SI belt update, plus insoles for Morton’s foot

The sacroiliac belt is still working for me. It’s been three-and-a-half weeks since I started wearing it 24/7. It can get hot and a bit itchy at times, but I love what it’s doing for me.

Remember, my plan is to wear it so much that my pelvis and sacrum become aligned and I don’t have SI joint discomfort. It takes time for ligaments to adjust, but I’ve been assured that they do adjust. I’m willing to give this a while.

Last week I started doing something else designed to improve my alignment. I have a condition called Morton’s foot (or Morton’s toe). It’s very common and is often called Greek foot. It’s something people are born with.

feet

Consider the image above as a guideline, because toe length is actually irrelevant. Metatarsal length is what counts. Those are the long bones in the foot that go from the instep to the base of the toes.  Continue reading

No more ads!

The day I saw a McDonald’s ad on my blog was the day I decided never to run ads again, unless I had control over who advertised. Continue reading

Therapeutica pillow aids back and side sleeping postures

Even though I’ve had expensive chiropractic work done on my neck and have been told I need to sleep on my back, I’ve always found it difficult to do so. I feel so much more comfortable sleeping on my side and on my stomach, which really puts strain on my neck.

I’m not sure why this is. It just is. I get to sleep well, and I stay asleep well, but I toss and turn a lot trying to get comfortable.

Also, I know from experience and education that the atlanto-occipital joint and the upper cervical area where the neck and head converge is a critical juncture in the body that affects movement, including eye movement. My current chiropractor has actually helped my vision improve. She practices SOT, sacral-occipital technique, which is not mainstream chiropractic but works on the nervous system as much as on the bones.

When I mentioned my difficulty with sleep postures yesterday to Dr. Mary, she showed me a pillow especially designed to help people sleep on their backs and on either side while keeping their necks and heads properly aligned with their spines.

I took a look, read the packaging, tried it, and decided that even though I’m in a frugal phase, I couldn’t afford to not buy one. Back sleeping is so much better for the body, especially the head and neck, but also the internal organs. Not to mention preventing (more) wrinkles.

The packaging also says it helps reduce snoring by keeping critical air passages open.

For back sleeping, the pillow supports the curves of the upper back and cervical vertebrae and has an indention for the back of the head that helps keep it stable.

For side sleeping, it has blocky “wings” that keep the head aligned with the neck. It even apparently has a little “give” to it in just the right places for people who suffer from TMJ pain to sleep more comfortably.

Best of all, these wings come in different heights, depending on the width of your shoulders. Between child-size, petite, average, large, and extra large, there’s a size that fits everyone.

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 11.37.49 AM

Average and smaller pillows fit into regular pillowcases; large and extra-large need king pillowcases.

Here’s what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 10.46.34 AMCrazy-looking, huh?

The Therapeutica sleeping pillow was designed by a chiropractor and an ergonomic designer. It currently sells for $71 on Amazon. There’s also a travel pillow without the wings that currently sells for $58 that would be good for people who only sleep on their backs.

These prices may change, of course, and if you’re on a budget, you may be able to find these selling for less through other Amazon third-party retailers.

You’re probably waiting to hear what it was like to sleep with it! I’ve only done it one night so far, but here’s my report.

I shifted from my back to each side numerous times, spending more time sleeping on my sides because it felt so darn comfortable. This is new, having my head supported at the right height.

I did sleep on my back occasionally but did not automatically become a back sleeper. I imagine that over time, I’ll become more comfortable back-sleeping.

And I’m extremely happy to say that I did not sleep on my stomach at all.

Today I can get rid of some of the many pillows I had on my bed to attempt to accommodate my various sleep postures. I am really grateful for this find.

The anatomy of lying: An interview with Sam Harris

Anatomy of Lying | Brain Pickings.

This repost from Brain Pickings is worthwhile reading, very good food for thought. It’s an interview with Sam Harris, author of Lying, which is available as a free ebook on Amazon through August 5.

As one who has valued tact over honesty in the past, I’m rethinking that stance. I have opinions, biases, associations, memories, judgments, emotions, rules, blind spots, and an internal bullshit detector, like everyone else (I assume). Redefining “the truth” as accurately communicating one’s subjective experience (and presenting it as such) motivates me to be more honest.

Why not share our subjective realities? Why not put my integrity first, instead of protecting someone else’s feelings so they’ll like me? Every interaction between people creates a bit of consensual reality. Why not share what’s really going on? Honesty is liberating. I love those people with whom I can really be myself.

And yes, maybe not everyone needs to hear your truth. For instance, telling your mom’s boss at a Catholic school that you’re an atheist will not go over well, especially when her job is putting food in your belly. But what about your friends and those you’re closest to? Do they know the real you?

At least one study suggests that 10 percent of communication between spouses is deceptive. Another has found that 38 percent of encounters among college students contain lies. However, researchers have discovered that even liars rate their deceptive interactions as less pleasant than truthful ones. This is not terribly surprising: We know that trust is deeply rewarding and that deception and suspicion are two sides of the same coin. Research suggests that all forms of lying — including white lies meant to spare the feelings of others — are associated with poorer-quality relationships…

But what could be wrong with truly ‘white’ lies? First, they are still lies. And in telling them, we incur all the problems of being less than straightforward in our dealings with other people. Sincerity, authenticity, integrity, mutual understanding — these and other sources of moral wealth are destroyed the moment we deliberately misrepresent our beliefs, whether or not our lies are ever discovered.

And while we imagine that we tell certain lies out of compassion for others, it is rarely difficult to spot the damage we do in the process. By lying, we deny our friends access to reality — and their resulting ignorance often harms them in ways we did not anticipate. Our friends may act on our falsehoods, or fail to solve problems that could have been solved only on the basis of good information. Rather often, to lie is to infringe upon the freedom of those we care about.

What do you think? How do you feel about this issue?

New alternative for sedentary desk work: the FitDesk

Since I’ve posted before on how prolonged sitting is unhealthy and how to counteract it, and I’ve promoted standing desks, I want to bring this to your attention (and thanks, Shelley Seale, for bringing it to mine).

This is on the heel of news that sitting less could add two years to your life expectancy.

It is a stationary bicycle with a desktop attached to the front of it. You can pedal and keep your leg muscles active, improve circulation, burn calories, circulate lymph, move cerebrospinal fluid, and more, while working or playing video games!

The FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk is for sale on Amazon for $249.99. Amazon will cross-sell you a comfy bicycle seat and a laptop/iPad holder to go with it.

The seller offers a full refund (plus shipping) within 30 days if you are not satisfied with it. (Hint: Save the carton.)

One thing I really love about Amazon is reading the customer reviews. This product gets an average of 4.5 stars from 111 reviewers (all gave it 3 to 5 stars). Here are what some said:

  • A grad student in an online program lost 10 pounds the first month (30 lbs. over six months) using this product. She raves about the product being sturdy and quiet (quiet enough to use in the same room as a sleeping spouse), and about the customer service. The 2011 model has a timer/calorie counter/speed/distance monitor like stationary bikes at the gym.
  • Another reviewer mentions the great customer service: “Steve, the inventor of FitDesk, will answer your call or email himself. Some day he’ll probably have a huge company because this is such an awesome invention and then he won’t have time to talk to customers himself, but for the moment, he’s the best customer service rep you’ll ever talk to because he believes in his product and is doing everything he can to make it even better.”
  • The critical review rated “most helpful” gave the product 3 stars and said the exercise bike is not that great, that it’s hard to get a consistent pedaling rhythm. This reviewer is also an avid mountain biker who also regularly rides exercise bikes at the Y.

It sounds like it won’t compare to serious exercise bikes, but the whole point of it is not getting a strenuous workout but rather getting a light workout over time while getting computer work accomplished or playing video games.

Okay, okay! I want one! I’m drooling at the thought of cycling while writing blog posts! Would be awesome to have one at my next corporate stint.

The FitDesk weighs 33 lbs., holds users up to 250 pounds, and has a “seat extender” available for tall people. It is easy to fold up and move.

Also, there may (or may not, since the product is being continually improved) be issues with the electronic monitor, and I couldn’t get the straight dope on that.

The company has a video showing the product in use:

You can “like” FitDesk on Facebook (where they offer discount codes and giveaways) and follow @fitdesk on Twitter.

~~

Follow-up on 7.13.2012: The maker of the FitDesk has offered to send me one to try out! I love it! Will post on the experience, with photos!

 

In praise of reflexology and reflexology sandals.

Last Sunday, I took a reflexology workshop at the Lauterstein-Conway Massage school to further my bodywork skills. It was awesome. Although some people are very ticklish, most people love having their feet worked on, so it was great to expand my knowledge of the body and to begin to develop new skills.

I learned how much just working on the feet can do for the whole body. I now know of two very experienced massage therapists/teachers who begin and end with the feet. I’m changing the way I work to do this myself.

You’ve probably seen those charts that match parts of the body to parts of the feet. I had a massage client on Wednesday who told me she was feeling stressed and in need of support for her adrenal glands, makers of stress hormones. When I got to the adrenal points on her feet, they were very tender.

In reflexology, we ease up on the tender places but stay longer, gradually increasing pleasure as good energy returns.

I do find it miraculously wonderful that points on our feet can affect our glands, organs, and other body parts remotely.

One of my fellow students at the workshop was wearing sandals with little nubs on the insoles. Reflexology sandals! She said if she doesn’t wear them, her back hurts. If she wears them, her back doesn’t hurt. That’s a pretty solid testimonial.

My back is fine, but my feet have been hurting — not in the typical way of tired, overworked feet but of feet needing more stimulation, now that I’m back working at a computer to recoup financially from a year off work.

As I’ve posted before, sitting all day is not healthy. I get up and walk around, but it’s not enough.

So I bought myself some reflexology sandals, and I have to say, I love them! They feel great, the little nubs pressing into my soles with each step. They’re very casual (could work as beach sandals or shower shoes) or I’d be wearing them all the time.

(I once had a nubby bathmat that was pure heaven to step on in the morning. Wish I’d saved it when it wore out — could have cut it into nubby insoles!)

I rarely write testimonials for products, but I want to let you know about these, since this blog focuses on wellness and health.

The sandals are made by Adidas, and the style is called Adissage. And actually, I would have preferred a less flashy style without the brand name, and it would be nice to have nubs where the round logo is in the heel. Ah, well.  I’ll compromise on the looks because the feel is so great — and maybe someone else will design a pair that matches my taste.

You can get them at Footlocker, Academy, Amazon, Zappos, and other places for $20-30. They’re available for women, men, and children.

I bet your feet will love them as much as mine do.

Next week I’ll be working from home most days. Can’t wait! I’ll either be barefoot or wearing these.

What if there is no “normal” to return to after long-term PTSD? Be unfaithful to your sorrows.

I tagged a customer review of a book on Amazon because it moved me and I wanted to track comments on the review. It spoke to me.

(The book is In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter A. Levine, author of Waking the Tiger, a book that changed my life.)

Fred wrote:

I agree with the comments about this book. I have the book and a couple of his other ones and I learned from them, they were my first knowledge of what trauma could do. I want to make a specific trauma comment and since the author has helped me alot what better place to do it!

At age 60 I am finally and only recently past the terror of early, continuous and prolonged childhood abuse because of the healing work I have done on my own. I recommend books and techniques from Alice Miller, Peter Levine (of course!), David Berceli, Babette Rothschild, EMDR, EFT, PARTS/EGO STATES work, NLP. I am a little leery about unsupervised guided imagery and meditation because they can be so close to dissociation, I sure did.

My comment is that with early abuse in whatever form the child has to create coping and defensive mechanisms to be able to survive mentally. These PARTs then prevent the child from growing naturally like all children should. As an adult these PARTS drew me to abusers and perpetuated actions which continued to retraumatize me. I didn’t know any better.

People who experience trauma as adults can use the techniques the author describes and those listed above to get back to normal. I have come to the awful realization that I have no NORMAL to go back to! My former desires and reasons for living no longer exist. They were based on avoiding reality, lessening the pain and terror, and plowing through dissociation to be able to function. While I don’t have the terror anymore I am still trauma parallyzed (Freeze, surrender) as I have been for most of these 6 decades and I don’t have the NORMAL interests and motivations which would help me get past that. “I” do not exist.

My hope from this review is that this Catch 22 can be added to trauma discussions. I don’t know what can be done to create a resource or if there are even more people like me out there.

I guess a correlary is to emphasize the need to help children who do experience trauma, as early as possible. (Another of the author’s books.)

Fred says there’s no normal to return to because of childhood abuse.

I ask Fred and others who have experienced long-term PTSD who don’t believe they have anything like a “normal” self to return to:

What if “normal” is an illusion? What if there is no normal?

Really, if your trauma began at age 1 or 11 or 21, the “returning to normal” is returning to how you were before the trauma began. What would it look like for a 60-year-old healing trauma victim to return to being a normal one year old? It doesn’t seem to work like that.

Perhaps “normal” is a concept that the mind desires that doesn’t really exist. Even for so-called “normal” people!

If that’s the case, then I say you get to determine what normal means for you.

Maybe normal means being a more present, heart-centered, resourceful person.

Maybe normal means finding what you believe you missed out on: a sense of worthiness, love, inner peace, trust, self-respect, and so on.

Maybe it’s having a strong connection to an enlightened witness. Maybe that enlightened witness is an inner part, Divine Essence, or another person.

Maybe normal is being a valued member of a community and building close relationships.

Maybe normal is being playful and having fun. Maybe it’s setting the boundaries you need to thrive.

Maybe normal is feeling centered in your body and having your energy flow freely, and learning how to return to that state when you become uncentered or blocked.

Maybe it’s wanting to experience the most joy, connection, sanity, and love — both giving and receiving — as you can and having a damn good reason for doing so. Living really well is the best revenge and the best healing you can possibly do.

Imagine that you fully and completely have the experience of being normal. What would that do for you ? Let’s hear it! “Then I’d be…”

And what would that do for you?

Take it as far as you can and enjoy experiencing that staate.

There’s a Zen phrase “unfaithful to my sorrows” that I use on my About me page. To me, it means that no matter what your sorrows are, or how many or deep they are, or how long you’ve had them, there are at least moments when you’re unfaithful to them — times when you forget them and notice something else. A rainbow. Some music. A dream image. A dust bunny. A release of tension.

We tend to believe we’re defined by our sorrows and traumas, but we’re not. We can let these non-sorrow moments become large.

Krishnamurti put it like this:

What can be described is the known, and the freedom from the known can come into being only when there is a dying every day to the known, to the hurts, the flatteries, to all the images you have made, to all your experiences— dying every day so that the brain cells themselves become fresh, young, innocent.

My dear friend Keith Fail says it more simply,

We’re always bigger than we think we are.