exericse

Live! From Chester County, PA, It's....

..... just us. :)

But, hey! We did our first Facebook Live video today! 

This one is a nice wakey-wakey-routine for the spine and the whole body (Bonus: Bill opens the show with a ukulele piece - sung to the tune of "Folsom Prison Blues" - not to be missed!)

With the humility of the learning curve balanced with the gig dust of FINALLY doing something we said we were gonna do ages ago, we're still kinda excited.

Admittedly it was weird for me (Gina), heading right into 'teacher' mode first thing on a Monday morning (which is typically my 'work-at-home-but-not-till-9-ish' day), and perhaps it showed a little. But, I, and we, actually liked getting back into moving our bods before starting the rest of the day (or, even finishing our coffee...!)

We plan to offer these 15-20 min vids at 7:30am EST every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on our P4H Facebook page.

Being there live is kinda fun as viewers can ask questions, offer comments etc in real time. It feels almost like being in a real class (while still possibly in your P.J.'s!).

But, the videos stay on our page, so if you're not a morning person you can watch them anytime. (And, please, feel free to comment, like or share!)

And, if you're not even a Facebook person, you can watch them here.

This Wednesday, (Feb 14th), we'll be doing some moves to help remove your shoulders from your ears. :)

Hope to see you there!

Working outside vs working out

Truly time waits for no man (or woman!) As I write this, a new year is upon is, and, of course,  with that comes the ever-familiar New Year's resolutions, with diet and exercise related goals topping the list.

I have to laugh as I hear people stating their intentions knowing darn well that if they hold true for a week or tow, they'll have bested last year's effort(s). It's like they know they're doomed to failure.

But, what if the problem is going unmentioned?

What if the reason we 'drop the ball' so quickly is not because of a lack of willpower or self-discipline, but rather, a realization on our body's part that what were attempting isn't what we need? There's a big difference between saying "I'm going to lost weight,", and, "I would like to eat better food."

Likewise, there's a difference between committing yourself to a daily/weekly 'workout' and moving more.

In the first instance, you're forcing your body to do what doesn't always come naturally.

In the second instance, you're aligning your body with what it actually wants (and needs) to be healthy.

Yes, your body actually craves movement. It's thirsty and hungry for it. A great Rabbi once said, "Who of you, when your child asks for bread, would give them a rock?"

So, too, why, when our bodies are hungry for movement, do we give it a barbell? Or, why, when our bodies needs walking, do we give it a treadmill?

Trading off real-life movement for simulated activities is like trying to subsist soley on a diet of nutritional supplements.

Here's an example from my own life:

Our house backs up to an Amish farm. The boundary dividing the two properties is lines with old walnut and sassafras trees. When I first moved in, this tree line was completely overtaken by sticker bushes, wild grape and poison ivy. The vines had grown up and over the tress, killing some of them, and making a mess of the rest. So, the tree line wasn't so much a tree line as it was a thirty foot swath of jungle, growing wider with each year.

The backyard 'before' shot.

The backyard 'before' shot.

Enter the 'me'.

Having spent a good bit of my adult life doing carpentry and excavation and so forth, my body missed that activity, and yes, the thrill of mindless grunt work.

I know - it sounds strange - bu there's something about ripping out weeds and pulling down vines that is very zen to me.

I have no problems to solve. I don't have to think a whole lot. I only need to tackle one weed, one vine, one root at a time. And, although getting started is always the hardest part, once I get going my body springs into life! My muscles are engaged, my breathing becomes more powerful, and my heart develops this nice bass drum punch to it that makes me feel like a machine coming back to life.

After about three or four hours, I usually have removed enough 'crapola' to then construct an evening's worth of bonfire, which I enjoy immensely!

Here's another thing. On several occasions, whilst whacking away at the verge, my neighbor comes over with this curious look on his face.

"What the hell are you doin'?"

"I'm clearing the tree line."

"Why are you doing it like THAT?" he asks, his eyebrows knitting together is a curious and semi-concerned manner. "I got a piece of equipment that can do all this in an hour!"

"Yeah, well -  like doing this. It makes me feel good. But, hey, thanks anyway!"

"Alright, suit yerself..." he says, and heads back over to his place.

I can't help but wonder about a connection between his choice for the 'easier and faster' approach to getting a job done, and his health issues, even though I know he works out.

Me? I'd rather work outside.

I have found that what most of us try to avoid is what we actually really need. By making the effort to go outside and yank weeds, dig up roots and move rocks, I get a full-body workout while making my yard look better. What do you get from lifting weights? Does the gym look any better after you're done? Can you look at the dumb-bells with any sense of lasting satisfaction?

"See those weighs over there? You oughtta see what they looked like BEFORE I lifted 'em twenty times!"

No - give me a sickle and a digging bar any day!

I use my arms, my legs, my torso ...everything!... to accomplish a task and feel good about it, and myself. And, I can enjoy my efforts for years to come. Every time I stand on my deck to look out over the beautiful landscape that was once untamed brush, I get a complete sense of satisfaction.

The backyard 'after' shot.

The backyard 'after' shot.

It's taken me five years so far, and I'm almost done. I have maybe two or three hundred more feet to go and I'm already wondering about what I'll do when I'm finished. (Gina asks, anyone need some brush cleared...? :)

In the meantime, I'll keep finding ways to use my body to 'do life', rather than seeking the 'easier, faster' ways, and then trying to fit my body's needs for movement around that.

What are some activities you might otherwise use technology for that you can re-purpose to meet your body's needs for movement?

Can you walk while doing your phone meetings? Can you shovel some of the drive before reaching for the snowblower? (Yes, Gina just inserted that suggestion, knowing that Bill who does still use a shovel actually covets the neighbor's snowblower...)

There's a million big and little whole foods movements we can reclaim for our workout.

Homework: In the last email, we asked you to pay attention to marketing messages for 'wellness' and 'health' and 'fitness', and see if you can discern what they're really selling.

This week, we want you to notice ads promoting 'ease' and 'convenience'. What sort of connections are you making (if any) between the two?

We invite you to post your comments below, or visit us on Facebook.

Stay tuned next week, where we'll discuss the differences between treadmill-walking and walking.

The backyard 'with Gina' shot...

The backyard 'with Gina' shot...

Ditch the workout and just move!

There is a prevailing mindset these days concerning health, fitness and well-being that has spawned what is probably a multi-billion dollar industry.

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As a result, most of our clients are people who injure themselves trying to get healthy.

Advances in technology allow a satellite to monitor our heart rate, our breathing, our blood pressure and count how many steps we've taken from the car to the desk. And yet, the actual understanding of fitness seems to be getting lost.

In short, we're buying products and paying for services that promise to help us reach goals. Those goals are determined by the standard the industry sets for itself. (Example: If I want to sell weigh benches, I want the public to think that big muscles = fitness. Or, if I sell cosmetics I want you to believe that smooth skin = health.)

But, what is 'fitness'? And what is 'health'?

I've worked with guys who were so muscle bound that they lacked endurance. Where they 'fit'?

I look at the guys and gals on the covers of health magazines and I question, "How do I know they're healthy?" They might have picture-perfect bodies but are dealing with "diseases of captivity"* - high blood pressure, thyroid problems, diabetes. And I wonder, what's their range of motion? I really don't know.

We're offered health idols based on an appearance, and often, little else.

And, based on that standard, we're sold products like treadmills and elliptical machines, free-weights and dumb-bells, and exercise programs - all designed to strengthen our muscles in an attempt to conform our shape to the statue ... err .. standard of what fitness 'looks like'.

In the next few weeks, we would like to challenge the conventional approach to fitness and wellness. In particular, we want to examine the differences between 'exercise' and 'movement', as well as between what good health 'looks like' and how it actually manifests.

One of the most exciting directions Gina and my practices(s) have taken recently is the discovery (by Gina) of Katy Bowman's work, and her emphasis on 'nutritious movement',

We've learned and continue to learn that health and fitness have a lot to do with being able to function naturally in a natural environment.

Our intention is to present insights concerning the body's design (anatomy) and function (physiology) in a clear and understandable way - hopefully without your eyes glazing over.

We believe that the better informed our clients are, the more equipped they are to know what's actually supportive for them, instead of taking the industry's word for it. The great thing about knowledge is that it equips you to ask better questions!

We'll talk about muscles and how they're designed to function, and the role posture plays in tendons, ligaments and whether or not it makes sense to go to the gym after sitting all day.

We'll also offer practical suggestions to reclaim movement opportunities throughout your day.

You'll be amazed at how much natural movement there is to be experienced, free-of-charge and without carving out any extra time in the day to do it.

For example: When walking from my car to my office, I've begun walking on the curb instead of the blacktop... ya know, like we did as kids!

... and why do we stop doing this?

... and why do we stop doing this?

Why do we stop doing this as grown-ups? I don't know.

But, I do know that a simple thing like balancing on a slight curb brings movement ... natural movement ... into my otherwise non-movemental day, (And, yeah, I did just make that word up).

It costs me no money, it costs me no time, and I gain the benefit of engaging my core muscles, all the while, starting off my work day doing something fun!

That's what we're talking about. Reclaiming movement as opposed to (or in addition to) 'exercising'.

Here are some upcoming topics that are sure to challenge the Conventional Fitness Paradigm:

  • What is meant by 'nutritious movement'?
  • What is muscular strength really?
  • Does lifting weights provide the same benefit (nutrition) to the body as climbing a tree?
  • Why treadmill walking is NOT the same as walking outside
  • The difference between isolationist and holistic workouts
  • How can small things like walking on a curb possibly be as effective as a workout routine?
  • But your ____ hurts, and what if you can't do a lot of the stuff we suggest?

We also invite you (and this is important) to send us your thoughts and questions. (You can comment below, or privately.)

There's no sense in us just talking about what WE think is important.

As we explain the benefits of natural movement, we need to hear from you concerning the challenges and difficulties of moving more and sitting less in your every day life.

Is it a deal? Good. :)

==> Here's some homework until the next time: Pay attentionto how often 'Fitness', 'Healthy', 'Wellness' and 'Health Care' are used in commercials, logos, and other forms of advertising, and ask yourself, 'What are they REALLY selling me?" What images are being held up as the ideal?

Write your answers down and hang on to them. Throughout this series, we'll have you come back to this and draw comparisons between what they're selling and what natural movement offers.

Next week: Working Out vs Working Outside.

In the meantime, stay outta the news!

(*A phrase coined by biomechanist Katy Bowman, to describe the health conditions that may have a strong root in a sedentary lifestyle, reinforced by an environment that doesn't require us to move much. ~ G)

 

Exercise: Resist the Head!

In this video, I demonstrate one more neck tension relieving exercise - also from the Qigong series, "Eight Pieces of Brocade" (although, this particular move is from Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming's 'sitting set', and therefore, it can easily be done, well, sitting. Or, even while you're still in bed.)

While stretching-type motions often feel good, there's something about contracting the musculature against resistance that can really help with release of a tight area. This has to do with the Golgi tendon organs, and other mysterious components of muscle tissue that responds differently with novel types of stimuli.

All you need to know is that it can help your neck, upper back, and even your mid-back feel a lot better in a pinch.

As I mention in the video, your hands are placed on the base of your skull - not your neck.

And, it's a bit more effective if you are pushing your head back n the right direction - not so much with a 'lifting' of the chin, but by tucking the chin under and sliding the head back. AS you GENTLY stretch the head forward, keep the chin tucked under.

After you do this 4-5 times, you may notice your neck muscles releasing and the stretch moving further down in to your back and spine. (You can do this up to 8 times, if it's comfortable.)

Please note: If you ever feel any kind of pain, especially of the radiating sort, use your judgement and stop the exercise, if necessary, If this kind of sensation continues, it may be wise to consult a chiropractor, or other health care professional with a background in structural issues.

Have fun! And, as always, we welcome your feedback!

Exercise: Ramping Your Head

Now that we've introduced you some ideas about 'good posture' and alignment (which will continue to be fleshed out as this series goes along), let's try an alignment-oriented movement, which addresses the relationship between your head and your upper body.

You may have noticed (or, maybe are noticing right now) that when positioned in front of a screen (or book, or dinner plate, or steering wheel), your head not only drifts out in front of your upper body, but your neck takes on a kind of turtle-quality, as your cervical vertebrae go into 'hyper-extension', or excessive curvature.

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Besides the pain in the neck this eventually causes, over the long haul, those vertebrae undergo chronic, imbalanced compression, leading to joint inflammation (arthritis) and degeneration of the discs. (Think of what happens to a door hinge over the years when the door is hanging crooked...)

What this simple movement is intended to do is to not only bring your head more in alignment with your upper body (ie, ears stacked over the shoulders); but allow for the elongation of the neck as the vertebrae are given more space, and eventually some release in the tightened short muscles of the back of the neck.

There are more mechanics to reversing this pattern, but this is a good place to begin.

Ideally, you would 'practice' this as often as you could remember throughout the day. I also recommend 'ramping' anytime you're doing movements that involve turning the head, or when doing exercises in a 'down on all fours position.' The video will give you demonstrations of what I mean.

Let us know what you think!

In the next post, we'll add 32 more pounds on to your head!