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Activly Engaged: Gracie B.


Gracie B., Queen B of Celiac Disease

Photographed by James Aaron @strikingfit

According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 23.5 million Americans are affected by autoimmune disorders. Approximately one percent of those people have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by the consumption of gluten, damaging the small intestine. Left untreated, it can lead to osteoporosis, anemia, and intestinal cancers. Common symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, weight loss, and constipation. I know what you're thinking, how can anyone live with this, let alone exercise regularly with it? Well, Grace has found a way, and she has dedicated her life to teaching other people how to find theirs.


Like many successful athletes, Grace started her career at a young age. She competed in gymnastics for six years before moving on to competitive cheerleading, after being injured in a karate class at her church. You know what they say when one door closes, another one opens. In high school, she began to experience painful stomach cramps and weight gain. On top of that, her uncle had just died from cancer. After being told by several physicians that there was nothing wrong with her, naturally, she began to believe them. However, things got worse before they got better. Due to her gut inconsistencies, she was unable to eat. As a result, she lost 40lbs in two weeks. She was bullied and called anorexic by her peers. It wasn't until she went to college that she was diagnosed with celiac disease. By 2013-2014, Grace had decided to take control of her health and her physique. She knew a girl that competed in fitness competitions and approached her trainer. The trainer wasn't shy, asking for a year commitment upfront. She went home to mull it over and signed up the next day. The first few sessions were brutal; she almost threw up. However, she persisted. Fast forward one year later, in 2015, she claimed the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) Pro title, in the Diva Bikini Pro division, in Las Vegas.

Photographed by James Aaron @strikingfit

It was through her own painful experiences that Grace found purpose. She is a survivor, a daughter, a friend (to many), a business owner (Gracie B Fit), a WBFF Pro, a celiac disease coach, and proof...that having an autoimmune disorder does not automatically mean that your life is over. Your diagnosis is critical to your development. When asked what she wants people with celiac disease to know, Grace responded:


You are not alone. A huge part of celiac disease is overcoming your feelings of loneliness and being left out, due to your dietary restrictions. If you need help, DM me

That's Grace for you, making the world shinier...one diamond at a time. If you are struggling with celiac disease or any autoimmune disorder, remember that diamonds are merely rocks that did well under pressure; you are a diamond, so shine bright!

ACTIVLY ENGAGED

-the blog-