Colby Triolo ’19 did not take the typical gap year. Rather than working at a job or internship, or taking time to travel, she suffered from daily migraines, constant fatigue and struggled to even listen to music or keep her eyes open for long periods of time.
Triolo suffered her first concussion at her junior post prom and the second during her last high school ice hockey game. An avid ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer player, Triolo said she was “devastated” when the doctors told her she would never be able to play contact sports again.
“At the beginning … I thought it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me,” she said.
Because the doctors were uncertain of the duration of her symptoms, Triolo said she decided to take a gap year before going to college.
After a surgical procedure that promised to help her situation — 80 shots injected into her head and neck — failed to improve her health and actually worsened her symptoms, Triolo decided it was time to take matters into her own hands.
“I realized that I was truly the one in control of my life and I needed to take that power,” she said.
Triolo ignored her physical pain and concentrated on positive thinking. She threw out her neck brace, started running and eventually began teaching spin classes.
“When I decided that I was going to heal myself, one of the decisions I made was to take everything that I was told I wouldn’t be able to and just do it,” she explained. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I was approaching it.”
Shortly after her first headache-free day, Triolo launched YouMakeYou, an online community that aims to empower others to empower themselves. Triolo created the website herself, gathering inspiration from blogger friends and similar websites.
YouMakeYou is a platform for people to find inspiration and engage in diverse, deep discussions, where Triolo also sells her own apparel and eBooks about mindset, workouts and recipes, she said. The site receives approximately 300 visitors every day.
“I have assisted people with anything from similar journeys as mine, to weight loss, to career promotion to general well-being,” Triolo said.
Triolo added that she collaborates with large companies focused on blogging and mentoring, such as Quest Nutrition, Clif Bar and Reebok. She said she is currently working on a mobile app to keep YouMakeYou on people’s minds daily; it is scheduled to launch before next semester.
“I believe more than anything that everything happens for a reason,” she said. “Even more so, I believe in the immense power that we all have within us to end up where we want to end up.”
At Cornell, Triolo is currently studying computer science and entrepreneurship, as well as pursuing an independent major in the engineering school. She prioritizes exercise and healthy habits, insisting on walking to class and taking the suspension bridge steps everyday.
In the future, Triolo hopes to “change the face of mobile health including the physical and mental aspect of it,” most likely through YouMakeYou.
“You can find me pretty much any day running or doing some sort of Crossfit workout at the gym,” she said. “I also teach spinning classes both on campus and off campus.”
Triolo just ran the Philadelphia marathon, her first marathon and the first step toward accomplishing her lifelong goal of completing an ironman — a series of long-distance triathlon races, including a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle ride and 26.22 mile marathon.
“If I can use my story to inspire even just one person to conquer their dreams, that it all I want,” she said.