Cindy came to CES due to low back and SI joint pain but has discovered so much more value in her membership. She is a great example of peeling back the layers of the onion, as Anna says, objectively taking in all the information and making it work for her. Cindy has been awesome about sharing her discoveries with the group, whether it’s how she's organizing the wealth of info from the program, a “Wednesday Win” of a strength goal, or, the team’s favorite, likening the moderators to librarians directing everyone to the appropriate information. Most recently we cheered her on for her videos from MomFit 5 and the great upper body strength gains she demonstrated. Let's hear more from Cindy about how she made the journey from pain to strength.
Tell me about your family -- if kids, how many and their ages, what you do for a living, or anything like that you are willing to share with the world.
I am married with three teenagers, ages 17, 15, and 13. I am a full-time clinical audiologist and know the ear very well.
When and how did you find Core Exercise Solutions and the team? When and why did you look for it/had you tried anything previously?
Core Exercise Solutions came across my Facebook feed. I initially explored the free resources available before diving into a membership 2 1/2 years ago. Some of it is a blur, so I may not have events in exact order. I was running, and my ultimate goal was to run a half marathon. I was having SI joint and low back issues. I saw 2 different PTs who noted APT and that I was right leg dominant, and they gave me stretches and exercises primarily for glute strength. Both mentioned needing to increase core strength but they didn’t really address it in therapy. Both indicated I could return to running, which I did, but issues quickly returned. I also worked one-on-one with a friend who is a Pilates instructor. She is a runner and knew my goals and issues, and she tailored our Pilates sessions with that in mind. I joined at a point where I felt very broken. The SI joint and low back issues were relentless no matter what I tried.
How were you feeling physically/emotionally when you started versus now?
Physically, I was in pain. My SI joint would throb in bed, waking me from sleep. I never knew when my low back would flare, taking days/weeks to recover when it did. Emotionally, I was at the end of my rope because everything I tried, including just rest, was not working. I just wanted to not hurt anymore. I still have my SI support belt hanging in my closet. I relied on that to get me through the day 2 1/2 years ago. I have thought about getting rid of it, yet at the same time, it is a good reminder of how far I have come.
What programs have you been working on?
Currently I am working through MomFit 5. I have also done some of the rehab in Pelvic Floor Perfect, Diastasis Fix, and Happy Hips. Honestly, I took different pieces from each program, like putting pieces of a puzzle together. Hard to imagine one program without the others. Anna B was such a good guide, helping to apply modifications or detours as I went along. When I would get frustrated, she was good at describing how various movements linked together or were similar. I went through PFP and DF at somewhat the same time, alternating between workouts, and then HH eventually replaced PFP and I continued with DF for some time to really build core strength. PFP, DF, and HH really help lay a strong, interlocking foundation.
What did you expect when you started?
I had participated in a couple of other online exercise programs over the years, and expected exercise routines to follow along on my own.
What were you surprised about?
Breathing, and the focus on our breath! I was surprised when Sarah Duvall contacted me personally asking me where I needed help, within days of joining. I was watching the instructional videos on breathing and honestly was a bit overwhelmed. I quickly realized I was a shallow breather. It was a huge piece of the puzzle.
What has helped you most in your journey?
Posting videos for feedback! I was slow to post videos. I’m not a selfie taker, I prefer to be behind the camera taking pictures of others. I would encourage others to be vulnerable. This is a safe place. And post especially if you are struggling. I struggle with poor body awareness. My least favorite question is, “where do you feel it?” I have learned it’s okay to say I’m not sure. I rely on visual feedback, and it has been a learning curve to even know what to look for. For my day to day workouts, I use 2 wall mirrors which I reposition throughout my workouts as needed. After about a year here, when I had worked into MomFit 1 and 2, I took about a 6 month unplanned break. Coming back, I posted some videos and soon realized I wasn’t where I had been when I left off. On my own, I decided to restart at the beginning, and it was the best decision. While working through the rehab portion the 2nd time through (PFP, DF, HH), I committed to posting videos nearly every week. The feedback and modifications made all the difference in my progress. Let’s face it -- neural re-wiring is hard! Yet I learned that those small changes add up over time. I’m so impressed by how the experts meet you where you’re at and truly personalize the program for you.
What were your goals when you started? Goals now?
Initially, my goal was to get back to running and ultimately train for that half marathon. Letting go of my running goals was hard. Yet gradually, over time, my running goals turned into goals of getting stronger. My goals right now include progressing into MF 5 and really focusing on upper body work, including more scapula gliding and less scapula winging.
Women often come into the program with the goal of running again. Can you tell us more about how your goal changed from running to pull ups and handstands?
As far as moving from running goals to CES goals, I think it was a combination of not wanting to be in pain anymore and a bit of fear in not wanting to re-aggravate things. I also looked at the return to running test and quickly realized I wasn’t there yet. I will admit I do not get the same endorphins from CES work as I did with running. However, as more time passed I really found the progress with CES rewarding, especially trying to tackle the re-wiring part. CES can sometimes be as much mental as physical work. I can’t even number the times I thought I would never “get” a certain movement, only to have the pieces fall into place with time, patience, and willingness to explore various approaches. And most recently, working through MF, there’s something to be said for being 49 and starting to work on handstands and pull ups! Things I have not done since my middle/high school days.
I’m pretty far from doing a pull up but it’s a good long term goal, kinda like that half marathon goal. I had other PTs who had previously told me I was ready to run when I wasn’t, so over time I learned to trust Sarah and knew if I couldn’t pass the running test, I wasn’t where I needed to be to start running again.
What did you actually experience?
My goals changed over time. My experience here has truly been a journey, both physically and mentally. I’m thankful for those who picked me up when I felt broken. And those who pushed me to keep moving forward. I’m thankful for the experts here. When posting initial videos I was unsure what to post, and Anna B said post everything, we will sort it out. Best advice ever. Sometimes what I thought was irrelevant or insignificant was what really helped unravel pieces to make better progress. The team here truly is incredible, everyone! The time spent and attention to detail is amazing. All done with a caring attitude. The humor mixed in along the way is great, too.
Anything else that you feel would help women who are dealing with the same things? Anything that would have helped you along your journey?
Take it one step at a time. Progress can be slow, but it is still progress. For me, it was helpful to use Anna’s melting point analogy. An ice cube doesn’t turn to water until it reaches past the melting point of 32 degrees. Aim for the melting point. One might start out at 20 degrees, and it may be an up and down journey from 20 to 32 degrees. Keep aiming for 32 degrees and know that each degree warmer is one step closer to the melting point.
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Dr. Sarah Duvall, PT, DPT, CPT and the CES Team have helped thousands of women create the strength and stability needed to overcome common and not-so-common pelvic floor issues.