The word that stuck with me this week was hope. It was used in the context of no longer having it.
When I hear clients reflect on their experience with pain, the word - hope - is an indictor. Usually an indicator that is bright red and blinking that needs some attention.
Losing hope draws out many strong emotions and this call was emotional.
A client came to me with pain. Persistent pain that has grown in intensity over the last year and a half.
Her back pain is so great that she struggles with activities of daily living, be it standing in her kitchen to prep food for dinner to the inability to bend over to put dishes away in her dishwasher after a meal.
Through a broken sentence full of emotion she said to me, 'all I want to do is go walking with my dog and my kids'.
Through more sniffles and broken sentences she shared that she was questioning her ability to have hope.
Every medical/specialist appointment was the same. Statements like "lose weight", "increase your exercise" and "take this medication or have this injection".
All advice that was trying to help. And yet, she did not feel that it did. It wasn't tangible nor something she felt was actionable. Almost too broad to apply.
Being present to her story, what do you think I said?
It is probably one of the most crucial questions of my work.
A questions that I don't necessarily have the answer to myself.
It is something that can be forgotten time and time again. I, even personally, forget to ask myself this question at times too.
What CAN you do?
Once you know where you are, you can more forward from there.
We paused the solving of her pain on the call and switched it to what is actual possible.
I always come back to this concept. I've shared it before and will share it again.
Part of staring with the present moment allows us to ask the question…
What CAN I do?
From there we started building a list of what she could do. It brought the power back to her. She had control of something that was tangible and actionable. The best part was she had the answers for herself. I gave my two sense of course and she built out what she could do to start increasing her physical activity.
"Freedom is in accepting what is and forgiving ourselves…in opening our hearts to discover the miracles that exist now…"
I love this quote from the book The Choice. I recently read it and although an emotional memoir of survival, Dr. Eger shares her experience of what CAN I do to survive. I highly recommend it!
As the summer days continue to shine, I myself am taking a summer break. While I'm away this August, I invite you to ponder…
What CAN I do for physical activity?
If you need some extra support, check out my free mini online course, Assess: One savvy step to accelerate your physical activity behaviour change. It can help you find your answers. You can also book a 1:1 appointment with me too to explore what you CAN do.
Do expect to see me in your inbox on the first of August and September with my monthly article round up. And then consistently into September. I've got lots in the works in the Fall with in person workshops and classes in Edmonton and openings in my virtual 1:1 yoga therapy and kinesiology practice open to anyone in Canada! Keep your eyes out for me into September where I will share all the details!
Have a great time exploring what you CAN do this August!
Stay well and happy moving,
I am lucky. I live close to a lot of green spaces and one particular feature is a small pond. I enjoy taking time to explore the space around the pond and watch and listen to the wildlife.
One great thing about the pond is that it has a path all around it. It is the perfect little get away only eight minutes from my house.
So if you read last week's newsletter you will recall it was confession time. I'm a bona fide chaser. I go for the sensation and usually the really intense "I'm working so hard" sensations.
Yet, I'm starting to learn that more isn't necessarily better.
Case in point.
After blowing my back out last Spring, I didn't think I could start my running routine that I had hoped and planned to do.
I've run on and off for years. The pain in my foot was one reason I hadn't been running and opted to stick to cycling, swimming and walking.
Here comes the pond.
Instead of gruelling it out with continuous running I chose to do something else. I opted not to chase but to listen.
I used the pond as my track.
I would run most of the loop on the gravel path and once it turned to asphalt, I would walk.
You could say it was running intervals, not necessarily based on time and instead on distance.
The catch was that I started to listen.
What showed up, you may ask?
The "stepping on a tack pain" in my left foot. Rather than saying forget it to my running, I used my pain to my advantage.
How so, you may ask?
Turns out my body was sending me a signal when the running was TOO much. I could be pain free for four laps around and sure enough, as I finished the fifth lap, it reared its head.
Some days the walk interval resolved it and other days it did not.
What was the coolest thing was when I had the brain wave to stop right before the running would begin, come to lie on the grass beside the path and move my hips in multiple planes of motion (i.e., specific exercises that I've been incorporating in my own yoga therapy practice). By doing the movements, most times I was able to hit a reset button and be pain free for another lap.
Crazy, I know!
The combination of listen for my pain and then NOT chasing it down was key.
I provided support to the real issue (which is actually my left hip). Now I won't get into the details of what those exercises are (I know you what to know!) as the main message from me to you today is that you too can stop chasing. Consider what your body is telling you and how can you support it.
This of course is only one example and my own personal experience. Your story, your body and your experience is different than mine.
I invite you to notice and take stock of the actions and behaviours that support you and those that do not.
If I kept pushing through and chasing down my pain, I can almost guarantee that running would be taken off my list of physical activities I like to do. At some point, I would have blown out my back again or worse.
My brain is meeting my body where it is at. And my body is meeting my brain. The sweet combination is what can help with my left foot pain.
If you are someone dealing with pain, I can help. I'd be happy to work with you one on one to help you grow your body-brain connect and get out of pain!
Stay well and happy moving,
I'm a chaser.
Let me clarify what I mean.
I chase sensation. I look for the stretch, flex and feel. I want to know that how I am moving my body is actually doing something. I want to feel my muscle contract. I want my muscle to pull. I want to feel the exertion of my hard work.
As I type this out, it really sounds like an addiction to chasing.
Case in point.
In April 2021 I was in my first yoga therapy certification course. I was all in and one day on break I took a walk in my neighbourhood. With delight, I realized my pain was gone. GONE! I've had 'stepping on a tack' sort of pain in my left middle toe for years. It comes and goes. It loves to rear its head when I am tired and trying to push myself.
It vanished. Almost to the point that I felt like I was walking with a new foot.
Crazy - I know.
I was hooked.
What did we do in this training to give me such amazing relief?
I reviewed my notes and gosh darn it, I am doing this sequence every day from now on!
Whoa there sister! Let's back the truck up.
But I didn't.
I chased it.
The pain of course came back. I didn't have the infrastructure to hold the ease.
I chased it more.
And sad to say, on the last day of training, we covered the exercise I had thought had relinquished my pain. I did it and I did it well. I forced myself to go further and farther. Because of course, more is better.
Well, in fact it was not.
I came out of the position and instantly knew I had gone to far.
The toe didn't hurt but my back sure did. I didn't listen to my body. It was telling me that I was going too far, too fast, too soon.
I'm a chaser.
I blew up my low back and couldn't move.
All for my middle toe. All in the pursuit of more.
I see this all the time. Now that I know I'm a chaser. I can see all the chasers among us.
I suggest to a client to dial their movement back. They keep chasing.
I suggest to a client to find ease. They keep chasing.
I suggest to a client to breathe and find space. They keep chasing.
They are part of my chasing club. Are you?
I invite you to join me in jumping off the chasing train and simply notice. Sensation does not prove that you are doing something. There are times when you don't physically feel anything at all.
You breathe 12-16 breaths per minute.
Essential to your life.
Do you feel every single one of those breaths? Likely not.
And yet, life continues on. Oh how I love the physiology of the body!
Chase. I say slow down. Something IS shifting and changing.
Stay well and happy moving,
Missed my most recent newsletter? Don't worry, I've got your back. Find all my exclusive letters here on this private blog. ~Lisa