Skip navigation

Tag Archives: health

We all know we’re not doing everything we could be doing for maximum health, right?  Who among us gets all the sleep we need in a perfectly dark, cool, quiet room?  What about getting all the movement and stretching we need and all the water we need while breathing crystal clean air and eating perfectly healthy food in a totally stress-free environment every day?  Anyone?  Bueller?  I certainly haven’t met anyone living that life.

But that’s no reason to throw up our hands in surrender.  Modern, westernized living may not be the ideal prescription for health, but there are a few small changes each of us can make to ensure that our bodies work pretty well for a lot longer than average, if we’re just willing to do them.  Yes, I’d love to see each of my clients (and myself, for that matter) move out into the wilderness and and totally commit themselves to health.  But until that comes to pass, try these six things for a better functioning body, now and as you age.

1.  Move more.  We’re all too sedentary and that’s just a fact.  I’ve seen 671 different clients so far and I think 5 of them were getting enough movement every day.  All 5 of them were under the age of 1.  Back in the day when we needed to move to find and prepare food, to carry water, and to travel from one place to another, we moved all day. Now, we can do all those things with very, very little movement.  The more your move, the more your body will thank you, so try adding movement breaks into your work schedule as well as your weekend relaxing schedule.

2. Move differently. Think about the different positions available to a given body and then think about the positions your particular body assumes in a given day.  I think I only get about 10 if I’m not careful: sitting in chair, standing, sitting on couch, lying down to sleep, sitting on the floor to put shoes on, reaching my arms up to pull a shirt over my head…boring.   When was the last time I tried to do a cartwheel?  Or army crawled from the bedroom into the living room?  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve EVER army crawled from the bedroom to the living room, but I totally could.  I’ve walked that trip a gazillion times.  Why not mix it up with a crab walk or a bear crawl?  Somersault.  Hop on one foot.  Build an obstacle course between the bedroom and the living room.  Move all of your body in all of the ways.

3. Spend time without shoes on.  I know I sound like a broken record and I’ve said it a million times.  But it’s just so dang important.  Our whole entire body is supported by our feet. And most shoes restrict and alter the ability of our feet to support our bodies.  Let your feet do their jobs!  If you’ve spent your whole life shod, start small, with a few minutes a day on the carpet and work up to hours outside on natural terrain.  Since you’re already building obstacle courses in your house this winter (you are, right?), build a pillow path along your most-used routes to gently build your foot, ankle, and knee strength up so you can be barefoot in the grass when it’s warm enough.

4. Squat.  This is one of those movements that is required for a healthy spine, a healthy pelvis, and a healthy digestive system.  But thanks to chairs, tables, toilets, and outsourcing our food production, we don’t need to squat throughout the day, many, many times a day.  So most of us don’t.  Which leads to so, so, so many problems down the road.  Pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, constipation, and low back pain, just to get started.  Incorporating just two minutes of squatting into your day, every day, can drastically change your expected health in the long run.  I’m not talking 30 reps in the gym, but actually hanging out in a squat.  Ideally, you’d have your heels on the ground and your tailbone untucked while squatting, but after a lifetime of not needing to squat, most of us can’t do that squat without years and years of stretching and bodywork (Rolfing can help!).  Like it or not, your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones all grow into the shapes we use the most.  Which means after not squatting your whole life, you can’t just start doing full, proper squats today because you decided to.  But you can start the process.  And that’s what matters.

5.  Hang.  Just like with squats, we used to need this movement for survival; climbing trees to scout our direction of travel or to look for danger, to pick delicious food from branches, to stay safe, etc.  And now, well, when was the last time you swung from the monkey bars or pulled yourself up into a tree?  Unfortunately, just like with squats, most of us have long lost the flexibility and strength required to safely extend our arms above our heads and support our full body weight.  If we hadn’t, I’m sure we’d see a lot less TMJ, thoracic inlet syndrome, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and on and on.  Alas.  Start by stretching your arms overhead to touch the doorway every single time you walk through one.  Work your way up to being able to hang your entire body weight from your hands.  Then starting swinging and pulling your self up.  Take it slow, but hanging and swinging can be so much fun!

6. Twist.  Our spines are designed to move in three main ways.  Forward and Back.  Side to side bending.  And twisting.  Luckily, getting into and out of our cars usually requires a little forward and back movement, as well as some side bending, so our spines get those movements regularly.  While we could probably all use a little more of the ‘back’ than the ‘forward’ and more side-bending in general, the twisting is the one that we’ve really let go of in this modern existence.  And the one place we used to get some twisting in, checking our blind-spots while driving, is now being phased out with back-up cameras and safety sensors and whatnot.  So, build it back into your life however you can.  I mean, putting on some oldies and actually doing the twist is probably my favorite of the options, but there are plenty of times throughout the day you can easily just look over your shoulder and give your spine a lovely squeeze.  For bonus points, do some twists while hanging from the monkey bars and make your body feel like it won the movement lottery!

That’s it, peeps.  There are books and podcasts and videos and such about how to safely increase your flexibility and strength in any and all of these ways (check out Katy Bowman’s work for my favorite source), but just getting started is the biggest challenge.  Happy moving!

 

 

Session Ten! Of ten! We made it, you guys! This is it! The end of the 10-series! I don’t know why I always use so many exclamation points when talking about Session Ten. It just seems like such an accomplishment. To make it through the 10-series requires such commitment, so much perseverance, and so much vulnerability. It is such an honor to work with someone all the way through; I feel the desire to bow to each person who makes it this far. It’s a big undertaking. So nicely done, you, if you’ve made it this far. I’m proud of you.

Like I mentioned last time, Session Ten is not the time to start new projects. Session Ten is about closure. Dr. Ida Rolf said, “In the 10th hour we put bodies together. Putting together means relating imperfect segments so that they create a functional whole; not working for one hour to correct bad feet or bad whatever.” I like describing Session Ten as the session where we frost the cake. Hopefully, we’ve built a strong, stable, balanced foundation, and when we put on those final frosting touches with this session, everything will work beautifully together, and look pretty in the process. One of the goals of Session Ten is, no joke, “uniform brilliance.” Or maybe it’s “unicorn brilliance.” One of the two, for sure. (If I could make my clients into brilliant unicorns in 10-sessions, my phone would never stop ringing.) But for real, in Session Ten, we tie up any loose strings, smooth out any rough edges, and send you on your way. Or, said another way, we bring the body to the highest level of integration that it needs and can sustain for an extended period of time. And we say goodbye. After Session Ten, it is advised to take a break from Rolfing for three to six months to let the whole series settle out and integrate. After that, you’re free to never get another Rolfing session again, if you’d like. Or, you can go to a maintenance schedule of your choosing (I like once a month, but I’m pretty damn reliant on my body working well). Or you can just come in when something hurts for a little tune up. I love how self-directed Rolfing is.

Before my trade of Session Ten with Dave, I’d gone for a little backpacking trip (this was a while ago, obviously) and I was having a little neck and shoulder pain. I also had a little, strange soreness in my lower right ribs, even though I had no memory of an injury or impact there. I know my liver’s under there and it felt more related to anger than a physical problem. But all in all, I was feeling pretty good. I was curious to see what Dave would find. At the very start of the session, Dave lightly touched those lower right ribs and instantly, I felt my right side contract, as if to protect, from my hip to the top of my head. It felt heavy and uncomfortable, but after a minute or two, that feeling shifted and I felt much lighter. Things felt easier and I felt calmer. Sometimes a minute or two of discomfort is worth the relief it brings in the end. Through the whole session, it felt like Dave was working on an energetic and emotional level, more than a physical level. Afterwards, I felt whole. I hadn’t realized I felt less-than-whole before, but now that I had the sense of wholeness, I found it very comforting. I felt peaceful and relaxed and my breath felt full and steady. I always find it bittersweet to end the 10-series, because I love receiving Rolfing so much and never want it to stop, but I feel so good and complete I can’t imagine what we’d work on next time, if there was a Session Eleven. This time through the series, I think I felt a more profound sense of completion than any previous time. Maybe the third (and a half) time through the series is the charm. As they say.

There’s this concept that Session Ten should leave you feeling energized and whole because whatever work still needs to be done, your body will now be able to do on its own. Bodies are really good at healing, after all. Bodies want to be healthy and functional and efficient. It is always my goal and my hope that with each client I take through the 10-series, the work has given them a nudge and a poke in the direction of health and now their body will take that and run with it.

Hey SassyPants,

I’ve been meaning to drop you a note about how awesome Katy Bowman is and how you should read her books and listen to her podcast and watch her videos and read her blog.  And that’s probably going to happen at some point, because Katy Bowman is my hero and she is, indeed, awesome and you should, indeed, do all those things.  But, this isn’t that note.

What I want to talk about today, is the Rolfing 10-series.  This is a weird one for me for many reasons.  While I love, love, love the 10-series, I don’t recommend the 10-series very often.  It’s such a big commitment.  I find the thought of committing to 10 whole sessions, right off the bat, to be intimidating to a lot of people.  I mean, we just met.  I’m not going to ask you to commit to spending 15 hours and $1,200 with me, right from the start.  Sometimes a client walks in already committed.  They want the 10-series.  They’ve watched my videos and read my blog posts; they feel like they already know enough about me.  They’ve researched the 10-series, or had a friend or relative go through it and it’s something they’ve wanted to do for a while.  They’re ready.  And good for them.  But that’s not average.  Most people come to me because something hurts and they’ve tried everything else and it hasn’t worked and finally they’re ready to give big, scary Rolfing a try.  So, no, I’m not going to tell those brave souls that they now need to commit to coming back 9 more times and undertaking this huge transformative journey.  Especially when it might not be right for them.

If you’re in agony, the 10-series is not for you.  The 10-series is for healthy people who want to be healthier.  It’s for people who feel good, but want to feel great.  If you have low-back pain that makes it so you can’t sleep, can’t sit without pain, can’t enjoy a meal, do you really want to wait until the 6th session before we work on your back?  ‘Cause that’s how the 10-series is set up.  If you put one to three weeks between sessions, we’re looking at 6 to 18 weeks before we directly address your back pain.  Sure, with the magic of fascia being everywhere and all connected, your back pain might go away after we address your breath in session one.  Or maybe after we address your feet and lower legs in session two.  But maybe not.  Remember, most of my clients are coming to me after they’ve been in pain for a long time, and have tried a lot of other things that haven’t worked.  The last thing I’m going to tell them is to give me a month or three to see if maybe I can help.

But I do love, love, love the 10-series.  So, when a client is ready for it, I get excited.  And the other day, when my Rolfer friend, Dave sent me this text, “Want to trade a ten series?” I got pretty excited, and “yes!” was the only response available to me.  I’ve been through the process of receiving the 10-series 2 1/2 times before, but it’s been 4 1/2 years since that last half a time through.  And, this may sound odd, but I’ve never actually received the 10-series from a Certified Rolfer™.  What?!  I know!!  My first introduction to Rolfing, and trip through the 10-series was as a model for a student in a class of soon-to-be Rolfers.  And my second trip through was in my own class, halfway through my training, when all of us students did the 10-series on each other.  My 1/2 journey through the series was when a similar class had a student drop out in the middle and since they were all working on each other, they needed someone to step in and take his spot.  I was that person.  So, all of my Rolfers in my experience of the 10-series, have been students.  When I realized a few days ago that I was about to get my first 10-series from a Certified Rolfer, and a very experienced, skilled Rolfer, who does SourcePoint, at that, I almost started wagging my tail I was so pumped.  (I don’t actually have a tail, but I often wish I did.)

For those of you who haven’t researched the 10-series extensively, or who haven’t already been through it, the 10-series is basically one really big, full-body session broken down into 10 pieces, because 10-15 hours of bodywork in one day is too much for anyone to receive, as well as too much for one bodyworker to give.  It’s broken up into three segments.  Sessions 1-3 are called the superficial, or sleeve sessions, with the structural goal of opening the outer layer of the body, to prepare it for the deeper work to come.  Sessions 4-7 are called the deep or core sessions, and they work with (surprise!) deep or core structures that aren’t often addressed in a typical massage.  And sessions 8-10 are the integrative sessions where we focus on finding the highest possible level of organization, connection, and communication throughout the body.  Each session has goals of its own, both structural and energetic in nature.  And each Rolfer and client can have specific goals for the series as a whole.  When Dave asked me what my goals for the series were, I’ll admit, I didn’t have a great answer.  My goals are kinda vague and nebulous.  I mean, I’ve already had a lot of Rolfing.  Even if I haven’t been through the 10-series in a while, Dave and I have been trading a session every month or two for about 5 years now.  And I’m a Rolfer.  I do a fair amount of self-care as I need it.  I stretch while waiting for clients to show up.  I’m mindful of my posture and my habits.  But at the same time, I haven’t had dedicated, focused, regular bodywork in a long time.  Since my last 10-series, I’ve gone from never running to being an ultra runner.  I got really into yoga, doing 3-6 classes a week, and then stopped doing yoga altogether.  I’ve taken up (and put back down) climbing.  I met and married my husband.  I’ve moved a few times.  I’ve made friends and lost friends.  I got a pull-up bar.  You know, things change.  And there are a lot of little things that bug me regularly.  My right foot turns out to the side a bit.  My left hip aches now and again.  My shoulders round forward more than I’d like.  And every now and again I have a rib go out of place for a few days.  So, I’d like to address all of those, if we can.  It just feels like I could use a full-body tune up.  Which, the 10-series is great for.  Also, enlightenment.  I’d like to achieve enlightenment.  The 10-series can do that, right?

So, I’m starting the 10-series and I’m going to try to write about it as I go.  Both from the perspective of a Rolfer, knowing the objectives of each session and all the nerdy behind-the-scenes goodness, and from the perspective of a client, receiving the sessions in an attempt at greater health.  I hope it’s interesting or helpful or entertaining.  (Also, if you’ve been thinking about doing a 10-series yourself, this might be a great time to try it, as I’ll be digging through all my notes and whatnot from classes that I may not have looked at in, oh, 5 or 6 years.  Good stuff.)  Let the journey begin!

The only thing I do every day is brush my teeth.  I mean, technically, that’s not true, of course, because I open my eyes every day and I breathe every day and I eat every day and I drink water every day.   But you know what I mean.  The only helpful habit I’ve cultivated (that’s not demanded for life) is brushing my teeth every day.  Some people do yoga every day.  Some people meditate every day.  Some people take a multivitamin every day.  I brush my teeth, and that’s it.

Not that I haven’t tried to do other things daily.  I’ve gone through (relatively short) periods where I meditated every day.  I’ve taken different supplements for weeks or months at a time.  I like yoga.  But brushing my teeth is the only thing I do every, single, day.  So, when it is suggested to me, or I suggest to myself, that I start a new something, every day, my response, both to myself and to others, is usually something along the lines of, why bother?  How many bottles of half-finished supplements have I thrown out because after 3 weeks of diligent supplementing, I’ve completely forgotten about them until they expired?  How many yoga/gym/class memberships have I purchased for a great month of sweating to be followed by a few months of guilt and eventual cancellation?  Which means that I often don’t do things that I know are good for me.  Things that would make my life better.  The knowledge that I’m probably not going to be able to keep this up every day, forever, stops me from even starting.

But then I went to the dentist.  For the first time in 4 years.  Don’t judge me.  And the dentist said I needed to start flossing.  (I know, I know, I should’ve started flossing a long time ago.  But I didn’t.  Probably because I tried to to it every day, failed, and gave up.)  As it stands, I floss when I’m bored, standing in the bathroom with the medicine cabinet open, and the floss catches my eye.  As you can imagine, this is about twice a year.  Or, not as often as I should be flossing.  The dentist had the audacity to suggest that I should floss every day.  Which is approximately 363 times more per year than I’m currently flossing.  Naturally, I thought to myself, “That’s not going to happen.”  Clearly, my dentist hadn’t gotten the memo about me only doing one thing every day.  But then, something strange happened.  I went home, and the next day, I flossed.  And then, about a week later, I flossed again.  And then a week after that, I flossed again.

And then I felt silly.  Why even bother flossing once a week?  And then, I thought, “Wait a minute.  What if it’s not silly?”  I mean, flossing once a week has to be better than flossing twice a year, right?  I mean, it’s 26 times better than flossing twice a year!  And, if I’m 34 (and a half) now, and I live to be 100, I could end up flossing 3,275 times more in the next 65 and half years than I would if I just stuck with my regular schedule of twice a year.  That seems to me like a pretty significant improvement.  So maybe it’s not so silly.

And who knows?  Every now and again, I might get the urge to floss twice in a week.  Or three times.  Maybe next year, or in 2020, I could commit to flossing every other day.  Which might not be enough to make my dentist happy, but it’s a helluva lot better than twice a year.

As you may have gleaned by now, I’m not one for new year’s resolutions.  Not that I have any problem with you having them.  By all means, go right ahead.  They’re just not for me.  But, that being said, I do have things I’d like to work on this year.  And I’ve decided to try applying my new flossing approach to them.

For example, I’m trying to sit less, and stand and move more.  And instead of saying, “I will only stand while I write emails and check facebook; never again shall I sit!”  I’ve put my laptop up on a pile of books so that it makes more sense to stand than to sit.  Sure, I can and do take my laptop to the couch when I want to.  But now it’s more effort to sit than to stand, so through my own laziness, I’m standing more than I was before.  I’ve also switched to walking to work more than driving or riding my bike.  I’d love to say that I only walk to work and that I never drive.  But I drove to work on Friday and that doesn’t mean I’m a failure.  I’m still standing and walking more than I was before.  And I count that as a win.

I’ve gotten really excited about this idea of little changes over long periods of time adding up to big differences in the end.  And letting go of the idea that a habit is only good if I do it every single day.  It just makes me happy to come to terms with teeth brushing being my only every-day-habit.  I don’t have to do push-ups every day.  I don’t have to eat kale instead of cheese burgers for the rest of my life.  I don’t have to meditate for an hour a day, every day.  Doing 5 push-ups this week is better than no push-ups.  Even if I swap kale for a cheese burger once this year, it’s a step in the right direction.  And 2 minutes of meditation are better than zero minutes of meditation.

So that’s what I’m going with.  Baby steps.  And no beating myself up when I don’t floss.  Compassion always, even (especially) for myself.

If I get another email telling me how I just have to market to my customers, right now, well, I’ll probably just delete it.

I get it already.  I know.  Everyone is (or soon will be) looking for interesting, unique, lovely gifts and if my customers see a special offer from me, they might just realize that my product, service, or whatever would just be perfect for that special someone.  I know.  And still.  It makes me gag.  All the selling and buying and stress and worry that’s tied up in the holidays.  Days where we should be focusing on feasting and family and gratitude and love and resting in the quiet dark.    I don’t want to contribute to the feeding frenzy.  So I’m not.

But.  I do feel super lucky to have the best clients in the world, namely you.  I’m so grateful that I love going to work every day.  As a big ‘ole thank you, I’m doing half-priced sessions for the first two weeks of November.  I want to encourage you to take care of yourself before the holidays start.  Before the madness of last-minute trips to the mall or tears shed over burned cookies or out-of-town travel making you nuts.  Take care of yourself first.

So for the first two weeks of November, Sunday the 1st through Saturday the 14th, all sessions are $60.  As a way for me to say thank you and so you can take care of you.  That’s it.  Happy Thanksgiving, and happy holidays in December.  Hopefully I’ll see you soon!

Can we talk about shoes (oh my god, shoes) for a minute?  I know, I know, we’ve talked about them before.  I don’t care.  It’s my blog and I do what I want.  Shoes keep coming up, so we’re going to talk about shoes again.

You know how we evolved running through the savannas of Africa?  You know how we evolved climbing trees and mountains?  You know how we did that without Doc Martens on our feet?  Yeah.

Your feet (and my feet, or any feet, for that matter) are awesome.  Not only are they strong enough to hold you up and carry you around all day, but they are so magnificently flexible and adaptable.  You can wiggle your toes.  You can flex and point.  You can supinate and pronate.  You can rotate left and right.  You can tell, even with your eyes closed, so much about your environment, just from your bare feet.  Is the surface you’re standing or walking on level, tilted, or uneven?  Is it smooth or textured?  Is it slippery or grippy?  Is it hot or cold?  Is it soft or unyielding?  Is it wet or dry?  Is it constant or constantly changing?  So much information!  Feet are like the wikipedia of human existence!  They might not tell you everything you need to know, and you might want to fact check what they tell you, but you can still learn an awful lot from your feet.

And what do we do with them?  We put them in casts.  We put them in their little leather (and canvas and rubber and plastic) casts as soon as we wake up and don’t take them out until it’s time to go to sleep, when, let’s face it, they’re not good for much besides regulating temperature.  Can you imagine?  (I’m sure you can because you’ve probably been doing this to your feet most of your life, or at least know someone who has.)  It’s like taking a well-trained, super-fit border collie and putting it in a crate all day.  Every day.  For it’s whole life.  Not cool.  And it wouldn’t be super-fit for long, would it?

We’re missing out, people! And the bottoms of our feet are connected to the tops of our heads, obviously.  When we stimulate, stretch, and move one, we stimulate, stretch and move the other, and everything in between.  Did you know there’s a huge correlation between foot function and pelvis function?  Don’t want to be incontinent as you age?  Keep your feet healthy and active.  Did you know that pelvis function is related to head and neck function?  No interest in headaches or TMJ?  Keep your feet fully functional.  And can we just pause for a minute and consider how important it is to feel steady on our feet as we age?  How often have you heard of an elderly someone who seemed to be in great health, but they fell, and broke their hip, and then they were hospitalized, and then they got pneumonia…and that was the beginning of the end?  I’m not saying that you’ll never fall again once you restore your foot health.  But functional, vibrant, healthy feet will not make you fall more.  Guaranteed.

I know, I know, we can’t all be barefoot all the time.  I get it.  We live in a place where winter happens.  We (some of us at least, myself not included) go to real jobs, where shoes are expected to be worn every day.  And quite frankly, for most of us, suddenly going all barefoot all the time would land us with tons of injuries and the accompanying pain.  Think about it like this: if you kept your hands in casts from your fingertips to just above your wrists, starting around age two, until now, and then decided to take them off today and go play a two hour piano concert, do some light carpentry, knead a double batch of bread dough, and write a five-paragraph essay, by hand, how do you think that would go?  Yeah.  Not super great.  Let’s think about our feet the same way.  Yes, the goal is to do light carpentry with our feet.  No, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  (I’m kidding about the carpentry.  Come on.)

Getting Started:  So what can you do, today, to start restoring your feet to high functionality?  Let’s get rid of the shoes once in a while to start.  Can you walk around your house without shoes on?  I’m guessing most (if not all) the walkable surfaces in your house are flat, level, in a narrow range of comfortable temperatures, not too slippery, and not very texturally interesting (ooh! carpet! how exotic compared to hardwood floors!), but also pretty gentle on your fresh-out-of-their-casts feet.  This is like going from a cast to a sling.

Other sling-like options include switching out your hard-soled shoes for more flexible-soled shoes.  Sure, there are lots of companies nowadays making ‘barefoot’ shoes and minimalist shoes.  Which is awesome.  And most of those shoes are hideously ugly.  (I still own them.  Stop judging me.)  And some of those shoes may just be too much for your recently-back-from-the-dead feet.  So, instead.  Next time you go shoe-shopping, try this.  Walk around the shoe store for a minute or two in just your bare feet, or with socks on.  Yes, you will look weird.  Who are you trying to impress? You can do this at home, first, to get a feel for it.  While you’re walking around, pay attention to how your feet feel.  How do they move?  Do your toes spread as your weight transfers forward over them?  How long is your stride?  How fast do you comfortably walk?  Where does your foot contact the ground?  Heel first?  Mid-sole?  Starting at the toes?  Really feel your feet as you walk.  Then, try on a pair of shoes.  Go for another walk.  Really feel your feet again.  What changed?  If the answer is “nothing,” this is probably a good shoe for you.  In fact, this is probably a great shoe for you (but is also probably imaginary, as even ‘barefoot’ shoes still feel different from actually being barefoot).  If the answer is “everything,” this probably a terrible shoe for you.  Try to get as close to “nothing changed” as possible within your style/budget/patience-for-shoe-shopping constraints.  See?  Easy.  If you do this every time you go shoe shopping, in 10 years, you will have totally different, and significantly healthier feet.  I promise.  (They’ll also probably be bigger.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

With your new and improved choice of footwear, you can now start mixing up the terrain you walk on.  Start with walking through the grass at the park instead of on the sidewalk or path.  This will help build up the stabilizing muscles in your lower legs and feet (and all the way up through your pelvis and back) that might have atrophied from always walking on flat, level surfaces.  Go hiking (not in thick-soled hiking boots, in your new, more flexible shoes).  Climb trees.  Scramble up rocks.  Go out in the rain and the snow and the ice.  Teach your feet to be good at handling as broad a range of experiences as possible.  This is also good advice for bodies in general.  Flat and level is for sissies.

Another option for improving foot health and slowly restoring function to your feet is taking shoe breaks.  We all know by now that sitting for four hours straight is bad for us, right?  Right.  We all know that even if we can’t be moving all day, we’re supposed to get up every hour (or 20 minutes) and walk around/stretch/just stand.  Same thing applies to shoes.  Can you slip them off at your desk and wiggle your toes?  Can you pad around in your socks while you’re on that phone call?  Can you go stand barefoot in the grass in your backyard for five minutes while you’re waiting for the water to boil?

Next Level Shit:  Once you’ve gotten your feet out of their casts, and comfortable in slings (and this could take several years), it’s time to take things to the next level.  Go ahead.  Take the slings off.  You might want to consider some of those ugly, but awesomely functional ‘barefoot’ shoes.  Work up to spending as much time as possible barefoot.  Strengthen the skin of your feet by walking barefoot on as many different textures (and in as many temperatures) as you can.  Strengthen the tiny little muscles in your feet and the big strong muscles of your core by walking on different terrain, at all sorts of angles.  You can even do some of this in your house!    Throw the couch cushions on the floor.  Throw the kids’ building blocks and Lincoln Logs (Do they still make Lincoln Logs?  Please tell me they still make Lincoln Logs.) on the floor.  Walk over it all.  The couch cushions will make you work harder to balance.  The Lincoln logs will challenge your skin strength and flexibility.  Rolled up towels, wooden spoons, pencils, a rolling pin, a candlestick holder, a bookend, heck, crumple up your junk mail and throw it on the ground.  The list goes on.  Throw it on the floor and walk on it.  (And you’ll get bonus movement points when you have to pick it all up and put it away!)  Keep seeking new and different challenges for your feet.  Don’t let them get bored.

You can get those border collies back in top shape.  It’s a long process, but you can do this.  I know you can, because I’ve done it.  And my feet continue to get stronger and more flexible.  And the rest of my body continues to thank me for it.  But we’ve got to start with the shoes.  For the love of your feet, please stop it with the high-heels and the flip flops and start letting your feet be the magnificent beings they are.  Oh my god, shoes.

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!

As promised, here’s a guest post from the talented Stephanie Lee Jackson, of Philadelphia, where she’s a massage therapist, Reiki practitioner, artist, and mom.  Enjoy!

 

Recently I interviewed a colleague, Kathy Fleetwood, about her Reiki practice. She lit up. “It’s changed my life,” she declared.

Last year, Kathy’s mother came down with something that doctors tentatively diagnosed as Parkinson’s. She lost weight, was too exhausted to work, ached all over, and walked with a shuffle and a stoop. Kathy flew home to the UK over Christmas, and gave her two Reiki treatments a day for ten days. A month later her mother was back to normal. The doctors couldn’t say what had happened.

Kathy’s brother is a heroin addict. He has come close to losing a leg from systemic infections. Kathy has given him Reiki when he needed a fix, and the cravings ceased for a day or two. She credits the Reiki for the fact that he still has his legs.

“It’s not coming from me, it’s the energy,” Kathy says. Reiki has been popular in the UK for over a decade; it is widely accepted there as a treatment for all sorts of ills.

In the U.S., Reiki is now being used on cancer patients in respected treatment centers:

Reiki is often described as a treatment that helps life energy to flow in a patient—an explanation not generally accepted by scientists. Barrie Cassileth, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, calls the energy theory “absurd” but says light-touch therapy can have a “great relaxing effect” on cancer patients “who are constantly poked, prodded and given needles.”

I have been using Reiki in my practice for over a decade. I cannot give any scientific opinion about its efficacy, because with the number of different techniques I use, it’s impossible to say which are getting results, or whether it’s the integration of therapies itself which is effective. So all I can offer are my observations, as distinct from my beliefs, which change from year to year. (Belief, for me, is a tool for enquiry–if I subscribe to this philosophy, what are its effects in my life? What about that one? Next year, let’s try Buddhism!)

Some phenomenae I have observed in my practice:

  • If I start doing Reiki while a client is talking, they usually fall silent, sometimes in the middle of a sentence.
  • If they aren’t talking, they often fall asleep. Suddenly, with a slight snore.
  • Their muscles will sometimes release along an entire fascial pathway, with an abrupt jerk or shudder.
  • They feel heat coming from my hands.
  • During or after a session, they report a cessation of pain and anxiety, profound relaxation, and the occasional vision, color display or ‘spiritual experience.’
  • Over time, they describe a progressive increase of energy, positive motivation, and decrease of chronic pain.

All of this is mild, anecdotal, and easily explained away by the placebo effect. Any claim that Reiki is a cure for all ills is greatly exaggerated. But the placebo effect is an effect–it is the body’s response to the mind’s reassurance. All of our minds need more reassurance than we usually get.

What I have found is that Reiki imbues my work with reverence. It causes me to stop and contemplate the fact, as Kathy says, that I’m not the one in control here. It reminds me to observe myself, observe my clients, to acknowledge how little I know, and motivates me to discover more.

In other words, it’s a ritual tool for getting my ego out of the way.

So I have no quarrel with skeptics who dismiss Reiki as so much BS. I do not know whether I am channeling healing purple light through my palms, and I have no way to prove it one way or the other. I do know that we’re all going to die sooner or later, and Reiki won’t change that. The best I can do for my clients is to help them make their finite time more pleasant, and possibly more conscious.

Yo.  Here’s how it goes.  I write blog posts.  You read blog posts.  I think I’m funny and educational.  Maybe you do, too.  Regardless, maybe you get bored with listening to me ramble on week after week.  And so, I thought, perhaps it might be nice for you to hear from other people once in a while.  Get a different perspective; learn something new.  Maybe I could learn something new, too!  So, I got out my special internet-comb and started combing through for people that you might want to hear from.  And I found some good ones, wouldn’t you know!  Soon we’ll be hearing from Stephanie, who’s a bodyworker in Philadelphia, and I can’t wait!  I’m trying to get some other magic-makers from other fields in here as well.

But I got to thinking, as I was struggling with my big, unwieldy internet-comb, as it kept getting tangled in blogs which haven’t been updated in two years, that maybe there was an easier way to find super-awesome-healer-folk.  ‘Cause you all know them.  Don’t cha?  I mean, who do you go to when your kid gets sick?  Or when that weird pain in your arm comes back?  Who do you send all your friends to?  You know, those special magic workers you love and respect?  I want those people to guest post ’cause I wanna hear what they have to say.  Don’t you?

So, here’s what you can do for me, if it’s not too much trouble.  Send me the names and the contact info for anyone you want to hear from.  If you feel like including a blurb about why you love them so much, awesome.  And think big here.  I’m happy to talk with surgeons, crystal bowl healers, and midwives; and like Stephanie, they don’t have to be local.  If you think it counts as healing, it counts.  I’m hoping to compile a list of people not only to contribute to the newsletters, but also for referrals, ’cause you don’t want me delivering your baby, or playing crystal bowls, or cutting you open, but I’d like to be able to suggest someone else to do those things for you, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Cool?  Cool.  And thanks, in advance, for your help!