The definition of exercise is activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness. I would assume that for most if not all of us, this is the reason that we put aside time and space in our lives for this – to make improvements. However, for many, exercise doesn’t always live up to its goal. I have personal experience with exercise doing the opposite of creating the desired results and have lived the frustration of putting time and money into something that took my health and physical appearance in the opposite direction.
Back in my late teens and early twenties, when I was in university to become an Athletic Therapist, I was working out in the gym with weights, running, aerobics, stair climbing . . . basically I was trying whatever I could to change the size and shape of my body. Little did I know about the breath at that time, and how trauma could impact not only how I felt in life, but also my metabolism.
Years of forcing myself to work in the extremes only led to a body that became more compressed, toxic and full of pain. As the weight continued to accumulate, I tried harder to shed the pounds, only to be continually frustrated. I would see women in the gym that were doing the same things as me, their bodies representing my dream, but no matter what I did, I was left feeling defeated and frustrated, and ultimately resented my body for not surrendering to my efforts.
It was when I began Yoga that my eyes opened to the significance of the breath. In my first class, the instructor reminded us to breathe every 30-45 seconds. It fascinated me that each time she mentioned it, I caught myself holding my breath. I was still in the mindset of forcing my body, rather than relaxing and allowing my body to move into postures in a way that are healing and rejuvenating. This was an eye opener that revealed much about how I was in life in general.
That experience combined with the anxiety attack that I mention frequently where my breath was blocked from fear, created an awareness that I was compelled to understand. This began the journey of moving into my tissue with my hands, and that in literally 2 days of effort, created a positive change to the size and shape of my belly, where I stored most of my excess weight.
I came from a family that was very focused on appearance, so losing weight was always top priority as it played with my insecurities. Very rapidly, as I worked in my abdomen and focused on diaphragmatic breathing, change was happening. This was probably one of the most joyous times in my life. I finally felt that I was gaining control of my body and that I was putting in efforts that were not only changing the appearance, but also how I felt inside myself.
Looking back, I can see how trauma was the instigator to slowing down my metabolism. When I was 17, right when the weight started to accumulate, I had experienced a trauma that took me away from my life plan. It was self-induced and it shook my foundation to the core. I can see how that locked my system in a state of fear that directly impacted my ability to breathe as I had prior to that moment. Not knowing then what I know now, the decline of my health, my physical appearance, as well as my mental state, all became sealed in the state of my fascia as my breath became compromised. As I write this, I want to go back to that young, damaged woman and let her know it will all be okay.
For some, exercise does the trick. The efforts put in result in the goals attained. However, for many, like me, if you have had traumatic experiences that impacted the breath and put you in a state of freeze, your efforts may take you to places that are worse than if you didn’t exercise at all. You may experience challenges with pain as your body is working hard, yet not receiving the fuel it needs to support cell health. As well you may find yourself compressing at a faster rate, adding bulk to your body in places you don’t want. Both can add frustration to your life, creating even more tension and compression, exacerbating the entire process.
If you put time and effort into anything, you are doing it to get specific results. As far as your body goes, in my opinion there is nothing more important than to put time and effort into your health. No one can do this for you, but if you are stuck in a fascia pattern where your breath is compromised, your efforts can take you into places you don’t want to be.
If this resonates with you, take the time to understand your breath and to use this beautiful muscle to assist you in making the gains you want to see. By turning on the body’s energy source through conscious breathing, everything changes for the better and results become something you can celebrate along the way.
Listen to this week's episode of The Fascia Masters below.
Breathe & Believe,
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