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three books that changed my health

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“The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion” – Pete Egoscue

When I was 23, I suddenly lost the use of my left leg and was in tremendous pain. (I say “suddenly” because the pain literally just appeared one day. I know now that it was years in the making.) Back surgery “fixed” me, gave me back the use of my leg, and alleviated the pain. But I was now living a life full of fear. I was scared stiff (literally) that the problem would come back. After four years, it did. I panicked, ran to the surgeon and he suggested a second operation. I woke up from that operation with pain like I had never felt. NOTHING got at that pain. I lived with it for every second of every minute of every day for two years, all the while going 3 times a week to traditional physical therapy. I visited every specialist I could find, took every kind of injection available, and then finally in total despair, decided to have a third back surgery. THANKFULLY, before the surgery, my neurosurgeon recommended that I read the above-mentioned book. I devoured it. It made more sense than anything anyone had ever told me about my back. I immediately booked a flight out to California because I wanted to meet the author. The pain was so intense that I actually don’t even remember how I managed to get through the airport or how I got through the 6-hour flight. All I remember is Pete Egoscue glancing up at me and saying, “there’s nothing wrong with you.” I (OF COURSE) started to cry and very desperately explained that yes, yes, there really is something very wrong with me! “My muscles are completely locked and the doctors say it’s because my spine is so unstable,” I said. He threw a box of tissues at me and then proceeded to tell me all he knew about me just by looking at my posture. (I thought it was a bit harsh, at the time. But now I know that it was exactly what I needed.) Everything he observed about me … down to the fact that I used to ice dance … was true. I was used to doctors being very kind and compassionate with me and treating me like I was permanently broken. I was used to “oh, you poor thing. You’re so young!” Instead, he said, “you’re fine. Just do these exercises.” I no longer felt quite so broken. I did the exercises. And in three months, I was back to running trails.

I have since learned the very important connection between stress, emotions, and my muscles. I can feel my back issues creep back up when stress really kicks in. But then, I just call up my Egoscue therapist, get a new menu of exercises, and I’m back on track.

Egoscue.com

 

The Truth About Beauty Photo

“The Truth About Beauty” – Kat James
We are so harsh on ourselves. We buy into extreme makeovers, “no pain no gain”, injections, and hardcore efforts all because we want to look a certain way. But in reality, harsh beauty treatments and extreme weight loss programs are assaults on our bodies. It’s taken some time, but over the years, I’ve been learning to focus my attentions away from crash diets (oy, I’ve been on them all), diet foods (ugh, I went on slim-fast at age 10), and harsh beauty products (my dermatologist and I used to have quite the relationship!) and to instead work on nourishing my body. The blessing that comes with a health crisis (and dealing with intense back pain for a long, long time was a definite health crisis for me) is that you suddenly become aware of how precious your good health is. Although I learned how to fix my back, years of dealing with pain left me worn out. I’m not one to accept defeat, so I started searching for ways to feel better … which I believe is how I came across this book,  7 years ago or so. The author talks about “upgrading” your foods and what it can do for your health. “Low-fat,” chemical laden processed cookies? Or fresh strawberries with full-fat greek yogurt and a sprinkle of raw sugar? The latter being the “upgrade,” bursting with taste, full of nutrients, and packed with good fats. I began “upgrading” everything I was putting in my body and putting on my body. So many of the small annoying problems I had just accepted as part of me — bad acne for one — slowly starting fading away. I haven’t seen the Dermatologist in years. And while my food bill is now higher than it’s ever been, I no longer have to buy allergy medications (I identified and removed my food allergies from my diet), don’t have to buy Retin-A and the whole arsenal of skin products I used to buy, and I save HUGE money by making all my own chemical-free cleaning supplies and detergents. In the end, I think I’m actually saving money : )

I pulled up this interview with the author and think it’s pretty great …

 

your bodies many cries for water photo“Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” – Fereydoon Batmanghelidj

We all know that we need water in order to live. I knew that. But I didn’t like the taste of water. Somehow, at a very young age, I became hooked on diet soda. I fell in love with Diet Dr. Pepper and would drink huge quantities of it every day. It was my coffee in the morning. I actually craved it when I would go out running. I’d come home, open the fridge and start chugging away. (Ew, I’m cringing now as I type this!) By the age of 19 or so, I knew that I needed to stop drinking diet soda. I was reading articles about the link between aspartame and cancer and I really did want to be more healthy. But no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t kick the habit. I lived in Montreal for a while and I couldn’t find any place that sold Diet Dr. Pepper. I actually convinced the store closest to my work to start carrying it … just for me. (Cringing even more.) One day, I was in the waiting room at the Egoscue clinic and began reading an excerpt from the book, “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” and I was fascinated. It hit me like a ton of bricks … I’m definitely dehydrated. (Funny, since I never felt dry in the mouth or “thirsty.”) I bought the book on my way home and read it in one sitting. The next day, I followed the recommendation for how to kick a caffeine habit. Drink your regular quantity of the caffeinated beverage along with 8 glasses of water and an additional 2 glasses of water for every 8 ounces of caffeine. I was floating! I hadn’t EVER had that much water. The next day, I woke up, picked up my diet dr. pepper, took a big swig … and then turned around and spit it out. All I tasted was chemicals. I stopped for a moment (in total shock) and then realized that my mouth felt dry. I drank a big glass of water and it tasted amazing. And just like that, my body had been reset. I haven’t touched a drop of diet soda (or regular soda for that matter) in 7 or 8 years. And I LOOOOOOOVE water : )

 

Life is all about learning and growing. I’m beyond grateful that I came across these books. In a strange way, I’m actually grateful that I had a health crisis at such a young age … some people don’t have any kind of health crisis until later on in life. But with a crisis comes the desire to make changes. And with a crisis comes tremendous appreciation for simple things … like being able to walk through the grocery store without pain. Suddenly life is even more beautiful because you realize what a gift it is and how it needs to be cherished.

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