Waiting for Perfection

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It’s not hard to see that my blog writing has taken a back burner. I’m one who is full of ideas but when it comes to sitting down and articulating them in a coherent way I blank. To be honest I probably have about fifteen blog posts started, all of which go unposted because they aren’t “perfect”. They don’t flow or I wonder if its a topic that people will actually be interested in. Each week I push “write blog” into the next day, telling myself that “today is the day”. Well, today actually IS the day and I am committing to an improved blog contribution, to post things that I find interesting, hoping to resonate with those choosing to read it. I am going to post them even if they aren’t perfectly worded or are shorter than I’d like.

I’ve been reflecting on things I follow-through on, what unfinished business causes me stress, and where I’m being incongruent. I encourage my practice members all the time that it doesn’t have to look perfect to produce progress. Something is most often better than nothing. Of course in those circumstances I’m usually referring to healthy eating, stretching/ strengthening or overall physical activity, but doesn’t this apply to anything we are working to achieve? If I had written a page a day for the past year I would have 365 days of content. Small incremental (sustainable) steps are just as powerful (sometimes more) than a giant leap of commitment.

What things have you been “putting off” or procrastinating on? Is it no longer a goal? If so maybe let yourself off the hook and rewrite your next step. Is it because you are waiting for circumstances to be perfect or for it to be easy? If so, give yourself a firm deadline and a small incremental step to take. Once you start you will find that the hardest step to take is the first one.

Staying Active in Colder Snowier Months

If you are reading this in my hometown of Calgary right now, you are aware that we have received a way-too-early dose of winter. As the days get shorter, commutes get longer and temperature chills it can sometimes be hard to stick with any healthy routine. We begin craving heavier comfort foods and its easier to hit snooze and stay tucked into your warm bed then jump up to get out the door for a morning workout. It is during these hard, “I will tomorrow” days that we MUST push through and do it anyway. But how? It depends on your barrier.

“I’m just not motivated”

  • Find a list of indoor activities you LOVE to do. It may still be hard to get there but you know once you are there you won’t regret it. If not for the activity, for the community of people you will get to share an hour with. If you do well with intensity early in the morning, an indoor spin class can be great, or an indoor circuit such as “orange theory”.

  • Agree to meet a colleague or friend. Sadly we can easily let ourselves down but its much harder to justify if someone else is counting on you to show up.

  • Switch-it-up! If you are usually a high intensity person with your activities, maybe try a yoga class or go for a swim instead. Changing the pace may be what you need.

  • Download a playlist you only listen to at the gym. I do this through spotify and have a variety of playlists from acoustic chill, jazz, to more upbeat hip hop or dance. Hearing that favourite tune from 1994 can sometimes give a much needed boost

  • Listen to a podcast. This is also great for the commute TO the gym. Feeding your mindset with something constructive and positive can change your physiology before you even break a sweat.

“I can’t afford a membership to those fancy studios”

  • Make a home plan! Central Athlete is a great resource for a variety of exercises if you are strength training, but there are a variety of yoga classes on youtube, or membership sites that offer free or discounted intros you can try.

  • Many studios offer intro offers. Try a few and see what community and type of class pulls you the most!

  • Often studios will also have options to volunteer in exchange for a pass. Spare 3 hours a week for unlimited access. Sweet deal.

“I don’t have time”

  • We make time for what is important to us. Perhaps that Zumba class isn’t important to you, but the self worth you build by keeping agreements with yourself could be, or the tone and energy you gain along the way. Find the goal or intention that anchors you most and review as often as needed.

  • Set yourself up for success by preparing lunches, wardrobes and your gym stuff the night before, so getting out the door has fewer hurdles.

  • It does not have to be “all or nothing”. Sometimes the commute takes longer than expected and you’re cutting it close to get to a meeting on time. If you are unable to complete that workout as planned due to time, you have two options. Either condense it and put in 15-20 min of intervals or plan an extra workout that week so if one is missed or dropped you have your core plan still in place.

What will have greater affect on you? Action or non-action? Know what barriers tend to arise that keep you from moving (or following through with any of your healthy habits) and find options to overcome. The one work-out or one plate of vegetables isn’t what builds health just as the one missed workout or one fast food meal isn’t going to create disease. It is what we do consistently that matters most.

5 Thoughts on burnout & how not to

I’m currently finishing up preparations for a presentation this week to a local company about preventing burnout. I’ve done many presentations...stress reduction, eating well, lifestyle...and although the content I’m putting together overlaps a lot of that, somehow this topic resonates with me the most. Perhaps because I’ve been there. I know this stuff because I’ve lived it...and still do from time to time. But as any lesson in life, I don’t know that the point is never to fall again, but to gather tools along the way so we fall less often, fall less hard and get up quicker.

One of the daily rituals I enjoy (and yet still inconsistent with), is reading something uplifting as I drink my morning tea, as the start of my day. My favourite right now is to read one or two short essays from Timothy Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors. The questions asked of 100 experts in their field are clever and applicable to anyone wanting to uplevel. I have come to believe over the years that there are no coincidences (thank-you Deepak Chopra), and those “that’s so crazy” moments of serendipity are in fact reinforcing that you are on the right path. So today, before I revisit my presentation, I grabbed Tim’s book and opened up to the next story. The bold quote at the top of the page reads “Burnout is not the price you have to pay for success” from none other than Arianna Huffington. I won’t rewrite the contents here because I truly believe this is a book that anyone would find valuable, but there were some key thoughts she shared about life and burnout in particular that I felt to be worth sharing here...and you can bet will be included in this week’s presentation also. Keep in mind I’m paraphrasing here, but this is how her words fell into my ears...

1. Express gratitude. Remember those who supported you when they had nothing to gain. She STILL sends a Christmas card to the banker who gave her a loan years ago when she (seemed to be) out of options. 

2. Put on your own oxygen mask first. This analogy is used a ton with coaching people to put self care as a priority. Arianna (may I use her first name?) describes her oxygen mask to be sleeping, meditating, walking, working out, etc. It took her collapsing in 2007 from exhaustion for her to see how important her wellbeing was to her productivity. She views taking care of herself as an investment (as we all should) that has pay-offs for years to come.

3. Reframe perception of time. This one is huge for me. I honestly always have felt this panic around “running out of time”. Even when I graduated at 25 from Chiropractic College, I felt I was late to the game (of work) and still feel that way at times. I think a lot of this is culturally constructed. In this context, she was discussing the parameters she had placed around work vs non-work time. She began to reframe what “work” time meant, and started to include walks and meditating and unplugging as part of her “work” because those habits were what enabled her to be productive, creative, effective and...happier. And isn’t that the grand poobah goal for all of us?

4. Changing your mind about something is one thing, but sometimes it is easier to start with a small action step to move us in the right direction. She gave two tech tips I love...one won’t be brand new but when I’ve done this, I had the best sleep of my life and got out of bed with ease. It’s as simple as plugging in your technology OUTSIDE your bedroom at night. NO scrolling through social media, or last minute emails. If you must remember midnight ideas, then leave a journal and pen beside your bed. But disconnect. The second, which was a new idea for me, is to periodically scramble the apps on your phone. She describes the benefit of giving you an extra amount of time to decide if you do indeed need to use their phone or if its more a boredom or habit. I’ve also gone so far as leaving my phone in my car if I’m waiting for an appointment. I’ve noticed things around me when my eyes aren’t glued to the screen and the biggest thing is that in a room full of people, no one is even aware of the person next to them. If I want to improve my connections in this world it wont happen by looking at my screen. From a neurology standpoint though, scrambling the apps on your phone or tablet is similar to taking a different route home. It causes the brain to pay attention and gets you out of the hardwired path you take each day. Any action that has novelty is brain food.

5. OK so, sometimes we can’t always be ahead of the game and lets face it. We all hit a wall from time to time. So what then? Typically that’s when we feel we have the least amount of time and often by then are in a headspace where solutions elude us and the downward spiral continues. SO what then? Arianna mirrors my thoughts on taking five minutes to breathe. If taking five minutes away from the task will make the next twenty more productive, you must pause and centre yourself.

There is so much more I could write on this, and I likely will, but these gems stood out. Start where you are, look to where you want to go and ask yourself if your current lifestyle and habits will get you there. If so, breathe and enjoy. If not, its in your hands to take one step (or one thought) in the right direction.

 

Healthy Bones

Did you know our bones are constantly remodeling and rebuilding? That's right. With various factors including nutrition and hormones, one of the most influential to bone health is stress. bone remodels in response to the forces which act upon it (Wolfs Law).

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Often stress is seen as a bad thing but this is an example where stress is "food". Gravity alone creates a level of force on the body that helps with bone health. This is observed more clearly in astronauts who, without the impact of gravitational force, have exhibited 1-2% bone loss per MONTH compared to 1-1.5% bone loss in elderly or 2-3% in post menopausal women per YEAR. 

This is also why weight bearing, resistant exercises are so important for bone health as the balance of tensive and compression forces help maintain and promote bone health. 

What happens when this is out of balance though? Obviously if the bone "breakdown" occurs faster than the one "buildup" we will see a decrease in density. The opposite can occur also thought. If the stresses are abnormally distributed or if there is repetitive stress on a particular joint, the body senses this and starts depositing more bone to add stability to the area. This can eventually lead to bone spurs (as seen in the heel particularly with chronic plantar fasciitis) or joint degeneration in the spine or other jouints. 

Maintaining and optimizing body balance through alignment, posture and appropriate movement can be important considerations to promote bone health and to prevent or minimize pain and immobility that can accompany degenerative change. 

Choosing the Right Mattress

I attended a brunch not too long ago and ended up sitting next to a women who was intriguing,  poised and had a relaxed yet professional vibe that makes you want to know more about her. Turns out she (Deanna) is the "girl" of Mattress Girls & Guys, a wholesale mattress store that offers a variety of options for significantly less cost. 

As a Chiropractor I get asked about mattresses and pillows quite often, but you never know what you don't know so I was eager to reach out to her to improve my mattress knowledge.

What should people consider when buying a mattress?

Comfort. The first question I ask anyone in the market for a mattress is why they are looking for a mattress “right now”. Is it that they aren’t sleeping? Are the tossing and turning? In the absence of an injury that could be a factor, a new mattress is likely what they need. Whether someone is a stomach, bike or side sleeper, if they aren’t comfortable, it doesn’t matter how “good” the mattress is, they won’t sleep well. I recommend everyone lay on a mattress on their side before purchase as this is the position with the most significant pressure points. They should be able to feel comfortable in this position. 

How long should a mattress last?

A typically warranty is 10 years so technically the mattress should last for that long. Ideally, we should replace our mattresses every 5 or so years. There are many variable as to why we may want to replace it sooner than later, including the changes our own body has experienced (are we heavier, do we have new injuries, etc). One important recommendation is to use a mattress cover. Most warranties are void without one. The reason for this is that over time, sloughed off skin can get into the fibres of the mattress and break down the foam inside. It can actually half the lifetime of your mattress!

How do we know when itsa time to replace a mattress?

When you are no longer getting a good sleep. Many factors can contribute to the need for a new mattress beyond the age of the mattress though... your body weight, an injury that may need more support or more softness or simply changes to your body over time.

Should people seek soft, medium or firm mattresses?

This is a tough question because the feel of a mattress is often subjective. What is firm to one person may feel quite soft to another. I tell people that the comfort of the mattress is what will allow you to fall asleep and what’s IN the mattress is what will keep you asleep. 

If someone typically moves around a  lot in their sleep, they will want a mattress that allows them to do so without effort. A soft foam mattress where they may sink in more may not be the best choice for them. If someone is very heavy, they may want to consider what feels comfortable but can stand-up over time.

Regardless, is important that people give 2 weeks to 1 month to get used to their new mattress. Just like breaking in new shoes, it can take time for the mattress to settle and for your own body to adapt.

If you are in the market for a new mattress I can’t recommend The Mattress Girl enough! Straight to the point, no fluff information to help you make an informed decision! A no-pressure showroom to find the best mattress for you at wholesale prices! 

Of course, ensuring your body is moving and adapting optimally will also help improve your comfort level and sleep which is fundamental for healing and daily rejuvenation!