Being fit kept me well


Personal trainer Sophie Grace Holmes, 24, lives with cystic fibrosis (CF) - and shares the secrets that have kept her on top of her health challenges. When I was a baby I cried constantly and anything I ate went straight through me. The hospital diagnosed CF.

Throughout my childhood I lived normally, although I had to take drugs. I suffered from chest infections, but I wouldn’t let CF limit me and I did every sporting activity, from cross country running to swimming and competing on my horse, Otis. The doctors supported me 100 per cent. I truly believe being fit has kept me well.

At 19, I had a really stressful time and my health suffered. My lung capacity dropped dramatically and I spent three weeks in hospital. After that I set myself the goal of getting back to full lung capacity and decided to prioritise fitness, so I qualified as a personal trainer. I get up at 4.30am most mornings to ride Otis, go to the gym and lift weights, and then start training my clients. I always need seven to eight hours’ sleep a night.

For me, the key to improving lung function is using an altitude-training mask three to five times weekly [under medical supervision].The logic is that in order to improve or train your body, you have to work it. When I put on the mask, my lungs become short of breath so they have to work harder. The doctors were worried at first but I now have full lung capacity.

People with CF don’t digest or absorb much food so need to eat about 3,000 calories a day, and take digestive enzymes with meals and snacks. I eat wholesome food with good carbs such as sweet potato, oats and rice. A healthy day starts with eggs for breakfast, then protein, fats and carbs for each main meal, and regular snacks such as nuts, greek yoghurt with honey or protein bites.

The most importantmessage is not to let your condition stop you living as you want to. See yourself as a person not a disease.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust explains

● CF is an inherited disease, caused by a faulty gene that controls the movement of salt and water in and out of your cells. The lungs and digestive system become clogged with mucus, so it is hard to breathe and digest food.

● Two million people in the UK carry the faulty gene without realising it. To find out more, visit

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