Habit Change, Mindset

I’m lazy, and you should be lazy too

When you want to make a change in your life, do you have a tendency to go balls-out? For example, going from not lifting weights at all to going to “I’m going to start lifting weights 4 days a week for an hour each day.”  Or “Starting this week I am going to plan, prep, and cook ALL of my meals at home!” (when you typically eat out 3-4 times per week).
 
I am one of the aforementioned humans.  I have a tendency to overestimate my motivation and drive, and as a result, I go like gang busters for a few days, or even maybe a few months, and then I peter out and return to my original set point.
 
My friend and teacher Dinneen Viggiano had a great newsletter about “MVA”  Minimum Viable Amount.  She verbalized something I have noticed but ignored when it comes to my own life – even though I know “X” is super good for me and will help me become the person I want to be, if “X” is hard, boring and/or time-consuming, I will do it for a bit and then give up.  And then I will feel bad about giving up. And that will make me even LESS motivated to do ANYTHING – even something small – to improve my wellbeing.  And thus begins a pity party that ends with me wondering who do I think I am and why do I think I am qualified to help ANYONE improve their life.  Things get dark pretty quickly in Heather-Head-Land.
 
Dineen offers a solution to this nip this negativity spiral in the bud:

  1. Start out doing something that you seriously think you would honestly really do.
  2. Do it regularly for a while and see how you feel (see how your pain responds).
  3. Start to pare it back a bit and see if you still feel benefits while doing the smaller amount.
  4. If you get to a tipping point where the pain starts to return, titrate back to the slightly higher dose.

Here is how I am implementing this advice in my own life:

  • I am working on getting my low back feeling better, and I know that working on my breathing would help.
  • I worked with an Athletic Trainer awhile back who gave me several breathing exercises to do.  I was supposed to do them 2-3 times a day, and they take about 15 minutes each time.  I kinda did them for a while, and then, well, you know.  I humaned and stopped.
  • SO, I am starting with doing 2 minutes of Constructive Rest whilst breathing from my diaphragm every night before I go to bed.  Two minutes is so easy that I have a hard time convincing myself that it’s a burden.
  • I’m finding that at the end of the 2 minutes, I often have started to relax and breathe more deeply and I want to go longer, but I’m not!  I’m just doing 2 minutes until I feel as if the habit is ingrained.

Now that I type it all out, I’m kind of following Dineen’s advice backwards.  I am using a “tiny little action step” to build the habit, and then assessing the effects, so I can potentially do more, but the overall gist is the same:


FIND THE DOSAGE THAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY DO AND THAT ACTUALLY EFFECTS SOME CHANGE IN YOUR SYSTEM, AND DO IT CONSISTENTLY.


If you are overwhelmed, bored, or frustrated with your exercise plan, maybe you could experiment with doing a little less and see if a smaller dose will get you the same results.  I think it’s a universal truth that doing less and doing it mindfully and consistently is better for our mindbodies.

Lastly, I want to put in a little plug for a fundraiser for the QC Yoga Foundation.  This is a local non-profit organization that is trying to bring yoga to as many people in our community as possible.  They (or maybe I should say “we” because I’m on the Board) are hosting a super fun event on 7/9/22 called Fireflies and Flowers.  Music, tasty food, flowers, mid-summer vibes, picnic, and connection to your community – what more could you ask for??

If you are interested, you can “Buy a Blanket” of 8 tickets here or individual tickets here.  I would love to see you there!  I am trying to put together a group of 8, so we can get a blanket.  Let me know if you’re interested.

Space to be Human Lab

  • If you have a family member, friend, or coworker who has been sidelined by pain or tension, I would be so grateful if you refer them to me, so we can see how massage, meditation, and movement can get them back to doing what they love.  For every Referral who books with me, you get a coupon for $10 off your next session!  Your friend can find more information about Space to be Human here.

I hope you are having a delightful Sunday and can find some space to do nothing and be okay with it.  🙂
 
<3

Hlo
 
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Uncategorized

A Break from routine

Good morning!  Perhaps you noticed that I didn’t send out a newsletter last week.  The Sunday got away from me, honestly, as Sundays have a tendency to do.  This Sunday, at 7:50AM, is already wriggling, slippery, and cunningly trying to bolt, so I’m going to try to catch it while I can.

I wanted to share with you a theme that’s been surfacing in the ether – that of the necessity of breaking from routine (um, maybe that’s why I skipped a week of newslettering last week…).

Having good routines and habits can be SO useful and beneficial.  When we can just follow the same path every day, we don’t have to expend precious energy on redeciding every moment.  We don’t have to decide to brush our teeth, we don’t have to decide which roads to take to work, we don’t have to stop and think, “what’s my password” when we unlock our phone.  We just run the program and effortlessly  and unconsciously do most of these things.

But, have you noticed how a whole day can go by, and you weren’t really there for it?  Your teeth are brushed, but did you notice how fresh and clean your mouth felt?  You arrived at work, but did you notice the magnolia tree on the corner that looks as if it popped right out of a Japanese woodblock print?  You’ve unlocked your phone a bazillion times, but did you ever once notice the ridiculous cuteness of your puppy pic on the lock screen?

Habits and routines, while saving us energy, do so by putting us in a well-worn rut.  And often times the secret to changing our pain experience lies in breaking out of that rut and TRYING SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

When we do something new, our brain wakes up and takes notice.  It comes online and starts to recalculate the massive amounts of input constantly streaming it.  Different inputs mean different outputs.  And guess what – PAIN is a an output from your brain.

I listened to a really interesting podcast Mindful Strength: Why Strength Training Helps this week.  Kathryn Bruni-Young and Nikki Naab-Levy are two cutting-edge fitness professionals who incorporate current biopsychosocial pain research into their fitness programming.  In this podcast they talk about how important strength training is, especially for people who are super mobile and stretchy.  They also talk about how important it is to break up the routine of strength training – the body is SUPER adaptable, so you need to constantly be throwing new stuff at it.  From a strength-training perspective this can look like:

  • Changing the tempo of your lifts.
  • Pausing at the top or bottom of your lifts.
  • Changing the number of reps and sets.
  • Taking rest days when your body is like, “NOPE.”
  • Changing the position in which you lift (e.g. instead of always doing pushups with your hands directly under shoulders, experiment with setting your hands super wide, or with one hand close to your shoulder and one hand really far away, or with your fingers pointing in different directions, etc.).

When you play and explore like this, not only are you sending some new and attention-grabbing stimulus to your ol’ brain pan, but you are building strength in a variety of positions – meaning that when you need to crouch down on all fours and reach waaaaay far under the dresser to grab your baby’s wubba, your shoulders and wrists will be like, “Hey. I gotchyou.  We’ve trained for this.”

A side benefit of breaking the routine is that you start to notice your days, you start to have more fun, life gets more interesting.  What could you do to nudge your way out of ruts that are no longer taking you where you want to go?  An easy thing to play with is to try to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.  Give it a go and watch your body be utterly confused about how to accomplish this simple task.  And notice how HARD it is to resist the urge to go back to using your dominant hand.  That urge to return to comfort is insanely strong and persuasive.

If you need help in figuring out how to add some novelty to your workouts, I really recommend the Mindful Strength Membership.  It’s $35/month (CAD), and you get a really interesting and fun assortment of classes – yoga, restorative yoga, strength training, crawling, etc.  The crawling classes are super fun and super challenging. The weird stuff is always more fun. J 

Space to be Human Lab

  • If you are in pain and are interested in exploring how some new inputs (organ massage, cranial mobilizations, movement, breath, cupping, etc.) could affect your output of pain come see me!
  • Hours:  Monday and Friday 2PM-5PM; Tuesday and Thursday 2PM-7PM.  Occasional Saturdays from 8AM-12PM.

I hope you are having a bonkers good Sunday and can do just ONE small thing that could shift your experience today.

<3


Hlo

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Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Uncategorized

On Balance

“Everything flows out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right, is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates”

― Three Initiates, Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece

And that, my friends, explains everything – Life, The Universe, and Everything. Oh, and Neurosomatic Therapy too.

The universe, our bodies, our lives – we all strive for homeostasis, for balance. In NST, we look at the body and observe where it’s tipping, tilting, twisting away from balance. Not that any of these movements are bad, in and of themselves. But over time, done repetitively, the body starts to adapt. It shortens and lengthens muscles (Davis’s Law), it grows and destroys bones (Wolff’s Law). It adapts to be more efficient at the positions you put it in most often. Unfortunately, this means that if/when you want to move and hold your body in a different position, your muscles and joints doth protest, and that protestation can manifest as pain.

In NST, we do 84 measurements of bony landmarks in your body to see where you have made accommodations over time. Based on these measurements, we can target muscles that need incentive to relax and let go or that need stimulation to get the attention of your brain, so that the brain can start operating them better.

I have been listening to a great podcast, The Optimal Body, which is hosted by two physical therapists who have an easy-to-understand balanced approach on getting people out of pain. They introduced me to the concept of 30 for 30. For every 30 minutes that you are in a static position, spend 30 sections doing the EXACT OPPOSITE thing!

For example, if you are (like me right now), usually sitting, hunched over your computer, wrists extended, shoulders rolled forward, head craned toward your computer, eyes focused intently 2 feet in front of you, then ===> Stand Up. Extend your spine. Ramp your head back so your ears are stacked over your shoulders. Flex your wrists. Stretch your arms out to the side and point your elbow pits up to the ceiling. Look out your window and at the farthest, farthest tree. Do that for 30 seconds.

This is SUCH a simple exercise – no fancy cueing, no complicated instructions to remember. Just DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU USUALLY DO. You remember that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza does the opposite of everything his instincts tell him to do, and his life suddenly turns around?? Well, in this rare instance, follow George’s example.

I am in the process of figuring out when/how to return to NST practice. Miss Rona is being very difficult. But I will get it all figured out soon. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, suggestions for what you would like to hear about next. Thanks SO MUCH for reading!!!

Take care, My peeps!

Uncategorized

What is Neurosomatic Therapy?

You know that quote from Morpheus in the Matrix?

“Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix isYou‘ll have to see it for yourself.”

That’s kinda how I feel about neurosomatic therapy. I mean, at its base, it’s a form of massage therapy. But I feel as if I have to layer on all these caveats and qualifiers, after I drop those words, “It’s a form of massage therapy,” so that people have a more realistic expectation of what treatment entails.

How about I just get started instead of wasting both of our time talking about talking about it!!

NST is a form of very targeted bodywork that is focused on bringing balance back to the body and the nervous system. Each session begins with a postural assessment during which we measure the position of many of your bones, including the bones of your head, in a few different positions (standing, seated, laying down).

We use these measurements to identify areas where the body is tilting, twisting, flexing, or extending. These measurements, along with your history and symptoms give us a good indication of what muscles, organs, or bodily systems need attention.

We’ll review the results of this assessment with you, help you understand what we think could be contributing to your pain, answer any questions, and then dive into treatment.

Treatment usually consists of very focused manual therapy (we might just work your right anterior deltoid, for example, instead of working your entire shoulder or both shoulders). We not only treat the usual suspects (upper traps, posterior neck, etc.), but we also treat muscles commonly overlooked such as the muscles on the face and head, the front of the neck, and inside the mouth, eye muscles, muscles of the hand and foot, etc. Treatment may also include joint mobilizations, breathing exercises, and treatment of your organs (heart, lungs, liver, intestines, bladder, etc.),

The work can be intense for some, as we search out specific areas (trigger points) that are not getting good blood flow. While the treatment may at times be uncomfortable, it should never be painful to the point where you are bracing against the pressure.

What can NST help with?

Headaches, migraines, tinnitus, vertigo, TMJ disorders, sinus issues, neck pain, whiplash, frozen shoulder, thoracic outlet syndrome, tennis/golfers elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, scoliosis, low back pain, digestive issues such as IBS, painful periods, hip pain, sciatica, shin splints, foot pain, plantar fasciitis, etc.

Can NST fix me?

With NST we help you and your brain bring awareness to areas of the body that are misused, abused, or confused. This improved awareness, enhanced by expert targeted manual therapy and consciously done exercises, can help decrease pain and improve your performance. Ultimately, it’s YOU that heals YOU, by using this new-found awareness of postural patterns and habits to change how you move and interact with the world.

How long does it take to get better?

Some clients see marked improvement in their first session; however, many clients feel much better after the 4th session. Some clients see tremendous improvement after 10 sessions or so. It really depends on the severity and length of your symptoms, as well as other factors that influence your perception of pain (e.g. sleep, your thoughts about the pain, nutrition, movement, etc.)

What should I expect in a session?

During the session you could be up and down off the massage table, and you may be moving into a variety of positions (prone, supine, side-lying etc.) for treatment. To facilitate how active and varied the session can be, you will be dressed in either gym shorts (if you are a male) or a NST gown (shorts and a shirt that opens in the back) if you are a female.

Each session will begin with the postural assessment and interview. Then treatment will commence. Treatment will include education, using models or anatomy software, to help you understand what is going on in your body. You may also do some exercises, and you will likely get homework. Lasting change can only occur by repeatedly showing the brain how to access the “new normal.”

Here is a video that shows a typical NST session.

What if I have more questions?

Leave me a comment below, or contact me using the link above or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hloyoga/.