Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Body Reading

When I was in massage school I was introduced to the concept of body reading. At the time I found it interesting but wasn't sure that I'd find it helpful where it came to massage therapy or fitness for that matter. Like most new concepts I learn, I first began to apply it to myself and was amazed to realize that I could look back to past aches and pains and relate them to emotional things I had going on in my life at the time when they occurred.

That realization led me to begin looking at any and all of my body related events  - both positive and less than positive - in a more holistic way and that has been a very good thing for me both physically as well as emotionally.

On occasion I'll share concepts from body reading with my massage clients and more often than not they seem to benefit from it. That being true, I decided to share a post on some of the very most basic concepts as they were taught to me.

The left side of the body represents family while the right represents work.

The shoulders represent what we are carrying in life and whether it is carried with joy or as a burden.

The hips represent balance and forward movement through life.

The knees represent our ego and sense of pride.

Our muscles represent movement through life and possibly resistance to new experiences.

There's loads more and of course I tend to move toward joints and muscles being a massage therapist. But, I think that will do for now.

To give you an example. At one point I was having trouble with my right shoulder. At the very same time I was feeling as though my work had become a burden. Realizing this I thought about work and instead of putting my head down and pushing through came up with a plan to make changes to get rid of the sense of burden. My shoulder was less painful as soon as I had faced the issue and made a plan to change things. The pain totally lifted with some basic massage therapy and as the situation continued to change for the better.

Please know that I'm not telling you to ignore symptoms or deny yourself medical care. I consider using this concept is more complimentary alternative medicine than a stand alone treatment. It raises your consciousness and that can bring the issues into your life more into focus and help you find solutions.

My challenge to you is to look back into your life to times when you had a joint that was painful. Was there anything going on with family or work that could have been related? It's kind of a fun exercise.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch

If you haven't tried this I highly recommend this approach.

It gets easier with each repeated step out. Each venture outside your zone will open your eyes and mind to new possiblilities. Admittedly most of those possibilities will require yet another step outside your comfort zone but then practice does make perfect.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekend Warriors

This is a rather long article by Shirley Vanderbilt called Weekend Warriors. She outlines ways that massage therapy can benefit athletes. Anyone who regularly works out for health or aesthetics can also benefit from reading the article.

Of note is the fact that many massage therapist drop passive and active range of motion techniques from their repetoire or never use them to begin with. Personally I feel that these are some of the most powerful tools a therapist has to rebalance and in turn reactivate musculature. If your therapist doesn't do any range of motion or spends most of your session on your back you deserve to give yourself a chance to experience a full body massage with range of motion. A therapist who performs range of motion will work much harder than one who doesn't but their client will benefit immeasurably from having had this type of massage therapy.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Unlock Your Hip Flexors and You'll Unlock a Whole Lot More: Part 3

In my last post I mentioned that I like the T-Tapp move "Organs In Place" to help rebalance my hip area. I actually should have said that I like both OIP and the movement "Half Frogs."  They work hand in hand to strengthen the transverse abdominal muscle and reverse the lower ab protrusion that a weak transverse muscle can cause.

This is one version of "Flat Back."
I also enjoy Fluidity bar workouts because they have an exercise series called "flat back" which is followed by deep psoas stretching that can really unlock my psoas area like nothing else. If you allow your back to come away from the backboard of the fluidity bar while attempting to perform the flat back series the exercise will immediately become much easier to perform. If this exercise feels easy, rest assured you are not only NOT doing it properly but you aren't getting nearly the benefit you could be getting otherwise. I also appreciate the fact that the fluidity psoas stretch has you keep your back leg straight. This really gives me a much deeper stretch than a bent back knee would provide.

The last psoas balancing type of exercise I add into my schedule regularly is the Egoscue: Pain Free Workout, Vol. 1 . This workout systematically rebalances the body with each exercise and/or stretch building upon the one before it. The three planned into different days of my normal workout schedule work better than one type of exercise alone would work. In that way they are quite synergistic in nature.
I also want to mention that the DVD; Egoscue: Pain Free Workout Series Vol. 1 and 2 costs only a few dollars more and gives you both Vols 1&2. Volume 2 however, is a huge leap above Volume 1.

The only way I can describe the way my body feels after an Egoscue workout is incredibly open and balanced. Quite amazing.

Since I started to add these three types of exercise into my schedule in a planned way I've noticed that my age related changes between the waist and mid-thigh have pretty quickly and steadily reversed. The menopot and the fat pad that overlies it has also been steadily disappearing and is in fact all but gone. My formerly flattening butt is higher and rounder and the front of my upper thighs which tends to be quite full and rounded has also slimmed down. It's not a miracle. It's just my body being more in balance and working as such.

Oh, and on a massage therapy note. When I get MY monthly massage my massage therapist, who just happens to be my business partner and DH spends some time looking for tight spots and/or trigger points in this area and stretching my hip flexors. Systematic massage therapy can speed up the results you can get from plain exercise and stretching alone because it helps rebalance the body more quickly.

My next installment in this series will be the final installment and the one where I'll talk about a mind/body and even somewhat Eastern reason that we women may tend to have an increase in fat levels in this area as we age. Consider yourself warned that there will be but some people call "whooo whooo" potential to that particular post.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thought For The Weekend

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. - Thomas Merton

The amazing thing about this simple statement is that it applies to life and also to life changes. We can try to muscle our mind or body into the mold in which we'd like to make it fit. Unfortunately that rarely results in long lasting change. When you seek an overall sense of balance, order, rhythm and harmony thinkgs just naturally begin to fall into place.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stress Relief for Your Skin

Lavendar Essential Oil
I love Lavendar Essential Oil! It's one of a few oils I won't be without.

I enjoy mixing lavendar essential oil into jojoba oil and using it on heat, emotionally or cold stressed skin, A couple drops of this blend applied to your fingertips and then gently pressed into your skin relaxes both mind and body.

I really enjoy applying this after using the Tea Tree Cleanser and Tonic. It's a great way to give my face a break when I'm planning a no makeup day.

If you are interested in purchasing these products without attending a spa party you may contact me by phone or email. You'll find that contact info at my massage therapy website under the contact us heading.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Unlock Your Hip Flexors and You'll Unlock a Whole Lot More: Part 2

Warning! Girly talk ahead. If you are a male you'd best step away from the monitor or choose a different post to read.

Ok where was I? AHHH Hip flexors and the Psoas and that lovely menopot, flat butt and now that I'm thinking about it upper front thigh pudge.

I owe the very fact that I hit on this concept to Teresa Tapp. She talks about the concept of fat developing in areas of muscle inactivity. There was at least one study that upheld this concept. I could try to find it and link to it and may at some point in the future but for now you'll have to google it yourself if you want to read it.

If you build upon her idea and think about the fact that loss of normal range of motion in an area results in muscle tightness which results in reduced range of motion and thus muscle inactivity you're thinking along the same lines I am.

As we age we tend to develop a decreased range of motion in our hip and low back. This happens for a few reasons but the most prominent one is a lifetime of cumulative sitting. Yet another reason can be the very crunches that so many of us perform in order to tighten our abs and get rid of the menopot. There's another factor, a more emotional factor with a ton more "whoo whoo" effect but let me plant the seed and leave it to blossom in another post.

Sitting and crunches both tighten the hip flexors, which includes the psoas. A tight psoas will limit your ability to truly and fully straighten your hip. If you think back to the concepts I talked about above that could allow more fat to accumulate around the area. A tight psoas muscle will also tend to tilt your pelvis, which in turn allows the content of your abdominal cavity to fall forward against your transverse abdominal muscle, which over time will begin to weaken under the load and protrude. Voila! Fatty pot belly AKA the good ol' menopot.

You might be thinking that the answer is to stop working your psoas. If it were only that simple. The truth is that for best function we want our psoas to be strong, balanced and flexible. But isn't that really the goal for our entire body?

I personally use a few synergistic approaches to reversing the postural distortion that comes about from tight psoas muscles. When combined with lifestyle change the result has been a steadily shrinking menopot - it's now more of a meno-speed bump and still shrinking. I'll talk about that more in part 3 but for now you can check out this exercise called Organs in Place. You can also check out this previous post about why OIP works.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hot Weather Facial Relief, Sweaty Workout Facial Relief

There should be a law stating that after a certain age we as women are free of breakouts. Or maybe my face missed the anti-breakout memo. The sad fact is that in hot weather and when I do sweaty workouts my face is still prone to breakouts - and honestly - if you do T-Tapp, other isometric and HIIT style workouts you sweat - A LOT.

I just recently decided to give Swiss Just Tree Tea Cleansing Gel and Tea Tree Tonic a go and I love them both!

They clear up and/or prevent my breakouts but don't dry out my skin. That's something I can't say about the products you can typically find over the counter. They also leave my skin feeling very clean without feeling stripped. The tonic instantly cools my heat or exercise flushed skin down immediately.

If you're a T-Tapper you know that heat flush can last quite a while after workouts. This combo seems to cool down the facial part of the flush for me quite nicely. It also has a lovely smell and like other Swiss Just products, it's concentrated so that a little goes a long way. Below are the product descriptions.

Cleansing Gel: In his exploration trips through Australia, Captain Cook learned about the wonderful properties of tea tree from the native Indians, and used it to offer first aid to his soldiers as a disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and wound healing agent. Ever since, tea tree has been used extensively for a variety of skin related problems and considered very effective yet delicate.
Gentle cleansing gel with tea tree, manuca and rosalina essential oils cleanses deeply but delicately, without irritating. Quickly helps improve the texture and appearance of the skin. For daily use.

Tea Tree Tonic

Tea Tree Tonic: In his exploration trips through Australia, Captain Cook learned about the wonderful properties of tea tree from the native Indians, and used it to offer first aid to his soldiers as a disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and wound healing agent. Ever since, tea tree has been used extensively for a variety of skin related problems and considered very eff ective yet delicate.
This tonic refreshes and invigorates the skin by providing a comforting effect to sensitive, blemished and acne prone skin.
Eliminates impurities and residues. Provides a gentle astringent action. Use daily in combination with Tea Tree Cleansing Gel to help the skin recover its fresh and radiant appearance.

If you are interested in purchasing these products without attending a spa party you may contact me by phone or email. You'll find that contact info at my massage therapy website under the contact us heading. If you would like to attend a Wellness Spa Party that can also be arranged.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Unlock Your Hip Flexors and You'll Unlock a Whole Lot More: Part 1

Warning! Girly talk ahead. If you're a male reader you'd probably do well to step away from the computer screen or at least move to another post.

One of the predictable "changes of aging" that we tend to accept as nonnegotiable is what has been termed the "menopot." We women hit a certain age and suddenly our normally tight, flat belly seems to blossom into a lower pot belly over night. Around the same time our formerly round, lifted butt deflates and droops into a new flat shape. If you've got a short torso you may have been fighting this phenomenon right along but it suddenly feels impossible to maintain your former progress.

Various ideas about why this happens have been bandied about. One idea is that the abdomen becomes a depot for fat producting estrogen. Another - and I think this one is quite likely - is that we become more insulin resistant at this stage in our life.

The good news about insulin resistance is that it can be remedied with lifestyle change. The eating tips I mention under the Healthy Meals section of this blog will help. A sane but not overly extreme exercise schedule can also help. For myself I've noticed that extreme exercise only serves to tax my body and in the end backfires. (More on that at some point in the future) For now I'll say that I believe that extreme exercise sets up a stress response in my body which over time leads to inflammation. Inflammation is why stress reduction is the third leg of the stool. This time of our life can be very stressful. We're often juggling our hormonal changes at a time when we're called upon to make career decisions, our children are entering college ($$$$$), our parents are aging, and in the last few years the ecomony isn't exactly booming. Recipe for stress, anyone? (I'll also write more on stress reduction later.)

Something else I'm coming to realise is that our hip and abdominal area, the hip flexors to be more exact and the Psoas to really zero in, can - at least for me - hold a major key to reversing the menopot trend.

I'll pick up on this subject later this week with Part 2. Until then, if you haven't already, check out the Healthy Meals, Healthy Mind, Self Care and Wellness sections of this blog for more info on the above topics.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Know What Used to Irritate Me?

My GE Front Loader Set
Washing linens and when you're a massage therapist you wash a lot of linens! To make it worse, I'm very particular about how I wash my sheets. They need to be washed on a sanitize cycle and I always do an extra rinse. Then they go into the dryer on another sanitize cycle and finally end with an air fluff.

So after getting more and more irritated about having to wash the linens I decided to figure out exactly what it was that bothered me.

It turns out that the washing and drying don't bother me one bit because my super duper washer and dryer do all the work. It's the folding that gets to me.

But you know what? On really thinking about it I realized that it's the folding but trying not to touch the sheets to anything while folding them that really bothers me. I mean serously, you don't sanitize something and then allow it to touch the folding table or heaven forbid the floor! How client centered would that be?

Well, no sooner did I figure out what was bothering me than I came up with a solution. I bought a special - massage linens only - laundry basket. Each sheet comes out of the drier and gets folded over this basket. If they touch the basket - which they rarely do - it's no big deal because nothing touches the basket but clean sanitized sheets. The basket is also covered when it's not being used.

So massage linen irritation is a thing of the past. If it were only that simple to overcome all of life's little irritations. Hey! Maybe it is!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making a Silk Purse Out Of A Sow's Ear

If you recognize that phrase you're probably as old as I am. My grandmother used to say that. They don't have cool phrases like that anymore. The buzz phrases of late only serve to set my teeth on edge. Like using the non-word "lurv" in place of love when posting on forums. I thought I'd grind my teeth to nubs before that one went out of vogue. But let me get back to the point of pulling out granny's cool phrase.

I'm not in the market for a car. We already have three perfectly serviceable ones. But for whatever reason my eyes feel upon an ad from a local car dealership and I just about snorted the water I was drinking through my nose. They've done away with "Previously Owned" cars!

If you're old enough to remember the "Sow's Ear" thing you no doubt remember that "Previously Owned" cars used to be known as plain old "Used" cars until someone decided that "Previously Owned" had a nicer ring to it. Well, that's all changed.

Now you can buy "Previously Loved" or sometimes "Pre-Loved" cars. That one had me scratching my head until I realized that the genius that coined the phrase probably figured that we'd consider a previous loved car to be currently unloved and decide to adopt it as if it were the runt of the litter. Personally, I'm not buying it. No pun intended. The website where I found this sign is now down for upgrading but I think I might like to buy my next car from Smiling Sam's.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thought For The Weekend

 ”At a certain age, you have to choose between your face and your @ss.” - Catherine Deneuve

She might not be judged as beautiful by society.
But then why should she be judged at all?
If only I can age with such grace.
This can be true for any woman hoping to hold herself to the impossibly thin standard we see in print, on the web and in many catalogs.

I recently saw a picture of a person I was previously acquanted with who got heavy into bodybuilding. Because she was a natural bodybuilder - or so I assume - her body was beautiful, lightly muscled with low body fat to showcase that muscle.

Her face shocked me however. The dehydration that's necessary to showcase those muscles had put a good 20 years on her face. I'm sure that her face plumped back up to her pre-contest beauty once she rehydrated but why is that kind of excess necessary?

Why do we have to hold ourselves as women to such an often unobtainable standard? And go to such drastic measures to obtain it? Is the way we look as we age such an awful thing that we need to hide it?

Not long ago I read a comment that a perfectly attractive woman in her middle years was going to hide her arms under sleeves because her skin wasn't as tight as it once was. Before I lost this weight and toned back up I also hid my arms and body in general under loose clothing. Is that really necessary?

It's as if we as woman are expected to disappear once we begin to show visible signs of aging. Visible signs of aging. Is that anything like visible pantie lines? If so then for sure both are modern societal sins.
Not all cultures vilify the older woman. Asian cultures revere their elders and  Pagans and Wiccans are known for celebrating and holding as honored "the maiden, the mother and the crone."
But you know what? I'm not sure that it's our society alone that makes us cringe at a bit of loose skin or cellulite or the start of a wrinkle. I think that we do a great deal to perpetuate it ourselves - we women. Seriously, if we as women would simply embrace one another for who we are - more so than how we look - and open our eyes to the beauty of an elderly woman, the world could be a different place. What freedom that would afford to our daughters and the daughters of our daughters.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Is it a Weight Loss Plateau? Time to Jump Ship? Maybe Not!

First let me tell you that stress and no sleep will put the weight on you like nothing else! I am speaking from experience. It would be simple to plead age and hormonal changes and then lie down and cry uncle.

I however, decided that I needed to get that weight off and since the holiday season of 2011 I've lost about 19.5 pounds. At first it was painfully slow and I hit a real plateau and didn't lose anymore for month and months. Then changed up my program and not only the pounds but the inches started moving.  Basically I gave my body what it needed to overcome the stress response and resulting fatigue that packed on those pounds to start with.

Well, the pounds moved until about a month and a half ago. Then they stopped. Just like that - BAM - no more weight loss.

I could have gotten upset and blew it and gained some or all of my weight back but I'm more patient than that. I figured that my body, in its innate wisdom was taking a break - a necessary break. So I thought it through and made a few changes first in my exercise program and now lately my eating plan and it looks like the pounds might be starting to move again.

In the last month and a half I've lost a sum total of between a pound and a pound and a half - but get this. I lost between a half and full pants size depending upon how tailored the pants are! My ribs and hip bones also made a come back.

My point is not to toot my own horn - though I will admit that I'm pretty proud that I've continued to hang in. My point is that a weight loss plateau isn't necessarily a bad thing. We tend to want to do things to our bodies or force our bodies into submission when maybe we really ought to be listening to them more closely and trusting in their ability to heal themselves.

One thing that's really helping me to stick to it through thick and into thin has been monthly pictures and a couple of pairs of to tight pants. The pictures show my shrinking waistline and hips and the pants have gone from way too tight to zip to a point where I can wear them.

So if your weight loss stops and you haven't been dipping into the cookie jar don't be so quick to condemn your body and blow your eating plan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Simple Rules for Choosing a Restaurant for Health

1. Do they make nutritional info available? If they do it's pretty easy to look at it and know the quality of the food.
2. Do they prepare their meals from scratch?
3. Do they use restaurant supplier ingredients or fresh foods?

I'm pretty picky these days. I want meals from scratch prepared with only fresh and preferably organic foods. Do you pay more? Most definitely! Is it worth it? Very Most Definitely! Will your eating experience be stuffy? I guess it depends.

One of our favorite places to eat is Flat Bread Company in Conway, NH. The vibe is laid back hippy and the food is fresh, organic and/or free range. Their salad fully loaded with a glass of great organic red wine on the side is to die for.

This video is from their portsmouth location but it's quite similar.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


More info on Stevia at wikipedia
I love herbs! I love growing them and using them. This season I planted Stevia, also known as sweet leaf. I've been snipping it daily for use in my green smoothies. I love the natural sweetness it provides.

We're currently working on plans for a kitchen remodel and I'm trying to come up with ways I can create an area for off season herb growing. I miss my fresh herbs in the winter and they tend to be pretty darn pricey at that time of year.

I've also tried and enjoyed Sweet Leaf Liquid Stevia when I didn't have the actual herb plant available to cut. That's probably what I'll go back to in the winter if I'm unsuccessful with growing it indoors.
I like Stevia because it's a natural sweetner and you get to control exactly how much sweetness you add. Artificial sweetners are chemical based and tend to be oversweet. Because of that they can make normally sweet foods, like berries and even carrots taste less sweet in comparison.

The fresh plant is great if you're adding it to something you'll be blending - like a green or even a regular smoothie. It's not so great for adding to other foods. To that end I hope to cut and dry whatever part of the plant I don't transplant before first frost and then crush the dried leaves with my mortar and pestle or - if I'm feeling more techie - in my Vitamix for use in non-blended foods.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Exercise - even without weight loss - is a Powerful Tool

I love semiprecious gems and stones
these are a few of the many I've collected
There's no denying it. Healthy Diet and Exercise are a powerful pair.  But always say that you can't outrun what you can eat. In other words, if you eat up the calories you burn during exercise your weight isn't going to change.

Well, as it turns out, that's ok! THIS article (sent to me by the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association of which I'm a member) highlights a study that showed that while exercise + weight loss decreases risk for heart attack more dramatically, exercise without weight loss OR weight loss without exercise still decreases risk.

Bottom Line? If you begin an exercise program with or without dieting and your weight loss falls off you are still doing great things for your heart. So don't let the lack of weight loss stop you! It just might be time to look at calories or the content of what you're eating.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Where is the Personal Responsibility?

My totally healthy tootsies in my BF running shoes
Update: 3/30/2015 - While I don't disagree with what I wrote originally, I do feel that no one, experienced runners included, should rush into barefoot running.

As a culture we're way too tied into immediate gratification. If I distill down our obesity problem this need to have whatever it is - food, skill, lifestyle, body shape, etc. - RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE BUT PREFERABLY YESTERDAY - is a huge part of our problem.

Arrrgh! This just in: Vibram is apparently being sued for claims they made concerning their Barefoot Shoes. I have very mixed feelings about this because I use and love these shoes.
I felt the same way when Sketchers was sued and actually I don't even like their rocking and rolling shoe. I feel they are, at best an aesthetic version of  MBT Swiss Massai Shoes, which I think are awesome. But let me get back to my original point.
I've read the Vibram site. I researched the barefoot walking/running movement extensively before I took my first barefoot step. I honestly don't believe that I was in any way misled or put in danger.
In fact, I came away with the realization that IF I was going to try this I would need to be humble and approach it as a beginner despite having run multiple marathons in the past.
I personalhy know people who bought Vibram shoes, and instead of using the moderate suggested wear plans that are available IN BOOKS and on the internet.
Now, say you follow the instructions and you begin to have pain. Well, any person with the sense they were born with would stop and/or get medical advise but I have a feeling that probably didn't happen.
When the Sketchers lawsuit went down I personally know of people who loved their Sketchers and still jumped on board in order to get a little money back. Can you say lack of personal integrity?
That will probably happen with the Vibram lawsuit and many people will get their money back but in the end the person with the fat wallet will be the lawyer who filed the lawsuit.
I guess that takes me full circle back to my original question; Where is the personal responsibility?
Please note that I am now an Amazon Associate. Some of my links will reflect this and could - depending upon whether or not you buy something you see here - result in a partial amazon gift card for me. I plan to use these cards - should I get any - to purchase additional items for my massage space like this Real-Ease Neck and Shoulder Relaxer and/or books like Anatomy Trains by Tom Myers to increase my knowledge of massage. I'll post each time I make an addition to the office or purchase a book. This post is very link heavy because it's new to me and I used it to practice.
OH and if you follow a link and buy shoes puleez use them responsibly and at the very first sign of pain take them off and seek medical attention. No one should spend more than a few minutes in specialty shoes the first time that they wear them. If you're going to run barefoot you need to begin by walking barefoot for short periods of time. This should be common sense but apparently some folks didn't get the memo.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Eating for Nutritional Density

One simple approach to eating well and even to losing weight is to eat for nutritional density. That sounds really complicated but it's not. Eating for nutritional density is simply choosing foods on the basis of how much nutrition they make available to your body.

Step one is to limit or get rid of processed foods since they are notoriously low in nutrition. The problem is that it can be difficult to move to 100% unprocessed food if you are used to eating a steady stream of the stuff.

The Stop&Go Grocery Guide is a great resource to help you take the first steps. This book uses a simple green, yellow, red grading system based upon how much total nutrition a food provides. The page I linked to provides a link to a PDF of the book introduction but I'll also link to it HERE.

My challenge to you is to try to begin thinking of food in terms of the nutrition it provides rather than low carb or low fat or low cholesterol or low calorie or.....well you get the point.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thought for the Weekend: A Warning for the Grammar and Spelling Police

Heh heh heh, I was tempted to type that title like this. "A Warning for the Grammer and Spellin Poleese!!!!"
I may not have the balanced life thing completely figured out but I'm great at being imperfectly perfect and my spelling, grammar, commas,,,, and exclamation points!! fall into that area.

I love to blog but time is short - too short for endless editing. If you want to volunteer to be my official unpaid editor please do so. Please also know that I might ignore your suggestions in favor of moving ahead with this life of mine.

Challenge: Next time you goof up the spelling of a word, save some time and leave it and discover just how freeing being imperfectly perfect or perfectly imperfect can be.

Oh and today is Friday the 13th and I'm not the least bit bothered by it - hows that for confidence?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Retraining Your Tastebuds: Salt

I hear it all the time. "When they took away salt they took all the taste out of my food." Well, not really. The salt was actually covering up the subtle flavors of the food you were eating, though it's small comfort when you're faced with your first few plates of low/no salt added food.

There are good health reasons to cut back on salt. There is evidence that, over time, salt can drive inflammation, which then drives blood pressure increases. This article describes the concept and the research around it. I'm gonna tell you that the idea that you immediately need a drug to treat inflammation sets my teeth on edge since there are inexpensive natural lifestyle based alternatives but that's another post for another time. HMMMMF!

Another good reason to cut back on salt is simply because food will taste so much  better! Well, eventually it will. Seriously, unprocessed food has a wealth of varied flavors that too much salt quickly drowns out.

If you've been diagnosed with a condition such as Heart Failure you'll need to go cold turkey and believe me when I say that new taste sensations are on the way.

But if you are simply cutting down on salt as part of a healthy lifestyle you have the option of cutting back more gradually.

By cutting out processed and fast foods you will be cutting out a huge amount of salt. See my Simplified Plan for Health Eating. Then remember that restaurant food also tends to be very salty. Limit eating out and try to make good choices - both in what you eat and what restaurants you frequent.

If you're dependent upon canned foods when you cook at home try altering your recipes by using no salt added canned foods. For instance: when you make that chili that usually calls for two cans of chopped tomatoes use one regular can and one no salt added can for now. Oh! and rinse the beans. When you drain off the fluid that comes in a can of beans or tuna or the like and then refill the can with water, allow it to sit for a few minutes drain and repeat you actively remove salt.

Trying a new recipe? Make the recipe with half no salt added products and cut the salt it calls for in half. Later you can get rid of even more of the salt.

Finally, look for recipes that use whole foods rather than processed foods. Food manufacturers would have us believe that you will spend all day in the kitchen if you don't depend on their foods but I assure you that could not be further than the truth.

My challenge to you is to remove some of the excess salt from your diet. If you've already accomplished that I challenge you to choose a food you haven't eaten in a while, eat it and commit the taste to memory.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is Your Competitive Spirit Helping or Hindering You

Recently an acquantance related a personal experience concerning their competitive spirit and I immediately knew I wanted to share it.

This person played a recreational sport. He played weekly. Once weekly. Despite playing so infrequently he had a picture in his mind that needed to play like a professional. He need to win!
Unfortunately when you play any sport once a week your chances of excelling and winning aren't terribly high. So when his score would be less than he thought it would, or he missed a shot he thought he should hit he would become angry. This anger didn't stay internal and he would yell, throw things in an effort to vent his self anger. Since he was playing this recreational sport with others his anger impacted their enjoyment of the game.

He realized that he wasn't enjoying this nor were his buddies. So he did an amazing thing. He removed himself from the sport for several years and when he knew he could relate to it in a more healthy way he returned. He no longer gets angry with himself because he doesn't have any false ideas about what he can achieve.

Misguided Competitive Spirit can turn you into a couch potato. Say you love swimming but you're always mentally carrying around the stats from 30 years ago when you were on the college swim team. It could set you up to strive for a goal you might never reach. How much fun is it to strive for an impossible goal? I personally think that it's healthier to acknowledge where you are right now, set some realistic goals and enjoy finding out where regular swimming will take you over time. Who knows? You may surprise yourself and hit those stats but your enjoyment of reconnecting with swimming is not dependent upon it.

Competive spirit can be great when it drives us to achieve more than we thought we could. But in order to be healthy we need to be balanced and realistic about competition.

Take me and running. Let's face it. I'm a short legged woman of a certain age who loves distance running but has little time to train these days. Chances of me winning races are nil. If I approach running with an "only winning counts" attitude and "every run must be fast and long" I'm setting myself up for frustration and mostly likely injury. Could I be faster? With plenty of time to train and recover - maybe but it's just not realistic with that I have going on in my life right now. So I tell myself that I am grateful for being a slow runner because it gives me the chance to take in the scenery that is just a blur to the fast runners. I enjoy the sport despite not being particularly gifted. I acknowledge my imperfect perfection where it comes to running.

How about you? Are you at a place in your life where you can embrace your imperfectly perfect self?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rediscover Your Love of Movement

As a Health and Fitness professional it's something I hear on a regular basis. "But I hate to exercise!"

My suggestion is to honor that feeling but also spend some time thinking about how you relate to movement.

We're born to move, designed in a way that makes it possible. As children we move freely, often and without much thought. Walking, running, tumbling and in general being busy with activity is just something children do - pretty much like breathing.

Think back to you as a child and try to remember what kinds of movement you enjoyed. Find an adult version of that type of movement and chances are you'll connect with it.

Rather than hating exercise it could be that you simply hate what you think exercise should be.

I'll use myself as an example: As a child I loved to walk really fast, run and dance. I also loved nature. I was sometimes told; "Will you slow down and stop running around?" and "Stop dancing around and sit still!"

This is a fluidity bar. I consider it to have been an excellent
investment. Years after purchasing it I still use it regularly.
Fast Forward and my favorite forms of movement are walking - usually in the form of hiking, trail running and dance inspired workouts. I don't have time to travel to and from dance classes and to be honest I prefer in home exercise. So for me workouts like T-Tapp, Fluidity Bar, Calanetics and other ballet/barre style workouts are a good fit. Over time I've stretched out - no pun intended - and discovered that I also enjoy pilates different types of yoga, especially Kundalini and Bikram yoga.

But enough about me. Let's get back to you. I have a challenge for you - whether you're a confirmed hater of exercise or someone who has difficulty with exercising regularly. I challenge you to redefine exercise as movement and reconnect with the movements you loved as a child. Then let me know how it's working.

If it's not working feel free to comment here or email me for additional ideas and help.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Being Grateful For What We Have

I am Grateful for the lovely Summer Sunsets
we are treated to from our front porch.
I'll be the first to admit that, depending upon your circumstances, this may not be easy to do. I'll also share, from personal experience, that it gets easier with practice, no matter your circumstances.

I spend a few brief moments being grateful pretty much every morning. It's become a part of my day. I won't say that I never miss it. I will say that when I miss it - well - I miss it. In other words my day just isn't the same without it.

I used to simply try to be open to recognizing and then acknowledging the good things that flow through each day. I still do this but have found that having a brief daily contemplative practice helps to set the tone of my day. I benefit from it both mentally and spiritually.

I guess you could say that I'm grateful for having discovered this gratuity practice.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Honor Yourself with a Random Act of Self Kindness

This is something I do to help slow down time and reconnect.

Pedibon Foot Spray
For example yesterday I was setting up my massage space, getting ready for a fairly busy day. After I had it all set up and ready for my scheduled clients I took a little time for myself.

I brewed a cup of tea and while it was steeping I gave myself a foot treatment.

First I sprayed each foot with pedibon spray and massaged it in. The cooling, moisturizing silky mist felt lovely. Then I massaged each foot with pedicream. The lovely scent added a note of aromatherapy to the treatment. I didn't do some huge structured massage or reflexology treatment. It was just me being kind to my feet and thanking them for carrying me through life.

When I finished I put on the cotton socks I favor when I am working in my massage space. Being a barefoot kind of gal I love working in stocking feet! Then I washed my hands and enjoyed my now thoroughly steeped tea.

Pedicream, I stock samples
so ask me for one the next
you're in for a massage.
This little act of self  kindness took only minutes yet it set a wonderful tone for the entire day. Having given to myself I was so much more ready to totally give to my clients.

As women and sometimes men it's not unusual for us to be working on changing some aspect of ourselves for the better. Don't forget to take a few moments each and every day to honor where you  are right now.

Connecting with yourself  often, and in such simple but positive ways can be a powerful vehicle of self care. Give it a try.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thought for the weekend: Simplified Cleaning

I love a sparkly clean bathroom. Unfortunately soapscum can make that an upward battle. I know all about those shower sprays that you can buy in the cleaning product aisle. I also know about something that works just as well and costs pennies.

Name brand or off brand
They work equally well
WHITE VINEGAR! Yep, that's right! You can use it straight or mix half vinegar and half water. Put it in a spray bottle and mist your shower or tub surround after each use. Keeping the tub sparkly will be much easier and you'll be doing Mother Earth and your pocketbook a favor too. Works for sink bowls too.
The bathroom will smell of vinegar at first but after a few minutes the odor fades with it will go any other odors that might be hiding out in your bathroom.

"A penny saved is a penny earned." - Benjamin Franklin

I'm trying to identify areas of my life were I might simplify and then actually doing it - how about you? It's an amazingly soul satisfying hobby.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Simplified Plan for Healthy Eating

Homemade Lunch - used to be leftovers
It doesn't get more simple than this. Two rules.

1. Eat only REAL food. No boxes, cans, bottles or fast food need apply.
2. Eat only when you're hungry. (This can take some practice.)

When you remove processed, prepared foods from you diet you remove up to 78% of the excess sodium, a ton of fat - usually the bad kind, and loads of chemicals. How can doing that be anything but good?

Thinking that cooking from scratch takes too long? Well, honestly that's a myth perpetuated by the companies that make processed food.

It doesn't mean that you can never eat out either. I suggest that you get picky about where you eat out. Instead of choosing a restaurant on the merits of how full they fill your plate think about whether or not the food is freshly prepared or is simply made from items secured from a restaurant supplier.

You'll pay more for freshly made food but I believe that it's worth it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Four Rules for Healthy Living

One of the joys of my life - Reilly as a puppy

Healthy living can be quite simple despite what the media would have us believe.

1. Do Not use tobacco products
2. Eat REAL food in moderate amounts
3. Move your body every day, don't sit still for longer than 15 minutes at a time if possible
4. Make it a point to find a little joy in every day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy July 4th

Maybe it's because the holiday is in the middle of the week. Maybe it's just because I tend to be pensive these days. My thoughts today keep coming back to how very complicated a life we Americans live.

We're constantly barraged by messages that tell us that our homes, lives, cars, diet, waistlines and on and on are less than they should be. Boil is down and the message is that WE are less than we should be. No worries though because if we only buy this that or the other thing we'll fix the deficiency right up and be living the perfect life in no time flat. NOT!

For years and year and years I kept telling myself that I needed to find balance in my life. I now realize that's not what I'm craving at all. What I'm craving is simplicity and the space that results when you live a more simple life. I guess knowing that is a real step toward knowing what I want this life of mine to look like. Yay me! Oh and YES, Happy 4th of July to you!

"The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are."
- Mother Theresa

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Egoscue is an exercise method developed by Pete Egoscue. It's designed to relieve chronic pain and it works! I plan to eventually become certified in Egoscue.

I'm intrigued with both the similarities and differences between Egoscue and T-Tapp. On a personal level I've gotten relief from hip pain from both methods.

I believe that the two methods could actually be synergistic when used together. By together I don't mean at the same time or mixing and matching exercises. I mean together as part of a planned rehabilitative exercise program.
I also wonder if using Egoscue to get in touch with your muscles could help spur inch loss in those T-Tappers who either don't lose inches to begin with or stop losing inches. Some people have problems really connecting with T-Tapp form. On the surface their form may seem fine but they just don't quite connect with working one part of their body against another part.

In some cases the cause for this may be a decrease in the ability to know where your body is in space. When this is the cause the person "thinks" that their arms are shoulder height but they aren't or maybe they think that their back is flat but it isn't. They can't feel that these form elements are off. This sense of postion in space can usually be improved over time.

In other cases a muscle imbalance and/or improper muscle firing order may have a specific joint or even a body area locked up and this can make achieving T-Tapp form more difficult if not outright impossible. Working on your form - especially if you have a trainer you can visit - can fix this over time. But not everyone is able to do that.

This is where I believe Egoscue could come in. They have clinics but they also have a DVD; Egoscue: Pain Free Workout, Vol. 1  that's available at amazon.com. I linked to the Volume 1 DVD, They also have a DVD; Egoscue: Pain Free Workout Series Vol. 1 and 2  that gives you both Vols 1&2 for about $3 more. I'll tell you that there's a huge leap between the exercises on Vol 1 and those on Vol 2. Even if you're an advanced exerciser I would recommend you begin with Vol 1 rather than jumping to Vol 2 right away. This isn't about being super duper strong or advanced it's about systematically addressing muscle imbalance and relieving pain - quickly! Like T-Tapp it's important to follow the exercises in the proper order.

I'll probably be writing more about Egoscue once I begin their certification program but for now this post will have to do.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Do You Need a Massage?

THIS ARTICLE by Robert Chute explains some of the less commonly known ways that massage can be beneficial.