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So, you’ve just finished your workout, you’re heading for the shower, and you’re feeling great – tired, maybe even exhausted, but your endorphins are still high and your mind is clear of all the stress and worry that was in there not so long ago…here are 3 things to do to maximize the benefit of your hard work:

1. Re-hydrate! Not an option, a must – especially if you sweat a lot… 

 

2. Suck down a healthy carb + protein post-workout smoothie! Quickly replacing spent glucose stores and boosting concentrations of amino-acid protein building blocks for muscle repair is definitely a good idea…

 

 

3. Think! Yes, THINK!

Studies in the U.S., the UK, and British Columbia have shown that our brain’s cognitive might, including problem-solving abilities, are significantly improved both during & after moderate to intense (‘cardio’) exercise. Studies from the University of British Columbia and Harvard showed increase in both the growth & the activation of the thinking, learning, & memory areas of the brain with just 1 hour of intense walking twice a week. Maintaining this regular moderate to intense ‘cardio’ exercise routine for 6 months or longer resulted in even more benefit. And the benefits don’t stop there – behavioral & learning researchers at Stanford showed that creative problem solving abilities were significant improved for a moderate-paced treadmill walking group versus a sitting group. Some studies have shown that even a single bout of exercise can produce cognitive benefits extending 2-3 months after! These types of changes are now being credited with holding off early onset of Dimentia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s – talk about game (& life) changers!

 

                                                                    PLUS

                                                                                                                                                             EQUALS

 

 

 

 

Bottom line: some type of moderate to high intensity cardio workout, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the neighborhood, needs to be bumped up to high priority on your to-do list, especially when life throws you a mental challenge. Whether it’s that work-related issue you’ve been stressed about, a project you’ve been stewing on, or a personal / relationship problem you’ve been trying to hammer out, this is just 1 more reason to NOT skip that trip to the gym!

 

5 Myths about Healthy Bones & Osteoporosis

  1. Osteoporosis is only in older people.
  2.  It’s genetic – I’m either going to get it or not
  3. As long as I drink milk or eat cheese every day I’ll avoid getting Osteoporosis.
  4. As long as I do some weight bearing exercise once a month I won’t get it.
  5. If I do get it, I can take medications for it.

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Truths:

  1. Officially declared a “major health problem” in the U.S., osteoporosis affects 1/2 of older adults (50 or over), especially post-menopausal women more than any other. But the density of one’s bones is established in the young adult years, typically peaking in the mid to late 20’s. So ignoring it or NOT behaving in ways that maximize bone density – such as adequate exercise & proper nutrition – in the teens and 20’s is a big gamble!  Side note: recent statistics show that in the U.S. the prevalence and early onset of osteoporosis will continue to increase with trends towards less physical activity (increased sitting) and poorer overall nutrition. 
  2. Genetics definitely plays a role. You cannot change your body (frame) size, your ethnicity, or your family history – all factors that influence your risk of developing Osteoporosis. But just like every tissue in our body, bone is in a constant state of cellular remodel (new bone cells are built to replace old ones). As we get older, however, the production line gets a bit slower and can’t keep up with demand, so bone cell deterioration out-paces replacement. This sounds hopeless & depressing, but it’s an opportunity for influence! Also like other bodily tissues, bone is constantly responding to it’s environment. So, increasing weight bearing exercise along with adequate intake of bone-building minerals, good overall nutrition, & a healthy gut to maximize mineral absorption can help tremendously.
  3. Calcium & Vitamin D are the key players here and must be in plentiful supply for bones to even have a fighting chance. Yes, dairy products have high levels of Calcium, however there are other foods that have as much or more Calcium per gram. Because many people cannot (or have trouble) digesting dairy foods, these other foods should be added in as much as possible: collard greens, sardines, broccoli rabi, kale, and Calcium fortified milk alternatives like almond or rice milk. As for Vitamin D the highest concentrations are in fatty fish and fish liver oils, such as salmon & cod liver oil. Just 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil contains 340% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D!  
  4. This is definitely the other very important piece: weight bearing, or load-compression, exercise. Bone responds to the stresses it is subjected to. So if it’s being repeatedly stressed, and even better if it’s in various planes or directions (think bending or twisting, but not too far!) it will respond by triggering bone-building cells called osteoclasts to get workin’.  Safe bone-building exercises come in many different forms & variations. What’s best depends on a person’s age and body type, exercise history, presence of high fracture-risk areas, and actual bone density. The important thing is to get evaluated by a specialist before starting any program. Then, once started, that it’s done REGULARLY-at least 3x / week. Our Physical Therapists can help guide this process AND design a safe & effective bone-building exercise program for any level of fitness or function.                                   
  5. Several osteoporosis medication options exist with varied levels of success and severity of side effects. Most studies done by the drug manufacturers show a statistically significant improvement in a percentage of the population to make it worth the risks of the side effects. However, many of the listed side effects are quite serious, life-altering, and more harmful than the potential benefits they pose in many patients. As such, a serious and frank conversation with the prescribing medical practitioner should begin prior to any medications being taken.

As with any health issue or disorder, I strongly recommend finding out as much as possible about a person’s family history related to osteoporosis, including: a). who, if anyone, has(had) it; b). what age were they when they got it or got diagnosed with it; c). did they ever experience a fracture and if so what was fractured and was there another indirect cause (i.e. a trip or loss-of-balance-related fall)? This information can be incredibly insightful in helping not only predict risk or onset age, but also help see other risk factors that strongly contribute to life-altering events related to osteoporosis, like fractures.

Secondly, getting a bone density test is a good idea – even if you’re not worried or have cause to worry, it gives you a baseline measurement so if / when you get another test years down the road you’ll know which direction your bones are going…

The Importance of Having a “Spring” in your Step

Despite what seems like more general awareness of the importance of healthy feet, there’s still a lot of talk of how shoes and shoe-related products are the way to keep our feet happy instead of the brilliantly functional and adaptive structures of our feet. The “experts” tell us about the latest and greatest in shoe advancements, using terms like “bounceback,” “reinforced vamp,” “meta-flex technology,” and (my favorite) “Rope-Tec burn-protecting reinforcements.” I’m not a shoe expert, but these terms are most likely made-up by some marketing company hired by the shoe makers to make their newest product development sound innovative. They’re using terms and phrases that mimic what the foot, in all of it’s beautiful glory, actually does – bounceback, flex, etc….but, honestly, a healthy foot does these things much better than any of the shoe technologies will ever do. 

One of these structures is the Spring Ligament. This is a thick, highly elastic ligament deep in the arch of the foot that not only helps provide shock absorption and rebound (“spring”) with each step, but also helps protect other structures in the middle and inner foot from being overloaded, or even ruptured, during heavy or hard loading (e.g. running or jumping).

The Spring Ligament, like the other dozen plus ligaments in the foot, is made up of dense collagen tissue and is strong and resilient – when it’s healthy and working properly. But (there’s always a “but”) ligaments like this one can get overloaded, and thus injured, when other supporting structures of the foot either (a). DON’T do their job, or (b). CAN’T do their job. 

When (a) happens: other supporting structures DON’T do their job. There are over 100 total muscles, tendons, & ligaments in the foot and ankle, and they’re all beautifully designed to help support one another. Several key muscles, like the Posterior Tibialis, provide active support to the arch of the foot. But like any other muscle, if you don’t use it you lose it! So often after an injury, a surgery, or just not enough regular walking / weight bearing exercise, this muscle can get weak & fatigues prematurely, making it unable to support the arch. Other structures, like the Spring Ligament, then get overloaded. Another scenario is when the calf / Achilles tendon loses flexibility, such as in the aging or sedentary body. It is then unable to lengthen adequately during normal walking, thus transferring large loads (and force) onto the mid-foot and arch with every step. Plantar Fasciitis is a common, and very painful, condition that can come about when the Plantar Ligament gets overloaded due to tightness in the calf / Achilles.

When (b) happens: other supporting structures CAN’T do their job:   This can occur when we provide too much support, mainly in the arch, as is often the case with arch-supporting shoes or inserts. Like anything in the body, tendons & ligaments respond to the stresses we subject them to.  So, if we give too much support, then we don’t give them a chance to be loaded properly and, thus, do their job. This can lead to loss of fiber density, flexibility / elasticity, and strength of the tissue. This subjects other tissues, like the Spring Ligament, to overload and injury. 

The good news is there are simple things most of us can do to maintain strong muscle-tendon structures as well as healthy & elastic tendon tissues. Here are 3 simple strategies to help:

Posterior Tibialis strengthening, Level 1

To strengthen this very important arch-supporting muscle, use a standard resistance band anchored to something solid & wrapped around the ball (forefoot). Then slowly raise up towards ceiling and back down in a smooth motion, as many times as you can, several times daily.

 

 

 

Posterior Tibialis strengthening, Level 2-3

For a more challenging Posterior Tib strengthener, do a standing heel raise, but roll to the outside (little) toes as you raise up. Then lower down, slow & controlled.
For an even greater challenge, try this standing on 1 leg only!

 

 

Calf & Achilles stretch

This is commonly called the “runner’s stretch.” For most people, this stretch should be done daily and held for at least 1 minute.

 

 

5 of MY BEST Basic, Functional, Get-in-Shape Exercises

These can be done just about anywhere, anytime, with no equipment…and with 3 different levels of difficulty, by just about anyone.

Bird Dogs:

This has many different names, but whatever you want to call them, there should be minimal trunk movement, the spine straight & level.

Easy:   start out just 1 leg, then 1 arm at a time

Moderate:   do opposite leg & arm at the same time

Challenging:   tap elbow-to-knee underneath OR try same side arm & leg

 

 

 

Plank:

Yes, the plank – remember doing these in P.E. class? Great things withstand the test of time. Just like with the Bird Dogs, there should be minimal body movement, spine as straight & level as possible!

Easy: start out with forearms on a wall

Moderate: forearms on a countertop, or a chair

Challenging: on the floor. Or for a real challenge try them on an exercise ball!

 

 

 

Squat:

Talk about functional – it doesn’t get much more functional than a squat. Spine should be straight, focus on using the legs!

Easy:  start out holding onto a railing or sink then sit back a bit to focus the effort on the buttocks muscles = less strain on the knees

Moderate:  hold arms out front & increase depth of the squat

Challenging:  raise arms up overhead, staying tall & erect

 

 

 

 

 

“Posterior Chain” Stretch:

What is the “Posterior Chain?” It’s the chain of tissue, including nerves, muscles, & fascia that runs all the way down the backside. The hamstrings, sciatic nerve, and Achilles tendon are all part of this chain.

Easy: start out with hands on a wall or a counter top for support; lower slowly until a stretch is felt

Moderate: lower hands to a coffee table, a low chair, or a foot stool

Challenging:  now hands to the floor, but pay attention – DON’T OVERSTRETCH! You can really do some damage.

 

 

Lunge / Hip Flexor Stretch:

Tight hip flexors are a primary driver of low back pain! The more we sit, the tighter they get, & the more we need to stretch them. Be sure to hold this stretch at least 30 seconds.

Easy:  put forward foot up on a bench / chair / low table; slowly move body forward until stretch is felt

Moderate: both feet on floor, use a chair on each side to support your weight, lower down, bending back leg

Challenging: no hands, go deeper so your back knee touches the floor; try raising arms up overhead & even turning towards front leg

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS! Now your body is activated, loosened up, & you’re ready for whatever’s next!

Trouble or pain with any of these? Please reach out to us via email or phone call, so one of our experts can help you!

Willpower!

Willpower – ask 10 people about willpower and you’ll get answers like: “it’s that special thing that allows some people to just quit smoking, lose weight, or get rich…some people have it and some don’t…,” or “It’s one of those things that comes and goes…sometimes I have it, other times I don’t.”

Is any of that true? Is it some kind of a genetic thing that some people are just born with more of than others? Or is it something that comes and goes with the amount of hard core discipline one has?

And even if you have it, in whatever quantity, does it really work to get us the results we want? Why does it seem to work for some and not for others…?

As science and medicine learn more and more about our genetics and the pre-determined map that makes us who we are, other research shows us that our behaviors and actions are more elastic than what genetics may suggest. We have enormous power to change outcomes in our lives, if we know how to do it. And willpower is like the muscle that helps us do it, getting stronger the more we exercise it.

Common beliefs among experts in the field of willpower and self-discipline say that several things are required to really have the willpower to take control of our lives, from how we look to how we feel to what we achieve. The first of these is intention. What is the eventual goal / outcome / result you intend to achieve? A big part of this is visualization – not just saying it and agreeing with yourself that that’s what you want, but deeply internalizing & seeing the desired outcome play out and the result at the end. If it’s a physical change, that means seeing you as you want to be…if it’s an emotional or relationship change it’s repeatedly (daily) visualizing how you want it to be or happen. An abundance of good research says the more you do this, the more you actually create the outcome you’re visualizing! Successful people almost always have daily ritual(s) where they visualize their goal or target.

The second step is self-monitoring, or simply watching yourself as if from an outsider’s viewpoint, like a coach or mentor. This allows you to better see your path towards your goal and any deviations that might occur along the way. It’s like your GPS on a road trip – if you get off-course it just “re-routes,” but never deviates away from the end target. By the way, this is where an actual partner or coach can help a lot.

Lastly, action is required-duh… This is the part we all see – the results of your actions. If you ask 50 people in a room to take off their clothes it won’t be hard to tell who has regular workout rituals and who doesn’t. But before we give all the credit to our actions, it’s important to see where those actions came from. Strong roots lead to strong trees. And we all know where strength comes from – exercise!

Need help or know someone that does? Our certified personal trainers can help anyone achieve better results, more fitness, and a higher quality of life!

 

2019-the year for Stupid Simple Resolutions

 

1. No more than 3 simple, attainable goals. If you reach them easily or quickly, upgrade them!

 

2. Write them down-multiple places, because seeing them, repeatedly, increases attainment…by a lot!


3. Tell your loved ones & ask for help
– connection & accountability are key to success!

My Adventures in Spain-chapter1: Walking…in sickness and in health

They do a lot of it here in Gijon, in the northern coastal of province of Asturias. Like any city, the roughly 300,000 Asturianos walk for many reasons: transportation to / from work, daily necessities & markets, futbol matches, recreation & fitness (for them and their 4-legged pals) and just to be outside in the fresh air. Also, Spaniards are a very social bunch, so more reason to get out and walk with friends, family, or neighbors.

But what strikes me so much is the number of elderly (some of them very elderly), injured, rehabilitating, sick, etc…that are out with everybody else. Many times it’s with care-givers holding onto, pushing in wheelchairs, or generally acting as crutches for these folks to get out and walk! As a Physical Therapist, I often find myself watching some of these people and cringing, waiting for them to trip, topple, and fall flat on their brittle-bone faces. But they don’t! I haven’t seen 1 elderly person fall yet, and there are a LOT of them here. 

What’s the secret? Well…walking, of course. But it’s also that they’re walking outside (instead of a hospital / rehab floor or a retirement home hallway that’s been intentionally cleared of all obstacles), offering a “real” environment with real obstacles, distractions, varied surfaces, all the aspects of “real” challenges to the body, brain, and balance systems. And not to mention riding on buses-I’ve seen several quite elderly folks climb up the bus steps, balance themselves while they try to find a seat as the driver pulls out oblivious to their slow movement, manage to find a seat, and sit, all the while holding 2 bags of groceries and a purse on their shoulder!

AND NO FALLS – INCREDIBLE! 

 

Back Pain – Part II: What to do?


Ok, hopefully you’ve gained some insight into why your back is spasm-ing, now what should you do about it? Well, it goes without saying, there are lots of “experts” out there with lots of advice. Are they right? At risk of sounding like a broken record – it depends…on what exactly the cause is.  But, again, more and more research points to the soft tissues (i.e. muscles / tendons / ligaments, NOT discs, bones, or spinal nerves) as the usual suspects. So here are my top tips to manage acute back pain:

  1. Don’t freak out! Unless you are having 1 of the “red flags” I mentioned in the previous post, stay calm and know that you WILL recover and the pain will most likely go away fairly soon.
  2. Get comfortable: try to find whatever position makes you have less pain / discomfort, even if just a little bit. This is sometimes tough in the beginning, because your soft tissues are sounding the alarm, and often it’s hard to get them to shut off right away. This is where a short term bout of pain medications and/or muscle relaxers can be beneficial. Position yourself to keep your painful tissues in a shortened position, not lengthened or tensioned. This will help communicate to the brain that all is ok, in hopes of getting the brain to stop guarding & protecting (i.e. spasm-ing) the muscles.
  3. Get moving: in whatever way you are able that does not significantly increase your symptoms. Study after study is showing the longer you remain inactive the longer your pain and disability will ultimately last. So, get moving, even if it’s only walking around the house or apartment initially. If you have access to a warm water pool, walking in warm water is one of the best early exercises to ease acute symptoms.
  4. Exercise & stretching: in the early stages (3-4 days up to 2-3 wks) it is risky to do exercise that loads / challenges or stretches the injured tissue(s). But it’s a trial-and-error thing. If an exercise or stretch makes it feel better, that’s a green light. If it’s worse, red light, stop, try again tomorrow. Generally, gentle non-weight loaded range of motion exercises / stretches (i.e. lying on back doing abdominal “drawing tummy in” isometrics and / or pulling knee(s) to chest stretch) are safe after a short healing period, but it depends. You just have to try  things and see how your body responds. But remember, DON’T PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN.
  5. Massage? Heat or ice? Rubs / creams? If it’s indeed muscular, anything that promotes circulation is good. So heat, muscle rubs / creams, gentle massage, even modalities like Ultrasound or Laser are all good ways to stimulate blood flow. Ice is better if there is a specific nerve that is irritated or inflamed, such as with true sciatica or carpal tunnel syndrome. Because muscles have referring pain patterns that can feel nerve-y, it can be unclear as to which is the source. This is where it’s advisable to get an expert’s opinion…especially if symptoms are not improving after a week or 2.

Physiatrists (non-surgical physical medicine specialists), Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, and even some skilled Massage Therapists can help diagnose by doing specific testing or palpating in attempt to reproduce symptoms. Once specific tissues are confirmed to be the primary cause, a plan of care can be initiated. Remember, it’s important not to wait too long to seek help. The longer symptoms remain, the longer it can take to get rid of them.

Lastly, are back belts / braces helpful? If they’re soft or flexible ones like you find at the drug store-yes. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about back braces weakening your back. That is true ONLY for rigid back braces, like the ones you would be given at the hospital for a fractured spine. The flexible, corset-style braces, like you see employees at Lowes and Home Depot wearing, will actually make you safer by helping increase your leg strength because they force more knee bend / squatting motion to pick something up rather than using your back to do it-that’s a good thing! So, spend the $20 and get one, whether you’re in recovery or prevention.

Once symptoms start to ease off and mobility is returning, gradually advancing exercises to get the abdominal and gluteal (buttocks area) muscles working is usually best, as these are supporting muscles to the back. Things like bridges (pictured here), side-lying leg raises, donkey kicks or bird dogs (pictured above) are all safe early exercises. Progressing from there should be the start of pushing, squatting, lunging, and eventually pulling & lifting – all of which should continue to be done regularly to prevent low back pain from coming back. T’ai Chi and Yoga are also excellent practices to bring awareness and knowledge of the body, all the various muscles & connective tissues, and how it’s all connected.

Back pain royally sucks, no doubt (I speak from personal experience). It will strike most of us at some point in our lives- some people earlier than others, some more intensely and debilitating than others, some recover quickly while others it becomes a chronic condition. Why? The first answer is: genetics. You got what you’re given, like it or not. Just like your height, eye color, condition of your heart, or how flexible you are, genetics plays a huge role. Many of the primary structural contributors to back pain like Osteoarthritis, Degenerative Disc / Joint Disease, and spinal Stenosis are determined by your genetic parents. Many people develop these conditions early on in life, while some not until much later. Identical twin studies have helped prove this, whereby identical siblings will be tracked over their life span. One may have a very physical job / lifestyle, the other more sedentary, and most of the time they will develop the same back pain causing conditions at about the same time. There’s not much you can do about this except minimize environmental conditions & lifestyle choices that exacerbate these conditions. Things like being overweight, smoking, not exercising, having a poor diet – they all can contribute to earlier onset and/or worse symptoms when these conditions are present.

But what about when these conditions are not present? Why do so many people (in fact, the majority of acute back pain sufferers) get back pain when none of these conditions are present? The short answer is: those same environmental & lifestyle conditions that have a huge effect on the physical state of your soft tissues. Things like stress, certain movements / postures, poor muscle strength or endurance, and poor body mechanics can bring on back pain. Humans are upright beings with long, relatively thin back muscles, which are NOT designed to do a lot of heavy work or lift / move heavy loads. Yet go to any construction site and see the heavy loads being lifted / moved / carried w/ bent backs and straight legs – OUCH! That’s a back spasm waiting to happen. Not to mention the load that intervertebral discs are subjected to when one bends over to lift even just a 20# object with a rounded back (discs can bear 5-10x more lbs / sq. in. than the load itself). This causes OVERLOAD. And just like when you overload an electrical outlet in your home, your brain acts as the breaker box and “trips the breaker. ” Only instead of cutting off the electricity, it supplies your back with an involuntary, uncontrollable, and often unending blast of electricity, commonly called a spasm. This can last for a few hours or a few weeks, depending on many various factors, things such as: is it a repetitive stress / movement that has accumulated trauma to the tissue over time or is it a single action that overloaded it? What state was the tissue is in to begin with – were the tissues healthy, fit, and in good condition prior to the event or were they stiff, dehydrated, weak / fatigued? How much rest and healing time is the sufferer able to allow the overloaded tissues before subjecting them to loads again? These all play into how intense, frequent, and long lasting back pain can be. Plenty of research is out there, even in popular magazines like Consumer Reports, saying that the most common cause of acute back pain is muscle / tendon / ligament injury. A host of medical experts and studies in the past 5-7 years have proven that the typical ways of evaluating and treating back pain (X-Rays & MRIs followed by invasive treatments & opioid medications) have failed to show any significant reduction in either pain or disability. That’s partly because it’s been proven that the structures that most commonly show up as “positive findings” on X-Rays and MRIs (bulging or deteriorated discs, facet arthritis) are not typically what’s causing the back pain. So getting these tests can lead a person to receiving all kinds of unnecessary treatments without getting to the source of the problem.

So, what can we do about it – both before an acute back pain eruption and after it’s already happened? The best things to do to prevent, or at least minimize the likelihood, of back pain is to stay fit and be smart. Being fit means maintaining an equal amount of mobility / flexibility as well as strength. A person can be super strong but have very little flexibility (picture the stereotypical logging crew guy that can pick up a tree and sling it over his shoulder but can’t get to his kneecaps in a forward bend). Conversely, one can be the best Yogi in the class, so flexible she can lay her forearms on the floor, but her core muscles can’t stabilizer her pelvis carrying a laundry basket up a flight of stairs. Both of these individuals are more likely to get a back spasm due to overload of those long, thin back muscles –  the guy from over-stretching, the gal from over-working. Once an overload has occurred, it depends on how severe the brain perceives the overload to be that determines how severe the “trip of the breaker” is. It could be as mild as a little bit of tightness in certain motions or difficulty bending all the way over to tie a shoe lace, or so severe the person can’t stand up or even roll over in bed. NOTE: Pain in these situations, even what feels like nerve type pain or pain radiating down into the legs, is most often normal, and should be thought of as a sign that the signaling system is working as it should, not that there is something structurally wrong that needs to be “fixed.” There are a few “red flags,” however, that do warrant an urgent exam by a doctor or other practitioner experienced in back pain: bilateral and/or unrelenting radiating pain into an unchanging region of the body or leg(s), loss of function or control of any part of the body (bowel / bladder or other organ, legs, or feet). Once those red flags are ruled out, the biggest healers are: avoidance of exacerbating movements / activities / postures, getting professional help to speed recovery (Physical Therapy is obviously my first recommendation), and time. Medications and pain blocks can mask the signals the injured tissues are sending the brain, thereby allowing you to go on business as usual and that can further injure already injured tissues. Rest and recovery are what the brain is trying to force when it causes “spasms,” so listen to it! 

Besides MDs & Physical Therapists there are lots of other practitioners out there that say they treat back pain: Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, Acupuncturists, even a dozen or two YouTube gurus who claim everything from “solve your back pain in 5 minutes or less” to “never have back pain again.” Who’s telling the TRUTH?

The truth is: they’re all right…sort of. Watch for Part II of this post….

 

 

Admission of Guilt!

 

Power = Thought + Communication + Emotion + Action

Ok, ok, I’m going to come clean: I have NOT lived up to my previously stated goal of writing a blog & sharing tips and tricks to keep on your New Year’s goals every week, as I said in February’s post…not even every 4 weeks…more like every 6. BUT – that’s OK. I’m not going to beat myself up about it because I’ve not met my goal, I just know I’m not making it a habit in my life (again, see February’s post).

But here is what I have to share today, something called THE POWER FORMULA:

RESULTS = THOUGHT  +  COMMUNICATION  +  EMOTION  +  ACTION

In a nutshell: the results you get (and should expect to get) are the product of these 4 things. If you put negative or poor quality things in, you’re going to get negative or poor quality results out….if you put positive or high quality in, you’ll get positive / high quality results out…pretty simple.

Thought:  AVOID NEGATIVITY! Stop with the media already – they want us to be captivated, and the human mind gravitates toward negativity as a self survival mechanism: “If my life / existence is being threatened, I must act!” Surround your brain with POSITIVITY – inspiring music, great podcasts, uplifting movies / TV shows (are there any?), etc..

Communication:  LEARN TO DO THIS, WELL, and OFTEN. Lots of new research is out showing that life fulfillment & joy is directly proportional to the amount of good, quality relations you have with other humans (i.e. communication). If this is a challenge for you, look into sources of help: books, talks, seminars (there’s a TON of this stuff on the web)…a few I recommend: http://www.success.com/article/10-ways-to-be-a-better-communicator; Compassionate Communication or NVC (www.cnvc.org or our local group www.Ashevilleccc.com); books How to Win Friends and Influence People or Ask More.

Emotion: GET THESE UNDER YOUR CONTROL! When emotion is high, intelligence and the ability to make quality decisions is low. Do NOT make critical decisions when you are in a high emotional state. Get them under control. Deep breathing helps stimulate the “calming” part of the nervous system. Also removing yourself physically from the thing causing your high emotions – go for a walk, go to the bathroom / drinking fountain, whatever you can do in the moment to calm yourself down before reacting / making a decision.

Action: This is often the hardest thing to do. First, find out your base nature: are you a high action-taker person or not? One way to determine this something called the KolbeA index test (www.kolbe.com). It is a test that will help measure your tendencies towards actions, reactions, and interactions. It is very helpful, especially if you’re a leader or boss or director-pay the $50 and take it!

Hope these tips help!

Now go out there and become a better YOU!