Tony Jacobsen is an author, speaker, and certified personal trainer who lives with Type 1 Osteogenesis Imperfecta (O.I.), also known as having brittle bones. His journey has led him to reach into his disability community and others to inspire them to change their mindsets through sharing his story.
Tony is 51 years old and was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. He has broken his bones around 70 times throughout his life, though he admits it may be more, considering he lost count afterward. He has had 12 surgical procedures and steel rods placed in his legs. When he was a child, he used a wheelchair, and in his teenage years, he began walking on crutches. It was not until he was in his 20s that he started walking without assistance.
Between the ages of 25 and 40, he was not in the best physical condition, impacting his overall health. A doctor’s diagnosis led him to embrace his brittle bones and influenced him to begin exercising to improve his health.
“It sounds like the total opposite of what you’re supposed to do with fragile bones, but I had to figure out how to do it to get healthy,” he comments.
And figure it out, he did. He was able to transform his life, and the outcome of his results made him want to help others. His new mission led him to write a book and create a foundation to be a resource for people needing advice and guidance.
“I was disabling my disability,” he proudly stated. That motto inspired the title of his book, “Disable Your Disability: Live the Healthy Life You Deserve.” He describes it as his personal story, half memoir, and half a how-to book. In it, he encourages others to think differently about disabilities and live a healthier lifestyle, including a mental aspect of getting healthier while having a disability. It also contains advice about changing your mindset, especially regarding what is considered living with an invisible disability.
He explains his personal struggle with consistently having the phrase “be careful” engraved in his head when doing just about anything due to his fragile bones. When he first started going to the gym, not only did he physically doubt his abilities, but he also pondered if he deserved to be healthy when he lived with a disability.
This doubt soon washed away as he entered his fitness journey, and he shifted his mindset. He focused on the things he could do, not those he could not. After his health transformation, he wanted to find a way to reach out to his community to help. He soon became a certified personal trainer and built programs for others.
This soon branched out to other creative outlets. Besides writing his book, he created a one-of-a-kind live streaming show during the pandemic called #UNBREAKABLE Mix Show, which happens weekly every Tuesday from 6-7 pm E.T. He displays his D.J. skills while providing motivational talks.
“I get people moving, I play awesome music, and I do a motivational talk,” he excitedly shares.
When it comes to the advice he has for others, he encourages people with disabilities to share their stories. To show others how they live their lives and what they are capable of. He also mentions being open to others’ perspectives as not everyone may be well informed on disabilities. He strongly recommends reaching out to not only your own disability community but others as well. To show support to others where one can, such as simply resharing their social media posts or supporting their businesses.
When asked what he would tell his younger self, he reflects back, stating there is always time to start changing and thinking differently. He mentions letting go of the past, shame, and regret.
“Don’t worry so much, and positively look at the world. Look at what you can do instead of what you can’t do,” he concludes.