Stories of Strength

Updated: Jul 21

My time writing for fitness magazines taught me the power of community to transform the individual.

Can you see the microphone in the picture above? It's to the left of my head. Music opened the door for me to step into a world I'd only known through my dad: professional sports. The above picture was taken at Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, CA where I performed for Muscle & Fitness's magazine cover launch party. Among the many guests present were 'Governator' Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Ben Paul, president & CEO of Arnold's After School All Stars.

Writing for Fitness Magazines

'Everything I did in music telling strong stories translated into the familiar world of fitness.'

Writing for fitness magazines is something I still laugh about, at least how I landed in it. I was a musician at the time, but my healing journey had taken me into a deep dive to recover my health any way I could. My expertise in finding a solution for my health lead me into pitching articles to the editors of the NYC based magazine HQ at American Media Inc, and landing a job as a features writer for muscle & fitness, Hers, Flex, as well as Men's Health.

I met fitness stars like Mexican boxing professional, Canelo Alvarez, the mega-star Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan from the new Rocky series, Dolph Lundgren, Rocky's dreaded Russian foe, and more. I got to know celebrities like Joe Mangianello, Arnold S, and more. It wasn't the fame & glory that drew me into this world; it was my fascination with telling strong stories of people like you and me who believed enough in and boldly acted upon n their God-given potential until they saw their lives transform. Everything about weigh-lifting I learned reinforce this principal: when you feel your muscles burning and fatiguing and you're tempted to cut a set short, that's when you keep pushing, that's when the muscle fibers tear and then are able to refuse tighter, stronger, bigger, and better.

Meatless Monday & Influencing the Plant-Based Movement

The biggest blessing from this time in fitness writing was getting to witness first-hand how a network of influencers can work together to bring forward the change they want see in the world, this one being the plant-based movement. Each person in the movement did their part according to their gifts and position of influence, mine was to bring greener articles to the meathead magazines.

I spearheaded some of the magazine's first plant-based recipes, at first to help bodybuilders adopt a cleaner diet that would be less harsh on their systems, but eventually through the help of some vegetarian writers, Muscle & Fitness adopted meatless Monday content as a whole, and it has since remained a regular section in their magazines.

Some of the more exciting interactions from this time include getting to interview Sid Lerner, the very founder of the meatless campaigns, and Gene Bauer, founder of animal rescue organization called, Farm Sanctuary. I became friends with T.K. Pillan, founder of Veggie Grill & Stand-Up Burgers (restaurant opening photo pictured above,) the founder of SunWarrior plant-based proteins, and Jimmy DeSisto, owner of Venice Bakery, the kitchen that supplies the world's demand of Domino's pizza crust and who created the first ever commercially distributed gluten-free pizza dough, which significantly propelled the plant-based movement forward.

Skid Row Marathon

'Sports caused people who would have otherwise never met, connected, or cared about each other to start running, talking, caring and healing together.'

The most interesting connection that came out of this time writing in fitness magazines was on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, where fitness created a family for recovering homeless men and women. In 2016 I joined the Skid Row Running Club and trained for the LA Marathon alongside the group founder, Judge Craig Mitchell, who also serves Los Angeles as the city's superior court judge.

The club started after a prisoner Mitchell had sentenced began writing to him about his transformation in prison, and the judge felt compelled to bring his passion for running to the streets to give those in recover a chance at re-introduction into society with a sense of 'belonging'.

Sports did that; Sports brought people together who would never met, never connected, never cared about each other to start talk, run, care and heal together. It was here that throughout my many years of recovery from sexual trauma as a child I first felt 'normalcy' in the brokenness of pain. It would still be another 3 years before I experienced freedom from all my childhood pain in a radical coming-home to my faith that left me symptom free, and tasting of real, and lasting 'normalcy', whatever that even means today.

New Gym Equipment for the Midnight Mission

Out of my connections with the magazines, I brought the editor to visit the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles and he wrote his editor's letter that month about the mission's gym. Well, a generous reader, who happened to be a recovered alcoholic turned bodybuilder, got inspired by the letter and helped bring brand new equipment to the gym. Here we are inside the refitted gym with Don Feenery (left) and Valerie Myers, the gym overseer. This was a really proud & unexpected moment for me.

Health & Fitness for Me Now

Taking on the challenge to become a health & fitness writer is an experience that has marked me for life. I'm a better athlete and better human from just having been exposed to the world of competitive sports & the camaraderie forged when people from opposite walks of life walk together toward the same goal.

Staying active is still a huge part of my life: I weight lift three times a week and play soccer with my husband twice a week. We also go on hikes to write sessions for the boys he leads through our business, DG Adventure Life Academy. My life is completely changed from the health habits I learned in my hunt for personal health and wellbeing, but my lifestyle has simplified since having been miraculous cured of a chronic illness in 2019. I now enjoy my health rather than push and fight to have it.