Elizabeth Galvan knows no bounds. A 40-year-old bodybuilder from Fargo, North Dakota, has achieved great success all his life. Despite the difficulties she faced from the very beginning, but because of them. Where others saw restrictions, she saw invitations to rise to greatness and prove that they were wrong.
For a brief statement of the difficulties that Galvan overcame, the slogan is almost necessary: "Let it sink." She was born and raised in Fargo, she was 3 years old when an accident involving an old washing machine led to the loss of her right arm below the elbow. Also at the age of 3, Galvan lost his hearing after an illness, leaving her alone with a double disability.
At the age of 16, Galvan was diagnosed with Asher syndrome, a condition that caused her vision to gradually deteriorate. Then, when she became an adult, she suffered a number of health problems associated with serious back surgery, with four steel rods inserted into her back. Yes, and by the way, she is a single mom, a problem in itself. Her daughter Brianna is now 17 years old.
Fueled by adversity
From the very beginning, Galvan was told that she could not do what other girls could do. From the very beginning, she did not accept the answer “no” or “no”.
“It inspires me when someone says no to me,” she says. “It gives me an impulse to fire my soul, to become a lion, to change this“ no ”to“ I can. ”
Galvan involved in team sports throughout the school. When she got older, she competed in theatrical performances, took up modeling and became a lifeguard, who was not embarrassed by the inevitable opposition and intimidation.
After back surgery, the doctors told her that she would never be the same. Galvan rejected her terrible diagnosis and decided to go to the gym. Soon she was preparing for the competition and successfully made her debut as a NPC skater in 2018.
During this interview, Galvan awaited her next piece competition in October 2019. Although she was forced to cancel plans to participate in March due to illness, it is not so scary, she says.
"This is another obstacle that I will overcome with determination and will continue to prepare for the next competition."
In the gym, Galvan uses a lifting device with hooks to connect her arm with dumbbells, and she and her trainer, Katie Kemper, worked to create a uniform development of Galvan. (Watch the Galvan Channel on YouTube to see how it trains.)
The real key to Galvan’s achievements can be her living personality. Galvan's spirit and enthusiasm is infectious, and she has to share them. In high school, she had the opportunity to help a little girl who also lacked a hand, and she was determined to become a messenger for the people.
The message of Elizabeth Galvan is simple. “If I can do this, you can, too,” she says.
You have lost your hand and hearing in 3 years. When was the first time you remembered, how were you told that you couldn't do anything?
Wow, that's a good question. I remember many times when I was told that I could not do something, and I proved them wrong, for example, I went in for sports. Where I did not need help, because I can do it myself. Where I went ahead with my stubbornness and determination. But specifically “when was the first time” is difficult to answer.
You have this stubbornness, this power. Where does this come from?
Because of the obstacles, the problems, when they tell me that I cannot where I felt that this is unfair. Perseverance in my family. My dad told me this many times.
You played sports from an early age. What problems have you encountered in sports?
Being different, bullying, bullying me with an amputee with a metal hook … It was hard to feel that I fit in. Then, as a teenager, with things like wanting to be a lifeguard and confronting doubts, I had to put more effort into showing that I was no different from others, and that I could do everything that others do at school in the classroom and at work.
What was the best moment in your sports career?
Be the MVP and beat the school roll record.
You also had theatrical performances – where does this come from in your story?
My stepmother, whom I considered to be my own mother, believed that I could change the situation and inspire others with my beauty and positive attitude. I started making theatrical performances because she believed in me and encouraged me. I had an amazing experience in teen and adult contests. As a teenager, I won the prizes “Best Photogenic”, “Teenage Spirit” and “Best Talent”. When I was an adult, I was crowned as Miss North Dakota and received several awards for a runway model, better fashion, better eyes and a smile, as well as a few others. I went to the National Competitions in St. Louis and won the first prize. Conducting theatrical performances gave me an idea that I really inspire others in ways I don’t see in my daily life.
What happened when you decided to become a lifeguard?
At first I was rejected. The blackboard thought that I was not the best choice, because how can I save people in the water, especially someone heavier or two people at the same time? They felt that it was risky. I was determined, and with the help of a translator I was able to express my opinion and ask them to give me the opportunity to pass all the tests necessary to become a certified lifeguard. They agreed, and I passed all the tests – in the water, on the floor, CPR, first aid and written tests. I proved them wrong and worked as a certified lifeguard for four years.
At 16, you learned that you have Asher syndrome. Your eyesight has deteriorated. More problems. How did you adapt?
It was a slow progress in diminishing vision in the sides, top and bottom. Many times I missed things, for example, I came across people I did not see. I corrected my lifestyle, so I am often in the daylight or guided by someone at night. In my house I try to have nothing on the floor in order not to stumble and not to harm myself.
What made you start training after back surgery?
The doctor warned that after the operation I would not be the same because of the four rods on the spinal cord. It struck me very much. After one and a half years of recovery and weight gain, I did a little research and found out that bodybuilding will improve my strength and health. This doctor's comment was stuck in my head, and I looked back at who I was. “You have to get up, move, roll up your sleeves to prove to everyone that they are wrong,” I said. This led to my passion for bodybuilding, and then the NPC competitions became one of my interests to inspire people.
Have you ever trained with weights before?
Nope I was only in cardio and being active. I fell in love with weightlifting because she made me younger, more active mentally and physically.
How long did you want to compete?
About a year!
Why figure? Why not a bikini or a female physique?
I did not like the bikini, especially since I had a slender back when I was young. I was never muscular, but the muscles on women attracted me because they look as strong as warriors. It fits my personality strong woman. So, I went with a figure; nevertheless, I plan to go on a physique in a few years. It takes years to build muscle. I have only been bodybuilding for two years, and everyone is impressed with my muscle building and determination. So physique is definitely in my book for the future. Besides, I would not need to wear heels!
Where did you participate, and how are you?
I participated in competitions in the Upper Midwest in March 2018 and brought home three trophies – second place, third place (in the Masters category) and a prize for inspiration. In June 2018, I participated in the Minnesota Sports Exhibition in Minneapolis and returned home with prizes for third and fourth places.
How did your daughter react to the fact that you became a competitor of the figure? Did she cheer you up or was it more: “Phew, Mom!”?
She was in tears, screaming and crying with excitement. She even posted photos and a sincere message about how proud she was. So cute! It struck me so much.
What does a training week look like for you at this stage of your development, when you have two years behind you and six months at a competition?
In high season, I usually go to the gym five or six days a week. I train my upper body three times a week and my lower body twice a week, plus six days of cardio. I continue to build muscle in the offseason because of my goal to climb a figure in a couple of years. Spending time in the gym hooked me up, and I don't know what I would do if it were not for my workout or my passion for bodybuilding.
High reps, low reps? How hard do you push weight?
I take turns between high and low reps. On the heaviest sets, I challenge myself to push harder. Two years ago, I managed to gain only 10 pounds on an amputated arm. Now I make 60 pounds. This is a big win. For traction, I can make 185 pounds.
What is your preferred cardio form?
At the height of the season, as now, I do kickboxing once a week for 45 minutes. I also do five days 20 minutes on cardio machines. In the preparatory season, I increase cardio to stick out. StairMaster and bike cars are my favorites.
How do weight training and becoming a competitor change the way you eat?
My trainer, Katie Kemper, helps me with my diet and nutrition. It was a huge change in my food. I never ate six meals a day, but it made sense to keep feeding my muscles.
What about your supplements?
My supplements are all natural and standard. I take vitamins, MCT, BCAA / EAA and pre-workout supplements. Active athletes need these nutritional supplements, but food is key.
What do you want to win next?
Boxing and kickboxing, as well as continue my bodybuilding journey. My goal is to travel a little more in order to hold more NPC competitions if the budget allows.
Ready to beat your own problems? Run the program Bodybuilding.com All Access and find out what you are made of.