Listen. Respond. Grow. | By Angela Gaffney

Last Updated: September 24, 2018By

Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2018 issue

Picture your #1 Fan, the one who loves you most and is there for you through thick and thin. Have you pictured someone? Maybe a spouse, parent or best friend came to mind. While all these people are great cheerleaders in life, the #1 Fan I’m speaking of is much, much more.

Your #1 Fan is your body.

That’s right, your #1 Fan is your body; the only one who shows up for you day in and day out, regardless of how you show up for it in return. It took me almost too long to realize this. I was 34 years old, had just had my second child and was motivated to lose the baby weight. Off to the gym I went, only to return home after the first aerobics class with a swollen elbow; I could barely extend my arm. It was spin class the next day that made my hip do the same thing … the class after that it was my knee. I wanted to believe it was just because I was out of shape, but my gut was telling me something much, much bigger was going on. And boy was I right.

Just a few months later my body was consumed with pain. I could no longer hold a pen to write, open a jar, or carry my baby up the stairs. But it didn’t stop there; chronic fatigue, headaches, stomach aches, brain fog and memory loss became part of my daily routine. And then came the dizzy spells and muscle weakness that eventually landed me in the hospital because I couldn’t walk. My body was failing me, and not one doctor had an answer.

After almost two years, my day of knowing arrived. I was so excited and eager to hear the plan to fix my ill body. The doctor shared that I have a rare neuromuscular disease called mitochondrial myopathy; the bad news, he said, is it’s progressive and will attack one organ system after the next. He didn’t know of any good outcomes and said to “go home and prepare for what’s to come.” I wished my gut had been wrong and the worst part of it all is I NEVER saw it coming.

For months I tried figuring out how to die gracefully. I woke up one morning and in an instant my thoughts shifted; I decided I was going to figure out how to live! That moment was the biggest moment of my journey and it started with my mind … shifting perspective and choosing to participate differently in life. If you’d like to get healthy, stress less and live more, you too will need to shift your thoughts and choose to participate in a new way.  Start with these three ideas:

  1. Listen: The body speaks to us every day; maybe you feel tired, have a headache, or knee pain. These are all signs the body is giving us in hopes that you might slow down, pay attention and respond. All too often, we dismiss what’s going on and move forward with our day. How can we demand that the body support us when we haven’t provided it enough in return? Take time to listen, it’s a vital first step to health.
  2. Respond: Listening is a fantastic start, but then you must do something with the information. Speak to your body just as you would a small child, let it know that you’re there to work as a team and support it in health. Take extra time for self-care when needed, see a doctor, or go get a massage. Your body will love you for it and respond in return.
  3. Grow: There can be a LOT of guilt associated with not doing enough. Especially when a diagnosis is part of the journey, we begin to question our past choices. Don’t allow yourself to go there. Focus on moving forward every day. Learn from your past choices, choose differently and participate in a new way going forward. This allows us to grow as a person and maintain good health. Health is not about perfection, it’s all about progression. One step at a time.

Focus on moving forward every day.

Photo courtesy of Real Evolution Yoga.

Angela Gaffney, CHC, is a catalyst for healthy transformation. After overcoming a disease she was told would take her life, Angela teaches others simple strategies to achieve health and excel in their career. Angela is the best-selling author of Feel Good, Look Good, For Life. To hire Angela to speak at your next event, discuss a wellness program for your corporation, or take advantage of complimentary health tools, please visit

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