“I had seen all these different elements come into play of how fitness can impact your life and how CrossFit was working for some people and how bodybuilding was working for some and now even the [Tough Mudder] races. And it was like, okay, now I have some tools. I have a reason to do it. Let’s go. And that’s really when I started training almost every single day and started seeing some pretty quick changes, and it’s just amazing because I realized, ok, yeah there’s a lot of things that I can’t help. There are a lot of things that were taken out of my control very early, but I’m not gonna focus on that, I’m gonna focus on what God has given me the ability to impact. I can choose how I use my time. I can choose what my activities are. Doctors, they can tell me, okay, your lungs are only working at 50 or 60%. Your heart is only working at 50%. They can’t tell me what I’m gonna do with that 50 or 60%... and it’s been a crazy ride.” - Stephen Douglas
From the day he was born, Stephen Douglas has faced more obstacles than the average person. Diagnosed at birth with a heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot, Stephen underwent open heart surgery at just 7 months of age. Throughout his early childhood, his heart condition, combined with asthma, meant Stephen had to be cautious not to exert himself too much physically or participate in contact sports.
At the age of 10, Stephen was dealt another challenge after his dentist found a cyst growing in his jaw. He was diagnosed with Gorlin syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes thousands of skin cancers, jaw cysts, and bone cysts. He underwent treatment for the condition, but the numerous painful procedures and surgeries led him into a deep depression which persisted through his teen years. Stephen stopped physical and social activity, gained weight, and his blood pressure increased. By the age of 20 he weighed 300 pounds. His doctor told him he needed to make a change.
Inspired by athletes he saw while watching the CrossFit Games on television, Stephen began to make small changes which led to a cascade of events that helped him lose over 85 pounds. In the process, he was able to lower his blood pressure, experience relief from his asthma symptoms, forge new relationships, and get in the best shape of his life.
I sat down with Stephen to learn more about what it’s like to deal with a scary medical diagnosis as a child and how he gained the tools he needed to make the transition from a sedentary lifestyle to a thriving one.
In this episode we discuss:
You can follow Stephen on Instagram.
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Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.