From Here to There: Part 2

Melissa and I have been talking for quite some time about sharing our personal stories of the two paths that led us to Thrive. I promised that after she posted her brain surgery story, I would follow suit, so I'm keeping that promise. I must be completely honest and tell you that I am humbled by her strength and determination - my story is far less dramatic! But many of you may share some of these common threads-I know my journey is not unique. I hope your journey leads you to the same place where we came together - a place to not only live, but Thrive!

For many years I've struggled with pretty significant health issues-asthma (that was never really under good control despite a ton of medicine), hypertension (I've had high blood pressure for years), allergies to everything-foods, cats, dust, cleaning products, makeup, lotions, shampoos (you name it, it makes me itch, swell or sneeze), unexplained joint pain (severe pain -the kind where you can't stand up), skin cancer (melanoma twice and several other less-serious kinds) and on and on and on. Despite the fact that I felt like I was pretty functional, I never really felt good. There was never really a day I didn't have pain and I never really felt in control of my health or my body. If I'm going to be completely honest I should say, that as I got older and ever closer to 50, I started to feel like I didn't recognize my body at all. Things were changing that I didn't like. I've never been overweight, but I am hardly the size two I was when I was in my twenties (am I even supposed to be a size  two at 5'8' and 48 years old?) I couldn't sleep at night, so I wasn't well rested. I don't know about you, but I can get pretty cranky when I only get a few hours sleep a night! I slogged through my days foggy and tired. Always tired. And always feeling pretty terrible.
Me a few years ago - feeling terrible.

During a routine physical, my dear doctor friend Joan and I discussed symptoms, pains and concerns. I was so completely frustrated, and knowing me for over 20 years, she recognized this was all becoming completely overwhelming. I've literally had every test, seen all types of specialists (who prescribed all sorts of medicines-a ton of them) and tried all sorts of exercise (joined the gym, lifted weights, home videos, 30 minute circuit training). Shouldn't I feel GREAT by now? Shouldn't I look GREAT by now? The only thing that made any sort of difference was a yoga practice that I had adopted a few years prior (with a wonderful instructor who taught me a ton) but it wasn't enough. What else could I do?
This many medicines - too many side effects!

So my doctor suggested a plan, but I had to commit to doing it. 100% doing it. It was basically simple, but meant big lifestyle changes. BIG. The plan included seeing a nutritionist to take a look at my diet, working with a trainer who could assess my medical conditions and formulate a fitness plan just for me, and reducing the stress in my life. SURE. SURE. I could do all that. Here's a tiny bit of what I learned:

Nutrition- My diet was pretty good, sort of. Since asthma, allergies and arthritis all have inflammatory components, eliminating gluten from my diet was a must (WHAAAAATT??? I love bread, pasta, carbs!!!). And night shade vegetables were bad too (I didn't even know what these were!). In a nutshell, the whole plan became about eating REAL food - meats, vegetables and healthy fats that keep your blood-sugar level and really nourish your body. No packaged foods, no preservatives, no chemicals, no sugar that wasn't natural sugar, no dairy. Things like eating breakfast - not just drinking coffee all morning- became mandatory. Ugggg.
My nutritionist made it easy -recipes, shopping lists, shortcuts. I read a lot, learned a ton, then I started doing it for real. Better planning, grocery lists, healthy crock pot meals - whatever it took to make eating better. And (here's a big one) I had to eat MORE. Not eating enough was actually hurting me. The other huge thing I learned about was water. I needed to drink it. A whole lot more of it than I was drinking. The fizzy kind counts (Polar is one of the few seltzer brands with nothing bad in it) and tea counts. Diet Coke doesn't. This was harder than I thought. I now have notes on my desk that say "drink water" and reminders in my phone. Water keeps your metabolism up (which when tested, I found out mine was barely high enough to supply my organs with what they need, let alone do anything else!)
There was much, much more, but you get the idea.

Pilates personal training- This is when I met Melissa. I knew immediately she was the right one to work with. Her easy, gentle personality and RN background made me feel comfortable. She did a whole body analysis and came up with a plan to begin the work I needed to become strong again. My upper back literally didn't move. My ankles were super weak and turned in, and my hips were very tight and stubborn. We worked together privately and in yoga class for 6 months and I made steady progress. And I felt better. Really better.
Stott Pilates Reformer with Melissa - she's a beast.

Then I got hurt.

The short version of this part of story is, that while attending another class (that was out of my league) with a trainer who did not recognize my limitations, I fell and broke my ankle (fibula) all the way through. Major setback - 16 weeks in a boot and crutches. Lesson learned. I was in the wrong place working with the wrong people. Very bad news.

The very good news was Melissa's path was also changing at the same time. As doors were closing, new ones were opening, and we began to imagine Thrive.

What if there were a place - one place- where people could go to explore getting well? People of any ability and with any condition who want to exercise (without judgement). What if we had several kinds of classes that, in combination, could address many different needs- yoga, Pilates, barre, private Pilates training like I had? Could we offer a line of natural products that have no chemicals and preservatives?  How about essential oils and Bach Flower remedies that can lift the spirits, calm the nerves and provide emotional support? What if we could provide nutritional guidance that is accessible and convenient? What if we could teach people that they can become strong, ease pain naturally, de-stress their lives and be really well?

The rest, as they say, is history. I designed the look, logo, the sign and our initial marketing materials. Melissa applied for the LLC, set up a bank account, got the equipment and a million other little things. We built a website, a blog, painted and decorated the place and opened the doors. This week, we are launching the new line of Thrive Essentials natural products - look for them in the studio for February! In the near future, we envision the essential oils and Bach flower remedies becoming available. The nutritional component and Reiki services are on the horizon as well.

As for me, I no longer need all that medication. My asthma is well controlled, my pain is virtually gone (except when Melissa kicks my butt in barre class!). I sleep well, and I am not exhausted all the time. My ankle has healed and I am back to being able to do whatever I need to do for my body, which does still include yoga, Pilates and barre class several days a week. Disclaimer: I do still complain about it at times, and I do still drink wine whenever I want to, because after all, I still have to be me!

Whatever led you to Thrive, we are glad you are with us now! Melissa and I hope that you will take whatever steps, big or small, that you need to begin your own journey towards wellness. We are so pleased to be a small part of it! Our experiences are all unique, but we can support each other on the journey. We can all be stronger, healthier,  happier, kinder and more understanding. We can all Thrive!

Health and happiness,


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