BIG NEW GOALS FOR A NEW YEAR?
Here’s How to NOT Succeed:
Do it alone.
Research shows a common missing piece to meeting fitness and wellness goals is trying without support, and to that I’ll add ORGANIZED Support. Both men and women need mental & emotional support (yeah, I just said that) for lasting change. Now, if you’re reading this while fighting off a wave of nausea at the mere thought of touchy-feely emotional hug-a-thons, relax! What I am suggesting (read: begging you to consider) is that organized support is efficient and highly effective at supplementing your best efforts, and getting you where you want to go. (Hugging it out not required.)
Rule #1: Your People = Your Safety Net.
Creating Organized Support:
Engage your “people” like a human resource director. Who would consistently exercise with you? Who would send you reminder texts to encourage good choices? Who has the right style to give you constructive feedback when you need it? Your “people” can be strangers, friends, family... regardless, be clear what their roles are. Ask them to check-in if you’ve not reached out to them with those scheduled updates. (Updates need to be specific on what’s happening, not just “I’m doing good...”)
One clever client hit every goal by posting to his facebook private page his daily progress. His “people” all agreed to respond to those posts, and to give him a friendly-but-firm nudge if he didn’t post. He lost 100lbs, and 6 years later it’s still off.
Rule #2: What You Schedule = What Matters
Translation: Schedule your wellness activities, from cardio and Pilates (shameless plug intended) to grocery shopping/meal planning, time to update your support “people”... everything.
I know, it sounds so ridged and restrictive, and in the words of Cher (cue Moonstruck) “SNAP OUT OF IT!”
Literally create a schedule to check-in with people you trust. Update them on your follow-thru as well as your struggles in working toward your goals. When we tell others the truth, it reaches our own ears much more effectively too.
Rule #3: The Goose/Gander Principle.
If you are doing the cooking for the family, it will not help you if they expect you to keep making things for them that aren’t healthy for you (or likely them either) so agree to have communal foods that optimize everyone’s health.
Rule # 4: Toddler = Yoda. Little people can be your “people” too... Re-learn what you once knew when you were very young. Movement is fun. Put on some music and get moving. Does a 2 year old care if he looks foolish dancing? Neither should you. Really. Do housework or cooking while busting out a few moves... be willing to be young again.
Rule #5: Every single day, Move... keep moving, and invite into your life people who will uplift your life.
A great thing about being an adult is getting to choose our “people” - whether we find them online, in a community support group, at the coffee shop, or sitting at the same kitchen table each morning. We get to choose who we trust with our deeply felt goals for wellness and joy... and we get to take responsibility for those choices.
Posture Basics: B is for Bed
How much time do you spend in yours?
How many hours per day do you spend in your car? Your lounge chair? Your desk? Now, compare: how many hours do you spend in your bed?
People spend a great deal of time with doctor Google finding just the right desk chair... and the lounge chair to watch a movie at home... and yet, setting up the bed for optimal comfort and body-care is often of less concern. Even if the mattress gets a little attention when buying one, is it maintained well? That said, there is a BIGGER problem lurking in the bedroom: the pillow.
Over the years, I've heard it all. Side-sleeping pillows, body pillows, and the worst of the bunch: the stomach sleeper's pillow. There is nothing revolutionary about this blog post. You know this yourself, you've heard it before, haven't you? You should be supported when lying down in the VERY BEST healthy posture you would have if you were standing up. Somewhere along the line, you've met your enabler. That sales person who convinced you that your perfect dreamy pillow can and will allow you to sleep guilt-free in perfectly great posture on your stomach, or your side... I'm not even going there with the body pillow emotional support pillows.
Okay, I will go there. By all means, hug that body pillow. Whisper into its soft folds. Make yourself happy - no judgment here. But unless you're pregnant, I'm not buying that your most healthy sleep position is possible with that giant marshmallow of a pillow.
If you doubt me (and of course you do, because you will try every argument in the world to avoid letting go of what is familiar - we are creatures of habit) so I recommend the following test:
I know what you're going to say next. (Yes, I'm psychic.) I know because I've heard it dozens of times: "I can't sleep on my back because I don't fall asleep." Or, maybe you tried it once, and without the proper neck (not head as much as neck) low back, and knee support. Maybe you have foot and ankle complications, or sciatic concerns. In truth, there isn't a one-size fits all to sleeping position, but I can tell you that in 20 or so years, I've seldom met anyone who can't improve their sleep posture. If you are that exception and the photos of your sleeping position are optimal, then you are a rock star! Post them!
If your photos were a real eye-opener for you about how bad your sleeping position is for you (and by eye-opener I mean to include the countless moments you aren't sleeping soundly as you flail about in an attempt to get comfortable) then I applaud you for getting out of denial. By all means, enjoy those old cuddly funky positions for a few moments when you wake up in the morning, or for a few before turning off the light... but don't make the choice to put your body to rest for the night that way! You can do this. Yes you can.
If you need help in learning how to make it all the way thru the night in fabulously restorative good posture, then you know where to find me. At first, you'll likely hate me. Maybe even more than for the bra fitting or even the Birkenstock posts. I get hate email - usually about 2AM when clients can't sleep because they "just can't sleep on their backs or other positions w/props we identify for them..." but then like magic, one morning they awake in the exact same position they went to sleep in! They stretch a bit... roll over to some crazy hitched hip stomach-sleep position for a moment of nostalgia, and then they get on with their day. Oddly, they find they can better turn their head when backing out of their driveway that morning. Huh.
Yes, Birkenstock. Lest you don't think I understand the deeply satisfying relationship between a woman and her shoe collection, take a look at this photo, taken by my husband the physical therapist, who planned on using this as a "don't do this" example for his patients - he's a funny man.
08. February 2014
The 3 B's of Posture for Women: #1: Wear the right bra
Why don't the majority of women wear bras that fit? Why are they surprised when I point out to them it is a big part of their poor posture and causing them pain? Why?! Oprah did shows about it. Tim Gunn begged us to get out of denial and go get fitted. We laugh when we see these calls to action by style icons to clueless make-over examples, and yet, we think it doesn't apply to us. In fairness, there is also a very good reason some of us don't go:
(Cue the theme score from Jaws)
Encountering the faux fitter.
I'll confess I've been fresh road kill from just such an encounter myself. This young gal (impersonating a professional fitter) insisted when I inquired that she was a "professionally trained fitter" and what can I say? I was weak from hours of shopping and thus began my dreadful, cautionary tale. At the apex of my story arc was the moment I stood there in the dressing room with her, having just taken off the bra she thought was "awesome" but I didn't and as I handed it back to her, she threw her hand up in the air as she burst out with a loud and enthusiastic "GIVE ME FIVE GIRL"! You know, it's tough to look indignant while topless in a small dressing room with a cheerleading faux bra fitter, but I think I pulled it off.
Clients are often surprised when we first meet that I might suggest (read: beg) to them to go and get a proper bra fitting. It's a predictable story arc: first they deny the need, insisting that their breasts really are supported in that very sad, downward-pointing, ever mobile state. Note: I can usually get two fists between their back and the strap without even trying.
Often, there's the "yeah but" excuse: Why does it matter so much if you aren't "busty" to begin with?
Sure, if you are petite in the bust, and only go braless now and then (or wear bras with such little support you might as well not wear one), maybe that's fine, but you do know that whatever tissue you do have is moving around as you move, and yanking on ligaments and muscles all the way up your neck, for starters. You might not love bras, but your aging ligaments do. Nuff said.
Go to anywhere that sells breast prosthesis for women who've had a mastectomy. Pick one up that is in your natural breast size and be prepared to have your jaw drop. Breast tissue is heavy! (Those prosthetic breast forms are weighted to replicate the weight of a natural breast - and that's a good thing because post-mastectomy, not wearing something that keeps the left and right sides of your chest evenly "weighted" means your spine will tend to shift in compensation over time.) Now picture that weight not being well supported. I know, again with the begging here.
As a Pilates instructor who is rehab certified, I can tell you that many women are unaware of how they unconsciously shift their posture to try and balance that breast tissue weight that isn't being well supported by a good bra. Trying to get them to stop doing that is pointless (pun not intended) unless they get some support to offset the weight.
With sufficient education in how this is impacting their posture and general health (again with the begging), they usually agree to go see a professional fitter, if for no other reason than to prove me wrong. Then they return to me with that new bra and without one exception over the years, the new bra is SHOCKINGLY more comfortable and a very different size than the woman was used to wearing. Not a little different - oh no, more typically along the lines of "I've been wearing a 34B and thought it was perfect but I am actually a 30D" and that isn't even the most extreme example I could give. In general, women tend to assume their back/rib size is much larger than it really is, and their cup size smaller than it really is. I'm sure that says something about society and body image messages, but I digress.
Maybe you too have bad experiences with faux bra fitters. If I've learned anything since my close encounter with the cheerleader, it was to ask the following:
Where and when did you receive your training? Are you a bra manufacturer rep or an employee of the store? Lastly, to trust one's instincts for a different kind of fit - personality fit. Do they seem like someone with whom you might have good rapport? If not, don't get half naked in a tiny room with them. The right fitter will become your new best friend, wow you with how at ease they make you feel, listen to your needs, and be creative in solutions that make you like the way you look and feel.
You know what I most often hear after women go and get a new bra that fits right? "This has changed my life." I'm not kidding, women are just wowed by how much better they feel, on many levels, even if they didn't realize they didn't feel so good before going! Face it, this is an emotional subject for many women.
What are my top tips for bras that help posture and reduce shoulder, back, and neck pain? General guidelines:
Armed with knowledge, now go forth and bravely locate your fitter dream-date, and get on with it. Think of it like a shopping makeover for your posture, because it usually is.
Now that this is out of the way, let's exercise.