Our Breakthrough Spotlight Member for November is Lala! She is such an inspiration and an example of how prioritizing self-care and recovery can make all the difference in getting out of pain, and getting stronger!
BREAKTHROUGH: Thank you, Lala, for being our Spotlight Member for November! I wanted to have you share a little bit of your story because you had an injury many years ago, and it can be quite a challenge sometimes to figure out how to take care of yourself when you are dealing with pain. But you’ve been doing such an awesome job of balancing your training in the gym and using recovery tools outside the gym. Can you start with sharing how you were feeling before you started training here earlier this year?
LALA: So before I came here, I pretty much struggled on my own. I love exercising and I was taking barre classes for quite a few years, five times a week and just constantly dealing with pain. So, I thought it would be a good idea for me to strengthen my neck, which is where my injury is. I started to do my own pull-up progression, which, in retrospect, I am realizing was all wrong.
BREAKTHROUGH: Oh no!
LALA: So pretty much for the last 17 years I’ve been in constant pain. And in November of last year, I completely stopped going to the barre classes because I just could not move anymore. I think when you are in pain all the time, you just kind of forget. It becomes a part of reality, like this constantly nagging sensation, so I kind of ignored it for a while and pushed through my barre classes anyway. It wasn’t really working so I took two months off. And did a lot of just bed rest and whatnot and got better. I thought it was all fixed and went back to the barre class and within the first few minutes, I re-injured myself. My husband has been coming here and he recommended that I give this place a shot. I did and, I have to say, this is the best that I have felt in the last 17 years. So, I think this is working really, really well.
BREAKTHROUGH: It is amazing to see your progress.
LALA: Thank you!
BREAKTHROUGH: I remember when you first came in. You saw the kettlebells, and were like, I am not going to touch them.
LALA: Pretty much! Oh no, this is not happening! But secretly, I desired to do this. But I thought it was somehow years and years away.
BREAKTHROUGH: Right! When I think of some of the things you are doing now – and you know, we have to be cautious, obviously, but when I think of some of them things you are doing, I can’t believe that you have achieved some of the things as quickly as you have!
LALA: Me neither!
BREAKTHROUGH: When you first started, we were basically doing lower body only – nothing using your arms. We were doing swings and squats using the weight belt. Now you are doing regular swings and squats and all this stuff – just getting after it!
BREAKTHROUGH: That is pretty amazing to see. The other thing that I think that is super cool is that you have really embraced a self-care routine. And this is one of the main things that I wanted you to share about. Because, so often, it kind of feels like it takes a ton of time to step aside from your day and do a little bit of rolling and check in with how you are feeling. But you have been doing that. I feel like this has been a huge key to you making this progress. Prioritizing recovery.
LALA: Absolutely! Yeah. And I think that self-care is just one of the things we kind of push to the side. It is the last thing on the priority list, I think particularly for women. Everything else comes before that. But when something starts to work, you just do it. So I noticed that a lot of times my mind could be preoccupied with something, but I get this sensation in my body that says you should just go do that. And it doesn’t take that long of a time. So, I have been using Alpha balls and the OG balls and the Coregeous ball. Sometimes when I have the opportunity I do it several times a day. At least once or twice I roll out my back. I think that has been monumental in getting me better. Just to release all the spasming in my upper body.
BREAKTHROUGH: Yeah! For sure. And these Yoga Tune Up balls are not expensive tools, and are easy to use.And you are doing this yourself. I think that is a pretty powerful thing too – to know that you don’t have to rely on someone else to make you feel better.
LALA: Nope! It is better than a massage! I think it is better than a massage. Because you can control exactly how hard you pressing, you can reach just about any point, you can stop anytime you want, and it is always accessible to you. You can do it just about anywhere – at home, at work, on an airplane so it is really handy!
BREAKTHROUGH: I am just so happy that you are as big of a fan as I am!
LALA: Me too! That is one of the amazing things that I have discovered by coming here is those tools.
BREAKTHROUGH: That is so great! So one thing that we like to hear from everyone that we sit down with is what is your “why?” What keeps you connected to a deeper reason for prioritizing your health and fitness?
LALA: I have been thinking about that myself. I think it is just a physiological affect of the endorphins that feels really good. I am a therapist, so I constantly talk to people about self-care. And how difficult it is to prioritize that, but we must do that. I feel that working in my field, it is not a luxury, it is pretty much a necessity. If you want to be able to continue to do a good job with your clients.
BREAKTHROUGH: Yeah, that is important! And you have a pretty high stress job, I would imagine. So it is important to take good care of yourself so you can be present for other people.
LALA: Absolutely! And I also think there is just a sense of accomplishment in just coming here. And walking through the doors. Every time I walk out, I feel better.
BREAKTHROUGH: Awesome! That is exactly how we want people to feel! We want you guys to leave feeling better than when you came in. Anything else you want to share?
LALA: I think one way or another we sustain trauma- childhood, through growing up, or as adults. We carry that weight in our bodies. The interesting thing about coming here is that, it is funny that I am in my 40’s and I am learning to do this – but I am learning to stand tall. My whole life I curled my shoulders and I think that was part of the reason why I got injured in the first place. Now I am more focused on my posture than ever before, for health reasons and because it feels better. But I think there is also a physiological effect in releasing some of these assumptions that we make about ourselves and carry in our body. So I have broader shoulders now and I stand taller, and I feel better just because of that.
BREAKTHROUGH: That is amazing!
LALA: Which is a big deal!
BREAKTHROUGH: That is a huge deal! Pain and trauma can get stuck physically in the body, and sometimes when people start training they discover things they didn’t know were going on.
BREAKTHROUGH: That is not always a comfortable thing to do, to take a look at that stuff. Our “why” at Breakthrough is because we know that making some physical changes, feeling stronger; more confident in stuff that you are doing physically that can lead to other changes. Maybe you are going to walk a little differently, you are going to stand taller, you are going to maybe get rid of some assumptions that you don’t need to be holding onto.
LALA: Absolutely. And most importantly I think it allows you to preserve your functionality. I think when people are younger, they go to exercise at the gym for vanity reasons because they want to look a certain way. But I think as you get older, you are like, oh the beauty is not that important. To be able to take care of myself as I get older – that is a lot more important! So I think that functionality – it is empowering to know that you do more today than you did 6 months ago.
BREAKTHROUGH: Sure! That is a huge thing. Huge! Any goals you are excited to achieve now that you are swinging kettlebells and doing all sorts of things that you weren’t sure you would do?
LALA: I just want to continue on the same trajectory even if there are setbacks and I have to scale back. I am ok with that. I think I am achieving my goal just by showing up and being here. There is just such a sense of gratitude in waking up and wiggling my neck and saying, oh my God, there is no pain! That all by itself is wonderful.
BREAKTHROUGH: It definitely is!
LALA: And I would like a pull-up! It doesn’t have to happen in the next couple of years but I would like to be able to do one pull-up! That would be awesome. That is my dream.
BREAKTHROUGH: You will do it! We will work on making it happen slowly but surely. Thanks so much for sharing all this with us, Lala!
LALA: My pleasure!