By Denia McCobb
Instagram by definition, is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
This simple idea has suddenly become a platform for people to not only share their daily lives with friends and family, but it has become a marketing tool for many. It is being used in ways beyond its intended use, people sell things, lend great ideas, promote themselves or their company and even use it to motivate. There is an entire population of “Instagramers” from all over the world who post pictures of their work outs, give fitness advise, post progress before and after pictures, recipes, supplements and motivating statements and proclamations. These individuals consider themselves members of the Instagram fit fam (fitness family). It is within that very platform that I stumbled across The Masonette.
She caught my attention, as well as the attention of over 117,000 others! She became an Instagram sensation in as little as 38 weeks due to her inspiring before and after photos (documenting her weight loss journey), her motivating quotes, healthy meal ideas and contagious smile. I followed her, amongst many other fit fam members, for motivation and inspiration to stay on my own course of self-improvement. However, she always seemed to stand out amongst the sea of others and I couldn’t quite understand why. I followed her as if she were a friend, interested in her day-to-day activities and successes and enjoying even her more personal photos, like those including her husband and children. One evening as I scrolled through my Instagram, as I often do before retiring for the night, I stopped dead in my tracks at a picture my newfound “insta-friend” had just posted. It was a side-by-side shot of her mid section. On the left side was a picture bearing 34 staples from bellybutton down to her pelvis and on the right side, a ␣at, strong, firm and bikini-ready abdomen. The story she shared below her photo, was truly inspiring and it was the very thing that made me lovingly nickname this little, tough girl, the “Fit Fam Rebel.”
In 2003, when Miriam (that’s her real name) was six months pregnant, she and her husband were in a Ford F150 extended king cab pickup truck with a friend at the helm. Her friend was upset about something that had happened earlier in the evening and was driving about 90 mph. As they came up on a nearly 90 degree curve in the road, he lost control of the car and catapulted this young expecting mother into what would quickly become her worst nightmare. The truck rolled over nine times, ejecting passengers from the vehicle and landing Miriam in the Intensive Care Unit, where she woke up four days later with a fractured hip, broken pelvis, broken tailbone, multiple fractures in the sacrum, a 9-centimeter laceration in the liver and a ruptured placenta. The internal bleeding was slowly bringing her closer to her death and in an effort to save her, they took the baby, three months prematurely and weighing in at only 3 pounds. This seventeen-year-old, new mother escaped the clutches of death only to be given the news that she would probably never get pregnant again and that her body would never recover fully. This news dimmed any hope of ever becoming the model of fitness she has actually turned out to be.
While her premature son fought for his own life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, attached to a heart monitor for the first six months of his life, she began her journey to recovery with two years of physical therapy at a rate of three times per week and dealt with daily pain management. With her healing finally underway, Miriam became pregnant once more and was ultimately forced into what would be her second emergency C-section attached to an even more negative prognosis about her body’s limitations.
During September 2011, while watching an episode of Dr. Oz, Miriam discovered two words that would change her path from one of countless hours at the gym, with little-to-no result and not being happy with her body, to becoming a fitness inspiration. Those two words are “clean eating.” To eat clean is to avoid all processed foods and eat only those foods that are as close to their original and organic state as possible. These foods would be free of chemicals, additives and any human or factory altering. And with those two words, her journey into fitness and health began.
She turned every “can’t” into a “can” and never lost sight of the goal. She continued to work out at home with power bands and weights, no fancy gym or equipment, no gimmicks, no diet pills and no costly personal trainers. This determined young woman was alone in her journey and there was no turning back. I had so many questions for her and she answered each of them with the same raw honesty and vulnerability she reveals on her daily Instagram posts.
It seems this little powerhouse was a survivor even before her near death experience. She was raised predominantly by her father in an Amish household. Miriam’s mother battled with addiction, forcing this young girl to mature very quickly. She helped cook, clean and care for her younger siblings at a very young age. When I asked her if she ever thought about giving up, she gave me another answer that would once again have my jaw fall open in awe of her strength and determination. Although my question was geared toward her efforts of physical self-improvement, she took me into her fragile past of pain, trials and tribulations. Shortly after the accident and giving birth, she had become a child shuffled through the foster care system. Still a minor, she was not allowed to live on her own.
Her father’s home was “too full” for him to take her back in with a newborn baby. She was physically and emotionally broken on so many levels. She was over 40 minutes away from any family and with no form of transportation, but never allowed herself to give in to feelings of quitting. Instead she worked endless hours at several jobs to support her new family. Even as the pickup truck was well into its nine flips, she remembers distinctly telling herself not to close her eyes because death was not an option. In the face of all that physical devastation and a newborn holding on for dear life, she never thought about giving up or feeling sorry for herself. She said she knew they would both come out on the other side of this and ,as a young mom, she would have to overcome these newfound obstacles.
Miriam’s story reminds me of a movie scene where two men are in a boxing rink and the underdog is being pummeled and beaten down but keeps getting up. Every time he finally makes it onto his knees, he is beaten down again. As the audience watches cringing, with little hope, he hangs on to every ounce of courage and conviction he has left. In the end he stands tall, both boxing gloves in the air and tastes sweet victory and the crowd cheers uncontrollably in joy and disbelief, reminded and inspired that with persistence and resolve we can’t be kept down, despite the odds against us.
Her story is one of strength, perseverance and sheer determination. She shares it as a display of gratitude for those who have inspired her. She hopes to serve not only as inspiration to others, but to her children. She wants them to know that their mom went through many hardships and roadblocks in her life and that she simply refused to let it get the best of her. She wants her message to the world to be that no matter what life sends your way – good, bad or ugly, use it! Let it be the very fuel that moves you toward your goal. Let it strengthen you and help you to build a better you for the entire world to see.