Tag Archives: Fitness Inspiration

What I Learned About the Body…after I got hit by a car (Part 2)

If you’re joining the story now, please feel free to read the first part of it: http://bit.ly/1Leo8Fp

These are lessons that I have learned the hard way and that I’m here to share.  

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Lesson #5: Don’t give up on finding the right care from the right professional

It can be incredibly difficult to navigate the confusing network of health professionals. So many people get lost when they try to figure out if they should seek treatment options from general practitioners, massage therapists, physical therapists, acupuncture specialists, chiropractic doctors, nutritionists, personal trainers, psychologists, and more. One common question is: “Should I try one at a time or opt for multiple forms of treatment at once?” This is a tricky question to answer because it’s very different for each and every person, according to their condition and stage of healing.

For me, I’ve tried it all. Literally. I sought out acupuncture and cupping techniques with one specialist, cognitive therapy for post-traumatic stress with another, chiropractic adjustments with two doctors, physical therapy with five different professionals, and massage therapies from an uncountable number of nimble-fingered individuals. This is not even an exhaustive list of the professionals I worked with while trying to recover from my accident. The reason I kept trying different things is because every person gave me a different opinion. I would give heed to their opinion and try their approach for a while and if it wasn’t working out, then I moved on to the next.

Although I had moments when tears of frustration would roll down my face, feeling like I had set out on a fruitless treasure hunt, I just knew that I had to keep trying. What on earth would happen if I gave up?!  Thus, the years stretched on, but ironically, I started to learn so much more than I bargained for. I began to learn how to heal other people who were dealing with back pain. In the time that it took me to heal my own, I helped over a dozen people quickly dissolve their issues. Perhaps, I thought, those seemingly pointless efforts with other health professionals weren’t such a waste of time after all!

In the end, I’ve learned that different stages of healing may require different forms of assistance. For example, there was a time when the most important thing for me to do was heal emotionally. Once I was calmer, I began to believe in the physical healing process again. Once I rebooted that journey, I found that needling in physical therapy worked for a while, to bring flexibility back to stiff muscles that had been stuck in spasm. At another point, I found that my muscles were flexible enough to allow my back to get adjusted into alignment by a chiropractor. And finally, I found that my body was getting better and better at keeping me in alignment all on its own, thanks to being able to increase strength training again.

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This long, drawn-out process is just my story. (Believe it or not, we barely scratched the surface.) It doesn’t have to be so convoluted for everyone. What’s important is that you keep looking for the right help. Once you’ve found a great professional, give them time to really impact your body with their treatment/approach. Full healing won’t happen overnight so try not to leave after your first session expecting the process to be done.

Lastly on this subject, although I’m preaching to give practitioners time and patience, it’s also important to recognize and get out of a bad situation. One chiropractor I used to work with actually had the audacity to tell me not to gain weight, citing that it wouldn’t be attractive to men. It was so out of the blue (not to mention UNCALLED FOR) that it completely took me aback. I told the chauvinist straight to his face that he was lucky he said that to me and not another woman because I wouldn’t sue the pants off of him for harassment. This was not the first comment of his that was inappropriate. I walked out of his clinic that day and never turned back. There is nothing more damaging than someone who is supposed to heal you trying to tear you down instead. I deserved better. You deserve better.

 

Lesson #6: Inflammation does weird things to the body

Yes, it’s true. When inflammation is high, your body reacts in strange and confusing ways. For example, I already mentioned to you that my body gained a lot of weight during this time. Part of this weight gain was my body hoarding fat because it was scared for its life (rightfully so). Another part of the weight gain was because of excessive water retention. My body couldn’t figure out how to flush anything through its system because it was so backed up and slowed down by all the stresses it was trying to combat.

I can remember one evening when I was with a group of friends, and the guy I liked at the time, at a bar. I drank a cocktail and it sent me over the edge. I felt sick and got an intense menopausal-like hot flash. I couldn’t understand what was going on with my body. All I knew was that I needed to cool down FAST. I was profusely sweating through my dress. I told my friends that I needed to go to the bathroom but instead, I snuck around the bar counter and flung open a beer fridge’s door. If I could have squeezed my whole body into that cool little space I would have. I was desperate.

I understand now that when the body is severely inflamed, even simple things like eating a food that you are sensitive to, or drinking an alcoholic beverage, can tip you into unpredictable states of discomfort. I wish I could say exactly what happens to each person in every scenario known to man, but I can’t. I can only say that keeping attuned to your healthy – or unhealthy – habits is more important than ever. Pay attention to how your body is reacting. It’s a powerful experience to realize just how prepared our bodies are to defend themselves. It physically feels like a bad thing, but it’s actually a good thing in the end.

There was another time that I experienced something really bizarre, that I think may have been related to inflammation too. It happened to me was about a year after the accident. I went for a jog on a treadmill one afternoon. It felt good. Later that day, I had red spots all over my legs. I couldn’t tell if they were burst blood capillaries, an allergic reaction, or what! Even doctors weren’t sure. It was terrifying.

I’m still not sure what the red spots were from but I have my suspicions. I was hyped up on Ambien every night, to help with my insomnia, and I took pain killers from time to time, when my pain got really bad. In other words, my body was dealing with a lot of foreign substances. It seemed that anything wacky was game to happen.

Since I noticed that my body was obviously NOT okay with me putting anything foreign or toxic into it, I started to strip down my diet and reduce medications. I was extra careful about everything I put into my body. Over time, eating clean and being cautious about medicines really helped me. I think the crazy bodily dysfunctions were its way of telling me to stop putting foreign substances into it, and to let it do what the human body is best at: take care of me.

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 Pictures on top = post-exercise red spots.

Pictures below = marks from cupping treatments I did for a while…definitely not ideal during sundress season. 

 

Lesson #7: If your spirit is defeated, your body is defeated

A few months after my accident my cousin visited. She was excited to see Washington, DC and at the time, I lived smack dab in the center of “the action.” She was in my bathroom, showering and primping to get ready for a fun girls’ night out, while I was in my bed, head spinning and body screaming for more sleep. She came into the room and asked if I was feeling okay. The only thing I could say was “I feel like I want to go to sleep and never wake up again.”

She was in obvious shock at my statement and shared her concern. I had to explain to her that I wasn’t suicidal; I just didn’t want to keep fighting. I was spent! My comment just felt like the most natural statement I could make at the moment.

This feeling of burnout lasted for a while. I made many careless mistakes during that time in my life. I went out partying, initiated arguments with my family over nothing, and showed interest in “bad boys” when I had forever favored mamas’ boys. It wasn’t until I started to put more effort into finding peace within myself and with God that I got back on track.

I decided to initiate this process by taking a month off of work. I spent lots of time soul-searching in coffee shops and wrote a book that reconnected me to my faith. As I wrote, I started to realize that I wasn’t alone. I could stop feeling so afraid. I can still remember the day that I fell down to my knees in my shower – it hit me out of nowhere that God had been there for me the whole time, even when I had forgotten and lost my way. I began to understand how to replenish my spirit and thereby discovered energy to move forward and physically heal.

 

Lesson #8: The universe has a wonderful way of bringing the right people your way during times of need

I wonder if I would still be married to my husband if I hadn’t been hit by that car. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true! I met my husband during my “bad boy” streak and he was the farthest thing from dismissive, rude and reckless. He was compassionate and full of life. Although I tried to shrug him off, his persistence and light kept me tethered. Although I didn’t feel attractive or worthy at that time, he saw every good thing about me even though I was focused so exclusively on the bad.

I remember the night that we met. We ended up dancing for hours. Dancing became our favorite thing to do during the first few months of knowing one another. It felt great. We would find places to dance in the city and would continue dancing in our living rooms. Wherever we were, we found a way to celebrate and have fun. It was the most refreshing experience ever.

I really do believe that he was sent into my life at the exact right time. He helped show me that healing was possible and that there is much to be excited about, even when you’re not feeling physically great. I would briefly forget about my pain while I was having fun and laughing with him. Soon, the bouts of pain became less frequent and less severe. Eventually, I would go an entire 24 hours without severe pain. Even when pain did hit me with a vengeance, I found new ways to stay calm because I realized that someday I would get over it completely. Everything was going to be okay.

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Lesson #9: Moments of weakness and frustration are not signs that you’re failing to heal

I wish I could say that healing is a linear process but alas, I can’t do that. I had many hang-ups and pitfalls along the way. Sometimes I would feel gently defeated and other times I would feel like an utter failure, but I learned to get over those negative mentalities. I learned to get stronger each and every time.

Simple moments challenged me, like when I slipped on ice during the winter and my back went into a brief spasm, and when friends would ask me to go to tough exercise classes with them and I would have to say no even though I had formerly always said yes. There were other more profound moments that set back my body and spirits too. For example, one mid-summer day I collapsed in my apartment building’s elevator. I had been carrying heavy groceries because I was planning to spend the whole day cooking for family. It was a quiet hour in the middle of the day so no one was around to help me. I crawled, dragging my groceries along the floor. I tried to stand up but keeled over again. I kept trying to get back on my feet but I collapsed another two times as I made my way down the hallway to my apartment. Once inside, I cried until I was too tired to cry more.

Although moments like this have the power to defeat you, they aren’t a sign that you haven’t made progress. Every time I would reignite the pain, I would get over it a little faster than before. Each time, I learned something valuable.

 

Lesson #10: Learning to let go is the final step

Has my body reached pre-trauma condition? Honestly…no. But, have I fully recovered? Yes. Let me explain…

Up until a few short years ago, I still had to put a heating pack on my back a few times every month. I would also occasionally have a sleepless night or two when my nerves would get set off and I’d fear falling back into insomnia. To this day, my back and hips have remained a little more sensitive and prone to instability. I keep it under control though.

My heart will always feel a little bit sad when I think of how dark some of those days of pain were but I also know that they taught me a lot. I decided years ago that I would be okay and my body has followed me in that decision. I’ve learned exactly what to do in 15-20 minutes to immediately correct a flare-up that would formerly last for months. I’ve also learned that I’m capable of surviving one of the worst kinds of pain in the world – the loss of self-identity. If I can rediscover myself and come out stronger, I know that you can too.

Recovery is possible when we decide to let go of hurt and move on. It’s a single, simple, profound decision [to let go] that one has to consistently choose, every day and during every moment of frustration. It’s a decision that is made in the midst of pain that can pull you through to the other side.

I believe that the power of letting go can have a meaningful impact in anyone’s life. I encourage you to give it a try.

 

I sincerely hope that sharing this authentic story will help someone else

find healing and joy soon too.

“Start believing you can.”

Maggie

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5 Special Treats for Readers!

Guess what this month is?! National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! (oh yea, and my birthday month, hehe) It’s time to step into the joy of fitness like you’ve never done before! It’s time to drop excuses, enjoy the fresh spring air and get moving! Today, I’m not going to share a long form blog post. I don’t want you to spend your time reading. I want you to spend your time MOVING!!! I hope that these 5 special treats will help you do just that.

Drum roll, please!

Today….I will be PROUDLY presenting you with….

A chance to get a FREE hour-long fitness and wellness consulting phone call (or skype) with yours truly!

 A three ingredient, summer-inspired recipe that I love!

 Hand-picked images to inspire you towards fitness!

 22 energizing songs to fire up your workout playlist!

 …annnnnddd a poem, written by one of our readers, that just plain rocks.

Get it, girls!! Today is your day!

 

Part 1: COACHING GIVEAWAY!

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Yes, it’s true. I have a golden window of time this spring during which I’m excited to extend my professional guidance even more than usual. Thus, the coaching giveaway! This will be a FREE one-hour coaching session via phone or skype, focused exclusively on your top-priority fitness and wellness needs. It will include a customized, 4-week workout schedule.

All you have to do to enter is go to the new WellnessWinz Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wellnesswinz (or click the above image) and “like” the page. Then, comment on the timeline with this hashtag: #WannaWinzGiveaway. At the end of the month of May, I will randomly draw a winner! Get excited!!!

PS – if you aren’t interested in the drawing, I would still be honored if you’d like the Facebook page!  

 

Part 2: “FROSTED MANGO,” MY FAVORITE ANYTIME SMOOTHIE!

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It tastes just like summer and it can be made for any meal of the day. It only requires THREE ingredients: Mangos, Milk, and Vanilla Protein Powder. I prefer almond milk but you can use regular milk, coconut milk or cashew milk. You can also pick a protein powder that works for your dietary needs and preferences (e.g. whey-based, soy-based, hemp-based or pea-protein-based). Try to find a protein powder with minimal processing, minimal sugars and sugar alcohols, and lots of packed-in nutrition.

I swear, this smoothie is simply the best because you can keep all three items in your pantry and fridge for long periods of time without spoiling. Choose frozen mangos and you will avoid wasting ones that turn to mush.

Put a handful of ice in your blender and then scoop in some mangos. Next, add the powder (serving size or half a serving) and milk product. Use 12-16 ounces of milk so that everything blends well. Add spinach, bananas, berries or anything else yummy for extra nutrition and taste! This smoothie will probably come out to 400 calories or less, depending on your ingredients and portions. Yummmmm. 

 

Part 3: HAND-PICKED PINS FOR FITNESS INSPIRATION!! 

Straight from my Pinterest-loving heart to your computer monitor. Hope one of these will inspire you to get moving!

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Pinspiration 4

 

Pinspiration 3

 

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Part 4: THE ULTIMATE WORKOUT PLAYLIST. GET IT, GIRLS!!! 

Allow me a moment to brag…I’ve been told by many exercise class participants that they love my music selection. Of course, I like to think that they love the workouts more, but alas, there’s something about a well-rounded playlist that boosts energy like none other.

Enter the songs below into your iTunes search bar and you can download them for yourself. It will take about 5 minutes or so, and then you will be stocked with enough songs to last you almost an hour and a half!! (For some of us, that’s TWO workouts or more!)

WellnessWinz Workout Playlist

 

Part 5: POEM BY ONE OF OUR READERS!

I was so thrilled to see this poem from our reader, Meredith O’Leary. She recently shared it with me and I’ve got to say, tears swelled in my eyes. Why? Well, Meredith and I have talked about her fitness/wellness journey for a few years now. One of the most challenging parts of it, like for most women, is understanding the line between pushing one’s body towards health and accepting one’s body and its incredible beauty. I couldn’t be prouder to present you with Meredith’s insights and powerful words… 

“This is My Body”

This is my body, true and real
Don’t tell me how I should feel
About it. Cause it isn’t for you
To decide just how I make it through

This is my body, and only mine
The only body I could find
To host my spirit and my mind.
I promise you, I’ll be just fine

This is my body, ever improving
I assure you that I’m always moving,
Being aware, and trying not to care
About others’ judgments, though they’re always there

This is my body. You can’t see through me
It isn’t like you ever knew me
And yet, you disregard the rest
Which is making it through Life’s great test

This is my body. Watch what it can do!
It can clean a house, drive a car
Sometimes it can walk quite far,
And when I hear a good beat, it can dance, too!

This is my body, which you cannot own.
You try to possess, and sometimes offend
But I digress, because I can mend
Myself. So just leave me alone.

This is my body. And I’m proud of it!
Life is the cause, and I’m the effect
It’s never, ever allowed me to quit
And I think it’s about time I gave it some respect

This is my body. And I am beautiful!
Nothing about me has ever been dull
The Universe, in me, is embodied
I have a strong soul! And this is my body.

Meredith O’Leary (c) 2015 MAO

 

Alright, ladies! What are you waiting for?! HAVE FUN! GET MOVING!!!!

Happy National Fitness and Sports Month! 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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