Pilates Leg Pull Front with a loop band around your forearms is an excellent way to prompt scapular stability during this complex core exercise.

ūüĒäTurn the sound on, vibe with me and read the prompts and follow along!

Let me know how you feel. I personally love how it adds a challenge and improves the engagement of my scapular stabilizer muscles.

When you think of Self-Care, what is the first image that comes to mind? Is it a vacation? A massage? Time with people you love? These are wonderful things.

Self-care? Maybe later. 

Now, once you visualize these things, how quickly do you take action to make your day dreams happen? Or do feelings of fatigue and procrastination immediately derail your plans? If you can relate, then it’s likely that you are lacking in one or more of three fundamentals of Self-Care.

The 3 fundamentals of Self-Care are Sleep, Nutrition and Movement.

Catch some zzzzs

Sleep is important. When you sleep your body heals, recovers and integrates the information that you learned during the day.  Lack of sleep is a primary cause for reduced brain function. This manifests as poor short-term memory, brain fog, mood changes, anxiety, depression and reduced motivation.  When your brain is not functioning optimally, then finding the motivation to make healthy decisions is hard to find, in addition to being overwhelming.  Transformation does not happen with a sleepy brain.

Don’t skip a meal

Nutrition is important in order to feed your body’s system with the essential nutrients and minerals to survive and perform optimally. Skipping meals or fuelling your body with unhealthy options in the short, or long term can have negative effects on your metabolic rate, energy levels, body composition and stress levels.¬† Transformation does not happen with a nutrient deficient diet.

But I walked to my car.

There is movement, and then there is moving well.¬† Moving well means you’ve moved for at least 20 minutes continuously.¬† This is enough time to get out of your head and into your body.¬† Movement, no matter the method releases endorphins which are the “feel good hormones”. Healthy movement is the antidote to mobilizing fear, stimulating creative flow, improving physical strength, flexibility, brain function and more. I think that’s called transformation!

Need a vacation?

The key to understand here, is that when you are sleep-deprived, hungry and sedentary you are STRESSED. Sleep, food and movement are basic metrics to keep the body happy. If you are missing any of these daily, then the stress response is automatically triggered.  Chronic stress leads to the development of chronic illness and morbidities like high blood pressure, obesity, Type II diabetes, Thyroid dysfunction etc.

Hijack Your Stress Response

The secret to Self-Care then is making sure that your body isn’t stressed by taking inventory of the three fundamentals. Of course, there are many other triggers of stress that exist.¬† Even during other stressful events, your resilience to these factors will be highly dependent on the quality of sleep, food and movement that you’ve committed to at any moment in time.

Perspective

Self-Care doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

Simply ask yourself three questions:

  1. Did I sleep well?
  2. Did I eat well?
  3. Did I move well?

Did you?

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It’s often during healing that self-doubt creeps in, because on the other side of healing is great power.¬† An injury or sickness is like an initiation or call to action.¬† What is required of you to make a change? What actionable steps do you need to commit to in order to change your current trajectory for the better?

When it comes to positive change, most people wish they were stronger, leaner, resilient etc. Yet, most people are happy to continue with their status quo.¬† This complacency is so common because it’s easier.¬† The truth is this:¬† It is very uncomfortable to make changes in the body. The process is gradual and the chance of quitting is high.

Success is highly dependent on how accountable you are to make it happen.

In my practice, I give my patients the tools to discover how they can layer in regular self-care to support their healing.  I even prescribe personalized exercise videos they can access via the app Physitrack on their smart devices.  Despite this, compliance is not always stellar.

Success in healing lies in how badly you really want it and how much you believe that you deserve it.

This is perhaps why the self-care, self-love and self-development industry is quite lucrative. Many of us will research, but few of us will implement. Think of the ways you avoid action to make a positive change in your life.¬† I know that I often skip going to the gym, don’t always take my vitamins, sometimes skip out on brushing my teeth after putting my kids to sleep….the list goes on and I accept the consequences.

This year however, I am taking the reigns on my accountability and making small actionable steps achievable to improve my sleep, my brain power, my creative drive, my strength and flexibility so that I can be of service to my family and to the world.

So realize this: healing is messy. It’s a stop and go journey. There will be successes and there will be relapses. It is after all, part of being human.¬† So as you continue on this messy journey of healing, just know that on the other side of it is a great story that you will one day be proud of sharing.

I can’t wait to hear it.

dr.-blessyl-buan-is-a-chiropractor-dance-artist-pilates-dance-conditioning-specialist-and-mom-of-four.-she-is-the-creator-of-triple-threat-performer-wellness-for-actors-singers-dancers.-

Dr. Blessyl Buan

Sore wrists don’t need to hold you back from your Yoga or Pilates practice.

In the age of constant smart phone use, raising young children or having a full-time job that requires the use of your hands, it’s not surprising that your wrists can hold you back when practising Yoga or Pilates. Repetitive strain can cause tension and pain in the flexor and extensor muscles that course along the forearm and control the movement of the fingers. You will also find that the muscles that control movement of the thumb are also stiff and painful. This chronic muscular tension can negatively impact the alignment of the carpal bones of the wrist, thereby reducing joint mobility.

This misalignment can be experienced as a “pinching” sensation when weight-bearing on the hand. Wrist extension is required while doing Plank exercises, Chatturanga or Downward Dog. Even more advanced asanas like Astavakrasana (Eight-Angle Pose) or Pilates Leg Pull Front depend on strong wrists.

If you can relate, warming up can help to improve joint mobility and reduce pain during your practice. Here are 3 exercises to do before your class begins:

  1. Wrist rotations: Circle your hands clockwise eight times then repeat counterclockwise eight times. This improves circulation and warms up the joints.

2. Wrist flexor stretch with overpressure: Positioning yourself on all fours, place the heel of your hands on the mat in front of you with your hands palms down and your fingers pointing towards your knees. Place a gentle over pressure on your wrists by leaning forward and backwards. You should feel a stretch along the surface of your forearms that face away from you.

3. Wrist extensor stretch with overpressure: Positioning yourself on all fours, place your wrists on the mat in front of you with your hands palms up and your fingers pointing towards your knees. Place a gentle over pressure on your wrists by leaning forward and backwards. You should feel a stretch along the surface of your forearms that face away from you.

If during your practice your wrists are still sore, you can roll the end of your mat several times to create a cushion that will support your wrists in slight flexion. If it is still painful in certain poses, take a rest in child pose. As you continue to practice, stretch and strengthen, your tolerance in wrist weight bearing will improve. If recovery is too lengthy and you are starting to feel concerned, see your health care provider.

Like Santa, we lift, stand for long periods of time and work around the clock.  During this holiday season, ask yourself this:

“Why am I so quick to invest in material things and not my own body?”

Being young and full of vitality takes work. A healthy lifestyle trumps depending on “good genes”. (oh yes it’s true)

Image
image taken from The Chiropractic Journal

See a chiropractor. Learn about your posture and alignment. Prevent unhealthy alignment and pain. Get on the right foot.

The perfect example of something that totally wasn't planned. When you are present, you notice the beauty in things. In my case, hearts show up in my food. This shot was taken as my husband and I went on a road trip for our 4 year wedding anniversary. A heart showed up in my take out burger.

If there is one thing that I can take away as a lesson from the year 2010, it would be that nothing is certain. ¬†Every year I write a list of goals that I plan to achieve. ¬†Well this year I’m not doing that. I’ve learned that in life, things will unfold at the rate that they should and no matter how prepared you are, what you envision will not manifest if it is not the right time.

This may sound a bit pessimistic at first glance, but in fact it is not. For as far back as I can remember I’ve written lists and I’ve pretty much ticked off a lot on those lists with great efficiency. Some would say that my list is quite extensive, but my “A-type” personality disagrees. Nevertheless, I’ve evolved from a rigid list maker to one that throws her hands in the air and says, “Just let it be”.

Within the past five years, I’ve experienced many transitions in my personal, family, academic and career life. That’s just how I am. Life is not stagnant and I am grateful for that. During each transition, the degree of uncertainty can overwhelm myself and the lists fly out.

Well, no more lists for me! I vow to relinquish control so that life is much more enjoyable and meaningful.

I will be present, be grateful and take a leap of faith. (I guess I just made another list).

Historically, the Philippines was ravaged by many years of colonialism from Spain and Japan. Despite this, Filipinos are master survivors whose culture has family at its nucleus.¬† I am a first generation Canadian Filipino brought up to value family, yet I didn’t realize how true to nature family is to Filipinos until I visited the Philippines for the first time in 31 years.

Filipino folk dancing in Bohol, Philippines

In Makati, there are so many shopping malls it makes Toronto look barren.¬† Moreover, they are FULL of people….eating.¬†¬† I was shocked to see how many eateries there were and all of them were full of customers.¬† Initially my thoughts were, “Gosh, Filipinos are gaining weight here. They are so indulgent.” (Side note: I had a preconceived notion that all Filipinos were skinny and ate lots of vegetables and fruits as in the days of my parents).¬† But if one takes a closer look, one will notice that every restaurant is full of families.¬† Food is one ingredient that brings family together.

Now what happens when you don’t have food?¬† The Philippines has a distinct separation between the poor and the rich.¬† Shanty towns line any available pocket in the city. These people don’t go to the malls. They don’t have plumbing. They don’t have jobs.¬† Food is scarce and not readily available. So how do they survive? Once again, family. They beg as a family and they suffer as a family. Yet even though they don’t have much, they are content.¬† Their family bond is what helps them to get through the day and counters the negative effects of poverty like exploitation, sickness and lack of education.

It also shocked me that both male and female employees in Customs at the airport would forget about their stern faces and “coo” at my 23 month old daughter.¬† Even in restaurants male and female servers would love to talk to my daughter as if I was at a family reunion!

Filipinos prove that rich or poor, happiness is achieved by nurturing relationships. In a world of materialism, wealth is misconceived as the accumulation of things.¬† However, true wealth is the balance of material goods, family, spirituality and personal fulfillment.¬† Wealth equals Health.¬†¬†¬† A positive environment filled with a positive support system make life’s struggles short-lived so that life can go on. Evaluate your relationships and relate them to your wealth quotient. Make the adjustments necessary to bring your life into balance and happiness will come to you.

by Dr. Blessyl Buan, Chiropractor & Pilates Expert

copyright Dr. Blessyl Buan

copyright Dr. Blessyl Buan

 

They say that you can’t truly give love to another or to your work until you love yourself.¬† Inner peace, joy, health and true happiness will not unfold until you make the steps to live a healthy lifestyle. As a treat for Valentine’s Day,¬† I’d like to share with you two personal images that have definitely opened my eyes.

Whenever I feel balanced in my life, hearts show up in my food. The above pictures are two examples of this and are NOT products of photo post production! It started when I was pregnant with my daughter 2 years ago and ever since, they show up in waves.  Now, they even show up in my surroundings.

We all have personal signs that resonate inner happiness.  For me they are hearts. 

Take care of your body. Slow down, BREATHE, take a moment to journal, DE-CLUTTER your mind and surroundings, EXERCISE, stretch, and receive BODY WORK like massage, chiropractic or acupuncture that will help you to get IN TUNE with your body.

BALANCE the mind, body and soul.

runner-stretchDid you know that your muscles adapt to the level of activity that you do? The heavier you lift, the bigger your muscles become.  Likewise, the more you stretch the longer your muscles become.

For example, when you sit for most of the day, your hip flexor muscles shorten. You may think that this is not be a big deal , but when you want to start to become physically active, you become more prone to injury because your body is not used to being lengthened, especially if the range of motion is ballistic (quick spurts).

To prevent injury, stretch once a day and hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.