Nov 15, 2011

If you think you know more than evolution, you're an idiot.

Has anyone ever heard the saying "the more I learn, the less I know" ?  That's just how I feel lately.  The incredible things that I've been learning over the past few years are showing me the fantastic intricacies of life, and the amazing interconnectedness of it all, all of which we're just beginning to understand.  I am ceaselessly astonished at how one factor can affect the whole of a being and have impact on a myriad of things that you would never EVER be able to guess without science.

I'll start small, so I don't blow your mind.  The direction in which you point your foot while it is weight bearing affects the height (or even the existence of) the arch in your foot.  But get this, the way you rotate your THIGH while weight bearing affects your arch too!  As soon as you straighten your feet, and then roll your knees outward, POP!  Up come your arches, which you thought you didn't have.

Here's another one.  You must know that the length of your hamstrings affects the angle of your pelvis.  Having short hamstrings makes you stand like a shitting dog.  Attractive, yes?  By stretching your hamstrings, you can tilt your pelvis back to where it's supposed to be, regaining a butt and a lumbar curve, and reducing back pain.  When I started stretching my hamstrings though, it reduced the pain in my neck.  The shortened muscles of my calves was hurting my NECK.  Madness.

Here's a crazy one.  The way a baby feeds literally determines the chemical make up of your breast milk, so allowing a baby to feed however and whenever they want means they are controlling their diet.  Not just the amount of milk made, but the amount of fat, water and protein they take in at each feed.  Lactating breasts respond to cues like fullness, length of time the baby spends on the breast, and the spacing between feedings.   That means that using any other method of feeding besides direct mouth to breast takes away the baby's ability to get exactly what they need. (No judgement, just stating fact here, friends!)

 I love those studies that go on about the dangers of sleeping with your baby.  Oh wait, did I say love?  Cause I meant hate.  Infant mother sleep interaction is fascinating.  A mother who is breastfeeding her baby has hormones to keep her alert enough to not roll over her baby.  Not only that, she'll wake up at the same time as the baby (not being woken by the baby, just waking simultaneously).  Not only that, she'll wake up if the baby has stopped breathing for longer than normal.  Not only that, the mother's breath on the baby's face literally teaches the baby how to breathe during a transition at 3 months, during which time babies are especially prone to SIDS.  Not only that, but when a mother and baby sleep in close proximity to one another, their EEG readouts will be almost the same as they drift into and out of different sleep stages at the same time.  That means their brains synchronize DURING SLEEP.  WTF!?  Anyone else totally amazed??

The tightness of your hands is related to how effectively you are able to breathe (how much oxygen you can take in). Skin to skin contact regulates a newborn's blood sugar!  Breasts heat up and cool down according to the baby's temperature that's resting upon them, to keep the baby at the perfect temperature.  Bending a certain way in the middle of your spine (thrusting your ribs outward) can literally give you cardiovascular disease.  Chewing your food mixes it with saliva, which starts the digestion process in your mouth, but it also keeps your teeth from falling out (given that it's something tough like raw food or something which puts pressure on the bones which causes them to regenerate).  Carrying your baby as opposed to using a sling or a stroller reduces the incidence of osteoporosis later in life.  Need I say more?  No seriously, somebody stop me before i start up on diet and health.  My head is gonna explode.

Please know that I'm not writing all this stuff to make anybody feel bad about the choices they've made in life, I'm not writing this to pass judgement or to boss everyone around like a stupid jerk.  No one needs to justify themselves to me! I'm just saying we must be aware that evolution always has something specific in mind, nothing is without rhyme or reason, and all things are connected in life.  The way you spend your time, the food you put in your mouth, the way you parent your children, all these things have an optimal approach that was perfected over millions of years.  Your choices now can affect something way down the road that you don't even know exists yet.  The point I'm trying to make is that we are ancient bodies living in modern times, and to make it into the future, it wouldn't hurt to think and act like our ancestors sometimes.

Nov 14, 2011

For my alignment friends!

Today I'm going to post about something a little different.  If you've been following my blog, you know I've begun a new alignment program and am slowly working toward becoming certified as a restorative exercise specialist.  I want to document my journey and do some posts about alignment, but I don't want to start a new blog just yet.  So, for now, I'll be doing the odd alignment post here on this blog.  I was going to do a video blog, but I'm too shy right now to put up the video I did, so I'll stick to writing for another little while. :) Without further adieu, here's my first official alignment post.

Starting out in this program is very overwhelming at first.  The further in I get, the more out of shape I realize I am!  At first I was all, "i have tight hamstrings.  I just have to stretch those a little and I'll be fine".  NOPE.  There is a lot that has to be fixed in this frame, more than just my tight hams. 

The first three things I've decided to work the hardest on while watching the lectures and dvds are:

1.) Hamstrings.  Biggest problem.  I can't get close to my toes unless I'm bent at both the hips AND the knees.  I can't do half the exercises on the dvds because I literally cannot untuck my pelvis unless I'm not bending at all at the hips, or bending a lot at the knees.  So yea, obviously that's the first thing that has to change.  It feels horrible at first, getting into a stretch, but I'm slowly getting used to it and working hard on increasing my stretching time.  Ideally I'd like to be doing it every hour or two, for several minutes at a time.  It is a totally realistic goal, but I keep forgetting to do it.  My favorite move for this one is the double calf stretch (either with or without the half dome, it kills me either way) because it allows me to kill 2 birds with one stone during my stretching, and work my second major trouble spot which is...

This is Katy Bowman, the creator of the course.  Check her out at

2.)  Hands.  Really?  Hands?  Yup.  Years of screen printing and typing and being a general claw fingered freak has left me unable to put my hands flat on the floor when I'm on my hands and knees.  Seriously, for years I've been just balling up my hands and using my knuckles to bear my weight because it hurts so much.  But no more!  I'm trying to get my fingers straight as fast as possible.  Last night was the first time I ever experienced straight fingers with my hands relaxed after stretching them for around 20 minutes.  It was divine.  I can't wait to do it again.  The crappy thing about being a claw hand is that it also means my wrists are terribly weak and mal-aligned (that's a word, right?).  I think if I stayed on my path of shittiness, my wrists would have been the first thing in my body to fail me.  So I stretch my fingers individually, as well as all at once with my fingers linked, palms out, arms straight.  When I do my double calf stretch it is the perfect opportunity to practise having straight fingers without putting too much weight on my wrists, which aren't flexible enough or strong enough at the moment to support me for long.

3.)  Pectoral muscles.  This will surprise those of you who aren't in the program, but the reason people's shoulder blades stick out in the back is because the muscles on the front of your chest are too tight.  When the muscles shorten, it causes you to compensate with your back, collapsing in the center and sticking your shoulder blades out so that your shoulders can look straight.  In fact, your shoulder blades should lie flat on your back, not stick out at odd angles.

Here's me.  Tucked pelvis, hyperkyphosis, and epic scapulae.

Considering I look like a pterodactyl, that's not good news for me.  I've been doing lots of floor angels, and just trying to generally be aware of the position of my shoulders.  It seems to be coming along quickly, and I'm happy for that. 

So that's it for my first alignment post.  Not incredibly interesting or informative, I know. It's just a post to document what my freaky body is doing at the moment, and what I'm starting off with to fix it.  Now I'm off to do my double calf stretch. 

Nov 3, 2011

Goal Digging.

I've really had my head stuck in the clouds for the past couple of weeks.  I'm daydreaming about the time that I'll be working as a restorative exercise specialist, helping people get their bodies back in alignment.  I've been picturing the layout of a clinic I'd like to open, I've been making notes for seminars I want to do.  I've set lots of goals over the years, both short and long term, and I'm at it again.  To help myself, and you as well, I've made a short list of 3 helpful handy hints when it comes to setting goals, or as I like to call it, "Goal Digging".

Tip number 1:  Dont' be afraid to take your time and look as far down the road as you'd like.

A wise man once said "He goin' make into a Benz out of that Datson.  He got that ambition baby, look in his eyes.  This week he moppin' floors, next week it's tha fries", and truly those are inspiring words we can all live by.  It's not about where you are now, it's about working toward your goals step by step. You're not going to reach your goal over night (unless your goal is eating an entire extra large pizza in one sitting.  In which case, shut the blinds so no one can see what a freak you are).  You've got a long life ahead of you, (unless you're eating extra large pizzas every day) so it's fine to take your time to really work hard to reach the goal you've set.  Take the clinic I want to open.  I only just started the first part of my alignment course.  I still have to master 17 DVDs worth of exercises, know them by heart, what they're for, who can do them, what the modifications are for those with injuries, etc.  Then I have to go down south to either Washington or California to get certified.  After that I'll have to work for a while to build up clients and money to open the clinic.  Plus Myriam will have to be in school because I can't take care of her and run a business like that full time...the point is, it's a long, LONG way off.  But that does not stop me from setting my goal, and taking baby steps toward it each and every day.

Tip number 2:  Don't let your life NOW get in the way of your life LATER.

This can apply to so many things!  Remember when you were 10 and you had to have a new bike because the one you were riding was grey and not a cool color and hurt your nether regions every time you landed a sweet jump?  Did you let your life (unemployed, broke, still in school) stop you from achieving your goals?  No!  You worked hard every day, always making time to bug the shit out of your parents to get you a new bike, and you succeeded!  Good job asshole, now your parents are going to be late with their mortgage payment this month, but you achieved your goal and that's what matters.

Maybe you'd like to train to be a graphic designer so you don't have to work at Tim Horton's when you're 40, but you have a 2 year old preventing you from going back to school full time.  Don't let that little brat stop you!  Think about going back part time, or if that's not an option, start doing some self learning (buying books, researching on the interwebs) so that you'll be really prepared when your crappy kid is finally in Kindergarten.  Go back to the first tip of not being afraid to make your goal a long term one.  Slowing down is ok, but you don't have to give up on your dreams just because you have an obstacle in your life right now.

Tip number 3:  Change the way you think about working toward a goal.

I'm sure we've all heard the old adage "Life is about the journey" or whatever it is they say, but it is true.  Don't discount the path you take from point A to point B.  I know it's going to take me several years to reach some of my goals (like getting a diamond studded golden grill for my teeth) but that doesn't mean I'm in limbo until I get there.  Use your time wisely in a way that makes you happy now and propels you ever closer to your goal.  If you go back to handy tip 2, and make sure you're not making excuses for not working toward your goal, hopefully you won't ever feel like you're just waiting around for all your magical dreams to come true.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to stretch my hamstrings.  My goal is to be able to touch my toes in 7 years, but I have to work on it now if I ever want that to happen.