Perspiration Inspiration: Pamela Thistle Overcoming Unseen Barriers

Perspiration Inspiration: Pamela Thistle Overcoming Unseen Barriers

yoga pam thistle

Pam, the Yogi

I am happy when I’m covered in mud! I am happy when I'm pushing myself and over coming things I didn't think were possible at one time.” Pamela Thistle’s winning attitude has helped her over come so much more than she ever imagined.

Usher’s Syndrome took away Pamela Thistle’s ability to see some obstacles, but it didn’t take away her determination to overcome them. It’s an invisible disability that resulted in hearing loss and progressive deterioration in vision (night blindness and loss of peripheral vision).

While manageable at first, symptoms worsened until she had to stop working in her much beloved career as an Interior Designer. She fell into depression, and decreased her once regular activity. One day, struggling to shovel the snow, Pamela realized things had to change. The next day, she joined a gym. She was tired of feeling sorry for herself and hiding away from the world. She decided it was time to start living. Pamela had lots of available time and she was all out of excuses.

Her journey started in the gym, before she moved to boot camp, yoga and kickboxing. She later discovered Crossfit and Obstacle Course Racing – and her life changed. She opened up about her disability, found resources like Guide runners and learned she could do anything she put her mind to.  Pamela shared with me what that journey looked like.

Perspiration Inspiration: Lack of sight is no obstacle for Pamela Thistle, Mudd Queen

AT: How did people close to you react when you talked about doing obstacle races?

PT: They thought I was crazy. They worry, but now they are used to it. I’m living my life for me, not them. Some people don’t approve and have told me to give it up. My husband still shakes his head every time I tell him about my new challenge because they keep getting bigger and bigger. I felt scared and overwhelmed but facing fears is what makes me stronger.

spartan race pam thistle

AT: Do people in athletics treat you differently?

PT: I don’t think they treat me differently. Coaches adjust their training to suit me. In Olympic Lifting, my coach teaches based on how it feels rather than how it should look. In my last Go Ruck event I brought a guide with me and the leader said that he hoped I wasn’t expecting special treatment. The group came together and not once did anyone make me feel like I was holding them back or that I couldn’t do the same things they were doing. It was really amazing! That was the hardest event I’ve done to date.

pamThistle crossfit torontoAT: How does it feel to trust a guide with your safety?

PT: It took me a while to put my trust in a guide, but not one has led me astray yet. I am more relaxed and trusting with every event I do. I have the best guides ever. They are extreme event fanatics like me. I met a few guides through Achilles Canada. I found a lot of my own guides by meeting people and asking.

AT: How do you stay motivated?

PT: This year has been very challenging; I’ve had one set back after another. I got very frustrated and there were times I just wanted to give up. Then I would think about how happy I am after I finish reaching a goal I have set. I am truly happy when I’m moving.

AT: What advice do you have for people starting out on their own fitness journey?

PT: Try many different things. You never know what you will love or what you are really good at! Don’t be afraid.

A question about barriers, obstacles and ‘Excusitis' – What's holding you back?

Pam getting down and dirty at Tough Mudder

Pam getting down and dirty at Tough Mudder

Pamela’s unlikely journey from blindness and depression to running obstacle courses, enjoying Crossfit and finding community goes to show that you don’t need to be able to see a barrier to overcome it. With determination anything is possible, all it takes is a little faith in yourself and the will to succeed.

Pamela Thistle’s home Crossfit gym is Crossfit Toronto and she is a member of Canadian Mudd Queens (an OCR group).

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Author Bio:

allison_T bio picAlison Tedford is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC. She is a single mom who documents her journeys in parenting, fitness and feminism on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops

Read on as she contributes motivational stories in her column, #PerspirationInspiration, right here on the Moose is Loose.

Connect with her on social media at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Perspiration Inspiration: Canadian Pole Vaulter Clears The Bar For Equality

Perspiration Inspiration: Canadian Pole Vaulter Clears The Bar For Equality

leanna carriere smiling pan am athlete“It’s a very unique feeling – flying through the air.” That’s how Leanna Carriere describes her favorite athletic event, Pole vault.

It is all about pioneering, having been introduced as an Olympic event for women in 2000. Leanna excels, jumping the same heights as younger men. She follows her dreams to motivate and inspire others.  She wants to show you can carry out things if you work hard, which is why she’s focused on decathlon.

Generally, women only do heptathlon. Leanna Carriere wants to change that. She pushed past an injury that side lined her pole-vault dreams for three years, with her first decathlon win in Vermont last year. She knows she might be too old by the time women can compete in Canada, but she perseveres. She hopes women and girls won’t feel discouraged from participating in a variety of events.

Perspiration Inspiration: Canadian Pole Vaulter Clears The Bar For Equality

Leanna’s life has been about surpassing barriers, on the field and personally. Beyond her injury, she’s battled ADHD and came back from a dissolved marriage, rebuilding her life from the ground up.  She was recently named a Woman Of Vision by Global Edmonton. She took some time to speak with me about her story.

Q: Why decathlon?

I enjoy all the events. The women’s heptathlon doesn’t include pole-vault. For me, the decathlon is an event I where I can use all my abilities and still pole-vault.

Q: Why do you work so hard?

I know one day it will all pay off. I know what I want. I want to compete for Canada in the Olympics. It was instilled in me to get your goals you have to train as hard as you can. I want to represent Canada the best way I can, working hard.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about athletics?

I like to see how I can push my body. It’s amazing what the human body can do. For the most part, people have yet to tap into their full potential. It’s neat to see the changes and adaptations the body can make.

leanna carriere pic e

Q: What was it like not pole –vaulting after your injury?

I practiced new events and learned new skills. I missed the thrill of pole vaulting but it made me a better athlete with a good base.

Q: How did personal challenges impact your athletic performance?

I had to rebuild a couple of times, each time asking “How can I build my life so I can become a better athlete? How can I situate myself so I can excel?” Instability is hard and it’s hard to do this on your own. Sports helped me stay on track for school, and stay focused, investing my high energy in a positive area.

Q: How do you stay motivated?

I go back to my goals. My coaches hold me accountable. I never want to let people down. I pay for my coaches, training, gym fees and I want to make the most of it. I have motivational things on my fridge, like what I need to do to get to the Olympics.

Q: What advice would you have for someone just becoming active?

Stay with it. Going to the gym is hard without a goal. Be passionate and excited about your goal, whether it’s to lose 10 pounds or enter a 5k race. There has to be meaning to showing up. Goals can change.

leanna carriere pic cQ: How do sports impact how you see your body?

Growing up, we had body image issues in our family, including obesity and eating disorders. Lifting weights and feeling fit gives an endorphin rush: you feel strong and confident. When my mom works out, there’s a change in her attitude; it provides confidence.  With training, your body will feel better because you are sweating, eating better, and seeing the outcome of your hard work.

A Gold Medal Attitude will Carry You Far in Life

Leanna Carriere is an inspirational athlete who moves for a purpose. She has dreams not just for herself, but for future female athletes.

How can movement help you achieve your dreams? Can you get out there and help someone else achieve theirs?

You can read more about Leanna’s journey on her website, by following her on Twitter or Instagram.

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Author Bio:

allison_T bio picAlison Tedford is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC. She is a single mom who documents her journeys in parenting, fitness and feminism on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops

Read on as she contributes motivational stories in her column, #PerspirationInspiration, right here on the Moose is Loose.

Connect with her on social media at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Perspiration Inspiration: Adaptive Skier, Rob Gosse, Makes A Splash

Perspiration Inspiration: Adaptive Skier, Rob Gosse, Makes A Splash

rob gosse on the beachWhen Rob Gosse’s motorcycle collided with a semi, he wasn’t thinking about sports. He was thinking about his kids. As a self-employed automotive technician, his attention moved from the pursuit of conventional success to parenthood. His fitness journey became part of that goal. When a L1 spinal cord injury that left in him in a wheel chair, he had two kids under the age of 2. He sold his business and focused on sports and family.

Rob tried adaptive sports: basketball, horseback riding, everything he could, eventually landing on alpine skiing. Skiing allowed him to be out of his chair. On the mountain, he was just another skier. Most importantly, it was something he could easily do with his kids and have fun.

He competed provincially, then on the NORAM circuit for 3-4 years.  He retired in 2011-2012. Rob was sticking to his motto: if something stops being fun, stop doing it. Skiing became work; he hated being on the hill so he took a year off.  He now skis with his family recreationally, coaches developing adaptive skiers and teaches newcomers.

During his hiatus, he fell in love again: with water skiing. He competed last year in three-event water ski: trick, jump and slalom. He was in the provincials and US Nationals, ultimately receiving an invitation to compete at the World’s.  He took some time to share with me about his journey.

Perspiration Inspiration: Adaptive Skier, Rob Gosse, Makes A Splash

Rob Gosse quote - paralympian

Q: Were you always active and athletic?

A: When I was in high school I competed in gymnastics. I was socially awkward until I became involved in sports.

Q: How did your athletic experience shape recovery for you?

A: I had good body awareness from gymnastics, which helps me transfer to and from my chair.  My upper body has always been strong. My small body size means that is enough to get me where I need to go. My injury was L1 but neurological level is L4, so I can use my hip flexors and quads. This helps me load my chair and drive. I can walk with support.

rob gosse water ski

My athletic physical condition improved my recovery time; I was in VGH for 6 weeks and GF strong for 6 weeks. My injury was June 9, 2006 and I was on the hill skiing in January of 2007.

Q: How do you stay motivated to be active?

I’ve always been an actively busy person. Now keeping busy helps my body feel better. This winter, we had no snow, so I couldn’t be as busy and my body ached.

Q: How were your athletic aspirations supported in recovery?

A: The clinical model was client centered. We set out goals. Mine was to walk out of GF Strong. Getting dressed and day-to-day activities were important too but everyone helped me work towards my main goal.

Q: What is your advice for parents contemplating becoming active?

A: Look for activities to do as a family. If your kids see you doing something, they will want to join in. We ski together and my son is a better free skier than I ever will be. When you pick something that can be done at different levels, you motivate each other to improve.

Q: What do you get out of competing emotionally?

A: I thrive on competing at a high level. I love watching what people do and how. I’m very technical and relate what I see to my function. I love breaking down tasks and teaching. Giving back is important and adaptive sports let me do that.

rob gosse crushing itQ: How did the accident impact how you saw yourself?

A: It was degrading and intimidating. I didn’t want to be seen, I had low self-esteem and PTSD so I worked with a psychologist. A physiotherapist and occupational therapist rounded out my support system. Beyond professionals, friends, family, dad, siblings, everyone was supportive.

I don’t wish the injury on anyone but I would say I have a better quality of life than I did before. I enjoy life more. I’m not chasing the almighty dollar. When I weigh success versus time with my kids, I would rather have time with my kids.

As an adaptive skier and now a competitive water skier, Rob Gosse is making waves in the way his kids define success and value fitness. His is a story that leaves you asking: How can I involve my kids in my fitness journey?

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Author Bio:

allison_T bio picAlison Tedford is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC. She is a single mom who documents her journeys in parenting, fitness and feminism on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops

Read on as she contributes motivational stories in her column, #PerspirationInspiration, right here on the Moose is Loose.

Connect with her on social media at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Perspiration Inspiration: Allison Tai, the World’s Toughest Mother (I mean Mudder)

Perspiration Inspiration: Allison Tai, the World’s Toughest Mother (I mean Mudder)

Ali Tai is a Spartan Warrior!

Ali Tai is a Spartan Warrior!

There are few things in this world that are stronger and more beautiful than the human spirit, the relentless desire to overcome and an enduring joie de vivre in the face of daunting adversity. These qualities are crystallized and amplified in the life of Allison Tai of Inspired Movement, who placed first in Women’s Elite at the Spartan Race in Vancouver, BC this year. 

This feat is even more impressive knowing how much she overcame to get there and that this is just one of many athletic achievements since her life was changed by an unfortunate accident. Nine years ago, she was riding her bike and was struck by a vehicle, breaking her back, pelvis and left arm. Her doctors were not optimistic about her ability to resume an active lifestyle. They could not have been more wrong. Allison made use of five months spent in a body cast earning credentials in personal training and nutrition. She refused to give up on her dreams and herself. She took some time to speak with me about her experiences.

Inspired Movement: Perseverance Tai’ed to Athletic Achievement

a Perspective on Health, Family and Living Life to the Fullest

Q: Were you always athletic? Why did you start?

I used to do show jumping. I went back to school and went from jogging, cross-country to road running, ultra marathons to Iron Man.

ali tai post baby back at it

Q: Physical activity can become part of identity. How did injury impact how you saw yourself?

It was easier initially; it was obvious I was overcoming something from the crutches and body cast. It became harder trying to do things around people who don’t realize I have a disability and nerve damage. I learned you can’t get too attached to perfection and to focus on what I’ve overcome.

Q: What does self-care look like for you?

ali tai post accident

Post accident…

Activity lessens PTSD symptoms and is the best therapy. I’m the best when I’m doing something.

How did you respond to your expectations around your future athletic activities being managed during recovery?

My doctors gave advice from experience that didn’t involve highly fit people. I took it with a grain of salt, worked hard and did my best.

Q: What did recovery teach you about compassion?

I’ve held up the bus line and couldn’t plank more than five seconds. Recovery helped me relate to people starting out in fitness and the elderly because I’ve been in their shoes.

Q: It’s hard to come back post-injury. What was your first workout like?

It was gradual, walking around the block. My biggest barrier was mental: fears of re-injury, being hit by a car and the bike.

Q: How do you feel when you see your scars?

I’m not concerned about aesthetics. It’s who I am, my character, and a reminder of who I am and what I’ve come through. I’m proud. I still get palpitations when I look at the bike in my dad’s garage or go to a hospital.

Q: Has recovery affected how you parent and coach?

Clients get upset when they don’t meet their expectations, but it’s about getting out there and doing what you can do. I can’t do everything I want to, but I will do what I can. That’s the best take away for my clients and my kids: don’t give up! I’ve learned not to use my kids as an excuse to avoid activity.

 

Q: What advice do you have for others recovering?

Keep going. Ask yourself “What does my body need? Will what I want to do hurt or help me?”

ali tai worlds toughest mudder mother

Ali's one Tough Mudder!

Q: What are you most proud of since your accident?

Placing second in World’s Toughest Mudder. These events expose self-doubt and you can’t allow excuses; you have to keep strong, even facing sandstorms and hypothermia.

Allison’s story is one of astonishing perseverance and commitment to a dream in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

You can’t help but feel inspired just listening to it, nothing seems impossible considering what she came back from.

What do you feel inspired to overcome in your own life?

You can follow Allison Tai on her blog, Twitter,  or Facebook.

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Author Bio:

allison_T bio picAlison Tedford is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC. She is a single mom who documents her journeys in parenting, fitness and feminism on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops

Read on as she contributes motivational stories in her column, #PerspirationInspiration, right here on the Moose is Loose.

Connect with her on social media at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

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