Forget goals– Try This Instead.  

Last year at work, we had a staff retreat to start the year. You know those “retreats”; the name is misleading as it’s really just a day long meeting? Well needless to say, I wasn’t exactly stoked about the whole experience. But before the retreat, we were told that we were going to be taking part in the One Word program, and we would need to prepare one word on a sheet of paper for that day. The word was supposed to be ours — one word that we would want to embody throughout the year at work. My word for the year was Empathy, and I made a cute little arts and crafts poster to show it.

Now though, I’m not at work anymore. I practice empathy on a daily basis because it’s at the core of who I am as a person — I empathize even when I don’t really want to. But for some reason, I was recently thinking about this exercise and started thinking about what my word would be now. Life is different now, my priorities are different, I’m almost a completely different person than I was just a year and a half ago.

I also realized that at this point in my life, although I have things I want to work on, I don’t always have time to sit down and write down lengthy, specific goals for myself. Some days I’m lucky to just brush my hair, so a list of goals seems to be a little bit out of my wheelhouse right now. But one word? I can do that.

So I got to thinking. What is my one word? One word that encapsulates who I am, who I want to be and what I want to show Izzy as an example. And who knows — maybe my word will change next week, next month, or a few months from now, but at least it gives me something to focus on for the time being.


These are the months when Isabelle is growing and changing at a pace that I never thought imaginable. She changes seemingly overnight, and if I’m not present and aware, I’ll miss these subtle changes happening right before my eyes.

Likewise, little things I love that she does tend to disappear in the blink of an eye, and if I’m not present to notice them, they may disappear and be gone forever. Take, for example, when she was about 4 months old she had a span of about two weeks where she would do these loud, long, dramatic yawns that made me laugh every time. If I wasn’t paying attention and present during that time, I wouldn’t have those as a memory, because they’re gone from her ever changing vocal repertoire now.

But this word is not only important for my relationship with Isabelle right now; it’s important for my relationship with myself. I need to be present in the limited time I get for myself if I want to maintain some sanity and sense of self.

I need to be present during my workouts, because the time I have for them is so limited. If I’m off in La La Land, I’m not going to get done what I need to get done, and in turn, I won’t feel like my best self.

I need to be present during my limited time with Will, because my marriage is equally as important to sustain and flourish right now as my “me” time and my “Izzy” time.

I need to be present when on the phone with my family and friends — a feat that has proven to be very difficult nowadays, but those relationships deserve my time too, when I’m able to give it!

This one word involves so many pieces of my life, and it is equally important in all of them. Rather than make specific goals right now, which I realistically wouldn’t follow, I can easily think about this one word during my day and during my interactions with my loved ones, and my time by myself. I can try to incorporate it into different parts of my day, working on it a little bit more every day until full mental presence becomes my norm, and not something that I have to work on (hopefully, right?).

I’m feeling good about this, this one word. I’m feeling weight off my shoulders, not having specific goals to live up to right now, just letting things come as they will and working on each moment in that very moment.

If you’re feeling stressed or pressed for time, or unsure of what your goals should be right now, give this a try. Do some brainstorming, and figure out what words and themes are important to your life. You may find one common thread between them, and this may become your word! It’s much easier to focus on one word than several small steps, and it may give you something to focus on, which could in turn spur some inspiration or motivation for larger goals. (Along these same lines, my girl Monique recently wrote a great post about just doing something in order to get your inspiration flowing– check it out here!)

So if the thought of specific goals weighs you down more than it motivates you, take a few moments to think about one word. You may just feel lighter and more focused, without the stress of resolutions or deadlines.

What’s your word?


My Name Is Stephanie and I Have Beyonce Knees

Almost every girl I know has a part of their body that they don’t like, or at least a part of their body that they consistently wish would change. For some it’s a constant desire to have smaller thighs, perhaps a flatter stomach or perkier back side.

As for me, the one thing that always tormented me growing up was not one of these obvious choices. In fact, when you hear it, you may laugh, because it really does seem pretty funny.

My knees.

Sure, I always wanted smaller thighs when I was younger, and there was a while when I wondered if my butt would ever be considered “normal”. But these things I learned to embrace and love, and I have grown to find them beautiful over time. And then there are my knees.

Knees, you ask? Who even looks at knees? Well, I’ll tell you. An insecure little girl with mildly chubby legs, and genetics that have given her mildly chubby knees. I’m not kidding you when I say that I spent a good part of my youth looking at the knees of my classmates, wondering why I didn’t have bony little kneecaps instead of the marshmallow fluff that seemed to settle around my legs.

You see, I may have been a little chubby at times, but I was never “fat” growing up. I was the same size as a lot of my friends, but still, they had pointy little knees and I had what I thought looked like pincushions. (I know this makes me sound like a crazy person, but stay with me here.)

It wasn’t until the end of high school/beginning of college that I began to find some peace with my little pudgy knees. Enter: Destiny’s Child. Now, what does a late 90s girl band have to do with my chubby little knees?

Two words: Queen Bey.


[Image Source]

It was around this time that I started watching Destiny’s Child videos (remember when videos were cool?), and realized that this beautiful woman, this amazing goddess called Beyonce Knowles had “fat” knees too. Here she was, reminding all of us that we weren’t ready for her jelly, yet she wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t the image of long, thin legs that everyone at the time said was perfect.  Yet she was, and still is, revered as one of the most beautiful women on this planet. And whether you agree with that or not (but I mean, lets be real, there’s really no question there), it’s pretty apparent that that is the perception. Beyonce, although not model-thin, is beautiful.

It was at that very moment that my knees stopped being fat. Instead, they became my Beyonce knees. I kid you not when I say it was the first time that I realized that legs that looked like mine could be considered beautiful. That knees don’t have to be bony and knobby, and that a little extra cushioning on your legs is not a curse after all. Because Beyonce had fat* knees too. And Beyonce was is a goddess.

Now I’m in my 30’s, and you know what? I still have Beyonce knees. No matter how thin I’ve gotten over the years, and more recently how muscular, the shape and appearance of my knees has not changed. Yes, my legs have changed over time, but I still do not have, and will never have, “skinny” bony knees. The simple fact of this is because it’s all about genetics, and that’s just how my legs were made.

Some people have longer, thinner legs. Some people have shorter, muscular legs. Some people have naturally well defined calf muscles and some people have match sticks for legs. The shape of your body, for the most part, is determined by genetics. Sure, you can manipulate it somewhat with diet and weight training, but for the most part, your body type and shape sticks with you for life. I will never have long thin legs, but I will always have a relatively small waist, just as long as I keep my health and body composition in check. It’s just the way I’m built.


My Beyonce knees in all their glory. 

I have friends who have naturally slender legs (and skinny knees of course), who gain weight mostly around their midsection. Again, it’s just the way they’re built, and that’s not something we can change.

So if a flaw is something that is inherent to us, something that we can’t change, is it really a flaw? Or is it just part of who we are as humans, part of what makes us so beautiful and interesting as creatures? Next time you find yourself criticizing something in the mirror, take a second and turn those thoughts into something positive. I don’t have “fat knees”, I have Beyonce Knees. And they are fierce, because Queen Bey would have it no other way**.


[Image Source]

Stop picking apart your body when most of it is determined by genetics. Stop looking at the tiny bit of flesh you have on your upper arms and wishing it away; stop looking at your upper thighs and wishing a visible gap between them. You were built a certain way, and you can manipulate it, but you can’t totally change it (without going to drastic and often unsafe measures).

Because once we find peace with ourselves, that’s when the real change begins to happen. Once you can learn to appreciate your body for what it is and what it does instead of dwelling on every perceived flaw, that’s when you can truly see the beauty in yourself. I could go around my entire life hating my legs, hating my knees, constantly trying new diet schemes and exercise plans to get the bony knees I wanted as a kid. But instead, I have learned to embrace and appreciate my legs for what they are.

If you’re constantly chasing something that can never possibly happen (such as the “perfect” body), how can you expect to be happy, I mean truly happy, ever? I feel like women are on a constant hunt for perfect body parts when they have everything they need already, within themselves. Look in the mirror and find a way to love what you see, even if you see some things that you want to improve.

Because as the Queen herself would say: You are fierce, and you are flawless. 

*In the .0000000000001% chance that Beyonce would actually read this, I just want to be clear that I mean absolutely no insult by saying that she has “fat” knees. Thick knees. Is that a thing? Ok then. You know what I mean.

**I also want to add in that I’m exponentially disappointed by the recent allegations that Bey photoshopped some pictures of her on a yacht to give herself a thigh gap (although, I think the knees were left untouched, so there’s that). Maybe she does need to read this post after all.

Finding Motivation: Marathon Monday

Yesterday was Marathon Monday, truly one of, if not the best day of the year in Boston. The city comes alive with such energy and love on this day every year, and this has only been amplified since the horrific bombings two years ago.


Before the rain… getting ready to cheer on the runners from Mile 24!

In my 15 years in Boston, I’ve missed the Marathon only a handful of times due to work. I’ve been a medical volunteer at the finish line, and I’ve cheered my butt off for the runners along the route both at the finish line and a few miles out. Every year, I’m amazed at the perseverance it takes for people to reach these points. How do you run 24 miles and then push yourself to run 2.6 more when your legs are screaming and you’re having pain in places you didn’t even know existed? These are the types of things I may never know, but I love watching it all the same.


This year’s marathon was a rainy, dreary, chilly day, but this didn’t stop thousands of runners from crossing that finish line. And that is the reason that the people of Boston and visitors from around the world were still out there cheering, still holding signs and ringing cow-bells. Because if these people, after training through the worst winter in history, could run 26.2 in pretty miserable weather — well, we could cheer in that same weather.

And the wonderful thing is that the rain may have soaked the city and every one in it, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of the day in any way. 

Watching a marathon is truly a magical experience if you pay attention. There are people of all ages, all sizes, all skill levels all completing the same goal. The elites are awe-inspiring to watch because of their grace, speed, and efficiency.  But the people at the back of the pack are just as inspiring, because they have put in just as much of a grind to get to that point.

Pushing yourself beyond what you previously thought your body is capable of — that’s inspiring. Running the course in fatigues and combat boots– that’s inspiring. Trekking through the wind, cold, and driving rain to reach your goal? That is inspiring. Pushing someone in a wheelchair who wouldn’t be able to complete that course on their own — that’s beyond inspiring.


The lead women’s pack at about Mile 24. Love that there is 1/6 feet on the ground here! 

The truth is, even as someone who may never run a marathon in her life (I’ll never say never, but it’s pretty unlikely I’ll admit), watching a marathon is one thing that motivates me the most to be better. It doesn’t even necessarily motivate me to run more, as I’ve found a pretty great balance between running and lifting over the past couple of years. It just acts as a reminder that sometimes there are goals that seem bigger than us, goals that seem insurmountable, that we can reach if we just push beyond our comfort zone.


One of the lead males. The stride is amazing! 

The marathon is a reminder that we all have a little bit more in us when we feel like we have nothing left. It’s a reminder that heartbreak (hill) is not a reason to stop, but a reason to push further. It’s a reminder that we all can come together for a common goal, in support of each other, and find motivation from thousands of strangers.

And now for my favorite shots of the day…


Hometown hero Shalane Flanagan… Photo credit here goes to my good friend Todd!


Meb! Winner of last year’s Marathon. Had a tough race this year but finished with his head and hands held high! 


Uzo Aduba.. AKA Crazy Eyes from Orange Is The New Black! Yes, I was tracking her, Yes, we screamed her name, and YES, she waved at us 🙂 

I Like Myself and That’s Okay

I get the feeling that as a woman, I’m not supposed to like myself.

As a female, I am bombarded with images on a daily basis that show me how I can be better/skinner/prettier/insert-feminine-adjective-here. Every time I turn on the TV, scroll through Facebook, or even while doing some much needed internet shopping, I see countless images of products that are supposed to make me appear slimmer, younger, less wrinkly. (God forbid, I have crows feet at 32 years old).

Every spring, images are thrust into my face describing how I too can get my “bikini body” back after the winter months, or that so-and-so has the perfect plan for a “summer slim down”.

Every time I cruise around on the internet, my page clicks are chased by ads promising the newest weight loss supplement or workout class that will give me “long and lean” muscles, just the way I’m supposed to want my body to look. Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are filled with images of sexed up women with rock hard abs, glistening with oil (I mean, really, oil up before your next workout and tell me how good your grip is), telling me that I just need to work harder, have no excuses, and I too will look like them.


But the thing is, I don’t want to look like them. I actually like myself, believe it or not. I don’t need a special diet plan, a miracle supplement, or even Photoshop to appreciate my body.  I don’t need a “fitspo” image to tell me that I don’t work hard enough. I don’t need some marketing guru to tell me what I need to become their ideal of a perfect female.

I think I’m fortunate though, that I don’t need those things. A lot of women, when slapped across the face with these images, believe that they need these things to become the best version of themselves. Women aren’t supposed to like themselves, because if we all did, there would be a lot of people out there who stopped making money. The more you hate yourself and every part of your body, the more money these people make under the guise of helping you “improve”. Really, they’re just feeding on your negative feelings about yourself, and providing you with reasons to keep having these negative feelings.

For instance, just the other day I was scrolling through my Groupon email, I came across this image of an “Arm slimming compression garment”. Essentially, these are Spanx for your arms.

arm sleeves


I’m just going to let that sink in a little bit before I move on.

At first I laughed, because the picture is downright ridiculous. Then I let the thought settle into my brain, and realized it’s much more sad than it is funny. As women, we’re constantly provided ways that we can make ourselves “better”, although better to whom, is the question. Would it make me feel better about myself to wear compression sleeves to make my arms appear slimmer? First of all, I question their effectiveness, but more importantly, the answer is no. And I’m pretty sure the discomfort that I would feel from my brachial artery being compressed would far outweigh any “slimming” effect from the garment.

This is marketed to tell me that my arms aren’t good enough, that I shouldn’t like them, but that I could like them if only I bought something to make them appear slimmer. The whole concept is just ridiculous when you spell it out like that, doesn’t it?

Yes, I do wear make up and do my hair (occasionally), and generally try to look presentable when out in public. I’m not saying that all women should be unshaved, un-groomed and makeup free, but there is a line there. I do not wear a mask of makeup to make myself appear to be what society wants me to be, I wear a little bit of makeup because I think it plays up my eyes a little bit. And you know what? I like my eyes. And it’s okay to say that.

love yourself

I am not saying that I’m anywhere near ideal or perfect, but since when in life are we all supposed to be striving for perfection? As women, I think we’re expected to constantly put ourselves down, to agree that we hate our thighs when one of our fellow femmes complains about hers. But you know what? I like my thighs too.

Imagine that — a woman who likes her thighs. Yes, I have cellulite, no I don’t have a thigh gap, but I still like my thighs. They are mine, and they are powerful, and I appreciate them. So ladies, it’s okay to like yourself, believe it or not. It’s okay to talk about yourself in a positive light, and it’s okay to not give in to the latest marketing scheme that’s trying to tell you that this is NOT okay.

And you know what? It’s also okay if you aren’t quite there today–  it takes time to truly like yourself, especially if you’ve spent years doing just the opposite. As long as you are committed to treating your body with positivity and compassion, in time you will come around to appreciate all that your body does, even though it’s not perfect. In time, you too will come to like yourself. At some point, when another female who isn’t quite there yet will complain to you about X body part of hers. And you will smile warmly, and say “You know what? I actually like my “X”. It may not be perfect, but it’s mine”.

And maybe in that moment, you’ll inspire another woman to like herself too.

Because liking yourself is okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re self-centered or narcissistic  and it doesn’t mean that you think you’re better than those around you.

Liking yourself simply means that you accept your body and your self for what you are. Even during those times that you’re working to improve or change yourself, you’re doing it out of love and acceptance for your body, rather than hate.

I’m not perfect — I am currently working at getting stronger and faster. But I like myself, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean that I’m complacent, or lazy, or not working towards goals. It just means that the change that I’m working towards comes from a place of positivity.

I don’t work to better myself because I hate myself, I work to better myself because I like myself, and I know that I deserve to be the best version of me that I can be.  And that is more than okay, that is the best of both worlds. Progress plus positivity? It’s a powerful combination.

Readers: Tell me something that you like about yourself in the comments — and get more comfortable telling others too. The more that women start to like ourselves, the less silly things like “compression arm sleeves” will be made and marketed at us! 

Motivation Monday: Inspiration is Everywhere

I had a whole post planned for today — and halfway written — but then something really awesome happened to me this weekend that I just have to talk about.

Motivation and inspiration can come from the places you expect them to — inspirational quotes, your role models, movies, books, etc. But then every once in a while, inspiration comes along and slaps you in the face out of no where. For those who live in the Northeast, I’m sure you’ll share my sentiment that this was an absolutely perfect spring weekend: sunny skies, warm weather, and a Bruins win to top it all off!

Because of the weather finally being lovely, I decided to take my workout outside on Saturday evening. While out running hills, I was stopped on the side of the road by a complete stranger in her car. She introduced herself, and (in a totally non creepy way) let me know that she sees me out running hills often — and that my stopping point just happens to be at her driveway! Anyway, she wasn’t just stopping to let me know that she sees me out there running, because that would be a little weird. She actually let me know that she was motivated by seeing me, and asked if maybe she could run with me next time I was out there (I run hills on the same street once or twice per week).  Of course the answer was a resounding “Yes!”, and I honestly can’t wait to help this courageous person continue on her fitness journey.

The amazing thing was that she told me that she has already lost over 100 lb, and just wants to keep going, but is having a hard time staying motivated. After chatting for a bit about various things, we actually ended up exchanging phone numbers, with the promise that I’ll let her know the next time I’ll be out there pounding the pavement. I walked away from that conversation on top of the world. Here was a girl who has already worked her ass off (quite literally), but is hungry for more. She went out of her way to approach a complete stranger on the street, which is not something that many people would have the guts to do!

And the funny thing was, as much as she kept telling me that I motivated  and inspired her, she did the exact same thing for me.  During my last few repeats after our conversation, I had a renewed energy and was able to finish strong despite not feeling great during the beginning of my workout. Knowing that just by getting out there and busting my ass a couple of times per week, I played a tiny part in motivating someone to make themselves better — now that is something pretty special.

So today, or this week, or next time you see someone who motivates and inspires you, why not tell them about it? This beautiful woman made my day, and all it took was a little wave to get my attention. Motivation and inspiration can be hard to come by, so when you find someone who gives you a little nudge in that direction, let them know. You never know how much motivation you’ll give them in return, and that is an amazing addition to anyone’s day.


Readers: Have you ever approached a complete stranger to ask them about their workout? Do you think you would have the guts to do what this woman did? What are some strange or unexpected things that have motivated you lately? 


The Lean Physique And Why It’s Dangerous

I’ve noticed something lately.  I’ve noticed a lot of commenters either applauding authors for having awesomely lean physiques and wondering how they too can get to 12% body fat. On the flip side, I’ve also noticed many many commenters blasting bloggers/fitness professionals for not being super lean or totally cut, because isn’t every fitness professional supposed to have a body like this?


Gorgeous, yes. Realistic for most people? Nope. 

The piece of this puzzle that really makes me want to scratch my eyeballs out is that there are so many people out there who believe that one must be incredibly lean, tan, and “cut” in order to really know what you’re talking about when it comes to fitness. And also that it’s healthy and sustainable for the general public to reach this level of leanness as well.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, and the most important point to understand, is that most* of the pictures that top fitness bloggers post on their blogs (and almost all fitspo photos on Pinterest as well) are professional photos, taken at a time when the person has carefully cut their diet specifically for the photo shoot and has also carefully manipulated water, hydration status, and lighting. These photos are not real life. Many of them are gorgeous, yes, but they are a snapshot of a highly manipulated moment, not of a sustainable lifestyle.

*I say most because of course there are those few people out there who are blessed with the genetics of the gods, and who can easily  maintain an extremely lean physique without camera trickery and causing hormonal imbalances. 

The second, and also extremely important point to understand is that maintaining a female body at 12% body fat, which is the low-healthy limit for women, is not healthy or remotely sustainable for an extended period of time if it’s not your natural state. Some women even push it below this level, to a 10 or 11% which is extremely dangerous to sustain for any female, no matter what your natural size (the fat surrounding your internal organs and breast tissue make up a certain amount of body fat, the former of which is necessary for life).

Yet despite this, I see nasty comments on blogs from women (and sometimes men) who say that the blogger looks “soft” or that they don’t know what they’re talking about because they’re not figure-competitor lean all the time.  The people who make these comments are usually just nasty people looking to get a rise out of someone. But for another reader to see that comment and think that she has to have 12% body fat in order to be “fit” is truly dangerous.  Possibly trying anything and everything to actually become that lean, she is setting herself up for a world of metabolic damage, hormonal imbalances, and other serious health problems.

Not only that, but when she fails to reach that 12% body fat, or fails to maintain it for any amount of time, she is then thrown back into the mental cycle of not being good enough, not being fit enough, and now she’s a failure on top of it all.  This cycle will continue as she repeatedly fails to reach and maintain this mythical ultra-lean physique, all the while crushing her metabolism and endocrine system.

That doesn’t sound like healthy inspiration to me.

In fact, many figure competitors will very readily admit that dieting down to their competition weight has resulted in metabolic damage, which can sometimes take years to reverse, and can take a serious toll on ones health. Molly Galbraith, who is in my opinion one of the most inspirational women in the fitness industry, talks openly about the trouble that she went through after her own figure competition, and is very honest about the misery that accompanied her “lean” stage (read about this here). Let’s also note that I put lean in quotations because to me, she is perfectly lean in her “real” photos and in her photo-shoot photos.

So my question is this: In pursuit of the perfect physique, how much sacrifice is worth it? If you can get down to your “perfect” body composition, it will take hell and high water to keep you there. So what happens when you inevitably fall off of that lean-physique pedestal? You could very well end up in a never ending cycle of weight gain and eventually more restriction to get back to that “perfect” body type. Is this really the life that you want to lead?

For females, any body fat percentage within the teens is incredibly lean. For someone to be disappointed because they are 18% body fat is just absurd, because for most of us that is a number that is extremely difficult to attain, and takes considerable dedication to reach. Even figure competitors often walk around at 18-20% BF in the off season, and they still look very lean. It also goes without saying that women who compete at 12% will live their “normal” lives closer to 20%, because the former is just not healthy or sustainable. For a photo shoot or a moment on stage? Sure. For running around at your job, taking care of the kids and living a happy, healthy lifestyle? Not a chance.

This is where there is a huge disparity in the fitness industry. Pinterest is filled with fitspo images of ultra-lean physiques, those that were created for a moment in a photo shoot. But they lead us to believe that that is the ideal and attainable body for women, and that if you do “just this short 10 minute workout!”, you too can look that lean. As I’ve stated above, however, it is simply not in the cards for most women to ever look that way (or to get there in a healthy way). So women consistently “fail” when they do their prescribed workouts, eat like rabbits, and still don’t look like that gorgeous, bronzed, oiled, chiseled fitness model who is giving you bedroom eyes from behind a squat rack.

fitspo2I mean, really. Who wears that to the gym?

So what is the answer? I’m afraid I don’t know. I don’t necessarily think that bloggers and personal trainers should opt out of those fantastically lean photo shoots, but I do think that there needs to be some sort of understanding when it comes to these pictures. Fitness photos of almost-naked women with “inspirational” slogans are a different story however. Fitspo isn’t reality, and if you ask me, it isn’t even that inspirational either. People need to understand that those photos are not reality. They are momentary perfection, snap shots meant to be aesthetically pleasing to the average consumer.  They portray an “ideal look” that is unattainable for most of us, yet we are told that that’s what fitness looks like.  Is it out of the question to think that people could be inspired by someone who sits at 20% body fat? 25? Does being ultra lean equal being inspirational?

My point is that lean does not necessarily equal healthy, and beyond any aesthetic reasons, aren’t we all exercising and eating well to be more healthy? It does not seem worth having an ultra lean physique if you have to traumatize your body by  getting there, and it does not seem fair that this is what we are bombarded with in the fitness world. Show me pictures of strength, health, dedication, and determination. Those are inspirational, and that is what fitness looks like. 

Readers: Is this what fitness looks like to you? Do you believe that people are only truly fit if they are incredibly lean? Can you be inspired by a photo of someone who is not figure-competitor lean? Do you have any personal stories about metabolic damage due to cutting to an extremely low body fat percentage or low weight?

Superman Walks: Part 2

On Monday I introduced you all to Thomas Mills, founder of the Superman Walks Project/The Hope Within. If you missed it, please go back and read his incredible and heart wrenching story here, and also a brief overview of what exactly the SWP is all about.

Today we’ll look a little bit more into the Superman Walks Project and what it means to Tom moving forward. Read on for his account of a recent race with a young man who had recently lost a leg, and how crossing the finish line of an obstacle course race helped to bring this young man newfound hope moving forward. With the recent attacks in Boston leaving so many people without one or more of their limbs, I found it so inspiring that there was someone out there who was working so hard to help these people continue to strive for their goals, no matter how unreachable they may seem at first.

If you’ve caught up on the first part of the interview here, let’s move on to the rest of the questions, shall we?

Superman Walks 4[All photos in this post courtesy of the Superman Walks Project]

3. What has been your  most memorable moment with the SWP so far?

Matthew Pizzuto is the first person to experience what Superman Walks Project is all about. Matthew lost his leg 7-23-2012. All amputees go through a very dark period that rips the very fabric of the soul. Each amputee has to redefine what is means to be alive and live with a life without a limb. There is the loss of ambition, drive, and self worth. Matthew was picked up on Thursday and I drove him to an amazing obstacle course race called SuperHero Scramble. Josh and Sean “Ace” worked with me to ensure Matthew experienced an amazing race. A team of 6 fought together to ensure Matthew did not quit nor fail.

Each step of the way, a the spark of life returned to this man. As that spark turned into a roaring blaze, Matthew took on the last obstacle which was the super slide into super slime water pit. He embraced his team mates on the edge of the pool and looked up. What he had hoped and wished the entire time was that his family would have been there to see what he had accomplished. Little did he know, Superman Walks Project had been in contact with his family and coordinated with his mother all the way up until the final moment. The entire family had been there the whole time and even were able to see some of his accomplishments on the course. 

After coming off the slide and righting himself in the SuperSlime water pit, Matthew looked up at the finish line and he spotted his entire family standing there with smiles, tears, signs and medals in their hands. Matthew was lifted out of the water and we delivered him into the arms of his loving family. Each member of the family put a medal around his neck, hugged, kissed and cried with him. There was not a dry eye to be seen anywhere around him. One of the race director even admonished me for pulling this off and not bringing him a tissue. You can see his video here

 Added by Steph: I dare you to watch this video and not cry 


Matthew stayed with at my home for a month. I taught him everything I knew about life after amputation. I helped him start building himself up to discover who he is as a new man and start fighting to become the man he wants to be in this life. Matthew will be fitted for a new leg this month.

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 4. What is your biggest piece of advice for those who have recently lost limbs? What was the best advice that someone gave to you after your accident?

The darkness that surrounds you when no one else is around, the pain that never ends and tears your soul as if it will never repair, the overwhelming feeling that no one understands what you are going through, the feeling of who would love a guy like me now, the feeling of who would want to marry and have kids with a girl like me now, the emotions that push you to the brink and beyond, the desire to end it all, and hundreds of other emotions and struggles you are facing… The light to guide your way is there, the fears, darkness, loss of identity will dissipate. The difference is, you can try and do it like I did and never speak to anyone or allow anyone in. Or you can [contact] me or anyone who IS LIKE YOU, who KNOWS WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH, and through just a simple phone call you will feel the unraveling edges of your being begin to mend. Able bodied people can never understand but we as amputees know the pain, the loss, and the destruction we heap upon ourselves in the dark days we experience.

 Reach out to me or someone and we will guide you back to the light and help you rediscover new potential you always had within you.

 5. You are an inspiration to many people. Who is your inspiration in life?

The people I help and the people that are inspired by what I do. Those are the people that inspire me to do more and continue on when it feels hopeless or impossible.

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 6. What are your hopes for the future of SWP, and what will it take to get there? 

Worldwide assistance to anyone who needs help. A foundation that can accomplish that and more.

I am a one man crew here. I have teammates that help but I fund this all myself and through fundraisers. I need people willing to help me build this. I need support to continue only working on this. I need encouraging words and people that will spread this to as many people as they can so the people that need help will find a place to get it.

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Again, thank you so very much to Thomas Mills, both for helping me when I injured myself at the race, and for sharing his story with us all. I find his story amazing and inspiring, going from a very dark point in his life to the incredible work that he is doing now to help others. I feel lucky to have met Tom, and am still very much in awe of his kind and gentle spirit. I truly hope that Tom’s dream is able to come true, and that he is able to continue helping those in need through the Superman Walks Project. Please visit the SWP website here for more information or if you are interested in helping out.

How’s that for a little mid-week inspiration? 🙂