Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease commonly associated with low life expectancy, but fitness coach Sophie Grace Holmes wasn’t about to let that be her story.
“Fitness has saved my life,” says fitness and nutrition coach Sophie Grace Holmes. “It’s taught me who I am and what I am capable of by pushing boundaries over and over again.”
The athlete and influencer was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at four months old. Despite dire life expectancy predictions, Holmes has never let the condition get in the way of who she is and the life she wants to live.
A tough road ahead
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disease in which the body produces thick and sticky mucus that can clog the lungs and pancreas. It is usually diagnosed in infants and young children, and it can be life threatening.
“When I was born, it was predicted I wouldn’t make it to 16 years old. When I was 19, I was told I wouldn’t make it to 21,” Holmes says. She explains that the diagnosis can be daunting for parents, especially considering the poor life expectancy associated with the disease.
“Thankfully, my parents were determined to do all they could to stay positive and do everything they could to ensure my health was the best,” says Holmes. “They also remained hopeful and positive, and they encouraged me to live a big life no matter what.”
CF can make athletics difficult, but Holmes says this only encouraged her to achieve bigger and better things than doctors predicted she could.
“I have always naturally been positive, striving to become the person I am meant to be,” she says. She explains she always wanted not to “survive but thrive” and calls CF her “driving force” not her “definition.”
“Big goals push me,” Holmes says. “Having stories to tell and adventure — especially physical adventures — that’s where my passion lies. I am truly grateful for my CF, and for the big unique life it has given me. Without it, I would not have experienced so much at such a young age, from climbing some of the highest mountains in the world to crossing oceans.”
Holmes also welcomed the challenge the pandemic presented to her business and used it as an opportunity to grow and become more creative. “By being vulnerable — I had to stay in my house for 14 weeks — this allowed me to reinvent and recreate my business, my life, and a way of living I had been working for basically overnight.”
She found a way to take her business online, create her fitness app, leverage the power of social media, and find brands that complemented her training and her health. And the results were worth it.
“I am the strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been,” she says. “It’s allowed tremendous growth in my mindset, the willingness to take a risk, but also really shown me my passion for what I want to do for work — transform as many lives as possible through fitness and mindset.”
There is no cure for CF, but the condition can be managed through specialized treatments including antibiotics, and through nutrition, which is also a part of Holmes’ fitness regimen and coaching.
But whatever anyone else’s personal journey or path might be, Holmes’ central message stays the same: everyone is able achieve something extraordinary.
“I am a seeker of opportunity no matter what life is throwing at us,” Holmes explains. “Life is about your perspective and being creative to continually take steps forwards no matter what. I believe what’s meant for you won’t pass you by and usually these obstacles can lead to things better than you could ever imagine.”