I'll introduce myself in a moment, but first let's talk about you.
I'm Going to Make Some Guesses About You
You want to take control of your life — not be controlled by stress, injuries, previous trauma, or pain.
You don’t want to spend 45 min slogging away on an elliptical.
You're smart and love the outdoor lifestyle.
You’re different, unconventional. Maybe even a little wild or rebellious.
You own your sh*t – you take command of building a better life.
If this sounds like you, welcome home. You’ve found a great community in this little pocket of the internet.
Beyond Exercises is a movement rooted in one idea: You can escape pain, but not without changes in well-being & behavior change — and that’s true not only for your body pain, but also your health, relationships, energy and attention.
This opens two questions:
How can we make smarter science-based decisions about our fitness, well-being, and life?
How can we align our daily behaviors and habits with the lifestyle we
Beyond Exercises explores the answers to these two critical questions.
Along the journey, we take interesting forays into topics like neuroscience, mind-body recovery strategies, neuroeconomics, lifestyle design, financial independence, and any other topic that jumps into this curiosity playground.
We swap stories and ideas about fitness, mindfulness, wellness, productivity, personal development and stoic philosophy.
Each of these conversations are portals into a larger framework of making smarter choices and building a better life. If you’re intrigued, explore our blog and podcast. Better yet, download our free class, Summit Well-Being, and join our free online community of 4,000+ subscribers.
And if you’d like to meet me — Morgan Fielder, the writer and instigator —
When I graduated from college at the Naval Academy, I went to went to war in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) as a naval surface warfare officer. So did my boyfriend, but instead of commanding a quarterdeck, he commanded a Marine Corps scout sniper platoon.
Driving warships was exciting and fun! Between the typical sleep deprivation and diet of Otis Spunkmeyer muffins that is the life of a warship driver, I lost my fitness from running NCAA div I track.
For 3 months in 2003, my attention was focused on the CNN televised casualty list hourly. I experienced relief with my first contact with him via satellite phone call 3 months after the initial invasion of Iraq.
His roommate from Marine Corps basic officer school was the first casualty of the entire war, which had me on edge.
More friends and classmates died. I deployed onboard warships, he deployed on the ground. We had an overlap where we were both in the USA twice for a total of about 4 months in those four years after graduation.
While home in San Diego, I would visit his Marines at Balboa Navy Hospital that were maimed by bullets or IEDs. When he was home at Camp Pendleton he was always training.
In 2004 he was granted leave for one week and we planned to meet in Gibraltar, where Europe and Africa almost meet. My ship had planned repairs for two weeks.
After he departed on the plane from San Diego, my ship unexpectedly was sent off to Italy in search of pirates and I had no way to contact him.
Luckily, Mt Etna in Sicily was actively spewing volcanic ash into the sky that diverted his plane from Spain to Italy, where my ship was in port for 36 hours in Naples. He proposed under Mt Vesuvius at dawn.
We overlapped again for three months and played house in a surf town with a yoga vibe called Encinitas, CA. Then I left for 9 months at sea where we suffered human losses due to poor systems, not even the enemy.
After 4 years of back to back deployments we finally started our life together in a real apartment with office jobs, and Surprise! Within 2 months of living together I was pregnant. Apparently birth control doesn't work unless you take it every day.
We were young and fit and could sleep anywhere, anytime before OIF.
With two baby girls under 3 my husband left the Marine Corps and worked in management, and I started a 3 year long graduate school program to earn my doctorate of physical therapy.
The girls loved nursing and they took over his space in the bed, so he played videogames until the wee hours with my brother online. Self medication. Lots and many kinds of self medications.
It was hard times. Shocking, eh?
After the Great Recession, he fortunately got laid off from a job near Boston that required long car rides and the associated deconditioning and back pain ensued. He was picked up to work a sweet contracting gig at Yongsang Army Garrison in downtown Seoul, Korea.
We spent the next three years working, travelling, and eating across Asia. I ran marathons and he kicked ass in cage fights in Seoul and getting a graduate degree at Oxford, we snorkelled in Thailand, explored the family sauna Jimjilbangs, pulled the girls on scooters through the gates of Kyoto, hiked and skied Korean mountains … you get the idea.
We were set. Two smart, beautiful daughters that now slept through the night, great careers that were not in the military, and an exciting life overseas!
My trips to the gym at 4:30 a.m. to train for marathons, and his self medication resulted in horrible recovery and sleep patterns. I was so dizzy I thought I had a brain tumor and ended up getting frivolous surgery for sinus infections. His back "went out" from sneezing.
When we returned to the U.S. in 2013, my symptoms faded but I had a terrifying thought: I might get dizzy again. I couldn’t go back to the doctors. I wanted sustainable, long-term freedom. But how?
I wanted wellness independence: the ability to escape vague symptoms, chronic pain, a softening midline, irritability, and insomnia.
So I tried harder. More exercise. More meds. More striving. Whatever it was that wasn't working, I just tried to do it harder.
We moved back to the surf town with the yoga vibe and chickens at the kids public school - - perfect for 6 a.m. power yoga. Crossfit in the afternoons with the whole family.
Full time and per diem physical therapy jobs. I coached other equally tired moms in crossfit at 6 am who just couldn't lose the weight.
The sun and fun of southern California for three years was followed by a family move to a cute German village. I was hired to help American soldiers stationed there with musculoskeletal pain problems, mostly back and knee pain.
Let me be clear: I’m not a victim. I wanted freedom, but as a type A achiever, "less is more" wasn't in my vocabulary.
One thing I noticed across the board with my patients that experienced chronic pain was a lack of sleep quality and duration. It was uncanny and persistent and nobody in the medical establishment was worried about it.
I got into the profession to serve people and help them with physical pain, but I often felt ineffective and frustrated.
But on weekends we explored the slopes of the Austrian Alps, French cuisine in Paris, acretulip gardens near Amsterdam, hiking the Swiss Jungfrau, and Italian gelato. Lot's of gelato, 2 scoops a day while on vacation was our motto.
Enter Finland on one of our adventures.
My husband has family there so we thought it would be interesting. I’m embarrassed to say it, but it took me until I was 38 years old to learn how to relax. For the first time in my life I slowed down at a Finish sauna cabin and I've never felt better.
It hit me that mindbody downregulation training or “Integrated Recovery” is just as important as the up-regulating physical or mental training.
It's mindbodysoul. Bio-psycho-social in science-y words. Holistic without the bullshit.
And the physiological cornerstone is good sleep for the kids, adults, and people with or without trauma. We all have scars. But we can and must recover. Starting with sleep so we have the space to do the hard work.
Thanks to this “Integrated Recovery”, I lived with more space and freedom. I have learned how sometimes it's not what we do but rather what we don't do that changes us. I eat and workout intuitively. Exercise nourishes, doesn't punish. My head hits the pillow and I fall asleep. I take time for what really matters. The flywheel started spinning.
I made many mistakes, but over time, I've created systems. I have integrated my experience living and working around the world and connected the best of Eastern medicine, Western medicine, Neuroeconomics, fitness and nutrition research, and neuroscience to create tiny habits and use easy tools for sustainable wellness that doesn't require placebos or pills.
On this website, Escape Insomnia, I want to show you how I did this — and help you do the same. Join 4,000+ people who get free email updates.
Welcome to an online community that’s building wellness independence. I’m glad you’re here.
P.S. Download my free book, Escape Insomnia.