Some Thoughts About Movement

We hear that we must move our bodies in order to be healthy.  Does that mean any movement?  Are some movements better than others?  Are exercise and movement the same thing?  Let’s explore some of these questions.

Movement is required for many body functions to occur.  Some functions require specific muscle contractions.  For example, engaging the diaphragm and large muscles in the legs pumps the lymphatic system which is needed to flush toxins out of tissue.  Other body movements provide support for vital functions, such as core support to help move the bowels and keep the digestive tube from collapsing.  In addition, movement of a joint is required for the joint to stay healthy and lubricated.

But, not all movement is healthy!  If I bend or bear weight on a joint that is misaligned it can create stress and inflammation and eventually cause damage that limits function.  Movements where part of my body is not supported can create compression and sheer forces placing joints or organs at risk.  So, learning how to keep the body properly aligned when we move becomes critically important if we want long term joint health and maximum wellness.

If I do exercise at a gym on machines or with a trainer, does that ensure proper alignment and body usage?  Unfortunately not.  Machines are built symmetrically, while we are not symmetrical. (We have a liver on one side, a heart on the other, we have right or left side dominance, just to mention a few asymmetries.)  Also, we have injury and usage patterns unique to our own history.  Unless my trainer is a Certified Aston-Patterning® Practitioner, it is unlikely that he or she will be able to troubleshoot my particular usage pattern for that particular movement, machine, or exercise.  This does not mean I should give up my exercise program or my trainer; I just have to make sure I am keeping my movements in the healthy range.  If an exercise is painful to a joint, it usually means I am causing damage.  So we need to be very careful with the ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy (but that’s a whole blog post by itself).

I do Yoga so I am assured proper alignment and body usage, right?  Again, not necessarily.  One position may be OK for you but very hard on my body due to my particular tension and injury patterns.  With training, I can learn how to move my body in such a way that honors my particular asymmetries.  Unfortunately, most movement systems that have a particular target form will emphasize the form rather than the reason that form is useful.  For example, bending to touch my toes while standing can be used to stretch the hamstrings; but, if I initiate that movement from my head or chest instead of from the psoas muscle I will create a very different stretch.  The form may look the same but the results are not.  So, with movement programs that have specific forms, I will get more benefit and less injury if I find out what I am trying to accomplish with each form.  I can then make adjustments according to my body limitations and patterns.

So, in order to get the maximum benefit from movement or exercise, I need to have familiarity and skill with how to use my body properly.   Developing this skill requires movement training.

Healthy Eating?

Last week, I had the great pleasure to talk with some fellow moms about healthy eating.  Since then, I have desired to blog about it and my brain has been working through several issues.   Finally, I have time to sit down and write them, so here are some thoughts.

It is always my desire to teach truth.  I came away from the class worried that important information hadn’t been conveyed in an efficient manner.  Eating healthy is such a broad topic!  However, my main point was what to avoid – the zero tolerance list.

Making it to FOOD

Is this enough information on eating healthy?  As I reflected on our lives and experiences, I realized that this is the MINIMUM for eating healthy.  AND, this brings our diet into the FOOD category.

In Peter’s talk “Introduction to the Four Essentials for Life,” (Listen now!) he discusses the power of Food, Water, Air, and Love as not only essentials for life, but also tools for healing.  From the 4 Essentials perspective, Food is actually a relatively inefficient tool for healing.

However, eating toxic food is an extremely efficient tool to poison the body.  If we are adding toxins through “food,” our bodies have to use resources to DEAL WITH the toxins.  This diverts precious resources from healing.  And, what if we don’t have enough resources to deal with all of the toxic onslaught? Where do the toxins go? How do they eventually leave our body?

What’s the TRUTH?

During the class, the ladies expressed, in different forms, their frustration at the overwhelming and conflicting messages we receive about food in our culture.  How do we make the best decisions for our families while standing in the grocery store aisles, while reading the latest article or watching the latest documentary, or while perusing recipes to make our weekly menu?  How can we tell when the information is propaganda and when it’s true?

This relates to one of our principles (discussed in “Essential Oils for Your Family”): Be a Super Sleuth!  We have to know our bodies.  We have to be aware of subtle changes in our bodies and in our family members’ bodies and behavior.  We have to investigate possible causes for these changes if they occur “out of the blue,” or we have to look for the effects after we’ve introduced a new change.

When we are Super Sleuths, it doesn’t matter if such and such diet or product worked for someone else.  It matters if it works for us.  Super Sleuthing can be a learned skill, so don’t worry if you aren’t a Super Sleuth, yet.  Just start paying attention.  One way I learned to pay attention to my body is through what Peter calls conscious breathing which he discusses in “Introduction to the Four Essentials for Life.”

Diets as TOOLS

So, what is the RIGHT DIET?  Vegetarian, Vegan, Plant-Based, Raw, Macrobiotic, High Protein, Zone, Gluten-Free, No Grain, Paleo… Is there one?  My belief is that there is not one diet that is best for every person in every time in their lives.  Our personal experience is that we’ve used diets to cleanse, to build, to support, to maintain, for pregnancy, for recovery, for busy schedules and slower times. We’ve avoided a variety of foods (meat, dairy, wheat, soy, grains, cooked…) for a variety of reasons, including just to see how it worked for us.  The main point is that once we’re dealing with FOOD (instead of poison), we can use food as a TOOL.  What do you want to accomplish with your diet? Is your current diet accomplishing it?  If not, what will you change?  And, what will you pay attention to as a Super Sleuth?

Be not afraid.  Make a change and pay attention.  Be consistent, then evaluate.  Repeat.

Hot Fudge Cake

Here’s one of my favorite cake recipes.  In general, we endeavor to reduce our sugar intake (in any form).  And, we still have birthday cakes.  This particular recipe makes it’s own icing.  This is a benefit not only for reducing the preparation time, but also because icing can be tricky if there are different dietary restrictions to deal with and varied levels of healthy eating.  This “Hot Fudge Cake” recipe utilizes whole grain flour*, non-refined sugar, and is vegan.  And, believe it or not, it passes the potluck test: most people will actually eat the serving they are given at parties and potlucks (rather than leaving it on the plate).

We’ve used this cake at family birthday parties. The adults tend to request it, but it has also been a “swamp” cake at a Shrek birthday party and for a no-theme-please-tween party.

A healthier alternative for cake.

Notes: The main recipe is for a 9×11 inch pan.  I’ve added a column to increase it to fit a 10×13 inch pan.  When spreading the batter in the pan, the batter will be thick, pasty.

* Young Living now offers Einkorn Flour (flour from non-hybridized wheat). We have switched to using that, and it works well with this recipe.

Healthy Eating: What to Avoid

The beginning of eating healthy is to “Stop the Poison!”  We can spend a great deal of time, money, and willpower to eat more fruits and veggies and other healthy habits, but sabotage our efforts by eating  toxins — even if it’s only “every once in a while.”

These are substances to eliminate… zero tolerance!

  • Transfats or Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  • Refined Sugar (includes sugar and high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Chemical Additives — artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, dough conditioners, etc.
  • MSG
  • White Flour

Here are some links to web articles that explain

“Children’s Diseases Linked to Chemicals are on the Rise” on Mercola.com

“Scientists Unlock How Trans Fats Harm Your Arteries” on Mercola.com

“Eliminate This One Ingredient and Watch Your Health Soar” on Mercola.com

“Artificial Sweeteners — More Dangerous Than You Ever Imagined” on Mercola.com

“What’s In That?  How Food Affects Your Behavior” on Mercola.com

“Simple Ways to Shed Pounds and Decrease Tiredness – Stop Eating This” on Mercola.com

[Note: I've included articles from Mercola.com.  I trust Dr. Mercola and his site.  We've found consistently good information on there, though the style of the site tends to be more dramatic than ours.]

No Panicking!

That’s the number one rule in our family: “No Panicking!”  We developed it when our oldest ds1 was a baby.  I have to say that it was mostly for the parents at that time, but it has been a most effective household rule as everyone has gotten older and our family has grown.

We have some corollaries, now: ”Keep Calm and Use Oils,” or as our two-year old, ds4, says “Take a deep breaf.”