Trading in Diet and Exercise for Rest and Love

heartThe protocol of choice for improving anything health related is diet and exercise. This is not a sustainable approach to balancing energy. Maximum output with minimal input tips the energy scale in the wrong direction. We dread engaging diet and exercise plans because they put our bodies into survival mode. We don’t execute these plans because they work,  we execute them because it’s all we know. Until now! I’ve got an alternative that I’ve been using with my clients that works really well. This isn’t a gimmick and I don’t have anything to sell you…sharing is caring!

We take each of our clients through their Environment, which is comprised of 4 facets: Movement, Nourishment, Rest and Love. We assess their quality of life in these four areas and focus on their BIG ROCK. I’ve been setting more focused behavior changes in the areas of Rest and Love than Movement and Nourishment and the results have been outrageous. Let’s take a closer look at how a lack of Rest and Love can limit your performance.

When your lifestyle lacks adequate downtime and quality rest, it’s impossible to thrive. Our Western culture will have us sprint to the end of the day and crash at bedtime. Our biological clocks are wired to have a wind down period before hitting the sack. This is time for us to engage with a hobby, read a book, reflect on your day, engage with friends and family, etc. This is time for you to do life and enjoy being human. I’ve observed and experienced this lack of time will rob you of the joy, contentment and satisfaction life has to offer.

The other component of Rest is sleep, not only quantity of sleep but quality too. Many of us try convincing ourselves we don’t need 8 hours, that we’re OK with 6. Rather than debate with you how much you need, simply observe how you feel when you wake up in the morning: Are you ready to take on the day or head back to bed? Think pre and not post coffee…big difference? The other component is quality and to get a sense, answer these two questions: How easily do you fall asleep and stay asleep? Do you have a lot on your mind or toss and turn a bunch? If so, bring a note pad to bed and commit your thoughts to paper and put them to rest for today and/or try some gentle foam rolling for 15 minutes before bed. You’ll literally sink into the covers :-). Until you are well rested, your goals cannot be made a priority for your body.

Love, love, love! The BIG ROCK for oh so many of us! Let’s keep it simple: be supportive of and supported by others. Do it at home, do it at work and everywhere else you are. Being supportive of others means taking a genuine interest in their well being. When we support others, they feel great because they release oxytocin, a hormone that gives us the warm and fuzzies. In turn, we release it as well…truly a win/win. Being supported by others is a bit more challenging because that involves letting others know we don’t have it all together and that requires courage and vulnerability. However, the truth is we’re designed to connect with others, to share life and to share the load. Having a strong support system will give you the confidence to take even better care of yourself.

So instead of diet and exercise, try Rest and Love for a week and if you’re feeling lucky, try it for a month. You may be surprised at how it affects your well-being but remember that everything in our lives are connected to everything else. All that’s required is that you trust in the process and believe in yourself!

When diet and exercise misses the mark!

bigstock-Missing-the-target-7478874What happens when diet and exercise misses the mark? Seriously, what happens when sustained dieting and exercising doesn’t work? What’s your plan B? How will you get where you want to go if your primary strategy just isn’t working? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a plan B. We just keep repeating plan A and pray it’ll eventually work. I’ve got an idea! Lets explore a plan that’s actually sustainable, enjoyable and realistic.

For starters, lets trade in intense and unenjoyable forms of exercise for healthy, high-quality movement. Lets start with the basics…how about walking? Walking is THE ultimate core exercise and is a perfect representation of how we make sustainable change in our lives: one step at a time. There’s nothing wrong with exercise, it’s just optional. But movement, movement is mandatory. You have to move, each and every day, so you might as well engage your physical capacity for the sake of resilience and resourcefulness. Movement is life and life is a gift; exercise is what you make of it but is typically used in an extreme way as a means to an end. Find your balance but get moving.

Next, lets ditch the diet and exchange it for food that makes you feel happy. Don’t confuse happy with eat whatever you want or food that’s used to fill a void or comfort you. Eat whole, real foods that come from this earth and not a package. Get as close to the source as possible. Season everything and practice cooking it really well. Eat food that nourishes you. If it’s bland and “healthy”, it’s not nourishing your soul. Food is meant to be enjoyed, enjoy it, not too much of it and eat when your hungry, not according to a schedule.

Today, I’m just going to chat about some enjoyable alternatives to diet and exercise. In fact, try to remove those words from your vocabulary and replace them with fuel/nourishment and movement. However, my next post will be about the two things that are lacking most and why the majority of us fail to reach our goals in a sustainable way: rest and support.

This is not meant to be a prescription, do x, y, z and you’ll be perfect. No, no, no, this is a mindset, a balanced approach to getting where you want to be. I’m more interested in teaching you how to think instead of telling you what to do. Follow your heart and your intuition, not orders. Be patient, not perfect. Strive to reach your fullest potential because you are capable and worth every bit of the effort. Be well.

I hope this message has resonated with you and if it has, just know we have an online program that will help you create this kind of lifestyle. Lets us know if you’d be interested in more information.

Good posture isn’t “standing tall”…

freedom_of_movement_by_magfi_deviantart-644x320We’re told we have good posture when we’re standing tall, with our chest puffed out and shoulders back. The problem is, we’re lead to believe we should assume this position throughout the day, which ins’t realistic, comfortable or true.

Posture is often thought of as a static position, but it’s a byproduct of the lifestyle we lead. For instance, take someone who sits a lot, over time they will have a posture which reflects the amount of time they spend seated. In other words, we adapt to the environment we put ourselves in.

Posture is completely subconscious, meaning it’s held without thought. Good posture doesn’t come from “standing tall”, it comes from being active. Have you ever tried standing upright with good posture? It’s incredibly exhausting. Ever notice where you are within 30 seconds of trying? Right back to your normal posture. You resume the norm because your body’s designed to follow the path of least resistance, not because your lazy or have poor core strength.

Your posture is a dynamic representation of your experiences, activity level and confidence. The best way to enhance your posture is to lead a movement-based lifestyle. Meaning, get off your ass and explore life, haha!

Check out the spine matrix we use at our studio to help our client’s restore their posture:

Neutral spine isn’t what you think

86845921I’ve never been a big fan of all the rules involved when it comes to exercise. One of the rules that’s always confused me most is keeping your spine “neutral”. I believe neutral spine is confused with keeping the spine long and straight…there’s a difference.

Neutral spine is the position your spine assumes to keep your center of gravity over your base of support, in other words, to maintain balance. When walking, reaching, lunging, throwing, swinging, etc. your spine is not straight but is “neutral” if you haven’t fallen while performing those activities. For example, the skeleton golfer’s spine is neutral RELATIVE to the activity being performed.

If you tried to keep the spine straight during any of the above mentioned activities, you’d actually limit your performance. How? Keeping a long spine is a conscious task, which:

1. Resists the body’s natural ability to counterbalance itself.

2. Limits the chain reactivity of the spine and its’ ability to transfer force.

3. Creates stiffness in your midsection, which is not ideal when performing a dynamic activity.

4. Involves dedicating your thought to it as well as the activity you’re trying to perform; the brain is not a great multi-tasker.

I certainly understand the concept of keeping the spine straight during activity. While it can be helpful to distract and decompress the spine after say long periods of sitting, even that strategy only considers one plane of movement and the spine functions in three planes of motion.

Long and short, your spine needs to move through various positions and motions to dynamically stabilize you so you don’t fall. The human body is beyond sophisticated and has all it’s survival mechanisms built in. I suggest less thinking and more presence in whatever you’re doing.

It’s no wonder we dislike “exercise”

Unknown-1Lets face it, most people dislike exercise. But why? Exercise is simply movement done repetitively. People don’t dislike movement, just exercise. In my opinion, it should be an enjoyable experience, but it’s clear why we dislike it.

Most exercises shown are too intense and too complex…meaning, they surpass our boundaries and exceed our capacity.

High intensity workouts are great if you’re conditioned for them. Going beyond your threshold / capacity will cost you. Your threshold is that fine line where a high-quality, enjoyable movement is exchanged for a poor-quality, unenjoyable movement. At this point, exercise goes from beneficial and refreshing to detrimental and exhausting. Naturally, we are designed to push away from scenarios that makes us feel pain and less than ______.

Complex movements are great too, if you possess the movement skills to achieve them. This is another form of exceeding your threshold. Given the majority of America is chairborne, our movement health is low and that must be considered during our workouts. Sophisticated movements can actually make us feel dumb doing them and that’s not something we want to be part of.

While exercise is optional, movement is mandatory. Exploring movements fundamental to everyday like: squatting, lunging, stepping, pushing, pulling and reaching are a great way to look good and feel good. Give the Condition for Life workout a shot which combines 6 variations of 5 movements you’re very familiar with for a total of 30 exercises:

Recovery from the inside out

sun_crop380wOur lifestyles place a hefty demand on us. From physical demands like moving or working out, to mental demands like your child’s well-being or deadlines and emotional demands like frustration or worry. The human body and mind have an amazing ability to deal with the stresses of life but how are you actively recovering from these stresses?

To keep the scales in balance, engage your Environment to refuel your capacity. Move (not exercise), do something fun and recreational. Nourish (not diet), eat something satisfying and share it with a friend over lunch. Rest, take a nap this afternoon and enjoy some downtime to reflect on your choices this past week. Love, be encouraging and supportive of those in your midst. Tell someone how much you love them and need them in your life. Give a smile to everyone you pass. Show your appreciation for another day of life.

Traditional recovery is a day off, sitting on the couch, merely existing. Active recovery is day “on”, exploring and engaging life, purely living.

Go Ahead, Bend Your Knees Over Your Toes…

kneesI always find it interesting that while moving in everyday life, there aren’t many rules. When we need to pick something up, we just do it and relatively subconsciously. However, when it comes to “exercise” there are rules for everything. Keep your feet straight, don’t bend your knees over your toes, draw your navel inward and keep your spine “neutral”. Creating so much conscious awareness tends to removes the authenticity of healthy, functional movement.

Take for instance, bending your knees over your toes. The concern is if you bend “too far” you can stress your knees. This is possible but not as likely as you may think. When your knees bend forward, your ankles and hips move with them, which in turn lengthens and stimulates a variety of muscles and other soft tissues which create stability for your knees. If you exceed your flexibility/mobility threshold (range of motion), it’s possible you may feel discomfort but that’s not exclusive to your knees, that can happen anywhere.
Outside of an exercise setting, you bend your knees over your toes all the time: walking up and down stairs, lifting things from ground, tying your sneakers. Turn on just about any sporting event and find a player that doesn’t bend their knees over their toes when jumping or landing.

A couple other things to keep in mind:
1. If the body wasn’t designed to go that way, why does it?
2. If you don’t use what you have available to you, you’ll lose it.

As with everything, there are extremes. If this is a movement you’re unfamiliar with, be progressive in your approach. Start with a slow speed in a short range of motion and tweak from there. If something hurts, see if bending your knees forward to the sides feels more comfortable. Explore your ability to move to condition yourself for life.

I’ll post a video next week on exploring these movements. If you’d like to receive it, sign up for my Movement Matters video blog.

Round your back, don’t keep it flat!

attachmentAs a movement professional, over the years, I’ve learned when a part of the body is misunderstood, it’s immobilized. One sorely misunderstood area of the human body is the lower back. Hence the reason why lower back pain is the largest disability in the world.

One of the worst things you could do for your lower back is keep it flat while picking something up off the ground. WHAT?! That’s right, if you allow gravity and the authentic chain reaction of your body to occur, your back will naturally round. Don’t believe me…watch a child lift something from down low. They completely allow their backs to round. WHY? They haven’t learned poor technique and they don’t have any fear associated with doing so.

Lets observe how the body moves as a chain reaction when a right handed person is throwing a ball. With the ball in their right hand, they pull the ball back to their right and every single bone in their body moves to the right in order to fully wind up the body to throw the ball. Now imagine if one part of the body decided not to turn to the right with the rest of the body…OUCH! That’s exactly what happens when we keep our back’s flat while lifting things from the ground.

As you bend forward, everything bone in your body collapses forward to lift the object BUT if you keep your lower back flat, those vertebrae are moving in the opposite direction and over time become very irritated.

Instead of lifting “with your legs”, an isolated part of the body, try lifting an object with your whole body. Meaning, everything lowers towards the ground and everything lifts up at once. This chain reactive approach to lifting is far more efficient and comfortable.

Practice with light objects and go heavier from there. If you’re lifting very heavy for performance or competitive purposes, your back lower back will naturally straighten to create intra-abdominal pressure and provide a lever in which you can lift against.

Happy rounding!

Don’t suck it in!

UnknownCome warm weather, looking good seems to take the priority over feeling good. You harmlessly suck your navel in 3 inches behind where it should be to appear a little leaner, stand a little taller and feel the firmness of your midsection…but it comes at a price.

Lower back pain is the number one disability in the world. There are a number of factors leading to lower back pain but “drawing in” causes more harm than you’re probably aware of. Lets look at how tightening your tummy while walking plays out.

Your pelvis (hip bone) and ribcage are designed to move dynamically while walking, so they can create core stability. However, when you tighten up, it’s the equivalent of putting the brakes on in your body, which naturally slows down the movement of your pelvis and ribcage. Sounds harmless, right?! Your lower back doesn’t think so.

Your core muscles attach to your pelvis and ribcage. When you slow them down by “sucking in”, you increase the speed and amount of movement of the other bones around them. Just so happens your lower back is stuck in the middle of all this and over time, it gets irritated and upsets the discs and nerves and muscles in it’s neighborhood.

Long and short, your core is designed to move with fluidity through dynamic ranges of movement. When we “suck in”, it’s because our emotions get in the way and for a moment we prioritize looking good over feeling good.

An Alternative to Diet and Exercise that Actually Works!

EnergySo you want to lose weight, tone up, and get in shape but you struggle to actually accomplish these goals and more importantly, maintain them. The process of becoming healthy and fit is a grind; it’s centered on diet and exercise, which is intense, restrictive and unenjoyable. The traditional approach has us wondering if we can really sustain this challenging effort forever.

The premise of diet and exercise is a recipe for disaster. Somehow, creating an energy deficit by eating less and moving more is supposed to provide us the fuel we need to sustain our efforts…hmmmm?! Can a fire continue to burn brightly with limited fuel?

Our body’s demand energy to engage in life. When the demand for energy is greater than the supply, our brain perceives this energy debt as a threat, placing us into survival mode, triggering the release of stress hormones. Then, our body’s will catabolize lean muscle tissue for fuel and create energy very inefficiently. This does not sound enjoyable or sustainable.

Given the Environment diet and exercise creates within our body, do we believe our goals of weight loss and toning a priority for our body at this point? No, but they still remain high priority for our minds, hence the battle between body and mind.

For this reason, we need to hit the brakes on our classic strategy, which is a physical/ tactical approach and exchange it for a mental / strategic plan. This is called taking a Mind-First Approach®. We need to work smart before working hard. We do this by developing a thought process, asking questions, reflecting on their answers and taking specific actions directly towards our goals.

Here’s are a few questions you can use to take develop your thought process and engage a Mind-First Approach:

What is my desire?

What approach have I taken previously and what were the results?

How can I tweak my approach to achieve a better result?

What one thing can I do consistently for the next 30 days to help me reach my goal?

Am I OK with imperfection and the setbacks that come with them?

How will I handle setbacks? Keep going or give up?

These types of questions will help you to work more strategically towards your goals. These are not easy questions and you will feel compelled to take action before thoroughly thinking things through. The Mind-First method is the centerpiece of our online Revolution (, where we hit the pause button on physical tactics and create a mental strategic plan that positions us for lasting change. Give us a try, the worst thing that’ll happen is you’ll reach your goals in an enjoyable way 🙂