I just got my copy of the brand new book Deskbound by Dr. Kelly Starrett, with Juliet Starrett and Glen Cordoza. Finally! Before I get into the book, I have to say, I am biased– I am already a fan of the Starretts–I like their giant quads, their cheerful, funny approach and their seeming lack of douchiness. And I already like the books Becoming a SuppleLeopard and Ready to Run and Mobilitywod. To me, Kelly Starrett stands out amongst the many people talking about bodies in that he’s not waxed up, he seems to be respecting ladies, he and the others in his books and videos seem just like regular people. It’s like Yep, here’s a strong lady lifting stuff and it’s no big thing. Here’s my kids, here we are just running around. Refreshing.
OK, so Deskbound. It is about the sedentary life that is very common in our culture right now, why it matters, and what we can do about it. It is definitely about sitting, but, you know, it’s like 300-something pages, it offers a lot of information and solutions. Sitting is an issue that affects herbalists because 3 of the most common complaints we get are pain, digestive issues and “stress”/sleep issues. ALL of these issues may be helped by our changing the ways we move and live, so every time we hand out a product to fix something caused by a behavior, we are participating in, we are co-creating this cultural imbalance.
Yes, we are part of the problem, too.
So throughout the book, they are not afraid to say ” ____is a problem, here is why, move away from ___, here is how.” It is a format that actually makes sense, feels do-able and practical to me.
There are a lot of visuals, both photos and drawings, that help to make the concepts clear. The approach feels like systems thinking, where we identify and unravel underlying causes, make connections, which excites me. I’m seeing lots of focus on standing and walking, which might sound boring but IT’S NOT–basically, how can we do these better, and how will that support our overall health.
And the concept of “environmental loads”– everything from shoes to chairs– is one that may be useful in talking about what makes us unwell–often we hear, in the alternative health community, about fears of chemicals or radiation, GMOs or “toxins”, from people wearing heeled shoes, sitting all day who don’t lift heavy things. HEY! It’s not the “toxins” that are going to get you, people! Go for a walk!
I also appreciate that there isn’t a diet section. I’ve experienced reading a book about movement or health which suddenly shifts into what to eat, or some pseudoscientific or religious views, or both, and it’s an immediate buzzkill for me.
My only complaint about this book, and much of the media around sitting, heck all fitness, is that they seem to be speaking to “white collar” office workers first. My personal background, community and family are filled with factory workers, farmers , cleaners and carpenters. While this information definitely applies to nearly all types of workers, some interpretation will need to be done to make this feel super relevant to much of the working class.
So go get this book, and learn how to perform basic maintenance on your bod. Bring it to your own community, bring the concepts into your practice, your teaching, or your way of thinking. The next big shift in our culture is out of the chair, and this book shows us how and why.
Changing the way we move will eventually help to change the way we view our bodies–we don’t HAVE a body, we ARE a body, and this book is an owner’s manual.
People who work the front desks of medical offices are like gatekeepers. They are ambassadors. They are the first voice or face a person encounters when they are seeking care. And the energy of that first interaction can be important.
Sometimes the person who is seeking that appointment hasn’t always done the best job of self-care. Perhaps they were unwilling or unable to keep up on their medical care. Perhaps they are a little outside of normal, or have in some way not “measured up” to the American standard in terms of class, gender, sexuality, appearance, ability, religious or other self- expression.
This is an opportunity.
As a gatekeeper, you have the opportunity, almost a sacred duty, to help bring this person into the fold of access. To welcome this person who may have obvious or hidden baggage around seeking some type of care into a safe space.
This person has reached out, has made an attempt to do the right thing, to access this care.
And this first interaction can truly make it or break it.
If a person who is trying to make an appointment, trying to ask a question or is in need of care feels judgement, feels pushed away or unwanted, feels uncomfortable, this can potentially reinforce the worldview that they don’t belong.
Or…this interaction could be a turning point.
If they walk into a gym, ready to make the leap of beginning fitness. If they walk into a farmer’s market, ready to add more vegetables. If they walk into an herbalist’s office, a massage studio, yoga class, health food store, running-shoe store, feminist sex shop….making this shift could change their freakin life.
They have taken a step.
What may be just another day to you could be a moment someone else has built up the courage to do for, like, ever.
Many people carry a lifetime of baggage, of judgement, of abuse, of discomfort, of self-loathing around like a big heavy stupid backpack, and it’s just enough to hold them back.
Maybe they already know they aren’t from around here. Maybe they drink too much, don’t take enough walks, rely excessively on quick fixes.. Maybe they already know the pain of rejection. Maybe they already know what that damn raised eyebrow means.
There may be a reason that someone has avoided seeking needed care. There may be a history that you can’t see. Neither the mainstream nor the alternative healthcare systems have always been kind to everyone. It is noone’s fault, it just “is”.
And, to those on the front lines of healthcare, I honor you, Physical care, mental care, fitness, alternative and mainstream– I don’t heap with you blame or anger for being human. Many of you are doing GREAT. And…Perhaps you have your own baggage. Perhaps you are just having a tough day. I thank you for the work you do.
But if you are able to keep this in mind, if you are able to welcome all the freaks into your space, actively welcome, to remember that it may feel foreign to some, dangerous even, to be accessing your services, perhaps you can see yourself as THE ANSWER. Or at least AN answer. This outreach position has the potential to literally shift someone’s feelings about the entire system. This interaction can be THE pivotal moment for a marginalized person. Or this moment can just reinforce the beliefs a person already holds.
“This is not for me.” “I am an outsider.”
They might bring vulnerability, shame, misunderstanding. You can be a bridge.
And around 90% of people are not seeking the lecture that you could deliver–even if, technically, you are “right”.
Maybe there will always be a douchebag who feels the need to yell at less-fit persons who finally worked up the courage to start running. Maybe there will always be a person who rolls their eyes when you say you have never had a primary care doctor. Maybe there will always be an herbalist who insists your colon isn’t clean enough. Maybe some people need to feel superior to those dorks who drag themselves out of bed, try their best, don’t fit in but do it anyway.
Did you know that everyone is FULL of parasites? 90% of us have “Candida”, nearly everyone is constipated “whether they know it or not” and an undiagnosed virus is sapping your vital force right now! You are toxic and every single problem you have is due to this fact. Unless it’s due to planetary mis-alignment, of course.
At least, that is what the internet says.
And it is very easy to debunk these claims. Because we are actually full of bacteria, yeasts, viruses and IT IS FINE. We are participating in a lifelong dance of waste elimination, our body usually has this under control and we are actually co-existing with most of our critters. In fact, a lack of symbionts can be as bad as an excess.
“Viruses are the most abundant obligate intercellular entities in our body.”-Pubmed.gov
And it is easy to make fun of this stuff too.There seems to be a confusion between living with our natural symbionts and suffering from antagonistic parasitic or viral imbalances–which do happen but are not common and are not the source of all evil, and can usually be corrected.
There are some truly extreme claims being made in the world of parasite panic:
You get parasites from a handshake?
Parasites slowly eat away at your internal organs and poop toxic waste into your system?
ALL cancer is caused by an intestinal parasite?
THEY don’t want you to know!!!
Yeast overgrowth is keeping you drunk!
A dirty colon poisons the body from the inside out and makes us all… walking zombies?
Some of this stuff is literally just made up.
But here is the thing. There is a reason why this stuff resonates with so many people. The cleansing, detox and parasite-a-noia products are selling, at least some of them. And if we do not change the conversation, shed some light, open this issue up and air it out the rhetoric of Original Sin will continue to drive people to strive towards a delusional ideal of intestinal purity. Just like a parasite, health delusion thrives in silence and darkness.
So let’s observe the way our body is commonly framed in discussions about alternative healthcare.
Often the context is based on the idea that there is something WRONG with the body. The body is broken. You have fallen from health-grace. You are a victim.
The paradigm is based on the idea that you need to take something. Are you tired? “Sluggish”? Have a little gas? Do you have an itch or indigestion? Imperfect skin that doesn’t glow enough? Feel a tad grumpy? Take this!
These are not necessarily pathologies. These are normal reactions to having a body.
But often the entire business plan is built on promoting a fear and loathing of the body and its functions.
The people who wish to sell us these harsh cleanse products use our deepest fears, our discomforts and our individual and cultural misunderstanding of Science, Anatomy, Bacteria, the process of elimination and the way our body achieves homeostasis and balance to manipulate us into buying their products or clicking fearfully on their links. They promote a fragility mindset in which we must constantly be guarding against evil entities that are trying got destroy us.
It is exhausting.
The blog writers and Senna salespeople seem to know more about Psychology than basic Anatomy and use their knowledge of human behavior to induce PARASITE PANIC!!! and bring you into the CLEANSE CULT!!! “It’s God’s medicine! It’s health freedom! The medical system doesn’t want you to be well. “They” are covering this up. They will tell you this is wrong but I know it, only I have the truth!”
(But I have absolutely zero citations for my allegations!)
And unfortunately there are some real examples of the medical system causing harm or seeking to make money over caring for individuals, but to imply that no alternative healthcare practitioner would ever do that is just bizarre. Business exists, no shit.
And the fact is, their cleanse products and protocols suck.
A Super Tonic that you have to take every 15 minutes for several weeks?
Purgatives to get all the feces out with 3-5 bowel movements every day?
Oil of Oregano daily as a preventive?
A month-long juice cleanse?
Avoiding ALL carbs to starve parasites?
“mysterious Ancient Chinese herbal formulas”?
These products show a fundamental misunderstanding of the body and how it works as well as a shocking lack of basic problem-solving skills and a laundry-list of logical fallacies.
“But these products are natural!” Listen, I am a fan of natural. I love nature. But the definition of natural is very much open to interpretation. Not everything natural is good, and not everything “unnatural” is bad, this is a false binary that we shout about when it feels convenient and there is NOT always agreement on what is natural. For example, “YOU’RE NOT AN ANIMAL SO DON’T HAVE SEX LIKE ONE!” Sometimes our ideas of what is natural and unnatural are a direct reflection of our personal or political hang-ups.
(And why are we so darn obsessed with poop anyway?)
Abusing natural herbs to fix non-problems which are allegedly caused by nature, which viruses and parasites certainly are, nature that is, feels like a huge red flag to me.
And natural products can absolutely do harm, induce side-effects, and damage the beneficial bacteria and intestinal lining.
Oh, and we can’t alkalize our way out of a prison of self-loathing.
If needed, a few doses of standardized medicine may take care of a problem that would take a month of high doses of herbal medicines–herbs are not always the best solution for every issue, and certainly not without a downside. Herbs can be abused, too.
So let’s talk about what is really going on here.
Your body is always eliminating waste. Occasionally a little support is needed and that is fine. Eat some fiber, great. Movement and hydration are the 2 easiest ways to keep things moving and flowing. Trust the process while gently moving stagnation. Sleep.
But if 85 or 90 percent of a given population “HAS” something, such as parasites or cellulite or wrinkles, it is NOT an epidemic. It is normal. I’d be more concerned with the freaks who don’t have it. What’s their deal?
You are not broken. Sticky feces are not currently destroying your life. These people say they promote health freedom, but you cannot be free if you are chained to self-loathing. You cannot be free if you fear your own butt.
This is not a battle between good and evil, my friends. You don’t win points with God or some mysterious forces for your intestinal purity. We don’t need to project fantasies of sparkly cleanliness onto the places that depend on moist darkness to work properly. We can’t purge and punish our way out of reality.
So let’s put aside the desire for an easy answer and get real.
Let’s admit that we are full of wonderful, delicious bacteria and viruses and symbionts and yeast and it is totally normal.
And maybe instead of dissing those who are joining the cult of cleanse we can all examine how people are sometimes dismissed by standardized medicine, and how that feels. Let’s look at what drives people to seek out alternatives, for better or worse, and let’s note that Parasite Panic fills an emotional hole that is real. Like joining a cult, people often seek answers out of a sense of desperation, out of disconnection, fear, confusion.
Let’s note that many of the symptoms that marketers attribute to parasitic attack are extremely similar to the symptoms of poorly managed stress and fear. Is it possible that we are inducing our own indigestion by dwelling in a fear state, constantly looking for signs that our colon is under attack?
Is it possible that our confirmation bias helps us feel GREAT that we are finally doing something–anything–about all the “toxic poison” collecting in our duodenum and ruining our “purity”?
Are we seeking a sense of identity, of belonging, or trying to correct greater cultural ills by exerting control over something in our own life? Are we trying to prove a point about health or behavior or conspiracy theories?
Ideologies can create realities. But true self-love means loving all of ourselves, inside and out, including the less shiny bits. We do not truly accept our body if we cannot accept that the colon stores feces.
And to me, a lot of these blogs and articles and ads have a terrifying lack of a sense of humor. Our body and its processes are fun and funny! Our symbionts are delightful and interesting and heck if we can’t see humor in poop then we really can’t see humor anywhere.
And parasite fear (for example) may point to a deep inner discomfort with our animal nature, an evolutionary fear of certain frightening insects or antagonists, an ancient obsession with belonging and “the other” and a misunderstanding of our basic intimate processes and desires.
There is no battle between good and evil being fought in your colon, but there just may be a marketing battle preying upon our ancient brains.
Some marketers claim that their cleanse will help you lose weight–even as much as 10 pounds overnight! But the best weight loss you might ever achieve is losing the weight of eons of shame over having a fabulous dirty body…and losing the fear of the symbiotic flora and fauna you live with.
There seems to be a dearth of energy in the world today. At least you would think so if you spend 5 minutes on the internet or browsing “health” magazines at the bookstore. There appears to be an unlimited amount of products that claim to give us energy. How can we make sense of this? Is it really possible to create more energy by taking a pill or drink?
Let’s see what we can find…
“Insanely healthy energy!”
“Fat just falls off!” (WTF)
“7 Top herbs for an energy boost!”
“Nettles can give you as much energy as a cup of coffee!”
“Heavier foods use up more of our ‘digestive fire’, leaving us a little lethargic!”
“The culprit may well be a virus lurking, unidentified inside our body!” (They then suggest oil of oregano to destroy it.)
“Parasites are a hidden cause of fatigue!” (According to a ‘master herbalist’)
There are some creative products out there like:
Diet aid and energizer capsules
Peptime stimulant 357 magnum caplets (Hey, kids, what time is it? Pep time!)
Extreme power plus dreamlike weightless diet pill energy lose weight product (thanks, ebay)
Herbal energy plus (plus what?)
Fat burner 4x plus energy (“effortlessly melt away belly fat!”)
Thermogenix fat burner
Isogenix President’s Pak
And then we have chile peppers, grapefruit, nuts, green tea, adaptogens, juicing, bee pollen…
Ugh. First of all, any product can claim that it increases energy. This is one of the most vague, unmeasurable claims in the known universe. (Note that my claim is also unproveable.) But seriously, any person can say it. It’s like a creepy code. How can it be disproven? This vagueness is so perfect for marketers who prey upon our schlubby misery.
Just use testimonials:
“Oh, I never knew I could have so much energy!”
“Oh, my energy levels are through the roof now that I finally found the right combo of grapefruit and Chiles and Garcinia!”
This energy could come from the fact that you just blew 50 bucks on that bottle of pills and your confirmation bias insists that you feel great because you don’t want to feel like an idiot who just wasted 50 bucks.
Or from the way that humans respond to novelty. Every time you start something new it feels energizing because new things excite our ancient brains.
So, what is energy anyway? Where does it come from? What is wrong with just having a regular ol’ amount of energy? Why do we feel like we must constantly be bursting out of our blouses with this mysterious energy stuff?
And what are they REALLY saying?
In my opinion, gaining solid healthy energy is more about taking away what is not working than adding products to produce more. Stop wasting the energy you do have with worry and bullshit. Sleep like your life depends on it. Nourish the hell out of yourself, deeply, and if you are out and hungry but can’t find kale and marrow bones, just eat what’s there and move on–because worrying that you ate a donut takes energy!
It takes a lot of energy to repair our body, consider how your body mechanics, posture and fitness level are giving you energy or taking it away.
Oh, and it takes energy to hold onto years of trauma and anger, it takes energy to repress unresolved emotions. So let something go.
Avoid any expensive product that is “as good as coffee” when coffee is cheap, tasty and widely available.
And avoid EXTREME energy plus 5,000 type products like the plague. Why?
-Insomnia. Not much produces a cycle of true exhaustion like relying on energy products.
-Pyramid schemes. Some of these products want you to go on and on about how great you feel, then sell it to your friends.
-Fat-Shaming. Losing 2 pounds will not magically make you happy. Looking at these shaming ads will just make you feel like you’re not good enough. And they often suggest extremely restrictive diets combined with caffeine pills. Great idea. Not.
-Side effects. What else is in there? Do you really need one million milligrams of every mineral every single day?
No. But clearly absurd claims of endless extreme energy sell products and move magazines.
Can we explore our feelings about energy a little more deeply before we attempt to fix it by shopping? Can we take note of our desire for a quick and easy solution to a part of life that is just a reflection of deeper issues? Can we accept that levels of energy do ebb and flow, naturally, not just through the day or week but through the seasons and the years? Can we see that we cannot Ginseng our way out of a hole that needs our attention, that anything that sounds too good to be true is probably NOT true, that the vague hyped-up claims are ethically questionable and actively obnoxious? Can we grasp that different people have different speeds to operate on and most, unless causing serious life problems, are not “bad” or “good”? Can we insert some critical thinking into our lives, and ask questions and look a little further beyond the label or advertisement? Can we create a conversation around this issue, and shed a little light on a system that attempts to push us too far, into a system that makes us feel like we aren’t good enough as we are?
I like to keep my energy slow and steady with a movement practice, active release of body and emotions, engaging in a creative pursuit, spending time outdoors, eating mostly nourishing foods, using occasional vitamins if needed, using caffeine sparingly (i.e. not all day every day), limiting soul-sucking energy stealing interactions when possible and adjusting my expectations according to season, wellness level and need. And ultimately I draw my energy from a sense of inner resilience. From not being knocked down by every little thing. From building strength in body and mind, slow strength, quiet strength. It is not flashy and it is not glamourous. It is real.
A little dose of reality can go a long way in speaking back to this marketing-created delusion.
Last weekend, A.J. McLean of the Backstreet Boys was talking about the band’s reunion show on NPR, and mentioned that they were icing their back and knees backstage after dancing, which gave me 2 different reasons to grit my teeth while listening to Morning Edition.
There is a lot of advice available via the internet which combines RICE-rest, ice, compression, elevation- with ibuprofen for assistance with pain from an injury or post-workout pain and muscle soreness. But RICE has been debunked.
I see icing suggested for nearly everything from Plantar Fascitis, both chronic and acute pain, “heel pain”, back injury, too much running. Heck, my kid was given ice by the school nurse for an earache! (shudder.) This is not my personal strategy. I am most likely to use– and recommend– basic self-care strategies like active recovery, warm or hot soaks with Epsom salts and herbs, gentle massage, lymphatic activation and herb-infused liniments or infused oils. In certain cases, rest.
And longer term, I suggest working towards prevention of injury. Strengthening the fabulous glutes, addressing your weaker areas over time, improving balance and proprioception, building protective muscle with weight-bearing exercise, releasing tension with bodywork and personal mindfulness practice, sleep, exploring movement and mobility every day, hydrating with both water and good fats, eating bone broth and gelatin and paying attention to your nutrition may all help the body to resist injury and recover more quickly.
(Just a quick note here, I am saying “help”. Accidents happen, and I am not alleging that there is ONE answer. Always seek medical care in an emergency and take the advice of your doctor, not some lady on the internet.)
To me the strategy of RICE and NSaids for pain ignores the causes of pain, ignores the lymphatic system’s role in our health, ignores the existence of fascia and values short-term relief over long-term wellness, helping us to feel like we are “doing something” whether or not it actually supports healing. Rolling your foot on an icy bottle to fix Plantar fascitis seems to misunderstand how the body works as well as what preventive care means.
Yes, there are times when a quick-fix is the right choice for an individual, and should remain available to those who need to git-r-done, for whatever reason. I don’t wanna judge your choices. But ultimately, I believe that the tide of opinion, as well as solid scientific fact, is turning away from icing and immobilizing and towards active recovery, and though many establishment folks are resisting a deeper view of recovery it IS happening.
When the doctor who coined the term RICE has officially retracted his support for the method we may want to reconsider, hmmm?
What I am really asking you to do is just think it through. I believe much of our current attitudes towards health in general and pain management in particular do not come from places of deep wisdom, innovative testing or knowing what is truly the best but what is easy, available, marketed, affordable and culturally sanctioned. Many people do not want to ask WHY we do things and whether they are right. And sometimes health care professionals (including herbalists!) don’t have the time or desire to stay up on the latest information, to question their own practices–or don’t have the time to spend with each patient to truly support them. Maybe we just need to get them fixed up quickly.
Not everyone believes in self-care or preventive care. We claim that we “don’t have time”. We don’t always want to notice that we are overdoing it, that we are relying on poor movement patterns to get something done faster or generating force now at the expense of our longer-term health. Or that we haven’t exercised in 20 years, and it’s catching up to us. And perhaps there are issues inherent in the structure of our culture that tell us we have to shut up and move that entire pile of bricks RIGHT NOW. Perhaps marketing and “fitspo” tell us that if it doesn’t hurt we haven’t done enough. And perhaps some people are not willing to feel a bit of discomfort in the short term to benefit longer term health. It is possible that our culture fears discomfort and pain, misunderstanding that sometimes pain can be just a symptom or a signal which is suggesting that we address underlying causes, look at our movement mechanics and patterns and imbalances.
Ultimately, I suggest you decide for yourself what is best for yourself. Wellness isn’t always as easy as “just take something” or just slap an ice pack on it. Addressing underlying issues can be a pain in the ass, literally. Self-care can be work, it can be play if you let it, but it definitely requires more thought than swallowing a pill. And those shoes that are slowly destroying you look so cute! There is a side effect to self-care though…a feeling of self-empowerment; the knowledge that we have a certain responsibility to help support our own health. I’ve got a few links here for you to explore, and trust me you can find a LOT of links to represent the opposite side–though not much in the way of great scientific studies to support RICE or preventive ibuprofen before a workout. (ugh!)
So let’s think before we reach for ice, and certainly before we perpetuate the ice myth to others. Ice is on its way out, kicking and screaming perhaps, but better late than never.
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?
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.
When we think of the tools of an herbalist, we may think of Felcos, or a first aid kit. An intake form or a Ball jar. We definitely think of the analyzing brain, sitting in a serious chair and paging through stacks of books. All of these tools are indeed helpful in providing herbal support to people. However, I propose that another important tool to explore is PLAY. Sometimes we forget how much a playful spirit can give to us! On many levels there are benefits to recommending and incorporating both physical and mental play into our lives and our practice.
Healing can be a serious business. Ailing folks come to us every day in need of our help. Listening to the stories, providing support and solutions is good work. But it IS work–and play can help us to navigate burnout.
Play helps us to build a dynamic type of herbalism, a living and breathing force, an art– instead of a dusty historical practice. Play can make herbalism and healing more holistic and can contribute to a re-vitalization of all involved. (plants too!) At its most basic level play is an outlet, and energy needs outlets. I would argue that many who come to an herbalist or other healer present with a stuck-ness or a stagnation. I do recommend herbs here for both emotional and physical movement. But to stop there feels very limited to me. I may then suggest play to:
-help us process feelings and input.
-uncover hidden aspects/roots of the problem.
-generate ideas towards a resolution.
-tap into deeper states of knowing.
-move lymphatics and promote circulation.
Play can help us to stop over-identifying as a patient or as a diagnosis, help us get out of our cyclical thinking and into a different state of being. Do you remember time just floating by while doodling or playing house, riding bikes with no destination or making out for hours? Have you ever just let go of your life and worries and embodied a mythical figure or an animal? Climbed trees or rocks all day with no plans or floated in the ocean like a seabird? It is a way of feeling integrated. Integrated into a storyline or a group of people, integrated into a piece of land or body of water….integrated into time and space. Basically the opposite of day-to-day life.
**Note that I am not promoting a disconnected state of being. Living in a fantasy world is not the same as embodied play–I am talking about grounded play which incorporates movement and has a beginning and an end.**
Play can also be a way to practice movement. For those who avoid structured exercise, play can be the solution to get moving and enjoy it. Insomnia and poor sleep quality are very common complaints–try play! Physically and mentally, the outlet supports healthy rest. Sexual dysfunction? Try play. Mild depression and anxiety? At the risk of sounding repetitive, have you played lately?
Outdoor play can help ground us and support us with fresh air and a delightfully uneven surface to navigate. (Important! Get off the concrete !) We also can practice “working play” such as foraging, tracking and gathering-a way to lose ourselves in a task that is primal and fulfilling. In a sense we lose ourselves to find ourselves–losing the 2014-responsible-wired-matching-outfit-upright-linear-worried self and finding the soiled human-animal interactive parts, the connected ancestral wild parts. Cause we are both, and more.
And ultimately play can help us to build resilience, to express ourselves more fully and to interact more with our environment and community. To grasp that we win some and we lose some, and life goes on. To see that we can take turns as “the leader”. Play is an innate drive and can be cultivated. You can’t do it “wrong”. It helps us to overcome fears and reclaim our nature, to restore ourselves and our power.
So far I have been referring mainly to practitioners suggesting play to our clients but how can we as practitioners use play to become better? Other than using play to improve our own selves, we can use it as a practice for problem-solving. How do humans gain new perspectives? Play. Have you ever needed to look at a problem differently, as a healer? Logic is great, truly, but there are times when it makes sense to get outside of that to find creative solutions.
Ultimately, play is an important problem-solving tool. It can be used in many different ways, and we can find out which way works for us. We can bridge our different levels, and bridge the separations between ourselves and others, ourselves and the earth, plants, animals-if only for a moment. Hell, don’t knock moments of bliss–they can be a moment we didn’t even know was possible…Play can help us to lose ourselves and, in so doing, to find ourselves.
Play can help us accept ourselves, help us to manage our anger, burnout and stagnation too~we can push ourselves into new levels of practice, challenge our ingrained patterns and rote ways of thinking, bust out of cycles that no longer serve us.
And, most importantly, play can bring us pleasure. A simple pleasure of feeling the sun on our backs while we lose ourselves in examining river stones or the joyful pleasure of watching our basket fill up with wild blueberries…the pleasure of touch and sensuality or sounds. The underlying pleasure and self-acceptance can be an anchor in life’s storms and ground us on our journey. Health and healing are serious undertakings, we hold other people’s lives and trust and stories with respect and compassion. But it is not THAT serious–almost nothing exists which cannot give us a moment of humor, insight or creativity if we know how to look at it through the lens of play.
What has been proven, in studies, to build bones, to support mental health, to support recovery from addiction, and to be “as effective as” some medications such as statins in treating chronic disease? Exercise. Yet many of us don’t do it. Why not? I’d like to suggest that we don’t believe in it. Sure, we may believe the statistics about exercise. We may know, in our heads, that exercise is “good” for us. But we don’t all believe in it with our core, with the place where our truths reside. I would like to suggest that exercise itself is part of the problem. Culturally, it is seen as a chore and a punishment. Get through it, and move on to “real” life. Rehabilitation is seen as something to check off the to-do list–temporary–not a life-long practice of self-care. A guilt-inducing series of movements we perform under duress to help us stop hating ourselves–hating our bodies and our lives. How’s that working out for ya, America?
May I suggest we drop that whole line of bull and get on board with movement? Movement is NOT just exercise. It is locomotion. It is art. You can’t really do it wrong. Even if your body is non-conforming, your mind is atypical, your soul is really weird, some kind of movement is right for you.
Have we let beautiful people steal exercise from us? Have we let corporations hand sports over to professionals and schoolkids only? Have we bought in to the idea that we don’t have the right body type or equipment or outfit, not enough space or time or support? Have we lost the drive to get our asses up that tree or that mountain and see what it all looks like from another angle?
I know I did. Yes, it happened to me. I saw exercise as a chore, a duty, something to “get through”. I’ll do it tomorrow. I was not putting my love into it, nor my pelvis. I was in a state of separation and I allowed fear to keep me from moving in certain ways. One day I wondered–What the heck am I doing?
Where do our movements come from? Why do we walk, sit, dance in certain ways? Or not–Why do we hold back from moving in other ways? How much does our culture, our history, our social circle, our furniture, our clunky shoes and our intimate desire affect our own movements, our own idea of what is OK?
For example, have we learned to stop jumping off things because it is not proper? Have we learned to sit down and be quiet? Have we learned to take up less space, be very careful, stop arousing certain feelings? Don’t lift heavy stuff lest you”get big” whatever the hell that means? Minimize. What movements are we suppressing to fit in?
What are we suppressing when we walk on a treadmill, going on and on to nowhere, or lift a 3-pound dumbbell over and over 100 times hoping to tone our triceps for beach season? What about training for beach season really supports our humanity, our self-love, our re-integration? I think it just re-inforces our fears.
I had my own fears, and most of them were realized when I started throwing myself into movement. My pants fell down in Zumba class. I threw up. My glutes hurt and I didn’t really know how to shake my booty. I started lifting a tiny kettlebell. But I just kept doing it until I fell in love with myself all over again. I woke up one day and remembered what it feels like to have a body–and why I should care. I don’t give a rat’s ass if I have cellulite or jiggly arms. I don’t care if I “glow” or if I have a thigh gap. I am fast. I am strong. I move to rebel and I move to get hungry and tired and sweaty. I move to participate and I move because I have to.
We are in a place, as a culture, where I believe movement is what will help save us. Movement will help us to get free, to unlearn all the baggage that keeps us sitting down all day.To bring back the joy, and maybe some endo-cannibinoids too. Movement will help us to let go, to say “this is who I am!” and to play again. Movement will help us to re-connect to each other and ourselves and help us manage our anger and confusion. One day we will see movement for what it is–just a practice, with no right or wrong ways to be. Movement is self-care which we can scale to our level and empowerment which we can tuck away for a rainy day. Movement is the foundation we can build ourselves upon, and that is the meaning for me.
Meet my foster dog, Meo. He grew up in Jersey and one day his family just dumped him in the shelter. “Do. Not. Want.” He hadn’t been well cared for and he was suffering from depression and poor muscle tone in a North Jersey animal shelter. A kind rescue representative noticed his sorry state and, long story short, I ended up with him in my foster care.
Depressed and/or anxious dogs have a lot to teach us about ourselves and the world. Walking this weird line between domestication and wildness they are clearly animals yet submit to wearing idiotic outfits to gain our affection. Sometimes they end up slumped in cement cages with no opposable thumbs, dependent on us to see their inner light and help it emerge.
And we do–but sometimes it is not just about humans “doing everything right”–we also need to get outside of our thinking, processing humanity and let things happen.
When I was a kid the wise characters I knew would say “If it don’t fit, force it.” Slightly more crafty types changed that to “If it don’t fit, fabricate it.” And you know, that is great advice in many ways. It is a motto of those who refuse to depend on having all the “right” parts, those working class alchemists who get very old cars running, who suit up and dig out, make a pie from wild apples and pantry dust, who stick it all together with gum and screwdrivers and heat and hope. There is so much value in those skills, but it is only half the story.
Because mechanics are nothing without the spark.
Sometimes we just need to get out of the way and let nature itself heal our selves, our animals and our world. We can use force and fabrication to jump our ’54 Cadillac or to understand our foot’s best mechanical position and that is some gooooood shit. Important. But we can’t force our way into a healed heart or a whole body.
Humans, other animals and the earth all have both mechanics AND emotions and sometimes we need to just allow it. If it don’t fit, LET it fit. Let it expand, let it contract. Give it all space and get out of the damn way. Gently file it, feed it or lube it up and just wait, just observe, just see what happens. Watch for patterns. Breathe deeply and un-attach yourself from the outcome.
There is something about just being outside, just letting the force of nature imbue the body, putting our body parts into wild water, letting wind into our hair and taking a crap miles away from any man-made structure. Something about running with the pack, digging a hole, our spotty fur flying by like a vital flash of reality.
Add some oil and some fresh air and you just may see things turn around without much meddling. A run through the wild woods, a piece of meat, a hug and suddenly we see a re-vitalization. Because Vitality WAS there–no matter who you are or what you’ve done since, vitality, the vital force, underlies everything and it merely needs space and support to re-appear.
So Meo. I met this dog in a hotel parking lot in Southern NY and my first thought was “Oh, dear God”. He looked like crap and there was a certain desperation surrounding him, a pattern which I recognize from so many beings before. But he’s turned it around!
I have, over and over, seen those who were knocked down get up. I have seen plants spring back to life, animals re-inhabit themselves, humans regain vital force like a rebirth, like wild things, like a sunrise, like NEVER. GIVE. UP. And this awesome dog is just one more on a continuum of lifeforce which had gone un-shiny, flabby and weak and confused. He is a force of nature embodied and I am in awe of watching this process yet again, I am filled with hope and proud to take my place in this wacky-ass circle of life.