Feel Better Blog
Ways to help you feel better every day: mind, body and spirit!
Nature and seasons have been repeated themes in my life over the last several weeks. It got me thinking of some areas that I've been struggling. How I am probably not nurturing them to flourish like I could be and how I might re-engage them in a new way to make a difference. If I compare those priorities to nature and a garden, they take a whole new life and opportunity.
Let's look at a garden of mine that feels like it is in really great shape - the food in my life or as some of you like to call it, my diet. I hear from friends often about how some of the food I post about on social media looks amazing. A few years ago I was really struggling to eat good food in a consistent manner. One salad or day of good eating does not a healthy body make. My regular blood work was headed towards being pre-diabetic in my mid and late 30s. My garden of healthy eating was overgrown with weeds, bare spots and muck. It felt rather hopeless to ever look like something I would be happy in. And then I met another gardener of healthy eating who suggested I might be able to have my own beautiful landscape. She insisted I could make it happen with some hard work and support. I felt compelled to get started with her help and did just that.
It was a lot of work that Spring to start weeding my kitchen of all the junk food in the house. I prepared the soil with time and money on lots of healthy eating garden supplies with all sorts of different foods. Seeds in the form of knowledge and preparation, a stocked pantry with new and healthier options, and the hope that I could make this happen in my own life. I watered and nurtured those seeds regularly with love and kindness. Not only from others in the form of support, but I gave myself regular practiced gratitude and affirmation that even the smallest bit of progress was still progress.
Over the coming months my garden of healthy eating really started to grow. Since then I've tried new plants of different ways of eating, and moved things around in the garden by seeing what foods work best for me at certain times or portions. I have lost countless plants from falling off course or letting the weeds of my sugar addiction creep back in from time to time. But overall the roots are strong in my love and confidence of delicious food that happens to be healthy. Now it is much easier to nurture this strong and vibrant oasis of nature because I have spent the time getting it to a beautiful place. I know what it feels like to keep trying new plants to make it better, and I know the basics to keep things thriving.
So what areas are you letting weeds take over or neglecting to water? Are your relationships, finances, career, home, health, and spirituality all where you want them to be? Are you ready to make a lasting difference or feeling called to make a transformation in one or more of your areas of life? Here are some things to think about when you go to re-engage with a garden of neglect or an oasis you are ready to transform into something even better.
1) Make sure the gardener has the support, knowledge and supplies he or she needs. You know that you are the garden keeper of your life, right? Whether you get help or not is your choice, as are so many other choices in how you prioritize things. Do you have the right tools, and an idea of what direction you'd like to take the garden? Get in touch with someone who knows how to teach yoga if you want to improve your core strength and flexibility, or has helped others with their digestive health if those are areas of your health garden that you want changed. Talk to a mentor or trusted colleague if you are wanting to make a move in a new direction or make changes in your career garden. Use the vast information you already know and put it to work. Choose to go big, or start small. There is no right answer. Not one way to make a garden that you love. If you stray off course, you can always start again.
2) Regularly give the garden what it needs when it's needed. This is not a one time investment and there are no magic beans. A good garden takes some regular work, but usually gets easier once you get going. Are you finding a way to put that extra $25 aside each week to get to that big savings garden you have been wanting to thrive? Are you fitting in 20 minutes regularly of meditation or walking outside or writing in your journal to help connect with your spiritual garden and have a way to find more peace in your life?
3) Check in with your garden regularly to make sure the weeds and critters aren't taking a hold where you aren't looking. Check under the rocks; look at the leaves close up instead of from your kitchen window. Perhaps it is time for a deep Fall cleaning to prep your home garden for winter. Or sit down with your significant other and catch up on some one on one time to see where that relationship garden is in need of some touch ups or overhauls.
4) Know that there is always more you can learn about this garden, more support you can find, and new surprises that will come your way. I have talked to master gardeners who have spent years in their expertise and who still find new things come up that they did not know. I used to be terrible with plants, but learned that I too could grow a plant indoors with no natural sunlight. Just two months ago my office garden felt super comfortable to me. A new opportunity came along, and suddenly I needed a different plot for my garden. Another priority can force you to spend less time in this garden. Or you may decide you don't want a garden at all, but a forest. You get to decide what is important and how you focus your energy.
How does the garden metaphor work in your own life? I recently read a book on vocation by Parker Palmer. It's called Let Your Life Speak if you want a rewarding and quick read. In it he relates growing things in our lives with the seasons. We talk a lot about the things in terms of manufacturing - making money, making time, making love. But how different and more connected to life and each other it would be if we nurtured money, nurtured time, and nurtured love!
I hope you found this look at nature helpful to an area of your life. If it did, I hope you will treasure it and apply it generously and purposefully. If you think it would be helpful to someone close to you, please share it.
With love and light!
10/8/2016 0 Comments
In studying the physiological effects on the body, two extremes wreak havoc: stress and inactivity. Put the body in prolonged stress and every part of you starts to wear down. Put the body in prolonged inactivity and every system starts to shut down. The effects long-term either way are disastrous, but thankfully the body is resilient. It knows how to heal. With good self-care practiced regularly you can right the ship to feeling better.
How are you navigating these two extremes? Most of us spend time in both throughout our day. If you have ever spent a long part of a work day sitting at a desk or standing in one spot, you won't have to think too long on how that feels by the time you finally get home. Have a crazy day with customers, co-workers, a difficult project or situation, or a long day with fussy kids and you know how wiped out you can feel from the stress. Are you training yourself to be better equipped to do what you are asking of your body each day? Are you making change where your life is no longer serving you? You may feel so lost from where you want to feel after weeks, months or even years of this not changing, but I am happy to report that with small changes over the coming days and weeks, you can feel better, think better, and do more for your health and life.
The foundation of my practice at Healing Tree Wellness & Bodywork is to focus on these two perpetrators at the same time. Some people may want to focus only on the stress and let go during a massage, or just work on moving more and eating healthy without focus on the stress in their body. I'm thankful of action in whatever area you choose. But why not both? Why not letting go of some of your stress while giving yourself momentum to make more of what you want out of life? Why not moving more, training your body to do more of what you are meant to do? Why not feeling better in your mind, in your body, and in your spirit?
I fell in love with coaching people to doing more in their lives a few years ago. It is the basis for why I decided to go out on my own and start a wellness practice. When I blended coaching and self-care with the massage and rehabilitation skills it just felt right. It has been a bumpy ride at times, but isn't that what life is all about? Doing things that you are meant to do no matter if you are successful. Finding ways to make your creativity thrive. Helping others along a path you've found success. It may sound weird to some to combine a coaching session with a massage. But to those clients that it has impacted so far, it feels like a great marriage. I am doubling down and making it part of what I do. You can choose to work on your body, choose to work on your mind, or choose to work on your whole self at once. Navigate your season of stress and discomfort to one of feeling better.
Whether you choose to be making change in your life right now, whether you are content where you are at, or if you are not yet ready to change course, know that you are enough of whatever doubts you are having. You are enough to make the change possible. Surround yourself with people that remind you for the awesome gifts you provide and the amazing imperfection that make up who you are. Be on a lifelong journey to make your dreams come true, to do the work you were meant to do, and deepen the connections that mean most to you. Feeling better, thinking better and doing better. The world could use more of you at your best.
Do me a favor and if this message is meant for you, treasure it, and let it sink deep into your being for you to respond in action. If you think it is meant for someone you love, please share it with them.
With love and light,
At various times in my adult life I have started a new workout routine or decided to train for something ridiculous given my activity level (think marathon from couch potato and again couch potato to P90X!) While I don't promote that extreme of a shift for my friends and clients anymore, I do recognize its attraction for some. You feel like there are so many things to change that you just go all in and don't look back. Given my training helping people feel better and reducing pain with massage, coaching and rehabilitation, I want to share some things to consider so that you hurt less, are less injury prone and feel better along the way.
1) Get some help. Yes, you may have done this before and done well. But you aren't the same person and you rarely have the self-awareness to recognize - a) if you should be doing this (Advice from your doctor!) b)when you have poor form c) lack of understanding on how to get from where you are to where you want to be and d) you might have missed something pretty important. I know, I know I don't like hearing this about myself either.
Whether it is a personal trainer, yoga instructor, running specialist, coach, or a tennis pro, you want to make sure you have a good understanding of the basics and someone that can help you reflect what my old corporate training taught me: areas of opportunity. I recommend a team of resources: blog posts, videos, articles and websites from trusted sources, forums to ask questions, and professionals to seek help. And don't overlook supplementary helpers which might include nutrition coaching, chiropractic care, meditation, sports and trigger point massage, or cross-training with something like yoga.
2)Recognize the areas of activity that are involved and do your best to cover them all depending on what activities (or inactivity if you have an office job) you are preparing for ( this list is from my friends at Quantum Fit here in Indianapolis):
4)Listen to your body and its instincts. It knows more than you usually give it credit for. Are you tuned in and listening? Do you know how to work out trigger points with a foam roller? Are you including stretching after you cool down? Are you strengthening areas that get tired easily? Are you open to new ideas when the old ones aren't working? Are you giving yourself nutrient dense food so that you don't feel so sluggish? Are you getting rest when you need it?
5) Support yourself. Surround yourself with a wall of reminders and people that help you connect to why you started this journey to do something different in the first place. Dig down to why this was important for you to start. Find compassionate people who not only hold you accountable but encourage you to keep digging deeper to do great things in your life. People that help you be at your best in all walks of life.
How does this list work for you? What is on your list to do better, think better, and feel better?
Have a great week and let me know what you think about your own journey of starting anew.
With love and light,
Yesterday I finished working with a 25 year old client who had come in to see me for a few sessions for his aching shoulders. It only took one session to start feeling better, but we both knew that if he didn't start making some changes things would not stay better. At the conclusion of the first muscle therapy session I gave him some simple trigger point therapy suggestions he could do at home with a lacrosse ball. At his second session two weeks later he reported feeling better. He was indeed following my instructions with the lacrosse ball but noted that different parts of his shoulders were sore. At his last session, which was 4 weeks after his first, he was continuing all of the self-care I showed him. I not only worked on the front, back and sides of the shoulder with some deep tissue massage one last time, but we spent some time going over some exercises to strengthen the back of his shoulders and back. We also worked on some postural support exercises to keep things from getting sore in the first place. He now has the tools he need to feel better on his own and will be back when he needs another tune-up.
I share this because recently I also went through some similar experiences in getting some massage work for myself. My shoulders were sore and they were not staying better after getting work done. I was doing some trigger point work on myself which helped a little. I was not aware that I wasn't engaging my core and shoulder muscles to keep my posture in good alignment. It is not easy to diagnose what is going on with your own body if you've spent a good amount of time ignoring it. (This coming from someone that teaches people to do be more in touch with their body!) It is easy to fall out of practice and forget what you know. Get help when you need it. As I have learned, taking care of yourself with or without assistance is one of the best investments you can make in your life. Regularly focus on ways to feeling better in your body, in your mind, and in your spirit. It can make a huge difference.
With love and light,
As we engage in the last of our Summer holidays this weekend, I wanted to reach out and encourage you to make sure that you do some taking care of you in addition to the celebrating, and cooking out, and chilling. I have been doing a lot of different things to take care of myself these last several weeks, and I invite you to do something new, or old - just for you.
If you've had a crazy week and are filling up your weekend with a lot of plans, try scheduling something to quiet down and celebrate you. Perhaps you read a book for a little bit, take some focused one on one time with a loved one, or indulge in a bubble bath so that your mind has a chance to get some peace in addition to all the fun.
If you are going to chill out all weekend: in addition to camping out with some Netflix, try also fitting in a walk in the park or somewhere in nature to make sure your body and spirit gets some movement and feels better.
If you want to forget about a busy work week, try doing something completely random that you have never done before. Go explore a part of town you've never been, check out a store you've passed by dozens of time, or make a new recipe at home so that your adventurous spirit gets nurtured.
If you are bored or feeling a little lonely (this happens when to me when I get so focused on my work that I forget to make plans), try reaching out to 2 or 3 friends to see how their week or summer has been so that you feel more connected. They may not be available right away, but the love of you reaching out to check on someone else, invariably finds its way back to you at some point.
What are you doing to feel better this weekend?
Happy Labor Day weekend y'all!
With love and light,
Have you seen this video on saturated fats from Dr. Mark Hyman? He's an integrative medicine doctor I had the pleasure of learning from during my Health Coach training. He is someone I keep up with to follow up on what he is suggesting since he is very research based, but also because he has a compassionate way of sharing his own story at the same time to make the information easily digestible (pun intended.) Having been studying nutrition theories in more detail and trying different ways to eat in my own diet over the past few years, there is a big reason to look at the fat you choose. I want to first share that I wholeheartedly believe that you have to eat for your particular body and situation. There really is not one standard that you should be eating because each of us is unique. What might work me may not work for you. And what might work for you today, may not work for you tomorrow. A little about my own fat eating story:
I started with a low fat clean eating diet when I first began taking care of myself regularly. I was not looking to lose weight, but it felt good to be eating healthy. It also felt like I was eating all the time! And I was, as the guideline I was following had me eating 5 meals/snacks a day. This was also around the time I entered my Health Coach training and studying over 100 different diet theories. I was suddenly encouraged not to follow a plan, but to start making my own choices based on what felt good to me. Holy cow that was empowering! (and scary and awesome.) I stumbled on a book called The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz which blew away many of the old myths about fat that Dr. Hyman discusses in his video. The low fat diet had me craving things like milk, cheese, meat, and peanut butter. So I started to introduce those into my diet as a test to see how I would feel.
I began consuming whole milk, more meat, nuts, and peanut butter with less of a focus on low fat and more on flavor and what felt good. Not to forget keeping an eye on always eating real food. My cravings subsided for those things and I have been hungry less. I still have my sweet tooth which I try to satiate with a smoothie in the afternoon, but introducing more fat has been a way that feels good to me. I am eating less, craving less, and feeling better. It has also shown in my last several visits to the doctor. My triglycerides, which used to be high, have decreased to a very healthy level, and my most recent blood work earlier this month showed my ratio of cholesterol to triglycerides to be excellent.
I encourage any long-term dietary changes to be done in consultation with your physician so that they can monitor anything that might be amiss. But getting in touch with your body's cravings is one way to lead you toward eating healthier for the rest of your life. Have you tried introducing saturated fats back into your diet? Butter, meat, dairy, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and the like? Not processed vegetable oils or trans fats - the quality on those is becoming pretty clear that they can have an adverse effect on a large proportion of us. Been focusing a lot on a low fat diet but suffering through cravings? Perhaps you might want to try adding (healthy) fats in your life.
Just fat, not starchy carbs, kids.
Find ways to have food be both enjoyable and sustaining to your body. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for feeling better and doing more with your life.
With love and light,
8/29/2016 0 Comments
I am super excited to share that in mid-September I am expanding my practice to a larger suite of offices in the Marott Apartment building across from Ivy Tech in Midtown Indianapolis. The talented Stephanie Smart of SpiralWeavings.com will be helping to anchor one of the rooms. Healing Tree Wellness & Bodywork's mission is to create a ripple effect in the Midtown Indianapolis area, to help those that house their work here have a vibrant and grounded space to work from, and for those that we serve to have a launching pad to feeling better every day - mind, body, and spirit!
My new bodywork room which is focused on rehabilitative massage will be available for part-time use. There is an additional multi-purpose room that can be used part or full-time for massage, bodywork, energy work, counseling, coaching, or consulting, or another modality that would work well within the practice and space.
If you feel called to serve in a wellness hub environment with freedom and flexibility to do your work, and if you want to be part of a healing community, please contact me via email. Bill@HealingTreeIndy.com
With love and light,
Before I began planning my own practice, helping others connect to their creativity and inner light. Before I started on a daily and lifelong journey of personal development, sharing my own journey of vulnerability and shame. Before I took ownership of the path I was on and the choices I made...
It was nearly 8 years ago of my breakdown which I now recognize as the start of, as shame and vulnerability researcher, story teller, and author Brené Brown calls it, a "spiritual awakening" . I don't need to take you through the messy details, but once I reached bottom, I finally reached out for help. It was the beginning of a very deep unraveling of many of the long held beliefs about myself I had built stories around as "truth." Getting to be vulnerable and connected during therapy to some pretty terrific people in a safe way was a terrific start. But it was not for a few years that I began to have confidence and hope that I could make a difference in my life long-term. Although I did not know it when I started, that self-care was one to be more wholehearted.
After a few years of regular personal development, self-care, and reflection, I recently got to listen to some of Brené Brown's books. If you don't know who she is, check out her TED talk online on vulnerability. It was powerful to me and I still go back to it. In her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" Brené shares how her research on shame and vulnerability led her on her own journey of rediscovery of how to live, love, and parent in an authentic way - to be more wholehearted.
My drive is to help people that may feel stuck like I did before I had the confidence to take better care of myself regularly. It is at the heart of why I started my own wellness practice. I've been searching for words that might help those struggling to search for their own worthiness. Words that I might share with my struggling self a few years ago that was afraid of the darkness I was looking at. The dark cloud was suffocating me at times. I found some great advice for me and my old self from Brené Brown in "The Gifts of Imperfection":
"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy - the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."
I would be curious your own thoughts on advice you would give yourself during dark times, or how you are working through improving your every day living - being brave with authenticity and vulnerability. Comment below, or send me an email. I'd love to hear your story of wholeheartedness.
With love and light,
You ever wake up or during/after an activity, your fingers, hands, toes or feet are feeling a little numb? This can be a scary situation if it has ever happened to you. In both the beginning of my long distance running days (feet) and in my massage career (hands), I've had cases where numbness has crept up. You can still function, and it may only be periodic, but something does not feel right. And you are correct. Your nerves are being pinched somehow. I encourage you to do something to fix the situation before things worsen.
Nerves are not anything to mess with as they take a very long time to repair if damaged severely, and don't always recover to be 'like it used to feel.' Medically, if you have diabetes or chronic edema or lymphedema, you should seek treatment from your doctor if you feel ongoing numbness in your hands or feet. Furthermore, if you have suffered a trauma, injury or fall, I also suggest you take a visit to the ER or an orthopedic urgent care to make sure you are getting quick treatment to assess the situation.
But what if it just shows up? And isn't going away? I encourage you to trust in the signals your body is giving you. Get the pain looked at by someone that can start to evaluate what part of the pathway your nerve is being pinched off. Pain management typically focuses on relieving the pain which can often entail medication or injections. Do those help with the pain? Often yes. Will they help you move past the flare up? Often yes. Are they treating the underlying root cause? No. My experience working in rehabilitative care suggest that if you want to do treat the underlying cause, seek treatment where soft tissue or nerve compression and damage at the spine can be ruled out. A massage therapist or manual therapist trained in deep tissue, trigger point, or medical massage can help you rule out soft tissue impingement. A good chiropractor, physical therapist, or orthopedic specialist can be the way to go to rule out damage or compression at the spine or if they are trained with good manual skills, the soft tissue as well. My own personal experience is that very few have the hands on experience to do both soft tissue and spine health well.
What is the cost of these and how do you choose what works best for your situation? You can start by investing hundreds and thousands of dollars in injections, imaging, and tests to learn exactly where the nerve(s) is/are being compromised. And then be sent to ongoing treatment which is usually medically based - physical or occupational therapy, surgical intervention. Those can be helpful, but if you are not addressing the soft tissue, you are leaving the body in a position to want to go back to the way it was...in pain. Another option is you can find a quality massage therapist who can spend a few sessions working out trigger points and tender areas to see if the soft tissue is bound up and causing the pinching off of the nerve. If that does not work, then go onto more expensive diagnosis.
I go back to my marathon training as an example where the medical community failed me. I was experiencing periodic numbness in my feet and pain in my knee. A few trips to the chiropractor led to only slightly feeling better. A visit to the orthopedist gave me the diagnosis of piriformis syndrome which is the pinching off of some of the nerves in the leg by a muscle in your hip. He gave me stretches and exercises to do. That helped somewhat. It wasn't until I decided to try a massage after going to a yoga class that I got much relief. The massage therapist worked out my hips and did lots of stretching afterward. How come none of these specialists told me about getting a massage? Ultimately I believe they were doing their best and it was because they did not know about the hands on treatment and how trigger point pain patterns can develop.
My friend Kyle has come to me for over a year. He had tingling in his foot and had a fairly complex medical history. After a few massages, the numbness all but disappeared. Another friend Kevin started coming in for regular sessions and shared that he had tingling in his hands. The day after his second session to see me, he came up to me all excited that the numbness had subsided. Even though the numbness has returned periodically, the more we work on, and that he performs regular self care massage at home, the better he has felt.
As for my own hands? Well, that is still an ongoing issue I have. I keep trying to adjust the work I do and the posture I keep so that my hands do not feel achy or numb. The regular weekly deep tissue and trigger point massage I've been getting has mostly eliminated the recurrence of my problem. The massage therapists I see work on my entire arm, shoulder, neck and upper back so that each area is treated together, not in isolation. The nerves for my hands travel through or can be effected by all those areas. I have also learned more things I can do to regularly keep things in shape so the numbness lessens.
Are you getting the help you need for the numbness in your hands or feet? I hope after reading this you have more options to consider and can make the right choice for you on where to start.
If you are ever in doubt on where to begin, always consider the opinion of your doctor or physician first. That being said, you know your body, what it does and how it feels more than anyone can ever tell you. Listen to its signals and take action and ask questions when it tells you. It's the only vehicle you'll ever be able to live in to experience this life that is uniquely yours. I encourage you to find ways to feel better each and every day.
With love and light,
Somewhere in between massage therapy and rehabilitation, I decided that I wanted to combine my skills into one. I wanted to start sharing my experience working in chiropractic and physical therapy environments. Both my personal and professional experiences in those realms led me to the conclusion that the massage and bodywork piece was an important link to improved outcomes. Chiropractic clients that saw me for massage got better results. Physical therapy patients that received manual therapy (massage and manipulation) during outpatient treatment recovered more quickly and thoroughly.
So here I am doing what I know best - muscle therapy. It is a combination of deep tissue, trigger point, myofascial release, stretching, body mobilization, and even some Swedish massage techniques (when needed) with an approach towards rehabilitating the muscles and soft tissue causing pain, discomfort and decreased range of motion. The lessons I learned in both the chiropractic and rehabilitation realm gave me another important conclusion: those that worked at taking good care of themselves were better capable at being more resilient and recovered quicker to the bumps and bruises life throws at you regularly.
Muscle therapy is meant to work on the aches and pains before they become full blown injuries or debilitating. Can muscle therapy help you recover from those things? Definitely. Will you recover fully? The best answer is maybe, and better than you would if you didn't have muscle therapy at all, but probably not as well as if you would have addressed it before it got worse. Muscle therapy is a way to feel better, not just while you are on the massage table, but every day.
The phases of muscle therapy:
1) acute. You injured yourself or had an accident somehow. You are probably under medical care to make sure there is no tears, breaks or ruptures, but want to make sure that the tightness, swelling, and trigger points are minimized to aid in healing and feeling better.
2)chronic or over-use. These flare ups have happened before or have built up over time. Many are under medical care from chiropractors, physicians, surgeons or have tried PT. From fibromyalgia to nagging low back pain and tension headaches, if you haven't worked out the trigger points and areas of tightness in the soft tissues, you probably are not addressing the cause of a lot of the pain.
3) maintenance. You probably still have sore, tender, or tight spots, but you get by okay. Are you regularly addressing them so that they don't move into acute, chronic or over-use flare ups?
Make sure you are taking good care of your body. It allows your spirit and soul a home to do the important work only you can uniquely do.
With love and light,
Massage Therapist, Health Coach, Personal Development junkie.
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