Why She’s Interesting: To her students, she is Ms. Miller, the special education teacher who also suffers from psoriatic arthritis and has a fused spine. But, in September 2017, the Lorain County mom earned a new title as the winner of the World’s Strongest Disabled Man’s women seated division in London.
Work It: At her gym, you’ll find Miller lifting weighted kegs or Atlas stones to help her prepare for the competition. She doesn’t buy into the notion that slaving away at cardio is the only way for women to get fit. “Even when I was at my skinniest, I didn’t feel healthy. I’d rather be 100 pounds heavier and be stronger, because I just feel way more healthy when I’m like that.”
No-Nonsense: The haters may say women shouldn’t lift but that doesn’t stop Miller. That rise-above attitude led her to become one of the first three women from the U.S. to compete at the international level of the World’s Strongest Disabled Man competition. “You should always be able to prove people wrong and prove yourself wrong, for that matter.”
Mind Games: In London, Miller competed in the semi pull, in which her legs were restricted by sandbags, forcing her to use upper body strength. The most challenging event was the forward hold, during which competitors held a 22-pound weight in front of them, without moving, for as long as they could. “You have to be strong, don’t get me wrong. But a lot of it is mental.”
No Hiding: Working with teenagers who have learning disabilities puts Miller in a unique position. She understands how it feels to have a hidden disability. “I want them to know that if you work hard enough at something, you can do it even if people think that you shouldn’t be able to.”
Iron Pumping: Miller’s students aren’t the only ones inspired by her success. Since competing, she has received praise from other disabled women looking to compete. “A lot of the women who’ve contacted me are actually military veterans that may have lost a leg or arm when they were overseas.”
Lifting Up: Her win in London qualified her for the Arnold Classic Disabled competition held in Columbus in March. She’s already heard from other disabled athletes that are competing. “Now that we’ve done this, it’s opened the door for women to want to get involved, which is nice.”
Tiny Tonnage: When Miller was pregnant with her daughter, her dedication to strength training didn’t stop. A mere 12 hours before her water broke, Miller was in the gym doing a slightly modified version of her usual regime. “At the end there, I took down the weights a little bit just because it was getting a little uncomfortable.”
Mama Bear: Miller enjoys taking her 2-year-old daughter, Ruby Rose, to the Holden Arboretum and Greater Cleveland Aquarium to stimulate her curiosity about the world. “We try to take her to a lot of places to get out and experience what Northeast Ohio has to offer her.”Interesting Fact: Since a Baldwin-Wallace University chemistry professor introduced Miller to Iceland, she’s had visiting the desolate wilderness listed on her bucket list.