Exercise has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child, I used exercise as a release on a daily basis but never fully understood the correlation between sports, play, movement and health. Sports started to become my life as I became a teenager. I could never sit still – which is one of the reasons I now like to work on breathing and mindfulness to slow down the “mind race.”
I have always been good at setting goals. To me, success is always getting up and pushing forward. I was a goofy and clumsy teen, and now I see that I really just had to grow into my body to learn how it worked. Growing up, I was taught to strengthen the “big” muscle groups – bis, tris, chest and quads – as heavy as you can go, as many times as you can go. Strength was judged by weighted plates and the progression of those weights. In middle school, the mentality was to push harder, work harder, and don’t stop. I excelled at sports and was recruited all over the country, so I felt I was on the right path. I was seeing progress!
From this, I learned that anything you do in excess is not necessarily good. Balance is the key! I wish throughout all of those years I tried yoga and other disciplines so that my body and mind could be balanced.
At the age of 16, doctors told me that my feet were like those of a 90-year-old. This made me push even harder, and by the end of that year, I had five stress fractures in one foot alone. My drive never slowed, though, and I believed I was invincible. In my first two years of college, I had two foot surgeries but I still thought I could push forward. As soon as I could put any pressure on my feet, I started to push again and work my body in excess. After my third foot surgery the following year is when I realized I needed to slow down with sports.
After my fifth surgery, I moved out to Denver to live and work with my older brother. At that time, I couldn’t even walk, so I committed to changing myself. This is when I learned the true importance of knowing your own body’s balance. Exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, muscle alignment, stretching and rest.
What I’ve recognized over time is what exercise means to me. To me, exercise is life. Every day you need to get your body moving. If you don’t use parts of your body (and, also, your brain), those parts will shut down! Exercise also is balance. It no longer just means weights and building up my biceps and triceps. Instead, exercise is movement. Exercise is yoga. Exercise can even be meditation!
Endorhpin to me is community. It feels like home. I am so blessed by how many great and inspiring people I am surrounded by every single day. It has helped me pushed through points along my “rebuilding path” where I thought about giving up. The support group here at Endorphin continues to surprise me each and every day.