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Rolfing is a big undertaking.  It’s not cheap, it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of bravery and vulnerability, and there can be many uncomfortable side effects in the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental realms of your life while getting Rolfed.  And so, I am often asked by my clients, “What can I do to help?”  When undergoing such a possibly transformative process, many people want to make sure they do their part to help things along, and to make sure they’re getting the most bang for their buck, so to speak.  (Which is awesome, btw.  I love when my clients are really invested in the process of transformation.)

Generally, most of what you can do to support the work of Rolfing, whether you’re doing one session, or the 10-series, or ongoing work to unravel old injuries and patterns, is a lot of stuff that we all know we should be doing regardless, but is extra helpful if you can do it around your sessions.  Drink a lot of water.  Eat the food your body is asking you to eat.  Stretch and move when and how your body asks you to stretch and move.  Rest when you body asks you to rest.  Don’t sit in one position for hours on end.  In short, pay attention to what’s going on in your body, then respond accordingly.  It’s so obvious, but a lot easier said than done.

There are, however, a few things specific to Rolfing that can be beneficial to supporting your sessions.  Exercising immediately after a session is not a great plan.  So, get your workouts in beforehand, and make sure you can take a rest day after your session.  Actually, this applies to more than just exercise.  If you have the freedom to schedule your sessions so that you can relax and tune in to what your body is asking for afterwards, that can be super helpful.  Even if you do hear your body screaming that it would like a nice, long walk after your session, it’ll be hard to manage if you’ve got back-to-back meetings scheduled for the rest of the day.  Also, letting your body be a body without many other inputs is great for the integration of the structural changes we’ve made.  This means no shoes, no tight or restrictive clothing, no sitting on/in furniture/cars, and no movements that don’t happen in nature (i.e. no treadmills, no ellipticals, and no lat pulls).  Pro-tip: If you need a machine or a piece of equipment to do it, it’s probably not a natural movement.  So save that stuff for after your session has had a while to settle out and your body has found its new normal.  Obviously, it’s hard to go 24 hours in our culture without shoes or sitting in chairs or cars, so I’m really just asking that you mindfully avoid these things as much as possible, but there’s no need to get obsessive about it.

And on the emotional/spiritual front, talk therapy can be very helpful for processing and integrating the changes being made through your work with Rolfing.  As I like to say, “There are issues in the tissues.”  If any of these emotional issues come up during your sessions, I’m happy to talk about them, but it can also be super beneficial to work with a trained therapist, social worker, or counselor who can more thoroughly and skillfully help you get to where you want to be.  I’m also happy to coordinate with your therapist so they have a better idea what you’re going through (as so many people, therapists included, still don’t know what Rolfing is), if that’s at all helpful to you.

But that’s it.  Try to be aware of what your body wants and needs (both physical and mental) and create space to do what you want and need.  That’s all it takes to support your Rolfing sessions.  That, and enjoy your new flexibility, balance, strength, and stability.

(And buy a whole new closet full of barefoot-shoes, and get a moveable stand-up desk, and probably quit your job, and do pilates and yoga, and start walking a lot more, and climbing trees, and sleeping outside, and throw away your phone…  But that’s it.)

I don’t know about you, but for me, summer is non-stop, and I absolutely love it.  There are just so many opportunities for movement that I don’t feel like I need to “work-out.”  It just happens.  Volleyball in the park, riding my bike instead of driving, a hike with friends, camping, dancing at weddings, long walks with ice cream on a warm night, the list goes on and on.  And as a general rule, I know I feel better when I move more (serious injury not withstanding).  More activity equals more joy.

I also love the fall, but as the temperatures drop, the hours of daylight lessen, and that myriad of movement opportunities seems to disappear just as quickly.  Volleyball leagues end, my bike seems like a chore because of all the layers I need to wear, hiking seems more tedious for the same reason, it’s too cold to camp, wedding season is over, and ice cream doesn’t hold the same appeal if I need to put on a coat first.  It sounds like a much better idea to cozy up on the couch with that book I’ve been dying to read and a blanket on my lap.

So this is when I really need to be careful that I’m still getting all the movement my body needs and wants.  In an effort to make sure I don’t lose my summer-time happiness, or, for that matter, my summer-time muscles, I’m trying to consciously up my movement wherever and whenever I can.  And I really mean wherever and whenever.  I’m trying to wiggle my toes and shift my weight from side to side while I wait in line at the grocery store.  I’m trying to do squats and calf raises at my office while I wait for clients (don’t laugh too hard if you catch me in the middle of a squat when you come in).  I’m trying to walk while I make phone calls instead of sitting on the couch or the bed.  I’m trying to dance while I fold laundry.  Can I do 5 push-ups while I wait for the water to get hot in the shower?  As I write this, I’m lying on the floor, kicking my feet behind me, just to try a different position from sitting.  I’m looking for races in the winter and spring to keep me motivated through the desire to hibernate.  I just listened to a Katy Bowman podcast where she mentioned building obstacle courses through her house, just to keep things interesting.  The cats will love me forever when I finally do that.  Maybe this is the excuse I’ve been looking for to jump on the bed to my heart’s content.  Just like I’m always trying to sneak more vegetables into everything I cook, I’m now trying to sneak more movement into my day.

What about you?  Do you have a plan to keep you moving through the fall and winter?  Got any tips or tricks you want to send my way?  I’ll take all the help I can get.

Happy moving and happy fall!

Let me guess.  You’re not going to be awesome to your body for the next 6 weeks.  I’m right there with you.  Family obligations and the stress they bring.  Holiday parties with not a vegetable in sight.  A few too many cocktails on New Year’s Eve.  Cold weather keeping you snuggled on the couch instead of walking through the park.  Really, I get it.  I’m challenging myself to go a whole month without eating out.  But I’m not starting until January ’cause I’m not stupid.

On the flip side, I know how crappy I felt last year around this time.  Sluggish.  Achey.  Tired.  Mildly grumpy.  And I don’t want to repeat that.  So I’m committing to do better than last year.  Even if that means I still eat too many Christmas cookies and there is more movie watching than I need.  I’m committing to regular exercise, more vegetables in my meals, and a little less alcohol.  And I’m also committing to regular bodywork.  Now, I know, it’s not fair.  Most of my aches and pains I can take care of myself, while watching a movie, which is awesome.  You, too, should be a Rolfer, and therefore, this lucky.  But still, there’s plenty I can’t take care of myself (or that I’m too lazy to take care of myself), and I need regular maintenance.  I get Rolfed about once a month with occasional cranio-sacral, acupuncture, and chiropractic sessions sprinkled into the mix whenever I can, because feeling good is important to me.

And now for the sales pitch:  May I suggest that you also keep up with whatever self-care schedule works for you, especially during this time of year when we tend to let everything slide?  I promise it’ll help those New Year’s resolutions seem more manageable.  But much more importantly, you’ll feel better, and that should be all the motivation you need.  This is your reminder that I’m offering Pay What You Want for all sessions until the end of the year.  And if you’re one of the lucky ones with a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Spending Account that expires at the end of the year, now would be be the time to use it, before you lose it (even if you use it somewhere other than my office).  I just want all of us to feel good, even through the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving and may there be a lot of light in your life through these dark days!

Anxiety.  You hate it.  I hate it.  We all hate anxiety!  Yet, here it is, walking into my office for the third time today.  And there it is, just around the corner at the coffee shop.  Gross.

Unfortunately, we live in a time and place that produces copious amounts of anxiety.  Whether you tend to be an anxious person or not, I’m sure you’ve been hit by the anxiety sneak attack at least once.  And we can all agree that anxiety doesn’t feel so good.  Let’s try something together, shall we?  First, imagine you’re in your happy place, be that a cabin in the woods, or lying on the beach, or walking through a mountain meadow.  Go ahead, let your body and mind really get into it.  What does it sound like in this happy place of yours?  Are the birds singing, or is it that perfect quiet after a snowfall?  Can you hear the ocean waves lapping, or the wind through the trees?  What does it look like?  Is the sun bright and hot, or is it dark, on a moonless night?  How does your skin feel?  Is it humid or dry where you’re at?  Hot or cold?  Windy or still?  What are the tastes associated with this place?  Hot chocolate around the fire?  Cool watermelon on your tongue?  Trail mix crunching as you hike?  Can you smell the ocean salt or the mountain sage or that crisp, cold night?  Are you all the way to your happy place?  Down to your bones?  Okay, now that you’re there, what does your stomach feel like right now?  How’s your breathing?  How do your shoulders feel?  Got a good sense of how your body feels, as a whole, in your happy, calm space?  Good.

Next, let’s think about anxiety inducing moments.  You got the job, but you feel under-qualified and overwhelmed.  You’re about to close on the house, but you’re afraid you’ve made a huge mistake.  You just realized you won’t be able to pay all your bills this month.  You’re waiting for the results on the tests your doctor ran.  Your lease is up and you don’t know where you’ll live next.  You feel undervalued at work and you’re sure it’s only a matter of time before you’re fired.  Your kid is in big trouble and you don’t know what to do about it.  You’re sure your boyfriend is about to dump you.  Pick a scenario.  Whatever makes you feel the most anxious.  Then, go for it.  Step into it, just like we did before.  Where are you sitting, or are you pacing?  Are you talking to your best friend on the phone, or are you holed up in your bedroom with the curtains drawn?  Are you eating a pint of ice cream or throwing up in the office restroom?  Are you crying yourself to sleep or lashing out at the UPS guy and the neighbor’s dog?  Wherever you go when you’re stressed, go there.  Go all the way there, with all five senses.  Then, check in with your body.  How’s your stomach feeling?  What’s your breathing like?  How do your shoulders feel?  Notice a difference this time around?

Obviously, stress sucks.  There are a gazillion studies to prove it shortens your life and makes your body unhealthy, but after our little exercise, do you really need a study to tell you that?  Just from writing that last paragraph, I feel like I need a massage to help me relax.  I’m going to go back to my happy place for a second to reset.  Maybe you should, too.  Ahhh…that’s better.  Let’s continue.  So we know stress sucks.  Now, what to do about it.  Here, in no particular order, are 17 things that work for me, and work for people I know.  Hopefully, they’ll work for you, too.  Hopefully, you’ll tell me all the other tips that you use to deal with stress.  And the world will be a happier, calmer, less-anxious place.  Nothing wrong with that, in my book.

1. Take a walk.  Anxiety is generally a mental thing.  We get really caught up in whatever’s spinning around in our heads.  Doing something physical, outside, where we have to pay attention to more than the thoughts in our head, can be a great way to snap out of it.
2. Sit on the ground.  I think of anxiety as this tornado with the base being in my neck and it just spins out and up from there.  When I’m anxious, my thoughts are usually rotating about 12 feet above the top of my head.  Anything to get me grounded, like physically sitting on the ground, can help stop this madness.
3. Meditate.  A lot of times, when I’m anxious, it’s because I don’t know what to do next.  Which path to take.  Meditation brings me very quickly in tune with my intuition and therefore in tune with the answers to my questions.  A 15 minute meditation can usually solve the problems I’ve been wrestling with for weeks.
4. Drink some tea.  Because really, who doesn’t feel just a tiny bit calmer with a warm mug of tea in hand?
5. Exercise.  Again, anything to get you out of your head and into your body is probably a good thing.  Also, if you’re still wrestling with those questions, or you haven’t gotten around to meditating yet, you can sometimes get your big epiphany answers with exercise.
6. Put your bare feet on the earth.  I cannot repeat this enough.  Physically grounding is super-duper helpful.  Physically connecting your body to the actual earth is one of the quickest ways to do this.
7. Think about opening your pelvis.  When we tense up, we tend to tense our pelvises without even noticing.  Where do you think anal retentiveness comes from?  So, to counteract this, notice your pelvis, then allow it to open and breathe.  Let your sit bones get a little farther apart.  Let the floor of your pelvis sink low and heavy.  Think about your pelvic floor as a clock face and take the time to relax each segment.  12 to 1, then 1 to 2, and so on, until your entire pelvic floor is open and soft.
8. Do some gentle sacral rocking.  Lie on your back on the floor, with your knees bent and your heels close to your butt.  Focus on your sacrum (that awesome triangle-shaped bone at the bottom of your spine, in-between your hip bones).  Imagine your sacrum is a stamp and the floor is an ink pad and you need to get ink all over your sacrum-stamp.  Roll your pelvis forward and back, left and right, until you’re sure you’ve got it all inked.
9. Hang out with a dog.  But not if you’re allergic.  Dogs can provide an endless source of positive energy, if you’re feeling a little low.  Also, they loved to be walked (see number 1).
10. Hang out with a cat.  But not if you’re allergic.  Cats can ground an endless amount of negative energy, if you have an excess.  Besides, a purring cat is a pretty calming influence.
11. Do simple, grounding activities.  Try sweeping the floor, or weeding the garden.  Chopping vegetables for soup, or apples for apple sauce are good ones too.  Knitting or spinning yarn are simple, grounding activities.  Cleaning’s generally good (although I’d stay away from noisy stuff like vacuuming), as is cooking, or organizing, or simple crafts.
12. Dance.  Shake it off.  Sweat it out.  Laugh at yourself.  Dancing also prevents dementia, so you can stop worrying about that.
13. Spend time in nature.  This is my go to stress reliever.  Nothing like a hike (and we’re back at number 1) in the mountains to make my problems seem small and insignificant.  Even a few minutes in the garden can bring my stress level down from a 10 to 4.
14. Take a bath.  Not everybody’s a bath person.  But if you’re a water-lover like me, this may do the trick.  Especially if you really let yourself have a bath.  Light some candles, use the fancy bath salts or essential oils (see number 15), put on some soothing music and just enjoy.
15. Get some lavender in your life.  I’m not a doctor.  I can’t prove this works.  Please don’t get me in trouble with the FDA or the AMA or any other acronyms.  But I know that lots of people think lavender is calming.  You can put lavender essential oils in your bath, or in a diffuser, or just take a whiff from the bottle.  Dried lavender can be sewn up in an eye pillow for super-zen sleepy-time or a satchel to throw in your car to counteract road rage.  You can even eat lavender with strawberries and balsamic vinegar and fresh whipped cream!
16. Remove distractions.  Turn the TV off.  Turn the radio off.  Turn your computer off.  Turn your phone off.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “You know, I was super stressed out, but then I watched the news/checked my email/heard a commercial on the radio, and now I feel so much better.”  Do what you can to limit the input you’re getting.  You have enough going on as it is.  Try to keep things as simple as possible.
17. Remember your happy place.  You know, that one you went to in our little exercise a few minutes ago?  Take a few minutes to go there whenever you need it.  It might not solve your problems in the long term, but it will get your shoulders out of your ears for a minute or two, and that counts for something.

So, what’s your favorite way to put anxiety in its place?  Got a good one that I missed?  Send me an email with all the details, or leave it here as a comment on the blog.  Thanks for reading and I’ll catch up with you next week!

Greetings from muggy Chicago!  I’m here in my hometown spending some time with family and seeing a few clients, but mostly just sweating, despite the fact that everyone here keeps telling me it’s “so much better than it was!”  My sister and her boyfriend are fitness nuts and just went for a bike ride and it got me to thinking about exercise.  Clients ask me all the time, what exercise do you do?  What’s the best exercise?

I think the best exercise is the exercise you enjoy doing.  Period.  Sure, swimming is low-impact, but I’m a sneezy mess for days after I spend time in the pool and chlorine dries my skin out.  I love weight training and it builds bone density, but a lot of people find it boring (not to mention the stench that fills most weight rooms).  There’s a pro and a con to every form of exercise out there.  But if you exercise, your body is better for it.  And if you enjoy the exercise you’re doing, you’re more likely to do it again.  So I say, do what you love and skip the stuff you dread.  If you like to run, then run.  If dancing is your thing, dance the night away.  Pump iron, play tennis, bike to work; whatever gets your blood pumping and your limbs moving.

If you’re trying to achieve a specific goal, such as bulking up, slimming down, or preventing osteoporosis, there are exercises that may suit your needs better than others.  And if you have questions about that stuff, feel free to ask, as I’d be happy to help find something that works for you.  But what I’m really good at is helping you do the things you love, only better.  I want you to exercise pain free (except for that good feel-the-burn pain).  I want you to exercise without injuring yourself and without imbalances that may lead to injury down the road.  And I want you to be the fastest, strongest, bendiest you can be.  So go out there and sweat and call me when you want to take your workout to the next level.