What, Why and How (and, eventually, the WHO)

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Rather than point people towards using apps to motivate, track food, track run stats, or track habits, my goal is to present information so that you can understand the human element that both gets in the way and, confusingly, also helps you succeed in your quest to be happier with yourself.  This post is kind of about being happy.  This is also about helping you understand how it is that you have things in your life that make you feel shitty and how best to replace those things with things that make you feel better.  When you can understand human nature and our very ingrained biologic processes my hope is that you will have more patience and a bigger tool box to pull from to direct yourself towards a happier life.  Breaking any goal down to the what, the why and the how will set you up for a clearer and probably more successful path to positive change.  Without taking all three components into consideration we risk losing ground, losing time and feeling worse.  

Here’s a popular what:  “I want to lose 10 pounds.”

Why?  Will losing weight make you look younger so that you can compete against others as you move up the corporate ladder?  Do you want to lose weight to attract a romantic partner?  Do you want to lose 10 pounds because your last love interest found someone younger or thiner?  How much does being female and having a “magazine style” body mean you look more successful?  Will your mate, your parents, your friends, your boss be impressed by how you look?  Does their opinion of you replace your own opinion of yourself?  What are you trying to change about yourself for those external parties versus how much are you trying to change for YOU?  What are you trying to do?  And, why?  

Another what: “I want to improve my posture.” Why?  Is it because you perceive your slouch-iness makes you look unprofessional?  Did you ever judge people who are slouched over calling them old?  Did your parents give you a hard time about your posture when you visited them over the holidays?  Do you think that fixing your posture will make you look slimmer?  What is it that you are really trying to change and why?  External party validation?  Or, is this really for YOU?

Now, let’s talk about the application of how.  How did I gain those 10 pounds?  How did my posture turn into what it is today?  I gained those 10 pounds because I am not eating well for my current lifestyle and I don’t work out enough.  No shit.  That’s what we all say. Let’s really dig.  How about: I gained those 10 pounds because two years ago I became so emotionally tied to my job that I started working 12 hour days every day.  I gave up my mornings and time to eat breakfast so that I could stay up late working which left me sleep deprived so I couldn't get up earlier.  I gave up being active during the week because I work so much.  I’m in fear of not getting promoted.  I can’t keep up on my emails.  I don’t feel confident in the quality of my work and feel like I’ll be found out.  I need this job because my apartment, car and lifestyle costs exceed 70% of my earnings.  The person I work for is a prick.  I gained 10 pounds because I live in constant fear that I’m going to be fired because I’m older.  Ah! Fear? Stress? Anger? Depressed?...Now we’re getting somewhere.  

Let’s explore the posture crisis.  How did my posture turn into that of a cavewoman?  I stopped playing recreational sports and stopped going to the gym 2 years ago because my neck hurt so badly that I called out of work a lot.  Eventually, with my neck still throbbing, my pain threshold increased and being in pain became my new normal.  I’m in pain all the time.  My neck doesn’t work right so my back rounded.  I sit more because my lower back hurts a lot.  My lower back hurts because I sit more.  Oh ya, and I gained 10 pounds so my core isn’t strong.  My posture sucks because my eyes are tired and don’t work properly.  I fear having to spend time going to see someone to help fix what is wrong.  I don’t have time and I don’t want people at work to think there’s something wrong with me.  I will lose respect from my peers and risk not feeling connected to them.  Ah!  Fear again.  We’re getting somewhere!

What do you want to change?

Why do you want to change?  The real deep “why”, not the surface “why”.  Don't feed yourself a bunch of bull crap. 

And, how did you get to this current state that needs correction?

Without digging deep to uncover the why, it’s really hard to find your path out of it.  And, with so much noise out there, it’s even more challenging today to find out your real why.  The noise is all the crap you read - “the 5 minute fix to a better butt” or the “3 things you need to do to move up the ladder”.  How do you feel when you see your buddy Mike’s 40 mile bike ride and you only rode 10 miles because your back hurt?  Are you going to keep riding even though you’re in pain?  Will your “bike friends” support you as you heal your back or will they disappear?  Will you stop riding and subsequently cease using that app putting you at risk of gaining weight and start to fear losing your job?  Making noise-free time to really dig deep will help you realize more about yourself.  Quiet those things that aren’t adding real value to you.  And, believe that you deserve to be happy.  Figure out those things that are in your way to feel better and begin chopping them out.  And, find the positive "who's" to help you.  Coach's (like me), therapists, friends, family.  Be patient as you embark on your quest, be kind to yourself and for f*cks sake, be real.  I bet you’ll find greater success as you make change.  You deserve to lead a life that feels good!

Are You Really Hungry (and, how to stop hating your body)

"I can’t stop eating snacks because my company has so much free stuff available."  

"I ate that whole burrito and now I’m ashamed of myself."  

"My body is bigger than it’s ever been and I can’t stop eating the stuff I know I'm not supposed to eat." 

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS?

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS?

Yuck!  The fuc*ing shame spiral with food.  And, the addiction.  We live in a society that has turned most of us into food addicts.  I eat one cookie and then I can’t stop having one every day.  Breakfast cafe's that serve bagels as breakfast!?  Dammit!  They’re everywhere!  Bread, carbs, refined sugar...We haven't had a balanced breakfast since we were breastfed. 

"I’m stressed, I don’t have any time" so the bagel gets gulped down. Then a sandwich for lunch.  Then never ending snacking.  Then feeling tired and ashamed.  You read somewhere that milk is good for you.  Then you read that milk is bad for you.  Someone tells you to eat toast before you workout.  Then you read that bread is bad. WHAT THE FU*K?!  Here’s the deal, two things are probably happening to you.  One is that you are eating even when you’re body doesn’t really need it, emotional hunger versus physical hunger.  And, you are eating foods that are sending off all sorts of chemical messages that create a pattern of addiction.  Crap food craves more crap food craves even more crap food....UGH!

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At Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Jennifer Kromberg writes:

It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true: hating your body is one of the biggest factors in emotional eating. Negativity, shame, and hatred rarely inspire people to make long-lasting great changes, especially when it comes to our bodies or our sense of self.  Many people tell me they will stop hating their body after they reach their goal weight. I say you have to stop hating your body before you can stop the emotional eating cycle.

Do you need nutrition help as in just a meal plan to follow?  Or, do you need some assistance identifying why you can’t stop eating the way you do?  Do you want to just be ok with your body?  Or, do you need a coach to monitor what you eat - someone you have to check in with on a weekly basis?  Let me help guide you to the right person.

  • I don’t feel that good about myself and can’t get to a place to start eating right for me: Sara Groton, Bee Balanced Wellness, Holistic Eating Consultant (the psych of why I am stuck and why I feel bad) https://www.beebalancedwellness.com

And, thank you to this counselor for her article (she is another great person to help with the psychology side of emotional eating):

https://eddinscounseling.com/food-fulfillment-emotional-eating-triggers-strategies-gets-control/

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So, there you have it. The very beginning of the nutrition puzzle.  Get ready to learn about the brain/gut connection, hormones, the vagus nerve, neural threat, chronic pain and other topics that affect nutrition.  Dang! Just when you think you have it all figured out.  Don't worry.  I got you.  Just reach out.

Everything is Glutes

Seriously!  Knee injury - glutes. Ankle injury - glutes. Feet problem - glutes. Hip problem - glutes. Shoulder problem - could be glutes. Whaaaa???  We all have them. We sit on them every day. We shut them off. We sit on them more. We don’t pay attention to them. Then we expect them to do a whole bunch of work.  Your glutes are the largest muscles on your body. They are also responsible for initiating and maintaining gait in both walking and running. And, get this, they are responsible for helping you stand!!

Convinced that these are important yet?

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Focusing on glutes means we need to also pay attention to the joints that they connect to in including your pelvis and your hips.  Not to mention, for walking and running we need to also pay attention to your visual system, vestibular (balance) system and your proprioception (limbs) systems as a whole unit.

Paying attention to a muscle means we need to build up its strength and we need to integrate its “firing patterns” relative to the rest of the whole unit.  This means that we can do butt exercises all day, but, if we don’t train your brain when and how to use the butt, nothing will change.

The order of glute work:

  1. Joint mobility (pelvis tilts)

  2. Muscle Activation (bridges)

  3. Muscle Strength (deadlift, kettlebell swing)

  4. Repeat in a variety of body postures (hip hinge, hip circles, single leg exercises)

My favorite glute targeting exercises are the pelvis a/p tilts, bridges and hip hinge work. We need to re-introduce your glutes to your brain and help your brain know how to use them.  Doing so relieves pressure off your knees, ankles, feet and yes, shoulders (as shoulders are responsible for assisting in hip swing). So, yes, everything really is glutes. Check out my Youtube channel for my favorite glute exercises!!

The Age Lie

I guess you can call me an aging athlete.

“You’re getting a little old to be doing XYZ”...I hear that a lot from friends and family members.  And, I’ve been hearing it for about 14 years, since I turned 30. It’s true that increasing age does introduce a whole flurry of challenges like longer workdays, more responsibility at work, more mouths to feed, longer commutes and more stress.  But, science continues to prove that it’s you who is responsible for how well you age, not the calendar. Because of our jam packed lives, we are more tired, short on personal time and are less engaged in the activities we once enjoyed. The balance of fun - work gets tipped way towards the work side and that’s when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

 “It is known that a lack of physical activity is a key risk factor for numerous chronic diseases, and even a simple parameter, such as time spent sitting, is an independent predictor of mortality.  Physical inactivity is thus a significant confounding factor in influencing the trajectory of decline in physiological function as a result of an inherent aging process…” (Harris & Lazzarus) This is aging according to science and proof that our bodies don’t just stop working because we age.  Physical and mental activity adds more fun and more health to our lives.

Studies done on athletes who remain active throughout life show that their biggest decrease in physical performance occurs in the 80th year of life.  “One clear conclusion emerges: being physically active is the body's biological default position for the maintenance of physiological function throughout the life course.”  

Oxygen capacity over lifespan - trajectory for active individuals does not dip to sedentary values

Oxygen capacity over lifespan - trajectory for active individuals does not dip to sedentary values

If you look at your daily life and are not able to see a way out of the chaos in order to prioritize your health and wellness, it may be time to talk to someone who can help.  Whether that’s a personal trainer, a therapist or life coach, a friend or acquaintance who has been able to stay active, there are people out there who can help. My goal here is not to shame. My goal is to say that there are ways to help and the more people you include in this journey, the higher the likelihood of your success.  We can reverse the aging process brought on by a sedentary, inactive lifestyle. You deserve to feel good and to age well no matter how old you are! It’s possible.

For more information: American Physiological Society: Physical Activity, Aging, and Physiological Function