Mother Nature

Movement vs. Exercise

Katy Bowman, demonstrates natural reflex-driven movement


It’s finally happened.

I have found a teacher who has been teaching, blogging and publishing about body alignment and natural reflex-driven movement. She writes about how exercise as we’ve come to know it is what is actually causing more harm to our human-machine. Over the last (almost five years) you have watched me struggle through the transition from the discovery of HIIT to doing less exercise. I feel a huge sense of relief knowing that returning to pure biomechanics is the answer. And to boot, there is a resource already available for all of us to work from. Katy Bowman has written the “ever-elusive human manual”.

“Once you’re exposed to a very specific, mathematical approach to the functions of the body, everything begins to make sense — the pain. The injury. The cramping. The birthing outcome.”

                                                                                                          – Katy Bowman, MS

About three years ago, sometime in 2012 (approximately two years after starting this blog), I started to experiment with doing less exercise (which seemed a little odd since my blog was about health and fitness, but not completely disconnected, because I was trying to encourage physical movement, which is different than exercise AND I was having difficulty putting that into words). At the time I didn’t really have a name for what I was not doing anymore, except to refer to it as daily body maintenance. When people asked me what I did to keep in shape, I usually answered that I was experimenting with doing less; trying to see how I could maintain my health and wellbeing by doing less. But by less, I meant specifically doing less exercise, yet simultaneously, I was consciously increasing my active living component throughout the day.

“Exercise is not the flip side of the sedentary coin — movement is. While the difference may seem like an argument in semantics, these two habits are quite different.”

This was an odd transition for me, especially because I had been such a believer in exercise; mainly because it was all I knew – I had been a gymnast and sprinter, studied ballet, jazz, modern, flamenco, folk dance, was a cyclist, in-line-skater, body builder, yoga student. For a long time being a ‘competitive athlete’ was synonymous with my identity. After all, you are what you do.

Once I began teaching exercise as a job, I began to struggle with how exercise was offered to the public with respect to living a healthy lifestyle; I always felt that there was more to it, but didn’t know where to find it. Back in the early 1990’s, after becoming a certified Aerobic Instructor and Personal Trainer, I attempted to describe to a friend (thank you, Vanessa) what I was looking for in terms of body movement. She had recently learned about Pilates and suggested I look into it. Finally, when I did take some instruction, the Pilates philosophy hit home. Fortunately, the particular teacher I found had taken classical Pilates exercises to a deeper level, leaning on the restorative application angle. Yet, there was more to discover. I went back to university as a mature student to study Kinesiology, expecting to delve into the science and mechanics of movement, only to discover that The Kinesiology Department, was really the Physical Education department in disguise. They had changed their name based on enhancing job placement opportunities for future graduates. (Phys. Ed is the study of Sport Sciences meaning the study of exercise on the human body).

At present, after finding Katy Bowman, I now realize (because I am also gluten-free and think more clearly) that what I really wanted to study all those years ago was biomechanics. The good news? It’s never too late to start!

About three years ago, it occurred to me that in an effort to maintain a healthy functioning body into my nineties or one-hundred-and-twenties (because I plan on being here for a long time), I should practice now what I plan to be practicing in the future. Why would my activities be different in the future compared to the present if my goal is the same? We have enough years of research behind us to gauge that our modern approach to exercising our bodies is leading to early (or future) hip and knee replacements (or surgeries), it is not protecting us from the “affluent ailments” like osteoarthritis, diabetes and osteoporosis, from being prescribed medications, nor is it keeping us alive longer as if to protect us from death resulting from cardiovascular disease.

Which begs the statement:

“If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.”

“Alignment is not posture. Alignment is the position something needs to be in, in order to work correctly.” – Katy Bowman

For 2015, my goal is to study the introductory information put out by the Restorative Exercise Institute and then continue absorbing the rest of their on-line courses. I will share with you my progress but genuinely hope that you will consider investigating for yourself.

“People should know how to evaluate and repair themselves — and, better yet, know how to use their bodies in a way that prevents the affluent ailments.”

Exercise is not movement. Start by reading these three books.

  • Every Woman’s* Guide To Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet by Katy Bowman 
  • Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says by Katy Bowman
  • Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman

piano knabe

In fact, I’ve already given away a copy of Alignment Matters, to my piano tuner. He is a phenomenal musician who can play anything. But when he played a spectacular rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen…here take this book, besides the fact that I can’t believe you just played one of my favourite songs on my antique piano, but because you need to sit on your sit bones when you play the piano, and because I need you to play my piano forever!!! 

Oh! and I sent all three books to my Aunt Adrienne, in Ontario who was the person that first introduced me to Aerobics and Body Building (when I was sixteen). This month she turns sixty-nine years old and is a proponent of staying active. Post to follow, you won’t believe what she does. She will inspire.

If you have read this far then you deserve to enter your name in a draw to win a copy of Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman. I have two copies but take note that the one I’m giving away is gently used, but if you want it (cause you really should read it), leave your name, an email or twitter handle where I can contact you (if you win) and tell me why you should get this book. If you leave a comment below, I will automatically have access to your email so you don’t have to leave it in your comment for the world to see, if that is a concern for you:)

Open to Canadian and U.S. residents only. You’ve got until March 1st, 2015 to submit your entry. UPDATE: Congratulations to LoLo, she wins a copy of Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman, MS.

* “…although the title and cover are geared towards women, this book is written for any person who is seeking a primer on optimal alignment and looking to establish a foundation that restores health.” – KB

“Motivation is For Amateurs”

The above quote by Chuck Close comes from page 43 in Seth Godin’s most recent book What To Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn)

It is such a great book filled with so much inspiration and mind clearing, smarten-yourself-up reminders and encouragement to engage in life.

I love people and love hearing the individual stories that make people tick. In the same breath I’m often saddened by the lack of drive and excuses I hear which prevent personal growth. There is a lot of talk as to making plans but those plans never materialize. Talk about being satisfied with the status quo but in the same breath complaints about everything. It makes my head spin.

Change. Everyday is a great time to improve oneself.

In this book Seth Godin points out a lot of our socially accepted excuses for not fulfilling our responsibilities.

“And what about getting in the mood? What about the motivation you’ll need to engage in this life? Our need for motivation is due to our need for reassurance. We are paralyzed by our fear that it might not work, and we let the fear demotivate us, giving us the perfect excuse not to create.”

And this is why I’m giving away a copy of this book. Just in time for the new year. I’ll ship a free copy to one person in Canada or U.S.
A winner will be announced and contacted on January 1, 2015.

Write as many comments as you like on this blog post, on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and/or Google+. Tell me why you deserve this book, why you need this book!! How this book will help you to make a difference? Use these hashtags #youasamachine #motivationisforamateurs

UPDATE Jan. 1, 2015 

Thanks to everyone for participating in this book giveaway. Congratulations go out to Maya as the winner. Because there were so many wonderful comments and many who just retweeted I had my daughter draw the winning name from a hat. If the book does not get claimed then we will draw another name. To all the others, I hope that you will go out and get yourselves a copy 🙂 and perhaps be inspired to share it with others!



Because I believe that we are all interconnected.


“Each one of us is responsible for all of humankind, and for the environment in which we live. . . . We must seek to lessen the suffering of others. Rather than working solely to acquire wealth, we need to do something meaningful, something seriously directed toward the welfare of humanity as a whole. To do this, you need to recognize that the whole world is part of you.”

 —Dalai Lama, from How to Be Compassionate

Daniel Northcott – Circles


“We all have the same dreams, need the same things;

we are all more similar than we ever have been different.  

These wounds are deep, so equally deep must be the acceptance that frees us from this tolerance.  

I will not tolerate you – I will love you.  

I will accept you completely, whatever that means.”

– Daniel Northcott

Daniel Northcott

Be Brave – The Movie

I am posting this on behalf of my friend Erin Northcott. We are kindred spirits who actually don’t see one another often. We connect via email a couple times a year at most. But it was our initial meeting back in 2006 which cemented our friendship. I tend to make friendships like this. My friendship circle is not tight or closed. It is open and ripples out. Perhaps this is why I need to share this message with you. 

Quick backstory: 

In the fall of 2006 it was time for my two year old daughter to begin attending a parent participation pre-school class, for only two-hours on Friday mornings. I didn’t have anyone to mind my four year old son during that time, and his pre-school program only ran Monday to Thursday. Erin’s business was and still is in the service of placing nanniesShe came to our home to interview us, but because we only needed someone for two to three hours once per week, she was doubtful that she would be able to place anyone with us. She thought about it and decided that she would be our 3-hour nanny, for those eight months. My son and Erin clicked and they spent their time together creating incredible art projects. She often commented on how much my son reminded her of her little brother Daniel and how much her brother would love to meet him. We never met Dan.

Dan died from Leukemia in 2009 at age 29.

“A brother’s dying wish. A sister’s undying promise.

Be Brave is the true story of Daniel Northcott. Real footage captures this haunting and inspiring story of filmmaker Daniel Northcott’s dying wish to share his message of unity with the world.”

Daniel and Erin Northcott

Please view this two-minute film. What are friends for if we can’t stand up for, speak for and help each other out? At first you might wonder, what kind of friend just shows up at the eleventh hour? (There are only five days left for this campaign for crowd-funding this project). Believe me, I have thought about that too. Shouldn’t I have been more aware of this project earlier on? Watch the footage and you will see how busy Erin has been this past year fulfilling her promise. Well, there are reasons for everything. I had not been in touch with Erin for over a year and by chance I sent her an email on January 23, 2013. She followed up with what was going on and sent me the link to the preview of Dan’s film. You could say the film is haunting me. The next day I found out on Facebook, that January 23rd would have been Dan’s thirty-third birthday. Was it a coincidence that I contacted Erin on her brother’s birthday?  

I don’t think it was a random occurrence. 

Erin’s brother Dan had a message for the world:

That we are all interconnected.

We are all made of the same matter.

And we are all one beautiful organism. 

“Bursting with unquenchable curiosity and a boundless love for life, Daniel Northcott

was a one-of-a-kind filmmaker.  Barely 20, he set out on a decade-long quest to travel the world, spreading his infectious enthusiasm across four continents and dozens of cultures. Through ruins and cities, war zones and sacred sites, he captured each precious moment on camera with an eye for colourful characters of every age and description.

In April of 2007, Dan’s journey led him to a greater adventure than he had ever imagined.  Despite warnings of an ancient curse, he brought home a bone from a sacrificial Mayan burial cave in Yucatán, and just months later he was diagnosed with leukemia – cancer of the bone marrow.

When Daniel learned 8 years into his film project that he had only months to live he began a race to complete his unfinished film. Amazingly, he continued to document every detail of the roller-coaster ride that followed —from the doctor delivering the crushing news to every intense medical procedure, losing his hair, and intimate moments with friends and family.

With over a thousand hours of footage and no energy or time left he made a 40-minute sketch of the film he dreamed to make and left the footage in his will to his sister Erin Northcott. His last wish was to request she oversee the completion of his legacy, his film.”

Circles within Circles

Above photo: “Greece. Dan was all over this when he saw it amidst the ruins, to him the circles within circles he found around the world were reminders of humanity and natures interconnectedness; a fact humanity knew so well long ago, that Daniel wanted us to re-remember.” 


“In early 2012, I got a call from musician and filmmaker Chris Brickler.  He had stumbled upon some footage that he felt I should see immediately.  Chris has never been one to exaggerate, but when he pitched the story to me it sounded too fantastic to be true.  He sent me 40 minutes, which I watched with some of my team. 

When it was over, there was 10 minutes of silence. Only a few deep breaths, sniffles and one barely audible “whoa.”  It wasn’t until I felt a cold streak down my cheek that I realized I was crying. “What just happened?” It was hard to understand, let alone explain. 

 The footage was shot by and featured a young man named Daniel Northcott. Dan was gifted with the ability to perceive realities deeper than what meets the eye.  In the words of his own mother, “the kid was a star child.”

Director Mikki Willis and Elevate Studios are honored and grateful that Erin and the Northcott family have entrusted them to produce Be Brave.

WATCH THIS link: Be Brave filming Update from Mikki Willis

I haven’t come across a film that has such potential to make a positive impact in the heart of humanity.
Check out their trailer and campaign at


Their Indiegogo campaign is ending in 10 hours at midnight Wednesday, January 30, 2013 (unless they get an extension) and they need our help to reach their goal.

UPDATE #2: They were granted a one time only extension which means that their campaign ends at midnight Saturday, February 2, 2013.

$1 – $10 can make a difference if you feel moved to make a donation. 
Even if you can’t contribute, just sharing this message with 10 specific friends will be enormously helpful.
Please join me in bringing this profound story to the world.
Thank you so much!
FINAL UPDATE: WOW! What an incredible campaign. BE BRAVE exceeded their goal with an amazing outpouring of support! Keep your eyes out for this feature film when it comes out. Already, Daniel’s message is gathering momentum. It took a global community to get Be Brave to this point and that was the point! Well done. Let’s each of us do our part for Humanity.

Just The Food, Log

Baked Cajun Rubbed Rainbow Trout - Ruby fleshedIt takes me quite a bit of time to piece together a “day in the life” log. At this point, if you’ve read my other Food Log posts, you will have an idea of my patterns. So to make everything simpler – easier for you to read and easier for me to upload, the following is examples of JUST the food. As I’ve mentioned before in Rx Food that I have been experimenting as much as possible with eating my food in the right order, as per Dr. Mercola’s suggestion. Everything I eat is according to Blood Type O, non-secretor lists via the research done by Dr. Peter D’Adamo, Eat Right For Your Type. As well, I have been consciously cutting back on fruit. As far as Gary Taubes sees it, he doesn’t “think there’s much meaningful evidence on the benefits of fruits in the diet.” I used to eat fruit with abandon thinking I was making a healthier choice. As it turns out, our bodies don’t differentiate much on where the sugar comes from. (More on the sugar/fruit subject another day).

Dr. Mercola says:

“In addition to eating the right foods for your body, believe it or not, we discovered that it is not enough just to make the right food choices…It is equally important to eat your foods at each meal in the right order!

  • Many leading protein types should eat their meat first
  • Carb types should eat their vegetable first.
  • Mixed types should eat their meat and vegetable together.

When your food is consumed this way, digestive and nutritional efficiency will improve dramatically, shown by:

  • Improved meal satisfaction
  • No need for snacks between meals
  • No more food cravings.

Dr. Mercola has a basic Nutritional Typing Plan. Click here to view Dr. Mercola’s Nutritional Typing.


7 am My Breakfast: (in this order)

  • on an empty stomach: 20 mL Salus Artichoke Juice, followed by 6 oz. water
  • Salus Artichoke Juice2 soft boiled eggs, sprinkled with sea salt
  • 5 oz. Steamed Spinach (1/2 bag of Stahlbush Island Farms Frozen Spinach), with 1-2 TBSP. EVOO & fresh Lemon Juice
  • 4 Organic walnut halves
  • 4 Organic pitted Prunes (no preservatives)
  • small banana
  • 12 oz. water

Day 1

8:30 am: 

  • 1 heaping TBSP. Salus Red Beet Crystals mixed with 8 oz. water (or 250 mL San Pellegrino)

Beet Crystals & Water

Day 1

11:30 am My Lunch: (in this order)

  • Lunch MainLunch Salad(All Re-heated), baked Sockey Salmon seasoned with dill, garlic, Olive Oil, lemon juice.
  • Baked Ruby flesh Rainbow Trout, seasoned with Luisiana Cajun rub & Olive Oil
  • Purple Thai Sticky Rice, Quinoa, Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/fresh ginger, cilantro, green onions, Olive Oil & lime juice
  • Steamed Kale


  • Organic Romaine Lettuce, cherry tomatoes, fresh mint leaves and fresh basil leaves
  • Half red & orange peppers
  • Half organic Hass Avocado
  • Organic broccoli
  • EVOO & fresh squeezed lemon juice

12 oz. water

Afternoon snack, around 3:45 pm

  • 1 Can Mackerel
  • 4 Brown Rice cake thins
  • 5 organic dried mission figs
  • 5 mini organic carrots

Canned Mackerel

I don’t usually have time to photograph dinners because it’s mostly too hectic.

Day 1

6 pm My Dinner: (in this order) 

  • 8 oz. BBQ Grain-fed NY strip loin, (seasoned with drop of Olive Oil, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder).
  • Steamed Kale
  • Roasted Sweet Potato w/ unsalted butter
  • Plain risotto w/ a pouring of saffron tea
  • Mix of wild & brown rice
  • raw carrots & broccoli
  • 12 oz. water

risotto w/ saffron tea

Generally, when I know that I’m going to use the oven or BBQ, I will plan ahead and grocery shop accordingly. For example, if we are having Salmon for dinner, I will buy enough to have leftovers for the following day. Assuming we will eat a total of 1.5 pounds of Salmon at dinner I will buy 2 pounds to ensure leftovers for the following days lunch or snack.

I will also bake two other types of fish, seasoned differently, with the purpose of having those ready for lunch or dinner the following day as well.

When I BBQ, I tend to prepare my NY strip loin, marinated turkey cutlets and sweet potatoes at the same time – with the intention of having leftovers.

When I prepare rice or pasta, I will make enough and a few varieties at a time to ensure leftovers.

I try to always have washed and cut up carrots & broccoli as well as a steamed green vegetable like, Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard or Green Beans ready to eat in the fridge.

Preparing my family’s food supply in this way actually makes for less work and much less stress on my part. It definitely has taken a lot of daily practice for me to figure it all out, but as a result, I know my way around my kitchen better than I ever!

My Hernia


This post started out as a reply to a comment from AZ. But, because I am still learning to edit myself to say more with fewer words, I have exhausted the allowable space in the comment section 🙂

AZ wrote:

“Thank you so much for a thorough and helpful advice. I really appreciate the time you have taken to respond to me, including attaching the links for easy navigation. Your thought of “saving me time” in attaching the links is recognized and valued. Thank you again very much. I have to come up with some in bed stretching routine that does not involve laying on my back, since as you know, at this point in pregnancy, even that is not allowed 
I am somewhat active still, running around after my toddler and my dog  walking, cleaning, the usual household chores one does, but not nearly as active as in my first pregnancy. I was even using a kettle bell and a medicine ball in the beginning, until I noticed every time I would do a strenuous move or lift, my hernia above my bellybutton would stick out even more, so I decided not to “promote” it’s growth. I will try your suggestions and let you know how it goes. Thank you again, Sincerely,

I realize that the post below may only be interesting to a very select group, however, it is alarming at how common hernia’s are and how unaware most of us are about how they are caused and what we can do to prevent them.

When I was pregnant with my second baby, not only was I uncomfortable during my third trimester, but I also found it very challenging to be pregnant with a toddler in tow. I remember taking comfort, in imagining that things could only get better and more manageable once the second baby was born. Some things were easier, like actually being able to bend down to tie a shoelace. But, while bio-mechanically the body is somewhat like its old self post-partum, other challenges surfaced, like being so tired from lack of sleep and in an effort to keep the calm, always trying to anticipate my toddlers’ actions and emotions in order to be one step ahead of tantrums or falls, etc. I think my nerves were so shot from being on duty 24 hours per day that I often found myself carrying both the newborn and the twenty-three month old simultaneously. I think that feat of strength falls under the heading of over-worked adrenals and the super-human-mommy-survival mechanism. Oh, and managing two Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

All the above, just to tell you, that all that unnecessary lifting (and the tons I did during the second pregnancy – because I could!) may have contributed to my developing an umbilical hernia. The hernia that I didn’t even know I had until the summer of 2010, which was a long time after having my kids.


My navel looked kind of bizarre during and after both pregnancies (2002, 2004), but I chalked it up to just that: two pregnancies is going to leave their mark. Besides, I thought my new outie belly button was kind of cute during my pregnancy! Now that I reflect on it, I find it interesting that none of my health care practitioners noticed it or if  they did, never commented on it. Maybe, because it was so small it really did look just like an outie? I only discovered the hernia after doing a workout, which (similar to you) involved using a Kettlebell for a Turkish-Get-Up or weighted sandbag sit-up. After this particular workout, when for whatever reason, I touched my navel to discover how incredibly sensitive it had become. Suddenly, I noticed how certain movements caused a little pea-sized something to pop out. It left me feeling nauseated!

Unfortunately, a few days after I discovered the hernia, we went on a family vacation to the lake so I had to wait a week before seeing my doctor. I could still do everything, save for certain movements, which caused minor discomfort – though I avoided touching my navel entirely, except for occasionally pushing the little ‘pea’ back in.

Upon our return, I visited my doctor who sent me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that it was only a partial hernia, since nothing had broken through the fascia. A visit with a general surgeon suggested that it looked as though this weakness could very well have been there since MY birth and that the two pregnancies combined with certain exercises and quite possibly the nine months of an intense chronic cough, may have made it worse. Knowing that I was a very active person, the surgeon recommended a basic suture, which would prevent it from becoming a full hernia and it would only leave less than a one-inch scar on the fold of the skin just above my navel. (The idea of the scar didn’t bother me).

The surgeon compared the procedure to going to the dentist; it may be uncomfortable at times but manageable. Post-operation, he said that I’d be able to get back to my regular routine, even exercise (clearly NOT High Intensity Exercise, but able to resume exercise) the very next day! Described like that, I figured that I could handle it considering I endured the pain of two home births. Yeah, go ahead, I can take what you’ve got…It’s funny-peculiar, how enduring the pain of the home births used to mean something to me, like if I could handle that I could handle just about anything. Somehow, I’ve lost my ability to handle certain things, (mostly observing and dealing with others’ accidents), which I won’t digress about here, but believe me I have been found on more than one occasion in a crumpled heap feeling nauseated, moaning for my mommy.

On November 9, 2010, I drove myself to and from my surgery. The surgeon’s description about the simplicity of the procedure was spot on, except that for whatever reason, my body didn’t quite heal as quickly as it should have. Quite possibly, because of my previous tendency for joint inflammation, my recovery lasted nearly ten days, as opposed to the usual three to five days!! It took an additional fourteen days before I could get back to my usual routine.

When I went for my ten-day follow up appointment, my surgeon was genuinely astonished by my experience. Meanwhile, I’d been cursing his name under my breath, wondering what kind of a joker-surgeon had I been dealing with. Ha, Ha, just wait till she tries to do…anything. Muahahaha!!! 🙂

In all seriousness, he was a lovely person and highly respected general surgeon. We agreed that my slow recovery must have been due of the ‘Palindromic Rheumatism’, which I had been diagnosed with the previous year. (Though I’ve been able to eliminate any joint pain and inflammation by strictly following ER4YT, eliminating all gluten and consulting with an MD, who consults in homeopathy and Integrative Medicine).

For nearly ten days, post-operation, I couldn’t do anything without intense pain. Driving home after the surgery was uneventful, though, I just had to be cautious and aware of the incision. And because I was told that I could go about my usual daily activities, I did just that. But later in the day when I went to pick my kids up from school, the simple act of turning the steering wheel became awfully difficult. So I got the message and had no choice but to take it much slower. Over the next few days, I couldn’t walk the dogs, for any sudden pull of the leash made me wince with pain. Vacuuming was next to impossible not to mention simply turning over in bed or getting up from a chair! That experience only reminded me how much we depend upon our core for absolutely every minute movement. Only once a part of us is out of commission do we realize how much it actually does for us.

Now, at the beginning of June 2012, it has been a year and a half since I had this minor surgery and quite frankly I’d forgotten all about it until I read AZ’s comment. However, as a result, I DO NOT include the above-mentioned exercises as part of my regular workout routine anymore – because I don’t NEED to do them. And quite frankly, I don’t know if I every really needed to do them to be super fit. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of challenge and lose our grounding in common sense in the process; whether because we have a need to prove our fierceness to ourselves or others. I will do Prisoner-Get-Ups from time to time, but under no circumstances will I perform full sit-ups, with or without a sandbag. Besides it being a useless exercise, which leads to lower back problems because it recruits the psoas muscles to pull the torso up to seated as opposed to the abdominal group. There are a lot of fancy exercises that are in vogue these days, that fall into the useless category, that are causing more harm than good; however, because it’s unlikely that doing those exercises once in a while probably won’t cause much damage, but then we have to really think about WHY? we would do them in the first place? What is our motivation? Our best bet is to stick with the basics, but also to work with an expert who can identify which basic exercises will actually be beneficial for our specific needs. Sure, we can go ahead and do exercises, which are not appropriate for us and survive…(clearly, there are worse things we can do!). But, from my perspective, if we’re going to bother in the first place, doesn’t it make sense to at least try to do it right? I have come to have this same opinion about food as a result of exploring which foods actually support my health. We can go ahead and eat anything for energy, but if we’re going to bother, doesn’t it make sense to do the research and fuel ourselves according to what will actually enhance our health?

However, had I done it right from the start, I would not have had the opportunity to entertain you with my umbilical hernia saga.

So, AZ – I hope all this rambling hasn’t put you to sleep or worse, made you worry. But, like everything else, we get through the tough stuff. We change with change – (now isn’t that a revelation!), but things usually work out in the end – often because we don’t have much choice either way. The end just turns out different than we thought it might. For me, that’s what makes for a great story, though…the unexpected endings.

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Simona Atzori

Simona Atzori

Professional Dancer, Visual Artist

& Motivational Speaker

I first saw this photograph or one similar to it, of Simona Atzori in a magazine delivered to our house about three or four years ago. Simona was an example of an exceptional student in an advertisement from University of Western Ontario. She moved from Italy to London, Ontario to continue her studies in Visual Art and Dance. I left the magazine open and found myself going back to it often. But after losing track of it among the many other articles I had piled up on my desk – I think it got put out for recycling. However, even after a few years I still could not get Simona’s picture out of my mind. I often thought about her accomplishments, from the short blurb written about her and wanted to learn more.

The link in her name, above will direct you to her official website. She has also written a book, but as far as I can tell it is only available in Italian. Maybe, if enough of us leave requests (on her site or on her Facebook Page) for it to be translated to English, perhaps her publisher will make it happen. I’d really like to read her book – but my Italian is limited to greetings and counting to 10!

Simona is part of our household now. I talk about her with my kids, rather, we talk about her. We wonder aloud about the human body’s potential. How “what we already know often prevents us from learning”. We think about the fact that Simona was born this way. She didn’t know any different and so her mind and body worked together to enable her to do everything anyone else does, only she does it with her legs and feet. This is remarkable to me, because I didn’t know how much dexterity was possible within the human foot or hip joint for that matter! After we discuss Simona, my kids go full steam ahead trying to do simple tasks using their feet. They are always amazed and I think it awakens them, if only for  a moment.

“If all of us were born without arms maybe we would all use feet.

I think it is a potential of our body that we don’t use – that we don’t even know we have it.”

-Simona Atzori

I finally got round to using a search engine to learn more and found the following series of interviews on YouTube from the philanthropic work she does in Africa. I’ve collected them here, both for you and me. Her words are so meaningful, uplifting and encouraging. Wonderful reminders of our potential.

I love life. I think life is a wonderful gift.

And my duty is to make this gift a masterpiece.

-Simona Atzori

“I can always share my experience with people and I can just tell them they are beautiful just the way they are.

It seems simple and it’s the most difficult thing for people to realize.”

-Simona Atzori

“The Best Advice I Ever Got”

Robert Shiller: The best advice I ever got

Interview by Ellen Florian, contributor@FortuneMagazineDecember 2, 2011: 2:15 PM ET

Robert Shiller, the man who spotted the two biggest bubbles of this century warns not to get swayed by celebrity.

FORTUNE — “My father, Benjamin Shiller, told me not to believe in authorities or celebrities — that society tends to imagine them as superhuman. It’s good advice. People are snowed by celebrities all the time. In academia people have this idea of achieving stardom — publishing in the best journals, being at the best university, writing on the hot topic everyone else is writing about. But that’s what my father told me not to do. He taught me that you have to pursue things that sound right to you.

“In 2004, when I wrote the second edition of my book Irrational Exuberance, I said in the preface I was worried that the boom in home prices might collapse, bring on bankruptcy in both households and businesses, and lead to a world recession. I remember thinking that this sounds kind of flaky — nobody else is saying this, I can’t prove it, this could be embarrassing. But I had learned from my father not to care what other people think. This was my book, and I believed this, so I just said it.”

Robert Shiller Age: 65

Job experience: Yale University economist; author; co-creator of S&P/Case-Shiller home price indices; co-founder and former chief economist of financial tech firm MacroMarkets; co-founder of Case-Shiller Weiss (now Fiserv Case-Shiller)

Claim to fame: Author of bestseller Irrational Exuberance; spotted both the Internet and housing bubbles early on.

This article is from the December 12, 2011 issue of Fortune.

It’s All in the Timing

“Until you value yourself,

You won’t value your time.

Until you value your time,

You will not do anything with it.”

M. Scott Peck

I think timing is important.

Time is of the essence…

The timing of the punch line…

“Time keeps on slipping…into the future…”

In my mind, the key to living a well-rounded, balanced life comes down to timing.

For me it’s a work in progress. Some days I feel like I’m really beginning to get the hang of handling this busy life and other days I feel as though I’ve completely dropped the ball and have to rethink my entire strategy.

Timing our daily tasks should be simple enough, one would certainly think so after having two to four, if not more decades of practice. You’d think! So why is it that every January, suppliers and manufacturers of fitness equipment and videos have a booming business? A booming business for something which are basic life skills that we should have been taught and been well versed from day one? This is why I suggest that we focus on Daily Body Maintenance as a lifelong practice as opposed to viewing it as a resolution. We can’t wait till every January to eat or we won’t be alive. So, why do we wait till January every year to make a resolution to focus on our health and fitness and then stop within 90 days? There are a lot of things that we should be more punctual with – but aren’t. Such as house maintenance. Have you seen those advertisements for soap scum remover? Who lets their house get that dirty that they need a jack hammer of chemicals to break through to the tile below? If we stay on top of what needs to be done in a timely fashion then everything takes less time. I know this…I’ve been experimenting.

In order to eat well and exercise daily, I believe we need to focus more on timing our tasks. It’s really simple if we become consistent with one step at a time; master it and only then, add on. Rather than biting off more than we can chew, we need to set ourselves up for success.

For most families, the end of the day is a very hectic time, with kids’ afterschool activities, homework, dinner and bedtimes. In order to get my workouts done I have to schedule them into my morning after I drop the kids to school. I have had to develop a well timed pattern.

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.

William Penn

In order to have an effective workout, I have to be well nourished. I start my day with a very healthy breakfast. I would NEVER consider exercising without being well fuelled and hydrated. This also means that I have to leave enough time to digest prior to my workout. This has to be well timed and it comes with practice. If I eat breakfast at 7:15- 7:30 am, I will be digested and ready to do my workout by 8:45 – 9:00 am. If I get side tracked and don’t start my workout at that time (being delayed till 9:30 or 10:00), then I will forfeit my workout until after digesting my next meal. Generally, if I don’t do a workout I would be eating my second meal of the day by 9:30 – 10:00 am. Once I pass my ‘workout window’ of opportunity, I can feel my energy drop, I feel hungry and know that I will have to refuel in order to actually gain something positive from my workout. Working out on empty is a useless practice. (However, working out first thing in the morning seems to work well for a lot of people).

You see, it ALL comes back to timing.

 Naturally, we need to think and plan ahead to be able to:

  • Do a 4 Minute Morning
  • Make breakfast and get the household moving in the morning
  • Get anywhere on time; schools, appointments, activities etc.
  • Eat a well balanced meal
  • Digest enough before physical activity
  • Time water intake throughout the day
  • Stretch periodically throughout the day
  • Plan the grocery list
  • To be able to make dinner on time
  • To make enough to have leftovers
  • Time the loads of laundry
  • Stay on top of various household chores
  • Anticipate tantrums and scuffed knees…
  • Be able to do an evening stretching routine
  • …so that we can spend our time wisely.

Time is the coin of your life.

It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.

Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

Carl Sandburg

To not always feel like we’re running to catch up. Running out of time.

I must govern the clock,

not be governed by it.

Golda Meir

Sure the “inbox is meant to be full”. That’s what life IS. Timing how we live our life is an art.

It’s not about trying to clear out the inbox; in fact, a great life suggests an inbox that is plentiful. It’s the outbox which should be continually cleared out.

Finish the projects. But keep starting new ones; being creative is essential. Some projects are short term, while others are daily and life-long, like our daily body maintenance.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

John Wooden

If you look at how some of the most successful people time their day, they are going non-stop and continually starting up new projects – that fail or succeed – it doesn’t seem to matter. What seems to matter is that the creative juices are flowing. The Wall Street Journal published an article a few weeks ago about Martha Stewart’s day. Click here.

She’s up at 4:59 am and goes all day. She has a personal trainer that she works with first thing in the morning and has a mid day yoga lesson. Martha scores big points with me for looking after her physical being. However, I don’t think she gets enough sleep. Take a look at the article…and I thought I had a lot on my plate – she’s busy. No question, she has got timing her day to an art.

Someone out there will surely say: “Well, if I had a all her money and a personal trainer, I would be in shape too.” But that’s another conversation…

Mother Nature

DSC02832 Ed Polish mouse pad hot flash

By a certain age, one hopes to have developed an ability to discern fact from fiction and the charlatans from the true healers. But as the years creep up we can become less certain about some things and more open-minded to alternatives. Sometimes, trial and error works best.

We live in a strange time. It was not long ago, when personal grooming was confined to the privacy of one’s home. Nowadays just about everything is on display and as a result, this blog post, I fear, will fit right in.

Gentlemen, you may wish to exit to a more masculine site at this time, however, if you live with a woman (or more than one) or know of someone going through some health challenges, this post may provide you with some ideas to ponder and suggestions to offer.

To all readers: I don’t promise any answers, but rather hope to provide questions as fuel for your own research. To be clear, this post is not meant to provide any medical advice, rather I am sharing information that proved to be useful for my particular situation. I am not connected in any way with any of the sources I cite.

I have wanted to share this information for some time, but have felt a little uncertain as how to broach the subject. Today, I received a comment from a concerned forty-four year old woman. She sounds a lot like me from a few years back; with joint inflammation and she’s blood type O. She has worked with an Osteopath and sees an RMT, so she is proactive in her self care. She said she will start exploring eating for her blood type to see if that reduces her joint inflammation.

Before reading on, you might view my blog post called Motivation for some background here. In it I describe how after having two pregnancies and nursing, my body’s chemistry was off which led to complications including a depleted immune system and joint inflammation. There are some things I didn’t get into, for two reasons: 1) I was already going into too much detail, which I thought would have heads spinning and 2) it just felt too personal so early in my blogging.

It’s time to talk about our hormones. Do you recall the book I have referenced called “Younger Next Year“? In it, Dr. Henry Lodge suggests that by age thirty the ageing process begins. Yes, thirty! At thirty I was more concerned with conceiving my first child. The thought of ageing was not on my radar at all. Ageing was something I’d deal with when I got there. News flash, I’m there…most of you reading this are there and some are well into it. What about those not registering on the radar? Read on and pack this information into your back pocket, it may prove to be useful later.

Like most women, I would visit an aesthetician from time to time. I found myself at the office of a reputable dermatologist, and was the new client of a fifty year old aesthetician named Janice; a woman with a wealth of information and experience. Naturally, we got to talking about everything from exercise to health and hormones. I described for her some of the challenges I had been facing and because she had been there she picked up on some key points. She suggested the name of a book that I might consider reading: Estrogen’s Storm Season, by Dr. Jerilynn Prior.

I ordered the book immediately and read it within two days. And so began my journey.

Let’s back up for a moment. At thirty-three years of age, our second child was born. (I nursed both babies until they were 16 months and 19 months respectively). By thirty-five years of age I started having ‘hot flushes’. Are you kidding me? At thirty-five?! It must be something else, right? I mentioned it to my doctor, but the consensus was that I was too young. My eyesight was changing too. Suddenly I was having difficulty reading my computer screen. I started having skin crawling sensations (the feeling that a loose hair or small insect was crawling on my skin). Normally a deep sleeper, I started experiencing night sweats which contributed to restless sleep. Daytime chills which were my version of day time hot flushes. Mood swings. Excessive amounts of discharge. Joint pain. Menstrual flooding. Oh, and let’s not forget about reaching the age when sneezing or laughing becomes a concern…hmmm. All these symptoms suggest high levels of Estrogen production, which is typical during peri-menopause.

Mind you, all these symptoms didn’t happen all at once. They crept up gradually, overlapping sometimes, coming and going. I felt like I was barely hanging on, trying to focus on caring for my young family and – seriously – trying to navigate this storm that was welling up inside me.

So, in an effort to help myself, I would visit my doctor – often. I felt like a hypochondriac. There were these real things going on with me that we couldn’t do anything about…yet, I presented like a healthy person. My eyes were clear, my blood pressure was normal and my blood work came back in the normal range. Except I had this mysterious joint inflammation that would come and go and my menstrual cycle had gradually changed. My cycle had always been 28 days. Over time it had dwindled down to between fifteen and twenty days. That’s just too frequent.

I tried to keep a record of when my joint pain would flare up and for how long it would last. It seemed to happen occasionally just prior to my cycle, so linking it with my cycle and shift in hormone levels felt like a reasonable place to start. Finally, my doctor suggested I try going on the pill to regulate my hormones and menstrual cycle as an experiment to see if it were my hormones which were causing my joint pain.

I did three cycles of the pill without a break, which meant no menstrual cycle for that time frame. The result: no joint pain – were we on to something? But sometimes I would go for a few months without pain, so I wasn’t convinced that I was on the right track. Besides the usual side effects from the pill, I wasn’t interested in taking the pill until I reached menopause, which was their recommendation.

This is where, Estrogen’s Storm Season comes in. Dr. Jerilynn Prior, suggests that during peri-menopause we tend to naturally have higher levels of Estrogen which contributes to the above mentioned symptoms. So for me, by taking the pill, which is loaded with more estrogen and only a very minute amount of progesterone, I was adding to my problem. I didn’t need more Estrogen, apparently, I was producing more than I needed.

“Regarding OHT (Ovarian Hormone Therapy), Dr. Prior has never advocated the wide use of hormones as an ongoing “replacement” for menopause. She does not think menopause is a medical condition that should be “fixed”, but is instead a normal stage of life.

According to Dr. Prior, there are only three main reasons to recommend OHT:

  1. if a woman is experiencing early menopause (<45 with hot flushes and for sure < 40)
  2. hot flushes are interfering with sleep and
  3. for prevention of osteoporosis. For hot flushes progesterone is equally effective as estrogen.”

“…We have used the word ‘menopause’ to mean everything that’s changing in midlife women, as well as to indicate the final menstrual flow. Now days, “menopause” is used specifically to mean that a year has passed since your final menstrual flow. ‘Perimenopause’…means the years of change before menopause.”

-from Dr. Jerilynn Prior’s website: CEMCOR to view her explanation of the Phases of Peri-menopause through to Menopause click here.

After a lot of back and forth with mainstream doctors, I discussed this situation with the M.D. I go to who consults in Homeopathy. He uses Electrodermal Testing to aid with diagnosis. Though all the doctors I spoke with were familiar with Dr. Prior’s theories, my mainstream doctors were still unwavering that Estrogen was the right course of action. My ‘Homeopathic Consultant’ agreed with her theories but felt that I didn’t need the high doses of progesterone which she recommends. The Electrodermal Test confirmed I would benefit from a specified dose. Over time, with chart taking (on my part) and paying close attention to my body, I was able to fine tune the levels with my ‘consultant’.

I printed copies of the Peri-menopausal charts/diaries from Dr. Jerilynn Prior’s CEMCOR website and kept strict record of everything for four months before I made any changes to my diet or started bio-identical progesterone. I kept track of my hot flushes, restless sleeps, even my morning temperature! Everything. How much and what type of exercise / activity I did each day, if I experienced any constipation, levels of mucous secretion, interest in sex, appetite, etc. I added my own lines for mood swings, clumsiness, chocolate and the list of vitamins/ minerals or homeopathic remedies I was taking. You can view and print a blank template of the chart/ diary here (and the instructions for use, here). I highly recommend that every woman do this especially if you have health issues creeping in. I wish I had been given a chart like this when I was a teen, it sure would have helped to navigate and bring more awareness to the natural fluctuations which would allow for more preparation (read: emotional preparation). I wonder why doctors don’t automatically offer this kind of self-help guidance? I know I will present the adolescent chart/diary to my daughter when the time is right for her.

A lot of women I talk with tell me that they are lucky because in their family lineage the women don’t develop these problems. Truly lucky. But I do wonder, for women in previous generations seemed to be much more discrete.

In Favor of the 4 Minute Morning

Waterfalls at Midnight

Today was the perfect argument in favor of the 4 Minute Morning.

My daughter had a fever in the night, which meant both of us were up every two hours and I was exhausted when morning came.  Her fever was down but she stayed home from school.  My schedule for the day had now radically changed.  After my son and I had our breakfast and he left for school I quickly did my 4 Minute Morning and a few stretches. Exactly what I needed to shake off that ‘all-nighter’ feeling.

I thought that I might be able to get my ‘planned’ workout in for the day even with my daughter at home, but it didn’t happen.  Tonight I will do my usual stretches (all of ten minutes) and get to bed early.

She just might wake up again in the night and I had better be ready.

Update:  She woke up twice in the night.