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Navigating health and movement – it’s a right to know your body.

Managing general health is a topic I am very passionate about, it often ends up being the dominant conversation in my day to day chats with people. Looking after yourself first is the ultimate form of self love, yet so many of us are completely unaware of how to do so. Too often I hear about people who hate exercise, can’t find the time to take care of themselves, can’t find healthy options, and try fad diets or exercise in the hopes that it will work. The reality is that long term health is not a quick fix, it takes years of mistakes and learning curves until we find what works for us and some balance and ease.

FOOD AND BALANCE

Let us first take a look at an eating rule that can drastically change the way you interact with your food. The rule is called 80:20, this means aiming to get your diet to look like 80% whole foods (vegetables, fruit, low processed foods, grains, beans, proteins etc), and 20% fun foods such as donuts, sweets, granola bars, candy, chips or anything that essentially comes in a packet or box. What this rule encourages us to do is fill ourselves up with nutritious foods that fuel the body, and leave some room to fill the cravings and psychologically build a healthier relationship to our meals. Take away labels such as “good” and “bad”, anything can be a bad food if you eat too much of it, so the term is irrelevant anyway. Instead, try filling your shopping trolley with foods that contain 1-3 ingredients, this is usually a good way to get more “whole” foods in your diet, and take away the more processed ones.

Whilst on the topic of food, it is important for us to develop not only a healthy relationship with it, but to understand what foods work well for our bodies. Not all bodies like the same foods, and usually our bodies are pretty fantastic at telling us when they’re not enjoying something. If you experience any of the following: Diarrhea, nausea, bloating, excessive gas, vomiting, headaches, fatigue or change in bowel habits after consuming a certain food, this is often a good sign your body A) doesn’t like this food at all or B) just wants to enjoy it in smaller quantities. Before making any quick decisions, make sure you take note of any changed habits and see if the pattern is reoccurring at all. There are of course, some exceptions to this such as coffee or other caffeinated beverages, these should be consumed in moderation. Whilst I do not promote to adhering to any form of “Diet” I do use this as a rough guideline to keep myself accountable when I have days/weeks a bit off par. At the end of the day, you need to find what is sustainable long term and that you can easily adjust for any goals you may have of fat loss or muscle gain.

To put things in perspective, I haven’t tracked or “dieted” for almost 2 years now, and I am more comfortable with my food control, physique and psychological relationship with food. I just try my best to hit a 70-80% target of non processed foods and adequate protein. My relaxed relationship means I am experiencing less stress flares, I know my trigger foods well and therefore my bowels are mostly happy, and I have the energy to support my lifestyle.

MOVEMENT AND BODY KNOWLEDGE

Fig 1 – Rear Deltoid on posterior view of body. Source: https://exrx.net/Muscles/
DeltoidPosterior

Movement is the simplest form of connecting to the body, this is why I enjoy blending mindfulness and breath into my classes and practice. When you move, you can see and feel muscles contracting, relaxing and extending. This sensation allows us to connect to these muscles and have greater control over them. Four years ago, if asked me to flex my Rear (Posterior) Deltoid (highlighted in red), I would have looked at you like a crazy person. Now, it is a natural reaction and I can actively communicate to that muscle to contract at will. Being more connected to the body allows anyone to self identify and remedy small injuries. When you know the origin and insertion point of a muscle, it is relatively easy to figure out it’s function and how we can stretch/ manipulate it. The Rear Deltoid originates at the Scapular (closer to the spine) and inserts at the Humerus (top of the arm) as seen on either end of the red highlight in Fig 1.

The Rear Deltoids function (in simple terms) is to bring the arm backwards (known as transverse extension). So to contract this muscle, we need to shorten it, therefore spreading the arms out to your sides (like the right arm in fig 1) in line with the shoulder, and pulling them backwards. Of course other muscles play a function in this movement (as will all movements) but this will connect you mostly to the Rear Deltoid. This motion shortens the distance between the origin and insertion points, the muscle has to contract for this to happen. To then extend the muscle, we use the opposite action – bringing the arms in front of your until the fingertips touch. Pushing the hands together and reaching forward with the arms will deepen the stretch.

If you just completed the actions described above, take a moment to appreciate the detail in which you connected to the upper body. You were likely extremely present, and mostly focused on the connection you were making to the Rear Deltoid. If you are interested in exploring muscles in the body, this website has some useful pictures and descriptions to help you familiarize yourself. I believe it is a basic right to be connected with the body, you should absolutely not need a Physiotherapist to solve basic aches and pains (such as sore upper back from poor posture) which could be addressed with simple movement and exercise. It is a misuse of your own money and places strain on Physios to see people who need professional rehabilitative help. People like me can help you address smaller problems like poor posture, poor movement habits and small/very light strains with body and mobility education. My classes are designed to teach the muscles you are working, how to strengthen, stretch and mobilize them in a healthy way with longevity in mind.

BALANCE AND LONGEVITY

The absolute best way to find consistency in your nutrition, diet, exercise or in any habit in life, is to make it enjoyable and sustainable. This way you’re much more likely to complete these things on days when motivation is low. Motivation can be both excellent and dangerous – this is why we often see people drastically lose weight (because they are motivated by a physique goal) and then fall off the wagon and regain the weight. The behaviours they used to obtain the goal were restrictive, unsustainable and were fueled by motivation. Long term, healthy, sustainable behaviours may take longer to form and longer to see results, but, they will also stick for long term, if not for life.

A great example is the current pandemic, I have barely touched a weights set, let alone a gym over the last 12 months. However, my 6+ years of dancing and weightlifting coupled with good eating and movement behaviours mean that my physique has suffered very little loss. Sure, I’m not holding as much muscle as I usually would, but by no means am I upset or disappointed with the way my body is coping. The long journey to learning a sustainable lifestyle means my body is happy to stay in a very stable state and I can still enjoy the foods and indulgences I want to.

I hope this small blog provided you with some value. If you enjoyed this read, please hit the subscribe button to be notified when more blog content is released. If you are interested in Mindful Movement classes or any Mobility training, please contact me or check out the rest of my webiste.

Kia Kaha

References:

Hernandez M (2017) 80/20 Diet Efficacy in Regard to Physiology and Psycho-social Factors. J Obesity Weight Loss Therapy 7: 357. doi: 10.4172/2165-7904.1000357

What the heck is Mobility?

I put the polls out, and you answered “heck, what even is mobility”. I’ve been told a few times that the vocab I use is not always newbie friendly and can immediately be a bit off putting/ make my posts a bit harder to understand. Today I am here to set the bar straight and give you a guide into all of the technical jargon.

Lets cover some things we may already know and define them with examples:
Flexibility = Your passive range of motion
Gently reaching for your toes
Range of Motion = The range you can access passively or actively
Circling one arm around in a circle
Passive = Little to no effort/ no engaging muscles
Pulling you leg with your hands as high as you can
Active = Effort exerted/ muscles engaged
Lifting your leg with your muscles as high as you can

In essence, flexibility is just how far you can stretch with no real power behind it. Think of a dancer/gymnast sitting in a split. They in full stretch and can comfortably sit there with relatively little effort because they are flexible enough to rest there.

Mobility = Your active range of motion

Mobility refers to your ability to power through your end range/ maximum range of flexibility. I know lots of people who are VERY flexible, but they can’t do a whole lot with it because they don’t have good mobility. Starting to see the point?

Why is mobility superior and how does it differ from active range of motion?

I like to think of mobility as the superior to flexibility because it is powered and engaged by the muscles and is very controlled. Flexibility is awesome, and you somewhat need it to keep expanding your mobile range, but ultimately it is passive and un-engaged which increases the risk of injury and damage. Mobility is not for old people – mobility is for everyone and will have you moving optimally for the rest of you life. You can start mobility training from as young as 3-4 years old, it re-enforces joints, strengthens bones, builds muscle, reduces the chance of metabolic disease and movement related pain.

How can I benefit from mobility?

Do you have stiff joints? A weaker side? A funny knee? Back, neck, shoulder or hip pain? Want to become more “flexible”? Want to build strength? Want to get into shape? Sleep better? Move better? Feel more connected to your body and mind?

These are all things that mobility can fix and/or enhance. Mobility is something humans take for grated because we no longer require the same physical outputs from a sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, we were not built for a sedentary lifestyle, we evolved to run, jump, hunt, collect and defend. Great mobility meant that top hunters won breeding rights because they had strength, health and longevity in their genes. Fortunately there are solutions for modern day lifestyles and mobility training is one of them.

If you want to know how mobility changed my life, check out the rest of my website and see why I am so passionate about helping others move, play and feel better. Mobility changed my life and i’ll never look back. No gimmicks, no schemes, no “walk in the gym and drag yourself out” mentality – just peaceful, calm, strength-work designed for everyone to enjoy.

Movement and Mobility is Medicine

Kia Kaha

Why you should care about movement

Believe the hype, he’s no longer a gym addict but a dedicated mover and still looks like this! No excessive cardio, but high quality strength building and movement.

I’ve had this interesting conversation with clients about how they never have placed high importance on practicing healthy movement. Exercise for them has never been a priority and has often looked like a 30 minute walk or the odd Pilates or Yoga with Adriene class. In essence they experienced exercise to be a form of punishment and never thought of it as something both strengthening, sustainable and relaxing.

Sound familiar?

This narrative is obviously not the same for everyone, but I do believe loads of us tend to forget that exercise doesn’t have to sound like torture. We are conditioned by society by classes labelled:
“Rise and Grind”
“Bums, Tums and Thighs”
“Core and Cardio Blast”
Or constant advertising from PT’s, gyms, fitness centers labeling:
“Fat Burning”
“Muscle Toning”
“Six pack in 6 weeks!”

These all feed the narrative that exercise is for fast fixes of fat burning all for the gain of a better looking body. Posters are donned with gorgeous athletes with unsustainable figures that likely spend their whole lives trying to look that way. It’s STUPID, but it sells.

“But Evey, why should I care about those things? Why should I care about movement?” .
I’m glad you asked.

Movement can be as simple as 10 minutes a day of gentle mobility that can address general aches and pain, build strength and change your relationship to exercise. The key isn’t in the blood, sweat and tears. It’s in the sustainable small habits that never leave us. I can almost bet my money that the results (physically, mentally, internally) from someone who periodically jumps on and off the “Rise and Grind” wagon are going to be far worse than someone who dedicates 10 minutes minimum to their health 5 days a week.

So how do you begin your movement journey?
Stop finding random YouTube videos and start doing live classes as these will help keep you accountable, correct your form and build your foundations (online or in the flesh). Online classes can be found as little as £5 or even free if you look hard enough. Find someone you have done your research in and fits your goals, you won’t stick to a regular class unless you feel you’re getting GREAT value from it. Aim to practice 1 – 2 movements you learnt in class throughout the week (even if it’s just once, you can always build from here).

Find time to sneak this practice into your day without it feeling like a chore. For example, get out of your desk chair and move for 5 minutes at least twice a day. You’ll not only get the benefit of practicing, but you will help undo the damage done at the desk and you’ll feel more refreshed and clear to continue your day.

Fall in love with the feeling of moving, feeling and performing better. Sometimes you might not feel like moving, and that’s OK. But I can guarantee that no matter how much you don’t want to show up to class, or practice for 10 minutes, you will ALWAYS feel better afterwards. Overtime the results begin to compound and you find that lower back pain doesn’t bother you as much or your arthritis has stopped flaring as often. The better you start feeling, the more you will want to practice movement and build mobility.

If you want to start your movement journey, please feel free to check out my website and classes. At the end of the day, I want you to research who will help you best and choose a coach who provides the most value. If you have an questions, you can reach me on my contact form or at eeveydoesit@gmail.com

Until next time.
Kia kaha