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...]

It’s How You Get Back Up

Summited KilimanjaroTwo years ago this week I summited Kilimanjaro – two years ago Wednesday, to be exact (not that I have a framed certificate on my wall that reminds me every day when I step into my office, or anything).

And with a momentous event like that, it gets you to step back and think about how you got there and where you have gone since – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And, as I reflected back over the past several years, one phrase kept running through my head…

It’s not what happens to you – it’s how you get back up

My story is hardly the kind that would make a good Lifetime made-for-tv movie, but at any point I could have given up: [Read more...]

Want to be More Flexible?

BodybuilderGet stronger.

I know, you probably have images of over-muscled bodybuilders running through your heads, but before you click away thinking I have completely lost it, let me put a different image in your head: an Olympic gymnast.

Strong? You bet. Powerful? Uh-huh. Flexible? Absolutely.

So, what gives? Flexibility is a skill, just like everything else. Our over-muscled bodybuilders who can’t find their toes don’t train for flexibility. They train for their idea of looking good.

And then you contrast that with our Olympic gymnasts – who have to have a lot of strength PLUS incredible amounts of flexibility. Our bodybuilders could lift a car and our gymnasts could do the splits right over the top of it.

Flexibility isn’t About Muscle Length

If I was to put you under anesthesia, I’d be able to put you into the splits. Muscle length isn’t the issue – it’s about our brains trusting our bodies enough to let us get into that position. [Read more...]

5 Easy Ways to Move More During the Day

Move MoreWe all know that sitting all day is killing us, right? Our calorie burning drops to one calorie per minute while sitting, our good cholesterol levels drop, our metabolism slows, and we’re twice has likely to develop heart disease than those who have standing jobs. The statistics are staggering, and yet we have a job to do.

Surely there is a way we can easily add more movement into our day that is less lame than, “park at the far end of the parking lot” or “take the stairs.” We’ve all heard that a million times, and it’s not particularly helpful for you if you work from home or aren’t stopping at the mall on the way home from work every day.

Fear not, I have some simple tips and tricks that you can implement, starting today, that will get you to move more – without giving up work time. [Read more...]

Just Do … Something Different

Just Do Something DifferentDr. Eric Cobb of Z-Health makes the following statement at some point during every course, “The body you have is the body you’ve earned through the way you move.”

After the “ouch” wears off, you realize that it’s true.

Going from where you are to where you want to be is never a direct route, but if you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always had.

The body craves novelty, needs new information, and responds to change. When we feed it the same information day after day, week after week, and year after year it stops learning, stops adapting, and stops changing.

There is no such thing as “staying the same.” Based upon what we know about neuroplasticity and the brain, by definition, if you aren’t moving forward you are actually moving backwards. You are regressing and getting worse.

If your body is holding you back IN ANY WAY from what you want from life, are you? [Read more...]

How to use the Rules of Poker to Reach Your Goals Faster

AnteIf you’re a regular card player, then you’ve likely run across the idea of an “ante.” But, if you’re not, no worries, it’s a simple idea with some powerful consequences.

An ante is simply a forced bet at the beginning of the hand – it makes you put a little bit of skin in the game so that you’ll actually put some effort into playing out your hand. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “up the ante” and it’s the same thing – it’s basically raising the stakes.

Most goal-setting works on the idea that you are rewarded for doing what you say you are going to, but what happens if you’re someone where a reward system simply doesn’t work? For many of my friends and clients, we have our basic creature comforts covered, so a reward for doing what you say you are going to simply doesn’t work. [Read more...]

Are You Cautious Going Down Stairs?

Stairs at Golden Gardens

Stairs at Golden Gardens

Last week I was out running stairs at my favorite urban stair-running location (Golden Gardens in Seattle) and on my way up I saw a woman who was clearly having a hard time getting down the stairs.

I could tell from watching that her struggles had nothing to do with the exertion involved, but instead had everything to do with how well she trusted her body to safely get her down to the bottom. She was moving slowly, holding on to the handrail for dear life, her face was scrunched up in concentration.

While she was an extreme example, if you are someone who consistently has to grab on to a handrail to go down, feels tentative getting down stairs, and doesn’t trust their balance going down, then this post is for you. [Read more...]

Why Standing on a Bosu is not Balance Training

Balance TrainingWhen most people think of balance training, they think of learning how to stand on a Bosu or something similar. Which kinda makes sense in some weird way — the thought process likely is that if you get good at balancing on an unstable surface, then clearly you’ll also be better at balancing on a stable surface because a stable surface is easier. Except that it doesn’t actually work that way.

The reality is that these are two entirely separate skills.

And, since in the real world we don’t spend much time on an unstable surface, training that skill doesn’t have a lot of value. (It can be fun, sure, but don’t confuse fun with useful.)

So, the question becomes, if it’s not learning to stand on a Bosu, how exactly does one train their balance? As I mentioned in last week’s post, balance is all about the vestibular system, so what we need to do is re-sync up the vestibular system with the rest of our body. [Read more...]

Dizziness, Motion Sickness, and Balance Demystified

Vestibular SystemDo you struggle with balance on uneven surfaces or hiking outdoors? Maybe you are a mountain biker that falls the same way a lot? Do you get vertigo or dizziness for “no good reason”? Or maybe you get dizzy when you turn your head in certain directions?

If any of that sounds like you, read on.

The problem is probably with your vestibular system, which is the inner ear system responsible for balance and telling you which was is up and which way you are turning your head.

While that sounds like a relatively simple task, the things the vestibular system does are quite remarkable. [Read more...]