Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle: Living Not Just Existing

By: Viridiana Henderson

#WHYIRACE: At the age of 23 I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, and I lost my left ovary and Fallopian tube. I was also officially diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a disease caused by the lack of estrogen and other hormones, which can cause health problems such as diabetes, depression, and excessive weight gain.

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It wasn’t until I faced death that I began to truly live – and so I began my quest to live a healthy lifestyle. In order to cope with my health problems I channeled my energy into fitness by running, participating in boot camps and obstacle course racing (OCR), and finding alternative ways to work out – all of which have helped me cope with my anxiety and depressive symptoms. I’m also currently working towards earning my Spartan Trifecta. Running and being active are important factors on my journey to live my life to the fullest. I now try to live up to my motto “living not just existing,” and I think Reebok Spartan Racing provides a forum for that.

The Spartan lifestyle and code has inspired me greatly, and it fuels my mission to remember not just to exist, but to live with the ideals which Joe De Sena speaks about in his book Spartan Up!, “It’s not that we’re trying to avoid death; we’re trying to enjoy our lives fully, to wring every wonderful drop out of life that we possibly can.”

To me, Reebok Spartan Racing is a symbol of being a “survivor,” and being able to accomplish something I thought I would never be able to do. Honestly, finishing my first Spartan Sprint in 2014 provided such a boost in my confidence and it made me feel like a complete badass. Spartan Racing makes me realize how far I’ve come since my battle with cancer, when my low self-esteem prevented me from trying new things. When I was going through chemotherapy it was difficult to get out of bed, I couldn’t even go shopping because I was too weak to even push a shopping cart. Now, I can do tire flips and carry a bucket full of rocks! I had always wanted to try a Spartan Race, but felt like I was too out of shape and physically weak to do one. Yet, after doing multiple 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons, I decided to give a Spartan Race a try. Being able to complete my first Spartan reminded me that I’m the only one who has the power to limit myself, and that I’m stronger than I think I am, both mentally and physically.

I hope inspire other women of Spartan by bringing awareness to women-related cancers. I am also living proof which shows others that difficult times are temporary, and we truly do have the strength to move forward. I want to inspire women to challenge themselves, to not worry so much about living up to society’s standards, and to instead live their life on their own terms – to live and not just exist.