRED class and training a couple of clients who know I am not picking up their weights, demonstrating spiderman push-ups and by no means jumping rope with them.  I love, love, love  jumping rope.   I seriously cannot sit and watch any more daytime TV because it has convinced me that this is why America is full of overweight lazy people. Honestly all of my silly shows on Bravo that I am addicted to seem like rocket science compared to the amount of talk shows, Judge shows and game shows on TV.   I’ll take any Housewives shows over the annoying ladies on the View, Kathy Lee Gifford who gave me a migraine, and I will say it…… watching Kelly Ripa is like watching a puppet with a hand up its ass. Oh, and  “Let’s Make a Deal.” ….. How about” Let’s get a job”, “Let’s Volunteer”  or “let’s go workout.” ” I’ll take the box marked LIFE that Carol Merril is standing in  front of Monty.”

I have been told I look great.  People can’t believe I had open heart surgery, that I should be home resting, taking time off. I have even been told that I should look into going on disability. Are you serious?  Disability? What’s my disability?  I wake up everyday and I have a pulse, and I say “thank you.”  The only disability is a bad attitude and the belief that you are owed something in life.   I have a choice to make everyday…. to be mad about what I went through or to move forward and be happy that each day I am stronger than the day before. I am a lucky girl.  Hallelujah brother that my girls will come home from college in the next few weeks and will see me looking like their normal mom, tell me my scar is gross and ask me if we can we go to the mall.   If I have one thing to say is that life is good and yes I love Madonna.

Please follow my fitness blog and now my journey after open heart surgery. To read the original pre-op post Fit, Fifty & WTF go to hopenagy.wordpress.com and scroll to 4/7/2015

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You Always Had the Power My Dear

9 10 2013

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The email usually starts the same “Hi my name is…” Then the person goes on to tell me that they are interested in hiring a personal trainer because they need to lose weight, never worked out, need to be pushed, motivated and accountable to someone, getting married, etc.  But a year ago I got an e-mail that included this:

After successfully losing more than 160 pounds over 6+ years, working a crazy desk job and being lax about working out, the pounds have started to creep back.  I’m getting married in December (and have already ordered my dress) so I’m looking to get stronger and healthier.

Can you  possibly get any stronger than the strength and dedication it took to lose 160 lbs this gal already had?  The answer is yes, yes and YES!!!!!

One of the best things about this new client that came to me in September of 2012 and was getting married in December is she wasn’t my typical bride to be. She didn’t say the things I usually hear from brides. The I’m wearing a strapless dress and I want to lose 40 pounds have sculpted arms, accentuated collar bones,  and my legs are fine cause the dress is covering them.”  Christine told me I don’t expect miracles in the next few months I just want to look good in my dress. Did I actually have a bride that I didn’t have to give my I’m not a magician speech and that these requests come with hard work and SWEAT?   Christine lost weight in the few months and  look absolutely gorgeous in her dress.  But this story isn’t about brides and training and looking great in a wedding dress. The real story begins the 6 years before I met Christine and continues with the year we have spent together once a week, burpee after burpee after burpee.  See un like most brides after their big day Christine didn’t turn down her exercise regime, or take time off.   This married lady turned it up and the pounds went down and down each week. Putting us at this very moment I am typing to 50 pounds in a little over one year.

Like most girls who are not comfortable in a gym atmosphere, finding somewhere to workout  that is not in everyone’s view is where they either request to train or somehow manage to move me. Can we go over there they say.   Listen gals let’s get this straight. Nobody is looking at you. The guys and gals in front of the mirrors are so vain they don’t have time to look at you!

So what prompts most over weight people to make a change? Sometimes it’s  a trip to the doctor, blood test results or maybe heart disease.   Christine had no alarming medical diagnosis she just was sick and tired of being over weight.   No more talking about it,  waiting for the right time, New Years Day or a Monday.  She pressed go and got up and went and put her plan into action with cleaning up her diet and exercising.  A year ago I was told by Christine that she doesn’t run. She does now. Did her first 5K this year.  “I can’t do a push-up” has been replaced with “how many and do I clap or burpee in between ?”  In 12 months I never heard Christine say  “I can’t do that.” She ALWAYS says to me the words, “I’ll try.”  One pound losses were never a bummer for Christine. No losses we never upsetting, but just more motivation for her to tighten up her diet and exercise a little harder.   This past year I witnessed the decline of jean sizes this year and saw how exciting it was for Christine to get rid of the old clothes and go shopping for new ones. My favorite texts said “Hi!!! I just bought a pair of 27, yes 27, True Religion jeans. I don’t have muffin top. I’m in shock!” and “I can’t believe the ass in the mirror is mine!”  That ass has done a million squats, of every version I can think of in the last 12 months, it better look good or my ass is grass! My business card is stamped on that ass of hers.

Whether Christine’s goal was looking good in her wedding dress, or recently zipping up a dress she wanted to wear to a friend’s wedding, she always set realistic goals and then worked, not wished towards that goal.  When she said to me in her initial e-mail she wanted to get stronger, she didn’t realize that she already had an over abundance of strength and dedication that even i I could not give her.  That type of strength has to come from inside. That strength is what is needed to succeed and never give up.  No personal trainer is going to give that to you. Trainers  might push you, pull you, and tug some things out of you give you muscular strength, endurance and cardio but  dedication and the POWER to succeed is internal and has to come from you.

Gone are the pink baby weights and hiding in the corner.  Christine is pressing steel in double digits, running, spinning, squatting, and standing in front of the mirror. Why? Because I tell her to. Look at your muscles. Check out your form. That’s what the mirrors are for. That’s why we gym rats hog the mirrors. Watching your body’s muscles is like sculpting a piece of art.

When someone loses weight they also lose some inhibitions. Confidence is often gained. Strength surfaces and is used in multiple ways. Yes there will be the haters. “You’re too skinny”, “You’re obsessed”.  Your real friends will let you know if they see a problem or in Christine’s case I told her recently  “I’ll tell you if you’re getting too skinny.”

There is a great saying from Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz: “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it yourself.”

Christine you are an inspiration to the many people who have to lose weight and to get healthy. Being your bad bitch, oops, I mean bad witch this year was rewarding to me, and your constant smile and positive attitude is so refreshing. I thank you and I’ll get you my pretty at this weeks training.

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Christine and a friends dog

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Christine & Tom December 2012

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When I grow up…I want to be a Fitness Competitor.

20 02 2012

For many  of us fitness enthusiasts there have been many  moments where we think, I would have loved to have been that, done that, or tried that. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I say that often. I could have played sports but my parents worked full-time so I wasn’t allowed. I could have been a singer but I ruined my voice yelling in spin class. I could have been a professional biker had I started riding younger. I coulda, woulda, shoulda ….the list goes on and on.  At one point in our lives we put our dreams, wishes and desires aside because we either doubted ourselves, didn’t have the passion, the drive or the dedication to go for it, or thought we are to old, or some have even given up on a dream because of someone else’s. I do believe that each person has something they excel at and most go through their entire lives never finding that special gift that they have. Lance Armstrong talks about that in his first book, about how lucky he was to find biking. I may never find my “thing” so I’ll keep looking, dreaming and hoping for more chances. In the meantime I want to talk to the people who have succeeded in finding their “thing”.

Today I start my first of a series of  blogs called: When I grow up.

 When I grow up I would like to be a Fitness Competitor.

Meet Carrie Simmons, I.F.B.B. Pro Fitness competitor, aerialist, personal trainer and coach. When I have a question about training I usually e-mail Carrie. Since she is surrounded by serious fitness folks I know if she doesn’t know the answer, she will find it for me.  Carrie moved from Conshohocken, PA to LA to pursue her dream of becoming a fitness professional.  I spoke to Carrie recently…….

Q- When did you start working out?

A- I started training when I was 23. I was dating a National level BBer who dragged me kicking and screaming to the gym.

Q- How old were you and what was the first competition you entered?

A – I was 26 I think. It was a regional Ms. Fitness USA competition.

Q- How did you do? What one thing did you learn from this first competition that stayed  with you and made you prepare better for the next show? 

A- I think I was like second to last… LMAO! I learned to diet more than 4 weeks for a show and don’t carb up on Frosted Flakes!!!!!

Q- You turned pro in what year and how many years after your first competition?

A- Turned pro in 2009, 12 years after starting.

Q-That’s a long time. Did you ever want to quit?

Hell YEAH. They weren’t 12 continuous years, I’d get fed up and take some time off, then the itch would come back

Q- What was the name of the competition and how did it feel to get your pro card? 

A- It was the NPC Team Universe in NYC. It was AWESOME!

Q- What is your biggest struggle to stay  in top shape?  

A-  DIETING!!!!!!

Q- When you are not competing are you still strict with your diet and exercise?

A- I’m still strict, but more reasonable. I’ll eat a wider variety of foods.

Q- What type of food or supplements should I take before and after my workouts to help me see results in gaining lean muscle and losing fat? 

A- BCAAs and glutamine afterwards for recover and I like a pre workout supplement  that has no caffeine and sometimes caffeine for a kick.

Q- How do you deal with cravings for junk foods, sweets and salty food? I crave chocolate all the time. I have no willpower for this. It literally cannot be in my house in any form. 

A-  I do the same thing… I don’t keep it in the house!

Q- When I first saw you at Superfit gym when you still lived in Philadelphia I was so intimidated by you.  I am sure that most women are, but how do the men in the gym react to you? Intimidated? Jealous?  Impressed?  

A- LMAO!!!! YOU intimidated me! I remember saying to Greg, (owner of SuperFit Gym) “Wow does she always stay in that kind of shape??” I get a mix of reactions, mostly positive.

Q – What is the best compliment you have ever received? 

A- Probably when a woman tells me she wants  to look like me.

Q – I was in a club at the Jersey Shore (Yo)  and some little guy told me I was too big  and that it wasn’t feminine or sexy.  I’m not even that big.  Do people say stuff like that to you? 

A- I’ve gotten it before. My response is usually “f**k off” I look this way for me. I like it and that’s all that really matters.  I lucked out and found a great guy who likes it too.

Q- How do you deal with all the beautiful people in California (LA) who buy their appearance?

A- That great guy I found lives in LA. Yes, there are plenty of folks who have been surgically altered here, but there are a lot  more who spend hours in the gym just like us.

Q- Tell me the difference between people in an East Coast Gym and a West Coast Gym. 

A – I think the East coast guys are more “meat head”… more concerned with strength and muscle size not necessarily leanness. The west coast boys are all about being lean and pretty.  As for the girls, there are more ladies in the gyms on the west coast for certain.

Q- Please describe your normal diet. What do you eat on  a typical day to stay in shape. 

A- That’s easy it’s pretty much the same all year! Differences between off-season and contest prep are the types of proteins and the amount of carbs I eat.

Meal 1 – shake and oatmeal

Meal 2 – oatmeal and egg whites

Meal 3 – protein, carb, veggies

Meal 4 – protein, carb, veggies

Meal 5  – Post workout shake

Meal 6 – protein, carb

Meal 7 – protein

Q – “Carbs”, I can’t stand when my clients don’t eat any carbs and don’t understand the  good carb/ bad carb rule. Do you eat carbs? 

A – YUP!

Q – What guidelines do you recommend for daily protein intake? 

A- I’m of the 1.5-2g per lb. of body weight. The higher end of that being for quality muscle gaining.

Q – When you are not competing are you still strict with your diet and exercise? Because sometimes I see a post and your eating at a burger place or some other joint and I am saying no way is Carrie eating that crap. 

A – LMAO!!! Are you referring to my trips to the cheesecake factory and the Counter (awesome burger shop in LA)???? Hey, I love food. But even when I diet for a show, I get one cheat meal a week. I take it on a Saturday or Sunday so Michael and I can have somewhat of a “normal” time out. But even if it’s not a cheat meal,  the places we eat out at in LA don’t look at you like you’ve got 2 heads when you ask for something grilled, or without butter or dressing on the side. That’s another thing I like about the West coast, it’s way more health conscious than the East coast. I ask for my food prepared a special way and stuff on the side.  Back home  in Philly it would come with a heaping serving of spit.

When I order my boyfriend cringes, especially when I say “write this down” . He says, you forget to tell them no tomatoes and extra spit please. lol 

Q- What is your training routine like? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.) Currently  I’m hitting everything 2x a week

Answer

Mon – legs (quad specific, some ham)

Tue – back and biceps (heavy movements)

Wed – chest, shoulder triceps (chest and triceps specific)

Thu – legs (ham specific, some quad)

Fri – back and biceps (light and detailing)

Sat – chest, shoulder triceps (shoulder specific – military presses etc)

Cardio right now is treadmill mostly. Early AM empty stomach before work (lifting is at night after work)

Q – Six pack abs. Made in the kitchen or in the gym?  

A – Some gym, mostly kitchen!

Q – Do you train everyday? 

A- Sunday right now is off, but I wind up going to dance class.

Q – What are the top 5 tips you recommend for staying motivated on a fitness plan and truly making a healthy lifestyle change:

  1. Set goals. Whether it’s a competition, some party you want to look good for, your birthday…
  2. Track what you eat… FOR REAL. Every bite. Most folks don’t realize how much they really consume.
  3. Find a work out that’s fun. You hate weights? Try rock climbing. Hate the treadmill? Take a Zumba class
  4. If you fall off the wagon, jump right back on. Don’t give in to the “screw it, I already messed up, may as well keep going” pitfall.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people who will support your efforts

Q -What do you consider to be your strong points as a competitor?

A -With fitness, we have 2 rounds – physique and routine. Physique is definitely my stronger.

Q – What body part is the hardest for you to train? 

A – Legs are hard, but I love training them.

Q – Do you measure your body fat on a regular basis? Weigh your self everyday?

A – I don’t get my BF tested. Those handheld gadgets and home scales are always off. I had it done a few years back at a training facility. I measure my bf by how many striations, muscle fibers and veins I see. Weight I do once a week but only when I’m in contest mode.

Q – Who do you look to in the fitness industry for inspiration? 

A- One of my really good friends, IFBB Pro Fitness competitor Tracey Greenwood. She’s a PhD and a college professor. She retired from competition as one of the top girls of all time. She has a great work ethic and balance of fitness and work. She also helps to rescue dogs. (She also from the East coast! DE)

Q -What is the #1 thing you like about being into fitness?

A- How working out makes me look. I’ll admit it, I’m vain.

Q -Don’t you think you either have to be vain or insecure to be this dedicated?  I hate to admit this but I think personally my insecurities push me.

A- I think everyone is a little of both, its just how you let those 2 shape you and control you. We use ours to shape these physiques; someone else may allow the insecurities to drive tem to overeat…

Q – Coolest person you ever met? –

A – Randy Couture

Q – Person you’d love to meet? 

A – George St. Pierre

Q – If you could work out with one famous person who would that be.

A –  George St. Pierre

Q -You and your boyfriend are both in amazing shape. Could you ever date a regular guy.  You know what I mean. Mike is huge.

A – I couldn’t date anyone that doesn’t work out. They don’t have to be a BBer, but they need to train. I spend most of my free time in some sort of workout facility – be it lifting, gymnastics, dance, aerial. If that person didn’t work out, I’d never see them!

Q – Your also an aerialist. Explain to me what that is?

A – Think Cirque du Soleil. I perform on rope, trapeze, silks and hoop.

Q – I hate the age thing. I find myself at the gym busting my ass more. Wish I could turn back the years with each rep. How do you deal with the age thing.  Do you find that the older you get the harder it is to stay in shape, keep your muscle definition, stay lean? 

A – Honestly, not yet. I’ll be 40 in April and I’ve never looked better. I know it’s gonna catch me one day, but today ain’t that day!

Q – Recently someone I know posted on her Facebook that women over the age of 30 shouldn’t wear just jog bras when working out.  I of course had to comment why not? I am one of those gals that does wear a just a sports bra.  I was bombarded by a slew of women  who agreed with the poster.  Should a woman over a certain age not wear a bikini, a sports bra, etc.  Your thoughts? 

A –  If you look good, rock it. She was probably mad because SHE can’t wear one.

Q – Most girls look in the mirror and say “I hate my …..”  or “I wish I was…..” What does Carrie say? 

A – I don’t like my calves. Unfortunately, they’re genetic so I am stuck with them. But I’m ok with everything else right now. Butt could be tighter…

Complete these sentences: 

 When I grow up I want to be ……. I refuse to grow up!

If I could switch bodies with one person it would be…… No one. 

If chocolate chip cookies were fat-free and calorie free I would eat it all the time. 

I am scared of  failure.

Q – What’s one sport or event you wish you could do? (like  a triathlon, tennis, golf, etc.) 

A – Gymnastics.

Q – Favorite body part  on a guy (keep it clean) lol. 

A – LMAO!!!!! It depends, I love nice thick pecs and cannonball shoulders, but they gotta have legs too.

Q – There is a saying that I love it’s  “STRONG WOMEN ONLY INTIMIDATE WEAK MEN.”  True?

A – Weak mentally!

Carrie lives in Marina Del Rey, California and works as a Creative Director for a Personal Care Manufacturer.  If you are interested in training with Carrie or taking an Aerial class, or have a question for her  you can contact her at www.carrie-simmons.com or carrie@carrie-simmons.com. You can also find Carrie on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carrie-Simmons-IFBB-ProAerialist/159354270759333  and on twitter http://twitter.com/IFBBProCarrie.

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