Month: March 2014

Practice What You Preach: An Open Letter to Health Workers Everywhere

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Yesterday during a massage my client mentioned she had attended a healthcare conference and she was surprised by how many nurses and doctors in attendance were out of shape. This reminded me of the plethora of massage therapists who are in the same boat, many of whom don’t even get massage regularly (or ever, in some cases). This really got me thinking about the disconnect between those offering healthcare and how we encourage our clients/patients to be. This is definitely not meant to shame anyone, but to me it really begs the question of why we do what we do.

self-care-survival

I’ve mentioned on this blog that one of the major things that kick-started me into being healthy was going to school for massage. I was suddenly surrounded by personal trainers, nutritionists and physical therapists and began absorbing a ton of information on health and wellness. I also fell in love with the art and science of massage and realized that if I was going to really be successful as a massage therapist I needed to be in good physical shape to avoid injuring myself and shortening my career. Learning proper body mechanics and strengthening my core and upper body, along with adding flexibility to my lower body was imperative if I wanted to work through several hours of deep tissue work without compromising my own health. The #1 thing I learned in school is I have to check in with myself, physically and psychologically, FIRST before I put my hands on another body. Self-care, self-care, self-care.

Yet, somehow, we get out of school and it seems that many of us throw that idea away. It’s easier to be consumed by being too busy to exercise, and being too broke to afford massage. It’s easier and cheaper to grab fast food on the way to the office than to bring a healthy lunch or even stop by the salad bar at Whole Foods. The most self-care we do is shaking out our hands between clients and maybe rubbing a little Biofreeze or arnica on our shoulders. All of our attentions is focused outwards, to our clients/patients, our families, our friends.

And this is where I can finally see a glimpse of what’s going on. Most of us in healthcare are caregivers. We were born with that need to take care of others, often ignoring our own needs. We’re willing to martyr ourselves for the benefit of others. That may seem admirable, but at the end of the day I believe this attitude is back-firing. We’re constantly saying to our clients, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Logically, it’s obvious this doesn’t work. If we really want to help others we have to get a little selfish and we have to start taking our own advice.

They tell you if a plane loses air pressure and the oxygen masks fall put YOUR mask on first BEFORE helping others. They tell you this simply because if you don’t put your mask on first you might pass out due to lack of oxygen before you even get a chance to help your neighbor. It’s common sense. Folks in healthcare, listen up, PUT YOUR MASKS ON FIRST! It’s not news that, especially in the US, we have major issues with illness directly related to poor diets and lack of basic exercise. I’m not saying you need to become a raw foodist, a bodybuilder, and pamper yourself constantly, but it’s time to start making time for your own health. If not, newsflash, your patients won’t listen to you. Actions speak louder than words, right? So if you tell your patients to get healthy, and then you step out back for a cigarette and a coke they will not take you seriously.

If we are in the healthcare profession it is our duty to demonstrate good health. Period. I’m not saying we have to be perfect 100% of the time; we’re still human, right? But we are the army fighting for health and wellness so if our army can’t take care of itself we can’t win a single battle, let alone a war. If you’re working one-on-one with clients or patients who are coming to you for help with their health you are literally the first line of defense. Help yourself so you can really help them.

I beg you to readjust your thinking. You’re probably extremely busy, but if you can carve out even 30 minutes a day for exercise you will have more energy and most likely a more positive outlook (thank you endorphins) so you will feel better and be better for your patients/clients. If you eat better you’ll have more energy and a stronger immune system so you will feel better and be better for your patients/clients. If you get regular massage or chiropractic or acupuncture you will feel better and be better for your patients/clientsIs this making sense yet?

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As for the money excuse, this is usually another mode of thinking that needs to be adjusted. As a massage therapist, I get massage regularly because it keeps my body fluid and keeps me from getting injured when I work with my clients. It also helps me connect with other therapists and often introduces me to other modalities. If I can barter I do, because it’s nice to feel things are reciprocal. But, if I can’t barter I happily pay for it because I firmly believe massage is worth the price we charge for it. I rationalize the cost by pretending I did one less massage that week. So basically, it’s a barter in my mind. I gave one massage to a client and I get one massage in return. Done. I mean seriously, how do you expect anyone to pay for a massage from you if you don’t feel you can pay for a massage yourself? Now ideally, healthcare professionals would have a large barter pool with each other so we can take care of each other and I do think long-term there needs to be major healthcare reforms in this country to make care more universally affordable, but that’s a post for another day.

To sum up, remember, you are a role model. When you took your position in healthcare you made a vow to do your best to help make people healthier and you can’t do that unless you are healthy. Start small, start today, if you have to start again tomorrow. You are worth it. Practice what you preach so our society as a whole can get healthy!

Raising The Bar

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I started week two of C25K this week. So far it’s noticeably easier this time around and I feel that’s a testament to how my level of fitness has increased over the years. It’s also a huge help that I’ve kept up with a daily yoga practice. My legs were sore last week but daily stretching with yoga, plus a longer class on Thursday night, has really helped make the soreness barely noticeable. This week I also upped my speed in half of the segments that I’m running. The program this week has me alternating running for 1.5 mins and walking for 2 mins for a total of about 29 minutes. I was excited to break the two mile mark yesterday and will try to up my speed when I run again tomorrow. I will say I’m missing my HiiT workouts. I had to shift things around to make room for running so I’m taking a break from HiiT and Kettlebell 2-3 days/wk to running 3 days/wk. While running is great to build my cardio, it’s also a bit boring (especially when compared to HiiT), and it’s not dynamic so it’s uber-focused on legs and core so the rest of my body is just happy I’m continuing to climb and do yoga to keep it active.

I reached a new height in climbing today by killing a 5.9+ route. Regular climbers may not find this impressive, but for me it was a big deal. I specifically chose the route because it had very few jugs and was mostly slopers, pinchers and globes. I hate all of those, though slopers and I have become friendly lately. I’ll also admit the two globes thrown into that route proved to be really nice resting points. But pinchers? We’re still not cool, pinchers. For the non-climbers that read my blog I will eventually explain more about those different holds so sorry if you feel left in the dark for now.

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a new smoothie recipe, so here’s my current favorite:

Pineapple Mango Smoothie
Pineapple Mango Smoothie

Pineapple Mango Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp flax seed (if your blender won’t pulverize this buy it ground)
  • handful fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mangos
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Blend it up in the mixer of your choice! I still love my Vitamix and make smoothies for myself and my partner every morning. If you’d like to indulge in the rest of the meal pictured above, make yourself some Scrambled Eggs with Spinach!

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach (yes, this may sound simple but I’m posting the recipe because I believe my scrambled eggs are recipe-worthy)

Ingredients:

  • two eggs (preferably free-range organic, even better if they’re local)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (recipe here, omit vanilla and sweetener)
  • handful baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or fat of your choosing)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in pan over medium-low
  2. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper until slightly frothy.
  3. Add eggs to pan and move continuously. This is the biggest trick to making light, fluffy eggs; keep them moving constantly. I like to use a heat-safe silicon spatula to keep folding them in on each other.
  4. When eggs are barely firm (maybe 20-30 seconds in the pan) add the spinach.
  5. Continue moving constantly until they reach desired firmness and spinach has wilted.

Now have your smoothie and scramble and go take over the world! 😉

C25K Redux & Climbing for the Top!

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In spite of it being 0ºF at my doorstep this morning, I’m thinking towards Spring! This year I signed up for my first official 5K. For anyone who’s been following my blog for a while, you know I began running back in April of 2010 using the Couch-to-5K program with the Get Running App. I also chose to run close to barefoot with Vibram Five Fingers (first KSOs, then the Treksports and now the Spyridon LS). I’ve continued running off and on since then but I generally don’t run much in the winter because I’m neither a fan of treadmills nor am I a fan of being cold. I also honestly don’t enjoy running as much as I enjoy climbing or yoga or HiiT workouts, so it tends to fall near the bottom of my list.

All that said, my school is involved in a 5K so I’ve decided to support them by participating. This is a big deal for me because I really don’t enjoy crowds so while I love obstacle courses and trail running, I haven’t been competitive about it. While I probably don’t technically need the C25K program this time around, since I’ve maintained good physical fitness, I want to take it slow so I can work on my form and rebuild any running-specific muscles that I may have been neglecting in the winter months. Unfortunately, this means using my treadmill right now (at least until all this %&*@# snow melts), but that does give me the ability to maintain consistent speeds and challenge myself to go faster in my runs. I specifically like to alternate running speeds, which is not part of the C25K regimen, because it both helps keep me engaged and builds better cardio by keeping my body guessing.

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In addition to the running, I’m working on leveling up in climbing! I’ve been climbing off and on for a couple years now but became a member at Central Rock Gym in January and have been hitting the walls 2-3 times per week since then. It’s amazing how addictive it is. I’ve found myself devouring climbing videos on YouTube and the more I watch others climb the more confident I’m getting in my own climbing. Above you’ll see my first bouldering route with a heel hook (which was super fun!) and since then I’ve been working more on my technique and was stoked to kill a couple V2’s at the gym yesterday!

My top roping has also improved. I went from climbing a 5.6-5.7 to now successfully completing 5.9’s. Once I get confident with the 5.9/5.10 range I can begin learning lead climbing, which means I’ll be responsible for hooking in my own rope on several preset lead carabiners along the route. This will help prepare me for outdoor climbing, which I’m hoping to try this summer.

For a girl who’s afraid of heights I’ve come a long way! The thing I really gain by climbing is when the confidence I have in myself is greater than my fear of heights. I’m not afraid of falling when I know I can hold myself up. Obviously, this can be applied to many facets of life, which I’m finding is the real thing I seek with physical fitness. Yoga teaches me to find moments of calm even in the most stressful situations. High intensity trainings and climbing both help me gain confidence in my body and mind and challenge me to push further.

They’re not kidding when they say “strong is the new beautiful”. 🙂