Last week I did a guest interview at Wendy Auman Wellness. Wendy is a Restorative Exercise™ colleague and Health Coach. In our half-hour conversation we talked about why we feel an urge to clean and clear in the Spring, how feng shui helps us keep up with changes in our lives, why removing clutter from your home reduces stress and gives you energy, and more. Listen below.
Watching this video shows how we are, for the most part, responsible for the shape (literally!) our feet are in.
Given footwear fashion history this is probably a silly question but would you rather wear fashionable but painful shoes that deform your feet, or wear shoes that are shaped the way feet are meant to look?
I know my own answer – what is yours? Before you answer, I recommend that you watch the video!
It was an enchanted garden at VanDuesen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver yesterday. Spring blossoms, Rhododendrons, woodland groves, lacy silhouettes, delicate flowers, last year’s lily pads reflected in still ponds and giant leaves – plantain, I think.
*Why? There are a few reasons. First of all spot exercises are not very effective and can even make the situation worse.
To understand this a little better you need to know what the pelvis and pelvic floor is.
The pelvis is the final skeletal stop for everything you eat and drink. Sitting, standing, and getting down and up from the floor are all motions that pass through the pelvis. Your pelvis sets the base for your spinal column, holds the weight of your torso, and connects your upper body to your lower.
If you look at the human skeleton from above, the pelvis has a big hole in the middle of it, yes? So what stops all your organs from collapsing into the space? Your pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor is all the muscles around your pelvis (and since men have a pelvis, they also have a pelvic floor).
The pelvic floor holds all your abdominal organs in – that’s everything below your diaphragm: your digestive organs: stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, large and small intestines and kidneys; your pelvic organs: bladder, uterus, ovaries, and prostate, not to mention your abdominal muscles. That is a lot of weight and bulk.
While keeping the organs supported, the pelvic floor muscles also help to rotate your hip joints and supply blood to the sexual organs.
Now here is the thing. The pelvic floor has to be at the correct length and position to respond to the weights and forces applied to it. And the pelvic floor and the core abdominal muscles must fire together.
These muscle groups have to function consistently and continually with the perfect amount of force and timing to keep everything that should be closed (like the urethra and rectal sphincter), closed, and everything that should be contained in the pelvic bowl, up – bladder, rectum and uterus), and without pulling other bones out of alignment.
If you ‘train’ your pelvic floor, whether it is with squats, Kegels or with some kind of device, and then sit on your sacrum for an hour or eight, and have tension in your abdomen, you’ve just sent a very confusing message to your body. It causes your sacrum to tuck, the opposite of what is needed. Your sacrum has to pull back in order to lift the internal organs up and keep the pelvic floor at the right length and position.
The thinking that a weak pelvic floor is the source of pain, urinary and bowel incontinence and, in women uterine prolapse, is oversimplified. The question is why are they weak? And why weakness it is a problem.
Muscles that are too short – or too long – are weaker (anywhere in the body, not just the pelvic floor). And when some muscles are weak, while others are strong (as is often the case), the strong muscles overpower the weaker muscles, creating an imbalance. This imbalance actually pulls the bones out of alignment – and that’s a problem. Where the weak muscles and strong muscles meet is often the point of the stress riser.
Getting the correct amount of tension in the pelvic floor is the goal, so training your pelvic floor (like you’d train your biceps) might not be the very best thing you can do for your body. It’s not that Kegels are bad, or squats either. It is just that by focusing on one small part, the larger picture of whole body alignment is overlooked. And it is not just alignment in your pelvis. You need all of your muscles to do their job of mobility and stability.
If the muscles in the front of your lower body are tight and are causing your pelvis to tuck (a.k.a. flat butt) any spot exercises you do are missing the point. And the point is that spot exercises don’t address the bigger picture of your whole overall body alignment.
When you habitually suck in your stomach and hold your breath (either consciously, like just before someone takes your photograph, or when lifting a heavy weight) or unconsciously (because you’ve been told that is what good posture is) you create pressure in your abdominal cavity.
What gets sucked in has to go somewhere, right? ‘Where it goes’ is up and down, displacing your organs. A constant downward pressure can cause you leak pee. Eventually it can become severe enough so that your organs prolapse through the bony opening in your pelvis.
Some other factors that weaken your pelvic floor muscles are constant straining due to constipation, repetitive stress injuries (like cycling and running), trauma during vaginal delivery, too many core exercises, tight psoas muscles. tension in your gut and not doing enough walking.
You need to find out what muscular tension patterns and habits you have that are contributing to your symptoms, or holding you back from rapid improvement before deciding whether you need to do squats or Kegels – or neither.
To help you get some clarity on this, check out this Alignment Snack by Nutritious Movement’s Katy Bowman: All Fo’ The Pelvic Flo’.
It must be in the air! Clearing out closets, I mean. Last week I went through all my drawers and hangers to see what I was ready to part with, and yesterday I read Reading My Tea Leaves blog about owner Erin Boyle’s closet clear-out. Erin’s post inspired me to write about my experience.
When I was finished cleaning my closet I had three shopping bags to give away containing clothing purchases over the past few years that were mistakes: things that never fit quite right and things that I always felt frumpy in.
‘Jean’ styling knit ‘pants. I liked the idea and I really wanted them to work but the fabric was too heavy and unforgiving. I held on to them for 2 winters and now they are gone.
A cashmere sweater I’ve had for at least a decade that has seen better days.
My red coat which has seen a half a dozen winters, which I am tired of — and is becoming a bit too defining. I am passing it on to someone who will enjoy it for another few more years.
Lest you think my closet is bare, a return to the corporate world (even if it is a pretty relaxed environment) meant shopping. I mean, I’ve been living in yoga pants for the past five years.
I bought 3 new cardigans (since I find jackets uncomfortable) in cream, blue-grey and white and some higher necked tops to go with them, (two black, one red) one pair of pants, one skirt and a black jersey tunic.
There are a lot of good reasons for reviewing your clothes and discarding things that you aren’t wearing:
Wearing the same clothes, colours and styles when you are in a transition can make it difficult to move on to a new phase of your life.
If you are going through change, a well curated closet (read: organized) is one less thing to think about.
It saves time and money.
Being fashionable is not important most of the time, but finding your personal style is.
Feeling good in what you are wearing is a worthy goal.
Feeling frumpy should be discouraged at all costs.
My minimal wardrobe ideal is this:
I met a woman (she was the spa manager on a cruise ship) who wore a simple dress (almost always black, though I did see her in white one day) and a different shawl every day. That’s my goal! I already have the scarves/shawls – it is one of my weaknesses and I’ve been collecting them for years. I have been on the lookout for 1 or 2 dresses so that can become my work uniform.You wouldn’t think finding the perfect LBD would be difficult, but it is.
It’s been awhile! I am just getting my feet back on the ground after a whirlwind of changes in 2015. First I started a job the first week of January (which was supposed to be a temporary help-out-a-friend-situation, but turned into a part-time regular thing), then we moved to a larger apartment the first of February. Just one floor down, but a corner apartment with a lovely garden view. In March I came down with a dreadful cold which seemed, at the time, to take forever to clear up.
And I have very busy designing some new programs: Renew and Restore. I am putting the finishing touches on each program and will be very soon promoting them. Exciting!
In the meantime, I am enjoying my early morning photo opportunities as I walk to work. I hope you enjoy these Spring photographs.
The average person uses only about a quarter their total muscle potential.
Are you surprised?
It’s mainly due to the amount we sit: 9-5 sitting jobs, getting around (anywhere you go that isn’t on your own two legs), and even entertainment. Sitting for long periods of time make the largest muscles in your body (like the hamstrings and quadriceps) become tight and unyielding, which puts more strain on your joints, and leads to friction and pain.
But your muscles do not just move your body around. Skeletal muscle is the main force for the optimal function of all your body systems: cardiovascular, neurological, digestive, endocrine, reproductive and lymph systems, all or any of which could be functioning at a sub-par level as a result of using so few of your total capability.
We look at animals in a zoo or mammals in a tank and we know that they are not in a natural environment. In fact they show diseases of captivity. Yet we willingly put ourselves in an unnatural environment and we, like the zoo animals, have diseases of captivity.
We can do better: much improvement can be made by changing your habits. Here are a few ideas that cost nothing and are surprisingly effective.
stop looking for the easiest way to do things, like finding the closest parking spot to wherever you need to go.
Wild women are trend setters without even knowing it. They are a little off the beaten path; a little rebellious. They have a sense of humour about their non-conformity. They don’t care what people think, but kindness is one of their most treasured attributes. They value freedom, and accept responsibility for what they do. They seek a higher truth but don’t take themselves too seriously because women need joy in their lives.
A wild woman loves being in a natural environment and the open air, and wears clothing and shoes to allow her to do just that. She might have been called a flower child, or a hippie back in the day, and maybe still is!
Do you need to ‘rewild’ yourself?
The above description is meant to be taken lightly (tongue-in-cheek) but as we age, it is all too easy to get used to our creature comforts. It can happen as as a result of a crazy busy life with not much time to take care of yourself. Perhaps you have experienced some injuries. Or are in the midst of, or recovering from illness. So let’s say, for whatever reason, you feel a little too ‘tame’ these days.
Becoming ageless is about natural movement, strength, balance, mobility, grace and dignity as we age. This is a place to learn wildness – because one thing is clear: it is never too late to be a wild woman.
I was born at the peak of the baby boom and got to experience being a flower child only because my very small hometown caught up to the rest of the world so slowly. I have been a lifelong writer and reader, with aspirations of being a renaissance woman.