The Year of Change

HELLO! I’M BACK! Part 4

In this part, I’m sharing the experience I had with taking certain remedies: prescription, herbs, supplements etc, that I explored over thirteen years from when my peri-menopausal symptoms were triggered. Some of these remedies work very well for a lot of people. I am not negating their effectiveness on the whole. Remember this is my story, and each of us is an experiment of one.

In the years leading up to 2017, I was tested for Lupus (and other autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis factor) — I can’t remember if there were other tests and don’t much feel like spending the time going through the paperwork to find the exact details at the moment, partly because I feel ambivalent.

Not only do symptoms of disease creep up on us when we least expect it, but they’re also a sure sign that we’re no longer in homeostasis. What do we do when we start having mild symptoms? Usually, we wait and see. It’s not such bad advice, except what are we waiting to see? Either that the symptoms go away on their own, which sometimes happens or they get worse and develop into something that needs treatment. Should we use treatments or pharmaceuticals for these symptoms or would we be better off working towards realigning our body’s equilibrium? In the end, the latter is what made all the difference for me.

Could It Be Zinc Deficiency?

In my early twenties I experienced daily mild nausea and tasted a metallic residue in my mouth. (1, 2) Amazingly, eating would suppress the nausea and I didn’t mind eating. I don’t recall when I stopped noticing the nausea or metallic taste but both lingered over a ten year period. I wondered if it was from my amalgam fillings, which I eventually had removed (in Vancouver) and replaced with porcelain. I remember clearly describing it to doctors in Toronto and to my new doctor upon moving to Vancouver in 2000. Once again, it was my husband who encouraged me to talk to someone about these peculiar symptoms.

Looking back over my calendar, I’m feeling both irritated and bored reviewing these lost years of my life. My calendar was the place where I kept track of mostly EVERYTHING: herbs or medications that I took, the pain I experienced, irregular menstrual cycles and for years I tracked my morning temperature…trying to identify patterns if they existed, anything to solve my declining-health-puzzle.

At my core I am an optimist, and am hopeful that learning about what happened to me may help others who are struggling in similar ways. It’s not as though this information is not readily available to everyone and am somewhat bewildered it took so long for me to unearth it. It boils down to asking the right questions, which is farcical. I think it’s safe to say that for most of us suffering from illness or mysterious symptoms, that we don’t know what the right questions are and so we ask a lot of random questions and offer our own suspicions hoping that someone who knows more than us will be able to grab a clue from our bizarre analogies and symptoms, and run with it.

I’ve always had a “passionate streak” that bordered on the obsessive, but lucky for me, generally, my interests were of a healthy nature. However, around 2011, I became negatively obsessed with saving the planet. I wasn’t fun to be around anymore and if I didn’t show it on the outside, I was a completely stressed on the inside navigating my way around the city watching how everyone’s daily habits were so oblivious to the pollution we were generating. Having school-aged kids at the time, my attention zeroed in in particular on all the daily waste generated in schools –what were we teaching our kids, the next generation? So in a moment of positivity and activism when my daughter (in grade 5 at the time) initiated an eco-movement, I helped her with the social media side of things (here) and a lot of sewing. My dark outlook on the depressing and futile future of our planet was weighing me down. I was trying to save the planet ALL by myself. I could no longer see that all the ways in which I was inconveniencing and further stressing myself to do the right things didn’t make much of an impact if the global population didn’t care. Note: More on obsessive tendencies later, and how I still feel passionate but the negative side has vanished as a result.

Ironically, it was the Earth that saved ME. 

I was so focused on protecting the Earth that I was unable to see what SHE was offering —all the while staring me right in the face. A bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the answer was with me (with all of us), only I didn’t know how to access it properly. Turns out, my instincts were on the right path, albeit a thirteen year path: it’s the Earth’s natural balance of what’s in the soil that will help us all.

If you didn’t already need a reason to tread lighter on our Mother Earth, hopefully this will give you something to consider. (3, 4, 5)

This is not an original thought, but somehow even though we know it in theory, there is a comprehension piece missing. And if you are demineralized like I am (and was severely demineralized over the last few years), making obvious connections to seemingly glaring signs is downright impossible. Yet, we all know that we rely on the planet for survival — but do we really understand what that means?

We are dependent on the minerals in the Earth’s soil and water for optimal health. As we deplete the Earth we deplete ourselves. It’s simple biochemistry.

The amount of minerals in food often depends on the mineral concentration of the soil and water, where farmers grew or raised the food.

We all know how important nutrition is, and most people I talk to believe that they’re eating very well. They either follow various ethically imposed diets or elimination diets based on disease or illness protocols, and yet almost everyone I talk with has some kind of unresolved health issue or concern. This is why I’m sharing myself as example because you probably haven’t heard it like this:

ME:

-someone who had been apparently healthy (but likely depleted from birth, due to genetics, familial habits and environmental exposure, also known as luck of the draw —this is why prenatal vitamins/minerals are encouraged), (6)

-I became further depleted through developmental years (because as a teenager I “knew everything and ate whatever I wanted” at least that described me and most of my friends), 

-a high intensity personality

-followed by lifelong high intensity exercise/activity, 

-two pregnancies and postpartum periods of child rearing and breastfeeding (16 months and 19 months).

-regular blood donations (during a one year period when my ferritin levels were normal)

-irregular and too frequent menses

-unsuspected drug-induced mineral depletion from bio-identical and regular HRT

-further intensified demineralization from vigorous long-term sweating in Hot Yoga

-finally on the edge of complete fatigue and failure to thrive, 

-I bounce back to life from a simple but essential mineral from the Earth:

Zinc.

“Zinc is an essential mineral that the body needs, and it supports your reproductive, immune and endocrine systems. If you don’t get enough zinc, you may be more likely to develop depression, skin problems such as acne, age-related macular degeneration, hair loss and neurological problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ingesting too much zinc, however, can also cause medical disorders…” (7)

Let’s go back in time again: Over the years I either went to specialists and/or worked on my own, doing the following (not all at once obviously —this covers twenty years worth) and I may have forgotten some things…this list is from the top of my head and a quick scan through my calendar.

I’d go for regular:

  • physio or massage (Rolfing/KMI/ myofascial release work)
  • roll my body out with foam roller/Travel Roller
  • Thai Massage, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi Gong
  • Pilates, Gyrotonic, Yoga (Trained and certified in each)
  • practice meditation, consult a psychic, reduce stress, calm walks in the forest, 
  • swimming 
  • Hot/Cold water therapy 
  • Homeopathy = Homeopathic remedies + supplements 
    • Vitamin C + Flavinoids; Magnesium; Vitamin D; Iodine (self-prescribed); Iron
  • Infrared sauna
  • Crystals
  • 2010-2012 Bio-identical Progesterone topical cream after learning about Jerrilyn Prior’s book Estrogen’s Storm Season (8) 
  • Integrative Medicine =supplements
  • Naturopathy = acupuncture + 2x B12 injection + supplements
    • Vitamin C + Flavinoids; Iron; Magnesium; Fish Oil; EstroSmart; Adrenal Support; Probiotics.
  • Dec. 2/2013 HORMONE 24 HOUR URINE TEST collection
  • Feb. 4/ 2014 – April 9/2015 Bio-Identical Progesterone oral and Estrogen topical (Rotation: Estrogen during Menses or 10 Days + Progesterone Day 11 – Day 25 or till menses starts)
  • Seed Cycling
  • Arvigo Abdominal Therapy (9) then took the self-care course so as to practice on myself
  • I even flew to Belize in Central America to study Spiritual Healing!!!
  • Fémance by St. Francis Nov. 3/16- Feb. 7/17
  • Harmony Menopause Max Feb. 14/17 – Feb. 21/17 (2 weeks) then switched to Pueraria Mirifica Feb 22/17 until August when it stopped working due to extreme sweating from Hot Yoga
  • Feb. 22/17 Advanced Hormone Testing: DUTCH Test (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones).
  • Studying Herbalism
  • Vaginal Steaming
  • CBD Oil 3x/day
  • Sept. 2017 – April/ 2018 Bio-Identical HRT + Pregnenlolone
  • April /2018 – July 20/2018 Mainstream HRT
  • Zinc June 11/2018
  • July 20/ 2018 STOPPED ALL HORMONES
  • July 24/ 2018 HOT FLUSHES returning, MOOD normal and stable
  • July 25 to August 2/2018 Pueraria Mirifica (1 Tab 2x/day)
  • August 3 to August 5 Harmony Menopause Max (2 tabs 2x/day)
  • August 6/2018 RESTART mainstream HRT because HOT FLUSHES became intolerable as before.

To be continued in Part 5 (‘cause this is so long and editing myself to keep it short is taking too much time).  Next time I’ll go into more detail about what happened with each remedy and explain more about why zinc made all the difference for me. The next part is already written so I’ll post it within a few days. Please note: I am not affiliated with any supplement products company or pharmacy and that this is a true story. 

(1) Nausea and Low Vitamin D & Vitamin B-12 https://www.livestrong.com/article/547745-nausea-and-low-vitamin-d-vitamin-b-12/

(2) Metallic Taste in Your Mouth? https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/dental-oral-health/metallic-taste-in-your-mouth/

(3) Too Many Tourists? http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/too-many-tourists-rethink-how-you-travel-or-risk-ruining-destinations-says-expert-1.4775306

(4) Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible ‘hothouse’ conditions, new report says https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/world-hothouse-report-1.4775649

(5) Study: Plastic degrading in the oceans could be contributing to global warming http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/38791434/study-plastic-degrading-in-the-oceans-could-be-contributing-to-global-warming

(6) Ancient Dietary Wisdom for Tomorrow’s Children https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/traditional-diets/ancient-dietary-wisdom-for-tomorrows-children/

(7) Zinc http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/much-zinc-much-humans-5684.html

(8) Jerrilyn Prior Estrogen’s Storm Season http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/resources/estrogen’s-storm-season

(9) Arvigo Abdominal Therapy https://arvigotherapy.com

HELLO! I’m BACK!

Not sure if you noticed my absence? I haven’t posted anything here since 2015.         Today is June 25, 2018. 

I’ve been unwell.

Despite doing all the “right” things, my decline has been gradual, not unlike the fable of the boiling frog. The only difference, is that I was able to hop out prior to boiling point.

The boiling frog is a fable which describes a frog being slowly boiled alive. If a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, the frog will jump out. But if the frog is put into tepid water, which is gradually brought to a boil, it will not perceive any danger.

The result: being cooked to death.

Up until two weeks ago, I believed that the last thirteen years of early peri-menopausal onset was exclusively due to my gene expression. Having done the 23andme genetic test in 2016, it was confirmed that I have the gene which puts me through menopause ten years earlier than the average woman. Some will argue, that just because I have the gene doesn’t mean that it will be expressed. (I don’t know enough about genetics to debate this). Unfortunately, we will never know. Should we be open to speculation that something ELSE was going on which triggered these symptoms which over time gradually brought me to boiling point?

The first thing that came to mind when I read the report, was that it made sense: Mum had a very difficult and drawn out peri-menopause too, even though comparatively, my sisters seemed to have minimal and manageable symptoms at typical ages. And I was grateful for the ‘official’ explanation for my untimely symptoms, which began at age 34.

What has this got to do about you? Essentially, that’s why you’re reading this. We’re all looking for answers for our own well-being. You may find some details going forward that either resonate with your health or someone you know.

My vision has always been to die healthy, at a ripe OLD age! But I was barely holding on to life at 47 years of age. I know that sounds dramatic, I was not hospitalized, but I felt that my expiry date was rapidly approaching. This slow, gradual decline that I’d been trekking had suddenly accelerated in the last six months and avalanched as of April 2018. My life started crumbling under my feet, like loose gravel overtop a seemingly solid trail. Depression’s fists were strengthening their grasp on my shirt collar and pulling me down, and I went willingly — I was giving up.

I never knew what Darkness meant up until this year. Really, I didn’t truly understand what depression was — because I’d never experienced it. Like so many others who don’t understand, I couldn’t comprehend how a positive attitude or encouragement from well meaning supportive friends and family could not pull you up out from your depths. “Cheer up! Smile!”

So what happened that brought me back to life? How’d I escape boiling point?

What happened that made Darkness leave? I never said good-bye to Darkness, by the way– I didn’t work at convincing it to leave me alone. Darkness just vanished, POOF! and what I was left with is empirical understanding. 

I’m heartbroken that so many people are walking around with despair as an unwelcome shadow and living with chronic pain.

I’ll share my story with you. It’s long, but I’ll keep it short-ish. There’s thirteen years of decline to cover — although there’s no doubt the early years prior set the stage.

I’d rather be doing other things than write this out, so I’ll be brief, for your sake and mine…after all, I’ve got some lost years to restore 🙂 AND, I’m still not at one-hundred percent. However, I’m feeling pretty amazing in contrast to how I was feeling just two weeks ago. There are so many FIRSTS that I’d like to shout about. Like the fact that I am here typing away, so naturally, words are flowing. I went for a LONG walk yesterday, I wake up refreshed, my strength has returned without having done any type of workout to have ‘created’ strength, to name but a few of my firsts.

I’ll post a little something every day, or so, to describe what happened.

At the root of this story is the failure of the experts. Oops! I did it again! I listened to the experts instead of my own instincts. Surly they know better –> tongue firmly planted in cheek. Years ago, I wrote a cautionary post about not relinquishing too much to the experts.

Did I forget? NO. But this is what happens when brain fog kicks in. What you know and interpretation of information becomes clouded…hence the term.

I’m pissed about this. Thirteen years of physical pain and aging like I were 70+. So, yes, I’m pissed. But I was eloquently reminded, that it’s better to be pissed than pissed on…unless you’re into that.

Silver lining: There is no success without failure. 

BOTH, the natural and allopathic medical systems failed in preparing my various doctors, who in turn failed me. But this story wouldn’t reach you, had they not. I wouldn’t have learned some pretty significant information about depression and health, had they not.

And so maybe, this will reach you or someone you love, in time to help. Despite doing all the seemingly right things for a healthy life, there are too many people slipping into darkness, suffering pain, premature ageing and dying.  

To be continued…

Comments are turned off until the end of this grouping of posts. 

Lunapads

Calvin Math

Calvin Math By Bill Watterson

It is not uncommon to come across people who have an aversion to math, and equally common to come across people with an aversion to human anatomy and physiology. I used to have an aversion to math but I’ve overcome it by looking at it in the same way I look at the human body. I don’t have to have all the answers locked up in my head like I used to think was necessary. All I need to do is know HOW to find the answers. The art of problem solving – that’s how the education system should have introduced math, and everything else for that matter. It’s the same for anatomy and physiology; it’s not necessary to know all the anatomical names (albeit helpful) to understand anatomy, but rather, knowing where to look to find the information. More fun, less stress.

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I love how the human body works – (in its entirety), I value taking care of the environment and practice personal responsibility for my actions.

I will preface this post with a readers’ discretion, in the case you are uncomfortable with the natural functions of the body…or math. Though there will be no quiz at the end, I will talk a bit about some staggering numbers that if we all do our part, those numbers can get smaller and more manageable.

Typically, men are forewarned about this subject to guard themselves should they prefer to make a quick retreat, but there are equally many menstruating people who would rather not discuss this monthly, biological function. You may have been taught to hide your monthly flow, or in contrast, openly discuss it with anyone, or to dismiss it entirely as if it didn’t even exist so as to not miss a beat.

Check out this funny video of men explaining periods. Stick around and read this post because it’s full of links to some really great information which highlight the health risks and the environmental waste involved with disposable feminine hygiene products. Besides, there’s a chance to win a twenty-five dollar gift certificate!

There has been a lot of buzz of late attempting to demystify the menstrual cycle from parody commercials, that first moon party video by HelloFlo to finally, putting to rest the battle over the tax on feminine hygiene products – The tax has been lifted across Canada!

Here’s the math part:

Each month the global population of menstruating people will require on average four to seven days worth of feminine hygiene products. Lunapads estimates that:

“…approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are being sent to North American landfills annually. On an individual level, each of the approximately 73 million menstruating people in North America will throw away 16,000 disposable pads or tampons in their lifetime.” [1] Your turn, to pull out your calculator and number crunch what that means on a global scale…Yikes!

It’s pretty clear where I’m going with what we can do to shrink those numbers – change to reusable, you can even make your own if you’re crafty. Let’s also consider for a moment exactly what most of those products are made from, and how those products react to the user and finally how those products will be disposed?

Out of sight, out of mind.

“…Use once and throw away…”

So what exactly is in these products? Read this short article by Titania Kumeh who explains it all in a very short piece for Mother Jones. And because of what these products are made from, women risk their health in a variety of ways from the plastics, viscose rayon, chlorinated and pesticide treated materials. Though the number of cases of toxic shock syndrome has gone down since the 1980’s, it still affects women today. California resident and model, Lauren Wasser barely survived the effects of toxic shock syndrome and lost her leg due to the bacterial infection in 2012. You can read her story here.

There are, however, companies who make organic products with our health and environment in mind, such as Natracare, Seventh Generation and Maxim.

What ever did women do before the advent of the commercially-made disposable menstrual products so readily available today? Read the History of Menstruation.

In general women used reusable cloths. Today, we benefit from a reusable silicone Diva Cup and reusable cotton and organic cotton menstrual pads as well as leakproof underwear or “Lunapanties with absorbency options to fit your flow.” And Lunapads has thought of everything – how to deal with quick changes on the go with their cute wet/dry bags by Planet Wise.

We can shrink the number of used feminine hygiene products going to landfill by switching over to reusable products.

I’m always switching things up: how I exercise my body, what I eat, trying my best at eliminating plastic waste and contributing as little as possible to landfill. As a result of switching over to Lunapads exclusively, and because I swim regularly, I have had to change my training schedule. For the last while, I’ve given up swimming during menstruation, which is about four days every three weeks or so. I’ve decided that I can do other activities during that time, like walking, which is one of the best forms of activity; Katy Bowman has a lot to say on this. Believe me, I know that not everyone can even contemplate this…I’ve been athletic my entire life and I can’t remember EVER letting my period stop me from doing any sport. I guess the difference now, is that my perspective has changed and having my period is a blessing as opposed to the ‘curse’ I grew up hearing about.

“Nothing’s going to stop me!” “Just Do It” “Push Through”…all for what exactly?

Taking these steps towards a healthier monthly cycle has introduced me to some amazing practitioners like Barbara Loomis, Rosita Arvigo and Renée Warner who practice the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy, which “helps to restore the body to its natural balance by correcting the position of organs that have shifted and restrict the flow of blood, lymph, nerve and chi energy.”

Lunapads Samples

In the last year I switched over to Lunapads for both health and environmental reasons. I’ve also become a Lunapads Ambassador, which means I’ve got a box of unused samples to show around (wanna host a Lunapads party?) and can let you know when there are promotional coupon codes for you to try the products for the first time, to stock up on new patterns or give away as gifts.

For a little immediate incentive, enter my $25 gift certificate giveaway. I’ve got one gift certificate valued at $25. Redeemable at the Lunapads online store until July 1st, 2016.

How to enter? Leave comments or likes via social media – you know the drill. Make sure to include @ or # youasamachine so that I get notification and can enter your name into the draw. Enter as often as you like. More social media activity means more entries for you.

Contest closes August 1, 2015.

One lucky winner’s name will be randomly selected on August 1, 2015.

Good luck!

UPDATE: Aug. 2, 2015 Congratulations to Elaine Miller @GussieGrips 

UPDATE #2: September 1, 2015

After one month and many failed attempts at contacting Elaine Miller to claim her prize my son has pulled another name from the hat. The prize goes to:

 Anne-Marie Bonneau @ZeroWasteChef

Congratulations!

In the meantime, here’s a gift for everyone…for yourself or to share with someone else 🙂

Try Before You Buy

Try Before You Buy

Related Articles: [1] Lunapads: EnvironmentThe Midwife Is In, Why Switch? Sustainable Cycles, Let’s Talk About It! Eco Femme, What’s Really In That Tampon?, Novel Idea: What if We Actually Researched Whether Menstrual Products Are Safe to Use?, Menstrupedia Comic, 5 Things I do That Were Once Considered Normal

Disclaimer: I am not selling these products and am not trying to persuade anyone else to sell these products. I am a Lunapads Ambassador, which means that I can share product information with you and in exchange should you decide to make a purchase on-line and include my Ambassador Code #515021 at check-out, I will receive a small percentage of each referral. Thanks!

Also, the views expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lunapads or other companies mentioned. 

“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!

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Belief and Butterflies

 I think a lot about belief,

how we shape our beliefs and

where those beliefs come from.

Believe Nothing.

You Are Your Own Religion.

Following the advice from the above quote is a lot more complicated than it first appears, because who we are, what we think and how we act (or react) is heavily grounded in our history, customs, traditions, who we look up to, what we read, see and have been taught.

What is your own reason?

What is your own common sense?

It takes practice to sit quietly ruminating on questions that reveal our true individual beliefs. It is difficult to set aside the beliefs that we have been taught as being correct (that gave us top marks), to settle on our true nature.

Can anyone really say that their beliefs are not affected by the world around them? We hold on so tightly to our beliefs. And it makes perfect sense to do so, because having strong beliefs is our natural link to survival. But there can be a point when belief becomes rigid and prevents us from growing and exploring possibilities. Beliefs come in all shapes and sizes. Not all beliefs come in the form of a radical-life-changing shift. Sometimes when we make a small (as in microscopic – barely noticeable) shift to a long held belief, it at first may seem insignificant, but it is often these little ripples that offer the most catalytic potential. Think of the butterfly effect.

“It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.”- Chaos Theory

Since before starting my blog/website in April 2011, I have been experimenting with consciously shifting my comfort zones, which I have come to realize is actually making micro changes to my beliefs – to my world, as I know it.

It takes practice to change,

and practice requires being consistent.

Here are two examples of what seems like very insignificant beliefs (beliefs shape our patterns and behaviour) that I resisted changing and how much I have learned and grown from adapting to these changes. A few months before I embarked on this hobby of writing a blog, I decided that I would, without fail, each and every night for the rest of my life…floss my teeth. Sounds life changing doesn’t it? It was my butterfly effect.

Butterfly

I have always been consistent with cleaning my mouth and teeth, to a fault I recently learned. I wrote about it here. And I have always flossed my teeth, just not daily :). I would go through phases of being consistent with flossing (like for a week), and then neglect the practice to a now and then or when I would remember kind of practice. Don’t we all do that for a lot of different things in our lives? When things seem to be going OK, we put off doing the jobs that take the least amount of time because we don’t value their significance or impact in the big picture.

“There is no ONE GIANT step that does it,

it’s a lot of LITTLE STEPS.”

It has now been over two years without missing a single day of flossing! My oral health has improved dramatically. Ironically, I have cut back on the frequency of brushing my teeth (the article I refer to above explains this in detail). And as a result of these shifts my self-discipline has improved dramatically too. I am becoming more accomplished at doing ten, twenty and sixty-second jobs that would otherwise be put off to another time. This butterfly effect has changed my patterns. It was a test you see. I tested myself with something that would have zero impact on anyone else. With something that literally takes sixty to ninety seconds. It was something that would make a big difference to my life and health, something that I could do or not do and no one would know whether I failed or kept my word, except for my dentist and hygienist ;). Don’t fool yourself if you really think that your oral health care practitioner believes you when you tell them that you floss regularly. If you have bleeding gums and oral health problems somebody’s not doing a very effective job and the end result is the obvious proof of the neglect. And we all know who that someone is. Hmmm?

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

People come up with the most elaborate excuses for not flossing daily (or at all!) and are genuinely amazed as to why they have oral health problems. It is a lot like when I ask my kids if they have brushed their teeth in the morning (knowing they haven’t because I can smell their ‘morning breath’). Instead of arguing that I know that they have not done it, rather I tell them that they should do it again, because the job they did wasn’t very effective. And if they need help doing it properly, I would be happy to help.

“If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.”

It is much like being overweight or having general health problems. The remedy is so obvious to everyone looking in but not at all to the person affected. And yet even to those looking in, though they can see what the affected person is doing wrong, they have the same difficulty seeing what isn’t working for themselves. Everyone is looking for a medical test to diagnose what it is that is causing his or her illness. Looking outside of themselves for answers, for someone else to do the LITTLE STEPS for them. May I suggest? Do the daily little steps; test your-self for a couple of years and see what happens. If you do it right, it will work.

“If it is important to you,

You will find a way.

If not?

You will find an excuse.”

~Frank Banks

But don’t be misguided; I don’t believe that there is such a thing as perfect health. There is not a place to get to where we just float along without minor pain or discomfort from time to time. The human body is volatile. There is no pain-free life, just as there is no stain-free steel. (Stainless steel isn’t stain-free, it just stains less.) We may become pain-less, but to expect to have a pain-free life is quite the tall order to have for our existence. Perhaps we need to reexamine our expectations and the beliefs attached to those expectations. Apparently the snake-oil salesmen from years gone by are still doing excellent business selling false hope and promises. We need to walk away from those snake-oil salesmen and practice our own little steps.

Snake-Oil Salesman

So, around the same time that I started my flossing experiment, I started doing my 4-minute mornings, which was an interesting shift in beliefs, to say the least. Because what is most interesting to me is that I used to tell clients, twenty years ago about a study that showed that even ten minutes of exercise, repeated three times a day was shown to be as effective as doing thirty-minutes of exercise at one time. I used to dish out that study but I never experimented with it for myself and I doubt that anyone really gave it much credence. My world back then was all about teaching hour-long aerobic, step or cycle Reebok classes. Everything was based on time: hour-long one-on-one private training sessions, hour-long stretch classes, hour-long toning classes and hour-long Pilates classes. For those of us interested in supporting our health, we were willing to put in that hour a day and for those of us in the business, well, we spent all day being physically active. So, for me to downshift these theories (beliefs) in health and fitness to a radical drop in duration was a tough pill to swallow. Could 4 minutes of something really have any significant effect on the body? I decided to experiment for myself. I speculated that 4 minutes once in a while might not be very effective, but 4 minutes daily might…I was willing to see what might happen.

The results have been quite fascinating. I have learned about being disciplined with a daily short duration routine that would otherwise be very easy to dismiss or put off. Every morning for the past two years I have done the same routine, which has evolved from starting out as a few minutes of bed stretches into twenty minutes of a variety of stretches and calisthenics. The significant piece to take away from this is that it is not about the duration (the time spent doing these exercises) but rather in doing specific exercises to correct and maintain MY functional alignment. And the fascinating piece is that I don’t spend more than a minute or two on most of the stretches or exercises. Duration is not as relevant as is the focus and precision attached to each stretch or movement. In other words, what is more important is WHAT you do and HOW you do it.

Exercise is more than moving and perspiring for an extended period of time. Perhaps this is a long held belief that needs to be revisited and questioned? What do you think exercise is? Do you believe that by getting your ‘heart rate up’ for an extended period of time your body will automatically realign itself and by default magically transform into an Adonis?

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

If we repeat a physical action misaligned, then our end result will be reinforced misalignment.

Losing body fat and having a functionally sound mechanically efficient body are two very separate actions. Losing body fat through exercise doesn’t automatically generate a functionally sound mechanically efficient body, however the opposite is more likely probable of igniting change.

“When you have eliminated the impossible,

whatever remains,

however improbable, must be the truth.”

–Sherlock Holmes

I have discovered that I really like to start my day like this (bed stretches etc.) and will make every effort to get to bed on time so that I can clock eight hours of sleep and still be able to wake up with enough time to do my morning routine before I start my mom-duty. “If it is important to you, You will find a way. If not? You will find an excuse.”

“If you believe you can or you believe you can’t – you’re right.”

~Henry Ford

When The Honeymoon Is Over

after hot yoga class

Image by alc990 via Flickr

Just about everyone I talk with has the same problem. How to maintain our health and fitness among all the other things that have to be done?

The other day, I ran into an acquaintance that I hadn’t seen in a long time and without any prompting from me, he mentioned that after he put his #!*%! back out again it was recommended he try ‘hot Yoga’.  He did and was disciplined with his practice for six months straight. Then stopped. He stopped going for two reasons: 1) because his back was feeling stronger and so naturally didn’t need it anymore and 2) he just didn’t have two hours a day to devote.  And so the cycle continues.  He’ll do nothing until he puts his back out or some other injury takes hold.  When that happens he’ll find the time to take care of him until he’s fixed, then stop and go on cruise control until the cycle repeats…

That’s when I told him about this blog and the concept of 4 Minute Mornings as Daily Body Maintenance.

We chatted about the fact that when a person starts a diet or exercise program there is this honeymoon period when everything is new and exciting and you want everyone to join you because it is the ‘way’!  And you go hard and strong for three, five or six months. You turn your entire world upside down because you think: “I’m really going to make a change and do it this time”. But like any honeymoon, it too comes to an end; too big of a change, too much too soon.

This is where my daily 4 Minute Mornings come in. The concept is simple.  The exercises are simple. But best of all, you are in control. You learn to help YOURSELF be fit and healthy, using your own bodyweight to develop the functional strength you need from home. The driving, parking or getting a babysitter is eliminated from the equation, which is a lot of time saved right there.

It is not mindless repetition.  It’s not about proving how much endurance you have or how much you can do or how hard you can work.  It’s about consistency;  revisiting functional movements and stretching the body daily.  Yes, it is hard work and takes discipline, but anything worth having is worth working hard for. It is about educating yourself about yourself. Becoming your own expert –no one knows you better.

Self-discipline is born from consistency. And naturally, one thing leads to another. When you do something positive it is more likely other positive choices will follow.

Here’s what to do:  Maintain your body in a compassionate way – daily.  Eat fresh, whole foods that provide nourishment  as opposed to stimulating your body with artificial energy.  Get eight hours of sleep a night.  Hydrate your body with fresh clean water.  Floss your teeth daily…the mouth is the gateway to the body.

These are simple things we can do to improve and maintain our health. Start with baby steps with which you can be consistent.

“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice.”  -John Burroughs

Time Keeps on Slipping…

The cabs of Times Square

Busy Schedules.

We’ve all got them.  Some of us cram more into our days than others.  For some, it is a choice, for others, circumstance.

For this reason, developing the self-discipline to maintain your body for 4 minutes each morning is essential.

For the organized set, those who have their weeks scheduled months in advance generally have their gym workouts or sports pre-planned into their calendar. Others, fly by the seat of their pants and fit it in whenever.

But life tends to throws us curve balls and something always comes up to shift our plans, such as a flat tire, kids afterschool activities, computer crashing, etc.  You name it – fill in your ‘something’ here.

Just to be clear,

I am not saying that you should only do 4 minutes of exercise a day.  I am not saying that you only need 4 minutes of exercise a day.

What I am saying is that regardless of any other sports or activities that you may do in your day, doing these 4 minutes of exercise is your insurance towards maintaining a healthy and fit body.  4 Minute Mornings is not meant to replace any other sports or activities that you do or may consider doing during the day.

And because I hate to leave anyone out, these 4 Minute Mornings are a safe and gradual way to become consistent and self-disciplined with body maintenance for those who just do not know how to begin exercising.

What if, every morning upon waking, you could do a simple series of 4 Minute Morning exercises? Then if your planned workout eludes you, you have at least done your maintenance for the day.

Essentially, there is a solution to our time pinched schedules.  We just need to think outside of the box.

I will post the progression for Week #3 later today.

 

Change

Global Warming & Climate Change

Change does not always happen right away.  For me it took a couple of weeks just contemplating these new Short- Duration High Intensity Interval Workouts, to then implementing a few concepts into my gym workouts.

It had been drilled into me that to be effective a traditional workout could only be done a certain way.  This new approach challenged everything I had studied and what had worked for me in the past.  Or rather, what I believed had worked.

I then started substituting a home workout for a gym workout, until all my workouts were done at home.  The elapsed time for this transition took about eight weeks.  It is amazing to me the amount of time I have saved.  And the results I have gained.

Note: Short-duration High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Tabatas are completely different from 4 Minute Mornings.