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Recovery – Coming Back from Being Down

woman in boxing gloves striking a punching bag

Recently I recovered from a pretty intense back injury.

I have accelerated degeneration in the discs of my upper back and lower spine areas. The injury prevented me from exercising for over two years. I consider myself a strong athlete and competitor in many sports. The news of my injury was hard to digest and felt terrible. When I incurred the injury, I was not only physically impaired but something happened to me mentally as well —my confidence went downhill.

I had a lot of recovery work to do.

After over two years of physical therapy and a lot of patience, I was able to slowly navigate my way back into the physical fitness scene. But I noticed something new, an unfamiliar tentativeness. I became so anxious about aggravating the injury that I wasn’t really committing to the workouts. I began to make excuses for myself (‘just take it easy ‘ or ‘ I’m so tired, I better be careful’ or ‘it’s ok not to do it today, you can try again tomorrow’). And then guess what happened? I knocked myself totally out of the game. I felt defeated and stopped trying.

woman and child practicing the yoga pose Upward Facing DogThis past summer, I climbed back on the horse. I had to explore new ways to work out. I had to commit to a softer exercise regimen. This was new. I could no longer run five miles, play beach volleyball three times a week, or take a kettle bell class. Instead I had to explore — find the challenge and threshold inside a slow yoga class, inside a boring swimming class or inside a repetitive spin class. It seemed to be working…kind of.

But still, I noticed something else — I wasn’t giving it my all. I was holding back. As if I didn’t want to really be there. I was fearful. That feeling of tentativeness was still lingering. Even though my back was functioning at 95%, mentally I was not giving myself permission to move into the zone. Therefore I was not maximizing my potential.

And that got me thinking about my job….

The parallel I am about to draw is between my fitness-life and my top capacity at work. Both appear different each year, quarter, month and day. And sometimes I catch myself holding back on the job. Obstacles, challenges and wins occur in my field all the time. The one thing that’s constant is me. The values are the same — I am in career that I love and am passionate about. I also need to care about myself physically, love my body and stay passionate about my health in order to make an impact.

Passion, love, impact.


Rear view of a person jumping with arms overhead at the edge of a rock

Some questions that help me ‘come back’ when I have a block at work or when I am questioning my work habits or when I am not present 100% or when I feel like I am only half way there are: Am I thinking creatively? Am I speaking up in meetings? Am I supporting our mission to the best of my abilities? What more can I do? How am I serving youth thoughtfully? Where is my voice in the work we do — how can I be heard? Am I taking the right risks? How am I serving the cause and supporting the company? The questions go on. My mind races constantly. But these prompts get my wheels spinning.

Now when I am on the bike in my spin class, looking at the clock instead of focusing on my workout, I realize I am taking myself out of my own game – So I say to myself: “Julia! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??? Let’s fix this! The only way for you to heal and grow is to proceed with all you’ve got— don’t hold yourself back anymore, work it out, stick with it, plow through, push for excellence! Find your maximum potential!”

My body will never be the same as it once was: young, strong, and resilient.

However, I keep learning (always a student) that it takes hard work to reinvent myself and still maintain impact and integrity. I have to do something each day, challenge myself and stop holding back. I may have downfalls, but my recovery has to do with how fast I stand up after being knocked down.

perseverance and recovery

For breakfast, I had a protein shake with a banana, chia seeds, hearts of palm seeds, flax seed, and almond butter blended with water. And a cup of coffee with low fat milk and Stevia. Cheeseburger anyone?

Author: @juliagabor

This post originally appeared on the Breakfast Club Blog on November 7, 2014.

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In 2014, Julia was awarded the Women Making a Difference by U.S. Senator of California Lou Correa for her contributions in youth programming in Orange County, CA. In, 2013 Julia received the OSTI award from BOOST for her contribution to out-of-school time individuals by providing innovative approaches to support students, families and communities. Julia currently develops tailored training's and facilitates workshops for educators, non-profit organizations, mentor professionals and students. She works with you to create strategies for educational programs to enhance student success and a productive future. She also will establish effective practices for staff communication and leadership. As the Director of Education at WRiTE BRAiN WOLRD Julia is built, expanded and introduced the WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS curriculum into education communities across the country. WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS inspires creativity while applying project- based literacy and builds 21st Century skills. In only two and a half years WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS is being implemented in 41 states with 45,000 student becoming published authors of their own children’s book. While at the Tiger Woods Foundation (TWF), Julia launched a college internship program for sports management, hospitality, event planning and marketing majors from universities across the country. Julia develops specialized programs ranging from activity based curriculum in a variety of different educational areas to creating a collegiate mentor program. Starting in 2006, Julia managed a national character education program called- Tiger's Action Plan, a free youth development curriculum that focuses on leadership, goal setting, service learning and career exploration. Prior to joining TWF, Julia was a Coordinator for the After School All - Stars in Los Angeles, where she taught a range of middle school enrichment classes- from personal leadership to sports, to performance and visual art classes. Julia has been teaching/leading groups since she was a teenager working alongside her mother, who is an acting teacher and coach in the USA and Europe. Julia has served as a trainer/facilitator in disguised learning and cultural diversity throughout California. In 2009, Julia received the Honored Educator Award from California State Fullerton University for dedication to education in Orange County, CA. Miss Gabor is a graduate of the State University of New York, Fredonia receiving her bachelor's degree in the Fine Arts. She received her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Antioch University in 2012.

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