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LAST TIME:   We discussed how our evolution sometimes gets in our way as described in the primer to >>The Polyvagal Theory<<. If you missed Part I, make sure to read it  >>here<<. We discussed a bunch of things I learned from Dr. Seth Oberst, like how emotions can get stuck in your tissues, how that can affect your posture, walking patterns, and even your face.  Now, we’re about to dig deeper into stress, support, and what we can do to better live our lives and avoid getting “stuck."   7. Stress-Reduction is a MISTAKE   I go to countless conferences and seminars for fitness, yoga, nutrition, meditation, rehab, physical therapy, medicine, and totally weird stuff that escapes category. Even across disciplines, they can all agree on one thing: The biggest factor common to untold chronic diseases, disorders, and a general lack of well-being is STRESS. If that's the case, the solution looks simple enough - REDUCE STRESS. Duh. But what does that even mean? ENGAGE IN STRESS-REDUCING ACTIVITIES Like meditation, light exercise, journaling, practicing gratitude, time with friends and family, prayer, restful sleep, etc. AVOID STRESS-INDUCING BEHAVIORS Like smoking, drinking, sleep deprivation, confrontations, maintaining toxic relationships, being late and sitting in traffic or a crowded subway ...

In my exploration and study of training, movement, therapy, emotional trauma, and the human condition, I have witnessed all sorts of SEEMINGLY unrelated phenomena. But it’s always tied together somehow.   Just two weeks ago I attended a new course by >>Dr. Seth Oberst: Stress, Movement, and Pain<<. Unexpectedly, it has helped me tie countless ideas together with the common concept of >>The Polyvagal Theory<<*. Although I didn’t know what to expect, the course was nothing short of impressive.   Of all the things I love about Dr. Seth Oberst, his teaching style takes the cake. Unlike most "teachers" who spit information at you and test you on your parroting skills, Dr. Oberst takes the high road. Once he gives you the raw materials, an impressive curation of information, science, and clinical case studies, he encourages you to synthesize your own takeaways. This is a refreshing take on nurturing your own creativity and pure education.   After several days of digesting it all, I have compiled my own notes and takeaways for you.   *If you have not yet read the >>PRIMER<<, go do that first. Then you will understand the underlying concepts and mechanisms I am about to discuss.   A Flood of Emotion   After deep scientific lecture, we moved to begin practicing the Somatic Recovery techniques on each other.   During the first demonstration, I sat and watched in disbelief.   The first guy to receive the technique f'n cried. The guy f'n cried.   WHAT.   For seemingly no reason.   On the table, he asked if there was a tear in his eye. After sitting up, he described getting cold. After a few moments on the table, he began to actually well up with emotion. It was as if it needed time to bubble up after he sat up.   "VOODOO MAGIC," I thought.   So I partner up with my friend, which I believe was a key component as...

Coming directly from a bodybuilding tradition, I firmly learned that "food is fuel." However, as I developed stronger relationships with my body, my self, my life and my world, so developed my relationship with the food I ate....

Thought of the Day - 2/19/17 Q: Are you doing more reps than necessary, just to fatigue all the muscles and patterns you shouldn't be using in the first place, so you can finally get to the real reps and drill the intended muscles by the end? A: Why not start with the real reps? Feel. Perform purposely and mindfully. ...

…Adults Look Down and Behind? Isn’t it amazing how rapidly children grow? I don’t mean just physically, but developmentally. In only ten short years, they go from having no clue how to tie their shoes to building the robots that might do it for them (did your high school have a sick robotics team like mine?). They (hopefully) learn to stop being selfish toddlers and transform into gracious gift-giving volunteers. They go from clumsily tripping over themselves in a fit of tears to standing in the face of adversity to win championships in complex sports. They may learn how to cook, speak for themselves, travel independently, and work a grinder of a job to become a functioning part of society. And in just ten years, they do all of this simultaneously. What have I done in the last ten years? I’m sure there are a few things you’re proud of, but are they countless? Have you forgotten most of them because they’re as abundant as the lessons from ten years of childhood? The neighbor’s high school kids might have you beat… What differences exist between adults and children, and could we learn from them to apply strategies to improve our own lives? First Difference: Authority Figures Children are surrounded by potential coaches and mentors. Parents, teachers, friends, friends’ parents and siblings, their own older siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sport/dance/music coaches, tutors, etc. Basically anyone older than them. The list is extensive! Children seem to always be accountable to someone else, someone higher than them. They always have a guiding light. How many adults maintain such relationships deep into their adult life? A special role in adult life is that of an employer, or more specifically, a boss. Unfortunately, I hear more about people hating their bosses than loving them and looking up to them. No longer wearing the student hat, many of the other potential mentor roles in children’s lives simply...

This week’s question comes from a dynamo doctor who refuses to let his life pass him by - from skiing double black diamonds and learning how to train like a wild animal, he embodies the need to conquer! Father Time be damned, he never uses his six decades of worldly experience as an excuse, and is interested in how to push even harder! What an inspiration! Q: How do I push harder without you [or another trainer/training partner] looking over my shoulder? A: Great question - This can be a difficult task, but it is a critical problem faced by many and is certainly worth solving. Remember, intensity in the gym is far more productive and conducive to producing real, lasting results than utilizing longer durations/volumes of a lesser intensity. Let’s break this topic down into a few steps. My first suggestion is to figure out why you’re even looking to be working harder. Nobody wants to work harder because it involves hard work. Hard work itself sucks. Yet, people out there choose to work hard every single day, so something has to be worth more than “the suck” of hard work. So how do you figure this out for yourself? Set aside some time to think about why you even go to the gym in the first place. What is it that you want to accomplish? Why is it important to you? Most importantly, make sure you identify what is the alternative to NOT pursuing and reaching your goals? If you honestly can’t find anything, perhaps you should re-evaluate your habit. Why continue to spend time and effort even going to the gym? I’m sure you have better things to do. I train because I love the process and the experience, even if it is usually challenging and even grueling at times. If I didn’t love training, I wouldn’t...

Awesome discussion point that just arose in the Independence Day Group Coaching Challenge: A young girl was having difficulty trying to accomplish several conflicting goals simultaneously, in search of what she referred to as a “happy medium.” My thoughts: Also known as "riding two horses with one ass," this is actually one of the most common mistakes I see from people interested in making significant changes, especially in body composition (muscle gain / fat loss). The problem is searching for the wrong target, the “happy medium.” There should not be a happy medium. When you were achieving a high school diploma or college degree, was there a happy medium? Did you NEVER tell yourself that classes would one day end and you’d finally have the carrot you’d been chasing after? Losing a significant amount of fat really does not take very long (just think, at a reasonable pace, 100lbs in a year is not uncommon, nor unrealistic). It does require periods of intense effort, no doubt. The people who have been “focusing on fat loss for 10 years” have been working too softly and letting themselves continue for too long. Without deadlines, they’re letting themselves off the hook. Even more problematic is the tendency towards trying to accomplish goals that simply contradict each other when fused together. Imagine if your goals were to travel to Canada and Mexico. One day you decide Canada is more important, but then a craving for fajitas sends you the other way the next day. Torn between poutine and empanadas, you never get anywhere. The solution? SEQUENCE. Focus on ONE goal, attack it, and ACCOMPLISH IT. Then, move onto the next. It's easier to sit atop a mountain than it is to climb it in the first place. The “happy medium” people desire so badly doesn't come until after you achieve these focused milestones. Only then can you enjoy the "happy medium" as periods of maintenance, where you...