Q&A with Sophie Grace Holmes
Health and Fitness influencer and inspirational woman Sophie Grace Holmes talks with Xercise4Less ahead of International Women’s Day about overcoming adversity and using her experiences to inspire others
Xercise4Less: Tell us a bit about your story?
Sophie: My story is very different to most because I was born with a genetic condition called cystic fibrosis (CF). It’s a lung disease where mucus builds up in your lungs. I wasn’t diagnosed with the illness until I was four months old and the doctors didn’t think I was going to make it. Once I was diagnosed, the battle began and has been going on all my life.
I have ups and downs, IVs and hospital stays and massive drops in lung function. I have to spend quite a lot of my time doing my treatments. My life is already very different to everyone else’s and I’m consistently being told I can’t do certain things. Which is why I have made it my mission to show what can be done.
Xercise4Less: Tell us a bit more about how your cystic fibrosis shaped your outlook on life?
Sophie: Some people who have been diagnosed with CF feel like it’s a death sentence, but I feel lucky because it’s given me the opportunity to have this unique outlook on life because of the adversity I’ve faced.
I got told from a very young age that I wouldn’t make it to 16 and that I couldn’t do something because my CF wouldn’t allow it, so for that reason I live a life full of adventure.
After a big drop in lung function when I was 19, I decided to dedicate my time to getting fit and healthy to prove everyone wrong and show the world that you can overcome any adversity you face.
Xercise4Less: Despite your condition you enjoy extreme adventures and physical challenges, what do you enjoy so much about them?
Sophie: We live in a world where you get told something and you are expected to follow it. I like to show people what is possible even if someone’s telling me it can’t be done.
I do that by scaling mountains and by competing ultra-events. I’m competing in two this year, one on a paddle board and one on a bike.
People think I’m crazy because I really enjoy putting myself through the sheer pain and because there’s a chance I won’t finish.
I lost most of the people I know with CF when they were about 22 so that’s five or six years ago now. I do this for myself, but also for the people who couldn’t do it.
Xercise4Less: What was the most enjoyable and/or challenging adventure you ever went on?
Sophie: The most enjoyable was probably when I trekked the Himalayas last year with my Dad. It was just so beautiful and to have the opportunity to spend quality time with someone who does so much for you is very rare.
The hardest challenge for me so far has been summiting Mont Blanc. It was definitely the most extreme in terms of the terrain and what was expected of you, but getting to the top of that mountain was well worth it. Being able to do something that only 5% of the world will get the chance to do is amazing.
Xercise4Less: A lot of people see you as an inspiring woman, what does it mean to be considered an inspiration?
Sophie: It means everything. I just love being able to have a positive impact on other people and giving them the courage to live the way they want without fear. So many people don’t realise their potential and don’t know what they could do if they gave it a shot.
If you have the power to influence people in a positive way then you leave a legacy behind and that is something that I would love to be able to do.
If you help one person, they can help someone else and it’s like a domino effect. When I get messages online telling me that people have achieved something they wouldn’t have been able to without my encouragement, it makes me want to push myself even further.
Xercise4Less: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Sophie: It’s a huge day and it encourages women to feel that they can have more power and more equality. I do believe that everyone and especially women tend to underestimate their own power.
“It’s a great way to recognise the women that have impacted your life, from someone who has just said a few words that have brightened your day to those who have changed your life completely.
Xercise4Less: Who is the most inspiring woman you know and why?
Sophie: Kelly Holmes. She was adopted, has been in the army and won Olympic gold. She’s someone who’s built herself up from nothing and now all she wants to do is help others and achieve amazing things along the way. I don’t think there’s anything more inspiring than that!
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