Masters Athletic & Evening Gown Pro, Katie Acuna “Is Too Legit To Quit!”
“I had to make a decision and either live in pain or try to do something about it.”
IPL Women’s Athletic Masters 40+ Pro, Evening Gown Masters 40+ Pro & Bikini Masters Amateur, Katie Acuna! Images from Katie’s photo shoot a few hours after the 2022 IPL California Championship in Sacramento on May 28th.
Katie is such a sweetheart of a person and has a powerfully inspirational story. I was super excited for my interview with her!
BEN YOSEF: Congrats on such an amazing showing you had at the IPL California contest this past may! How are you feeling about that contest weekend?
KATIE ACUNA: Thank you so much! I had such an amazing time. Everyone was wonderful. The event team, the athletes, the crowd…it was perfect. It was such an amazing and invigorating experience. I’m really excited about October. I have met so many amazing, inspirational and supportive individuals. This was a very empowering experience overall.
BEN: So happy to hear that! Really means the world to me that you enjoyed it so much! And you did so well, including IPL Pro Qualifications in two divisions! AMAZING! And WOW on these pix! You were so great to work with for your photoshoot. I know you mentioned that you have done some shoots before. And I could tell! You were such a natural! What was it like for you being the center of attention and opening up for a shoot like that?
KATIE: Thank you so much! I can tell that you put your heart and soul into these events, athletes, magazines and shoots! It shows! And we can all feel how genuine and passionate you are. That’s great energy to be around!
Awe. The photos! Thank you! I love them all! You are a true talent, Ben! I had an amazing time on the shoot! You are a true artist! So laid back, fun, funny! You made it easy! And wow! What a huge compliment to me! Thank you so much!
You know, I loved every second of it! I’m proud of where I have come from in life. So being out there and being the center of attention gave me the opportunity to meet new people, to talk about the league and experience. Even to the people at the mansion. So for me, I guess I didn’t feel like the center of attention. Rather someone representing their life’s journey and being able to express it to interested people. I love art. And like tattoos, photography is such a beautiful form of expression. I honestly love it.
While we shot I felt like it was just you and I there. So it was very comfortable. After the shoot was amazing as well because it opened up the opportunity for discussion with strangers. I love how interested everyone was. So I guess I’m a ham for being the center of attention! [laughs] In all honesty, it was an experience that is wonderful and really hard to put into words. Very powerful.
BEN: Wow! Thank you for such amazing words! That really means the world to me! So, let’s talk about your history and background You shared with me some of your journey and some of the challenges that you have faced and overcome. Tell me what lead you to the stage?
KATIE: You are very welcome! Well, it has been something I always thought about doing, but I knew nothing of the process. Years flew by and I went through my life challenges. Then I started working out again a few years ago. I did it for my mental and physical health. It felt good to workout, so I would post small clips and photos of me working out. Everyone was so encouraging to keep going.
I watched my cousin Hilary train, compete and win and I thought I could never do what she did. So I kept just working out. The more I worked out the more friends, family and even strangers would tell me to keep going. So one day I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great to give competing a try. I knew nothing about it, but I thought maybe it would help other people see that if you put your mind to something and put the work in, you can surprise yourself with what you are capable of. The only limits we have are self-limiting beliefs. I thought, even if I don’t place, I can still show everyone the experience and journey to stage in hopes of inspiring others to follow their passions. Even if it seems like a long or impossible road. Anything is possible with the right motivation, mindset and support. I am so thankful my trainer lead me to the IPL.
BEN: You have such a positive outlook on all of this. I love it. What can you tell us about the health challenges you faced years ago.
KATIE: Thank you so much! Well, I was born with a mild form Elhers Danlos Syndrome Type 3, which is an inherited connective tissue disorder. It affects most of my joints, ligaments, skin, hyper extensions, etc… By the time I was in my early 20’s I already had arthritis in both knees, among other health issues. When I was 34 I ended up in the ER due to a infection in my leg, which had turned into sepsis. I was very sick and almost died. The surgeons removed most of my inner thigh to the bone.
The infection destroyed most of the muscle, so they had to remove it in order to save my leg and my life. A little over a year after my leg surgery, I found myself in the hospital again. However, this time I had lost all function below the waist. For the year prior to this surgery I had been suffering from major back pain, to the point where the pain affected my good leg the worst. I would just fall over. It was embarrassing. I ended up with a cane, then a walker, then an emergency discectomy of my L4L5. I had an arthritic disk that had fully herniated into my spinal canal causing pressure on my spinal cord and eventually shutting off all communication from my brain to the lower half of my body.
Bone spurs were removed from my back and I was suffering from stenosis as well. I was in so much pain, it makes me want to cry thinking about it. I still had a lot of pain after my surgery. They were not able to cage or fuse my spine, so I ended up going through an all- natural bone-on-bone fusion while pregnant with my son.
When my son was just six months old I had another infection in my leg. This time resulting in a four day hospital stay. This is while I was recovering from a separate surgery from a birth complication. At this point, I think my body was in shock, as this all had happened within a five year span. Heavy antibiotics, medications, surgery and stress took its toll. My skin started reacting from the stress and my hair started falling out. I lost over half of the hair on my head, eyebrows and eyelashes due to alopecia. I became a very sad and miserable person for a while. I hated my body. I hated my situation, I hated the way I felt.
I had to make a decision and either live in pain or try to do something about it. I started working out again. Slowly, one day at a time, I found how much better I felt working out. So each day I gave a little bit more of myself. Now, I feel great! My joints still flare up and my back will flare up, but all-in-all I feel great. Mentally and physically. Now I am happy, healthy and very well.
BEN: Wow, Katie. What a powerful story! And so incredibly inspirational. I am sure your story will resonate with so many. Especially those who want to give up on their goals and think, “I can’t”. Love this! I so look forward to seeing what’s next for you. And I am excited to see you back on the IPL stage in October! I have a feeling you are just getting started! Any final thoughts?
KATIE: Awe, wow! Thank you so much! I know it is not the hardest of journeys. We all go through so much in this life. I guess I would like my final thought to be, if you have a passion or dream then go for it. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Let all negative thoughts go in one ear and out the other! You got this!
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