Healthy Living Thanksgiving! Thank Your Body This Thanksgiving.

On this day of Thanksgiving … Remember your body! Give it the thanks it deserves by eating well, sleeping well, and moving today. Practice care and acceptance for yourself and for others. Most of all enjoy your family, friends, neighbors, or the dude sitting next to you at the bar (could be coffee or beauty 🙂 – with love and grace.

Today let go and relax. Allow yourself to find ease in your doing and be present in the work that surrounds today. You deserve the balance and joy that comes with being present to your experience and fully engaged – this is living life on fire – vibrant and alive.

I am so grateful for all of you. Those of you out there focused on your health, your wellness, and building healthy relationships are what make my work so enjoyable. Those of you brave enough to reach deep inside and find those parts of you that are wounded – then work hard to heal those wounds are what make my work so rewarding. Life isn’t always easy and I know many of you work hard to balance your life. It takes work to make your life work, and I am grateful to be on that journey with you. Thank you for giving me the honor of being part of your story.

Make today one of reverence and gratitude for all the hard work you do to maintain all the things you’ve got going on in your life. Balance takes effort and ease. Make today’s efforts easy.

Read more on healthy living thanksgiving: Thanksgiving Day Plan – to stay on track for your health goals, that is. Or try: How will you give thanks this season?

 

Thank You UWS Students! 

Thank you to UWS Counseling Students for a great evening of exploration regarding the mental health field. In this post I also outline and more in-depth explanation of treating and healing from early trauma. A list of somatic psychology resources is also included.

Thank you for letting me come speak about our profession! I enjoyed the exploration and interest areas. There are some many possibilities and avenues for careers in behavioral health. I am grateful to be able to share my experience and hope for the next generation of LPCs. I wish you well, and please feel free to contact me if more questions/thoughts arise.

As I reflected on the questions I believe I didn’t answer the question about early trauma fully – to heal from psychological trauma we do not need the story/details of the event. Trauma happens in the body, even when it is verbal in nature, the physiology of the fear disrupts the endocrine system and dysregulates the brain processes. As a result we see dysfunctional behaviors and coping skills. To treat this we can use a number of therapies that target body sensations, as early trauma is stored in brain centers as sensations – not as words/symbols. We can then use the body sensations to track and allow neuropathways to develop while using the present moment therapist to client regulation. This allows the person to process through the trauma in the brain via the body with safety, then make meaning of the event(s) using words, art, music, etc. I tend to use somatic therapies most of the time along with cognitive work to help make meaning and keep the process moving – help clients understand what’s happening when that’s what’s needed for safety. And Dialectical Behavior Therapy to teach regulations skills prior to trauma protocols. Many somatic modalities teach them along the way, however some struggle with the mindfulness and/or aren’t used to being in the body, tracking sensation for long periods of time. Cognitive work can help balance the fears and safety while building endurance. 
Some resources for the somatic work:

  • USABP – United States Association for Body Psychotherapies
  • SE – Somatic Experiencing, Peter Levin has a good book on trauma in the body
  • Hakomi – Hakomi Institute 
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy – check out Pat Ogden’s book on trauma and the body 
  • EMDRIA – Eye movement densitization and reprocessing therapy main association website.

Getting over the Plateau

How’s everyone doing on your goals? Hopefully, you are still progressing. Sometimes (approx 6wks) things get a little boring and may feel a bit stagnant. If you’re in that camp it may be time to change it up. You can do this in a variety of ways. What we want is to become inefficient again. Our bodies are smart and adapt to overload (i.e. exercise) fairly quick. So challenge yourself to do something different this week. Here’s a list of ideas to challenge you.

You can …

1)      Increase your intensity – make the movements bigger, faster, stronger by adding power (speed and strength together).

2)      Decrease your intensity – you might need a recovery week. To do this spend the majority of your workouts in the bottom range of your THRZ – don’t do this if you have been working at the lower intensity thus far – see #1 instead.

3)      Add new movement patterns – try a more complicated step or trail. You can also begin to add in more arm movements – this keeps your body more confused, not to mention your brain, and you’ll work harder because you have to think more. You can also re-arrange the way you do your movements so the muscles have to recruit in a different order.

4)      Add intervals or tabbata to your workout – intervals are something like 30sec on, 45 sec recovery (you can play with the times). The “on” set is all out. Tabata is 8 rounds of 20sec on 10 sec off (total of 4mins). Both are very effective at increasing metabolic rate and training the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Tabata a bit more so – if you try them both you’ll see why.

5)      Take a new class or learn a new exercise. You can check out strength training options at SuperiorWorkout.com on my video blog or YouTube. I go over a variety of options for major muscle groups. Or YouTube, ask a friend, look up Synergy Fitness, Inc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXD69lc1OTY (this is one YouTube Video) or Alien Training http://www.alientraining.com/  – I like this dude (I get no profit from my recommendation. He’s got good stuff). Go to http://tabatatraining.org/ Great workouts, free, and more explanation on the method.

Body Mindfulness

I’m sure you’ve heard of mindfulness, and I would bet a number of you practice, but what about body mindfulness? Sure, in flexibility training, yoga class, or pilates you notice when you are asked to check in. What about when you run, bike, climb, shoot the ball, or skate? Do you focus your attention on where you are in space, how your body feels, and the sensations you experience? Here’s three steps to creating more body mindfulness.

Mindfulness allows us to focus our attention as a “Witness”. This allows space to observe what is going on around us and within us without attachment to the activity, thought, emotion, etc. From this point we have more access to our internal wisdom and therefore are better able to effectively meet the challenges in the given moment.

First, begin by setting an alarm on your phone, watch, oven timer, computer, or another way you can remember to do a “moment to pause”. Set it to random times throughout the day. This way you are training your mind to reflect despite your activity levels.

Next, pause when you hear your alarm. Notice how much you feel connected to your body. Stop whatever you are doing, take a deep breath and feel it all the way to your feet. Notice your feet on the support they are touching, then move to the legs – notice the front vs the back. Then your torso in space. Is is tilted to one side, twisted? Then pay attention to your arms, your hands, your shoulders. How do they feel? Finally, notice your neck, your head, your face. It may help you to close your eyes or choose a gazing point. Soften your gaze so you aren’t distracted by visual stimuli.

When you have finished the above it may be helpful to notice how in your body now. Is it different? How so?

Then return to your task and your day. Next bell check again. Notice any differences throughout the day. Over time this exercise allows you to gain more wisdom about your personal process, adds space in your day, and helps refocus your attention. See how you feel after a few weeks.

Making Sense of Physical Sensations

How much thought have you given to how much you judge physical sensations, label them, and then operate as though they are truth? How often have you used anxiety, excitement, or guilt to create a physical sensation to motivate you? Continuing from May’s concept of emotional and physical health connections, this month lets look at those most primitive and un-regulated body pieces to our intelligence – sensation.

Many of us feel a physical sensation and immediately jump to a conclusion about what it is, why it’s there, and react as though it must be true. Really, these items – like hot, cold, tight, loose, rough, soft, sharp, empty – are just information about what is going on in this moment, not the next one, not the one before it, this moment. Using mindfulness and curiosity it is possible to gather more information about what these physical sensations mean. We can then use them to inform our responses from an empowered place rather than react without considering the possibilities.

Begin to get comfortable with your body. How comfortable are you with the feelings (sensations) of your physical body? Are there areas you love? hate? ignore? that take more attention and focus than others? Are there places you feel strongly? Do these concepts even make sense?! If not you may want to slow down and consider how do you feel right now in your body? The trick to this exercise is to remember there is nothing to do, nothing to fix. It’s just about noticing what is going on in your body right now? Where is your attention drawn? Do not judge. Then use curiosity to “hang out” with this area and notice. What can you learn about this part of you? Where are it’s edges? Does it have a color? If it had one word what would it be telling you? Is it familiar? How is it different from similar past experiences?

As you begin this practice you begin to notice more and more of the body’s wisdom and you become better able to listen to it. Once you are able to hear what it has to say, listen to it. Follow it’s guidance and use this information to help you live a more embodied life. Living in your body isn’t just about shaping it. It’s also about enjoying it and living from within it. Embrace it’s wisdom and it will lead you toward a fuller and more engaged life.

Are You Self-Sabotaging Your Workout?

Many of us feel the well deserved twang when eating something indulgent after a workout. WAIT!!! Are you self-sabotaging all the hard work? Some of us tend to overindulge and negate the calories we just burned. The result is no weight loss and EVEN WEIGHT GAIN!!!!

If you are eating more calories following a workout than you burned – you are what we’d call a compensator. You eat to compensate for your workout, but may be falling into a psychological trap of rewards rather than refueling. Here are some tips to stop compensating.

First plan your meals, at least for a little while. See where your daily slumps are. Do you need a nutritional snack at 10am? 2pm? to make it to your workout after work? Do you eat every 2-4hours? Small snacks? Get enough protein and fat throughout the day? Are you eating nutrient dense foods so you’ll have the energy to finish your day without feeling deprived?

Next check your beverages. Do you drink enough water throughout the day? How much caffeine are you drinking? Caffeine will set you up for those slumps and create a cycle to feed itself. You’ll need more and more and then not sleep and then need more. See how it works?

Find non-food rewards to give yourself. You may be bingeing because you feel like you deserve something special…and you do, however if food was used as a reward in your life, especially those sweet treats, it may be time to stop that cycle. Find other ways to give yourself a special treat.

It helps to make sure you eat a good pre and post workout snack. AND consider if you burned off 250 calories in a workout, that really only a granola bar. So eating a heaping portion is more than you burned. Often people will be more hungry because what’s called post exercise energy consumption – however if you have planned pre and post snacks and have a solid eating schedule throughout the day usually exercise isn’t a binge creator – that’s the psychological piece of I deserve it.

It’s Park & Walk Season

So,  I was noticing on my way out to the car mid morning …  that is smells different outside. Tis the season of …

Parking and Walking!!! Yeah. Yeah. Yeah!!!!  The ice is gone and may not return in full force (to cover our parking lots) till the leaves fall again.

I’m sure that’s not the seasonal name you were thinking I was going to say. So now that I’ve got your attention and before you list all the reasons you can’t walk more hear me out.

In order to lead a more healthy lifestyle you must add physical activity (PA) into your day. PA is about doing more throughout your day that gets your body moving  AND the small things add up. Below is a chart from the 2008 physical activity guidelines http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter1.aspx

You can see adding as little as 150 min / week of medium level of activity brings some to substantial health benefits.

Below the table are definitions of intensity levels. If you are wondering about intensity levels;  how to figure out your ideal low, moderate, high ranges l can help you do that. Otherwise go with the concept that low you can hold a conversation about the flowers, medium you can say a sentence about them, probably sweating and your breathing is getting heavier, and high you are speedy, their colors are blending together, you aren’t commenting much on them one way or the other but you are sweating and breathing hard.

AND before you say I don’t have 150min to give up each week, I’m already too busy. Here’s some ways:

PARK AND WALK. I don’t park by the bus stop because I love the asphalt. I do it because I can. I can pay it forward. I know someday I’ll have to park closer. It allows me to fit more activity into my busy days and the view is nice walking into our Bodo building.

Get up every 90 min and walk around your worksite – outside or in doesn’t matter just move.

Do desk yoga – It helps with repetive movements, getting us grounded for our next clt, and stress levels

Strength Train – YES, I said you can strength train during your day. I have a program so that you can hit all the major muscle groups, move once an hour, and NOT sweat too much, at least not enough that you have to change your clothes.

Take the stairs whenever you can. – Stair climibing is a great way to get a cardio burst in throughout your day. Challenge yourself to run up, or take two at a time, or go up and down for a full 10min.

Check out the MET chart below. METs are a way we calculate energy expenditure. If you’d like to know your range I can figure it out for you, it’s based on weight and uses a an value of 1 for resting. As the METs get higher the harder the PA you are performing. As you can see from the chart there are many ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily work and life activites. You JUST might be doing more than you think you are already! There’s also a great chart at the CDC’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/pdf/PA_Intensity_table_2_1.pdf

Rember to meet the guidelines you can break up the time – 3 /10min sessions still equals 30min in your daily activity counts.

And before you let the words “I can’t do those things because of my knee, my back, my hip, my kids, my ______ (or whatever)” STOP. Fine, don’t park by the bus stop. Park the next spot up from your normal spot and walk 10 steps more not 20. Don’t take the stairs if you feel more pain – pick something else to do. Focus on what you CAN do not what you can’t.

You never know, you just might find that by going slowly it doesn’t take long to do that thing you felt you’d never do. Step by Step – literally

Enjoy your parking and walking (aka spring) season!

 

Classification of Total Weekly Amounts of Aerobic Physical Activity Into Four Categories

Levels of Physical Activity Range of Moderate-Intensity Minutes a Week Summary of Overall Health Benefits Comment
Inactive No activity beyond baseline None Being inactive is unhealthy.
Low Activity beyond baseline but fewer than 150 minutes a week Some Low levels of activity are clearly preferable to an inactive lifestyle.
Medium 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week Substantial Activity at the high end of this range has additional and more extensive health benefits than activity at the low end.
High More than 300 minutes a week Additional Current science does not allow researchers to identify an upper limit of activity above which there are no additional health benefits.

 

Action is needed at the individual, community, and societal levels to help Americans become physically active.

  • Inactive is no activity beyond baseline activities of daily living.
  • Low activity is activity beyond baseline but fewer than 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week or the equivalent amount (75 minutes, or 1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity.
  • Medium activity is 150 minutes to 300 (5 hours) minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week (or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity a week). In scientific terms, this range is approximately equivalent to 500 to 1,000 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes a week.
  • High activityis more than the equivalent of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

MET chart:

Iowa CHAMPs Cardiac Rehabilitation Guide: Exercise: http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/medicaldepartments/internalmedicine/champs/metchart.html

.

METs Exercise Recreational Occupational Activities of DL
1.5-2.0 METs Strolling 1-1.5 mph 1 miles in 40-60min Knitting; Playing cards; Sewing; Watching TV Desk work; Driving auto/truck; Sitting doing light assembly; Typing; Using hand tools; writing Brushing hair/teeth, Light housework, Making bed; Partial bath; Polishing furniture; Washing clothes
2.0-3.0 METs Walking, level 2.0-2.5 mph, 1 mile in 24-30min Cycling, level outdoors-5mph Horseback riding (walk); Light golf (power cart); Playing musical instrument; Shuffleboard; Woodworking Bartending; Crane operation; Standing doing light or medium assembly; TV/auto/car repair; Working heavy lever Cooking; Driving car; Ironing; riding lawn mower; Scrubbing floor; walls, cars, windows; Showering; Sweeping; Tub bath
3.0-4.0 METs Walking 3.0-4.0 mph, 1 mile in 15-20min Cycling, outdoors

5.5 mph

Billiards; Bowling; Canoeing; Croquet; Fly fishing; Golf (pulling cart); Shopping; Volleyball (non-competitive) Baling hay; Driving heavy truck; heavy machine assembly; Janitorial work; Light welding; Operating large levers; Plastering; Plumbing; Stocking shelves Cleaning windows; Climbing stairs (slowly); General House work; Kneeling; Light work; Packing/unpacking; Power lawn mowing (light); Sexual intercourse; Stocking shelves; Vacuuming
4.0-5.0 METs Walking 3.5-4.0 mph 1 mile in 15-17 min Cycling, 8 mph Calesthenics Swimming (20 yd/min) Ballet; Dancing; Gardening (how, weeding, digging), Golf (carrying clubs); Table tennis; Tennis (doubles); Volleyball Building interior of house; Carrying trays/dishes; Farm work (sporadic); House painting, Lifting, carrying objects(20-40 lb); Light carpentry; Mechanic work Raking leaves, shoveling light loads
5.0-6.0 METs Walking 4.0-4.5 mph 1 mile in 13-15 min Biking, 10 mph Canoeing (4m/hr); Gardening (digging); Skating (ice/roller); Social/square dancing; Softball/baseball (non-game); Stream fishing Handyman work (moving, shoveling); Heavy Carpentry; Putting in sidewalk Raking leaves, shoveling light loads
6.0-7.0 METs Walking/jogging, 4.0-5.0 mph 1 mile in 12-13 min Biking, 11 mph Swimming (breaststroke) Backpacking (light); Badminton; Hiking; Hunting; Horseback riding (trot), Skiing (cross country 2.5 mph); Skiing (light downhill); quare dancing; Tennis (singles) Exterior home building; Lifting, carrying objects (45-64 lb); Shoveling (10/min, 9 lb); Splitting wood Lawn mowing (push mower); Snow shoveling (light snow)
7.0-8.0 METs Walking, 5 mph 1 mile in 12 min Biking (outdoors) 12 mph Swimming (backstroke), 40 yd/min Badminton (competitive); Basketball (non-game); Canoeing (5 mph); golf (carrying bag); Horseback (gallop); Skiing (downhill, vigorous) Ascending stairs with 17 lb load; Lifting, carrying (65-84 lb); Moving heavy furniture; Sawing
8.0-9.0 METs Jog/run 5.5 mph Biking (outdoors) 13 mph Swimming (breaststroke) 40 yd/min Rowing machine; Rope jumping (60-80 skips/min) Basketball (non-game); Handball/squash/racquetball; Mountain climbing; Soccer (non-team); Touch football; Tour skiing Lifting, carrying (85-100 lb); Moving heavy furniture (moving van work); Shoveling (14 lb scoops, 10 scoops/min); Using heavy tools
9.0-10.0 METs Jog/run, 6 mph 1 mile in 10 min Football (competitive); sledding/tobogganing Heavy labor; Lumberjack; Shoveling (16 lb scoops) Ascending stairs carrying 54 lb
11.0+ METs Run 7 mph (11.5 METs) 8 mph (13.5 METs) Competitive sports: Basketball, Handball, Racquet, Rowing

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Spring Into Fitness

Spring is around the corner. Are you ready to take your workouts to the next level? Burning calories isn’t just about how long you work it’s about how hard you work. Intervals are a great way to increase your workout calorie burn without increasing the amount of time you spend working out. Here’s how to use intervals in your program.

Begin with a warm up. Move through the movement patterns your are going to do during the intervals at a slower pace. Stretch anything that feels tight or like it needs some attention. Then begin at a moderate pace (formula below) for 2min. Take your pace to a vigorous pace for 1 min. Return to a moderate pace for 2. This is your recovery time. Repeat this pattern until your workout is complete.

To make it more difficult shorten your recovery times and increase your vigorous work phases.

To figure out your intensity levels you can use a heart rate formula to find your target heart rate training zones. This is the Karvonen Formula a popular one used by personal trainers. You’ll need to take your resting heart rate (RHR) by finding your pulse (radial artery on your wrist) and counting for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 for a 60 sec reading.

220 – Your Age = Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

MHR – RHR = your Hear Rate Reserve (HRR)

HRR X .40 = training % range

HRR X . 85 = training % range

training % range + RHR = your target training zone

training % range + RHR = your target training zone

40-65% = moderate workouts

65-85% = vigorous exercise.

You can recalculate according to the zone you want to workout in. Use a heart rate monitor for easy reference or divide your target training zones by 6 for a 10 second count.

Exercise Doesn’t Have To Be So Serious

Many of us work the grind. Over and over we do what we are “supposed to” only to feel a little bored and uninspired in our workouts. Kinda reminds me of the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercials. What if you exercise was more like play? Here’s how big kids (aka adults) can play!First, find activities that you like to do. Usually, these are challenging, stimulating on multiple levels, have a sense of focus and one pointedness. They allow us to do nothing but focus on the task at hand.

Second, don’t worry about numbers and goals, and “have tos”. I was watching my children play the other day and they have no sense of how much they are learning as they play – only that they are having fun. Try to create this element in your own play. Of course you are doing great things for your body and it feels like activity, maybe even like exercise, but you want to create a sense of fun, excitement, and frivolousness. Adding in goals, heart-rate numbers, sets, reps, time lines, and body weight can dampen spirits and drudgery creeps in. You are no longer doing the activity just because you enjoy it. You are no longer being mindful in the moment focusing on the activity at hand, instead your mind has gone off to charts and graphs of future goals.

Third, try something new, take your game to the next level, introduce a new skill, or attempt to focus on one element of your activity. For example: downhill skiing – when I attempt to focus only on my breathing the rest of my body follows and I become much more mindful of my body in space. This allows me to focus on one element of the technique with a sense of wonder and curiosity rather than goals and future benefits.

Finally, the sense of wonder and joy are key to keeping playfulness alive. If you have forgotten how to do this spend some time watching children play. They bring a sense of curiosity and wonder to their games. Some questions to ask might be:

What if we try it this way next time?

I wonder if I can make this jump again?

What if I move my foot that way?

What happens when I run this fast or in zig zags or stop and start?

How is it different when ________?

Playing is just as important for adults as it is for kids. So get your game on and take yourself to the park. Get moving, stop worrying, and reap the benefits of activity and mindfulness all in one fun, exciting, and inspiring movement session.

10 Ways to Move Your Body Today

I know I haven’t written in a while. I’ve started a PhD program and it’s kept me writing and reading a ton. I have been learning about the bodies need to express itself with movement as its communication route. Here are 10 ways to let your body talk. Some people like using music others don’t.

First get quiet and draw your attention to your body. Where does your attention want to go, where do you avoid? Notice if anything needs more attention. Then allow your body to begin to move. Here are some ideas.

1) Jump
2) Move your arms like they are under water
3) Take big steps
4) Twist (be careful to honor your body’s level of fitness for this movement)
5) Bounce
6) Crawl
7) Balance – see how many different ways you can come up with ways to balance your body, arms, legs, torso
8) Walk on your tiptoes or heels
9) Open and close your fists (or your toes)
10) Move however your body wants – tighten, release, fast, slow, rhythmically, asymmetrical, just MOVE!!!!

Don’t worry about being silly or looking dumb. It isn’t about how you look to others but about how you feel when you allow your body to say what it wants. Start in privacy if you are self-conscious and just notice how listening to your body and then answering it’s call with movement feels.

I found myself beginning as an assignment and then I noticed I would do small movements at work or in the car as a way to continue to allow myself to express needed thoughts and emotions through my actions. Pretty powerful stuff! Enjoy.

*As always if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed emotionally it may be time to seek out a professional near your home.