alternative health, diet, exercise, health and fittness, healthy eating, lifestyle, self-care, transformation, Uncategorized, wellness

Diet vs Exercise? And the winner is…

It’s that time of year again! You all know what I am talking about. The beginning of a new year, when we start to shout our New Year’s Resolution from the roof tops. We start telling everyone, “new year, new me.” As we all know, it is no secret the top New Year’s Resolution, year in and year out, is “to lose weight.”

I have been there, along with all of you. Year in and year out it has been something like: lose weight, be more healthy, drink more water, etc. It is always hard to stick to, no matter who you are. We have all seen it! Go into a gym or workout facility the beginning of the year and what does it look like, like a packed store on Black Friday. Hard to find the equipment, weights, or room in that 10 am barre class. However, show up mid February and it’s a ghost town, with your pick of the litter. If you’re on social media you will see tons of more posts healthy food and links to “detox” drinks, 30 day meal plans, and you can’t forget the cleanses!

So many choices and information at the beginning of the year regarding health, it can be quite overwhelming. But what should we do? Who should we listen to? First and foremost, listen to your body. Every one is different and every BODY is different. What works for your husband or friend may or may not work of you. I have to admit, I even get confused. Science says this, natural medicine says that, my friend says a completely different thing. Too many options can make the entire losing weight/healthy lifestyle thing difficult.

After teaching barre class recently, I was chatting with one of my favorite students. She is an older woman, in her 60’s, and has been coming to the studio regularly for the past year. I think she looks great! However, like most women, she is hard on herself and feels like she should be doing better with her body and losing weight. As we are talking about the New Year and becoming more healthy she says to me, “I was talking with my sister the other day, and she’s telling me it is more about diet than it is about exercise. Maybe I need to fix my diet, but it’s very difficult.” I agreed with her. I told her I heard the same thing, weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. But is it really? I mean, I said that because I heard it, but was I just talking out my rear end? Well, I decided to do some research…

I should point out, before going further, be careful what you come across on Google. During this time of year tons of ads and blogs about “fad” diets or pills or exercise plans/equipment/videos pop up; a lot of them leading you to believe they are “scientific” in nature. They are not. Now, back to the topic at hand: diet v exercise. Is one better than the other?

And the winner is….diet! According to a scientific peer reviewed study, where weight loss using diet, exercise, or diet and exercise was measured; diet prevailed. In this study, aerobic activity and diet were included and surgeries, drugs, and hormonal therapeutic treatments were excluded. When compared to diet v exercise alone, diet far outranked exercise. Over a 15 week period the diet alone subjects lost 10.7 kg or 23.6lbs and exercise alone came up short almost 8 kg short. Compared to just diet, exercise subjects lost 2.9 kg or 6.6 lbs after 15 weeks. When diet and exercise were coupled together, those subjects only did slightly higher than diet alone subjects with 11kg of weight loss or 24.25 lbs.

Now, what can we take away from this? Why was there such a huge discrepancy between diet alone and exercise alone? Do we even need to bother with exercise any more? Well, no not exactly. First let’s just talk straight science and math. Calories, what are they? Calories are simply a unit of energy (heat)-the amount of heat necessary for 1 gram of water to raise temp 1 degree higher. The Calories we see on food and drink labels are technically kilocalories-1,000 calories = 1 Calorie which is really a joule. This is just a little bit of information on what we’re really looking at and to satisfy my nerd brain. We also must understand a little bit of thermodynamics to understand why diet works far better than just exercise alone. I will be very basic here, just know there is A LOT more that goes into it, but simply put (in regards to body mass):

Energy consumed is EQUAL to the expenditure, then mass is maintained.

Energy consumed is GREATER than expenditure, then storage of calories occur.

Energy consumed is LESS than expenditure then, mobilization of calories occur.

So, if you want to just lose weight, and nothing else, eat less. It’s simple math and science. If you want to see the numbers on the scale go down, consume less. As I was looking for articles and papers regarding diet v exercise I cam upon an interesting experiment a college professor did. He ate junk food, and only junk food, but he ate less calories than he usually did, and he lost weight. So throw away all the healthy food, eat whatever you want, just less of it and you will lose weight.

I’M KIDDING!!! DO NOT DO THAT!!!

Yes, that will work-it’s just the laws of science. However, I would be curious as to what his insides looked like, how he felt, how his energy was, headaches, joint pain, etc. This leads me into the second part of this blog.

Don’t stop excising. Don’t stop moving. First, let’s quickly look at science one more time. In the study mentioned earlier, they did follow ups on the subjects for maintenance of weight loss. Diet alone subjects maintained a 6.6kg  or 14.5 lbs of weight loss and diet plus exercise maintained 8.6kg or 18.9 lbs of weight loss. So, while diet alone is better than exercise alone, nothing beats weight loss and the maintenance of weight loss when you combine both good diet and exercise. Why? Because you’re boring more calories than you consume!!

Before I wrap up here there are a few points I would like to make regarding diet and exercise.

  1. Do not be consumed with calorie counting. Calorie counting can lead you to eating empty calories-foods that are low in calories but also low in nutritional content. You know what I’m talking about, something like those 100 calorie snack packs-like cookies or crackers. Sure they are low in calories but they don’t have much else. They,  more likely than not, will have you reaching for another snack shortly after because the “snack pack” didn’t sustain you. If you are eating healthy and going to the gym, grab some nuts or avocado. Something that is higher in good fat. Yes it may have a bit more cialories, but that can hold you over longer than the other junk. Therefore, actually consuming less in the end.
  2. Eat whole, healthy foods. A lot of veggies should surround your plate, with protein and good fat. It’s really all about portion control. When I teach menu planning with my patients they often talk to me about calories and how many calories are in a certain type of food. Or they will try and justify something because of the low calories. I tell them, stick with this list of healthy foods (it’s a very large list fyi) and focus on portions. For example, your protein should be the size of your palm and the rest of your plate should be filled, mainly, with non-starchy veggies like cruciferous vegetables, greens, artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.  With a smaller portion of more starchier vegetables such as: beets, winter squash, carrots, and potatoes (including sweet potatoes).
  3. Do not be afraid of exercise. Do not put exercise on the back burner. First, go back to basics-Energy (calories) consumed must be less than energy burned to decrease weight. Let’s rephrase that: You must BURN MORE calories than you consume. Not to mention exercising does a lot for the human body. Just because you lose weight by eating less does not, necessarily, make you a healthier individual. Losing weight with diet alone does not tone your body. With exercise you can manipulate your metabolism. Tone and strengthen larger muscle groups like the thighs and glutes,  you help to improve and increase your metabolism (that fire inside you that helps burn those calories!). Exercise strengthens the lungs by increasing volume of oxygen, it strengthens the heart (remember it’s a muscle too!). Exercise increases energy while also decreasing stress, muscle protein builds making you stronger, and so much more! Don’t give up on exercise, it does a body good!

neglect-diet-exercise

Moral of the story, do not trade one for the other. Eat better, eat healthy, and continue to move. Your goals of a healthier you, a more focused you are very much attainable. Remember to listen to your body and how you feel. Never hesitate to consult your doctor if something doesn’t feel right, or if this is the first time you are exercising and drastically changing your diet.

Do not give up. No matter what, do not give up. You may have bumps here and there, but even the best of use do. Know this is a lifestyle change. It is not a diet. Diets are temporary, but a lifestyle is forever.

 

diet-vs-exercise-weight-loss

Postural Evolution offers menu planning with REAL food for those who want a little jumpstart to their plan. If you’re interested contact Donatella at dfino@plovehealth.com or 720-460-0944

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alternative health, health and fittness, massage, neutral spine, posture, self-care, transformation, Uncategorized, vacation

Transfer and Transform!

Time to transfer and transform. What do I mean by that exactly? Let’s talk about posture and form and then transfer what we learn into our daily routine to transform our bodies. In transforming our bodies, more specific to this blog our posture, we can begin to lead a more pain-free lifestyle. Before I show you the posture exercise that you can take with you throughout your day, I want to pause and talk about living a pain free (or less pain) life and what that does for you.

As a massage therapist, I am always listening to patients tell me the amount of pain they’re in, where it hurts, and what they can and cannot do. For instance, “I can’t go running because my back hurts,” I used to play soccer, but I hurt myself years ago and can no longer play. I miss playing soccer,” “It hurts to be on my feet all day so when I get home I don’t do anything,” “I wish I could be more active with my kids, but I’m getting old and I can’t move as well as I used to.” Do any of these sound familiar? If so, continue reading. If they don’t sound familiar, and you’d rather keep it that way, continue reading…

What does a pain-free life mean to you? What would you do to have a pain free life? Would it open up opportunities? Maybe run that 5K you have always wanted to try. Maybe kicking the soccer ball around with your children, or possibly,  joining an adult soccer league.

What if I told you that you should not feel the effects of aging until you’re at least 80 years old. What if I told you there are things you can do now that can help correct or prevent current of future pain.  Would you do it? Or would you rather feel pain while waiting for some miracle drug, treatment, or surgery?

One very important element to discuss is “neutral spine.” What is it? According to Webster’s New Medical Dictionary neutral position is defined as: the posture when the joints are not bent and the spine is aligned and not twisted. As we keep that definition in mind let us go into a bit more detail about the spine. The spine is technically made up of 5 curves: Head (cranial), Neck (cervical), Ribcage (thoracic), Low Back (lumbar), and Pelvis (sacral). That being said, you may hear the spine broken down into 3 segments: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar segments. Our spine, as you may have already noticed, is a curved structure rather than a straight structure. When a structure is curved it makes stronger to withstand more stress than a straight structure. Think, Italian arches. This curvature of our spine allows us to move the spine and body more efficiently.

Proper alignment can be noticed when we look at our posture from the side view in a plumb line. The tip of ones ear should intersect with the tip of the shoulder, through the center of the hip.

plumb line

If even one segment is out of alignment, i.e. ears forward of shoulders, that creates a kink in the change, thus decreasing our body’s efficiency for movement. Our spine is a unified system and relies on all moving parts to work properly. When a set of muscles fails to fire, it doesn’t (usually) mean we become incapacitated, rather larger muscle groups begin to fire and take over. More energy is brought to a certain area and decreases our bodies efficiency. So what does this mean and how can we understand this in our lives? Think of low back pain. Unfortunately, I’m sure many of us have felt this pain at some point in our lives. No matter the injury, for argument’s sake, let’s say you have a twisted few lumbar vertebrae. The small, intrinsic muscles of the low back are compromised and cannot engage as they once have. The body is very smart, and instead of leaving you to figure it out on your own, other muscle groups take over so you can still move. Move yes, but not as well-maybe slower-and maybe with more pain. What may this look like? It could be, that due to that “kink” in the low back, it is uncomfortable or painful every time you step your foot down to walk. The body “knows” and feels this, so to take you out of pain it now may rely on more gluteals, hip flexors, and bigger back muscles to help pick up the leg and move it forward with less pain. You now have a slight limp when you walk. This may be ok if that was the only thing, but the kink will lead to more and more kinks and can lead to more and more pain.

Now, a quick lesson to engage a neutral spine. Stand up right with your feet hip distance apart. Your hip points should intersect about your second and third toe if you had a string dangling from hips to feet. First, notice how you are standing and where are you in space. Are you leaning forward or back? To one side more than the other? How are your feet pressed into the floor? Are you leaning towards the arch or leaning more towards the outer edge? Root down through your feet, feeling all four corners of your feet pressed into the ground. Have a soft bend in your knees and breathe your abdominal wall in towards your spine, this helps engage the pelvic floor. Let your low back release to its natural curvature as you continue breath your abdominals toward your spine. Glide your shoulder blades down your back body, allowing space between the ears and shoulders. Do not wear your shoulders as earrings! Press your jaw line slightly back so your ear will be in line with your shoulder in correct plumb line.

Neutral-Posture-Comic

Viola! You are in neutral spine alignment. Practice this DAILY! This is how you should be throughout the day. In a chair, in a car, standing, and any day-to-day activities. You now have a great foundation to learn how to move as you keep your spine stable.

Below is a video showing “Hip Hinge in Forward Bending,” (adapted from Somatic Patterning by Mary Ann Foster; pattering exercise #83). This exercise is helpful for learning to keep your spine stable as you  move. If you do this exercise in front of a mirror or video yourself practicing this exercise, you can also assess where the spine is unstable. You may see some disjointed movement either forward or backward.

Let’s take a look…click me to see the video!

As you can see, the longer I practice this movement the better I was at keeping my spine stable with movement. If you look closely around 1:48 you can see a little bit of disjointing of the thoracic spine. There is more of a curve in the spine at that point, I was not stabilizing my surrounding muscles enough to keep correct alignment, but with more practice you can see it got better.

How can this help us in our daily lives? Check out this video next video to see how you can transfer this posture exercise into your regular routines, like washing the dishes, to transform your posture.

Click me for part 2

It doesn’t stop and start with washing the dishes or brushing your teeth, take a look at neutral spine while eating. On the left you have someone eating in neutral spine alignment and on the right someone eating without any regard for posture. Let’s be honest…many of us look like picture number 2 rather than picture 1. Picture number 2 makes my body hurt just looking at it! Don’t be like picture number 2, do your exercises.

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alternative health, Lymphedema, Uncategorized, wellness

Lymphedema: What You Should Know

Recently, a friend of mine tagged me in a FaceBook post asking me if I treated the specific condition discussed in this particular blog. The blog was discussing an article found in RedBook. What was the condition? Lymphedema!

lymphedema

So, yes, I do treat and work with that condition. My first feeling towards this article (prior to reading) was excitement. Excitement? Yes, I was excited. Most do not know what lymphedema is, so when a national magazine like RedBook brings awareness to that condition it can do amazing things-remember the ALS ice bucket challenge? However, when I read the blog I was a bit disappointed. The blog had a few incorrect points, along with seeming to imply that primary lymphedema is something you can get as a result of pregnancy. I thought it was just me, but as I read the comments many women started to worry this can happen to them if they got pregnant. That it is more a side effect of pregnancy rather than an inherited condition-regarding primary lymphedema. Rather than coming on here and blasting the blog or RedBook, I decided to read the RedBook article the blog referenced.

The RedBook article (which was taken from Dr. Oz’s website “The Good Life”) was a little better to stomach. It didn’t have this overall feeling that lymphedema could be an after effect of pregnancy-at least not primary lymphedema. They actual mentioned that primary lymphedema is an inherited condition. However, I feel the article may have left more questions than answers for those who are not familiar with this condition (which is about 85% of people). So, let’s touch upon primary and secondary lymphedema and maybe be able to shed a little more light into this life-long condition.

Lymphedema, in general, is defined as: an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid in the interstitium (cellular and tissue space)  which usually causes chronic inflammation and reactive fibrosis of the affected tissues. It should be noted that lymphedema is a chronic disease, different than edema-a symptom.

Primary lymphedema, as discussed in the referenced article, is an inherited condition that results from imperfect development of lymph vascular system-aplasia, hypoplasia, and hyperplasia. Usually effecting the lower extremities.

  • Aplasia-certain parts of lymphatic system do not develop at all
  • Hypoplasia-too little development of the lymphatic system (under developed) usually in certain areas.
  • Hyperplasia-RARE. Over growth or increased number of lymphatic vessels that are abnormal or imperfect.

Secondary lymphedema is not an inherited condition. Secondary lymphedema occurs when trauma happens to the body which effects the lymphatic system. Causes of secondary lymphedema include: filariasis, surgery and/or radiation for Cancer, Cancer (malignant), trauma, infection, chronic venous insufficiency (C.V.I.), or obesity. Filariasis, a parasitic infection, is the most common form of secondary lymphedema around the world. In developed countries, surgery and/or radiation for Cancer is the most common cause for secondary lymphedema. The most common cause for this condition in the U.S. is due to breast cancer and it’s treatment. This is mainly due to axillary node trauma from cancer treatments.

Let’s get back to the article at hand. The article discussed the discovery of primary lymphedema to an Australian model 3 months into her pregnancy. Doctors and other health care professionals did not understand where this swelling was coming from and told her it would subside after pregnancy. Edema IS a symptom of pregnancy, however, it should go away following pregnancy. Her’s, unfortunately did not. With various other tests, she was finally given a diagnosis: primary lymphedema.

As I’m reading this article I feel for the model because it sounds all to familiar to what my patients go through. First, the unknowing. Struggling to find out what is wrong. Getting shunted from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist. Sometimes being told it’s a weight problem, an allergy, or something that will just go away in time. Then, finally receiving a diagnosis that is bitter sweet. You are told you have lymphedema, a disease that is life long and has no cure (yet). Now you have to deal with swelling the rest of your life, along with visits to specialists, and a life of compression garments and bandaging. Many patients feel depressed and isolated. They hibernate and hideaway. They don’t know where to turn, not many have heard of this disease or are familiar with the disease-even some health care practitioners.

lymph-fxn

The lymphatic system, unlike the circulatory system, does not have a pump like the heart. The lymphatic fluid moves through the lymphatic vessels by utilizing the surrounding muscles to “milk” the lymphatic vessels and move the fluid out of the area. Sounds simple enough, right? Why would we even need a specialist?

In a healthy body this is the case. Take a sprained ankle on a healthy body. An injury occurs, fluid forms around the injury to help repair and protect. With elevation, muscle movement and maybe even some hot/cold therapy for vasodilation and vasoconstriction, the lymphatic fluid eventually moves up and out. It will migrate up the leg through the vessels to the larger lymphatic nodes, these nodes then distribute to the large lymphatic duct where the waste products get removed (through excretion). However, if your lymphatic system is compromised, the lymphatic fluid remains stagnant and cannot, on its own, move out of the area. This becomes a problem because the fluid accumulates and the limb (or other area of the body) gets bigger and bigger. It can ruin your gait, it can create fibrotic tissue, it is uncomfortable; the skin can deteriorate if it goes untreated leading to other issues like cellulitis.

So, what do you do when you’re given the diagnosis?

First, find a specialist. Someone who has been trained to treat the disease. It is not always a doctor either. You want to find someone who had CLT or CDT after their name. What does that stand for? Certified Lymphatic Therapist or Certified Decongestive Therapist. A CLT/CDT is trained in manual lymphatic therapy (MLD) and decongestive therapy. Decongestive therapy uses a combination of short stretch bandaging and compression garments (both day and overnight) to help regulate and decrease the swelling.

The first course of treatment your CLT/CDT would do is a MLD treatment. What is MLD? How about what is is not. IT IS NOT MASSAGE. I’m going to repeat that again, IT IS NOT MASSAGE. Massage (as I am also a Licensed Massage Therapist-LMT) goes deeper than the skin layer. By pressing into the skin/tissue a massage therapist flattens the lymphatic vessels, thus by passing the lymphatic system, to get to the musculoskeletal system. MLD is a “milking” or “skin stretching” technique. The pressure is that of a nickel. A therapist will stretch the skin toward the node where the fluid needs to go (a healthy node). There is a specific technique and pattern the therapist follows depending on where the swelling is located. A measurement is taken before and after to see how much the swelling has gone down. On average, you get a 1-2 cm decrease (depending). After the MLD treatment, in the same session, the therapist then begins the decongestive therapy.

Decongestive therapist utilizes short-stretch bandages. Short stretch bandages look like sports or Ace bandages but with much less give. There may be foam pieces formed around an area to help create a conical shape or help decrease fibrotic tissue. The bandages are applied in such a way to create a graduated pressure gradient. This pressure gradient the therapist has created offers higher pressure at the smallest radius and lowest pressure at the largest radius. So the ankle will have more pressure than the thigh. This allows to push the fluid up and out, working agains gravity. We have all seen and felt this pressure gradient. Have you ever submerged yourself (or a part of the body) into water? So to answer your next question, yes water helps lymphedema patients!

It must be noted these treatments are not a “one and done” type of treatment. Remember, it’s a life long condition. The patient must come to terms with that fact. Which is easier said that done.

When the patient’s limb is down to a controlled size, he or she can be fit for a compression garment. These can be “off the shelf” if the patient’s measurements are within range or customs garments. Garments can include socks, stockings, and softer overnight garments. They are medical grade and often 20 mmHG (millimeters of mercury) or more. The stockings/socks can be difficult to put on, BUT THEY WORK! Many times patients get annoyed with the donning and doffing of compression and ask their doctors for stockings that “aren’t as tight.” The doctors will then give the patient Ted hose (stockings given after surgery). THESE ARE NOT COMPRESSION. I repeat, THESE ARE NOT COMPRESSION. Yes, they will be easier to get on and off, but they will not working. Those stockings have a gradient pressure of 10 mmHg. That is not enough. Just to give you a little background 10 mmHg is resting pressure (think laying down) not working pressure (moving around, being up and about). This will not move the fluid efficiently and will get you back to square one. The disease is something you must always be on top of-yes it is difficult-but better than the alternative. Night garments are softer, have a resting pressure, and are comfortable to wear when sleeping.

cartoon-compression

Other than CDT-complete decongestive therapy-are there alternatives to dealing with lymphedema? As a therapist, my short answer, no. Compression therapy has been proven to be the best course of treatment for this condition. Yes, there are some surgeries out there. As you can see in the RedBook article, the model underwent a lymphatic surgery called Vascularized Lymphnode Transfer (VLNTx). This surgery takes healthy lymph nodes and adipose tissue and transfers it to the area well the swelling has occurred. This is considered somewhat controversial in the United States among lymphedema patients. As a provider I am a bit skeptical, for many different reason, one of which being added trauma to the body. However, I feel we are making headway. As more research develops, scientists and health care providers will be able to offer different types of treatment that can help slow the progression (and hopefully cure) this disease.

lymphedema-what-you-should-know

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alternative health, colorado, detox, health and fittness, healthy eating, Uncategorized, vacation, wellness

Getting Back On Track

Summer is about to come to an end. As much as I enjoy winters in Colorado, I’d rather spend all my time on the beach. That’s exactly what I did just 2 short weeks ago. Much like everyone this summer, I took a vacation. It was a long, 2 week vacation, that started with a big family reunion in Charleston, South Carolina and ended with a beautiful wedding in Chittenden, Vermont. During my time away I remained strict to my diet: gluten free and clean eating with minimal alcohol along with keeping up with my running and barre routines. I came back refreshed and fitter than ever…

HA! I just wanted to see how I’d feel if I actually tried to believe that lie. There are people that can go on vacation and stick to their healthy life routines. Kudos to you! Certain vacations or trips are easier than others. For me, like most of us, I had every intention of doing so, but I did not. I didn’t go completely over board, but how does one say no to good, homemade, Italian food that is being cooked by three different generations? How does one say no to their brother’s girlfriend, offering you homemade pizza. The girl threw the pies up in the air!

I could either eat that, or make my own little pizza on gluten free bread. Which would you choose? (definitely not the latter) How do you say no to southern BBQ? How do you say no to your best friend’s wedding cake and carrot cake cupcakes? How do you say no to late night chicken and waffles after drinking tequila and dancing all night? The answer…you don’t!

I tried to fight it, I really did….it was hopeless. But guess what? I enjoyed myself. I had fun. Although, I had to keep reminding myself, “it’s ok. It’s only for vacation You’ll feel good and bad because you’re letting yourself indulge. You will be back home soon. Back to your old routine. ”

To be fair, and to give myself a little credit, I tried the best I could. More cider, wine, and tequila, vs beer. When making daily lunches I did pretty well, salads, fresh fruits, and sandwiches on GF bread. When we had pasta and homemade sauce, I made sure to get my GF pasta. I taught my cousins barre classes on the beach, went for a 5 mile run on the beach (it was hot and humid and I was slow, but the scenery was worth it), went paddle boarding, and walked the city. So, it wasn’t like I was a complete waste of space!

Now, it is back to reality and life as I know it. So, it is now that I get back into my routine and get back to what I have worked so hard for. You may be thinking, you were only gone 2 weeks…chill out. That may be true, however, if you don’t use it you lose it. It only takes 2 weeks to decrease your cardio fitness. If you were running, getting your heart rate up, cycling, all of that…once you stop it’s just a matter of time before your healthy volume levels take a dive. Two to four weeks to be exact! Now, what about all you fitness buffs who aren’t the biggest cardio fans and you primarily do weight training. Well, you’re at a slight advantage, because you don’t lose strength as fast as you lose cardio fitness. Strength fitness starts to decrease at about 4 weeks of doing nothing. Crazy right? All that hard work becomes obsolete after just a few short weeks!!!

No need to fret, just get back on the wagon! Yes I had a great time, and I had fun, and I felt rejuvenated. However, I didn’t feel great, body wise, after vacation. I felt bloated. I felt heavy. I felt out of shape. I didn’t feel  like myself. So, I decided to put myself on a detox. What did that entail? No alcohol. A lot of water. I was having lemon water, a lot-which is a great detox drink. A lot of veggies, especially cruciferous vegetables. No gluten. No dairy. No red meat. I added my workouts back in to my routine right away. Back to barre and back to running. I didn’t want all my hard work to vanish for just two weeks of fun.

How did I do? Well, I went to the Avett Brothers concert that Friday and had a glass of wine and I had a piece of mortadella when I stopped by my brother’s house. No self respecting Italian girl says no to mortadella! Other than that I did really well. I just needed a reset and one week helped me do that. I’m already a healthy individual so hitting that  button was fast. Guess what? I feel great! After a week of getting back on track I started to feel like my normal self. The bloating, the heaviness, the feeling of being out of shape went away. My cardio level started to come back and I was maintaining my fitness strength.

So the next time you are on vacation and you start worrying that you haven’t worked out enough, that you’ve eaten out way too much (and have not been ordering the “lighter fare”), or that your sneakers have not made it out of your suitcase, just STOP! Be in the moment. Enjoy what is around you. Enjoy the culture you are experiencing-whether it’s a different part of the country or a different country. Know that vacation is not how you live. Know that you will be home and as fast as you get back into your work and home routine, do the same with your healthy routine.

Next time plan your course of action post vacation. Start just thinking of the meals you will make or the workouts you will get back to-that you actually missed! When you are on the plane or car ride back visualize your routine, this helps start the process going again.

Moral of the story: Enjoy your vacation, but know vacation shouldn’t last forever.

Check out some of our clean eating dishes on our instagram page:  postural_evolution

 

 

 

 

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barre, colorado, health and fittness, running, self-care, transformation, wellness

Transformation Tuesdays!

tansftues no better time(2)

Summer is finally here!! I know I am not the only one excited. With summer, comes warm weather (if you’re into that sort of thing); vacations, longer days, and enjoying time with loved ones al fresca. One of my favorite things (other than everything listed) are the fresh fruits and vegetables. Ones you love to eat raw and even lightly grill. YUMMY! This got me thinking….we transform a lot in the summer. We exercise to transform our bodies from lazy winter months. We transform our plates with healthier fare like fresh fruits and vegetables. We transform our yards with new and beautiful landscapes. Even slabs of concrete, our patios, get transformed when the summer furniture gets dusted off and put back in place. All of this got me wondering of ways we evolve and transform ourselves, even just season to season.

Postural Evolution will be dedicating blogs posted on Tuesdays in June to #transformationtuesday Transformation Tuesday blogs will not just be the typical #transformationtuesday you see on social media, but a gamete of topics from exercise, to food, to juicing, work area space, and of course posture.

Today, however, we will fall into the typical social media tags of #transformationtuesday and talk about transforming your typical workouts. What are your typical workouts? No, seriously, what are YOUR typical workouts? Many of us fall into a rut or routine when it comes to exercise. We do something we are comfortable with. Sometimes it is because we aren’t knowledgeable enough for change,  or too afraid to try something new (what if fail? or even worse look stupid), or an array of other reasons. For me, it was a mixture of things. I’m a runner. I love love love to run. I get to be outdoors while working out. I challenge myself with distances and time. Running makes me feel like an athlete. Like I am training for some big event or race (at times that is true). I thought running always got me into the best shape I could get in.

Those who run know, we get a ton of questions from runners and non-runners. Usually the non-runner questions are things like “wait, you actually LIKE running?” “what do you do? just run?” “is it boring?” The runner questions are a little different and it was the runner questions that helped me on my body/mind transformation journey. The question that got me was always “what do you do for cross-training?” Nothing. My response was “nothing.” I don’t cross-train. I would explain that I tried working out in the gym with weights, it didn’t do much for me. Plus, I find the gym kind of boring. I love to workout but being indoors to exercise when it is beautiful out always bothered me. Plus, I was more into class type exercises, such as yoga. I did yoga. I enjoyed it then and I still enjoy it now (now it has transformed into something different for me). But nothing really made me a better runner. Nothing really made me have a better body. So I thought, why bother. I’m good. As long as I have running I don’t need anything. That will get me into shape and keep my cardiac system healthy, etc etc.

Then something happened…I tried something different. I tried something that transformed not only my body to something I always wanted and could never achieve, but the way I engaged muscles, my athletic way of thinking, and the way I carried myself. I don’t just mean that figuratively. I mean, literally, the way I carried myself. My posture transformed. Just the other day someone asked if I could balance a book on my head. I grabbed a hard copy of Moby Dick and started walking around my house, no problem. It reminded me of my grandmother when she would walk from the market in Italy to her house with a watermelon on her head (it was like a 10 mile walk!).

What was that something different? BARRE! Barre exercise. Barre fitness. It was barre. When I first heard of barre a few years ago it was all from, what seemed to be, wealthy and already fit women. I would chat with some and ask how they got or stayed so fit and they would respond with “oh, I do barre.” I would think to myself, no you are probably just naturally thin and don’t eat anything, ever. Sidebar-I don’t think like that anymore..yay transformation! Even though that was my thought, I still wanted to try it, but never did. Partly because it was some what expensive and I still had no clue what it was.

So what it barre?  Barre combines ballet barre work, core conditioning, and muscle strengthening through yoga, pilates, and orthopedic exercise.When you are looking in on the class it may seem like the students aren’t doing much. They look like they may be holding a simple pose or if anything moving “up an inch and down an inch.” However, there is a lot going on. Every barre class engages deep to the muscles, especially the core. It strengthens areas that are so hard to strengthen and even tone. The lower abdominal area. So hard to tone, right ladies?  Inner thigh muscles. Very hard to engage correctly and strengthen.

My first barre class was so hard. It is still hard, even as an instructor. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything right. I was always getting adjusted by the instructors. It was frustrating, but so engaging. I was continuously told this will get me into the best shape of my life. I thought “if running 18 miles for marathon training hasn’t gotten me what I wanted, nothing will and I’m ok with that”. Eh-not really ok, but I could deal. At the beginning I just felt like I needed something else other than running. Living in Boulder, CO you are able to talk to a lot of athletes and they were adamant I cross train.

Here I was, starting barre in March 2015, two months before my first marathon ever. I was crossing my fingers this was going to help me get faster and maybe, possibly, fingers crossed, qualify for Boston. Well, I didn’t qualify for Boston. However, I felt stronger than ever during my race. I still remember the moment it hit me. Not the stereotypical wall you hear us speak of, that did hit but not until much later, but an AH HA moment. I was running around mile 14 and yes I was tired. I started thinking of my body and how it was going to carry me through. Like for real, how the hell was it going to do that? I started thinking about all the horrifying things people tell you (most are from people that don’t run consistently). I started thinking about my joints. My back, especially the lumbar vertebrae. My shoulders. My knees. Then something kicked in. Strength. All of a sudden I engaged my inner thighs when I was running. I legit felt the muscles that help stabilize the knee start working. Pressure got taken off the knee. I felt stronger with every step. I thought “holy sh*t!” This stuff actually worked. Cross training actually worked. Barre actually worked. From that moment at mile 14, I was hooked.

My way of thinking transformed. I no longer wanted to fight people on other workouts. I was happy I took others advice. I decided not to be afraid of changing the work out, because it didn’t hinder me IT HELPED ME! When I talk to my students or perspective new students about barre I tell them that story. They may comment on my new physique (they don’t know it’s new, but I’ve never looked like this) and I explain to them it’s about so much more than what the body looks like. Its about what the body can DO! Transform your mind and your body will follow.

If you feel like you are hitting a plateau-no matter how long or short that has been for you-transform your exercise. Transform your workouts. Get stronger. Be stronger. Whatever that is to you. Don’t continue to think you can’t. Don’t continue to think it’s not worth it. Take others suggestions and know it’s ok to try and fail. It’s ok to try and not like. But you tried. You felt better because of it. Your body will thank you. Your mind will thank you.

So what’s the next workout you want to try?

 

PS…this first transformation blog stemmed from a conversation about body image. Someone said to me, I wish I had your body. I told her she could. She didn’t believe me. So I made this picture to show her my body transformation. This did not happen over night. Nothing good ever does right? I had gone through a lot of internal battles and when I finally committed to change and transformation, something amazing happened. Take a look..

ame

 

From left to right…5/2012…7/2014…6/2015 (two months after running the marathon and 3 months after starting barre)…4/2016

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alternative health, cannabis, colorado, health and fittness, massage, medical marijuana, self-care, wellness

Cannabis, Caregiving, Colorado, and Massage Therapy…part II

  • My last two years of high school were a little tumultuous. Perhaps, my little brain wasn’t prepared for the experimentation of smoking cannabis. I barely skated by my junior and senior years. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird;’ it was that I was more interested in health and well being, tapping into unknown potentials of our minds and bodies via meditation and sports. I found myself going to the public library and checking out books like: Cannabis: The Forbidden Medicine by Dr. Les Grinspoon MD. Consequentially, my grades didn’t add up and that wonderful college preparatory school that my parents spent so much money on, landed me in community college.

    While in community college, I decided to really put my head down into books and absorb my college experience. Meanwhile, I found myself visiting the local bookstore and ordering books on growing cannabis. So it began, my journey growing this wonderful healing plant [in my mom’s attic]. How I was able to convince my parents to let me keep my “babies” I’ll never know. Actually, it was that public speaking class and being truthful with them that persuaded them to begrudgingly let me keep my two plants. In fact, my part of the argument went like this: “Come on, Mom! Look, it’s a plant- like tomatoes! It just grows the same way and then it’s dried like oregano. You like tomatoes and oregano, right? God created everything, right? God is good, right?” Believe me, my mom and dad really dug there heels in, and when I got the “NO!” response… I simply quipped back with, “I guess I’ll have to just get it from the Jamaicans on the corner. God only knows what pesticides may have been used.” Somehow, someway, I was met with less and less resistance. I heard everyday how my mom was gonna cut those plants down or water them with bleach. It quickly became one of my mom’s greatest bargaining chips for me to help out around the house.

    I learned a great deal from that experience. Studying the plant for two years, and then finally putting the wheels in motion and applying the science to my garden and my body. I’d spend hours in my room simply watching and studying. During this time, I was also experiencing some discomfort with an eye injury from four or five years back. I was feeling a pressure build in my eye which was injured from getting hit with a hockey stick. That injury permanently damaged my left eye. At times, I’d get headaches from the injury. Because of this, I had monthly appointments with my eye doctor to keep an eye [no pun intended] on my intraoccular pressure- a precursor to glaucoma; and yet, another symptom or condition in which cannabis is beneficial towards. It also made for a great medical claim with my mom as I pointed to the literature. In fact, I’d experiment before going to the eye doctor. Sometimes I’d smoke cannabis, sometimes not, and I’d compare the results. When I smoked, my intraoccular pressure would be much less, fortifying my belief that cannabis is medicine.

    During my second year in community college, I was taking my physical health much more seriously. I was a ‘gym rat.’ I’d workout religiously, and even more so when I decided to join a natural bodybuilding competition. If you are not currently aware, cannabis and the cannabinoids within this plant possess a great anti-inflammatory capability. Hence, after my workouts, if my sister wasn’t around to walk on my back or rub my shoulders, I’d smoke a joint. Again the physical relief that I felt from my muscles relaxing was heavenly. I used cannabis like many use ibuprofen. But rather than, destroying the lining of my stomach, a common side-effect with ibuprofen, it would just make me hungry and relaxed. This aided me in recovering from my exercise routine and training. While most people crave pizza and cheese doodles after smoking, I knew better and prepared whole foods to replenish. My calorie count was at least 3000 per day. I was a lean and mean machine at twenty years old. I ended up placing 4th out of 10 people while I was just a puny 175lbs. In the end, I’d say cannabis aided in achieving that goal.

    Shortly after my twenty first birthday, I moved to Colorado to go to school. I decided to learn the healing art of massage therapy. Colorado was great. The cannabis culture here was head and shoulders above Connecticut in the late 90s. The smoke was some of the best medicine I consumed and was a deciding factor in making my residence here permanent- not to mention healthy living and an active outdoor scene.

    During my enrollment at Boulder College of Massage Therapy, I was involved in two car accidents two weeks apart. I was rear-ended twice. Coupled with a few car accidents as a teenager and playing contact sports for most of my teenage years, I was experiencing quite a bit of pain. Thoracic outlet syndrome to be precise. I was dealing with neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, sleeplessness and radiating pain and numbness in both arms and hands. Terrible news for someone ready to graduate from massage therapy college at the time. Yet again, what did I turn to? Well cannabis and massage of course! In fact, I’d use them both in tandem. The cannabis allowed my muscles to relax while receiving quality bodywork. It seemed if I was able to tolerate much more pressure from my therapist and work on structures that caused me a great deal of discomfort or pain. Yet again, cannabis has come to my rescue. Knowing what I know today about the effects of cannabis and the effects of whiplash on the brain, I am grateful for my experimentation with this plant.

    In case you may not be aware of that anatomy of a whiplash injury, here is something to chew on:

  • When you are rear-ended this unstable 8-16lb object (known as your head) pops upwards. This stress effectively strains and sprains not only muscles and ligaments, but your dural tube. The dural tube is a membrane which surrounds your spinal cord and is filled with cerebral spinal fluid.

  • The body, or thorax, moves forward with the impact at the same speed as the car is moving. As the head, now, is extending (looking up) as your body moves forward through space. Initially, your muscles, or golgi tendon organs [gto], have no time to splint and protect yourself from this hyper-extension of your neck. Within a nanosecond your gto’s engage and whip your head forward to catch up to the rate of speed your thorax is traveling.

  • The head now has to travel between 2.5 to 5 times the speed of the car. So if you are hit at 10mph that means your head is traveling between 25 and 50mph. Now do the math if you’ve been hit on the highway at 60mph.

  • Meanwhile, because our brains are floating within our skull, as thehead whips back the frontal lobe slams into your forehead. As the head whips forward, the occiput slams into the back of the head. This is the reason why whiplash is, many times, accompanied by a closed head injury or traumatic brain injury. This impact on the brain will often lead to short term or long term cognitive impairments due to the injury on the frontal lobe, as well as, visual or balance disturbances from the trauma on the occiput.

  • Furthermore, the fastest route between two points is a straight line. So rather than visualizing an arching movement with the head, visualize a compressive downward force through the spinal cord and vertebrae which often leads to impingements or entrapments on neural or nervy tissue.

So why is this whiplash injury pertinent information to understand how cannabis can be helpful? It is pertinent because it has been noted that cannabis possesses this cannabinoid called CBD or cannabidiol. It is known that the brain has a high concentration of receptors that bind with CBD. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. In theory, filling these receptors would aid in healing the brain by decreasing the inflammation within the brain.

Furthermore, cannabis is helpful in treating nerve pain. In fact, even with all the rage about CBDs, it is THC that helps mitigate symptoms from nerve damage. Combined both chemicals offer medicinal value to patients who suffer from chronic pain, and spastic tissue much of which is often seen among people who’ve been injured in motor-vehicle accidents.

After graduating and becoming a certified massage therapist, I began working in a prominent or successful physical therapy clinic in Boulder, CO. While working there, I was overwhelmed with how many patients (pre-mmj laws) would confess that they used cannabis as their drug of choice.

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