Customer Spotlight: Lydia Knoll

When faced with a mountain, do you kick and scream the whole way there? Or do you carefully evaluate your options before you attack? If while you’re climbing that mountain, it begins to crumble beneath you— what do you do?

…Meet Lydia.

This powerhouse has been through the unimaginable, and we’re honored to share her story. So let’s begin! Some people just find the gym at the right time, or should we say— the gym finds them. Lydia began her fitness journey at the ripe young age of 16, wasting no time in hiring a personal trainer to coach her form. The idea of competing on stage didn’t waste any time either, and by the age of 17 she was just two weeks out from stepping on stage as a Bikini Competitor. She kept a dark secret, though. Unbeknownst to many, she struggled with bulimia and decided to cancel the show. “I was so tired and weak,” she recalls. “I was passing out while doing cardio and knew I seriously messed up my body.”

Fueled with a desire to learn as much as possible about bodybuilding and proper nutrition, Lydia dove head-first into school, graduating high school early and learning as much as possible. But one day she noticed it was becoming increasingly difficult to cross a room without being short of breath. She was always dizzy and tired no matter how much sleep she had the night prior. 


The First Diagnosis

Lydia started seeing multiple doctors. First they diagnosed her with congestive heart failure disease— then it was aggressive pneumonia. “I continued going downhill as these doctors told me I needed to get my will written [but] I knew that the diagnosis was wrong.

Pictured: Lydia with long hair— just one short hour before her first diagnosis.

Two weeks before her 19th birthday, she met with a doctor who diagnosed her with metastatic lung cancer. They immediately started chemo and radiation treatment, but disclosed that she would likely have less than a year to live. “I was determined to use my nutrition knowledge as a tool and I refused to stop working out. It took three and half years to be told I was in remission,” says Lydia. The medical professionals  believed that the only reason she was able to live was because she continued lifting and eating with intent. “It was the most painful times of my life,” she remembers. “Everyday was more painful than the day before. I was very lonely—  people assume if you have cancer you have a big support system. I did not. I had my incredible husband and his family.”  

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

June of 2020, Lydia was told she was in remission. “We were ecstatic! I hired Adam as my coach a couple months prior and we were planning for me to compete in the WBFF in summer of 2021. I had started training clients in person in 2019 in between chemo and I started an online Coaching business the 1st of the year in 2020.”
July 1st 2020, Lydia went in for some tests and told her doctors she was having a hard time keeping her balance as well as experiencing some pretty rough migraines. “A few scans and tests later, they told me I had Glioblastoma Multiforme Cerebellum. I’ve had multiple opinions and they’ve all told me the same thing. Surgery isn’t optional for me at this time.” Although she can no longer train her clients in person, this beautiful warrior is keeping a positive attitude and is a true inspiration to us all. 

“I do not consider myself very tough or badass. I feel like there are people who deal with more than I do everyday and they handle it better then I do. I break down crying, I scream at nothing, I have nightmares, I get mad, and I sometimes push people away who should be close. At the end of the day, I’m still breathing and still climbing that damn mountain…. so that is always a win.”

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I did a thingy. Got to meet my fantastic coach and friend @besickfit and get trained by him. I’ve got a weird bucket list, but meeting him was #2 (skydiving #1. Not doable for me anymore). I’ve respected this man for as long as I’ve been on instagram, I think 4 yrs. He is one of the most intelligent and honest people I’ve ever seen in the fitness industry. After seeing him in person and training with him right there guiding me. It really has lit a little fire under me to keep fucking pushing forward. Some days i question if im making the right choice by continuing treatment regardless of life expectancy, but after this weekend let me tell ya… i got a lot of living and learning left to do. So fuck whatever life throws at me. I got lots of thingys to do and got one helluva coach in my corner, we fucking got this! #bestrong #bestcoachever #coach #onlinecoach #bodybuilding #fuckcancer #fuckbeingsick #keepgoing #pushforward #yougotthis #inperson #bobbyblondefitness #nutritioncoach #chemosucks #baldie #lowerbodyday

A post shared by Lydia K. Coach/Trainer. (@coach_lydia_fit) on

13 Questions with Lydia

1. You mentioned that you started working out right after you turned 16. That’s awesome! What was the motivation to get started in the gym?

I truly hated my body, I was battling bulimia and a lot of body dysmorphia. I did 2-3 hours of the Beachbody Insanity workouts everyday and I just wanted to get my hands on some real weights. As soon as I turned 16 and got my license I got a gym membership. Once I walked into the gym it was like love at first sight, I was so eager to try everything. I saw photos of Dana Linn Bailey online and I was obsessed. She was so beautiful and muscular. I wanted to be just like her! Once I started lifting, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t realize how much I would love lifting and the joy it gives me. I can’t imagine life without some kind of lifting in it now.

2. We’ve all been there— thinking we know more than we really do when we first start training. What’s one piece of advice you now know, that you would give to your younger self?

It’s okay to gain weight. I weigh 50lbs more now than when I started. I was so scared of gaining weight, if I had just let that go I would have progressed much faster and would have been less stressed everyday about seeing any weight change on the scale.

3. Body image is something that haunts most women. How difficult was it to switch your mindset into loving and nourishing your body?

It was a very very long battle of talking with a therapist a lot and learning more about nutrition and the female body. I didn’t have a period for 2 years due to overtraining and a very low body fat. Once I learned the dangerous and negative side effects of that, I dove head first into learning as much as I possibly could about nutrition and how I could eat a normal amount of food and work out less while building muscle and get my period back. It’s honestly (and I know this sounds cheesy) all about learning to love your body. I mean come on, your body is incredible!! Who cares if you can’t see your abs year round and have a little extra junk in the trunk with some cellulite? That is how your body naturally is!

4. What is your favorite body part to train, and what’s your favorite exercise?

Toss up between core and glutes. Core: I love hanging leg raises and ab wheel roll outs. Glutes: Squats, hip thrusters and sumo deadlift are my favorites.

5. I can’t imagine how tough (and frustrating) it must have been to have a doctor misdiagnose you. What was the first thought going through your head when the doctor gave you a diagnosis you knew was incorrect?

“I am way too sick and way too young for this to be the cause, you’re definitely missing something.” I was beyond furious, honestly. I kept my cool as I left, but once I was in my car I was swearing up a storm. I knew my body and I knew that it wasn’t pneumonia or a cardiac issue.

6. How have you adjusted your diet and exercise regimen now that you have been properly diagnosed?

At first it was a mess. I was just trying to figure out what caused issues with my medications. After about 6 months of trial and error, I’ve found that almost all processed foods cause some kind of bad reaction for either my brain or my gut when mixed with my meds. Now I have my wonderful coach who I talk to daily to see if we need to change anything depending on how badly I feel. I consume a very large amount of carbohydrates as my doctors have found it goes well with my treatment. I sometimes have to get all my kcals in from liquid sources because I am to nauseated to cook or even smell food and when that’s the case I get my True Nutrition protein and HBCD, add some MCT oil and gulp it down. I think keeping down my food has been a really big struggle, but recently, I have been more successful.

7. You mentioned emotional and aggressive side effects as a result of GMC. What are some ways you remind yourself to stay positive through the difficult times?

Reminding myself this is temporary, what I am dealing with will not last forever. As morbid as this sounds, at some point I will either die or I will get better. I just have to keep fighting my anger and keep fighting this so I can get better one day again. I have a lot of affirmations that i have written down that I look at everyday that help me throughout the day. My husband has been my rock through this all no matter how bad it got, I don’t know what I would have done without him. He is there for me 24/7 even if he physically can’t be there (because he is working full time) so I don’t have to stress about not having a full time job.

8. Tell us about Adam Bisek, and how you got connected. What drew you to working with him?

Honestly, I messaged him when I was first diagnosed with cancer almost four years ago. I was scared and I wanted some tips on books or podcasts that he thought were educational that I could listen to and read during chemo. He was very helpful and willing to give me tons of free information. At the time I did not think hiring a coach was financially doable or a good idea. I mean… who thinks of hiring a fitness coach when you’re going through chemo? Anyways, I would message him on IG randomly throughout the last four years and he always messaged me back with helpful tips. When I was told I was going to be in remission, I knew I wanted to hire a coach to compete in the WBFF, so the first of the (2020) year I got a few different coaches names and information together and sat down with my doctors. We went through them and all agreed that Adam was the best choice, not only because of his raving client reviews and his education background, but because he had been so willing to help me for free in the past. So I hired him and we just started as a normal client/coach, set a game plan and got started. When they told me I had cancer again I thought for sure he would tell me he was out, but nope! He said he was all in and was going to be there for me for whatever he could do. He has been a God send through this, I forget a lot of things and he has no problem answering the same question over and over like it’s the first time. His knowledge and experience in the fitness industry is invaluable and he has become such a great friend in the process.

9. How challenging is it to get yourself to eat when you aren’t fully able to enjoy the flavors of your food? Are there any foods that are easier to eat than others?

I look at eating as part of treatment honestly. Just like taking medications, I have to eat every 2-3 hours even if I don’t want to. I have alarms set on my electronics to remind me to eat and what exactly I need to eat. Recently, my hunger has been very high so I am lucky that is happening. I can’t taste about 90% of what I eat— I taste sriracha sauce and mustard mostly. The easiest things for me to eat are cream of rice and eggs. Very simple to make and goes down easily.

10. Which True Nutrition products have helped you with your nutrition goals?

The essential amino acids have helped me get in all my amino acids every few hours if I forget to eat or don’t feel well enough to. Protein powder has been amazing! I use your protein powder daily for sure! I am using the highly branched cyclic dextrin to get my carbs in on days that solids just aren’t going to happen. I am going to try the smoothie mixes next. I am always so happy when I get anything in the mail from True Nutrition!

11. I know fitness and nutrition are your passions. Read any good books or studies lately?

My most recent book I’ve read is Genius Foods by Max Lugavere, its such a good quality book! I’m currently reading Heart Breath Mind by Dr. Leah Lagos about training your heart to handle stress better and why it is important to measure your HRV. Ive been reading multiple studies about FODMAP diet but this is my favorite.

12. Coming from someone who has gone into remission, and now fighting another battle— do you have any advice for someone who is newly-diagnosed?

If your doctor tells you that you have “x” amount of time left, remember that is just their guess. They don’t know what you are capable of, they don’t know how strong you are. Don’t shut people out, they are just as scared as you are. It’s incredibly painful for whoever is close to you to watch you go through this and not be able to help. Most importantly remember that you are incredible and do whatever makes you happiest. You are fighting for your life, do it however you need to.

13. How can we follow your journey? (Social media, website, etc.)

My website is and my Instagram is @coach_lydia_fit. I try to update people on Instagram once or twice a week. The support I’ve gotten from social media is more than I’ve gotten from people I know! I think sometimes we forget how blessed we are to have social media sometimes.

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