Take some time and read bout Kaelin Tuell . I have been keeping my eye on her for a while. I finally approached her right before her pro show and asked if she would write us a blog post. At the time I had limited knowledge about her and really just wanted to know more. If is a honor that she wrote this for Flag Nor Fail... It is an honor that she chooses to wear my brand. If you are looking to be inspired, read this post, and follow this girl. She is truly awesome.
Most of you know me as tuell_time from instagram. The little girl who prides herself in kicking ass in the gym to inspire others to do the same - but only a handful of people know my story from before I became Ms. Motivation & how exactly I got there.
This is the first time I’ve ever shared the full story with anyone.
Growing up I went through a significant amount of loss... More than any kid my age should ever have to and more than most adults even. Not distant relatives, but extremely significant people in my life - and a staggering amount of them.
But there was one that was life shattering.
My dad & I were seriously best friends. We are pretty much the exact same person. We loved working in the garage together, rebuilding cars, hunting, four-wheeling, racing, & doing other boy activities. He always lit up the room with his personality and everyone loved having him around.
In late 2005, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer and upon further examination they found that he also had 4 brain tumors. The Chemo dulled all of the characteristics that made him who he was & the medication he was taking made him extremely depressed. He was no longer my dad - but a completely different person.
On May 26, 2006 - My dad committed suicide.
I was 16.
I know that it was not MY dad who made the decision to take his life ... but it was the person that all of the medications turned him into who made that choice.
Life started to spiral out of control. I started eating & later drinking to cope and began gaining weight quickly. By the time I was 20, I had gained 60 pounds and at my heaviest was 180 pounds at 5’2”. Not only had I gained the weight but all of the issues that came with it; low-self esteem, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, laziness, & just overall unhappiness with myself.
After getting to this point, I realized that my dad wouldn’t have wanted me to be this unhappy with myself and with my life - so I decided to make a change. I started looking up fitness motivation and workouts online when I found...you guessed it...Dana Linn Bailey. She reminded me a lot of myself; her crazy personality, feistiness, “I don’t care what anyone else thinks” mantra, & badass attitude. I remember looking up the Flag Nor Fail site out of curiosity and reading the description of the brand: “FLAG NOR FAIL is a mindset. No surrender and no failure. Flag represents surrender, much like one would wave a white flag to admit defeat. No surrender, no failure”. At that moment it became way more than brand to me. I had found the motto of my entire life. Everything I was going through, all of the struggle, the loss, the hardships... & that’s when I decided - I shall not Flag Nor Fail.
So everyday I set out to earn my new body. If it didn’t get me closer to my goals, I didn’t do it. I stopped eating fast food & drinking cokes, threw out all my candy, and officially quit drinking alcohol - which wasn’t easy considering I was in college! I traded socializing and partying for heavy lifting, clean eating, and cardio. I spent a lot of my time looking up new workouts & researching healthy foods for my diet. Day in and Day out I woke up early, did empty stomach cardio, went to all of my classes, did several hours of homework, went back to the gym for weight training, did more cardio, & ate 7 clean meals throughout the day. After 6 months of working my ass off - I had officially lost 60 pounds!
But the weight loss wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to show everyone that it’s possible to make a complete 180. I wanted to inspire others to set big goals and SHOW them that they could accomplish anything with hard work and dedication. I wanted to achieve something that people thought to be IMPOSSIBLE; to go from 180 pounds to competing in an NPC Figure Competition - in 18 months time.
Every single day I was 100% dedicated to crushing this goal. To me, I wasn’t doing it for me but for everyone who was watching. For everyone who felt like there was no hope for them to lose weight or get fit. For all of the people who needed someone to lead the way. For all the people who needed to see that anything is possible. I wanted to create a story that was able to inspire people who were just like me; overweight, unhealthy, & unhappy - that all they have to do is DECIDE that they want something better for themselves and they can change their entire life around.
After months of vigorous training, cardio, posing, and prepping - I competed in my very first figure competition - the NPC Kentucky Derby Championships in April 2013. The feeling of accomplishment I had by just being able to step on the stage alongside girls with such amazing physiques was incredible. I felt as if I was one person standing on stage representing millions of people. In that moment I was fulfilling my goal.
That night, I was announced 1st place Figure Class A & went on to win the Figure Overall Champion.
There was so much emotion in this moment - Not only winning my class but winning the Overall in my very first competition ever - so much more than I had ever dreamed would happen. I was entirely overwhelmed with pride for the story that I was being able to create for others.
Winning at the Derby Qualified me to compete with the Top Amateur Figure Competitors in the Nation at the NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago - where ONLY the Winner of each Class receives an IFBB Pro Card & becomes an IFBB Professional Figure Competitor.
Since the show was only 6 weeks away, I decided to go for it! Everyone kept telling me: “don’t expect to place”, “this is only your first national show - you’ll have to put your time in”, “it will just be a good learning experience for you”, “the judges have already picked who they want to win”, “do you have another show picked? Because this one is going to be a waste of time pretty much”, “Its impossible for you to win, its only your second show”, etc.
I let their disbelief fuel my fire. I wanted to prove everyone wrong. I wanted to show them that success is earned & I could do it. I had already dieted for 16 weeks for the Derby show, I took one day off & went right back to my strict diet for another 6 weeks. I never missed an ounce of water, a meal, an empty stomach cardio session, a workout, or a late night cardio session - no matter how hard it was, how hungry i was, how tired i was, or how late it was. I had something to prove.
At JR Nationals in June of 2013 - Against all odds, I Won 1st Place in Figure Class B & earned my IFBB Pro Card in only my second competition. (The lowest number of shows possible.)
In 18 months - I transformed from being 180 pounds, unhealthy and unhappy to 115 pounds, 12% body fat, and an IFBB Figure Pro.
I hope through my story you all find that no matter what your circumstances - you can overcome ANY obstacle & achieve ANY GOAL. All you have to do is believe in yourself, work hard, have determination, stay focused, and don’t worry about what any one else thinks or says about your dreams.
Its hard to put into words how much the Flag Nor Fail brand means to me & describe how much a shirt has completely changed my outlook on life. To me it means dreaming big. Kicking ass. Crushing goals. Never giving up. Proving people wrong. Believing in myself. Overcoming obstacles. & Achieving the Impossible.
I am forever grateful to the Flag Nor Fail brand - for inspiring & motivating me to truly create my worth. I wear the FNF name on my chest every day as a reminder to myself of all the struggles I have overcome to get where I am today & also as a representation all of the obstacles that I will face in the future where...
I SHALL NOT FLAG NOR FAIL.