I grew up in Central Minnesota, I played sports but wasn’t very talented at anything really. I was quiet and shy and didn’t fit in very well at school. I was competitive though and every sport I did play, I played with determination. I wasn’t a lead scorer or even a starter, I just tried hard. I was disappointed in myself a lot, but kept giving all I had. I also had knee issues, and at the age of 16 had my first of several knee surgeries. Off to college I went with sports being of my favorite memories. I could never decide what I wanted “to be” but after 5 years received a degree in education and a certificate to coach. And off into the world I went.
I taught children in alternative schools as I had a creative style of teaching and needed an open-minded setting to do so. I believed when allowing kids to be themselves and discover their own needs and desires they were happier and learned better. And so I was a teacher for several years.
However, life took over and I lost myself. I hit rock bottom of the sea of life. I had become unhappy, unhealthy, and lost all passion whatsoever. There was no longer a smile on my face or a skip in my step. I blamed everyone and everything for my miserable life and yeah, I did have a few really tough situations, but even so had every excuse in the book. Poor Andi, the world was out to get her. Each day was a struggle to get out of bed and so the spiral downward continued. I hated my life, I hated myself, I didn’t feel life was worth living any longer.
But then one day …. Out of the clear blue I realized that nobody was going to do anything to make my life better and nothing was going to happen to make my life change for the positive. The only one in control of my destiny was ME. That very moment I did make a change, a lot of them. It was not easy, it was extremely difficult. I didn’t have a support team, I didn’t have a cheerleader, I didn’t have a program. All I had was my own determination and desire to live a better life.
The following months were painful, each day was a struggle. I was on this journey to healthiness alone. There were dark days, moments of doubt, and times of wanting to give up. But I wanted something and it was worth fighting for. I wanted my life and my smile back and I was bound and determined to find them.
Being motivated by competition and goals which exceed my known ability, I signed up for a triathlon. I knew I could bike the 15 or so miles, the 5K run would have to be walked due to my knee problems, and the ½ mile swim would be beyond a challenge, but the adrenaline rush anticipating it all motivated my lifestyle changes all the greater.
I began training six days a week with a swim, a bike ride, or a walk. I learned more and more about healthy foods and cleaner eating. Life itself didn’t get easier, in fact even more major stressors took place, but my goal and determination to reach my goal prevailed.
I finished that triathlon by running the 5K portion, somehow I worked past the excuses of so many knee surgeries and doctors and specialists telling me I couldn’t run. I didn’t even limp the next day. I had the biggest smile on my face and the most elated feeling in my heart that my soul was on cloud nine for at least a week. I did it!!! I found something to be passionate about!! I found my smile!!! I found that my determination was getting my body back in shape and my heart and organs feeling better. What was next??
An obstacle course race, of course!!! For a few years I had glanced over advertisements for Tough Mudder and Muddy Buddy, oh how I had painfully clicked out of them thinking I would not be able to do them. But I had just run an entire 5K and I was not going to be held back. I showed up for a local Down & Dirty Mud Run the following Saturday. I ran, I climbed, I crawled, I jumped and I finished first place over 130 women. It couldn’t be true, but it was. As I stepped onto that podium to claim my prizes I knew this was just the beginning to some wonderful journey.
I went home and while flying high that same day registered for my first Spartan Race, after all I was told Spartan was the ultimate OCR. Being competitive I signed up for the Elite heat. I trained as hard as I could for almost 3 months. I learned all kinds of exercises. I gained training buddies: rocks, tires, cinder blocks, backpack with weights, and buckets of sand. When I stepped to the start line on that freezing cold morning in Conyers, Georgia I got scared. I backed off, I tried to change heats. My stomach was full of butterflies and I thought I was sick. Having paid the registration fee and knowing I had prepped for months I wasn’t about to go home without a medal, but I didn’t feel I belonged with these super fit, badass-looking elite athletes. I went to the very back of the starting corral hoping I could sneak into the heat behind me. I didn’t want to be last or look like a fool.
The smoke bombs went off and the countdown started….3…2…1…AROO AROO AROO! I was off to something that would forever change my life. Again I ran, I waded through swamps, I climbed, I crawled, I did burpees, I pulled and carried heavy objects, and I pushed my way through the gladiators swatting at me with their pugal sticks. I crossed that finish line with nothing but a huge smile left in me. Very much to my surprise I had finished 2nd overall woman. I was in disbelief until they called me to the podium to receive my prize sword. Me? 42 year-old me? 8 knee surgeries me? I had given that race everything I had physically and mentally. But I had more in me. How can you own a Spartan sword and not a Spartan helmet?
So, my Spartan quest for a helmet (and first place) began. I did get that helmet, but I’m still on a quest. The quest changes, the journey varies, the training fluctuates, but I have not lost the passion to be the best that I can be. This is not just limited to fitness and athleticism, but I have also gained the passion to inspire and motivate others to find the happiness of their soul whether that means weight loss, attaining athletic goals, improving a relationship, or simply finding inner peace. Wired4Life was born out of my desire to share and spread happiness.