Opportunities come disguised as challenges in many forms and no two stories are the same. The one thing that all of our featured champions have in common is courage. Courage to allow themselves to believe it's possible, courage to start and the courage to persevere when adversity strikes.
This week, I'm proud to share Alicia Sweet's accomplishments. Alicia has been in a dark and dangerous place where the line between perception and reality gets blurred. To do what she's done is nothing short of superhuman. Her resiliency in overcoming a disease so dangerous that many are afraid to even say it out loud is inspiring beyond my ability to describe it. To those who suffer with Anorexia Nervosa, this week's post is dedicated to you and presented in hopes that you too will find the the bravery of Alicia Sweet as proof that it can be done and the hope to hang onto until you find your strength to beat this. It is difficult...it can be done.
Here's Alicia's story -
"Fitness and sports have always been part of my life. I started playing soccer at the age of four and continued to play growing up along with basketball, lacrosse, track, and even rugby! I had a very successful athletic career and played on many special, talented teams. I’ve also coached youth soccer and basketball, as I love to share my passion and want to help players grow. In 2008, I began my freshman year of college at SUNY Cortland as a Physical Education major. Little did I know that this life transition would lead to a dark road. Feeling pressured to continue as the strong soccer player that I was, stay in shape without gaining the “freshman fifteen,” and maintaining high grades, I turned to even more exercise and strictly eating healthy (so I thought it was healthy). However, this lifestyle became a steep downhill slope when I started losing weight and became addicted to my habits and routines. By the end of my freshman year, my weight became dangerously low, I was too tired for a social life, and I became an emotionless person, but I secretly loved the pain. This lasted only so long until my organs and body began to shut down when I got my body weight down to the 90 pound range. In 2009, I was hospitalized and clinically diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. I took a medical leave from Cortland and went to treatment for almost a year in order to win my life back.
When I was physically and mentally healthy, I was discharged from treatment and ready to get back as the real “Alicia.” I finished my Physical Education program at Erie Community College by earning an Associate’s Degree. But I still wanted a fresh start and to do bigger things, which is why I decided to go to Coastal Carolina University (outside of Myrtle Beach, SC), where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Sport Science and graduated with honors. My passion for fitness, health, athletics, and nutrition continued to grow strong as I was always learning and experiencing new things. After graduation, I decided to stay down in Myrtle Beach for the summer to work at the YMCA and complete my personal training certification.
In the fall of 2013, I moved back to Buffalo and began coaching middle school girls’ soccer. I was then hired at Catalyst Fitness as a full time personal trainer. As I started to adjust to my new job and settle into a new home, the competitive side of me really wanted a new goal to aim for. A few of my co-workers were starting to prep for the Mr./Ms. Buffalo show and I thought that was the perfect opportunity for me to test my dedication, discipline, and fitness. I wanted to do something strong for me, especially since there were a lot of things going on with my family and personal life. I was coached by Christina Rivera and I couldn’t be more grateful for everything she taught me during the show prep, while staying healthy! I competed in two NPC shows in the bikini division back to back- the Buffalo in March (placed 6th) and the Rochester in June (placed 3rd) of 2014. All the hard work and training was worth it! Not only did I become stronger physically, I became stronger mentally and learned that I was much more happy with my new muscular, athletic body frame.
Since the Rochester show, I’ve been focusing on growing my career with my clients, and earned my second personal trainer certification. In the near future, I want to get my master’s degree in the nutrition field in order to keep progressing in my career. I plan on competing again in March 2015 at the national level… I am really excited to learn more and improve in the bodybuilding sport! During my own journey, I want to help and inspire as many people as possible! Whether it’s an athlete, a competitor, or simply a friend, many people struggle and get lost in the eating disorder world. It’s hard to escape and without help, it is deadly. I hope through my story and continued effort to reach out to people, I can inspire others to live a healthy, balanced life."