Relinquishing Independence and Inviting Interdependence: Understanding When its Safe to Let Go of Control.

Solo Vacation-Its a thing “Independent Women” Do.

This is a tough post to write because simply put, I’m pissed off. I never like to write when I’m upset because often my emotions at the best of times can be fleeting and reactive. And I am glad that I took the time to take a few days to cool off before publishing this post and took time the time to reflect upon what ignited my temper tantrum. You see, I feel more and more these days that my affinity for independence, has impeded on my ability to engage and trust in the idea of Interdependence- A term that up until recently seemed like a swear word.

To provide further insight to my inner workings, I am a deeply sensitive person, who has a history of being taken advantage of in previous romantic relationships, by friends, and family. Over the years I have become far more assertive in protecting my best interests, as these experiences have not only hurt but been a reminder that I often get tired of. These experiences have served only to reinforce the idea that the only person I can count on at the end of the day to protect my achievements, growth, and my value quite frankly is me. But what if this isn’t the case all the time?

Let me also just say before my loved ones read on and feel hurt by my unhinged thought processes, allow me to shine light on you first before I go any further. I do not want to minimize the people in my life that are amazing and loving supports who have been unwavering with their loyalty to me. Without them I would not be the reasonably sane person I am today. I feel like I belong and am important to those who show me love, kindness and thoughtfulness. They aspire me to continue being who I am in my most authentic form, and also why I’m writing this today. I believe it is my responsibility to address that no negative experiences from the past is going to discourage me from being who I love to be. They allow me the safety to love fearlessly- I’m in gratitude of that.

But as mentioned above sometimes I just get tired. You see, I have been indepedent for a very long time, long before I actually had developed the skills to actually carry that out sucessfully. I was a boarding school kid who’s parents lived on the other side of the world. For the longest time I had very little need for them and relied mostly on the company and guidance of my peers and teachers at the time. So when I ventured into the cold world of hard knocks, I was simply a lamb to the slaughter, naive to the dangers and cruelty that lay beyond the borders of my prestigious boarding school campus.

It would be through a series of really crappy life lessons learned that I’d finally figure out it that is was do or die if I did not do what was necessary in terms of creating some stability. Having a daughter at the age of 22 and being a single parent had a lot to do with motivating me to be my best ally in life. I had learned through some traumatic and life altering experiences that counting on people or believing in people was never a safe option- which in hindsight is really sad, and I don’t believe this to be true for everyone. I strongly believe that my mistrust is rooted in my own trauma, and am able to see examples of people who truly can be counted on. Read Here to Learn More.

When I consider examples of the term interdependence what comes to my mind is a few of my friends who are married/common-law. I would say “happily married,” but there are days I’m sure they’d disagree with that statement. I most certainly am not the one to make any judgements on marital bliss given my own track history. So I will stick with the topic and zero in on part of their marriages that is heavily rooted in their commitment to the partnership aspect of it. I percieve this like perhaps a running contract whereby they have developed some level dependability on the other person. As in, to know that if they fall, the other will catch them. If they loose their job, they will clothe and feed them. If they want to pursue their dreams, they will carry them until they succeed, or again…catch them if they fall. The freedom to raise their children as a stay at home mom or dad and know everything will be taken care of. And if I could be perfectly honest…the freedom to be a kept Woman/Man/preferred Pronouns* le sigh….one could always wish right? My dream would also include a nanny, a cook, a personal trainer and an on call therapist that also feeds me grapes while draped in fancy loungewear.

I digressed.

But as much as brood over this idea, I don’t actually believe I could ever be that woman. My experiences have defined me, and to be honest ruined me to ever accept a life of leisure. Underneath all that layered scar tissue lives a little twinkling light of wonder that glimmers with the thought of one day letting myself kick up my feet and letting Jesus take the wheel- but with Jesus being a man, I have my doubts even with the almighty…enough said.

As I dive deeper into my own self awareness on the subject, it is not independence that I’m flouting, it is Mistrust. The kind whereby I imagine I could make someone feel “not good enough” to take on the role of being my partner. Or perhaps giving the impression that the care I require from another could ever live up to the expectations I have set for myself. I also worry about my ability to live through another disappointment that at times in my life has almost annihilated me. Yet here I stand like a bronzed statue, weathered by the storms, blessed by the luck of the seagulls excrement; my placard almost illegible. Nobody knows what to think when they see a spectacle as grand and calamitous as this but maybe admire from a distance, maybe occasionally taking a photo with it. That pretty much sums up the bulk of why few have been brave enough to tackle exploring a partnership with me. They just don’t know where to start.

But like most good parties, pity parties too must come to an end. Just as I love to take care of the loved ones in my life, I need to allow others to take the opportunity to take care of me, even if I feel that they fall short at times. Not every man or woman is meant to be kept, just as every man or women is not meant to be keeper of others. Nor should I assume that the value behind the “keeping of each other” should be measured by the means that we often run too when we think of freedom, namely financial freedom. Although if I never had to work again, that it would sit okay with me!

According to Terry Gaspard, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, “Reliance on others can be healthy and affirming. The problem is that as children we weren’t always taught how to balance self-reliance with healthy interdependence.” Terry explains “On the surface, it’s wonderful to be independent, self-sufficient and resilient. But when you believe you must do everything for yourself, you create your own demise. It’s hard to let your partner in. It’s hard to give him/her room to come through for you. But if you are ever to enjoy the full nature of intimacy, you must. In small doses, self-reliance is positive. But when it pervades your approach to the world it can deprive you of true love, commitment and trust. To avoid this fate you must learn to reign in your self-reliance, to recognize when it prevents you from trusting in your partner, and to acknowledge when it denies your partner of everything you have to give.”

Dr. Willard Harley, a marriage counselor, defines interdependent behavior as activities of a spouse that are conceived and executed with the interests of both spouses in mind. He maintains that certain levels of dependence in intimate relationships can be beneficial and promote emotional closeness.

6 Steps to Achieving Interdependence

1. Take ownership if you are too self-reliant. If it’s extreme, pinpoint the source of it and examine your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.

2. Challenge your beliefs and attitudes about accepting nurturing and support from your partner. Resist the urge to be self-reliant around hot-button issues such as money, work, or family matters — like how you celebrate holidays or vacations.

3. Visualize yourself in an honest and open relationship and work toward allowing yourself to be more vulnerable with your partner — a critical aspect of intimacy.

4. Remind yourself daily that it’s healthy to accept help from others and a sign of strength rather than weakness. This might also apply to your work setting.

5. Develop a policy of joint agreement if you are in a relationship. This term, coined by Dr. Harley, describes an agreement couples make to resist making decisions without an enthusiastic agreement between them and their partner — especially important ones that impact both people.

6. Adopt a mindset that it’s good to count on your partner. Believe that you can share your deepest feelings with him/her and it will promote healthy attachment, trust and intimacy. You must let them in and embrace the idea that you don’t have to go through life alone.

Dependence is often seen as a dirty word in our culture. It conjures up images of weakness and insecurity. But certain levels of dependence in intimate relationships can be helpful and sustaining. Intimacy serves to help illuminate parts of oneself never truly realized. Healthy partnerships bring out the best in people, because when they feel safe and loved, they are free to grow and explore who they are as human beings. Instead of depending on a partner, we need to seek interdependence. We must believe that we do not have to go through life alone.

“Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”

― Erik H. Erikson

As I suspected, in being overly self-reliant, I must remember that by allowing myself to depend on others, I can help develop autonomy and strength. Revealing vulnerability with my partner, has never been the issue, its the “what’s next part” that has always scared me. What if they think I’m crazy, or what will they do with this info? Will they use this to hurt me or use against me? Will they magnify my weknesses and silence my strengths? Or alternatively will Letting go of control, fear and other intense emotions help to make my relationships more solid.

Only time can tell as I grow more secure in the idea that others love me,. To accept that independence and love do not need to exist on separate planes.

When you depend on others, you are at your strongest. I will take this forward with me as I relinquish some control and communicate faith in others ability to “Take Care of Me.”

Peace, Love, and Bud Light-When Spirituality Feels too much like a hashtag in real life.

Good news about the 'spiritual but not religious' – CNN Belief Blog -  CNN.com Blogs

I am not one of many talents, but the gift of sniffing out the bullshit has got to be one of them. It isn’t one that I particularly like to tap into outside of my work hours, perhaps that’s why I surround myself with some pretty straight shooters. If I was to pay attention to it in every circumstance whereby a waft of B.S. tickled my nose hairs, I’d probably not have one soul left to have a mindless champagne fueled brunch with. Because let’s face it, Sunday Brunch holds no place for Existential or Nihilist Theory debates. Sundays in my world are for hangover sex and bed picnics sponsored by Skip the Dishes, and 3 hour long naps. These are the things that heals my soul in a lot of ways, and I’m not afraid to say it. Healing of the soul does not always require a profound sense of awakening, often the first steps need to begin with being real with ourselves. You may have read my menu for healing as face value, but for me it’s so much deeper. The hangover I spoke of was merely a side effect for the gut wrenching laughter my soul needed while spending time with the people I love. The nourishment I put in my body was my way of saying to myself, eat that burger, you busted your ass all week and I feel good in my skin. The nakedness, sex, and naps I enjoy so much blesses my skin with the touch it needs to soothe and prepare to waken itself for the week ahead. All of this feeds my soul without needing to culturally appropriate a tattoo out of it. And if I had to, I’d tattoo my wrist in bold hard English Acronym “S.T.D. 4 Life.”-Wouldn’t that be conversation starter!

When People Tell Me Their Spiritual, I ask for Specifics-Because Demons are Spiritual AF too.

But I feel like I have a bone to pick as I have come to believe that being authentic and open about our realities and what we do to connect with our spiritual selves feels more like a trending hashtag. I would consider myself relatively intellectual but struggle to follow for the most part what is trying to be communicated in the messages or images they are portraying of themselves. Many would suggest that to find healing, spirituality, and connectedness to mother earth requires $3500.00 deposit & a ticket to Bali. The ability to boast carefully poised images taken during sacred water ceremonies that seem to be reserved for the privileged while preaching a sense of inclusivity and love for mankind. I’m guessing this love gets lost with all the other airline baggage that gets checked in, never surfacing again.

Appropriating spirituality and religious practices however is not a new thing. I mean before Cartier Love bracelets or Yeezys, there was a time you couldn’t open an Us Weekly without seeing one covetable accessory: a red string Kabbalah bracelet. The religion was the celebrity spiritual moment du jour during the 2000s, and everyone from Madonna to Ashton Kutcher to Lindsay Lohan dabbled in the mystical religion. But in the decade since its heyday, the spiritual movement has all but faded from the forefront of popular culture, suffering major blows along the way.

And like most luxury fashion trends, a lot of what happens in the name of spirituality has been built on a foundation of rareness, specialness, or gifts. To flaunt it is to beckon the masses in showing them that you are above many who cannot always attain such a rare place in the societal spotlight. However there are ways around this, one can purchase an AAA+ replica bag and carry the same level of perceived stature. The only way you could really tell one from the other is if you spent the time, looking over it thoroughly, observing its fine craftsmanship, and its delicate stitching. And to do so, they’d have to let you in…like really let you in there. Same goes for the spiritual mind- it has to be open to be vulnerable to critique, feedback and exploration. I feel like this all truly gives the wrong message for those that are trusting in those to help in guiding their own journey to feel connected and a part of a much larger and beautiful world.

Even if we talk in the language that everybody has the capacity to open to their intuition, we still are privileged in this idea that some people have it more naturally and innately than others. So we’re still creating the idea that there are some people who are more entitled to have access to our intuitive intelligence and applied intuition than others. The reason we’ve got that kind of culture in spirituality is that there is a power differential. If someone who you think has more power than you, you are more likely to go and invest your time in them. 

 “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

Dalai Lama

Similar to the guru culture, these social circle climbers, influencers, superficial spiritualists have harvested the same self-serving tactics. That being the idea that we have to go and sit at the foot of someone who holds more of the God-consciousness, more of that infinite special magic inside of them than we do.  That somehow, we will be infected or impregnated with that energy. The guru culture is coming to an end globally because it is a problem. It’s an abuse of power and those systems of power are coming down. There are a number of high-profile white spiritual leaders who are being brought in to question their integrity and authenticity. The whole system is being questioned and we’re talking about political systems and economic systems. Anywhere there has been the subjugation of power, where someone’s power has been based on taking power from somewhere else.

You don’t have to be in the wellness industry to point these bigger than life trending #inspo conformists out. How about a social worker like myself whereby I’m often on a quest to be viewed as a leader, as someone that has their shit together, or is just so damn spiritual that no darkness is likely to touch our sides.

But it’s not as bad as it sounds; in fact, it often starts with the best of intentions, but the rubber really hits the road when the public perception of our good self is compromised.

There has been a few things I’ve learned along the way that have kept me rooted in the ‘Real Me” within this journey.

You don’t have to be woo woo to be spiritual. The number of people in my life that think that charging their crystals and practicing affirmations will suffice when it comes to transcending tricky situations is endemic.

And hey, having a focused intention is everything, right? But consistent action is what gets results.

And whether that action is framed with feathers and incantations or weekly gym sessions doesn’t really matter. Some of the most profoundly spiritual people I know have never done a day of yoga in their life and they wouldn’t even know what a cacao ceremony entails, much less have a clue what Ayahuasca even means.

Their spirituality lies in their capacity to be deeply authentic and accountable

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Spiritual people forgive and forget

They most certainly do. Know what else they do? They heal the messiness that comes up along the way. After all, doesn’t a lotus flower bloom from dirty murky waters only to emerge for brief periods of time each year?

Forgiveness is a process. It’s a journey. For big pains and betrayals, forgiving a particular trigger doesn’t just happen once, it happens each time that trigger ignites a fresh spark of pain.

I mean be honest, how many times have you had a fight with your partner about the same thing over and over? Isn’t it amazing how certain actions will resurface bitterly even after many years have passed?

It’s another layer that needs forgiving, because ultimately, to forgive someone is to heal a part of yourself, and in order to heal deeply, we give our spirit an opportunity to transform each time we release ourselves from a painful encounter.

In order for our nervous system to be able to do this in a way that doesn’t overload or overwhelm us, we need to be able to do this in meaningful increments that are based on our real truth – not on what people expect us to be like.

But don’t spiritual people share their journeys so openly?

 Dear God. No.

Needy people that require external validation and constant attention do this.

I know this myself as I un-follow or unsubscribe from those who I feel share too much of their personal lives and unfiltered thoughts.

Knowing what someone had for breakfast, reading about a parking fine or documenting their toddler’s first potty experience makes me want to smack them.

Incessant ranting doesn’t really inspire me to learn about spirituality as I’m no longer at the stage in my life where I want to feel as though I’ve been called to the principal’s office where I need to make myself accountable for my behaviour. Goodness knows that happened enough in high school.

People with a deep connection to their spirit have a way of inspiring us to be spiritual through their grace, their lightheartedness and through the sharing of their lessons once they’ve moved through a tricky transition.

They talk about the tragedy when it’s less raw and when the lessons have had time to be processed and embodied.

What about the old ‘fake it til you make it’?

It’s an excellent piece of advice. I did it for years, and when it comes to taking on opportunities where I’m doing something new for the first time, it’s a practice I apply to this day.

And between you and me, I have done this during particularly thorny rites of passage in my personal life when I’ve externally projected that I was more ok about something while I was internally processing a lot of pain.

After all, I don’t know about you, but for a sensitive empathetic soul like me, the first time I do anything new, it almost always takes a lot more physical, emotional and mental energy than when I’m in my flow.

And the more sensitive I’ve become over the years, the more I have realised that new things are actually big things that really affect my spirit, and I need to accommodate for this when it comes to my time management and work flow.

For the less tangible elements of our life that cannot be seen but can certainly be felt, we fake it til we make it with things such as the art of patience, or we take responsibility for the role we played in the situation that rendered us hurt or upset.

Being honest about heavy experiences doesn’t make you un-spiritual.

One of my yoga teachers would often say that getting to enlightenment is easy, it’s staying there that’s tricky, after all isn’t there a Ram Dass quote that’s now prolific on Instagram that suggests if you think you’re enlightened, you should try spending a week with your family?

Some of my peers have shared how difficult it has been for them to talk about personal pain that was not only raw and traumatizing, but also bought up deep seated feelings of shame.

A few of my friends have experienced some prolific incidents such as having their spouse of many years leave them for another partner, having their child battle serious drug addiction, or having to declare themselves bankrupt.

But I have to say; I learned so much from the few that moved through these difficult times with honesty, grace and humility instead of a superficial sense of spirituality.

To this day, I admire the integrity of their actions, not only because of how much I was able to learn about the world through the lens of their life experiences, but more so because by being authentic, it’s given me permission to do the same in my own lifecycles.

It’s like a light has illuminated and paved the way for me to move forward with my own truth, and while my own path may veer in a different direction further down the track, it’s reassuring to know that I didn’t have to move forward in complete darkness.

If you liked what you read, click the like, share comment button and tell me what you think!

Namaste Y’all.

My Hump, My Hump, My Less Than Lovely Lady Hump: Working My Way out of Kyphosis

What Is Dowager's Hump and How to Fix It (It's Not Only About Your Posture)

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As a person who is hunched over their computer, steering wheel, phone, or long list of digital devices used in my day; my posture is something nightmares are made of. Over the last 3 years the level of pain I ensure on a daily basis has increased ten fold. The ache between my shoulder blades and neck, then along my traps and down my forearms is nothing short of agony day in and day out. Not to mention my self confidence has taken a toll as a result of the unpleasing aesthetics of having a big old hump on your neck. I’ve used my long hair in the past to camouflage it, including hair extensions to add an extra layer of safety

But for me, it has gotten to the point whereby I cannot ignore the fact that I am not interested in spending the remainder of my life rolling around on the floor on a wooden rolling pin trying to work out the kinks. There has been days when co-workers have caught me rubbing against corners, edges, or whatever looks like it will release the wrath of the entrapped nerves pecking away on my every last piece of sanity.

I recall haphazardly completing an ergonomic test at work about 5 years ago when I was complaining about my pain. My administrative Team Lead came touting a sense of confidence in her role of the official Occupational Health Officer, and I was anxious for my woes to be solved with the appropriate equipment that would solve all my problems. I was willing to apply whatever wisdom she had available to extend to me. She had me sit at my desk, and I remember her moving my limbs around and adjusting me into positions that felt extremely foreign. It was determined that I needed a new chair, so a chair was delivered.

Unfortunately what was not adjusted for my tendency to hold my core, neck and head in the correct position that would actually address the fact that I had a Dowager’s Hump- Which is the outdated name for what is considered a common spinal condition more appropriately named Kyphosis.

What are the symptoms of kyphosis?

The human spine has a natural curvature. These curves help us to stand upright and stay balanced while doing so.

Kyphosis happens when the angle of the spine is out of the typical range. The condition can vary in seriousness. Generally speaking, the greater the curve of the spine, the more severe the symptoms are.

The symptoms of kyphosis can include:

I have in the past always thought I had good “core strngth” as my capacity to do do 300- 500 situps in one go was not a problem. But Core, and Abdominal muscles are a totally different set of muscle groups. Shape Magazine discusses “Why Core Strength Is So Important (It Has Nothing to Do with Sculpting a Six-Pack)” and states :

“A strong core helps keep a more upright and erect posture whether you’re being active or just sitting at your desk,” says McHale. Think of it like the tree trunk of your body (albeit a lot more mobile): It has to hold its ground so that your branches (arms and legs) can do their ~thing~ any which way.

So in a nutshell a new chair for me in hindsight was not going to cut it. Nether was my tendency to kick my feet up on the desk, while clutching a phone between my head and my shoulder and playing a game of slots on my phone.

To be quite frank it has taken up until now… as in this last week to finllally wave my white flag and adjust my posture every chance I could get throughout the day. Throughotu my appointments with physio therapists, massage therapists, Kiniesiolgists and chiropractors it has been suggested that my posture required adjustment. THey would position me appropropriately, having me tuck my core in tights, lightly pushing baack my shouldfers, then pushing my head iinto a downward tilt. Low and behold,,, thete was the double chin I had been trying to avoid. It turns out I was a heavy subbrivbet to a forward head posture position, the root of all my pain.You see all these years I had adjusted my my head position to compensate for the my growing double chin. I figured the more I stretched my head forward, the les obvious my double chin would be. I mean doesn’t everyone sacrifice their spinal health through the smoke and mirrors of bad head posture?

It has taken for me to accept my doubke chin in echnage for good posture and less pain. The double vhin will be dealt with hopefully by eating less Cap’n Crunch, and maybe some good old cool scuplt. Its a sacrificie I’m willigng to acccept.

So at any given moment you can catch me pretending that a cord is puling my neck from the base of my skull upwards. I use the back of my car seat rest to help pull and strectch out my neck, and have removed the eight pillows I choose to sleep with, and settling for one small yet effective pillow lull me into an unfmiliar and uncomffortable sleep.

Its been a grueling task, adjusting a whole complex set of mecles in my neck, shoulders, back and core muscles to accomodate this fabulaous new double chin. But can I say within a week of mking these adjustments the pain has subsided.

But correcting this goes beyond just stretching and correcting my posture throughout the day. It takes some serious efforts with regards to adding beneficial exercises to your day. See Below.

Read on to learn how to do 12 exercises that’ll help you stand a little taller.

1. Child’s pose

This resting pose stretches and lengthens your spine, glutes, and hamstrings. The child’s pose helps to release tension in your lower back and neck.

To do this:

  1. Sit on your shinbones with your knees together, your big toes touching, and your heels splayed out to the side.
  2. Fold forward at your hips and walk your hands out in front of you.
  3. Sink your hips back down toward your feet. If your thighs won’t go all the way down, place a pillow or folded blanket under them for support.
  4. Gently place your forehead on the floor or turn your head to one side.
  5. Keep your arms extended or rest them along your body.
  6. Breathe deeply into the back of your rib cage and waist.
  7. Relax in this pose for up to 5 minutes while continuing to breathe deeply.

2. Forward fold

This standing stretch releases tension in your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. It also stretches your hips and legs. While doing this stretch, you should feel the entire back side of your body opening up and lengthening.

To do this:

  1. Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart.
  2. Bring your hands to your hips and fold forward at your hips.
  3. Release your hands toward the floor or place them on a block. Don’t worry if your hands don’t touch the ground — just go as far as you can.
  4. Bend your knees slightly, soften your hips joints, and allow your spine to lengthen.
  5. Tuck your chin into your chest and allow your head to fall heavy to the floor.
  6. Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.

3. Cat cow

Practicing cat cow stretches and massages your spine. It also helps to relieve tension in your torso, shoulders, and neck while promoting blood circulation.

To do this:

  1. Come onto your hands and knees with your weight balanced evenly between all four points.
  2. Inhale to look up, dropping your abdomen down toward the ground as you extend your spine.
  3. Exhale and arch your spine toward the ceiling and tuck your chin into your chest.
  4. Continue this movement for at least 1 minute.

4. Standing cat cow

Doing the cat cow stretch while standing helps to loosen up tightness in your back, hips, and glutes.

To do this:

  1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Extend your hands in front of you or place them on your thighs.
  3. Lengthen your neck, bring your chin toward your chest, and round your spine.
  4. Then look up, lift your chest, and move your spine in the opposite direction.
  5. Hold each position for 5 breaths at a time.
  6. Continue this movement for a few minutes.

5. Chest opener

https://gfycat.com/ifr/JealousAcrobaticHochstettersfrog

This exercise allows you to open and stretch your chest. This is especially useful if you spend most of your day sitting, which tends to make your chest move inward. Strengthening your chest also helps you stand up straighter.

To do this:

  1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Bring your arms behind you and interlace your fingers with your palms pressing together. Grasp a towel if your hands don’t reach each other.
  3. Keep your head, neck, and spine in one line as you gaze straight ahead.
  4. Inhale as you lift your chest toward the ceiling and bring your hands toward the floor.
  5. Breathe deeply as you hold this pose for 5 breaths.
  6. Release and relax for a few breaths.
  7. Repeat at least 10 times.

Ready to see how this all fits into an exercise plan? Check out our guide for better posture in 30 days.

LEARN MORE

6. High plank

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The high plank pose helps to relieve pain and stiffness throughout your body while strengthening your shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings. It also helps you develop balance and strength in your core and back, both important for good posture.

To do this:

  1. Come onto all fours and straighten your legs, lift your heels, and raise your hips.
  2. Straighten your back and engage your abdominal, arm, and leg muscles.
  3. Lengthen the back of your neck, soften your throat, and look down at the floor.
  4. Make sure to keep your chest open and your shoulders back.
  5. Hold this position for up to 1 minute at a time.

7. Side plank

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You can use a side plank to maintain the neutral alignment of your spine and legs. This energizing pose works the muscles in your sides and glutes. Strengthening and aligning these muscles helps to support your back and improve posture.

To do this:

  1. From a high plank position, bring your left hand slightly in to center.
  2. Shift your weight onto your left hand, stack your ankles, and lift your hips.
  3. Place your right hand on your hip or extend it up toward the ceiling.
  4. You can drop your left knee down to the floor for extra support.
  5. Engage your abdominals, side body, and glutes as you maintain this pose.
  6. Align your body in a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels.
  7. Look straight ahead of you or up toward your hand.
  8. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
  9. Repeat on the opposite side.

8. Downward-facing dog

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This is a forward bend that can be used as a resting pose to balance out your body. The downward-facing dog pose helps to relieve back pain, while also strengthening and aligning your back muscles. Practicing it regularly helps to improve posture.

To do this:

  1. Lying with your stomach on the floor, press into your hands as you tuck your toes under your feet and lift your heels.
  2. Lift your knees and hips to bring your sitting bones up toward the ceiling.
  3. Bend your knees slightly and lengthen your spine.
  4. Keep your ears in line with your upper arms or tuck your chin all the way into your chest.
  5. Press firmly into your hands and keep your heels slightly lifted.
  6. Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.

9. Pigeon pose

This is a hip opener that also loosens up your spine, hamstrings, and glutes. The pigeon pose can also help to stretch your sciatic nerve and quadriceps. Opening and stretching these places in your body makes it easier to correct imbalances in your posture.

To do this:

  1. Come down on all fours with your knees below your hips and your hands a little bit in front of your shoulders.
  2. Bend your right knee and place it behind your right wrist with your right foot angled out to the left.
  3. Rest the outside of your right shin on the floor.
  4. Slide your left leg back, straighten your knee, and rest your thigh on the floor.
  5. Make sure your left leg extends straight back (and not to the side).
  6. Slowly lower your torso down to rest on your inner right thigh with your arms extended in front of you.
  7. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  8. Slowly release the position by walking your hands back toward your hips and lifting your torso.
  9. Repeat on the left side.

10. Thoracic spine rotation

This exercise relieves tightness and pain in your back while increasing stability and mobility.

To do this:

  • Come onto all fours and sink your hips back down to your heels and rest on your shins.
  • Place your left hand behind your head with your elbow extended to the side.
  • Keep your right hand under your shoulder or bring it to center and rest on your forearm.
  • Exhale as you rotate your left elbow up toward the ceiling and stretch the front of your torso.
  • Take one long inhale and exhale in this position.
  • Release back down to the original position.
  • Repeat this movement 5 to 10 times.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

11. Glute squeeze

This exercise helps to strengthen and activate your glutes while relieving lower back pain. It also improves the functioning and alignment of your hips and pelvis, leading to better posture.

To do this:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet about hip-distance apart.
  2. Keep your feet about a foot away from your hips.
  3. Rest your arms alongside your body with your palms facing down.
  4. Exhale as you bring your feet closer to your hips.
  5. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then move them further away from your hips.
  6. Continue this movement for 1 minute.
  7. Do this exercise a few times per day.

12. Isometric rows

This exercise helps to relieve pain and stiffness from sitting in one place for too long. Isometric pulls work your shoulder, arm, and back muscles, giving you the strength to maintain good posture.

To do this:

  1. Sit in a chair with a soft back.
  2. Bend your arms so your fingers are facing forward and your palms are facing each other.
  3. Exhale as you draw your elbows back into the chair behind you and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  4. Breathe deeply as you hold this position for 10 seconds.
  5. On an inhale, slowly release to the starting position.
  6. Repeat this movement for 1 minute.
  7. Do this exercise several times throughout the dy.

Exercises That Correct a Dowager’s Hump

How to Fix the Worst Posture Mistakes

When Your Winter Body Didn’t Get the Memo: How to Kickstart That Summer Confidence into High Gear

Let me start by saying congratulations, you made it through the Winter in the middle of a Pandemic. Winter months in Canada are already tough if you live in any Province with the exception of British Columbia. As if the frigid blustery winds and hazardous icy roads aren’t enough to keep you home, the government Covid-19 lock downs reinforced that. Then if we weren’t already up against enough with the isolation, our bodies took a further beating as we still indulged in a series of holiday meals. In Alberta, gyms and recreational facilities were closed for almost 2 1/2 months which would be the nail on my coffin for myself, as my weight ballooned upwards rapidly. Seeing as this was my first winter in a pandemic, I admittedly was not prepared to cope in the best way, but I should be thankful that the worst that happened to me was a doughy belly and a double chin. I’m blaming my inability to adapt accordingly and find alternative ways to motivate and prioritize better nutrition and exercise.

Home work outs have never been my thing, but as I’ve come to find out, sometimes we need to force ourselves out of the familiar. It takes some time, especially if your stubborn like myself who gets discouraged easily when I lack the presence of reinforcing elements. One of those elements is having an active presence in the outside world, where our interactions can often validate the hard work we are putting into our personal fitness and appearance. My interactions have been mostly with clients who are for the most part strangers and have an already pre-existing sense of loathing towards me as child welfare worker. I’ve also admittedly been using my mask to hide my fuller chipmunk cheeks. So with less social outings happening under the current circumstances I feel it is more important than ever to authentically find validation from within ourselves, namely Confidence.

Transitioning to a place of practicing personal validation through other means is no simple feat. I imagine this could be a lot harder for my generation as we are far more cognizant of the differences between what is sincere interaction and the superficial world of likes and followers. I would never typically support the idea of subscribing to the practice of validation through selfies and half naked thirst trap photos, but a fluffy blonde like me even has her breaking point. If I hadn’t become totally bored through the first wave of my social media feeds I may have just likely began an OnlyFans for some compliments now and again. But for the most the most part, many of us adults aspire to channel our energy and attention to a small few so that to not distract us from our goals and responsibilities that absorb much of our time. The majority of my network uses social media platforms mostly to post pictures of their animals, new furniture, DIY projects or children. Which leaves me with the conclusion we need to work even harder to tap into that self love and confidence at all costs, and here’s my How To Guide to get yours rolling!

1. Get Your Butt Outside

You don’t need to be the outdoorsy type or the adventurous weekend warrior-while these for many seem to be perfect opportunities for Social Media Content. The art of being outside doesn’t actually always have to be about gruelling hikes up mountains or even overtly physical at all. This time of year always offers up ways to draw you outdoors whether its doing yard clean up, gardening/planting, washing your car at home, or enjoying the dog park which by the way you don’t need to have one to still enjoy those playful paws. Take a book on a lunch break and have a coffee on an outdoor patio, or simply just people watch. Exchange smiles with new faces you pass by while you take in a new neighborhood stroll, popping in and out of local shops. How about dusting off the ol’ cruiser bike and taking it somewhere scenic outside your neighborhood, or organize a squad bike beer tour through downtown? You can even cook all your meals outside by BBQing as much as possible. There is movement and social interaction happening in all of these options that are sure to get your that much needed vitamin D and Dopamine back into that ailing spirit of yours.

2. Make your Meals Colorful

Spring and Summer months invite a broader range of delicious produce options, and there is a need to support our local farmers and markets even more than ever. According to the Hello Fresh Blog, our brains respond to light energy, aka color, by stimulating the pituitary and pineal glands. These endocrine glands regulate hormones like serotonin, which is responsible for making us feel happy. Research has shown that different colors also affect blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rates as well as brain activity and sleep/wake cycles. These color triggers set the mood for us to feel more energetic, happy, and relaxed and are strong enough to even have an effect on people who are blind!

Additionally it is mentioned that we are also influenced by the visual cue of color when it comes to our perception of how something will taste. Colorful food can influence our brain to create an expectation that specific colors will taste a certain way. For example, the more vibrantly colored a food is, the more intense we expect its flavor to be.

If you are even somewhat of a meal planner, aim to prepare meals that have at least 5 or more colors in them. Whether it be a pasta salad that is loaded with spinach, red onion, cherry tomatoes, orange peppers and Hemp Seed- the challenge of not duplicating color can offer a variety of nutritional benefits that boost your energy as well as fill you up with all the good stuff!

3. Dance to your Favorite music

I know I can’t speak for all, but as a result of my vegetative state along with the extra pounds I’ve packed on; movement can feel sometimes painful or uncomfortable. My joints and body need some time to recuperate and I can quickly become fed up if I take on something too rigorous. Additionally when the body hasn’t done any kind of significant exercise its not uncommon for you to experience muscle tightness and soreness that can also prevent you from being active the next day. Consistency is key when developing a habit, and getting active again can be admittedly hard enough without being reminded how out of shape you’ve allowed yourself to become. So start with movements that don’t feel like work, and help to loosen those hips and shoulders. Throw on a belly dancing tutorial, or flail around like I do to some House Anthems like its 2005 again. Many fitness apps offer short dance movement classes that are easy and fun to follow. If you are an Albertan like myself maybe you need to brush up on your line dancing and prepare yourself for Calgary Stampede festivities we have been missing.

For Classes Check out the Peleton App

History of Country Line Dancing That You Probably Didn't know - Dance Poise

4. Ditch the Scale

Just like our beloved Aaliyah sang how “Age Aint Nuthin But a Number”- so is your weight. Because just like age, you are as old as you feel and same goes for your weight. Our bodies listen to our negative self talk and also revolt when we put it under too much stress. Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight. It can also prevent you from losing weight. Whether it’s the result of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, unhealthy stress-induced behaviors, or a combination of the two, the link between stress and weight gain is glaring. Hovering over numbers on a digital scale completely derails and undermines the idea of being good to your body. Numbers on a scale can never reflect the fun we experience and sense of achievement when doing our bodies good. If you are not convinced then perhaps use how your clothes fit as a means of measurement, but whatever you do stay off the digital confidence killer.

Get off the scale!

Or consider an alternative like the Shapa Scale that keeps the positive elements of the scale while removing the negative ones. This unique system gives you feedback about your weight, but not in pounds.

Instead of sharing a number that provides little to no insight, Shapa gives you useful feedback through a more meaningful 5-point color system.

Blue = losing weight
Teal = starting to lose weight
Green = maintaining your weight
Light Gray = starting to gain weight
Dark Gray = gaining weight

Shapa looks at your trend over the past few days compared to the past few weeks to determine your color and lets you know if the changes you’ve been making recently are getting you closer to, or farther from, your goal.

5. Wear The Bathing SUit

There is no prep involved here. If its cute, wear it. If its a bikini, wear it. Then finish it off with some Sexy Sunnies to block the haters.

Plus Size Bikini Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

6. Don’t forget your Vitamins

Focus Supplements and Vitamins for ADHD: Zinc, Iron, Magnesium

I have a tendency to learn things the hard way, just like when I failed to get regular oil changes on my BMW. I came to find out after a very expensive lesson that things can’t run optimally without the combination of chemically engineered elements. Turns out our bodies are the same and can pay the price if we don’t fuel it properly with the nurtients and minerals it needs. Vitamins that support weightloss such as Vitamin B, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Iron, and Green Tea Extract all have vast benefits. Vitamins and Herbs that support energy are Vitamins B12, CoQ10, Rhodiola, Citrulline and Beetroot powder also compliment the need to fuel an increase in activity and movement.