My Wellness Journey by Deborah Matthews

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Like so many of you, my life has flipped and flopped, soared and crashed, plateaued, leaped, and crumbled.  It’s often been messy and confusing with a healthy dose of belly laughs and sorrow.  When I listen to the message, life seems to be encouraging me to “Let yourself adapt, Deborah . . . adapt.”  With the constant change I have experienced in my health, thoughts, environment, and community, I’ve had to define for myself what being well and wellness means.  It couldn’t be about not being sick or in pain.  I have chronic kidney disease, migraines, and a host of other health challenges.  It couldn’t be about being totally peaceful and blissed-out.  I am a worrier and a doer.   For me, wellness is a promise – a commitment to take care of myself and others, to attend to family, friends, creatures, plants, and the downtrodden, and to cultivate a bigger picture of a “well-er” world with my self included.

To connect with my sense of wellness, I begin by getting quiet.  Literally.  Taking the noise and distractions away allows the space for me to grow both inward and outward.  I get distracted very easily and I am also not someone who likes to sit still.  If I am feeling good, I am up and going!  For me quieting means performing mindful activities in silence.  These may include sitting outdoors drinking my coffee in the morning, walking, Pilates, yoga, bodywork, painting, gardening, cooking, and holding my cats 🙂 I free up in the quiet space and my mind and body have the chance to connect to a wellness that lies underneath physical symptoms or anxiety about the day.

This emergent, quiet wellness also gives space for sowing the seeds of my imagination and creativity. I don’t have to push. In fact, I can’t. The seeds will grow at their own pace and may blossom (if I’m lucky) into a sense of balance or perspective. My wellness is not a solo project, either.  It’s deeply rooted in the support of family, friends, students, doctors, bodyworkers, movement teachers, mentors, and podcasters. They ground me and nourish me and help me find up and down as I flip and flop and, on occasion, freak out!

I am beyond grateful to have found this deep well of wellness within me and around me.  It’s always there, but it has been years in the discovery and uncovering.  Some days I connect to it easily; Other days turn into epic fails despite my best efforts. On those days, receiving the help and nurturing of others is my greatest challenge and blessing.

Wellness for me begins with shhhhh . . . .creating the space to build the inner and outer relationships that feed my soul.  I hope that InsideOut can provide the resources for you to walk that path of wellness creation, whether it’s quiet or loud.

Much love to you all,

Deborah

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Spring is here! Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac.

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Spring is here! Even if the weather still has random wintery moments (welcome to NC), the energetic shifts that come with the season change are in full effect. So even on days when we reach for a scarf, things are changing. We tend to feel the physical and emotional changes more moving from Winter to Spring than other season changes. Spring’s energy is a bit chaotic and more noticeable than the subtle changes we experience when we transition to other seasons.

In Chinese Medicine Spring is associated with the Wood element. All the trees start to bloom and grow. We see baby animals and beautiful flowers everywhere. Everything is alive! Everything has a newness and the energy around us feels a little like a young child set free on a new playground. It can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It’s important to recognize the chaos but not get caught up in it. Take time to meditate or just sit quietly. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer we can easily find ourselves committing to too much, saying yes to everything, resulting in getting run down quickly. Make sure to build in breaks and be conscious of overbooking. Trust me. Say no. Take some breaks and you will be able to do the stuff that really matters without burning out.

Spring is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder channels. These channels provide the body with a smooth flow of Qi which is essential to balance. Our Liver Qi has a tendency to get stagnant due to stress, overwork, and emotional upset. Needless to say, a lot of us have Liver Qi Stagnation. Liver Qi Stagnation can present as anger/irritability, headaches, stiff or painful joints, tension, excessive sighing, or issues with the eyes just to mention a few. Symptoms of Liver Qi Stagnation can be more prominent and persistent during the Spring. It is very important to move Liver Qi before it wreaks havoc on the other channels. Acupuncture, meditation, and regular exercise are great ways to move Liver Qi. Something to keep in mind while choosing an exercise routine for the Spring is that the Wood element governs the tendons and sinews (you may notice a flare up of tendonitis). Focus on exercises that are less rigorous and more stretching and strengthening like yoga, Pilates, walking, swimming. Tai Qi and Qigong are also great for this time of year.

I hope this has been helpful in explaining a few of those Springtime symptoms you may be experiencing. Just like the trees we are always growing. Spring is a great time to refresh your self care routines (or finally create one) and create new health habits.

Pro tips: get acupuncture, maintain regular exercise, build in breaks, and enjoy your Spring!

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Pilates, ALS, and the RDC Marathon…Guest Post by Andrea Lytle Peet

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Andrea Peet (pre-ALS) with her husband

When I was diagnosed with ALS in May 2014 at the age of 33, my husband and I
were confronted by the same depressing facts that everyone with ALS learns:

  • The average life expectancy is 2-5 years
  • Before death, the person will become paralyzed, unable to talk, eat, or
    swallow, and eventually lose the ability to breathe
  • There is no treatment and no cure. The only approved drug extends life
    expectancy 2-3 MONTHS (*note: A second drug was approved in 2017, but it has issues that I won’t bother going into…)

So what do you do with that? I was young, an athlete (I’d done a half Ironman 8
months earlier), and we had just bought a house in order to start a family.
I was already walking with a cane and my speech was slurred, but I thought I was still strong enough to pull off a super sprint triathlon, Ramblin’ Rose Chapel Hill. Since I could no longer balance on two wheels, we bought a recumbent trike. I asked my friends to support me by donating to ALS research and they raised $10,000! My best friend, Julie, and I came in last and ended up with a story in Endurance
magazine.

That race transformed my perspective on the disease. I realized I could inspire
people to take on challenging races as a way to raise money for ALS – but more importantly, as a way to appreciate what their bodies can do. “Team Drea” started with 30 people, but has now grown to 150+ and raised $220,000 for ALS research. As for me, I kept riding my trike…and did a half marathon…then a marathon. Then I thought, “I’m tired of waiting around for this disease to kill me,” and signed up for 12 races in 2016 (half marathons, marathons, and triathlons), each dedicated to someone with ALS who has inspired me.

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Triking

I completed that challenge, crediting my success to exercise on the trike, swimming, and the dumb luck to have a slowly progressing form of ALS.

But it wasn’t until I started working with Mischa Decker at IOBT in January 2017 that I learned I could actually get STRONGER.

What started out as 4 weeks of “I’ll give this a try,” has turned into 11 months of weekly Pilates-based PT appointments with Mischa where we work on my weak areas: core, glutes, outer thighs – and stretching places that are tight: inner thighs, calves, and feet. Top it off with bi-weekly acupuncture appointments with Austin and ooooh weeeee honey, my body feels awesome these days!! 🙂

Mischa is amazing. She is laser focused throughout our session on my positioning, which muscles should be activated, sensitive areas, and those that need attention. I know I’m in trouble when she says, “I have a crazy idea…” because that means she knows I’ve built up the strength to push just a little bit further, do just a little bit more. Which, as we all know, is where the Pilates magic happens.

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On the CoreAlign during one of her Pilates sessions at InsideOut

The results have been incredible. I walk better (still with a walker, but who cares? I’M. STILL. WALKING). While I still fall occasionally, it’s not nearly as frequent now, thanks to my stronger core muscles. And I’m actually getting faster with swimming and triking. Such positive progress is almost unheard of in ALS.

This Sunday, November 12th, I will take on my 12th race of 2017 (27th with ALS) – the inaugural RDC Marathon in Durham. This race benefits my foundation and the proceeds will go to ALS research at Duke. My world-renown* neurologist, Dr.Richard Bedlack, is studying off-label treatments: supplements, bee pollen, fecal transplants, and other crazy things people with ALS try on their own in the absence of any effective treatment in mainstream medicine.

*His wardrobe is also world-renown, see for yourself

He is also studying cases of ALS reversal – that’s right, people whose ALS have gone away. So far he’s found 34…out of 30,000 people living with ALS in the U.S. at any one time.

Not good odds, but Dr. Bedlack’s research gives me hope in the same way that sessions with Mischa do. If I can just hang on a little longer, push just a little bit further, maybe there will be a treatment. Or my body will figure out how to repair itself.

Hey, stranger things have happened – ask the 34 people with ALS reversals…or the woman in the trike doing her 27th race.

Thank you IOBT for supporting ALS research. It means the world to me and everyone else with ALS!

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Team Drea at the Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon 2017

 

 

Achieving Goals with Pilates…Guest post by Riki Shore

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Guest post by Riki Shore

On Sunday October 8th, IOBT client Anne-Claire Broughton will complete her first triathlon, the Ramblin’ Rose, in celebration of turning 50! A lover of challenge and a lifetime learner, Anne-Claire decided to celebrate her half-centennial by doing something active and enabling, and pushing herself to new physical frontiers.

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Ever since she can remember, Anne-Claire said her spine looked “unusual”, but she was only recently diagnosed with scoliosis. “I was always flagged for it when we got checked in school,” she remembers, “but the back pain didn’t come until after my daughter was born, and it intensified later when I had abdominal surgery.” Indeed, when she first walked into IOBT she wasn’t standing straight and tall, and she told me immediately that her back hurt “almost all the time”. And like a lot of mothers, firing the low belly muscles was nearly impossible – those muscles just didn’t seem accessible. More than anything, she came to Pilates to strengthen her deep core.

As her instructor, I build sessions that help her achieve her goals while creating space and length in her spine, pushing her to an edge without ever increasing her pain. We start every session with Footwork on the Reformer (see image below), which wakes up her feet and stabilizes her pelvis while using the deep abdominal muscles that Anne-Claire wants to strengthen. Since she’s not primarily looking to build muscle mass, we keep the spring tension low in order to facilitate smooth, continuous movement and highlight the connection between the spring tension and her Pilates scoop (what is sometimes referred to as “holding the spring with your belly”).

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If asked her favorite exercise, Anne-Claire would say Leg Circles, which she credits with helping to straighten her spine and reduce lower back pain.  We also do this exercise every session using the leg springs on the Cadillac. When we first started, I asked Anne-Claire to “stand” into a block that was pushed against the short box from the Reformer, which I had placed at the end of the Cadillac. I wanted to her to feel a ground beneath her extended leg as a stabilizing force while she circled the other leg exploring both movement and restraint. After several months together, she no longer needs the stabilizing block and can hop onto the Cadillac and go right into the exercise.

We always finish the session with some time draped over the Spine Corrector (see image below), which allows her to explore flexion, extension, side bending and rotation in a safe and supportive way. While there have been ups and downs in her triathlon training as she learns what her spine can tolerate, I can honestly say that Anne-Claire is stronger, leaner, taller and more supple than when we first met.

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Like any busy not-quite-50-year-old, she sometimes experiences stress, fatigue, muscle tightness and pain, but she remains undaunted and committed to what she calls her Body Project. “I love doing things that at first I’m afraid of or I think I can’t do. Then when I do them…that is the best feeling!” I have no doubt she’s going to be feeling that way when she crosses the finish line in Chapel Hill in a few short weeks – and I’m proud to have played a small part in her journey. Thank you, Anne-Claire, for brightening IOBT with your presence!

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Schedule a private session with Riki or any of our instructors:        

919-361-0104         info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

The “F” Words: Guest post by Lori Ginsberg, PT

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How can I “fix” my aches and pains? What can I do to avoid activities that cause these aches and pains? WHY am I plagued with these problems over and over again?! I had this issue years ago and it is BACK again…why?!

I get asked these types of questions on a regular basis and the answer is simple. The F words.  FIX, FOUNDATION and FUN. Three words that can change the way you approach fitness and function (more F words!) and avoid the chronic injury/re-injury cycle. Knowing how to balance your time among these three exercise stages will go a long way toward keeping you fit, strong and injury free.

FIX activities are appropriate when injury or dysfunction exists that causes pain and/or abnormal movement patterns. This stage focuses on restoring the most basic movement foundations, protecting the affected structures from further aggravation and allowing healing to take place.   This stage is best managed by experienced physical therapists or other highly trained and licensed movement specialists.

FOUNDATION activities continue to build on the fundamental movement patterns introduced during FIX (or are where to start if no injury exists). These activities focus on making conscious neuromuscular connections to fine tune and improve quality in movement patterns. When such activities are practiced regularly and in good form, the foundations become automatic and the body “upgrades” itself. A good example is the improved posture that results over time from practicing Pilates. Where at first holding yourself tall and straight felt unnatural, now slouching and rounding your shoulders is uncomfortable. It’s now easier to maintain your OPTIMAL alignment!

FUN activities range from CrossFit to gardening, playing beach volleyball to daily long walks with the dog. To perform FUN stage activities, without risking a return to FIX, it’s important to have an adequate FOUNDATION. You wouldn’t build a tree house on a tree with no roots and a flimsy trunk. Neither should you kick a soccer ball or swing a golf club without a strong foundation (aka “core”).

A solid, lifetime exercise program should include regular activities from both the FOUNDATION and FUN categories.

The result…better posture, increased awareness and connection to your body, and improved performance in all levels of activity… from climbing the stairs to reaching a new PR in a triathlon….and less visits to the FIX stage.

The Core Align is the newest tool here at IOBT and is an ideal one for moving through all of these stages. The exercises are fun, functional and challenge the neuromuscular system to perform at its optimal level. Check it out, along with our other Pilates equipment and floor classes at InsideOut Body Therapies.

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http://www.insideoutbodytherapies.com

To schedule a CoreAlign or Pilates private or register for classes at InsideOut, contact the studio. 919-361-0104  info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

Moving Through Pain: Guest post by Susan Rhea, DPT

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Pain. So many people deal with pain on a daily basis. While pain itself is a normal sensation in our body, meant to protect us and help us survive, in some cases it can persist, changing and limiting our daily activities.  That’s when it can become chronic- causing suffering and resulting in activity modification.  That is not normal.  This doesn’t happen with all pain, though.  So why do some people bounce back from injury while others do not?

As it turns out, the answer may lie in the brain. The nervous system is a huge contributor to chronic pain and can be the true cause of conditions such as chronic low back pain, chronic neck pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.  As you might imagine, this is quite a complicated topic!

Pain is not an input. It’s an output.  

Contrary to what you might think, pain is not an input—it isn’t caused by outside sources. Yes, there are nerve fibers in our bodies, which are meant to sense pain, but the BRAIN is where pain is actually created.

For example, if you stub your toe, nerve endings in your toe sends signals to the spinal cord and up to the brain. The brain then determines how it will interpret that information. The brain doesn’t just process the physical sensation from your toe, but also all the other stimuli it is receiving, including information like what you are hearing, seeing, and feeling (emotionally and physically). That information is then sent out to other parts of the brain, including the parts of the brain that process emotion, problem solving, memory, and the motor cortex, which allows you to react to the “danger” at the root of the pain and then protect yourself.

For many people, the toe hurts for a little while but then feels better, and the stimulation to the brain returns to normal. In some cases, however, such as major trauma or when the brain can’t identify the source of the “danger,” the brain continues the pain output. The parts of the brain that became stimulated don’t shut off and neural pathways that were associated with the injury trigger the pain output even though there is no longer any true physical danger. This can result in increased sensitivity to other sensations, impaired movement patterns, and difficulty returning to normal activities of daily life. Emotional changes may also result, including feeling anxious about movement, fearful of re-injury and even depression.  All of this can cause a cycle of disuse, pain, and disability.

How can we break the cycle?

  1. Education – Understanding how pain works has shown to have major benefits in people with chronic pain. A great resource for patients/clients with pain is the book “Why do I Hurt?” by Adriaan Louw.  Many of these suggestions are from this book.
  2. Sleep  –  Good restorative sleep is so important. Tips for promoting healthy sleep habits include limiting TV/screen time in evening hours, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and exercising regularly.
  3. Walking – Walking is excellent for increasing circulation, increasing positive hormones, reducing stress, and reducing fatigue and muscle soreness.
  4. Slow and Steady – Often people return to their regular activities too quickly.  Instead, slowly increasing activities to tolerance and allowing for progressive desensitization will be helpful.

At InsideOut, we believe that Movement Heals and we are committed to helping you have a positive movement experience.  With our guidance and support we will work together with the whole body to break negative pain cycles.   Stay tuned for our next blog post in which we will discuss more specifics on how to work with pain to break the chronic injury/re-injury cycle.

Re-program with Pilates-based PT

Guest post by Susan Rhea, PT, DPT

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The other day a PT colleague asked me “what is the difference between traditional PT and Pilates based PT?” The question is one I’ve heard many times since beginning my work at IOBT yet it still excites me to share what I’ve learned from the Pilates world. 

One of the many differences I have seen using PBPT in my practice is being able to support the body while facilitating natural movement.  We are able to the Pilates equipment along with the traditional hands on techniques and patient education while approaching problems with a holistic perspective.  We are looking at the whole person, not just the injury or symptoms.

Many times injuries or less than optimal posture can cause imbalances in the body over time and if not corrected these compensations can cause issues down the road. In Pilates, we focus on finding balance and uniform development in the body by facilitating proper motor programming.  When you are injured the body changes the way it moves to protect the injured area, but over time this can lead to tightness and/or weakness. Even after strengthening and stretching, the central nervous system is still “programmed” to move differently from the days, weeks, or even years of compensation.  These unhealthy patterns will persist until they are “re-programed.”  At IOBT, our PTs work with your central nervous system to create NEW patterns and restore the natural movement of your joints and muscles. With the help of one of our amazing Pilates-Based PTs, you can reduce your pain, improve your posture, and return to the activities you love!

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Contact the studio to set up your Pilates-based PT evaluation.

919-361-0104

info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

Why Should I Take Private Lessons? Guest post by KimLien LaFitte

Guest post by KimLien LaFitte
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Many people have only taken classes. That’s how they started Pilates…that’s what they love… and let’s be honest, classes can be more affordable when you have a tight budget.
If you’ve taken classes for years and haven’t sprinkled in a private here and there, here is what you are missing!
  1. One on One – You get special attention! You can have your favorite teacher all to yourself.
  2. Observation – You have the opportunity to have a keen eye watch you move and help you make small adjustments to enhance your pilates practice.
  3. Q&A – It’s a good time to ask those burning questions you’ve had in class and haven’t had a chance to ask them.
  4. Tame the Beast – If you’ve struggled with that one exercise that never feels quite right, (Teaser anyone?) you can find out why and how to improve on it.
  5. Mindfulness – In a class it can be harder to focus just on you and your breathing and your awareness of your movement. A private can give you the opportunity to sink deeper into knowing your body and your movement habits – those that are helpful and those that are not so helpful.

Private lessons are rich with possibilities and now is a wonderful time to take advantage of this special and buy 1, 3 or 15 privates!

6 Reasons We Love Pilates Equipment Classes

Walking into a Pilates studio for the first time might be a little intimidating… Archaic looking structures made of wood, leather and metal with springs, straps, and fuzzy loops attached.  WEIRD. But, once you get to know the Pilates equipment, I promise you will understand and LOVE it!

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Today is the 1st day of the 12 Days of Specials at InsideOut and the special is on Equipment classes.  So, I thought I would share a few reasons why we love Pilates equipment classes!

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  1. Support- The equipment will support you, making the exercises a little easier…well maybe not easier, but easier to do with good form and alignment!  People who find Pilates mat or yoga classes too challenging or painful, often really enjoy the equipment. In a mat class, it’s just you, the mat and gravity!  The equipment will support and assist your body in an amazing way.
  2. Resistance- The springs provide resistance, but in a smooth and supportive way.  They act similarly to our muscles as they stretch and then recoil with our movements.  The resistance can be light or heavy, but the springs allow for smooth, graceful movement.
  3. Versatility- You can do SO. MANY. THINGS. on the equipment!  From beginner to highly advance, ANYONE can benefit.  There are hundreds of exercises in which you might be lying on your back to standing on your head.  The Pilates system of movement is so diverse and complete!  All body parts and types of movement are worked during each session!
  4. Challenging- You must be present during class as you have to focus on the exercises, breath, the equipment AND your movement.  This is challenging for the body AND mind, but is often a welcomed change from our daily stressors!
  5. Camaraderie- In a class, you have the support and sense of community from fellow classmates…whether they are cheering you on as you come up in Teaser on the reformer, or while joining in on a communal eye roll as the teacher says “3 more” after you have already done nearly 200 Hundreds!  We love seeing the friendships that form in our studio!
  6. Fun- It starts to look and feel like a playground for grown ups.  Have you been in the studio when someone suddenly flips upside down or stands on her head?  These things might sound impossible, but we have people of all ages and fitness levels doing fun, gymnastics-like exercises!  Only if you want…but the option is there! And even if you aren’t flipping around, the equipment is still really fun!

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Don’t let the flipping and headstands intimidate you- ANYONE can take equipment classes!  At InsideOut, we just require you to take a minimum of TWO private sessions to get familiar with the equipment before starting a class.  We have classes for people just coming out of Physical Therapy (check out our Back to Health program!) as well as classes from Leveled from 1 (beginner) to 5 (advanced).  Check out our website for more information on our classes and to find the schedule. We hope to see you in class soon!

 

Early detection saved my life. Pilates saved my sanity.

Guest post by Lori Ginsberg, PT, MPT

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Early detection saved my life.

As dramatic as that sounds—it is true.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 4 years – Christmas Eve 2012, since I found the lump that rocked my world.  I am here today, CANCER FREE, because I took that suspicious lump to my doctor on January 1.  I insisted on a mammogram and ultrasound when she said “let’s just watch it”.

I listened to my inner voice, the one that told me that something was not right.

So yes, early detection of breast cancer saved my life but Pilates saved my sanity.  I was diagnosed with Stage 2a “triple positive” breast cancer—“the GOOD kind”!  Which meant that after a double mastectomy, 6 rounds of chemo and a future of estrogen deprivation, I am cured!  But guess what?  There is no “good kind” of cancer.  The physical, mental and emotional toll of the battle is hard to quantify but is immense.

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For the first time as a Pilates-based physical therapist, I had to practice what I preach and I hoped I’d been right.  I was.  I felt the benefits of Pilates as a gentle, efficient and effective rehab tool for regaining motion and strength.  I felt the power of the Pilates principles— breath, control, flow, concentration— to help me simply get through every day, no matter how crummy I felt.  Some days I’d do a few minutes of footwork,  some days I’d spend an hour moving and sweating and focusing on the work, some days I’d simply lie on my back and breathe.

I always, ALWAYS, felt better afterwards.

So now, almost 4 years later, I’m finally at the point where some days I forget I had cancer.  When I remember, I tell someone my story so that one day maybe she can forget too.  October is breast cancer awareness month.  The perfect time to start a routine. Check your breasts, today and every month.  Schedule your mammogram.  Listen to your inner voice—she’s smarter than you know.

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Schedule a Pilates-based Physical Therapy evaluation with Lori or one of our other Pilates-based physical therapists by calling the studio at 919-361-0104.