At first, I was having doubt about interviewing her. I knew she had answers to a some of my fitness questions and maybe to yours too but I just thought now wasn’t the right time.
It took a while before I realized it was either now or never. So, I reached out to her and she was so accommodating.
Candyce lives with sickle cell disease but she is a fitness expert, dancer and many things more. I’ll let her do the introduction.
Interview with Candyce Heather (sickle cell warrior and fitness expert)
Candyce: Hi, my name is Candyce Heather, and it is an honor to be part of this informative blog. I love sharing my story with fellow sickle cell warriors and those fighting chronic illnesses.
I am 34, born with sickle cell SC version of the disease. I’m originally from New York City and I’ve been living in the west coast for 11 years and LA for 10 yrs.
I danced professionally for over a decade as a background dancer for recording artistes. And then I transitioned into the health and fitness world.
I received my certification from the institute of integrated nutrition as a holistic health coach and I am a NASM (National academy of sports medicine certified personal trainer).
I’ve been doing personal training, health coaching and group fitness for the last eight years and I really made that transition because I wanted to learn about thriving with sickle cell and how to live my daily life while fighting this disease
I became my first client and I’ve learnt a ton along the way and I love sharing my passion for life and for fighting through obstacles with others and helping people alleviate their lives so that they can live their best life.
So, let’s dive into the questions
At what age did you know about your sickle cell status?
Candyce: My mum found out shortly after my birth that I had sickle cell SC version of the disease.
Most infants that have sickle cell are told at birth, however the hospital that I was born at had a strike that time so my mum was never tested for the trait. Both my mum and dad actually carry the trait. That’s how I was blessed with the disease.
You are a certified fitness expert, fitness, I mean… Why fitness?
Candyce: So, just elaborating on what I said in my introduction, I became my first client and wanted to learn how I can eat healthy given this disease and travelling the world as a background dancer.
As a background dancer, you are not always eating the best food because you’re hoping on and off planes all the time.
I was eating a lot of fast foods because it was the only thing rightly available so it got to a point where I really wanted to learn how do I best fill my body and really live my best life while fighting this disease.
So I’ve really been on a journey to turn food into medicine and eating to live and I love to move so fitness was like a natural transition from my dance career.
With sickle cell and its complications like fatigue, it is difficult to remain consistent with fitness, how do you stay consistent?
Candyce: Great question. Yes, it is challenging but I’ve gotten to place where I really do my best to listen to my body’s need and I don’t compare.
Right now, I’m really into yoga so my yoga practices is what keeps me grounded and makes me feel great from inside out and I can see the parallels in my yoga practice and in my everyday life.
In practicing, one day I may feel great, the next day I maybe not hit that pose like I use to or I did the day before. So, my secret to staying consistent is really not comparing and embodying compassionate patience for myself.
What exercise or fitness routine would you suggest for my readers?
Candyce: For the population that may have a chronic illness or be battling sickle cell specifically I highly recommend finding something you love to do. So fitness should not seem like a chore and exercising should not seem like work.
It should be something fun that excites you whether that be dancing, boxing, yoga, swimming like whatever sparks joy for you, go do that.
Of course there is that other layer of fear because of the obstacle of your illness and how I’ve dealt with that and coach people through that is take your time, it’s your why in terms of exercising.
I invite everybody to try in a bigger why which is just to be healthy, to be happy. Exercising is a great way to release those happy endorphins and feel great from the inside out.
Maybe you have an ecstatic goal but I invite you to ask yourself and dig a little deeper and get connected to your big way, the way that’s going to drive you whether you reach that ecstatic goal or not.
For me, it is really about feeling great so my three favorite way to sweat are yoga, dance and boxing, and as long as I’m moving and pacing myself I can make it from the beginning to the end of the workout.
Although You might feel really strong today and be able to get a great workout and then the next day maybe that’s not the case maybe it’s half the workout so listen to yourself and know when and when not to push.
Me: I wrote about some exercises for sickle cell warriors here
Do you have a morning routine? What does the first hour of your day look like?
Candyce: Yes, I do. Although I have struggled with my morning routine in the past. I am a snoozer so I set my alarm thirty minutes before I have to wake up and I am usually up at about 4:30am
Once I get up, I say my affirmations either in my head or out loud and give myself a good five to ten minutes of being present like I woke up to this glorious gift of life.
Then, I go do through the usual brushing teeth and getting ready. I make sure I take at least 16 ounces from my jug.
And one of the other things I have been doing is meditation but that is if I not feeling too sleep.
I do like a 10 minutes meditation or just reaffirming my affirmation by saying it to myself in the mirror which has been really awesome. Another practice I love doing is a gratitude list.
What are you currently reading?
Candyce: I am currently listening to an audiobook by Simon Sinek called the infinite game. And it’s very insightful, I highly recommend it.
Which would you rather pick for relaxation, books or movies?
Candyce: Definitely movies because books puts me sleep.
What would a bad day look like for you?
Candyce: I don’t like to label things good or bad but let’s say a day I’m not feeling at my highest self might look like me lounging around all day.
I like to look at it more so as me honoring my body’s needs because I’m a go, go kind of person all the time so lying in bed for a full day or half is like you’re not being productive.
That’s probably what a not so great day will look like for me.
Quote or saying you live your life by
Candyce: There so many great ones, I’ve recently been listening to Jen Sincero’s bad ass books series and there are so many amazing quotes from that book but a couple of things that I reaffirm every single day are
Having unshakable faith in the not yet seen and really building that faith is important for me and then another saying will be I surrender to the divine timing of my life. I believe we are all exactly where we are supposed to be in our lives.
Your advice to a young sickle cell warrior hoping to become fit and strong someday.
Candyce: My advice will be to start with gratitude, it’s very easy especially living with a chronic illness that is very challenging at times to get stuck into feelings of regret I will always say that start with gratitude.
Be grateful for your body, for your beautiful mind, be grateful for the gift of life that you’re breathing. Be grateful for the disease.
If you choose you’ll realize your disease allows you to elevate how you live your life because you are different. You are uniquely, beautifully different and somethings your friends maybe doing are not healthy for you
And it allows you step your game up when it comes to how you live your life. You have to drink more water, eating more green vegetables and watching what you put in your body.
So I’d say in order to become fit, start with gratitude for having a disease that allows you to thrive and face off the obstacles and challenges.
Gratitude is a powerful tool and another thing is believe in yourself. You can accomplish anything you choose to.
Follow Candyce on Instagram here.