Special Needs Mom Turned Bikini Pro

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Photo by Jamie Lynn Photography

Wendy Lofthouse’s enthusiasm for life is contagious. At 46, she is a wife, mother to three sons, and an elementary school teacher who recently earned her IFBB Bikini Pro Card at the Pittsburgh Masters Nationals in July – turning pro less than three years after training for her first NPC Bikini competition. But, despite her many accomplishments, Wendy is quick to tell you that where she is in life today didn’t come without having to overcome some enormous challenges.

Wendy’s oldest son, Devin, now 24 years old, was born prematurely and weighed only two pounds. Today, he conquers his cerebral palsy every day in a power wheelchair, which he uses to travel two miles to get to work, sometimes in the pouring rain. Like his mother, Devin values relationships, is easy going, and determined to get things done, especially if he thinks someone may doubt his abilities.

“Whenever I get discouraged, I remind myself how privileged I am. How dare I feel any pity for myself? Devin inspires me to be a better mother and person,” Wendy says. “While some may view having a special-needs child to be a struggle, I look at it differently. It’s made me stronger, more focused, and determined. The struggle of life has been one of my biggest blessings.”

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Two years after Devin was born, middle son Brennan was born, followed by the youngest son, Austin. Shortly after the birth of Austin in 1998, Wendy started to lose her hair. By the time Austin was three months old, Wendy was completely bald, losing not just the hair on her head, but her eyebrows and eyelashes, too. This condition, known as alopecia, is an autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out in round patches on the head, body or both. In this case, Wendy’s alopecia was due to the stress of her oldest son’s medical issues and surgeries and some other personal issues she was going through at the time.

“With age and wisdom, I’ve learned to let go and let God.”

“I think I have one picture of that time in my life because it was so mentally and emotionally painful,” admits Wendy. “The stress was just way more than I could deal with. Every time Devin had surgery, I lost my hair.”

Wendy continued, “There have been some pretty dark times in my life…and hiding under a wig is pretty painful and extremely lonely.” She still deals with alopecia today, but to a lesser degree. She says she is very fortunate that her hair grew back because for many alopecia sufferers, it does not. She credits much of her success in overcoming these obstacles with getting older and wiser and her strong faith in God. “With age and wisdom, I’ve learned to let go and let God,” she says.

Wendy was a cheerleader and gymnast in high school, but she wanted to play other sports. “I remember begging my dad to enroll me in karate or boxing because I always liked doing things that boys typically did,” she recalls. In recent years, she started doing CrossFit but injured herself while doing a clean and jerk. As a result, she suffered from piriformis syndrome, a disorder where the piriformis muscle in the buttocks irritates sciatic nerve. Since surgery was not a viable option for her, she did some research and opted to pursue Gua Sha, a traditional Chinese medical treatment that releases unhealthy elements from injured areas to stimulate blood flow and healing.

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“After my injury, a friend asked me if I ever thought about competing. I started researching bikini competitions to learn about the sport and immediately hired a trainer and started to train,” says Wendy.

Wendy also found help at Max Muscle Nutrition in Missoula, MT where she met the owner, Jeff Kovick. “I walked in to Max Muscle Nutrition and Jeff was super knowledgeable!” she says. “I am a total sponge for information and philosophically we aligned because he believes in educating people! I don’t want to just take a supplement and not know why. I want to know what I can expect from every supplement I take! As athletes we work incredibly hard and I want to make sure that everything going into my body is in fact supporting my gym efforts.”

Soon, some of her staple supplements became Max Glutamine (for recovery), MaxPro Elite protein (for lean muscle), MaxxTOR (a body recomposition supplement that blasts fat and builds lean muscle), and Vit-Acell (a liquid multi-vitamin/multi-mineral). “My favorite supplement has got to be Max Glutamine,” she says. “Because I’m in the gym most every day I need fast recovery time. I struggle with delayed muscle soreness so rapid recovery is really important to me!”

Wendy says she also LOVES all of the protein flavors. “Hello Cinnamon Roll! Oh my heavenly goodness!! I love to put it in my oatmeal with sliced apples and a few chopped pecans,” she says. “It’s an exciting challenge to see how many ways I can use my Max Muscle protein! I’ve even sprinkled MaxPro Salted Caramel over warm popcorn with a little coconut oil! Oh, yummy!”

Wendy said she has found that Max Muscle supplements have enabled her to make the best of her gym session but also be creative in the kitchen, even when she is prepping for a competition. Plus, she says, “you can put the gym time in but without the supplements and proper eating habits you’ll likely spin your wheels.”

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While training for her first competition, Wendy had to stay focused with contest prep, diet, and training. She had the love and support of her family. “Being a mom and wife is a never-ending job and my family always comes first. My husband, Ty, and I discovered that it is possible to cook meals for our family and make it work for me as I was preparing for my shows. Organization is key and it’s critical to prioritize tasks, goals, and time, but what’s just as important is having a strong support system and cheerleaders at home. I feel so lucky to have my family behind me and supporting my desire to compete, while encouraging them to work on their fitness, too!”

Six months after she started training, Wendy was on stage in Spokane, WA at The Night of Champions. There, she earned first place in the 35+ age category, second place in both the Open and Novice, and third in the 40+ divisions. These accomplishments changed her being in such positive ways. “After stepping off stage my husband embraced me and without any words we both knew I was forever transformed …. I was no longer the helpless, meek, and intimidated person that alopecia had caused me to be, but rather, an empowered and determined woman wanting to beat anyone or anything that stood in the way of my goals and ambitions. My husband is proud as punch of me and that’s an understatement!”

Then, in July, Wendy competed in her very first national show in Pittsburgh and placed first in her divisions – earning her pro card. “I still can’t believe I’m an IFBB Bikini Pro!” she says.

Wendy’s Marital Status: Married to Ty Lofthouse
Children: 3 sons – Devin, 24; Brennan, 22; Austin, 19
Current Residence: Missoula, MT
Occupation: Elementary School Teacher/IFBB Bikini Pro
Favorite Max Muscle Supplements: MaxPro Elite ProteinMax GlutamineMaxxTOR

These positive feelings made Wendy realize the special position she is in to help motivate, inspire, and help other moms to accomplish their goals, too. “That’s really the message I want to share. We really can, as moms, give ourselves a little bit of time to feel good about ourselves,” she says. “I thought my kids would be upset at me for spending time away from them, but they weren’t. They were really proud of me. As a mom with a special needs child, I also realized I have to have my health in order to take care of all my children.”

In closing, she said it is very important to her to be transparent because failure is a part of success. “I hope that my story will empower other moms out there who read it,” Wendy said. “Every day, I give my three sons and my students the same message that I’d like to give your readers: ‘You Can! If not today, then tomorrow!’”

By Rochelle Marapao

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