Training For What?

Menschenrettung mit der Steckleiter

What does training really mean?

I think the word training has lost a bit of its true meaning, lost it’s identity, so to speak. Similar to how the words ‘body and mind’, ‘balance’ or ‘core-strength’ just roll off the tongue. We get to a point where words become saturated from overuse or their meaning evolves, like ‘Party’.

Training used to mean: to prepare for something.

Nowadays, it seems like “I’m going to see my Trainer” just rolls off the tongue too. It has generally evolved into:

I’m going to workout now, with someone to whom I pay a lot of money to tell me what to do next and who pushes me to do more reps than I would if it were up to me alone.

Where did the preparation for: _____  – go?

English: Army Physical Training School, Brisba...

There is so much more to Physical Training than the obvious physiological benefits, such as maintaining an ideal weight, stress reduction and cardiovascular fitness, to name a few. When I speak of Physical Training I’m not referring to simple, functional exercise like active living or walking the dogs around the block. I’m talking about focused, planned and purposeful physical training; this type of training has many layers, which translates to and shapes the way we live our life and conduct ourselves.

It is THIS training which prepares us for life.

These are just some of the layers (in no particular order) that come to mind when I think about what physical training teaches me. So, in effect, my daily physical training has very little to do with the aesthetic, and has a lot more to do with building character. The aesthetic then, is the unexpected result from doing what should be done regardless.

What Physical Training Teaches Me:

  • discipline to practice daily = learn to not procrastinate = positive example for my children
  • desire to make a difference = forge ahead
  • being consistent = long term commitment = not expect quick fix solutions
  • repeating patterns of movement = teaches habitual patterning
  • repeating patterns of movement = boredom is a state of mind = refining movement cancels out boredom
  • adding-on and refining habitual patterning = being responsible for life’s daily required chores = Endless
  • ambition to be a better version of myself = to not be complacent = always room for improvement
  • sense of purpose = sense of purpose
  • be prepared w/ Food, hydration, digestion etc. = being prepared /planning ahead
  • to not give up when tired = endurance = to not give up when all the cards are stacked against me
  • to push/pull/lift a heavy weight = strength = to be able to carry the challenges that come with life
  • agility = to be able to think and react quickly, both physically and mentally
  • adapt to change = adapt to change
  • ego training = learning to accept limits
  • instinct training = knowing when to rest, recover or step away = knowing what feels right or wrong in any given situation
  • precision of movement = being responsible, careful and present = focus on details
  • balance within my physical structure = balance the duties and relationships in my life for a calm and happy existence
  • timer training = realizing how much can be accomplished in only 20 seconds! = I try to translate this to daily chores – actually everything, to right now.
  • interval training = learning that putting in even a short amount of time towards a task makes a considerable difference
  • Yoga = lifelong practice regardless of accomplishment = always learning, adding-on and refining

Please understand, that I am not blowing my own horn, here. Just because I’m doing the training doesn’t mean that I’m an expert at any of it – it simply means that I’m in training; fully engaged in the process. I love the challenge that each day brings with it a new configuration of possibilities. Each day I have to adapt to a new rhythm.

We all do.

Some days rock while other days are lousy. I love that my new found discipline with Daily Body Maintenance is really working, but in so many more ways than I imagined. These physical training techniques really do have purpose beyond the physiological benefits.

Most of all, each day I realize what a profound responsibility I have in preparing my children to lead a successful life – which, has nothing to do with income or prestige, but rather has everything to do with being prepared to take care of themselves; from learning how to tidy up after themselves (flush the toilet, brush their teeth and make their beds to vacuuming and washing their bedroom floor to gradually becoming more involved in the larger or mundane daily household chores). Once the basic duties associated with living become habitual, then those duties are no longer viewed with resentment, as if those chores are in the way of our having fun. Those chores need to be done regardless – as does our Body Maintenance.

The most valuable gift I can give my children, is to teach them how to take care of themselves. Life is full of repetition. We can choose to view this repetition as boring or uneventful or we can choose to embrace it and have fun with it.

Everyone’s working out like fiends, but for what? To win a race? To clock a better personal best? To look and feel better? Training to look good for summer, for the wedding dress etc.? All perfectly acceptable reasons; except for when the line is crossed over to mindless exercise, overtraining and simply using brute force to execute movements; forgetting to be compassionate to oneself in the process.

Oftentimes, not to have enough juice left for actual living! Causing overuse injuries, which will impact one’s ageing body.  We need to remember that physical exercise training, conditions the body to do something – be it to set an Olympic record, or simply being able to bend down, i.e., to function. It’s disappointing and tragic when our star athletes give up so much of their future wellness for the accolades of the moment. We’re constantly reminded to live in the now, but there is a strategy to living in the moment – a strategy, which includes balance and forward planning.

The good news, is that with enough compassion and care we can use the science of exercise prescription to rebalance our structure for a long and sound life – and still go for Gold!

Bed Stretches #2

Dansk: Sibirisk tiger (Panthera tigris altaica...

These are the stretches that I do first thing

in the morning.

First thing every morning, before my feet hit the floor I do a series of stretches in bed. View Bed Stretches #1 for the introduction.

This is the second video in a series of progressions showing a very short in-bed-stretching routine that I do every morning. It may offer some ideas to start exploring your own options for a morning routine. It’s a good idea to develop a similar habit everyday for the rest of your life. The point is to do what feels right for your body – not what feels right for mine!

Some people might find that starting with holding the knees to chest is more than enough to take on first thing in the morning. That’s fine. Do what works for you. One thing we know for sure, is that we have to move in order to be able to move. So, I’d like to encourage everyone upon waking to get the fuzz out and “keep moving, stretching and using your body.”

This second video offers a quick review of the first two stretches/exercises:

  1. hold knees to chest
  2. single leg hip flexor stretch (right & left)
And each new video features an: Adding on… section:
        Video #2 introduces bicycle legs to ceiling.


  • Bicycle legs to ceiling is an exercise, which actively stretches our muscles gradually and gently.
  • As our muscles warm up from this repetitive action we stimulate oxygen and blood flow to our entire body.
  • I focus on working through my feet, stretching and leading the movement up to the ceiling with my heel.
  • When I first included this exercise I only did about 20 repetitions – and it seemed like a long while before I added on.
  • Using my duvet supports my sleepy, inflexible morning body so that I don’t end up gripping my back to hold my legs up.
  • Approximately, one year later, I naturally do one hundred repetitions (counting by 10’s) – Good mental exercise to wake the brain up too!
  • It takes fifty repetitions for me to wake up and the second set of fifty has purpose!


It sure is a nice feeling to step out of bed rather than crumble out.


NOTE: These Bed Stretches are meant to be a very gentle way of waking up the body. In no way should this routine be considered a workout or performed aggressively. 

I repeat, they should be done very gently. Keep knees bent, this is not a performance routine and knees should remain bent, even if you can straighten them during the day when you do the same type of movement.

Also Note: That when I filmed myself doing these stretches it was already afternoon and my body was very warmed up. First thing in the morning I do NOT move as fluidly; my body feels very rickety and stiff, besides feeling half asleep. Sometimes, I take the stretch and fall back asleep for a few seconds in the stretch! And abruptly wake up – oh, yeah – where was I?


It’s just a nice way to start my day.

Bed Stretches #3…coming soon.

Bed Stretches #1

These are the stretches that I do first thing

in the morning.

First thing – after I spend what seems like moments coming to the realization that it’s morning and I have to get up, but really it’s more like ten minutes of denial and futile attempts of turning back the clock or finding the elusive pause button.

I have put together a little video (first in a series) to demonstrate this very short in-bed-stretching routine that may or may not be right for you, but never-the-less, it can give you an idea of the possibilities, which might give you a place to start exploring your own options. The point is to do what feels right for your body – not what feels right for mine! It was probably six months of just doing the first three exercises before I added the fourth and a few months after that before adding on the fifth and sixth. Let your body be your guide.

NOTE: These Bed Stretches are meant to be a very gentle way of waking up the body. In no way should this routine be considered a workout or performed aggressively. I repeat, they should be done very gently. Keep knees bent, this is not a performance routine and knees should remain bent, even if you can straighten them during the day when you do the same type of movement.

Also Note: That when I filmed myself doing these stretches it was already afternoon and my body was very warmed up. First thing in the morning I do NOT move as fluidly; my body feels very rickety and stiff, besides feeling half asleep. Sometimes, I take the stretch and fall back asleep for a few seconds in the stretch! And abruptly wake up – oh, yeah – where was I?

This first video demonstrates the first two stretches/exercises that I do upon waking. I am demonstrating on the floor…you didn’t really think that I would show myself stretching in bed, did you?!

It’s just a nice way to start my day.

“Write Your Own Prescription”

Pharmacy Rx symbol

I came across Lissa Rankin’s TEDx Women Talk video the other day. In it she references Brene Brown’s TED Talk video from 2010 and I wanted to connect these two video’s for you.

I have attempted to transcript a short excerpt from the end of Lissa Rankin’s talk for those who may have difficulty downloading the video. Hopefully, reading the transcript will be a motivator to find a way to view it in its entirety or to get a hold of her book. You can link to her website here and read her bio here.

…What’s the real reason I’m sick and suffering?…What’s out of balance? What’s the real diagnosis?

If taking care of your body isn’t the most important part of being healthy, what is?

It’s caring for the mind, caring for the heart, caring for the soul. Tapping into what I call your Inner Pilot Light. Your inner pilot light is that part of you, that essence, that authentic, deep, true part of you, that spiritual divine spark that always knows what’s right for you. You’re born with it, it goes with you when you die. It always knows the truth about you and your body.  It comes to you in whispers…It’s your intuition. It’s that beautiful part of you that is your biggest fan. The part that writes you love letters.

And that is the biggest healer you can tap into. Better than any medicine or any doctor.

…If any of you were lucky enough to see Brene Brown’s awesome TED Talk about the power of vulnerability…it talks about the science behind being true, being vulnerable, being transparent – It generates love and intimacy which increases oxytocin and endorphins and reduces harmful stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

When we let our true self be seen, when we let our inner pilot light radiate, we heal from the inside out and its more powerful than anything medicine can give you from the outside.

So I challenge you to write the prescription for yourself. No doctor can do this for you. We can give you drugs, we can give you surgery and sometimes you need that – that’s the jump start – that’s the jump start of the self healing process, but to heal to the core, so that you don’t develop new symptoms, so that you don’t need another surgery, you’ve got to write your own prescription. So I ask you: What is it that you need? What does your body need to get healthy? What is it that you need to change? What needs to be tweaked in your life?

If you knew that stripping off all of your masks and letting us see that beautiful light within you was the solution to your health problems would you be willing to do it? I dare you. It just might make your body ripe for miracles.

– Lissa Rankin, M.D., OB/GYN

Lissa Rankin

Brene Brown

“Let me tell you very quickly about children. They are hardwired for struggle when they get here. When you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say: Look at them, look at her she’s perfect, my job is to keep her perfect – make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade. That’s not our job.

[As parents] our job is to look [at our children] and say…you are imperfect and you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that and we’ll end the problems that I think we see today.” – Brene Brown

Naked-Influenced Salmon

This simple salmon dinner was influenced from The Naked Chef: Jamie Oliver.

Back in 2000, my husband brought this cookbook home. We mostly ate at restaurants in those days, and having read about the simplicity of Jamie’s recipes was appealing. At the time, my husband said, “If you can read and follow instructions, then you can make a great meal with this book.” And he did. He made just about every recipe from this cookbook, without fail.

Because there are some ingredients which I am avoiding these days, I have customized this recipe. The following is my variation. It takes very little time to prepare AND is very low cost. I wanted to share this recipe for both of these reasons. Be sure to make extra for leftovers, whether following my version or the original.

The original (which is amazing, if you like anchovy and olives – I do, but must not…) is on Page 97 from the above mentioned book.

Enough Salmon for two. I got just under a pound of Wild (Previously Frozen) Sockeye Salmon. I usually buy half a pound of fish per person, in our case I knew just the two adults would be eating this. Today the fishmonger cut a bit less than the pound I asked for, and I didn’t want to wait around for another cut. In hindsight, I should have gotten two pounds…there are no leftovers.


Two cups Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

Fresh French Green Beans

1 lb. Fresh (or previously frozen) Salmon

Olive Oil

Himalayan Sea Salt

French Green Beans just added to a pot of boiling water.

Green Beans after being Blanched. Boiled for just one minute. Then drained.

With a little Olive Oil on the bottom of the oven safe cooking dish (to prevent the salmon skin from sticking too much)

Place Salmon (which has been rinsed with water and patted dry with paper towel) on to the dish.

Scatter drained -Blanched Green Beans and raw tomatoes to the other end away from the fish.

Drizzle the Olive Oil over the vegetables and just a little over the Salmon.

Sprinkle ground Sea Salt over the entire dish.


Place in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for 10 minutes, or so depending on your oven.

This is what it looks like cooked.

I know this isn’t the best picture, but just wanted to show my portion.

 Served with a mixture of Brown and Red Rice – that I had never tried before (conveniently made the day before), called Volcano Rice.

“A colourful blend of prized traditional brown and red rice grown on West Java’s mineral-rich volcanic soil.”

And it only takes 30 minutes to cook, as opposed to the usual 50 minutes for regular brown Basamati, which is what I usually make.

I love this kind of meal. With basic ingredients, it is inexpensive, simple and quick to prepare. No excuses for not eating healthy fare.

Let me know if you try this recipe and how you customize it to suit your taste!


Darlene left this comment: “Very inspiring. But I do wonder… have you always been in shape?

It seems as though this would work best for people who are already fit and trying to look like you. What about those of us who are overweight? Should we lose the weight first?”

My Answer:

This IS how I believe people who are overweight can get themselves to a healthy weight. By being consistent with daily body maintenance. It takes time for the body to build strength, become flexible, develop agility and power. We can’t achieve it over a short period of time and then just stop and coast on our results. Starting from zero it took me one week of trying every single day to finally accomplish one chin up, and that was after about six months of consistent weight training. Now I can pull off five chin ups whenever I go past the bar. When I forget and don’t do them for a week, I’m back to square one. The strength gain is not permanent…you know, “use it or lose it”. It takes a lot of time to get fit and very little time to undo it. A little bit everyday is our insurance for a healthy and active life.
As we age, it’s not the dumbells we’ll have to pick up, it’s ourselves.

There has been so much emphasis on more being better over the years. People watching professional athletes who train for hours a day (which is just not possible for the average person, let alone parents). I know people who are overweight who struggle with running long distances or training like a triathlete, hoping to achieve the body type of said sport. What often happens is pain and injury to joints that are not physically conditioned for such activities. Then as a result of the long duration of these workouts, people get hungry and end up over-eating to satiate the furnace, which negates the calories burned in the first place! Followed by a decrease in Non-Exercise Activity (look for my article on N.E.A.T) for the rest of the day and possibly for the following day(s).

There is no quick fix. There is no magic plan. What there is, is Self-Discipline. Self-Discipline is born from being Consistent. Enter: Daily Body Maintenance. Every morning for the rest of our life we start with some daily exercise (which also helps to Get The Fuzz Out). The rest of the day we stay active = Active Living. This means take the stairs. Clean our home. Walk the dog. Do our chores. Fit in a more intense 4-12 minute HIIT workout and thorough body stretches. Once we stop living an active life and let others do our doing, well, there goes NEAT.

Once we let advertising and products convince us that there is an easier way, we’ve lost.

Remember one important point: Just because someone is not overweight, does not mean that they are healthy or fit. We are all made up so very differently, carry our body fat differently. I think we will be better off if we think less about how we actually look or what the scale says and put more emphasis on how we feel, what our body can do, how our skeleton functions and how we nourish ourselves. That’s what I mean when I say: I believe we will do ourselves a service if we focus less on the aesthetic and more on our body’s function.

And then Denise kindly reminded me that: “You never answered her question.”

Right, the question was: “But I do wonder… have you always been in shape?”

I realize now how important it is for people to know if I have struggled as they have. It’s a complicated answer from my perspective. Because everything is relative.

Though I have never been physically overweight, I have had periods when I have lost considerable amounts of muscle tone and strength and have had an increase in body fat. During the period after my first child was born, I lost all the pregnancy weight very quickly (people complimented me on that), BUT I was far from being healthy or fit. I could barely run a flight of stairs without becoming winded…this was not me and I was not flattered by those compliments. I would think to myself, that being thin without health and fitness meant nothing. From those compliments, I realized that it was more common to value one’s size, weight and shape rather than value one’s fitness and health. After my second child was born, the pregnancy weight came off fairly quickly but left a residue of excess body fat that I was not accustomed to. For the first time ever I had excess body fat over the waist of my low-rise jeans, and I had lost even more muscle tone. At the time, I didn’t care so much about it because I was more focused on producing healthy milk for my infant and I knew that once I stopped nursing I could focus once again on myself…little did I know that my job as a mother and parent was just beginning and the time I thought I’d have to focus on myself would not be what I imagined.

So the answer is no.

No, I haven’t always been in shape. And, no, I don’t know what it is like to be overweight. My actual weight was relatively stable but my form had shifted.

But it’s about perspective don’t you think? I have had my own share of struggles getting back to health and to a level of fitness that just keeps getting better with daily maintenance. You can read about my experience here.

And so with this in mind I thought it apropos to share the following blog. Fit2Fat2Fit: Super-fit Personal Trainer, Drew Manning decides to chronicle his experience with going from Fit to Fat then going back to Fit again. If you have a moment check it out. His doctor, Dr. Warren Willey has some profound words to share with respect to transitioning from being overweight and eating an unhealthy western diet:

“The body must heal from the damage done, then and only then will weight loss be significant and maintainable.”


The post below, is from Drew Manning’s, Fit2Fat2Fit site. The first photo is Drew Manning on May 7, 2011, the first day of his Fit 2 Fat quest. The second photo is him six months later (Nov. 7, 2011) having gained approximately seventy pounds. You’ll have to go to his site to see how he is now working towards becoming Fit again.


A Few Words from My Doctor, Dr. Warren Willey

Posted on November 4, 2011

Dr. Warren Willey was asked to say a few words about Drew Manning from

When I was first informed of Drew’s plan I had a mix of emotions. His altruistic goal of helping people via his example thrilled and excited me. His method, similar to that of a teacher playing in traffic to demonstrate the dangers to her students, did not. Needless to say, Drew is currently dodging traffic.

His journey has brought some valuable things to light:

  • First and foremost – even the healthiest, strongest, leanest, and fittest person is not immune to the effects of the classic western diet. Without regards to what crosses your lips and how much movement you do, you will suffer the effects of poor dietary habits and lack of exercise.
  • Second – it’s a process that does not take a lot of time. Look how he has changed in less than six months. In my medical weight loss practice I hear people claim the fact ‘the weight just came on’ or ‘I have gained thirty pounds in the last few months!’ followed quickly with finger pointing toward the recent development of a awful metabolic defect (thyroid or sex hormone problem to name but a few). Drew’s experience shows that it is usually not a medical condition, but a lifestyle condition.
  • Third – It will be interesting as to the speed of his recovery. If you have been following him, you will notice at first there was not much physical or outside changes apparent. In contrast to what was happening inside, one could likely not tell what he was doing. If we had the benefit of viewing the internal environment and the plethora of hurricanes he was creating, the story would have been very different. We are very aware that the internal organs, in particular the liver, take a beating from our diet. Chemicals, sweeteners, and preservatives in food play havoc long before the damage is apparent in our outward appearance (i.e. your fat!). His fat gain increased exponentially when the internal environment could not keep up.

An important lesson for all watching: correct, long lasting weight loss is a process. The body must heal from the damage done then and only then will weight loss be significant and maintainable. Quick weight loss plans do not do this, and that is why we have so many people excellent at dieting and losing weight, but even better at finding it again.

His healing from this will also take place in this order:

  • The internal environment will have to heal followed by the fat loss.
  • The liver needs to be repaired
  • The mitochondria (energy source of cells) will have to be restored to health for him to have the energy to exercise again.

It will be a slow process, but what you will likely notice is that once his internal body heals, the fat loss will be exponential just as the gain was.

An important lesson for all watching: correct, long lasting weight loss is a process. The body must heal from the damage done then and only then will weight loss be significant and maintainable. Quick weight loss plans do not do this, and that is why we have so many people excellent at dieting and losing weight, but even better at finding it again. Drew’s method of weight loss will be successful and permanent as he will start with repairing the damage done and then changing his body.

-Dr. Warren Willey

If you only have time to watch one video, watch the first one with Dr. Willey.

Here is one article, from the many articles written globally about Drew Manning’s journey. I chose to share this one in particular because there is some commentary from Drew’s wife, reflecting on his physical and psychological changes. “Personal Trainer Drew Manning Made Himself Obese To Understand What Being Fat Feels Like”.

Get The Fuzz Out

My friend Joanna, was at the Vancouver Yoga conference last weekend where she took a couple workshops with Leslie Kaminoff (author of Yoga Anatomy) and he showed Gil Hedley‘s, Ph.D., (founder of Integral Anatomy Productions, LLC, and Somanautics Workshops, Inc.) video “The Fuzz Speech” explaining why stretching is necessary for our body, perhaps an explanation you have never heard before. Outstanding!

Joanna told me about this video. I thought it might be a helpful addition to the fascia series I’ve been building on. Thank You, Joanna!

Warning: there are some images from a human cadaver which is helpful in understanding the topic. If you’re squeamish, close your eyes and just listen.

Here is a link to Gil Hedley’s YouTube Somanaut’s Channel.

Below, I have typed out Gil Hedley’s The Fuzz Speech, for those unable to view the video.

“Here’s the thing about the Fuzz: You can see it now, I’ll put it in [the video] over my voice.

The Fuzz yields to my fingertips. Sometimes I come across a stronger or thicker strand that doesn’t yield to my fingertips – that represents older fuzz sometimes, or maybe that represents the nerve. But each night when you go to sleep, the interfaces between your muscles grow ‘fuzz’, potentially – and in the morning when you wake up and stretch the fuzz melts; we melt the fuzz. That stiff feeling you have [in the morning] is the solidifying of your tissues, the sliding surfaces aren’t sliding anymore. There’s Fuzz growing in-between them.

You need to stretch.

Every cat in the world gets up in the morning and stretches its body and melts the fuzz in the same way that the fuzz melted when I passed my finger through it.

When you are moving it’s as if you are passing your finger through the fuzz, just like I did on the cadaver form here.

So you have to stretch and move and use your body; in order to melt that fuzz that is building up between the sliding surfaces of your musculature. The sliding surfaces, those shiny white surfaces, of the rectus femoris sliding against the vastus intermedialis. So, these sliding surfaces are all over your body and the fuzz is all over your body and as you move you melt the fuzz.

Now, what happens if you get an injury? Ah-ha! My Shoulder! [He grabs his shoulder] My shoulder is stiff now, I’m holding my shoulder. I go to bed, I wake up in the morning, I don’t stretch my shoulder – I’m afraid, it hurts. So, I’m wandering around like this, [demonstrates walking with his arm stuck to his side] – last nights fuzz doesn’t get melted. I go to bed; I sleep some more. Now I have two nights fuzz built up. Now, two nights fuzz is more fuzz than one nights’ fuzz. What if I have a weeks’ fuzz or a months’ fuzz? Now those fuzz fibres start lining up and intertwining and intertwangling and all of a sudden you have thicker fibres forming. You start to have an inhibition of the potential for movement there, It’s no longer simply a matter of going ooh-ahh stretch. Now you need some work. Now you might need to do a more systematic exploration of that place to restore the original movement that you lost; usually this is the case – we have a temporary injury then we restore movement but sometimes we call this ageing. The build up of fuzz amongst the sliding surfaces of our bodies so that our motions become limited, that limit cycles become introduced into our normal full range of motion and we start to walk around like this [he mimics frozen robotic movement]. We’re all fuzzed over, our bodies are literally solidifying. We’re reducing our range of motion in the individual areas of our body and over our entire body in general.

So, I believe that one of the great benefits of body work – whether it be massage or structural therapies or physical therapy or any kind of hands on therapy – These types of therapies introduce movement manually to tissues that have become fuzzed over through lack of movement, whether the lack of movement is because of an injury and a person is protecting that injury or because of personality expression. There was many years I just walked around like this: I was very still and monk like. So, then I became more dynamic in my personality when I realised what I was doing to myself and the kind of life that I wanted. So, you can grow fuzz by choice or by accident or whatever and yet here, now that you have heard the fuzz speech, you know that you can take responsibility for melting the fuzz and if there is too much fuzz in your body and it’s frozen up, you might want to seek help in order to introduce movement so that the new cycle is a little more movement and a little more movement and a little more movement instead of a little less movement and a little less movement and a little less movement.

Fuzz represents time. The easier it is for me to pass my finger through the fuzz, the less amount of time it’s been there. If I’ve got to whip out my scalpel, to dig my way through one otherwise sliding surface and another, you know that that’s been building up for a long time. So you can actually see time in fuzz.

That’s The Fuzz Speech.”

What If…? Part 2

This post is a continuation from What If Working Your Butt Off is Making it Bigger?

But before I get going I want to be clear that I do not have any illusions as to knowing anything. To borrow from the old adage: “The more I learn the less I know.”

Since high school I’ve carried with me this Shakespearean quote: “Any fool in error can find a passage of scripture to back him. I don’t know for sure, but I think it has been loosely adapted over the years from “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose,” from The Merchant of Venice. Disregard any biblical reference, just consider the ease with which one can support an argument regardless of right or wrong. It’s easy to ride on the shoulders of giants, whereas it takes much effort to come to one’s own conclusions. And yet how rigid we can become with some of those conclusions, much like how Earl F. Landgrebe famously said: “Don’t confuse me with the facts”, I’ve got my mind made up.

In the previous post I touched upon:

  • How complex our body is
  • What a healthy muscle is
  • The relationship between muscle and fascia
  • What fascia is
  • How dysfunctional movement patterning can negatively affect our skeletal structure
  • A personal example of how repetitive overuse muscular patterning caused my legs to bow

Wabi Sabi

We tend to take offense at the idea that our body might be dysfunctional; as if we were perfect, or rather, that in our state of imperfection we are perfect. From a confidence perspective I understand this…I have kids, I want them to know that they are great no matter what – their imperfections are accepted and they can do anything! What I am talking about here is factual based on anatomy and has NOTHING to do with how great each and everyone of us is. It is this Wabi-sabi which is what makes us who we are. This commentary is not an attempt to change that. Quite simply, I have a fascination with the mechanics of movement and when our structure is not in balance, it is often pain and dysfunction which is the end result. I think we can all agree that living with acute or chronic pain should be avoided – I hope to explain how we can help ourselves eliminate current pain and discomfort, avoid future pain and have a long life of functional movement. Does this make sense so far? No hurt feelings?

Ida Rolf

The more fascia is being understood, the more it is being talked about and studied in traditional massage therapy circles. Ida P. Rolf was one of the pioneers who studied the relationship fascia has on our body’s structural alignment, she called her work ‘Structural Integration.’ Over the years, however, students, practitioners and patients began referring to the work as ‘Rolfing’and by 1979 it became a registered trademark of the Rolf Institute. Many off-shoots from Rolfing exist today and as a result more and more research is being done. We benefit from this.

Similar techniques have names such as: KMI (Kinesis Myofascial Integration) which was developed by Thomas Myers and Wharton Performance Musculoskeletal Therapy,which is the work of Jim and Phil Wharton, their technique is called AIS (Active Isolated Stretching). There is also ART (Active Release Technique). There are so many others of equal merit, but just not enough time for me to reference them all, please feel free to add any in the comment section.

“Anatomy studies a projection of the static body, but function in the living requires more than static recognition.”- Ida P. Rolf

Structural Integration

The reason I have made reference to these techniques is that I want you to understand that this is a legitimate field of work. Oftentimes – for those outside of this circle – the idea of correcting one’s skeletal alignment or lessening chronic pain seems impossible without pain medication or surgery, which embody their own set of complications.

I’d like to finish with an explanation of why doing endless squats or leg lifts can be counter-productive should a persons muscles and fascia not be gliding properly. How the tissue can sometimes be so stuck that other muscle groups end up carrying the load, unbeknownst to the exerciser!  For example, when I would do squats or lunges: because my femurs were stuck in external rotation, my gluteus medius, TFL and hamstrings were taking on most of the workload (not to mention which stabilizing groups were not doing their job). My gluteus maximus was not firing as it should which was taking me more in the direction of the flat buttock syndrome, that is common among ageing women. As a result I noticed that my pelvis had expanded and the head of my femur was not articulating properly in its socket. I’d have clicking in my hip, an over tight ITB which affected my knee mechanics which affected how my lower leg and feet responded to movement. Which affected how my pelvis was balanced, which then affected my lower back on one side and so on…it has quite the domino effect. (Have your eyes started glazing yet?)

Since doing my 4 Minute Mornings (Week 3 – DAY 7) for the last 10 months straight, I have noticed a marked improvement in my pelvis, leg alignment and hip function. The short duration of the slow to moderately paced repetitive movement of bending down and reaching up has been physical therapy for these areas. It is very important to state that it is the short duration that makes the difference. My adductors and smaller supportive/ stabilizing internal pelvic muscles are being retrained when I do the bend down and reach up. I am engaging them to stabilize my femur in a parallel alignment. These weaker muscles can barely last for the four rounds. If I were to carry on longer than 4 minutes (thinking more is better) then I would do myself further disservice – these muscles can only take so much retraining at a time. These muscles need to rest but must be consistently retrained and challenged; hence, daily body maintenance.

I do the bend down and reach up movement with my feet together. I can’t say legs together, yet, because to actually make the sides of my knees connect takes tremendous effort. So rather than force what is not natural, I work with it in increments. I face the mirror and observe my alignment as I go. Every few months I have an A-Ha! moment whereby I notice an improvement, like my legs are actually looking straighter now, and it is becoming easier to keep my legs connected during the exercise, my pelvis is narrowing, my overdeveloped muscles are less developed and I notice a better more balanced muscular aesthetic as well as function. It’s very exciting! The less is more principle really works. Whoever coined that phrase forgot to mention that it’s in being consistent with less, which does the trick.

Also, for years my right leg has seemed just a fraction shorter than my left, (years ago my Pilates teacher pointed it out to me – I’m sure I took offense!). I notice it when I’m in Downward Dog, for example. As I’ve been working on my bend down and reach up exercise, while observing in the mirror I would notice (with irritation) how my right knee would absolutely not line up with the left -during the bend. Just the other morning when I engaged my adductors I made the connection…by reconnecting with my adductors and focusing on the deep muscles of the hip joint my knees levelled out for the first time and I could feel less pull on the usual overcompensating worker muscles. Understand that this was only possible because of the the last ten months of strict daily stretching and rolling out (generally ten minutes before bed) an RMT visit on average once per month and 20-30minutes of Yoga 1-3 times per week. The stretching homework sets the stage for me to be able to engage these underused muscles. Believe me, I’ve been trying to work these muscles for years, and thought I was…now I know the difference.

Now, when I walk, run or swim I can feel how my legs are aligning more fluidly. I can feel the fascia around my right hip and lower back releasing daily, as a result I can feel the domino effect of change affecting the lower leg compartment which is opening up my ankle joints. These changes to patterning don’t always feel wonderful, there can be a kind of dull ache as I work through tissue, but it is no where near the kind of discomfort that comes with pain and injury. There is still a lot of work to do, but to call it work is misleading, this is daily body maintenance.


What helps to keep my body functioning is a combination of:

  • Visiting my RMT every three to four weeks
  • Doing my homework stretches which include rolling out my muscles and fascia with my Travel Roller
  • Keep my workouts short but intense
  • Analyze my movement patterns
  • Continue to read my anatomy books

How can you help yourself?

  • Become more familiar with your anatomy.
  • Find an RMT, Physiotherapist, Chiropractor, Rolfer, Pilates teacher…anyone who you click with and can establish a working/ collaborative relationship -they are your body mechanic. You can work with many different practitioners, they won’t mind, the more experience you gain the easier you make their job and the better your results.
  • Learn which stretches are beneficial for your body, be it a combination of AIS, Yoga or other
  • Make sure that the stretches you are doing are NOT causing more of an imbalance
  • Start rolling out your body, visit: Travel Roller and view their Instructional Videos or Yamuna Body Rolling

Useful reference books:

“One of the biggest misnomers is that tight muscles are ‘strong’ and loose muscles are ‘weak.’

In actuality, the strongest muscle is one that is the perfect length.” – Katy Bowman

Check back for What If…? Part 3. I will explain some upper body mechanics…how too many downward dogs or push ups can give you a headache among other things.

What Is Visceral Fat?

Illustration of obesity and waist circumferenc...

Image via Wikipedia

After yesterdays post on “What Is A Wheat Belly?”, I received a few comments from readers wondering how they can be tested for the presence of visceral fat and how can they reduce the amount of it?

I just found this well written, clear and concise article from the Health Bulletin site.  They list a few options for testing visceral fat such as CT scans, bioelectrical impedance and circumference measurements. CT scans are expensive and put the patient at risk for unnecessary radiation especially when the circumference measurement test can be done at home, with a simple measuring tape.  When I was a fitness appraiser I did at least half a dozen waist-to-hip ratio tests per day.  Basically, if the ratio from the girth circumference measurement from your abdomen is larger than the girth circumference measurement from your hips (taken at the largest buttock protuberance) then consider yourself in the visceral fat category.  You can also take an honest look at yourself in the mirror to know where you’re at.

A word of caution: It is also possible for people to be “skinny-fat”.  I’ve seen many who’s body fat is so evenly spread over their body that they don’t have the typical body shape of someone who is overweight; they tend to ‘carry it well’ (at least in clothes).  I often see this in men who wear business suits.  The suit hides it and just makes them appear ‘solid’.  This is worrisome because they ‘get away’ with not exercising and eating recklessly because they don’t show an outward appearance of carrying excess fat (until the suit comes off!).

Check out the Health Bulletin site it has a lot of very useful information.

A word on BMI: BMI stands for Body Mass Index. Often doctors use this measurement to determine if a persons weight is acceptable for their height.  It has it’s draw backs and in our household this test is a laughing stock.  My husband, who at 5’9″ weighs in at 168 lbs. of solid muscle and at approximately 7% body fat –  according to the chart he is overweight.

So as with everything, one must do their homework and think through the process, beyond the numbers.

Full But Empty?

Food for Life distributes food on an internati...

A strange thing happened on the way to the cupboard…seriously.

I wrote the below commentary at BodyRockTv in response to a post in which a fellow BodyRocker had written about emotional eating.  I can’t say I’ve ever really been an emotional eater, I’ve been a big eater of the non-stop variety (just ask my friends), but the following is what came to mind.

Once I started to not only regimentally analyze what I chose to eat, but actually started to assess how those food choices made me feel, physically – in my gut and energy-wise, that’s when things really started to change for me.

I’ve attached a link to an interesting, short article for you to read, which in a nutshell talks about: how if the foods we choose don’t supply our body with the required nutrients for our system to function –  we keep on eating. The article is called: “More Food Doesn’t Necessarily Mean More Nutrition” byBrendan Brazier who is Vegan, though I don’t think we all have to be vegan to be healthy, (at least I’m not at that stage yet – don’t hold it against me), but I do believe that the information in the article applies to everyone as well as being helpful if we take a closer look at how and why we consume food.

“We are living in a very strange time, a time in which people who are overweight or obese can be (and most likely are) malnourished. Yet how can it be that a person who eats an inordinate volume of food can show signs of malnourishment? After all, isn’t food synonymous with nourishment?…”

At the beginning of Brendan Brazier’s article, he talks about how some people can wolf down a loaf of white bread for example, and still not feel satisfied.  I had a similar thing happen to me enough times that I can actually tell which foods trigger this empty nutrient reflex!

I found a new brand of chips made with lentils and adzuki beans (no potato), I thought awesome, looks totally healthy – I’ll give them a try.  Got home, ate the whole bag.  Felt terrible.  Next day went back to the store in search of the same chips.  Bought two.  Got home, ate one bag…COULD NOT STOP, then opened the second bag and only stopped half way because my husband showed up and with a worried look on his face asked, “are you going to eat that entire bag?” (not knowing I had already polished off the first!).

So then, feeling really lousy, and not just because I’d eaten a bag and half of what I thought were healthy chips, but because they just didn’t sit well in my gut.  That was when I was just beginning to consider the relationship with Blood type and beneficial foods; so I cracked open the Eat Right for Your Type book…interesting: Lentils – AVOID, adzuki beans – neutral and likely the oil used was on my avoid list too.

Since then I’ve noticed that when I eat the foods on my avoid list this kind of nutty, obsessive eating pattern takes over me.  And it truly feels, as the article writes that my body is not absorbing any usable nutrients, so I just overeat in a manic way to fill up.  It is very strange indeed.  It makes me wonder if there is a place for the possibility of this empty nutrient theory for those who THINK they are overeating as a result of emotions. Could very well be that the food choices are simply not doing what the food is supposed to be doing in the first place which causes this vicious cycle?

By the way, since I’ve been eating from this approach, I don’t overeat, I end up eating regular sized meals and feeling completely satisfied.  (Satisfied and feeling full are very different sensations and important to learn the difference -it does take practice!) However, I do have to eat more often, every 1.5-2.5 hours.  As a result, I have to be VERY organized and have healthy food prepared in the fridge otherwise the tendency is to go to the cupboard and grab whatever is there.

I just had to add this in…If you have read My Log you will have noticed that I like to have a square or two of good quality-high-cocoa-count chocolate, often daily!  Long story short, I came across another brand made from acceptable ingredients (according to my needs).  I devoured the first square.  A-MA-ZING chocolate.  I was ready to post about it – tell the world- you have got to try this – kind of post.  But then I went back to the cupboard and devoured a second and third piece.  That crazy eating feeling was coming back – I COULD NOT STOP.  Within a few hours the bar was gone!  That bar should have lasted a week had I only had two squares each day.  This was not a case of will power or emotional eating.  Whatever was going on in that chocolate had triggered something in me and I had lost any sense of sanity…really.  So, of course after a few days I hunted down the chocolate bar again. Bought two.  Maybe it was a fluke – I might have been pre-menstrual.  Surely I could control myself this time around. BOTH were gone within two days.  I decided I would never buy that bar again.  I’ve gone back to my previous chocolate which doesn’t make me crazy, but satisfies me…of which I can walk away – we have a good relationship.

Does this kind of thing happen to you?  Maybe it has nothing to do with emotional eating or will power, but rather how our body reacts to the food.  So if we don’t react well to something, accept it, and like The Most Interesting Man In The World says on Success: “Find out what it is in life that you don’t do well, and then don’t do that thing”.