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The art of listening

I had to learn what it meant to listen to your body. The journey was rigorous and extensive, and I still struggle on a daily basis. It takes patience. Some days I don’t want to be patient. Some days I’d rather be brash. Through silence and breathing, I learned a lot about myself.

In high school, I was a dedicated cross country and track athlete. All I wanted was to compete at a Division 1 college. This led me to focus more on my diet which included not eating sweets or spicy chips.

My junior year I made the decision to stop eating dairy products because it made me bloated and I wanted to have abs. At that time, I also limited my gluten consumption because my mom had found out she was celiac which probably meant I was too. According to Celiac Disease Foundation, Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.

Because I made these small changes to my diet I had noticed that my skin cleared up, I was getting abs and overall just felt better. From there I slowly started focusing on my diet more but it wasn’t perfect. I was still eating things that I didn’t know I should have in limits, like eggs.

All of my hard work paid off and I did become a D1 athlete at Long Beach State University. In my freshmen year of college, I ran for the cross country team. That phase was short-lived because I suffered from an intense IT-band injury. I had only made it through half of the season.

I’d wake up in pain from my leg cramping. I could barely walk upstairs or around campus. I was sent to physical therapy with the team’s sports therapist. Every day they’d ask where I was hurting but I was so overwhelmed with school, sports and the pain that I really couldn’t say.

They’d tried everything. I remember the day I was cleared to run. I was so excited to run even just a mile on the grass. But within a few days, I was injured again.

I quit the team and my leg never fully healed.

I spent the following two years not exercising, just stretching. Every time I tried to exercise, the pain would come back.

Stretching was the only thing that grounded me. At first it hurt, my body groaned and ached but eventually, through every breath there was a release.

After a few years, I could finally exercise again. I could then pinpoint exactly where the pain came from. The pain was an accumulation of all my past injuries. It all stemmed from having tight hamstrings, a weaker left hip and stress. During this time I had also pinpointed that I was intolerant to dairy, gluten and eggs.

Before I wouldn’t eat certain things purely for aesthetics and I’d run through the pain because that’s what I was taught. It wasn’t till my injury that I had finally thanked my body for all it had done.

The injury muted me from hearing my body. Every day I try my best to listen to what I need mentally, physically and emotionally. It took years to find my rhythm again but I can hear it loud and clear now.

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