Just Strong

Just Strong is a lifestyle brand that welcomes women from all walks of life. They strive to empower women to be comfortable and strong in their own skin. You can be a professional lifter or someone who enjoys staying active, or even a woman that loves to be comfortable with who she is. Just Strong is a powerful community of women who motivate and support each other to be whoever they want to be, and love themselves while doing it.

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Why I Joined: My Story

I was an athlete from the start. My parents had me on skis before I was 2 years old, so I guess I get it from them. I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to start playing soccer at age 5 and I couldn’t be happier to try it. My communion money was spent on my first surf board and I asked for a wakeboard every Christmas until I finally got it.

For me, being an athlete always came naturally.

In Sophomore year of High school, I went on my family’s annual snowboarding trip to Scranton, PA. I went down the terrain park like I always did, with my mom skiing on my side, filming my run. Next thing I knew, I had rammed my knee into a block of ice on a jump. Although the pain was excruciating, I dusted myself off and kept going, pushing myself to snowboard the rest of the weekend.

I came home to the beginning of track season but something seemed off. I wasn’t hitting my normal times and my body didn’t feel as strong as it normally does. I knew something was wrong.

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office when he walked in the room with my results. He didn’t have to say anything for me to know my life wouldn’t be the same or unfold how I imagined it would.

I tore my ACL & meniscus. For most, this isn’t a huge set back, just a minor hurdle, but for me, it was a different story. Surgical complications caused a total of 8 knee surgeries. I almost had to go to senior prom on crutches and almost didn’t walk at graduation. I told my doctors those weren’t options. So together, we found ways around these obstacles. My doctors saw how determined I was and paired me with an amazing Physical therapy facility that pushed me to my limits. I felt myself getting stronger and better.

Until college.

Freshmen year of college, I played a pick up game of soccer. One bad tackle and I heard a sound I never wanted to hear: the tear of my other ACL.

It was after this surgery, surgery #9, that my doctors told me I had to stop playing high risk sports. They started to explain that I had to look at my future, not just the now. I remember him asking if I wanted to be able to teach my kids how to play soccer or learn how to surf. At 16 years old, the thought of kids never even crossed my mind but I knew I didn’t want to have a limited choice when that time did come.

My body doesn’t move like most 24 year olds. My knees crack and pop as I go up the stairs or give out randomly when I’m walking. I have to modify certain workouts to make sure I do not compromise my knees. Professionals tell me to avoid high impact activities, such as jumping and running in an effort to avoid quickening problems I know I’ll have in the future like arthritis.

I’ve accepted my fate. I’ve accepted that there may come a time where I have to get more knee surgeries to improve my quality of life. I’ve accepted that I can’t run like I used to, or play soccer as aggressively as I did. I know that I have to modify certain movements in a workout class so I don’t put more stress on my knees.

I’ve accepted all of this, but I don’t use it as an excuse.

I find other ways to stay active and do the things I love. I push myself every day to become stronger, testing my limits. I worked my way back to doing all the things I that make me happy; surfing, hiking, and yes, even snowboarding. I don’t know what the future holds for me. I don’t know where I’ll be or what will happen along the way, which is scary but exciting at the same time. I know that staying active now will help my chances in the future.

I joined Just Strong because their message is important. It reminds us that we each have a story to tell. We don’t have to be professional lifters or a D1 athletes. All we have to do is love our bodies. While that’s easier said than done, being surrounded by a community of women who all share in body positivity is the best way to show others what their bodies are capable of.

It’s a community dedicated to showing how powerful women can be and how we need to embrace what we have.

It’s about knowing that there are obstacles out there but never backing down from them.

It’s about being Just Strong.