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Archive for : Fit Tips

Attitude is Everything: In Fitness and In Health

Attitude is everything, in everything we do. When I was a little girl, I remember watching the incredible story of Peter Pan on TV. Parts of it was magical, and parts of it was downright terrifying. But, the one scene that really impressed me was when Peter taught John, Wendy, and Michael how to fly.

Peter certainly had a point when he was teaching the children how to fly. To reach their goal, all they had to do was to think lovely thoughts. Without the right mindset, they were grounded. But with the right mental attitude, the sky was the limit, so to speak.

Even after all these years, I can still recall that scene in my mind. The memory of that scene and Peter Pan’s advice has helped me get through a lot of challenging times and difficult situations over the years. After all, the only thing you need to achieve your goals is the right attitude, and to think lovely thoughts.

Many years ago, when my parents were visiting me and my husband, we were flipping through the television channels looking for something to watch. Something we could all agree on. Good luck with that. As my husband was channel surfing, he came across a station that had just started airing Peter Pan, the same one with Mary Martin that I had fallen in love with when I was a very small child.

My mother and I involuntarily squealed with delight. My father and husband groaned in disappointment. The negotiations began, but in the end, my mom and I won out. Peter Pan it was.

For the first time in almost 25 years, I got to watch Peter Pan teach John, Wendy, and Michael how to fly. And I was reminded to think lovely thoughts, no matter what life happens to throw at you. It’s so much better for your health, fitness, and well-being. When you think lovely thoughts, just imagine what you can accomplish in every aspect of your life–in your fitness, your health, relationships, business, etc. The sky’s the limit. You might even learn how to fly.

A Unique Form of Movement Therapy: Feldenkrais!

There is a unique form of movement therapy that is the best kept secret known to mankind. This movement method can help you move better, feel better, get rid of pain, stress, anxiety, etc. It can even help you reverse the aging process and engage in activities you never thought you could do before. You can even learn how to stand on your head. The list goes on and on. This unique method is called Feldenkrais, and here  are a few reasons why Feldenkrais is unique from other methods.

Move from your skeleton.

In Feldenkrais, we focus on moving from our skeleton rather than pushing from our muscles. Because, our skeleton is what supports us, and our bones and joints are what propel us through space. Our brain and our nervous system is the command center that puts it all together for us. Our muscles simply shorten (contract) or lengthen (relax) according to what the system requires it to do.

Quality rather than quantity.

We are more interested in the quality of our movement rather than the quantity, velocity, or repetitions. When we change the way we approach movement, our nervous system is more able to interrupt movement patterns that are interfering with our ability to thrive.

Slow is better, and less is more.

We move slowly–very, very slowly. It allows for a way of “listening” to the movement pattern as well as the effect it is having on our body, and the feelings and sensations we experience as we move.

No pain, much gain.

We make ourselves comfortable. I know, it sounds self-indulgent and contradictory to the common mantra of “no pain, no gain.” However, if we are experiencing any kind of discomfort, our nervous system isn’t able to work it’s magic and integrate the many wonderful new changes it is experiencing.

It’s all about awareness.

In a nutshell, we are training our awareness. Our awareness of our selves, our movement patterns, our environment, and our relationships. Here is a lovely quote by Moshe Feldenkrais himself, the master of movement which summarizes it quite well.

“Through awareness we can learn to move with a surprising lightness and freedom at any age, and improve our quality of life. Not only physically, but emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.”        -Moshe Feldenkrais

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a beautiful thing. Thank you, Moshe, for restoring to each of us our human dignity, and providing us with the path to live up to our full potential.

Unlock Your Jaw and Heal Your Pain

A lot of people develop jaw pain, tooth pain, headaches and TMJ dysfunction. However, often times our aches and pains are a result of unnecessary tension in our muscles, or from faulty movement patterns. After a period of time, these habitual patterns can cause excruciating pain, joint dysfunction and joint destruction. Yikes!

However, we can interrupt these harmful patterns by simply improving our attention and awareness. Try this simple but highly effective movement lesson based on the magic of The Feldenkrais Method®.

1) Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You may need to support your head with a folded towel. Don’t use a pillow–a pillow is too soft to provide your nervous system with the appropriate feedback (proprioception).

Take a few minutes to relax, take a few deep breaths, and feel your weight gently sink into the floor.
Bring your attention to your face, neck and jaw. Does your neck feel tight? Does your mouth or the muscles of your face feel tense? Are your teeth touching?
Don’t try to change or “fix” anything, and don’t place any judgement on what you are sensing. Instead, be aware of what you are feeling and sensing in your face, jaw and neck.
Stop and rest your attention for a few moments.
It may sound strange to “rest” when you might feel like you haven’t really done anything,  but it’s important to rest your attention, and to slow yourself down.

2) Once again bring your attention to your face, neck and jaw.

Slowly begin to open and close your mouth in a very small and easy range of motion. Do not open your mouth all the way, and do not let your teeth touch as you close it. Stop and rest.
Continue to open and close your mouth by making the movement even smaller and slower. Make it small, smooth, soft and easy. Stop and rest with your mouth gently closed without your teeth touching.
Continue the gentle movement of opening and closing your mouth in a smooth, continuous, rhythmical way. Stop and rest.

3) Gently open your mouth in an easy range of motion, and in a position where you feel no sense of stress, strain, or discomfort.

Gently take your lower jaw a little to the left in a comfortable position. Again, slowly and rhythmically  open and close your mouth while leaving your jaw to the left. Do not allow your teeth to come together. Pay attention to the joint of your jaw, which is located just in front of the opening of your ear. If you hear a clicking of your jaw, or you experience and pain or discomfort, make smaller and smaller movements until you find a range of movement that is comfortable for you.  Stop and rest.

4)  Again, open your mouth in an easy and comfortable range of motion and gently take your lower jaw a little to the right.

Open and close your mouth in a comfortable range of motion while leaving your jaw to the right. You may want to take a moment to compare the 2 sides of your jaw and how they move. Often times, one side moves easier than the other. If you hear a clicking of your jaw, or you experience and pain or discomfort, make smaller and smaller movements until you find a range of movement that is comfortable for you. Stop and rest.

5) One last time, return to just opening and closing your jaw as you did at the beginning of this movement exploration.

Notice the sensations in your face, neck and jaw now. Notice the quality of the movement as compared to when you first began this movement exploration? Stop and rest. Give yourself a few moments before you slowly bring yourself to sitting and eventually to standing. Take a brief walk around the room before you continue with your day.

This simple movement lesson will help you identify when you are holding excess tension in your face and jaw, allowing you to interrupt these patterns and heal your pain. Feldenkrais….you simply have to try it to believe it!

Great Fit Tips to Help You Keep Moving

Don’t wait to feel great. It’s already the end of January, and those New Year’s resolutions might be a distant memory. The resolve to exercise more may have sounded like a great idea during the over-indulgence of the holidays, but now reality has set in.

The cold weather and short, dark days make it hard to stay motivated, and the let down from the holidays makes it even more challenging. Who feels like leaving the house to work out? Here’s the good news–you don’t have to leave the house to stay on track with an exercise program. Here are a few great fit tips that you can easily do at home to help keep you fit and healthy.

1). Get on the ball.

If you don’t have one yet, get a large exercise ball. If you do have one, start using it. Just sitting and bouncing on the ball is a great way to improve your posture, balance, stimulate circulation and strengthen your low back and abdominal muscles. Just a few minutes a day on the ball can make a huge improvement in your strength and flexibility.

2).  Why weight? 

A resistance program will shape and tone your muscles. Invest in a set of light weights to use while sitting on your ball to strengthen the muscles of your arms, chest, upper back, and shoulders. You can use your weights in sitting and/or standing, but sitting on the ball challenges your balance, posture, and strengthens your core muscles even more.

3). Clean up your act.

While doing household chores, slow down and really focus on the quality of your movements as you work. The simple act of cleaning the house then turns into an opportunity to improve your gait, balance, strength, flexibility, posture, body awareness and body mechanics. It’s almost like a moving meditation practice.

4). Shake it up.

Nothing kills your enthusiasm for exercise like boredom. Now is the time to try that dance, yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi class you have been always meaning to try. Any of those will help balance your energy as well as your body. As an added benefit, you will learn movement patterns that you can easily practice at home to keep you fit and healthy.

5). The more the merrier.

Recruit a friend so you can encourage and support each other to stay focused on your goals to get fit and stay fit. It also helps to stick with a program if you have someone to be accountable to, and it makes working out a social experience as well as a physical one.

These are just a few suggestions. Just a few minutes of exercise each and every day can have a huge, positive impact on your strength, flexibility, overall health and fitness. Small, simple changes that you can implement at home can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Use your imagination to see if you can find a way to design a program for yourself that is fun, playful, and interesting. That is the key to success, not just during the dark days of winter, but all year long as well. The possibilities are endless!

 

More Fit Tips For a Healthy New Year

Here we are, already in the second week of the New Year. Hopefully, you’re still on track with your resolution to get fit and healthy, exercise more, or eat healthier. However, it’s easy to lose our motivation once we return to our daily routine after the holidays. The pressure of work and family obligations, combined with the cold, dark days sometimes get in the way of our good intentions. You might even be tempted to give up. But before you get discouraged or throw in the towel, keep these tips in mind to help you stay on track.

1). Visualize success.

Imagine yourself achieving your goals. Close your eyes and see yourself as the fit and healthy person you want to be. If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. The practice of visualization is a powerful tool to help you accomplish your goals, and even go beyond what you thought was possible. Professional athletes and performing artists have used the power of visualization for years to improve their performance on the field and on the stage. They continue to practice it, because it works for them. Just imagine (so to speak), what it can do for you!

2). Stay positive.

Remember to give yourself positive messages. What we tell ourselves is what we believe, and what we believe is what we achieve. Our brain and our nervous system is always receiving and processing the messages it hears. Words are incredibly powerful; use them for the power of good. All of us fall on our face every now and then. Remember, there is no such thing as failure, just opportunities to learn and grow.

It is also important to surround yourself with positive people. Negative people can bring you down and even sabotage your efforts.

3). Recruit a friend.

Partner up with a friend with the same goals that you have. By doing so, you can help and encourage each other, as well as share your progress. You can also buoy each other up when the going gets tough. You can hold each other accountable in accomplishing your goals. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to travel the path of health and fitness with someone else.

Wishing you all the best in health and fitness!

New Year: Now What?

Here we are, at the beginning of another New Year. Anything is possible in a new year, including keeping our New Year’s Resolutions. It doesn’t matter what your plans are, but it does matter very much how you implement them. So, whether you would like to exercise more, lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, improve your finances, or enjoy healthier relationships, here are a few simple steps to keep in mind to help you accomplish your goals.

1). Set clear and specific goals.

Rather than making a general statement such as “I want to lose weight,” set a more well-defined goal. For example, “I will lose 2-3 pounds over the next 4-6 weeks.  This will allow you to focus on what you would like to accomplish within a set time frame, rather than a generalized statement of wanting to lose weight.

2). Set challenging but reasonable goals. 

It’s important to challenge yourself, but you want to be careful not to go overboard and overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations. Set small, incremental goals that are reasonable to achieve, and pay attention to the journey instead of the end result. If you start  by declaring you want to lose 20 pounds before swim suit season, it’s easy to get discouraged and throw in the towel before you even begin. 

3). Write your goals down, and track your progress.

When you think about wanting to do something, it’s just an abstract idea floating around. However, once you write it down, the idea then has intention, purpose, and direction. Keep a written record of your progress, including when you have met your goals and when you have fallen short. Notice I did not say failed; there is no such thing as failure, just another opportunity to re-evaluate your approach and learn from what might not be working for you.

4). Visualize success.

Imagine yourself achieving your goals. Even professional athletes and performing artists have used the power of visualization for years to improve their performance on the field and on the stage. They continue to practice it, because it works for them. Just imagine (so to speak), what it can do for you! 

5). Stay positive.

Remember to give yourself positive messages. What we tell ourselves is what we believe, and what we believe is what we achieve. Words are incredibly powerful; use them for the power of good. All of us fall on our face every now and then. Remember, there is no such thing as failure, just opportunities to learn and grow. 

These are just a few general guidelines to follow in your journey to a great new year. I am certain you can come up with a few creative and innovative tips of your own, so please share your thoughts and ideas; I would love to hear from you! In the meantime, may you enjoy a year ahead filled with peace, joy, love, laughter, and good health. I just know that 2019 is going to be a fabulous year, for all of us! 

 

 

Why Feldenkrais® is better than stretching….

When we experience tight muscles or stiff joints, we stretch them to improve our flexibility and increase our joint range of motion. Unfortunately, most of the time, stretching does not correct the problem. As a matter of fact, stretching may actually make it worse. There is a simple physiological explanation for that.