What Do Your Eyes Have to Do With Exercise?
It’s amazing the impact the eyes have on all facets of your life…believe it or not, using your eyes will improve exercise…learn how in
It’s amazing the impact the eyes have on all facets of your life…believe it or not, using your eyes will improve exercise…learn how in
You were made to move. That is now a given. But movement is not just a physical action; it’s not just moving your limbs or moving from one place to the other. Movement is expression. How you move is an expression of how you are.
Your movements paint a picture of you – on the inside. And pictures are worth a thousand words. When you move you are communicating to others who you are or how you are. Yes, we often use words to tell stories, communicate ideas, to reveal secrets or to hide identities. But when you move you may be telling a different story than your words reveal. When you move, you may be communicating the authentic you.
For example, have you ever noticed someone was angry, not by the words they spoke, but by the movements they made? Have you ever noticed someone was sad by how they walked? Have you ever had a friend tell you, “I’m fine,” yet their body was telling you, “I’m upset”? Movements can give a clue to one’s emotions. But they can also give you clues to one’s mental status.
Picture in your mind someone who walks rigidly, with excessive swaying in their spine, and labored breathing; not out of breath, but audible and visually up high in their chest. What mindset do you imagine that person to have? Do you imagine they are generally a positive person or a pessimist? Do you think they have more thoughts of joy or thoughts of gloom? Do you think they are able to mentally dissect and solve problems quickly or do you think issues overwhelm them?
Now, picture in your mind someone who walks gracefully. Their head is held up, they move smoothly, yet with strength. They have “swagger.” What mindset do you imagine this person to have? Do you think them to be a confident person or a fearful person? Do you imagine they celebrate challenges by conquering them or do you imagine they shrink from a fight?
Or, A child who skips and smiles. A child who cannot skip and therefore does not smile. Which child will run after life? Which child will shrink from life?
How you move can reveal who you are, but how you move can also help you become who you were meant to be. Are confident, strong people confident and strong because they choose to be or because they move well? Yes. Do your thoughts and emotions affect how you move or do your movements affect your thoughts and emotions? Yes.
Your mental health will greatly affect your body, but your physical health will greatly affect your soul. They are so intertwined it could be quite difficult to know which one comes first, the chicken or the egg? The body or the mind? Yes.
The point is, your mental health – your MENTAL STRENGTH – is tied to how you move. You were made to move WELL. And, you were made to be happy, confident, of sound mind, passionate, joyful, and expectant. You were made for a successful life.
Just as none of us were created to be physically weak, frail or fragile, none of us were made to be sad, depressed, fearful, apathetic, and hopeless. And because your mind and body are so well connected, restoring your body’s ability to optimally move can and will help restore your mind’s ability to become all you were meant to be and have.
Truly happy and confident people move well. And people who move well are truly more confident and happier than those who don’t move well.
Pressing RESET is more than physical restoration, it is also affects mental restoration, it helps one become. It helps one express who they are, or who they were meant to be.
So, what is your body telling the world about you? What do you want it to tell the world? Write your story, express yourself. Move well, be well. Be well, move well. Yes.
While out on the lake yesterday, I stepped out of the comfortably sized launch. That may not seem like much. But to be clear, we were out on the lake, I was in a boat, AND I GOT OUT OF IT to get into a different boat.
As I’ve mentioned, my greatest fear has everything to do with water – but in this moment of navigating from one boat into another boat and completely surrounded by deep dark water, I was not afraid.
How is this even possible?
Fear is a protective response to a threat or danger – and threatening situations come from life experiences. We are only born with two fears, I wrote about them in this blog post. All other fears, whether it be spiders or small spaces, are learned fears. Water is not one of the two…
A small part of the brain, the amygdala, captures sensory information and elicits immediate behavioral responses. Interestingly, it is considered the part of our brain directly involved with emotions. So, fear is an emotional response.
Fear triggers physical reactions that are specific and predictable AND happen before we have fully assessed the source of danger. This is because the amygdala is part of the limbic system, located in the middle of our brain, and processes environmental input *before* the awareness centers are piqued. Fears are stored in our memory, having been formed from two vital components: A deep emotion attached to an experience.
Because the amygdala can be triggered well before our rational mind even has a chance to analyze, we can steer clear of fear inducing situations without us evening knowing or recognizing we have a fear. This describes my behavior for years and years. I wouldn’t go into the deep end of pools unless I could touch the sides. I wouldn’t swim in lakes or oceans past where I could touch the bottom. I somehow justified that I wasn’t afraid of water because I had no trouble playing with my cousins in the shallow end as a kid or later, playing in the shallows with my own kids.
Our brain has the incredible capacity to hold within it many details of a bad experience. These impressions serve as the ‘ingredients’ that cooked up to make the bad experience. If in a later situation, our brain recognizes the ingredients from the bad experience ‘recipe’, the amygdala sounds an alert of the ‘pending doom cake’.
The telltale signs of the recipe for our fear are immediately recognizable: Our heart begins to beat faster shunting blood to our muscles, we may sweat, our eyes dilate to take in more visual information, and our reflexes become heightened. This is our brains way of getting our body prepared to take an action dependent on its survival.
The experience of being on a boat rocked by shuffling bodies and lapping waves, wearing a life vest, and surrounded by rowers are not items from the ingredient list for my fear. This is a different recipe. A recipe for ‘move your body better cake’.
Taking a float test in deep water, floating on my back, eyes open and looking up *is* on that ingredient list. My amygdala definitely knows I’m baking ‘pending doom’.
This is a practice in observation. Investigating the source of my greatest fear, I’ve come to realize:
1 Fear is a normal, natural safety mechanism
2 Fear can completely paralyze both physically and mentally
3 One may never be rid of fear
Yet, fear can be a sort of prime to getting the engine started, to taking forward moving action. Using it in this way can improve your presentation to that large crowd. It can get you to make that difficult phone call to your family. It can get you to sign up for a class requiring a float test.
I’m living my life more fully now that I ever have before. Understanding my fear has demonstrated where I have fear in other parts of my life. Identifying how fear shows itself in my thoughts is permitting me to make different choices. Seeing my fear in an open light, allows me to help my children to handle their own fears.
How will you use your fear?
We are born with only two fears.
I have a fear of water. It seems this fear has been with me for a very long time. My grandmother told me that she would put me in her lap when I was a very young child. She would sit with me in shallow water and hold me and play until I became more comfortable. I don’t remember it.
What I do remember are the multiple instances of playing games in the water with my older brother and sister. One time, I agreed to get on the inner tube and we three bounced up and down. I didn’t anticipate them bouncing themselves completely off. I myself fell backward, legs still clamped over the tube, head and torso under, gazing straight up through the shimmering water. Scary experience. Over the past 10 days I’ve investigated this deep fear and what it really means.
We are not born afraid of water.
This makes sense, considering our bodies develop in a fluid filled environment. Not only that, we are even known to move this same fluid into and out of our lungs prebirth. We’ve all seen pictures of infants in pools swimming effortlessly. Fearlessly.
In fact, we are born with only two fears: The fear of falling and of loud noises. In some publications the fear of falling is said to develop at 9 months but most of these are making false conclusions based on the Visual Cliff study. I’ve experienced my kids being startled by loud noises and crying. I don’t have proof of them being afraid of falling as infants.
Neither of my children are afraid of water and both submerge themselves with ease and joy. Like my grandmother, I would hold my kids while in shallow water and we would play until they were comfortable.
A few supportive friends have commented on how brave I am to get in a boat with such a strong fear. I’d like to come clean on this matter. I am not the least bit afraid of boats or of being in boats. I am just as strangely comfortable in large boats, as big as a cruise ship, as I am in small boats, as little as a rowing shell.
Understanding the phenomenon of fear in water has been a long time coming. As a matter of fact, I would not have admitted it were true before that float test on May 26. I actually never put myself to the test – I’ve been able to avoid being in deep water for most of my life. I never suspected because I can go in and out of shallow water with ease.
I arrived at the pool to take my test and was told the life guard on duty was the head of the life guard program and I felt a little better. When Rose took me to the back room to get fit for a flotation device, my feelings took a nose dive. The only adult size they had was an XS and difficult to put on even before I got in the water. I questioned her about it and she just gave me a big sigh adding ‘Just do the best you can.’ I was not entirely convinced.
With that, Rose turned toward the pool and asked me to walk past her along a narrow platform in the direction of what she laughingly referred to as ‘the tank’. Oddly, moving along that 2 1/2 foot concrete strip made me think of ‘walking the plank’. I couldn’t recall what movie that idea had come from.
The moment I stepped down the ladder into 8 feet of water, I began shuddering. The warm water was only a little comfort. I was relieved to discover the test did not require treading and that any type of floating was acceptable. My sister taught me how to back float and I was confident I could sustain it for 10 minutes. What I realized too late, in the water and feet sinking, pulling me down, is that all my previous back floats included paddling slowly using my feet.
Clearly, I had not prepared properly. In a moment of panic, I added fear of failure to my already big fear of water. And then there was the panic feeling to cope with as my thighs began dropping below the surface. I don’t mind being IN water, but I do mind very much water being IN ME. Just as I thought “I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be doing this.” voices came to me. First came the voice of my husband saying ‘Remember, full lungs float.’ and I took a deep breath. Reaching to overfill my capacity of air, my back arched – driving my hips down. The panic shot up several notches. I wondered if this was it, if this was the end.
I didn’t think of the children I would leave behind. I didn’t think of the business folding. I didn’t think of breathing. All I could think of was that image of gazing straight up through the shimmering water. My legs immobile around that inner tube and the bright sky through the rippling water was actually quite beautiful. I was stunned at the clarity of that memory. The second voice I heard was that of my sister, ‘Stay flat, let the water hold you up, relax.’ My submerged lower half began to rise and I floated, easily. My sister had saved me then and she saved me now.
What did the float test tell me about my big fear that being in shallow water could never have?
TRUST. Trust that you’ll get what you need when you need it. Trust in the wisdom already in your body. Trust that people who love you are helping you.
Experience how much you can still trust your body when you attend the next ‘Don’t Exercise, Move’ workshop, June 18, 3pm. We’d love to develop your trust!
I learned quite a bit about my own big fear after spending 3 hours at an event yesterday called Row For A Day (RFAD). This, in preparation for the month long Learn To Row I signed up for at the Sammamish Rowing Club which starts June 7.
After registration, there was a brief introduction to Rowing terms and parts of the boat. We practiced the Rowing motion on erg machines and went down to the dock.
I lowered myself in an 8 person shell with 4 other novice Rowers. I was shown how to keep my single oar snug to the lock, told Never let go of it under any circumstance, and how to use it to keep the boat balanced. As we pushed off, I noticed the shell wasn’t really that much wider than my hips.
The winds were high. The water was choppy. The bow rowers were having trouble getting us out of the sleugh and onto the lake. I was seat 7, one of the stern pair. For obvious reasons (that I hadn’t clearly understood before), rowers always work in pairs. Because I was paired with an experienced rower and the boat needed more power to prevent it from being blown into the shore, we were called by the coxswain to row.
Not realizing it, I had been preparing myself for this moment. Rowing is, in actuality, a pushing sport – the leg push is the motion that gives a stroke its power. I had been lifting heavy weights in virtually the same way, by pushing my legs really hard. In a boat, all I needed to do was push against the foot plate in the same way I pushed against the floor to lift weight.
Number 8, the rower with his back to me, set the pace. All I had to do was follow, but of course, pushing is not the only movement to master – the water has a way with one’s oar. 1. Left in too long, the oar continues to push its smooth end directly into your ribs (and could potentially break them). I felt the beginnings of several rib-crusher strokes and I quickly learned to avoid them. 2. An oar with too little depth wastes the strong stroke from the legs and throws off your timing, not to mention how it completely off-balances the boat and steers it off course.
Oddly enough, during this whole experience I didn’t feel any gut-wrenching, forehead-sweating fear. Instead, I realized the importance of many transfer-to-life things like
A. Focus on the current stroke – one can’t worry about the last one because you end up with two bad strokes in a row. Or worse, a stack of poor strokes.
Forgive the mistake, learn from it, and focus on now.
B. The boat needs you – you must row when you are needed to row. You can not stop to catch your breath or take a rest. When the coxswain calls you to action, you must take action because the boat will not move forward without all rowers rowing.
Every seat has a role and is necessary. Life is a simplified form of rowing.
You an important contributor – will you be ready when you are called?
I’ve been studying fear lately. Fear can be paralyzing or it can be motivating… Too often, I choose the former and give in to the fear – unaware of its power or its source. There is a book entitled “The Gift of Fear” which describes how fear is a tool we can leverage. Oddly enough, I’ve been afraid to read it.
What’s the best way to use fear to move ahead? Here are two suggestions:
1. Be aware. Notice when you feel it, pay attention to what triggers it.
2. Make a choice. Realize that fear doesn’t have to dictate your actions.
I’ve been doing specific things to prepare myself. Workouts have had a singular focus. Thoughts have been unwavering.
Tomorrow is my big fear debut: I start Rowing. In a boat. In deep deep water. Without a life jacket.
My desire to learn to Row is greater than my fear of water. I’ll carefully step into a rocking boat tomorrow wondering if that intense, gut wrenching fear of water will ever really go away. I do know, however, that my longing to Row will propel me onward, to become greater than the fear that grips me.
Find your fear. Let it be a source of growth for you, too.
If you need help moving past a fear, try moving your body with a BODYWISE workshop or one on one programs. It will change you for the better.
Mays workshop was a blast! And we did exercises to strengthen our walk – which by the way, also strengthens the pelvic floor – double benefit, and who doesn’t want that?
Read about Hips
Join us June 18 to find out how to do this for yourself!
Feet go mostly unnoticed… until summer when sandals and nail polish come out in full force. There are some who show off their feet and some who consistently hide them.
It’s National Foot Health Awareness Month and feet problems are all over the internet, from bunions to hammer toes to fasciitis to heel spurs, you can read about everything.
But why do we have so many problems with our feet? Katy Bowman, Biomechanist, says that feet are not healthy because of a chronic pattern in our society that decreases circulation, contributes to weakness, and even negatively effects the joints in our knees and hips.
The chronic pattern is wearing shoes. Shoes to the feet are like, oven mitts to the hands – they may protect to a certain degree (degree fahrenheit, of course), but worn all the time seriously limit mobility and dexterity.
And it’s not just that feet are in shoes most of the time… it’s also that we walk around on surfaces that are uniformly flat. What the nervous system does between our feet and our minds is pretty astounding. It’s constantly measuring how far away the ground is and it measures the distance between steps on a set of stairs, too. You’ve felt this when you expected a step that wasn’t there or didn’t expect a step that ‘was’ there.
Take a quick look at your own feet. Notice the shape and health of the nails, the joints, tendons, and muscles (can you even see any muscles?). Do you have an arch when you stand or only when you’re sitting? Do you walk pigeon toed or duck footed? What pattern do you wear into the tread on your shoes?
All this provides information about what’s happening in the structure that is the foundation of your body. Without a strong and stable foundation, the rest of the structure suffers. Buildings are constructed with specific guidelines for materials based on the environment and stressors to ensure value and long term usage. Think about houses for a moment – a house you want to buy may appear in great condition. However, you need an inspector to determine if the foundation is crumbling. Everyone knows that investing in a house with a suboptimal basement is a poor choice because the rest of the structure will eventually follow suit.
Why don’t we think that way about our feet, too? Unlike buildings, our feet require more than stability to function well – they also require mobility which adds to the complexity of keeping them healthy.
A woman I know broke her left foot recently. After limping around in a boot during recovery, she developed knee pain on the non-injured side. It turns out that she tore the meniscus in her right knee after favoring her left foot for so long. Unfortunately, the meniscus was injured because of a problem in her right foot that was identified years ago but not resolved.
If you suffer from pain in your knee, hip, low back, shoulder, or neck, it just may be your feet to blame. Improve your foot health and reap the rewards a set of strong feet gives the rest of your body.
Start off on the right foot by trying movements like these:
1 Open and close your toes
2 Walk around on the balls of your feet
If you find them difficult or you want even more practical tips on how to move your body well, join us at the
‘Don’t Exercise, Move’ workshop, April 16, 2016
I’ll admit I converted – I LOVE minimalist shoes.
One of the very important aspects of wearing any shoe, of course, is fit. I’m always on the search for the right fitting shoe. For me, that includes a zero drop (think no heel) and won’t attract too much attention. The Five Finger style with separate toes gets a lot of looks. Even though the shoe is mostly black on the top, it’s the pink fabric in between the toes that makes people look down. I wore them quite a bit while hiking so they’re not as bright anymore. Still. Their individual toes and most people don’t understand the style.
My first pair of minimalist shoes were water resistant, didn’t have separate toes, and came in black. No one noticed them at all whatsoever and I was able to successfully convert my feet. But… I completely wore them out. They had done their job of strengthening my feet.
They were replaced with a gray and black beauty by Zem. This little minimal has fun gray racing stripes and doesn’t attract any stares whatsoever. While it isn’t water-free during a rain, it’s a great summer option and breathes well. Take a closer look and you’ll notice the region for the big toe is actually shorter as compared to the area for the second toe. While it’s only slightly uncomfortable at first, it didn’t take long to get used to so I thought the shoe would work well for me.
One of the amazing things about minimal shoes is they don’t require much break in time if any at all. It either fits your foot, or it doesn’t fit – and you know it immediately. Because the heel cup conforms so well, the fabric rarely if ever rubs, grabs, or pulls.
Believing all was well, the shoe fit like a glove, I took an opportunity to run in them. Unfortunately, they were too short (heel to toe) and my left big toe kept jamming into the shoe tip. By the time I finished the run, the nail was red underneath it – I eventually lost the nail altogether.
If the shoe ‘just’ fits, don’t run in it. Lesson learned.
My latest shoes are very minimal and very size 10! It’s not that my feet are necessarily bigger than they were – in fact, they are the same length, but shoe-makers design for very narrow feet. And while my feet aren’t substantially wider than before, they have too much depth and musculature to be pinched into a shoe that is too small. These fancy shoes have super flexible soles, thin adjustable uppers, and a very cool design. I recommend a slow transition to minimal footwear to give your feet time to adjust. Just as you wouldn’t begin exercising weak muscles using super heavy weights, you shouldn’t begin walking weak feet muscles with only minimal shoes.
Did you know that, in general, most shoes promote feet weakness, rather than strength? Hard soles, stiff uppers, and any heeled shoe prevent your feet from using the muscles that are designed to deform, and then stabilize, over uneven surfaces. And we rarely walk on anything uneven these days so that’s an added disadvantage. Referred to as intrinsic foot muscles, in my study of foot patterns and research on abnormalities, I’ve found that faulty foot bone alignment (or chronic misalignments, rather) as well as overall muscle weaknesses allow a repetitive shortening of specific muscles that can contribute directly to serious problems, like bunions for example.
Bunions (Hallux valgus) can become quite painful and in advanced cases, debilitating, due to the body’s attempt to protect the tissues. Believe it or not, bunions can be completely avoided and corrected using non-surgical methods in most cases. Just to be clear, bunions are not a genetic predisposition! See this picture of my husband’s foot demonstrating how a specific position forms a bunion.
He had shifted his ankle to the inside – note the arrow and the line showing the inner ankle bone moving off center of the foot. What he did not show is the ‘duck footed’position (toes more out, heel more toward center line) that often accompanies a bunion. He was able to shorten specific muscles including – Adductor hallucis (oblique head) and Flexor hallucis brevis (lateral head) to create the appearance of a bunion in the knuckle bone of his big toe.
Also notice the line near the big toe – this angle becomes more acute as pressure on that toe pushes it more toward the other toes. Walking with this configuration puts even more pressure on the toe in the final phases of the step, toe off, further exacerbating the problem in the joint. If a bunion can be created, it can be fixed! Here are some tips:
As we say goodbye to Foot Awareness Month, I am happy to say hello to Posture Awareness Month! May 2016 is sure to be informative – watch for more tips and information on how to make the most of your body’s position!
**If you ever need help or have a question, don’t hesitate to contact BODYWISE directly. If you’re curious and want to try us out, attend the ‘Don’t Exercise, Move’ workshop happening May 21 and every third Saturday from now until August – we’d love to see you!
According to this study done by Purdue University, the high fall and injury rate of students reflects the inherent instability of bipedal locomotion (walking). Students are falling 58% of the time while walking, so it must be that humans weren’t meant to walk on 2 legs.
Humans have been walking for a very long time… and because students at Purdue are tripping and falling over half of the total time they spend walking, the study concludes humans aren’t designed to walk.
Let’s look at other pieces of information that may have been a contribution to the problem. Most individuals studying in a college setting are between the ages of 18 and 26. It is very fascinating and interesting to note that, by 1988, the United States adopted the law requiring children to be in car seats (a full 10 years after Tennessee made car seats mandatory).
Hunh. 1988 was… 28 years ago. My my, could there be a correlation between these young adults current ability (or inability, I should say) to walk and the environment that directly effected how, how much, and to what degree, they developed during their initial attempts to learn to walk?
And by the way, has anyone looked at the connection between the increased use of automobiles and human mobility via walking or equestrian riding?
Is it possible that cars and the use of car seats are the cause of the current trends in human walking incompetence?
We’ve all seen ‘those’ parents who don’t take their children out of the car seats when the drive is over. And now we even accessorize car seats: They snap into the stroller, fit into the grocery cart, and even come with a curved base – all the easier to ‘rock’ the baby to sleep. By the way, years ago a friend shared with me that these kids are called ‘Bucket Babies’ and tend to have a flat spot on the back of their head.
The truth is bodies are meant to move!
Since car seats have become so versatile, children aren’t getting the same stimulation and opportunity to build movement patterns. They are delayed, under-developed, and less coordinated. Review the following growth markers considered basic development:
Humans have been raised in an upright world for much longer than they’ve been placed in car seats. There is more research to be had on this issue. For now, understand that car seats are just the beginning of a life of limited movement. With trends as they are, no one is likely to have a future of tripless walking – not with the average American sitting 9-12 hours a day.
Combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle! Walk more, Move more, Sit less!
If you need help or want to learn more ways to accomplish optimal health, attend the
‘Don’t Exercise, Move’ Workshop
April 16, 2016 at 3pm