Category Archives: Internal functions

Is your favorite on the dirty dozen list?

The dirty dozen – sounds like it could be the next Quentin Tarantino movie, doesn’t it?* But you guessed it, it is not. So, what’s up with the dirty dozen?

The dirty dozen is a list that gets put together by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) every year based on the amount of pesticides and chemicals they contain. Meaning that the item at the very top of the list contains the highest amount of pesticides, and therefore it is not considered a wise food choice.

To make it easy, when you cannot remember the list, think of it like this. The more fragile the vegetable or fruit is, the larger is the chance for damage during transportation. This means an increase in using food spray and anti-mold chemicals to make sure that vegetable or fruit does not get damaged. Also, the more porous the skin is on the fruit and veggies, the more it will absorb everything that has been sprayed on it. It will basically act as a sponge, like strawberries for example. This is important to think about, because once it has been absorbed by the fruit or veggies you cannot simply rinse it off. Still need some more help with the list? EWG has an app to help you out.

Not only does these different chemicals mess with our liver and kidneys (that have to work very hard to try and filter them out of our bodies). These chemicals also interfere with our nervous system.  A common misconception is that nerve toxins used to kill insects are not very harmful to humans. This is not true as they are toxic to our nervous system[3] and neural development [4]. They also interfere with our hormonal system (one of the most used herbicide in the world, Atrazine, is a known endocrine disruptor)[2], and the nutrients in the food by making it harder for our bodies to absorb them.

Here is the current Dirty Dozen list from 2017

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet bell peppers
  12. Potatoes

But, what about organic food costing more? Yes, it does cost a bit more, but it is an investment in yourself and your family. I think that it is very important to buy organic produce. We are getting enough pollution through every day life, and I believe we do not need to add even more to our bodies through food. Did you know that “at least 107 different active ingredients in pesticides have been found to cause cancer in animals or humans; of these 71 are still in use on food crops”.[1] If taking the step to buy organic seems like a lot to you, at least start thinking about omitting the biggest offenders on the dirty dozen list. You will be doing yourself a big favor by reducing the amount of poisonous chemicals that your body has to deal with on a daily basis.

Did you know that people who are allergic to a certain vegetable or fruit are most likely allergic to the pesticides and food sprays on it, and not the actual food itself.

Think of the nutrients and organic food as strong clean building blocks for “the house” (you) that you are constantly building. Think of the pesticides, food sprays and other chemicals of acting like heavy duty fungus, mold and termites in this metaphor. You may not notice that they are there right away, but after a while they can and will destroy your entire house. What kind of building blocks are you interested in choosing for “your house”?

Spread the word, not pesticides!  😉

 


* Actually the Dirty Dozen is a World War II movie from 1967

[1] According to the National Campaign for Pesticide Policy Reform. p.418 Staying Healthy with Nutrition

[2] Endocrine Disrupters. p.418 Staying Healthy with Nutrition

[3] Misconceptions about Pesticides p.432 Staying Healthy with Nutrition

[4] http://e360.yale.edu/features/from_the_fields_to_inner_city_pesticides_affect_childrens_iq

Is your shoulder driving you nuts?

So, I have some news for you guys! In addition to my studies in Osteopathy, I have just started a program with the NTA (Nutritional Therapy Association) to become a Nutrition Therapy Counselor (NTC). I am very excited about their program, and it will take me a little under a year to complete, so I will be ready for some more in-depth Nutritional Counseling as of this coming spring. I am very excited 🙂

Why Nutrition studies?
Through Osteopathy I am learning about how to help the body on a deeper level, like adjusting the spine, and helping the liver to detox for example. I find this information very fascinating and useful in my practice. For instance, did you know that a distressed liver can cause you pain in the right shoulder? This has to do with the fact that the liver and the shoulder share certain nerve paths in the spine. [2] Again, through Osteopathy I am learning tools that I can use to assist the liver and shoulder which is great.

But, I also want to know why the liver is stressed in the first place. I believe that if you cannot address the root problem you will just be treating symptoms. Not that treating symptoms is a bad thing, and it most certainly is necessary in helping the body to self heal, but finding the culprit so you can get things on the right track again from the very core, is really what excites me. And that line of thinking led me directly to nutrition.

Did you know for instance that your chocolate cravings could be a sign that you are Magnesium deficient?[2] Most people are not aware of this and will just try to abstain from eating too much chocolate, because they know it is not good for you, but as the cravings will not go away, it is just a matter of time before they will fail and start digging into a whole box of chocolate. Wouldn’t it be nice to know then, that if Magnesium is the problem, simply by getting your Magnesium levels back on track, your chocolate cravings will go away? I find this very fascinating.

As my interest in nutrition is already great and I am reading about it all the time, I thought this would be the time to get a more thorough education on the subject, which I think will complement my Osteopathy studies in a great way.

But which School to choose? There are so many out there, and I searched for quite a while until I finally found one that has a philosophy that I agree with.

 In NTA's words “NTA’s philosophy is that the myriad health problems plaguing modern society result from weaknesses in the body’s physiological foundations brought on by poor nutrition... Our foundational holistic approach focuses on the importance of properly prepared, nutrient-dense, whole foods paired with a well-balanced lifestyle.”

What also sets this program apart, from any other that I have looked at, is that they use functional testing in order to assess a client. I believe this kind of hands-on approach to be invaluable in finding out how a clients digestive system actually is doing.

So don’t be surprised when more nutrition blogs will show up here. Oh, and there is also a community project in the works that I will be doing as part of my studies which should be a lot of fun, and I hope you will be able to join me in that. More on that later 😉

 

 


[1] Segmentale Phänomene, Ein Beitrag zu Diagnostik und Therapie by Ben van Cranenburgh, p103

[2] Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L.Wilson, p157

3 day reset after the holiday splurge

After 3 weeks of traveling in Asia I have enjoyed a lot of different foods and drinks, and as much fun as it has been I also can feel the toll it has taken on my body.
No matter how well you choose when eating out, eating in hotels and restaurants is always a challenge as you have no control over what is put into the food. Of course part of the fun when traveling is trying a lot of different things so I am not saying that you shouldn’t. But, all the added extras that tend to show up in restaurant food like different kinds of sugar, taste enhancers and unhealthy fats does make life very tough for your digestive system.

So what can you do on your way back home?
I like to look at the flight as an opportunity to transfer from the holiday fun back into a more healthy sustainable lifestyle. Whether or not there is a lot of jet lag involved I think that following my previous jet lag guide is a great place to start, and this includes avoiding all airplane food. If most restaurant food is not that great for you, airplane food is way worse. So plan ahead and bring your own healthy food along, like organic apples and nuts. Or if you are a bit more hardcore simply fast during the flight. If you think about it, even on longer flights you do not really need to eat, it’s usually something that you tend to do more out of boredom. But if you feel that it is too much, just try with a few healthy snacks instead.

Once you are back home remember to hydrate! Drinking enough water really is key for optimal health. You can think of water as the body’s internal transportation system which is very important for proper cell function and balance within. Do some easy sports or just get out and walk, as your body will feel better with movement, and it will help your lymphatic system to drain excess fluid.
If you have the opportunity to use a sauna then do! It is an excellent way for the body to recover and to sweat out unwanted bacteria and toxins. A bath with epsom salt is also a great alternative. Cut out all sugars (this includes alcohol) as the sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut. I know this one is tough, but it is totally necessary.
Reduce caffeine as much as possible as it is a strong stimulant and as such keeps the body wired and makes it harder to relax and recover. Try green tea instead of coffee.
Eat as much vegetables as you can and take a break from meat, to make it easy on your digestive system. Adding a green smoothie into your day is a great way to boost your health.

We quickly get used to eating more sugar (and drinking) so it is important to make a strong reduction as soon as you get home so that you don’t get stuck in the new “holiday habit” you might have acquired. Taking a pro-biotic supplement to help the good bacteria take back control in your digestive system might be a good idea. It might also be a good idea to help out your liver and you could do that by taking the natural herbal supplement of milk-thistle.

Why a 3 day reset? It is small enough that mentally the obstacle isn’t too big, but still long enough to actually have an impact, and if you are up for it why not continue for another few days? I wish you a lot of fun during your future travels, but make yourself a favor and have a plan ready for once you are back home, so that your fun indulgences doesn’t become new unhealthy habits.

Enjoy exploring some new teas 🙂

Staying mobile above the clouds

As I am writing this I am midair somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Hanoi in Vietnam. It is my second longer flight in just a few days and how to prevent getting stiff from all that sitting and speed up recovery is on my mind.
So what can you do to help yourself? My all time favorite is to use the lacrosse ball for the hamstrings and part of the glutes (butt). With all that sitting, blood circulation is compromised, especially in the legs. This creates a lot of stiffness which  besides making you move like an old grandma also can have longer lasting effects on your hips and knees. This is due to muscles becoming tight and therefore restricting full extension of the hip and knee, for example being able to straighten the leg completely. If you don’t get this taken care of immediately then pretty soon you can end up with low back pain due to the altered way of moving.

How to avoid all of this stuff? Whenever you can – get up and move a bit extra. It is often said to walk around the cabin as much as you can, but I tend to find this very challenging. Instead I try to add in some squats (and lateral lunges if space permits) every time I get up and go to the bathroom. As a minimum I do 10 squats before and 10 squats after.

When you get back into your seat use the lacrosse ball. You might be able to use a tennis ball but I don’t recommend it as I find it too soft against the seat.
Put the lacrosse ball under one of your hamstrings and then do small, slow movements across the ball with your leg. You can also move your lower leg from side to side and back and forth. There really is no right and wrong here so just try a few different angles and see what works for you. Then after a minute or two move the ball to another area and go through the same procedure. Once you have worked your way through one hamstring move the ball to the next.

I like to do this while watching a movie, and during a 10-12 hour flight I tend to do this at least 4 times. It is a huge help and as you only do small movements with the leg you are not jeopardizing to disturb your fellow passenger, which is a plus.

Of course you can do this on shorter flights too, or actually during any prolonged sitting. I have used this technique during long lectures for instance. Keeping the blood circulation as good as possible in your legs is also very important in preventing blood clots forming. You can read more about that here. I also find that compression socks are a great help. Make sure that you get some good ones that fit you correctly so that they are tight enough but not so tight that they are completely constricting you. You don’t want to feel as if an anaconda is eating its way up your leg! By measuring the width of your calf you should be able to find the right size for you.

The Using the lacrosse ball technique on my hamstrings have really saved me on many long flights so if there is just one thing you should try for your next flight, then try that.

Wishing you happy travel adventures 😉

 

Here is a motivational video for some more mobility on your next flight.


Air travel health tips from Harvard
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/air-travel-health-tips

 

Do you say Good-morning when it is midnight?

It is getting to that time of the year where a lot of my friends are traveling far, and with changing time zones the question of how to best deal with jet lag often comes up. This was indeed the topic as I was talking to one of my friends about my upcoming Asia trip. She said that she always has a horrible time with it, so when I said that I usually don’t have much of a problem with it at all, she wanted to know my strategy. Before I tell you all about my strategy lets just take a quick look at hers, or rather the non-existing strategy.

She would:
Drink alcohol or take a sleeping pill.
Not pay attention to hydration.
Not move much.
Sleep as much as possible.
Eat all the food offered.
Would often sugar binge before and after the flight, and drink too much coffee to compensate the blood sugar lows.

During the last two decades of some crazy and extensive travel, this is the strategy that have ended up working great for me and hope it can be helpful for you too!

The day before traveling and on the actual day:
Drink lots of water so you are hydrated
No alcohol
No sugar
Drink very little coffee

On the plane:
Change your watch immediately you get on the plane to the new timezone, this way you are already mentally preparing for the change.
Drink lots of water.
No alcohol!
No sleeping pills!
No sugar. (makes for steady blood sugar levels which keeps the energy steady without major dips)
No airplane food. Bring your own or do a fast. Seriously, no one has gotten ill from not eating airplane food.
Get up and move when you can.
Don’t sleep a lot. I usually only sleep the last 3-4 hours before breakfast is served (on a 10-12 hour flight). That way I am already in the new time zone rhythm, and I am not completely dead once I land because I did sleep a bit, but I will be tired enough when it gets to the evening.

Day 1 in the new time zone:
Stay awake the whole day after landing and do not take any naps.
If possible do some easy sports or take a long walk and/or do some mobility exercises.
No caffeine after 3pm.
No alcohol.
No sugar.
Do some mobility exercises even if it’s only 5 minutes. (I find it very helpful to work along the spine, and on the quads, hamstrings and glutes)
Go to bed around 10pm. You should be very tired by now and manage to get a pretty good nights sleep, which will set you up great for the following day. I once landed in Tokyo at 08.00 in the morning, and it was indeed tough to stay awake the whole day, but I fell asleep in the evening no problem, had a good nights sleep, and the next day I was pretty much in the new time zone without a problem or major energy dips.

Day 2:
Do some sport early in the day or take a long walk and/or do some mobility exercises.
Keep drinking lots of water.
Avoid sugar.
No naps.
Aaaaand….You are good to go!

If you really want to get into more details about this there is also a great website you can use called Jet Lag Rooster. I hope my strategy will be as helpful to you as it has been to me, and enjoy your upcoming traveling.

Happy travels! 😉

“He says Good-morning when it is midnight…”

This video is a special tribute to you Kate (Watson) and your amazing kids 🙂 what an awesome video and such fun times!

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

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