Let’s not make this all about losing weight, but let’s be realistic and enjoy the fact that improved posture means weight loss for many reasons.
Your weight shouldn’t define you, so just take that as a side benefit. Your posture is the thing that really counts.
It can make you look and feel better as well as reducing the risk of serious health conditions. And the best part is that your posture is one of the easiest things to work on.
If you had a grandmother like mine, you had many lessons and comments concerning how you should be sitting up straight.
My grandmother spent the last few years of her life in a hospital bed because of her problems with her back. I have scoliosis and (obviously) a family history of back problems.
However, when I was a kid I thought that good posture was as senseless as anything else.
My grandmother had a valid point though. As women age, even the ones who never had back problems need to start worrying about things like osteoporosis. Exercise, a healthy diet, and some focus on posture can lead to better health in general.
So, what’s the best way to enhance your posture? The best way is to not focus on your posture at all, but to focus on your core.
That’s right, we aren’t going to be taping any yardsticks to your head, but you would be doing yourself a huge favor if you invested in a stability ball. It’s really the only tool you need to improve your posture.
As you sit on a stability ball with both of your feet on the ground, you have no choice but to stabilize your core.
This means you sit up straight and use your back muscles as well as your abdomen muscles to keep your core steady.
You will also be using your legs to keep the ball steady.
Make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t let any one part of you touch another part of you. For example, don’t put your elbows on your knees. And yes, the stability ball can be lots of fun to play with too.
Your core is where it all starts. When you hunch over, you restrict the blood flow to your vital organs as you put pressure on them.
If you happen to be overweight already, you are already making your heart work harder than it should without hunching over. When you hunch over, you just about double the effort your heart has to put forth. Use the stability ball in place of your desk chair or favorite lounge chair. You will breathe easier, feel better, and enjoy a whole new posture. As a result, your body language will attract more people to you.
If you like the fact that this very low impact method is so effective, try planking next. You’ll be amazed at the results!
After Nance Rosen’s comment on yesterday’s post regarding the facts about losing 100 pounds, felt like it would be appropriate to continue the discussion. Today, we are focusing on our elders.
In part, Nance said, “There’s ALL kinds of ‘invisible’ people, or people who get overlooked, labeled lazy or treated as stupid. People with physical handicaps. The elderly. Youngsters (with opinions). People from cultures that are quieter than the typical American. Introverts. Ambiverts. People coping with illness, physical and mental. Parents who have to hold down two or more jobs and support several kids. People who work fast food. People who use food support debit cards. Kids who need school lunches. Anyone with an accent other than British.”
“The list is long,” she continued. “The point is: we are not in high school and no one is with the cool kids. Everyone goes home to their own concerns – and most people are alone with them. Even the happy, well-treated, slim, strong and beautiful people.”
Right on, sister.
Way too often, I see people around me minimizing the value of the older generation. People roll their eyes when an elder doesn’t understand some of our current technology or asks too many questions. Some consider their older family members more of a burden than an amazing resource.
The truth is, even those elders who haven’t experienced a formal education still have more life experience than your average Joe, and you can bet that they’ve learned some valuable life lessons along the way. Instead of feeling burdened by them, take a few minutes to actually listen the next time your grandma tells her stories. As her life has progressed, she has likely learned a few things that you haven’t yet.
Consider yourself lucky if one of your elders is willing to share this valuable information with you. The benefit of their knowledge and experience isn’t the only thing your elders can offer you. They can be one of the keys to understanding yourself better.
Knowing who came before you, whether biologically related or not, can be intense. I know that I have personally related to people of all ages, races and sexes in trying to come to a better understanding of myself.
After all, we are all connected. Your elders may also offer you a friendly ear when you need to talk, sage advice when you don’t know what to do, and much more. Who of us doesn’t wish we could reach into the past and have a conversation with someone who is no longer with us? Everyone has likely felt that way at some point.
Now, you can change things–take the time you’ve got to spend time with someone you love today.
Mini-Bliss Mission: Hang With Your Elders
Today, I challenge you to take a few minutes to talk with one of your elders. Call your grandma, chat with an elderly neighbor, or go visit one of your friends or family members in their homes. Whatever action you take, be sure to take a few minutes to listen to them. Remember, even if they don’t text like a pro or couldn’t send an email to save their lives–your elders have something important to say. Who knows, you might just learn something new!
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
Most of us have our mothers to thank for our ingrained eating habits, exercise approach and self-image.
For me, it was a crazy, yoga-practicing, kale-eating great-grandmother.
Mud the Miracle-Great-Grandma
When I was little, “Mud” came to visit our family (my grandfather had difficulty pronouncing the German word for “mother,” and his abbreviated version stuck). My sister and I were hoping she would bring presents, cookies, maybe a Barbie or two.
But when she stepped off the plane from California, Mud was pulling a suitcase full of kale, fish oil, wheat berries and Meyer lemons.
Someone still owes me a Barbie.
Mud stuck out like a sore thumb… make that a strong, lithe, beautifully manicured thumb. She drank warm water and lemon all day long. I’ve never met anyone better at cheating at cards. She slept on a board and practiced yoga, decades before it was popular. Mud had perfect teeth, perfect posture, and an unrelenting dedication to whole foods. She looked 25 years younger than her peers and could lift her foot behind her head, as a great-grandmother.
This was a woman seriously in tune with her body. Mud figured out how to keep her body balanced, her metabolism humming, and her lifestyle rejuvenating.
Here’s the truth: Mud shouldn’t be the exception. We’ve all got the potential to be as youthful and energetic as Mud. You’ve heard this before from my friend, Dr. Lissa Rankin, and I’m going to help you get started today with my top 7 ways.
Centuries of Wisdom
With Mud as my inspiration, I’ve spent decades exploring the world of prevention, healing, and repair through nutrition and lifestyle. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine prove that health can be managed through daily habits and natural remedies, from what we put in our mouths to when we close our eyes at night.
Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Bruno know how intelligent and adaptable our bodies are:
Cause you’re amazing, Just the way you are.
– Bruno Mars, Just The way You Are
As a practicing physician who’s worked with over 20,000 women, I know our bodies come with built-in systems designed to help us heal, manage, and live the max out of every hour, of every day. It makes sense, right? The more we own and care for our bodies, the more we’ll get out of them.
1. Work on Your Gut
Health, like beauty, really is an inside job: The zillions of bacteria that make up the microbial garden of your gut are your body’s first line of defense against infections and illness. Known as the microbiome of the gut, science is exploding with studies proving our bodies are designed – like some crazy robot of the future – to heal themselves. When they’re out of balance, bad bacteria start to cause problems, whether it comes from a virus or hormonal imbalance.
Own it: A healthy diet creates healthy bacteria, which turns you into an infection-fighting, cold-thwarting machine. Eat whole foods that balance your blood sugar and provide vitamins and minerals.
2. You Snooze, You Win (Create circadian congruence.)
Humans are designed to rise with the sun and to sleep when it’s dark. Seems a little obvious, but most us are guilty of late nights and days spent in an office. Sure, there are morning people and night owls, but your hormones are released according to your sleep/wake cycle.
Own it: Get your Circadian rhythm in order, and your body will produce the hormones you need whenyou need them. Do your best to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day. Also remember that there’s no better way to wake up than to expose yourself to sunlight.
3. Exceptional Eating (+ Epigenetics)
If you need a frappucino and muffin to get through your day, that’s a sure sign your hormones are off, and bad news for your DNA (50-80% of how your genes are expressed are determined by how you eat, move, think, and supplement—a phenomenon called “epigenetics). Cravings for salt and sugar can be cries for help from your thyroid, your cortisol levels, or your even sleep cycle.
Own it: Create a diet high in whole foods, fiber, and water. Take a hormone quiz (you’ll see how at the end of this post) to see which aspects of your diet might be lacking.
4. Restore, Rejuvenate, Refresh
Accelerated aging, wrinkles, moodiness, low energy… these are all signs that your body hasn’t had a chance to repair itself. Cell repair is an important process that happens every night, but late bedtimes and not enough sleep are serious roadblocks.
Own it: I’m strict because I care: lights out by 10pm (at least 5 of 7 nights each week). Getting in bed by this time is the magic hour to facilitate repair benefit to your body, cells, and muscles. The ratio of catabolism (wear and tear) to anabolism (growth and repair) shifts while you sleep, and the hours before midnight are especially auspicious. This is how to avoid Botox. Do it.
5. Symptoms Are Not a Cry for Pills.
Think about a health problem as a text message from your body: Hard-to-lose belly fat? Your cortisol could be high. Low sex drive? Testosterone and estrogen levels may be off. Memory loss? Estrogen and cortisol could be factors in this equation. These aren’t problems asking for a prescription – they’re asking for a lifestyle change.
Own it: Get to the root cause. Up the Omega 3s in your diet, try GPS for the Soul and take some B6. These are just a few of the gentle, prescription-free ways you can care for your body, and pretty much everyone will benefit from them. Always try lifestyle tweaks such as diet or exercise solutions before you reach for the pill bottle.
6. I Stress, Eustress…
Don’t confuse hyperdrive, late-night bursts of energy and other stress-junkie symptoms for productivity. Yes, elevated cortisol is bad for you, but so is low cortisol. Ideally, you get a burst of cortisol in the morning that wakes you up and gets you going. Over the course of the day, your cortisol levels should slowly decline so that when bedtime rolls around (10pm, remember?), it’s easy to relax and fall asleep. Cortisol needs to be in the “Goldilocks” position: not too high, and not too low.
Own it: “Eustress” means good stress, because we all need some cortisol in our lives. It’s what gets us going! The healthy solution is to change your reaction to stressful situations; approach them as a challenge, or try some deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.
7. Be a Good Neighbor
Think of your body as a neighborhood: a busy community of hormones, bacteria, and hard-working organs. Many of these work together – known as “cross talk” – which means that if one aspect of your health is off, chances are it’s affecting something else. HIgh cortisol often results in low thyroid, which means a stressed-out mind and a slowing metabolism. No, thank you.
Own it: Figure out what your body needs, and do it! Returning this interconnected system to balance may have positive effects you didn’t even think of! Healthier skin! More flexible joints! The ability to sleep without a glass of wine!
Smarter than the Average Body
Your body can do a lot; from a perfect French Braid, to remembering where you left your car keys, to getting over a cold, it’s a pretty incredible machine. Give your body the chance to rise to its full potential by making lifestyle changes, such as reducing your alcohol consumption, exercising more, and losing weight. In this way, you’re maximizing your DNA; keeping your hormones balanced helps prevent your negative genetic tendencies. Non-genetic triggers can cause your genes to behave, or express themselves, differently. This is where being proactive establishes your hormone cure.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” ~Richard Bach
A little over a year ago, I signed up for that well-known “find your ancestors” website. I have never known much about my personal genealogy, save for a few stories I’ve heard over the years.
I was lucky enough to meet great-grandparents on one side of the family, though the memories of that time are cloudy at best–I was just a small child when the last one passed away. And due to possibly undocumented adoptions and a lack of locatable records, it has been nearly impossible to determine any definitive ancestry beyond great-great grandparents.
It gets hairier from there–but let’s just say that I am basically a mutt. There are hints of a variety of possible ancestors–maybe some Native American, maybe some Irish, British and even a little Russian thrown into the mix, among others–but not anything that makes me go “Oh, so THAT’S where I belong.”
Only hints, possibilities.
And, while I probably think too much, I have always had a strong desire to know. I want to know who came before me. I want to look at their pictures and read their journals. I want to know if they looked like me, felt like me, thought like me. I want to share this information with my children so that one day, when they wonder, they won’t have to find out there’s nothing to tell.
I spent a few months working on putting together some semblance of a family tree. It didn’t help that my tree had many broken branches that left the trail cold. It didn’t help that the other side of my family is virtually unknown to me. And, even though I did manage to find a few names and dates here and there, I couldn’t be totally sure these were even my people. And if they were, what did their names mean to me? Nothing, really. They were just names, and as much as I wished I could, I couldn’t reach into the brains of the people who carried those names and find out anything of value.
And so, like many other Americans, I am left wondering. I finally cancelled the subscription to the genealogy website a few months ago. It wasn’t doing anything but frustrating me (and costing me money) because it wasn’t satisfying my need to KNOW.
I don’t know why it bothers me so much, not knowing who came before me. Something in me tells me that if I could just KNOW, something would click and I would understand things on a new level. Maybe I’d know why I am a certain way, why I have certain affinities and dislikes, why I do what I do…am what I am. Maybe there would be someone to whom I could relate, someone like me.
It leaves me with a sense of disconnection. It makes me feel jealous of people who know where they came from–those lucky souls who can trace their heritage back far enough to get a true sense of “where they came from.” It feels unfair.
On the other hand, I’ve been blessed with many wonderful people in my life, and I’ve come to understand that family isn’t about blood, after all. Really, it’s all about who loves you, who you love. It’s about the people who support you when you need help. It’s about the people you’re comfortable with, the people who make you feel like you matter.
Whether you’re biologically related to them or not, if you take an honest look at your life, you’ll know who your family is…I know I do. And for now, that’s enough to satisfy me.
How about you? Do you know who your ancestors were? Do you care? Tell me in the comments.