Introducing Ashley Costanza, Ambassador!

Ashley is an English teacher and lover of reading and cooking. After numerous surgeries in her 20’s and gaining some weight as a result, she’s getting back into the swing of things by eating healthier and enjoying more physical activity. She just turned 30 and is implementing a more routine workout including more bike riding and walking her dog.  Now that she has the right shoes, she’s ready for the challenge.

In her first blog entry, Ashley describes the nightmare of surgery in her 20’s and her goal now that she’s cast-free and 30!


Writhing on the ground in Garmisch-Partenkirchen after slipping on ice, I was only worried about getting up.  And, QUICKLY!!  You know, before people started to stare.  Little did I know that that one act of falling lo so many years ago would start me on a spiral that brought me here….and eventually to yoga.

When I was 22, I was doing my student teaching in Heidelberg, Germany.  A great benefit of student teaching abroad was the travel opportunities.  It was a long weekend, and I went with my roommate to visit the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics.  After falling and hurting my left ankle/heel on the slippery mix that blankets Germany in the winter months, I took it a bit easy, but still managed to walk a few miles daily and even participate in a 15+ kilometer bike ride to celebrate the coming of Spring with my local pals.

The summer after coming back home to Norfolk, VA I found that my foot problems subsided.  I guess graduating college and trying to find my first “big girl” job were more overwhelming that any residual Achilles pain, but I soon found that I couldn’t climb steps.  It was then, in my very early 20s, that I was diagnosed with two completely ruptured discs in my back.  To solve the problem, I was forced to have a series of painful steroid injections, hours of physical therapy and numerous doctors appointments before settling on spinal fusion.  I was bummed to have to give up two months on my first, real teaching job.  I was frustrated to move back home temporarily to recover.  And, I was really sad that I would have to give up my biking and swimming routines that I had grown accustomed to.

I thought my recovery would be tedious, but in no way would I ever imagine it would have been THIS tedious.  After my back healed and I was “cleared” to return to work, I started having foot pains again.  Here and there, twinges of pain that would last a few days, then a few weeks, then lay dormant for a number of months.  Needless to say, it was clear that something was wrong, but what 20-something year old who just went through back surgery wanted to visit a doctor for a possible new problem?

Clearly, I let physical activity take a back seat in my 20s.  After wrapping up my back issues, I had my first foot surgery for heel spurs at 26 after a year and a half of misdiagnoses, then another go around at a similar surgery—this time with a tendon transfer!–with a new doctor a couple of years later.  As I am a newly-minted 30 year old, I have made it a point to put my health first.  Part one of this “me first” plan was to find new shoes.  I can honestly say that after a long day in the classroom, the last thing I could think of was doing ANYTHING at home that required movement.  Simply getting up to use the restroom or make dinner was a pathetic sight of me limping stiff-legged across a room.  My husband, in a stroke of sheer genius, thought to ask his hairdresser about shoe recommendations.  After doing some research on the brands she mentioned and beyond, I can now happily say that I exclusively own supportive, orthotic-conscious shoes!  Jealous??

The next part of the “me first” plan was exercise.  After foot surgery #1, I tried a personal trainer but found him a bit too militant for my liking.  Now, I have signed up—and attended—a yoga class at my school.  It is for faculty members only, and I must say that I enjoy decompressing with a group of people that have similar stresses and schedules that I do!

While I am not running a marathon any time soon, I now have hope.  I used to cry myself to sleep in terrible pain.  Now, I am pain free.   I used to fear that I would never again find physical activities to do with my back and foot issues.  Now, I am happily in yoga working my way towards bigger and better fitness goals.

What are those goals?  I guess you’ll have to keep checking back to find out!!

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