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Misty Diaz talks about determination and being an adaptive athlete

By November 14, 2018 No Comments

“I never imagined life could be this good. And it all started with one simple thing—taking action, and changing some things.”- Misty Diaz

The Unbeatable Mind Summit is coming up in Carlsbad, November 30th to December 2nd, and you don’t want to miss this extraordinary event. The Summit gives you an opportunity to build on your Kokoro spirit and work on your 5 mountain training with other members of the Unbeatable Mind tribe. Space is almost gone, so register now. Save $300 from your registration by entering the code “pod300” at checkout on the Summit site. Go to retreat.unbeatablemind.com to check it out.

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This week Mark is at Lake Tahoe for the Spartan Race championships. He talks to Misty Diaz, (@LilMistyDiazwho is well-known as an athlete and advocate for people with Spina Bifida. She has completed over 200 races herself, and she is both an advocate and an impressive athlete. IN spite of significant obstacles, she was eventually able to pursue her athletic ambitions.

  • Misty endured much hardship on her way to becoming one of the top adaptive athletes, including 28 different surgeries.
  • She had to start taking morphine to deal with pain. She became addicted, and that was also a challenge that she had to overcome.
  • Though Misty has a fear of water, she is open to the idea of doing SEALFIT with some adaptations for her needs.

Listen to this episode to hear how Misty was able to overcome the very significant challenges she faced to pursue her calling in athletics.

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Transcript

All right, folks. Welcome back. This is the Unbeatable Mind podcast my name is Mark Divine and I am super-stoked to have you here today. Today we are in Lake Tahoe for the Spartan World Championships. I just met my friend Joe Desana, who’s the founder of Spartan, and we got a lot of interesting things going on today.

But my guest today is really amazing. I’ve just really had a great time already just getting to meet her. Misty Diaz. An adaptive athlete with… Well I’ll tell you all about her when I introduced her more formally.

There is a little noise in the background because all the Spartan racers are all twitting away over there. (laughing) this is like human Twitter’s. They’re all excited. They will be vacating shortly, so don’t mind them.

Before I get started, a couple reminders–I’m gonna harp on these for a couple more weeks, but our annual summit we do this three-day summit in Carlsbad is coming up December 29th to the 2nd of December. It’s the last time we’re gonna run it in this format. We have amazing speakers lined up. We’ll be doing lots of Unbeatable Mind training. And you will be developing your five mountain integrated training plan for 2019 so you can kick ass and take names next year. Make it your best year ever.

It’s gonna be amazing. It’ll be about a hundred and fifty or sixty of us there. And if you want to attend and you’re on the fence then I’ll give you a $300 discount if you go to unbeatablemind.com or if you can remember this summit.unbeatablemind.com. Enter the code pod300, pod 300, and you’re my guest for $300 off. Hooyah. Hope to see you there.

Second thing, updated my burpees. We’re on our way to 22 million burpees this year. Isn’t that cool? So I challenged my tribe to do 22 million burpees to raise $250,000 for vets with post-traumatic stress. 22 a day or committing suicide. It’s horrible.

And so that’s the least we can do. Suffer a little bit for them we’re now… We’ve passed 11 million burpees. And we’ve raised almost to like close to 200,000.

Misty Diaz: that’s amazing. That’s really great.

Mark: Isn’t that amazing? And then on Veteran’s Day we’re gonna be doing a world record attempt. So I’ve got a team of six–three men, three women–we’re gonna try to break the world record for most number of burpees done in 24 hours by a mixed team. Like, who knew that was a world record? When we found out we’re like “okay we can do that at least.”

Misty: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mark: And also we’re gonna enlist a whole bunch of other teams to try to do 22,000 burpees in that 24-hour period. And they’re all going to be live-streaming it. So we’re looking for a hundred teams to join us. Go to burpeesforvets.com.

Misty: That’s awesome.

Mark: Isn’t that cool? I mean, it’s all about the team. I could not do… I tell people we’re doing 22 million burpees, they look at me like “are you shitting me?”

I’m like, “well, trust me I’m not doing it alone. I’m doing a hundred thousand. Which is still a big chunk to chew off. I mean, like I’m doing 300 a day.

Misty: Yeah.

Mark: I did my 300 this morning. On my broken foot.

Anyways that’s that. We need your help. Burpeesforvets.com. Thank you so much. It’s a critical cause.

introduction

03:31

And misty Diaz is also working on a critical cause. So misty you were born with spinal bifida…

Misty: Spina Bifida.

Mark: And I know you’ll tell us what that is. You’ve overcome the societal or cultural bias against adaptive athletes. I want to talk about our work with adaptive athletes.

And now your mission in life is to basically help other–not just women–but anyone with an adaptive problem.

Misty: (laughing) anyone who will listen. Anyone who wants to come along.

Mark: Having… Not being a whole person physically doesn’t mean you’re not a whole person mentally, and emotionally, and spiritually right?

Misty: Yeah.

Mark: I totally get that. So one of the first things I like to do with guests is just talk about those early formative years. Like how did you kind of become who you are? Where were we born? How did you grow up? When was the awareness of this issue…?

Give us all that time-line stuff. Because it’s really interesting. It helps us shape who you are.

Misty: Right. Let’s just go back a little. Spina bifida means “split spine.” so when I was born my spine was completely exposed. And everyone with spina bifida is… Their damage is different. And mine is at L5. So my spine is straight.

Mark: So was the spine injured, or not complete? Or just

Misty: It was exposed.

Mark: Wow. And they can’t just close that up?

Misty: Now they can. But yeah… No… Then, at the time, they couldn’t. Now they can go in there surgically with a tiny little scope and some little repair kit and go in there and close it but uh

Mark: So what did that mean for you as a kid?

Misty: It was completely exposed, causing… I’ve had a series of 28 operations at UCLA hospital. And that’s so I can walk the way I walk. Stand as good as I can stand. And balance, everything.

Mark: So it being open, how did that cause you not to be able to walk? How did it cause you not to develop fully?

Misty: So the damage is at L5. Our vertebra goes in numbers and each vertebra is linked to something.

Mark: That’s the fifth one up from the very base right? Okay.

Misty: So and that happened to be my walking, my growth, my bladder.

Mark: So it stunted your growth.

Misty: Yeah.

Mark: Okay. And you couldn’t walk at all?

Misty: I did but it was like really, really crazy like monster sway.

Mark: Oh my goodness.

Misty: So sometimes I would lose my balance too much. I would just fall over. So I went from a walker. And then they were like “let’s get her some crutches.” so I’ve been on crutches since I was like six.

Mark: Wow.

Misty: Yeah.

Mark: Okay, you know what? I didn’t tell the audience when I introduced you–is that you’ve run what like 300 Spartan races now or something like that?

Misty: I think you’ve done over 65 Spartan races. I’ve done a little over 200 races plus, total. I have a couple adaptive athlete records. And a Red Bull non-adaptive athlete record.

Mark: Right, okay. So there’s obviously a journey from what you just described as your childhood to what you do now.

Misty: Yeah, it’s taken a second to get here.

Mark: So let’s not go there right away. Because that’s interesting a lot of people who listen this podcast our athletes and they’re gonna be interested in that. And we love stories of breaking through.

But what I want to do is like people who might have an adaptation that they need to make in their life… Like what was going through your mind as a young teenager or earlier… What was…? How did you face the fear of being different?

Misty: So I didn’t until my early 20s. So growing up with my condition, I didn’t meet anybody until I was… I want to see maybe early 20s, maybe 19, with spina bifida. So I was walking around thinking that entire time, going through already the craziness of growing up…

Mark: That you were the only one in the world.

Misty: Yeah, I’m thinking I’m the only one in the world. I don’t have anybody… Social media wasn’t just a hashtag and I could go on something and find somebody. It wasn’t like that. It was who’s your next-door neighbor? Like who’s on your block type of thing. And who you meet at the grocery store.

Mark: Did you have a good strong family network and community network to help you out?

Misty: Yeah, so my family was always strong and stuff, but we just didn’t know the resources. There wasn’t just like a website you could go to and Google “spina bifida resources.”

So I felt really alone. And that’s when the bullying, and the just so many questions and just a lot of confusion. I didn’t really… I just didn’t have acceptance for the longest time.

And then finally I met somebody…

Mark: Do you remember what that was like? What went through your head when you showed up at let’s say middle school and everyone’s looking at you differently. And you said you maybe got bullied a little bit.

Misty: Yeah, I did.

Mark: How did you face that? And what was your dialogue? How did you overcome that? I mean that’s enough to put a lot of people down for life.

Misty: I would try to… So you can figure I’m 4’4″, 80 pounds. So just take that into consideration. So I would go to school and people would bully me and I wouldn’t know what to do but fight. I would literally fight back.

And it’s like you could take my crutches away. I don’t endorse that I don’t encourage that… But I didn’t know what to do.

Mark: Like it was natural reaction. That’s cool.

Well, actually, you could have curled in on yourself.

Misty: Yeah I was in the principal’s office a lot. And then my family was like “we need to figure out… Like, she needs to meet somebody who’s doing and being active.” and even then unfortunately I met someone who had been conditioned. She wasn’t active.

And me I was a little firecracker. Starting fights. And wanting to run up and down. And be on the baseball team. And I was always picked last. And no one wanted me on track…

Mark: So you think absent this injury you would have been an athletic person, for sure.

Misty: Yeah, I would have been a crazy athlete. But it all worked out because

Mark: Because you are a crazy athlete.

Misty: (laughing) I am a crazy athlete. So I got what…

Mark: Yeah, that’s interesting.

The 28th surgery and morphine

12:44

So what was like a breakout moment for you?

Misty: So I’m in my 20s–my early 20s–and I had my 28th operation. And the doctor accidentally cut me wrong.

Mark: Oh really?

Misty: And it changed my entire life.

Mark: How so?

Misty: I became highly addicted to morphine. I was supposed to leave that day…

Mark: So they cut you wrong and because of the pain, they gave you morphine.

Misty: I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t walk. It was like a mission to just walk down three steps from my apartment to the mailbox.

Mark: Oh good lord.

Misty: Like I just… It was just too much for me. And it was supposed to be a quick operation go home that day.

Mark: Can I ask why 28 operations? Like, what were they trying to accomplish that they couldn’t do in just a couple operations?

Misty: Because due to my… Even though my small growth…

Mark: 28 seems a little excessive.

Misty: I’ve had tethered cord three times. And this happens with anyone who has spina bifida. Because my cords run straight and then it’s like a knot. Like rubber bands that you can get it office depot. You can just buy and then… Mine are like that at L5. So wherever your damage is when you have spina bifida…

Mark: The spinal cord knots?

Misty: Yeah. So due to growth… Even if it’s the tiniest little growth… Sometimes, it tends to pull on those cords.

Mark: They can’t untangle those cords? They can’t un-knot them/

Misty: They have to open you up. Then they have to slowly, but surely, just try to move. And I had three of those. But moving muscle from one leg. Moving bone from the other leg to make me stable. I’m great at walking backwards and it’s really hard to walk forwards. I’m like, “that makes perfect sense. I’ve done everything in like backwards.”

Mark: (laughing) you could be like the first backward racer…

Misty: Or moon-walker… I’m great at walking backwards.

Mark: 9laughing) if you learned how to use a mirror really well, and you could run the Spartan race backwards.

Misty: Maybe that’s a challenge. No cause then if you tell that, Joe will hear this and then let’s put you on the course.

Mark: Right, yeah. We won’t tell Joe that one.

So after the 28th surgery, you got hooked on morphine. Which is another horrible thing.

Misty: And I had to completely surrender in a way that I did not want to surrender. And it was having to have a male nurse come take care of me.

Mark: Wow.

Misty: And I was going through a really bad relationship at the time. And we were still living together, so I was doing that. And I had just moved to Los Angeles. So there’s a lot of change a lot of…

We had everything all kind of set out. The relationship, moving… Great things and then BOOM. So here I am going through this breakup trying to figure out how I’m gonna live.

Like what am I gonna do? Is like I can’t go get a job. I’m having a male nurse come help take care of me.

Mark: How old are you at this time?

Misty: 27-28?

Mark: Okay.

Misty: Yeah.

Mark: How long were you addicted to the painkillers?

Misty: A couple of months. I want to say a couple months, but prior to that… So here’s the tricky part, is having the 28 operations, I’ve always been on something. I would recover from a surgery…

Mark: So you were dependent upon something…

Misty: I’ve always been dependent on something. And it’s crazy now, because now I’m dependent on races…

Mark: You’ve changed that addiction to fitness, right?

Misty: Yeah, helping others and stuff, but I’m like, “man.” it’s a good switch.

So I’m just here. I mean, I’m in this apartment by the beach. And I’m a wreck. I’m a complete wreck. I can’t take care of myself. I can barely walk to get my mail.

And it was just one of those moments that I know that we all face. Is where we’re in a situation and we’re really hoping that if we stay in the situation, something might change. Or we can take action and the uncomfortability that we’re already feeling? Take that action keep the uncomfortability for a little bit, sit in it…

Mark: Yes.

Misty: And then take action and get different results. But many people… they just sit in it.

Mark: They away from the discomfort…

Misty: Or as soon as they get to that uncomfortability, they just start looking for outside things to like fix it. Or they just don’t even bother. And then they’re miserable.

Mark: I love that. So one of our principles in one of our programs called SEALFIT and that is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. And sometimes you can create that discomfort, like Spartan Race, to learn to get comfortable with it. Or when it happens because of life just sends you something like what you experienced.

Then if you turn away from it. If you should hide from it–if you over-gloss it with drugs and stuff, then that’s not meeting the discomfort. And merging with it, and pushing through.

Misty: No it’s not.

Mark: And that keeps you kind of locked in misery doesn’t it? If you don’t push through that discomfort.

So how did you push through the discomfort of getting off the drugs? Like because a lot of people these days are addicted to painkillers

Misty: Totally. Oh it’s a huge epidemic.

I knew that I had… When I wasn’t on morphine I was vibrant… Energy… Always smiling…

Mark: So you were able to see the contrast.

Misty: I just… That wasn’t me. And it just was like a light bulb one day. I had already lost everything. I was having somebody take care of me. Help me go to the bathroom. What more could I lose? I was losing my house, I lost it. I was… Salvation Army came and picked up everything but two suitcases. My service dog, she was being taken care of by somebody else. What else could happen?

Mark: So you like hit bottom.

The First Race

18:41

Misty: So let’s just change things. And that simply just started with me walking to the mailbox.

Mark: What do you think–again, I want to kind of really go down into this–what part of you was calling to you that now’s the time to change? And how come you couldn’t hear that earlier cause you know I would say that your soul was saying “okay, it’s time. Like this is it. I’ve got to change.” and that’s my soul speaking to me saying “I’m done, and I gotta do something.

Misty: I had to lose everything.

Mark: You had to lose everything.

Misty: I had to lose everything. I mean Salvation Army took everything.

Mark: Holy cow.

Misty: I lived in my car for three months. I slept on people’s couches. I would say “hey” to my girlfriend, “I’ll walk your dog. I’ll wash your dishes. Can I please have a night on your couch?”

In the last month I landed a house-sitting job for a whole month. And I was just gratitude off the charts. I was just so happy that I had a place for a month.

And my goal again was starting from just from that point that I hit that rock bottom… Was just walking to the mailbox. And then it was walking to the next block…

Mark: Do you remember the exact moment that you made that decision, or that choice?

Misty: I don’t. But I do remember, because it was really foggy and I was probably making a lot of irrational decisions. But they were decisions that I needed to make.

But I do remember my first 5k walk. And that was when I was like “oh my god. I’m loving this.

Mark: How long did that take you, by the way?

Misty: Oh it took me a minute. (laughing) I don’t know exactly. I could probably contact the race and ask.

Mark: Cause you were walking with a walker or with your crutches.

Misty: With my crutches. Yeah. I raised a whole bunch of money for Ronald McDonald.

Mark: Oh cool.

Misty: They had helped my family in the past.

Mark: You don’t hear much about Ronald McDonald House these days, but they’re quietly doing a lot of work out there.

Misty: They help so many…

Mark: That’s cool.

Misty: They help so many people. So many kids and families.

Mark: Right.

Misty: They’ve got a great system.

But yeah, I know my first race like I literally transitioned. Still was living in my car, sleeping on friends’ couches. And I had a little job in Huntington Beach at an esthetician office. And I’d open up early in the morning.

I mean, it took months to get to this point. And I just seen this sign for a 5k run in Seal Beach California. So I did my best and trained for it.

And there’s no real guide that you can just type in and be like “adaptive athletes 5k how to.” there’s not.

Mark: Well did you have any difficulty signing up for it?

Misty: No.

Mark: You just signed up for it online just like any other athlete?

Misty: I’ve been kinda… This one… Like, one pretty good thing about me is I’ve been pretty computer savvy and like networking right? “Hey guys” and I just emailed the race and I was like, “this would be my first race ever. I’m on crutches. Can I come?”

Mark: And they said, “come on in and do it.” great.

Misty: Yeah. They said “here we want you. Here’s a comp code. Show up this time.”

So I went to my local 24-hour Fitness, cause I had it through my health care. I was on a silver sneaker plan…

Mark: Oh really? Your health plan paid for 24-hour fitness?

Misty: It was through the state at the time. So with your disability you’re kind of just under the whole Medicare thing.

And I just got on a treadmill and I just figured things out. And I was really confused. And I had a lot of questions. And they were really patient and I’d watch how people would do it…

Mark: Were you off the morphine at this time?

Misty: Yes.

Mark: So you worked your way off…

Misty: And I showed up to this race in a purple tutu, with a white colored button-up shirt… Oh I sure did. It gets worse.

And I had a Camelbak. I have bright red lipstick I think, or pink. And my hair’s in pigtails.

Mark: Now just curious. Why did you have to dress up like this? You were already kind of spectacle.

Misty: I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know anything.

Mark: (laughing) you were going to a party. Like a Halloween party.

Misty: I was really, really… Yeah, I didn’t know, okay? But it’s the one of the greatest stories. And I have the picture in my room.

Mark: That’s pretty awesome.

Misty: And my Camelbak was filled with water, and snacks for everybody. And I never needed any of it, but I ran when everybody ran. And I stopped when everybody stopped. And I was just floored with gratitude, and excitement…

Mark: What do you mean you stopped when everybody stopped?

Misty: Yeah I just…. I didn’t know like the distant-wise, like I just knew…

Mark: So you stopped at the finish-line, but you didn’t really know how far or what you were doing.

Misty: Yeah. I just went with the pack, right? Like as best as my ability.

Mark: Was there anyone who was slower than you?

Misty: I wasn’t last.

Mark: You were not last. Oh that must’ve felt good.

Misty: I’ve never been… I’m in last once. Yeah, that was Mount Zion half-marathon. Never forget that one.

Mark: It’s okay to be last at least once. I’ve been last before. That’s not fun, but…

Misty: But yeah, that was the start. That was in 2012.

Mark: 2012.

Misty: Yeah.

Mark: And so when did you first hear about Spartan and adventure racing?

Misty: So I went on social media after a couple, a handful of 5ks, and I was like “does anybody… Would anybody be willing to train me for a half marathon in New York?”

And this one gentleman by the name of Michael, bless his heart, was like meet me at Signal Hill in Long Beach, California at 6:00 a.m.

Mark: Oh how cool.

Misty: And I did it for about 3-4 months. And he would wear a Spartan shirt. Or he’d have like a spear or something in his car. And I’d be like…

Mark: He was like your Bodhisattva. So he just volunteered out of nowhere to train you.

Misty: Yeah. Didn’t charge me. Nothing.

Mark: How cool. What was his last name?

Mark: Anis

Mark: Anis. Thank you Michael.

Misty: Oh that man is like the biggest blessing.

Mark: Yeah, what a rock star.

Misty: It was like the foundation of like…

Mark: Are you still in touch with him?

Misty: Yeah. I think he might be here.

But I was like “have you ever…” he would tell me a little bit about Spartan Race. And I like anything challenging. I like things that are uncomfortable. I do really good at uncomfortability situations and I don’t know why. But he was like “I’ve never trained someone with a disability. But let’s do it.”

And that was in 2012, December. 2012.

Mark: That’s when you ran your first Spartan Race.

Misty: 2013, I’m sorry.

Mark: Okay yeah. A year after you ran your 5k.

Misty: Yeah and he got me at my fastest… I’ve never been able to PR…

Mark: So are you able to do all the obstacles?

Misty: There’s like one or two that I have to really adapt or my team sometimes just consists of one. Sometimes it consists of…

Mark: Just you? Or do you always…?

Misty: No, I have at least one person. That’s my Sherpa I say, right? So if you see me on just a longer like a half marathon or some type of longer distance, when I get a pace down, cause I’m running with my crutches–I don’t have the ability to stop, grab something out of my Camelbak, cause I then I dead stop. So the Sherpa… My teammate who’s next to me, will be like “here’s your water. Or here’s your protein bar.” and I’m chewing as I’m going…

Mark: Right. What’s the most challenging obstacle in the Spartan Race for you? That you can do and you will do.

Can you do those ones with a grip? Hand over hand…?

Misty: Oh anything upper body and grip I’m solid. I’m fine

Mark: Okay. Rope climb?

Misty: Oh crush.

Mark: Killer.

Misty: We used to do it upside down and kick it and they really… They banned it.

Mark: (laughing) no way. That’s pretty cool

Misty: They’re like, “liability.” yeah, cause we’d flip upside down and kick it with our foot and they’d be like, “anh.”

Mark: That is pretty wild.

Misty: So anything upper-body. Anything grip strength. Anything climbing.

I’m not a fan of water… Yeah.

Mark: So do you do the water ones?

Misty: I have. But I’m not a fan. If I could get around it, I might…

Mark: Also those are kind of built for people a little taller than you usually. You’re probably full-on under water, right?

Misty: Right here, it’s like to here to me, and I’m like… It’s not my strong suit.

Mark: So maybe SEALFIT training is not… Maybe it is something you need to do. You need to come to California. Learn to get comfortable in the ocean with us. I’m gonna invite you right now and you can say yes or no. Or maybe. But I’m gonna invite you to one of our 20x’s–which is twelve hours of non-stop training. You would love it.

Misty: I’d come.

Mark: We’ve done this… Okay. You got that Geoff. I want Missy to come. It will be an amazing experience. So it’s twelve hours of basically training with Navy SEAL instructors. But the whole point is while you’re in these extremely uncomfortable situations, we set it up so you can’t possibly do it alone.

Misty: And you’ve had adaptive friends come?

Mark: Yes.

Misty: Do you have to format it a little differently?

Mark: Well, if the entire event is with adaptive athletes, yes. If it’s just you there then you would want a swim buddy. You’d probably bring your teammate…

Misty: I’d want a rubber ducky. I would want… (laughing)

Mark: No, no. No rubber ducky. You just bring just bring a teammate who knows your nuances. And then we… Like I said, might my seal instructors are the best in the world at adapting exercises for all sorts of shapes and sizes and ages…

Misty: An alligator.

Mark: A rubber alligator.

Misty: (laughing) I brought my friends. You told me to bring my friends.

Mark: I can’t do the rubber ducky. I’ve got my rubber seal. That should fit, right?

We did a program with a group… I don’t know if it’s still around… Called “transition possible.” and we paired adaptive athletes up with executives, from young presidents organization–YPO.

So we call them swim buddies, the teammates–was an executive with an adaptive athlete. And we put them through 12 hours of this type of training that we talked about. It was unbelievable because who carried the day? Well of course you do. The athletes. And these are athletes… They weren’t all military… About half are military, missing limbs from combat or whatever. And another half were people like yourself who just had something wrong or a limb missing or something… They’re born that way.

The strongest people I’ve ever seen in my life.

Misty: Yeah.

Mark: And we had these executives and they were like out of shape and they’re quitting and they’re looking at their adaptive athletes like “oh my god. I’m supposed to be helping you.”

And these guys and girls are helping them. It was the most profound experience. Everyone was in tears even my seal instructors. It was pretty cool.

Misty: Teamwork at whole new level. That’s awesome.

Adaptation

31:08

Mark: So the strength and resiliency that you develop as a result of the challenges that you’ve had to overcome are really inspiring. I can see why you both want to use yourself as an inspiration, because it keeps you healthy… But now… How you can give back. Because naturally other people wanna tap into that and say “okay you’ve walked the path misty. How do I as a young spina bifida victim I guess you’d call… Even though I don’t like that word. Or challenged… What do you say?

Misty: Not a victim. A friend who’s adaptive.

Mark: What’s the right terminology? We talked about this before. It’s just so negative just say “victim” or to say you’re challenged.

Misty: Anyone who has a condition, I just say they’re adaptive.

Mark: Just adaptive, okay.

Misty: We’re all adaptive.

Mark: I’m adaptive.

Misty: I know you have to adapt right now.

Mark: I got a cast on my foot.

Misty: I’m like, I know for a fact you have to adapt. We all have to adapt to life situation disability or not. Some a little bit more than others.

Mark: Right. That’s interesting is you can make lemonade out of anything in life right any lemons.

Misty: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah I mean there’s people who have everything who have a mental attitude of victimhood. And then there’s people who have such challenges who are the happiest people in the world. It really is about it is about your mental orientation.

Misty: Totally. I’ve had people come up to me at a grocery store or something and they’re like “bless your heart. I’m gonna pray for you.”

And I’m like, “why don’t you pray for me that I finish my race next week.” And they’re like… I’m like “I’m living my best life. You have no idea.” if you only knew, lady in the cereal aisle….

Mark: That’s awesome. Does God or faith play a role in your life?

Misty: I believe you get in what you put out in the universe. I believe that me being able to help people… Because I’m able to help people.

I when you put it…. I just I get taken care of. Like the universe… God, whoever just

Mark: The universe takes care of you.

Do you think that’s because you’re living in total alignment with doing exactly what you’re supposed to do?

Misty: I would like to think that I’m doing my best to stay in alignment yes.

I like to think that I’m always… I know for a fact I’m always making corrections…

Mark: That’s one of my beliefs. If you live in a complete alignment with like your unique purpose or reason for being here, then you get taken care of.

Misty: Totally. Things have worked out to the last minute. The last minute. I’m like “I don’t know what I’m gonna do and then “boom.”

Mark: Something happens. I’ve had that experience so many times.

Misty: Like literally hours and I’m like “I was just patient. If I would have just been patient, I wouldn’t have stressed over it.”

Mark: That is amazing so what is next for you? Like what big thing are you going to help solve?

Misty: So I just finished doing the Red Bull 400. I’ve been on the road for a month.

Mark: Is that like an obstacle race too?

Misty: So it’s an endurance race going up a slope–a ski slope. I did it was able to do it 25 minutes. And you’re supposed to use your legs, I used all my upper body. I used my legs as far as I could and then I ditched the crutches…

Mark: And then what? Did you crawl on all fours?

Misty: Yeah, so what I did was… It was in Park City, Utah. Up the hill. So what I did is I started rowing for training.

Mark: Oh wow.

Misty: And I would get the net and I’d grab it and pull, grab it and pull, and I did that.

Mark: And they had a rope or a net.

Misty: Cause you’re supposed to run but I don’t… And I mean this it’s like literally like this… I don’t have that ability. I’m gonna fall back. I mean, I’m gonna really need crutches once I fall back.

So I just started using all my upper body. And I was able to do in 25 minutes.

Mark: That’s pretty cool.

Misty: I flew to New York after that. Did some magazine stuff with Health Magazine. So I’ve been working on that. I just finished meeting with Gary V so we’re looking into some public speaking…

Mark: Vaynerchuk?

Misty: Yeah. With his team.

I’m coming out with my own lipstick line. Shout out. Real Her cosmetics and the shade is called “I am adaptable.” and I am donating a large portion to Challenged Athletes Foundation, which is an amazing nonprofit that helps children and adults of all ages. Which I really like that.

Mark: Challenged Athletes Foundation. I think I know about them.

Misty: They’re based in San Diego.

Mark: Yeah. Used to be called “Challenged Athletes Organization” maybe…

Misty: Maybe a while back.

Mark: No I know a lot of… I know some seals who were injured in parachute accidents have been part of that.

Misty: Yeah. They’re so helpful. And they helped me when I was… I mean I couldn’t even afford Payless running shoes. And that’s when I showed up to my first race and quickly realized that my right leg that drags a little it would… The sole was gone by the second race.

Mark: We should reach out to them I think. For courage foundation. For this burpee challenge. I imagine some of the veterans, who are also challenge athletes, probably suffer from post-traumatic stress.

Misty: Oh I’m sure.

Mark: Which is like a double whammy.

Misty: Yeah Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Mark: I’ll check that out.

Misty: So right now I’m just in the process of getting ready to launch that and do a little PR with the tour and really push into drive sales so we can donate. There’s so many friends who still need help, adaptive chairs and running crutches, right? Injuries to races.

They literally gave me a check my first year running, because I couldn’t afford anything. And they’re like, “here you go. Keep running. Don’t give up.”

Now I no longer need their help due to amazing sponsors…

Mark: Right. So where can listeners find out about both the lipstick line and you, your charities.

Misty: Social media platforms, all platforms. @lilmisty. Yeah, Little Misty: My kids, my “spina beautiful” kids who I get to mentor–they allow me to mentor them–call me little misty. And they’re never… I’m always gonna be a “little misty.”

Does the “spina beautiful” have a website or a place that people can donate?

Misty: No just a hashtag. But I’ve been on the road all month, but I’m coming up with the system very shortly to be able to connect young women–we’re just starting out with that first. So not limited, but I can only take on so much–of a system of how to keep them in contact with friends in their age range who have spina bifida.

And I’ve come up with an amazing plan. And I’m just so stoked to get back home and work on it. Because I know it’s gonna blow up. It’s all positive. How can it not.

Mark: It’s such an important cause, and I love that. You can imagine how that would have helped you.

Misty: That would have been great.

Mark:so how many kids are born with this issue?

Misty: So out of every 1500, one child is born with spina bifida. But the termination rate, unfortunately, is 65%.

Mark: You mean 65% don’t make it?

Misty: So, the doctors…I get a lot of messages…

Mark: You mean because the pregnancy is terminated?

Misty: Because the doctors say you’re not gonna… “Why are you gonna have a child who’s gonna have a disability? They’re gonna be suffering.”

Like the doctor who told my parents… My parents went to court, because the doctors… It’s a crazy story. They’re like “you’re trying to kill your daughter. Why are you gonna put her through this?”

And my parents were like “we are not aborting her.”

Mark: Oh my gosh.

Misty: We’re not putting her in a home.

Mark: Thank goodness for them.

Misty: We’re not putting her in an orphanage. And we’re like nothing. We are gonna have her at our house. And we’re gonna take her to every appointment. We’re gonna give her whatever she needs. And my mom to this day is like “I knew you would become this great person.” I’m like “mom. You’re just my mom.”

But yeah. So I’m able to get messages like I can show you messages where parents have been like “I just came out of a doctor’s office and they just told me to abort my child. And somebody who I reached out to said go to little Misty’s website. I’m keeping my child.”

Mark: Wow. Holy cow. That’s a whole ‘nother level.

Misty: And I’m like, “I got more work to do.”

Mark: Yes you do.

Misty: I gotta be louder. This is great.

Mark: Just look at what the parents would be missing out on.

Misty: I mean I had a young girl from–I just adore her, her name’s Matea–called me up two weeks ago. She’s 12. Spina bifida. “I just want to know… I’m at the hospital and I remember our talk about me being loud. About letting them know that I do hurt and I am in pain. So I’m being loud.”

You go girl. Don’t ever, ever hold back. You tell them that something’s wrong. Speak up.

That applies not only when you’re sick, but in general. Speak up.

Mark: Right. You have a voice. Everyone does, right? Show up.

Wow. That’s kind of stunning. That last thing you just told me.

Misty: I never imagined life to be this good and it all started with one simple thing. Taking action and changing some things. Not all at once. Slowly.

Mark: But it started with a choice and then you just layer on that choice.

Misty: Yeah. But we tend to look at the whole picture. So we’re like, “oh my gosh. There’s so many things I need to…” no. Let’s just start with one.

Mark: Right. You didn’t become the person you are overnight. It took years. Of course.

But it’s like where would you be if you hadn’t done that work?

Misty: I don’t know.

Mark: I remember someone saying this to me… Cause I was kind of a miserable… I had a lot going for me but this is like my little bullshit sob story.

Misty: No, I’ll take it.

Mark: Like, I was miserable in New York City. I had a college degree. I was getting my MBA. But I was gonna be a certified public accountant. Can you imagine that? I mean, like, there might be a lot of CPAs listening and saying “yeah, I can imagine that. It’s a phenomenal career…

Misty: I was working a dead on job in a hotel and I was miserable. I would literally be like, “maybe they’ll be like…” this is so bad… Maybe there’ll be like traffic or like construction on the way to work and then I have like a couple more minutes.”

Mark: Just to not get there.

Misty: Just to not be at work.

Mark: Yes so I this idea that I wanted to be a Navy SEAL. But of course I didn’t think I was capable of blah-blah-blah. Or I thought maybe I would… If I committed and didn’t make it I’d be in the Navy for six years. Like swabbing the decks.

And I met this guy and he said–he was a former SEAL–and he says “mark, how old are you right now?” and I said “I’m 24.” and he goes “well, what’s your commitment if you join the Navy.” I said “six years.” he goes, “so in six years you’ll be 30, right?” I said “yeah. Where’re we going with this?” and he goes “when you’re 30 would you rather be a 30 year old Navy SEAL or would you rather still be a 30 year old CPA?”

Misty: Done. There you go. There’s your answer.

Mark: And I was like boom. Right. There was my answer.

The time is gonna pass anyways, so why not pass doing something productive, positive? Something’s gonna make you proud. Something that’s gonna be… Move you forward in life. Otherwise, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re gonna keep getting what you got.

Misty: Exactly. Let’s get moving.

Conclusion

42:23

Mark: What a great story. So excited to have you here to meet me today. Thanks for sharing your story.

Misty: I appreciate your time.

Mark: I love what you’re doing, and what you stand for. And I know you’re helping a lot of people so hooyah. And I’m serious about that 20x.

Misty: Yeah. I live really far.

Mark: You live in LA. No, no, no. We do these in Temecula, right on the ocean.

Misty: I don’t know where Temecula is.

Mark: Right. It’s only an hour from you.

Misty: (laughing) I know where it is.

Mark: So we’ll get you in one. It’ll be a lot of fun. And we’ll film it and everything, so you get the stuff for your Instagram. And we’ll raise some money.

Misty: Accountability. “Look at Misty get in that water. She says she’s a badass, but she’s holding on for dear life.

Mark: (laughing) we’re doing this.

Misty: Okay. Sounds great.

Mark: Hooyah. Thanks very much. You rock.

Alright folks Ms. Diaz–hashtag lilmiss?

Misty: Lilmistydiaz on all platforms, website too.

Mark: So check her out. Buy her lipstick if you’re a guy, buy it for your girlfriend.

Misty: Anybody.

Mark: Just buy it for anybody I’ll take some for my wife…

Misty: Thank you.

Mark: Maybe I’ll wear some myself. I’m just kidding.

All right. You know what to do. Stay focused. Do the daily work. 5 mountain training and be a good person, and embrace the suck. Go toward the challenge. Make the uncomfortable, comfortable. See you next time.

Hooyah.

Divine out.

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