Why I’m Picking Up And Moving To Hawaii

moving to Hawaii

moving to Hawaii

When I decided to move from my beloved city of San Francisco to Honolulu, Hawaii it wasn’t a difficult decision. I was ready.

When I was 14 years old my Mom relocated us from my hometown of San Diego to the Bay Area. I was devastated. I missed my friends. I missed my Dad. I missed the warmer weather. As I got older and started to look at my life from a deeper perspective I realized I was right were I belonged.

San Francisco is the land of opportunity. If you open yourself up and let it in it will provide you with everything you need. It was here that I developed my passion for cooking, where I landed my first Chef position, where I earned my first 3 stars from Michael Bauer, where I started my first business, where I started my first blog (and then my second) and where I became an entrepreneur. I never had to look hard for work or connections. Opportunities for both were all around me.

But as I’ve moved from phase to phase in my life here in the Bay Area over the last 20 years I have started to find myself and San Francisco has started to lose itself. The colorful, quirky and highly cultural city has started to turn more and more vanilla. The onslaught of major tech companies and start-ups drove gentrification and luxury condos and pushed out mom and pop shops and affordable housing. The service industry has been dealing with a major staffing crisis for years now because of rents we can no longer afford.

My partner, Spencer and I sat out on our balcony one crisp cool night and talked about life. The employees he could no longer hang on to at work, the scare of our rent increasing, the traffic that was getting worse and worse and old times. We were becoming jaded.

Hawaii had always been a special place in our hearts. We flew out to Kauai every year for years during the time Spencer consulted for a restaurant there. Every time we left we knew that it would not be our last. There was something very special about that place that spoke to our souls.

After a dear friend (more like my older brother) moved to Oahu a few years ago I flew out to visit.  I had never been to Oahu and it was love at first sight. It was Hawaii, but with a city full of action and life. The restaurant scene was just starting to explode in Honolulu, local artisans were popping up all over the place, organic farming was becoming more prevalent. I could see that this was going to be the next major food city. I hopped on a phone call with Spencer during that trip and basically told him that we would be moving there. I visited one more time a year later with Spencer to seal the deal.

Sitting out on our balcony that cool night in San Francisco we decided it was time. Were we waiting until we retired? What if retirement never happened for us? What exactly were we waiting for? My argument was there is no better time than the present to be somewhere that truly makes you happy. Lucky for me Spencer did not take much convincing.

We made a plan a couple months after our decision and a year later here we are scheduling a moving company to ship our belongings to Honolulu.

I have never been so happy in my life. I look forward to each new day and am grateful I get to move to paradise with the man I love.

Finding Mindfulness In Your Yoga Practice To Prevent Injuries

Mindfulness with Justine Duran

Mindfulness with Justine Duran

Mindfulness is a practice everyone is talking about these days. To put it in simple terms it is the act of being present and it can spill over into your whole life if you start to practice it throughout your day. Eating, talking with a friend, driving and exercising are all experiences that can be enhanced by mindfulness.

Yoga has always been an activity that touts the benefits of mindfulness. But being mindful in yoga doesn’t just have to do with the fact that it increases your enjoyment of it. Being mindful in yoga also prevents injuries.

This week I sat down with one of my yoga teachers and good friend, Justine Duran. We discussed something I don’t believe is talked about enough in mainstream yoga, which is how to have an injury free practice.

Justine’s story

Justine started her life as a yogi when she was 20 years old. After battling drug and alcohol addiction in her teens she went through a year of heavy detoxing and found yoga.

She found the benefits in her practice immediately. She started sleeping better, feeling like herself again and most importantly was becoming more present.

Yoga made such an impact on her in fact that she signed up for her teacher training only two weeks into practicing.

The “aha” moment went something like this – She was in a class one day being led by a teacher she hated. The teacher was going on and on about the principals of yoga and Justine was thinking shut up and get to the next pose already.

As the teacher came over to adjust Justine in pigeon pose he said something profound that finally resonated with her. It triggered something in her brain and she began to sob realizing that she had been resisting his words up until that point. What the teacher was saying actually made sense. She had hated him because she didn’t want to hear what was most likely true, that she was being driven by her ego and not her heart.

As she squirmed out of denial she realized that this work spoke to her and she wanted to learn more. Not only that but she realized in that moment what she wanted to do with her life.

She wanted to connect with people on a deeper level. Like this teacher had just done with her.

So, like anyone who has just discovered their passion Justine jumped in head first. She took the teacher training in New York and then continued down a path of practicing every day.

She moved to Arizona where she fell into a routine of what she calls the 8’s. Every single day she would run, practice yoga and study yoga for 8 hours, work 8 hours and then sleep 8 hours, making her life an ongoing infinity loop.

Her body throbbed constantly, but her head was very clear.

Justine moved around a lot. New York, to Tucson, to Los Angelos, to Portland, to San Francisco often back tracking and doing the same city twice.

Once she landed in San Francisco she found a yoga teacher in the Richmond district that taught Ashtanga. She was going religiously six days a week. She was very flexible, focused and fearless powering through arm balances, deep stretches and handstands like they were no big deal.

And then she got injured.

She had gone from zero to sixty and back down to zero in about 7 years. She couldn’t practice yoga basically at all. All she could do was teach. Depression set in and Justine was now faced with having to re-examine her lifestyle. She was angry. She had worked so hard at her practice and on her body and now she could barely move.

What could have caused this injury she wondered?

Rehabilitation started with the discovery of a new float spa called Reboot, which offered water filled pods for floating in. The buoyant salt water relaxed her body and offered an ideal space for meditation. It was while “floating” that she started to reflect on her injury and wonder, what was she practicing so hard for?

Living and teaching yoga in San Francisco made her feel the need to have a strong social media presence. She had been flooding her instagram and Facebook feeds with yoga poses that the general public could only dream of getting into.

Was she practicing really hard just so she could post these images of herself she thought?

Even after the injury happened she was still posting these photos. Justine said, ” I would lay there on pain pills posting photos of myself doing yoga basically “fooling” everyone that, that was my current life”.

She started to resent yoga, for what people thought it should be and what she thought they expected from her. She felt the pressure of having to teach these strong powerful classes when her body wasn’t even strong enough.

It made her realize, most people’s bodies are not built to do all of these advanced poses. But people want them anyway and end up forcing themselves into them.

It was an internal battle for her. Does she give people what they want potentially facilitating a room full of injured students or does she learn from her own experience, slow her class way down and teach students what their bodies need logically?

She realized what she had been doing up until this point was fueling people’s (and her own) ego instead of fueling their consciousness.

As one of Justine’s students I witnessed the change in her classes. There was a shift all of the sudden. We hadn’t practiced handstands in weeks.

How to have an injury free yoga practice

There are four things Justine emphasizes now in her classes to promote an injury free practice..

Breath, alignment, strength and consistency.

Breath

She explains that a slow, deep and steady breath throughout your entire practice is crucial. “Breathing deep in a posture gets oxygen to travel throughout your entire body. It frees blockages and eliminates stress that has become manifested in certain parts of the body, like tightness in the shoulders, for example.

The breath should be paced and calculated, connecting with each movement in a mindful way. You are not moving on to the next posture because the teacher is cueing you to, you are doing it because your breath is telling you it is time to move forward. The teacher is just a guide, your breath dictates where and when you go”, she says.

For me, setting an intention for mindfulness at the beginning of my practice helps me focus on this. When I get distracted, which is inevitable, I gently bring my attention back to my breath.

Justine helps in this department too. She gives cues for breath work throughout the class. This has become a quality I have now come to look for in a teacher’s style.

Alignment

Justine says, “alignment is so important, I don’t see the purpose of getting past downward facing dog if you can’t even do that properly. You should be thinking about every posture you do very carefully before moving on to the next.

It’s not aerobics even if it may feel like it sometimes. If you know how to use your body and understand the breath and how to engage your bandhas you can create so much warmth in your body that you can be completely drenched in sweat and just be standing in one place. People don’t realize that. They think they need a faster more physical practice to reap the benefits of yoga.

Basically they are just trying to get a work out and are missing the whole point of what yoga really is. If you want cardio, go get cardio, and use yoga for what it is meant for.”

Practicing in front of a mirror can help you with alignment. Look at yourself in the posture and pick it apart. Make sure bones are stacking properly and that you aren’t hyperextending. The more you do the posture that way the more you will build muscle memory around it and it will eventually become second nature.

Strength

Flexibility without strength can cause injuries.

Justine says it is best to always keep a slight bend of the knees, especially in forward folds.

Justine urges, “just because you are flexible and can stretch deep doesn’t mean you should. It’s almost better if you are a bit tight because it forces you to come into postures with restriction. When you are flexible and don’t have adequate muscle support you can end up going too far. You can build towards flexibility you can not undo hyper flexibility and hyper mobility.

People tend to see other students in class going deep into certain postures and they think that’s how that posture should look for them, so they end up pushing themselves into it.

Being hyper flexible myself is what led me to getting my back injury. I had flexibility but not enough strength so it left my joints vulnerable. People with very flexible spines and not enough glutes muscle often end up injuring their backs. They end up jamming their discs in back bends. Squats are a great way to build up your glutes muscles.”

I would also add to Justine’s point that every pose should be active even if it’s a seemingly passive pose. Engaging your muscles protects your joints and helps to prevent injuries.

Consistency

Justine recommends to, “either be consistent or don’t. Don’t go once every other month and think you can just pick up where you left off. It doesn’t work that way. Each practice builds upon the next, every day is different, you don’t really know what your body is capable of unless you practice on a regular basis. Repetition is important. If you don’t practice often things are too random and the body loses muscle memory.”

A sustainable healthy yoga practice

I asked Justine what she felt a healthy yoga practice looked like. She said. “you can’t go wrong if you stick with the basics. When I started getting back into my practice after healing my back injury I started by doing just five sun salutation surya namaskar A’s and a five minute meditation each day.

After about a month of that I added in five surya namaskar B’s. Even though my body knew what came next I didn’t push myself. I stopped there because I knew that if I started to push again I would just re-injur myself.

Sticking with the foundation of doing five surya namaskar A’s and five sure namaskar B’s is really all you need. The rest is glitz and glamour.

If you did this short practice everyday five days a week you would know so much about your practice.

You would see patterns like which foot you always step back with first or which way you cross your legs. Knowing this is important because then you can mindfully change it up next time in order to balance yourself out.

Since you only have a goal each day of completing these basic sun salutations you will be more apt to try and do them perfectly instead of rushing through them to get to the other postures.

Pace yourself and focus on each movement with mindfulness. Once you have mastered sun salutations you can move on and start doing other poses to the best of your ability. You will always learn something from each sun salutation.”

Realizing and accepting that Justine no longer has to push herself has been liberating, she admits.

She is now back practicing Ashtanga yoga but only does about 40% of the poses that she used to hop right into. She goes three times a week and just practices meditation on the other days. She knows what her body used to be and what it is now and she accepts it.

On the subject of yoga and longevity. I asked, “how do you get to be that 80 year old lady in the class who is still practicing yoga every week?” She said, “that woman knows how to breathe fully and she doesn’t have 900 poses in her practice. Maybe she has 10, that’s the key to longevity.”

Justine’s yoga philosophy

Justine begs of her students to, “be honest with yourself, try not to be driven by the things you see and what others can do. Observe and learn how to know yourself. It’s not about knowing someone else’s body and trying to match yours with theirs. Drop your ego.”

She ended our interview joking, “it’s so simple! I can’t wait until yoga is not “cool” anymore.”

How to do Surya Namaskar A from TheHealthyLocavore on Vimeo.

Justine Duran
Justine Duran

Justine Duran dedicates her life to her yoga practice, friendships and the attempt of life balancing. She believes in an independent home practice and consistency, and with that the ability to find true observation of the self. She is currently studying to be an alcohol and substance abuse counselor with a goal to eventually own a retreat center for suffering recovering addicts. She currently teaches vinyasa yoga at both OMpower in San Francisco and in private one on one sessions. You can follow her at yikes yoga on instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Reasons You Can’t Live Without Mobility Drills

mobility drills

Want to know the first thing I do in the morning when I wake up? I do a short series of something called mobility drills. Every morning.

mobility drills
Middle toe pulls

To help me explain why I make these a part of my daily routine I enlisted Jae Yee, founder of J bodyworks in San Francisco, who is an expert on mobility drills.

I had Jae first start off by defining what mobility is. He explained that mobility is your body’s ability to control movement through all ranges of motion with strength and without restriction.

The purpose of Mobility drills are to target your joints using movement which opens them up and sends messages to the brain that the body is ready to work. These drills are important because they can prevent injuries, relieve pain caused by injuries and promote having that full range of motion in the body. Doing them daily ensures that you are always keeping these pathways open and moving your body at optimal levels.

For examples of what these drills look like  scroll down to the bottom of the page for a list of “how to” videos.

What is the difference between mobility and flexibility? Jae breaks it down like this…

Flexibility is the ability to bend easily which stretches soft muscular tissue in the process. If you are not strong in addition to being flexible it means you are loose. Mobility means your strength matches your flexibility which means you are stable.

Being flexible and loose can cause injuries because you are unable to control and support your joints.

For example, lets say I am so flexible I can do the splits with no effort. If I am passively doing this stretch without contracting my muscles I am causing not only the muscle to stretch but the tendons and ligaments too, which can make them loose and not able to keep the joints in my lower body secure and in place. The body then reinforces the joints by having your muscles tighten up or spasm to hold stability, which then causes pain.

Basically you want to have a good balance when it comes to flexibility. You don’t want to be tight but you don’t want to be too loose either. You want to have just as much strength as you do flexibility. You want mobility.

And how do we improve mobility? We do mobility drills.

Three Reasons You Can’t Live Without Mobility Drills

  1. They relieve stress and pain in the body. Jae explained to me that the way mobility drills work is that they stimulate your nerve endings. Those nerve endings then send a message to your brain telling it that those areas of your body are ok. Since the signal from the stimulated nerve endings travel way faster to your brain than your pain signals do the mobility drill action overrides the pain sensation. This brain-body connection is what  brings down stress levels in the brain which then decrease pain in the body.
  2. They prepare you for an injury free work out. Every time you do mobility drills you are “turning everything in your body back on” which gets it primed and ready for a good work out. By comparison stretching does the opposite by making the nerve endings in your body relax telling them they are ready for rest. To prevent injuries your best bet is to begin a work out with mobility drills and end it with stretching.
  3. You can activate mobility in your entire body easily in just minutes a day. Mobility drills only take a few minutes to do and you don’t have to be in great shape to do  them. In fact the hardest part about them is just remembering to do them. That’s why I always do mine right when I wake up every morning before I get busy doing other things. Another good trigger to help you remember is to do them right before any kind of workout. Even if its just going for a walk.

Fun Fact – Every part of the body has a direct correlation to another part of the body. Examples are: the pelvis is correlated to the neck, the mid back to the lower back, the shoulders to the hips, the elbows to the knees, the wrists to the ankles and the fingers to the toes. Since these body parts are all connected when you are doing a drill related to one of them you are also benefiting the other at the same time.

How often should I do them? If you are working through an injury Jae recommends doing these several times a day (like 5 reps of each drill, 5 times a day) for about 6 weeks to see results. If you are not injured and you are just trying to maintain healthy mobility shoot for 3 reps of each drill 1-2 times a day. As you get older you should increase this number.

Mobility drills to do  everyday (“how to” videos):

Lumbar circles

Closed chain knee circles

Hip pendulums

Closed chain hip circles

Ankle circles

Thoracic A/P glides

Top elbow circles

Front and side shoulder figure 8s

Middle toe pulls

Inside ankle tilts

So, what do you say? Do you want more mobility and less injuries? Will you start making these a part of your morning routine or pre-work out in order to make that happen? I would love to hear your thoughts below in the comments section.

Jbodyworks

Jae Yee, Founder Jbodyworks

Jae has been in the health and wellness industry since 2003. As a Hendrickson Method therapist, he specializes in muscular dysfunctions and soft tissue injuries. His study of the human body started at age 10 where he practiced and studied the philosophies of movement and energy through Chinese martial arts and Tai-Chi. Jae holds over 200 hours of study in combined Eastern and Western modalities of bodywork, is a Nationally-Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and a Performance Enhancement Specialist with Z-Health, a neuro-science based performance system.

After having the honor and privilege of being on staff for 6 years with Dr. Tom Hendrickson at the Hendrickson Clinic, Jae is now a Master Trainer for Z-Health and has a movement therapy studio located in the SOMA area of San Francisco, where he trains and develops a team of coaches dedicated to having : “EVERY BODY WORK”.

Contact Jae: jae@jbodyworks.com

Jbodyworks

“Work” and “Movement” are the heart of J Bodyworks. We believe that  Every Body Works better with improved movement. For us, movement and work within “fitness” are not isolated to just your muscles. Instead, our approach to fitness is holistic, focusing your work on three key zones of the body:

Spirit: The movement of your Brain

Science: The movement of your Being

Strength: The movement of your Body

That’s our Key Three.

Consider this: Every body is in contact motion within their Brain, Being, and Body. Therefore, we believe better movement and real results comes from harnessing the separate motions in all three regions in the right direction for each individual. By correctly directing the motion for each of these harmonious systems – how you think (your Brain), the flow of your nervous system (your Being), and your overall physical fitness (your Body) – we can begin to build a cooperative foundation for real change.

Move your Brain, Move your Being, Move your Body. 

Visit J Bodyworks

How to Build a Solid Meditation Practice

meditation

Meditation and practicing mindfulness are becoming as popular as wearing yoga pants these days. What is it, about meditation, that’s making everyone from teachers to CEOs swear by it?

I recently sat down with Jerrica Fritzley, a meditation teacher and fellow yogi. She and I talked at length about the nuts and bolts of meditation and how important it has been in her life.

In her younger years Jerrica suffered from depression. Not wanting to go on anti-depressants she turned to meditation.

She started taking meditation classes from a woman who taught, not only to heal others, but to heal herself as well. Jerrica’s teacher has Lyme disease.

Jerrica discovered through meditation that she tends to be so empathetic towards others that it gets in the way of her following her own intentions.  She noticed that she was making decisions based on what others believed instead of on her own beliefs.

Meditating started to instantly make her feel better. She started to see herself making her own decisions and taking control of her life. She said “everything around me started to seem lighter, like meditation brought the light out of my body and showed it not only to the world but to myself”.

Jerrica explained that this is her form of therapy and that meditation enables her to reset and balance her brain if she feels bombarded by other people’s energy.

She now teaches meditation to children sharing the lessons it has taught her with them.

Here are some of Jerrica’s tips to building a solid meditation practice:

  1. Start a mindfulness practice first. Becoming more present with your surroundings and your thoughts encourages awareness which sets the stage for a successful meditation practice.
  2. Pinpoint things to focus on. Whether it be following your breath, counting to ten or scanning the body your focus will lead the way to a quiet mind.
  3. Listen to your body and modify to fit your comfort level. Contrary to popular belief you do not need to sit cross legged on the floor with your hands on your knees sitting up strait. Which ever position allows you to relax and be comfortable is the best position to be in for meditation. It can be anything from sitting in a chair to lying down. One of Jerrica’s favorite ways to meditate is in child’s pose.
  4. It’s OK to let your mind wander. Look at your thoughts like you are watching mindless TV. View them, acknowledge them and then let them go. Try not to have any emotional attachment to them. Go back to the breath.
  5. Meditate anywhere, anytime. Being unconventional with your practice will not only enable you to do it more often but will make it so it becomes a part of your life and mindset. Meditation can occur when taking a walk, fishing or doing a mindless task at work. You can also use it to escape anytime you feel like someone has taken your energy. Jerrica suggests ducking into a bathroom stall or empty room at work and taking five minutes to yourself to breathe and recalibrate.
  6. Be patient with yourself. Your practice doesn’t have to be perfect (that’s why they call it a practice). Your awareness will grow over time and it will become easier.
  7. Try out an app, a class or a guided meditation. There are many ways to practice meditation these days. If your schedule is too busy to go to a class downloading an app like Headspace is a great option. There are also many guided meditations online to help you. These can be great motivational tools if you are just starting out.

I persoanlly downloaded the Headspace App after reading about it in a magazine and hearing a friend rave about it (she uses it when she can’t fall asleep). After only a couple of days I have gotten myself on more of a routine and I look forward to sitting down to ten minutes of meditation almost daily now. I am confidant that over time my practice will grow by how quickly I was able to implement it in the first place.

Where do you have five to ten minutes in your day to quiet your mind? What do you think the benefits would be?

If you already have a meditation practice share your tips in the comments section we would love to hear them.

Jerrica Fritzley
Jerrica Fritzley
After 4 years of University in Switzerland, where she received a BA in Hospitality and Hotel Management, Jerrica is back in the Bay Area for good. When her health took a turn for the worse, Jerrica dedicated herself to learning alternative healing methods that produced amazing results. She now looks to combine her enthusiasm and dedication towards alternative healing methods with her love of hospitality, events, and community to help others with their healing journey.
 
Follow her journey on instagram @ease_and_grace

It’s OK To Sleep

When did we start thinking that it’s uncool or lazy to rest and get a full nights sleep? I think the term “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” frankly, sucks.

Whenever I am under a large amount of stress or partying hard on vacation I get sick. And I usually stay sick because of one reason, I don’t have time to rest.

I can drink all the green tea with lemon, take all the Chinese herbs and vitamin C but if I don’t get enough rest my body refuses to get better. And why is that? Because getting good sleep is one of the MOST important things for your health.

Why getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night matters. You can exercise everyday and eat clean until you are blue in the face but if you aren’t getting enough good sleep you’re health is never going to be optimal.

Our circadian rhythm plays an essential role to our health. These rhythms, driven by our internal body clock, are the way our body reacts to light and dark (or day and night). They are on a 24 hour cycle and are completely thrown off when out of synch with environmental cues.

Simply put when you don’t have a healthy sleep routine it throws your circadian rhythm off and can impair your health and well-being.

So, how can it impair your health?

There are many things that are affected by having an irregular circadian rhythm…

  • Hormone release – Disrupting hormones like insulin, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin makes it harder to sleep at night, throws off your appetite making it harder to tell when you are full,  messes with your blood sugar,  and inhibits the ability to regenerate new cell tissue.
  • Body temperature  
  • Energy level  
  • Your immune system – Lack of time to repair and rebuild cell tissues inhibits your body’s ability to heal.
  • The speed in which you age – If your cell tissues are not regenerating than you are aging at a faster rate.
  • Metabolism – Not getting consistant good sleep has been linked to weight gain and not being able to lose weight.

Getting on a normal sleep routine can be challenging but ultimately can be pretty easy to maintain. It all boils down to habits. Do you have good ones or bad ones when it comes to bedtime?

10 tips to getting a good nights sleep:

  1. Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bedtime. Your body needs to be resting not digesting when it hits the bed.
  2. Remove all electronics from the bedroom. Yes that means the T..V and yes that especially means your joined at the hip cell phone.
  3. Take a warm epsom salt bath before going to bed. This will put your body in a deep state of relaxation primed for a good nights sleep.
  4. Meditate. Meditation will slow your mind down and get you breathing deeper, both essential to getting to sleep faster.
  5. Avoid caffeine after noon. It takes a very long time to rid the body of caffeine. Around lunchtime start thinking of ways to gradually start winding the body back down instead of amping it back up again.
  6. Exercise regularly. Having a daily physical activity of at least 30 minutes can help balance your circadian rhythm getting your body on a better sleep routine.
  7. Have the bedroom at the perfect temperature. Being too hot or too cold has been linked to poor sleep regulation.
  8. Avoid refined sugar and carbs at dinner time. These can spike blood sugar putting your hormones into overdrive making it harder for you to fall asleep and harder for your cell tissues to rest and regenerate while sleeping.
  9. Dim the lights in the evening. Bright lights tell the body it’s daytime and to stay awake. By turning down the lights as the sun sets your body starts to make more melatonin which will make you sleepy.
  10. Get on a sleep schedule, even on weekends. Consistency helps the body to know when to automatically shut down every night. If you are going to bed and waking up at different times everyday the body gets confused and it can be harder to fall asleep at your desired time.

What can you do to get better sleep? What are you doing already that works? If you have a fool proof plan I would love to hear it in the comments section below.

Work Your Feet

Bare feet

Long gone are the days when I was a kid running all over the neighborhood in bare feet everyday. But although I am grown now and don’t have the opportunity to be as care free I still find time to ditch the shoes whenever possible. When I’m at home, when I cook for my clients in their home and when I exercise I do it all with bare feet.

Now, not everyone has the opportunity to work bare footed like I do I understand. But it is important to know why going bare foot for even just a couple hours a day is beneficial to your health. I met up with Jae Yee of J bodyworks, a movement therapy studio in San Francisco that I go to every week, to discuss the importance of “training your feet”. Here is what I learned…

Open joints create strength. Jae explained that by walking barefoot you are allowing all of your joints in your feet and ankles to move and absorb force which increases their strength and mobilization.

The foot to brain connection is important for overall physical health. When the receptors of each joint in your feet are activated the information goes to the brain informing it of it’s surroundings, which muscles to activate and how to adjust the body’s posture. Having good posture contributes to having healthy joints, fully functioning muscles and an overall physical well being. When you have shoes on they dumb down that sensory input that goes to the brain.

Ditch the high heels. Every woman reading this just rolled their eyes. Although I too own a few pairs I now understand that the long term affects of wearing heels can out weight looking cute for a night. Jae says wearing heels can cause a number of issues. Tilting your body forward by wearing heels makes your lower back over arch to compensate. This accentuated curve in the lumbar spine can result in lower back pain due to compression of the lower back disks. Compression of the toes due to mashing them into small toe boxes can result in toes permanently stacking on top of one another, bunions and hammertoes. Heels also cause muscular imbalances. Because of the positioning of the body the calves and ankles get compressed and don’t move which means they aren’t working. The quad muscles end up overcompensating. Heels also alter the way you walk and make it harder to balance.

Underworked feet could lead to tightness which can lead to injury. The path to recovery can be a very long one back after having a major injury or surgery. Jae says, “sometimes when your body has made such a big adaptation where you now actually need the support I don’t take that away from people”. If the person is determined to be able to walk without supportive shoes again he says it can take years of training.

How to train your feet. Practice foot mobility drills everyday such as ankle circles, middle toe pulls and inside ankle tilts. It is important to open the joints up before attempting to strengthen.  If you have been wearing supportive shoes all of your life your feet have likely become reliant on them. It takes time to build the muscles back up in your feet. If you wear high heals or running shoes with a grade of 9mm from toes to heel start by working your way down to running shoes with a 4mm grade that are flexible and allow your foot to move freely.  It is also important to have a toe box on your shoe that lets your toes move freely. If your second toe is longer than your first toe Jae recommends going up one size to accommodate it. After you get used to a very low heel work your way down to a shoe with a flat sole. From there you can start either spending more time bare foot or try out Vibrams (five fingered shoes). Jae recommends taking it slow if you are a runner and want to switch to Vibrams. He said that when he made the switch he started out wearing them only half the day just to walk around in. Then eventually when he was able to be in them all day without his feet hurting he tried going for a short light jog. Over time he began to run longer distances with more speed. He says you have to be very careful because jumping right into a shoe like this after years of wearing highly supportive running shoes with a heel can cause stress fractures. Your feet need to be strong enough to work on their own without all the extra support. Jae also suggests to “be practical with the terrain you are on”. If you are out in the snow or doing some serious hiking you need shoes that will support you and grip the earth. He says he chooses a low top shoe in these situations versus a high top shoe so that he can at least retain some mobility in his ankles.

Wrapping things up I’ll leave you with this. Next time it’s nice outside go to a park, take off your shoes and socks and take a walk through the grass. The grounding connection that you will make with the earth will not only bring you a pleasant overall sensory awareness and strengthen your feet  but will also nourish your soul.

Jbodyworks

Jae Yee, Founder Jbodyworks

Jae has been in the health and wellness industry since 2003. As a Hendrickson Method therapist, he specializes in muscular dysfunctions and soft tissue injuries. His study of the human body started at age 10 where he practiced and studied the philosophies of movement and energy through Chinese martial arts and Tai-Chi. Jae holds over 200 hours of study in combined Eastern and Western modalities of bodywork, is a Nationally-Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and a Performance Enhancement Specialist with Z-Health, a neuro-science based performance system.

After having the honor and privilege of being on staff for 6 years with Dr. Tom Hendrickson at the Hendrickson Clinic, Jae is now a Master Trainer for Z-Health and has a movement therapy studio located in the SOMA area of San Francisco, where he trains and develops a team of coaches dedicated to having : “EVERY BODY WORK”.

Contact Jae: jae@jbodyworks.com

Jbodyworks

“Work” and “Movement” are the heart of J Bodyworks. We believe that  Every Body Works better with improved movement. For us, movement and work within “fitness” are not isolated to just your muscles. Instead, our approach to fitness is holistic, focusing your work on three key zones of the body:

Spirit: The movement of your Brain

Science: The movement of your Being

Strength: The movement of your Body

That’s our Key Three.

Consider this: Every body is in contact motion within their Brain, Being, and Body. Therefore, we believe better movement and real results comes from harnessing the separate motions in all three regions in the right direction for each individual. By correctly directing the motion for each of these harmonious systems – how you think (your Brain), the flow of your nervous system (your Being), and your overall physical fitness (your Body) – we can begin to build a cooperative foundation for real change.

Move your Brain, Move your Being, Move your Body. 

Visit J Bodyworks

Practice foot mobility drills. Watch videos for: ankle circlesmiddle toe pulls and inside ankle tilts.

Are We Too Clean?

Are we too clean?

Microbes. They rule our world. Our body’s balance of good and bad have determined our health since we were born. Is it too late to change?

I find the human microbiome fascinating. The busy little city of microbes running around your body, on your skin, in your mouth, in your stomach. Everywhere.

When these good and bad microbes are out of balance (dysbiosis) however, our immune system gets out of balance and diseases can occur.

The hygiene hypothesis was a study that explained that as our environment developed, family sizes shrank, living conditions went from rural farms to sterile urban cities, antibiotics started being used, our diets changed (enter processed & factory farmed food), antibacterial soaps started being used and we became less exposed to microbes in general our immune systems became out of balance, contributing to chronic inflammation and disease development.

According to this hypothesis, infancy and early childhood is when this all goes down. Being birthed caesarean section, not being breastfed and a lack of exposure to microbes during early childhood lowers our immune tolerance and increases the likelihood of a child developing allergies, asthma or other inflammatory diseases.

They found that kids living in larger families were exposed to more microbes through their siblings and had reduced risk of asthma & allergies. The same was found with kids raised on farms and in poor communities versus affluent, more sterile communities.

Meanwhile, The Biodiversity Hypothesis was developed and found that it wasn’t only the exposure to the microbes that was important for a balanced immune system but also the diversity of the microbes that was important. It was the diversity that increased the likelihood of you having the right amount of good and bad microbes to balance each other out.

So what do we do with this information now that we are adults and can’t change the way we were raised? Do we go to a farm and roll around in the dirt? Do we stop cleaning our homes? No.

As in most of the world of nutrition, more research needs to be done in order to conclude how to fix our outcome.

The good news is that we can now educate future mothers of the importance of transferring microbes to babies through natural birth and breastfeeding.

We know the risks of antibiotics, not getting enough fiber and probiotics in your diet and what antibacterial soaps can do to change your microbiome.

And we know we need to take care of our soil with organic farming practices in order to increase microbe diversity in plants which in turn feed our human microbiome diverse microbes.

Nutritional studies are still in immature stages and not fully developed. Every year we learn more. What was told to us in the 50’s is different from what they told us in the 80’s and very different from what we now know today. Are we too clean? Maybe, but what will they be saying ten years from now?

What do you think?

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841828/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene_hypothesis

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23663440

 

Trust Your Gut

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Ever jumped out of a plane? I haven’t. Something happens in my stomach at the thought of being thousands of feet up in the air, going a hundred miles an hour looking down to my potential death. OK, so maybe I’m being overly dramatic here but the point is, it’s my stomach telling me that even though this is a perfectly safe activity, the amount of stress this will put me under because of how scared I am might not be good for my body.

Ever wonder why the term “trust your gut” exists? It actually may be more scientific than you think. It all boils down to this, there are more nerve endings in your gut than in your central nervous system. Your thoughts are directly related to your stomach and intestines. So when you think stressful or worried thoughts it can throw off balance in your gut. Likewise, when there is an imbalance in your gut it can effect your mood.

Environmental toxins, your diet, unhealthy relationships and stress all effect your gut and in turn effect your mood. Not absorbing nutrients properly due to one of these irritants can cause damage to the nervous system which can cause depression, anxiety, panic attacks and mood disorders. 95% of the serotonin in your body is created in the gut which is why there is such a strong connection between whats going on with your digestive system and your mood.

Think about it, when you are scared, worried, stressed or depressed what does your stomach feel like? Tied in knots? Butterflies? Like someone punched you in the gut (this is the one that happens to me)? Stress directly impacts your digestion, how (or if) you absorb nutrients and your gut microbiota. Pile on top of that the fact that 70% of your immune system lies in your intestines. Which means that when your digestive system is out of wack your immune system starts to attack. This vicious cycle has the potential to lead to disease so it’s in your best interest to keep everything running smoothly.

Your gut houses your intuition, your feelings and your “hunches”. Trusting your gut has to do with being self-aware and trusting yourself. So if your gut doesn’t feel right, trust that there is probably something wrong. What you do next is up to you.

What’s the deal with gluten?

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Buckwheat Meteil and NY Rye from Acme Bread Co.

As I began to research the subject of gluten I found myself going down a rabbit hole of topics ranging from refined flour made from commodity grains to the nutritional benefits of whole grains to sourdough bread fermentation to the demise (and some argue survival) of the health of our country due to the invention of the steel roller mill. Several months later I realized that I wasn’t writing a blog entry I was writing a book.

To keep things short, simple and focused on the topic of gluten I am going to write just about that and will save related topics for future articles.

What is gluten? Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and other related grains that cause bread to rise, hold its shape and give it desirable texture.

Gluten has been a controversial topic since the late 90’s when high carb diets suddenly went out of style and low-no carb diets started trending.

The argument of the gluten free advocators is that it creates inflammation and sugar spikes that promotes insulin resistance which can lead to obesity, diabetes and other inflammatory related diseases.

I believe that to be true but only in these instances:

  1. You are eating highly refined carbs made from commodity grains (processed foods).
  2. You do not eat a balanced diet of carbs, protein, vegetables and healthy fats.
  3. You are not eating whole grains  and/or eating breads that have been quickly fermented with commercial yeast instead of slow fermented with a natural starter  (like in the case of sourdough bread).
  4. You have changed the bacteria in your gut’s microbiome (probably by eating to much processed food and being overly exposed to antibiotics) to the point where you have trouble digesting food properly.

Gluten is the devil if you have Celiac disease. 1% of Americans are diagnosed with Celiac disease in which gluten attacks the immune system and severely damages the small intestine. There is no cure but you can avoid symptoms by not eating any products containing gluten.

Gluten sensitivity is what I believe is effecting all other Americans that have trouble digesting gluten. In this case gluten is not doing any damage to the persons intestine but it does cause them to have bloating, stomach pain or constipation.

The easiest way to find out if gluten is the cause of your digestion problems is to go on an elimination diet. This is when you eliminate a particular food from your diet (in this case gluten) and then start slowly adding it back in noting how you feel each time. If you still feel awful off gluten than it is probably something else in your diet that is making you feel this way. Eating intuitively and having self-awareness is the best way to determine which foods are right for you.

Most of the time when people go on a gluten free diet the reason they start feeling better is because they have eliminated most of the processed foods in their diet (white bread, white pasta, pizza, cookies, crackers, ect.). If you have done this and are feeling good try gradually adding whole grains that contain gluten back into your diet a little at a time like farro, pan au levain (sourdough bread) or whole grain pasta from reputable sources. What you may end up noticing is that not only are you not sensitive to these products but you are actually feeling healthier and maybe even dropping some pounds too.

Grains that contain gluten are:

  • Wheat
  • Barley (farro)
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Rye
  • Triticale (rye-wheat blend)

Grains that do not contain gluten are:

  • Rice
  • Millet
  • Kasha
  • Buckwheat
  • Oats
  • Cornmeal
  • Wild rice
  • Quinoa
  • Teff
  • Amaranth

Companies that sell nutritious whole grain products are:

My Top 10 Self-Care Practices

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Photography by Jenee Crayne

The photo above is Justine. She is my friend and one of my favorite yoga teachers. It was her and a couple of other people at my yoga studio that influenced me down my journey of taking back my life. Once a master juggler at getting several tasks done for other people all at once, now the juggling is done to benefit and enhance my own life.

This is no easy task, but the moment you let go of feeling like it is not OK to take time out for yourself, is the moment when you can really start to live.

Caring for yourself enables you to care for other people on a higher level. Feeling confident, rested and healthy gives you the energy to be there for the people who need it (and deserve it) the most in your life.

Here are my Top 10 Favorite Self-Care practices:

  • Yoga – The spiritual practice of yoga is good for both your mind and body. It’s a never-ending practice that you continue outside in the real world after you have gotten up off of your mat. It reminds us to let go of the ego, be present and mindful and to listen to your own body. It is my favorite form of self-care hands down.
  • Massage – This also falls into the category of treating yourself to a day at the spa. Find the type of massage that’s right for you and enjoy it. The body deeply benefits from human touch and massages are great for promoting circulation, treating minor pains, reducing stress and relaxing your muscles.
  • Taking a bath – Taking a good 20-30 minute soak in a hot bath is amazingly detoxifying and relaxing. Add 2 cups epsom salt, 1 cup aluminum-free baking soda & 10 drops lavender essential oil to your bath, light some candles and enjoy.
  • Acupuncture – If you have never had acupuncture do yourself a favor and make an appointment right now. Not only do the practitioners have endless ways of treating any kind of injury you may have but they can also sense how your organs are functioning and heal them as needed. Very thin needles are inserted into the body in various points necessary to treat your ailment. Sometimes cupping (to relax and stimulate energy of muscles) and or/ moxi sticks (for warming) can be used as well. At the end of the session feeling relaxed, euphoric, dizzy & a little light headed are all common.
  • Good Dental Hygiene – This can include tongue scraping, oil pulling, flossing and using a natural teeth whitener. Use natural products and set aside plenty of time to do it right.
    • Tongue Scraping – Clears the tongue of mucous, toxins and bacteria. Rinse your mouth with cold water, scrape your tongue 10 times and rinse again. Follow up with oil pulling and brushing. Tongue scraper I recommend.
    • Oil Pulling – Ayurvedic technique of swishing oil around in your mouth to pull out bacteria and fungus. It alleviates bad breath, cavities, plaque, sensitive teeth and inflammation. Swish 1-2 teaspoons of coconut, sesame or sunflower oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes (do not swallow), spit the oil out, rinse your mouth out with salt water and brush your teeth. Oral pulling rinse I enjoy.
    • Tooth Whitening – Baking soda makes an effective all natural tooth whitener. ECO-Dent makes a good one.
    • Natural toothpaste – To fluoride or not to fluoride. That is the question. I pick not. Here’s what I would rather use. Or this one.
  • Body Brushing – So invigorating and leaves your skin silky smooth. Body brushing boosts circulation and lymphatic flow which detoxifies and opens pores and exfoliates for healthy skin. Using a non synthetic long handled brush gently dry brush each body part in an upward direction starting from your feet all the way up to your neck. Follow up with a warm shower and moisturize with either lotion or oil.
  • Walking or hiking in Nature – Barefoot walks on the beach or in a grassy park. Hiking through the woods or up a mountain. Being in nature is extremely grounding and good for your soul. Turn the phone off and appreciate what’s around you.
  • Reading for pleasure – One of my favorite past times (especially on vacation) and great to do right before bed to help get a good nights sleep.
  • Warm lemon water – Or even just warm water for that matter. Starting your day with  a large cup will stimulate your digestive system, alkalinize your body and detoxify your liver.
  • Meditation – Hands down the hardest self-care technique for me to do. Sit upright in a comfortable position and concentrate on your breathing. Try not to let outside noises or your own thoughts distract you. If they do, acknowledge them, let them go and return back to your breath, for as long as possible. This is totally easier said than done. I recommend a restorative yoga class which also incorporates gentle, relaxing postures into the practice. Meditation is a great way to start and end your day.

Which self-care techniques do you like the best?