Category Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

Tips for Getting Better Sleep

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Getting enough Sleep is a big one. Restful and deep sleep is needed for restoring your physical and mental body.  Any excess physical, mental or emotional stress you experience gets repaired when you sleep at night.  If you’re not able to get enough sleep to restore your body, your body responds with stress hormones, pushing you into a continual state of inflammation.  Indicating to your body that it’s detrimental to your survival to stay up and be wired.

Here are a few tips to get better sleep…

Get to bed to early

Getting to bed no later than 10:00 pm will help you reap the full benefits of your restorative time for both the body and the mind. Your physical repair time occurs from 10:00 pm – 2:00 am and your mental repair time occurs from 2:00 am – 6:00 am.

If you’re getting to bed too late, start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night until you’re going to bed at 10:00 pm on a regular basis.  This allows your body can gradually adjust to the change.

Get Rid of All Distractions Before Bed

Assess your nightly routine.  If you’re getting any screen time before bed this can negatively effect your ability to wind down and get to sleep at night. The light that you get from a computer screen or TV can create a cortisol response which could keep you from getting into a restful sleep for at least two hours afterward.

I suggest shutting down your computer two hours before you begin winding down and turning down the lights.  Shut down your computer after dinner or come up with a time that works for you.  If you shut it down you’re less likely to go through the trouble of turning it back on.

Turn down the light

Start turning down the lights at dusk.  As the day comes to a close train your body to wind down by giving it less stimulation with your lighting.  Bright lighting at night can trick your body into thinking it’s day time.  I recommend using a salt rock lamp which emits a softer soothing light or use candles.

Become aware of the value you get from sleep 

Most likely you feel better. Consider this a value and a priority. You can only repair your body with enough sleep.  Just remember anything you feel like you miss out on during the night by staying up late you end up missing out on the next two days or more depending on how often you stay up late. Your sleep deficit builds up the more sleep you miss out on. This will negatively effect your concentration, focus and energy in the days following.

Take a Hot Bath

An epsom salt bath is wonderful for winding down at night.  The magnesium is great for relaxing your muscles and nervous system.  Try adding lavender essential oil which is a great for calming your nervous system along with candles and some soothing music.

Stretch Your Body

Stretching can be most beneficial right before bed.  Since you’ll be laying down in a relaxed position for about 8 hours your body will most likely hold the stretch better.  Stretching also calms and relaxes the body naturally.

I get on the floor every night and pick out three stretches.  Sitting on the floor motivates me to move around and stretch, whereas if I were on the sofa I’d be way more comfortable and less likely to want to move.  I also recommend Feldenkris movements or Qi gong before bed.  These help to calm the nerves and connects you to your breathing for better sleep.

Floor Work Flow

Floor work flow. Using your body weight to workout. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you just need to start moving. I recommmend slowly getting comfortable with getting down on the floor. We’ve been so conditioned to stay off of the floor but this skill so is essential for health and function. It’s also really fun.  Step out of that chair and move on the floor for better health.

Boost Your Breast Health Naturally

Being a person who loves to feel comfortable and move, I’ve found it challenging to find clothes that are both comfortable and fashionable.  I’m always thinking about restriction in the body and how we create it from our lifestyle and past traumas, but what if it most of it comes from what we wear everyday without realizing the damage we’re doing?  Could it be possible that your clothes could effect your circulation, connective tissue mobility and even bone structure?

My answer to both of these questions is yes and I’ll tell you why.

I love fashion but there is a definitely a price to pay for it, and sometimes that’s quality of life.  I think it’s definitely possible to wear comfortable clothes and look fashionable but you have to have a sense of awareness around it.  You should really be able to do a squat, butt to floor, in any pants you wear.  If you can’t you may want to rethink it. In addition to this, the ability to inhale fully without restriction through the diaphragm, rib cage and abdominal cavity is really important.

I’ve had numerous women clients ask me for help with their core stabilization and strength. Most, if not all, would have back pain that came with the lack of core strength.  I would immediately assess them by doing the 4 point tummy vacuum test, a breathing and core activation exercise.  More times than not, they would not be able to expand the abdominal area and the rib cage and diaphragm area.  All the places that really are essential for opening up so you can take a full breath and activate the deep abdominal and back stabilizers.  I’d later discovered that their bra strap would be too tight, restricting their breathing and not letting them inhale fully.

Wearing a tight bra is the equivalent to a person hyperventilating all day long.  A person can never really get enough oxygen to the brain or breath deeply enough to engage the core.  So a woman who wears this lives in a constant state of anxiety and stress because her bra is too tight.  Later comes the back, neck and shoulder pain.  Corsets women would wear during the Victorian era come to mind.  Maybe that’s where that famous underwear store for women got it’s name.

Tight bras have also been linked to poor melatonin production at night, stopping or slowing down lymphatic flow, detoxification, and a possible link to breast cancer.

In a study done by Japanese researchers,  “They discovered that wearing a girdle or bra can lower your levels of melatonin by 60 percent. The hormone melatonin is intimately involved with the regulation of your sleep cycles, and numerous studies have shown that melatonin has anti-cancer activities.[8]

My observation is that tight bras can decrease your quality of movement and life.  Here are 5 things I recommend you do to lift restriction and feel healthier.

1# Your breasts need to move!

Your breasts need to bounce.  This will of course vary in degrees depending on your size but it is really healthy for them to move up and down since they work to pump toxins into the lymph nodes.  If they can’t bounce how else is this gonna happen?

In addition to being a pump for the lymph nodes the bouncing actually works what’s called the Cooper’s ligament, connective tissue in the breast that help it maintain structural integrity.  So in addition to keeping your breasts healthy you’re getting a natural lift too!

2# Go all natural

When it comes to your breasts, what you put under your arms matters.  Don’t put chemicals under your arms.  This goes straight into the lymph system.  This becomes too much work for it and chemicals can then accumulate in the breast tissue.

Choose natural products that will last all day and contain essential oils instead of chemical perfumes.  My favorite deodorant is made in my home town Portland Oregon, Dr. Schmidt’s Deodorant.   In addition to this you can always DIY at home.  Wellness Mama has some amazing DIY recipes on her site for natural deodorants.

3# Wear a comfortable bra

We’ve got options.  Bliss Bandits has some amazingly comfortable bras that you can wear during movement or throughout the day.  If you have a larger chest you may want to check out Coobie Bras.  I always search for what are called bralettes. They’re usually not too tight and are wireless.  If you’re small to medium sized this can be a great option.  Comfort for me is key. Since I’m moving all day long,  I prefer to wear a bra that doesn’t squeeze my back muscles so much that they don’t function well or at all.

#4 Move your body everyday

In addition to wearing comfortable clothing I recommend you get some kind of movement in everyday.  It could be anything from walking to lifting weights.  Moving your body in different movement patterns is really important for circulation and mobility.

Working movement into your lifestyle is going to give you the biggest benefit.  For example, sitting on the floor instead of sitting on comfortable furniture.  This forces your body to activate postural muscles, because you’re more likely to change your sitting position on the floor.  This will naturally give you more varied movement throughout the day.

According to Katy Bowman in, “Move Your DNA”,

“The frequent consumption of varied movement is what drives essential physiological processes.”

What this means is that you have to move in a variety of ways on a daily basis to keep your body circulated and for all of your systems (digestive, lymphatic, hormonal, circulatory, etc.) running efficiently.  If you can’t do anything else, I recommend walking and doing as much of it as you can.   Walking to the store, the park, etc.

When you spend more time on the floor you’re more likely to want to do more.  It gives you motivation to move.  Stretching is a great way to move on the floor.  Below are two connective tissue stretches that will open up the bra strap area and help to create more lymphatic flow. Hold them actively for 30-60 seconds.

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#5 Hydrate

Hydrating the connective tissue, is super important for lifting restriction in your movement as well as circulation.  Your connective tissue needs nutrients.  Add a pinch of sea salt or citrus to filtered water or drink mineral water.  You can also get hydration from fresh fruit juices, bone broth, milk, coconut water or kombucha.

 

 

Revisiting the Squat

Did you know that squatting is your natural version of sitting?  Before chairs, squatting was a natural position to rest, give birth, cook, eat, create art and take a bowel movement. Sitting in chairs is a fairly new phenomenon compared to how long humans have been squatting.

I remember as a new mom years ago I would try to get my toddler boys to sit in little Ikea chairs I had bought for them thinking how cute it would be, but they never would.  My boys would always opt for the floor and would squat while playing.  I don’t think it’s our natural inclination to sit in chairs.

Your ability to squat can determine your ability to eliminate, detox, move your spine and strengthen your pelvic floor.  We rarely think about squatting as a part of our everyday movement medicine, but the truth is you really can’t function well without it.

Squatting may be more important than we thought.  It’s essential for many bodily movements and functions, like hip mobility, circulation, organ function, fluid movement, pelvic floor strength, for lifting restrictions, elimination, spinal and lymphatic circulation and pumping nutrition throughout the body.

According to Katy Bowman in, “Move Your DNA”,

“Squatting is a non-negotiable ingredient to improving issues with the gut, pelvis, hips and knees.  The problem, you see, is not the squat but that we haven’t squatted for the bulk of our lives.”

Sitting in chairs for long periods of time has recently been proven to be more hazardous to your health than smoking.  This is a big deal.  One reason for this could be that sitting actually makes it so your body no longer has to hold itself up anymore, which means your postural muscles stop working for you.  Over time if you sit in the same position enough your body begins to conform into whatever position you sit most in.  This creates lots of restrictions, which can lead to stagnation and disease.

I’ve found that sitting on the floor from time to time can actually stimulate your posture muscles enough to start working again.  Although it may be uncomfortable at first over time your body gets stronger and you get used it it.  In addition to this, working on your squat every day will benefit your health greatly and get you moving in the right direction.  Your body needs variety, different positions as well as circulation through walking.

My journey with the squat has been 20 years in the making.  It’s only the last 3 years that I’ve been able to really make any headway with it.  Up until recently, I had limited myself in my range of motion in my squats, accepting that my knee and ankle were restricted in ways that I would just have to live with for the rest of my life.

A little history on my body…

As an athlete, i’ve experienced total knee reconstruction, a spinal stress fracture, two ankle surgeries and three broken ankles.  As a mom, I’ve experienced two child births, an epidural that came with intense digestive distress afterwards, diastasis recti (separation of the rectus abdominis facia) , disbiosis and a disc bulge in the SI/L5 region.  After all this, most would consider it a miracle that I can even do a deep squat much less live without restriction and pain.

I started to make movement apart of my day by incorporating my pre-squat exercises which are essential if you sit most of the day and wear any shoes with rigidity and height to them.

Here’s some you can start with…

After this I began to squat with an object elevating my heals slightly off of the floor in order to get my hips lower to the ground without tucking my pelvis.  Since I have quite a lot of restriction in my ankle and knee this helps my hips get the full range of motion they need for circulation and mobility. Unweighted squats, because my heals are not touching the floor.

If your pelvis tends to tuck under when you squat try this exercise to repattern your squat then when the pelvis is where it needs to be try your squat again.

Walking with a thin sole that allowed my toes and feet to spread as I walked helped me open my restricted ankle naturally.  Along with doing daily calf stretching and spinal decompression stretching.  After this it was much easier to squat like I did when I was a kid, getting on the floor more often and walking with more awareness.

I started to park really far away from my destination and would walk.  Even if it mean I would have to carry heavy items or groceries to my car a little further.  As well, I’d walk to the bank, grocery store, shops, work and restaurants.  Even if it took more time out of my day, that just meant I wouldn’t need to spend that time on a machine doing cardio, etc.  Plus it was way more enjoyable and I could make it a part of my day.

I began squatting over the toilet with the help of a Squaty potty.  I would squat in the morning to wake my body up,  during the day while using my computer or coaching clients and at night to unwind my body at the end of the day.  I continued to do my pre-squat work which involved my regenerative exercises (SI joint and hip mobility exercises) and spinal decompression stretches to release any restrictions in the facial chain, specifically the extensors.

This allowed me to settle down into my squat much more comfortably over time.  As well, get lower in my hips and deeper in my knee and ankle bend without losing balance or stopping short.

Here’s some spinal decompression stretches you can work on to open up the hips and mid to upper spinal area…

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In addition to all of this I slowly worked back to wearing shoes with minimal soles.  I was always barefoot when I did gymnastics as well as being barefoot every summer when I was a kid.  It felt so natural to go back to this way of being.

During the summer I wore very thin soled workout sandals that would allow me to work the muscles of my feet and feel the surface of the ground better.  I walked over pebbles, rocks, grass and concrete.  This helped my body and nervous system begin to adapt to different surfaces and absorb the ground with more awareness.  As well, it allowed my hips to release because my feet where able to do their job.  I also started to work on getting up off of the floor without using my hands.  Like this exercise below…

Here I’m working my hip mobility in both internal and external rotation.  This really helps to integrate muscles in the hip that have not been turning on as well as make space in the pelvis.

My ankle which has been broken three times and the restriction as a result had had a direct effect on my back presenting itself as a disc bulge, because my body had to adapt to the restriction in the ankle over time.  As I was able to be more present with my gait and squat, I was able to even out my ankle flexion on both sides which made walking, running, squatting and jumping much more pleasant and my back pain free.