Year End Health Reflection- Part One

Hello, friends! For several years I have been listening to the Move Your DNA podcast with Katy Bowman. At the end of each year, she answers a list of questions (adapted from Robin Blanc Mascari’s “Completing and Remembering” list) that are designed to help you reflect on your health and movement experiences of the past year and look forward to what you’d like to accomplish in the next. This year the podcast asked it’s listeners to contribute, so I sat down to reflect on my own answers. My answers to the 2018 questions are posted below, and I will post the 2019 questions tomorrow. If you want to listen to the podcast, you can do so here. I’m thrilled to be included alongside some inspiring and thought-provoking answers from the Nutritious Movement community.

1. What was your greatest health triumph in 2018?

Changing my feet without even trying. Because the group fitness classes I taught this year were all performed in bare feet (and in the case of City Surf Fitness, on an unstable surface), I saw major positive changes in my foot function and shape. I have been working on this for years and using correctives to move me forward, but simply changing my exercise environment to a barefoot one made a huge difference.

2. What was the smartest health or movement decision you made in 2018?

Starting a self-myofascial release practice. Part of the push to do this was taking a Corrective Exercise class at GSU that taught me the proper way to use foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and other tools to relax overactive muscles. I carried my knowledge into my own practice and now teach a weekly recovery class at City Surf Fitness to pass the knowledge on to others. I’m also working on my NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist Certification to further deepen my knowledge.

3. What single word best sums up your 2018 health or movement experience?

Bubble-bursting. I left a long-term relationship in December 2017, and it drastically reduced my resources- financial and otherwise. Up until that point, prioritizing my health and fitness was as easy as swiping a card. I attended boutique fitness classes whenever I wanted, shopped at Whole Foods, and religiously drove 90 minutes both ways to collect spring water. This year I have learned just how difficult it is execute these practices with little resources. It has changed the way I look at motivating and educating my clients, helped me reduce waste, and forced me to learn how to better stack my life in a way that helps me accomplish my health and fitness goals.

4. Greatest lesson you learned about health in 2018?

Your environment is the greatest influence on your health. I love exercise and am a huge advocate of training to help achieve a goal, but the impact of one hour of exercise (or anything else) doesn’t come close to the impact of those other 23 hours in a day. Learning to shape my environment (from shoes, furniture, and terrain walked on to people I surrounded myself with and content I consumed) has been hugely transformational this year.

5. What was the most loving service you performed in 2018?

A family friend offered to pick up my child once a week so that I could teach an evening fitness class. In exchange, I offered to come play with her children outside on another evening to give them some movement-rich, non-screen fun. This was really a loving exchange, rather than I loving service, but I think it is my favorite action of 2018 because often it has involved other families as well. This step toward creating a supportive community that encourages movement has been transformative.

6. What was your biggest piece of unfinished health or movement business in 2018?

Performing in the Atlanta Kick Aerial Silks showcase. Aerial silks has had a huge impact on me because it allows me to move creatively and has helped me to move more intentionally (you have to when you’re way up in the air!). I was very sad to have to give it up in the beginning of the year as I adjusted to a new lifestyle. I was able to come back to it for several months in the summer, but I wasn’t able to commit the time I needed to to perform in the showcase. I will definitely be finding a way to incorporate as much creative movement (and hopefully perform in the next showcase) in 2019.

7. What health or movement goal are you most happy about completing in 2018?

Olympic lifting. I took a Strength Training & Conditioning course this year which taught how to properly coach and progress Olympic lifts. Our lab each week had us actually performing the lifts and coaching our fellow classmates. By the end of the semester I had successfully executed a Push Press, Push Jerk, Split Jerk, and Hang Clean with weight added to the bar. I completed a Snatch with the bar. I was proud of my commitment to learning these skilled movements and my patience with myself as I progressed them safely. It doesn’t hurt that pushing a loaded barbell over your head makes you feel like a badass.

8. Who are the three people that had the greatest impact on your health or movement in 2018?

  1. My professor, Pete Rohleder, who is a phenomenal educator and approaches both movement and education with a much needed unconventional perspective.

  2. Jill Miller, whose book the Roll Model helped deepen my understanding of fascia and excite me about educating others.

  3. My son, who is a constant driver for me to seek out new movement opportunities and ways to integrate movement into our everyday lives.

9. What is the greatest health risk you took in 2018?

Increasing my social media use. This seemed inevitable as an entrepreneur, but I have learned how to make it work better for me after taking inventory of just how much I was using it and how negatively it was impacting my mental health.

10. What was your biggest health surprise in 2018?

How much my cultural conditioning was affecting my mental health. I spent a lot of time with a therapist this year working through how I had landed in an abusive relationship. I realized that the messages that have been reinforced through societal/familial expectations had created a people-pleasing, validation-seeking person I didn’t like very much. Seeing this conditioning helped me work against it to become who I wanted to be.

11. What important relationship improved most this last year?

The relationship with myself. Prior to this year I’m not sure how much of a relationship with myself I even had. I was a great mom, employee, friend, girlfriend, etc, but I rarely spent time with or for myself. This year I’ve made myself much more of a priority.

12. Compliment that you would have liked to receive but didn’t?

This one was hard. I would have liked my hard work for others to be acknowledged more, but the fact that it wasn’t has actually led me to make myself and my own endeavors (business or otherwise) a greater priority, so I am thankful that I didn’t necessarily get what I wanted here.

13. What compliment would you like to have given?

This year I created a six week program for clients at City Surf Fitness which focused on addressing imbalances and educating participants about exercise on a deeper level than they would normally receive in a group fitness setting. I complimented them as a group often, but I would have liked to give more individual attention to each member of the program. The open mindedness, commitment to learning, and dedication to growth I saw from each person was amazing, especially in the face of cultural conditioning that tells women that the purpose of exercise is to be skinny and attractive.

14. What else do you need to do or say to be complete with your health in 2018?

I need to zoom out and look at how much I’ve grown. I think part of my health journey this year is appreciating that change takes time, and that not all aspects of your life will be optimized at once. I focused heavily on my mental health this year and did not see as much improvement in my physical health in years before. This has been frustrating at times, but if I look at the whole picture I can see that I made tremendous progress and that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Look for the rest of the list tomorrow. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your answers! Feel free to comment below or drop me a line at saraellen@movewellatl.com