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HOW TO TURN YOUR CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITES | Become a Warrior


I’d like to discuss something that is very personal to me…..how you can turn your challenges or crises into opportunities. When you look at people like Michael Jordan, Rocky Balboa, and Bruce Lee, you can see that these spiritual warriors have the most unbelievable focus, attention, and tenacity.

Here are some practical tips that you can do in your life to develop this resiliency and turn your challenges into opportunities. As George Mumford highlights in his book The Mindful Athlete, when we walk the path of a spiritual warrior, we can we think about the journey as opposed to the destination. When we look at some of these incredible athletes and true warriors, we can see that it isn’t about the outcome or the results, it’s about the journey. “An ordinary man takes everything as a blessing, or as a curse, whereas a warrior is going to take everything as a challenge.”

All right, here you go! Three things that can help you turn your challenges into opportunities.

  1. Noticing what’s right

We tend to, during times of crises or challenges, focus on what’s wrong and what isn’t going right in our lives. However, rather than focusing on that, we can focus on the beauty of the moment, with all of its imperfections, and we can find this deep wisdom that we wouldn’t have found otherwise. When we can really begin to look inward at this inner critic and emotional blueprint, and ask questions and explore it with curiosity, we can inquire about this really amazing wisdom. This will allow us to be able to look from a different lens to be able to see this obstacle or this challenge as an opportunity for growth.

2. Emotional error correction

Rather than blaming someone, something, or even ourselves, we need to think about asking the question “why?”. Have wonder and curiosity about why this happened and potentially what do you have to learn from this? Whether your challenges are small or big, there’s always something to learn about yourself. There’s always an opportunity to transform your growth as a human being. When we can transform the frustration and aggravation into the joy and satisfaction of learning about ourselves, we can begin to have more teachable moments in our lives. We can begin to have these experiences or these challenges that bring us awareness and make us more focused and present in our own lives. So, essentially when we are experiencing these different emotions, we can bring this wonder and this curiosity to the forefront because when we do that, then we begin to see the experience and situation so differently. We can ask with an open heart, and we can inquire about ourselves, be inquisitive about the situation and begin to grow.

3. The right effort

 This is where we focus on the journey, not the destination. This is where we don’t necessarily think “life’s a grind and I’m just going to try to push through.” Instead, we appreciate all the moments, experiences, and people along the way and appreciate the process, not the outcome, results, or the destination. This is where we can sit, and we can simply enjoy sitting. It is when we don’t have to be on the go and running and doing a million things. We can actually just be present and pay attention. We can pay attention to our experiences and be in tune with what our body needs. This is the right effort, not pushing so hard that you just continue to get hurt in your exercise program. Instead, you just give the right amount of effort so that you see these adaptations over time, for example.

There you have it, three ways that you could help turn your challenges into opportunities. I was diagnosed with stage three liposarcoma two months before my wedding about five years ago. That was when I made this commitment to myself that I wanted to not just survive cancer, but I wanted to thrive during cancer. With that, I have taken all of these steps to optimize my mindset, nutrition, and movement to really help me achieve the life that I want to have. I hope that you can turn this current challenge into an opportunity for you.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

Check out my TEDx talk below to see my story of turning challenges into opportunities.



COULD YOUR ANXIETY and DEPRESSION BE COMING FROM YOUR GUT? | SIBO


Did you ever wonder if anxiety and/or depression was caused purely by psychological reasons or possibly from other causes? It absolutely can be caused from many different things such as systemic inflammation, leaky gut, hormonal changes, and your gut, specifically SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which is what we’ll focus on today. Surprising I know! Let’s dive into the gut-brain connection, the bacteria and neurotransmitters in your gut, as well as what you can do to improve that neurotransmitter function in your gut and brain to really help you improve your mood, feel better, and move through your life with ease.

Other causes for anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression can come from many other physical causes. It can come from systemic inflammation or leaky gut. Leaky gut is where we have endotoxins released into the bloodstream coming through the epithelial lining of the small intestine and that creates an immune reaction. This can also lead to leaky brain. This is where those endotoxins cross the blood brain barrier and can contribute to things like mood changes and brain fog, etc. We can also have anxiety/depression related to hormonal changes. Last but definitely not least, we can have it from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).  In essence, the altered microbiome can be one of the biggest contributors to anxiety and/or depression.

Typical course of action in America

The typical course of action in America is that when you present with anxiety and/or depression, you are prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRRI). This can be something like Prozac, Paxil, or Lexapro. The reason these are prescribed is for low serotonin, our feel good neurotransmitter. Serotonin is one of our key chemical messenger that signals to the brain. This is formed by the bacteria in the gut, and guess what, 90 percent of our serotonin is in our gut! So, now we want to ask ourselves, why is our serotonin low? We may want to dive into what may be happening in the gut that could be contributing to this.

SIBO

SIBO, once again small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, can be one of the huge underlying factors in anxiety and/or depression. This is something that is definitely not looked at as frequently, and if you are experiencing something like bloating and other digestive symptoms, then this would be something to look into as one of the potential causes of your anxiety and/or depression. This happens when we have an overgrowth of the normal bacteria in the gut, and it creates a dysbiosis which means just an imbalance in the bacteria of the gut. This in turn will lead to things like nutrient deficiencies, malabsorption, and imbalances in the neurotransmitters. The gut-brain connection is a bidirectional communication between our gut and our brain. Our gut is our second nervous system. The bacteria in the gut is essentially what’s forming these neurotransmitters, our chemical messengers and communicators to the brain.

Testing for SIBO

Why is it so important to look at possible bacterial overgrowth in the gut and test it appropriately? When you are having any digestive issues like bloating, abdominal pain, any type of diarrhea, constipation, etc and it’s coupled with anxiety and/or depression, then you should absolutely be tested for SIBO. SIBO is tested using a breath test which is going to assess either hydrogen or methane gas. You ingest something called lactulose, and because it cannot be absorbed, it will be present in the small intestine. If it ferments with the bacteria in your gut, then you will exhale either a methane or hydrogen gas. If you’d like to order a test, click HERE.

Irritable bowel syndrome has been used as a diagnosis for many years, and now what we’re finding out is that IBS diagnosis is really SIBO in most cases. When you have this diagnosis, and you are experiencing anxiety and/or depression, it is going to be imperative that you address this as one of the potential root causes of your anxiety or depression because there’s no way that you can have the appropriate amount of serotonin, and even elements of dopamine if you are experiencing SIBO.

So what do you do about it?

1) The first thing is to make sure you get properly tested and evaluated.

2) Include a low FODMAP diet.

It is important to remove any type of inflammatory foods or triggers that could be aggravating this condition. FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. Low fodmap foods are easily digested carbohydrates which is a really important aspect of a SIBO protocol. Also eliminate things like gluten which is found in wheat, a high FODMAP food, a big driver in leaky gut, a common complaint or comorbidity along with SIBO.

3) Supplementation.

Typically, supplementation is going to be required because you will likely have malabsorption issues. It doesn’t mean that you definitely will, but there is a strong possibility, especially is this has been going on for quite some time. You may have to take specific highly bioavailable nutrient supplements until your body can absorb a more effectively and be able to repair the gut lining in cases of leaky gut. Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body for immune health and intestinal health. This will be one of the very important nutrients that you will want to ingest if you are diagnosed with SIBO. The recommendation is 15 to 21 grams a day.

4) You want to reinoculate with probiotics.

It is important to recognize that not all probiotics will work for every SIBO patient. Most commonly, spore-based probiotics seem to be best as some other probiotics could make you worse.

5) Antibiotics

Antibiotics are typically used to treat the SIBO. There are different protocols and philosophies on when the appropriate time is to give the antibiotic. However, it is going to be necessary in most cases, whether it’s an herbal antibiotic or a conventional antibiotic to kill the bacteria.

In summary, hopefully you can appreciate that there’s way more to anxiety and depression, then simply only psychological reasons. We’ve only scratched the surface of just one part aspect of this, but I wanted share with you about neurotransmitters, introduce the gut-brain connection, and hopefully just have you think a little bit deeper about how can you begin to address some of the root causes of why this could be happening to you or someone you love.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to treat or diagnose. Please check with your physican or functional medicine practitioner to determine a specific plan.



7 Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic System I Beginner Lymph Drainage


Let’s discuss one of the most powerful and most neglected systems in the body, the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a critical part of the immune system and is vital for protecting us from illness and chronic disease.

Seventy to 90 percent of all chronic disease is linked to inflammation. How do we get rid of inflammation? Primarily through our lymphatic system or other detoxification systems or organs including our liver, kidney, lungs, skin, GI system, tongue and fat.

We are made up of 80 percent water. Let’s compare the lymphatic system to an aquarium. We can appreciate that if the aquarium has clean, filtered water everything in the aquarium (the fish, algae, etc) is going to not only survive but thrive.  However, if that tank is unfiltered, becomes toxic and infected, everything in the tank is also going to become toxic and have a lack of oxygen and nutrients.  Therefore, it cannot survive, let alone thrive in that toxic environment.

As one of my mentors Dr. Perry Nicholson says, “you cannot get well in the environment that you got ill  in.”

Symptoms of a Poor Lymphatic System

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, then you most likely have a lymphatic issue but truthfully if you’re living in modern society, you most likely have a lymphatic issue anyway because of how toxic our environment is. With that said, if you had things like morning stiffness, chronic pain or fatigue or stiffness, bloating in your face in your abdomen, varicose veins, brain fog, poor sleep, acne, bad breath poor capillary refill, and painful lymph nodes, then most likely you are dealing with some kind of lymphatic issue.

Amazing Facts About the Lymphatic System

The lymph system is pretty darn amazing. There’s over 700 lymph nodes in the body and over one third of them are in the neck. There’s 15 liters of lymph in our body. All of the lymph is pumping in one direction, the direction of the heart, and it’s deeply connected to the gut.  It is connected through the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT), specifically the Peyer’s patches. Remember that 70 to 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut! Now you can appreciate this deep connection of the lymphatic system to the gut. If there is a gut issue, there is a lymph issue!

7 Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic System

What can you do if you have a lymphatic issue? What you can you do to help optimize your immune system? Here are seven key ways that are very easy things to integrate into your life and should be foundational.

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing

The two key ways to improve your lymphatic system are movement and breath. Let’s speak about breath first. When I refer to breath, I really mean diaphragmatic breath.  You are using the diaphragm to actually create a pumping mechanism that is going to pump the lymph to the cisterna chyli, which is one of your main lymph drainage points in the center of your abdomen.

Breathing diaphragmatically is going to improve the chances of having a healthy lymph system.  We breathe 20 to 25,000 times a day. If we have stress breathing, however, and the diaphragm is very restricted, that is going to significantly impact the function lymphatic system. Breathing is your superpower!

Try taking at least three diaphragmatic breaths every hour and breathe for five min in the morning and at night before bed.

2. Movement

Once again, movement is one of the most important things to do to improve your lymphatic system.  We want to think of hydrating the tissue and moving the lymph system.

Try to move frequently throughout the day, not just for one hour and then sitting the remaining part of the day.  Think about movement snacks. As Gray Cook says, “move well and then often.”

3. Staying Hydrated

It seems very simple, but also very challenging for many people. Remember, we are 80 percent water so it is very important for the lymphatic system to be well hydrated.

Make sure to that you’re drinking at minimum, eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day, and always making sure that your urine is yellow is pale yellow to clear.

4. Anti-inflammatory nutrition

The more inflammation that we have, the more toxic our environment is. We cannot get well in the environment that we got ill in. Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet, getting rid of any gut infections anything like yeast overgrowth or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) that you recognize is contributing to a poor lymphatic system is essential.  

All of these systems work together, so it’s really important to address any underlying condition and really focus on a well-balanced whole food natural diet.

5. One-minute lymphatic drainage.

This is the most basic version and is for beginners. It’s a great starting point for many people.  If you go  too fast too soon with the lymphatic system, you can actually cause a huge detoxification reaction and it can make you feel very ill. This is a great way to simply start the process, and if you have any negative symptoms, you would wait until those symptoms resolved for you progress.  Ultimately the goal is to do this daily. You could do it in the shower, before you work out, or any consistent and convenient time. Always make sure to follow with movement.

Watch the lymph drainage HERE.

Remember that for the lymph drainage the order is very important, you’re always starting on the left side and then moving to the right, and you start with above the collarbone area, move up to the jaw under the jaw, and then go into the pec, then the abdomen, then the inguinal area, and then behind the knees. The order is very important and perform five pats in each place.

6. Vagus nerve stimulation

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body, one of our cranial nerves that regulates our parasympathetic nervous system. We can stimulate the vagus nerve in many ways; through breathing and meditation, specific cranial nerve exercises, humming, chanting, yoga and more. Because we can improve that parasympathetic system (rest and digest state), we can impact our impact our breathing, and therefore our pumping action of the lymphatics. 

You’ll want to make sure that you one of more of these practices in your daily life.

7. Decreasing Stress

When the HPA axis (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis) is activated, our stress pathway in our body, we’re ultimately going to release cortisol. Cortisol can break down proteins. More specifically, it can break down collagen. Collagen is the main structural protein in the extracellular matrix of connective tissue in the body and is the most abundant protein in our body. Therefore, the breakdown can impact the structure of the cells in the lymphatic system, which therefore can cause blockages and decreased blood flow, which ultimately in turn means that there will be more congestion and a more toxic environment.

Please find the things that help YOU manage stress! Please see how to map your nervous system.

So there you have it, seven different ways to improve your lymphatic system, and hopefully with a little background information to help you on your healing journey.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

Source: Dr. Perry Nichelston, Stop Chasing Pain

Disclaimer: This is not intended to treat or diagnose. Please check with your physican or functional medicine practitioner to determine a specific plan.



Supplement recommendations to boost your immune system


Did you ever wonder what supplements you should be taking during this COVID-19 virus? I’ve had a lot of questions recently about what supplements to take to not only prevent illness, but also fight off illness and boost your immunity. Although there are no vaccines to date for COVID-19, there is a ton of emerging research on different nutraceuticals and botanicals that can be used once again to not only prevent illness, but to fight off illness. Let’s dive in.

  1. Curcumin

Curcumin. This has been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as reduce the viral infection of COVID-19. It is beneficial to have black pepper with it, which enhances the bioavailability. The recommendation is 500 to 1000 milligrams twice a day.

2. Quercetin

This is a plant flavanoid that is found in many fruits and vegetables and it has been shown to decrease viral growth. It is recommended to take 1000 milligrams twice a day orally.

3. Zinc

Through a large body of research, zinc has been shown to have antiviral properties. You would take this in any form of zinc, so it could be citrate, acetate, glycinate, picolinate, or gluconate. You would take small doses of 30 to 60 milligrams throughout the day.

4. Vitamin D

This has been shown to reduce upper respiratory infections, decrease viral growth, as well as improve the overall immune system. This recommended dosage is 5000 international units daily.

5. Vitamin C

This can really play a huge role in immune defense and it is actually being used in the hospitals treating COVID-19. Take one to three grams a day orally.

6. Vitamin A

Not only does it support the lining of the respiratory tract, but it also can contribute to reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system. You would take 10,000 to 25,000 international units daily.

7. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC)

This can support the production of glutathione, which is one of our most powerful antioxidants. In addition to that, it also can reduce the severity of the flu. It is recommended to  take 600-900 mg twice a day.

8. Melatonin

We know that during times of stress we are not getting the proper amount of sleep, or the proper quality of sleep. Melatonin can help produce more restful sleep and can also reduce inflammation. You can take five to 20 milligrams before bedtime.

9. Elderberry

This has been used extensively in the prevention of the flu. In addition to that, it’s packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. You can take 500 milligrams orally.

10. Resveratrol

This is a compound found in red grapes, and it has been shown in the lab to attack a relative virus of COVID-19. Resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory properties appear to play a significant role in accelerating the healing of organs such as the liver, lungs, intestines and heart by slowing inflammation and swelling. It is recommended to take 100-150 milligrams twice a day.

11. Green tea or EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)

This has been shown to reduce information and has also been known to affect the pathway that is consistent with the COVID-19 virus. You can either drink four cups of green tea daily or take 200 milligrams of the EGCG.

Summary

Of course we know what all the precautions associated with COVID-19 are wearing masks, washing your hands, and participating in social distancing. However, you can also consider how you can optimize your immune system. If you do get this virus, you can potentially decrease the viral load thereby changing the way that your body responds to it. Whether it is coming from foods, (check out 12 immune- boosting foods,) or supplementation, this is a really good opportunity to do whatever you can to stay as healthy as possible. Of course, please don’t forget sleep hygeine, meditation, and movement!

If you’d like a ready to order list with high grade supplements (that you can customize), email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com with “supplements” in the subject line.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

Source: Institute of Functional Medicine

Disclaimer: This is not intended to treat or diagnose. Please check with your physican or functional medicine practitioner to determine a specific plan.



What is stress doing to your weight loss goals? I Hormones


Did you know that stress can significantly affect your
ability to lose weight? I wish weight loss was as simple as “eat less and
exercise more.” However, many of you have probably experienced weight loss
resistance despite doing all of the things that you should be doing from a
nutritional, stress management, and movement standpoint. Now, don’t get me
wrong, there are always ways to continue to improve your health. But why do some
of us struggle to lose those extra stubborn pounds?

There are multiple reasons why this could happen, some of
which include changes in the microbiome,  leaky gut, which can affect your ability to
absorb nutrients, inflammation which can result from food, toxins, bugs,
trauma, and hormone dysregulation. That is what we’re going to focus on today.
Here are four hormones that can be interfering with your weight loss.

  1. Insulin

As it relates to hormones, the number one offender is going to be insulin, no doubt about it. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. It signals to your body to absorb glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream and turn it into fat. It is referred to as the “fat storing hormone, because it can shut down the metabolic burning. This is why high blood sugar and high insulin levels make it harder to lose weight. Therefore, it can contribute to chronic disease, excess weight gain, and excess fat storage. Increased caloric intake, stress, weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), genetics, hypertension, Polycysytic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) among others can contribute to insulin resistance.

2. Thyroid

One in five women and one in 10 men have been diagnosed with thyroid disease. However, about 50 percent of the cases go undiagnosed primarily because the testing is insufficient for really looking at a complete picture of the thyroid. Most often, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is checked. However, there is also a free T3, free T4, Thyrogobulin Aibodies (TgAb), Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies(TPOAb), and sometimes reverse T3 to really get an entire picture. Some of the things that can contribute to thyroid disease are gluten intolerance, stress, and environmental toxins, which are huge contributors including any type of nutrient deficiency.

3. Cortisol

This is one of our biggest stress hormones. When we are under stress or we have a perceived threat or stressor, we activate the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (HPA axis). This is our stress pathway in our body. Our amygdala in our limbic system detects this perceived threat. A physiological response is mediated through the hypothalamus triggering the pituitary gland by secreting corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). The pituitary gland in our brain secretes adrenal corticotropic hormone (ACTH) into the bloodstream to signal the adrenal glands, which sit right on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands then in turn release glucocorticoids, such as cortisol. When this happens in the case of running from a tiger that is a normal response, it’s a survival mechanism. The problem starts when we have this stress response all the time. This is when it can lead to things like weight gain, insulin resistance, loss of lean body mass, increased fat storage, and the higher propensity for any kind of inflammatory condition, autoimmune disease, or chronic conditions. Therefore, it’s really important to understand how this stress pathway, when under chronic stress, affects your ability to lose weight or not. Keep this in mind that it could be a ding on a phone or it could be running from a tiger, if you’re having the same response all the time, then that pathway is constantly activated, which means cortisol is constantly being released.

4. Sex Hormones

Many women can experience things like breast tenderness,
heavy menstrual bleeding, fibroids, weight gain, fluid gain, and bloating. This
can all be largely in part due to a high sugar diet and a highly refined
carbohydrate diet, as well as environmental toxins and stress of course, contributing
to increased estrogen dominance in the body. Now men on the other hand can also
experience this and they might notice things like increased breast tissue and
abdominal weight gain. This also can factor into if men have low testosterone. In
this case they might have sexual dysfunction, poor libido, brain fog, inability
to concentrate, bone loss, and weight gain.

There are many ways to naturally balance hormones that apply to all of the above. First and most importantly is decreasing stress!  As you can see, this is one of the consistent hormone disruptors in weight loss. Finding ways to manage your stress through meditation, journaling, nature, walking, talking with friends, or simply whatever helps you the most. Other very important things to consider include:

  1. Balance your blood sugars
  2. Include a protein, healthy fat, and fiber source in each meal and snack.
  3. Eat a high-quality protein source at EVERY meal
  4. Eat every 4-6 hours (unless hungry)
  5. Consume healthy fats
  6. AVOID sugar and refined carbohydrates! This can’t be stressed enough.
  7. Limit or eliminate alcohol
  8. Avoid undereating or overeating
  9. Eat fatty fish (Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel) as often as possible
  10. Get enough high-quality sleep

Summary

The take home message is this. I want you to understand that stress plays a huge role in your ability to lose weight, if that is your goal. It is really important to understand how mindset, mindfulness, stress reduction, and relaxation are all so vital to an overall health program. It is way more than just losing weight, it is about feeling healthy inside and outside. To do that you really need to focus on managing your stress. The ways that you can do that are through basic informal mindfulness practices, formal meditation, breath work, grounding with your feet, walking out in nature, etc. There are so many ways to just take time for you and take time to really manage your stress levels because, as you can see it directly impacts all of these aspects of your health and your immunity.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.



5 MOVEMENT SNACKS I Working at home during the quarantine


I know that many of you have been working at your desk all day during this quarantine. You may not be getting up as much and probably not feeling as great as you normally do. These simple exercises can be done at your desk or the surrounding area. Rather than heading to the kitchen, here are five movement snacks that you could do throughout your day to help you get focused, energized, and maintain your mobility.

  1. Cross Crawl Pattern

The cross crawl pattern will stimulate the right and left hemisphere of the brain, ultimately waking up the logical and the creative side of your brain.

To do this exercise, while sitting, place your hands behind your head, and then exhale as you bring your elbow to your opposite knee. You do not need to touch each direction, but just try your best. Repeating for a series of 15 to 20 repetitions. You can also do this from standing, and the same idea, bring elbow to opposite knee. View the exercise HERE.

2. Foot Release

The foot release can be done from a seated or standing position. You can use a ball that’s the size of a golf ball. I love the RAD rounds for this. The foot release is really designed to improve the mobility of your foot and hydrate the fascia, helping to keep it elastic. You’re also stimulating certain receptors in the bottom of the feet that have a direct link to your brain. From an  Eastern medicine perspective, reflexology, by applying pressure to reflex areas, is said to remove energy blockages and promote health in the related body area and research has shown to stimulate the vagus nerve as well. I recommend this to nearly every patient. It is a very powerful exercise, very simple to do, and feels amazing. It will take you just a few minutes on each side.

To do this exercise, use a small ball on the six different points on the bottom of your foot that will be included in the picture below. You’ll hold the ball in each spot for about 20 seconds, making sure that you feel a nice release (about 75% decrease in pain/discomfort), and then moving on to the next spot. View how to do the exercise HERE.

6 point Foot Release

3. Half Salamander

The half salamander exercise is a cranial nerve
reprogramming exercise. The goal of it is to improve the thoracic mobility, ribcage
and sternum motion, and improve the blood flow around the vertebral arteries,
and ultimately the upper cervical spine. It is very simple to do and you could
do it multiple times throughout the day to have a cumulative effect on neck,
shoulder, and thoracic mobility.

To do this exercise, first check your cervical range of motion. You can do this by looking to the right and left to see if there’s any asymmetry or restriction. Then, place your hands behind your head and you’re going to side bend to one side and then look with your eyes in the opposite direction. Make sure to keep your face forward, and you’ll hold this for 30 to 60 seconds. You would of course repeat on the other side, and then you would recheck your cervical range of motion, which should be improved. To see how to do the exercise, click HERE.

4. Thoracic Rotation and Side Bend

The thoracic rotation and side bending exercise is also a
great exercise to do to help negate some of the sitting posture of that forward,
often rounded position. You’re using your eyes to really help improve the range
of motion in the upper back. Your eyes have a direct connection to the muscles
in the back of your head, the occiput muscles. So, you’re using your eyes to
really drive by looking as far as you can. Each time you should be able to get
successive improvement.

To do this exercise, first check your thoracic range of motion by rotating to each side seeing if there is any restrictions or asymmetry. Then, place your hands behind your head and you’re going to look with your eyes all the way to the right. Next, rotate as far as you can to the right keeping your hands behind your head. When you get to your end range, side bend. Come back to center and return to your start position. The next time, you’ll rotate even further, looking with your eyes as far as you can to the right. Then, once again side bend. Each time you should be able to get farther and farther. Repeat three times on each side, and then recheck your thoracic range of motion, which should be improved. To see the exercise, click HERE.

5. Hip Mobility 90/90

Hip mobility is very important, so you want to make sure
that you take the opportunity to get down on the floor and maintain your hip
motion, especially if you are going to be sitting all day at your desk. You do
want to make sure that this is active controlled mobility, so you want to make
sure that you’re breathing diagrammatically in each position to convince your
nervous system that you are safe in that position. Go to the point where you
feel some discomfort, but it should never be painful.

To do this exercise, you will start with a 90/90 hip position. From this position, slowly rotate to the other side maintaining an upright trunk position. Using your breath, exhaling, as you rotate, and then taking your big inhale to prep the motion. Make sure you are doing this in a comfortable position and that there is no pain. Then, move into a reaching forward position on the front leg.  Use tension by pushing into the ground, pushing the ground away and hinging from the hip. It may be farther for some than others. Next, you’ll open your back up and rotate to the front leg. You’re really trying to open your chest and extend your hip on that side. Make sure to really squeeze your glute to maintain that position while breathing. To see how to perform, click HERE.

Summary

I hope that was helpful and that you gained some new movement snacks that you can do throughout your workday, especially during this quarantine. If this was helpful for you, please make sure to share it with your friends and family.  The rule of thumb is to move EVERY 30 minutes while working, so try one of these or take a quick stroll. Better yet, do both!

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.



12 Immune-Boosting Foods


Although there is extreme uncertainty in the world right now, let me ease your mind by giving you 12 different immune-boosting foods that you can use to support your immune system!

1. Citrus foods

These include grapefruits, oranges, clementines, lemons, and limes and many more. They are perfect for the nice weather soon to come. They are packed with vitamin C and have the ability to increase production of white blood cells. They can help you build antibodies and help you resist bacteria and viruses that you’ve encountered before.

2. Red bell peppers

These are perfect for stir fries, salads, fajitas, etc. They are also packed with vitamin C and have beta carotene. Beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body, which is great for vision health, skin health, and immune health.  

3. Almonds

These are a great little snack to have and the good news is you only need half a cup a day (two servings) to get the recommended daily amount (RDA). They are packed with vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant in the body to protect the cells and help fight off free radicals.

4. Ginger

Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects It is a really easy thing to add to your meals and cooking. It has been known to help with a sore throat, and it has also been known to decrease inflammation. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties.

5. Green tea

Green tea is packed with flavonoids and antioxidants, specifically one of the antioxidants that’s really powerful for immune function, which is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. Now, this specific antioxidant is destroyed during the fermentation process of black tea. However green tea is steamed not fermented, therefore it is not destroyed during that process. So sip your green tea every day!

6. Spinach

This is also perfect for a salad or a side dish with your meal. It is packed with vitamin C, as well as beta carotene. Just remember, many of the nutrients are destroyed during the cooking process so you can enjoy spinach with just a little olive oil and herbs, and it tastes delicious.

7. Shellfish

Who would have thought shellfish would make this list? Shellfish contains lots of zinc, and because we only need a small amount of zinc in our diet, a small serving of that can provide it. Men need 11 milligrams, and women need eight milligrams for the recommended daily allowance. It’s a great thing to add into some of your dishes and it’s a nice variety to your typical cooking.

8. Garlic

We all know how we love our garlic! It has been known to be an anti-inflammatory mainly due to the sulfur-containing compounds specifically, one of the compounds, allicin. Sprinkling this on different dishes that you might be having will be fantastic for your immune system. Using actual garlic cloves will have much more of the bang for the buck from a nutrient perspective, however powder is simple and convenient.

9. Broccoli

It is supercharged with vitamins and minerals specifically vitamins A, C, and E. This, just like spinach does lose a lot of its nutrient value when you cook it, so you do want to cook it as little as possible. Perhaps considering steaming, but not over cooking. Including this in different dishes and having it as a side or throwing it on a salad is a great way to get the benefits of this food.

10. Poultry

Yes, your chicken and turkey are great sources of vitamin B-6, which not only helps to prevent you from getting sick in the first place, but can also help with minimizing cold symptoms. Vitamin B-6 is also important in so many chemical reactions in the body, and also the formation of blood cells. We can get our recommended daily amount from having two, three ounce servings of chicken or turkey a day.

11. Probiotics

In order to maintain colonization in the digestive tract, probiotics must be taken or eaten regularly. General recommendations call for ingesting 1 to 25 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) daily. Whether you’re getting these from fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or even perhaps yogurt. Most store-bought probiotic yogurts, however, contain about 1 billion CFUs per serving. To get the maximum benefit from fermented foods, it’s important to read product labels and choose only those that contain “active, live cultures” and preferentially raw, unpasteurized, perishable ingredients. You could choose to get it from food, but if you feel like you’re not getting that on a consistent basis, then a probiotic is recommended for most people. You do want to make sure that you have two specific strains which are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium that can also help with the gut-brain connection. This is something that can improve our gut bacteria and really help keep our immune system optimal. Remember, 70 percent of our immune system is in our gut.

12. Papaya

This is packed with vitamin C, potassium, vitamin E, and folic acid. It has 224% of the RDA of vitamin C from just one papaya! It also has a digestive enzyme called the papain, which actually has anti-inflammatory benefits. It tastes wonderful with coconut milk so give that a try!

Summary

In summary, eating just one of these immune-boosting foods is not enough to stave off disease and infection, especially COVID-19. However, having a variety of foods in your diet, and perhaps including some or all of these immune-boosting foods can be really powerful. The more diverse your diet is, the more ability you are going to have to include all of the vitamins and minerals that you need. I hope this helps, and I hope that you stay healthy during these times.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out! Virtual appointments available so we can see you from anywhere in the world.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.



How to Map Your Own Nervous Sytem: The Polyvagal Theory


With anxiety, depression and stress on the climb, have
you ever wondered how you can understand your reactions to life’s challenges
and stressors? Or maybe you wondered how you can become more resilient? Did you
know that you can map your own nervous system? This is such a powerful tool
that can help you shift the state of your nervous system to help you feel more
mindful, grounded, and joyful during the day, and more importantly during your
life. Before we discuss how to map your nervous system, let’s break down the autonomic
nervous system a bit more.

The terms “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” are typically
what we refer to when discussing this autonomic nervous system. However, there
are different aspects of the nervous system referred to as the polyvagal theory,
developed by Dr. Stephen Porges. The vagus nerve, referred to as the wandering
nerve in Latin, is one of the longest nerves and is a cranial nerve that
originates in the brainstem and innervates the muscles of the throat,
circulation, respiration, digestion and elimination. The vagus nerve is the
major constituent of the parasympathetic nervous system and 80 percent of it’s
nerve fibers are sensory, which means the feedback is critical for the body’s homeostasis.
.Pretty amazing,
wouldn’t you say?

When we are in this stressed state or potentially anxious state, then we cannot be curious, or be empathetic at the same time. In addition to not being able to be empathetic or curious, we are also not able to break the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function,  communicating, guiding, and coordinating the functions of the different parts of the brain, back online. This essentially means that we are not able to regulate our attention and focus. Sound familiar?

Three nervous system states

  1. First, our “fight and flight” response is our survival strategy, a response from the sympathetic nervous system. If you were going to run from tiger, for example, you want this response to save your life. When we have a fight response, we can have anger, rage, irritation, and frustration. If we are having a flight response, we can have anxiety, worry, fear, and panic. Physiologically, our blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline increase and it decreases digestion, pain threshold, and immune responses.
  2. Second, we have a “freeze” state, our dorsal vagal state, which is our most primitive pattern, and this is also referred to as our emergency state. This means that we are completely shut down, we can feel hopeless and feel like there’s no way out. We tend to feel depressed, conserve energy, dissociate, feel overwhelmed, and feel like we can’t move forward. Physiologically, our fuel storage and insulin activity increases and our pain thresholds increase.
  3. Lastly, our “rest and digest” is a response of the parasympathetic system, also known as a ventral vagal state. It is our state of safety and homeostasis. If we are in our ventral vagal state, we are grounded, mindful, joyful, curious, empathetic, and compassionate. This is the state of social engagement, where we are connected to ourselves and the world. Physiologically, digestion, resistance to infection, circulation, immune responses, and our ability to connect is improved.

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Adapted by Dr Stephen Porges

As humans, we have and will continue to experience all of these states. We may be in a joyful, mindful state and then all of a sudden due to a trigger, be in a really frustrated, possibly angry state, worried about what may happen to then feeling completely shut down. This is human experience. We are going to naturally shift through the states. However, when we stay in this fight or flight or this shut down/freeze state, that is when we begin to have significant physiological effects and also mental/emotional effects. As I mentioned earlier, this could be an emergency state. This can also be a suicidal state, if we are in this shut down mode for too long. If we are in a fight or flight state, we can have constant activation of our stress pathway, also known as the HPA axis, and we can really impact our stress hormones, sex hormones, our thyroid, etc. This stress will have significant inflammation effects on the body as well. All of these states can have considerable effect on our overall health, positive or negative, of course. Also, you can not get well if you are not in your “safe” state. No treatment intervention or professional will help you if you are not safe. This is why it’s really important to identify the states for each of you.

How can you map your nervous system?

  1. Identify each state for you.

The first step is to think of one word that defines each one of these states for you. For example, if you are in your ventral vagal state, this is also called the rest and digest state, you could say that you feel happy, content, joyful. etc.

When you are in your fight or flight state you could use the words worried, stressed, overwhelmed, etc.

In the freeze state you could use the
words shut down, numb, hopeless, etc.

The first step is identifying the word that you correlate with each of those three states. This is really important because then you’re able to recognize which state you are in and identify with it quickly. This will allow you to really tune into your body and understand how you feel in that state, so you can help yourself get out of it.

2. Identify your triggers and glimmers.

You’ll want to identify triggers for
your fight/flight state as well as your freeze state. These could be things
like a fight with your boss, an argument with your spouse, a death of a loved
one, if someone cuts you off while driving, etc. It is whatever things that
cause you to feel stressed. You want to eventually have at least one trigger,
if not many, written down for each of those states.

Glimmers are the things that bring you to that optimal nervous system state. It could be something as simple as petting a dog or something bigger like going on a vacation.

Click here for Deb Dana’s Worksheet to Map Your Nervous System

Summary

Once you can identify what those states are for you, then you can recognize what your triggers and glimmers are for that state. You can really begin to make a profound difference in your nervous system state. You can take ownership of what’s happening to your body, you can tune in to what’s happening, and know how to regulate your emotions and your responses to stress. Ultimately, this is how we can begin to develop resilience. This means being able to have respond appropriately to life’s challenges, go to that fight or flight state for a short period, and then return back to your state of social engagement. That should happen a few times a year not multiple times a day, or every day for that matter. To truly enjoy life, returning to your state of safety where you are mindful, grounded, and joyful, is a practice. It can start with mapping your own nervous system.  

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.



8 Common Mistakes in Your Plank & 8 Ways to Improve it


Have you ever done a plank or would like to know why you should do planks? Let’s discuss eight ways that you could potentially compensate in your plank and more importantly, eight ways to correct them.

Why are planks important?

The plank is considered an anti-extension, or back bending
exercise, that is targeting the anterior (front) core. It really helps to
improve the midline stability of the body. We need that for all movement
patterns. If we think about our basic daily life patterns to our exercise patterns
such as deadlifts, squats, and kettlebell swings, the plank is a foundational
movement for all these. We’re not looking for perfection, we just want to
maximize the effectiveness of the exercise that you’re doing. That’s what you
want to do with all your training, but especially in this exercise. So, let’s take
a look at compensations you could be doing in your plank and ways to improve on
them.

  1. Holding for time

When you set up with the timer in front of
you and you hold as long as you can, you are probably not getting the benefits
of the exercise. It is easy to “power through” with your legs and arms. Some
try to hold for three or five minutes, but really that’s not the point of the
plank.

What to do instead:

Use your breath as your repetition

Instead of using time, use your breath as your repetition. When you get in the plank position, take a nice big inhale through your nose and exhale (out of your nose or mouth) drawing the belly button toward the spine and bringing your rib cage down. You want to hold that position for as many breaths as you can, which typically is about five to ten breaths.

2. Breath Holding

When people do not breathe during the movement pattern it can cause your body to recruit other muscles such as your back or neck muscles, and more importantly, you won’t be getting the most out of your plank.

What to do instead:

As we talked about using your breath versus time, learning how to breathe properly in the plank and all movement is very important. As you’re inhaling, your abdomen is expanding 360 degrees, when you exhale, belly button goes in towards the spine and ribs come down to create some tension and bracing. When you are using your breath as your repetition and you are doing it properly, I can assure you that it will be many less reps than what you were probably doing already.

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3. Looking up or looking down during your plank

Looking up with a hyperextended neck or
just the opposite, looking down, can cause changes in how the body is
stabilizing. If you are already having trouble with stabilization, this
matters!

What to do instead:

Gaze towards the floor, holding your neck position nice and strong. This will prevent any discomfort and make sure that you’re stabilizing through the whole anterior chain in the front of your body.

4. Sagging your low back

The low back drops down or sags when you hold your plank position. You may even feel a little “tight” in your low back. This also causes a whole chain reaction and effects how you are stabiizing.

What to do instead:

Try slightly tucking the pelvis. You want to think about it as if your pelvis was a bucket of water and you are are pouring it out the back. This little tuck will bring the ribcage over top of the pelvis. That will give you a much stronger position through the trunk, and it allows us to really maximize the recruitment of the front of the core.

5. Having your butt up in the air

This means that you’re really not
stabilizing.  This could be intentional
and it could be to accommodate certain movement patterns or pathologies, like
limited toe mobility. That is okay-that is your intent!

What to do instead:

Bring your body more parallel towards the ground, and in which case, your shoulders will be slightly higher than your pelvis. You will have a slight angle there, but that is normal.

6. Bending the knees in the plank

When you bend your knees, you lose control
in your whole body, especially the low back. A lot of times the low back sag
and knee bent position will go together.

What to do instead:

Think about lengthening through your heel. That will give you a really nice strong tension position.

7. Sinking your shoulders

This is a really important one because a lot of times we see the shoulder blades sinking down. It can also commonly be referred to as “winging” shoulder blades. That creates a lot of stress on the shoulder, and it really destabilizes the trunk.

What to do instead:

Press the ground away. Spread your wings, which means that you’re spreading the shoulder blades. That gives you a really nice strong connection of some of the important scapular stabilizers that actually intimately connect with your core. This is really powerful because you get a lot more tension through the whole body when you do that.

8. Thinking you should do planks to improve low back pain

The truth is that when there is pain, there is decreased motor control, which means decreased stability, coordination, timing, sequencing, and activation of all these muscles. If you have acute low back pain and you think that doing a plank is going to help it, it might not be the best choice of exercise at that time. You want to make sure that you’re in a good place and you’ve been instructed by a qualified health professional to direct you on when this is appropriate.

What to do instead:

Focus on breathwork first and activating the deep core stabilizers. When you are in pain, it’s going to be more important to focus on the reflexive stabilizers, which is the inner core.

Summary

In summary, the plank could be a great exercise to include
in your training program. If you’re already doing the plank, you can take this
opportunity to clean up any compensations that we discussed today.

In summary, here’s how to do a proper plank:

  1. When you set up, you can think of setting your
    index fingers parallel, and having a really active hand, which means spreading
    those fingers really wide and that will take pressure off of the wrist.
  2. Place your hands directly under your shoulders
    and step back into that high plank.
  3. Make sure that the head is nice and neutral, keeping
    the eyes gazing at the floor.
  4. Press the ground away spreading those wings  (shoulder blades) with a slight tuck in the
    pelvis to stack the ribcage.
  5. Use your breath as repetition.
  6. Lastly, lengthen through the heels to keep that strong
    position.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.



Beat anxiety with curiosity


We all know that anxiety and chronic stress is on the rise, especially with young adults, older adults, and even in children. This is why it is really important to understand this powerful concept that can be possibly life changing for someone. When we are in a stressed state, our limbic system, our emotional center of our brain is going to detect a threat, specifically the amygdala in the brain. When this happens, we activate  the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA axis). When this axis, i.e. stress pathway is activated, it induces the pituitary gland (located in the brain) and the adrenal gland (located above the kidney). This signals a cascade of stress hormones. A little of this here and there is normal, however it is commonly overactivated in may people.

When we are in this stressed state or potentially anxious state, then we cannot be curious, or be empathetic at the same time. In addition to not being able to be empathetic or curious, we are also not able to break the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function,  communicating, guiding, and coordinating the functions of the different parts of the brain, back online. This essentially means that we are not able to regulate our attention and focus. Sound familiar?

How can you beat anxiety with curiosity?

So, how can we use curiosity to help decrease anxiety? When we are curious that means we are also able to be empathetic, turn the prefrontal cortex back online, and able to regulate our attention. We can accomplish this in a few different ways:

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1) Be curious about your anxiety

Ask yourself what sensations you feel in your body? Tension, warmth, coolness? Explore what you are feeling. You can totally flip the script by exploring how it feels in your body.

2) Seek out new knowledge

Become curious about something new. It can be finding a completely new skill, hobby, information,  that can make you curious about learning.

3) Mindfulness

This is one of the best ways to regulate attention, be aware, attentive, and present. Check out Three Informal Mindfulness Practices . Also, if you are already meditating, check out Three Tips to Improve your Meditation Practice. It’s a practice that needs to be cultivated, but that practice of being aware and being attentive can assist you in exploring your own body and your own needs. Practicing this on a regular basis can be profound in once again regulating attention, which means that you’re being curious, and you cannot be anxious.

4) Improve interoception, otherwise known as self-awareness

Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs? The bottom of the pyramid is our basic physiological needs. For example, are you hungry or are you full? Do you need to go to the bathroom or did you hold it for too long?  Do you need to rest today or can you push it a little harder in your workout? Tune in to what’s happening from an internal standpoint, not necessarily just external. We want to think about what are we feeling on the inside.

Summary

Bonus!
Curiosity can significantly enhance learning and retention of information over
time!

Seeking out new knowledge, cultivating mindfulness, and tuning into to what is going on in your own body can have profound impact on decreasing anxiety and also preventing anxiety, and potential undue stress.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.