All posts by Nathalie

The streamlined warm-up that’s right on target!

And it can also can be done anywhere.

It is spring time, the weather is nice and the hours of daylight are longer. A lot of people find this time very motivating and suddenly I see a lot more people outside jogging and running. This is really great! However, within a few weeks I usually see a lot more people in my practice coming to see me for help due to running problems.

Pain associated with running can come from a lot of different reasons, such as tight hipflexors from too much sitting. Poor running technique putting too much pressure on the knees and ankles could also be a reason. Too much too soon, just increasing the kilometers in too short of a time, and not letting the body adapt is also a common mistake.

But, one of the main problems that I see, and I get this confirmed when talking to clients, is that there is no warm up and cool down. The reasons being as what I’m told: there just isn’t time for that, I don’t really need it, I warm up while I run…

“Flexibility is crucial to my fitness. Incorporating a good warm-up and cool-down into every session decreases my chances of injury.” -Samantha Stosur, pro-tennis player

Do yourselves a HUGE favor and take the time and get warmed up before running or taking part in any kind of exercise. This is just a few minutes spent prepping your body for what’s about to come and getting to areas that you might not get to while running, like your hips. This is not “extra” time, this is something that should be included in your exercise time frame every time. You might have been able to get away with it in the past, but it is just a matter of time before it catches up to you, so why not stay ahead of the game and create  a good work-out routine that includes a warm-up.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
-Benjamin Franklin

A good warm-up prepares the body for what’s coming. Your nerves get stimulated which means that your reactions will be quicker, and the dynamic movements increase the blood flow getting the body ready for action. Movement and warming up in different planes than just running keeps your body more flexible and less injury prone.

Below is a very streamlined warm up from The Run Experience, but it’s right on target and actually gets something done. I really like this combination and use it pretty much daily no matter what type of workout I’m doing. Do this dynamically before your workout, inside or out, and you can even slow it down a little and use as a cool down. Going one step further you should add something for your upper body as well but as we are keeping it very minimalistic, for now start with this.

After a couple of minutes of running I also like to add some lateral jumps into my routine. So if I was running forward I would turn to one side and jump sideways roughly 10 times in the same direction as I was already going in, then turn to my other side and do the same thing. This is a great way to get some more hip movement into the early part of your running routine, and increase body readiness.

A warm up should always be a part of your training. No excuses! 😉

 


Warm up and cool down info  https://youtu.be/zMReVEkdEnI

http://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/injury-prevention/warming-up.html

 

 

Eat your brain into better wellth*

Last week we talked about looking at calories in vs calories out compared to what foods you actually eat, and how that affects your weight. Now let’s take this one step further. What if the food you are feeding yourself and your family is either creating a healthy brain or an unhealthy brain? Did you know that it could be as easy as changing what you eat? That’s some very powerful stuff. Wouldn’t you like to know more about that?

“To me the message is clear, that a well nourished body and brain is better able to withstand ongoing stress and recover from illness” – Julia Rucklidge [1]

And what about the people who are suffering from depression and are on anti-depressant medication? At present it is way too common that people are taking anti-depressants, and talking to your doctor about your nutrition is not standard practice prior to getting medication. What about kids with autism and ADHD, could nutrition help them as well? There are studies showing [2]that kids with ADHD are worse off long term, than kids that never got any medication in the first place. Scary! This TED talk is very inspiring and shines the light on the very important role that nutrition plays in a happy and healthy brain.

We need to think about how our food does not simply makes us shrink or go fat, but how the food we choose, our cellular building blocks so to speak, also helps create a healthy or unhealthy brain. DocCheck also writes an article on the subject, check it out here.[3]

In a nutshell, eat lots of veggies, healthy fats, lean meats and cut out all sugars and processed foods.

Check out the video and help spread the word, as this is a very important message and it cannot be shared too often. You are able to influence your brain and wellth* long term by the food choices that you make today and everyday.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates

 

 


[1] The surprisingly dramatic role of nutrition in mental health with Julia Rucklidge at TEDxChristchurch https://youtu.be/3dqXHHCc5lA

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3063150/

[3] http://news.doccheck.com/en/6076/depression-you-are-what-you-eat/

http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y

Excellent reading: Cure your child with food by Kelly Dorfman    www.kellydorfman.com

*wellth: noun | \welth\ A new and more valuable life currency
: a life exemplified by abundance, happiness, purpose, health, and joy. http://wellth.mindbodygreen.com/

 

Calories in equals calories out, right?!

As long as I can remember I have been told that at the end of the day it is just simple math, calories in equals calories out. So, if you want to loose weight all you have to do is make sure that either you consume less calories, or burn more. This sounds fairly simple as an idea, but why doesn’t it work for everyone if that’s all there is too it? Yes, yes there might be some genetics playing a role but we cannot all be genetically challenged right? I know plenty of people who continuously eat very few calories, are always hungry, they exercise quite a lot and still they cannot loose any weight. Why is it like that?

I recently read “Why we get fat, and what to do about it” by Gary Taubes, and found it a very compelling read on the topic so I wanted to share it with you. In his book, Gary basically says to get rid of all carbohydrates. Based on his research he is suggesting that your diet should be based on mainly protein, fat, and non-starchy veggies. He also says that when it comes to weight-loss, exercise is not the key, nutrition is.

You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.”  – Dr Mark Hyman

Dr Hyman and Gary are not the only ones to agree on this. So, if we assume this to be true, then we have to look at nutrition.

Calories are merely a measure of the energy content of the food we eat. They can be valuable for calculating the energy content of a meal or the nutrients in it – the carbohydrates, fat, and protein. But when it comes to regulating our weight, what we need to care about is the effect those nutrients have on the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue.” [1]

Coming from an athletic background where I was constantly eating carbohydrates in all shapes and forms like bars, sports drinks and not to mention the pasta, talking about removing all the carbs felt very weird. Could that really work? But then I started to think about the reasons why I ate the carb heavy diet as an athlete. Was it because of the research I had read? Or because of the different diets that I had tried and I preferred that one? No, it was just because that was what I had been told and that was what everyone else was doing.

But, if my body didn’t have carbs to burn for sports, where would it get the energy? I need carbs for that, right? I decided to keep reading the book with an open mind and see if Gary’s arguments were strong enough to intrigue me.

I found his writing about how carbs stimulate the insulin production and what happens to our bodies when we produce too much insulin over time, and how that leads to the connection of fat accumulation to be really interesting.

Because the insulin level in the bloodstream is determined primarily by the carbohydrates that are being consumed – their quantity and quality … – it’s those carbohydrates that ultimately determine how much fat we accumulate. “ [2]

Gary also explains how “... carbohydrates cause obesity and that abstinence from starches, flour, and sugars is the obvious method of cure and prevention.” [3] He also brings up some very interesting and thought provoking points about overeating. He says, The third Law of Adiposity states “We don’t get fat because we overeat; we overeat because we’re getting fat.” [4]

I completely agree with him that all calories are not equal, because different foods will signal our hormonal system in different ways. Some calories will also feed the bad gut micro-biome whereas others won’t. To think that you can go for an hour run, and then eat cookies, sweets, pizza etc. and think that your body will not be impacted by that at all, other then in pure calories in – calories out, is quite naive. I mean would you ever give a kid a candy bar just before bed? Do you want a little energizer bunny just before sleep time? Do you think the same would happen if the kid had a bowl of broccoli instead? So if we can agree that all calories are not created equal and that they do carry with them different messages into our bodies, wouldn’t you like to find out more about how that works?

If you always do what you‘ve always done, you will always get what you‘ve always got. -Albert Einstein

What I really like about this book is how well written and researched it is. It is easy enough to follow along even if you are not that much into science, but it has enough detail if you, like me, like to know how he backs up his arguments in more scientific detail. This is actually a shorter version of the book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” so if you want to really get into depth about these topics start there.

If you are someone who is interested in the food you eat, someone who has tried to loose weight by calorie restriction or amping up the exercise, or someone who is dealing with heart issues, metabolic syndrome or diabetes then this book is most definitely for you.

I suggest you read the book, challenge your current mindset and see where you land. I know that I will be making some changes to try them out and see how I go.  🙂

Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are.
-Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

 


Resources

[1][2][3][4]Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat page p.219, p.122, p.149, p.99

Article “Why do we get fat”
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-taubes-why-we-get-fat-20160511-story.html

http://garytaubes.com/works/books/why-we-get-fat/

www.drhyman.com

Pillow talk – what’s your angle?

Imagine that you are standing up and looking straight ahead. Now turn your head 90 degrees as if you were to look over your shoulder. From there, tilt your head backwards. Here is a question for you, if you were to hold that position for about 7 hours, do you think that it would impact how your neck feels? I am confident that your answer is yes! Well, what if I were to tell you that when you are sleeping on your stomach this is the very position that your neck is in, which isn’t exactly great, so let’s see if we can improve on that.

In the previous post we learned about the best position for standing up. What is really interesting about that, is that to work on our posture standing up, we started with an exercise laying down. Huh, so does that mean that I can improve on my standing position while sleeping? I believe you can – which is pretty exciting news, I think. The key thing in the exercise was to keep the spine neutral. When we lay down we actually do this automatically, until we introduce the pillow.

“I realized that my ever-present pillow was, in fact, preventing the very motion of my neck I was practicing during my “stretch time.” -Katy Bowman [1]

When using a pillow, it puts our spine at an angle, like in the example above, or for the people sleeping on their backs, it moves their head much closer to their chest, which looks almost identical to the poor posture that many of us will be in while texting on the phone for instance. Using a pillow  just reinforces that same bad posture.

So why do we use a pillow?
It feels good because it allows us to stay within our limited range of motion. Take away the pillow and it is immediately obvious where our restrictions lie after a little while. We have gotten so lazy and stiff in our bodies that we are unable to conform to any surface unless it has thick, soft cushioning. And just because so many people are stiff in their necks we think that it is common to have this problem and we blame the poor pillow. Remember, common does not equal normal.

Animals and young children sleep in all sorts of weird positions, yet you never hear or see them complain about neck pain. Why? Because they are still very flexible in their bodies and can easily conform to different situations. Over time though as we get more and more rigid in our bodies we loose this fine suppleness, and that is when the problems starts to add up.

“Just as constant shoe-wearing and flat, unvarying terrain have left you with poor foot mobility and strength, always sleeping on something flat and squishy has altered the mobility and sensitivity of your parts. The joint-alterations required for ground-sleeping are natural and they’re currently under used. Your muscles are simply out of (sleep) shape.” -Katy Bowman [2]

About a year and a half ago I came across the book Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman where she talks about this. Your pillow is an orthotic is also a great article on the subject. Her solution was to get rid of the pillow, which really intrigued me, and so I decided to test her thesis. As per her recommendation I gradually reduced the height of my pillow, until I felt comfortable daring to give it up completely. The first days without a pillow felt weird, I mean I had been building up this habit my entire lifetime, but the cool thing was that my neck felt so much better. My range of motion improved with time, and that simply from sleeping. Genius!

All in all, it probably took me anout 3 months to get completely comfortable without a pillow. Sleeping on my side without a pillow took even a little longer to get used too, but these days I do not even think about it anymore. The best part? No more complaining about the bad pillows while staying in hotels. Whoop, whoop!

“Adaptation, people. Your body is the result of what you have done. Want a different body? Do something different.” - Katy Bowman [3]

When did we become so rigid and stiff in our bodies that we decided to blame the super soft pillow for being at the root cause of our neck problems? Stop for a moment and THINK about that.
Clients are often asking me which type of pillow I think is the best and they are often willing to spend a lot of money on one too. My advice would be this, invest that time and money in you instead. Work towards becoming more flexible and supple in your body, and start by (gradually) getting rid of your pillow.

What’s my angle?
Improving my neck and spine health while sleeping  😉
What’s yours?

 

 


Resources

[1] Katy Bowman Move Your DNA, release your Pillow p.155

[2] [3] https://nutritiousmovement.com/your-pillow-is-an-orthotic/

 

Is your phone crushing your neural highways?

Lets talk about the importance of spinal integrity because it can literally make or break you. If you imagine the brain as a big ball, and then connect a long tube to it, which would represent the spine and the spinal chord inside the tube, it is very important to keep the tube in a fairly straight line coming from the ball. Why is that?

If you pinch the tube, you will compromise the information flowing inside it, and over a longer period of time that pinching on the tube can cause irritation and inflammation. This is not something that you want happening close to your brain or anywhere along your spinal chord.

It would be like your nerve highway from the brain has been crushed into a tiny gravel road, but you are trying to get the same amount of traffic through anyway. There will be complications, accidents and traffic jams, and why would you choose that?

Nervous tissue (nerves) cannot stretch. It can only glide in the neural tubes, so we do not have as much playroom there like with muscle tissue. This is important to know because a relative small movement, which may not seem as much, like dropping your head down and staring at your phone, puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the nervous tissue.

Also when the tube is being pinched like that, a lot of signals never reach their destination, and in our  body this causes instability. That instability is not good, and the body tries to compensate with other muscle groups. These muscle groups are not supposed to do extra work in that area and so they will not be as sufficient or strong in the task, meaning that you will loose power. That instability will also increase your risk of injury, which is especially important in sports.

If you are doing a squat with a heavy load on your back, and you are pinching your spinal tube , usually by raising your head up high in the middle of the movement, you are compromising your spinal integrity, leaving performance on the table as you loose power and are setting yourself up for some potential serious injury right then or further down the road.

Do you think you are safe because you are not lifting any heavy weights? Well, the exact same neck position is seen on almost every desk-jockey in the office, and most likely you are one of them, so this is equally important for you too!

“Walk into any office building and you will likely see the majority of the workers sitting at their desks with their backs rounded forward, their shoulders caved in, and their heads hanging in front of their bodies…all of them looking as though they are suffering from advanced stages of osteoporosis, depression, and old age.” -Dr. Kelly Starrett [1]

Here is some more information from Dr. Kelly Starrett on Spinal Integrity

 

Last week we also talked about how sitting in a hunched over position like when you are staring at your phone actually will make you feel more sad. Now you can add future neck injury and loss of spinal integrity to that. In Sweden there is even a word for it, it’s called “paddnacke”[2] and can be translated to “Ipad neck” which has caused a lot of worrying in recent years as this issue is seen in younger and younger kids.

So, how should we stand properly without loosing integrity of our spine? In the book Deskbound [3] we are being taught how to stand up by first lying down, which is a really great exercise.

  1. That’s right, you want to lie down on the floor, face up, with the palms of your hands facing the ceiling, which aligns your spine and head in a neutral position.
  2. Now you want to tighten your glutes (butt muscles), which automatically rotates your pelvis (hips) into a neutral position.
  3. Thanks to gravity, your rib cage, shoulders and head will be well aligned as well.
  4. If you are unable to lie in this position or your shoulders and/or hands are not touching the floor, it is a strong indicator that you have very poor range of motion and your movement patterns have been compromised. If this is the case you need to start working on that immediately! Mobility 1-on-1 can help you with this.
Roger Frampton gives us a great TEDx talk about the spine and shows us easy adaptable advice on how to stand in the below video. I strongly suggest you watch the whole video, but if you are very short on time jump to the 11:00 mark for the “how to stand” advice.

 

What about standing and using your phone? This short video shows you what to do.

 

In this clip Dr. Kelly shows us a bit more about how to deal with the phone and computer in “Slow Death by Texting”.

Compromising your spinal integrity is very easily done in today’s sitting world with desk-jockeys, smartphones, and even having lost the knowledge of how to stand properly, and it comes at a very dire cost. Learn to see the signs right away and retrain your posture to take care of your spine so that the nerves can do their job without interference, keeping you strong and injury free.

Don’t smash your nerves onto gravel road, keep those highways open and running. 🙂

 


Resources

[1] Deskbound by Dr. Kelly Starrett, page 40

[2] Vi surfar oss till paddnacke

http://www.minnatunberger.se/ref/6c34f0c08e0b37190ed140e1d9c434db.pdf

[3] Deskbound by Dr. Kelly Starrett, page 64,65

 

Wonder Woman will land you your next job!

Can standing properly really make you happier? Can sitting in a lousy position make you feel more sad and depressed? And how can Wonder Woman really help you land your next job?

First off, think of someone who is really, really sad. In what kind of posture are they? There might be some small variables, but I am confident that the picture that you have in your mind looks something like the following. They are hunched over and are making themselves small, and the head is bent down. We all know this posture because we have all been feeling sad at one time or another.

Now I would like you to think of someone who is happy and feeling great. What do they look like? I am sure that they will stand tall with an open chest, maybe even have their arms raised above their head in a winning position. We all know this feeling too, and how good it feels.

So the questions is then, if when I feel sad I curl up into a little ball, and when I feel great I stand really tall, is the opposite also true? Meaning, if I curl up into a little ball, will that make me feel more sad, and if I stand really tall will that make me feel happier?

Amy Cuddy, a social psychology professor from Princeton [1] did a study on exactly this topic and this is what she found.

Your posture enforces chemical balance or imbalance of the hormones cortisol and testosterone in the body. Cortisol is known as our stress-hormone and too much of it makes us really nervous and stress-reactive. Testosterone is the dominance hormone which makes us more confident, and yes women have it too. The ideal combination is high testosterone and low cortisol, because that makes a strong, calm, confident leader that makes decisions without being stress-reactive.

Your body language will really change who you are and how other people view you. The two poses that were used in the research study [3] was the low power-pose and the high power-pose. Sitting in a slouched, small (sad) position for just 2 minutes made an increase in cortisol, and a decrease in testosterone. Standing in a high power-pose aka the Wonder Woman pose for just 2 minutes made the levels of testosterone increase and the cortisol levels decrease.

When our levels of cortisol is lower in combination of higher levels of testosterone we come across as calm, confident, comfortable and authentic, which makes us more hire-able.

“Expanding your body language—through posture, movement, and speech—makes you feel more confident and powerful, less anxious and self-absorbed, and generally more positive.” ― Amy Cuddy, [2]

Ok, sounds good to me, so how do I do this? Simple, use a high power-pose like the Wonder Woman for 2 minutes before an important meeting or exam and try to add times during the day when you are power-posing without thinking about it, like when you are using a stand up desk. If you do have to sit, sit as tall as possible with an open chest and don’t slouch.

Think about it, if only 2 minutes of power-posing was enough to measure a hormonal change in your body, what do you think happens when you sit in a slouched (sad) position for hours and hours on end? I think that it is really worth thinking about as our daily habits have a huge effect over a long period of time. I don’t know about you but I am definitely power-posing before my next meeting! Put the odds in your favor before your next big thing and watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk below, and why not try a power-pose at the same time?

Wonder Woman will help you get that job! 😉

 

 


Resources

[1] More on Amy Cuddy  http://www.amycuddy.com

[2] Amy Cuddy, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

[3] The Benefit of Power Posing Before a High-Stakes Social Evaluation https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/9547823/13-027.pdf?sequence=1

Are you in the driver’s seat? It’s time to figure it out.

The words you use put you either in the driver’s seat or in the passenger seat of your life. Now, where would you rather be?

This post connects to last weeks where I was talking about meditation and the power of the mind. So, lets look at some specific examples of how you can shape your brain by using your words wisely [1] and why you should. When you say “I have to…” or “I must…” you put yourself into a state of being in the passenger seat. Here you have no say or control of the matter, because you just “have to”. There is no available choice there. Not to mention what happens when we are talking negatively about ourselves saying things like “I’m so stupid”, “I don’t deserve…” or “I’m not good enough”.

“Any form of negative rumination—for example, worrying about your financial future or health—will stimulate the release of destructive neurochemicals.” -Andrew Newberg

Neuroscientist Caroline Leaf talks about how when we feel physical pain a certain part of the brain will be activated, which can be measured. This same part of the brain will be activated when you are talking negatively to yourself![1] If we continue to stimulate this part of the brain, we make it easier to feel pain simply from the words that we use, because a main pathway (between words and pain) is continuously being developed. That is why it is so important to look at the small things in life that we do continuously, as they often are more disruptive long-term than any one big mishap.

“Via self-talk we give our mind instructions on what we expect of ourselves and so behave accordingly. Change the instructions and we change the outcomes.” -Sam Owen [3]

Actually, if you think about it there are very few things in life that we have to do. We have to drink water and eat food and that’s about it. We do not even have to breathe, I mean yes we do, but this is something that the autonomic system in the brain controls, it is not something that we have to think about doing. Wait, wait wait, so by that reasoning you are saying I don’t have to go to work, I don’t have to pick up the kids from school and I don’t have to pay my bills. You have got to be kidding right? Actually I am not. There is nothing that says that you have too. Of course there will be consequences if you don’t, but that is a different thing.

The next time you are about to say I have to, change it into I choose to. See what happens to your mindset when you have chosen to do it. Maybe it is not your most favorable task that is ahead, but choosing to take out the trash is very different from being told that you have too, right? By the simple act of changing one word you are now back in the driver’s seat, and the power is back in your corner. That is a pretty decent impact, wouldn’t you say? Try changing I can’t… into “I prioritize” or “I choose not to” and see how that shifts things. Change I don’t have time into I choose not to because I prioritize xyz.

“The word is not just a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life.” -Don Miguel Ruiz

Remember that real change takes time. Start with listening. Which words are you using often? Do they put you in the passenger seat or the driver’s seat?

Here is a classic for motivation  🙂

 


Resources

[1] http://drleaf.com/media/toxic-words/

[2] Andrew Newberg Words Can Change Your Brain

[3] Sam Owen 500 Relationships and Life Quotes

[4] Don Miguel Ruiz The Four Agreements Companion Book

The most dangerous word in the world https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/words-can-change-your-brain/201208/the-most-dangerous-word-in-the-world

Is your mental game app on?

Imagine a basketball game where the score is tied with just 5 seconds to go, a foul has been made and now one player will get to do a free throw. One throw, one that he or she has done a million times. It should be so easy to make that one basket, but now the pressure is huge because this could win the game.

Do you think this player might react differently to the very same shot during practice? What is the big difference, it’s the same basket and the same player, right?! I am pretty sure you will say “well the pressure is on, so it’s all in the head now”. We know this to be true, that in that moment, it is not how fit that athlete is, but how fit his or her thinking is, especially under pressure, just like Tommy Bolt says “The mind messes up more shots than the body.”

It would make a lot of sense then to practice the mental game – I mean, the best athletes always do, so why shouldn’t we?

What you are thinking, what shape your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all.” – Willie Mays

What is so different in sports compared to real life? Why don’t we practice our mental game on a regular basis for everyday life, which tends to throw us a lot more difficult curve-balls than what we get in the sports arena?

Don’t you want better computing power with faster software?
Don’t you want less glitches, bug fixes and especially crashes??
Don’t you want to be the “player” in real life that makes the shot with only 5 seconds left on the clock?
Well, how are you going to get there if you never practice?

Things don’t correct themselves, you’ve got to go out there and work hard to correct them” – Tom Brady

Every day you are creating your very own mental game app. You have programmed it for years and are still reprogramming it every single day. Do you even know what your inner podcast is broadcasting, or are you so used to the same old, same old, that you don’t even realize what is being said? Stop and take a listen – and if you do not like the daily podcast you are listening to, make sure you change it – because you can!

What would your daily self-talk sound like in the above example? “I cannot miss this shot! I cannot let the team down! Shit, what if I miss. I cannot screw this one up. What will everybody think? I can’t be a loser.” The end result of that type of thinking might look like this:

Or does it sound like this? “You can do it. You got this. This is just like practice. Take it easy. Breathe. It is just you and the basket. My team is here for me. I can do this.” That might look like this:

 

I believe that we have the power to change our inner dialogue, and how we use our brains. In one of my favorite sports psychology books, Mind Gym, it says “ Sports psychology is the science of success. Studies show that within a group of athletes of equal ability, those who receive mental training outperform those who don’t almost every time. Mental skills, like physical skills, need constant practice.” So let’s get practicing then!

“Ok, I’m listening, but how?”
Daily meditation works really great for increasing your brains capacity. Think of your brain as a mind gym, one that you need to practice in daily to be in the best shape. Did you know that a daily meditation practice changes structures in the brain for the better with just as little as 8 weeks of meditation? Did you know that a session of meditation lowers the amount of stress and anxiety in your body? Did you know that it also improves your memory and learning capabilities(A), as well as lowers levels of inflammation? (B)

The mind is a powerful thing and most people don’t use it properly.” -Mark McGwire

Calming the mind and giving it a chance to recover is so important, especially in this day and age of constant over stimulation from all the tech, computers and social-media we use everyday. We are constantly being bombarded by stuff that our brain is trying to sort through, so giving it a chance to relax and recover, and training it in how to respond in difficult situations is worth a million.

“While you can’t always control what happens, you always can control how you respond to it. It’s not the situation but how you respond that makes the difference.” -Mind Gym

Listen to what neuroscientist Sara Lazar has to say about meditation:

 

I really like to use an app called Headspace, which I use daily for my meditation practice. (Full disclosure, I am not affiliated, I just think that it is a great app.)

 

Stop, Breathe & Think” is also a great app, where you choose keywords describing your current mood and they will suggest a meditation that suits that, which is pretty cool. There are of course a lot more meditation apps out there, so do not hesitate to explore further to find one that suits you.

When you start out you might not feel an immediate difference, and that’s OK because change takes time. Just commit to the process and show up every day to do the work. Over time you and the people around you will notice a difference.

When to meditate? It is of course up to you, however I think it is a good plan to outsmart yourself from the beginning and plan it in as if it was an important meeting. If you don’t chances are you will never get to it. I do it first thing in the morning. It is the least chance for me to get interrupted and I also feel that I set a really nice tone for the day. Some people like to do it in the evening, but I find that I tend to fall asleep, and often other things will come in between, and it becomes a struggle to get it done. But, hey, just try it out and see what works for you.

If you still find this to be too much, try a mini meditation by taking 3 deep breaths and really focusing on each breath. Your inner commentary might say something like “one, I breathe in, one, I breathe out. Two, I breathe in, two, I breathe out. Three, I breathe in, three, I breathe out” And you are done, simple as that! Try it next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store or stuck in the car.

It needs to be said that a healthy mind needs good nutrition and good hydration. There is a very strong gut-brain connection in the body, and if your gut is not in order neither will your brain be. (C) That is however an entire topic on its own, and not the focus on today’s blog.

Great news for you readers – I have a free month of Headspace to give away, as a part of their give some get some program! Yes, that is correct, anyone in the world can send in their reason as to why I should give them a free month of subscription. Rules: Summarize your reasons into a maximum of 3 sentences, and email them to me before midnight CET Monday the 27th of February 2017, at nathalie@tigersports.eu. I will announce the winner later that same week!

So let me ask you again,
Is your mental game app up and running?
If not, I think it is time for an update and some bug fixes, don’t you? 😉


Resources

A. Harvard Neuroscientist
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-neuroscientist-meditation-not-only-reduces-stress-it-literally-changes-your-brain/?utm_term=.090073f23173

B. Meditation and Inflammation in the body
http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(16)00079-2/abstract?cc=y=

C. Heal your Gut, Heal your brain
https://chriskresser.com/heal-your-gut-heal-your-brain/

Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361002/

Making meditation easier
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18385/7-insider-tips-to-make-meditation-easier.html

Mind Gym by Gary Mack with David Casstevens (I really can recommend this book to anyone who wants a short and user friendly book to the point on Sports Psychology.)

I ran 33 marathons last year by changing one thing – care to join me?

 “And wouldn’t you like to have the answer to these questions too while we are at it?”
How can I have less back pain?
What can I do to be smarter at work?
What can I do to get more oxygen into my lungs?
What can I do to burn more calories during a day outside of sport?
What can I do to help my digestive organs?
What can I do to help my blood circulation?
What does Ludacris, James Brown, Blue, Elton John, and Bob Marley have to do with this?

What if I told you that all of these questions have the same answer, including making me run 33 marathons? And that it all can be summarized right here by Ludacris in the first 10 seconds of his video:

Yes, that’s right, Ludacris knows what’s up. James Brown was right too when he told us to “get up offa that thing”. According to the book Deskbound there are a lot of reasons why sitting is bad for us, but the top two reasons are

“1. Sitting is an orthopedic disaster and can cause a myriad of body dysfunctions.
2. Sitting means that you are not moving, and being sedentary can have significant negative long-term health impacts.”

The perfect orthopedic storm (click for diagram)
We need to sit less and stand more, and the office is an excellent place to practice this. And if we do sit, we need to sit on the floor like a yogi, or on our knees, or in other positions where we are challenging our mobility, not locked into a hip-glued-stuck at 90 degrees because of excessive sitting. Our homes are an excellent place to practice this “new” way of sitting.

“A standing desk sounds great, but my office won’t supply one, so there is nothing I can do” is the most common comment that I get when this subject arises. Well I happen to disagree with this. First, I do have to say that I think that ALL work places should have the option of a standing desk. It is an investment in their employees health, one that will pay itself back during the long run for sure.

However, lets say that you work in one of these places that will not help you with a full on electric adjustable desk. Get creative and think outside the box! Don’t just give up, it is your health that we are talking about. Give this article to your HR department to give them feedback on what you and your department finds really important, and ask for their help. These days there are also a lot of really easy add-ons to a normal desk that makes it into a standing desk, that are not very expensive. Maybe your office can invest in that? Maybe you can go half-half? Check this out for inexpensive ideas or just google “stand up desk ideas”.

You should also think about the desk or work space you use at home, especially if you have kids. Help them to stay mobile as much as possible, and why not get them a standing desk? The Stand Up Kids Foundation is such a great project, and you should check it out even if you don’t have kids as there is so much useful information there. Listen to the podcast Pursuing Health with Julie Foucher episode #17 where she, Juliet and Kelly Starrett talks about standing vs sitting, and their latest project.

-Ok, so I also would like to have the ability to run 33 marathons in a year, how can I do that?
You automatically burn more calories standing than sitting. If you were to simply stand during normal office hours over the course of a year, you will burn approximately 100 000 extra calories. For a roughly average person running a marathon they would burn about 3300 calories. So, by the simple act of standing while working you have now burnt as many calories as if you had run 33 marathons in a year. Pretty nifty if you ask me!

-How can I have less back pain?

“Workers who used sit-stand desks were 78% more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular workstations, according to a Stanford University back pain study. “(A)

-What can I do to help the internal functions of my body?
-What can I do to get more oxygen into my lungs?
-What can I do to help my digestive organs?

Excessive sitting impacts our body’s metabolic system: “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.”(B) ~ James Levine, MD, PhD

By standing you will improve the amount of oxygen that gets into your body, by not squashing your lungs while sitting, this also improves the blood circulation as it doesn’t get “cut off” from the pressure around your waist and hips. Less pressure around the stomach area and good blood supply also helps our digestive organs function properly.

-What can I do to be smarter?

Our brains work better with well oxygenated blood which it will get from standing, moving and standing up also activates different areas in the brain that makes us “smarter”. (C) The area responsible for movement is for example close to our memory area in the brain. That means that when our movement center gets activated our memory center gets activated too by close proximity. This is why kids will jump up and down while talking for instance as it is then easier for them to find their words. Also, think about it, when you get a very important phone call, will you stand up and pace around or will you sit down? I am 100% sure that you will be standing up.

Is standing at work the total solution for all your health problems? Of course not, that would be too easy unfortunately. It is however a great and super easy way to minimize the damage you are doing to yourself and stopping the process of your hips being completely glued stuck from a sitting position.

Remember to start gradually and wearing flat shoes or preferably none. Maybe you want to start with standing up first thing when you get into the office, and right after lunch for as long as you find comfortable. If you cannot see yourself standing all the time, try to think of it as interrupted sitting. Change does take time, so keep working on it, and try to avoid long stretches of sitting as much as you can. Ladies, if you are wearing heels, you need to take them off while standing, because they throw your hips into an awkward position no matter how fancy they are due to the angle of the heel. Maybe you can have a pair of flat shoes under your desk and just change for your meetings if need be?

Bob Marley tells us to “get up, stand up”, and Elton John says “I’m still standing”. But, amazingly enough Blue summarizes it perfectly with “All rise, all rise – I rest my case”.

 

I am already on “marathon #5 for this year, where are you?  😉

 


Resources

  1. A. http://www.juststand.org/tabid/636/language/en-US/default.aspx
  2. B. http://www.juststand.org/tabid/816/language/en-US/default.aspx
  3. C. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3546096/Standing-class-makes-children-SMARTER-Pupil-s-brain-boost-spend-lessons-feet.html
  4. Benefits of a Standing Desk https://authoritynutrition.com/7-benefits-of-a-standing-desk/

Books

  • Get Ready to Run by Kelly Starrett
  • Deskbound by Kelly Starrett
  • Don’t just sit there by Katy Bowman
  • Move your DNA by Katy Bowman

P.S. Here is an inspirational Stand Up playlist

  • Get up – Ciara ft. Chamillionaire
  • Stand up – Ludacris ft. Shawnna
  • Get up, stand up – Bob Marley
  • The real slim shady (please stand up) – Eminem
  • Get up, stand up – Phunky Phantom
  • I’m still standing – Elton John
  • Still standing – Monica ft.Ludacris
  • Get up offa that thing – James Brown
  • Get up – 50 cent
  • Sax – Fleur East (ok, ok she doesn’t talk about standing up, but this song should be enough motivation for you to get out of your chair and stand up, especially on a Friday! “C’mon give it to me”)

Are you a perfumed garbage can? (Part 2)

Stinky Dave (from last week) was open to make the change and started with adding the water. He found it very challenging at first, and it took him about a month to be comfortable with drinking 2 liters a day. Because he was drinking more water he automatically drank less coke, and within 3 months he had managed to cut out the coke completely, although he admitted to some rough withdrawal symptoms. He still had coffee and red wine, but a lot less than before. He added more veggies when he could.

After about a month there was a huge difference in his stinkyness. I noticed it, and he happily noticed it too. He no longer was that smelly guy in the room, and also didn’t need to keep three extra cans of deodorant spray in the car. He also told me that he had been sleeping better,  felt more energized and at ease, and that he was getting better results in his sport.

After about 6 months he had another check up with his doctor, and he was stunned to find out that all of his values were now back in order.

Dave helped out his internal system by adding more good stuff like water and vegetables, and by reducing the things that was irritating it – coke, sugar, coffee and wine. The body was able to adjust, the pressure was off and as the kidneys and liver could work under less stress, his system slowly went back to normal.

So rather than trying to fix a stinking problem with an industrial grade deodorant, try to pay attention to how your body smells and when it smells. For sure you know that after a big night out with a lot of alcohol you will smell terrible the next day. Maybe other things will trigger it too – start by paying attention. Try to incorporate more water and veggies into your daily habits, and reduce the other stuff. You will notice a change in your smell, and you might even find that you do not need a deodorant every day of the week. Or at least that you can get by with a more natural one, that does not contain all the chemicals that the typical deodorant does.

What about stinky breath, you may wonder? I am so glad you asked! That is also a very interesting topic that will be tackled in a future blog post.

In conclusion:
your problem:
excess stench
just treating the symptom: industrial strength soap and deodorants
root cause: imbalance within the body, most likely kidneys and liver overworked and backed up
solution: add water and more vegetables. Reduce irritants like sodas, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes. First thing in the morning, drink warm water with lemon, (this stimulates the liver in a positive way after a night of hard work).

It’s like having a broken garbage can but rather than repairing it properly from the inside, you just spray perfume over it every time you pass by. This would be what Seth Godin calls “it’s broken”(4).

Taking your stench seriously is seriously very important! You might not care much at the moment, and covering yourself in heavy deodorants and perfumes may seem like an easy solution. But if you are stinking because your kidneys and liver are having a hard time, imagine what could be happening in your body already or just lurking around the corner. Things like insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver syndrome just to mention a few, could already be heading your way.

Don’t be a perfumed garbage can, get involved and get ahead by learning to fix the problem from the inside, by taking responsibility for your own health.

 

Just because you are trash it doesn’t mean you can’t do great things.
It’s called garbage can, not garbage cannot”

*author unknown

Resources

4. Seth Godin / you tube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZiDS-4Xd2k&list=PL9og4p-D6hpTlGqhrvhNNMKtOxg7fjSPA