We had the opportunity to meet and interview Holly Stanbrough, also known as ‘Flexy.’ Holly discovered she had Multiple Sclerosis in 2002, however, she has battled it successfully through a healthy, natural diet and fitness. Read our interview with Holly to learn more!
There is several ways Holly says she could describe herself :
– Career Woman
– Published Author
– Fitness Model …
BUT , she says, “the one that describes me PERFECTLY with the MOST honor is a SURVIVOR . I train hard at the gym but train HARDER at life..!! I cherish the gift of living it rather than simply taking it… Living with a chronic illness gives a new meaning to it”
Favorite workout: The one that challenges me the most – the one that’s not the typical or norm
Favorite book: I really don’t have a favorite book, I LOVE reading inspirational poems, quotes, stories of triumphs
Favorite color: I really don’t have a favorite color
Hobbies: other than training J my interests outside of the gym are vast
I have a passion for writing – Poetry and daily quotes are an great outlet for me and find it not only helpful for me to move forward- reframe life’s difficult days, and experiences and help me find closure or a new way to see opportunity, but it has seemed to offer that to others as well. I also own a run a small horse farm with my amazing daughter. My daughter and I, have shown and raised APHA/APtHA (American paint Horses and Pinto Horses) for the past 13 years. This has been such and incredible passion we both have shared through the year’s. We don’t get to spend as much time showing as we used to due to her attending college and schedules BUT we still enjoy and spoil them daily. The other interest I have is traveling and seeing the world and different cultures and diversities – to me the world is beautiful
Congratulations on publishing your first book! Can tell us what motivated you to write Finding Me? A friend who was a musician: I began to help him write lyrics to his music – shared small sayings and quotes for friends when they were having a bad day or a special occasion. This friend told me I had a lot to say and share, he purchased a journal for me and told me to take it every where I went and “JUST WRITE”… I did and before I knew it I had a collection of short stories and poems. I was encouraged later by another friend to publish it. Through that process I began to write more and more and found it to be very healing to me and helped me find peace and closure to things in the past – it was ‘My SELF help book”. From there the book was created – which still feels unreal to me.
What projects are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working hard at brainstorming ideas for up and coming clothing line developed called ‘Flexy by Design’ ~ the ‘Get SEXY ‘n’ FLEX’ line with a variety of slogans that are fitting to the everyday fitness person to the hardcore competitor.
I am also working on publishing my second book called ‘Hidden Halo’; it is a collection of inspiration poems and daily quotes that are easily applicable to everyone. I believe in writing in a metaphoric form with reframing a negative thought or idea into a positive thought to restructuring the way we see things, the world and each other. In hopes to possible help guide and help others see HOPE
I’ve been travelling quite a bit doing photo shoots for fitness/fashion and glamour – which I HOPE to continue. As far as competitions, I am planning on returning to the stage next July in St Louis Missouri after recovering from reconstructive shoulder surgery as a result of a separated shoulder and detached bicep from a horse injury years ago. Last year was my first Pro show in St Louis July. 2012 where I placed top 5 and excited to return next year
We find you extremely brave and inspiring for successfully battling multiple sclerosis. Do you have any advice for our readers who may be going through similar challenges?
Multiple Sclerosis IS MY BLESSING – however in 2002 felt it was a curse. Today I see life.
I’m simply inspired by life , which helps me portray myself in a way that embodies goodness: It helps me display goodness, helps me see what RICH is, regardless we SHOULD never become WHOM our illness is, WE DEFINE that, its not our address!!
It’s amazing what the dx of a very serious illness will teach you!! A once angry view of an illness now seen as a blessing to really seeing the real meaning of life!!
Never pass a day by without embracing both the struggles and the riches, for both will teach you valuable lessons. Never pass off blame to someone that an opportunity to learn is there for you…. embrace the short comings, the struggles, the obstacles as often they are the BIGGEST gift life will give you. They are the gifts that help you see LIFE – see the gift of life!
Going to bed each day with an illness that will ALWAYS stand by my side and wake each day next to me…. is simply a new found GIFT to me- it had allowed me to simply let go of the small things and focus on the import things…… IMPACT FUL things!!
THE DAY I SAW LIFE
the day I was told I was a chronic incurable disease is the day I saw the life as I knew it to be over. As I soul searched and looked for answers to “WHY”, the anger of feeling robed and cheated out of my life’s dreams. I had to come to terms with this illness to be able to move out of this darkness to find peace, find the reason. “Why”, this diagnoses, this new life revealed, was a new possible way of life for me. If I believed in me, in my faith and in my strength, I would find the meaning, a new way to see life, an opportunity to see not the quantity of year’s lives but the quality of years lived. The “Why” is easy to see after that, it was a blessing – I was chosen to help others thought this journey. I now see it as an honor to be picked.
What would you say to a woman who may be on the line about competing in fitness? I would ask them, what’s the concern that keeps them on the fence? Often times we sit and ponder on fences because we have fear of the unknown or something we haven’t recognized yet… I would offer support and provide education to them to help them achieve what they dream REGARDLESS if its stepping on stage – to me “champions are built backstage”!!
Many women are afraid to work out ‘too much’ because they are afraid of looking manly. What would you say to them? I always tell woman who are afraid of becoming “big, bulky, or manly” ~ YOU will only get as big as GOD has planned for you to be naturally!
What is the most rewarding thing about being a fitness competitor? Its not the trophy or the ribbon that sits around my neck – it’s the personal achievement that – 11 years ago, I questioned my future – my ability to walk – talk and see, each time I step up on stage, it becomes overwhelming, the sense of what the true ‘Gift of life” is and knowing that someone’s life maybe touched by my story as I step on stage – thast the WIN to me – The WIN is NOT defined by the placing its by stepping.
Tell us about your diet:
I stay on a very strict “Clean” diet – high protein and low carbohydrate and low sugar diet. I have dificulty with processing Complex carbohydrates due to a past issues with my panaceas related to the MS – that I don’t tolerate crabs very well, so, I have adapted to eating a very low card diet off and on season.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
I would love to pursue a degree in Nutrition along with my nursing degree. I have a passion and real interests in the science of nutritional of how it affects our health, body and minds. I truly believe there is so much yet to learn about how nutrition plays a key role in our health, daily activities and symptoms of illness. I would love to be active in traveling doing, motivational speaking. This is a long standing personal goal and dream of mine.
My Passion – To Change……The Faces of MS, will never die and this will continue to be my livelihood and dream, not just for me, for many out there that suffer daily with this illness. ~ I feel passionate about helping others that suffer with chronic illness. I challenged everyone to help me, in this Call to Change the faces of MS….It does not have to be a life once lived, dreams faded, and days of just memories of what could ~ it can be, it can be a life filled with an abundance dreams and never ending memories … living beyond your potential. I hope to give others one more day of HOPE!
As LadyCode, we work actively in our communities to stop bullying. Do you have any advice you can offer for our readers who may be bullied? YES:
SEE worthy – FEEL worthy – ACCEPT worthiness
BE WORTHY of the journey you have traveled – the doors you’ve closed and new ones you’ve opened – BE WORTHY of who you have worked hard at becoming on this day. BE WORTHY at your travels and embrace journeys yet to come. No human’s worthiness shall be decided by defeat – struggle or hardships -NEVER give away your worthiness through trials and tribulations -YOU and ONLY you are your master of it
Become the LOVE of your life
Who is your role model and why?
My daughter – she simply a GIFT of God’s best creation … when I see her and see how she has grown up to be such an amazing productive kind hearted young woman – I glem. As she has been the most important job and role I’ve had in life – with out her being my “why” and always knowing she was my most important job – my life would not have been as rewarding. She is not only a role model to me – I believe she is to many – for simply her overall look at life and her smile – her drive – her kindness – her goodness to others is unconditionally.
What keeps you motivated?
The GIFT of LIFE, I see life as a true honor and I cherish it, it’s not something owed to me, it’s a blessing to me.
Any lessons that you have learned that you would like to share?
I’m a true believer in the power of BELIEVING ~ When you BELIEVE you see some of the most amazing things ~ The ability to experience living the true gift of LIFE! Friends’ believing is living with vision. Seeing the never ending palette of color the world has to offer. DREAM and BELIEVE with me, invest in you, invest in your health, invest in believing in yourself, is one of the most powerful decisions you will ever make, one which will impact all aspects of your life – physical, mental, and emotional.
I believe in HOPE ~ it holds our hand on the darkest days, it helps us see our dreams when we have lost vision, it allows us to sing when we have lost the song…. HOPE, allows us to make a path, where we never seen a road, we walk with the foot of faith, a road once not seen becomes into existence because of HOPE! Hope keeps the soul alive – with it we are never alone
In closing I share two of my newest poems tat will be found in book 2
MS is a trying illness – often times it’s the winner if we believe this is how it will always be and the BELIEVERS it won’t defeat it….. However we often wonder which one we are. Sometimes we wonder BUT if we allow the wonder to make us wait and see we will always remain in the same spot. NEVER forget that the way life looks today is NOT what life will always look like. I would have never imagined my life to be what it is today when I was diagnoses in 2002… Now I stand on stage as an IFPA PRO 🙂 almost unthinkable to many… BELIEVE in BELIEVEING!
Not complete and polished but a start for book #2 ” Hidden Hilo”… Today’s poem is simply a remembrance of the simple steps we take each day that bring us today… As each day that passes its part of our tomorrow – it understands the yesterdays to embrace the todays. The often “who would of thought” is a simple statement of what can happen and will happen when we begin to travel without hesitation – Hope you enjoy!!
Upon This Ground
Sometimes you sit
Sometimes you simply wonder
You listen to music
But hear no sound
You look back
And find nothing but shadows
Upon this ground
You search for the steps
That brings you to this stop
You close you eyes
To find that sound
To simply wake to see another day
In hopes to find
Footstep upon this ground
That brings you harmony in this song
We often ask
We often search
Just to find that spot
We call the house
Sheltered from fear
Covered in hope
Bringing us music
As we stand upon this ground
It’s not about the gravel
The pavement or dirt path
That brings you to this spot
It’s about the song
You sung to find this place
Traveled footsteps and long nights
Days of wonder and fears of tomorrow
That brings you to this spot to fight
As you simply walk
Upon this ground
It’s not the why
It you – you search
It’s the ground
That brings you to this spot
Not the same song sung from the past
Once silence with no notes
It’s the song heard
Walking upon this ground
Believing in the song that was meant for you
Singing upon this ground
To live trying to discover the road to Love and Life
You will seek but never find it.
Blaze your own path spending your life in the glory of embracing the true gift of living the road to will trail right behind you.
My will to fight this illness will NEVER end….. “ID Fall” before ~
This poem inspired by the outreach of support I experienced from one simple event – it turned “one” simple contest to a Life Triumph. I revisited these past few weeks – the post – the tags – the shares – the replies – comments across the MILES from California to Florida and OUTSIDE the United States, I received messages from people of all walks of life from around the world. WE reached out to alot of people, that I would have NEVER had the opportunity to reach on my own!! So, YES, this one single event has been a huge triumph, that numbers and counters can never account for BUT the LIVES touched will be forever accounted for. This is a WIN – it has been life changing for many including myself. We have touched lives that we have yet to be aware of ~ Bless you all for being angles to me
The day the doctor
Looked into my eyes
This is the day you decide
Tears poured in fear
As I meet
What they defined as my fate
I didn’t want to wake each day
Feeling this pain
I fell to my knees and prayed
I new this battle would be long
Some days waking to the pain
Was easier than giving in to its will
The reality some face
Not believing dreams can still come alive
I simply can’t help myself
Id fall to my knees
To give them will to dream
Life’s not days you’ve spent
Or the moments wasted
It’s seeing TODAY
As the gift
SO I pray
YOU don’t have this same fight
I’ve suited up for this battle
Adorned in amour for you
Allow me to stand and lead you
Hoping to give you one more day
As I fall to my knees and pray
It’s not my glory I fight for
It’s not for me
I seek these dreams
It not the pain that wakes me to fight
For one more day
It not the disease that accompanies me
It’s the GIFT of life
Gods gives to me
He has chosen this illness for me
To assist you
To guide you
Before you fall to your knees
Sometimes we MUST fall for others to be lifted
With gratitude, I write this
Please join me in my passion, this fight to Change the Faces of MS
Stay in touch with Holly!