My first experience with exercise was not a pleasant one. Growing up in Soviet Armenia, I was exempt from all physical activity due to a small problem at birth. So when my dad took me along for a short run, I felt sharp pain in my side and lots of huffing and puffing.
It wasn’t until I moved to the US as a teenager that I realized how ´unattractive´ I was in my unfit skin and decided to do something about it. Five years of daily obsessive gym workouts and fat-free diets later, I reached ´perfection´. At 60-90-60, I was ready to become a model!
This ´health routine´ soon took its toll on my health. With the added stress of becoming a freshman in college, I started developing a number of debilitating symptoms that left me in pain and exhausted. Whether it was Celiac disease, gastritis, Crohn´s or something more serious (as one doctor´s verdict announced), I´ll never know for sure. After getting numerous fragmented symptom-alleviation solutions from a dozen of doctors, I decided to discover the root of the problem with a more holistic approach. I began examining the relationship between the foods I was consuming on my health and discovered that there was a very direct relationship between what I ate and how I felt physically and emotionally in the short and long-term.
With a lot of dedication and the help of nutritional therapy, Eastern medicine, and a number of alternative practices I studied and applied to my routine, I was first able to effectively control my symptoms, and three years later, became completely symptom-free and healthy.
So when a couple of years later I started experiencing frightening heart palpitation, I was angry. ´How could it be that this is happening to me! I´m exercising regularly and eating better than 95% of the population?!´ During one of the attacks, I ended up in the emergency room and after many tests was told to stop running or doing any vigorous exercise for the rest of my life. That was a death sentence for me: someone, who had made fitness and natural healing an integral part of life. After much soul-searching, I realized that the problem wasn’t anything I was doing wrong. I was just disconnected from my own body, its needs, and wasn’t fully enjoying myself. Rather I was stressed, pushing my body, and trying to fit it into a health routine that I so diligently constructed for myself.
This time around, it was Brazil and the local motto of living in the moment that gave me answers. I embraced a more easy-going approach to following my body and its signals, rather than doing what I had learned was healthy for me. I have not experienced one irregular heartbeat since. I still eat a very healthy diet and exercise regularly (including running on a regular basis, dancing, hiking, and surfing at times), but I am not as fanatical about it. Rather I am fanatical about being in tune with my body and respecting its rhythms.