Hi! My name is Leanne, and I am the creator of Essentialize.
My relationship with my body has always been a bit complicated.
Being a sedentary, out-of-shape, overweight kid, teenager, and young adult…
…caused me to carry some pretty bad habits, thought-processes, and self-image struggles into adulthood.
When I was younger, all I wanted to do was be ‘lean’, ‘fit’, ‘skinny’, ‘hot’, or whatever words other girls were using at the time.
Eventually in my 20’s I hit my ‘enough is enough’ moment when I sat on the table at a party and cracked the glass tabletop into a million pieces.
Yea not my proudest moment…
…but it did light the proverbial ‘fire’ under my behind to leave my old habits behind and find a healthier way of living.
Using a lot of the ‘wrong’ ways, and some of the ‘right’ ones, I went and lost 1/3 of my body weight and got “the body I always dreamed of”.
Little did I know though — my biggest uphill battles were still ahead of me.
Flashback to 2008:
My anesthesiologist has me counting backwards from 100 as the surgical team gets ready to go in microscopically and remove the calcified, hardened disc fluid that had been sitting on my nerves for the past 8 months.
A procedure I endearingly call, the Cost of Skinny…
I was so focused on getting ‘skinny’ or ‘lean’ or ‘toned’ or ‘hot’ or whatever words ruled my brain at the time, that I didn’t pay attention or tune in to what my body needed and what my body was screaming at me to do.
If only I had listened to the screams from my body to “slow down!”, “chill out!”, “and while you’re at it, go eat a sandwich Leanne!”, maybe it could have all been avoided.
But I didn’t care! I just wanted to be skinny and beautiful. And no back pain or injury or pesky flare-up was gonna stop me!
Until it finally did stop me.
It didn’t just stop me—it landed me on an operating table at Cleveland Metro for major spine surgery at the ripe ol’ age of 25.
And life after that moment was never the same.
Don’t worry though — it wasn’t all bad!
In fact what (at the time) I thought was the worst thing that could have happened to me…turned out to be the BEST thing that could have happened to me (and to you, because it led us straight to this conversation right now.)
This forced me to reevaluate the WAY I was doing things, reevaluate my relationship to myself, my body, and my health, and find a better way.
Because what happened to me was:
I went and got really fit and able-bodied and lean…
…but I did it all on top of a really UNSTABLE and DYSFUNCTIONAL body.
As a kid I never went and created solid foundations in my body and nervous system (the kind of foundations that most kids acquire from playing sports, being active, and being a ‘kid’ — the foundations that never happened for me because of the couch potato habits I acquired instead).
Fast forward to adulthood when I went on my own weight loss journey — I went on it with a vengeance!
Once I had decided to “go for it”, I went from 0 to 60 in a matter of months.
★From a nearly sedentary lifestyle…to moving every day, sometimes twice per day.
★From little-to-no impact on my body and joints…to high-impact, high-intensity, calorie-burning exercise that was SUPER HARD on my body and joints.
★From little-to-no time, energy, and attention spent on my body…to OBSESSION!
I mean what I said: 0 to 60 in a very short amount of time.
And it wasn’t until a few years later that I realize there was a MAJOR COST to all of this!
My mind, heart, and body paid the price of it all.
Major spine surgery was one of the big payouts I had to make, but it didn’t stop there (and believe me, I thought that surgery would be the thing to ‘fix’ what I had ‘broken’).
Because it wasn’t my BODY that was broken.
It was the PATH I was taking!
It was my methods, my thought-processes, my mindset, and the INTENTION that guided all of my actions.
But it was all that I knew!
That it was about training FASTER, HARDER, or MORE.
That it was about calorie burns, pounds of muscle, or ‘metabolism’.
That it was strictly a muscles/fat conversation.
And that conversation no longer worked for me…and the ‘place’ that I was in my body. I woke up one day and I realized that I couldn’t’ do what I once could. Because now that same stuff seemed to be not only not helping me — but HARMING me.
There’s a cost to TOO much exercise, TOO much stimulus to your body, and TOO much stress to your nervous system.
★ My body was constantly in pain.
★ My joints, muscles, nerves, and spine couldn’t take it any more.
★ It seemed as if my body was breaking down….and at much faster rate than I could build it back up.
And to be honest…
This scared the crap out of me!
This led to my biggest fears of:
“Am I going to be in pain the rest of my life?”
“Is this going to keep getting worse?”
“What if I never find a solution/cure?”
“Is THIS going to be the experience of myself, my life, and my body?”
“Is this how it’s going to be FOREVER?”
“What about the rest of my life? My relationships, my work, my peace of mind, my FREEDOM?”
And I realized that my lifestyle and way of thinking around my body HAD to change if I wanted to live a long and fulfilled life.
On a mind level. On a body level. And on a brain (and nervous system level).
Only problem was:
The habits, rituals, and routines that I had at that time in my life (what I now refer to as “The Weight Loss Mentality”) were actually HARMING me more than they were HELPING me.
Not wanting to sit back and do NOTHING, I went and tried to work on my body using all the tools and methods I had at my disposal.
I knew there had to be a better way.
Here’s what my body actually needed back then.
★To be brought back to the basics — brought back to the essentials
★To have all the movement and sensory maps that all humans have the ‘potential’ to have but (in my case) never get developed if you grew up as a couch potato or with a sedentary lifestyle OR (also in my case) you ‘lose them if you don’t use them’. But the cool (and scientifically proven) thing is that you can retrain them, create them, bring them back to life.
★Focus on getting and staying pain-free first, then movement and function, then PLAY. Finding what I love.
And that’s what I believe you need too because…
Everywhere you go, there you are.
Your body goes everywhere with you, and you go everywhere with your body.
What you FEEL is what ultimately becomes REAL.
Not all movement is good movement.
Just think about how many steps you take each and every day.
Getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, walking to and from your car, moving around at work, you get the gist.
Then there’s all the moments you’re sitting, standing, and sleeping.
The maps of your body are always there — always ‘listening’.
There are certain movement patterns, muscle contractions, and joint actions that we are all born with — or at least have the POTENTIAL to ‘turn on’.
These are the same maps of potential that a baby has to develop into crawling, sitting up, standing up, and walking — we have them as adults too.
Just as easily as they can be developed by humans, those same maps of potential can also be LOST — you lose them if you don’t use them.
Now I simply invite you to take an inventory of YOUR current body.
Think aout every step, rep, and breath you take.
Are all of your maps ‘turned on’?
Are all of your maps ‘firing’ when you move?
Are your steps, breaths, and reps painful? Are they hard? Are they non-existent?
When something in your mapping system is not doing its job, that supercomputer that drives your mind and body is AMAZING, and it will send soemthing else in there to make sure the job gets done.
If a muscle isn’t firing properly to move a joint, it will recruit other muscles and movements.
If a joint isn’t doing its job, it will recruit other joints (and the muscles that move them).
When when these ‘understudies’ need help, your brain (nervous system) will do ITS job by laying down neural maps to get around the ‘traffic’ or congestion (aka the movements that are NOT happening).
In addition, it will lay down fascia (sticky, duct-tape-like connective tissue) to help those understudies.
Yup, your body is a friggen’ genius, because it has a genius calling the shots.
So now let’s come back to you….
If you’re in pain, or if your body simply feels stiff, tight, uncomfortable…
Not all movement is GOOD movement. If you go walk, step, flex, jump, run, stomp, or practice getting in reps on top of this UNSTABLE foundation, you are going to be creating and teaching and ingraining the ‘wrong’ kind of maps in your nervous system.
So here’s where I want to invite you into a NEW conversation when it comes to moving your body.
What if (just for now) you forget about typical movement, working out, or purposeful ‘exercise’ as you’ve known it up until now?
What if you pressed pause on that conversation and simply went back to the basics?
As in go back to all those movement maps, sensations, and neural pathways that you’re SUPPOSED to have — that your body has the potential to create or recreate….
What if you simply started THERE?
Your body is this pliable, moldable, flexible ‘thing, and it essentially already has this underground mapping system (your nervous system) WAITING to be accessed…
All you have to do is access it.
How do you do that?
By bringing it back to the basics. Starting at the start. Establishing the essentials.
And then go back and ‘press play’. Then go live your life.
I call it Essentializing your body.