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Excuse Me, But Are You Lost?

Lisa Folden 10 comments

Have you ever been lost driving somewhere? I’m sure we all have. It’s an incredibly humbling, frightening and/or stressful feeling, right? Failed GPS, no map and you’re all alone. Much like being physically lost, feeling emotionally lost can take a toll. Feeling completely lost is like acknowledging that everything you’ve planned and worked for is withering to dust and being blown away by the wind. The direction you imagined your life moving in seems so very different than your reality and you feel powerless to do anything about it.

 

I’m not ashamed (not entirely at least) to admit that I have felt that way…as a matter of fact, I’m feeling that way right now. I’m feeling defeated and completely overwhelmed. While this is not out of character for a mom/wife/business owner or HUMAN, for that matter…it is a little odd for me to feel this way while I am so close to reaching some major accomplishments and fantastic business moves. I should quite actually, be very HAPPY and very positive right now. I think I usually am, but I’ve got to be honest and say that I’m not feeling it today.

 

So, I’ve decided to just go with it. Sometimes I believe we dismiss our negative thoughts before we understand why we’re having them. And instead of taking the time to move THROUGH them, we choose to ignore or temporarily bury them.

 

The truth is I’m not feeling happy or bubbly or excited, because despite my progression, I feel a little lost…as if the things that I’m doing to move to this “next phase” of my life are futile and insignificant. I’m sure (somewhere inside myself) that they’re not, but I’m having a hard time believing it at this moment.

 

I, like many of you, have been going full speed ahead leaving very little time to assess my feelings and deal with them head on. So, that’s what I’m doing now…and encouraging you to do as well. Considering what’s going on in our world right now it’s not far fetched to think that you or I may be carrying some extra anxiety, stress, anger or even fear around with us. As much as I may try to avoid news stories on television and online, I am very much aware of what’s happening and it is somewhat depressing. Pile that on top of whatever other genuine personal stress you might be juggling and that is a recipe for a mental or emotional breakdown.

 

So, lets all just STOP, for one moment…take it all in…and then LET IT ALL GO. Take an inventory of the problems you CAN address versus the problems you CAN’T and make a decision to dedicate a small amount of time or action to each of those that you can and leave the others to prayer and someone else’s capable hands. We cannot all be activists for ALL things. Quite simply put, choose your battles in life and fight them strong. But leave the rest of them to other soldiers.

 

In the midst of your challenges, remind yourself that it’s okay to be upset (though I’m still learning this myself). I occasionally feel a deep sense of regret when I get angry and want to curse or scream. I suppose having a conscience about those things can be good, but I’ve also found that sometimes you may need to scream, curse or punch a punching bag to reduce the stress that is inherent to you if you walk this earth long enough. And I think that’s okay. As long as you leave that stress right there and bring yourself back to a place of peace, I believe you have done something healthy…for you and for those that share your space. Get it out, let it go. Pray, cry, yell, stretch, write, run…whatever you need to do…but don’t allow that toxic energy to spend an extra minute festering in your soul.

 

Most importantly, when you think you’re lost and at your absolute worst, just know that you are STILL quite awesome and amazing. In case you haven’t heard it in a while, tell yourself now, “I am awesome, I am amazing and I am enough.” Though you may FEEL it (and those feelings are valid), you are not lost, you are right where you need to be right when you need to be there. Take it ALL in, then push some of it away, adjust, address and LIVE. Your spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health are completely dependent upon it.

**Ends pep talk to self and steps off of soapbox.** 😉

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Self-Reflection: Trying to Figure Out My Fitness

Lisa Folden 6 comments

I just celebrated my 35th bday! A milestone of sorts I suppose. As many of us do on our birthdays, I spent some time reflecting. Reflecting on the year, my life and goals. And unfortunately on the fact that 35 was the last birthday that my dad got to celebrate. When he passed suddenly in 1998, it hit us like a ton of bricks because he was a pretty healthy guy. My dad was in the fitness industry and made exercise and good nutrition a regular part of his life. He was actually awarded the bodybuilding lightweight title of Mr. Michigan in 1989.

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Talk about big shoes to fill, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong…I don’t have any significant medical conditions, but I am struggling severely, with my fitness and weight loss goals. This is something that I have a very hard time admitting. I’m the self-proclaimed “PhitMom,” daughter of a former bodybuilder, licensed physical therapist, wellness coach and STILL more than 35 pounds OVER what I believe to be my ideal weight. What’s worse is the number of “before” mirror selfies I’ve taken in an effort to show my “amazing results” when I finally “get it right.” Instead, I’m facing the hard, cold reality that I’ve GAINED several pounds since my last picture. It’s annoying and frustrating at best.

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The simple truth is, while I highly value physical activity and good nutrition, I frequently over-indulge in things that are directly counterproductive to my goals. For example, I will order pizza for the family and instead of one or two slices, I’ll have FOUR. My digestive system will pay for it later but like clockwork, I’m doing it all over again the following week. It’s literally the definition of insanity…I know. I’m sure that I’m not alone on this BUT as a health care practitioner and advocate for fitness and wellness, I feel an incredible sense of failure when I allow these things to offset my goals and purpose. I KNOW that I can do better! I HAVE done better! So why is it so hard right now?

 

That question has been plaguing me for MONTHS. And I FINALLY sat down to figure it out. Initially, I went with the obvious….I’m a wife, mother of three small children (emphasis on the “small” for exaggerated sympathy…lol), a business owner and still an average, normal human being with typical desires, wants and weaknesses. I have to make time for all of my roles and still keep in mind my spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health. Addressing all of that requires alone time, family time, husband time, friend time, prayer time and work time. Where exactly is all this “time” coming from? But other women in my shoes manage, so? Maybe its because of my IUD increasing my appetite and decreasing my ability to burn calories. Is that even possible? 🤔 Or maybe it’s depleted energy from not sleeping as deeply as I should and not taking my supplements right now. There are so many “probable causes” to consider and all “reasonable excuses,” right?

 

Let’s be clear though…it is LIKELY all of those things in any combination plus additional factors that I’ve failed to identify or mention. But what I’ve learned in my self-reflection is that it doesn’t matter what’s keeping me from being my best self…all that matters is that I act IN SPITE of those things. I have to make a conscious effort to take each and every day as a new and seperate challenge and attack it as such.

 

I’m a pretty routine based person, so I have to be practical about my fitness and exercise routine. It has to be ON MY CALENDAR. I need to SEE it, set an alarm for it and create the type of accountability that inspires me to get it done. But that alone, isn’t enough. I have to somehow address the wiring in my brain that tells me that exercise is tiring and tedious. It needs to be something that I look forward to again. I know the benefits but it seems as if once I start feeling “out of shape” I no longer take pleasure in exercise. I imagine that this is how many people feel and why it can be so challenging to get back on the bandwagon with exercise once you fall off. But we have to keep moving!

 

If exercise were the only (or even biggest) issue, We’d probably all be in decent shape, right? But since nutrition likely accounts for more than 70% of weight issues, we simply can’t ignore it (anymore). And when I say we “ignore” I don’t mean that we avoid it because we simply want to eat whatever we choose…but because it can be such a TOUGH undertaking. Just look around…there are sooo many diets, cleanses, shakes, wraps, supplements, teas and the like! How are you to pick what’s best for YOU without spending a ton of money, wasting a lot of time and compromising your health with strenuous nutrition regimes? I am still struggling to answer these questions for myself…but what I DO know this far is that I have to approach my nutrition from a very basic and practical position. Simply put…I need to eat REAL food at least 80% of the time and leave all the boxed/processed foods to a small window that accounts for 20% (or less) of my diet. This “resolution” is far easier said than done but I’m up for the challenge.

 

Additionally, I have to combat another mindset that I have fostered over the years…and that is that food provides SIGNIFICANT pleasure. So much pleasure that it is actually WORTH my health. Sounds ridiculous when I say it (or type it) out loud but that’s EXACTLY what my actions are saying when I CONSISTENTLY choose 4 slices of pizza or I eat 6  cookies or I skip the salad and order a large platter of fries instead. It doesn’t matter what my mouth is saying…only what my actions are showing. Food is good, don’t get me wrong but there is definitely something to the idea of eating to live versus living to eat!

 

By far, the most important thing I have to do is GET OUT OF MY OWN WAY! This idea seems pretty abstract so let me make it plain. Simply put, we often paralyze our progress by comparing ourselves to other people and failing to acknowledge our own efforts! I know this from experience. When you find your emotions surpassing “pride” and going beyond “inspiration” while you’re watching someone else’s fitness journey, be careful. Because what comes next can be envy, jealousy, anger, self-loathing, embarrassment, disappointment and other not-so-happy emotions. You never want your wellness/fitness experience to come from a place of low self-esteem plagued by incessant internal complaints asking why you don’t look like “her” or how much better “he” is than you. We should all be proud of every little accomplishment and motivated by others and ourselves, to keep going but NOT to do or be like someone else. This thing has to be personal and I would argue that it has to be much deeper than what size pants you wear. That, of course, is assuming that you want this for the long term…to inspire your children and others around you to live better, to honor God by taking care of and using your temple for His glory and for the purpose of enjoying every second of life. But those are MY goals. I only recently identified them but doing so has given me a new understanding of my journey and because of it, I believe that I can and will truly see some tangible changes in the way I feel, look and perform in the near future.

 

I hope that you too, will see the changes and progress that you are seeking. As you go along YOUR journey, let me leave you with a few points that I believe will help you. Remember, this is based on my own reflection of my journey…but hopefully it can serve as a guide for you to begin (or continue) your own process.

  • 1. Identify your goals…not just weight and size…but your “WHY.” The reason you want to lose weight, gain muscle, improve energy or endurance…what is in it for you, for others and how will you use your new found health in a positive way?

 

  • 2A. Identify your hurdles or barriers…the things standing between you and your goals. This can be mindsets (usually, the bulk of our hurdles), people, habits, schedules, hair styling options (my fellow naturalnistas know what I mean😉) and MANY other things. Figure out what’s standing in your way and come up with a feasible plan to eliminate and/or avoid them. For example, you may have to decide that late night TV watching is no longer a priority…so instead you’re in bed early and up early to workout before work. Whatever it is, decide on a strategy to overcome it and JUST DO IT. ***WARNING: This process may take MANY trials and errors. As with any strategic process, you may not figure it out the first, third or seventh time…but DON’T GIVE UP.***
  • 2B. While you’re doing all this identifying, take this opportunity to also consider some outside sources that may aide you in your journey. This might be trainers, therapists, nutrition programs, coaches, fitness apps on your phone/tablet, accountability partners, etc. I’ve seen some jaw dropping results from people who have joined a fitness movement and stuck with their program. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with buying into these programs…as long as you do your own research and find something that is sustainable for you.

 

  • 3. Lastly, stick to the plan that best works for YOU (remember you spent a lot of time figuring it out in steps 2 a and b). And avoid comparing your process to anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter that you are losing weight faster or slower than your friend or that your cousin is gaining muscle faster than you or that your spouse is losing inches more quickly than you. What matters is that you are making a conscious decision every day to do and be better and that you are fueled by your own personal goals.

 

Maintain your laser focus, but stop along the way to be inspired by others and also to encourage someone else in their process. Appreciate where you are (whether you’ve come a long way or not) and acknowledge that things could be far worse than they are. Let your journey be positive and full of light. But most importantly, let it be YOUR journey.

 

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My Daughter CAN: A Mother’s Resolve Through Disability

Lisa Folden 26 comments

img_8474I was sitting on the sideline watching my daughter participate in her dance class. This is her first year and all dressed up in her leotard and tights, I realize she’s growing up so fast! All mothers say that, I know. But I promise, she really is. Her mannerisms are so mature…her jokes are beyond her years…even her speech seems advanced for a three-year-old. Looking at her now, you might not know about her small struggle entering and acclimating to this world.

 

Addyson is my second child…born full-term and weighing in at 8 lbs 15 oz! After delivering a 6 lb 7 oz baby girl less than two years earlier, Addy’s size was quite the surprise. I can remember the delivery so clearly…so different from my first. My epidural stopped working a few hours in and the pain was so unbearable that I called for additional medication TWICE. I wish I could have been able to bear through it but I gave it my very best shot so I’m okay with that. Hours later it was time to push and I was ready. It took quite a while to get her moving but I did and finally, her head was successfully out. Unfortunately, that is where things got complicated.

 

Basically…Addy was stuck. Her shoulders were so broad that it took several minutes and strenuous pushing to finally birth her completely. I recall looking up a my OBGYN…a seasoned man with well over 20 years of experience bringing babies into this world…he looked absolutely terrified! This obviously, did not ease my mind…but it did motivate me to push like my life (and my baby’s) depended on it! So I did and by the grace of God, she made it. My doctor later confirmed what his facial expression meant…he said that he’d performed tons of deliveries but only a few stuck with him. He said that mine was one of those. He wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to get her out before irreversible damage was done. 😳

 

The joy that my husband and I felt was overcast by worry and concern when Addy was quickly taken away to be evaluated as opposed to being brought to our arms. Apparently her left arm wasn’t moving and they needed to determine why. Now, you have to understand…as a physical therapist with a heavy focus in pediatrics, I was still pretty calm. I realized that if her arm was their biggest concern, we were extremely blessed. Situations like mine could end in far more difficult conditions such as cerebral palsy or even death. My husband, on the other hand, was not quite as relaxed. He didn’t get to hold his baby girl or cut her umbilical cord. He was watching me through the most unbearable pain that I’ve ever felt. He was essentially helpless when his identity and purpose revolve around providing protection and security for his family. It was a challenge to witness.

 

After Addyson was checked out, it was determined that she had Shoulder Dystosia due to Erb’s Palsy from the excessive force needed to pull her out. Nerves on the left side of her neck were damaged causing her left arm to be paralyzed. Without imaging (MRI) it is impossible to determine how much damage (stretching versus severing of the nerves) has actually occurred and subsequently, how much return of function you can expect to see over the course of a child’s life. It was up to intensive physical therapy (provided by yours truly) to see what would become of my baby girl’s left arm.

 

We worked long and hard, saw multiple pediatric neurologists, considered surgical intervention, followed-up constantly with our pediatrician…and three years later, here we are. She’s in dance class. She’s taken a few trial classes of gymnastics. She can write, cartwheel and use both of her arms…ALMOST equally. She’s right handed…although I’d be willing to bet that she would have been a lefty if she had been able to fully use her left arm early on. 🤔

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She has acclimated quite well, almost unaware of her very mild disability. As a therapist and mother though, it was important for me to make her knowledgeable and well educated on her diagnosis…not to limit her potential but to encourage her to see beyond it. A dear friend/Sorority sister of mine sent me some great books to read to Addy that discussed issues common to children affected by Erb’s Palsy over the course of their lives. We’ve read two books in the four book series and Addy seems very comfortable with the topic already. My daughter really CAN do anything other kids can do…but if you look closely, you can see her left scapula (shoulder blade) poking out of her back with the slightest left arm movements. The muscles that hold her shoulder blade down are extremely insufficient. You might also notice that raising her left arm above the height of her shoulder requires excessive recruitment of other muscles which leaves her looking a little ‘lopsided.’ Additionally, she has issues with supinating her left forearm (turning her palm to face the ceiling) and overall, she’s just much weaker on that side. Considering these things, we still work on exercises to challenge her left arm and upper back strength, but we are proud beyond belief. She’s come a long way and we are teaching her to avoid placing limits on herself.

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Addy’s situation is a common one and while the effects are far less devastating than navigating through a condition that could limit her ability to walk, talk or even breath…a disability is STILL a disability. And it can hurt everyone involved. Struggling through the “what-ifs” and the “whys” and the “hows” can be emotionally draining and overwhelming. Advocating for your child with physicians, therapists and other healthcare professionals can be exhausting. I have experienced this from both sides as a therapist and a parent of a child needing specialized care. Some people literally give up…the burden is too much to bear and other relationships become strained. It’s no wonder that the divorce rate for parents of children with disabilities is far higher than the general population. It takes a very resilient mindset to lead your children to success, most especially when they have a disability. And it takes a truly committed person/couple to maintain other factors in their lives as they help their children. It’s easy to get consumed and lost in your children’s battles, neglecting your spouse, friends, other children, work and mostly importantly, YOURSELF.

 

So as as I am still embarking upon this October challenge to encourage and help women to STOP and take care of themselves, I offer some specific advice to women/moms (and men/dads) that have children with disabilities…both physical and mental.

 

First and foremost, TAKE A BREAK. Yup, get some respite care either weekly or monthly where you have the freedom to go out (or sleep in) while someone else manages your child(ren) for you! You are no good to your child if you are sleep-deprived, stressed, unhappy and lacking joy.

 

Next…research and advocate for your child. Make sure the health care professionals that you have on your “team” have your child’s best interest at heart. Don’t be afraid to get second or third opinions and always speak up. Ask questions and stay up on current research so that you know what things might be available to help your child and your family as a whole.

 

Third, be a committed member of your child’s team. Once you feel comfortable with the “village” you have in your child’s corner, take their advice seriously. Accept that they each have an area of expertise that you do not possess and follow through on their recommendations and instructions. They can only be as helpful as you are serious.

 

And lastly, avoid further disabling your child by discouraging them from the next challenge, no matter how big or small. If the idea of speaking sounds far fetched for your child or walking or rolling over independently or even competing as an Olympian one day…SO WHAT. Let them keep at it. There’s a difference between being realistic and killing dreams. Children are quite tenacious and they are truly forces with which to be reckoned. Their unlimited capacity to dream is what makes them successful and why they seem to recover from the most difficult blows in life. So, as a parent, your role should be to encourage and support their dreams as much as you can and within reason. And be there to wipe their tears if/when they fail as well as to celebrate and jump for joy if/when they succeed.

 

Every child is unique and their struggles are individualized. This is no different for the child with a physical or mental disability. All life has value and if you were chosen to guide a little person through life managing a disability of any type, consider yourself called to a great and high purpose. Remember, to whom much is given, much is required.

 

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Yes! You Can Achieve Your Fitness Goals!

Lisa Folden No Comments

Tell us what it is that you want to do. What is limited mobility, strength, fitness, flexibility or motivation keeping you from? Decide WHAT you want to do and let US help you figure out HOW to get it done.

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Do you want to run that marathon or 5K?
How about mastering the next level of yoga poses?

Are you simply wanting to pick your grandkids up and go for a walk?
Maybe you want to get healthy before or after pregnancy?

Whatever your GOAL is, we can help you achieve it.

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Physical therapy and wellness services to meet ALL your goals. We understand the importance of living your best life…treatment plans designed uniquely and specifically for YOU. Call us to set up an appointment. 704-462-6720.

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