How To Begin Your Day

Healthy living is real simple! It just takes some character along with some added will power to stick to the necessary changes. The best thing you can do in my opinion, is to design a routine that ensures a healthy start to each and every day. By the end of this post, you will have more then enough information about what you can do every morning to ensure that your body, mind and soul are off to a good, healthy start.

The first thing I recommend upon rising is going to a place for a 5-10 minute meditation taking long, deep, and soothing breaths through your belly. This will clear your mind and get you focussed for the day ahead. Next, write down 1-2 things you would like to accomplish that day. It can be anything from a workout, completing something for work, seeing a friend or anything else you would like to achieve. After you have taken a very short time for some self reflection, now it is time to fill your belly. But what to eat?! Let me shed some light on some great ideas to break the fast.

Breakfast should generally be one of the bigger meals of the day, but it may take some getting used it. If you are a person who isn’t hungry in the morning, or someone who just has a coffee, then here are some suggestions to get started on a better breakfast option. Keep in mind, that although you don’t eat breakfast currently, your appetite may (and most likely will) change once you have established the habit of eating habitually in the morning. All meals should contain a protein, fibre and a fat. The ratio between those three is what changes from person to person. It’s really simple; If you have good energy and your appetite is truly satiated for 3-4 hours between meals, you have most likely eaten a meal that is right for your body type! *For more information on this, read my blog on primal typing* A good idea for the person who isn’t hungry in the morning is to have a piece of fruit such as an apple, pear, persimmon, orange or anything else of the sort! It would be wise to eat the fruit with a fat such as coconut oil, nuts or seeds. This will help with glucose regulation and insulin sensitivities! Also, some chopped up grab-and-go veggies such as carrots, cucumber, celery or anything else would be a great addition. These can be put into Ziploc bags for easy access each morning! Love coffee? Here are some tips on how to make your coffee taste better, and more efficient in energy production! Add some sort of fat to the coffee such as butter, hemp oil, or coconut oil to help your body metabolize the caffeine. You will have to blend this into the coffee. Coffee beans are very acidic, but if you add a pinch of baking soda (You should NOT taste it at all), it will alkalize your coffee making it a much healthier choice for you!

Now, if you are a person who has an appetite in the morning but may be eating high carbohydrate breakfast options such as: toast, bagels, oatmeal, hashbrown’s, pancakes or things with high sugar content such as: Jams, peanut butters, orange juices, syrups then you may want to take note of some things you can do to ensure you feel full, energized and ready for the day to begin! First I would recommend trying to eliminate your common breakfast options such as the ones I listed above. These are very high in sugar content and although they will keep you filled up, they also will cause a glucose crash in the early afternoon resulting in sugar cravings and low energy. Like I said before, all meals should contain a protein, fibre and a fat. It is wise to think of your first meal as ‘feeding #1’ opposed to breakfast. You will see and feel many results when you burst through the social stigma of only eating breakfast style foods in the morning. Some great options for breakfast may be any of the following:

  • 2 hard boiled eggs, handful of walnuts, steamed broccoli
  • Chicken breast, apple with coconut oil, zucchini with garlic and ginger
  • Ground beef with turmeric and tomatoes, celery and pecans
  • 3 egg omelette with spinach, mushroom and onion cooked in olive oil
  • Hormone/antibiotic free bacon, brazil nuts, cucumber-tomato-artichoke salad with some olive oil and sea salt.

These options may (or may not) seem like a weird thing to eat for breakfast, but I can assure you that by eating these easy to make meal ideas, your waistline will love you for it. One other amazing tip when beginning your day which could very well be the best thing you can do is……

Start each day with a hot/cold shower

AND

Before you consume any food at all, have a big tall glass of lemon water using REAL lemons. This water can be hot or cold, whatever you prefer.

Try these tips out for at least 10 days in a row and you will be well on your way to a healthier version of yourself. Your clothes will fit better, energy will be higher and you will even be more prone to making healthier options throughout the rest of your day as well. Have fun!!

 

 

The Brain Can Change, So Why Can’t You?

Up until recent, it was thought that the brain was a hardwired circuit, built like a machine. It was thought that it is composed of many specific parts that perform specific functions. Although this theory has been debated for quite some time, only until these last 5 years has it really been given a second look by the ‘leaders’ in the industry. The brain is now known to be what is termed ‘plastic’. What this means is that it has the capabilities to mold into whatever form we train it to mold into. Also, these specific sections that the brain has been divided into are not hardwired to do one job. Through the use of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) we can now see that the brain will create new maps, take over and ‘light up’ when other parts or sections have been harmed or damaged. An amazing example of this, is how a person with a brain pathology such as Parkinson’s disease, MS, cerebral palsy and other diseases that affect the brain can re-learn functions that were once considered eternally eliminated due to disease and sections of the brain appearing to shut off. As amazing as this information is, you may be wondering.. “how does this affect me?” Well let me tell you!

When we want to make a change in our lives whether it be quitting smoking, stop snacking at night, be a more gentle and loving person or even making an effort to drink more water during the day, our brain is what must change. It is this ‘neuroplasticity’ that allows this to happen. First we must understand and believe in the term non-learning. This is a term used to describe how the brain forgets things that were once very habitual patterns requiring very little thought. In diseases as mentioned above, new evidence shows that it is possible the patient will non-learn how to use a limb NOT because of the disease, but because they were simply told that this function would cease to operate and it is a matter of time before they will have to figure out a secondary source. Overtime, the patient believes and trusts the person that told them this, and there brain will eventually discontinue the maps that are required for this function to happen. Let me quote the common phrase “Mind over Matter”. But, back to you! When you are trying to make a change, however simple it may be to write down on paper such as ‘drink 3L of water today’, it is the non-learning portion that makes this tricky for us. If you are a person who has a regular routine of waking up to a morning coffee, drinking soda at work because that is what the vending machine offers, and then goes out for drinks after work with friends, these patterns may be exactly what is stopping you from making the new change. This probably sounds very obvious to the reader, but let me ask you this, are you aware of these ‘habits’ in your own life? Do you have control over them or is it the other way around? To declare to someone you want to make a change is the first step, but before that change can be made you must analyze your current habits and lifestyle choices. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. What they mean by that is it takes 21 days to create a new brain synapses which will be used for transmitting the new information. What people generally fail to remember is that within this 21 day period, other previous brain maps are not only formed, but extremely more accessible because of the law of facilitation, which states:

“The neuropsychological principle that activity over a synaptic pathway increases with repetition of the stimulus which translates either as: Long term potentiation or short term potentiation” – Thefreedictionary.com

This means that not only is a new desired change necessary to establish, but a good look at your current facilitated choices you are making is also required. For example, if you are a person who wants to be healthier, whatever that may mean to you, deciding to eat more salad and drink more water may be a great start. However, it is very wise to analyze your current daily choices and go through the process of ‘naming and taming’ these action items that are antagonistic to your new dream. Are you a person who goes to bed late, and wakes up late feeling unrested not leaving any more time then necessary to grab a cup of coffee and run out the door? If so, this means you didn’t eat breakfast which is widely known to boost your metabolism. It also means you didn’t bring a lunch, requiring you to go out to grab something which means you don’t have control over exactly what you are putting into your body, leaving your dream of becoming healthier in the hands of Joe Shmo across the counter. A missed breakfast, and a lunch void of nutritional value will result in a hormonal imbalance along with blood sugar issues. Blood sugar issues, will mean that when you come home from work your body is starving for something, anything to get your sugar levels back to normal. So, your natural tendency would be to grab something heavy in carbohydrates such as a pizza, pasta, or any other starchy substance that will ‘satisfy’ the void. Although you may feel full, your body is still starving for nutrients. A habit such as this, which is far from uncommon, means that your body will deposit fat stores to hold onto that dinner to use it for energy the next day as opposed to using it for necessary bodily functions such as development of the muscles, healing of the organs, cardiovascular requirements and any other bodily function that is important for ‘being healthy’. Now, your blood sugar seems level and you may, or may not have a burst of energy resulting in yet another late night and a day very similar to the one previous.

This may sounds like a lot, but trust me, through working with clients on a daily basis with many of them having similar goals, this is not abnormal. The point I am trying to make here, is that if you don’t analyze your current habits and understand where the root of the issue is actually coming from ie) going to bed on time, you will be like a dog chasing its tail, moving from workout to workout, diet to diet, pill to pill and wondering why nothing is working.

The plus side is that the brain can, and will change when given the right environment to do so. Begin to catch yourself when you are performing habits antagonistic to your dream and simply avoid them at all costs! If you’re a person who snacks too much at night, change the habit of watching the same things on television such as the news, or sports, and go for a walk, drink a herbal tea, do some stretching. ANYTHING that is different to what you are doing now. If you want to change, then make changes.. it’s that simple. I always tell people it isn’t even the action items that are the important part, it is simply the principle of doing something new. I am now aware of the ‘why’ behind this idea. Simply put, it stimulates the brain in ways you hadn’t been doing it before. If you follow the 1% rule and make a slight change towards changing your current habits every single day, it is quite obvious to believe that you will only get better and closer to your dream.

If people with paralysis can regain functions to use their limbs, rest assured that you are more then capable of becoming healthier, losing weight, increasing energy or whatever your goal may be.

So I ask you again, the brain can change, so why can’t you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 WAYS TO BURN FAT

Let’s face it, the majority of peoples fitness goals in today’s world is weight loss. With all the fad diets, workouts and magic pill’s out there it’s no wonder why most people wait until the New year to change, try it for a bit, quit, and then revert back to old patterns. I see the frustration amongst the people I have consultations with along with most people out on the street asking about the subject. Well, there is good news. In this short blog I am going to tell you 5 easy to implement action items that will surely bring that waistline down a couple sizes and have you loving your body. So with no further a due, let us get to it.

1) Eat Vegetables with EVERY meal

Really, that simple? Yes, your damn right it is. There are over 1 million different types of vegetables out there ready to be gobbled up by someone like you. Think of vegetable consumption on a scale of colour. Eat some red food, then some orange food, then yellow, green, blue and purple! Change it up often! Variety is the spice of life. Dark green leafy vegetables have the highest mineral content and are probably your best option due to the low amounts of natural sugars and the pack-a-punch nutritional content. Orange foods are high in beta carotenes which will help detox the liver. Above ground vegetables will have a lower sugar content and therefore lower on the glycemic index. Root vegetables are normally much starchier and although they aren’t bad by ANY MEANS.. You would be wise to choose more above ground veggies if your goal is weight loss. Like I said, mix it up and eat a variety. Your body will love it, and your fat will hate it! Wooohoo you’re already on your way.

2) Eat Fat to Lose Fat

WHAT!? How is that possible? Well, it is. All my clients are amazed that when they start including things like oils, avocado, nuts, seeds, butter, ghee, and even 80+% dark chocolate (I’m not a fun sucker, I swear) they begin to lose weight. The whole ‘fat causes fat’ concept is so old and the logic behind it is very uneducated. Without boring you with too much science, let me shed some light on the subject. Fat is very satiating allowing you to get fuller quicker and stay satisfied longer. Eating fat can also decrease the amount of carbohydrates you consume. This results in less of a need for your body to release insulin into the bloodstream. With lower levels of insulin in the blood, the body can use it’s fat stores more efficiently resulting in increased metabolism! Fats, can and should be eaten with every meal. If you are eating too much fat you will experience cramping, sluggishness, heaviness in the gut along with poop that leaves stains in the toilet! (Sorry for the realness) If eating food with higher amounts of sugar such as fruit, fat is an excellent option to eat it with due to the fact that it will help regulate blood sugar levels. Go ahead, try it out!

3) Cold Showers

SO, how bad do you want to lose that pesky weight? If you can tough it out, taking a cold shower every day will not only help you lose fat, but also increase energy levels, put you in a better mood, make your hair and skin healthier, and even help you have better sex (I promise!). If your too much of a weakling to hop in freezing cold water, begin with warm water and just before you get out, clench your fists, hold your breath and turn it as cold as it can go. Stay under this for a minimum of 10 seconds. Cold showers literally wake up every cell in your body, resulting in an increased metabolism. Your body has to work real hard to warm you up by increasing your heart rate, hardening the muscles temporarily, increasing blood flow and much more resulting in increased calories burned! Also, cold water is great for decreasing inflammation that is retained in the body because of too much heat. This is good for headaches, muscle soreness and even helps erectile dysfunction due to increased blood flow as stated earlier (told you!). It will be uncomfortable and it may even suck, but I challenge you to start every day like a damn warrior. The benefits are incredible, and along with the other 4 tips, the weight will be sure to fall off!

4) Eat More Frequently

This is especially important for women! The female body will store weight around the areas necessary for carrying a child whether you are pregnant, young, old or not pregnant at all. If you don’t eat regularly, your body will go into ‘starvation mode’ and anything you consume, especially if it is quick and easy processed foods, will go straight to those areas. These ‘areas’ being  your butt, hips, thighs and stomach. Eating smaller meals throughout the day will give your body some confidence in the fact that it is being taken care of and receiving adequate nutrient levels. This results in the body not needing to store as much of your food consumption as fat which would be used for energy later. Instead, it will take everything you just put in it and use it as fuel for your muscles, other bodily functions and make use of all of it so very little will be needed to be stored as fat. A good rule of thumb is to never go more then 4 hours without a small meal containing protein, vegetables and fat. Eat more, lose more. Are you hungry yet?

5) Move Your Body!

This one may seem like a no brainer… but I’m going to say it anyways! Many great things happen when we move our bodies. Endorphins, dopamine and other happy hormones are released, organs get stimulated to heal, muscles get toned, and cardiovascular functions increase there efficiency. Moving doesn’t have to be an hour workout 5 times a week at the gym with all those big gorillas walking around asking for help to scratch there backs and wipe their butts (Need a spot, bro?). Moving can simply be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking around the office every 30 minutes, or even going for a morning walk. Make an effort to move your body 30 minutes a day, however you feel is best for you. 80% of the battle is in the kitchen, 10% is in the cold shower, and what the hell, why can’t the remaining 10% be in the bedroom? (SEE! Definitely not a fun sucker) Moving requires energy, and desire to do so. If you follow the 4 tips I listed above on a daily basis I can promise you that you will have the energy, motivation, and drive to get out and move.

Losing weight doesn’t have to be hard, confusing and boring. Buy an outfit that almost fits, plan a vacation, do this with a friend or anything else that excites you to follow these 5 easy to do tips every single day. With an honest effort you will be extremely impressed and surprised of just how capable you are of making a change in your life. It’s a New Year, but who cares. Make every single day a reason to make a change, better yourself and ultimately live your life to the fullest. You can do this, YOU ARE DOING THIS.

 

 

 

 

INTRO TO CHAKRA KNOWLEDGE.

Maybe you have heard of chakras before, maybe you haven’t! They speak a lot of the chakras in eastern/alternative healing methods such as yoga, reiki, ayurveda, acupuncture, crystal healing, and can/should also be incorporated into your exercise program. So what exactly are these chakras, you may be asking. What do they do for us? Well, there is a simple and a complex way of informing you. I will touch on some basic principles about each chakra and how you can learn to feel and understand them more, within you.

There are many different ‘chakra structures’. Here are a few examples:

7 Hindu Chakra system

Tibetian 6 chakra system

Mayan energy system (7 powers)

Tsalagi energy system (5 principles)

Incan 9 chakra energy system

12 Chakra system

 

Each system has developed from different cultures all over the world. The one I will be referring to during this blog, is the 7 Hindu Chakra System. It is the most common to be found, especially in the western community. It is also known to be the ‘baseline’ system for many other forms. The chakra system is believed to have been created 4000 years ago in India. The knowledge descends from Vedanta philosophy, which was written in the Upanishads around 800 bc. These genius’’ knew what Einstein only confirmed less than a century ago: Energy cannot be destroyed. It can only be reformed. This is valuable knowledge that clearly got lost by a number of people in the following generations, only to be refound again as ‘new science’.
The chakras are energy centers within the body. They are responsible for relaying conscious and subconscious energy through the entire body. The chakras are shaped like a spiral vortex that stick out the front and back of the human body or ‘field’. These vortex’ spin either to the right or the left, clockwise or counterclockwise. This determines if they are opened or closed. Chakras can both be too open, or to closed. This normally shows up in one’s posture quite visibly. Here are a list of the 7 chakras.
1st or root chakra

2nd or sacral chakra

3rd or solar plexus chakra

4th or heart chakra

5th or throat chakra

6th or third eye chakra

7th or psyche
Each one of these are connected to the meridians or nadis. These are the rivers or paths that the energy travels along to flow evenly throughout the entire body. The chakras ultimate ‘goal’ or function is to provide a connection from your soul, or consciousness to your psyche. (universal force, GOD, or unconscious)
These paths can often have blockages within them. This is where the energy doesn’t flow properly and becomes halted. If you have ever experienced immediate pain relief or increased range of motion from an acupuncture session, well this was what the therapist was working with. Posture is of most importance when working with the chakra system. Energy flows through the spine, and flows best when the spine is in an upright, neutral position, aligning the body into it most functional state. The process can be noted to increase the rise of kundalini or male and female forces in the body. When both forces are flowing harmoniously, you are able to obtain balance. This happens on all levels, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Each chakra can also be related to certain factors in one’s life. Here is a basic list, continuing with the same format as the list above.

 

Financial issues + Family security (tribal)

Relationships and sex

Self confidence + self expression

Relationships + ability to give/receive love

Communication

Mental clarity

Ability to connect to psyche or universal force
Chakras must be ‘felt’ within the body. This comes with self awareness. The more you practice forms of inward energy work such as yoga, tai chi, meditation or other forms of alternative healing, the more familiar you will be able to feel this incredible system working. To feel it can be subtle, or extreme depending on the person. If you have major blockages, you can either see it in your posture (you will appear closed, hunched or too open, extended) or feel it through areas of tension or muscle fascia build up. Releasing these areas of opportunity through the use of stretching, exercising, or any of the forms listed above are great ways to find balance and ultimately obtain a pain free, mobile, functional human body and consciousness.

CREATING YOUR OWN REALITIES

CREATING YOUR OWN REALITIES.

Do you think it’s possible that you can create your own reality? Are you a person who goes through life battling all the obstacles thrown in front of you, using terms like ‘why does this always happen to me’ or ‘life is so unfair’? Or are you a person who glides through life with a sense of calmness and peace using terms such as ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘life is great!’? Both of these individuals have in fact, created their own reality. This concept is a large one to grasp, but only because of the demanding ego that is sitting on high alert in most people. The information is relatively simple stuff to understand and implicate. So before I begin, I would like to make this clear. Your ego is trying to convince you that this is false, because in this process you must, at some point, surrender your control to the greater powers of the universe. You must understand that you only harness control of you, and absolutely nobody else. More importantly, you must understand that you only have control over you, in the here and now. That’s it, what happens one hour from now or tomorrow is a complete mystery. Your roadblocks or unlucky events you are facing are results of your personal thoughts, actions and deeds in the now. So again, your ego likes to convince you that it is only real if you can identify it using our predominant sense system. (see, touch, hear, smell, taste). This information I am about to present will be 100% false information for the individual who chooses not to believe. The person who is too ego dominant will not allow themselves to believe that they do not have control over something they cannot identify. And that my friend, is your first problemo!

The human brain has approximately 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) and many other cells that serve to add protection and support to these neurons. It is known that each neuron could be connected to 1,000 trillion other neurons. These connections are called synapses. The math is too overwhelming to even comprehend a complete number. To even write it down, would take quite a bit of ink. Let me put it this way. The brain has the ability to make more connections than there could be stars in the cosmos. WOW. When I found out this information, My immediate thought or question per say was; ‘What exactly are we as human beings capable of?’ And my self diagnosed answer was, in the least cliche way possible…. ANYTHING! Think about it, if we are able to make and create trillions upon trillions upon trillions of connections, some of them within milliseconds of effort, then don’t you think it is a little ignorant to say something like “my life sucks, and that’s just the way it is?” 

It is my opinion that our ego’s make it easy to get trapped in a certain belief or way of life. The ego, although it is crucial to our survival in some aspects can be more of a burden than a gift, if it is used improperly. I can see how it is easy to get trapped. If you have lived a life a certain way for as long as you can remember, it very well may be all you can remember. But it is crucial to know, that just because you have been a certain way, or thought a certain way does not mean you must be like this forever. The brain is intelligent, the mind is intelligent. They are both begging you to challenge it and create new synapses each and every day. It is just as tired of the miserable sob stories and thoughts about how much my life sucks as you are! 

Thought has the ability to travel 7 times the speed of light. If you think a negative thought, you have just told the world the thought 7 times over. A thought, like everything else to some extent, is energy. It was transferred by an electrical current in your brain. Energy attracts energy. More importantly, like energy attracts like energy. In simple terms, if you think a negative thought, you will most certainly attract negative attention. This is where the ego must be dissolved for a short bit. Think of it like this, a young girl grows up with an abusive father. She protests about how much she dislikes her father and how she cannot accept him for what he did. Now this girl becomes a young woman. She still holds the negative thoughts and feelings about her father within her. She has never forgiven. Now this young woman begins to have relationships with other men, which never work out the way she intended. She is finding herself dating men who are in fact, abusive. They may be physically abusive, or emotionally, but nonetheless, it is still abuse. To your surprise, this exact scenario happens quite frequently. But why? When you ask the woman what she wants in a man, she will quickly tell you she is looking for a good listener, someone who loves her deeply, someone who is loyal, trustworthy, passionate, empathetic. But yet, every time she finds herself falling for someone, they are quite the opposite. This is a good example of how you create your own realities. The ego says, “I hate my dad, he’s an asshole for doing what he did to me. I will never be with someone like that.” But these thoughts and feelings that the woman possesses is attracting exactly what she says she doesn’t want. Once you can drop your ego for just a second, you will find forgiveness, you will find acceptance. Not acceptance because you think what your father did was right, it was in no way ‘the right thing to do’. But you will seek and honour acceptance for your health and well being. You are doing it for your best interest. Because once you stop letting the ego control you, and you have positive thoughts and feelings on a negative situation such as the latter, you have opened the pathway to creating new thoughts and ideas, or synapses. This will attract like minded people, and the young woman seeking a loving, caring man will find exactly that! I have seen this work on countless occasions and it is quite extraordinary. The most powerful of all experiences. You create and decide what happens to you simply by giving up control. WHAT A PARADOX! 

By no means whatsoever am I justifying an abusive figure in anyone’s life. I just chose this example to make a solid point and give a good example to applicate this information. It is very easy for us to fall victim to our ego’s. We are creatures of experience. From the time you are in utero, up until this present moment, you are downloading different sights, sounds, smells, and all of your surroundings into your mind. To think that your way is the only way is a sign of ignorance. Not for anyone else, but a kind of self ignorance. By telling yourself these stories, you are creating a reality that may be harsh to survive in. By simply questioning the knowledge and ideas you possess, and asking questions like ‘why do I think that?’ or ‘how could I think of this differently?’ before you react to a situation is the first step towards living a life that feels fulfilling, exciting and joyful. Understand that the way you are is because of how you have interpreted your past experiences. But you can become new again if you re-analyze those past experiences with a new outlook on the situation. 

“If you are trying to figure out your body today, look at your thoughts in the past. If you are trying to figure out what your body will be like in the future, look at your thoughts today.”

Tyler Woelfle 
HLC,CP1,FST
Tys Chi and Wellness

WEIGHT BELTS. YAY OR NAY?

Weight belts are a very common item used amongst many gym goers. But I ask you, are you aware of exactly why you are using one? Or better question.. Do you know exactly what it is doing to you? Weight belts were originally used by powerlifters in hopes of increasing their level of absolute strength. But now it seems, in my opinion, that they are being used as a fashion statement or accessory among many males (mostly) in gyms all across the world. The purpose of the belt is to increase what is called intra abdominal pressure within the core. The idea is, by wrapping a thick belt around your waist, you can increase the amount of core stability you have to protect your back, and ultimately lift more weight. This method, though it will allow you to lift more weight, is actually making you substantially weaker. How can this be?

Your core is made up of many different types of muscle fibers running in every different direction. Here is a simplified list to help you visualize.

Rectus abdominis: The ‘6 pack’ part. They run up and down and are responsible for flexing the body forward.

Internal/External obliques: These run in a diagonal fashion, creating an ‘X’ across the midline of the body. These are responsible for stabilizing your body during rotation.

Transverse Abdominis (or TVA for short): This muscle wraps around the body like a corset. This muscle should activate automatically anytime the core needs to stabilize.

Pelvic Floor: This set of muscles is located at ‘the bottom’ of the core. It is responsible for bladder and fecal regulation, as well as an important sexual function in both men and women.

All these muscles, and some other small spinal stabilizers are supposed to work harmoniously together to provide protection to your spine, neck, and all your other limbs on the body. The key word here, is harmoniously. These muscles, to give you an image, form a barrel or a cylinder in the person’s midsection that provides support in all 3 directions, as well as top and bottom. This is what is called intra abdominal pressure. Let’s talk about why this is important to understand while wearing a weight belt.

Whenever a person has a TVA that doesn’t fire correctly, (responsible for bringing everything in the core inward to protect against harm) your odds of injury skyrocket. The TVA will not work properly if you have any of the following:

Gut inflammation (eating something you’re intolerant to)
Pain (Pain response will shut off muscles unless it is retrained*)
Breathing dysfunction (disrupts the entire system)

If you do not have a TVA that fires correctly, you are lacking some serious opportunity in regards of strength and stability within not only your core, but your entire body. The most common thing you will see is people who can not do compound movements like a squat, deadlift, cable push, lunge etc with a neutral spine. They will be prone to rounding the back in order to lift the heavy weight they are lifting. Overtime, this can cause serious deterioration and injury. This is where the belt comes in.. kind of. A person realizes they are putting their backs at risk of injury by rounding, so they strap on a weigh belt and continue to lift the same load. What this does, is creates a FALSE TVA function in the body. The brain gets tricked into thinking the person has obtained intra abdominal pressure, which most certainly helps you lift more weight! But why does the man who can deadlift 500lb with a belt, and only 350lb without throw his back out while drying his hair after a shower, or getting out of the car, or even picking something as light as a water bottle off of the ground? The answer is because the person, with use of the weight belt has tricked the brain into thinking it has a properly stabilized inner unit (core) capable of lifting 500lb objects, when really they don’t have a core that fires at all, sometimes incapable of lifting a 10lb object properly! A good image to think about is what happens when the power lifters at your gym take their belts off. They have what I call the “waterfall effect”. As soon as the pressure of the belt is off, the belly comes with it. This is because when the person is ‘naked’, the TVA cannot hold the belly in on its own.

Weight belts are doing more harm than good. It is my opinion that you should not be lifting a weight if you can’t do it without a belt. In fact, the world’s best weight belt you could ever use is a string. You tie the string around your waist and when you draw the belly button in, there should be slack in the rope. This is when you know you have achieved intra abdominal pressure. Now try to do just a bodyweight squat, or a lunge. Can you maintain the slack on the string? If not, you need to find a different exercise that you can do it successfully. It may be difficult to drop your ego and lift a lighter weight, but just realize that the more you attempt to lift weights that are too heavy to lift without a belt, the more you are making your entire body actually weaker from a functional standpoint.

One last thing, as I said before, your TVA is supposed to fire automatically. So once you have mastered the string, don’t worry about drawing in your belly button. It will happen all by itself. The core is the centre of everything, the most important muscular system in the body. So train smart, and watch how strong you get.

“YOU CAN’T FIRE A CANNON FROM A CANOE.”

Tyler Woelfle
HLC, FST, CP1
Ty’s Chi and Wellness

BREATHING. NOT AS EASY AS IT SEEMS.

BREATHING. NOT AS EASY AS IT SEEMS.

 

Inhale, exhale. You do it 26,000 times a day, but what if I told you that you may be doing it wrong? Is it too simple and autonomic of a task to do incorrectly? Lets explore.

 

According to chinese philosophy, breath is the beginning of the chi cycle. (Chi is a word for energy) The chi cycle is a 24 hour cycle your body goes through everyday to repair and restore your organs and important parts of your body that ultimately, allow you to survive. Each organ or gland has a 2hr slice of the pie to heal. It begins with lung, responsible for respiration. This happens from 3-5AM. It ends with liver, responsible for dealing with all the toxins that come into your body. This happens from 1-3AM. So, the reader that focus’ closely may realize that if you have a liver issue, it means you have issues everywhere else among the chi cycle, and vise versa. If you have issues with breathing, or you just don’t do it correctly, you will have issues everywhere else in the body. Let me break this down to make it clearer.

chi cycle

A picture of the chi cycle and all its components.

 

Breathing can literally change our entire biochemical function within seconds. Try it. If you breath very fast and heavy, you will notice that your heart rate increases, you feel hot, adrenaline will release and you may even begin to sweat. Now, take a slow deep relaxing breath and you will notice quite the opposite. Your heart rate slows down, you feel calm, temperature will decrease and depending on your level of stress, you may even feel a little sleepy. To explain the process of how it happens seems unimportant and too ‘sciency’ for this blog. So we are going to focus on the why. Why does your breath make your body change? The answer is this. Fight or flight. Rest and digest. These are two ‘modes’ your body is capable of going into, controlled by the body/mind relationship as well as the central nervous system.

 

Life is a stress roller coaster. All the time it is throwing new things in front of you that are testing your ability to adapt to a given situation. In the past, facing a saber tooth tiger in the woods that was hungry for its next meal would be a very appropriate time for your body to be in a fight or flight state. Your breathing changes, you can’t relax, all the blood gets pumped your extremities along with hormones like adrenaline and cortisol releasing to keep you alert. This will allow you to run longer, fight stronger and regulate  autonomic functions off in the body such as going to the washroom, all to increase your chances of survival. However, now our ‘saber tooth tiger’ scenario could be more relatable to one of the following: Somebody breaking into your house at night, slamming their brakes on in front of you while driving, losing sight of your child in a densely populated area etc. The bottom line is, you need to increase your level of awareness, speed and ability to act immediately, so your body has a function for that. We also need the rest and digest function. This is what helps us wind down after a long day of work and allows us to go to sleep. The body realizes it is not in danger, and it is safe to relax. You will normally achieve this in a waking state via the use of things like: Yoga, meditation, relaxing massage, tai chi, and light stretching. The issue lies when you are too dominant with one function or the other. If you are a couch potato who can’t find any energy to do anything, you would be a person with too much emphasis on the rest and digest function. If you are a person always dealing with high stress, always on the go, have a type A personality, you place too much emphasis on the fight or flight response. This is very common with today’s society in the western world. We are essentially preparing our bodies to sprint away from a lion that is trying to kill us all day long. Again, it is essential to our survival that our bodies can perform this task as quickly as possible. But the danger lies when you constantly live in a state of stress. You cannot run forever, the lion will catch you. The lion I am speaking of metaphorically, is disease and illness.

 

Here is the beauty of it all. We have been given a simple tool that we can use to find balance between these 2 functions whenever we please. And it is relatively simple to do! Take a guess as to what it is…. BREATHING. Here’s a drill you can use. Lie on your back, placing one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in. Which hand rose first? Was it the hand over your heart? If so, you my friend, are breathing incorrectly.

 

We call this form of breathing, ‘chest breathing’ or restricted breathing. Basically, to make it simple I will put it like this. Every time you take a breath, which is approximately 26,000 times a day, you tell your body to panic or relax. If you are breathing into your chest, you are telling your body to panic. Why do I hold so much tension in shoulders, chest, neck and head? Because you are feeding it tension every time you breath incorrectly! This also puts people into a state of ‘living in there heads’. If you are a person who cannot get to sleep at night or if you suffer from large amounts of brain fog, check your breathing patterns! You are making your body think you are at risk of survival with every breath. This creates fear, tension, and stress in the body. Don’t I need to use my head to make decisions? Isn’t that where my brain is? I have answers for you.

 

The term ‘go with your gut’ is used regularly in today’s society. Its nice to see that somewhere, among all the confusion, we still know how we are supposed to use the body. The gut has more neuron receptors then the brain and spinal cord… combined! They are not lying when they say to make decisions using your gut, It’s way more intelligent! If you are a chest breather, you miss an entire section that you could be storing your air. An easy way to increase your cardiovascular endurance or breathing efficiency is to begin the breath in your belly. Your breathing pattern should look and feel like this.

 

Inhale through your nose. Fill up the first ⅔’s of your breath in your belly, and then finally fill up your chest cavity with the last ⅓ of your breath.

 

⅔ belly, ⅓ chest. Exhale through your mouth.

 

Once you create awareness of how breathing ‘should’ feel like, you will be surprised how quickly you flip your breathing pattern. But here is what I recommend. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Lye on your back with your hands in the position mentioned above and focus on your ⅔ to ⅓ breathing pattern. Do this 1-3 times per day and you will notice it gets much easier, relatively quickly. We are creatures of habit, so if you’re a high stressed person, your body will try to convert back to its old ways because even though the state of constant stress is harmful to the body, it is comfortable there which is not something you should be okay with!

SIDE NOTE.

If you try this new breathing pattern and feel dizzy or extremely tired, do not get scared. It is okay. Your body was formally in a high state of stress and when you breath in such a manner that forces the body to relax, you shock your system. If you feel tired, it is a good sign your body is saying “Oh, thank you for listening to me! You have been working me too hard and need to get some rest.” If you feel dizzy, just remain on your back for another 5 minutes after the deep breathing or until you feel it is safe to get up. This will get better over time. It doesn’t take long for your body to start telling you what it wants when you listen even just a little. This literally happens within seconds.

 

Pay attention to your breathing throughout the day, especially when a stressful situation presents itself. Are you chest breathing? Take a couple belly breaths and feel how the entire perceived situation changes right before your eyes. It sounds simple, and it is. But do not underestimate the power of breathing correctly. Upwards of 90% of disease and illness are stress related. Remember, breathing is the beginning of the cycle. If you are breathing incorrectly, you are lying to yourself if you think everything else will still function optimally. Your health is like a well structured pyramid. You need the basics before you can move onto anything else. You need to breath correctly, drink an adequate amount of water and eat a diet composed of whole foods before you can do anything else. If it seems easy, I’m happy to hear that. Make a conscious effort of establishing a well built base to your pyramid, breath correctly and fully. And enjoy the benefits.

 

Namaste.

 

Tyler Woelflle

HLC, FST, CP1

Tys Chi and Wellness