health

My Weekly Body Maintenance

Post-Yoga Practice

Seems like once I say it out loud or write it down, IT changes.

The IT I’m referring to in this case, is my Body Maintenance schedule. I have taken to calling it My Body Maintenance because that is how I see it now. It’s not so much my workout anymore. The physical activity that I engage in everyday has more to do with the methodical maintenance of my overall physical health and functional alignment.

I find it interesting that most people I run into assume that I am training for something. Are you a triathlete? You must workout a lot! Nothing could be further from the truth, which is why I am posting this schedule. This entire website is about how to maintain our overall health with a healthy dose of moderate daily body maintenance. SOME focused daily body maintenance, not an extreme amount, EVER. Focus on precision of movement in every waking moment and lead an Active Lifestyle. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? I believe that it is, it just takes a little bit of practice and perhaps a whole lot of belief shifting to make it happen; more on the belief part another day.

Do something everyday.

Learn > Practice > Refine > Repeat.

A year ago my weekly schedule looked very different compared with the current one (below). At the bottom of this post I will write out what last years schedule looked like and what it looked like a year before that. Change is good. I choose to change and move forward towards better health. Doing more was not the answer for me.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

–Will Rogers

Since June 2012 this is what my current weekly Body Maintenance schedule has been:

Monday       Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Rest &Recovery Stairs Warm Up+1-mile Track Run(aim for 7min. Mile)+Max. Push Ups in 1 Minute

+Ashtanga Yoga

(~80 min. Total time)

30 Min.Swim drills Stairs Warm Up+4 Minute Burpees Tabata+400x Skipping+Ashtanga Yoga(~70 min. Total Time)
ACTIVE LIVING

ACTIVE LIVING

 ACTIVE LIVING  ACTIVE LIVING
Friday Saturday Sunday
30 Min.Swim drills Rest &RecoveryOrAshtanga Yoga(30 – 60 min. Total time) 30 Min.Swim drills
ACTIVE LIVING ACTIVE LIVING

ACTIVE LIVING

 

Current Ashtanga Yoga Practice (~60 minutes):

  • 5x Surya Namaskara A
  • 3-5 x Surya Namaskara B
  • Standing Series
  • First 12 seated postures (Lift between each posture with the occasional vinyasa)
  • Working on Navasana up to Handstand (I will post a video of this progression, it is quite amusing)
  • 2 Backbends + counter pose
  • The Finishing Sequence (when not menstruating)
  • Closing Sequence
  • Savasana
  • No practice on full moon days.

25 – 30 minutes Swim Drills (20 meter pool):

  • 4 lengths flutter kick w/board
  • 8 lengths front crawl w/flip turn
  • 2 lengths flutter kick on back with arms overhead
  • 8 lengths back stroke
  • 2 lengths flutter kick on back with arms overhead
  • 8 lengths breast stroke
  • 4 lengths dolphin kick w/board
  • 4 lengths arms only front crawl w/pull buoy
  • 4 lengths flutter kick w/ board
  • 8 lengths front crawl w/flip turn
  • 4 min. Vertical Treading Water Tabata
  • 4 lengths easy front crawl cool down
  • 10 – 15 minute stretch in whirlpool

Pool Lap Lane

Of course Active Living varies from day to day and season to season. My biggest House Maintenance Day tends to be on my Rest & Recovery Days but that is not set in stone – stuff comes up! Some house maintenance is done everyday, regardless. Rest & Recovery days vary too.

It also looks like my Playground Pit-Stops will be dwindling over the winter months, as they usually do – monkey bars and D-Rings need to be dry (and Vancouver is pretty wet), but with cold muscles my hands just can’t hold a grip. There is also the dog walk duty, which is shared between my husband and me; we don’t have a set schedule.

If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions.

If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.

~Chinese Proverb

This is an example of a week schedule from 2011:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Stairs Warm Up+ light stretches+My 12 minute Workout+1×100 skipping+5 Forward GripPull Ups

Ashtanga Yoga

 

Rest& RecoveryDay 30 Min.Swim Drills Rest &Recovery DayOrMy 12 minute Workout+1×100 skipping

+Ashtanga Yoga

 

Active Living Active Living Active Living Active Living
Friday Saturday Sunday
30 Min.Swim Drills Rest &Recovery DayOrMy 12 minute Workout+4 x 100 skipping

+5 Forward Grip

Pull-Ups

+Ashtanga Yoga

 

30 Min.Swim Drills
Active Living Active Living Active Living

2011 – June 2012

Ashtanga Yoga Practice (~40 minutes):

  • 3 – 4x Surya Namaskara A
  • 3x Surya Namaskara B
  • Standing series
  • first 12 seated postures (no vinyasa)
  • 3 backbends
  • Closing Sequence
  • Savasana

Swim Drills (30 minutes):

  • Same as above except only difference
  • Egg Beater Treading Water Tabata

In the years before the examples above, my workouts were much longer, over 30 minutes and up to 45 minutes in duration for BodyRock style workouts. I used to take a Masters Swim Group Class (not “masters” by definition meaning experts, rather all of us gained entry because we were over 35). And I used to go out for an hour of intense soccer with the ladies once or twice a week. When I think back on it now I can’t believe I used to do that!  I was trained to believe that we had to get our heart rate up to a certain number for a certain amount of time to reap any benefits. I used to believe a lot of “facts” backed up by scientific research written in esteemed text books and journals. Now I see that it is much, much more complex than all that. Everything is. For me, this says a lot about our belief systems and what we do because of them.

In a nutshell?

Do less at one time. But do it well; with precision. Be active throughout the day.

Fast Results

Pumpkins

Yesterday, Monday night, I had to get to the grocery store. After the long Canadian Thanksgiving weekend of eating Roast Turkey and homemade Turkey soup, my refrigerator was running low on supplies. Around 5pm I announced that I’d be going to the grocery store, but somehow didn’t manage to get there until 7pm. I’m telling you this because it was due to this delay in timing that I ended up speaking with this woman (who would like to remain anonymous). I walked into the health section of the store, where this woman was looking around. She asked if I worked there, since there wasn’t any staff in that section at the time. “Do you work here?” Boldly, and actually quite surprising to me I blurted out, “No, but I can help you”. She laughed. We both laughed. The store was closing so we talked very quickly and covered quite a bit of information. She offered to send me the comment that you will read below.

Thank you for stopping and speaking to me and giving me encouraging advice. For the last 10 years, I have been suffering from:

  • extremely high blood pressure that did not respond to any medication;
  • excessive sweating;
  • extra weight;
  • arthritis in my hips and knees;
  • swollen legs, and especially feet;
  • sores that did not heal;
  • several acid reflux;
  • varied digestive problems.

This all resulted in many visits to my family doctor, every possible specialist (including cardiologist, skin specialist, endocrinologist, gastroenterologist) as well as many very expensive and time consuming tests.  Not one of the doctors seemed to help and my situation was getting worse and I was becoming quite desperate.

I am a very active female (both professionally and socially) in my late 60’s and I could not see going on like this for the rest of my life and did not see any solution.

Three weeks ago, I spent a weekend with friends and I mentioned to them how well I felt after it.  What I did not realize is that they have no wheat in their diet.  They lent me the book “Wheat Belly” and I decided to cut out the wheat.  In just two weeks, most of the symptoms disappeared and I have lost almost 10 pounds without trying.  In addition, I have no cravings for bread which I had before.  I can also go without eating for many hours, which I could not do before.

My advice: give it a try for a few months and see what happens.  I have started with the resolution to give up wheat for six months.  I may never go back to it although may miss the taste of the fantastic breads I have been buying over the years. I am not a vegetarian and eat everything else.  This has been much easier than I thought.  Today I had a most fantastic gluten free chocolate cake in a mainstream restaurant.  Everyone is becoming more aware of the problem and I am sure that as the time goes by, there will be more choices. So, thank you again for your help.

Wheat

Wheat (Photo credit: Big Grey Mare ~ on vacation for 2 weeks)

The big, heavy question that came up last night was: “Why don’t the doctors tell us?” The answer is that most of them don’t even know themselves. Doctors are put up on a pedestal, by us. They are human and get tired and have to deal with a lot. Most often their own health suffers as a direct result of their demanding profession. They believe what they are taught or told from the powers that be  (as do we) – it is a cycle. We should be grateful for those who are medically trained, who can help us in case of emergency. But sadly, our entire population has become ‘infected’ by a system of going-with-the-flow, more is better, all-you-can-eat type of mentality. With an attitude that THEY, those doctors and scientist will surely come up with something to fix our chronic state of disease to keep us comfortable as we age and decay.

We need to understand that we have to help ourselves. Banning certain foods, in my opinion, is not the answer. Rather, we need to educate ourselves and learn to make the right choices for our unique systems. And most likely, the direct result from choosing to NOT buy toxic food products is that they will lose their popularity and strong-hold on the market. If we don’t buy it they won’t produce it. No demand = no supply.

I’ve mentioned this article before: “Is Sugar Toxic?” by Gary Taubes and the video by Dr. Robert Lustig: “Sugar: The Bitter Truth“. The video is long (1.5 hour), but if you really want to be healthy and understand WHY what you are doing may not be working, then you need to watch this video (maybe many times) and read this article (maybe many times) until you really understand the information. My goal is to be able to explain this information to my children so that they are able to make their own decisions. Not just tell them that they can’t eat or drink certain things because those things are “bad for you”.

Slowly, I try to explain to my kids in basic terms what I have learned. This morning my daughter said: “Well, if you hadn’t given us those foods in the first place, we wouldn’t have gotten used to them.” My answer: “I didn’t know the information then, but now I do. We will educate ourselves and make these changes together.” Additionally, the important lesson for the kids to take away from this is that adults – even highly educated doctors – don’t know everything. We are all learning new things all the time. Each of us is an experiment of ONE. It is crushing when we discover that what we are doing is contributing to our disease. Belief is a powerful thing.

The natural state of the human body is to be healthy. You see how quickly this woman’s body responded to eliminating wheat/ gluten. She is not an isolated case. At a cellular level the human body tries so hard to maintain a natural homeostasis. But in order to do so, we have to participate and support an environment in which this incredible community of cells can do its work. Read Dr. Bruce Lipton’s book, Biology of Belief. He is an educator/cell biologist who explains this complex subject with ease.

Of course, I could go on forever but will end it with this one thought. In the day, do you hear yourself saying: “I can’t live without my…” or “I need my…” Consider that you actually can live without it. If you NEED it you are being controlled by it. It all takes practice.

I’ve embedded Dr. Lustig’s video for your convenience.

“A calorie is NOT just a calorie.”

Practice Makes

Best 7min. 1-mile time

No “thing” just happens.

Everything takes practice. The Dalai Lama talks about practicing compassion. The key word is practice. It takes practice to be compassionate just like it takes practice to be able to run a 7-minute mile or to be punctual. Nothing just happens. And the list goes on. Life is about practicing, not always about perfecting. Learn new things and practice them forever. I don’t believe in mastery. There is always room to grow and more details to find, we are all eternal students. And so this is why I word my new learning in this way.

This year I’ve learned:

  • How to practice a freestyle flip turn
  • How to practice being compassionate
  • How to practice taking photographs
  • How to practice living in the moment
  • How to practice uploading photographs to Flickr
  • How to practice editing photographs
  • How to practice eating healthy food all the time
  • How to practice making a lot of different food at the same time for my family’s needs and health
  • And so on…

Want to Try?

Choose ONE thing you would like to improve or better yet something you have always wanted to do but held yourself back because of an excuse (valid or not!). Choose just one thing – maybe the first thing that pops to mind. Now make a commitment to practicing it consistently. You don’t have to sign anything or make a public declaration; it’s your word, your honour.

The “thing” you choose might have to be practiced every hour on the hour. It might be more often, like every time you open your mouth (?!), or once per week.

Every “thing” takes practice.

I’ve been practicing to be compassionate to everything. Even mosquitoes. I have made a conscious effort to assist any insect that happens into my house, back to the great outdoors (where I think they’d rather be anyways).

 Here’s how I did it:

  • First, I enlisted my husband to catch the insect and gently put it outside.
  • When he wasn’t around I’d have to build up the courage to approach the insect on my own.
  • With practice and experience I became less fearful and more comfortable with the task.
  • I found myself spending many minutes in a dance of catch the insect, often letting more in house in the process.

Now, I know I have reached a state of compassion for all bugs. I look at them with fascination, curiosity and kindness. They have as much right to life as do I. As a result I have found one of my pleasures is to photograph insects. Who knew this could happen? All because I decided to practice compassion.

Lady Bug

Friendly Flyer Insect

Injured Dragonfly

Spider

It takes practice to wake up a few minutes earlier every morning to practice my bed stretches. It takes practice to time my meals so that I am well fueled and adequately digested in order to practice my body maintenance exercises.

There is nothing special about me which enables me to run a 7-minute mile, to do a freestyle flip turn or take the time to relocate an insect to the great outdoors. All I’ve done is learned how to apply this magical element that is within each and every one of us, but has taken on an out-of-this-world status.

PRACTICE.

And it’s not that practice makes perfect. I’m not after perfect. “Perfect is a moving target.” Practice Makes. That’s it.

As my husband says: “It’s all about Discipline. And sure it’s Simple, but its only Easy if you Practice.

When we practice and focus our energy on something meaningful it seems like amazing things happen. But those amazing things are actually just run of the mill kind of things. Ask anyone who looks as though they are doing AMAZING things. They’ll just nod and shrug it off; to them its just a natural part of living – simply, who they are and what they do.

 

Salt vs. Sodium & That Nutella Case

Table Salt

Table Salt (Photo credit: MoHotta18)

On January 10, 2012, I read Carly Weeks’ article featured in the Globe and Mail, “Harper must demand action on sodium levels, health groups urge“. To view the article in its entirety click here. I got so heated about this topic (can you guess why?) that I started to compose this post right then and there. I had other pressing chores that morning but could not let this go. In the end I didn’t have time to finish until now, six months later. But serendipity strikes again, for today (July 11, 2012) I read about the “California class-action lawsuit that slammed the makers of Nutella for ads suggesting the spread was a healthy food [it] was settled this week in favour of consumers.” (Tralee Pearce, Globe and Mail). To view the article recounting this ridiculous ruling click here.

Deutsch: Ein Glas Nutella-Nussnougatcreme

Regarding sodium levels: Yes, I agree it would be good to bring sodium levels down, but more importantly choose to stop buying ready-made products; problem solved. Regarding Nutella: No, I disagree with the settlement. However, I think that this is a great opportunity to talk about taking personal responsibility. We, as a collective don’t really need to wait for our governments to take responsibility for ourselves – or do we? Can we not choose to prepare more healthy foods from home as opposed to consuming and relying so much on ready-made, pre-packaged food? Waiting on the ‘other guy’ to solve our problems or make us healthy hasn’t done much for us thus far. In these two cases, generally speaking, the problem isn’t with our governments or manufacturers, it is with the pre-packaged foods, which are loaded with sodium and unhealthy ingredients and making the choice to buy them in the first place. We need to take personal responsibility and read the labels. Better yet, cut back, if not stop altogether, buying and eating foods that come with labels. Eat less pre-packaged food and work on choosing whole natural foods that don’t come with ingredient lists. But, if you must, then in the case of sodium in particular, look for labels that have less than 5 mg of sodium PER SERVING (and good luck finding any, by the way – which takes us back to the first article). If nothing else we can use these points as an opportunity to start evaluating this one aspect of our health.

“Ay, there’s the rub.”

The conundrum is that if we don’t have the desire to self-educate, to ask questions and search for meaning then we can easily accept what we are told to be absolute. I squirm inside whenever I hear someone exclaim with a strong measure of conviction: “THEY say (or I’ve read) that (enter product here) is good for you.” How do THEY know? Who are THEY? And why do we believe THEM without experimenting for ourselves?

Read this from Dr. Mercola: “Why Your Doctor’s Advice May Be Fatally Flawed”

As we all know, there are countless products being peddled that purport to transform our lives. Beautiful images of apparently perfect human specimens lure us to buy everything from skin and body products to nutritional supplements. And all the convincing research, don’t forget the convincing research studies…

We are only as strong as our weakest link.

What if, you don’t know that you don’t know? If we are raised by seemingly well intentioned parents who don’t know much about a healthy lifestyle, and surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, and believe everything advertisers promise…”Ay, there’s the rub.”[1]

"The New Fred Meyer on Interstate on Lomb...

“I’m sick of parents blaming everyone from McDonald’s and their Happy Meal toys to cereal companies and their jovial cartoon characters for trying to make their kids fat and unhealthy, when it’s our job first and foremost to determine what foods they eat and don’t. It’s a little thing called personal responsibility,” she writes. “So congratulations on the [Nutella] lawsuit, but I find it ridiculous, and it’s frankly insulting to consumers and mothers who DO read labels.”

The Stir – Julie Ryan Evans

By the way, my daughter eats a version of Nutella (NocciolataFROM TIME TO TIME – NOT EVERYDAY! 

With respect to Nutella and ready-made products? Cut back on consuming them, eventually, eliminating them entirely. Many may panic at the idea of cutting back on the convenience of ready-made processed foods, but I promise, you will survive.

In fact you will likely start to thrive.

Over the last year and a half, I have been working on cutting out all processed foods – I open few containers and packages these days, which is having a positive impact on my carbon footprint. Mostly, I make everything from fresh whole natural foods. Sure, it takes time and practice, but just about anything is possible with enough practice. What could be more important than nourishing our health and the health of those we love?

“One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We’re smarter than we think. We can do this. (Read this book by Joshua FoerMoonwalking With Einstein)

Look at what the human species has accomplished, it is mind-boggling. In the same breath I can think of many inventions that are used everyday that are unfinished and by that I mean they have fallen short, causing more problems. Pre-packaged food is one of the items on my list. So take your pick: Convenience or your health. THEY want you to believe that you can have it both ways.

Hey, you gotta live!

(I say this with healthy dose of sarcasm in case it isn’t obvious. A kind of paradoxical-oxymoron.)

My strategy is to prepare enough food to ensure leftovers; this way, I’m never scrambling at the last minute and tempted to grab whatever is convenient. I’ve become a short order cook for my family, and I have learned to love it. Meal times have become more of an opportunity to educate and reawaken our natural instincts and intuition about what foods make us feel well, feel nourished and fueled.

Besides, imagine the environmental effect we are having on our planet by the amount of processed products we purchase each day! Have you seen this film?

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that my kids always eat what I want them to eat. In fact they often want to eat the junk that their friends eat. As much as it makes me cringe, I know that it only makes up about 10% of their diet and one hundred percent of the time they admit to how lousy they feel from eating it. The lesson for me is that I have to let them experience these things for themselves, within reason. We talk about ingredients and how certain ingredients affect the body etc. It’s not easy training children to become responsible for themselves. They want to make their own decisions but our job as parents is to protect them from themselves. It’s not so different from having dogs. Our dogs like to eat everything they smell, much to their own detriment; they are indiscriminate with what they will ingest – because they don’t know that they don’t know!

The most important message I can leave you with is that children cannot eat whatever they want all the time. Their bodies will not “figure it out” as they grow-up. Many adults have said to me over the years that, they ate whatever they wanted as a kid and they turned out ok. It’s not about the size of our body or the amount of body fat we carry, it’s about the damage that we cannot see, what we are doing to our internal body, our organs and cells.

Lets review:

What is Sodium?

  • Sodium is an essential nutrient.
  • Sodium is one of the primary Electrolytes in the body.
  • All four cationic Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium) are found in unrefined salt.
  • BUT too much Sodium is bad for you.
  • Sodium is a mineral.
  • It is a chemical element, Sodium (Na) also known as Sodium Chloride (NaCl).
  • Sodium is naturally occurring in most food sources.

salt

What is Table Salt?

  • Table salt is refined salt.
  • Table Salt is Sodium with additives:
  • Table Salt contains 97% – 99% Sodium Chloride.
  • 3% -1% is additives.
  • The additives vary from country to country.
  • Some countries that do not have fluoridated water add Sodium Fluoride to their Table Salt.
  • Some countries add Iron and Potassium Iodide Salts (Iodine) to their Table Salt
  • Some countries add Folic Acid to their Table Salt.
  • Some countries add Inverted Sugar Syrup to their Table Salt.
  • Most Table Salt contains anti-caking ingredients: Calcium Silicate, Sodium Thiosulphate, Sodium Ferrocyanide, Magnesium Carbonate, Tricalcium Phosphate etc.

What is Sea Salt?

  • Sea Salt has the same Sodium content as Table Salt.
  • Sea Salt is obtained by the evaporation of seawater.

What is Iodized Salt?

  • Iodized Salt has the trace mineral Potassium Iodide added.
  • Iodized Salt will be clearly labeled: contains dietary iodine.
  • Because access to natural sources of iodine, such as saltwater fish, sea vegetables or plants grown in iodine-rich soil are scarce in some parts of the world, Iodine is a welcome addition for health reasons.
  • The Thyroid gland needs a certain amount of dietary iodine to function properly.

CAUTION – Sodium in disguise:

Soy sauce, fish sauce & oyster sauce.

soy sauce [119/366]

One Tablespoon of Soy Sauce = ~900mg of Sodium

One Tablespoon of Bragg’s Soy Sauce (non GMO) = ~660 mg of Sodium

One Tablespoon of Fish Sauce = ~1190 mg of Sodium

One Tablespoon of Oyster Sauce = ~492 mg of Sodium

One teaspoon or 6 grams of salt contains about 2,400 mg of Sodium.

Which exceeds the Tolerable Upper Intake Level! For optimum health we should

NOT exceed 1,500 mg per day.

How much Sodium does the average Canadian consume each day? 3400 mg.

 

What happens when we consume too much Sodium?  Some associated diseases or conditions include: Stroke, Cardiovascular Disease, High Blood Pressure, Renal (Kidney) Disease, Stomach Cancer…

Too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle crampsdizziness, or electrolyte disturbance, which can cause neurological problems, or death.[42] Drinking too much water, with insufficient salt intake, puts a person at risk of water intoxication (hyponatremia). Salt is sometimes used as a health aid, such as in treatment of dysautonomia.[43]  Source: Wikipedia

How much is an ideal amount of Sodium per day? From the age of one year and up the range is from 1000 mg to 1500 mg per day. (Tolerable Upper Intake Level – UL – and not to exceed is 2,300 mg).

Now how confusing is the following statement?

“When people are cutting back on salt in their diets, what they really mean is that they are concerned with their sodium intake, because it is the sodium that kills, and not the salt. It should be mentioned, that even when people avoid consuming salt, they might still get a lot of sodium from other sources. So in effect, staying away from salt is NOT the only solution.” 

You have to read it carefully to understand that it is not just the Table Salt “shaker” or the Sea Salt “Mill” that we have to cut back on, BUT to be very aware of the naturally occurring Sodium in the foods we are eating IN ADDITION to the ADDED Sodium, which is found in processed, prepared, and pre-packaged foods.

Help Yourself:

  • Begin weaning yourself off processed foods.
  • Start by noticing what your daily food habits are.
  • How many products do you eat each day that come from a package?
  • Plan ahead and pick ONE day to experiment with limiting your consumption of anything that comes processed.
  • When you are ready, try keeping a food diary one day a week.
  • And add up the amount of sodium from the foods you ate in that day.
  • Let me know how it goes.

[1] William Shakespeare.

Related Articles

Rx FOOD

“There is no ONE GIANT step

that does it,

It’s a lot of LITTLE STEPS.”

To date, I’ve been experimenting with food as medicine for a solid year and a half.

In a recently published post, titled: My Hernia, I described my experience with an umbilical hernia, and by the end of the article I commented on the fact that some exercises can be useless. Which triggered another thought…how certain foods can actually be useless too.

There are a lot of fancy exercises that are in vogue these days, that fall into the useless category causing more harm than good. Now, this is assuming we know better but keep on repeating them, regardless. However, because it’s unlikely that doing the occasional useless exercise likely won’t cause much lasting damage, it begs the question, then WHY would we do them in the first place? What is our motivation behind doing things that are useless? 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. (Collaborating with an RMT trained in Rolfing [Structural Integration] or KMI / Myofascial Release is my first choice). 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? Getting to the point of doing it right can take a lot of trial and error and a lot of research; if we’re too busy to learn and grow, then what are we here for? 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 accordingly to actually enhance our health?

…Prescription Food, as I’ve come to think of it.

Why not?

I met Sandrine at my daughter’s school about three years ago. Our daughters have been in the same class over these few years and so naturally, we have had many opportunities to chat. And as parents often do, we talk about our daughters; their talents, milestones and of course the challenges: the sleepless nights, the food sensitivities/ allergies, which doctors 😉 or finding THE magical balm to soothe irritated skin, etc. – You get the idea.

Sandrine went the distance like no other to help both of her daughter’s with their skin issues. She had eliminated certain foods from her girls’ diet in the hopes that that would help. She would go so far as delivering fresh homemade meals to her girls everyday at lunch so they could stay true to their program. This kind of effort puts tremendous strain on a parent; anyone raising a child with allergies or food sensitivity knows only too well what I’m talking about.

Six months into my experiment with ER4YT, I happened to be chatting with Sandrine at our girls’ first chess tournament. Since Sandrine and I share a similar interest in following current news regarding health, our conversations often revolved around comparing notes on such topics. I told her about ER4YT and my suspicions about gluten causing my joint inflammation. She considered looking into it as a possibility for her daughters. Sandrine is a researcher…she will leave no stone unturned. Months later, once back to school in September, I sidled up to her to get an update on the skin issues…because when I greeted her daughter, it was quite evident the skin issues were no more.

“Soon after my child was born, I knew that it was food which contributed to her rashes and other issues.  The skin tests did not reveal food sensitivities, but food allergy.  However, avoiding the foods my child was allergic to did not bring relief, in fact, it got progressively worse over the years.  When I asked for their advice, Allergists and Dermatologists talked about elimination diet and its challenges. Recently, after almost nine years and two kids later, I discovered ALCAT testing.  ALCAT and our naturopath transformed my children’s life and naturally mine. With ALCAT, we are confident in what they can and cannot eat.  The recommended rotation diet along with the ALCAT test meant no more rashes or eczema, bleeding wounds from scratching, thick dandruff on the scalp, sleepless nights due to scratching, respiratory congestions, fatigue and failure to thrive.  Today, my kids are not only doing well, but thriving, all without the need for medicated ointments and medications.”  -Sandrine

 

This is an incredible story, and yet, elements of it are universal.

I know most of you reading this don’t know me and at this point are genuinely wondering if I am advertising for ALCAT or ER4YT. With all sincerity, I promise you that this is an information sharing website only. I do not have any affiliate codes associated with any of the links found on my site and am not receiving and discounts or support from the practitioners with whom I consult.

Any pop-up advertising you may see on my site from time to time is generated by WordPress, my host, who benefits from it in order to keep the operating costs down.

Sandrine did her research and took the blood type philosophy to the next level by actually having both her daughters and husband’s blood tested by ALCAT. Seeing her success with the program I am considering trying ALCAT testing for my family too. Right now, however, we are going to go the distance with ER4YT because we are still in the infancy with our exploration. My husband and I have done the Secretor Test, which helps to fine tune our beneficial food lists (I am blood type O+, Non-Secretor, my husband is AB-, Secretor). My kids will be taking the Secretor test next week – we are all curious for the results. My kids are becoming more and more interested in taking care of their health, now, and beginning to understand the significance of NOW, and the impact it will have on their adult health. Many people falsely believe that children can eat and drink whatever they want. They believe that kids will figure it out for themselves like so many of us did. I say, look around…there is an entire population plagued with an inability to figure it out for themselves. Our health will not fix itself. Raising kids on candy and sugar and processed foods is damaging, period. There is absolutely nothing beneficial or nutritious found in those products. But what if you’re like Sandrine or myself, who make every attempt to nurture healthy habits by introducing nothing but whole foods to our babies, to then being completely mystified that those supposedly healthy, super foods are not tolerated.

Yes, we can eat anything. We can drink anything. Most of us know of, or may even be related to people who do not espouse a healthy lifestyle in the least, but are still living- against all odds. You know, like James’ uncle who each day smoked half a pack of cigarettes, drank like a fish and never exercised, but lived to be 102. Mind you living a long time and living well for a long time is a horse of another colour. I often wonder what the longevity might have been for people like James’ uncle had they taken care of themselves?

I know a man in his mid-seventies who has been Diabetic (type 2) for thirty years. For many years when he had kept his Diabetes ‘under control’, his weight had stabilized at 200 pounds, which seemed like an acceptable weight for a man at a height of six-feet. He is currently sixty pounds over that weight. It seems like his weekly schedule is busy with regular check-ups with his doctors or advisers. When I ask him how he’s doing, he tells me that his doctors tell him that he’s doing OK. This frustrates me, so I ask him gently, “How can you be OK, when you are 1) Diabetic and 2) sixty pounds overweight? You are NOT OK.  This is unacceptable.” He continues to do the same thing he has always done, which rewards him with the same results he’s always gotten. No change to his health; just a slow decline. He tells me, “Well, we’ve all got to go sometime.” This is true, none of us is getting out of this life alive.

But there is a huge difference between accepting our fate and having the belief that there is no fate but what we make.

“Since the dawning of the Age of Genetics, we have been programmed to accept that we are subservient to the power of our genes. The world is filled with people who live in constant fear that, on some unsuspecting day, their genes are going to turn on them. Consider the masses of people who think they are ticking time bombs; they wait for cancer to explode in their lives as it exploded in the life of their mother or brother or sister or aunt or uncle. Millions of others attribute their failing health not to a combination of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual causes but simply to the inadequacies of their body’s biochemical mechanics. Are your kids unruly? Increasingly the first choice is to medicate these children to correct their “chemical imbalances” rather than fully grappling with what is going on in their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Of course there is no doubt that some diseases, like Huntington’s chorea, beta thalassemia, and cystic fibrosis, can be blamed entirely on one faulty gene. But single-gene disorders affect less than two percent of the population; the vast majority of people come into this world with genes that should enable them to live a happy and healthy life. The diseases that are today’s scourges – diabetes, heart disease, and cancer – short circuit a happy and healthy life.

These diseases, however, are NOT the result of a single gene, but of complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors. “

Bruce H. Lipton, PhD – author of Biology of Belief            (quote from pg. 20 -21)

I understand that our doctors only have about 5 – 30 minutes with each patient (the upper number if you’re lucky!) and it is equally frustrating for health care practitioners, because as much as they want to eradicate disease, their hands are tied. Patients MUST help themselves and be more than a willing participant who accepts pharmaceuticals as their cure.

There are so many websites promoting miraculous cures, from natural supplements, water purification systems to products or equipment. It’s easy for any consumer to be charmed by all the claims often accompanied by glossy photographs of eye-catching perfection. All these advertisements remind me of the traveling-snake-oil-salesmen from the 19th century – Are we still being duped? Clearly, the only way to know for sure is to experiment for ourselves (with caution!).

Having said this, most of us are skeptics and require a lot to convince us to buy a product. But isn’t it interesting that when we finally do decide to jump in, and put our whole belief into something, we become a self appointed spokesperson for said product. As if, because it might work wonders for us, we think everyone else should try it too.

Listen, I don’t know exactly what works for me. I’m still figuring things out. And it seems to always be that once I get a handle on what seems to work my body goes ahead and ages, bringing on new changes and challenges. We are in a constant state of change. I believe we have to stay alert to these changes and adapt to them.

 

KEEP

CALM

AND

ADAPT

to CHANGE

 

In writing this post it is my hope to encourage others to consider that: because none of us know anything for certain, that we have to try and keep trying and not sit back accepting our ‘fate’.

For those interested in exploring Prescription Food for Our Individual Health, I have imbedded the links to the sites that I have personally explored. I have done Dr. Mercola’s Nutritional Typing questionnaire, which pegged me as a Protein Type (which is very similar to ER4YT, just without the blood typing). One thing that I took away from Dr. Mercola’s site that I have been experimenting with is: the order in which I eat my beneficial food.

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.

ALCAT Testing Website: ALCAT

Eat Right 4 Your Type website: Eat Right For Your Type

ER4YT: Secretor/ Non-Secretor Information page

ER4YT: Salivary Secretor Test Kit

 

In addition, this 5 minute video presented by HU Medicare Local, Australia talks about Understanding Pain. There is a lot we can do for our own self-care. Whether we live a long or short life, I think that we can all agree that the best choice would be to live out our days at a healthy weight, without pain or debilitating disease.

 

This goes out for anyone struggling with mental, physical, emotional or spiritual challenges…I care about your well-being and hope that the information in this post will be useful for your exploration. Just try and keeping trying.

 

 

 

Flag Girl

This is Flag Girl Amanda.

Driving home from my 10 minute morning hill sprint with dog Ruby and my 9 year old son, I happened to see Amanda doing some Prisoner Squats at the side of the road.

Amanda is a Flag Girl with the city’s sewers crew. I parked my car and high tailed it over to chat with her about what she was doing. With my son and dog in tow, I told her what I had witnessed. She explained that she had been in a motor-vehicle accident on March 27, 2012 and since has been in a lot of pain. She had gone through all the required active rehabilitation for the soft tissue damage. However, since the physical treatments that were covered by insurance had come to an end she had to become self-sufficient and consistent with doing the prescribed exercises throughout the day on her own. She quickly showed me the list of exercises on her phone.

Yay, Amanda!

Because her job requires for a lot of standing she finds that the immobility is what contributes to her pain. As a result she does whichever exercises she can while on the job.

I can’t tell you how happy I was to see this. On one other occasion I noticed a Flag girl doing some lunges and now wonder if it was Amanda then also!?

I’ve often wanted to contact the city and offer to give a workshop on how workers can help themselves throughout such long days of mostly stationary work – because standing around (though at least there is movement), can be equally difficult on the body as sitting at a work-station all day. In addition, I think that long hours, like what Amanda does can often leave workers fatigued by days end and the last thing they want to or feel motivated to do is think about doing a ‘workout’. So what if people in this situation could be shown (and convinced) that some, focused exercises done with precision, specific to their needs could do a world of good!

This is why I love the 4 Minute Morning concept as well as Stretch B4 Bed idea too. Each session doesn’t have to be an event, but rather a few minutes of focused attention, a moving meditation, which is what Yoga is; time spent inwardly focusing and becoming aware of our physical being, which subconsciously trains our body to function correctly when we are not able to be focused inwardly…like, most of the time!

Here is a little video of what I saw Amanda doing that morning. She re-created the moment for me so I could post it here. Of course, my preference would have been to catch her spontaneously, but this will give you the gist.

I just wanted to reinforce here, how beneficial and necessary micro-breaks are for all of us, regardless of injury or as daily maintenance. I think our culture has gotten a lot carried away with the more is better philosophy with regards to exercise. We need to step back and focus more on how our body functions and less on doing exercise for the sole purpose of looking a certain way.

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,
 AZ”

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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Be True To Who You Are

“[…]When you see something weird and make fun with jokes

‘Cause your personal tastes are not like those folks

Try harder[…]”

-Miro, Warrior Poet Wisdom

When I started composing this post the feedback I imagined might question what this subject has to do with health and fitness.

From my perspective, everything is interconnected. Our physical health is intimately dependent upon our mental, emotional, spiritual and biological health.

EVERYTHING matters.

What happens when a public figure does something outrageous or something very personal – publicly? Is it open season on them? Does that make it OK to forget our manners; even if it is a marketing ploy to get viewers worked up to generate a buzz?

Lisa-Marie from BodyRockTv recently and very publicly underwent breast augmentation surgery. Amid the supportive comments she received, I was saddened by the negativity that this sort of event brings out in people.

 Lisa-Marie (before)

 A few months ago, a negative comment relating to the main photo of me on my site landed in my inbox. It came via one of the visual media sites and after the fact, the sender was very apologetic, I know this because I called them on it. Please understand that I’m not bringing this up to embarrass anyone. I bring it up because I think that sometimes really nice people can mindlessly say unkind things – I’m not immune, we forget…but that is a lousy excuse, we need to try harder at thinking twice before we speak. It’s easy to go around being mindless and develop a knee-jerk reflexive “I’m sorry” response – and truly mean it too. Better yet, to develop the discipline to think before we speak or before we press send.

Because I dispense motherly sayings on a daily basis to my children, I feel obliged to pass on these same words…

”If you don’t have something nice to say            (or constructive to add)                                               then don’t say anything at all.”

“One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.”                                                                                                                                                                                  –Will Durant (attributed)

The comment about my photo went something like this:
“Am I the only one who finds this DISGUSTING?”

And “Man abs on a woman is so unfeminine.”

I thought about what they said and I assure you I wasn’t offended but rather, it got me wondering where this kind of commentary comes from?

These women, I gathered, were young mothers (I took an educated guess based on what else they had posted), and wondered how women who nurture babies and children could speak so judgmentally or in an unsupportive way about others.

I understand the unfeminine comment, but the word DISGUSTING being capitalized even, really? Disgusting? At the time I thought, “Good thing I haven’t posted a picture of my face!” 🙂

I’ve noticed that there is a tendency to follow what is beautiful regardless of substance. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has figured this out. We have a tendency to buy into what is beautiful because we have been conditioned to believe that by following a certain program or by using said product procures the same results for us. Case in point: just look at what the Diet Soft Drink industry has done! And let me tell you first hand, if working out as consistently and with as much focus and discipline as I do, hasn’t made my nose smaller or changed its shape, then nothing other than surgery will! 🙂 We’ve got to love ourselves for who we are and what we’ve got, but continue to grow and improve along the way. The image we see in a still photograph is just that – a still. It reflects a suspended moment in time. And that is precisely what can make the still photograph so magical.

We will not miraculously transform into an Adonis by imitating the routine of one. We will not become anything other than who we are. Accept it, love it, improve on it however you see fit. At the risk of sounding like a soap opera, we’ve got one life to live – Live it well, find happiness but do so without being reckless.

So, I wrote back…

“I’m sorry you find me offensive. There is a real person behind this photograph. Perhaps the angle or the lighting or the fact that I’m not posing in a more sensual way detracts from the images effectiveness to show femininity. I have two children and they love me for who I am. (Except for when they don’t get their own way, of course). If you go to my website and read my bio and any of my articles you will learn that at my core, I hope to encourage everyone to focus on their health as opposed to focusing on the aesthetic alone. Originally, I had a photograph of a flower as my Gravatar, (because I was not interested in drawing attention to myself -each of us is an experiment of ONE after all) but since I changed the image to this photograph, which for many is a symbol of discipline and hard work – more and more people are flooding to my site…go figure. I know that how my body looks is not everyone’s ideal and I am, in no way suggesting people should strive for what I represent. My mother died at age 69 from Cancer, three months before my second child was born. She was too young and even though she lived a healthy lifestyle in every way, I believe from my research that many environmental factors played a role in her death and also for so many others who suffer from various diseases, which lead to premature death. My focus is to help you to help yourself be fit and healthy.“

To which they replied:

“I am very sorry. I really respect the discipline required to obtain this much muscularity. I believed this photo to be one off of google images and I greatly regret any hurt feelings I have caused by posting this. I will remove it. (They removed the comment trail from the visual media site).

“If it makes you feel any better my stomach area is entirely too soft and I’m sure the percentage of nice comments you get is ten times higher than the ones I would get if I showed a similar picture of my body.”

“I don’t think anyone was trying to hurt your feelings or insult you. I’m sure we really did though, and I apologize.”

Honestly, my feelings weren’t hurt and I was not insulted. When I made the decision to post photographs of myself and start to blog, I prepared myself for both positive and negative feedback, I would have been crazy not to. And really, I’m OK with who I am – big nose and all!

All I want to say by posting this is that all of us need to Try Harder at embracing compassion for one another.

One of my favorite modern poets, Miro introduced me to poet Cat Forsley. She posted this inspiring TED talk video of legally blind, Caroline Casey’s talk about the power of believing in ourself: Looking Past Limits.

“Stop with the labels … because we are not jam jars; we are extraordinary, different, wonderful people.”

“Every single one of us — woman, man, gay, straight, disabled, perfect, normal, whatever — everyone of us must be the very best of ourselves.”

“I never needed eyes to see — never. I simply needed vision and belief.”

-Caroline Casey

In my mind, “Being Happy Just The Way We Are” or “Expecting Others To Love Us Just The Way We Are” doesn’t mean that we can sit on the couch all day and forgo being a good person or stop taking care of ourselves. Being alive to me means participating and making positive contributions in the global community even if that means primarily focusing on raising healthy, self-sufficient, children who will mature into responsible adults, who can contribute to rather than become a burden on society.

If your happiness is based on always getting a little more than you’ve got

then you’ve handed control over your happiness to the gatekeepers, built a system that doesn’t scale and prevented yourself from the brave work that leads to a quantum leap.

The industrial system (and the marketing regime) adore the mindset of ‘a little bit more, please’, because it furthers their power. A slightly higher paycheck, a slightly more famous college, an incrementally better car–it’s easy to be seduced by this safe, stepwise progress, and if marketers and bosses can make you feel dissatisfied at every step along the way, even better for them.

Their rules, their increments, and you are always on a treadmill, unhappy today, imagining that the answer lies just over the next hill…

All the data shows us that the people on that hill are just as frustrated as the people on your hill. It demonstrates that the people at that college are just as envious as the people at this college. The never-ending cycle (no surprise) never ends.

An alternative is to be happy wherever you are, with whatever you’ve got, but always hungry for the thrill of creating art, of being missed if you’re gone and most of all, doing important work.

-Seth Godin

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Burpees

Learning Series:

Do You See What I See?

For the uninitiated, the word BURPEES sounds more like something a newborn does.

Burpees, in fact, is a compound exercise. A compound exercise, is an exercise that involves more than one major muscle group and more than one joint at a time, such as the Squat. Burpees is a four or five part exercise involving different compound exercises. In contrast to an isolation exercise, which focuses on one muscle group and one joint at a time, for example: the bicep curl.

an exercise of biceps

an exercise of biceps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have not been following a regular exercise program or feel very out of shape, I would NOT recommend starting with Burpees. I would direct you to my 4 Minute Morning Progression Series, which teaches the foundation exercises for Burpees over the course of 14 weeks. As a result of following the graduated program, the body’s joint systems (ligaments, tendons, muscles and cartilage) will adapt to these movements. Learning this way allows us to focus on each part of the compound exercise, which will ensure good alignment so that when we put all the parts together, we won’t become sloppy.

When we exercise with good alignment, our movement becomes more efficient. When we move efficiently, we reduce wear and tear on our joints and muscles, which in turn supports a faster reaction time and optimal performance. Exercising longer, while out of alignment – though it may feel good mentally to know that we have burned a certain amount of calories – the end result, being the attack on our joints and muscles and skeletal system will have negated the effort in the first place. Exercise, whether for weight loss, maintenance or for peak sport performance, requires a delicate balance in many areas.

We may be able to fool our MIND,

with supplements or secret training practices,

but the BODY cannot be fooled.

Train smart, right from the start. Less is more. If we exercise with precision of movement as our primary focus, and be consistent, the results will come.

 “Build it, and they will come.”

-(Field of Dreams)

I’ve put together a little instructional video, which explains a common mistake that I was making. But I only realized that I was making this mistake once I started filming myself. Once again, I would like to encourage you to film yourself so that you can start to analyze how you are moving through your exercises.

I’ve tried to edit this video to keep it as short as possible, but as you may have noticed, I have a lot to say. Also, it is a lot harder (and time consuming) to make instructional videos than it first appears. I used my phone to record this video, though I had both my good camera and phone set up – but would you guess that I didn’t press record on the camera! Anyhow, I hope that it is the content of the video that will provide you with some useful information as opposed to judging it based solely on the lousy quality of the visual product.

For those not able to view the video, I am discussing the breakdown of Burpees. The most common error is to NOT do a complete squat but rather pass through it. The reason most will pass through the squat is due to restricted range of motion at our joints, i.e. tight musculature and fascia. Not performing the squat can lead to rounding from the back, which is not ideal.

There are two squats in Burpees. I have come to know Burpees as detailed below; though some call it Burpees Push Up (because it includes the Push Up). A classic Burpee may be done without the Push Up.

1. Squat

2. Plank

3. Push Up

4. Squat

5. Jump Squat

6. Repeat sequence

Also, I’d like to talk about the placement of our legs during the squat. There is a tendency to do a lot of exercises in a wide stance. This is OK from time to time, but important to understand that in order to develop a well-balanced body, our exercise program has to also be well-balanced. Always doing exercises in a wide stance or that are always recruiting the same muscles is not a well-balanced approach. There really is a science to exercise prescription. Though it can seem unlikely for some, anyone can muster up the drive to work hard. Working hard and for long duration alone, is not what will deliver a functionally fit body. So in my video, I venture to explain, (though very briefly and with basic language in an effort to be understood by everyone), how we should focus on parallel alignment, being the alignment, which is essential for our joints to function optimally. When we walk, the ideal placement is to have our feet and knees aligned in parallel. When we deviate from this tracking, our joints encounter wear and tear. By doing exercise OUT of alignment, our muscles become stronger in this unbalanced pattern, which further contributes to misalignment.

When we have limitation in our joints, our movement is restricted. When our movement is restricted we (unknowingly) compensate, which leads to overuse and contributes to faulty biomechanics.

What can you do?

  • Be consistent with stretches that are specific to YOUR restricted range of motion.

  • Do exercises that will support optimal range of motion in YOUR body.

I have found that when I practice my exercises (be it stairs, swim drills or Burpees), if I focus on precision then I am not able do as much; my weaker muscles will fatigue sooner. This is a good thing. This means that I am strengthening my weaker links. If I continuously train out of alignment and with brute force, then I am just repeating patterns that are only going to take me further from my goals. My goals being: having a body that is aligned and runs efficiently with the least amount of wear and tear.

Please note: when lifting very heavy loads, it is a good idea to take a wider stance for the squat.

Below is the video of me showing how to do a

4 Minute Tabata of Burpees.

8 Rounds of two intervals.

Interval #1 =  10 seconds REST + Interval #2 = 20 seconds Maximum # of Repetitions of Burpees

I was able to complete 4.5 – 4 Burpees during each 20 second interval. Which translates to doing 32 Burpees in 4 Minutes. 

That’s:

  • 64 Squats
  • 32 Planks
  • 32 Push Ups
  • 32 Jump Squats

Wow! I never thought about it like that before! No wonder it does the trick!

Also, I notice that as I get more fatigued I tend to lift my hips UP as I jump back to plank. See if you can spot that. So I will work on keeping my hips more level with the ground as I jump back into plank.

Your Mouth

First graders from the Miner Normal School in ...

First graders from the Miner Normal School in Washington, D.C. brushing their teeth. Their teacher was Ada Hand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s not uncommon to hear fitness experts exclaim:

“Exercise is something we should do everyday,

just like cleaning our teeth!”

You do clean your teeth everyday, don’t you? Do you go every six-months for regular oral health care or do you let it lapse for two years, like some of the people I’ve been casually interviewing of late? If so, this post is for you.

At first glance, cleaning our teeth doesn’t seem at all that complicated – you get a soft bristled toothbrush, some toothpaste, water and get brushing.

However, cleaning our teeth and taking care of our oral health may not be as straight forward as we’ve come to believe. Just like so many other things that seemed to work for us without much effort in our younger years. Boy, the things our bodies let us get away with…

The following is some information that I have been exploring about our oral health.

 Full disclosure – My friend Dr. Dana Colson recently published, Your Mouth: The Gateway to a Healthier You. When I lived in Toronto, I was Dana’s Personal Trainer over the course of a few years (in the 1990’s) and as a result of learning about her wellness-based dentistry practice, I became a patient. But this was over twelve years ago, just before I moved to Vancouver. I haven’t seen her in approximately twelve years and we just recently reconnected via email. I found myself thinking of her, so I dropped her a line. She replied almost immediately: “You’ve been on my mind too!”

As a gift, she sent me a copy of her book and within a day I had finished it. It is fantastic! She writes so clearly and without unnecessary jargon. I want to share this book with you because I think it contains so much valuable information. (When I found out that the proceeds from the sale of the book from her office are being donated to Free the Children, a charity from the Me to We group that helps children become educated throughout the world, I had to send a cheque.)

mouth

You may already be aware of the relationship between our mouth and our health; the dentist has been trained to pick up on subtle changes within the tissues of the mouth, which may represent a health concern, originating elsewhere in our system. I think Dr. Colson’s book can help us address many health issues that otherwise get overlooked or are treated with unnecessary pharmaceuticals when there may be a more natural alternative. Natural alternatives, for example, like simply being consistent with daily body maintenance. It’s free and anyone can do it.

One lesson in particular prompted me to do further investigation, because as I was redirecting my family on how to improve our oral hygiene protocol, I was unable to answer some basic questions.

The first thing that came up was:

Don’t brush your teeth immediately after acidic meals or acidic drinks – we should wait one to two hours. (Lisa, my hygienist feels confident that waiting 30 minutes after meals before cleaning teeth is sufficient.)

This was news to me. I had NEVER been told NOT to brush after acidic meals. In fact I had grown up with the opposite rule: Brush after meals, period, acidic or not. This really got to me, so I started asking everyone (yes, everyone!), if they knew this. Not one person did. (Granted, my grouping of ‘everyone’ was probably under fifteen people – but over the age of majority, but still that’s a lot of people who didn’t know!)

At first, I was unclear as to what would cause the damage:

  • the brushing action?
  • the toothpaste?
  • the fluoride in the toothpaste?

The reason to not brush after an acidic meal or drink is that the acidic food or drink actually softens the tooth enamel. The physical act of brushing teeth in this softened state can further erode their protective layer. Who knew? Did you?

But what about after meals? It’s still a good idea to get the crud out, right? A 2005 review that appeared in the journal Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry concluded there was “no clear evidence as to the optimal time-point of tooth brushing [before or after meals].” Brushing may help remove food debris, but from a microbiology point of view, Palmer says, it might make sense to brush before you eat.

“Why get up with a mouth full of plaque that you’ve been growing overnight and then feed it breakfast?” she asks. “Why not get rid of the plaque first?”

To read this article in its entirety click here: Is Once Enough?

My hygienist, Lisa, has been telling me for years that brushing once a day is sufficient (at the end of the day – before bed), but I wouldn’t buy it. I had been so convinced that brushing after each meal was the way to go. I’m kind of like that about a lot of things…if some is good, then more must be better. So, I figured I would be doing myself a service by diligently brushing after meals AND snacks! But as I’m growing up, I am learning to fine-tune others common sense and come up with my own ‘sense’. I’m taking a better look at my habits and those of my kids and say, “If what we’re doing isn’t working, then doing more of it won’t work any better!”

A quick related side note.

As you know, I have been experimenting with Eat Right 4 Your Type and I have eliminated gluten, soy, corn, potato and dairy from my diet. It has been just over a year of being consistent with this approach. I feel great – my joints don’t ache and don’t show outward signs of inflammation.

The most interesting discovery to date has been that my teeth produce very little, if any calculus.

Calculus or tartar is the hardening and build up of plaque on the teeth, mostly found around the necks of the teeth (where the tooth meets at the gum line).

I used to produce a lot of calculus and at each six-month dental hygienist appointment the calculus would be scaled away.

Since changing the way I eat, my body is virtually not producing any calculus. I mentioned this to Dr. Colson. She said:

 “Perhaps your diet balances out your Calcium -Magnesium so there is no excess deposit in your system and thus less calculus (calcium deposit).  You may have hit BINGO!  If so it would reflect in less excess being deposited around the necks of your teeth.  I do not have the magic formula to control the Ca: Mg, [Calcium – Magnesium ratio] nor does dentistry.  It would be a great project [to analyze this correlation, it could be] life changing for millions!  I do think that less sticky carbs and increased flossing especially the latter can make a huge improvement. Dr. Hal Huggins says that he does not need scaling, as his body chemistry is so well balanced that he does not get deposits…. However balancing body chemistry is not an easy or general answer, and I am not aware of any dental studies on this. It’s good to talk about this quandary on why some people get a lot of calculus build up and others do not.”

Could it be possible that the combination of eliminating certain foods and because I drink water regularly throughout the day, and swish after meals, that I have been neutralizing the pH levels in my mouth? Not only is it important to think about having enough water in our mouth to neutralize acidity, but also to remember the role saliva plays in our oral health.

Saliva does more than just help us chew food–it protects teeth by preventing decay, regulating your mouth’s acidity level and keeping bacteria in your mouth from running rampant.

But when saliva is lacking, plaque builds, enamel erodes, cavities quickly form and fungal growth runs rampant.

“I don’t think that people realize the importance of saliva until the well runs dry,” said Ana Diaz-Arnold, DDS, University of Iowa professor of family dentistry. “Saliva is critical for your dental health.”

The following is the current protocol my family is experimenting with:

Upon Waking:

To eliminate the overnight bacterial growth – Brush teeth gently (with a very soft bristled tooth-brush) with a small amount of toothpaste first thing upon waking each morning. Scrape tongue gently (3-4 times) with a metal tongue cleaner and floss teeth.

After Meals:

If acidic foods or juices consumed? Rinse and swish with water to neutralize the mouth. If there are food particles stuck on or between teeth then gently brush them away with toothbrush and water or floss them out.

If no acidic foods are consumed? Rinse and swish with water. If there are food particles stuck on or between the teeth, then gently brush them away with a toothbrush and water or floss them out.

Lisa says: “A vigorous rinse with water will dislodge most food in most mouths.”

Before Bed – To eliminate the build up of bacteria from the day:

Brush gently with a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Scrape tongue gently (3-4 times) with a metal tongue cleaner and floss teeth.

Baby carrots.

Mostly we rely on water throughout the day and usually end a meal or snack with a carrot! Eating a carrot at the end of a meal can help to neutralize the acids in the mouth. It is our “toothbrush” away from home. I send a little container with carrot sticks to school in my kids snack bags. They know that when they have their snacks they should finish with a little carrot then water.

“Science today is teaching us that the mouth is not a closed system, but one connected to the rest of our body. The health of our mouth is affected by the health of our body and vice versa. Gum disease is a bacterial infection in the mouth and the same bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and put our entire health at risk. When the health of our mouth deteriorates through decay or gum disease, it may put our general health in jeopardy, particularly if we have additional risk factors. By making this critical connection between what goes on in our mouth and the rest of our body, we are taking the first step toward optimal health.” – Dr. Dana Colson

We might consider how we go about cleaning our mouth. Do we approach our oral hygiene, as we would our exercise regime? Do we put off exercising until we have an entire hour to do a ‘meaningful’ workout? Do we wait till the end of the day and then brush vigorously, which only damages our gums? And perhaps only flossing the night before our dentist appointments? Oral health is definitely one thing that we can’t or shouldn’t put off till later.

A photo from 1899 showing the use of a toothbrush.

It all comes down to balance.

And so, similar to how I view exercise: be consistent with a little everyday. Simple. That way we stay on top of things by preventing a whole host of problems building up down the road.

If we develop a good daily habit of eliminating the bacteria that collects in our mouth and around our teeth, our breath will smell fresh, we may produce less calculus, we support our overall health and will have a nice home to house our teeth into old age.

I would love to hear how others from different countries take care of their oral health. Dentists and Hygienists please join the conversation.

To be continued…

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