Have you ever gotten into a terrible internet battle? Where 2 or more people are trading comments back and forth, and in those comments are some links?
“If you’d just read my link, you’d see it my way!”
Well, if You would just read MY link you would see MY side!”
NOT super likely, dude.
This happens often in the world of health, as well as herbalism, “alternative” medicine, breastfeeding and childbirth, child-raising, politics, dog-walking, religion, vaccinations and the all-important debate over whether or not you need your own AK-47.
This happens in fitness and exercise, diet, and even the thrill-a-minute electrical code forum my man reads.
But here’s the thing with links. We can find an internet link to support almost anything. Nearly all twisted, creepy, insane, illogical, delusional, harmful, bizarre, unfounded and straight-up nasty people and ideas have access to the internet.
We know this.
We have no idea who wrote some of that stuff, and we probably aren’t going to check.
And yet we link to it in order to convince others that we are right.
It’s not a debate, it’s not an argument.
It’s a Linksterfuck.
So now you have a word for it.
Let’s use it in a sentence:
“Oh, geez, I was in a real Linksterfuck in the AHG forum last night over whether or not herbs work without also eating a diet of only raw beaver and Paleo zucchini noodles.”
“Those 2 religious zealots are going back and forth all day in a Linksterfuck and driving everyone else out of the Elderly Birders of Wyoming forum.”
“I tried to get some information on deadlifitng but all I found was a Linksterfuck about whether women with muscles are all bitches.”
ultimately, these back and forth battles are promoting false binaries, ignoring the vast worlds of grey areas between any 2 extreme positions. Many of life’s most pressing problems will not be solved with internet links. In fact, you may have to get some actual experience and explore things from different angles.
I don’t think the internet is a horrible place to share ideas and even to have a healthy debate. I don’t think sharing links is always bad. But I think the Linksterfuck acts like a degenerative brain disease, canceling out much of the function in forums and discussions.
So let’s call it what it is.
The next time someone starts in on a list of links which–if only you cared enough to educate yourself about, jeez!–would change your mind and convince you that the alien being Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the REAL cause of climate change, call it what it is….just say it…
I am working on a class called “How to stop feeling like crap” about sharing the joys of self-care and as a little taste, here are 10 ways to get started on that endeavor. These may be cheap/free and fairly straightforward, but I won’t say they are easy because an object at rest stays at rest, and you might have to expend some effort to get the flow moving again.
But what the hell, a little effort in exchange for a lifetime of less crappiness is probably worth it, my dears.
So here are a few suggestions, and as I continue on this project I’d love to hear how YOU support self-care. Please note that while I do believe self-care will help support us, both short-term and long, none of these will induce a magical state of pure positivity, and I’m not going for that anyway–life is partly dark and that is OK. Sometimes the darker moments should be explored. And, as with any random advice from a stranger, it does not replace medical care–please know that if you are truly suffering you can ask for help, maybe from a professional if needed.
1. Get something off your chest. Secrets can be very heavy. Repression and festering anger or sadness can lead to a lifetime of simmering pain. You might not get a resolution when you express your feelings, but you definitely will not get a resolution from silence.
2.Take some Vitamin D! I love making my own Vitamin D but realistically speaking, it is -10 this morning and if I go outside nude I’ll quickly die. So I bolster myself with taking vitamin D, and I’ll be darned if I don’t feel less wintery doldrums. Don’t take my word for it though, there are tons of studies on D–and it is widely available. http://www.examine.com/supplements/vitamin+D/
3. Go for a walk. Walking to me supports thinking and processing physically, mentally and emotionally. Walking is available to most people, (other movement options may replace it for those who can’t) and is the main piece of my meditation practice. I can’t say enough about walking-it’s weight-bearing, building bones, moving lymph and promoting circulation. But beyond the health benefits, it is a way of participating in the world. http://www.katysays.com/caution-kids-not-walking/
4. Support your lymphatic system. I am delighted to hear about more people feeling the lymphatic love. I believe the lymphatic system is super important to overall health. It is a vital part of your immunity! When I am feeling a cold coming on, I don’t reach for a bottle of Echinacea-Goldenseal extract, I go for a walk! The lymphatic channels don’t have their own separate pump, we move the fluids by our own actions, or lack thereof. This can be supported in part by engaging in various types of movement, taking lymphatic herbs such as Cleavers, Calendula, Alder, Mullein, Ocotillo and gentle body massage-ideally all of these combined. http://www.kahnacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/organ-systems/lymphatic-system/v/lymphatic-system-immunity
5. Enjoy an orgasm. It’s not a sin, you’re not dirty, you have the right to enjoy living in your body–and it can be a great way to release tension, move through pent-up emotions and sleep better now. I am not going to tell you how, but I can assure you that it can be looked up on the internet if needed. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/secrets-longetivy/201102/orgasms-health-and-longevity-does-sex-promote-health
Sorry that article is so heteronormative…
UPDATE: OK, another piece of advice, maybe don’t search the internet for links on masturbation.
6.Eat fat. Healthy fats, that is–don’t chug the fry oil at Taco Bell. Think grass-fed butter, Coconut oil, pastured animal fats, duck fat, Olive oil. Free-range eggs, cream, avocados. Fat helps us to absorb and use some of our vitamins better, lubes up the joints and plumps up our eyeballs. (unsubstantiated claim, but it’s funny) Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. It is satiating and delightful. Avoiding fat might make you cold, shriveled, bored of another skinless boneless chicken breast and squeaky-jointed. http://www.chriskresser.com/have-some-butter-with-your-veggies
7. Find your nervine. Essentially, I believe in having a plant ally or two to call upon in times of duress. Try a few nervines, or speak with an herbalist familiar with nervine differentials who can help match you with the right simple or blend. Nervines help support our entire nervous system and restore function, help us manage stress and help us relax. My very very favorites are (tinctures) Milky Oats, Scullcap, Hawthorne, Blue Vervain and Passionflower-but don’t limit yourself to my list. I love many…Explore! http://www.bearmedicineherbals.com/relax-already-selected-nervine-differentials.html
8. Hydrate. One of the cheapest fixes I can think of, after “Take a deep breath” perhaps, is to be sure you are drinking enough water. Please don’t ask me if it can be herbal tea or lemon water…if you can’t decide or yourself, dehydration is not your main problem.
9. Address your micro-biome. Ok, so you’re basically a big ball of bacteria. With a little fungi and virii thrown in. (It’s viruses, but who’s checking?) It seems like a lot is unknown about the micro-biome, but one thing is clear: it’s kinda important. So examining your usage of antibiotics, internally and externally plus supporting your biome with everything from hanging out near soil, snuggling farm animals, eating ferments, possibly using a probiotic–(though be wary of the current marketing of probiotic everything from nose to tail, ass to entrails) basically just let go of the idea that a bacteria free bubble is better or even possible. Cause it ain’t.
10. Bodywork! Ok, this one may require a little cash outlay. I suggest seeing a massage therapist at least occasionally as well as doing some self-massage at home, trying a bumpy massage ball and/or muscle roller, exchanging basic massage with a partner and walking on varied surfaces, which stimulates different parts of your foot than walking on a treadmill. http://www.westsidewell.com for great accessible massage therapy and affordable classes too.
And remember, the idea is not achieving some delusional state of perfect happiness but acquiring the support, connection and strength to move through the ups and downs of life. Neither judging others for their chosen self-care choices (or lack thereof) nor forcing walks and herbs on ourselves or others will solve much without the work of letting go, letting ourselves be good and bad, dark and light, happy and crappy and everything in between. There is a lot of greyscale in the human life and that is just fine. It’s not all about shine, glow and heart. Sometimes it’s about git-R-done. But if there are ways to feel the best you can without a huge outlay of cash or time, why not give it a try?
In the poem ‘To a Young Girl in Washington Square Park’ George Green says “Your beauty is the barrel you’ll go over the falls in.” And for some of us, it is. But my barrel is my narrative. My story, that which I believe about myself and my world is the barrel that takes me through the rapids and over the freefall.
My narrative cannot protect me from everything but it does keep the sharks out.
And what does it mean to have a story?
Importantly, it keeps the millions of messages that come at us from all angles at bay. The world is full of people telling you that you are not good enough, and offering to make you better. For a fee. (Or that you are SO a-mazing!) And at times, self-improvement is a very good thing–I would never argue against striving towards greatness.
Sometimes what truly needs to be great is our perspective.
It seems like we always believe something is missing, that if only we could get the numbers right, take the right combination of herbs or lose an inch off our thighs everything would shift for us. It feels to me like a distraction from the maybe more important work of shifting our own attitudes.
Maybe you don’t really need to add a product?
Maybe you are actually fine.
For example, maybe if you are cold you could go outside for a few minutes, and you’ll realize that you really were not.
Maybe noone gives a shit about your neck wrinkles.
Maybe you are actually kinda awesome.
And maybe-just maybe-every single detail of our health and fitness doesn’t really need to be picked apart and examined under the highest resolution microscope every single freakin day.
What would your story look like if you were to just accept that you are strong, able, powerful? That you are not broken? That you are a do-er, just going around doing things and hey, that’s cool?
What would your narrative feel like if you let go of “My body is this and my body is that” and realized I AM my body?
It is not about creating our own delusional reality, ignoring the negative side of life and manifesting magical muscles with our minds. Not at all. It is about re-framing our views of who we are– from someone who needs to be “fixed” to someone who is on a lifelong journey of adding to and taking away, of balancing and building.
Sometimes the whole IS greater than its parts.
So what I see happening is people talking back to those sharks who try to gnaw at us, people disproving our culture’s narratives that only certain types of people can run, jump, dance, lift, climb. I see people using their own bodies and lives to show that there are many ways to be. I see people shifting and changing the world of fitness, beauty, health by their own actions. I see people healing their relationship with their bodies, and supporting each other in doing so.
Any one of us can go over the falls alone, but I have a vision of a world where so many of us make the leap that those who abuse their power in the world of health, beauty and fitness are left all alone in their manipulative little viewing tower, wondering what the hell happened!
Throughout my life I have avoided the fitness industry because I have always felt excluded, slightly horrified and straight-up confused. The fitness media is full of mixed messages, judgmental or shaming words and images, product placement and false claims. Outright lies such as “Get ripped abs in 6 weeks” or “Get boundless energy with Skinny stix” piss me off.
I loathe “before and after” photos, as if any one photo could represent your entire after? Besides, any fool can see that in many cases they just oiled themselves up and sucked it in.
And I hate this shit:
The shame! The stupidity!
But I love bodies, I love exercise and I love reading shitty magazines.
So what’s a gal to do?
To me, putting it out there, examining these attitudes and images and talking about it helps. It is harder for an industry full of excellent marketers to have power over us if we are silent, if we don’t discuss how we feel about this input, our bodies or our culture. It is easier to just ignore how many bodies are NOT represented with the majority of fitness media. (ok, all media) It is easier to feel left out, alone, than to speak out.
I also regret the promotion of a binary system of women’s fitness-you are either one of a very few super-strong women, or you are lifting 3-pound weights in fear of bulk. The reality is, most exercisers are somewhere in between. Many women are getting into lifting and building muscle. But I still see a lot of magazine spreads and books suggesting we should swing the tiny kettlebell my 9-year-old works out with, and the others assume we are training for Mrs. Olympia contests.
And, people, what is all this fitness for? What good is a toned arm anyway? I want to feel powerful, generate real force and defend myself if needed. Don’t be afraid of the ability to take out an attacker, outrun an alligator, stack some rocks or throw a roadkill deer into the trunk. Why aren’t the ladies in shape magazine ever doing that, eh? There is no need to deny our own strength in order to perform someone else’s idea of femininity. What I am saying is, if learned helplessness will help you “get a man”, he may not be the kind of man worth getting.
Ok, while I am at it let’s stop obsessing over looking young and throw a few elders into the fitness paradigm, let’s stop including a diet in the back of every freakin women’s exercise book and let’s get real about promoting healthy movement and inclusion.
One of the greatest powers of movement is to help us generate ideas, to integrate our mind and body as one, to help us think and process the day–and let it go. Exercise can make us smarter and stronger and more able. And it can be fun.
All bodies have a right to that, my friends.
So how are you promoting body love and movement practice and talking back to the fitness industry? I’d love to know.
Flawlessness is highly overrated.
Oh, and…Hating your body is a waste of time.
Recently I have been exploring fitness education for herbalists. I am a big advocate for movement and I do not currently see much movement-herbalism integration education, but it is my passion. I have lived my own personal journey from being scared of movement to being a huge advocate for and do-er of movement. I have put together a list of resources for those who wish to further their knowledge of the body, and I’ve decided to make it share-able–since, as I will repeat like 10 times–I really believe in this.
And I’d love for this to be the beginning of a bigger conversation. Tell me what resources you like, and why you do or don’t agree with me. Help me make this list more diverse. Let’s co-create the inclusive and inspiring and integrative movement culture of our dreams! Let’s build bridges across our divisions and go forward together!
So….I believe in movement. But first, my spiel:
I hear that herbs won’t “work” without diet and exercise and I think that is bull. It assumes that your diet is problematic and you’re not already exercising. And it assumes that the speaker knows what diet and what exercise is right. The fact is, sometimes herbs just work. You could be a lazy-ass, sitting around eating chips all day and maybe herbs just fix you up. Or you could be The Zumba Queen living on barley and carrot sticks and just drop dead. Wellness is complicated and none of us has figured this all out.
That said, I do believe that nourishment and movement support health in most cases. I do believe able-bodied people have the responsibility to maintain a certain level of fitness–not to avoid offending people with one’s poor aesthetics but to be of real service.
Who will help our elders safely cross streets, run into burning buildings and save kittens from trees if we all reject fitness? Don’t assume someone else is coming to save you.
It is often stated that fitness is a personal choice. But I believe that when we reject basic training we also reject service to our community and our own self-defense. There is value in being able to outrun anything, from an attacker to an alligator.
And if you actively reject your muscles in order to perform femininity you are part of the problem.
(I want to be very clear that I am talking about able-bodied, basically well people.)
I have a list of resources to share. It is hard to know where to look for good information. The world of fitness is very fraught with issues, from judgmental attitudes, manymanymany stupid useless products, sexual harassment, actively harmful advice, absurd weight-loss programs, dangerous drugs and supplements–it can be very overwhelming. This list is just a place to start. It is just a reflection of my personal journey. Take it or leave it, I hope it can be of use to you.
This list also speaks to the fact that fitness isn’t just going to a gym. It is very much about doing what you can with what you have. There are great resources for bodyweight-only fitness, outdoor fitness, flexible and functional fitness. I have a few resistance bands, a yoga mat, some kettlebells, a pair of minimalist shoes, a used Craigslist rowing machine and a great playlist. It is not all about the money or the gear.
And I also want to address a HUGE barrier to fitness: body shame. Self-loathing will get you nowhere. I was terrified to start fitness-ing. “What will people think?!?!?!” I look back on it now with a bit of humor, but believe me I am very sympathetic to those sitting at home reading this, thinking “I. CAN’T.”
1. Yes, you can.
2. How can I help?
OK, onwards and upwards. In no particular order:
-The women of Crossfit Dynamix http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kksQV6al1k
I came across this video one day while searching for something else. I can now admit, I burst into tears the first time I saw it. Because it gives permission to seek strength. Because it speaks to my deep desire to be a part of something. Part of a team. I feel like sometimes we don’t know quite what is wrong. Something is off. That something is a culture of movement. A culture of support.
– http://www.Crossfit.com and Crossfit Journal
I am going to be clear. I am NOT a Crossfit fanatic. I do not currently belong to a Crossfit. But a lot of my ideas about fitness and what I do come from Crossfitters. I observe that many leading fitness thinkers are involved in some way with Crossfit. I think it is evolving into many branches, some better than others. I personally don’t care for the Crossfit games or the dark side of the competitive Crossfit or competitive fitness in general. But. Crossfit. Way to change the game, especially for women. And I will say, don’t be afraid of the extremes. Just ignore them if needed. Check it out, take what you need from it, integrate the principles that work for you. The Crossfit journal has some great writing and videos and I find it very inspiring. I will never, ever bother with a 5-pound weight again.
-SIDE NOTE: I will warn you though, Crossfit videos, and fitness videos in general, can be associated with sexually harassing comments. Who are these people who sit at home watching Butt-lift videos and spewing their sexually aggressive thoughts all over them? They didn’t just THINK it, they took the time to SHARE it. They hit send. Try not to read the comments if you don’t care for truly offensive dirtbags making inappropriate proposals. And to those who can’t watch a fitness video without commenting on the body parts of women: please die now.
-Katy Bowman, http://www.katysays.com, http://www.alignedandwell.comhttp://www.nutritiousmovement.com
I cannot possibly say enough good things about Katy Bowman. There is no “but”. Just run to the store and get her books. Read her blog, like her on Facebook, check out her podcast, and videos, take her classes.
Movnat is natural movement. A big part of my point is that you don’t necessarily need to perform “exercises”. You don’t need to Jane Fonda, friends. You don’t always need a numeric goal. Movement is just the human animal, getting from place to place, moving loads and doing work, just like we have always done.
Running, jumping, climbing over something.
I’m into it.
Ido Portal advocates for a movement culture, a world where it is totally normal to devote time to moving around and noone will point and stare if we occasionally bust out a pull-up at the playground. He seems like a weird dude, and I like that. His videos make movement seem totally normal, and reminds me how our culture is so separated. No touching, no grappling, no horseplay between consenting adults. Let’s bring it back.
Darryl Edwards also brings back that playful side of movement. His book Paleo Fitness advocates mostly bodyweight strength training, play, group fitness, outdoor fitness and what I see as a flexible and intuitive path.
My final player for now is Rafe Kelley and he teaches a Parkour/play/natural movement system that I just can’t get enough of, and includes dance and outdoors. His videos and blog are inspiring and fun.
I appreciate full-body stuff like freerunning, obstacle racing, rockclimbing, puddle jumping and tracking.
I consider Kelly Starrett to be one of the movement geniuses of our time. His writing and videos are inspiring, accessible, interesting and a joy to watch. And he’s funny. I believe he makes learning about our bodies fun and exciting. His books, Becoming a Supple Leopard and Ready to Run, are page-folded, covered in wine splashes and often next to my bed.
I strongly suggest checking him out.
The Glute guy, Bret Contreras is a wealth of information. He advocates for strong glutes as a source of power. And in many ways, they are. I waffled about suggesting his website because there is a strong bias there towards those who are competing in bikini competitions–which I personally feel weird about. And the last thing I want is to add more body shame!!! So I will say: this resource is not for everyone. But if you are in the mood to get some solid information and can handle a few butt pics then go for it.
He also has a book, Strong Curves. Again, if you can hack your way through the figure model bits, it’s useful. So, I give it 2 buns up.
I can’t help but love someone who brings humor and sarcasm to the fitness industry. Amber advocates for eating enough food, and critiques the diet industry.
Jill Miller just released a new book called The Roll Model, and it is just great. I like her videos and I like her style. Pain is a major reason many people don’t move, and she helps to address that. Videos, classes, YTU balls, etc.
Brooke Thomas has a great podcast, one of my favorites. She talks a lot about fascia, an exciting aspect of our bodies that is often overlooked. Her e-book, Why Fascia Matters, is interesting and her writing is great. Highly recommended.
In case you get overwhelmed by all this input, Evil Sugar radio is a down-to-earth weekly podcast by 2 fitness professionals, Scott Kustes and Antonio Valladares. It is controversial, pleasantly obnoxious, always interesting. They have some great interviews and a lot of ranting. Importantly, they actively challenge the sexism, racism and classism which is rampant in the world of fitness, from diet to exercise and everything in between. Inclusion and tolerance are extremely important to me, and I am very thankful that someone is willing to speak about the reality of the industry–while also bringing good information to people. They also have a lot of links under each show for further information. This is valuable because I like to research further.
And maybe now is a great time to mention–critical thinking, people. Don’t take anyone’s word without thinking, researching and trying. And that applies to me as well!
OK, how about a short list of other books I like:
-Core Awareness by Liz Koch
-The Swing! by Tracy Reifkind (KETTLEBELLS!!!)
-Mad Skills Exercise Encyclopedia by Ben Musholt
-Kettlebells for Women by Lauren Brooks
-The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony T DeBenedet, MD and Lawrence J Cohen, Phd
-The Parkour and Freerunning Handbook by Dan Edwardes
-Power Speed Endurance by Brian McKenzie
And if you overdo it, I recommend getting bodywork at WestSide wWellness in Providence RI. http://www.Westsidewell.com
And how about a short list of what to avoid?
Most fitness magazines.
Anything that promotes body shame.
Non-functional exercises that do more harm than good.
Obsessing about every little detail.
Trendy doo-dads, like Thighmaster, green coffee beans, 30 days to ripped abs, ass-shaping sneakers and Celery diets.
Ultimately, you are great exactly as you are. You were great before, and you will be great later, whether you work out or not. Movement is not about punishment for being imperfect. Integrating movement into our lives is about stimulating our bodies and minds, about circulating our lymph and running wild. It is about being the human animal, running free through the woods. It is about the future of our mobility, about the ability to get up and down off the floor. It is about creating wellness, having an outlet and giving a shit about lung capacity. It is about power, creating our personal power and cultivating our own inner strength. It is a way to connect, to build bridges. It is a way to add to our world, to serve, to help keep kids out of trouble, to help recovery from physical and mental disorders, addiction, imbalance. It is giving ourselves time to process this screwed-up world and self-care and blowing off steam. Until we see movement as a gift, an opportunity, rather than a thing to check off our to-do list, no resources will fix us.
Hello, my friends.
I will be downsizing my apothecary over the next 2 weeks.
This is a great time to stock up on handmade small-batch tinctures and oils!
I am offering a number of special sales in order to get these items into good homes.
I have 4 ounce sizes of the following tinctures, fresh plant in grain alcohol, grown by Fellow workers Farm or wildcrafted:
-Scullcap (scutellaria lateriflora)
-Angelica root (archangelica)
-Tulsi (Holy Basil)
-Wild carrot seed (fresh seeds and flowers, Daucus carota)
-Lavender, fresh flowers
-Sage, fresh flower spikes
-Honeysuckle flowers (Lonicera tatarica)
-Monarda- fistulosa flowers in brandy, didyma flowers in grain
-St John’s Wort flowering tops
-Blue Vervain tops
-Turkey tail, double extraction
-Meadowsweet, fresh flowers
I also have a few oils, freshly dried plant matter infused in olive oil:
-White Pine resin
-St John’s Wort
-Sweet Birch twigs and bark
These are all of limited quantity and while supplies last only. Inquiries welcome, I have very small amounts of a few others ready to be included.
All 4 ounce tinctures are 25.00, oils 20.00
If you buy four 4-ounce tinctures I’ll send you one extra as a bonus!
All 1 ounce tinctures are 5 for 30.00, choose 5 or I will send you a 5-item package of my choice, which may or may not be on this list.
Shipping is most likely2.00, 5.00 or a 12.00 flat rate box-or pick up here!
Order through e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Paypal or use this link: http://www.fellowworkersfarm.bigcartel.com/products
I’d like to share an advice exchange from Shape magazine’s “Get Fit” column.
Q: “I don’t need to lose weight, but my butt is bigger than I’d like, How can I shrink it?”
A: The trainer goes on to tell her some ridiculous, awkward exercises to do, and then suggests she should eat a healthy diet and burn more calories than she takes in.
Well, no shit.
Now let’s imagine another world, an alternate magical world which I’d love to see.
A: Your butt is fine. I am all for—all for–adding a few Glute-strengtheners. Glutes are a source of power and balance. Maybe Squats or vigorous hiking. But there is no ideal size.
There. is. no. one. perfect. butt.
And don’t bother spending all day doing that stupid leg lift. How will it translate to power for you? And how big do you think your butt “should” be anyway? Maybe take a minute and ask yourself:
Where did my ideas about butt size come from?
Is it possible that I am comparing my butt to that of a person with totally different genes?
Is it possible that my butt is more or less just right for me?
Is it possible that I am confusing idealized looks with actual function?
Is it possible that, rather than writing letters about my supposed big butt to freakin’ Shape magazine I could do something life-affirming, fun, interesting, educational….
Is it possible, just maybe, that I can be here now, in this moment, without ads for Brazilian Butt Lift videos or Skinny jeans, without the self-hatred of our personal and cultural lineages or the judgement of our peers, be here with my allegedly imperfect butt and just let it all be what it is?
Is it possible that noone really needs to obsess over every single detail of their body, that every cell is in flux and grows and changes and shifts, that context counts, that history and culture are the context, that our body is just a snapshot of one moment and that a little acceptance goes a very very long way?
Yeah, it’s possible.