What is the Perfect Nap Length?

NappingNaps get a bad rap in most industrialized nations (except Spain and a few other countries that still do siestas). And that’s too bad, because naps really are a secret weapon for creativity and productivity.

Sleep plays an incredibly important role when it comes to forming memories, learning, and creativity. Much like when you are working on a project around the house, you periodically need to stop, get organized, and put un-needed stuff away, our brain needs that break in the action in order to carry on the most efficiently.

And in a world where 80% of us don’t get enough sleep at night, napping will help get us to the 7-9 hours/night that most experts recommend. [Read more…]

5 Signs Your Exercise Program Needs a Reboot

Reboot your exercise programThe beauty of habit is that it is automatic – but habit has a dark side as well. The minute something becomes a habit, it can become something we stop paying attention to. We can blithely go about our day, worried about other things, knowing that we have our “habits” to support us.

Which is great, right until they don’t. And you know that, because I’m sure you have some “bad” habits as well.

The catch to keeping a habit working for us is to periodically take a look at what we are doing and make sure it’s supporting the goals we’ve set for ourselves. And, if it’s not, then it’s time to make some changes.

So, as you think about your exercise program, how should you evaluate it to see if you need a reboot? [Read more…]

10 Ways to Get Group Classes to Work for You

Group exercise classGroup classes are one of those things that many people have a love/hate relationship with. How do I know it will work for me? What if I don’t like the other people? I love the accountability. I like the price.

Regardless of where you fall on the love/hate spectrum, there is no question that they are a mixed bag – so the key to success is to find a way to make it work for you.

We’re going to look at 10 pros and cons of joining a group class and some things you can do along the way to help make sure you get the most of your group classes. [Read more…]

Why You Should Skip Stretching

Back bridgeStretching — it’s decades old advice that is simply considered fact by most. But, what if I told you that you are doing yourself more harm than good by stretching before you workout? Best case, stretching is a waste of time, worst case you are actually making it MORE likely you will get injured.

To unpack this a bit, let’s go back to what we are trying to accomplish when we stretch to see if stretching actually does what we think it does.

Why We Stretch

There are lots of reasons why people stretch, but for most of us it boils down to some combination of these 6 reasons. [Read more…]

Alleviate Computer Eyes With the 20/20/20 Rule for Vision

Alleviate computer eyes using the 20/20/20 rule

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14 Tips for Exercising on the Road

travel exerciseIf you travel a lot, then you know how it screws up even the best exercise program.

Whether it’s the long travel days, the extra-long work days that usually come with travel, being away from your trainer or class, or simply an unfamiliar environment – all of it seems to conspire to keep you sedentary.

But, with a bit of preparation, you can keep your exercise program going – even while on the road. Most of these can be done in your hotel room – and they all avoid the dreaded hotel gym. [Read more…]

Why Being Bad at Stuff is Good for You

Perfect PracticeA few weeks ago I was talking to one of my fellow Capoeristas, and she was talking about how playing Capoeira has made he better at her job.

Intrigued, I asked her to explain.

And what she said the process of learning Capoeira, a demanding martial art, had gotten her used to the idea of being willing to take a risk, be bad at something, and be able to laugh off mistakes. She also mentioned that it gave her a confidence to be willing to try new things and allowing for the possibility of it being OK to fail.

In fact, she had noticed that since starting Capoeira classes that she wasn’t as afraid of speaking up in meetings, no longer dreaded public speaking, and was no longer afraid to put her ideas out there.

In class as in life, at the end of the day, we notice our own mistakes far more than anyone else does. And as an entrepreneur who works with a lot of other entrepreneurs, I can assure you that no one pays nearly as much attention to you as you think they do. We are never, ever under a microscope nearly as much as we think we are. [Read more…]

Fake It Until You Make It

SmileOne of my favorite parts of doing what I do is watching the idea that “anything can cause anything” come to life on a daily basis.

The list of whacky things I’ve seen is long, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Hip pain resolved through vision drills and shoulder figure 8s
  • Hip pain resolved by working an old collarbone injury
  • Shoulder pain resolved through vision drills
  • Knee pain resolved through foot drills
  • Back pain resolved through balance exercises
  • Hand drills resolving frozen shoulder
  • Wearing an ear plug in one ear improved vision
  • Blindfold improving handstands

I could continue to list these things out ad infinitum, but what it all comes down to is the idea that our body has a governor on it (much like the governor on some vehicles), and we can do a lot of little things to get the body to dial back on the governor to decrease pain, increase range of motion, increase strength, and increase performance. [Read more…]

Take the 21-Day Gratefulness Challenge

GratefulnessIt seems like everyone I know is out of sorts right now – at the time I’m writing this the northeastern US still has 44 million people without power and it sounds like it will be weeks until basic services are restored, a presidential election is next week, and there is just a general feeling of unsettledness.

But, I don’t want to dwell on the negative – there are plenty of places to go on the internet if that’s what you are looking for. Instead, I want us to stop and focus on the good things in life – there are lots of them and we don’t see them. Because of our body’s survival instinct, we naturally focus on the negative (since the negative is where “danger” comes from). But, that negativity, whether it is internalized or not, is quite stressful on the body. [Read more…]

How to Change a Habit – and Make it Stick

Change a habitThink back to the last time you tried to change a habit – whether it was going to sleep earlier, taking up flossing, or remembering to use your turn signal while driving. It’s hard. Some would argue impossible.

First, I want you to cut yourself some slack, because change really is hard. You’re having to learn something new. It may not FEEL new, but the brain doesn’t really know the difference between learning Beethoven’s 5th and adopting a daily flossing habit. In either case, you need to give yourself time to create the new neural pathways so that it the new habit becomes the norm and not the exception.

And as I mentioned, habit change takes time – and repeated attempts. In the book Changing for Good, the authors went through the work of analyzing the results of over 10,000 participants in smoking cessation and alcohol rehab programs to develop a stages of change model that accounts for the complexity of making change in the real world. And one of the key findings in the book is that it takes 7-12 attempts for a new habit to stick.

That information should be both discouraging and encouraging – that means that it’s hard, but it also means that the fact that it’s hard is also completely normal.

Fortunately, we can use some brain science and common sense to make the process faster. [Read more…]