All posts by Nathalie

Holding your breath to keep your mind from exploding?

Are you holding your breath again? It is that time of the year where everyone is trying to wrap up all of those loose ends and finish the year with some amazing accomplishments. At least so that it looks like it on paper, am I right? That together with very busy holiday plans tend to push a lot of people into high stress mode. Staying in this stressed mode, where the sympathetic nervous system is in charge (fight or flight) creates a lot of tension. If you don’t have a method for relieving some of that inner tension, you may feel like the pressure is about to make you explode.

In order to relieve some pressure and get out of the fight and flight mode, we need to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system. A really easy way to do that is to use your breath. By something as simple as taking 3 deep breaths, you can calm your over active nervous system and get it to relax. Breathe in through your nose, let your lungs fill up completely, and then slowly breathe out through your mouth.

Someone I know uses this technique every time she has to stop at a red light while driving. Instead of getting worked up about “loosing time” she uses it as an opportunity to work on her breath. It is such a simple thing to do, but it really can make a huge change to your day.

If you have a little more time, (maybe you are standing in line waiting to pay for your groceries), try to see if you can make it all the way up to 10 breaths, and then count backwards with each breath until you get back to 0. In my head it would sound something like this “one, I breathe in – one, I breathe out, two…”. You get the picture. Again, it is very simple, but oh so effective. This can be a great technique to try as well if you have problems falling asleep.

If you feel like trying a 2 minute super easy meditation, then check out this video with Andy Puddicombe.

 

I am also a big fan of meditation and this is one of my favorite apps. You can check out my previous blog about meditation right here.

In terms of nutrition you can help your nervous system by keeping your blood sugar as steady as possible. For example, when you eat sugar, quick carbs and drink caffeine, these things all stimulate your nervous system to be in the fight and flight mode. That makes it so much harder for us to relax. So, if you feel the pressure building up try to stay away from these processed sugary types of foods as much as possible, and focus on whole nutrient dense foods instead.

I know I talk a lot about hydration but it cannot be emphasized enough! Make sure that you properly hydrate, especially between all the extra holiday drinks. Your liver and body will thank you.

Doing some exercise is also a great idea. If you don’t have time for a full session, try to get some simple movement into your day, like walking. It doesn’t always have to be strenuous to be doing you some good.

Do what you can, when you can. Every little piece helps. Have a great weekend! 😉

 


Photo by Gabriel Matula, Ben White, Afonso Coutinho and Ethan Sykes on Unsplash



A Hamstring Quickie – Test, Smash and Stretch

It is winter time and for most of us that means a lot more time spent indoors. That usually means that we are sitting a lot more, and moving less. This can lead to tight hamstrings, which in turn can lead to back pain. Christmas also brings along a lot of traveling for plenty of people, so now is a good time to start some prevention work. Especially if you have a ski holiday coming up. Here are three very short videos on how you can test, smash and stretch your hamstrings. Your hamstring is a common name which includes these three muscles m.semimenbranosus, m.semitendinosus and m.biceps femoris.

What to think about when you do the hamstring test:
The leg that is on the ground should stay straight and in contact with the floor the whole time. The leg you are raising up should be straight at all times, no bending of the knee. When things are good you should get to at least 90 degrees without any problem. If not you have got some work to do.
Is there a big difference in flexibility in the two legs? Make sure you put in some extra work on the side that is less flexible. Asymmetry is harder for the body to deal with, as the side that moves a bit better has to compensate for the side that does not move well. The guys from MoveU are a little bit crazy, but they are energetic and to the point, and that I like!
*Unfortunately the videos from MoveU are currently not available on YouTube. I have added three different ones instead. As soon as the original ones are back I will post them here.

 

What to think about when you smash the hamstring:
The automatic reaction from the muscles when you try this is usually to tense up a bit. Therefore you may not “feel any tightness” right away. If this is so, take a couple of deep breaths and really let your leg sink into the ball. Once a bit more relaxed, start moving the leg in search of those tight spots. If you find yourself tensing up again, just go back to taking a few deep breaths, and then try again.

 

What to think about when you stretch the hamstring:
Try to keep the movement dynamic. Meaning, slowly move the leg from one position to the next (bend and straight the leg). From my experience the body seems to adapt quicker when we do it this way, and there is a lesser chance of overdoing it, rather than just holding a static stretch and pulling on the muscle.

Finish with a re-test to make sure that you did a good job, and have improved the flexibility of your hamstrings. If you do not have someone who can help measure your improvement, putting up some temporary marks on the wall with tape, can be a great visual.

If you are a runner, or on your way to your ski holiday, it is extra important to pay attention to a proper warm-up. Going straight from sitting into doing sports in cold weather will take a lot of extra effort from your body. This can be a killer for already tight hamstrings, as it takes longer for the body to heat up. A good warm up will significantly decrease your chances of getting injured. Here is a reminder of what a quick, good warm-up looks like.

Take care of your hamstrings, and they will take care of you.
Enjoy your weekend! 😉

 



Photo by Osman Rana, Asogqetti and  Natia Rukhadze on Unsplash

It’s 2am. Do you know what your liver is up to?

There is a rhythm to almost everything in life, and especially in our bodies. Knowing the rhythms of certain things can give us a lot of information. If we know what to look for that is. If we look closer at Traditional Chinese Medicine we find the Organ Clock, and it can help us getting some useful information.

Although the Organ Clock is not used in western medicine, “[Joseph] Takahashi and colleagues stated in a 2013 article that “almost every cell in the body contains a circadian clock. For example, these clocks, called peripheral oscillators, have been found in the adrenal gland, oesophagus, lungs, liver, pancreas, spleen, thymus, and skin.”[1]

So, what does the Organ Clock tell us? It shows us when different organs in the body are very active. For instance, a lot of organs are doing their “house cleaning” during the night when we are asleep. It’s the only time they are not frantically trying to accommodate our demands, and so they have some time to clean house and prepare for the next day. OK, so how can this help us?

Let’s take a look at the liver. According to the Organ Clock it is the most busy during 1-3am at night. (Assuming you go to bed around 10-11pm.) If things are running smooth in the liver, you will never notice that it is working at all. However, if the liver is a bit backed up from too much stuff it has to detox, (ex:pesticides, pollution, medication, hormones, alcohol) the cleaning process will not be smooth. You might wake up during this time at night and feel very warm, and not feel very well. The liver can raise body temperature quite a bit as it is trying to burn through our garbage. Maybe you know the feeling of having been out partying and waking up really hot and sweaty in the middle of the night. It most likely is your liver trying to get rid of all that alcohol.

So, if you find yourself waking up often at the same time at night, check out what the Organ Clock says. Which organ is the most busy at that time, and how do you think this could relate to you and your lifestyle? Start taking some notes, and see what you can learn from the information gathered. It is of course no precise medicine, but I have found it a very useful indicator on many occasions.

It’s 2 am. I know what my liver is up to. Do you know what yours is up to?
😉

P.S. Also, a BIG thanks to all of you who came and listened to my talk “Walk of Health”. It was a blast! For those of you who signed up, you will have the keynotes from the talk within the next few days.

 

 

 

 


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710582/

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm

Photo by Michael Discenza, Adi Goldstein and Jan Kahánek on Unsplash 

Hunger Pains? It’s more likely Thirst or a Food Sensitivity

-I’m hungry!
-Well, how do you know?
-I can feel it in my stomach.
-How can you be sure it’s hunger, and not pain from thirst or a food sensitivity?
-Say, what?

Certain types of signals are very closely related in how they feel  and it is very hard for us to tell the difference. Who has time to really figure out what the body is trying to tell us anyway, right? We would much rather just take an aspirin or ibuprofen and get on with it. Pain from hunger, thirst and food sensitivities all have very different meanings for the body, yet we are not tuned in enough to tell the difference.

From the movie Remember the Titans
“Pain is only bread in french”

If your body is telling you that you need more water, but you think that you are “hungry” and need more food, you are setting yourself up for failure. Why? The body needs about 10 liters of water in order to have proper digestion. Some of it will come from the food we just ingested but most of it will come from recycled sources of water from other areas of our body. If we were already a bit dehydrated from the beginning, we will be even more dehydrated after we have eaten. Now other areas of your body will have even less water for its functions, because its all needed in digestion. This is a very costly operation for your body, and it doesn’t like it. Did you know that as little as a 2% dehydration can give you these symptoms:

Fatigue, Anxiety, Irritability, Depression, Cravings, Cramps and Headaches.

So before you start snacking away, thinking that you are starving, ask yourself “does it seem reasonable that I should be this hungry at this time”? If not, have a big glass of water with a pinch of sea salt first and wait and see what happens to that “hunger” feeling. If it goes away it means your body is in need of more water.

A time to start suspecting that you may have some food intolerance or sensitivity is when it goes something like this: You have just had a plate of food, but your stomach “is telling you” that you are “still starving”, and you dig into another big plate. When you “feel hunger” midway through a meal it is possible that it is actually a pain signal from the gut. It is trying to tell you that it is sensitive to something in the food you are eating. For your gut it is like you are eating stinging jellyfish. Ouch!

Ask yourself, does it seem reasonable that I am feeling “this hungry” even though I already had a plate of food? Why not note down what you ate, and if it was at a restaurant, which one. With this information, see if you can compile a pattern of when you get “hunger pains” like this. It can give you some very valuable clues as to what could be irritating and hurting your gut. These are the most common offenders:

Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Corn, Soy, Nitrates, Peanuts, Sesame, Sulfites, Fish/Shellfish, Tree Nuts.

If it seems to you that you are “feeling hungry” too often, check out your hydration situation and make sure you have figured out your own Hydration Formula. If the hunger pains happens during a meal, be very suspect of food sensitivities and start your detective work to figure out what it can be.

Have a great weekend!
😉

 

For those of you in Luxembourg, I hope to see you on Tuesday evening at 19:00! We will continue to look at the different messages our body is sending us, and how to interpret them.

 


Cure Your Child With Food by Kelly Dorfman

Book

Your Body’s Many Cries For Water by F.Batmanghelidj

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/wellness/2002/06/25/the-hunger-a-food-allergy-mystery/3eaaf113-e22d-459d-a854-c0728e8a7079/?utm_term=.817bcda29ce9

The Symptoms Of A Potential Food Intolerance

Photo by Jordan Whitt, Jonathan Perez, Sam Burriss, rawpixel.com and Sam Burriss on Unsplash

The benefits of heat. Get in the Sauna! – Part 2.

Very recently I wrote about the benefits to the Nervous System of using the Sauna. I just came across this podcast with more reasons of why getting into the Sauna is really beneficial for you.

How about improving cardiovascular disease, or positively impacting depression for up to 6 weeks with just one sauna session? Read about that study here.

Dr. Rhonda Patrick Ph.D. who is an expert on nutritional health, brain, cancer and aging has done a podcast on the theme, and I find the information in it very interesting.  You can download it and listen to it here or watch it below.

Enjoy your weekend and hopefully a session in the Sauna 😉


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27172277
https://www.foundmyfitness.com/

Are you chewing your Omega-3 capsules?

Has anybody ever asked you this question before? They should have, because it is a question that is very important. If you are not chewing your Omega-3 capsules you had better start right away. But first, let’s back up a little. Why do we need omega-3 in the first place?

Essential Fatty Acids or EFA’s, are fats that are essential to our body, and that we are not able to make ourselves from other nutrients. That means that we have to eat them.  One of the most important functions of EFA’s in the body is to make sure that the cell-membranes are strong and can correctly do its job. We need fatty acids all the time since we are constantly building new cells, especially when we are still growing. When the cell-membrane is weak all sorts of things will go wrong, because the cells are the building blocks for everything. Depending on what type of cell has been weakened, for instance a nerve cell or immune cell, it will show up in different ways.

Musculoskeletal issues
Endocrine issues
Cardiovascular issues
Immune issues
Allergies, Skin problems
Depression

Because we are typically eating too many processed “bad fats” and not enough of the good ones (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, seed oil), we are currently in a state of deficiency. Even though we have so much food in the the western societies “Healthy Fatty Acid deficiency is an epidemic”. [1]

Linoleic Acid, known as Omega-6, and Alpha-Linoleic Acid, known as Omega-3 are essential to us. Typically we will have higher levels of Omega-6 in our bodies as they are more common in our diet, but we tend to be low on the Omega-3, hence the supplementation. For a whole food source of Omega-3, you can use Flaxseed, Flaxseed oil, Hemp seed and Walnuts.

A sign that you have very low levels of Fatty Acid’s in your body, is a permanent dry, scaly and bumpy skin, like chicken skin, usually starting on the back of your upper arms.[2]

Now, if you swallow a capsule whole, chances are very big that the capsule will not open in the stomach where it needs to open. Instead, it will continue into the small intestine and open up there. This is a problem, because the small intestine does not have the tools to take care of large fat molecules. The acid in the stomach is supposed to start that process. So, now we have large fat molecules hanging out in the small intestine. This irritates the lining of the intestine and can lead to leaky gut. And because the fat isn’t broken down properly in the right place, we will miss out on all the nutrients we are trying to add.

So, it is possible that you could have been supplementing with fatty acids for a really long time, but still not seeing any results. Talk about throwing your money in the gutter!

The solution is simple. If you are taking capsules, make sure you chew them open before swallowing. That way the stomach acid can do its job and break down the fat into tiny molecules. The taste isn’t always amazing…I suggest taking a sip of water and then just eat a bite of food right away. That way it should be no big deal.

 

Give digestion a chance to do its thing – chew your Omega-3 capsules!
😉

 

 


[1] NTA, NTC, Education Module 6, Fatty Acids
[2] Cure Your Child With Food, Kelly Dorfman, Chapter 6, A Case of Chicken Skin.
Photo by Alex Guillaume and Mira Bozhko on Unsplash

Your Nervous System Wants You in the Sauna

If you are living in the Northern Hemisphere, winter has most likely arrived or is just lurking around the corner. The colder it gets outside, the more one tends to think about being warm. Going to the Sauna is a great idea at this time of the year. Actually going to the Sauna is good for us all year round, but in the summer time we tend to do more activities that makes us sweat, and as we do less of this in the winter – going to the Sauna can help us out.

When we are working out we are in action mode and our sympathetic nervous system, the “fight or flight” system, is responsible for keeping us ready for anything. Sweating in this state is good for us as it cools down the body, and it will also help detoxify our bodies.

When we are relaxed and sitting still, it is the parasympathetic nervous system , aka the “rest and digest” system, that keeps us calm and relaxed. Sweating in this state is very different for our body than when we are in action or under stress, and it can help reset our nervous system.

Being able to positively influence our nervous system is something that is very beneficial to us. Typically we spend way too much of our time in the “fight and flight” mode, from stress, sugary foods and stimulants such as caffeine. The Adrenal Glands have many different functions, with one of them being the production of “adrenaline and noradrenaline, which function to produce a rapid response throughout the body in stress situations”.[1] When we are in this “fight and flight” mode for long periods of time it starts to wear out the Adrenal Glands, and other systems get over burdened as well. We commonly know this as being “burned out”.

Sweating in the Sauna while relaxing can help reset the nervous system, and give our bodies and especially the Adrenal glands a much needed break. And, we also get the beneficial detox happening at the same time. What’s not to like?

Don’t forget…
Make sure that you are properly hydrated before going to the Sauna, as well as during.  You will put an enormous burden on your body if you start out slightly dehydrated, and it will likely do you more damage than good. If you haven’t been for a while, remember to start out gently, and slowly increase your efforts to give the body time to adapt.

Enjoy the Sauna and a nervous system reset! 😉

 

 


[1] Melmed, S; Polonsky, KS; Larsen, PR; Kronenberg, HM (2011). Williams Textbook of Endocrinology (12th ed.). Saunders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23859414

https://www.drlam.com/blog/heat-therapy-afs/2525/

Photo by Joshua Newton. Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash

28 Nov in Luxembourg -Save the Date!

I have been asked to hold a presentation by “Friskis and Svettis” here in Luxembourg, and the good news is that it is open to everyone! So save the date and come on over! What is it all about? Check out below and look here for more information.

“The Walk of Health”
Are you frustrated because you are doing everything right from training to diet, but you don’t get the results that you want, and/or you are still in pain?
There is a huge orange zone between being healthy and being diagnosed with disease.
Join Nathalie in this active talk where we will go through “the walk of health” to find out how improper digestion impacts every aspect of your health, from fatty acid deficiency to shoulder pain.
Simply put, you cannot out-train a shitty diet or a poor digestion. Learn to recognize the clues that tells us when something is wrong, and what to do about it.

 

Day: Tuesday the 28th of November
Time: 19.00
Where: in Limpertsberg
Language: English
Address:  École Français (EF), 188 av de la Faîencerie, L-1511 Luxembourg
Cost: €10.- which also includes the Flex class starting at 20.00.

Hope to see you there! 🙂


Working Out After Sports Massage – Yay or Nay?

Every couple of weeks or so I get the question -Can I work out after a sports massage? Of course you can, but should you? My suggestion is don’t do it, because the body cannot do two things at once.

 -Can I work out after a sports massage? 

If you remember from one of my earlier posts, I was talking about why you often feel tired after a deep sports massage. It is because the deep massage helps the body to start its own cleaning and healing process. If you go and work out later that day, that cleaning process will stop. Instead, the body is now focusing on supplying oxygen and glucose to the muscles so you can do your training. Typically you will feel very tired and sluggish if you choose to work out after a deep tissue massage. It’s because the body has to switch from repairing mode to action.

If you feel like you absolutely have to do some type of training the same day, keep it light and short. Think of it more like active recovery than actual training. Do something like a short easy bike ride or go for an easy walk with a friend.

What about exercising before a sports massage on the same day? I would say that it’s ideal. It is a great way to get rid of the extra lactic acid that have been built up during the training, and get the blood circulating. It will speed up your recovery a lot and leave your body recovered and better able to adapt to the following training session.

But what about pro athletes, don’t they get massages all the time? Well, yes and no. It all depends on when and what kind of a massage. For instance when I work with tennis players they might need some massage to warm up a tight and tired shoulder before a match. That’s very different from a deep tissue massage, which they would have after the match. The goal before the match is just to warm up the muscles, which means that the time spent on that area is shorter and the intensity is lower.

If it was me, I would not do any training after a sports massage. If you have never had a deep sports massage before, or it was a long time since your last session I would even suggest taking 2 days off, with just some very light active recovery work on the second day. Give the body some time to adapt.

Enjoy your weekend! 😉

 


Photo by Braden Collum, David Marcu, Christopher Burns, on Unsplash

 

Are Your Core Values on Rinse, Wash, Repeat?

You have probably read about the importance of core values, both for business and in your personal life. Maybe you have even done a workshop on the topic. Identifying your core values is one thing. But, what are you doing on a daily basis to put them into action, so that your core values will truly become a part of you?

“What are you doing on a daily basis to put them into action, so that your core values will truly become a part of you?”

For most people I think we get stuck at the slogan version, “have integrity” “be kind” “work hard” and so on.  The slogan version both sounds and looks good. But, it doesn’t say anything about how to implement that value on a daily basis. If you don’t have a clear daily map to guide you, how will you ever get to where you want to go? The difference is thinking that the top of the mountain probably looks good, compared to making it all the way up the mountain and enjoying the actual view. I think this key component is missed by most of us.

-Are you stuck at the “Slogan version”?

Excellent coaches are hard to come by, and I am always very happy when I find one that I think is worth listening to. Ben Bergeron belongs in that group, and I hope that this podcast will make you think about your core values and most importantly – how to implement them into daily actions. Even a small action put on rinse, wash, repeat will make a big impact given enough time.

Here is the link to the 30min podcast if you want to download it: Living Based on Core Values by Chasing Excellence.

And if your prefer to watch, here is the video of the podcast.

 

Have fun chasing excellence this weekend! 😉