At four months old, Sophie was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and told she probably wouldn’t live past 16 years old. Now she is 29 and has spent her life proving that prediction wrong, through a combination of her love for fitness and a healthy, balanced lifestyle. We sat down with Sophie to learn a bit more about her life beating Cystic Fibrosis every day and her attitude to making the most of life.
Tell us about yourself and how you’ve come to this point in your life
My name is Sophie Grace Holmes, I’m 29 years old and I’m a Personal Trainer and Online Coach living with Cystic Fibrosis. I’m a sponsored Under Armour athlete and am also studying to be a Nutrition Coach. I have been training since I could walk – full of energy and raring to go. When I was 4 months old I was diagnosed with a life threatening lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis, being told I wouldn’t live past 16 years of age. This gave me the courage to live life on my own terms, find my own adventure in life and push myself to achieve many things that were deemed impossible..
What impact has Cystic Fibrosis had on your life?
Without Cystic Fibrosis I wouldn’t be who I am today or had the drive to, not only survive, but thrive and achieve things bigger than anyone, even I, could ever imagine. It’s given me so many adventures around the world and amazing experiences simply because it’s pushed me to pursue my passions and accomplish some things that those with Cystic Fibrosis have never done before. It has given me unique outlook on life and the courage and confidence to live life on my own terms! I am grateful as its definitely made me want to live well, and big without fear.
What’s been the hardest thing about your journey so far?
Cystic Fibrosis is hard, but all the best things are hard. When I was 19 and was given 2 years to live, it was that moment that I decided to grab my life with both hands and never look back, and dared to dream and act on big goals. I think the hardest part is the fact that many believed that the accomplishments I was striving for would never happen because of Cystic Fibrosis, from doctors to friends and family. But I believed so strongly in myself and this actually was a driving force.- They eventually had no choice but to become my biggest supporters! I want to show the possible, defy the odds and give others hope in the face of adversity.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
This is a tough one!! Over the past 8 years I have summit-ed many mountains such as Mount Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, Grand Paradiso and the Himalayas. I have also completed a 100km Ultra Marathon; came 3rd in a 80 mile Paddleboard race crossing the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas to West Palm Beach, Florida and a 1000 mile Ultra Bike race from Lands End, Cornwall to John O’Groats. More recently due to Covid-19 causing my Ironman to be postponed, I completed 2/3 of it from my house – 180km Turbo and 842 laps of my front lawn!
I believe fitness has not only saved my life but also given me more than anyone really gives credit for – mental strength and mental toughness. The reason I do Endurance is because of what you get when you are in the middle of the race and you have to dig a little deeper to simply put one foot in front of the other. You find out who you are, what you want out of life and, most importantly, what you are capable of. I am passionate about performance and what our bodies can do if we simply decide to keep pushing ourselves.
But if I was going to say which one was my favourite to date, it would be the Paddleboard race because it was so far out of my comfort zone and anything I had ever done before, and I will never forget that sunrise in the middle of the ocean!
What’s your favourite type of training or exercise?
This is tough, there are so many but if I was to narrow it down, I would say I love open water swimming. I’m relatively new to it so I cant wait to be able to explore the world in this way as I love the ocean. I also really enjoy getting out on my bike especially with friends but you can’t beat a good lifting session, Metcon or an AMRAP style that really pushes you out of comfort – all of which help me train for the big endurance events from Ironmans to CrossFit.
Where do you get the motivation to keep going?
Training for me is what keeps me healthy, so as long as I can keep moving I will keep training and seeing what my body can do. I am a firm believer in setting big goals, goals so big they scare you into changing your behaviour so that you progress and reach milestones. I thrive off leaning into discomfort and pushing to achieve goals I can’t achieve yet. My biggest fear is regret, and this usually comes from an excuse and so the line I keep close in my head is ‘The excuses you make today, will be the regrets you have at the end of your life.’
For me I want to make sure I have done everything I can, especially for my body. I schedule my weeks on a Sunday and so I know exactly what my days entail, so then I have enough time for everything I want to do. The reason why I’m so determined and strong willed is because I was given 2 years to live when I was 19. I wanted to not only make sure I did everything I could to be here for a long time, but also to achieve some great things. 10 years later I am fitter and stronger than ever.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I have ever received is to never stop believing in who you are and what you want in this life. I have lived a life where I have been told I wouldn’t achieve anything or even live past the age of 16 but now reaching nearly 29 I have an incredible life, full of incredible stories and have met some incredible people. Also ‘Have the courage to seek your own adventure in life and live on your terms’ – the happiest moments my life are when I lean in to discomfort, such as mid-race or mid-mountain climb as that’s really where you connect and find out who you are, what you want out of life and your own personal capabilities.
What are your goals for the future?
Oh this is the question!! YES! I’m always seeking my next challenge and adventure! Due to Covid-19, my races have all been postponed until 2021. Next year I am planning my own challenge as well as a potential 250km Ultra marathon, 10km Marathon Swim, Half Ironman, Full Ironman but knowing me I am sure there will be more! This is all alongside continuing to develop my fitness app and working with brands!
What is the main message you want to get across to your followers and community?
You really can achieve anything you put your mind to. Have courage to dream big and plan goals so big they scare the hell out of you. Believe in yourself so strongly the world has no choice but to believe too. And learn to love failure as much as wining as then you will never fail, only learn and then either be redirected down better paths or get up and try again. And finally never let excuses turn into regrets – live every single day true to who you are and be proud of who you are. The most powerful thing you can be is yourself and no one can take that away from you!