1) In addition to dancing, Simoné used to be a gymnast! The first 4 years of practice were dedicated to artistic gymnastics (what you know Gabrielle Douglas and Simone Biles to do). The 5 years that followed were devoted to rhythmic gymanstics. Simone then decided to shift gears while in high school, but not before being asked to compete in the junior Olympics!
2) Simoné is a HUGE veggie lover, and believes anyone can like any vegetable depending on how it's prepared. A previous vegan, vegetarian, and now pescetarian, she loves to cook when time allows - and even grows her own cilantro, thyme, and basil on her fire escape!
3) Despite being a New York native, horseback-riding was a huge aspect of Simone’s life. She even competed in horse shows for quite some time. During a dance gig in Wyoming, Simone found time to go riding and - even though it had been years since having last ridden - held her own with one of the most rambunctious horses on the ranch!
4) Music is deeply important, both in and out of the studio. But did you know that Simoné taught herself how to play the guitar? Perhaps not at a serious rock band level, but she has been known to visit a few open mic nights around the city!
5) Simoné is a loud and proud cat lady. But how could you not be, when your morning alarm rings and your cat waits for you to press the snooze button, open your arms to him, and he crawls in for a 5 minute snuggle session? Getting out of bed has gotten a little bit harder, but knowing a morning row lies ahead makes it all the better!
On November 24, 2014, I had a stroke. I was 23 years old. Yes, really a stroke. At 23 years old.
I realized I was foaming at my mouth a little while was washing dishes. Thinking I must have been daydreaming, I wiped the spit away. I then picked up my phone and asked Siri what the weather was like, but there was just one little problem - I couldn't speak. Some sound came out of my mouth but it definitely didn't sound like English. I decided to give it one more try. The same thing happened. I couldn't speak. Just a sound came out, kind of like a mumble. I decided to unlock my phone to call my boyfriend, but I couldn't. It was like my brain knew which numbers to tap on the screen but my fingers weren't cooperating. I didn't know if it was real life, or if I was in the twilight zone. After what felt like a billion attempts, I called my boyfriend and tried to tell him what was happening. Having worked as an EMT, he knew it was a stroke, but of course he didn't tell me. He told me to go to Urgent Care and he would meet me there. It wasn't until I was around the corner from Urgent Care that I realized this was really happening, so I then had a panic attack. I then (somewhat) pulled it together and went inside. Tears streaming down my face, not being able to speak, yet struggling to hold it together, I tried to sign in but I had one problem, I couldn't write. Not knowing what was wrong with me, they sent me to St. John's Hospital, where a doctor told me that I just had a panic attack. Granted by this time my symptoms weren't as severe... but still. The next morning I went to Methodist Hospital where a neurologist there admitted me, and the testing began. About two days later, an MRI confirmed that I had a stroke.
Physical, occupational, and speech therapy, became my full time job. Then, a few months later, out of the blue, I fainted in the shower. Luckily I called out to my boyfriend and he caught me before I banged my head. To give you a visual, he said he felt like he was looking at my corpse. It doesn’t get scarier than that. Back to the hospital I went. The timing was perfect since they had just received the results from my heart monitor I worn for a month (man those blisters from electrodes on your skin are no joke!). I had atrial flutter, which fancy name for abnormal heart rhythm. For the record, this was caused by my hyperthyroidism several years earlier, which is hereditary. Anyway, they did this super cool procedure (atrial ablation) to fix it. After the procedure my doctors decided to put a little chip inside my chest just under my skin that monitors my heart - and I still have it inside me today.
My recovery taught me several things. But I think the most important is learning how much my body LOVES me. My body and brain worked so hard to recover. Your body is your temple, so damn right you better spoil it. Spoil it with a very healthy lifestyle and self-love. The first time I actually ran after my stroke, I cried. The first time I was able to walk down stairs without holding onto the banister, I cried. The first time I walked on a treadmill normally, I never wanted to get off. When I workout and feel like I can't go any harder, I think of these things, and damn right, that's when I push myself and go SO hard.
Yes, it's disgustingly cliché to say this, but I do believe everything happens for a reason. Not sure WHY I had a stroke, but I do know it's made me a hell of a lot stronger. My passion for fitness and health most likely wouldn't be the same.