National-level body builder Barbie Thomas wows competition despite having no arms.
Barbie Thomas lost her arms at two and a half after climbing a transformer near her home and having electricity go through her hands and out her legs. Doctors amputated both arms and didn’t think she would survive. She did—and her winning attitude will inspire anyone.
Thomas cites her parents as the sources of her positive attitude.
“I was not allowed to be negative and say I can’t do something,” she told ABCNews.com, holding the phone between her ear and her right-hand shoulder, which is more substantial than her left side.
“I was always taught to focus on what I can do, not what I can’t do,” she said. “It probably has a lot to do with my personality—I can’t imagine being a negative Nancy all the time.”
And although no one expected Thomas to live, today, at 37, she has accomplished what was once regarded as the impossible: Thomas is a competitive body builder and model.
“I thank God I am alive,” said Thomas, who now lives in Phoenix with her two sons, aged 13 and 17. She uses her shoulders as arms, which her children call her “nubs.””
Watch an interview with Thomas:
Thomas uses her feet and shoulders to help her successfully manage daily life. She was even a nursing mother.
“I did have to pick my therapist’s brain to help with a few things with the newborn baby,” she said. “But the second one was a piece of cake. I had to kind of prop them up on a pillow and lay next to them as a holder when I nursed them. I could hold them the right way in my lap by using my leg when they were a little older.”
Thomas says that in her intense physical fitness routines, she’s more dependent on her legs and upper body. She says that her “core is pretty strong.”
Her regimen—both with nutrition and exercise—is grueling for most, but Thomas thrives on challenge, especially because she knows it sends a strong, positive message to others.
“I realize it inspires many people, and not just those with physical challenges,” she said. “Follow your dreams and keep pushing and where there is a will, there is a way. We all have our own stuff to deal with and our own limitations and handicaps. Mine are just more visible. There’s always someone else out there who has it worse.”
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