Rochelle Moncourtois hit rock bottom and entered rehab to beat her addiction. She emerged on a quest to complete an Ironman.
By Henry Howard
Rochelle Moncourtois was a very competitive dancer when she was growing up. She completed her first solo when she was 8 years old, and went on to compete on her high school dance and cheerleading teams.
But demons raged underneath her smile and positive outlook.
“I used to handle the pressure very well,” Moncourtois says. “Around my junior-senior year of high school things really started to change for me. I really felt all the pressures from dance to look a certain way. I turned to an eating disorder for comfort, but it just wasn’t enough. That’s when I began to find comfort in drinking.”
‘Ironman not only changed my life, but it saved my life!’
After high school, the drinking worsened. Still, she was able to train for and complete two marathons. Eventually, her alcoholism took over, leading Moncourtois on a path filled with blackouts, hangovers and two DUIs.
“One day I woke with a very bad hangover and I literally said to myself, ‘I can’t go on living like this anymore. I’m headed down a bad path that I don’t want to follow,’” she recalls. “I knew I had a chance to make the change that day, so I checked myself into a private rehab for 30 days.”
As Moncourtois sobered up, she knew she needed a distraction, something that would replace the drinking. She jumped into fitness, and set a major goal — finishing an Ironman triathlon, even though she had not previously attempted a triathlon at any distance.
“I didn’t want to become ‘just sober,’” she says. “I wanted to do something big for myself and to show others you can really change your life around in a big way.”
Starting on Jan. 1, 2012, Moncourtois trained for seven months for her Ironman, completing an Olympic distance triathlon in the process. But it was the Ironman finish that was her turning point.
“The moment I crossed that finish line I knew I wanted to be sober for the rest of my life and live a life of fitness,” says Moncourtois, who has now been sober for 4 ½ years. “At that moment it became my passion and a part of me. Ironman not only changed my life, but it saved my life!”
Paying it forward
Moncourtois will continue competing in sports — in fact, she has become a prolific 5K runner, winning several races — but that is not her only goal.
“I’m getting married in May of 2016, which means we plan to have kids in the future,” she says. “I plan on doing my second Ironman after having kids to show them that anything is possible in life! I will be completing the race for them and not for myself.”
Moncourtois, who lives in California, also wants to serve as an inspiration beyond her family. She is writing a book about her experience and wants to be a personal trainer as well.
“I’m hoping to inspire and motivate millions with my story in great detail,” she says. “If all goes well with the book, I plan on creating a fitness clothing line for ALL sizes and ALL different sports including triathlons! My long-term goal has been to become a trainer on the hit show,’ The Biggest Loser.’ ”
Her bucket list of women to train would be Jennifer Aniston and Britney Spears. “If I could train any male, it would be Robert Downey Jr. since he’s gone through addiction himself.”
The give and take of inspiration
She doesn’t have to look far to find her sources of inspiration.
“There are many men and women who inspire me daily,” Moncourtois says. “My mom inspires me to stay healthy and active in races. She is turning 60 and is still doing triathlons! It amazes me! Dolvett Quince (The Biggest Loser) inspires me daily to become the best personal trainer I can be. I really like his attitude and passion.”
For those going through addiction, Moncourtois understands the struggle all too well. She’s hit rock bottom and has risen to achieve the extraordinary.
Her message to those struggling with alcohol, drug or other addictions is quite simple. “I tell them THEY have to be willing to make the change for themselves and not for anyone else,” she reveals. “They need to take the steps to getting healthy seriously. It takes a lot of work and effort. If you really want it, you will do anything to get there!”
Name: Rochelle Moncourtois
Hometown: Moorpark, Calif. Number of years running: A little over 6 years
How many miles a week do you typically run? It depends on what I’m training for!
Point of pride: Crossing the finish line to Ironman. That’s when I felt like a real athlete.
Favorite race distance: You’d think I’d say Ironman, but I love sprint distance races! I feel like I can actually race and compete in shorter distance. It’s a different kind of pain.
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: Pasta!!!
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: Lose Yourself and Till I Collapse by Eminem
Favorite or inspirational mantra or saying: My motto is, “You have to put in the hard work in order to get the results that you want.”
Where can other runners connect or follow you: Facebook: Rochelle Moncourtois, Twitter: Rochfitdancer, Instagram: Rochellefitnessdance