Stories & Info

Christine Ulbright, 32

Posted: February 22, 2019
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“It really hit home when my husband’s family mentioned to him how good I looked (since the stroke) and how they couldn’t believe I was back to the Christine they all thought was lost. I am so thankful I didn’t back out of that first Grind and I am grateful for all of the positive gains Farmgirlfit has brought to my life.”

Member Of:

Farmgirlfit Spokane

Occupation:

Pediatric Physical Therapist

Tell us about your fitness journey. How did you come to Farmgirlfit?

My journey to Farmgirlfit was long but I am so grateful I found it when I needed it most. I have always been a healthy and active person. On December 6, 2016, the healthy and active life I knew was abruptly turned upside-down. After nursing my son in the early hours of the morning, for probably the 100th time that night, I handed him off to my husband to get a few more minutes of sleep. I rolled over in bed and was alarmed that my entire right arm was numb… and so was my leg… I couldn’t move anything on my right side. My husband called 911 and I was rushed to the hospital where we learned I had a deep brain stroke which shut down motor pathways and completely paralyzed my right side. A team of specialists determined the most likely cause of my stroke was a small hole between the top chambers of my heart which typically doesn’t cause problems and could go undetected for a lifetime.

Through the grace of God, an amazing medical team, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, and relentless repetitions to re-wire motor pathways, I was able to gain most of my function back. I spent months out of work, rehabbing, resting, and fighting to get back some semblance of normality. In June 2017, the hole in my heart was patched with a device threaded up through my femoral vein. I was hit hard with complications after that procedure and had to take a debilitating cocktail of cardiac medications to control my heart rhythm while it healed. By January 2018 I was in the lowest place I had ever been in my life. I was weak, depressed, bitter, and angry. I was back to working full time but my job would often slap me in the face with reality when I shook with weakness trying to sustain a squat or climb stairs. I poured all I had into getting back to work and I had nothing left for my family when I got home.

That spring I was finally released from my cardiac cocktail and decided I needed to make a change. I had pushed myself so hard to re-gain function of my right side but strength seemed out of reach. I learned about Farmgirlfit through friends and dug into the website, reading stories and information, for months before I was brave enough to give it a try. I decided that if anything was going to help me gain strength in my right side, and let’s be honest my whole body at that point, then this would be it. I trialed a class in the end of May and promptly joined in June 2018. What a joy ride it has been since then!

If you could tell your Farmgirlfit story in 100 words or fewer, how would it read?

When I walked in to Farmgirlfit I was frail, weak, and terrified. I couldn’t do a sit-up, carry my own children, or run without gasping for air. My biggest fear was that my right hand would give out and I would fling a kettlebell across the gym. I held on tightly and put my fears aside. I decided to give it my all and in turn Farmgirlfit gave me my life back. I feel stronger and healthier than I ever have, and I cherish the amazing community that has built me up throughout the process.

What has been your greatest fitness/performance accomplishment so far?

Flipping the BIG tire! What fun! In all honesty though, every gain is a celebration and I am just excited to keep pushing forward.

What are your next health and fitness goals?

I am training for the Windermere half marathon in May. I am determined to run the whole race.

Favorite exercise at FGF is? Least favorite?

Favorites: Tire flips, rope climbing, plate pushes (yes, someone likes them), all the wild cards!

Least Favorite: I would like to call it “most challenging” instead… that would be snatches

When the Grind is kicking my butt, I’m thinking…

One rep at a time, I can and I will!

My favorite thing about Farmgirlfit is:

The amazing coaching staff, members, and community that is Farmgirlfit. I love that the coaches know your name, invest in your life, and cheer you on every time!

Do you have a funny Farmgirlfit story, or favorite memory?

My favorite memory is from a particularly grueling summer grind. Someone gave Sav one of those “I’m DYING” glances and she promptly replied by shouting, “You didn’t come here to do easy sh*t! Let’s go ladies!” I re-play that moment in my head during most Grinds!

How has the rest of your life been influenced/impacted by Farmgirlfit?

Farmgirlfit has touched every aspect of my life that I can think of! I am now strong enough to hold and carry my children. I am strong enough to do my job with confidence. I continue to gain energy and endurance for daily life. I am happier, less stressed, and nicer to my friends and family. I was in such a low place when I joined Farmgirlfit it didn’t take long for those closest to me to notice the difference. It really hit home when my husband’s family mentioned to him how good I looked (since the stroke) and how they couldn’t believe I was back to the Christine they all thought was lost. I am so thankful I didn’t back out of that first Grind and I am grateful for all of the positive gains Farmgirlfit has brought to my life.

When you're not pumping iron at FGF, what does the rest of your life look like?

I am a busy working mama! I love to spend time with my family and our big fluffy doodle. We enjoy gardening and playing outside. I love going on walks to go get coffee, okay, I love coffee! It’s my guilty pleasure. ALL the coffee! I enjoy all things crafty and baking crazy birthday cakes for my children.

Who/what inspires you to be fit?

Life. My family. The absolute worst part of having a stroke at 30 was the moment that I thought about my 3 year old’s reaction if I never made it home. We each get one life, one body. Sometimes it’s a good one or sometimes you get a malfunction or two that you never asked for in the first place. It is so important to take care of yourself, it’s the best gift you can give yourself and your family!

My happy place is:

The ocean

You might not know this about me:

I am Alaska grown

Words that inspire me?

You can do amazing things

My healthy indulgence:

Homemade dark chocolate

Any advice for new members or your fellow Farmgirls?

Fight for it! Don’t be afraid to fail; fix your ponytail, take some weight off the bar, and try again! Believe in yourself, keep showing up, you will get stronger!

Anything else to share?

In spreading awareness for young stroke survivors and heart warriors. Strokes don’t discriminate; young, old, un-healthy, or fit. Know the signs of a stroke and BE FAST, it may just save a life! It saved mine!

B: Balance – sudden loss of balance or coordination

E: Eyes – sudden vision changes

F: Face – facial droop

A: Arm – weakness on one side of the body

S: Speech – slurred or labored speech

T: Time – call 911! Time lost is brain lost!

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