Posts Tagged ‘health’

As I slowly opened my eyes, feet dangling beside the fireplace and spooned up next to my cat I looked out the window in a dazed confusion.  It’s sort of light outside… is it morning, evening, raining?  Why do I feel so tired? Am I really napping?!

I could blame it on Vegas, and most people would understand that – or on how I just recently wrapped my 8 month season of coaching.  Maybe it is the high of winning and the inevitable release that follows.  Or it could be the training… yep I’ve been doing more than usual…

But I know the truth.  I could notice how my circumstances might affect me, but I don’t believe that energy is a limited resource.  Like the sleeplessness and lack of hunger that new love joyfully creates, energy comes from a fire within – a purpose.  And while I have achieved many goals this year, I feel like I’ve been evading making some decisions with intention.

The thing is that my life is amazing.  Truly it is.  Every single day this year I loved waking up, going to work and I loved being in the gym.  I couldn’t ask for a better roommate and my family is one in a million.  My relationship has changed and grown, giving me a chance to discover pieces of who I am and what I am made of.

And the thing that I’ve been struggling with, that I feel has sapped my energy, can be slotted into one simple question “What do you want to do”?

And I guess I am stumped by this question most because I feel like I have figured out a lot of important stuff this year –

I know who I want to be

  • somebody who is my word
  • who believes that anything is possible for anybody
  • wildly creative
  • committed to the health and wellbeing of myself and everyone around me
  • somebody who inspires others to live their dream

I also know what I want to create in my future:

  • A healthy body and mind
  • Success in beach volleyball
  • A job that I love and that allows me to use all of my talents
  • An amazing relationship that is exciting, challenging, unique and creative
  • A beautiful and blissfully happy family that contributes to making the world better

What I am missing is the details of this.  How do I do this? How much money do I want?  Where do I want to live?  Who do I want to live with? How will I be spending my days?

My friend just started writing a blog, and he truly inspired me to consider declaring what I want and letting the universe take it’s course.  The thing is that I’m not exactly sure how to figure out how to get to what I want.  I seem to get many amazing and unexpected opportunities, and it feels so easy that I wonder if I am letting life happen to me or if I am the driver. I know my starting point, I know my ending point, but it’s the stuff in between that I get confused about.  Do I look 10 years down the road and choose a job that gives me that future, or do I do what I love right now, and trust that will take me exactly where I need to go?  This isn’t a hypothetical question, by the way… I’m looking for insights and ideas, so please share!!

At the end of the day, the more I think about this stuff, the more I know in my gut that there is nothing to figure out.  Trying to figure life out is causing me to feel like a different person than I am.  I feel like this process has taken the spark out of me and I’ve been dragging my feet, rather than reacting to life’s unexpected gifts and ideas.  So in knowing this, and also having to make some decisions – what is the balance?  How do I decide what is right, and an even bigger question would be… is there such a thing as right?

And maybe, just maybe this has nothing to do with making a decision or figuring out some far out purpose.  Perhaps my life will just keep giving me what I need to learn something about myself that I haven’t discovered. And right now it feels like an enigma but as soon as I learn, it will all make sense.  What I have noticed, above all, is that whatever decision I have made in the past few years has always ended up being about self discovery.  And maybe that’s the whole point… more to come as I figure this one out 😉

I read a few quotes about decision that resonated with me and I’m going to post them- feel free to add any comments or email me about your thoughts!

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.  ~William James

A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.  ~Rita Mae Brown

It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.  ~Roy Disney

You’ve got a lot of choices.  If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you’re not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice.  ~Steven D. Woodhull


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My story of miraculous healing is one that I’ve told very few people.  Maybe it’s because I think that it seems to “out there”, or maybe (and more likely), I still struggle to believe that it happened to me, because it doesn’t make sense and I can’t explain it at a physical level.

In April 2009 my 2nd pro beach season started.  The previous year my partner and I had been extremely successful and so we began the season ranked #1 in the AVP qualifier.  I had spent most of the offseason training like crazy for the big year I was predicting.  To take my game to the next level, I decided to throw out all of the training methods and principles that had taken me to this place, and replace them with a new training method that I believed had the potential to take me to the top.  Looking back on this choice, it seems crazy.  What I was doing was working but for some reason, I was worried it wasn’t enough.

So April rolled around, and our season was starting in two weeks.  I was nervous, excited, unsure, and even though I’d been training like crazy for 7 months, I didn’t really feel  quite ready.  I’m not sure what the missing link was, but I worked harder.  And harder.  Like that was the answer…  I worked so much one week that while in the gym I was doing a really tough workout and something happened in my body.  It wasn’t much just this sense that I wasn’t in control of it.  Like I had met exhaustion.  After what I thought was the end of a brutal workout, a coach gave me one more drill to do.  I remember having this total repulsion to doing it, which was so unlike me.  But I did it anyways, because I thought that’s what champions did.

It’s probably not too hard to figure out what happened next – and I finished the workout with such acute pain in my left foot that I went home and iced 3 times.  I woke up and did the same thing, and continued that regime of icing 6-8 times a day for the next 3 months.  Sure, I couldn’t walk for the first hour I was awake, but if I was just a little stronger, more committed, and more strict about my diet then it would all be okay, right?  I called my injury “a little plantar fasciitis” (based on my internet research) and struggled through three of the most painful and frustrating months of my life, quietly trying remedies like massage and acupuncture to heal myself.

I don’t think that anyone can ever understand what long term pain can do to a person’s sense of self and their happiness until they go through it.  It was a dark time for me, where I felt hopelessly alone, and I alienated myself from my coaches, partner, friends and family because I thought I had disappointed them.  I can honestly say that there was not one person that knew what I was going through.  To me, injury was weakness and I was doing everything I could to prevent looking that way, including continuing to train 9 times a week and play a tournament each weekend.

The following September, after I finally told my mom what was going on, she insisted I come home to see one of the best orthopaedic surgeons in the country, Dr. Jack Taunton.  I found out that I had so many tears in my plantar fascia that the doctors stopped counting after 20– my plantar fascia had literally been tearing itself apart and was 3x the width it should have been as a result of my continuing to play on it. After getting that news, for the first time I allowed myself to truly feel the pain, the numbing, the throbbing in my foot and I cried for hours.  Less because of the diagnosis- although of course I knew that my life was about to change significantly.  There was this feeling of relief, that there was finally truth around this whole situation that really impacted me.  In finding out the truth, I had freedom to be honest about what happened last season, and in some small way, it gave me the opportunity to stopped blaming myself.

This all being said, with the removal of the blame I had put onto myself for having such a rough season, I replaced it with this belief that I deserved the injury.  I got very adamant that I SHOULD have gone to a doctor, SHOULD have taken time off at the beginning, and SHOULDN’T have changed my training program.  And I believed that because I had done so much damage, the path to health would be a long and steep one.  I bought into the prognosis.  I was injured.  I owned being injured like it was my name – I’m Leah, and I’m injured.  And I kept saying it and saying it – mostly to describe why I was back home in Vancouver, why my season had sucked and why I didn’t know what was next.  Because as soon as I said it I was off the hook and people “understood”.  It really gave me an opportunity to step back and just let life take me… and take me it did.

I underwent a new therapy called Prolotherapy starting in October.  It’s a painful injection of glucose into the site of the tears that stimulates inflammation and healing.  By February I had gone through 4 injections and had only a little bit of improvement.  I was frustrated a really resigned to the fact that nothing was working.  Then, things changed.  On March 1st, one day after the closing ceremonies for the Olympics (and, for the record, a 3 week Olympic sized walk/dance/stairclimbing fest), I woke up unable to move my foot.  It was totally numb to the touch, and I could feel nerve damage through the bottom of it.  It was the worst it had ever been and within a week I had a new diagnosis – I had retorn it completely, and had also compressed all of the nerve endings in my foot.  I was back at square one.

I’m not sure how to describe the next 24 hours except that it was the closest to depression that I think I am capable of getting to.   By myself I cried, yelled, blamed, fought.  And when it was all over, I just laid there, in nothingness.  It was as if every feeling had been used up and this extreme peace came over me.  In this peace, I began creating.  I imagined how health would feel, what it looked like, who I had to be to have it.  I got this really strong image of a sparkling white light, regenerating and healing my body with every breath in.  It was so clear that it felt real, like I was pulling it in from an outside source.

For the next four weeks I was a ghost to the people in my life.  I had one thing on my mind, and it was regeneration.  Every movement I made I was connected to the feeling of health, every morsel of food I put into my mouth, I imagined giving my body energy to heal, and during workouts, I would picture breathing in white sparkling light that would restore my foot back to health.  I can barely remember those four weeks because I was totally in the zone.  Nothing could faze me as I was on a mission – and I wasn’t attached to a specific result, just who I wanted to be in the process, and what I wanted to feel like.  My joy came from noticing what I was able to do in a workout, knowing I had a team of doctors enrolled in my recovery, in finding moments and opportunities to help my body heal just a little bit easier.  I had a newfound appreciation and love for myself, and I spent most of the day feeling very grateful.  Especially for the experience of being injured, as crazy as that sounds.  I decided and completely believed that I was lucky to have gotten injured.  It caused me to take a step back to reflect on why I play volleyball, to have the opportunity to take care of myself (because this injury was just a symptom of me not taking care of myself on a larger scale), and to truly connect with others once again.

I knew that no matter what happened or when I would be healed, I would be okay.  And then, at about five weeks, I realized something.  I hadn’t felt pain in a while.  In fact, I couldn’t even say when the last time was, as I hadn’t been paying attention to that, I had been paying attention to the process and had been so busy creating the feeling of health that I didn’t realize that it was already present! A week later I went to the doctor for an ultrasound and injection, and was shocked to read an email later in the day from Dr.Taunton “there are no visible signs of a tear”.  I read and reread it over and over. In six weeks I had completely healed my foot.  The impossible was possible.

I think that this quote signifies why my injury continued to persist for as long as it did…

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.”

Fulton Oursler

The second I let go of the past, and let go of the future, and just totally engaged myself in the moment… in what I could do right NOW, I was healed.  Was it the white light I imagined, or the massage, or the physio?  That had something to do with it for sure, but the truth as I know it is that it was about being okay with what is.  There was no other way than the way it was, and I appreciated that and worked with it.  At the end of the day, it’s about gratitude.  True, complete gratitude for whatever life brings us.  Because in accepting it all, a path is created where anything is possible.

The Guest House:

This being human is a guest-house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture.

Still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you

out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

–Rumi, “The Guest House”

Translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

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So about 10 years ago I sat in my seat, a stranger to almost every guest at the wedding, perm and bangs in tow watching the carwreck of a performance that the bride put on for the groom.  She was set to perform Christina Aguilara’s “I turn to you” – a romantic yet slightly cheesy ballad (perfect for a wedding) but after some technical difficulties decided to go with option #2- “Genie in a Bottle”.  As she winded her way down to the floor and implored him “you better rub me the right way”, I now have a permanent mental image and it haunts me!  Now, I’m not going to say that I would recommend this as a wedding day song today, but I actually think she was onto something with the Genie thing.  I mean, what if life was as easy as crossing your arms, twitching your nose and nodding?

I think that we all have things in our life that we literally believe and know can happen at any moment that we will it.  For some people, the second they want a boyfriend, they get one.  One of my best friends, May, literally decides that she wants a man, and he shows up – sometimes that very night walking down Granville street ;).  My mom always knows she’ll have a job – and as soon as one ends, she has another opportunity.  Another friend, Rachelle, can lose weight in a week.  She believes that if she stops eating one sweet a day, she will drop ten pounds in a week. And she does, and there’s no scientific explanation for this cause and effect in such a short amount of time!  For me, I always believe that things will work out.  And they do for me, and they don’t for other people that don’t believe that.  Which is what this blog is actually about.

Today I had 3 hours to get the following things done – wash and vacuum my car, go to my dr’s appointment (which took 1 ½ hours last time), exchange a gift, buy a gift, buy shoes, send 3 emails, do a load of laundry, pack, drive to the airport.  I spent about an hour last night figuring out how I was going to do it.  I looked at when stores opened, fastest routes etc and it literally was impossible. So Jill gave me some advice that seemed totally ridiculous.  She crossed her arms, twitched her nose, nodded her head and said “Genie It!”.


No.  Seriously Jill.

“Just say it will happen.  Don’t figure out how beforehand, just say it will happen and then do it”.

But how can I do it if I’ve just proven, with mapquest and timetables, and routes and schedules that I can’t- it is actually impossible?

“Just try it” she implored me.

So I did.  I actually just went to bed and “Genied it” because I knew and had proven on my little scrap of paper that my way wasn’t going to work.

I woke up today and went and did it all.  And I mean all of it.  With some time to spare for facebook and cleaning my whole room!  It all just worked out and I could go into detail about how time seemed to stop and everything worked out so differently and perfectly than I expected, but it doesn’t really matter. In fact, it didn’t matter what I thought was possible or how I thought I was going to do it- it just got done 🙂  See, great minds have been saying this all along and we actually have so much trouble conceptualizing it that we do and try and work instead of just declaring what we want and GOING.  Less talk more action right?

Like winning a  medal.  I have no idea how to do it.  Why?  Because I have never done it before!  I can ask people that have and experts in sport, but my situation, talents and experiences are unique and are never the same as someone else’s or anything in the past.  So, same as everybody else in this world, I am treading new territory. I can set goals and objectives, but can’t get attached to one way or how things “should be” or what I have decided is possible or impossible because I might miss the unexpected things that the universe will bring me to help accomplish my goal.

And I think we all have those things in our life that we decide are hard or impossible and that is the exact place that we need to Genie It!  And if you are resisting this idea right now and want to tell me how wrong I am, consider that you may want to start with “Genie-ing” that this theory will work for you!  Cause this theory isn’t about being right or wrong, it’s about finding an access point to “a whole new world”…. which I think is the theme song to a whole other genie movie, right?

Some of the great minds (and their wisdom)- enjoy!

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”

– Matthew 7:7

“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

“Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free beings admiring, asking and observing, there we enter the realm of Art and Science”

– Albert Einstein

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Paleo-Pup has figured it out!

Meet Izzy, aka Paleo-Pup… this is my coach, Brian MacKenzie’s pitbull.  She’s the sweetest, most gorgeous, and sickly athletic dog I know… I fell in love with her at first sight, and it goes without saying that we’ll be buddies for life.  I’m kind of hoping to get one of my own soon but until then, I get to puppysit!  I chose this picture cause I totally identify with her being injured- the difference is that I’m still nursing mine 1 year later and she was out of the cast and running in 2 months!

So why do we call her paleo-pup?   Well, her diet is clean.. I mean, super clean.  She eats only raw food, and it’s paleo style which means, in laymans terms, she eats like a caveman (or woman 😉 )  Now, I’m not going to get into the price and the inconvenience of feeding her, BUT today when I was sitting down with a nutritionist, it occurred to me two things:

1.  I need an intervention because I’ve been justifying cinnamon toast crunch as a “healthy grain” and

2.  I feed my dog, my plants and my lawn more purposefully than I do myself

This is coming from a girl who, without a doubt, has tried it all.  I’ve been a vegetarian… had to get woken up by my coach before every practice because I didn’t realize that being vegetarian meant more than eating vegetables!  I’ve done the Zone, measuring and weighing every ounce I put into my body, and filling my parents fridge with countless containers of  “1 1/2 portions of lettuce”, which is about 8 cups!!.  I’ve also done Paleo, where my bank account took a beating and I gained  20 lbs of muscle and lost 4% bodyfat in 6 weeks.  And then I sunk in the sand…  I’ve tried supplements, vitamins, protein shakes, chia seeds… you name it, I could tell you about it and exactly what kind of result you can expect if you do it.

And where does that leave me?  With a whole lot of information, and no plan.  So today I met with Orsha Magyar, who is a holistic nutritionist  (just because I know a bunch of people are going to ask… if you want to get ahold of her, phone 604-737-0799).   She was so practical, so knowledgable and so giving of her time – and gave me REAL advice about how to recover from this injury (anti-inflammatory foods), how to eat to perform both physically and mentally, and how to get the most from supplements.

So why am I blogging about this? Well, I started to think about how important our health is, and what awareness we have about what we put into our mouths.  Do we actually know what we are doing to ourselves?

For me, I have trouble prioritizing something that I can’t see.  Like, okay, if I want to lose weight, then I know I need to eat less calories, right?  So I know that I need to choose certain foods to accomplish that.  But what about some of the effects of eating that we don’t see… and that maybe we attribute to something else.  Is it simply coincidental that I was diagnosed with ADHD 2 years ago when I had cut carbohydrates out of my diet?  I had never had problems focussing, and all of a sudden I can’t keep my head in the game.  Or what about when we get sick?  Is it fair to assume that what we fuel ourselves with impacts our immune system, our ability to fight off sickness and disease?  So can it really be healthy to drink Diet Coke, even though it’s calorie free?

And does it make any sense at all that we know more about what is in our dogs food, or what type of fertilizer we need to use to grow better grass, than we do about what we have for lunch?  Now I don’t mean to have an intervention with everybody about what they eat because god knows I love a good piece of chocolate, but do you think, just possibly that if we saw our own body as a  powerful machine that we have control over, possible of anything from running a marathon, to having amazing healthy children, to fighting cancer, to aging beautifully and gracefully, to winning a gold medal in 2012, that we would change what we do?  I think that if we looked at ourselves this way, we only gave it the absolute BEST because we would love and appreciate it.

And it is impossible to stop at just our bodies if our mind shifts in this way.  Wouldn’t we then only expect the best in other facets of our lives?  Our dating lives, our marriage, our education, our jobs…  Because that which we do one thing, we do everything.  If we cut a corner in our job, what is the chance that we don’t justify cutting a corner with our relationship with our family?  When I lie to myself about what I ate in a day, don’t you think it’s likely that I’ve lacked integrity in another area of my life?  If I continuously honour everything over my own health (like deadlines, kids, job, drinking), then who and what will I attract into my life?

Our health is so vital to accomplishing anything in life.  We are more confident, strong, focussed, and energetic.  And I challenge anyone to tell me one thing that we do in our lives where that wouldn’t be a benefit.  And if that is the case, then why are so many people ignoring this part of their lives?   With this injury, for me, has come a lot of clarity, including the importance of rest and recovery (nutrition is a big part of this!).  Having goals and a plan for this aspect of our lives is as important as making a budget or investing money wisely.  And then honour it; honour yourself because without your health, your mental clarity, your fitness, you truly can’t enjoy the rest of your life! Most people can attest to the fact that our bodies will stop us and make us take notice one way or the other…

Let’s take a little lesson from Paleo-Pup.   She eats 4 times a day, exercises daily, naps, and cuddles often!  And she’s awfully happy 🙂 –  doesn’t everyone want to be  HAPPY?!

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”

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Badass Yoda knows what's up 🙂

Uggghhhh… my foot hurts. It’s been 10 months since I injured it and it’s still bad. I don’t know if I was hoping for this little miracle when I started doing prolotherapy on it, but it’s certainly been a slower ride than expected. This time off- albeit a forced break, although frustrating has done me a lot of good. I’m not even talking about the physical break, which has of course been something I needed, but I think this recovery time has done so much for me mentally. It reminds me of the people who get sick immediately following a big event, or the people who find themselves in a fender bender when they’ve been stressed out. Your body (and your life) will inevitably make you stop when it’s had enough or when a change needs to be made. When you are going in a direction that is unhealthy, unbalanced, and potentially threatening to your wellness, SOMETHING will always stop you.

In my case, I was super negligent with my health. I truly believed that the more I trained through my injury, the more food groups that I cut out, the more disciplined I was, the better an athlete I would be. As I’m writing it right now, it sounds crazy- and it was crazy. Every time my foot hurt and every time I woke up unable to walk, my strategy was to force it to be stronger and push through… and I did. I pushed and I pushed and my one tear turned into 5, which turned into, as the doctor put it “my plantar fascia literally tearing apart”. And my results? Well if I could sit here and tell you that I had an awesome season and that I was happy with how I performed then maybe there would be some method to my madness. But the truth is that what I wanted and what I actually got were so far from each other. In my desperation to make things better and to control what felt like a whirlwind of bad results, I kept doing the same thing, but more intensely. Crazy no?

I look at people in their lives outside of sport and I think it’s the same thing. In work, when we are struggling to do our jobs and to prove ourselves, what is our strategy? Do we try to control and push and force it to get better? Does that work or can people see right through this? Is there anything inspiring and excellent about a person who operates at this level, or is it more powerful to simply ask for help and admit when we are feeling overwhelmed? And in love, when you feel like you are losing someone, what do you do? Do you grip tighter, try harder, get jealous, analyse everything? I know for me that as soon as I try NOT to lose something, try not to make a mistake, try not to say the wrong thing, all of those things seem to happen! It’s common known in my sport that the best way to miss a serve is to try to not miss the serve! And I’ve also noticed that the second I don’t care whether or not I am dating I always meet somebody.

 My theory is that similar to fixing my bad season, the more I try the worse it goes. And why is that? Isn’t hard work the answer?

So here’s my final answer… it’s not about how hard you try- contrary to popular little league softball belief 🙂 it is about what you DO. As Yoda says, there is NO TRY, only DO. The focus can’t be on trying avoid a bad result, it has to be about what to do in this moment to get what you want.

For me 10 months ago, it would have been to take a couple of weeks off. If I hadn’t been so concerned about dropping points and placings, my action would have been to stop in order to heal and I would have saved myself hours of therapy and months of recovery. And I probably would have won more as I would be rested and healed. In a relationship if I wasn’t concerned about losing someone I love, I would act in the way that I wanted to experience life with that person, rather than doing things to prevent what I didn’t want to experience with them. There’s a difference right?

At the end of the day, what you think about is what you get. So instead of worrying about how I can’t miss a serve, I’m focused on placing it on the back line for an ace!

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