I’ve always loved to move. When I was a kid some of my fondest memories was listening to music and choreographing routines to them. It was a time when I felt incredibly alive. In my younger years I explored movement through gymnastics, aerobics and competitive team sports. Right after high school, I joined the military and being assigned to an Airborne Combat unit, fitness was important. It was great! I loved the PT, the confidence courses and that it was my job to work out. During this time, I pursued kickboxing/boxing and got my aerobics and personal trainer license and started working with people immediately. It was my job to stay fit and plan and encourage others to get fit… I couldn’t have been happier.
Fast forward a few years… I got out of the military, I graduated from college and starting working in a medical health facility. I specialized in warm pool therapy for arthritis and fibromyalgia patients, along with those recovering from major illness and surgeries. It was during this time that I got my first dose of reality in what can happen as we age or get injured or ill… but it would be many years before I would understand how that would affect my life.
While I was working, I was also training for long endurance events in running, biking and triathlon. I wanted to push my body to see just how far it would go, it was an experiment, it was exciting and it lasted about 3 years when one day while I was in Graduate School and just weeks after finishing an Ironman triathlon, I found myself unable to walk and unable to breathe. That was my first of many panic attacks … from that day onward, my life really changed.
I got help for the breathing, I even got help for the eating disorder that I also apparently had. But there would be several more years of shifting and changing before I finally really did get better and could handle everyday “normal” stress.
During this time, I worked at West Point Military Academy (USMA) in the Physical Education Department. My job was still in fitness, but I started to look at conventional exercise differently and I saw a lot of the dark side of exercise: injury, overtraining and obsession, and I found myself guilty of all of them. I have to admit that my mind wasn’t in my body while I trained.
At age 24, I had debilitating chronic back pain and sports-induced asthma. Also despite lots of exercise and rigid dieting, I was overweight. It was extremely depressing.
Incessant thoughts of not being fast enough, thin enough, or beautiful enough didn’t pay off for me… in fact it was downright counter-productive and cost me my health.
So I went on my own self-prescribed course of healing. I knew I first had to learn how to connect my mind to my body, otherwise I was in pain. The learning curve really hurt! So…
First I became a certified massage therapist in New York and went on to work alongside doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists and acupuncturists. I really wanted to understand how I got so out of balance and what I could do to be healthy again, so I spent the next 8 years in Thailand, India, China and Taiwan experiencing and learning different healing and movement therapies. Most of them did not help me and some of them actually made my conditions worse… a handful were truly helpful (read more here).
After years of searching and self-experimentation, I have used (and continue to use) these helpful therapies. As a result, my back is strong, healthy and flexible, I no longer have asthma, my body is fit and healthy and my depression has turned into hope and gratitude.
It is this that I love to share with those I meet.