Clean Slate: The Business of Starting Over

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.  Fear of the unknown is our greatest fear.”

American writer Joseph Campbell’s mythologically based narrative “The Hero’s Journey” is a common template of a story that involves a hero who goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home changed. While I have never fancied myself a “hero,” I have often felt those themes echo the twists and turns that my life has taken. As far back as I can remember, life in the house I grew up in revolved around somebody’s team sport or activity. A childhood played out between the ballfields, the golf course, or the gym my parents owned. They now have much trendier names like “boutique gyms,” but in the 80’s we just called them “fitness centers”. I am the youngest of four kids, and we are a tight, competitive family. We laugh a lot but also use our edge to succeed in whatever is in front of us.

ORDINARY WORLD

Growing up in a gym made a natural path where most of these journeys have played out.  Being in shape helped give me focus and a competitive edge, but I

learned early that this lifestyle, when done improperly, has a dark side that many in the fitness industry won’t address: eating disorders, hormone dysfunction, and more. In my twenties, a “1-2 punch” of disordered eating and overtraining eventually caught up to me and threw my body into a metabolic crisis. I lost three pregnancies, the first one going into my fourth month. Doctors and specialists (who never asked once about my lifestyle) could find no reason why or give me any hope of carrying a child to term. At this point, I took my health and healing into my own hands, starting with TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM is a system of medicine at least 23 centuries old that aims to prevent or heal disease by restoring or maintaining balance in the body. I realized that true health starts internally and learned that there is a difference between being fit and being healthy. Within three months I was pregnant and later gave birth to a healthy baby boy. 

What is TCM? www.actcm.edu

After becoming a mother, I began an intense yoga practice. Busy by nature, a yoga mat was my first endeavor that required stillness and gave me an opportunity to connect the mental to the physical aspect of how we take up space in life. Yoga gave me a taste of a new way to be in the world, a new way of moving and a new way of responding to daily events and challenges. In the fall of 2008 I attended a two-hour Master Class with Bryan Kest where the theme was “Who You Really Are” and little did I know that two weeks later life would present an opportunity to find the answer.

SCIENCE BASED BENEFITS OF YOGA

  1. Ease stress/promote relaxation
  2. Relieves anxiety/reduce chronic pain
  3. May reduce inflammation in the body
  4. Can improve heart health

CALL TO ADVENTURE

Life took yet another sharp turn when just three weeks after turning forty, I was diagnosed with an early but aggressive form of breast cancer. Because I was so proactive with doctors who had told me it was “nothing to worry about,” we caught it in time, but it was still six weeks between diagnosis and surgery. Nine surgeries in two years, with not one but two reconstructions, and I was given a clean bill of health and the frightening instructions to go live a “normal” life. This was when life got still enough for the mental and emotional toll to hit. A diagnosis of post-traumatic stress and offerings of pharmaceutical assistance was standard operating procedure, but I knew the rest of my life would be based on the decisions I made at this point. I declined the help and returned to the two things in my life I knew I could trust – the Lord and a weight room.

MEETING THE MENTOR

It still makes me laugh that my “new normal” was found in a barebones gym with loud music, high heart rates, and the crashing barbells at CrossFit Dig Deep. Starting out, my central nervous system didn’t handle the stressors involved in those workouts well, and it showed many times in my reactions as an athlete and later as a new coach. Most of the work in putting my life back together centered around addressing the fear in my life. The work I had started on the yoga mat I was able to finish under a barbell. For all the naysayers of the sport, many of the lessons I learned there are used every day in how I help clients. A back injury led to a different style of training and working at another CrossFit box as head coach and manager, where I became more active in the business side of things. I carry an appreciation for what I learned, and I use it daily as well. When the owner made it apparent that we no longer shared the same goals, I handed him my work keys. No longer fearing the unknown, I was determined to carry out the purpose God had placed on my heart in a direct manner of my own making.

THE REWARD

I started my own business the same day I resigned from that job. It took me years to implement and appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from a lifetime in the gym. It was that knowledge that I wanted to pass on. The greatest thing my mentors ever did for me was put me in the proverbial ‘cave’ until I realized I was the one holding myself back. I wanted to design a business that allowed me to pay that forward in the work that I do. Clients want help with losing weight, some want to build muscle-and some are on an entirely different journey and need someone to guide the way.

Clean Slate is based on the four core principles of:

  • How you eat.
  • How you move.
  • How you recover. 
  • How you think. 

I’m currently working with most of the Vue staff on their health and fitness levels and want to expand that to helping Vue readers.  In upcoming articles, you will meet the team of fitness/health professionals I rely on when clients have needs outside of what I do. I plan to feature ways to keep you empowered in all areas of those “Core 4” principles.  I plan on showing readers what this area has to offer in the areas of health, wellness, and nutrition.  I know other stories like mine, whose story was changed by fitness, and I can’t wait to feature them as well.  You will come along with me and some of the VUE staff (they don’t know this yet) as we take classes, sample foods, and give you the rundown of what that experience is like.  Every month I have a goal of leaving readers with a “buy-out” tip in one of those areas that they can incorporate into their lives. 

If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see, feel free to email me at marissaoliver.ky@gmail.com. Please put “VUE reader” in the subject.

IN THE VUE

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