Flexibility is just as much mental as it is physical. It’s how you respond when things don’t go as planned, whether it’s a race day or an average day. How do you react when circumstances change? Do you waste energy freaking out, internalizing your stress? Or do you shake it off, go with the flow, come up with a new plan or take a different path?
When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and autoimmune thyroid disease, I wasted years ofmy life fighting fatigue, feeling sorry for myself and resisting slowing down. I dealt with the diagnosis by pushing through, surviving on coffee, sugar and painkillers instead of embracing the situation and giving myself the time and TLC to heal. As a result, my health got progressively worse.
Ironically, during those years, I was working in the health and fitness industry as an instructor at Canyon Ranch Resort Spa and later as the marketing director at The Maryland Athletic Club. I felt pressure to be energetic, fit and healthy, yet I was exhausted and sick. Little by little, I learned to accept my diagnoses and began to open my mind to new ways of thinking. I stopped teaching step aerobics and began taking yoga. I started to add in more self-care like acupuncture, chiropractic and massage.
The yoga experience was so profound, I soon took a YogaFit® teacher training and studied for two years to become a certified yoga teacher. I eventually quit my marketing job and began pursuing a full-time career in yoga. I continued to experiment with many healing modalities, self-care techniques and styles of stretching.
I founded Flexible Warrior in 2001 with the intention of bringing chillpower and flexibility to tight athletes. I was fortunate to teach yoga for a variety ofathletes and teams like the University of Maryland Terrapins Men’s basketball team and the Baltimore Ravens football team. I taught yoga classes for athletes and private sessions that attracted runners, triathletes, golfers and athletic students of all types.
Next, I filmed a series of Flexible Warrior DVDs produced by Spinervals. My coolest experience to date was helping Olympic athlete Suzanne Stettinius stay flexible and recovered while she trained for five sports leading up to the 2012 summer Olympics in London. I’ll never forget the moment while I was stretching her in my basement yoga studio when she said, “When I make it to the Olympics I’m taking you with me.” Cheering her on at the Olympic games was unreal.
Throughout all these fantastic experiences, I still struggled with my health. There were times I had flare-ups of pain and fatigue that were so intense I couldn’t leave the house for days. As a fitness professional, I was embarrassed, so I kept it mostly a secret. Only my husband really knew how bad it was. The self-care and healing techniques I learned were helping, but there was still something missing.
After a particularly long and painful flare up in the winter of 2012, I hired holistic health coach Kendell Reichhart at Natural Vibrant Health. She and I immediately clicked. I had seen dozens of doctors over a fifteen year span who only offered me antidepressants and painkillers to mask my symptoms. My intuition was telling me there was another way.
Although I thought my diet was pretty healthy, Kendell looked at my nutrition and suggested some big changes. Within months I felt much better and a year later my symptoms had improved so dramatically that I decided to enroll in school with Integrative Institute of Nutrition (IIN)® to become a health coach myself.
As I continued on my healing journey, I realized that the self-care, yoga and stretching techniques I was doing were also helpful for athletic clients looking to recover faster and improve flexibility. The anti-inflammatory superfood diet I was adopting was beneficial for everyone because it can prevent and even heal many diseases and reduce the pain and stiffness caused by inflammation.
It's not always about burning fat, finding a magic diet or sculpting a flawless body. It’s not about doing exactly the right stretches for your sport or eating a perfect diet. It’s about balance, experimentation and the kind of flexibility that can open up your mind and body in ways you’ve never imagined. Flexibility is power and freedom in how you think, how you move and how you eat.
Quote from that page in the my book is...
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free. And may the thoughts and actions of my own life contribute, in some way, to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
- Ancient Sanskrit Mantra