An Overcomer story w/ Maddison Raba
Triumph through perseverance. A true story of what happens when you push through adversity.
Maddison Raba is a 26-year-old transplant to Nashville from Washington, DC. She moved to here in 2016 to attend Belmont University. She fell in love with Nashville/Franklin, met her husband, and has been here ever since. Maddison is also an accomplished bikini competitor and recently competed here in Nashville at the Nashville Fit Show.
We talked with her to learn how she has used fitness and bikini competing to change her confidence and health. Here is our interview:
How has competing changed your confidence in the gym and life?
Being a bikini competitor has opened my eyes to how much is within our control if we are willing to dive in and try. We have so much more power than we realize, and it’s incredible what people can accomplish when they put in the effort and see where it takes them. It’s not necessarily a ‘no excuses’ mentality because I perceive that phrase as more punishing than empowering, but it’s more of a ‘just do it’ sentiment.
It feels GOOD to work towards a goal and hold yourself accountable to make sure you keep the promises you’ve made to yourself.
•Does your pacemaker complicate your ability to train? If so, how?
My pacemaker poses some challenges regarding my training, but it’s nothing my coach and I can’t overcome together. There are specific movement patterns that are too dangerous for my device due to the placement and wiring (pull-ups, bench press, etc.), but this is where we get to be creative and flex our knowledge of biomechanics. Outside of that, my max heart rate is very low compared to most athletes my age. So this means I have to manipulate cardio and dig deep into my prep deficit as we get closer to shows.
•Do you have a coach, role model, or inspirational figure that pushes you?
My coach, Jacqui Sandell, is a huge inspiration and a force to be reckoned with in the bikini & figure competitor coaching world. I started working with her in March of 2021 with no intention of stepping on stage but watching her competition journey opened my eyes to the sport. I told her that I was interested in the early summer of 2021 and she has been my biggest champion and guiding force ever since.
•What can you say to the ladies who may think that getting in shape or competing is right for them?
For women interested in getting in shape but afraid to pick up the weights, I would say, ‘you’ve freaking got this, sister.’ You owe it to yourself to invest in your health, and you deserve to feel confident, strong and empowered. Everyone starts somewhere, and I promise you that you will never look back once you start.
For women interested in competing, I would say you must already be an intermediate lifter and have a rock-solid relationship with food. The reverse diet post-show is where I’ve seen other competitors run into trouble. If you are not mentally prepared to intentionally put on weight and see the shreds disappear, then you need to take some time to get there before you think about competing. This sport is just as mental as physical, and you can burn out quickly if your mind and body aren’t in an optimal starting place.
•What are your 2023 goals?
I have my next pacemaker surgery sometime in early 2023, but the date isn’t set in stone, as it has to be scheduled after my device reaches a certain battery threshold for replacement. This can make things unpredictable with my training and prep, but I am fully prepared to roll with the punches and do everything I can to recover efficiently.
That said, I will start my 2023 prep in February and hit the National stage in June! The big goal is to earn first callouts, but all that matters is that I come in with an even stronger package than last time—me vs me.
•Any last words of inspiration you’d like to share?
I want to end by saying that you are more capable than you think. So get out of your way and make it happen.
We enjoyed talking to Maddison and learning how bikini competing has helped change her confidence, as well as how she has overcome her diagnosis to achieve the otherwise impossible. You can follow Maddison here on Instagram @musclemadds