Healthy Is Pain Relief: Part 1

Healthy Is Pain Relief: Part 1

Over the next few weeks we’ll be exploring our pain relief series of challenges, starting with low back and neck pain relief. One of the main things we want you to think about as we talk about relieving pain is not “how do I achieve ‘perfect’ posture to eliminate pain;” but instead, think about “how much time do I spend in the same posture” (i.e. sitting at a desk typing, driving, leaning a certain way, etc.), as this affects your body chronically more than trying to achieve some magical, perfect posture.

As you read about these first two pain spots, keep this idea in mind of how you can use our suggestions to create micro-breaks from your day-to-day routines and postures that go with those routines. Sprinkling these exercises in throughout the day in that micro-break form is more important than trying to find a big chunk of time to do them all at once. Enjoy finding relief by trying these suggestions out, and adjust them to make them easier for yourself if needed. As we always say, small changes = big impacts.

Healthy Is Low Back Relief

The back was designed to absorb and distribute significant forces. By developing your back’s ability to absorb forces and work effectively with its teammates (hips, shoulders, and knees) you are able to enjoy life without pain knocking at your door.

WHY IT MATTERS

Back pain is one of the most prevalent issues currently affecting adults, and we commonly believe that these issues occur because we are told we have “slipped disks” or our backs are “out of place,” “misaligned,” and “degenerated.” Truth be told, many of the things we think of as abnormal are actually normal.

  • 68% of 40-year-olds who do not have back pain have signs of disk degeneration on imaging
  • 50% of 40-year-olds who do not have back pain have signs of disk bulging on imaging
  • 60% of back pain recovers in 1-3 weeks, 90% in 6-8 weeks, and 95% in 12 weeks

Most back pain recovers quickly. Your back is resilient, not fragile. Strengthen your low back with this modified plank, and check out our Healthy Is Low Back Relief challenge at your next Healthy Is Wellness coaching session for even more ideas.

Healthy Is Neck Relief

Ever try driving a car without moving your neck? The quick left-right check before turning is nearly impossible. Now try to also drive with a screaming headache on a busy road. This is what neck pain does: it stops us from moving and distracts our brains!

WHY IT MATTERS

Why is neck pain so common? Maybe because we have designed our lives to minimize how much we need to move our neck. Think about the longest duration you have used your computer, phone, or television and barely moved your neck. A long time! By frequently moving your neck you are avoiding pain by:

  • Providing joints with nutrients and removing waste
  • Increasing joint fluid that reduces friction
  • Building stronger muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • Improving tissue flexibility
  • Avoiding vulnerable positions
  • Reducing muscle tension (which also helps avoid headaches and jaw pain)

Try out this exercise to start relieving neck tension, and check out our Healthy Is Neck Relief challenge at your next Healthy Is Wellness coaching session.

Healthy Is Designed to Move

Healthy Is Designed to Move

Did you know?

One of the most stable shapes in the universe is a triangle. Its wide base and low center of mass make it nearly impossible to move. That is why the pyramids across the world haven’t gotten up and walked away. They’ve stayed in place for thousands of years because they were designed NOT to move.

HUMANS, ON THE OTHER HAND, ARE THE INVERSE OF THIS STABLE SHAPE.

Our bone structure is actually two upside-down triangles stacked on top of each other: wide shoulders to a narrow spine, then wide hips to narrow feet. We were not designed to stay in one place; we were Designed to Move!

Balancing being Designed to Move.

WHY IT MATTERS

When it comes to improving your physical activity and movement, most of us often think about just adding more activity in the area we’re already doing a lot in. But research shows that our greatest activity and movement gains can actually come from adding to the area you’re doing the least in.

MOBILITY

There is perhaps no other area that limits our movement more than losing mobility in our joints. When we lose the ability to move our joints through a complete range of motion, not only does it cause problems for that joint; it also adds strain, pain, and stress to the joints surrounding it.

 

  • Stretch every day. Your muscles are like rubber bands that stay more limber when they’re stretched regularly.
  • Sit on the ground. Continually sitting in chairs tightens up the same muscles in our hips, back, and neck. If you’re going to sit to watch that show or read that book, can you do it sitting on the ground?
  • Do Pilates! Or yoga, or foam rolling, or any other workout that decreases tightness and increases mobility of numerous joints.
STRENGTH

While strength can be defined as the ability to produce force or movement, stability is the ability to control it. Building strength while focusing on controlling your movements increases both strength and power. Carry heavy objects, dig holes, climb, and make your body do things that awaken and delight your nervous system as much as they do your muscles!

 

  • Use your muscles. Find ways in the day to use your muscles instead of machines (i.e. take the stairs instead of the elevator).
  • Pick up and carry heavy things, or push and pull things that engage lots of muscles. You were designed to move, and you were also designed to carry, push, and pull things from here to there.
  • Add high intensity. Find ways to do shorter exercise bouts, but do them at higher speeds and with higher power outputs while taking longer rests.
ENDURANCE

The most important way to foster this area is to walk! Yes, you can compete in endurance events, but you don’t have to in order to take advantage of the majority of the health benefits of this endurance category. Try to do one of the following on a daily basis.

 

  • Sit less, move more. At the most basic level, find ways to add more walking and movement to your day. Park further away or take your phone meeting while on a walk; remember, you were designed to move!
  • Move for extended periods of time. Go walking, jogging, swimming, climbing, skiing, rowing – anything you enjoy that involves moving your body – for 15+ minutes at a time.
  • Get your sweat on! When you sweat it means you’re activating heat shock proteins that have vast, long-lasting health benefits, including living longer with a better healthspan!
PAY ATTENTION TO WHICH ACTIVITIES YOU’RE SPENDING THE MOST TIME ON, AND THEN TRY TO FIND WAYS TO CONVENIENTLY ADD THE OTHERS INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE. SMALL CHANGES = BIG IMPACTS.
The Track to 66 Challenge

The Track to 66 Challenge

This year, don’t make a resolution: make a habit!

Skeptical of resolutions? So are we! Research shows that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first three weeks. But, if you can make it to two and a half months (66 days, to be exact), then you can turn that resolution into a habit.

According to research, in 66 days you can actually rewire the way your nervous system works, influence the way your body’s hormones are controlled and shared, and use your desired changes to actually make them a habit. So, how do you do that?

STEP 1: FIGURE OUT WHERE YOU’RE AT.

You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re at. Yet year after year many of us take on lofty health goals only to see them come crashing down as soon as too many external stressors press upon us. A large part of this stems from never taking the time to first assess where we are. If you asked us how to get to Seattle, we’d first have to ask: “where are you starting from?” 

Healthy Is Wellness provides a comprehensive look at where you are in our monthly coaching sessions, so we recommend starting there. But, if nothing else, analyze what it is that you want to change and what has stopped you from making that change in the past. Answering those two questions will help significantly with giving you a starting point from which to launch into your desired habit.

STEP 2: DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO.

This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Simply write down the answers to the following questions:

  • What is my goal?
  • What is going to stand in the way of reaching that goal?
  • What is going to help me reach my goal?

We call the last two barriers and accelerators. The most common barriers we see are a lack of time, lack of social support from those closest to you, and the inconvenience of making a change. Accelerators, on the other hand, look like people, rules, or certain tools that will help you reach your goal. The more honest you are about each of these, the better you are going to be at addressing them in your plan.

STEP 3: MAKE A PLAN.

Again, this doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Simply do the following three things:

  • Make a list of your accelerators and write out how you’re going to use them in creating your new habit and achieving your goal.
  • Make a list of barriers and write out how you’re going to navigate them or address them in creating your new habit and achieving your goal.
  • Decide when you’re going to start your new habit to help you reach your goal, and make a plan on your calendar of when you’re going to do this behavior each day.

Bonus: Healthy Is Wellness coaches are trained in this behavior change process and would love to help you out! If you’ve never been to a coach or just have a quick question, shoot us an email at info@healthyiswellness.com.

STEP 4: DOUBLE YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS!

Did you know you are twice as likely to succeed by having an accountability partner? Research shows that you have a significantly higher chance to succeed in reaching your goals when receiving social support. You’re also 600% more likely to start your new habit if you share it with someone close to you!

So, decide now: who are you going to share your goals with to double your chances of success, and who are you going to support in their Track to 66 journey?

STEP 5: GET YOUR TRACK TO 66 HABIT TRACKER.

We are here to help you achieve your goals this year by providing proven strategies to enhance your success. At your health coaching session this month, get your Track to 66 Habit Tracker to map the pathway to your goal.

 

According to Brian Tracy, the author of perhaps the best selling book ever on achieving your goals (called “Goals!” if you’d like to check it out): “If I was given only five minutes to speak to you and I could convey only one thought that would help you be more successful, I would tell you this: WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS, make a plan to achieve them, and work on your plans every single day.”

Want to know more about forming a habit this year? Then join us at our January Healthy Is Wellness events to start your journey to Track to 66!

Healthy Is Improving Your Mental Wellbeing

Healthy Is Improving Your Mental Wellbeing

Control the highs and lows.

DID YOU KNOW

Did you know that when you breathe in your heart rate goes up? And when you breathe out your heart rate slows down. Meaning, you can control your stress response through your breath.

Or did you know that you can become 31% more creative and also reduce stress by practicing something as simple as a 2-minute gratitude practice each day?

Or that eating in a calmer state can lead to less inflammation, decreased fat storage, and can actually help improve your gut microbiome?

If you’d like to learn how to easily implement all of these improvements into your life, then check out our Healthy Is Wellness Calm challenges below!

Take control of improving your mental wellbeing with one of our Calm challenges.

HEALTHY IS CONTROLLING YOUR BREATH

Breathing is a vital part of wellbeing. Even more important than food and water, it is air that is the primary source of energy for the human body. Reduce stress by breathing through your nose, breathe using your diaphragm to positively affect your heartbeat, and focus on creating a smooth, continuous rhythm.

HEALTHY IS A HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE

Studies show that happier people are more successful and have better health outcomes. 90% of your long-term happiness is predicted by the way your brain processes the world. Activate neuroplasticity and literally rewire your brain through this daily gratitude practice from Dr. Shawn Achor of Harvard University.

HEALTHY IS 15 MINUTES OF “ME TIME”

Get recharged, relieve stress, enjoy life more, and boost mental wellbeing by planning for at least 15 minutes of time each day to invest completely and entirely into you.

HEALTHY IS A MIND-GUT CONNECTION

The mood you are in when you eat can influence everything from how your body digests the food to even the hormones you release. Explore this mind-gut connection with our challenge below.

HEALTHY IS A MORNING ROUTINE

The first few minutes after waking up paves the way for the rest of your day. Keeping this time stress free has major impacts on your mental and physical health, even helping combat cancer. Take control of your morning again with this challenge.

HEALTHY IS SPENDING TIME IN NATURE

Research shows that spending a little time each day surrounded by nature has been proven to improve mental health and boost your immune system.

Healthy is Pulling Nutritional Levers

Healthy is Pulling Nutritional Levers

When it comes to nutrition, there is more than one lever you can pull to improve your nutritional habits.

WHY IT MATTERS

When it comes to improving your nutrition, most of us often think about just changing what you eat or don’t eat. But science has shown there are two more levers that are equally as important: when you eat, and how much you eat.

when
what
how much

You goal should be to:

Always pull at least one lever

In other words, it’s not a wise decision to eat as much food as you possibly can, no matter what type of food, and at all times of the day. Aim to be pulling at least one lever at a time.

Often pull two levers at a time

Frame your nutrition goals by thinking about how much you can combine (1) what and when you eat, (2) how much and when you eat, or (3) how much and what you eat.

Rarely pull all three

Too often we think of a diet change and we pull all three levers at once. This is not necessary for long-term success.

Pulling the different levers

Lever 1: When you eat

Every 24 hours you can start to improve your nutrition by simply splitting your eating into chunks, like:

  • 12-12 (fast for 12 hours, eat in a 12-hour window)
  • 14-10 (fast for 14 hours, eat in a 10-hour window)
  • 16-8 (fast for 16 hours, eat in an 8-hour window)

Smaller eating window

when you eat

Larger eating window

Lever 2: What you eat

This can be framed by adding or taking away certain foods, or even following certain “rules” or “diets:”

  • Add: Eat More Genius Foods or Coloring Your Microbiome
  • Take away: Eliminate Inflammatory Fats or Reduce Refined Sugars
  • Rules: popular diets like Paleo, Keto, and the “Pegan Diet

Take away certain foods

what you eat

Add certain foods

Lever 3: How much you eat

This is the idea of eating more or less depending upon your goals.

  • Pay attention to portions at meals (larger or smaller)
  • Focus on number of meals per day (more or less)
  • Total calories can also be a guide for this lever

Eating less

how much you eat

Eating more

As with everything we do, start small and aim for convenience to your schedule. Small changes can lead to big impacts!

Healthy Is Controlling Your Breath

Healthy Is Controlling Your Breath

Breathing is a vital part of well-being. Even more important than food and water, it is air that is the primary source of energy for the human body.

WHY IT MATTERS

Breathing is not binary. In other words, breathing = a “good” thing because it means you’re alive. And not breathing = “not good” because you are either dead or unconscious. But it’s not just whether you’re breathing or not; how you breathe affects your body’s ability to use the air it takes in from your environment.

Breathing is directly correlated to your emotional and physical well-being, and how you breathe can instantly impact your nervous system and, therefore, all parts of your body.

Given that we take 20,000 – 25,000 breaths per day, if you’re doing that in a dysfunctional way it’s going to affect your health. Let’s turn every one of those breaths into an opportunity to improve your health, every day!

The Three Steps

STEP 1: BREATHE IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE

Breathing through your nose filters, warms, and humidifies the air you breathe, making it easier for your lungs and muscles to use oxygen. Nasal breathing eliminates brain fog, boosts energy, and has been proven to boost learning and memory. Your nose is also the first line of defense against allergens and pathogens.

Try one of the following to start breathing through your nose more often:

Breathe only through your nose for the first hour of each day. Lower your blood pressure and start the day with a boost of energy by focusing on breathing only through your nose for the first hour of each morning.

Humming. Humming forces us to breathe through our nose. By humming for a couple of minutes the nitric oxide that gets released from our sinus cavities has been shown to increase by 15-fold! Nitric oxide lowers stress, improves blood flow, and even has instant beneficial effects on our immune system.

STEP 2: ACTIVATE YOUR DIAPHRAGM BY EXPANDING YOUR ENTIRE RIBCAGE

It should feel like your ribcage is an umbrella opening up, expanding on all sides when you inhale.

STEP 3: MAKE IT CONTINUOUS FROM BREATH TO BREATH

Imagine the waves of an ocean smoothly coming onto a beach, then receding, then pushing onto the beach again, then receding. This is the sort of rhythm you are trying to create.

That’s it. Practice these three steps every day and be prepared to feel the difference in your well-being that proper breathing can instantly initiate!

For me, the perfect breath is this: inhale for about 5.5 seconds, then exhale for 5.5 seconds. That’s 5.5 breaths a minute for a total of about 5.5 liters of air. You can practice this perfect breathing for a few minutes, or a few hours. When we breath like this… circulation in the brain and body will increase while the burden on the heart decreases.

– James Nestor, Breath: the new science of a lost art