My experience with functional movement

If you’ve friended me on Facebook, you might be aware that I’ve been taking classes in functional movement since August, so four months now. I thought I’d post something  about what it is, what I’ve been doing, and my results.

What is functional movement?

Functional movement refers to fitness and the movements we use in everyday life. As opposed to yoga, for instance. Continue reading

Testing the FitDesk: an update

Last week I posted on testing the FitDesk. Here’s an update.

I discovered I had mounted the desktop backward. I had assembled it intuitively and then thought the velcro for attaching the electronic monitor was missing. I held the laptop in place with the giant rubber bands the company provided.

Later, I saw a piece of velcro on what I thought was the wrong side, and the little wheels in my mind started turning. I got out the instructions, looked at the photo, and sure enough, the fat end of the desktop is closer to the rider.

Here’s a photo with it mounted correctly, electronic monitor attached:

FitDesk

This way, there’s a slight ledge that you can’t really see but can feel on the desktop (which is made of dense foam covered with cloth) that will keep your laptop from sliding off. Although giant rubber bands are included, I did not find them necessary to hold my laptop in place with the desktop mounted correctly.

Note: I didn’t really use the electronic monitor. I just looked at the clock or set a timer on my iPhone and pedaled for a set length of time. Since I’m not using it to meet fitness goals, I found it more of a bother.

FitDesk pocketThis way of mounting the desktop also places the pockets closer to the rider. I used my iPhone to take these photos, but when not in use, I store it in one of the pockets, with Post-Its and writing instruments in the other pocket.

My friend Edward Spurlock tested it out. He adjusted the seat to fit his leg length. He is a cyclist and concurred with me that the FitDesk is not comparable in quality with exercise bikes at the gym (which are built for heavy, nearly constant use mimicking hills and so on). But for simply keeping your legs active while doing computer work, it’s great.

(Note: I took the photo below before figuring out the right way to mount the desktop!)

Edward monitored calories burned using an app called BodyBugg and reported the following:

I spent the entire interval from 12:42 PM to 12:48 PM turning the pedals on the FitDesk and burned 23 calories total during that time.

By comparison, I highlighted and selected the interval from 1:06 to 1:12 PM, when I was sitting in stop-and-go traffic on IH35 on my way home. The ‘Bugg registered a total of 8 calories burned for the interval, or around 1.4 calories / minute.

I usually burn 1.2 – 1.4 calories per minute on a normal workday sitting at my desk. If I used the FitDesk for a longer period, I might have slowed down a bit – but I think it’s fair to assume that one would burn at least twice as many calories turning the pedals and holding one’s body upright using the FitDesk than sitting still in the standard office chair with backrest.

Two to four calories per minute is pretty good compared to 1.2 – 1.4. You could definitely lose weight/eat more delicious food using a FitDesk regularly!

And finally, I want to report that the FitDesk does seem very feasible for use in an actual office wearing actual office clothing. I rode it for 30 minutes with the pedal tension set to 1 (no tension). You may remember that my first test was for an hour with the tension set midway at 4. I got sweaty then.

I did not sweat using the lowest setting, which is pretty remarkable considering I keep my trailer a bit warmer than the typical 72 degree setting found in most offices, closer to 76.

So I would say that the FitDesk is a desirable option in an office setting as well as for working at home.

Check out my tips for improving your health while sitting less (written while pedaling on a FitDesk)!

More from the world’s oldest living yoga teacher: she tangos!

I found this 2006 YouTube video of Tao Porchon-Lynch, whom I posted about recently in The world’s oldest living yoga teacher.

This video was made in 2006, when Tao was “only” 86.

Isn’t she adorable? I aspire to be like her when I’m 86.

Oh, and she also likes to waltz, jitterbug, samba, cha-cha, foxtrot, and tango.

“It lightens up your spirit,” she says.

More on the power of standing

Stand Up, Walk Around, Even Just For ’20 Minutes’: NPR.

Terry Gross interviews Gretchen Reynolds (see my previous post  The easiest shortcut to health you can make) about her new book, The First 20 Minutes.

Reynolds recommends standing for two minutes every 20 minutes while desk-bound — even if you can’t move around your office. “That sounds so simple,” she tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “But that actually has profound consequences. If you can stand up every 20 minutes — even if you do nothing else — you change how your body responds physiologically.”

Reynolds says prolonged sitting affects diabetes, weight, heart disease, and brain function.

She talks about other new wisdom in regard to health and fitness, including stretching before a workout, warming up, running, walking, hydration, and more.

The world’s oldest living yoga teacher

A Meeting In Central Park With The Oldest Living Yoga Teacher In The World. ~ Photographed by Robert Sturman | elephant journal.

Well, I’m not sure about that — BKS Iyengar is at least a comparable age — but these photos are gorgeous, and it is inspiring to see how yoga can keep a person fit and flexible into their nineties.

And would you look at that smile? Such grace and radiance!

Here’s my favorite photo:

The easiest shortcut to health you can make

Gretchen Reynolds on ‘The First 20 Minutes’ – NYTimes.com.

Loved this article about Gretchen Reynolds’ (no relation) new book, The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer.

Reynolds, a New York Times health and fitness columnist, looks at what you can do to makes the most difference for your health with the least effort. It’s surprisingly easy. Exercise trumps diet, and it only takes 20 minutes a day, and it doesn’t have to be anything more than standing.

This interview reinforces the new knowledge that prolonged sitting is unhealthy. I now use a timer to remind me to stand up and move when I’m doing anything that requires long hours at a computer.

Here are some good bits:

The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.

If someone starts an exercise program and improves his fitness, even if he doesn’t lose an ounce, he will generally have a longer life and a much healthier life. 

But the science shows that if you just do anything, even stand in place 20 minutes, you will be healthier.What would be nice would be for people to identify with the whole idea of moving more as opposed to quote “exercise.”

There is a whole scientific discipline called inactivity physiology that looks at what happens if you just sit still for hours at a time. If the big muscles in your legs don’t contract for hours on end, then you get physiological changes in your body that exercise won’t necessarily undo. Exercise causes one set of changes in your body, and being completely sedentary causes another.

I really do stand up at least every 20 minutes now, because I was spending five or six hours unmoving in my chair. The science is really clear that that is very unhealthy, and that it promotes all sorts of disease. All you have to do to ameliorate that is to stand up. You don’t even have to move. 

The human body is a really excellent coach. If you listen to it, it will tell you if you’re going hard enough, if you’re going too hard. If it starts to hurt, then you back off. It should just feel good, because we really are built to move, and not moving is so unnatural. Just move, because it really can be so easy, and it really can change your life.

Measuring your stress level

I want to have a baseline measure of my stress level at the start of this two-month Chronic Stress and Trauma Recovery Challenge.

  • My immune system is functioning well. I haven’t suffered from allergies or colds since last May.
  • I’ve never had high blood pressure. It’s usually about 100/70.
  • I usually sleep well. I take melatonin and Rescue Remedy Sleep when I don’t, and they work.
  • If negative emotions start to run away with me in the form of anxiety, fear, anger, or guilt, I do EFT and t-a-p them away.

Still, in the last six months, since August 3rd:

  • I completed yoga teacher training.
  • I left a job that was stressful to me.
  • I started doing new types of work (NLP coaching, teaching yoga), moving toward a new livelihood.
  • I downsized my stuff and put my house on the market.
  • My house was burglarized and my laptop and some other stuff stolen.
  • I had a collision that left my car in the shop for over a month, without rental coverage.
  • I started a three-month technical writing contract at a large corporation with a long but scenic commute.

All of this is stressful, according to the WebMD Life Change Stress Test. You’ve probably read before now that major life events, both negative and positive, are stressful. Now  you can measure your stress level online.

Stress can interrupt sleep and make you cranky. Chronic stress can raise your blood pressure, weaken your immune system, and affect physical and mental health. Wikipedia has a long list of the symptoms of chronic stress.

I took the test, and the results showed I have moderate stress. How are you doing on stress?

I believe that doing the trauma releasing exercises for the next two months will help keep me healthy. I just need to keep doing more of what I’m already doing (meditation, yoga, EFT). In addition, I’d like to get more aerobic and weight-bearing exercise.

And I will! I’m getting a kettlebell!

Please share this post about the Chronic Stress and Trauma Recovery challenge!

In an effort to reach as many people as possible who can benefit from the Chronic Stress and Trauma Recovery Challenge, may I ask that you please share this post — by emailing it to friend who could benefit and/or by sharing on Facebook, retweeting on Twitter, sharing on Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit — using whatever social media programs you like?

There’s even a little +SHARE icon below the post that you can use. I’m trying to get some momentum going here!

The all-time daily high for people viewing this blog was 89 views on Feb. 3, 2010 — a year ago tomorrow. Right now I’m at 15 views for today — would love to beat that record!!!

I’m including the links to all my posts about this challenge below to make it easier to catch up on the info.

In order from oldest to newest, please read these three posts:

These posts will get anyone caught up with the challenge, which starts today. You don’t have to do it like I do it, but please try them at least once.

Doing these exercises can help anyone release stress and trauma. If enough people do them, we could co-create a world with more peace and love, and less violence, substance abuse, and suffering. Would you like that?

If you don’t think you can benefit, I ask you to try them just once. If you do these exercises and don’t tremble, I’ll kiss your feet and tell the world!

If you’re in Austin, Texas, I’ll be glad to teach you how and do them with you, at my home, your home, or maybe a more public place.

Thank you for sharing this.

Read these books!

I read a lot.

Let me clarify that. I don’t read as much as a few other people read, or as much as I read in the past, but I am a reader. I’ve been an avid reader from a young age, at times indiscriminate but now much more discerning.

It’s that Buddhist saying: “Don’t waste time.” If a book doesn’t hook me early on, I set it aside and try later. It doesn’t mean it’s not good. It just means it’s not relevant enough to what I need to learn in that moment to make the effort feel alive. Energy flows where attention goes. If there’s no energy there, why bother?

The following is a list of books I read in 2010,  plan to read in 2011 (plan, not commit), read before 2010 (and mentioned on this blog) that have shaped my world, and reference books that I dip into but will probably not read cover to cover. Links are included to the books’ pages on Amazon.com; if you buy a book from clicking a link here, I’ll get a very small financial reward — which I appreciate, because blogging takes time.

I’ve mentioned a few of the 2010 books prominently, namely, The Open-Focus Brain, A Symphony in the Brain, Buddha’s Brain, The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process, and What Really Matters. You can do a search for those posts and read what I wrote if you want.

Books read in 2010

Buddha, by Karen Armstrong

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom, by Rick Hanson

The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, by T.K.V. Desikachar

Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings, by A.G. Mohan with Ganesh Mohan

The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body, by Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins

Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times, by Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.

The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process: Transcend Your Toughest Times, by David Bercelli

Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath

A Symphony in the Brain, by Jim Robbins

The Web That Has No Weaver, by Ted J. Kaptchuk

What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America, by Tony Schwartz

Yoga Sutras, translated by Kofi Busia (PDF file)

2011 Reading List

The 4-Hour Body, by Timothy Ferriss

Access Your Brain’s Joy Center: The Free Soul Method, by Pete A. Sanders Jr.

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, by Leonard Shlain

Beliefs: Pathways to Health & Well-Being, by Robert Dilts, Tim Hallbom, and Suzi Smith

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell

Chants of a Lifetime: Searching for a Heart of Gold, by Krishna Das

The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga: The Authoritative Presentation Based on 30 Years of Direct Study Under the Legendary Yoga Teacher Krishnamacharya, by Srivatsa Ramaswami

Effortless Wellbeing: The Missing Ingredients for Authentic Wellness, by Evan Finer

Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J. Palmer

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, by Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell

Nourishing Destiny: The Inner Tradition of Chinese Medicine, by Lonny S. Jarrett

Transforming #1, by Ron Smothermon, M.D.

Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion, by Diane Eshin Rizzo

Yoga Body: Origins of Modern Posture Yoga, by Mark Singleton

Influential books from my past

The complete works of Carlos Castaneda, starting with The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

Dune, by Frank Herbert

Emptiness Dancing, by Adyashanti

The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul, by Sandra Maitri

Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences, by Peter A. Levine

The Healing Triad: Your Liver…Your Lifeline, by Jack Tips

Reference books

Light on Yoga, by B.K.S. Iyengar

Poems New and Collected, by Wislawa Szymborska

The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy, by Cyndi Dale

Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, by B.K.S. Iyengar