June Newsletter, Upcoming Events, and Reading

Awareness is the first step to change. I believe this for both behavioral change and altering motor patterns. Let’s look at diets (a bad word, I know, and rest assured I am going to continue staying faaaaaaaar away from nutrition sciences, a remarkably polarizing topic, kind of like politics). We could argue there are many reasons diets fail. They’re too restrictive, they put people’s metabolisms into “starvation” mode, they deplete energy. While there is truth in all of these statements, maybe one of the real reasons diets fail is because they don’t bring awareness to behavior. They don’t force the dieting individual to notice that every afternoon at 4, he walks to the community pantry and grabs a bag of chips, or that every evening with dinner, he has a beer followed by a glass of wine with his wife. These behaviors are eliminated during the “diet,” (because diets, by definition, involve restriction) but they aren’t consciously recognized. The person never has to say to himself, “I am making the decision to walk to the pantry and grab a bag of chips, just like I have done for the last four days.” It is a mindless decision.

The same is true of motor behavior. For those of us that workout not under the watchful eye of a coach, it is easy to fall into patterns that feel “easy.” Sometimes, the ease is good. It results in efficiency of movement, allowing us to focus instead on honing specifics of a skill. Occasionally, the habits we fall into are actually making the movement less efficient even though it feels easier. Let’s look at a chatarangua style push-up (for those non-yogis, this looks like a traditional  push-up with the elbow in by the sides). What I often see is people lowering down without maintaining the pressing action with the hands. This is much easier at first (it feels like you aren’t working, because you aren’t). In the long term, it cultivates bad habits, particularly if you want to work on things like arm balances and handstands, or if you simply want to be good at push-ups. The ability to continue pressing into the floor in various configurations gives a sense of stability in the shoulder. It also feels a lot harder (at least at first). If you don’t have access to a teacher or coach, filming yourself and comparing your film to someone you consider an expert can give you information regarding how you are performing a movement. Even though there will be differences and you will never look “exactly” like someone else, this forces you to think analytically about your motor behavior, recognize your pattern, and internalize what you feel versus what is actually happening. 

Awareness is the first step to change. We can’t change what we don’t know, and in an age where information about the world is available at our finger tips, it takes a little more work to figure out information about ourselves.

Suggested Reading:
This was a woefully slow month for blogs, but a great month for books:

“Siddhartha’s Brain: Unlocking the Ancient Science of Enlightenment,” James Kingsland
“Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.”
“…by changing one’s mental attitude towards pain, it’s sting can be drawn.”
The science of meditation, chronic pain, the relaxation response, and more.

“Talk like Ted, Carmine Gallo”
“People cannot inspire others unless and until they are inspired themselves.”
“…I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “Carmine, public speaking doesn’t come naturally to me like it does to other people.” I’ve got news for you- it doesn’t come naturally to those others, either. Put in the time. Your ideas are worth the effort.”
If you regularly give talks or lectures, I highly recommend this book.
“Surviving Survival: The art and science of resilience,” Lawrence Gonzales.
“It is well known that what you do with the body deeply influences the way you think and feel. If you act strong, you feel stronger.”
“The brain must constantly and dynamically represent the state of the body and what it is doing, how it is feeling, where its parts are. It must also monitor what is going on in the outside world, even while dreaming up the next right action to keep the trick going.” 
Excellent read on the science of survival and resilience.

One of my exercise physiology professor’s once said it is impossible to be the fastest, strongest, most flexible person. You can be pretty good at all of those things, but if your goal is to excel in any one area, something has to give. Interesting point of view.

Shoulder mechanics. Rib flares. And an exercise I use with almost every desk worker I train.

An often ignored topic addressed in a relatable way.

This is in the same vein as “Talk like Ted.” To get good at something you actually have to do that thing. Over, and over, and over again. 

“Inquiry through movement reveals the unknown…”

“Pain is an interpretation of the totality of inputs to the brain.” Great basic overview on this topic.


Upcoming Events:
Introduction to arm balances and handstands        Saturday, 7/2/16

Stress- an interactive workshop: Creating             Saturday, 7/9/16
mind/body balance*                                                9:15-11:15
(Held at Napa Adventure Bootcamp. For more information
or to register, please visit http://napabootcamp.com

One day stress retreat: understanding stress        Saturday, 7/23    
and practical tools to improve balance                  10-4 (lunch included)

*All events held at Be Well Personal Training unless otherwise noted. Registration for all events at www.bewellpt.com.