5 Tips To Improve Your Posture

5 tips from the experts at Real Simple (Oct 2018) to help improve your posture:

1. Get Moving! The human body wasn’t made to sit for hours on end. Set reminders to stretch or walk every half hour. Moving around helps blood circulate bringing oxygen to muscles. this improves mobility and strength, which are key components in good posture.

2. Practice breathing. Posture isn’t really about forcing your shoulders back, it’s about helping your spine find its most efficient shape. Force shouldn’t be part of the equation. Your skull should rest over your rib cage, directly above your heart. An easy way to fix your posture is to pay attention to your breathing: for you to take truly deep breaths, your spine must be in proper alignment.

3. Stretch it out. When the chest and neck muscles are too tight, they contribute to hunching. Open your front.

4. Choose the right pillow. An unsupportive pillow can cause neck pain and possibly play a role in poor posture. Stomach sleepers might find they don’t need a pillow, since this position can help keep the body aligned. Back and side sleepers may want to use a pillow to fill the space between the shoulder and neck. (When you sleep on your side your shoulder can be compressed by your body weight, straining your neck.) Since side sleepers have the largest gap to fill they’ll typically need the thickest pillow.

5. Talk to a Doctor. If you have persistent pain, and think it could be posture related talk to someone who can perform a physical exam to assess your posture and alignment. You should then be given techniques to help correct the issue and avoid further complications down the road, such as nerve related pain or other musculoskeletal discomfort.

Energy of Food – Part 2

Okay, so last week it was all about food, and our relationship to in regard to the head, heart and gut. Today we get even more science-y. Oh goody. The Energy of Food

The Energy of Food ideology can be explained very easily. All substances (including food, and all the parts of our bodies) reduce to frequencies of sound and light. Take sound for instance. All living cells generate a distinct sound, which is usually too low or too high to hear. The tone of yeast cells, for instance, lies between a C-sharp and a D (I only know these are music tones- don’t ask me anything else- I like to listen to music, but that’s about all I got). Bone cells are lower in pitch. Also, cells, organs, and bod parts generate and are affected by specific frequencies of light. Cells giving off the same gradient of light congregate together, creating recognizable and distant bands of energy. For instance, the stomach emits its frequencies, or color and sound, and the small intestine a different set.

Just as cells, body parts, and even emotions and memories pulsate at different frequencies, so do different FOODS! If you eat a tomato, its frequencies will support the bodily part hat matches the tomato’s frequency. And here’s part of the reason processed foods are bad for us- their frequency is so weak, they don’t get picked up to support any part of our body. Also, foods that don’t match any of the body’s energetic signatures can actually be harmful or dangerous. The immune sys stem will attach the mismatched foods, creating allergies, food sensitivities, and in turn, inflammation and erratic digestion.

Whew! that’s a lot to take in. Even for me. Between last week’s blog, and this weeks, my head is spinning. But it seems to me that the bottom line is pay attention to your emotional response to foods, create more joy and acceptance about the food you eat, and you’ll metabolize it better, and above all listen to your body!! It gives us hints all the time about the things we need, and often we don’t bother listening until it’s yelling at us!

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

You may be surprised not all calories are created equal. (Most of this info is coming from my May/June 2018 Massage& Bodywork magazine) It’s true that fruits and vegetables have more nutrients for our bodies, but what about our souls? I mean, c’mon we heard of Soul food aka comfort foods. Mac and Cheese. Fried anything. Ice Cream. Cookies. Probably I ought to stop now.

Calories, the energy obtained from food, do count. But not all calories are equal. As a massage therapist I hear a lot of dieting stories from clients (body image comes up ALL the time in my world).Many are on whatever the latest diet is, some eat “perfectly” and can’t shed a pound- in fact, many of them still gain weight. This is because food contains subtle energy, not only physical energy, and it’s the ubltle energy of a food that often determines its physical and emotional effects.

As compared to physical energy, subtle energy is less measurable and predictable, but so much more powerful. Subtle energies actually organize physical matter. Subtle energies determine what shows up in our body, and cause the conditions creating food cravings, dislikes, issues, and reactions.

There are 3 basic types of subtle energies that impact our relationship with food- Feelings, frequencies, and forces.

This week I’ll cover Feelings. Stay tuned next week for frequencies and forces .

Feelings– It’s well known that our relationship with food is largely based on emotions. Emotions are formed when at least one feeling and belief conjoin to produce a motivating instinct. Our emotions are regulated in 3 areas of our body: Our gut, our brain, and our heart.

Gut related emotions create body based feelings. this means emotional experience slinked to a specific food can produce digestive ease or irregularity. For instance, if you grew up with a mean grandmother who forced you to eat white bread at her house, you will likely grow up to hate white bread. No surprise there. But you may also very well encounter an allergic reaction to white bread which is founded in the same emotional response to your mean grandmother. And you will likely NOT experience an allergic reaction to darker varieties of bread. How is this possible? The enteric (digestive) nervous system is composed of 500 million total neurotransmitters which produce hormonal, biochemical, and electromagnetic patterns and responses. In other words , an emotionally triggering food can stimulate anything from an illness to a stomachache.

What about the brain? In general, our brain responds to foods base on memory associations. Ready for some science-y stuff?? Here goes. Conclusions (memory associations) about food are stored in the hypothalamus, which links our thinking brain with our primitive/survival brain. Our hypothalamus actually determines our subtle or subconscious reactions to a food. while a food might need to actually be eaten for our gut to react (even emotionally), not so where our brain is involved. For instance- lets say your grandma’s awesome now- and you felt closest to her when you ate chocolate covered cherries together. Now you often crave chocolate covered cherries because your brain associates them with love. Guess what? there isn’t a chocolate covered cherry in the world that will make you sane weight. When a positive mmoy is associated with a food, the hypothalamus will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. The food- or even the thought of it, will relax us. In turn, our gut will cheerily metabolize the heck out of that food. We’ll burn the calories and feel great.

Conversely, if we had been shamed while indulging in chocolate covered cherries, the negative correlation with the food would activate the sympathetic nervous system making the food harder to digest. Not only that, but the extra calories will more easily be stored as body fat, the healthy gut bacteria will diminish in count, the body will become more toxic, and the resulting stress will raise the heart rate and the body’s production of cortisol and insulin. WHEW!! Over time the consumption off negative charged food can cause chronic inflammation, disease- processes, allergies, sensitivities and autoimmune dysfunctions. DAYUUUM.

The final frontier is the heart.
While the heart is a physical powerhouse of electromagnetic and hormonal activity, it is also the center of the spiritual self. In general, foods perceived to reflect spiritual qualities are more life enhancing, while those associated with harmful spiritual norms are more destructive. In other words, foods can carry spiritual blessings.

Intentional Chocolate is a brand of chocolate infused with good intentions by monks. A study published in 2007 showed that this chocolate increase a subject’s well being, vigor, and energy between 67-1000%. There is a reason why most spiritual traditions recommend that we pray over our food.

Ready for massage? Call me at (518) 744-2315 to book an appointment.

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Boost Your Energy Morning Noon or Night!

Enerty

Boost Your Energy Morning Noon or Night!

Did you know that (according to September 2018’s Prevention Magazine) American’s shell out over $12 billion for coffee, and $9 billion for energy drinks?!! Here are some excellent suggestions for natural energy boosters, and some sneaky energy stealers you may not be aware of:

MORNING:

If you take your shower in the morning, after you’ve taken your nice warm shower, give yourself a blast of cold. Once the initial shock wears off you’ll get an invigorating burst of energy as blood flows away from the surface of your body toward your core, kicking your circulation into gear. BONUS- An arctic blast may help your mood. One study found the icy temps help release endorphins which have a mood boosting effect.

  • Walk around: A short stroll will give you an instant hit of energy, but for lasting effects you’ll want to make a habit of it.
  • Delay your coffee: Wait til you get to work to have your coffee. Why???? Because levels of cortisol are highest in the morning- cortisol may be known as the stress hormone but it also is a potent stimulant. Drinking caffeine when your body doesn’t need it much may suppress your production of cortisol and teach your body to lean more on coffee to make up the energy difference.
  • Secret energy sapper: dehydration! If you’re tired for no good reason, have a big glass of water and see if there’s an improvement.

AFTERNOON:

  • Sit up straight! Scientists at San Francisco State University confirm what your mom always taught you- Maintain an upright posture, which may improve your energy (and your mood!).
  • Breathe Better: Breathing deeply with awareness stimulates blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which can awaken he brain’s verbal and critical thinking centers.
  • Let there be light: If your’e face-planting on your keyboard, turn on a bright desk lamp or go outside for a shot of natural light. (this is my favorite afternoon slump strategy!! Amazing what a little UV will do for that post lunch “siesta” feeling)
  • Make your to-do list now, not at bedtime: Writing you your tasks and obligations generally makes your mind race. Give yourself 10-15 minutes after your midday meal to jot down what you need to do or any concerns you have- leading to a less stressful and more energetic tomorrow.
  • Beware of energy vampires! We all have friends who lift us up and those who sap our spark. But its not always obvious who is who- ask yourself these questions- Am I excited when they call? Do I feel relaxed during our get togethers? Am I 100% myself around them? Do we put equal time into our relationship? If you answered “no” to more of these questions than not, perhaps its time for some distance.

EVENING:

This is the worst for me!!! I leave work and somewhere about 5 minutes into my 10 minute ride home I’m exhausted!!! I’m gonna have to try some of this advice.

  • Help someone out: On your way home, let someone with only one item go in front of you at the grocery store, pick up a piece of trash on your way to your car, or pause for pedestrians. Doing something considerate can give you a boost and wipe away energy sapping stress.
  • Try a twist: (no, not in your martini) Muscle tension can sap energy but a stretch can be a good solution. ( I think this will be there one I try first- stretch before I leave for the day and see if it perks me up when I get home)
  • Turn off the news: Bad news (and c’mon, when has good news ever been the regular headlines) can activate the areas in the brain that are related to the stress response system. Not exactly a great set up for a peaceful night or peppy tomorrow. Switch it off!! Besides if you’re reading your news at night its not news anymore- wait til the morning.
  • Find your sleep sweet spot: Subtract 7.5 hours from when your alarm is set to go off and head to bed at that time. For instance, if your alarm needs to go off at 6:30, go to bed at 11. Keep it up for 5-7days, noting what happens when the alarm goes off. If you’ve been awake for a few minutes prior to the alarm, you’ve found your ideal bedtime. If your alarm usually wakes you up, it’s likely you need more sleep. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you wakeup just before your alarm sound. I know someone who started setting an alarm to go TO bed. Okay,more of a pleasant chime to remind themselves to head to the sack. Its great so we don’t get caught keeping ourselves up too late with some mindless blather.

Hope this advice helps you boost our energy morning noon or night!

Feel free to text me this week if your’e in need of a massage – you never know what has opened up in my ever changing schedule! 518-744-2315.

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How To Switch A Bad Mood To Good

Real Simple’s August Issue

Hey there! Sorry I missed you guys last week- I was busy camping and totally forgot to write a blog. But its all about balance, right? Here’s some advice from me via the August issue of Real Simple about how to switch a bad mood to good:

We’ve all experienced it. We’re hoping for sunshine and rainbows and then something difficult happens and we turn dark and stormy. And when that happens we might tend to think our entire day is ruined. But guess what? Its normal to experience negative emotions. They’re not bad or wrong, they’re just giving you important information. We just don’t need to linger in them if they’re serving no immediate purpose. So, here’s some real life scenario’s w/a handy-dandy coping mechanism that may help you turn negative into positive (flip that switch!).

YOU’RE DREADING A LOOMING DEADLINE: Get moving! Your initial urge may be to procrastinate, but low energy begets low energy. Instead of retreating, get active.

SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WEIGHING ON YOU AND YOU’RE CONSUMED WITT WORRY: Write it out. Worry can hijack your day by taking over real estate in your brain, or keep you up at night. Writing helps you work through your thoughts. But also, by putting them down on paper we get them out of that real estate in the brain department.

A BUNCH OF LITTLE THINGS ARE ADDING UP: You’ve spilled coffee on your blouse, traffic…etc. Do anything you enjoy to break the spell. Take a minute to sing along with a favorite song,

YOU’RE TO-DO LIST IS OVERWHELMING: Breathe. Deeply. Refocus. Pick one thing on the list to do.

FRUSTRATED: If you’re so frustrated you could cry, message someone you love, or do something nice for someone else. We get frustrated in situations we can’t control. Doing something nice for someone else takes the focus off ourselves and puts that energy to work in a positive way.

Need to switch your bad mood to good? Just a reminder that I get cancellations on a weekly basis, so it’s always worth a shot to shoot me a text if you’re in the market for a massage! 518-744-2315

Have a great week!

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Tips & Tidbits on Sleep

Sleep tips and tidbitsThree little tidbits of sleep related information for you:

1. You can build muscle overnight! Post menopausal women trying to maintain muscle mass might consider asking their doctor about casein a slow-digesting protein. Men who ingested 40g of casein at bedtime showed 33% more protein synthesis (which fuels muscle growth)overnight than those who took less or a placebo, according to a study in Journal of Nutrition.

2. People who make their bed are 19% more likely to sleep well, compared to those who don’t. (I’m a bed maker! Are you?)

3. If you’re plagued by persistent negative thoughts that may be triggering anxiety and depression, your sleep schedule may be to blame. Binghamton University researchers found that sleep- deprived people who were shown upsetting images had trouble getting them out of their head for hours after the viewing. More research is planned on the link between sleep disruption and the development of psychological disorders.*

Now that I’ve given you your 3 tidbits, here are 3 easy/quick meditations to help you sleep-Remember, a growing body of research shows that mindfulness meditation is an effective way to improve sleep quality:

1. Scan your body- start at the head and go to the toes, or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. What it does it take your attention away from the busy brain.
2. Time your breaths- Focus on your breath as you inhale for 4 counts, and exhale for 6. This triggers a relaxation response in the body.
3. Reflect on your day: Think about a GOOD thing that happened during the day. Taking a moment to feel thankful can help you relax, ward off worries, and get you in the right mindset for sleep.

Please feel free to ask me about how massage can work to support deep and restful sleep. Call me at (518) 744-2315 to schedule your massage session today, or purchase a Massage Gift Certificate!

*https://www.binghamton.edu/news/story/936/people-who-sleep-less-than-8-hours-a-night-more-likely-to-suffer-from-depre

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Journaling for Dummies

journaling

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this blog is definitely a little more focused on the women. Journaling is something most of us women have done- you know- the middle school diaries we kept? I’m thinking men, not so much. But EVERYONE can benefit from journaling, so since we’re not middle schoolers any longer, lets read on and see if maybe there’s something to it?

Most of this comes from Real Simple magazine, lest you think all this brilliance is my own- its not. 🙂

Evidence shows that labeling your emotions calms your experience of them. Writing about your sorrow or outrage- owning it, in words, in the journal of your choice, may help you better cope. According to Beth Jacobs, PhD, a clinical psychologist, and author of Writing for Emotional Balance says “There’s an incredible release when emotions become tangible and visible, out of your head an into the world in a contained, self-controlled way”.

But beware the tendency to spew! Allow 3 pages, or 30 minutes to vent (your preference). Then spend a little time (say, 10 minutes) writing a positive affirmation or questions to ponder post-journaling. You might also look at yourself from an outside perspective. Reread whatever you’ve last vented about in your journal, pretending that someone else wrote it, and spend some time reframing it. What would you ask the person who’d written those words? What would you suggest to that person do to move forward? Another helpful exercise for working through sadness and pain is to write about your best possible self– the person you’d be if everything went right. Just the basics- what job would the ideal you hold? What does your ideal self’s house look like? What steps would you take to get there? One study found that writing about he ideal self was at least as beneficial as writing about trauma.

Too touchy-feely for you? Here’s some more practical journaling ideas:

If you want to get organized, get a bullet journal. Use it for scheduling, setting and taking long term plans and goals, and creative writing and drawing. Its great for detail oriented people who crave a sense of control as it keeps daily and monthly tasks and creative pursuits in one place.

If you want to tune in to your creativity – a journal doesn’t have to be text based. It can be a multimedia sketchbook or scrapbook with photos and art. Try this kind of journaling with key words- ponder the days’ experience and write down words phrases, and images that pop into your head without making an effort to connect them, you might gain surprising insight into your psyche.

If you want to be kinder. (Aaaand we’re back to the touchy-feely!) Feeling snarky? Overwhelmed and upset about the state of the world? Grumpy about a co worker? Research has fond that keeping a gratitude journal- a place to write what you’re thankful for- can help you feel better about you life and more charitable toward other people. In one study, people were asked to list 5 things for which they were grateful for once a week for 10 weeks. After, they felt more optimistic and satisfied with their lives than participant in control groups. They also reported fewer headaches, coughs, bouts of nausea and even pimples! Other studies have found that expressions of gratitude are associated with improved sleep and feelings of connection with others.

If you want to sleep better: Nighttime journaling can be a great sleep aid. “When you put your thoughts in a book you can literally close, you can take everything running around your head from the whole day and just plop it in.” Or, first thing in the morning, when your still half asleep, write 3 pages then stop. Just ramble, don’t try to craft anything. When you look back, you may be astonished by what you were working through, and knowing that you’ll unleash everything in the morning can help you rest better at night.

Beginning a journaling practice of your own can be daunting. So, check out the how-to dept on Amazon if you would like a little more guidance.

Getting in touch with your emotions is essential for your mental and your physical health! Learn how I use the mind-body connection in my massage practice and more in some of these related posts:

 

Walking is Powerful Medicine

walking

Every walk is powerful medicine. Simply putting one foot in front of the other can do wonders for your health.

The information from Prevention Magazine I’m about to share is no secret, and we all know getting up and moving is better than having our butts glued to the couch. But before I go into what they say, I’d like to have a little “say” myself. Look at the first 2 sentences: walking is powerfully good for us, and its simple – is the basic meaning of those words.

While you are reading this I’m wondering if you can look at the stuff in your life that stresses you out and think about dealing with it in the “just put one foot in front of the other” way.

Alrighty! Here’s some of the wonderful things walking can do for us:

Brain

Engaging in moderate physical activity, like a brisk walk, for 68 minutes or more a day may improve neuron health, according to a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Immune system

People who walk briskly for 20 minutes a day 5 days a week have 43% fewer sick days than those who exercise once a week or less, per research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Bones

Women who walk 4 hours a week have a 41% lower risk of hip fracture than those who walk less than 1 hour a week, the landmark Nurses’ Health Study found.

Mood

A new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that 12% of depression cases could be prevented if we all walked (or did another form e of exercise) for at least an hour each week.

Heart

Regularly walking 3 miles an hour or faster can cut your risk of heart disease by half, compared with walking 2 miles an hour or slower, according to a study in Circulation.

More Energy

Need to beat the afternoon lull, or refocus your concentration? According to a recent study in Physiology & Behavior, a bear 10 minutes of walking, or climbing a few flights of stairs, is more energizing than consuming 50mg of caffeine. And unlike a 3 pm shot of espresso, a quick burst of exercise won’t keep you awake at night.

Greater Confidence

A new series of studies published in the journal Body Image found that people who walked in nature were much more likely to feel good about their bodies than those who walked in an urban environment. Researchers think that nature walking dampens our negative thoughts and helps us focus on how our body works rather than how it looks.

Fewer Cravings

Instead of reaching for the kitchen candy stash, take a lap around the block instead: Research in the PLOS One showed that a brisk 15 minute walk can reduce your urge to grab a sugary snack. Why? Moving around can blunt emotional triggers that prompt mindless snacking.

Don’t forget that a massage can help heal those exercise aches and pains you may get from increasing your physical activity! Call me at (518) 744-2315 to book an appointment.

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Mind Over Matter

mind over matter massage

Once, we believed that the body was a machine, and the secret to optimal performance came from the muscles, the lungs, the heart. Then, we were told that it’s all in our head, and we just need to use the old adage of “mind over matter” to push through the pain. The truth is that “the brain and the body are fundamentally intertwined,” writes Alex Hutchinson, a fitness journalist (with a doctorate in physics) who competed for the Canadian national team as a runner. To understand the limits of the human body, you have to consider the mind and the body together.

Hutchinson is the author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, out this month from HarperCollins. In the eight years he worked on the book, he traveled to labs all over the world and spoke to hundreds of athletes and scientists about how the mind and body influence each other and the role that each plays in the “mystery of endurance.”

This concept is intrinsic to my practice of massage therapy. Believe it or not, after 15 years in the business, it almost seems to me that the brain’s interpretation of the body signals may, in fact, be more important than the body signals themselves.

I once took a continuing education class where the teacher (a research biologist from Dartmouth) described the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic pain. Intrinsic pain is the kind you can’t ignore because it means you need to see a doctor (if you don’t know why you’re having the pain– think heart attack- in general your body won’t let you ignore or reduce this type of pain with your mind because it’s too important). The other type of pain is kind of a choice as to how much we feel it. We can use mind over matter to distract ourselves from it, or we can choose to amplify it with our minds.

Cool, huh? The article I’m borrowing from is super interesting, but related to sports, so check out the whole thing.

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In a Slump? Here’s 3 Ways to Restart!

refresh restart

We all talk about wanting to refresh, restart, reset. Here’s 3 different ways from an article I read in Real Simple magazine:

1. When You Haven’t Exercised in Forever

Coming back to a workout routine after you’ve been away for awhile is always the hardest part. People often focus on what they can’t do. (guilty!) Take one day at a time. Think about your lifestyle and what you’re afraid of. Most people think they’re in worse shape than they actually are. Restart by taking your big goal and breaking it down into smaller manageable steps.

2. When You Crave a New Career

Our impassive culture promotes living your truth as quickly as possible. But before you jump into a new career, take a practice jump. For instance, if you’re an accountant who has always wanted to start a bakery, you can do a lot before you quit your day job: take a pastry class in the evening, help out a local baker on the weekend. You’ll get a sense of the highs and lows and learn the nitty gritty. If they new lifestyle feels good, then you’ll know you’re ready to take the next step.

3. When You’re Just Having a Bad Day

Take two minutes to write a very brief, positive email to someone you know: a thank you, a compliment. It works, for one, because your mind simply can’t be in two places at once. You can’t be unhappy and stressed if you’r thinking about how grateful you are. Then, when you have to go back to your bad day, your brain has one more positive piece of information about your life, and you won’t feel the same slump.

Don’t forget that positive energy has a huge benefit on your mental and well being. When you’re feeling down, don’t get down on yourself! Check out some of these other posts for more ways to tackle a bad day.

If you still have the blahs and need a pick-me-up, why not treat yourself to a massage? 🙂

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