Unfortunately as we age, most of the time we begin moving more thru our lower spine than anywhere else.

Now just hold that thought.

In gymnastics the movement in image above a bridge, yoga a wheel, functional movement, thoracic extension. Ok definitely not the latter. And a bad one if the first two.

However, the first thing I love about this pic, apart from my friends’ awesome house in Suffolk Park we stayed in over Christmas this year, is that every attempt used to make me so dizzy! But not this time. I could actually stay and hold it. Yay.

I also like how much my hips actually allow me to open up my low body but that my low back also stops them from over arching and crushing into my low back. As a gymnast I used to be great at that, which is not great. Trust me.

Now back to aging and low spine movement more than anywhere – can you see my glee. If not, hold that thought one more time then.

Chiropractors (and when you study under Paul Chek @chekinstitute) learn about something called the Lovett brother relationship. It’s all about noticing and bringing changes to your body. Thru dysfunction at one end of your spine problems are reciprocated at the other end.

In the most simplest of explanations, when there is a rotation in L5 there will always be a rotation in C1, its ‘Lovett Partner’, even in the absence of symptoms of pain or lack of function at C1. And they can work both ways. For example, a dysfunction at L5 can cause a C1 dysfunction and a C1 dysfunction can cause an L5 dysfunction. When one is out of neutral so will its partner.

So back to my bridge, aging and low spine over use. And thanks for your patience but if you know me then wrapping my head, particularly my brain, with punny reference to my now tennis ball sized whole following brain tumor removal (yes, I’m laughing at myself!), then the relationship is being addressed (!) and not running it’s aging course! Having had such a large tumor, I experienced severe displacement of c5 in my neck and would expect to see the partnered dysfunction in L1. Following ten years as a gymnast, all my L (lumbar, low back) vertebrae were and are very mobile. So this could be a double whammy! But core strength has had to be more than mere aesthetic: it’s held things in place!

So my bridge. I know. I’m slow getting there. But I am slowly getting there in my bridge too. Thoracic extension, shoulder mobility, the breathing that goes with those changes as I open up directly over my lungs at my back, the release, especially emotional of the opening up of my chest (think heart). This is exciting. This is why despite, let’s face it a crap bridge pose, I’m feeling like there’s definitely an upside in my future here!

Eating well is my baseline. It’s one of the ways I know I am nourishing my body into the knowledge all is ok. 
I think our body tells us just how this nourishing is coming along. This isn’t like full gossip sessions over too many wines kinda thing but definitely conversations of symptoms both daily, acute and chronic. You know what I’m saying. Tired. Hungry. Craving. Bloated. Nauseated. Satiated. Salivating. It also tells us through stress: stress comes into our body in so many forms but on the inside it’s all the same to our body. And when there’s too much, something’s gotta give. 
So we gotta listen to our body. This is our health and wellness journey in a nutshell. Unless you’re allergic to nuts. Then it’s just in as few words as possible. 
Because whether it’s as few words or few ingredients or few steps it’s simplicity and making the smallest steps with the greatest impact that gets you there. 

Wherever you are on your health & wellness journey, the ‘next step’ could be as simple as cutting out sugar or eating more greens. So often clients go the all or nothing approach and their bodies are just not ready for such huge changes, no matter how healthy. With small inspired steps, you’ll soon look back and see that you have those habits on autopilot. 

Start simply with one meal, even one ingredient, maybe not slacking off and trying harder, recording what you eat, getting a friend to be accountable with, getting inspired on Youtube, or hiring the help you need. 

Whatever you do, try and stay forever learning and a student of health for life!

Ways to uplevel your nourishment

Write answers to these prompts:

1. Where are you now?

Do you have much sugar?

Do you have grains/gluten/dairy? 

Do you eat out or have fast food? 

How frequently do you eat?

How do you feel after you eat, energized, bloated, is something not quite right? Is eating how you think you should hard to stick to? Any cravings

2. What is the next step you could make to up-level your nourishment?

Pick just one. Try it. Feel how you feel. Hungry? Bloated? Satisfied? Thirsty? 

For instance, eat less processed food or no packaged ones, think in terms of nourishment rather than calories, eliminate grains, see a naturopath to screen your gut flora or hire a health & wellness coach to guide and tailor a program for you.

You know your body better than anyone. Now you know you can, what will you do to uplevel your nourishment today? 

Join Fitbynature on our seasonal Sugar Intervention to uplevel alongside like minded peeps. It’s really a mini nutrition course disguised as a sugar detox because we all know we’re over carbed. Start ‘Back to Basics’, get into ‘The Skinny on Fats’ or maybe get some ‘Digestive Strengthening’. PM for details. 

I can see (& know) I have significant asymmetry. Particularly between my left and right thoracic (ribcage) rotations in these pictures. And a lot of that is post brain surgery over my right cerebellum and right neck (considering how far they had to cut to remove a tennis ball sized tumor but also the displacement to my brain down my spine). I am also very much right hand dominant. These will only tighten as I age if I do not work on their mobility.

And as an exercise coach, I was taught and teach that the first predictor of future injury is previous injury. The second, asymmetry.

But is symmetry actually achievable?

⁃ One of our hips is anteriorly tipped and forwardly rotated, creating a rotation in the lower back towards the right hand side.

⁃ At the ribcage we have three lobes of lung on the right, two lobes on the left effecting the airflow between sides.

⁃ Just below we each have more of a domed diaphragm on the right, our liver is then underneath that. On the left we have a smaller, flatter dome compressed by the heart above!

These asymmetries, both spatial, mass and pressure, have widespread effects in our ability to control and enable airflow between sides of our lungs and the way we breathe!

Yes we make poor training and lifestyle decisions and choices, dysfunction occurs and the bodies homeostasis becomes shaken, normal is no longer normal. Even exercise coaches! As a result, opposing muscles can become chronically lengthened and neurologically weak as their impact on position and posture changes. But that seems to point to the fact that I need to contact my neurosurgeon to know how I can improve how to move and prevent injury!

Rather, you can and should do this yourself. Use your body’s mobility as an anchor, a framework to have sense of familiarity with your body. Explore left and right rotations, extension, flexion, anything-ion! And daily. You’ll know your asymmetries. Some will be your strengths, others clear signs of weakness.

No one can do it for you really, but you can do it better than anyone else.

(And Fitbynature can help of course for those first few steps in seeing how you’re really moving, as you should, as you could, so you can go forward and kick ass from there!).

I always stretched. Especially as a gymnast. Then it was ingrained into my mind and body.

But watching clients (albeit not gymnasts but just peeps trying to live a healthy life), I’m more of the ‘do good or don’t do’ camp now.

A lot of research has come out about both sides of the story. You hear of athletes who did static stretches, and their performance often suffered: many couldn’t jump as high, sprint as fast or swing a tennis racquet or golf club as powerfully as they could before they stretched. I think it was something about static stretching causing the nervous system to react and tighten, not loosen, the stretched muscle.

So back to considering the rest of us, the latest findings show, we’re unlikely to sustain any harm from brief spurts of static stretching — but equally unlikely to gain much advantage. Except those who feel the benefits of stretching to psych themselves up!

In my personal and client experience too, stretching end ranges of muscles of non professional athletes isn’t really purposeful, a tad boring and time consuming, and there are just other and better ways! You might have guessed that, yes, it’s movement.

When real movement is pursued – it will take care of your needs in terms of ranges of motion. Just go as far as you can. Often. And your ranges will change with need. Being more often needs. We often get impatient and dissatisfied with what we should have and hence get what we deserve!

The one thing I will say about stretching that perhaps some yogas and definitely daily meditation can take care of instead is the indispensable value to your body in relaxing by allowing it to be dead weight. It’s so good for the mind and the body.

Allowing your nerves to relax and not fire so frequently so fast so all the time. They’re going to be working all the time of course. Your muscles are always on. But at the same time letting your body relax and just be. Now that’s the kind of stretching I’d be into.

The ‘your body is a barbell’ is clichéd but about bodyweight training. And you can leverage it anywhere. Like at the beach. Even the living room floor during ad breaks!

A lot of people stop at basic bodyweight training: push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc. but what about the world where we’re moving without being restricted to reps and sets and time: twisting, turning, reaching, pulling, pushing, shifting, flowing.

While lizard crawling is the ultimate ‘crawl’ in the movement world, I’m a big proponent of getting brilliant at the basics. Yes, this is similar to the crawling we do as infants. Funny how we (need to) regress back to our earliest forms of movement as a reset later in life.

‘Just’ crawling is not by any means easy. It trains the body to handle unique body positions, transitions and upper extremity loading. It’s tough on wrists which we don’t train enough and it’s just gold for core activation.

The ability to handle your body while performing uncommon movement tasks (like crawling) beyond standing and walking gives quality to your years.

– the most important tip is to find neural spine (look in a mirror by going too high and low in cat & camel yoga moves) then do everything you can to not move it whilst crawling

– oh, and relax your neck. Your using your arms and legs, not your neck!

Oh, and it’s fun. Especially when your toddler wants to race you. Omg, try crawling fast! My legs!!!!!

Being upside down does weird things to my post brain surgery balance. I have to look at the ground: you can see the over compensation in my neck and thoracic (upper) back here. My low back takes all the weight and strain.

But I still want to be able to do handstands. I still try to do them, a zillion sloppy handstands, I can be stubborn!

So I made a new goal: of just being good at the foundations of groundwork and flow… I’m still not sensational at them yet but now I’m getting more comfortable on my hands and upside down because I:

1. Adjusted my current goal, and let it lead me to the next:

And even more important, I’m appreciative of where I’m at the moment. The more I move, the more I have a new current goal.

Tip: Play with your wrist strength and feel how your back and hips move as you invert. Begin with just putting your hands in the sand at the beach and do some donkey kicks.

2. I try to have a clear picture of where I’m at, and my why:

Why do I want to do a handstand. Because I can’t! And life is about now, more so in motherhood than ever. And I want to be with my boy where he is. Why physically is a lot of jumping screaming running and you guessed it handstands.

Tip: try taking taking small steps up the wall to a height even minuscule you feel ok. Start with your back to the wall, put your hands on the floor, look back (or down if you’re me!) and go.

Which leads me to my next step…

3. Create daily habits:

I’ve been told it takes 1,000 reps for a movement to be able to be performed on command by the brain. 10,000 reps for it to be an automatic response.

So I’ve got lots of reps to do I hear you say? Nah, I’ve got lots of time right now. May as well use it!

Once you create the habit your body will run on autopilot. Full disclosure: I can’t go more than a couple days without working out or doing my mobility flows. Perhaps because I’ve always made them a daily habit. In fact even on days I don’t feel like doing anything at all I do something, anything! Even if that means turning up the music and dancing. And luckily my boy loves to dance too!

Tip: try what you want to be able to do daily! #handstandeverydamnday

Join us in January for ‘Brilliant at the Basics’ online classes.

“The difference between good and great is being brilliant at the basics, the daily practice of being able to control yourself.”

PM for details or to join waitlist

#fitbynature #brilliantatthebasics #dailypractice #spineyouth #movetomove

Why do we stop dreaming and being ambitious? Too risky as adults? Can we really change? I hope so.

I remember thinking as a kid, my life is full of my biggest dreams. Each day was dedicated to just having fun and in the mix, fulfilling those dreams step by step along the way. 

But why do we stop? Bettering yourself, whether your body, mind or spirit, isn’t reserved for one time in your life. I’m still working on my splits, backbend, skateboarding, surfing, writing, foreign language skills. I never want to stop. 

But what if we could ask ourselves ‘what do you want to be when you grown up’ every day of our life? 

Well I think we can do just that. And here’s why:

– I feel I owe it to myself. That may sound selfish but it’s not. I’ve got to follow my heart before I can effectively help someone else follow theirs.

– I love achievement. It feels amazing.

– I want to be the best I can be. My goal has always been to build an amazing business. And family too, which is really just personal business. 

– I constantly crave new experiences and wisdom.

– Most importantly, I have a dream. I have goals so I know where I want to be and I have confidence that I will get there.

If you go thru life with a great eye in which you’re constantly developing, the dedication to move forward even when it’s tough, an unbiased mind that is open to change and new ideas, and a mouth that’s not afraid to speak up for what is right (but knows when to bite it’s tongue and admit that it’s wrong… something I’ll work on for the rest of my life)… Even with just one of these traits, or a few, or just working on one or a few, you’ll better yourself. 

Are you open to change? Comment below some ideas of how you think we all could in 2019.

Join Fitbynature’s upcoming membership website from March 2019: work on bettering your body, mind and spirit for your best year yet. PM to get on the waitlist. 

‘Tis the season for me and it fills me with fear. Every year I have to get an mri of my brain and if you haven’t had one it’s like a claustrophobic rave party for one with an intermission and disgusting metallic-tasting injection then another rave party you thought was over. It takes about 45min and then I wait to see my neurosurgeon after the weekend, seeing if there’s any changes.

It’s now been eight years since I had a tennis ball sized brain tumor. Specifically it was on my cerebellum which they only discovered after I began losing my balance and had weird shooting neck- to head- aches.

It thankfully turned out to be dormant, an enormous growth that had stopped. And while I ran a Nyc marathon qualifying half marathon just two weeks before with only feeling dizzy, an even bigger shock to being able to do so with something that big yet seemingly unknown in your brain, was that even now no one can tell me why.

However, I am proudly free of over the counter, prescription and natural medicines because my body is vital, it’s functioning properly and as a result it’s symptom free. I still have to see my neurosurgeon this afternoon but I’m feeling good about it. Because my food and lifestyle nourish my body, I listen to my body and honor what it tells me, I see every day as an opportunity to grow in every way I can no matter my age, and each year I set myself a challenge where all those elements can come together.

The idea of the challenge began back in the icu immediately after surgery when I was asked my name, age, did I know where I was and the date. Now I don’t even know what the date is most days let alone having just had brain surgery but having got the other answers I told my neurosurgeon it was the day of the Nyc marathon and I was going to run it the following year. Which I did, with my hub alongside, in a Boston marathon qualifying time of 3.34! And the next two years. We raised over $20k for brain tumor research, my neurosurgeon being one of my biggest sponsors.

The fourth year we decided on a marathon of surfing instead and headed to Nicaragua. However on return having suffered third world bug effects, from both ends if you get my meaning, I was still feeling off. I’d also had a big bleed and done three negative pregnancy tests. So I went to see a girly doc also fearing secondaries as I’d been told may be expected.

Anyway a scan would reveal I was healthy, in fact so healthy I had healed to the point of procreation, 5 months so to be exact. It turns out my post brain tumor body hormones were not normal; they’re what I now refer to as my superpowers! What’s more he’s an incredibly handsome little boy! He may still be the best brain tumor survival challenge I have brought to my neurosurgeon (let alone myself!).

Fast forward to this year Where I set myself a challenge again. Having had a tumor on my cerebellum, balance is most certainly not my forte nor rotation, both of which are particularly harrowing for someone with a love of fitness founded through a love of gymnastics and dance.

But I knew I could step up to this challenge. Or rather drop in. I learned to skateboard, culminating in a line I was pleased with in no less than the Haleiwa skate bowl near Pipeline on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

Suffice to say I’m excited to see my neurosurgeon this afternoon. For him to see the changes I have created to positively affect my life.

Tune in next blog for Ways to Bio-hack your Own Health: we’re healthy to the level of our cells and food, movement and mindset can get you anywhere you desire if I’m anything to believe!

Our body contributes far more to our lives than just physical attributes such as strength, power and endurance.

Your health depends on movement

There is exercise, and there is movement. This is not about smashing out reps and killing yourself, completing a “work-out” to achieve an external goal at the expense of your body’s inner workings. Too often we have extremes of inactivity and lack or over exertion with inappropriate intensities that sends our already stressed bodies over the edge. We ignore the basics we ‘should’ be capable of doing, like touching our toes, squatting to the ground to get something or rest, twisting around even in the car to get something behind us.

Then there’s our inner functioning:

– your heart moves your blood. It’s a muscle and needs daily aid to keep it in better shape than just ok

– unlike blood pumped by your heart, your lymph is fluid between your body tissues that needs movement. It gets rid of waste, transports white blood cells (immunity) and absorbs and transports fatty acids and fats.

– your joints move your body but need movement to remain lubricated

We’re made to move

Having just got off a long haul flight it couldn’t be more obvious to me that I’m not meant to watch four movies in a row!

And not just physically but mentally too. Interestingly, neurological health is not a one-way street with the brain telling the muscles ‘lift,’ ‘walk’. Research shows that using your legs, particularly in weight-bearing exercise, sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells, essential for the brain and nervous system. Cutting back on exercise makes it difficult for the body to produce new nerve cells — some of the very building blocks that allow us to handle stress and adapt to challenge in our lives. It’s no accident that we are meant to be active: to walk, run, crouch to sit, and use our leg muscles to lift things.

Oh and getting sunlight into my eyes- first and last thing if the day to reset my sleep, and that essential (non) movement is a whole other blog post.

We have stopped moving

Vehicles, machines and technology now do our moving for us. What we do in our leisure time doesn’t come close to making up for what we’ve lost. We all know this story too well.

What can you do right now

– Just don’t sit.

– First thing out of bed do 5 min of mobility or stretching. Think of cats and dogs when they wake and stretch. Every time. A lot of times, throughout the day.

– Instead of going to the gym for an hour (then being so pooped you’ve to sit on a couch for the next), do something each hour.

– Squat more. Not at the squat rack but put your pots and pans on the bottom shelf of the cupboard, sit on the floor to watch tv or to play with your kids, to send emails, a daily commitment. Oh and get a squatty potty – your body’s internal forces affect your core way more than your outward efforts and knees up physiologically means stuff just drops down and doesn’t need forcing.

You can live without exercise but not without movement. And if what we do in our leisure time doesn’t come close to making up for what we’ve lost, let’s change our leisure time to include movement, daily. That’s more leisure time, every day.

People often ask me how we have so much energy. Not just the kid but as a family. I’m not sure it’s a question of energy though. Even in most of my clients cases, once the motivation and inspiration are installed, energy is merely how.

Yesterday I skated Banzai Skatepark. I mean it’s a skatepark in the middle of Hawaii! Almost a year ago to the day I stood by my toddler scootering there and dreamed I would one day too. It’s such a symbol in paradise, a skatepark of great surf (& skate) champs. It was just a dream.

But that’s not why I write. Even though I have now skated at that park!

Today as I thought about dropping in, my toddler said to me, ‘I believe, mum’ and so did I. There’s two things I wanted to teach my kid: one was empathy for others and the other to believe in himself. And here he gave both right back to me. At just 3yo. Even if the latter is my words to him.

I read somewhere (& can’t find it to quote it!) that the best role model a kid can have isn’t one that’s successful, but one that shows us how to get up after we have fallen. And oh yeah I’ve fallen, and failed miserably, in bad temper, cried, just walked away.

And he’s seen. And heard. Telling me it’s ok, singing Bob Marley, that everything is gonna be alright.

And in the end it is. He’s right. Kids give us a chance to be better than we used to be (think that’s from Deadpool 2?) and mine certainly does. He makes me want to be a better mum, a better person, a better everything. What a guy.

What’s your inspo?