About Simone

”My fortunes have been built from my losses and my passions.”
When I told my friend I was overwhelmed with the idea of writing out a full biography, he jokingly responded that I should just write “all I do is win.” After we laughed for a bit, his statement actually made me realize that I am where I am today because I have actually LOST many, many times. My fortunes have been built from my losses and my passions.
“I felt more and more uncomfortable the more time I spent in the states.”
As a child I grew up traveling the world with my father, who was an Officer in the Air Force. So, after being born in Wichita, Kanasas, I had the privilege to travel outside of the United States. My roots are primarily European – the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. I believe experiencing different cultures at such as young age really helped me to value peoples’ differences. It actually became quite difficult for me to live in the states where kids grew up within a small circle their entire lives. The idea of one spot, one group of friends was foreign to me. So, while living in Georgia, North Dakota, and South Carolina I actually began to feel out of place. It did not help that my younger sister and I also are of mixed ethnicity. That completely threw people off. I felt more and more uncomfortable the more time I spent in the states.
Younger Years
 
“… by playing sports I was able to gradually break away from my shyness.”
Luckily, my parents were adamant that my sister and I were active and social. I became involved in everything. I was involved in coach-pitch softball — I was just there for the snacks. I did gymnastics and track. I tried out for cheerleading in middle school. I did not make the cut. That was devastating to me. So, I tried out again when I moved schools. (Do you see the bonus here?!) I made Junior Varsity cheerleading in high school. Well, it was better than nothing. Later, I went on to cheer in college! Throughout high school I played sports all year – continuing the cheerleading, basketball, track and field. Track and field is really my strength. I was a sprinter. I am still a sprinter. I will always be a sprinter. I have a theory that God forgot my slow-twitch fibers! But I am still very thankful for my athletic ability. By playing sports I was able to gradually break away from my shyness.
Simone HS Sports
 
“I do not know what it is about me and a challenge, but I always seem to want what most say is impossible.”
In addition to playing sports I also played the violin and clarinet. I was a self-proclaimed portrait artist, and a pretty avid reader. When I was in 8th grade my dad brought home this autobiography for me to read. (He was always pushing autobiographies while I was trying to read things like The Babysitter’s Club. But, in this case, the suggestion was greatly welcomed. After I read Ben Carson’s Gifted Hands, I immediately wanted to be a doctor. A neurosurgeon. I wanted to be just like Dr. Carson. I was amazed at how he overcame his odds to become one of the top pediatric neurosurgeons in the world. I, too, wanted someone’s life to be in my hands. I gradually came to realize that my passion was really to help people live a better life. I wanted to make an impact on lives that was unforgettable. So, I began the journey to get accepted into medical school. I was as active as you can imagine one kids needs to be in high school to be competitive to get into a good college. I figured I needed to get into an Ivy League school. Isn’t that where doctors come from? I did not know. I am the first person in my family, on both sides, to go this route. So, with this myth in my head I strived to be the best at everything. Now, I am not the smartest or really the best at any one thing, so I did not graduate valedictorian. I think I was like 36 out of 500+ students. How was I going to get into Harvard with that? Oh, and my SAT was definitely nothing to write home about. Well, my family urged me to look into this crazy place called The United States Air Force Academy. I was as against that as I was to the initial idea of taking part in high school Junior ROTC, but I entertained it because after all I had gone through all those years of JROTC. I heard the words “competitive,” “top school,” and immediately became more intrigued. I do not know what it is about me and a challenge, but I always seem to want what most say is impossible.
 
“I took the SAT 8 times!”
Well, it turned out to be damn near impossible! I did not exactly receive a rejection letter, but I had this “special recruiter” come see me at school and explain this “preparatory school.” All I could think was how I was not going to some junior college. I had my back-up schools lined up. After all, The Academy was my dream Ivey League. Well, I learned by talking to the Academy representative that the Prep School was much more than a junior college. At the same time it would be a risk to attend, because all the credits and training you do there are only applicable to the Academy. I decided to do it. I flew out to Colorado Springs that summer. I had met the long list of requirements, including a Vice Presidential nomination, but one thing I did not have was the minimum SAT score. The stipulation for every student there is that you work on your one weaker area during that year. I took the SAT 8 times! 8 times! Please contact me if you have taken any standardized test that many times, because I feel very uniquely alone in that ‘achievement.’
 
“There are two major events that stand out that have changed the way I look at human life: 1. When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and 2. When I began competing as a figure athlete.”
Aside from the testing, the military training was extremely hard. I cannot even express it. Physically and mentally you cannot prepare for an environment like a military academy. But the Prep School did prepare me for starting the next year at the Air Force Academy. And by this time I had the closest group of brothers and sisters to share that journey. We went through our second basic training together like veterans. We went through our 4 years together like we had been to war. We are still in contact today like family (maybe better than some families depending on where you come from). And I do not mean a handful of people. I mean I literally have brothers and sisters all over the world I can count on in any situation. I reflect on these relationships, because they are the most positive and long-lasting effect the Academy has had on my life. I think most of my Academy experiences would be best saved for a book one day. However, there ARE two major events that stand out, which have changed the way I look at human life: 1. When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and 2. When I began competing as a figure athlete.
 
”The thought of my life being over at 22-years-old was so overwhelming.”
I began to experience joint pain and swelling throughout my body during my junior year at the Academy. At first it was not too bad, but I found it strange that it was ALL of my joints and the symptoms waxed and waned during the day. Eventually, I had difficulty turning door knobs, wearing shoes, and even writing and typing at times. I became scared. There were so many requirements at the Academy that my disease would soon be found out and I just knew I would be medical disenrolled. Luckily, I happened to be in a high leadership position at the time, where my duties excused me from many military formations. Also, as an intercollegiate athlete I was permitted to skip one semester of taking our mandatory fitness tests. I also had very understanding coaches that allowed my status to protect me from the “bigger processes.” Thank God. I began seeing a rheumatologist routinely, where I was officially diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and started on the full arsenal of medications. I had little relief. Being the aspiring doctor I was, I begun reading everything I could find to learn more about my autoimmune disease. “No known causes. No known cures.” I became depressed and cried – a lot. The thought of my life being over at 22-years-old was so overwhelming.
 
“The body is the platform from which you provoke transformation,without your body - you are nothing because the world cannot benefit from your positive impact.”
Finally, in all my research I had learned there was one medication I was taking that could cause rheumatoid arthritis. None of my doctors had ever been concerned about this prescription. Of course, I immediately discontinued the medication and my symptoms subsided. Yes! Well, kind of…autoimmune diseases are never cured as I mentioned earlier. Patients go into indefinite remission, with about 66% experiencing at least one other flare later in life, and half of those with worsening cases as time goes who will more than likely die from an associated medical issue. I personally had one relapse since that time; and I could have another at any time in the future. I count myself lucky each morning I wake up pain-free. Each day I get to walk around the hospital or visit friends or lift weights is a blessing. I do not take my health for granted, for I realize at any moment it could be taken away from me. This is why I encourage others to embrace their body. The body is the platform from which you provoke transformation – without your body, you are nothing – the world cannot benefit from your positive impact.
 
“Ultimately, this sport has also allowed me to build bonds with others who are also committed to increasing the number of people embracing a 365-days-no-days-off fit life.”
It is ironic (or maybe not) that around the same time that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis is when I was introduced to one of the hardest sports I have ever competed in – figure. I was introduced to the sport by a random girl in our cadet “beauty salon.” I did a couple shows under the guidance of a military officer that volunteered his time to lead our new fitness club at the Academy, which I later became President over. Trying to compete and manage the Academy requirements was so difficult, but I think it prepared me for competing as a medical student. It is funny how challenges set you up for greater challenges if you do not back down! I did my first show in Denver – back when the one-piece was still part of figure! I had no idea what I was doing. I did not get a trophy. I just had so much fun. From that show, I was hooked. My new love. So, I did all my own competition prep until 2009, when I officially joined Team Bombshell. Shannon Dey and Rob Rosetti have completely transformed my body and my mind as an athlete. They are great coaches and that is why I still work with them today. This is an incredibly hard sport – the biochemistry and physiology involved in dieting and working out – so intriguing AND so complicated! I am glad I now have coaches to take the reins. I just follow the plan to look my best. But for me it is not about displaying my body on stage. I love the mental challenge of morphing my body and allowing it to peak perfectly on show day – not a day before and not a day after! Ultimately, this sport has also allowed me to build bonds with others who are also committed to increasing the number of people embracing a 365-days-no-days-off fit life.
 
“Oh, and the bliss in my life is always interrupted with a challenge…”After beginning this new lifestyle in Colorado, it was time to graduate and move on to the next chapter as a communications officer at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. So, here I was an officer at my first base! Awesome! Well, no. You remember the part about me wanting to become a doctor, right? Well, that was still true all along. I struggled with one of my classes while at the Academy, so I could not apply to medical school right away. I was bummed, but I knew as soon as I stepped foot on base I would be visiting my education office to see what I could do to get assistance to re-take that class. I re-took the class and added another. Nailed them both! At the same time I worked on my personal training certification – I had to have a back-up plan (and it was never to stay in the military for 20 years). Finally, I achieved the grades I needed to and it was time for the next step. I began studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). It was so hard with my work schedule, but my supervisor was understanding and supportive of my future goals so we made it work. I worked my butt off for months…and on test day failed…miserably! You know that “higher score guarantee” they advertise? Well, I qualified. THEN, I did not get accepted to any of the 12 medical schools I applied to that year. I was so mad at myself, but did not think of quitting. Well, actually I did. I just recalled that I applied to what I thought was a “really cool” Bioethics Masters Degree program…at New York University. I got a very nicely HANDWRITTEN rejection letter. It was the #1 program in the nation – apparently! Ok, ok. I needed to focus. What was I doing here? I was TRYING to move on to something else because my dream got hard. So, in order to zone in I hired a private tutor for the MCAT and performed better on the test. I got accepted to a couple schools. This was the second best day of my life (the first was graduating from the Academy)! I still remember the phone call from Dr. Deborah Deas. I cried. Oh, and the bliss in my life is always interrupted with a challenge…
 
“I see NO LIMITS in myself and now maximize my developed discipline to accomplish all my goals!”
A few weeks after being accepted to medical school I was tasked to deploy to Kuwait with the Air Force! I was not disappointed about the deployment. I was just worried about keeping my slot for medical school. Luckily, the Medical University of South Carolina was more than happy to hold my slot for the following year! While away in Kuwait I worked my butt off and I enjoyed being directly involved in the mission overseas. I was so proud of my guys’ work and accomplishments. I received lots of cool awards (including my promotion to O-3,Captain), but the best reward was just being able to say I finished my military commitment in “the sandbox” as we call it. I am proud of my military service (10 years total). After attending the US Air Force Academy and my time as an officer in the military, I see NO LIMITS in myself and now maximize my developed discipline to accomplish all my goals!
 
“My physique continued to morph before my eyes.”
I began medical school a few weeks after leaving my last assignment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. I knew it would be a huge adjustment after not being in school for a long time, so I planned to not enter any figure competitions for a while. I had competed in several competitions at this point, so I knew what it took to compete at the national level. My coaches have always been very supportive of my career goals and understood my need to focus on not failing out. I maintained a healthy lifestyle by controlling my eating primarily. Studying all day took out workouts some days (or many days if a big test was coming). My only goal was to not get fat! It took a lot of discipline, but I kept the weight under control. But going from about 15 hours of working out a week to maybe 5 just would not cut it to compete. I was lucky enough to jump back into competitions my second year of medical school. I ended up having my best year yet and finished the year nationally ranked #1 in my height class in the National Physique Committee. I think my many years of living a fit lifestyle and understanding my coaches’ style helped me to maintain while in school and I also followed my show preparation plan 100% because I literally did not have time to overthink anything. My physique continued to morph before my eyes.
 
“My ultimate goal is meld my love of medicine and fitness into a powerful tool people can use to achieve a 365-day-no-days-off fit life.”
Because I have established this healthy lifestyle over several years and proved I can maintain it through some NOT ideal situations, I plan to compete as long as I possibly can. As long as competing and modeling will help me to inspire more people to live a fit life, then I will continue to intertwine them with my medical career goals. My ultimate goal is meld my love of medicine and fitness into a powerful tool people can use to achieve a 365-day-no-days-off fit life.