The End of Back Pain: The Secret To Gaining Relief And Staying Active 9798692772978

DON'T ALLOW BACK PAIN TO LIMIT YOUR LIFE! Are you frustrated you can't move your body like you used to becaus

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The End of Back Pain: The Secret To Gaining Relief And Staying Active

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  • The End of Back Pain, The Secret To Gaining Relief And Staying Active

Table of contents :
Chapter 1: Don’t Worry, You’re Not Stuck
Chapter 2: Believe Me, I’ve Been There Too
Chapter 3: You’re Supported Step by Step
Chapter 4: It’s Not Your Back
Chapter 5: Your Body Is Designed to Move
Chapter 6: Breathe in, Breathe Out
Chapter 7: Poor Gut Health Equals Poor Spine Support
Chapter 8: Are You Feeling Supported?
Chapter 9 Your Body Absorbs Everything: Thoughts and All
Chapter 10: Time Doesn’t Heal, Action Does
Chapter 11: Are You Ready?
Chapter 12: It’s All Possible for You
About the Author
Thank You

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The End of Back Pain The Secret to Gaining Relief and Staying Active Dr. Sofia Costa

Copyright © Sofia Costa, 2020 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the author. Reviewers may quote brief passages in reviews. Published 2020 DISCLAIMER No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, or transmitted by email without permission in writing from the author. Neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretations of the subject matter herein. Any perceived slight of any individual or organization is purely unintentional. Brand and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. All information contained within this document is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent health problems - nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified medical practitioner. No action should be taken solely on contents of this guide. Always consult with your physician on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed in this program. We do not assume liability for the information contained within this guide, be it direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other.

Dedication Thank you to my parents, sisters, and entire family for your continuous love and support. My heartfelt gratitude to the people of Puerto Rico for your strength and unbreakable spirit. And to the memory of my cousin, Jaime Fiol-Costa (July 23,1974-July 25, 2017). Thank you for being an angel from up above encouraging me to show up and be the light.

Author’s Note I began writing this book in January 2020 while visiting my hometown, Puerto Rico. At the time, earthquakes were happening on the southwest corner of the island. I could feel the fear, panic, and overwhelm among the locals. I also sensed that the earthquakes reminded the locals of the trauma previously experienced from hurricanes Irma and Maria back in

September 2017. Hoping to bring healing to the island, I set the intention to create a healing ripple effect every time I sat down to write this book. In about two weeks, I finished the first draft. Every day, I wrote with 528 Hz playing in the background on YouTube. 528 Hz is known as the frequency of love, and I chose to have that playing so that this book can be infused with love too. On February 11th, 2020, I flew to Los Angeles to work with clients on-site and expand my business. But something else began to expand, too – the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. On March 15th, the gym facility owned by a dear friend of mine was forced to close. That meant I needed to close too since this was the place where I worked with clients on-site. Of course, I felt all the feelings in the beginning: fear, worry, stress, and overwhelm. Thoughts of “How am I going to finish this book? How can I connect and expand on the edits received from the editor with the chaos and lockdown happening right now?” Thinking those thoughts blocked me from writing, from creating. My thoughts placed my heart and body on lockdown. And then, one morning, I chose to view the chaos and lockdown as an opportunity to unlock what’s hiding within. And what’s hiding within? Light. Light dissipates dark. When you walk into a dark room, the first thing you do is turn on the light. So, why not do the same when we feel the darkness? I chose to reignite the light within, to unlock so that I can create a wave of healing effect for all humanity. Choosing to unlock and reignite the light within, allowed me to finish this book even with the chaos happening outside of me. And now this book is in your hands. This book is not just the end of back pain. It’s the end of everything that’s been holding you back from feeling like your best self. Your body, too, had been on lockdown for a long time. Lockdown from the pain you’ve been feeling in your back, from worrying if it’s going to get worse, from feeling scared that you’re stuck with it for the rest of your life, and from feeling lost because nothing else has worked. Lockdown from emotional stress and past traumas, poor food choices, racing thoughts, and

being pulled in different directions uncertain where it’s all going to lead you. So, you see? You’ve already placed yourself on lockdown from your thoughts, words, and actions. The truth is your thoughts, words, and actions are what you can control. It’s time for you to unlock what’s hiding within and end back pain too. End everything that’s been holding you back. May this book lead you towards how you want to feel every day. May this book unlock what’s hiding within you. And may this book guide you towards living a happy, active life – limitless and free.

-Sofia Costa

Foreword “I am strong. I am healthy. I am capable.” This soundtrack played on loop in my head with each step I took, crunching a combination of snow, dirt, and ice towards the summit of Mt. Esja in Northern Iceland. It was Day 5 of an intensive 8-day training exploring the Wim Hof method and a unique array of practices including meditation techniques, breath work, concentration, cold exposure, and tools of self-observation. 5 weeks before this, I sat in a hospital bed as the doctor showed me MRI results depicting a torn MCL in the same knee I had torn up years before. He probably would have wanted an MRI of my brain if he saw me that day with a pack of 15 humans ascending into thin air wearing nothing but shorts in the -25°F Icelandic tundra. The intimidating wind cracked

whipping gusts up to 35 mph, literally pushing me at times. The only way to keep focus and safe was to stay calm and present to the utmost degree. This mantra helped me keep that sharpened point of focus which allowed my body to adjust and adapt to the harsh conditions. I think that most people who tore their MCL in a skiing accident probably would have canceled their upcoming winter expedition set to take place in a mere matter of weeks, but not me. I had a secret weapon in my corner. Her name – Dr. Sofia Costa. “It’s not your back, “she said. I’ll never forget these words of conviction Dr. Sofia shared the first time we met. I had scheduled a session hoping that she could help me with my back pain, but if I had known that my entire world was about to be flipped upside down, I probably would have left the building while I had the chance. It was October 2017 and I had just begun preparing for my next Ironman triathlon race but had hit a roadblock with my training due to low back pain. I had tried all the things, seen all the doctors, and was just given band aid after band aid to help cover up the symptoms. Nothing gave me lasting relief. After walking one circle around me watching intently as I performed a few basic squats, Dr. Sofia had seen all that she needed. I had just met her, yet she started to rattle off my medical history just from observing the way I walked, talked, and moved. “Left knee injury 5 years ago. Left ankle injury when I was a kid. Right shoulder injury more recently.” Each truth she revealed shocked me more than the last…it was all spot on. Over the next 30 minutes, she explained the interconnectedness of my body in a way I’d never heard before. Everything she told me resonated deeply. It was the first glimpse of what I would come to appreciate as the true gift Dr. Sofia has to intuitively understand, connect with, and heal the human body. For the first time in that office, I learned that part of the deep root cause of my back pain was weak glute muscles, which were related from misalignment after not properly rehabbing a knee injury some 8 years prior. I felt a wave of relief that FINALLY someone gets me. And finally, I can have an action plan in place to overcome this low back pain. Shockingly, the treatment plan she prescribed didn’t start with the back. It started with the mind. I always had a bad relationship with my body after sustaining many injuries and surgeries growing up. I maintained a belief

that it was only going to get worse as I got older and grimly had come to accept that I would be in a wheelchair in the not-so-distant future. Dr. Sofia’s certainty in my ability to correct this and fully recover gave me hope. She gave me confidence when I needed it most. What started with back pain led to a beautiful friendship. In December 2018 my cousin and I had the chance to visit her family in Puerto Rico a year after the devastating hurricanes destroyed her family’s property in the rainforest town of Guavate. We were helping to support her vision of restoring the property and transforming it into a place for retreats, workshops, and healing. It’s truly inspiring to see someone using their gifts and talents to the fullest of their abilities in service of others. Her commitment to healing others is second to none. Through my time working with Dr. Sofia and applying The Costa Method, I’ve learned to listen to my body. I’ve learned that I am NOT my diagnosis – that pain is a beautiful feedback mechanism that is designed to help me move better. I’ve learned how much emotions and mindset plays in recovery and treating the root cause of injury. I’ve learned that I myself am responsible for my own health, strength, and happiness. This information you will read in this book WILL change your life too, so long as you take action with it. It’s created fundamental shifts in my life that have empowered me to cross several finish lines, summit many mountains, and develop a strong belief in myself and ability to tackle whatever challenges present themselves to me. As you turn these pages and begin your journey with The Costa Method, throw everything else out the window and really buy in to what she teaches. And always remember one thing: “You are strong. You are healthy. You are capable.” Joshua Dean Church,

Table of Contents Chapter 1: Don’t Worry, You’re Not Stuck Chapter 2: Believe Me, I’ve Been There Too Chapter 3: You’re Supported Step by Step Chapter 4: It’s Not Your Back Chapter 5: Your Body Is Designed to Move Chapter 6: Breathe in, Breathe Out Chapter 7: Poor Gut Health Equals Poor Spine Support Chapter 8: Are You Feeling Supported? Chapter 9 Your Body Absorbs Everything: Thoughts and All Chapter 10: Time Doesn’t Heal, Action Does Chapter 11: Are You Ready? Chapter 12: It’s All Possible for You About the Author Thank You

Chapter 1: Don’t Worry, You’re Not Stuck The worst part of living with debilitating pain for me was not the pain itself but the inability to live the life I wanted to live. My journey through pain, surgery, and recovery to health was a long winding road, full of unknowns and diverging paths. Thankfully along the way, I had the great fortune of meeting Dr. Sofia. Her methods, talent, and ability to treat not just the body but the mind, heart, and spirit have allowed me to live the life I seek to live. It all began for me in 2009 when I experienced a horrible accident during an equestrian polo match. While at full speed running down the sideline of the field, my horse's legs got caught up with another horses' causing me and my horse to crash violently to the ground. Fortunately, I was able to walk away, but this was the inciting event for a long struggle with back injury and pain. For the next few years, I continued to play polo and live my healthy, active lifestyle, surfing, skiing, and working out. But about once or twice a year, I would experience what I called at the time "throwing my back out." I would seize up, and my lower back would be in excruciating pain to the point that I could not move. The pain in my lower back would last a few days, and with rest and basic hot/cold treatment, I would return to normal living. In 2013, I experienced one of these episodes, but this time it was accompanied by sciatic pain down my left leg. Unlike many times before, I could not get it to subside, and it began to increase steadily. It began to impact my everyday life. After months of dealing with it, I decided to go to a specialist and get an MRI to see what the source of the issue was. The MRI revealed that I had bulging discs in the L4/L5 region that were protruding into my nerve column, causing the sciatic pain. At this point, I was 35 years old and had no desire to undergo any type of back surgery. My doctor agreed that I should attempt other methods before thinking about surgery. For over a year, I aggressively explored numerous traditional and holistic treatments from acupuncture to back pain-specific therapy programs and finally even epidural cortisone injections, but nothing was working.

By then, my pain had gotten so bad that I could not do any physical activity and even had trouble walking. While at work, I could no longer sit at a desk and had to lay on the floor, taking phone calls and working on the computer. I was also in a relationship with the woman who is now my wife, and it was torturing both of us. The pain was difficult to deal with, but even more annoying was the inability to be active. I was frustrated and at the end of my patience. It was at this point that I decided my only resort left was to undergo surgery. In June 2015, I underwent microdiscectomy surgery to shave off the protruding disc bulges at the L4/L5 column of my spine. Before the procedure, my surgeon had told me that results and recovery varied for every patient. Some feel immediate relief, some take longer, and some never feel relief or have recurring issues. Thanks to an incredible surgeon and team, my surgery was a success, but still the pain relief was not instant for me. I spent a month in bed recovering and another month beginning to work with a couple of different physical therapists slowly. The pain had lessened but had not gone away and struggled with my mobility and flexibility. I knew the recovery would take time, but negative thoughts had already begun to creep into my mind. I could not help but think, "What if this was as good as I ever felt again?" Physical therapy was not going as I hoped, mainly because I had not found anyone I was comfortable with or who could help explain what my body was going through and give me some kind of road map to recovery. It was at this point that a friend recommended me to Dr. Sofia. In our first meeting, her warmth and energy immediately made me comfortable. I explained to her what I had been through and where I was physically and emotionally, and she asked me some simple questions that, to this point, no one had. What were my goals? What was it that I wanted to be doing? And what was stopping me? My response at the time was simple; I wanted to not be in pain and wanted to feel as normal as possible. At that point, I just wanted to be able to touch my toes. She asked me what about polo, what about surfing? Were these things I wanted to continue to do? I said yes absolutely, but that those goals seemed almost unachievable at this time. Her response was only positive, and she told me that if that was what I wanted to do, then we were going to get me back to doing all of those things,

and we were starting right then and there. Her confidence and certainty helped shift my mindset. My focus pivoted from dwelling on the negative possibilities to believing that my mind and body could achieve what I wanted. Hope replaced with fear. And so, our process began together. At first, it was slow; though my mindset had shifted, my body had been in hibernation for two years, and the little things were hard. We began with bodywork combined with strength and flexibility routines. Through the years, I had been to many masseuses, therapists, healers, etc. And I knew immediately that Dr. Sofia had "the touch." It is difficult to describe, but I believe she has a gift, and that gift combined with her intuition and knowledge of the body allows her to find the root of problems and work with you to address them. There would be many times when I wouldn't mention an issue I was having, and she would go straight to it, connecting the dots of my body. The strength and flexibility portions were humbling in the beginning. I was taking baby steps each time, building up. Dr. Sofia would give me routines and videos to follow between sessions, and her encouragement and motivation helped me put in the work. To this day I continue to use many of these routines the she implemented back then. By March of 2016, my pain had finally subsided, and physically, I felt like I was almost back to normal. But mentally, I was still not quite there. Returning to regular activity and strenuous activity was scary. Fear of injury and of pain returning lingered, and I thought that perhaps just not being in pain was good enough, and maybe I didn't need to do all the things I used to do. The fantastic thing about Dr. Sofia is that it is not just the body she is treating. In our sessions, we would have great conversations about many things, including what was happening in my life, and more often than not, the ebb and flow of my emotional and mental life coincided with my physical and the strengthening of one was the strengthening of the other. In one of our sessions, we were discussing riding horses. She asked if I had thought about doing it again. I had but was not sure I was strong enough and ready. She told me that if it was what I wanted to do, my body was prepared. And I knew then that I just needed to convince my mind. That weekend I got back on the horse for the first time. I did not play polo, I just went for a trail ride, but that small action had rippling effects. My belief that I could return to my full strength intensified.

By the end of that year, with continued work and effort, I had caught my first wave and skied my first run in over two years. That summer, I returned to the polo field and played my first match with Dr. Sofia there to witness it. I also had the great fortune of marrying my wife in June of that year. It has been three years since that time, and I continue to work with Dr. Sofia regularly. The management of my body and mind is an ongoing endeavor, and our sessions are mentally and physically therapeutic. I have always believed in the connection of mind and body and working with Dr. Sofia has only enhanced that belief. Dr. Sofia's thirst for knowledge and for new methods of improving life are endless, which I love. She has continued to grow and evolve through the years I have known her and is on a constant quest to better herself and her practice. The connection between mind, body, emotion, and spirit is real, and I believe that to heal one aspect truly, you must look at all aspects. I can genuinely say I would not be living an active and happy life if it was not for her assistance. I continue to play polo, surf, and golf. This last year I completed my first triathlon, and as I write this, I am training for my first marathon. At 40 years old, I feel that I am in the best physical condition of my life, and the positivity and joy that comes from my ability to engage with the world in the way I want physically brings joy to all other parts of my life. The journey continues, and I hope to continue to challenge my physical and mental being and to live as Dr. Sofia would say a wholehearted life. – T.J. You know that feeling you feel when you're able to do what you love? There's no way you'll allow anything to hold you back or stop you from experiencing that feeling. You've identified yourself with what makes you feel free because being able to move and dive deep into what lights you up give you a sense of liberation. This feeling comes from the body's innate need to move. You feel like your best self when you're able to play your favorite sport, go on a hike, travel, lift weights, surf, play with your kids, yoga, whatever it may be – you've identified yourself with the activity because it allows you to feel alive. But what happens with that identity when back pain stops you from enjoying what you love?

You feel scared, afraid, and overwhelmed, experiencing emotional stress with thoughts going through your mind "What if I can't play tennis anymore? What if I can't bend down to pick up my kids and hug them? Is this something I have to deal with for the rest of my life?" Worry consumes you, and it blocks you from being your best self. The connection you have with your body disappears. You feel irritable when you feel your back hurting; the pain affects how you communicate with people around you because you become overly reactive from continually having to tolerate discomfort, and it's disrupting every aspect of your life. Without being able to perform and do what you love, who are you now? How are you going to get back to what you love? How can you stop worrying? Is this something you must deal with for the rest of your life? Well, first, you don't have to do anything, it's a choice. It's all a choice. You get to choose whether you stay stuck or not. You get to decide on what you need to do to feel the sense of freedom you've been craving because you think you've lost it. This pain has taken your identity away, and now the pain has become your new identity. But how did you reach this point? Let me guess. You're playing your favorite sport, or you're bending down to pick up your kids, or you're paddling as fast as you can to catch that wave; then, all of a sudden, you feel a sharp pain in your back. You feel scared and worry if something is severely damaged, but at the same time, you feel so good playing that sport, paddling to catch a wave, or anything active that you're doing. So, you choose to ignore it and keep going. "Ah, it's okay, it will go away on its own." As the days continue, you continue to feel the pain in your back with specific movements. You tell yourself, "If it keeps going, I'll go see a doctor to get it checked out." A couple of months go by, and you're noticing you're not performing as well. Your body isn't moving like it used to. Doing simple things seems to aggravate the back a bit, and sometimes you're waking up with pain and stiffness. You're not feeling so alive and free while you're playing your favorite sport while picking up your kids to hug them, or while paddling to catch that wave. You're beginning to feel restricted because your back continues to hurt, and now it's limiting you in more ways than one. To stop the madness, you schedule an appointment to see a doctor. The doctor

examines your back, asks you basic questions, concludes that you strained it, gives you a diagnosis, prescribes something for you to take daily, and recommends physical therapy. So, you do what anyone else does: you follow what the doctor says; you take a pain med (or not), you do physical therapy or see a chiropractor. And this becomes a routine: wake up, do the exercises your physical therapist recommended, play your favorite sport, pick up your kids to hug them, paddle out to surf, whatever it is that makes you feel alive again. Now, you do it with more caution. Time goes by, and you feel your back hurt again. Here we go again! This pain is getting annoying; it feels disturbing and limiting because it blocks you from feeling your best, and from enjoying what you love doing. I get it because I've been there, too (but we'll get back to my story in the next chapter). You see, the problem with conventional medicine is that you're seen only as someone with back pain. You're not seen and heard as someone who is struggling with trying to figure it out. And because your back is the only thing being looked at, treated, and cared for, you miss out on the truth of why your back hurts in the first place. You miss out on checking out the rest of the body. It's a disservice to you not to see what else is going on physically, mentally, and emotionally. Back pain is only a symptom. It's not because you're getting old or because it runs in the family or because you have a herniated disc. The truth is, it's not just your back. There's more to it than you think. The pain you feel in your back is an opportunity to create a change in your life in some way. It's an opportunity to heal unhealed wounds. The body sending you pain signals is feedback. Pain signals are the body's way of communicating, urging you to pay attention and check in with yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. You can interpret the pain as feedback for you to create a change in your life in some way, or, stay where you're at, which I believe hasn't been working as well for you. You've learned what hasn't been working. It's time to learn what does.

Chapter 2: Believe Me, I’ve Been There Too “How long have you been doing this for?” is a question I get asked often. “Well, since I was born,” is my typical response. To explain how I started, I must begin with my parents because it was their influence that got me to where I am today. Hearing them talk about patient cases while staying up late trying to figure out how to help them feel better is what inspired me to want to help people too. But I wanted to do it differently. You see, I entered this world into the hands of my parents, who are now retired, medical physicians. My mother worked as a family physician and a wound care specialist, and my father worked as a pediatrician. So, it’s in my DNA to help support people on their journey toward feeling better. But to fully understand how to be that person who can assist others on their healing journey, my life was designed for me to experience pain and struggles so that I can learn from it all and be able to relate with you and support you every step of the way. The pain and struggles life offered me allowed me to gain insight into what works and what doesn’t work when needing to overcome pain. The hard lessons learned inspired me to be the change in the healthcare world, but before I dig deeper into that, let’s start with how the past has led me to you at this moment. My father was a big role model for my two sisters and me to be and stay active. He valued the importance of movement for the health of the mind and body. He believed in the importance of developing an athlete’s mindset – mental toughness to get through the hard times on the field and off the field. My sisters and I entered the world of sports and athletics when we were young, performing in various sports such as gymnastics, soccer, and tennis. In addition to soccer and tennis, I branched out solo from my sisters and got into martial arts and lifting weights. Living my life as an athlete at the time was an outlet for me. It created space for me to compete, build mental toughness, learn my weaknesses as well as strengths, but the best part of it all, it created space for me to feel free. It was a platform to release all the stress and frustrations from the day and leave it out on the court. Playing a sport also taught me about teamwork and supporting each other as they performed too. By the time I reached middle school, playing tennis had become my identity. It was who I was. I used to wear a shirt that read, “Tennis is Life.” And to make it on the varsity high school tennis team as a

freshman, of course, it felt good to be part of something. But that identity was taken away from me. Feeling free and alive disappeared when I experienced my first life-changing injury when I was sixteen. My life changed at age sixteen It all started with my left leg swelling up out of nowhere. It felt like shin splints, so I ignored it for a while and continued to go to tennis practice and play. But my gut kept telling me to let my parents know, and when I did, my father would say, “You’ll be fine in three days,” which were his magic words whenever my sisters and I had any complaints. In all honesty, usually, it was true, in three days, the pain disappeared, and we would feel better. But, this time, it was different. It took more than three days and my leg was worsening. Long story short, my parents took me to see a physiatrist, Dr. Cynthia Garcia. (Side note: she was the one who initially planted the seed for me to pursue physical therapy as a profession. Later in life, I realized this leg injury was a blessing in disguise and happened for a reason). Okay, back to the story. After she examined my leg, she placed me on crutches for two weeks. No change with symptoms afterward, so she referred me to an ortho surgeon, who diagnosed me within thirty seconds of seeing my leg. “You have anterior compartment syndrome, you need a leg cast for two weeks, and you need it now,” were the words he told me. After two weeks in a leg cast, leg brace was next for an additional four weeks. I felt anxious, thinking I wouldn't be able to play tennis again. Since I was persistent with my parents that I would do whatever it takes to play tennis again, they took me to a strength coach to help me build muscle again since my left leg atrophied significantly. After two weeks with him, starting slow by learning how to walk on the treadmill, my left leg began to hurt again – oh man, here we go again! MRI results revealed a hernia on the outside of my ankle, which is very rare. Doctors told me at the time that if I wanted to play tennis again and stay active, I needed to get surgery – a fasciotomy. Mind you, I was diagnosed with anterior compartment syndrome in May 1999 and had the surgery in October 1999. Determined to get back on the court, I did the exercises I was shown by a physical therapist on my own every single day. I also visualized myself playing by closing my eyes and imagining myself

playing again. I even created a vision board of all things related to tennis and winning because it helped me stay motivated and hopeful that it's all possible for me. Three months later, the left side of my lower back began to spasm. A different type of pain I had not felt before. To be honest, it felt like there was an alien poking the left side of my back repeatedly. I couldn’t sit, stand, or walk long distances because the pain would limit me. My parents took me to the physical therapist again, and I remember he even had a hard time figuring it out. He would be sweating doing the hands-on techniques to help me gain more movement in that area to help the back muscles calm down. But the relief only lasted for several hours before it would come back again. I tried electrical stimulation, Icy Hot, muscle relaxers, ice pack, and a heating pad, which only provided temporary relief. Two weeks with the physical therapist, and then I transitioned back to the strength coach to gain strength again. The strength coach became my mentor as I dealt with the emotional stress of dealing with my left leg after the surgery and my back. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to perform the way that I used to. I wondered if I would ever be able to run, sprint, and do all the things I loved doing. Is this something I would have to deal with for the rest of my life? Everything was left to the unknown whether I can get back on the court and perform the way that I used to. Lifting weights became my new outlet to release the worry and uncertainty, and a year later, I got back on the court and gradually started to play again. I had moments of when my back would flare up, but I would take an anti-inflammatory pill as prescribed anytime I felt pain, and I pushed through it because I had a strong urge to play again. I needed to feel free and alive again. By the time I was a senior, I had tried out for the varsity team again, qualified, and voted Team Captain. It was one of the best moments of my life. I played the entire year, even qualified for regionals. And guess what? I played better than before my injury because I stayed consistent with the strength coach the whole time, and I learned, then, the power of training for your sport rather than using your sport to train. This experience is what inspired me to learn anything and everything about the body. I wanted to learn more about what happened with my own body and how I can help people not go through what I went through. As the years went by, I felt back pain occasionally. I also developed

other health issues. Yes, I stayed active during those years by becoming a personal trainer as soon as I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology at Texas A&M, worked as a Tier 3 Master Trainer at Equinox Fitness in Miami, then earned my Doctorate in Physical Therapy in California. But I still couldn’t figure out why I was having a hard time gaining longer-lasting relief. I understood the physical aspect of it all – so what was I missing? It’s been more than ten years dealing with this. So, I decided not to feel stuck anymore. An ER visit led me towards non-conventional medicine It wasn’t until I was thirty-one years old when I got a reality check. During that time, I was working in an outpatient ortho PT clinic, treating fifteen to seventeen patients per day. I felt tired all the time and didn’t feel my best whatsoever. I felt unhappy with not being able to provide more support for patients. Rushing to treat a patient every fifteen to thirty minutes is not quality care. The diagnosis written on a medical physician’s prescription was the only thing allowed to be treated at the time. I was only allowed to address where the pain is. That approach didn’t sit well with me. At one point, I was sick for several days, and when I returned to work again, I started feeling heart palpitations, and my resting heart rate at that time was 120 bpm. A colleague recommended I go to the ER, and I was admitted within ten minutes because my vitals were off. After several tests, the ER doctor said, “Blood work shows you tested positive for a pulmonary embolism. You need a CT scan now to confirm.” In that moment I felt scared and shocked, but maybe that would explain why I had a low-grade fever for five days and a resting heart rate of more than 100 bpm. So, I got the CT scan, and the results were negative for pulmonary embolism. Lungs were clear and so was everything else. “I don’t know how else to explain this because your symptoms correlated with a possible pulmonary embolism. It seems like your symptoms are due to stress. I suggest you take several days off work,” ER doctor told me. I thought, “Wow! Okay, cool, I’m glad CT scan is clear, but stress? Really? Stress can really do that do the body?” That moment was one of many catalysts for me to wake up and pay attention to what my body was trying to tell me. If stress can do that to the body, then that means there’s more to pain than I thought. And the diagnosis

is not the answer as to why you’re feeling pain in the first place. Getting a diagnosis doesn’t solve the problem. Treating only the symptoms doesn’t solve the problem either. So, maybe it wasn’t just my back that was the main issue this entire time. Maybe there’s a deeper reason behind why I wasn’t feeling my best in the first place. I had two options: stay where I’m at or act toward getting out of my comfort zone and reclaim my health by doing something out of the norm and lean into something I have yet dove into. And that would mean not going the conventional medicine route. I witnessed first-hand the gap with conventional medicine, watching my parents express their frustrations of not being able to spend more time with patients, and wishing things were different. Being treated conventionally myself, I witnessed the gaps then too and learned that it does serve its purpose to a point, especially with emergency case, but I also gained insight into what doesn’t work. The truth is, conventional medicine gives you a diagnosis based on your symptoms, prescribes a band-aid solution, and sends you off on your way. It’s then up to you to figure it out. So, after the ER scare, I chose a non-conventional, integrative approach to figure out the why behind it all. I made an appointment with an acupuncturist and functional medicine practitioner who helped me realize that emotional stress, past traumas, and stomach issues led me to where I was. She treated more than just the physical pain and helped me connect the dots and view everything in the body as a relationship. She provided me with a plan specifically designed for me, and within two months, my life changed again, but this time, for the better. My back pain went away, my energy levels went up, and I began to feel lighter, and it was only the beginning. Those two months gave me the tools that set me up for the rest of my life. And building on that foundation of creating a lifestyle change for myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I wouldn’t want to go back the conventional way. The discovery of learning the language of the body physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually has led me to create an integrative approach that has not only helped me feel limitless and free but has helped many others as well. And because of that journey, I’m here to support you on yours.

I’m not your typical Doctor of Physical Therapy So, no, I am not your typical Doctor of Physical Therapy. I challenge you to dig deeper so that you realize there is more to your pain than you think. I create awareness that your body is a relationship, and this pain that you’re feeling is an opportunity for you to make a lifestyle change. I create space for you to be seen and heard during a session and support you afterward, so you’re not alone on this journey of learning the language of your body. I help you understand the why behind it all. I challenge you to realize that your pain or the funk you’re feeling has a physical, mental, and emotional component to it all. I get to the truth by asking questions about your childhood to the present moment. I ask how you’re feeling because, believe it or not, more than 50 percent of the pain is trapped emotions. I incorporate gut health because why would you leave your second brain out of the equation when wanting to get rid of your pain? I challenge your brain and nervous system to be reprogrammed. I guide you into rewriting your story so that you can begin an inside-out healing experience and unleash the best version of you. I get to the truth and speak the truth; otherwise, it would be a disservice to you not to. But it’s not so much what I do, it’s about the experience one gains when we connect. And the experience one feels while helping the body remember how to heal itself is what sets me apart from the rest. How can you help the body remember how to heal itself, especially when you’ve tried everything you can think of and have done everything that you thought was helping? Well, the body can heal itself when you are ready. Being open and willing to commit to actions that allow your body to heal itself is the first step. Readiness and commitment – because I’m sure you don’t want to go back to what doesn’t work.

Chapter 3: You’re Supported Step by Step What you’ve done in the past or are doing now to help your body can be viewed as sprinkling glitter on your life of pain. Doing yoga, journaling, eating well, going to the beach, … that’s all great because that’s glitter in your life. But, you’re sprinkling glitter over trauma that you still hold within. You’re avoiding facing the truth of why your back still hurts. You can’t feel limitless and free until you figure out the hidden burden that’s been holding you back. You can sprinkle all the glitter you want to make the crap shiny, but the crap is still there. And that’s what this book does. It helps you uncover the hidden blocks which are the things you’ve been missing and what’s been holding you back. I wrote this book to guide you, to support you with moving toward staying active without worrying if you’re going to make your back hurt more. This book can only be effective for you if you’re ready to invest your time and energy. If you’re ready to commit and dive into what you’ve been missing. Because to be honest with you, I’m going to ask you to step out of your comfort zone. So, only move onto the next chapters if you’re ready to be uncomfortable in order for you to feel and experience the change you deeply desire. Remember, nothing else has really worked for you. Something needs to change. And that change is dependent on you, no one else. Choose to make your health and feeling free a priority. That’s how this book can support you. It supports you when you choose you 100 percent. If you’re not ready to make your health a priority, or invest in yourself by choosing you 100 percent, then you can stop reading right here. And when that moment comes for you, when you’re ready, come back to this book for guidance. Now, if you are ready and committed to dive all in because you’re tired of feeling tired with where you’re at right now, then let’s move on and start from the outside-in so that you can overcome back pain from the insideout (I love using the term “inside-out” which means working from the inside - mind, emotions, what you eat, absorb and can’t eliminate to the outside. You’ll see this used repeatedly throughout the book, so wanted to bring clarity on what “inside-out” refers to): Chapter 4: Begin to learn why your back hurts in the first place and why treating only the back is not effective. Chapter 5: Reconnect with your body by being aware of how

you sit, stand, and move. I’ll give you tips on how you can scan your body to gain a deeper sense of why your posture is the way it is. By connecting in this way, it will help you figure out why sitting, standing and moving is important for the health of your spine. Chapter 6: Understand how diaphragm breathing helps decompress your spine and learn a breathing technique you can start doing daily. Chapter 7: Discover how your daily food choices contribute to the health of your spine. You’d be surprised how the health of your gut determines how your spine is supported. Chapter 8: Learn how emotional stress and trauma contribute to more than 50 percent of pain. It’s time to feel your feelings and move through the pent-up emotions you’ve been avoiding for so long. Chapter 9: You have control over your thoughts, words, and actions. Learn how thoughts and words contribute to your back pain or how you can help alleviate it with your thoughts alone. Chapter 10: Time doesn’t heal. Action does. Your back pain won’t go away on its own. You must choose to take daily actions toward how you want to feel every day. I recommend reading this book in sequential order the first time. Afterward, you can begin to integrate everything because everything works together in a rhythmic way – one component needs the other for the body to feel fully supported and remember how to heal itself. If you follow this process, you will experience a change within yourself that will support you with feeling whole, vibrant, balanced, limitless, and free! And you will no longer be identified by the pain you’ve been enduring, rather you will become the person you were meant to be in the first place. Ready? Let’s start with understanding the root cause of your pain.

Chapter 4: It’s Not Your Back It can feel scary when you’re going about your day, bending forward picking things up from the floor, or playing tennis, playing soccer with your kids, lifting weights, and feel a sharp twinge in your back – a pain that takes your breath away, a pain that shocks your entire body. “Oh no, my back! Ugh, the timing of this happening is not okay. Great, now what? What do I do? Do I ice it? Do I lie down? Do I need to go to the doctor right away?” All these thoughts running through your mind, along with feeling uncertain and scared that something wrong just happened and wonder what’s the best thing to do to feel better. So, what do you do? Typically, you go for pain med, put ice on it, and go about your day if you’re able to move around a bit. But is that doing anything? Is that solving the problem? Sure, you feel better for a bit because physiologically, the pain med, and ice are doing something for the body to alleviate the pain you felt in your back. But how is that sustaining for the long run? What is that doing to your body? I remember when my younger sister had surgery at the age of seventeen to help “fix” the herniated disc MDs said she got when she was playing soccer. MRI results confirmed two herniated discs in her lumbar spine, and they told her that the only way to help fix her back for her to continue playing soccer at the elite level that she was playing was to have surgery. So, she did. And she was able to play first two years at a Division 3 university in Dallas, Texas. She played her heart out since she was five. She underwent extensive physical therapy to get her back on the soccer field, took pain meds and anti-inflammatory pills daily because she was told to and thought that was the right thing to do. Several months after physical therapy, she gradually began to play again because that’s what gave her purpose. Playing soccer is what lit her up inside; it was her freedom to be out there on the field supported by her teammates, and quite frankly, she was one of the best. On the field, she was resilient, fierce, and powerful. She was in her element and that carried over off the field too. But, two years after her back surgery, her pain continued in her back, and she felt sciatic symptoms that were supposed to go away after surgery. MDs had told her when she was seventeen that it was all going to go away, yet, here she was, feeling back pain and sciatic symptoms as if she didn’t even have the surgery at all. She reached a point in her life where she had to choose whether to keep pushing

through her pain to continue playing soccer or stop to help her back feel better. After several months feeling uncertain, experiencing an inner turmoil that gave her stomach issues, and scared to make her back pain worse, she made a decision that changed her life forever. She chose to stop playing and try to live a “normal” life – a life without playing soccer. Because her identity was attached to being able to play soccer, she entered a deep depression when she had to quit. She continued to experience back pain, was placed on antidepressants, and felt lost. She gained weight because she didn’t have her sport to stay in shape, and well, she lost herself. I remember driving to Dallas to see her and support her in any way, and I would find her on the couch, not moving, feeling helpless and hopeless. “There must be a better way,” I thought. There must be a deeper reason why her back still hurts even after surgery, even after physical therapy, even after taking pain meds and doing all the things she was told to do by various healthcare practitioners. Can you relate? Have you felt the same and thought there must be a deeper reason as to why your back still hurts? Well, that inner voice you hear asking the tough questions serves a purpose, and that’s the language of the body communicating with you that the reason all the things you’ve tried haven’t worked is because you have yet to get to the truth as to why your back hurts. You see, your back doesn’t work by itself. Your back connects with the entire body. So, to treat only the location of the pain is a disservice to yourself. Conventional medicine can only take you so far. That approach is to treat where you feel pain and send you off on your way. The truth is, taking pills, putting ice on it, doing physical therapy, and getting an MRI doesn’t get to the truth as to why your back hurts in the first place. They are band-aid solutions, giving you temporary relief. They are quick fixes, and by continuing to aim for quick fixes, your body won’t heal from deep within. Your back will continue to hurt, and other joints will begin to hurt as well. The function of your organs has trouble absorbing the nutrients your body needs and eliminating when you take NSAIDS and pain meds. Taking these pills also blocks cell-to-cell communication. And because of that, you end up creating stagnant energy, like it’s LA traffic inside your body which results in feeling stuck and you’re left wondering

why you can’t fully get rid of this back pain. You see, these pills are humanmade and filled with chemicals. Your body is not designed to process all of that, hence the side effects. Your body is designed to be fueled and healed with food that’s Mother Nature made, but there’s more on that in Chapter 7. Getting an MRI doesn’t give you the full picture. It’s only a snapshot of your spine taken in time. The invisible factors related to back pain are not considered. Invisible factors are previous injuries and surgeries, your emotional state, stress levels, quality of sleep, daily food choices, movements you do (if any), and your mental state. And guess what? When MRI results confirm a herniated disc, the majority of the time, the herniated disc is not the main issue. Did you know most of us have a herniated disc? So why do some feel back pain and others don’t even with a herniated disc? The pain that you feel is only the tip of the iceberg, even if you fell off a horse, had a car accident, hurt it while playing your sport or by simply bending down to pick something up. As I mentioned before, MRIs are only a snapshot taken in time. Your body is dynamic and constantly rejuvenating every single second. So, when you take a snapshot taken in time, that image can change several days later because the body has its own intelligence to heal itself, and it’s continuously doing its thing to restore and heal. But that process is stalled when you take pharmaceuticals and when you feel stressed out, angry, frustrated, not sleeping well, and eating foods that further contribute to your pain. To truly heal and end back pain and feel longer-lasting relief, you must look at the body as a vast relationship and learn to connect the dots. Back pain is only a symptom of something else that’s going on. Learn to switch your perspective from viewing pain as something terrible happening to you to seeing pain as an opportunity to create a change – a lifestyle change – a change that creates space for the body to heal itself. And this shift in perspective plants the seed for you to begin overcoming back pain from the inside-out so that you can get back on the field and perform better than you had ever imagined. And to switch your perspective on how to view pain is a choice, and a choice for you to make, because nothing changes if nothing changes. Nothing else has worked for a reason. It’s like playing a broken record, and the time is now to change the track. Pain is a signal sent from the body for you to interpret, but it’s challenging to understand something foreign. Pain is the language that gives you clues about the emotional and mental state, as well as any physical

traumas you had experienced before. It’s a language that gives you clues to the truth, to the deep root cause, to the why. In the next chapter, let’s dig deeper into how movement plays a role in bringing you out of back pain and how creating movement inside your body helps, too.

Chapter 5: Your Body Is Designed to Move Did you know you are taller in the morning as soon as you wake up? How is that possible? You see, the intervertebral discs (the disc in between each vertebra of your spine) receive nutrition at night while you’re lying down sleeping. Gravity isn’t affecting you while you’re lying down. Blood flow and nutrients flow into the disc filling it up with goodness. When you stand up, you’re taller, but as you go about your day standing and sitting all day against gravity, the blood flow, and nutrients leave the disc to go to the rest of your body, so the height of the disc decreases during the day. And the cycle continues – lying down sleeping the disc receives nourishment, during the day, the disc shares the nourishment for the rest of the body. So, wouldn’t you think how you sit, stand and move during the day matters for the health of your spine? You can’t stop gravity from doing its thing, but what you do have control over is how you carry your body throughout the day. Sitting has the most compressive force on the spine. And most of the time we spend the entire day sitting while working, driving, traveling, and watching T.V. No wonder back pain is the most common complaint among adults in the U.S. and the main reason why people miss work. So, how are you sitting right now as you’re reading this? Are you slumped, hunched forward, shoulders rounded? I’m sure you’ve heard it more than once from your mom or dad to sit up straight when you were a kid, but you didn’t know why you had to. I heard it often from my parents, and it would get annoying to the point I stopped paying attention. When you don’t know or understand the purpose of something, it’s challenging to do it consistently. So, here’s what happens to the body when you sit in a slouched position, head forward, and shoulders rounded. Not only is the spine compressed, and the height of the disc decreases, not providing the spine support and cushion for shock absorption, but the organs get squished, too. And when that happens, your breathing gets compromised as well, and your body doesn’t receive the oxygen it deserves and has trouble eliminating carbon dioxide. When breathing gets compromised, it also affects brain function affecting your productivity. How your body digests the food becomes affected too. This affects your overall mood and energy while you’re working, driving, traveling or whatever else you’re doing in the sitting

position. You’re pretty much closing everything off sitting in the slouched posture. How is that helpful for your spine and the rest of your body? It’s simply not. To feel how closed off this feels, I want you to hunch forward, round your shoulders, and now take a deep breath in and out. Now raise your right arm and bring it down. How did that feel? Restricted and limited, right? So, let’s change that right now. Mind-body connection Visualize the top of your head reaching toward the sky – go past the ceiling, aim higher. As soon as you do that, your body elongates, you grow taller, and with that alone, you begin to decompress the spine actively, create space for your organs and you reduce the compressive force acting upon your spine and body. Bring your shoulders down and away from your ears to create space between the ears and shoulders. Now, dig your heels into the ground, and you’ll feel your butt muscles contract – by the way, these muscles support your spine and hips. Now take a deep breath in and out. Now raise your right arm. I bet you gained more movement of your right arm reaching, huh? And your breath probably felt deeper. Three simple steps to actively decompress your spine, create space for your organs, improve breathing, and gain more range of motion when you move. Imagine being able to do this all day throughout the day just by following these three easy to follow steps. These simple steps are the foundation for reducing back pain. If you’d like to see how to carry yourself in the sitting and standing position in more detail, check out my YouTube video here You might also be wondering why it is challenging for most of us to sit upright, to walk with our chest open and move with confidence. The body adapts to what you do all day, and it changes when you’ve experienced physical trauma before. The body is so intelligent that it will do anything to keep you moving forward. To take note of how your body has adapted, lie on your back with your legs straight and eyes closed. Scan your body from heel to base of your skull. Is there more weight on one heel versus the other? Are your feet turned out? Is there more space behind your knee versus the other? Is there more weight on one side of the hip? Is there a lot of space in the low back area? Is the weight behind the back of your skull even? Where do you feel the tension? What you’re doing by scanning and taking mental note of the

differences between both sides of your body is building a mind-body connection. When this happens, you become aware of your body even more so than before. Still in lying position with your eyes closed, shift your body, “correct” the differences you noted and notice what muscles you needed to use to bring your body into a more centered position. It’s going to feel challenging because it’s different. Your body hasn’t moved in that way in a long time. But this is a starting point to create a change to bring you out of back pain. Now stay in this position. Set your timer for about three minutes so that the brain begins to reprogram. Breathe into this new position. Notice what happens to the muscles maintaining this “new” and different position. Remember, to create a change on how your body has adapted, you must connect your mind with your body. For three minutes, breathe into this new position. And when complete, gradually stand up and sit and notice any changes. Is it more comfortable to sit in a more upright position? Stand and walk now. Do you feel less restricted? These are essential steps to do daily to enhance mind-body connection, and this carries over toward your movement whether that’s lifting weights, doing yoga, playing your favorite sport. When you begin to master the basics and the foundation of paying attention to your body, the next step is paying attention to how it’s moving. You are safe to move your body When it comes to moving, it can feel scary to move because you’re afraid of making your back pain worse. Or you’ve been told by your doctor or healthcare practitioner to hold off on moving to help your back feel better. But the problem with that is that you’re limiting yourself. You hold yourself back when you’re not moving, and it’s challenging to figure out what movements are best for you. Your body is designed to move. And as my professor in physical therapy school would say, “motion is lotion” for your joints and entire body. Not moving is the worst thing you can do because it limits your body from what it’s designed to do. You’re safe to move even when your back hurts. I understand what it feels like to be told you can’t play your favorite sport or do anything active. But no one can take your sport away from you. No one can take away that joy. You have the power to feel that joy every day. You can play your sport every day. How? By imagining; by picturing

yourself playing your favorite sport and performing how you’ve always wanted. You have the power to do that. Anytime you want to play your sport or do your favorite physical activity, picture yourself playing. Picture yourself performing the way your body is meant to perform. Visualize and feel what it would feel like to be limitless. And guess what? When you do that, it carries over onto the court, onto the field, onto the gym floor or yoga mat. Remember, your body adapts to what you do throughout the day. It doesn’t know the difference between doing the movement or playing the sport, and when you visualize and picture yourself moving your body the way you want. So, you see? No one can take the joy of performing or doing the activity that lights you up. You have access to it anytime you choose to connect and imagine it so. And by doing so, you bring yourself out of fear of making your back pain worse. Visualizing can bring you out of pain and toward performing with more strength and freedom. First of all, I didn’t just injure myself and start developing back pain one day. Before working with Dr. Sofia Costa, it was there for as long as I can remember. So, at the time that I started working with her in 2015, I was about 25 years old and had already been experiencing low back pain for easily, 10-15 years. Naturally, over my lifespan, I blamed this on genetics and growing pains. It seemed logical. When I was younger, I was growing, and my dad is a back-pain victim if you will. His pain runs his life. I can remember him complaining about it for as long as I can remember him being my father. To be fair, he has severe spinal injuries and a lot of other stuff going on. Now, as I got older and started lifting weights, my back pain remained the same as always. No change there. Until one day, I was squatting, and I heard a pop and felt a pinch, followed by a deep tightening in my low back that seemed to suck the air out of my lungs. So, I limped home, put myself on rest, and eventually, my back loosened up, and I was able to return to normal life again within a day or two. Until the next time, it was when I was deadlifting, and then again when I was just messing around at the beach with friends. Each time it got worse, and the chronic pain became more intense and even more consistent than usual. But nothing I hadn’t been used to; I suppose. Here’s a twist, though. At the time, I was working as a personal

trainer and showing people how to exercise “properly.” Luckily, I wasn’t too ashamed to discuss my own shortcomings with my clients (probably because back pain seemed so normal to everyone, unfortunately) because it was one of my long-time clients who happened to be neighbors at the time with Dr. Sofia Costa. He referred me to her, and I figured at this point it would be stupid not to give something else a try. I wanted to feel strong again. When I met Dr. Sofia, she heard me out and started with just basic movement testing and examination. On the surface, it was apparent that I wasn’t moving properly. She was immediately able to point out that I was struggling with basic movements on one side alone, and the source was coming from tissue damage originating from a surgery I had for my heart when I was very young. There wasn’t much feeling in that area of my back, and it was leading to a lot of faulty movement patterns. She was able to help me reconnect with that part of my body, which helped with the back injury and movement aspect. We even worked on dramatically improving my lifting technique through visualization. For instance, understanding what a proper squat was supposed to look like, through watching videos and taking videos of my lifts for feedback, then being able to visualize myself doing the movements before performing. This was critical for me to increase my positional awareness and technique, as well as becoming proficient and safe on an advanced level. But this wasn’t what really helped with the chronic pain. As I got stronger and learned to move properly, I healed up. But the chronic pain was still there until Dr. Sofia helped me address that problem more specifically. This is where things got very interesting. During one of our sessions, she was just working along my scar tissue around my rib cage that had developed over the year after my surgery (it was transthoracic heart surgery, entering through my rib cage, so lots to work on there). I can remember Dr. Sofia’s word distinctly as follows: “So, as I start working on this area, don’t be alarmed if some strong emotions come up. Just let them flow.” Being a 20-something young male at the time, these words sounded a little ridiculous to me. Emotional? Not me. I’ll be fine. I did not anticipate what happened next. As she was doing the work, and mind you, it was very gentle hands-on work that was entirely painless, something stirred in me. I felt an intense and

uncomfortable rush of anxiety and emotion, followed by an intense feeling of fear (honestly, the fear part was probably in part from my resistance to being emotional; I was scared to express myself on many levels at the time). The experience had me really shook. I had no idea where that anxiety, and what I could describe as intense sadness, came from. When I stopped her and told her what was happening, Dr. Sofia assured me that this was normal, and that emotions can be trapped in the body, linked to experiences of one’s past. Our guess was that this was unprocessed emotional trauma from being too young to process being cut open and having massive heart surgery, among other things linked to that time. The thoughts and feelings that came up over the next month or so, along with more work with Dr. Sofia, were very revealing. It felt like, for the first time in my life I was remembering being six years old and experiencing all of the stress and emotions that went on around me as I had to go through surgery, but was too young to process at the time. Now, here’s the part that matters most. The back pain went away. For the first time in my life, I was no longer experiencing chronic pain. I could even still feel the tissue damage from my initial injury, but again, there was no recurrent pain. I could feel the point of injury, the herniated disc. I could agitate it in the gym even, but the pain would not persist. No more chronic pain! Over the following years, the pain would return from time to time, but it was never without obvious emotional coupling. And each time, I would uncover more about my trauma. I would go right back to that time in my life and let out the emotions and fear it was conjuring, and I would grow from it. Then the pain would leave again and wouldn’t come back for even longer. I would say the most significant change that Dr. Sofia helped me make, to rid me of back pain, was to show me how pain is mostly an excuse to hold ourselves back. This year I turn 30. I am a completely different person, and I no longer suffer from chronic back pain. – Griffin B. Check out this three-movement sequence you can begin doing now to move your way of back pain so that you can stay active without limits. This movement sequence is excellent to do before you go on a walk or do any type of

physical activity. You can do this movement first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed. Remember, your intervertebral disc receives nourishment while you’re sleeping, so prepping your body with this sequence in the morning and before you go to bed will further enhance the nourishment your spine craves. Create flow within Okay, so we’ve covered how your intervertebral discs receive nourishment, how you can begin to actively decompress the spine by paying attention to how your carry yourself throughout the day, how past physical trauma affects your posture, the importance of mind-body connection and movements you can begin doing to bring you out of back pain. As I’ve mentioned before, your body is designed to move – but we tend to forget that the body is designed to move inside, too. Your body heals when there is movement and flow within. The body has all kinds of flow: nerve flow, blood flow, lymphatic flow, meridian flow, and energy flow. Most of the time, your back hurts when there’s a blockage of flow within. Imagine you’re stuck in L.A. traffic. You feel stressed you’re going to be late, your heart starts racing, your temper is short, and it’s affected your overall mood. This is what your body feels when there’s L.A. traffic inside, and it sends signals, like back pain, for you to pay attention and figure out where you have L.A. traffic. If your body isn’t clear of traffic, it affects the health of your entire body. Let’s dig deeper on the meridian and energy flow. The study of meridian and energy flow has been around way before conventional medicine developed. For the past 5,000 years, Chinese medicine has used meridians and energy flow to assess the health of one’s body. Shaman healers as well. The Chinese word for “life energy” is “qi” (pronounced chee), and it is believed that one’s health is related to having a clear, flowing qi. The earth also has life energy that continuously flows, and since we humans are part of nature, we share qi with the planet too. Meridians are like the rivers of the body, and the chakras (nine of them in total but we’ll focus on the standard seven) are the pools, the lakes of the body. The chakras are root, sacral, solar, heart, throat, third eye, and crown. Whenever there is L.A. traffic in one of the chakras, the organs and the area of the body associated with the chakra gets affected. Typically, when you feel back pain, the root, sacral, and solar chakras are blocked. If the

chakras are blocked, the rivers going to them (the meridians) are blocked as well – slowing down the flow to the rest of your body. You can focus on moving your body all you want, but if you don’t focus on creating movement within, you’ll feel stuck and stagnant. Below are a couple of ways you can create flow within: 1. Lie on your back with legs straight. Visualize light or water entering your left foot and swirling up your left leg, flowing through every single aspect of that left leg traveling up toward your left hip, pelvis and traveling up toward the left side of your spine, rib cage, heart, chest, collar bone then down your left arm toward your fingertips. Next, see it traveling back up your left arm toward the left side of your neck, face, skull and going over toward the right side of your skull, face, neck, down your right arm toward your fingertips, back up toward your chest, rib cage, the right side of your spine down toward your sacrum, hip, pelvis, down your right leg toward your knee swirling down toward your foot and leaving the right foot. You can visualize the water or light entering the left foot and leaving the right foot three to five times to create flow within, i.e., clear L.A. traffic. You can do this while you’re in bed, getting ready for sleep. You can do this while you’re on a plane traveling. You can do this while you’re in the passenger seat of a car. 2. Diaphragm breathing. Go on to the next chapter for more details. Practice these every day. Remember, you have the power to connect with your body. Choose to move visually and physically. Choose to create flow within to clear the path and remove L.A. traffic. Choose you and the health of your body every single day. Now let’s learn more about the power of breathing and how breathing can stop the pain you feel in your back.

Chapter 6: Breathe in, Breathe Out I entered this world, not breathing. With the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, I didn’t get the chance to take my first breath immediately. It was my father, who was a pediatrician at the time, who brought me to life resuscitating me, giving me the breath that my heart, body, and soul needed to live. The cord was cut for me to break free from what was holding me back from taking my first breath. So, you see? Breath is important for life. Breath means there’s a sign of life, a heart beating. Breath gives us the energy to live our lives. As we grow and are faced with stressors in our lives, faced with traumas, faced with pain, most of us forget to breathe. We forget the power breathing has for us to withstand all types of forces. And when we forget the power breathing has for us, we tend to hold our breath without even realizing it - while sitting in front of a computer, working on a project that has a deadline, while being placed in a stay-at-home lockdown during the COVID19 pandemic, while dealing with back pain that’s limiting you from doing what you love, forgetting about your breath doesn’t support you. Forgetting to breathe means you’re disconnected, and when you’re disconnected, your body will continue to send you pain signals for you to connect. Connect to be aware of how you’re sitting, standing, and moving, but connect to your breath as well. Connect with your breath Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath in. Which hand moves the most? The one on your chest, or the one on your stomach, or are they equal? I bet it’s the hand that’s on your chest that you felt the most movement when you took a deep breath in. Breathing through your chest means you’re in survival mode. You’ve forgotten how to breathe. It doesn’t mean that you can’t; it merely means that stress has taken over your nervous system, and you’ve developed the pattern of breathing through your chest, neck muscles, and shoulders, which is common. Picture a baby, an infant, a toddler. When they lie on their back, you see their belly rising and falling when they are breathing. It’s time for you to remember how to breathe again, but first, let’s talk about the importance of breathing and what happens if you were to continue to breathe through your chest, neck, and shoulders. Remember, breathing is the energy that gives you life, and how that

happens is with the help of the diaphragm, and yes, lungs, too, with the coordination of your entire body. Breathing is rhythmic. Breath represents the ebb and flow of life within you. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the diaphragm before and the importance of breathing through the diaphragm, but did you know it’s one of five structures that make up your core? Typically, when your back hurts, you’ve been told to do core training. Well, how can you do core training when you don’t know how to breathe through the diaphragm? What exactly is the core? The core consists of your abdominals, low back muscles, glutes (butt muscles), pelvic floor, and diaphragm. By breathing through the diaphragm and mastering it as your foundation to build on is a priority, and you can think of diaphragm breathing as part of your core training to help end back pain. To keep it simple without going into hardcore detail of the anatomy of the diaphragm, I’ll share the basics. The diaphragm sits on top of your stomach, right below your rib cage, and has fascial attachments to three muscles that attach to your spine: lats, quadratus lumborum (QL), and psoas muscles. The diaphragm also has three openings: one for the esophagus and vagus nerve, the second for the aorta and thoracic duct (main vessel for the lymphatic system), and the third opening is for the inferior vena cava which is a vein that transports blood back to the heart. Being aware of the anatomy helps you realize why diaphragm breathing reduces back pain and how it can actively decompress your spine. Diaphragm breathing also acts as a natural pumping mechanism for your organs. It also alkalizes your body, calms your nervous system, improves your tolerance to stress, enhances sports performance, gain more focus and mental clarity, and helps improve the quality of sleep. And that’s just scratching the surface of the powerful effects breathing has not only for your back but for your entire body. I remember when I was in physical therapy school, one of the lessons we were learning was the power of breathing and the benefits it has for our body regarding alleviating pain. I volunteered to be a demo for a specific breathing technique. Being a trainer in the past, an avid athlete, I thought I knew how to breathe. Well, the professor proved me wrong. She had me lie on my back in front of the whole class, and she realized when I was breathing, I didn’t have any expansion through my rib cage whatsoever. After cuing me to expand and several challenging attempts from my end, I was able to take a deep breath – a full one – which felt like the first time, and I began

to cry—tears of relief. Tears were leaving my body like it’s been craving and longing for this breath for so long. That’s when I had an ah-ha moment about the power breathing has and when you think you’re doing it, there’s always room for improvement, to fine-tune the mechanism itself to help your body further out. Mind you, I had been experiencing back pain during that time as well, so, of course, once I began implementing various breathing techniques for myself, it began to help alleviate my back pain, too (and also helped with more things too which we’ll dig deeper on in the next chapter). Diaphragm breathing needs to be your first go-to thing to do as soon as you feel pain as well as something you must do daily. Often, we wait until we feel something hurting in our bodies to do something about it; we wait until the pain worsens, wait for a diagnosis. Why wait? Let’s start now by remembering how to breathe through the diaphragm. Let’s connect with our breath. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the base of your skull supported with a rolled-up towel, so the neck is in a neutral position. Place one hand over your heart and the other below your belly button. Take a deep breath in. Retake a mental note on which hand is moving the most. Take three breaths in. Now let’s isolate. Take a deep breath into your chest, breathe in and out into the hand that’s on your chest five times. Then breathe in and out into the hand that’s below your belly button five times. Now place your hands on the side of your rib cage and breathe into your hands; your breath needs to expand laterally – out to the side. Breathing is multi-dimensional, so connect with your rib cage and breathe into the rib cage five times. Place your hands over your chest and below your belly button again and integrate everything: chest, belly, rib cage – five breaths. Now you’ve just reprogrammed the brain and nervous system to remember how to breathe. You isolated first and then integrated. This is a practical approach to do before you begin the next breathing technique, which is called box breathing. Box Breathing Technique Staying in the same position with one hand over your heart and the other below your belly button, set your timer for five minutes, then breathe in for a count of four to six seconds, hold your breath for a count of four to six seconds, breathe out for four to six seconds, hold your breath at the end for four to six seconds. Do this repeatedly for a total of five minutes. This will

bring you out of pain and out of feeling stressed. Check out the breathing technique video here This breathing technique is great to do first thing in the morning when you wake up and right before you go to bed. I also recommend breathing through the diaphragm with hands placed on the belly while you’re at a red light, waiting in line, any pause in your life, breathe through the diaphragm. Any stillness use that as an opportunity for you to connect with your breath. You’ll begin to enjoy the stillness and any pause in your life – it creates space for you to connect with your body and with your breath to give your body energy and vitality. I’m a male age 56, and two years ago, I was in a lot of lower back pain. I was finding it hard to surf or exercise, so I did what most do and got an MRI. I wanted to see exactly what was wrong and what to do about it. The MRI showed that the space inside one of my vertebrae was calcified. This material filled up the space between the vertebrae walls and the nerves running through that part of my spine, causing nerve pain. The doctor recommended surgery to remove the material and give the nerves the relief they needed, thus reducing my discomfort significantly. Sounded about right to me. I could see the MRI, and everything the surgeon was saying seemed to make sense. But was I ready to have invasive back surgery? I’d never really heard anyone say that their back surgery went perfectly, and it totally helped them, so I looked for a second opinion. That’s when I met Dr. Sofia Costa. I told her what was going on, showed her the MRI/diagnosis, and she said, “Give me a month, four visits, and then make your decision about surgery.” That seemed reasonable. She explained to me that the material surrounding my nerves was inflammation, and she showed me many techniques during those four visits that, when applied to my daily routine, reduced that inflammation and thus reduced my pain by about 80%. After that month, I chose not to have the back surgery, but instead use the techniques that Dr. Sofia taught me to manage pain in a way that would get me back in the water to surf and back in the gym. The two things that stuck with me the most are the breathing and walking tips to relieve that pain in my lower back. The breathing especially helps with everything. Here’s the thing: it’s not easy to keep up with the techniques, and

when I neglect them, my pain returns, so I’ve learned not to ignore them, which allows me the freedom to do what I want athletically. It’s been nearly two years, and I’m confident that I made the right choice. If you find yourself in this same position, mostly crippled and bent over, I highly recommend you see Dr. Sofia before you elect to have back surgery. There are no miracle cures, but she came pretty close! – Gary A. Diaphragm breathing also improves your performance. Coordinate your breathing with movement, whether that’s yoga, lifting weights, running, playing tennis or anything active – focus on your breathing while moving your body. Remember, diaphragm breathing actively decompresses your spine, which will help you even more so during any type of physical activity – even while doing chores around the house. I’ve always had trouble with my breath. Something about the sound of my exhale has always felt too “loud” or “intimate” to share—especially at the gym. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an urge to stifle and hide my breath as much as I could, especially during a workout. I mean, being out of breath is a sign of weakness, right? My session with Dr. Sofia started with an exercise in breathing. I laid face down on the ground with my head on my forearms and was asked to breathe deeply for 3 minutes; 8 seconds inhale, 8-second hold, 8 seconds exhale, 8-second hold. It was hard. I had done breathing exercises like this before, but something about being on my stomach drew focus to how much I was struggling to breathe simply. As we started the training, I mentioned my struggle with the exercise to Dr. Sofia, and we talked about it. I told her about my long journey with discovering my breath, especially as a trumpet player. I had worked for many years on my air with private instructors, and I know many techniques that help manage performance anxiety and boost breath control, but something about the “gym setting” had always thrown that knowledge out the window. Especially something about the sound of the exhale. Dr. Sofia asked me about that: “Were you ever told to be quiet as a kid? Were you allowed to cry?” I laughed. A lot of instances crossed my mind at the question—it almost seemed silly of her to ask. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to cry. It was a sign of weakness, right? She smiled, and we talked about my experiences. I recalled a time in

my youth where I had hurt myself doing yard work and was told to “stop crying like a baby” and to “man up”. “I’m about to release you of all of that, you ready?” Dr. Sofia said. She told me to imagine talking to my younger self while he is crying. “What did he need to hear at that moment?” I laughed again. As a music educator, I have spoken with many of my students during emotional moments like this. What do I say? I thought for a moment. “I guess…‘you’re going to be okay’...‘it’s okay to cry. Let it out.’” Dr. Sofia encouraged me. “That’s good. What else? Three words.” Of course. “‘I love you!’” At this point in the workout, I was on the second set of weighted pushups and walking lunges. I was putting myself on the floor, in the same position where we started our conversation on breathing 20 minutes earlier. “You are free to breathe,” Dr. Sofia told me. I took a deep inhale and, ignoring my impulse to hide my air as I pressed against the floor, I let out a loud whoosh. The repetitions flew by, and I was so focused on how easy it was, I didn’t realize that I had exceeded my rep count by almost half before I stopped. The walking lunges, a consistent struggle for me, were smooth and empowered. I felt my body moving deeper and more fluidly. There was a significant change in my stamina, and I felt uplifted and powerful. Dr. Sofia’s conversation with me helped to unlock a deeper vault of strength in my body and showed me a connection between my life experiences and my physicality. Hearing that I was free to let go of a childhood “lesson” in hindering myself allowed me to increase my perception of what I can accomplish. Now, my breath is no longer a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. - Joey V. Breathing tends to be taken for granted. Not only does diaphragm breathing support your spine, brain, nervous system, and heart, it also supports your organs, which is what we’ll dig deeper on in the next chapter. Did you know the health of your gut affects the health of your spine, too? Read on!

Chapter 7: Poor Gut Health Equals Poor Spine

Support Remember, five structures make up the core: glutes, abdominal muscles, low back muscles, pelvic floor, and diaphragm. What’s underneath your abdominal muscles and in front of your low back muscles and glutes? Your gut. You can’t get rid of back pain without checking out what’s going on in the front of it. I’m sure you’ve been seeing and hearing more often about gut health and the importance of it. Hippocrates knew back in the day that “all disease begins in the gut.” What does that have to do with your back? Well, pretty much everything. Let’s go over some basic gut facts because this topic can be a separate book. I’ll keep it simple. The information I’m about to share about the gut and the importance of keeping it happy, I learned in greater detail while going through the Functional Medicine Fast Track Program. Functional Medicine is the practice of getting to the truth of why you’re in pain with solutions, such as using food as medicine. I’m grateful I was exposed to that integrative approach at different milestones of my life before I finally decided to go through the program myself in January 2019. You see, the gut is the first thing that encounters the outside world. Well, besides your skin. Your gut consists of the esophagus, stomach, liver, colon, large and small intestines, spleen, and pancreas. Functioning as your second brain, the gut influences the chemistry of your mood, emotions, immune system, and long-term health. It has its own nervous system, which controls digestion and elimination. The gut communicates with the brain via the vagus nerve (remember the diaphragm has an opening for the vagus nerve to go through). The gut houses about seventy to eighty percent of your immune cells and produces about eighty to ninety percent of serotonin – the feel-good hormone. The gut has its own microbiome filled with all kinds of bacteria, so it’s our job to maintain the balance between the good and the bad bacteria. It makes sense that whatever food choices you make can influence your mood and overall function of your brain. When the health of your gut gets disrupted, it can present itself as acid reflux, constipation, gas/bloating, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), brain fog, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and Candida.

How does your gut get inflamed, you may ask? Your gut can get aggravated by taking pharmaceuticals, NSAIDS, pain meds, cortisone injection, an inhaler, antibiotics, and being exposed to environmental toxins, toxic skin products, and stress. Your gut can also get inflamed when you eat processed food filled with preservatives, refined sugar, gluten, and dairy. Did you know one round of antibiotics takes an average of three years for the gut lining to repair? And did you know that breast milk not only builds the immune system of the baby but also helps build and form the lining of the baby’s gut? The gut lining is a protective barrier between the intestines and bloodstream. The cells of the gut lining shed naturally every three to seven days, but at some point, it can’t repair itself as fast as it used to, which can happen at any age. When the gut lining has a difficult time repairing itself, the gut lining begins to develop large holes. Undigested food, bacteria, gluten, and casein (a protein found in dairy) start to leak from the intestines into the bloodstream. The body responds to this by turning on an immune response. Because the body reads these particles as foreign invaders, as the enemy, defenses go up. If this process continues, it can lead to joint pain, thyroid dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, digestive and skin issues, depression, fatigue, and brain inflammation. Also, the body adapts to that inflammation and swelling by twisting, rotating, and leaning more to one side than the other, pretty much affecting your overall posture – hence why an unhappy gut can relate to back pain. And when the gut is inflamed, do you think your abdominal muscles can support and stabilize your spine? Nope. Take me, for example. When I was three, I walked behind my uncle’s black stallion horse, not knowing that it was a considerable risk. The horse kicked me in the stomach, and off I went flying. I remember being picked up by my mom and uncle and rushed into the living room and placed on the sofa. They pulled my shirt up and checked my stomach. And that’s all I remembered, but several years ago, my older sister filled me in on what happened after that. She told me that I stopped crying and went back to the horse to pet the horse. Because I had stopped crying, my mom didn’t feel the need to send me to the hospital to get checked out since I was walking around fine. Little did I know that would affect me later in life. You see, when I first

experienced left-sided back pain at the age of sixteen, no one had asked if I had any other previous injuries. No one asked about the food choices I was making at the time or if I had taken antibiotics or used an inhaler when I had asthma. No one checked anything else. Wouldn’t you think that’s an essential piece of information being kicked in the stomach by a horse when I was three? Things show up later in life, even if the injury was so long ago and even if you thought you could eat anything you wanted when you were younger. It all catches up with you because the body can only withstand so much and will send you signals to pay attention to change something. It all connected for me at the age of thirty-one, when I crossed paths with an acupuncturist and functional medicine practitioner. That’s when I learned how the body is all connected – gut and all. I started my journey of being mindful of the food choices I was making, went on an Elimination Diet (which I like to call Days to Freedom), and that’s when my back pain began to disappear. Restoring the health of my gut was one aspect of it all. The truth is, what you put in your body matters because you are what you eat, what your body absorbs, and can’t eliminate. Nutrients help enhance cell to cell communication. We are the health of our cells. Any time you eat or drink something, you either feed the pain and disease, or you’re alleviating it. If your body can’t absorb the nutrients you give it because you’ve taken antibiotics, have used an inhaler, corticosteroids, and pain meds, the body can’t effectively eliminate. If you’re not absorbing what your body needs and not removing what it doesn’t need, the inside of your body becomes full of toxins, blocking life’s energy - your qi. When your system becomes congested with toxins, the liver and kidneys overwork to help get rid of what needs detoxing. And guess what? Kidneys and adrenals refer pain to the back, and the intestines, too. Other organs that refer to the back are the sexual organs and bladder. And the most common muscles that refer pain to the back are the three that attach to the diaphragm: latissimus dorsi, quadratus lumborum, psoas, as well as muscular imbalances of hip flexors, adductors (inner thigh muscles), and glutes. See how it all comes together? Poor gut health means poor spine support. But, there’s hope for you. It’s not the end of the world if you’ve taken pharmaceuticals and antibiotics in the past. You can begin restoring the health of your gut starting today.

Don’t forget your body loves flow from within. To enhance absorption and elimination, here are some basic tips you can begin now: · Drink fresh squeezed lemon water with a pinch of Himalayan pink salt first thing in the morning on an empty stomach thirty minutes before you eat. · Eat without watching the news, talking, or texting on the phone. Put your phone on silent and be present (mindful) when eating. Learn to integrate your senses while eating. Connect with your food. Think good thoughts. · Chew slowly and take deep breaths – avoid rushing. · Drink water after the first signal that you’re hungry, then wait twenty minutes before you eat (the first signal of hunger could be related to dehydration). Avoid drinking a lot of water or any type of fluid while eating - take small sips instead. Wait ten minutes after eating to drink water to allow the body time to digest the food. · Eat whole organic food. Grass-fed, free-range, wild-caught, pastureraised. · Read the ingredients – if Mother Nature does not design it, don’t eat it. It’s that simple. · Eat leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables. Eat the rainbow – have variety. · Eat the last meal of the day at least 3 hours before going to bed. · Drink herbal teas throughout the day: Chamomile, Peppermint, Ginger, and Allspice (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg) are great for restoring digestion · Avoid fillers like guar gum and soy lecithin. · Avoid canola oil and hydrogenated oils. · Cook with coconut oil, avocado oil, or ghee. · Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night · Take Epsom salt baths one to two times a week. · Move your body every day · Breathing techniques 23 Days to Freedom I also highly recommend being free from gluten, dairy, processed refined sugar, alcohol, and caffeine for a minimum of twenty-three days. The

twenty-three days to freedom can be challenging, but I’ve witnessed great rewards from my clients and for myself as well. I felt lighter, gained energy and mental clarity, back pain diminished, and my performance improved. When you’re tired of feeling tired and done having back issues limit how you feel throughout the day, it’s time to implement things that can help support you with your goals. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Why not do something that helps restore the health of your second brain so that your back can feel better? Remember, your gut houses about eighty percent of your immune cells. Doing the twenty-three days to freedom plan supports your immune system too. Pick a date, plan, and commit to the twenty-three days to freedom plan. When you complete the journey, you can gradually begin to add in the foods you eliminated. The whole point is to learn what your body likes and doesn’t like. If you feel bloaty after you eat, think about what you ate and cut that out for a while. If you feel tired or feel back pain again, assess what you ate that day and begin to make the changes to further support your body with what it needs. This process allows you to pay attention to your body and enhance the mind-body connection. And of course, there’s more to it, and there are other things you can begin adding and removing. The above is a simple list of solutions that you can start to do daily. It’s baby steps - baby steps towards building a strong foundation first because you can’t build a house when there’s a crack in the foundation. You can call it divine timing when I ran across Dr. Sofia’s Instagram and seeing her message to help people with back issues. I took this leap of faith, and by our first conversation over the phone, she saw things in me and my body that were in alignment with the issues I was having. The way Dr. Sofia has guided me and allowed space for my story is something I’ve never experienced, and it’s truly life-changing. When Dr. Sofia first introduced the concept of 23 days to freedom without incorporating dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, at first, I was taken back like “What am I supposed to eat?” But with Dr. Sofia guiding me and helping shift my mind to the freedom of eating anything else, it made me think, “It’s not going to be too bad. I want this change. I need this change.”

As a former competitive soccer player and rower, I used to meal prep Sundays (still occasionally do) for my busy week of school, training and work. I was burning the calories through my workouts and consulted a registered dietician once to get an idea of healthful foods. Currently, I am still rowing, but my stomach always felt bloated, I never liked my stomach to be honest. I would always look at myself in the mirror and notice how wide my stomach was or hips. When Dr. Sofia helped me with tips on what not to eat and the why behind it all, as an avid home chef, I needed to get creative, and this required spending quality time on what I can create to eat. I was in it for the 23 days. I wanted to change my body because what I was eating was all inflammatory foods, swelling up my gut literally from the inside. I remember by the 10th day, I felt more energy, I was able to last longer in rowing practice, and I felt stronger. By the 15th day, I lost two inches off my waist. I even forgot I had back pain because I wasn’t feeling it anymore! It began with my mindset, and I was determined to make a difference. By the second week, it didn’t feel like a burden to not eat this or not eat that, choosing a sandwich when I can eat fresh vegetables, nourish my body, but most of all, actually feel it working for me throughout the day. It’s a daily reminder that our body responds to what we put in it, and you can tell when it thanks you for it. Dr. Sofia has guided me on how to eat healthier and address the feeling of “stagnant” to being more re-vitalized and choosing foods that make my body stronger and energetic. I am forever grateful for the physical, emotional, and mental changes, Dr. Sofia has guided me through because, for the first time, I’m choosing me, and it feels so right. I can feel my younger self jumping for joy, and my older self finally nodding I am on the right path. Thank you for truly and purely changing my life Dr. Sofia. I appreciate your knowledge, compassion, and energy immensely. - Niti R. One other thing that affects the health of your gut and disrupts absorption and elimination is stress. Diaphragm breathing can help with both gut health and lower stress levels. Remember, diaphragm breathing acts as a natural pumping mechanism for your organs. Here is another technique for you to do to support your gut and spine, which is called crocodile breathing.

Crocodile Breathing Technique Lie on your stomach with a pillow underneath it and place your forehead on your hands. Set your timer for five minutes and do the box breathing technique mentioned in the previous chapter. This technique allows the gut to be “pumped” and help create movement for the base of your skull and sacrum. The base of your skull and sacrum are the same shape: an upside-down triangle. When you’re breathing, breathe into your stomach, spine, and your kidneys – send your breath deep towards your sacrum and tailbone. Breathing is multi-dimensional – breathe into your rib cage too, allow your rib cage to expand laterally. Do this for five minutes. You can also do this right before you go to bed. Alternate between the breathing pattern lying on your back with knees bent, then lie on your stomach for crocodile box breathing. Three to five minutes each position. That would be the best ten minutes you can do for your back and entire body! Happy gut equals a happy brain and a happy spine too! Begin gradually, taking one day at a time, implementing the heal your gut tips every single day. Pain is an opportunity to create a change. Why not start with your second brain?

Chapter 8: Are You Feeling Supported? When your back hurts from bending forward, or from overdoing it with an activity, or from experiencing an accident or any type of physical trauma, your body sends pain signals from feeling that physical stress. It sensed danger and sent pain in your back area because that is the most vulnerable spot. Pain goes toward the path of least resistance, so do viruses, bacteria, fungus, and infection. What predisposes a specific area of your body, in your case, the back, to be most vulnerable? I'll go deeper into that in a bit, but first, I want to explain what happens to your body when you experience any type of trauma – physical and emotional. When your back hurts, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode feeling unsafe, which is a sympathetic nervous system driven response. You see, back in the day, during the caveman era, the body was designed to run when being chased by an animal, and it served its purpose for survival - which was great back then if chased by something. Nowadays, we are being chased by deadlines, responsibilities, being pulled in various directions trying to achieve it all only to feel drained by the end of the day and wake up to do it all over again. The body doesn't know the difference between being chased by an animal and being stuck in L.A. traffic needing to be at work on time or needing to restructure your entire life because of COVID-19. The problem with this go-go-go behavior is that it affects your whole body. Being sympathetic-driven for prolonged periods of time predisposes your body to be in a catabolic state, which is known as the breakdown state. Cortisol levels rise, metabolism slows down, melatonin production goes down, inflammation goes up, the immune system begins to shut down, creating a cascade of events that make it harder for your body to recover and rejuvenate. The body gets stuck in survival mode, which doesn't allow your body to heal from an injury or heal from anything at all. If you continue living your days like this, in this sympathetic-driven state, your body gradually enters the exhaustion phase. You wake up in the morning feeling tired, not motivated to get out of bed; energy levels are low, productivity drops, your relationships with others become affected because you don't feel like your best self. You simply don't have the energy to do what you need to do, and overall performance goes down too. The body is not designed to withstand prolonged stress. How can you lower the intensity of the fight-or-flight mode? Because let's be honest, stress will always be there, but you have control over how you

perceive it and much it affects you. To become resilient and improve your tolerance with stress, you must learn how to switch on the rest-digest-repairreproduce mode, which is your parasympathetic nervous system. What helps turn on the parasympathetic nervous system? Below are some recommendations that allow you to slow down the go-go-go breakdown state and shift towards a more rest, digest and recover state: 1. Diaphragm breathing 2. Meditation/Tai Chi/Qigong 3. Journaling 4. Being present and mindful of your thoughts throughout the day 5. Taking breaks during the day to tune in and connect. Rest 6. Walking. Being in nature. 7. Thinking about three things that you're grateful for every day 8. Sleeping at least seven to nine hours 9. Taking baths 10. Becoming aware of emotional state As you can see, some of these are repeats from the previous chapter. But to be honest, the most important one on the list to immediately shift your body towards the parasympathetic state is diaphragm breathing. Breathing sends messages to your body that it's safe. And how cool you've learned a couple of breathing techniques already! Daily routines are usually stress-promoting so any micro pauses you have during the day, like waiting in line, at a red light, washing the dishes, waiting for the water to boil - pause, check-in with yourself and breathe deeply. Breathe in. Breathe out (emphasizing more on the breathing out). The parasympathetic nervous system is primarily influenced by the vagus nerve. This nerve is the longest nerve in the body originating in the brain as cranial nerve ten, then travels down the neck, through the diaphragm to the digestive system, liver, spleen, pancreas, heart, and lungs. Recall from the previous chapter that the vagus nerve helps the gut communicate with the brain. When the vagus nerve is not stimulated because of stress and being stuck in fight-or-flight response (aka low vagal tone), you'll experience constipation, digestive issues, as well as joint pain, emotional distress – pretty much all the things mentioned before in the gut chapter.

In addition to the above list on ways to turn on the rest-and-digest system, you can also hum, sing, rinse your face with cold water or take a cold shower in the morning for about thirty to sixty seconds to stimulate the vagus nerve and further support the parasympathetic nervous system response. The vagus nerve has also been described as the mediator between thinking and feeling. See how it's all connected? Now, let's dive into the feelings. Don't worry, you're safe to feel them. Trapped Emotions The word e-motion means energy in motion – meaning, emotions are meant to move through your body. Often, when you feel stressed, anger, resentment, heartache, and grief, you don't move through it because it feels uncomfortable, and it's much easier to avoid it. Well, when that happens, the emotions have nowhere else to go; it all becomes trapped in your body. More than 50 percent of pain is trapped emotions. Trapped emotions block the flow of life energy, your qi, which leads to inflammation, too. It's pretty much emotional baggage, and often the extra weight you're carrying is related to that. But where do these emotions get trapped? Ninety percent of the brain is the subconscious mind, controlling the function of your organs, cells, the beat of your heart – things that keep your body systems going without you needing to think about it. Ten percent of the brain is the conscious mind, which allows you to use your senses, think, make decisions, move your body, etc. The subconscious mind remembers everything! According to Dr. Bradley Nelson from The Emotion Code, "Every virus, bacteria or fungus that has ever invaded your body, all your injuries, all your thoughts and feelings and the entire history of every cell in your body has all been archived. Your subconscious is also aware of any trapped emotions that your body may be harboring, and it also knows exactly what effect these trapped emotions are having on your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. All of this and more are tucked away in the subconscious mind." I often ask my clients when they first tell me about their back pain "What else was going on around that time with work, home environment, relationships? Did you experience any life-changing events?"

For example, when I initially felt my back hurting on the left side at the age of 16, not only was I recovering physically from the surgery several months before, but I was going through a lot of internal stress relating with the relationship with parents, childhood trauma, and stress with school. Each area of the body holds a different type of emotion, but I'll keep it simple and focus on the regions that refer pain to the back. To share an example of how I connect the emotional component with back pain, below is a conversation that I had in January 2020 with a dear friend of mine. At age 37, he was experiencing back pain and couldn't seem to gain relief. He was undergoing a lot of stress at the time trying to figure out what to do with his work as a personal trainer and if he should move to a different location. He felt an urge to change careers that will allow him to help more people, something in the healing space, but wasn't sure where to start. He felt he couldn't share what he was going through with anyone because of fear of being judged. He held his stress and feelings in. Our conversation was recorded via WhatsApp: Friend: "I've been dealing with this back pain for a month now. It's hard to work, sleep, and now I have sciatica. I can't even walk. But I know this pain is not my back!" Me: "Wow. Not fun when that happens, I know exactly how you feel. And awesome, you know it's not your back. That's step 1. Would you like support on deciphering the message?" Friend: "Yes! Can you help me understand more?" Me: "Okay, so here is a quick intro. Each area of the body holds an emotion. When your back hurts, it is related to not feeling supported – which is exactly what you're feeling right now, not feeling supported in all various ways: financially, in a loving way, in all ways. And so, with everything you've shared, I'm not surprised you're back is hurting, and it's progressively worsening. Which side is your sciatica by the way? It's all about where you're not feeling supported. So, what are you not feeling supported with? Then, look at the rest of the body. You have your kidneys and adrenals. You've been feeling high internal stress trying to figure out your life, you've been in a fight-and-flight response for a long time. When that happens, of course, cortisol levels are high, but the

emotion related to the kidneys is fear of moving forward with something. Kidneys refer pain to the low back as well. So, you're feeling fear of moving forward with something and not feeling supported at the same time. Alright? Then, look at the front. What's in the front of your back. You have your sexual organs, your bladder, root and sacral chakra. So, the root chakra is all about being grounded, deeply rooted, and connected with where you're at right now. So, you need to ask, "Are you feeling deeply rooted and connected with where you're at right now?" And then sacral chakra is all about creativity, passion, sensuality, all of that good stuff, so you're creatively blocked in trying to figure out where you need to go. Right? And what your purpose is in this life, which is the solar plexus, that is related, as well, with feeling confident with what you're doing. So, when the root, sacral, and solar chakras are blocked, it doesn't allow your heart to be fully open to give and receive. Okay. The next thing is the bladder. The bladder retains, it's all about retention, so you're holding a lot of stuff in – that's the emotion it's related with, and you're not really expressing yourself, that's where the creativity comes in, expressing creatively, sexually too. So, you're retaining a lot, which is related to your nervous system being stuck in the go-go-go mode. Yes, you do meditate, but this back pain is also relating to not feeling safe. And your body can't heal until it feels safe, and then that goes back to traumas from birth to the present moment. There is a lot of deep reflection to do, but there is a simple way to do it, and that's what I help a lot of people with. This is part of what I do with my clients when they've been experiencing what you've been experiencing. This is like Phase 1. So, I hope that helps jump-start you with deciphering the language of your body and figuring out how you can feel deeply rooted and connected, how to unleash what you're retaining and gain the courage to move forward with what you're doing with full-on support. So, write those things down and know that I'm here for you. I hope that gives you peace of mind. Be mindful of the thoughts that are going through your mind, as well. But start with that first. Friend: "Wow! Makes a lot of sense for me. So right! My sciatica is on the left side. But what should I do? I am fasting, which helps with the healing and lowering inflammation. Me: "Yea, so fasting can only take you so far. Okay let's get into Phase 2. So, with sciatica, there are things that refer down to the leg.

Left side. It's all about receiving. It's the feminine, nurturing energy. Are you receiving support? Are you receiving love? Are you receiving what your heart and body need? And are you open to receive that? Often, I see blocks with that with left sciatica. And then, think back with the relationship with your mom. Now you really need to dig deep with that one! Because that's affected other relationships in your life. So, it's related to not receiving the nurturing that you deserved from childhood to the present moment. Not receiving support from family and friends – so, this goes deeper now. Because the present moment – stress triggered it – and the stress of not feeling safe, deeply rooted and connected and not having the courage to move forward with something because you're not feeling supported stems back from something in your childhood. Alright? So, this present moment is triggering unhealed wounds from the past. And since it's the left side, think about mama. Right? Then you dig deeper on that; you can go down that journey. Okay? The other thing is the psoas muscle. The left psoas is related to fear of abandonment. There is a huge correlation with left-sided sciatica and the left psoas muscle being involved, and the left psoas muscle is a huge emotional muscle relating with fear of abandonment, feeling neglected, left alone, just left. Then what's near that? The gut. The gut stuff is relating with not being able to digest the events of what's been going on in your life. So, a lot of times with anyone with back issues, you need to incorporate restoring the health of the gut, the digestive fire. So yes, fasting can be part of it, but you need to figure out why your body isn't absorbing what needs to be absorbed and eliminating what needs to be eliminated. Each organ also holds an emotion. So, yea, I can dig deeper into that too. You see? It's layered, right? It's all about simplifying the complexity. So usually I start with phase 1, go through that first, then phase two fine-tuning what you're putting in your body and going deeper with that - figuring out exactly what your body is needing. So, yea, fasting can only take you so far, and yes, so does spirituality, but you must remember the physical component, the mental component, and the emotional component. You must integrate all aspects in multi-dimensional ways, right? It's bridging the gap. And, so, that's why your back pain has lasted for so long. You're missing something. So, figure out what you're missing. I help support clients with figuring out what

they've been missing and bridge the gap, fine-tuning and simplifying the complexity and just doing things daily; even movements can help and all of that good stuff. I hope that helps out." Friend: "WOW! Alright. All you said makes a lot of sense. Is a fact for me." Me: "Ha-ha! This is what I do. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. It's going to be a process for you, but you know what? Layer by layer. And this is such a blessing for this to happen for you to begin to heal these unhealed wounds that you've been avoiding, that you have not wanted to face. So, yea! It's time!" Friend: "Gotcha. Thanks! Challenge." Me: "Yes, mega challenge, but necessary for your growth and expansion." Is your mind blown right now from that convo? Have you ever had a healthcare professional or MD connect the dots for you in that way? I'm going to guess, not lately. And you know what? My friend's back pain diminished after our conversation. The next day he admitted that after gaining awareness and connecting the dots, it gave him relief. This is how you can process why your back hurts. You must get curious about what your body is wanting to tell you. Connect the dots. Everything is related. The right side is the masculine energy, the giver, the doer. The right side also relates to the relationship with the father or a male figure. Are you stuck in the go-go-go behavior, fight-or-flight mode? Do you feel the need to take care of everyone else and leave yourself last on your priority list? Do you tend to over give? Do you have a demanding job? Do you know what else is on the right side of the body? The liver. The liver holds anger, frustration, resentment, irritability. The truth is most of us have felt all those things at some point in our lives. So, anything right-sided, you must check out the liver. Liver Pump Just like joints and muscles need to move, so do your organs. This

technique helps bring love and attention to the liver to support the function of it. In a seated position or on your back with knees bent, place your right hand over the bottom part of your ribcage – this is where your liver is located. Use the heel of your hand to push towards the left side of your body gently. Repeatedly pulse using a gentle pumping motion using the heel of your hand as if you're doing CPR to the liver. No need to be aggressive here. Relax your shoulders, light touch, and gentle pulsating movement. Take a deep breath in, and when you exhale anger and frustration, make the sshhuu sound. Inhale. Exhale anger, frustration ssshhhhhuuuu. Inhale. Exhale anger, frustration shhhhuuu while pumping. If you don't feel comfortable doing the pumping technique, you can simply leave your hand below the right side of the rib cage. It's just as effective because your hands bring healing energy. You can do this for about one minute. Kenneth Cohen, in The Way of Qigong book, explains the sshhhuuu breath sound is the sound to release tension in the liver. In his book, he shares various breath sounds for each organ to further support the function of it. You've learned the liver breath sound, below are breath sounds for the kidney and spleen. Make each breath sound for about one minute. Kidneys: Rub your ears while breathing (not only do ears and kidneys share the same shape, they also share functional similarities between tissues in the inner ear and the kidney. A cool random fact: when babies are born, doctors asses the ears for any defects as a way to check if the baby has any kidney defects – I remember this while learning about embryology during physical therapy school and I was fascinated by it!). Okay, so take a deep breath in, and while you breathe out fear, make the sound chrroooeee. Rubbing your ears also activates the vagus nerve, supporting the parasympathetic response, which we want more of, remember? Spleen: In a seated position or on your back, place the right hand over the left lower rib cage. Deep breath in. Breathe out worry, uncertainty, racing thoughts while making the sound hoooo like the sound of an owl. You can also integrate these organ-specific breath sounds while walking or while doing any type of movement. The colon is related to fear of letting go. Spleen is related to overthinking, racing thoughts, and worry. The spleen is located in the upper

left region of your abdomen and responsible for filtering your blood and fighting infections to support your immune system. Trapped emotions can alter the function of organs. When there's pent up anger, the liver will have a hard time detoxing and doing what it needs to do. When you're having trouble digesting the events in your life, your gut will have a hard time absorbing and eliminating. When you feel scared to move forward with something, your kidneys will have a hard time detoxing and filtering, too. Chakras I've briefly mentioned the chakras before, but I feel the need to share more in detail about the root, sacral, and solar plexus chakras. According to Dr. Alberto Villoldo, who is trained in medical anthropology and studied shamanic healing techniques, each chakra performs a unique function just like the organs do. In his Shaman, Healer, Sage book, each chakra correlates with a body aspect, psychological aspect, gland, and negative expression when blocked. Remember, chakras are the lakes of the body, and the meridians are the rivers. The first chakra is known as the root chakra (red in color). It is located at the base of the spine, the physical foundation, grounding us with Mother Earth. The body aspects are rectum, legs, feet, testosterone, estrogen, testes, and ovaries. Psychological aspects are safety, ability to provide for oneself, stability. Negative expressions when blocked are chronic fatigue, birth trauma, and abandonment issues. When the root chakra is clear and healthy, the mindset of scarcity disappears, and we live in abundance because we are aware nothing is lacking. The second chakra is known as the sacral chakra (orange in color). It is located about four fingers below the belly button. The body aspects are digestion, intestines, bladder, adrenals, adrenaline, lower back pain, and menstrual cycle imbalances. Psychological aspects are fear, self-esteem, the attitude of entitlement, sexual or emotional abuse, and control. Negative expressions, when blocked, are fear and fighting. When the sacral chakra is clear, one can shed negative emotions, express creatively and passionately, and be more intimate with self and others. The third chakra is known as the solar plexus chakra (yellow in color). It is located above your belly button in the stomach region below your sternum. The body aspects are stomach, abdomen, liver, pancreas, spleen.

Psychological aspects are courage, confidence, power, and expression in the world. Negative expressions when blocked are gut issues, low energy, victim mentality, shame, temper tantrums, and pride. When the third chakra is clear and flowing with energy, one experiences fearlessness viewing obstacles as opportunities because the life purpose of serving the greater good becomes clear. Connect the dots Typically, when your back hurts, it's related to not feeling supported either in the present moment or from something in the past. Often the emotional stress felt in the present moment triggers the body not to feel safe, opening an unhealed wound from the past. It can feel challenging to realize in the present moment – most of us tend to blame the current event and are not taught to reverse engineer, which is the process of reflecting upon past events that may have led you to where you're at right now. Travel back in time to figure out where it all originated from to get to the source, to get to the why. And when that process begins, deep healing occurs. I have known Dr. Sofia for a while now, and over the years, she has moved all around, and I have stayed in the same place. Literally and figuratively. She has changed and blossomed into a fountain of knowledge. I could see and hear it in her messages as I watched her on social media. Whenever we spoke on the phone, I often came away from the conversation in a better place. I was watching her stories on social media and thinking, "Oh, maybe that's for me, but I don't have back pain, sure my ABCD hurts, but not my back." Cut to a week later when I threw out my back moving boxes. I was feeling frustrated and mad and picked up a box in a way that wasn't good for my body. I could barely walk, and after lying on the floor, I couldn't get up— hot tears streaming down my face. I couldn't even talk to my fiancé I was soooo mad. Where was this coming from? Why was I so angry, frustrated, and in pain? It took me another week to contact Dr. Sofia. I decided it was time to invest in myself fully—this time for good. I thought Dr. Sofia's program would just be movement-oriented, and with it, I would lose some weight. Thank goodness it was so much more than I

imagined. Within the first session of us starting, the whys started coming to the surface. Reasons why things would trigger me came out and made sense of my feelings. Feelings I had repressed from long ago uncovered themselves, showing me more of my motivations for my actions and choices in life. With the help of Dr. Sofia, we talked about my ancestors, their traumas and healed them along with myself. It was a walk I never knew I needed to take. I feel like I've come out of the dessert and am living life in lush new foliage. I have a foundation from which I can work from, and I have the answers to heal myself from within. This will be an ongoing journey, and I can't thank Dr. Sofia enough for starting it with me. – Christina S. Not only do you inherit DNA and your genetic makeup, but you inherit emotions and traumas too. Allow me to explain. When your mother was being created in your grandmother's womb, your mother was housing the eggs to create you. So, whatever your grandmother was going through, experiencing and feeling during the time she was creating your mother, your mother absorbed it all. And while you were being created in your mother's womb, you felt everything she was feeling, too. Now imagine a generation of emotions and traumas being passed down. Pretty intense, huh? The beautiful thing is, you can stop passing down generational emotions and traumas when you gain the courage to heal you physically, mentally, and emotionally. And when you do, you end carrying the emotional baggage that was weighing you down for so long and begin to transform the trapped emotions into elevated ones, like gratitude, love, compassion, courage, joy, happiness, and strength. Would that help you feel better? I go into elevated emotions and thoughts in more detail in the next chapter. But first, how do you begin the process of getting to the source, the emotional origin of why your back hurts? To know whether you have any trapped emotions in your body, you ask the subconscious mind. There is power in asking your body questions I have my clients do introspection work to reflect upon past traumas: physical and emotional, that began from birth to the present moment to learn why their body is hurting. In doing so, they begin to gain insight and discover how to decipher the language of the body.

Here is an example of questions you can reflect upon by implementing the technique I like to call "reverse engineering approach" to get to the source. This practice allows you to connect on a deeper level, and you begin to process each layer one by one. This creates space for you to become more so aware that your back pain didn't come out of anywhere. Key questions to ask when you feel the pain: Have I felt pain like this before? And if so, when? What else was happening when I felt the pain (at home, work, with relationships)? How did I feel before I felt the pain in my back? Did I get enough sleep? Am I taking care of myself the way I need to? Am I feeling stressed, angry, frustrated, scared of something? And if so, when have I felt like this before? How old was I during that time before, and what was going on then? What am I most scared of? What am I most worried about? What lessons can I learn from this experience? What does it want to teach me? By doing this exercise, not only will you gain a bird's eye view of your situation - of your story and of your life- but you begin to realize that your body sent pain signals to your back for you to pay attention, connect the dots and face unhealed wounds so that you can come full circle with various chapters in your life. You begin to rewrite your story, reprogram your brain, nervous system and entire body. You get out of fight-or-flight mode by shifting your perspective on why your back hurts. Stress and pain are feedback. To change your response to stress and back pain, use thoughts, words and beliefs that bring you out of pain. Remember, your body can't heal until it feels safe. So, let's learn how to use thoughts to heal your back pain.

Chapter 9 Your Body Absorbs Everything: Thoughts and All I remember when my back would hurt, I honestly believed that I was stuck like this for the rest of my life. That it was something that I needed to live with and didn’t know what life would be like to feel free from pain. Back pain became my identity and I began to use it as a reason to not do something. “I can’t do that because it will make my back worse. I can’t lift those weights because I’m afraid it will hurt my back.” It began to feel comfortable to lean on the pain as a crutch because it was familiar to me. It felt like a broken record inside my body: Pain – panic, stress, thought the worse – more pain – accepted this was life – disconnected – pain – and the cycle continued. I wasn’t liking this cycle, this broken record playing on repeat. It was even affecting what was happening in my outside world – relationships, work, and financial situation. It was as if everything that I was feeling inside my body was creating a ripple effect outside. That’s when I began learning that my outside world is a reflection of what’s going on inside and vise versa. This broken record didn’t feel uplifting whatsoever. So, I chose to change the track and play a new song – a harmonious tune that brought balance, connection, and alignment. To change the track, I began reading books and crossed paths with people who have made it to the other side – who have changed their track to a harmonious tune that allowed them to feel freedom within and live an active, happy life that allowed them to have time, location and financial freedom. One of the first books I read when I was twenty three years old helped me gain insight that there’s more to my back pain than just the physical aspect of it. The book is called Power versus Force by Dr. David R. Hawkins. In his book, Dr. Hawkins writes about how each thought, feeling and choice of words have their own frequency and how it either strengthens or weakens the body. He defines power as energizing and life supporting and force as restrictive and limiting depleting our energy. The research was done over a twenty-year period proving that the body becomes stronger or weaker depending on one’s thoughts, feelings, as well as food choices. His studies showed that one person vibrating at high levels of self-

esteem, love, compassion, empathy, and a willingness to learn from experience counter balances approximately 70,000 people functioning at lower levels of fear, anger and hopelessness. Now that’s a power one person can have to shift the world! “By taking responsibility for the consequences of his own perceptions, the observer can transcend the role of victim to an understanding “nothing out there has power over you.” It isn’t life’s events, but how one reacts to them and the attitude that one has about them, that determines whether such events have a positive or negative effect on one’s life, whether they’re experienced as opportunity or as stress.” – Dr. David Hawkins Our body absorbs our thoughts and we have about 60,000 of them every single day. Imagine the power our own thoughts have on the health and function of our body. The health of your body and whether you can end this back pain or not is dependent on your thoughts, beliefs, words and emotions. When your body is functioning from lower levels of emotions such as anger, grief and shame, it’s challenging for the body to heal. Remember in the previous chapter, when your body is functioning at a lower frequency due to stress, trapped emotions, and limiting beliefs, that’s where viruses, bacteria, infections, fungus, and cancer like to grow. Our body is made up of 70 percent water. Each thought, word, and emotion influences the molecular structure of the water inside your body, as well as the health of 50 trillion cells! And your thoughts, words and emotions determine the fate of each cell. Dr. Masaru Emoto, Japanese scientist and author, discovered how thoughts and words affect your body by studying the changes of the molecular structure of water when exposed to words that were either harmful and hateful or loving and nurturing. He found that the water exposed to intentions of love, gratitude, peace and forgiveness, transformed the molecule into a unique looking shape that appeared like a snowflake. When the water was exposed to hateful intentions the molecule appeared to be disrupted and irregular in shape. To integrate as a daily practice, before you drink a glass of water, think about what you want to drink to: love, health, strength, courage and drink to that! Cheers!

Change your track With all that in mind, I began to pay attention of my own thoughts and words. I chose to begin changing my track to be a harmonious one. Changing your track – your mental track – is a process. It’s like training a muscle. You must be consistent every single day and a choice that’s yours and yours alone. In my early 30’s, I began to read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. She, too, was a huge believer and an educator on how your thoughts and words contribute to pain, but they can also be used as medicine to heal the pain. “The body like everything else in life, is a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs. The body is always talking to us, if we will only take the time to listen. Every cell within your body responds to every single thought you think and every word you speak.” – Louise Hay In her book, Louise Hay created a list of Probable Mental Patterns creating pain and various illnesses in the body, as well as New Thought Patterns (affirmations/intentions) to be used to heal the body and create health. According to her, lower back pain is related to fear of money and lack of financial support. The affirmation you can begin telling yourself to begin ending back pain is “I trust the process of life. All I need is always taken care of. I am safe.” Mid back pain is related to guilt and feeling stuck from the past. New thought pattern can be, “I release the past. I am free to move forward with love in my heart.” You can state new affirmations, intentions and thoughts daily to start reprograming your brain and nervous system so your body begins to feel safe again and heal. My new track began looking like this: Pain – why does my back hurt – am I not feeling supported? reflect upon events when I didn’t feel supported - connect reprogram - new thought: I am strong, healthy, loved and supported - elevated emotion - sense of freedom – less pain By shifting my thoughts into believing that my body is strong, healthy, loved and supported, it changed the frequency of the state that my body was in. My body elevated into a frequency that promotes healing and

transformation and the body begins to remember how to heal itself. It’s pretty much getting out of your own way and learning how to support your body from within, beginning with how you think, the words you choose when you speak and how you feel. Because what you think and feel you attract – you become a magnet of your thoughts. What you think about most, expands. If you think that you’ll have back pain for the rest of your life and there’s not much else you can do, then it’s true. If you think it’s possible to feel better and you can end back pain and play your sport with more confidence and strength, you can. Your thoughts and beliefs create your reality. To further support you in shifting your thoughts here are some common beliefs that have been holding you back from feeling free from back pain and why they’re not true: Top Two Myths 1. It’s because I’m getting old The majority believe back pain is from getting old and fear that their health is doomed because of age. The truth is, if you don’t take control of your health physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually your body will gradually begin to break down and you will experience pain – not because you’re getting old – but because you’re not taking care of yourself from the inside-out. Aiming for quick fixes, eating foods that are processed, filled with sugar and toxins, staying up late watching T.V. or mindless scrolling through the phone, feeling stuck with your back pain and diagnosis, using skin products that are toxic, not taking 100% responsibility for where you are at in the present moment are all reasons as to why you feel the pain in your back. If you’re not aiming towards restoring your body and health physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, then as you age, your health will worsen. It’s that simple. Stop blaming age as the reason why your back hurts. Start acting towards finding out the why behind it all and begin taking back control of your health so that as you age, your body will thank you. 2. It runs in my family. Every day you either turn on or turn off your gene expression based

on daily choices. Your thoughts, emotional well-being, stress levels, food choices, movement, all influence whether something runs in your family or not. Every single day you have the power to not let back pain or chronic illnesses run in your family. It all stops and starts with you. You have the power to change your track. Choose to stop playing the broken record and begin to dance to a new one. Here is an exercise I share with my clients that begins the process of shifting your thoughts and beliefs into something that elevates the frequency inside your body to create healing within. Rewrite Your Story On one sheet of paper, list everything that you're afraid of, anything that is holding you back, old stories and beliefs you've had in your mind (For example: "I'm not good enough, I don't have what it takes, I'm scared to fail, I’m stuck with this back pain"..etc.). Then, on another sheet of paper, redefine what you wrote. Rewrite your story. For example, "I am good enough, I succeed in everything that I do, I am confident, I attract abundance in various forms, I am beautiful, I am strong and healthy, I can overcome this back pain, I am connected, I am free to live an active life".. etc. When you have completed rewriting your story - throw the other paper away - the sheet of paper with your old beliefs and fears and keep the new story. Read your new story every day. By doing this exercise, you notice what’s been holding you back from feeling the way you want to feel every single day. You notice how your thoughts and beliefs have been blocking you from feeling free from back pain. The truth is, you are not your back pain. You are not your diagnosis. You are the thoughts you choose to think. You are the beliefs you choose to believe. You are the person who chooses to believe that you are healthy, strong and more than capable to transform pain into purpose. A purpose that inspires you to be better every single day. You are the person who chooses to learn from the pain and create lifestyle changes that up-level you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You are the person

who chooses you 100 percent so that you can show up as your best self. You have the power to use your thoughts and words as medicine to remove pain and heal your body. It only becomes more powerful when you choose to transform your thoughts and beliefs and gain the courage to act toward how you want to feel every day.

Chapter 10: Time Doesn’t Heal, Action Does Let me be blunt not wishing to offend you, but to shake you into a much needed awakening: Waiting around hoping the pain will disappear on its own because time will take care of it is BS. Being dependent on time for your own healing is not the best approach if you want your back to stop hurting. Having pain on and off for years is not okay, nor is it normal. You must stop believing that it’s because of your age, it’s because it runs in your family or it’s because you truly believe it will go away on its own. To not allow back pain from limiting you anymore and begin the healing process toward an active and vibrant life, you must first take 100 percent responsibility with where you’re at right now, then figure out what your ideal state of health is. I understand taking 100 percent responsibility with where you’re at right now is challenging, because it’s easy to point the finger and blame someone else for your pain and discomfort. But when you point the finger, you have three pointing back at you. Believe it or not, your back hurts for a reason. The pain has a purpose, and it will continue to hurt until you do something about it – something unconventional and out of the norm. Now, you’ve already been given action steps in each chapter. Did you do them? Let’s get real here. Trying doesn’t get you anywhere. Doing does. Have you taken action yet? If you haven’t, let’s pause right now and dig deeper on this, because the reason why you haven’t taken action yet, is the same reason why you’ve been stuck, and the same reason blocking you from how you want to feel and be every single day. So, why haven’t you taken action yet? List three reasons why. Is it because you don’t believe in it? Is it because you don’t know the purpose behind it? Is it because you don’t trust it? Is it because you’re comfortable with where you’re at right now? In order to experience transformation, you must face the discomfort and act toward getting out of your comfort zone – outside of your comfort zone is your heaven, your ideal state of health and being. This is what taking 100 percent responsibility for yourself is all about. You can’t feel better in the same environment you’re enduring discomfort. Nothing changes if nothing changes. You’ve been feeling stuck for a reason and if you keep doing the same things that have led you to where you are right now, then something must change. Don’t you agree? Playing a broken record is not playing the song you want to hear every day. Change the track. And to change the track, you (nobody else) must

get out of your chair, go to the track, lift the deal and move it to the song you want to hear right? It takes action to change the track. Getting rid of this back pain is the same, but this time, taking action with something you haven’t yet done. The transformation you’ve been deeply craving, wanting and needing comes from facing the discomfort, the truth, the deep root cause and acting toward getting yourself out of the comfort zone. And what you’ve read in the previous chapters are things you haven’t yet done, consistently. So, let’s change the track and play your favorite song. What does being free from back pain look like for you? What would it feel like to wake up in the morning without worrying about your back hurting? Imagine what it would look like for you and lean into that feeling, that elevated feeling that you’ve been wanting, craving and needing for you to feel limitless and free. Time doesn’t heal. Action does. Make choices that are in sync with how you want to feel and with how you want to experience living your life every day. If a situation or the choice you’re about to make is not in sync with your ideal state of health and being, then it’s a strong no, don’t do it. But the answer is inside you and it is up to you to find it, hear it, and – yup, you guessed it – take action. As mentioned before, conventional medicine treats the symptom, not the cause. How do you feel about that? Is that aligned with your ideal state of health? If you keep going down the conventional medicine path and continue with what hasn’t worked for you, your back will continue to hurt or you’ll get pain somewhere else, or worse, you’ll get an autoimmune disease or chronic illness. It can feel scary to do something differently. To go on a path of the unknown. But the path you’ve been on hasn’t been helping nor supporting you in multi-dimensional ways. Remember the broken record I felt in the previous chapters? Here is the cycle if you choose to keep doing what you’re doing: Pain - stress - pill, quick fix - disconnected - pain doesn’t fully go away - see MD - MRI - surgery or physical therapy as only option - surgery and physical therapy - back pain went away but comes back several months or years later - pain - stress - pill, quick fix - identified by diagnosis - stomach issues from taking pills - not feeling like best self - sleep quality sucks energy levels are low - pain somewhere else - another pill, quick fix -trouble losing weight - another diagnosis - feeling all types of emotions - stuck - have

given up on trying anything else - pain - and cycle continues. This cycle leads to possibly getting an autoimmune disease or some type of chronic illness, which are all preventable. Now, what can happen if you were to choose a different journey? If you were to apply what you’ve learned from reading this book? Putting it all together First thing in the morning when you wake up, drink lemon water with a pinch of Himalayan pink salt 30 minutes before eating breakfast. Remember to think about what you want to drink to, like health, strength, happiness and love. While waiting to have breakfast, lie on your back with knees bent. Do the liver breath sound with hand over liver (can pump or not) for one minute. Kidney breath sound while rubbing your ears for one minute. Box breathing technique six seconds inhale, six seconds hold, six seconds exhale, six seconds hold for a total of three minutes. Then do the three-movement sequence from YouTube video mentioned in Chapter 5: bend and straighten one knee twenty times each leg; single leg kneeling hip flexor stretch one minute each side; rock back moving butt towards heels when in hands and knees position fifteen times. Eat breakfast. Between breakfast and lunch do crocodile box breathing technique for five minutes. Eat lunch. Go for a walk right after you eat. Focus on your breathing when walking. Connect with your body and your surroundings. Between lunch and dinner do crocodile box breathing technique again for five minutes. Eat dinner three hours before going to bed. One to two hours before sleep, put phone on silent or airplane mode. Think about three things you’re grateful for – can write them down in a journal. While in bed, breathe in for a count of four to six seconds and breathe out for a count of six to eight seconds until you fall asleep. Your thoughts, food choices, movement, and emotional well-being are all under your control. You can prevent any type of chronic back pain or disease. It’s all possible for you. And you can stay active, gain more energy, feel more like you without feeling stuck or limited anymore. You have the power to choose. Stay where you’re at or act toward a method that creates space for you to transform in a way you didn’t think was possible.

Chapter 11: Are You Ready? Journeys of deep, permanent healing are never without challenges and you’ll certainly face your share of them. Why? Because you’re facing the truth of why your back hurts. You’re needing to connect with your body in a different way. You’re learning a new language which is the language of your body. You’re needing to shift perspectives and reprogram your brain into something that’s foreign and unfamiliar. You’re needing to change patterns you’ve developed because they served a purpose in the past to help you survive. You’ll feel things that you’ve been avoiding. But guess what these challenges offer you? Growth, transformation, change, expansion, an upleveling of you – all of you – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It takes courage to face these challenges and give the challenges purpose - a purpose which inspires you to create a change for yourself and for your life. And guess what? It’s totally worth facing the challenges that you’ll be exposed to when following the steps gifted to you in this book. When faced with back pain, there are two kinds of people in this world: Type 1: People who stay within their comfort zone. Have tunnel vision. Don’t ask questions to figure out why their back hurts. Don’t feel the need to make any type of changes and are dependent on time, quick fixes and band-aid solutions to feel better. Victim mindset. Type 2: People who gain the courage to create a lifestyle change. Ask questions to learn more about their body to figure out why their back hurts and are open to an integrative approach. Committed to taking daily action and doing what it takes to feel better emotionally, physically and mentally. Growth mindset. You have the power to choose what type of person you want to be. Type one is most commonly related to feeling afraid. Afraid of asking questions, speaking up, expressing, asking for help and support. Afraid that there is no other solution. Afraid of missing out on doing what they love. Afraid because you were told certain things as a kid, conditioned to not stir the pot when wanting to act towards something unconventional, outside of societal norms. Ask yourself, “What are you most afraid of?” This is what happens to your body when you make decisions based on F.E.A.R., when you feel afraid, when you feel the pain in your back and scared of starting something new:

Within seconds of perceiving a threat, in this case back pain is the threat, the adrenals release adrenaline and stress hormones. Blood flow moves away from the gut towards the muscles in preparation for you to run or take immediate action. Digestion stops, skin chills, breathing speeds up, heart rate increases, blood pressure goes up placing the entire body in a high state of alert, fight-or-flight response. Making decisions out of F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) doesn’t allow the body to restore and rejuvenate Anytime you feel scared or afraid to move forward with something, overcome the False Evidence Appearing Real so that you can Face Everything And Rise. Before you’re able to Face Everything And Rise, you must understand that it’s not your fault your back hurts. It’s not your fault you chose the conventional medicine path because that’s what we are trained to do as a society. That’s what all the commercials talk about, “Have pain? Take this pill and it will all go away.” Conventional medicine does serve its purpose in emergency cases, but when your body has been hurting for a longer period, it’s time to make a change. And the magical part of all this is that you learned what not to do. There are too many people with back pain out there who have a hard time achieving an active life, because of programs that skip steps without understanding that 80 percent of back pain is not coming from the back. And when you’re constantly bombarded with these challenges in your life, it’s hard to get your head out of the weeds and realize you’re making the same mistake that’s not helping you. I get it because I’ve been there too and have helped many others like you. But first you must accept that what you’re doing right now is not working. I understand that staying consistent can feel challenging and overwhelming, especially if you feel like you’re doing this on your own. Receiving support and accountability is what will lead you toward where you need to go. I get that you’ll be faced with peer pressure to go back to what you’ve been doing. You’ll hear a little voice inside your head to go back to your comfort zone because that feels familiar, that’s what it’s been used to for years. You can view this as a way for you to lead by example for yourself, that yes, you can do this – you can overcome back pain from the inside-out and stay active without feeling limited; you can lead by example for your friends, for your family members and create a ripple effect of transformation, change and healing. Remember, what’s going on outside of you is a reflection of what’s going on inside of you and vise versa. To see a change

outside of you, you must create a change inside of you first physically, mentally and emotionally. Put your own oxygen mask on first before you help others. And that’s by taking action that have been provided for you in this book. Step by step. Will you have days where you feel like you’re going backward? Yes. Will you feel pain again? Yes. But you now have the tools to keep you going moving forward toward how you want to feel every day. Healing is not linear. It’s up and down and all over the place. I share with my clients that we all need mud to grow. The lotus flower grows from mud. So can you. We need mud and the stickiness of life for us to grow, expand and unleash our best version of ourselves. The lotus doesn’t blame the mud, it uses the mud to grow. The lotus gives the mud purpose to blossom and radiate its beauty. Not only does it use the mud to grow, it depends on the health of the environment it’s growing in and the sun – all of nature’s elements. The growth process is fully supported. You can view this back pain as a way for you to grow, too. Your growth and healing are dependent on the health of your outside and inside environment. You, too, can be fully supported from your peers and by us working together as a team. As my father always says, “It takes a village.” And it truly does. It takes a village to support each other’s healing journey. To be seen, heard, and understood in a loving, nurturing environment while following a step-by-step process that leads you to where you want to go and guides you toward how you want to feel. Sure, you can do the action steps provided in this book on your own. But know that I am here for those of you who feel ready to take yourself to the next level by working together. As mentioned before, I am not your typical Doctor of Physical Therapy. I am not your typical anything. I choose to not be identified by my title, degrees or certifications. I’m not attached to them because I feel like they place me in a box. I enjoy living my life believing there is no box which creates more freedom in my life. My degrees and certifications are an extension of my passion, which is helping people with back issues gain relief and stay active without limits. I love supporting people feel like their best selves again – happy and stronger than ever. It lights me up witnessing people’s breakthroughs when they initially thought it wasn’t possible for them to feel good again. You’ve already read some of the success stories featured in this book. I’m grateful for these clients choosing to share them with you, so that you, too, can feel like it’s all possible for you.

So, why did they choose to work with me? And how were they able to reach their goals in a short period of time? I have an innate gift, we all do. I’m gifted to see, feel, and hear things that the average Joe can’t. Every time I’ve placed my hands on someone and when listening to their concerns and frustrations, I sometimes can see images of their traumas like a quick flash. I can feel their pain and hurt. I can hear outside messages of where I need to go next (messages from Source, Universe, God, Great Spirit whatever you choose to call it, point is, it’s from somewhere greater than myself). When a person begins to share their story about their back pain, my brain already begins to scan their body down and up, up and down and all around. And while they’re talking about their back, I’m already looking somewhere else and usually can find the source of back pain before they’re even done talking. Their choice of words, tone of voice, and how they describe their back pain leads me to where I need to go. Being aware of the meridians, chakras, the emotions that get trapped in different parts of the body, and the physiology support me with being able to decipher the code of why the body is hurting. I use it all as clues to guide me because how the person describes their pain allows me to tune into their body, the language of their body. It’s been difficult for me to describe how my brain works and how I do what I do. It blows my clients minds each time when I’m able to say, “Oh, this is relating from when you were age X.” Or “how’s it going with your mom right now?” or “Are you eating XYZ?” and most of the time, it’s on point. I’ve been told by clients, mentors, and experts in their field that I’m a gifted healer. I love this quote by Maryam Hasnaa, “A healer does not heal. A healer is someone who holds space for you while you awaken your inner healer, so that you may heal yourself.” I’ve reached a point in my life where I can provide support during a phone or video call sessions without the need to see the person in person. The truth is, we are all energy. We are all connected because we are energetic beings. Distance is not a limitation for one to experience breakthroughs, healing and transformation. Often, when people ask what I do, I get stuck with expressing because it’s difficult to describe. It’s an experience all must go through - an

experience for those who are open, receptive, committed and ready to get out of their comfort zone. What happens when you get out of the comfort zone? A happier, stronger, more active life begins. Going through my own healing journey, and learning what works and doesn’t work, I was able to simplify the complexity and create a program called The Costa Method. The Costa Method is an approach that bridges the gap with what you’ve been missing. The approach allows one to be fully seen, heard, and loved while being supported with strategies that end back pain from the inside-out. Remember, the pain you feel in your back is only the tip of the iceberg. The strategies you’ve learned so far in the book help you find the crack in the foundation so that you can build a stronger one. Mastering the basics comes first before building and expanding on what you’ve learned so far. You must take that first step, and I will meet you there. When you’re ready to show up for yourself to end back pain with full on support and accountability, I’ll show up, too, ready to guide you. You have two options: stay where you’re at or act toward ending back pain and get back to what you enjoy doing most without limits. You can be a success story too. And I’m here to support you every step of the way so you don’t have to go through the long painful time-wasting journey like I did. Don’t choose to stay stuck because you need help. Asking for help is perfectly okay. It means being brave and taking 100 percent responsibility. Remember that from the previous chapter? That is always the first step. No more guessing game. No more quick fixes. No more feeling like you’re stuck for the rest of your life. The time is now for you to Face Everything And Rise.

Chapter 12: It’s All Possible for You You’ve reached the last chapter of the book, but it’s not the end. Just because it’s the last chapter, it doesn’t mean the journey ends. It means the journey is beginning and the next chapters are up to you. What are you going to do now with what you’ve gained and received from this book? Well, as you’ve learned, it’s about connecting the dots and learning the language of the body. Being aware that pain is an opportunity for you to create a change – a change that lasts a lifetime for to feel like your best self; a change that allows you to be free from all that’s been holding you back; a change that creates space for you to feel limitless. And you can. So, where did we start this journey of change? The first change to make is realizing that it’s not your back. As you’ve learned in Chapter 4, it’s much deeper than you thought. In Chapter 5, we talked about ways to start your healing. Start by paying attention with how you’re sitting, standing, and moving. Feel your body. Connect with it. Is it leaning more on one side than the other? When you rotate is one side more restricted than the other? When you walk, do your feet hit the ground loudly? Do your arms swing naturally when walking? Every detail of how you sit, stand and move, connect with it. Analyze and scan your body. The worst thing you can do is be afraid and not move. Life is designed to live. Your body is designed to move. Choose to move with life. Give your movement purpose. Often we move just to move because we feel we have to. Everything is a choice; you don’t have to do anything. Before you go on a walk, do yoga, lift weights, or do anything active, set your intention of what you want that movement to do for you, whether that’s to remove the stress out of the body, release anger, frustration and irritability, or simply to give you strength and power. Allow that movement to do what you want it to do because you chose to. By doing so, this fuels your performance and takes it to another level! And breathe! Breathing is a sign that you’re alive! There’s power in your breath to decompress your spine, turn on the rest-and-digest nervous system, pump the organs, create flow within and get rid of L.A. traffic inside your body. It doesn’t give you the harmful side effects like pharmaceutical meds do. And it’s easily accessible for you. So make it a priority to pause and breathe every

once in a while. Use any pause or stillness in your life to connect with your breath. While you’re at a red light, sitting at a meeting, while washing your hands, stuck in traffic, while waiting in line – any moment where there’s a pause, give that moment purpose to decompress, reconnect, and de-funk the funk. Go back to Chapter 6 whenever you need to touch up on mindful breathing. Inhale for four to six seconds, exhale for six to eight seconds. Breathe out the pain. Breathe out everything that’s been holding you back. And breathe in what you want. Breathe in gratitude for your body’s wisdom in being able to heal itself and support you. Breathe in health and vitality. Breathe in love for your body. Breathe in trust that everything is ok. Use your breath to create expansion inside your body. Breathe into your gut. As we covered in Chapter 7, the gut produces the feel-good hormone called serotonin and houses 80 percent of your immune cells. Breathe into that and support it with food that enhance absorption and elimination. Eliminate ingredients that disrupt that process such as gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and alcohol (to name a few). Poor gut health equals poor spine support. Heal your gut toward freedom to support your spine and the rest of your body. Don’t forget, the gut and brain communicate with each other via the gut-brain axis (vagus nerve). Stress interferes with that communication, too. In Chapter 8, you learned that being on the go-go-go to do-do-do keeps your body in a fight-or flight state. This state of doing all the time degenerates your body from the inside and it gradually begins to break down. High cortisol levels begin to bind to fat and use your muscles and other tissues as fuel to do its thing. The body can’t heal in this state of being because it doesn’t feel safe. To avoid this, focus on turning on the rest-anddigest nervous system such as diaphragm breathing, Epsom salt baths, going for a walk with a clear mind, taking breaks, rest when you can, aim for seven to nine hours of sleep, eat slowly with food that are supportive and nourishing. Understand, too, where your stress is coming from. Think back to events that happened during childhood. What traumatic (physical and emotional) events were you exposed to? Because – I’ll say it again– more than 50 percent of pain are trapped emotions. The subconscious mind is 90 percent and the conscious mind is 10 percent. You can’t see or feel your subconscious mind, but it’s there and it remembers everything. The back pain didn’t happen overnight. It’s been years’ worth of events and moments that

have been trapped in your body which you have yet moved through. Emotion is energy in motion. Allow yourself to feel the feelings 100 percent, lean into it, figure out why you’re feeling this and where it could be coming from, and move through them via breathing, dancing, going for a walk or whatever activity you choose. In Chapter 9, we acknowledged the power of your thoughts. Believe that you can feel like how you want to feel every single day. Know that you’re not stuck. Remember, your thoughts, words and beliefs create your reality. Most of your body is made up of water, and each thought, belief and word have their own frequency and can alter the molecular structure of your cells. Your body absorbs everything. And your outside world is a direct reflection of what’s going on deep within. Your thoughts either add to your back pain or can help alleviate it. Repeatedly saying to yourself “I am strong and healthy” elevates your body’s frequency, the internal vibration, and allows the body to regenerate and do what it needs to do. So, get out of your own way. Face Everything and Rise. My wish for you is simple. To believe that your body can heal itself. To have that belief become your reality, you must choose to reconnect with your body and your heart. Your heart has been abandoned and neglected for years. Hence, why your body hurts and you haven't been feeling like your best self lately. “How so?” you might be thinking. What does my heart have anything to do with why my back hurts? As my dear friend and powerful healer, Howard Wills says, "Your body is a barometer of your heart. " I've mentioned before that your gut is your second brain, but did you know your heart is much more powerful? I truly believe the gut is the third brain and your heart is the first one having its own intelligence and wisdom. The heart begins beating within two weeks of conception. It's the driving force of your being, with the power to create your authentic self. The heart has an electromagnetic field that radiates outside of you three to five feet. So that gut feeling that you get sometimes when something great is about to happen or something you need to be cautious about, the signals start with your heart first, then brain then your gut. To expand on the truth that your body is a barometer of your heart, I must share a secret with you. There's something that I've left out in my story. I left out what

happened between the moment I had surgery and when my back began to hurt. Two months after I had surgery on my left leg and one month before my back started hurting, I experienced migraines and heart palpitations. My concerned father sent me to go see his colleague who was a cardiologist at the time to run tests. And as it turned out, I had a heart arrhythmia, which is an abnormal heart rhythm. This happens when the electrical signal of the heart skips and goes to the next region of the heart (in simple terms). The doctor told me that heart arrhythmias were normal with teenagers and prescribed a Holter for me to wear so that my heart can be monitored for seven days (back in the day the Holter was this big bulky box connected to a strap you put on to wear and it came with sticky leads for you to put on near your heart and take off every single day). It was so uncomfortable wearing this as a junior in high school. It felt weird and I felt out of place. I felt different. And my heart was giving me signals the whole time to connect with it, but I didn’t know how to at the time. All I knew was that it has an irregular beat and I had to be cautious with any physical activity to not make it worse. When I came back to the cardiologist for a follow-up, he told me that I would outgrow it – and that was pretty much it. And then a month later my back began to hurt on my left lower side so much so that it limited me from doing anything active. See the connection here? My pain and discomfort were all left-sided beginning from being kicked by a horse when I was three, surgery on left lower leg, heart issues, and left-sided back pain. Can you recall what the left side of your body means? It’s the feminine side. The side of receiving. The side of nurturing and support. My body, being a barometer of my heart, has been giving me signals to be open to receive love and support because I’m deserving of it. And to be open to receive love, healing and support, it had to come from me, first. If you were to gain anything from this book and pick one thing to help your body remember how to heal itself, if you were to be open to receive, I leave you with this: Place both hands over your heart, take a deep breath, connect with the beat of your heart and say, “My heart, I love you.” Do this for a minimum of three to five minutes. Breathe and connect with the beat of your heart, the heart that has been longing for you to connect with, the heart that has been abandoned and neglected. Breathe into it.

By doing so, not only are you reconnecting on a deeper level, and connecting the loop from the disconnect your body has been feeling for so long, you're enhancing the coherence of the heart which creates space for you to live a heart-centered life. Less thinking of the brain and more feeling from the heart. And that's where the true power of healing lies, from you choosing to connect with your heart again. "My heart, I love you." The truth is, you've been needing you this whole time for your body to feel better, for your back pain to go away. For you to feel and be free from everything that's been holding you back from feeling like your best self. Not the pills, not the antibiotics, not Google telling you the worst-case scenario, not the diagnosis, not the cortisone injection, not the surgery (if it wasn't an emergency). It's you. You've been your own healer this entire time. You just needed to be reminded in a loving, nurturing and supportive way. Had I known then what I know now, that my body knows how to heal itself and that healing process can be catapulted and unleashed by simply making a choice to connect with the beat of my heart, to be mindful of my thoughts, words and actions, I wouldn’t have gone through years’ worth of pain and confusion. But I wouldn’t have learned what not to do and what to do. It wouldn’t have led me to where I am now. I wouldn’t be here writing this book to further support you on your journey so you wouldn’t have to continue living in pain and feel stuck anymore. It’s not just the end of back pain. It’s the end of everything that’s been holding you back. The end of everything limiting you from feeling like the real you. You have the power to choose whether you want to stay exactly where you are right now or be supported on your journey toward ending back pain to live how you’ve been wanting to live: active, limitless and free.

About the Author

After experiencing a host of injuries, health issues, and recurring back pain for more than ten years, Dr. Sofia Costa dedicated her life to figuring out why it all happened for her. Witnessing the gap within the medical field by observing her parents’ work as medical physicians, she knew then, at a very young age she wanted to help people feel better, too, but in a different way. In 2012, Dr. Costa earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in San Marcos, California, after working for three years as a Tier 3 Master Trainer at Equinox Fitness in Miami, FL. By June 2016, Dr. Costa decided to branch off on her own as a sole practitioner in Los Angeles so that she can provide more attentive support to meet her clients’ needs. Throughout the years, she attended countless continuing education courses on energy medicine, emotional healing, functional medicine, movement, herbal medicine and nutrition. Dr. Costa uses an integrative inside-out approach helping hundreds of clients overcome back pain and stay active without limits. She creates awareness that it’s not the back giving you back pain. Dr. Costa gets to the deep root cause and provides clients with tools that allows the body to remember how to heal itself. Dr. Costa currently lives a bi-coastal life traveling between Los Angeles and her hometown, Puerto Rico. Because of her journey, it has become her mission to support people on theirs. She offers an 8 week online program called The Costa Method and enjoys teaching workshops, speaking engagements, and leading retreats. Website: Email: [email protected]

Instagram: @drsofiacosta

Thank You Thank you! Yay! Give yourself a high five! Be proud of yourself for acting toward ending back pain: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Doing so is the greatest gift you can give to yourself, family, friends and the community. Remember, you must put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else. As a thank you for being committed, I’ve created a free class for you to further support you on this journey. The class will review what you’ve read in the book including additional goodness to keep you going. Email me at [email protected] to receive the link and watch it today! If you’re ready to dive in and connect, check out the link to book a free Breakthrough Call: Let me know how I can further support you. I look forward to staying connected!