Archive | Fitness

The Fear You’re Born With

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.Under_water  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 childreIMG_3096n 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.Submerged_leaf

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.

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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!

 

 

 

Little Boat, Big Fear

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.

Oar_in_water

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 choose to be afraid

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.

Oar_in_water

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.

I saw a man dying today…

Kaspar_reflection

I was pushing myself to do something that was scary to me.

I have been wanting to learn to row for quite a few years and up until now, the kids were too young for me to be gone in the early mornings. In order to row, its required to take a float test to ensure one doesn’t drown if the boat capsizes.

I’ve had near drowning accidents as a child and while I love being in the water, I’m also afraid and never really learned to swim. I was nervous and on my way to the pool when I saw the squad cars.

As I drove past, the officers were shaking the arm of a man collapsed on the sidewalk. I saw his ashen face, closed eyes, pain etched into his laugh lines. He was alone and dying and the policemen ripped open his shirt to use an AED.

I was afraid to take a float test – and I’m still alive to tell.

Life is too short. Live it well. Be grateful. Love the people around you.

We need to move to live.

Please, please, move more.

Feet don’t fail me now – National Foot Month

FeetFeet 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.  

Pink kitchen gloves isolated on white background.

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.   House foundation

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

 Toe abduction

2  Walk around on the balls of your feet

 Walk on toes

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
www.bodywisebodywork.com/exercise-move-workshop

Do we sit because we can’t walk?

Falling, TrippingAccording 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. 

 Seriously? 

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:

  • At 1 month, a baby should begin lifting their head and turning it to the side while lying on their stomach – in recent years, parents are told to give their kids ‘tummy time.’  No tummy time happens in a car seat.
  • At 3 months, a baby should begin lifting his chest as well as head and perform pushup like movements while lying prone.  They also push down with their legs if you stand them up.  Babies can’t push their legs against the curve of a car seat.
  • At 7 months, a baby should be able to roll over, sit unsupported, and bounce on her legs while supported.  Children at this stage have not developed the same strong network of motor nerves that more independent babies have.
  • Between 8 to 12 months, children should be crawling, pulling themselves up to standing, and walking with help.  If kids aren’t mobile by this point, they really scream about it!

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
rsvp dawn@bodywisebodywork.com

DON’T EXERCISE – Research supported!

man looking down cliffThe ‘Don’t Exercise’ blog has brought up several questions, multiple comments, and even emails questioning it’s validity.  From ‘Do you really believe this?’ to ‘That’s great news!’, from ‘What *should* I do?’ to ‘That’s a relief!’

Nearly all of the people who question the truth of ‘Don’t Exercise’ have one thing in common – they just read the blog title and didn’t read the content of the article.  The title is such a controversy and caused such a fuss that lots of readers unsubscribed from the newsletter, even a chiropractor!

A little while ago, another well known doctor and posture specialist, wrote a note disagreeing with my article about ‘The New Sit’.  Guess what?  He hadn’t read the content either, he just saw the image and figured I had bought in.  It turns out, we actually agree that the New Sit is NOT beneficial.

Where do you stand?   

Having read the title, ‘Don’t Exercise’, would you agree with the statement, or disagree?  Are you someone with an opinion and time to write an inquiry?  Are you someone who looks at the evidence or takes time to read up on the subject?  If you read a subject line that says ‘Don’t Exercise’ wouldn’t you want to know what in the world it was about?

I’m writing about it because it’s in the news and it’s not easy to read everything there is to know about sitting or exercise or health – this is your opportunity to get the low down on what the issues are and decide what to do for yourself.

I’m going to come completely clean here – research has found that SOME exercise is better than NO exercise.

This statement is a lot like saying some eating is better than no eating.  Or some water consumption is better than drinking no water.  If you read the following statement, would you understand what it means?

    ‘Cessation of pulmonary respiration is linked to higher mortality rates.’

Yep, I know that.  You know that.  I think everybody knows that.  Maybe not though.  If you don’t know it’s meaning, don’t sweat it.  There are professionals in the field to help translate the science-ese.  Here it is again:  ‘If you stop breathing, you die.’    

What’s the point, you ask?  It’s about understanding what the research has found about EXERCISE and HEALTH.

The American College of Sports Medicine says that the evidence in support of the beneficial effects from performing exercise outweighs potential risks against exercising (eg cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, joint damage, muscle tears, etc) in most adults.  This is a fact considered indisputable because exercise has been shown to support the following list of changes in sedentary individuals:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves lipoprotein profiles
  • Enhances insulin sensitivity
  • Manages body weight
  • Preserves bone mass in elderly
  • Reduces the risk of falling in aging populations

These are all good changes for people who spend most of their time SITTING.  By today’s standards, most people don’t consider themselves chronic sitters. 

However, Sitting is the new Smoking, remember?  Sitting is a health hazard.  A study from 2012, linked inactivity to over 5 million deaths worldwide every year, which is more than the deaths caused by smoking.  The new study by the Annals of Internal Medicine, found sedentary lifestyles increase the chances of developing conditions that contribute directly to dying prematurely, even for those who do the minimum recommended exercise. 

TVThe average American adult sits 9.3 hours per day not including commute times or meal times.  In addition, most people watch 3-4 hours of TV each day.  Potentially, you could be a 12 hour sitter, Monday through Friday.

Here again is the list of what may develop in the future (or you may have one or more already) that makes sitting such a hazard.  Sitters are still likely to face:

  • Higher risk of developing depression
  • Greater risk of developing cancer – colon, endometrial, and lung
  • Greater risk of developing heart disease
  • Increases the risk of obesity
  • Increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Susceptibility to muscular issues (immobility)
  • Interference of LPL, lipoproteinlipase (fat breakdown for fuel)

As a reminder, this is the same list of problems for both categories of people:  Sitters who Do Exercise as well as Sitters who Don’t Exercise.

EXERCISE in and of itself is not the solution, therefore, Don’t Exercise!  If you only have so much time in a week, why bother stressing about getting in exercise if it doesn’t positively impact your Sitting health anyway?

The takeaway:  Time to make a Plan about your Sitting Habit. 

As a non-exerciser, add the minimum weekly recommendation – 2.5 hours of moderately intense aerobics, OR 1.25 hours of vigorous activity, OR combinations of both types.  This does not include muscle building activity two times weekly.

What will you do?  How will you do it?  When and How often should you do it?

If you don’t know, I can help with creating that plan – it’s my specialty.  Contact me at dawn@bodywisebodywork.com.

As a current exerciser, here is a very important reality check:  The minimum recommendations of exercise do not counteract diminished health from prolonged sitting.

Let me prove it to you with this simple test!  Stretch your calves for 30-60 seconds each side – I recommend a piece half-foam for consistency and portability.  Sit for the average amount of time you spend in that position.  For me, it’s about 70-90 minutes at a time.  Re-check your calves by stretching them again.  Hopefully, you’re convinced… Please send me feedback on what you experienced!  Calf_stretch

Here’s another reality check:  The body you take exercising, is the same body you use for sitting.  If you do more sitting than exercising, you strengthen ‘sitting’ body patterns.  The test is the same!  If your calves stretch-ability changes while you’re sitting, that’s the movement availability in your calves during exercise.

What will you do to transform to a non-sitting body pattern?  How will you do it?  When and How often should integrate the tools?

If you don’t know, I can help with creating that plan, too – it’s exactly my specialty.  Contact me at dawn@bodywisebodywork.com.

Til then, Happy Sitting!

The *New* Sit

Mom has been wrong all these years, telling us to sit up straight!  Articles published recently claim that sitting up straight places too much pressure on the spine.  MRI scanning of 3 seated positions, forward, upright, and leaning back, shows that a reclined seated position results in less intervertebral pressure and a decrease in compression on the spinal discs of the low back.

Check out this illustration:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6187080.stm

Let’s think about this for just a moment.  Reducing the amount of total weight on the spine (by leaning back), will of course, decrease the amount of compression the bones and discs bear.  By this recommendation, a healthier suggestion intimates that people ought to lie entirely flat – that removes ALL pressure on the spine.  Actually, because gravity exists on this planet, it won’t remove all the pressure, so let’s ship everyone into space… that definitely removes most weighted pressure on the spine.

Given that this references only the weight the spine must bear, let’s have a go at this idea:  Remember what happens to astronaut bones?  NASA reports those tempting fate in space lose bone density and muscle mass along with many other side effects.  http://tinyurl.com/m798jwd  

According to WEBMD.com, bones are living tissue and continue to grow throughout our lives.  Bones cells are replaced about every 10 years or so, and what keeps them strong?  National Institute of Health declares the more work bones do, the stronger they get.

That’s saying something.  In space, bones don’t get much work because there is little gravity for the muscles and bones to work against.  Makes sense.  In a reclined chair, bones aren’t getting much work through pressure or pull of muscles on them to hold them in an upright position.  Will people who lean back and recline while seated for long periods of time, change their bone density as well?  Probably!

And to add to your ideas about bones and lowered density, health.harvard.edu declares that “Everybody’s bones get weaker as they get older.”  This is only true if everybody stops moving as they get older… (which is often the case).

Bones don’t move on their own or choose a density based on age.  Bones require muscles to move them and when a muscle acts strongly on bone, the bone cells know to increase density to withstand the forces applied.  Put pressure on your spine – actually try sitting up for a change!

Why do aging women tend toward osteoporosis?  Men typically have more muscle mass to begin with so they enter the aging years with more dense bones.  Weight bearing exercise is typically recommended for women post-menopausal to keep bone density up.

Too often women facing a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis are told they must take medications.  Why is this?   For people who have weak bones they obviously reduced their movement habits over a long enough time that the bones don’t ‘require’ density.  Are they able to transform their daily lives and begin to exercise?   It may be easier to ensure patient compliance by prescribing a pill than prescribing exercise.

Take a second look at each of the above profiles – the head is forward of the shoulder.   Researchers obviously didn’t notice the strain on the neck and the potential deformity of the neck bones when they recommended the reclined position as best.

What research will you follow?   Here is an article,  Science of Posture, that states standing (or sitting) tall, has a positive effect on your thoughts, moods, habits, AND hormones.  Ultimately, the choice is yours in how you hold your body.  Research seems to support both slouching and sitting up straight.

I support staying optimistic, thinking creatively, feeling empowered and keeping my posture upright.  To do all this, just move well and more often!!   And the added benefits include maintaining bone density in the low back, as well.

If you’re having trouble moving easily, sitting straight, or keeping your balance, contact BODYWISE for your consultation today – remember Good Moves make for a Great Life!


#MoveEveryday, #MoveMoreAgeLess, #BodyWise, #AlignYourFeet, #PosturePerfect, #CreateYourLife, #BetterMovement, #GoodMovesGreatLife, #NatureBodyWiseBody

Change Your Chair

IMG_9127.JPGMost chairs are a similar height so the difference in the vertical change we make (from standing to sitting) on a daily basis varies little.  Obviously, a taller person has to lower themselves further to sit in a chair than one of shorter stature.

The important point is how often one *varies* the vertical distance traveled. The body habituates itself so well, that it learns and remembers how far away a chair is… And the musculature necessary to accomplish the task quickly adjusts to only whats needed (and little more).

Given enough time and limited movement, even the same chair can become difficult for someone to get into, or get out of.  We’ve all witnessed the elderly struggling to sit and stand…  Truth:  If we don’t use muscle, we lose muscle.

How do you know if you’re headed down the path to losing muscle?  A few clues are sure indicators

1. Using your hands and arms to lift yourself out of a chair

2. Difficulty getting fully straight and upright after sitting.

3. Inability to lower yourself all the eay down into the seat of a chair (*crashing* down the last 1″ or more).

Keep your muscles guessing – and strong – by changing what you sit on as well as where you sit!  Try standing  up more often throughout the day, too.