“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
– Muhammad Ali

What does the word “champion” mean to you?  Winning a race, a game, or being the best at something?  I have found out through the years  of hardships and health challenges that being a champion encompasses being able to accomplish the things I never thought I could, being able to conquer what is out of reach, and most importantly, finishing what I started.   It has nothing to do with trophies or being number one.  When I think about all the times I felt life was too hard, I recall some of the major accomplishments made during those times in my life. Graduating from nursing school is my greatest achievement.  I was told by some of my teachers in grade school as well as my own nursing school instructors that I would never graduate nursing school because I was not smart enough.  Hearing that made me feel like a loser, not a winner.  In the end, it took something deep inside – a desire, a dream, a vision. It took both the skill and the will to become a nurse.   I became a champion and passed nursing school with an A average.

When I think of being a champion, publishing my cookbook also comes to mind.  At times throughout my life, I have not felt smart enough.  I spent many years doubting myself and thinking I was no one special.  When I put aside self-pity and accepted my disease, I accomplished the dream that I never thought possible.  Not being able to do my first love of nursing anymore devastated me, and my dream shifted.  When I put my vision and  skills into practical use, I followed a dream that led me to be a champion by writing Be Your Own Chef.  I put my doubts aside and believed in myself, knowing and trusting God had a purpose for me, even though my life had detoured from all I loved and knew.

Lastly, as I go to the gym and struggle through my workouts each and everyday, I wonder, “How can I do this? Can I finish this? Will it ever get easier?”  I struggle every single workout, as I attempt to catch my breath, work through the pain of my disease, and just find the stamina to finish my workout.  All exercise is a real challenge to me, but it is so important to my physical and mental health.  Most days, I want to quit and just give up because it is just too hard.  Throughout the workout, I have to tell myself to persevere and that I can do it.  I have to believe I can or I will never succeed.  After two long exhausting hours of working out everyday and 1000 calories burned each workout, I feel like a champion over my disease.

What are your dreams, visions, and desires?  Look back on your life and see where you have become your own champion.