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New Year’s Resolutions and Better Health

New Year’s Resolutions and Better Health

“Your body will speak when your mind cannot.” – Patti Davis

I am not a big believer in resolutions, probably because I was never very good at keeping them. Nonetheless, most resolutions that people make are focused on their physical body and health. If you really want your body to be healthier, then you might want to consider a different approach this year.

Try focusing on your emotional health instead. Pain and disease in the body are a result of unresolved emotional energy, and I am totally convinced of this.

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Understanding Energy

Einstein said it a long time ago: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”

Emotions and feelings are energy. Actually, everything is energy. Energy, by its very nature, must keep moving. When we don’t allow ourselves to fully have our feelings, that energy is stored in our body. More often than not, that storage begins in childhood without our even being aware of it.

In order to have a healthier body, we have to move the old stored energy out of our body; otherwise, it will eventually wreak havoc, if it hasn’t already. We release stored energy by expressing unexpressed feelings and emotions. When the energy is released, it will move on, and as a result, you will feel better. Your body will be healthier. You will need less medications, if any at all. You will want to eat less.

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Changing Your Focus Can Change Your Life

Now, I know you may not be convinced that there is any emotion stored in your body. and that is okay. If stored emotions are there, they will find their way to the surface. If the stored emotions aren’t there, you will have lost nothing. Nonetheless, if I can be presumptuous…there is emotion stored in your body, because after all, you’re human.

So, instead of simply resolving to change your diet in some way or starting an exercise routine, how about focusing on your emotional health. As you get emotionally healthier, you just might find you get physically healthier as well. Okay, I’m going to be presumptuous again…you will get physically healthier.

Blood pressure will drop, cholesterol too. Pain will subside, disease will be averted, disorders will heal. The possibilities are endless.

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Getting Started

Make a commitment to your emotional and mental health this year. For some reason, many seem to be under the impression that feeling negative feelings is a “bad” thing. We cannot get through life without experiencing unhappy feelings; it is the human condition.

So, consider some of the following guidelines for better emotional health this year! Do the best you can, without chastising yourself when you don’t quite make it.

  1.  Spend time alone every day, at least 15 minutes without a phone, TV, book, or any other distraction. Close your eyes, and just tune in to your internal world. How do you feel? What comes up? Is it hard to be still? Do you have any anxiety? Scan your body: any pain or tension? Pay close attention. What do you notice?
  2. Take time to feel what you feel. Do you notice feelings coming up during your day? Sadness? Disappointment? Anger? Don’t run from them. Hold yourself gently, and let yourself feel. If it isn’t a convenient time, then return to these feelings at a more convenient time, but do return to them as often as you need to.
  3. Breathe deeply, fully, and often.
  4. If you enjoy writing down your thoughts and feelings, then do so. Keeping a journal can be a great outlet, and an avenue for growth.
  5. If there are things left unsaid in your relationships that weigh you down, then find appropriate ways to say them. Say what you need to say, not necessarily what you want to say; otherwise, it will eat you up on the inside.
  6. Are you putting the desires of everyone else before your own? Are you at the bottom of your list of priorities? Consider moving yourself to the top, which isn’t selfish, it’s healthy. When you take care of yourself, you will be better prepared to care for others.
  7. If you are having trouble doing what you know you need to do or taking that next step, then go back to #1 and ask yourself what you are afraid of.

Give Yourself The Support You Need 

People avoid their emotional world because it can feel scary and overwhelming. There is no shame in asking for help, because you are worth it, you deserve it, and you have the right to it.

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Above all else, extend love and kindness to yourself. You have internalized the angry and abusive voices of your life, so notice those voices and shut them down. Replace those negative voices with the love you have always deserved, and that alone will go a long way towards emotional health.

Go ahead, shift your focus. You will likely get better results than you did last year!

Featured photo credit: Megan Varner via flickr.com

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Sandra Cooper

Psychotherapist

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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