Fashlete™ of the Month

Everything You Need Is Already Inside

November 2010

Name: Haley Sztykiel
Age: 23
Occupation: Graduate Student, University of Michigan School of Social Work

I am excited to announce the very first Fashlete of the Month!  A while back I asked the Fashletics Facebook fans to write in with their favorite motivational word or phrase. Not only did I receive a lot of great suggestions, but I received a lot of great stories too.  Stories of overcoming obstacles, losing weight, achieving goals, building communities... all things that have been achieved through an unwavering commitment to health and fitness in some capacity. This is my opportunity to honor all of the hard work being done out there by people like Haley who have made great strides in life as a result of testing their physical and mental strength... because that is exactly what it means to be a "Fashlete".

Before I tell you the quote that motives me, let me do a little explaining. The day I was born, the doctors told my parents “You have a beautiful (I may have added that) baby girl, but you might want to get those legs checked out.” And that is what I have been doing for the last 23 years, getting my legs “checked out.” If you were to see me, it would be obvious that I have a different walking gait then what is considered normal. To this day, doctors have never been able to understand why I walk differently. But, there has always been this underlying idea that something is wrong. Everything from clubfeet, scoliosis, and so many other medical jargon words have been tossed out and ruled out. For most of my life, doctors settled on the name “unknown neuromuscular disorder.” In other words, something was wrong with the nerve firings, and muscles were underdeveloped.

Everything Inside: by Haley Sztykiel

Although doctors didn’t know what was wrong, they always had a plan on how to “fix” my legs. And very few of their ideas involved anything with in my control. I have had surgery to shorten a tendon, to remove a growth plate, and to realign my hip. For a period of time growing up, I slept with electrical stimulation pads on my legs, hoping to spark nerve firings. All of this I am sure beneficial, but nothing changed the way I walked. And throughout this time, I continued to defy this “medical mystery” by pushing the limits of what a doctor told me. “She’ll never walk,” they told my parents. Obviously, not true. “You won’t be strong enough to drive,” doctors told me as I neared my 16th birthday. But after completing all 50-practice hours of my driver’s education training, I got my license. At 16.  I swam competitively starting at 7 and into college, played water polo for a few years, and went to horseback riding camp every summer for 7 years.  I never let “unknown neuromuscular disorder” stop me.

Last year, I moved to Ann Arbor and started graduate school at the University of Michigan. With such a great hospital so close, and it being so long since I had seen a doctor, my parents and I decided to make an appointment with a top neurologist. Like many before him, the doctor had no quick answers. So, he ran a bunch of tests to see the actual speed at which the neurons in my legs fire. Then, “listened” to my muscles, using a needle at different points in my leg. The results were something I had never heard before. Everything was normal. There was nothing wrong with my nerves; they fired at exactly the right speed. And if he were to test my parents, because of my age, I would look better. He couldn’t explain why I walk differently, but he was sure that everything was working the right way. And again, like all doctors, he had an idea for how to make me stronger. But this time, I was in control. His prescription: Exercise. 

He explained that I was the only one that could make me stronger. And if I wanted to see improvements, I could make that happen. I didn’t need to be poked, prodded, or taken into surgery. There was nothing to shorten, lengthen, or remove. I already had everything.  And with that, I entered the world of Crossfit. And even though I am not yet doing sprints, jumping on boxes, or lunging across a room, I’m working on it. But, I can do a solid push up, have already gotten better at air squats, and am proud of my pull-ups.  

So what’s my quote that gets me going? 

“Everything you need is already inside.” 

Haley received this custom-made sterling silver charm engraved with the word of her choice: metamorphosis.  Thanks to her realization that she already has everything she needs to succeed, Haley has come a long long way in her physical development which has elevated her confidence and improved her life.  

Congratulations Haley, you are an official FASHLETE!

"For me, my metamorphosis isn’t that I have changed into something different, just something better.  I am still the same person I was a year ago.  Except today, I am the better and stronger version." -Haley

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    Sarah Wilson
  • CrossFitWomen's Fitness

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