The Balance Game: Why do we wait until we’re sick or injured to “fix it”?

I wrote the following article initially for an AYT lifestyle eGuide – yet I think this topic deserves a discussion on its own. Can we reveal the distractions that get in the way of living a life in balance? Can we prevent injuries and illness, or at the minimum, learn from those we’ve experienced? Let’s take a gander…1000x200 blog titles (9)

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Start the day in balance: squeeze half a lemon in a glass of filtered water at room temperature. Lemons are very alkaline-forming for your body, with benefits including decreased inflammation.

I’m willing to bet a delicious glob of Happy Dough that at some point in your __ number of years living on this lovely planet, you’ve experienced an injury or sickness. From my experience competing and teaching, it seems as though we’ve all had a drop in our health, or another way of saying it: we’ve all been out of balance. In fact, I don’t know if it’s scientifically possible to actually be perfectly “in balance” within every system in your body. That would be crazy balls! There’s probably an infinite number of factors that can influence your internal balance. Heck, even eating a golf-ball sized (speaking of balls) dollop of wasabi can create a seriously imbalanced experience. True story. Unfortunately, I did it on a dare and the pay off was totally unworthy of the sacrifice. Bad call on my part. Lesson learned.

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The body is a huge system of interwoven bits and pieces working together. Tissues, muscles, organs, neurons, plus everything in between. Just because you have back pain, doesn’t mean this specific area is the cause of the problem. It may very well be the symptom of the problem.  

Your health is dependent on the health of your ENTIRE body and lifestyle. This took a long time for me to learn – one recent instance included my experience with plantar fasciitis. I experienced increasing pain in my right foot (plantar fasciitis), so much that I couldn’t get out of bed without limping about. I even stopped running (for an entire year), yet the pain was just as lively as ever if not worse.

After going to my Holistic Doctor (Dr. Stephanie Tyson), we discovered the cause of this symptom was the weakness in my gluteus muscles. There is more to this story (hormonal imbalance, poor energy flow), but for the sake of this article, let’s keep it sweet & simple and focus on the buttocks. I also saw a trusted friend of mine, a Chiropractor who’s fantastic at assessing functional movement (Dr. MaryAnne Harrington), who also came to the same conclusion of my gluteal lameness. I found it fascinating that two experts with two separate approaches came to similar conclusions. (Three cheers for their high quality awesomeness in addressing health / injury from a whole-body perspective).

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With every step in flip flops, you curl your toes under to hold onto the shoe. Having pretty much lived my entire life in them, over time the connective tissues on the bottom of my feet “shortened”, creating extra tension. One of my lifestyle changes has been to minimize flip flop time and choose footwear that allows for a more natural gait (e.g. a shoe / sandal with a negative heel and attaches somehow around the heel, and allows my toes to spread wide).

Back to the butt – Because my gluteus muscles were not firing (contracting), other areas of my body had to pick up the slack. Eventually my foot could only handle so much and tadaaaa – my imbalance finally screamed at me by pulling the fascia (connective tissues) away from the bone of my foot. Ouch! My plantar fasciitis only improved once I began incorporating corrective exercises and lifestyle changes into my lifestyle. This was key: lifestyle changes that gave me the opportunity to move in a variety of ways and spaced out so I was moving frequently throughout the day. Some call this Natural Movement, or as Biomechanist Katy Bowman says, Nutritious Movement. Sounds yummy!

(please note: there are other things I did for my plantar fasciitis that are not mentioned here that are personal to my health. Please know I’m not saying this is the only thing one should do.) Even if you are experiencing the same symptom as someone else, the cause can be different, as well as the suggested corrective plan.

What is the moral of the story here? There are always signs, or hints if you will, whispering (or screaming) at you that something is off (whether it be via nutrition, physical, emotional or environmental). Hopefully you’re a quicker learner than I am. Or not so hard of hearing.

The cause of any symptom could be from any part of the body and what we do with it, particularly our life-long habits (psst. shoes. psst. standing posture. psst. how you walk. psst. walking on cement. psst. anything and everything). The point is, the systems within the body do not work independently from each other. Honestly, I find it overwhelming and at the same time insanely mesmerizing. Riiiiigghhht?!? Your cardiovascular health can influence the amount of stress you put on the body, which influences your hormonal levels, which influence your quality of sleep, digestive health, and so on. And vice versa. Yikes! So what on earth should you do? Patience you must have, young padawan. 

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Your body is smart. Not just smart, it’s crazy smart. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface in my personal education on how clever-pants-McGee it is, yet I do know one thing…

Your body is smart. Oh wait, I already said that. Okay, here’s another: Your body sends out all sorts of signs before sh** hits the fan. What do I mean by sh**? Hmm, how about fatigue, pain, numbing, swelling, twitching, disease, weight gain, skin changes, foggy head, and so on. Sadly, I would experience one or more of the previously listed symptoms on a daily basis as a professional athlete. I also experienced them as a Yoga, Pilates & Spin Instructor. Have you? 

Your body is trying to tell you something is off with a clever SOS signal: You’re going to be SOL if you don’t listen to what’s going on in here. Hello? Can you hear me? Seriously, am I just having a conversation with me, myself, and I? Fine, if you don’t want to listen, it’s cool, I’ll just tear some tendons apart or stop secreting this vital hormone. Ain’t no thang. Then you’ll be wishing you had paid more attention!

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You might be asking yourself (I sure do), why can’t I hear or see these SOS signals for what they are? And even if I can miraculously recognize one (or 20), how do I know what they mean?

There are several factors that cloud one’s perception of health. Let’s call it the static, crackling “White Noise” of your lifestyle. And me-oh-my, there’s a lot of white noise out there. Here are just a few I can think of: 

  • Habitual movement patterns
  • Dehydration
  • Stress levels (wherever the stress may come from)
  • Over-training
  • Environmental toxins
  • Lack of nutrient dense foods
  • Processed or refined foods
  • Medication, antibiotics
  • Lack of varied movement and frequency
  • Stimulating foods like refined sugar and caffeine
  • Lack of personal accountability
  • Lack of motivation or purpose in one’s life

Each of these “white noise symptoms” can negatively impact our daily energy levels, athletic performance, mental clarity, ease of sleep, overall happiness, and in all honesty, quality of life. Wow, that’s some serious business. Are there any on this list that you think might influence you

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White noise is like the looming fog that gets in the way of you seeing the lines on the pavement while driving along the freeway at night. It distracts you while wreaking crazy havoc on your sense of internal balance, ultimately setting you up for injury or illness. Trust me, I know this…I grew up in Fresno, it’s scary driving on foggy roads! 

The problem is, most of the time we don’t even know we have white noise in our life. We don’t recognize the fog for what it is, we don’t even know where it comes from. We’ve never driven without it. We’ve never actually seen how clear and sunny it can be!

It’s time to lift the fog and discover how far we can truly see.

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