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My Never Been Stronger Story - Abbey Fliege

A Never Been Stronger story with Abbey Fliege

Since January 1st, Abbey has been coming to the gym about five to six times per week. Before that, she had a neck injury that put a restriction on her weight training. She was only allowed to do stretching for exercise for about six months. Abbey's story is one of a comeback, and one that can inspire others to take action today. She has truly Never Been Stronger. All it took for her was 1 week, and it changed her whole mindset. She decided to come into the gym five times the first week of the year and that instilled the confidence in herself that she CAN exercise at least five times a week. Abbey’s mental focus and clarity has increased dramatically and her strength, and endurance have increased as well! We all have that choice to decide how important our health is to us, and she has made the choice and is reaping the benefits every day. When you see her in the club at Anytime Fitness Peoria she is always smiling and full of positive energy. She has inspired many of her co workers, and I know that Patrick and I are always inspired to see her getting her workouts in at the club. Abbey has lived up to the Never Been Stronger lifestyle and is going to keep crushing her goals.

Intro by Shelby LeBoeuf

How Lifting Saved Me and Almost Killed Me

Almost two years ago, I had fallen into a very deep clinical depression. My psychiatrist wrote a script for me to take three weeks off work and gave me two instructions: 1) join a gym and 2) do not sleep the entire time I was off. Long story short I joined to improve my mental health. I joined Anytime Fitness in February 2016. I don’t just suffer from depression. My clinical diagnoses include: Bipolar Type I, General Anxiety Disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

When I joined the gym. I just wanted to feel better. I needed guidance, so I hired a trainer. She did not last long and in came Shelby to replace her. I really did not want to work with a male trainer, but there was something about him that told me to take a chance. I’m glad that I did because Shelby changed my life. He is by far the most positive person I have ever met.

The first thing I noticed about Shelby was his energy. Before I ever knew his story, I could tell he was humble yet confident. This was key because the last thing I wanted was some arrogant gym dude. As I got to know Shelby, I found he was very easy to talk to and trust. Shelby understood the balance between mental and physical health.

Lifting became my biggest coping mechanism. It gave me confidence and eased my anxiety. My hard work was paying off because in January 2017 I became member of the month. I earned a free workout with Shelby and the owner. I got to tell my story about joining a gym for mental health reasons instead of physical ones. Life was good…or so I thought.

Then on day when I was squatting over half my body weight I got a shooting headache in the back of my head. We thought maybe I had positioned the bar wrong, but I instantaneously knew something was wrong. I tried working out a few more times but I always got headaches. Begrudgingly I went to the doctor. What we found out was that I had a dissection in my left internal carotid artery and just like that I was cut off from the gym for six months. Had I not gone to the doctor the dissection could have torn. I could have died.

Taking away my number one coping mechanism was enough to make fall back into a depression. In fact, I hired a counselor. I had been doing so well that I didn’t need to go to therapy, but I spiraled downward quickly. Straight into suicidal ideation. Just like that my world came crashing down. I couldn’t even lift my parent’s new puppy. I felt like a failure, even though it was my body that failed me.

In the interim of my artery healing I found another passion. I started volunteering at our local no-kill animal shelter. I started out just washing dishes because I didn’t want to risk being pulled by a dog and further damaging my artery. Eventually my artery healed, and I started walking dogs. I have also made a presence there so now I just hang out and socialize the dogs that need love and affection. The dogs are my cuddle babies.

My artery finally healed. Getting back into a routine with Shelby was easy, though I was nervous. My love for the gym was not rekindled quickly. In fact, the first month I barely went. I was frustrated because I had lost all my confidence and strength. I wanted to be the Abbey that won member of the month. Instead, I was just a broken-down shell of the woman I used to be.

Slowly but surely, I found my love again. Now I workout four to six days a week. The maximum weight I can lift now is seventy-five pounds. It’s not about maximum poundage anymore, it’s about maximum reps. It’s about loving myself regardless of my disorders. It’s about breaking personal records and sweating all my problems out. It’s about spending time with Shelby who helps me turn negatives into positives. It’s about forgetting that I have three mental health disorders, even if just for an hour at a time.

Abbey Fliege

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