Imagine if the little tasks you do throughout the day — putting on your shoes, putting on your shirt, putting on your pants — took an hour. Can you imagine what your life would be like if it took every ounce of you just to dress yourself? Just to get out of bed in the morning? This is how I really learned about appreciation for my body and got into the gratitude of what my body is able to do and what I was born with: this capable, able-moving body. I’m so grateful, and I would love for you to also find gratitude for your body.
When I was in physical therapy school, I worked closely with patients with cerebral palsy and met a guy named Steve. He was 35 years old and couldn’t articulate his words, which means he couldn’t even speak. But he lived on his own. He couldn’t walk. Watching him get up and down from his wheelchair was one of the most painful things I’ve ever seen. It looked so painful. You just wanted to help him put on his shirt and his shoes. But he refused. He lived alone, cooked for himself, made his own bed, showered, and did everything by himself. And to know that someone who was born this way doesn’t see it as a limitation was incredible. He doesn’t let his body hold him back. He uses literally every ounce of his body — what he is fully capable of doing — to be able to move, to be able to live alone.
And yet, so many of us use the bare minimum. We sit around waiting for the pain to come. Oh, now I need to stretch. Now I need to do these corrective exercises. Why not take control now before you need to? Why not appreciate your body, love your body and be able to move into your body now? Living a life of longevity without pain should be the goal — and that starts today.
Growing Up With Movement
I am so grateful and so blessed to have grown up in a family that appreciated movement — it was how we grew up. My mom was a runner. I grew up riding my bike next to her while she ran. Then I was a gymnast. My dad went to the gym after work. We’d all go on family walks together. We went wakeboarding in the summer and skiing in the winter. Movement was just part of life.
Why wouldn’t you want to show your family that? Why wouldn’t you want to be that example for your kids? It’s a powerful force, being able to appreciate your body and say, “I’m not only grateful that I woke up today and I was able to take a breath, but that I also can move.” That is such a beautiful thing. Why wait until we’re in pain to take action? Why wait until you get an injury or until you’re in chronic pain year after year?
I have scoliosis and thoracic outlet syndrome (a condition that results in compressed blood vessels or nerves that causes pain, numbness and weakness). But I don’t allow these imbalances in my body to hold me back. Instead, I’ve increased my awareness about how to keep my body healthy and strong. By broadening our awareness, if we continue to learn and explore, we can defy our beliefs.
Harness Your Power of Movement
My goal is to empower you to take action of this one body that you were born with. You’re capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.
You don’t always need someone, like a physical therapist or massage therapist, to work on you. In fact, I empower my clients to work on themselves. They’re the ones taking action and implementing it into their lives. They’re the ones moving throughout the day, finding stretches they can do at their desk. They’re finding ways to get out of their pain on their own. They’re doing it, that’s not me. And you can do it, too.
So I go back to thinking about Steve, in his wheelchair every day, moving for himself, taking care of himself, and using every ounce of his body for what it is capable of doing. And why don’t we do the same? Why don’t we move more? Why don’t we get ourselves out of restrictions before pain happens? Before injury happens?
We’re capable, we’re able. We have it within our body. Our body knows how; it’s so in tune, if we take the time to listen. So listen to your body, feel your body. Please, just start moving.
Now in its sixth year, The Oxygen Challenge has helped thousands of participants around the world transform their bodies and their lives. This summer, we are bringing you two fitness experts focused on strength, empowerment and the mind-body connection: Jen Esquer, doctor of physical therapy and mobility expert, and Nikki Snow, international trainer and professional coach.
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