Discover how this fitness content creator overcame her anxiety

As a child, Kathleen Porteria never imagined that she would one day become a fitness content creator with a passion for weightlifting. Growing up in Los Angeles, he struggled with severe and chronic asthma that made physical activity a challenge. He was always the last to finish a race. Sports and athletics seemed like they were for other “athletic” kids.

Kathleen can still vividly remember the feeling of dread when she had an asthma attack and couldn’t get enough air into her lungs or oxygen into her bloodstream. Attacks will sometimes come randomly. All it took was a change in weather or a bit of dust or pollen inhaled, and the airways in its lungs would begin to swell and constrict.

“It felt like trying to breathe through a small straw,” she recalls going into anaphylactic shock. “Once or twice a year, my parents have to take me to the hospital, where I stay in the ICU for a few days until I’m back to normal breathing and my oxygen levels stabilize.”

When Kathleen moved to the Philippines to attend college, she was determined to do everything possible to get healthy and strong. She wanted to prove that her asthma did not define her or limit what she could achieve. After joining a gym, he discovered that lifting weights improved his physical and mental health.

As he became stronger, he began to feel that he had more control over his asthma. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she decided to pursue a career in health and fitness and eventually earned a certification as a functional strength coach. He also continued strength training. In 2019, he signed up for his first powerlifting event. Weighing in at 120 pounds, he deadlifted nearly twice his weight.

As she overcame the childhood trauma associated with her asthma, she felt her story was worth sharing on social media. She now has thousands of followers hoping to inspire them to overcome similar obstacles and become their strongest and happiest selves.

Kathleen shares her interest in health and fitness with her husband, a professional football player. When she was pregnant last year, he gave her a Fitbit Charge 5.

“Obviously, pregnancy is a time when you want to listen closely to your body,” she says. “I wanted to get enough exercise but not overwork my body. My heart rate and active zone minute data helped balance everything out. My daily fitness score helped me know when to hit the gym and when it was time to rest and rejuvenate. I knew being healthy and fit would help me during delivery.”

Kathleen proudly shared her body changes during her pregnancy in videos and pictures. Like her asthma, the pregnancy was a physical and emotional challenge. And that challenge didn’t end after the healthy birth of her son.

“I’ve struggled with anxiety all my life, and some of those feelings came back after my son was born,” she says. “I think it’s important to be honest about mental health.”

Kathleen is now sharing the story of her postpartum fitness journey on her social media accounts. Her sleep scores are rising now that her 10-month-old son is sleeping through the night. He hasn’t returned to his previous fitness levels, but his Fitbit app stats are showing steady improvement. He carries an inhaler—but his asthma is under control and he rarely needs it. “I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent, but I’m getting there,” she says. “The muscle memory I built up before I got pregnant is kicking in. It’s amazing what the human body can achieve.”

Kathleen sometimes thinks about the kid she used to be who always came last and was afraid to push herself physically. “I’m proud of the challenges I’ve faced,” she says “They have shaped me into who I am. I don’t care if I finish last, as long as I finish strong.”

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