2017, you were a little bit rough on me. Definitely a rebuilding year to go down in the books. In many ways, I’m ready to put you behind me, but not without first passing on some ExoSym wisdom from year four in the device.
- Continue to make your core work a priority. I used to think that after the first year or so, I could ease up on the core work, but I’ve found that even four + years into the device, your core needs to remain a central focus. While not always super fun and exciting to do this type of work, I’m seeing that having a strong core is something you will need to keep up throughout your use of the device. Sorry to burst your bubble, everyone! But it appears to be true. (Why is Jared always right??) Good thing is that having a strong core is good for overall health & fitness, anyway. We just have an increased incentive to work extra hard on it.
- There is always something new to try. Never stop exploring. Just when you think you’ve tried it all… keep trying! Some new things I tried this year were playing tennis, joining a master’s swim league, rock climbing, running a race with our family dog, joining a new gym, and deepening my yoga and meditation practice. There’s always adaptions you can make to whatever you want to try. No sport is out of reach. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it. You just gotta try.
- Your shoes can last 6-8 months. As I’ve mentioned a lot in previous posts, having multiple pairs of tennis shoes (I’m talking like 4-5 pairs, people) can greatly increase the longevity of your shoes. When I first got the device, I was tearing through them pretty quickly, but with several pairs to rotate through, it’s made a huge difference. (I don’t even need to reinforce them with duct tape anymore!). It goes without saying, but you need to make sure you pick the right shoe to begin with, too. Avoid overly meshy and narrow toe boxes. The ExoSym will eat them. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, get yourself a shoehorn and use it every time you put your shoes on – I’m not kidding folks! It makes a difference in keeping the shape of the shoe.
- Your socks can last 4+ years. Yep, you read that right. I still wear my original Swiftwick compression socks and Zensah knee sleeves from when I got my device. Now, granted I’ve probably picked up a few pairs here and there, but overall I haven’t had to really purchase new sets of sleeves or socks since getting mine at the clinic. For me, it comes down to taking good care of your compression garments. Wash with cold gentle water, air dry. On a side note, my Feetures socks that I wear on my non-Exo side are in the same boat too. Still going strong. Definitely worth the investment in quality socks and compression gear – but you gotta take care of them too. Same goes with the ExoSym itself. Take care of your friend.
- Listen to your body. I really shouldn’t be speaking here because this is not something I’ve been known to excel at (☺), but… as you continue your ExoSym journey, you want to be sure to remember that while the device is incredible, it is not magic and does not make you invincible. (Spoiler alert!) You must learn to listen to your body and find balance in your activities, which I think comes with time and probably age… I recently turned 29! Is this what happens when you get older – you start listening to your body?!
- Community is what you make it. The ExoSym community is only as strong as we make it to be. Befriend an ExoSym buddy. Find ways to connect with others and encourage someone. Share your journey. Pay it forward. Making friendships with people in similar situations as yourself can really help you to not feel alone in what you are going through, and I’ve found can also be useful in helping you to find meaning in your injury/condition. When you’re able to help someone through something similar that you’ve been through, you are making a difference in someone’s life and in many ways finding perspective in your own journey. A lot of folks love the ExoSym Facebook group, so definitely check it out! It’s a great place to connect. And if Instagram is your thing, we’ve got a few people on there as well: @ExoSymplyAmazing.
- Sometimes, you make mistakes. Throughout my ExoSym journey, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and have had several setbacks – from overdoing it in exercise, to pushing myself too hard and not listening to my body, to neglecting my core, the list goes on. ☺ I’m not perfect. The key here is to recognize that it’s okay, you can always get back on track… we’re human, and that means we make mistakes sometimes. Setbacks are a part of life. The key is to pick yourself back up and get back on track.
- Results don’t happen overnight. 2017 taught me a lot about this concept with the head injury recovery from my car accident, but in speaking about the ExoSym, the same message rings true. Don’t get discouraged by your progress. You don’t just one day reach the ExoSym summit and think “I’ve made it, there’s nothing more I can improve on.” The ExoSym (and your body) is a tool and like with all tools, you have to use them correctly, consistently, and perfect your trade over time. There’s always something to work on. Enjoy the process.
- What works for someone else might not be what’s best for you. I see a lot of chatter in the Facebook group about types of shoes to get, what socks to wear, what races someone did, etc. I think it’s great to share ideas and accomplishments, but recognize that what works for someone else, might not work for you, or what goals someone has, may not be your goals. And that’s okay. We’re all different and require the ExoSym for different needs, and to that point, we’re all different people in different life stages, with different goals. Instead of comparing yourself to others and their progress, achievements, or things that they are able to wear or do, recognize you are unique. We are all ExoSymplyAmazing in our own ways. Own that.
- You are stronger than you think you are. We’re all capable of more than we think we can do. Have you ever pushed yourself to what you think are your limits? The mind is a strong thing. It can be a friend or it can be an enemy. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I think a lot of us never push ourselves enough to realize that when you’ve reached your “limits”, those were never your limits to begin with.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs – my anthem for 2017: Warrior by Hannah Kerr. A reminder that when life knocks you down, you gotta keep getting back up. #beawarrior
You’ll never stop me I’m a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger
Faith is my shield His love is the armor
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year tomorrow and a blessed 2018. Where ever life takes you next year, make a decision that no matter how hard life gets, you’ll never give up. Keep the faith and always look for the light.
Your ExoSym bud,
#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing