April 16, 2024

Do you know what homeostasis is? This is the tendency or impetus for the organism to stay the same. For example, if you try to lose weight or gain weight your body says, “Whoa, that’s not normal. Let’s put the breaks on that!” This, in the beginning, is one of the issues with weight loss or gain. The body sees this as a threat to its established pattern and attempts to stop it. This is the comfort zone.

Here is the rub. Everything you do that is perceived as new is perceived as a threat by the body/mind. It manifests in the mind as reasons to quit or not attempt something new. Or, when some action needs to be taken to create the new thing procrastination sets in. These can be quite subtle messages such as, “I’m tired. I can do it later or better yet tomorrow.” Or “I don’t quite understand this. Maybe I should ask Jack, who knows all about this stuff before I start.” Even more subtle is the message, “I’m really not enough of an expert. I can’t really be successful.”

These kinds of messages are pure sabotage. They stop you dead. Here’s the kicker, at the same time that you are stopped you feel better. Why? Because you didn’t challenge your comfort zone. You stayed in it. And although there might be a bit of guilt there is an overwhelming feeling of relief. The struggle is over.

“Okay, Cliff. I get it. How do I deal with this sabotage?” There are many ways but the way I think is best is to get a very strong why behind your venture into something new. If you lost your job and have a family to support, starting a new company will seem necessary. You can attack the subtle messages by saying that what you are doing is a matter of survival. Finding the why behind your doing something new can be difficult. The reasons you give can’t be silly or grandiose. For example, saying I want to be rich isn’t a good why. It is too unclear and certainly doesn’t stir the blood. And the reasons behind the why are more emotional than rational. Your why must stir your blood. When you wake up in the morning your why needs to shoot you out of bed with the excitement to come to grips with your tasks. Your big why isn’t a goal. It is the picture of who you desire to be in the future. This can be intimidating. You want to become someone else. And that threatens your body and mind. After all, a new you is eliminating the old you. And that is terrifying to your subconscious and your conscious mind. That is the source of the sabotaging messages. If you create a why that you love, then the obstacles to your success are greatly diminished. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have issues on your path. But the internal messages that stop you before you start are now controllable and the motivation to attack your new dream is high.

Spend the time and effort to create a why that makes you smile every time you think about it. If you need help with this write to me.


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April 9, 2024

Have you ever tried to cut something with a dull knife? If you have, then you know how difficult it is and how tough it is to keep going. Sharpen the knife and everything is easy. Focus is the sharpening of your attention to what you are doing-now. Not in the future, not in the past but all your attention is only about what you are doing now.

Last week I had two things I had to do. I needed to do them because they are important to my well-being. They needed a phone call. But I put it off because…I thought it would be hard…I could do it later…I didn’t feel like it…I thought it would take a long painful set of conversations.

Until this morning when I metaphorically sharpened the knife. I decided that right this minute I would do the two essential calls. I practiced what I would say and did it. The most important call was the first, and it took 2 minutes. The result I got was to my benefit and made my day. The second call took 3 minutes and set up the rest of my week. Total time; 5 minutes; results; excellent.

Use the image of sharpening the knife to face the tasks and challenges that exist in your life. See the knife (your attention) being sharpened and as it gets sharper your attention to the task at hand gets tighter and tighter. This is what focus is; the obliteration of anything except your task in your mind. Practice this metaphorical sharpening every time you must do something. Watch your life change.

To a life of focus.

Cliff


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April 2, 2024

We talked last week about criteria for trusting a practitioner. Then I was mostly talking about medical people, doctors, and other health professionals. The number of people pushing exercise advice swamps the numbers pushing medical advice. You can have three people discuss the same exercise and get wildly different advice. How do you determine who to believe?

As with the medical people you start by looking at their background and education. Education doesn’t mean just degrees but who they studied with and how they were trained. Secondly, you look at the reasons they are pushing a particular exercise method or technique. Is there some logic behind it or is it just how they feel or how someone else taught them i.e. do what I say. Thirdly, there is a feel to a person and their message. I dislike excessively negative presentations that don’t have good reasons behind them. The exercise world is full of these kinds of presentations. I’m also skeptical of people who are practically naked in their talks. I feel there is something more going on than just good information. Lastly, I look for results from what they teach. On YouTube reading the comments can be valuable. Look for ones where the people have followed the teacher for a while and give a kind of testimonial. There are many people who give really good advice and even training. Some names include Mark Wildman, Mike Chang, Kelly Starrett, Pete Egoscue and Adelle Bridges. They all teach simply and directly without bombast and without negative comments about others. The comments they have on YouTube alone show how they change people’s lives with their methods.

Just briefly I will talk about my work. As you know the central theme of what I teach is good posture. This core tenet lets me get people out of pain. It also is a guiding light for how to move and how to judge your movement. From this core you can analyze your own pain and movement and figure out for yourself why you are in pain. Or why a particular movement isn’t getting you the results you want. I learned this from Pete Egoscue and martial arts. All of the martial arts I teach (Tai Ji, BaQua, and Hapkido) teach good posture and rely on it to become proficient. There is a logic behind this that governs motion. If you study good posture and work on making yours as perfect as it can be not only will you live a pain-free life, but you will see examples every day of people moving with poor posture. I don’t condemn other methods; rather I embrace them with the addition of good postural methods.

Start your day by looking in your mirror and seeing your posture. If it isn’t perfect, work on it. Or call me.

To a great life.

Cliff


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March 26, 2024

When we go to a doctor, especially if he/she is in a large practice, there is a standardized care. This has been determined by two criteria; 1) over time practices that give a reasonable chance of a good result and 2) practices that minimize the chance of a lawsuit if something doesn’t work out to the satisfaction of the client or his heirs. If you decide to try other methods than your doctor recommends or don’t like his advice, you are more or less on your own.

There are an enormous number of alternate practitioners you can choose from and sometimes they are very good. They may have other modes of treatment that have a good track record and data to back them up. But you have to decide by yourself if the advice they give is a path you want to follow.

Then there are uncountable numbers of advice givers on the Internet. Anyone can write a blog or create a YouTube video and claim a particular success in dealing with an illness. Some of them claim they are doctors. Some just state emphatically that what they present works and is true. (And I haven’t even mentioned the hundreds of books published on Amazon about health, sleep, and diet).

How do you decide that what they are pushing is true? Either in the alternative practitioner or a YouTube poster?

Firstly, you should look at their credentials. Are they either a medical practitioner of some kind with a recognized degree i.e. MD, ND, or other credential? Is the credential they have from a reputable institution? Secondly, what is their specialty? Do they have publications about the topic they are recommending (Multiple YouTube posts do not count!)? Is there some way to see what kind of statistics exist for what they are recommending? Are they tied closely to a drug company? This might be hard to find but it isn’t impossible. Thirdly, is there any clinical data that supports their claim? There are a lot of goofy studies that have 10 to 15 people in them or worse studies that ask about people’s habits without controls or verification of what they really do.  Studies by survey are not true science. People lie. So those kinds of studies are suspect. Fourthly, is it a fad or recurring fad. We see these all the time. Recently, we’ve seen the return of the Atkins diet to the keto diet. This diet showed enormous problems in a massive study about 20 years ago. Another very hot topic on YouTube is the intermittent fasting protocol. Our science is now good enough to predict that this fad is not sustainable for a lifetime. The analogic reasoning used for this diet is that our hunter/gatherer ancestors must have eaten that way. Well, the average lifetime of our ancestors of that age was probably around 30 years. Our mortality average now is around 78 years. It is a different calculation needed and analogic reasoning isn’t good enough.

There can be so much hype about a particular methodology that your reason can be blown away. For 30 years the low-fat diet nearly wrecked our national health. High blood pressure is another topic that YouTubers go crazy about. A large number of protocols are recommended here. How good are they? A large study done in Wales (more than 2000 patients and controls) was just reported by the AARP on exercise for lowering blood pressure. The study showed that isometrics exercise was the best thing to do for high blood pressure. The exercise that worked the best was wall sits!

Conclusion. Try to take the emotion and hype out of your analysis of an alternative program or protocol. How much science is in the conclusion that demonstrates that it works. For example, Barry Sears’ work has more than 30 years of science that backs up his recommendations and conclusions. And a lot of those studies come out of Harvard. Don’t pick a program that promises a lot of weight loss. Pick a program that demonstrates your health will be better. This means your life will be better.

Now what about the exercise protocols I teach that promise pain relief? I will talk about that next time.

To a happy, healthy life.

Cliff


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March 19, 2024

Iatrogenic diseases are diseases caused by medical treatment. The relationship of these diseases to pain management has been around for a very long time. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last 15 years you are aware of the opioid crisis. This disease is an iatrogenic disease. Physicians want to stop their patients complaining and so prescribe these drugs. They are incentivized by the pharmaceutical firms to prescribe these addictive medications. Hence, a new disease appears. Instead of getting their patients into the hands of practitioners like me, they take the easy route (for them) and help create a very nasty societal problem.

This has been going on for a very long time. Don’t believe me? Here are two ads from the turn of the century (19th to the 20th century). The first ad was run by Bayer who proudly extolled heroin as a cough suppressant. The lab that made the heroin laced cough suppressant is now used to make aspirin. The second ad was run by Martin H. Smith & Co., Chemists said, “The problem of administering heroin in proper doses in such form as will give the therapeutic virtues of this drug full sway, and will suit the palate of the most exacting adult or the most capricious child, has been solved by the pharmaceutical compound known as GLYCO-HEROIN. The results attained with Glyco-Heroin in the alleviation and cure of cough are attested by numerous clinical studies that have appeared in the medical journals within the past few years.” Yes, the symptoms of the cough were reduced at the cost of entering the road to addiction and perhaps death.

You think this isn’t going on today? On television from 5 in the evening to around 9 most if the ads are about new drugs you should be taking if you have certain diseases. They talk about the wonders of their clinical trials. Do yourself a favor and listen to the side effects of taking the drug. They should make you shiver. Why are they appealing to the general audience directly? They tell the patients to ask their doctor for the advertised drug. They found out that sales increased by 30% with this advertising. I believe we have some new crises coming due to doctors being overwhelmed with patients demands for help and the drug companies pushing their drugs. Unfortunately, the people put in place to protect the public such as the FDA and the National Institutes of Health are not of much help. They don’t do a particularly good job and since the law changed in 2011 that made it legal for researchers at the NIH to take bribes (they don’t call them bribes but research consulting) from the drug companies it is getting worse.

As usual, you are on your own. Before accepting a drug or vaccine do your own research. For example, 3 years ago my doctor was pushing me to take a pneumonia vaccine. I did some research on it and found out that Britain’s National Health Service had stopped recommending it because a long-term study showed it didn’t work. This is the kind of research you need to do.

I acknowledge that when you are in pain in your body you just want it to stop. And doing exercises and learning to understand the relationship of posture to pain is work. And you want it to stop ‘right now’! The best thing to do if you are hurting is to get on the floor, put your feet up on a chair and lie there until the pain recedes. If you get tired of lying on the floor, do wall sits for a few minutes. Then get back on the floor. Eventually you will be able to move without pain. Then you can start the process of fixing your posture. This will fix your pain in the long term and give you a better daily life.

If you need help, reach out. Come study Qi Gong, Tai Ji or Ba Qua with me to use motion to create good posture and a fulfilling life.

All the best,

Cliff


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