Healthy Posture, Healthy Body

Healthy posture is essential to our health, wellness, fitness, and flexibility. Not only does good posture make you look better, it makes you feel better. Besides, there are a multitude of health benefits that you can reap from practicing good posture. Consequently, there are a myriad of detrimental effects that can result from poor posture. Let’s start with the bad news so we can end on a high note.

“Poor posture” is typically associated with a slumped spine, rounded shoulders, and a forward head position. This posture makes us appear timid, tired, aged, and like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. I guess that’s something we can all relate to after the year we’ve just had, as well as the fact that we have literally been glued to our computers for work, school, social interaction, and even exercise classes.

But, the laundry list of potential health problems if we maintain this posture is even more frightening than 2020 was. They include loss of bone density which can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis, impaired balance, falls, and bone fractures. Additional musculoskeletal problems include hip, knee, shoulder and neck pain, as well as joint dysfunction caused by the abnormal forces of gravity going through our skeleton. Heart problems, respiratory, and digestive disorders can occur from the increased pressure put on our internal organs. Yikes!

Now here’s the good news. Our spine and our skeleton are beautifully designed to direct the forces of gravity through our body in an easy and effortless manner. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t our muscles that hold us up and carry us through space–it is our skeleton. “Good posture” is typically associated with a straight spine, shoulders down and back, and a lifted head. This posture makes us appear strong, confident, energetic, and youthful, no matter how old we might be.

But here’s even better news. When you have good posture, you stand and walk more comfortably, and you have better balance, energy, and endurance. You stand taller, look longer and leaner (and who doesn’t want that?), and you breathe better. But here is the best news ever. When you have good posture, your core muscles automatically engage, making your abdominal muscles stronger, giving you a pathway or a roadmap to a flatter tummy and smaller waistline. But I’ll save that topic at another time.

So, think about your posture, and take steps to work on it, because healthy posture is a healthy body.

Excerpt from “Forever Fit and Flexible: Feeling Fabulous at Fifty and Beyond.” 

The Best Defense

As a practicing ninja, I know a thing or two about defense. Most of the time, the best defense against an attack is usually the simplest and the most obvious. Just don’t make yourself vulnerable.

It’s cold and flu season, and I’m a germaphobe. Not an over the top crazy kind of germaphobe, but a sensible kind. After all, I spent forty years working in health care, so I also know a little bit about infections, especially how to prevent them.

And it’s so simple….wash your hands. Wash them often and wash them well. You don’t need any special equipment or antibacterial soap. All you just need is mild soap and warm water.

Wash your hands before and after you eat, use the bathroom, blow your nose, sneeze, cough, touch your face, touch commonly used public surfaces, etc., or anytime you feel like you need to wash them.

And please….I am begging you on bending knee, don’t sneeze or cough into your hands. Turn your head and sneeze or cough into your elbow. I actually saw a dancer in ballet class meticulously wipe down the ballet barre with an antibacterial cloth, then promptly sneeze into her hands before touching every surface around her. Yikes!

And you might want to be careful around uncovered food in public. I know, I’m being paranoid. But I once brought freshly baked bread to a networking event and set it on the food table. A young man approached the table, sneezed into his hands, and began slicing the bread. I almost fainted.

Common sense is the best defense, and it really is so simple. Let’s all share the love but not the germs, and let’s make it through cold and season with our health and wellness intact. Here’s to your health!

Episode #50 Sugar and Gluten and Soy–Oh My!

Kimsey Self, owner of Progressive Health and Wellness returns to The FemiNinja for a follow-up episode to share even more clarity on health and healing. In Kimsey’s own words, “Healing the physical body is a gateway to optimizing your entire life.” And she’s here to tell you how.

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Website: www.progressivehealthandwellness.com

Plan Ahead For Healthy Holidays

I love the holidays, especially the food, the parties, and the fun. But, unfortunately it can wreak havoc on our health and fitness. Many of us strive to get back into shape, lose weight, get fit, healthy and back on track with (ack!) New Year’s Resolutions.

However, once the holidays are over, the New Year’s Resolutions that sounded like such a good idea during the whirlwind of the holidays are now staring us right in the face. And the high goals we set for ourselves seem unattainable. Usually because they are. So we give up after two weeks, feeling guilty and frustrated. What a way to start the new year!

But I have another thought–since we plan for the holidays, why not plan ahead for healthy holidays at the same time? That way, you can practice a bit of moderation while still having a good time. Then you can sail through the holiday season with your health and fitness intact as well as your self-respect. Here are a few ideas to help you get started, but feel free to tweak it a bit, or create your own plan. Use your imagination, turn it into a game or a challenge. Recruit a friend or family member to help you stay on track, and turn it into a fun challenge to see who can come up with the most ideas. Here are just a few of my own.

Create a calendar

Create a calendar for November and December. I prefer a print calendar rather than one on your phone or computer. Write down every event or party that you will be attending so you know ahead of time what’s coming up. It also helps you not to become overwhelmed with holiday activities.

Guard your schedule like a jealous lover

Now that you have a calendar, keep a close eye on your schedule to make sure you aren’t over-extending yourself. You don’t have to accept every invitation, or attend every party or event. Prioritize the events that are the most important to you, and skip the rest. It will be so much better for your health and well-being in the long run, which brings me to another point.

Schedule time for yourself

While you are planning your calendar and your schedule, remember to schedule time for yourself, and write it down. Whether it’s going to your favorite exercise class, taking a walk around your neighborhood, sitting down with a good book, listening to music, meditating, playing with the dog….you get the idea. It will keep you balanced, grounded, and energized.

Be mindful of your movements

It’s important to keep moving, especially when we’re busy entertaining or preparing feasts for our friends and family. Even just a few minutes of sitting and bouncing on an exercise ball, taking a quick walk around the block, or even putting on music and dancing in your kitchen as you work will do wonders for your circulation, your metabolism, your immune system, and your body, mind, and spirit.

Snack before going out

As a final suggestion, have a light, healthy snack before going out to a party or a big dinner. It will keep you from over-indulging and help keep you on track as you enjoy all of the wonderful treats that the season has to offer.

Most of all, be gentle with yourself. If you do over-indulge, don’t beat yourself up. This is such a lovely time of year, and we want to enjoy all of the many blessings that it brings. So, plan ahead, have a wonderful time, and look forward to starting 2020 with your health, fitness, and sanity intact. Here’s to your health!

Episode #29: Living Your Dream

Meet Janet Langmeier, a woman who knows how to dream, and dream big! She is an Actualization Mentor, founder of All Out Coaching, and co-founder of the dynamic new networking group Rising Tide. Janet helps people of all ages and walks of life focus on their dreams rather than chasing after goals.

As a teacher, trainer, coach, and mentor Janet has helped hundreds of people successfully transform their lives, including their careers, education, relationships, spirituality, body image, health, and even weight loss. Janet shares some of her philosophy and techniques to help her clients live their avowed dreams. The possibilities are endless!

http://janetlangmeier.com/index.html

http://www.risingtidebusinessnetwork.com/index.html

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Episode 12: The Magic of Healing Through Movement

Movement is life, and movement can help you heal from pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and pretty much anything that is interfering with the quality of your life. On the other hand, we all have habits and patterns of moving that can create or add to our physical or emotional pain.

Knowledge is power, and so is lifelong learning. Keeping an open mind and learning about alternative health practices gives you the power to take control of your body and puts you in charge of your health rather than relinquishing it to someone else.

This episode outlines one of my favorite alternative modalities, one which I have studied extensively and eventually became certified in after four grueling years of study and training.

However, it was well worth the time, money, and effort invested. Yes, it’s that good. Learn a little bit about this method and discover how using your awareness, along with simple changes in your movement patterns can help you heal your life, in a natural, organic, and visceral way. After all, the human body has an incredible ability to heal itself.

As I said, knowledge is power. And so is the magic of movement. It will even restore your human dignity.

Episode 6: Who Needs A Gym?

Keeping fit and healthy is an important component of the spirit of the ninja. Think about it–how could you possibly defend yourself or your loved ones if you were in poor physical shape? You couldn’t, which is why you need to follow some sort of fitness routine.

But, what do you do if you’re like me, and hate going to the gym? Believe me, in my younger years I tried. Really I did. I even tried running a long time ago. But I quickly discovered that I was allergic to running and the mere thought of going to a gym made me break out in hives.

Fortunately I discovered other ways to keep in some sort of shape, including dance, Pilates, and martial arts classes. All, by the way, are highly effective but also incredibly expensive to pursue on a regular basis. But, they share many basic principles and have a lot in common, which is something I was able to figure out and share with hundreds of my clients along the way stay in tip-top shape so they can fight the good fight.

In this episode I share some surprisingly simple tips to help you get fit and stay fit in every stage of life, without spending hours at a gym. Because it’s not what you do during those few hours a week at the gym. It’s what you do during the rest of the time that really counts. And here are just a few ideas.

Episode 1: Welcome to The FemiNinja Project!

Exactly one year ago I entered a podcasting contest. At the time, I had no idea what a podcast was, or why I would possibly want one. I entered the contest anyway.

Eight anxiety-filled weeks later and overcoming multiple steep learning curves, the contest was over. I didn’t win, but I was invited to join the platform anyway. I am now flying solo, re-branding the show, and creating a community of like-minded women and men who are dedicated to restoring human dignity and helping people of all ages and walks of life unleash their personal power.

In this first episode, you’ll hear about how (and why) I began training in an ancient Japanese martial art called Ninpo Tai Jutsu, the Art of the Ninja. As a matter of fact, you’ll learn more about me than I ever wanted anyone to know. But, it’s time for me to share my story and stop hiding in the shadows.

I also will share many of the ninja secrets, tips, and tricks I learned in my training that you can apply in every single aspect of your life to keep you safe, strong, establish clear boundaries, and be healthy in body, mind, and spirit. And all without spending 14 years in a smelly dojo getting smacked around by a bunch of sweaty men. I took the hits so you wouldn’t have to. You’re welcome.

Never underestimate the strength and power you have deep inside of you. My mission is to help you unleash that power, Discover that it IS possible to look like a woman, act like a lady, move like a ninja and think like a warrior. And remember, men are always welcome on The FemiNinja Project. After all, I would not be here today if it were not for the many magnificent men in my life.

I am grateful to each and every one of them, and I am grateful to you for listening to the podcast, and starting your own journey into the Art of the Ninja. Sayonara!

My Fixation With Feet

My fixation and fascination with feet started with several years ago when I began studying ballet from an incredible woman, Jayne Persch. She is a teacher with an impressive background and a passion for life-long learning. However, I didn’t get her fixation with feet. And toes.

At the beginning of every class, not only did she have us exercise our toes, she had us play with them! Ewe! I didn’t want to touch my feet, or my toes. What did that have to do with ballet class?

Pretty much everything, as well as general health and well-being. When your feet hurt, everything hurts. But not only that, it interferes with your ability to feel the floor, stand your ground (so to speak),and messes with your balance, posture, and overall health as well.

Here are a few fun facts about feet.

1). Nearly a quarter of all the bones in our body are in our feet, which allows for the remarkable range of movement and flexibility of our feet. (Then why do they sometimes feel like blocks of wood?)

2). Feet function best when the heel and the front of the foot are at the same level. The toes have to be able to freely flex, extend, and spread. I guess that explains the following fun fact. Which is…

3). Women are 4 times more likely than men to experience foot problems in their lifetime. High heels, anyone?

4). There are a myriad of foot deformities and conditions that can cause pain, dysfunction, and make you miserable. Often times, painful injections or surgery are the only options offered. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and I have proof.

Because after my initial resistance, working my feet began to make sense. I did the exercises. I massaged my feet. I even (ack!) massaged my toes and between my toes. I used tea tree oil to help break up the calcium deposits that were interfering with my circulation.

My feet became softer, more supple, and more flexible. They contacted the ground more like cat paws rather than blocks of wood. My bunions got smaller, my toes re-aligned, my crossover toe magically self-corrected, my Morton’s neuroma disappeared. All without surgery.

Although it creeps me out a little to post my feet for all the world to see, here are the results. It took time and dedication, but it was well worth it.

 

I know everyone doesn’t have access to someone as brilliant as my teacher, so I would like to share some resources that I have found to help you change your feet and rock your world if you choose to do so.

The first is a book titled “Whole Body Barefoot” by Katy Bowman. She describes the biomechanics of the feet, toes, ankles and lower legs in a very clear way that’s easy to understand. And she’s funny. Who knew feet could be funny? She also includes techniques for stretching, exercising, and massaging your feet.

Here’s a great article I found that has video to support the information. Click here.

However, the model demonstrates the exercises too fast. They need to be done slowly, meticulously, and with thoughtful awareness to allow for the changes to occur. In the second video, she rolls to the outside surface of her feet as she splays her toes. That actually weakens the ankle joint as well as the inner thigh muscles which are crucial to stabilizing your knee, hip, and pelvic floor muscles.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Yes, it’s that important. Everybody deserves (and can have) healthy, flexible feet. Here’s to your health!

Who Needs A Gym?

Are you one of those people (like me) who absolutely hate the thought of going to a gym but does want to be fit and healthy? The key is to keep moving, and find activities that you absolutely love to do. I personally enjoy taking classes because I enjoy the social interaction, the camaraderie, and having someone that I need to be accountable to. After all, if I were left to my own devices I would sit on the couch all day eating bon bons and wonder why my butt was so big.

However, there are so many things to choose from for physical activity. Notice I said “physical activity” rather than “exercise.” I did that on purpose, because I am a physical therapist who hates exercise and thinks that chocolate is food. Fortunately, I love to move.

Movement is life, and our bodies were made and meant to move. Keeping that in mind, you may want to experiment in a variety of different classes or movement modalities that appeal to you. A few examples are Pilates, Tai Chi, yoga, dance, and/or Feldenkrais, just to name a few. The beauty of studying any of these methods is that they are portable, meaning that you can learn the basic movement techniques and practice them in the privacy of your own home every single day.

However, don’t think that you have to do each and every movement pattern that you learn. Again, I am avoiding the “e” word to take away the pressure. Just do the ones that you enjoy or feel good to you. Just doing them for 5-15 minutes a day will do wonders to strengthen, tone, and condition your entire body. It can be even more effective than going to the gym 3 times a week, because the effects are cumulative.

If you make a habit of setting aside a few minutes every day to simply move, you might be surprised how good you feel. Keep moving, be healthy, and don’t be afraid to enjoy a bit of chocolate every now and again.