My bodywork and changework practice

I relax people, relieving their pain and tension, using massage and bodywork at my downtown Austin, TX, studio. I offer Swedish-based integrated massage, Ashiatsu barefoot massage, and craniosacral therapy, as well as back/shoulders/neck/head sessions.

To make an appointment, please click the Schedule Now menu to access my online booking site.

If you’d like to receive my occasional newsletter (no more than once a month) which includes giveaways and special offers, please email me at thewellashiatsu @ gmail dot com with your request.

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Massage and toxins: Laura Allen busts that myth

Aside from being hilarious, Laura Allen makes complete sense. This is why I like to tell recipients after a massage to stay hydrated, instead of telling them to drink extra water to flush out the toxins (that were supposedly loosened up by the massage and are floating around in your body just needing to be peed out by that extra water).

The body doesn’t work like that, as Laura points out.

However, your body thrives on getting enough water! Everything works better, including sweating, peeing, and pooping, which remove metabolic waste.

How much water? Divide your body weight in half and drink that many ounces. Weigh 150? Drink ~75 ounces per day. Add more on days when you sweat a lot.

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Preventing illness, recovering quickly

One of the most widely read posts on my blog is about recovering from a virus and recovering from adrenal exhaustion. People find it by googling because they’re trying to get well.

I want to share some good advice on preventing colds and the flu, based on what is known now. The immune system is an area of interest to researchers, but without a lot of solid conclusions, so far. What I’m sharing here is the best we know now, simplified, and now of course is when it counts.

You can prevent a lot of illness by managing your life in a way so that you experience less stress. Take care with your work and relationships, whatever stresses you. Know what you can handle and don’t be afraid to set healthy-for-you boundaries. Remember, stress turns on the bad genes as well as lowering immunity. Continue reading

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Morning green drink nourishes, improves health and energy, staves off hunger pangs

These days I’m doing Functional Movement System training 5 days a week and doing 15-20 hours of massage per week. Just had my 62nd birthday, and I’m feeling pretty darn good! Illness, including even seasonal allergies, seems to be avoiding me.

To keep my energy levels high and to feel great, I’m making a green drink each morning. Here’s what I put in it*:

  • IMG_4171A handful of berries. I used blueberries today. They contribute to brain health.
  • Another fruit or combination, like apple, banana, or pineapple. I find green drinks most palatable when just mildly sweet. Avocado is good, too.
  • Greens. I add a big handful of power greens (chard, kale, mizuna, and arugula), enough to cover a dinner plate well. They add vitamins and minerals and other healthy benefits.
  • A chunk of ginger root the size of the end of my thumb, for digestive health.
  • Same size chunk of turmeric root, an anti-inflammatory.
  • A bit of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, up to a tablespoon, for alkalinity, nutrients, and to keep candida levels down.
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil for energy.
  • 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds for protein.
  • 12-14 ounces of filtered water.

All these are organic if I can find it that way. If not, especially with berries and apples (no peels), I soak them in water with vinegar added and rinse well to remove pesticides, fertilizers, and other toxins that may be on the surface.

My additions today included the following superfoods:

  • IMG_41721 tablespoon of gelatin, to heal and seal the gut.
  • 1 tablespoon of moringa powder for energy and nutrition.
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds for nutrition.
  • 1 tablespoon of flax seeds for omega-3s.
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered reishi mushrooms for immunity.
  • 1 teaspoon of dandelion root for digestive health.

*If you look up the health benefits of each of these substances, you will learn that most of them have multiple benefits — protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral properties; enhancing brain health, liver health, kidney health, lung health, digestive health, skin health, cardiovascular health, etc. That’s what makes them superfoods. I just listed my perception of the biggest benefit above.

I zap it into liquid in the Vitamix (I hear the Nutribullet works as well and is much smaller and less expensive), pour into a 24-oz. smoothie jar, and finish it before my 9 am workout.

I don’t get hungry again until about 1 pm! The protein and fat (and taste) are that satisfying. I go through my day knowing I’ve done something really good for myself.

If you’re looking for a way to get lots of nutrients and amazing health benefits in one meal, I invite you to try making your own green drinks!

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How to cure anxiety

Loved this blog post so much, I’m linking to it here! It’s on Tim Ferriss’s blog, and was written by his former assistant Charlie Hoehn.

Note that it mentions the Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) among other behaviors to release tension and calm the body.

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/02/19/anxiety-attacks-2/

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Riding the energy of the New Year into life skills

Happy New Year from wellbodymindheartspirit!

It seems natural to me that after the indulgences of the holiday season — after all the parties, feasts, special foods, and alcohol consumption lasting from Thanksgiving through New Year are over — I want to simplify, clean up my habits, rebalance.

This is the energy begetting New Year’s resolutions. January is the soberest month, after all!

But how best to work with that energy? I’ve learned from personal experience that most of the time, those good intentions don’t last a whole year. (One exception: I did meditate nearly every day for a year, back in 2010, when I launched this blog. The following year, I was so sick of the daily discipline, I became quite irregular at it. Back on track now, figuring 5 out of 7 days is just fine, and 7 out of 7 is awesome!) So it’s good to think about how you know when you are done. How can you be successful actualizing your intention? Is it related to a specific time period, mindfully learning a new habit that you then do mindlessly, achieving a particular goal, or something else?

I’m riding that energy to use the first two weeks of January to clean up my diet. I’ve resolved to go dairy-free through January 15th. Then I plan to do challenge testing of dairy products, partaking of them again and noticing how they affect my body. My nutritionist, Olivia Honeycutt, will help me through this, building on the food records I’ve been keeping for the past several months.

I’ll probably start with the fermented stuff, yogurt and kefir, which may be easier to digest, and then go on to test cheeses, also fermented, and finally the hard-core dairy products I like, cream and butter. (I haven’t drunk milk in many years, so that won’t be an issue.)

After those two weeks, I’ll have a better idea of which kinds of dairy and how much (if any) my body can handle well.

It’s not that I’m sick (I was, before going gluten-free 7 years ago). Now I’m experimenting with which tweaks to my diet make me feel even better.

I’m also using this period to cut grains out of my diet. I’ll be experimenting after that with ways to prepare grains in ways that don’t rob my body of minerals from phytates and that maximize digestibility (soaking and sprouting first). I miss the texture of grains sometimes, like rice and quinoa. The cookbook Nourishing Traditions has tips on how to prepare grains (and everything else) in healthful ways.

Sugar and honey and other sweeteners are also going by the wayside during this period, except for that daily small piece of 85%-cacao dark chocolate. When it comes to chocolate, I know well how little resistance I have when there’s more sugar in the chocolate. I wanna eat the whole damn bar! 85% is barely sweet and thus non-addictive. I can eat a small piece daily and make a bar last two weeks, getting the benefits of the cacao (antioxidants, magnesium, endorphins) without overindulging in sugar.

I decided I might as well go alcohol-free too. What the heck, right? I have become fond of some red wines and could (and did) drink a glass almost daily. After that, I may cut back to drinking wine only when dining out. Alcohol can be addictive, and apparently it’s never too late to develop a drinking problem, which I definitely don’t want.

Another good resolution is to get the first hour of my day in good order. For me, it’s brushing and flossing first thing, followed by drinking a glass of water with gelatin and apple cider vinegar, doing 10-15 minutes of yoga (vinyasa, easing into each stretch for at least 15 seconds), then meditating for 15-60 minutes, and making myself a morning cup of healthful tea, mixing matcha, puerrh, yerba mate, ginger, turmeric, nettle, reishi, etc., as needed for energy and healing. (I learned the value of this from Tim Ferriss, the supreme life hacker who wrote The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef.)

After doing those things, I go about my day. Every day can be different in my line of work (massage therapy), depending on the number of clients and their needs, working in different locations. It’s nice to have a routine (that I hope will become mindless, like autopilot when I wake up) of healthy habits to start each day.

I am also interested in lowering my stress levels. As a massage therapist, relieving others’ stress and tension is my job. What about my own? Meditation helps, but it’s time deliberately set aside from the daily grind, sitting on a cushion and meditating. What about during the day, when I’m running errands, stuck in Austin’s notorious traffic, running late for a meeting, returning stuff, standing in line, experiencing inner and outer conflicts, hearing terrible news about what’s happening in the world that I can’t do anything about?

I decided late in 2014 to investigate the HeartMath program. I bought a device that attaches to my iPhone (the Inner Balance for iOS pulse sensor) and downloaded a free app (Inner Balance). I plug the device into my phone, attach the clip to my earlobe, and watch an expanding/contracting mandala on the screen to pace my breath. Auditory cues let me know if my heart rate variability is in the low, medium, or high range. (HRV is an indicator of coherence in the autonomic nervous system that correlates with entrainment/harmony of physiological systems. Coherence correlates to feeling positive emotions, so you could call this an attitude adjustment device. Here’s more information if you want it.)

The goal is to be in the high range of coherence as much as possible. As with games, you can set the pace, move up to higher levels, change images, get scores, and more. There are also computer-based devices available.

I quickly noticed how my thoughts affect my coherence level. If my mind wanders to news of a plane crash or nasty politics or war or a crime (I’m sure you’ve experienced this too), I move into the low range. If I bring my attention back to my heart center, I move into the high range.

I plan to do at least one session every day until I can, at will, without the device, reliably switch from stress to a positive emotion and maintain it for as long as needed.

(Not that negative emotions are totally bad. Of course when someone I love is suffering or dies, I will feel grief, anger, etc., and I have memories of difficult times in my own life. That’s life. But when it’s about something distant from me that I cannot personally do anything about, who does it serve for me to feel bad? Not me, not those I most care about. One thing I can do is to support effective organizations that are making the world a better place.)

And there you have it. These are my intentions for 2015, my expression of the “new beginnings” energy that accompanies the turn of the year. First, a two week diet clean-up. Next, an intention to create a new habit for how I spend the first hour of every day — and I’ll be done once I’m doing it regularly. Thirdly, I will use a device to increase my experience of positive emotions —and stop when I can reliably do that at will, without the device.

I will check back in later this year, and again at the end of 2015, to let you know how these intentions and practices have panned out in actuality.

Hope you have a wonderful year and that 2015 showers you with love and abundance and worthy challenges!

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

My posting has fallen off this year as I’ve focused more on building my bodywork practice. I continue to be interested in and practice “life hacks” — self-care practices that pay off. Some current ones:

  • Drinking 8 ounces of water every morning (after brushing and flossing my teeth), and stirring 1 tablespoon of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of gelatin.
  • Doing yoga each morning in the form of slow sun salutations — slow as in about 2-3 minutes of standing forward bend to allow my hamstrings to gently lengthen. I also hold downward facing dog for a few minutes to feel the stretch in the entire back body. I add warrior, triangle, and reverse triangle for strength, hip mobility, and spinal twist.
  • I bought a device from HeartMath that allows me to check on my stress level (measured as heart rate variability) and take steps (heart-centered slow breathing) to de-stress. It works with my iPhone and clips to my earlobe. My goal is to use it three times a day for 5 minutes each time, and for a longer period (15-30 minutes) at least once a week. The beauty is that I can measure stress when I’ve been driving, shopping, and working — just doing daily tasks. It doesn’t replace seated meditation, just adds more body awareness throughout my day.

~~~

The stats that are most amazing to me are those showing where readers came from. By far the most come from the U.S., followed by Canada and the UK, and other countries with a lot of English speakers (Australia, Brazil, India, Germany, and South Africa).

But there are a lot of surprising places that had just one reader, including Uzbekistan, Mauritius, Albania, Grenada, Yemen, Guadaloupe, Reunion, Jordan, and Moldova. And Bosnia and Herzegovina, Aruba, American Samoa, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Guernsey, St. Kitts and Nevis, Papua New Guinea (!), and Zambia. And Nicaragua, Northern Mariana Islands, Isle of Man, Paraguay, Mozambique, Cameroon, Luxembourg, and Haiti.

The nationality of readers (based on IP address?) has been noted since February 2012. I am still hoping to get readers from Cuba, Greenland, Suriname, and French Guiana in the western hemisphere, several Central and West African nations as well as Lesotho in southern Africa, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and North Korea in Asia. And there are also probably still some small island nations who have yet to discover this blog.

A girl can dream of collecting readers from all the planet’s nations. Regardless, it is inspiring and humbling to realize the reach of the internet. I hope my posts have been of some small value.

Thank you, dear readers!

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Moving toward a more traditional diet

I’ve been working with a local clinical nutritionist/acupuncturist, Olivia Honeycutt, for a couple of months, tweaking my diet so I can be healthier and have more energy. She gave me some forms for noting what I eat for meals and snacks, when I eat, how much water I drink, how many hours of sleep I get and the quality of my sleep, bowel movements, etc. We get together every couple of weeks so I can share my forms. She looks them over and makes recommendations of little changes I can make to better my health through diet.

Although I was already eating very little grains and legume and no gluten before I started working with Olivia, I’m eating more of a traditional diet now. It was a bit difficult to move past the belief that more fat is good, because for most of my adult life, fat has been considered the cause of heart disease and obesity. Especially animal fat. Fat = bad for a long time, and now fat = good (especially animal fat, coconut oil, and olive oil).

Yet here I am, eating butter, ghee, and/or bacon grease daily. I did not want to gain weight, but I have. It’s actually fat turned to muscle, because my clothes still fit. To lose weight eating like this, you eat more fat earlier in the day.

Epic barsThe great thing about fat is that it satisfies. If I’m working for hours doing massage, and I don’t have time to eat, consuming fat will stave off my hunger for longer than anything else I could eat. It’s fuel. I’ve tried eating various fat-laden foods such as almond butter, coconut butter, Epic bison/lamb/turkey/beef bars, avocados, and some organic extra-virgin coconut oil when my hunger is getting the better of me. It works.

One of the biggest adjustments is that from tracking my water intake, I learned I wasn’t drinking enough water. Now I drink 16 ounces upon arising (with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar). My water bottle holds 27 ounces, and I empty it daily. Another 16 ounces in the evening brings my total to 59 ounces, close enough to my goal of 60 ounces a day, or about half my body weight in ounces. I don’t count the caffeinated tea I drink because it is a bit of a diuretic. I like to drink a glass of water about 10 minutes before eating. I usually eat less. It’s easy to confuse hunger and thirst. When my thirst is sated, I’m not as hungry.

Because I work out 3-5 times per week with kettle bells and do physical work as a massage therapist, Olivia has me eating a palm-sized amount of protein at each meal. I am not an athlete, but I get to eat like one! I’ve been making chicken liver paté from different recipes for the past few weeks to get some beneficial fat-soluble vitamins found in liver.

I don’t eat much canned or processed foods. I eat raw honey, raw fish in sushi, rare beef, and fermented food and drink such as sauerkraut, refrigerator pickles, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, Kevita, wine, cider, or cheese nearly every day.

I’m looking forward to obtaining some natto, having become aware of the vast benefits of consuming adequate vitamin K2 for appropriate calcium utilization (i.e., in the bones and teeth and not in the arteries and brain).

I’m learning to soak and dehydrate nuts. (Well, just walnuts, so far.) The cookbook Nourishing Traditions has been helpful. This diet is similar to the Paleo diet, is influenced by the Weston A. Price Foundation‘s dietary principles, and also by Olivia’s understanding of diet and health from her acupuncture training (having to do with heat, cold, dampness, herbs, seasons, etc.).

I try to eat half a beet and drink a cup of dandelion tea each day for better liver function. I eat dark green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and tropical fruits. And high-cacao chocolate (over 80 percent).

I also make bone broths, especially in the winter, for the calcium. I save chicken, beef, and lamb bones and veggie scraps in my freezer. Sometimes I just buy bones. I have a big plastic container to store them in, and I also add the water from steaming veggies to this frozen stockpile of nutrients.

When I’ve got enough, I thaw it, put the contents into a stockpot, add water to cover, some apple cider vinegar, and salt, and cook it on low for a day or two, skimming foam off the top when it first rises. The resulting broth is flavorful and extremely nourishing. I drink a cup per day when I have it and also use it as a basis for soups and stews.

In summer, and when I’ve run out of bone broth, I try to consume a tablespoon of gelatin every day for the protein. It thickens smoothies, makes my hair and nails grow thicker and faster, and is good for joints and reducing cellulite. I get the Great Lakes brand sold on Amazon.

My gut seems to be working better despite recent stressful difficulties. I take L-glutamine supplements, which help with gut issues and have many other benefits.

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