You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘sustainability’ category.

I can’t say enough about how useful tennis balls are for dealing with shoulder pain.  (Watch the video here.)And I’ve recently become a convert to tennis balls to help with sore feet, especially as people ask about dealing with foot soreness, ankle pain and issues like Plantar faciaitis.

Just as you would use a tennis ball (or two) to relieve tension in the upper back/shoulders, you can do the same with the feet.

  • Take a used tennis ball, and put it in a sock.  You can use the tennis ball alone, but I think the sock helps keep the ball from rolling around.
  • Before starting, stand in your socks or bare feet on a flat surface, and check in with how your feet feel.  Notice any discomfort.
  • Sit down in a chair that allows you to sit straight, with both feet on the floor.
  • Start by rolling the tennis ball under that foot that is bothering you (or bothering you more).  Roll the ball slowly–ball of foot, arch and heel areas– , and notice if there are any places where it feels especially good, and stop at those points for a few deep breaths.  If you feel any pain, stop.
  • If you think your foot can bear more pressure, take your foot off the ball, and stand up.  Roll the ball under your foot again; this time put as much weight on the ball as feels like a good massage.  Take a few deep breaths as you bear your weight on the ball.  Touch a wall or furniture if you need for balance.  If you feel any pain, stop.
  • Take your foot off the ball, and once again stand with both feet on the floor.  Notice how you feet feel, compared to before, and compared to each other.  The foot you just massaged with the ball should feel flatter on the floor.
  • Sit back down and do the same with your other foot.  Even if you don’t have discomfort in that foot, or think it needs a massage, spend at least a minute to roll the ball under it.  Following the principle of yin/yang, it’s always a good idea to give attention to the other side.  You’ll likely feel that the other foot feels flatter on the floor, too.

If you’re at home and have the time, you can follow up by giving both feet a massage with your hands.

If you want to get the benefit of this at work, take a tennis ball and roll it under your feet while you work.  You can do it while you’re working, or dedicate a few minutes to the above exercise.  Your feet, the rest of you body, and your mind will thank you for the brief but effective break.

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

Advertisements

I’ve posted in the past about the importance of washing hands to stay healthy.  What you wash with makes a difference, too.

According to this article in thedailygreen.com, 7 Alternatives to Antibacterial Soap, a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps is triclosan which is “a toxic pesticide that’s marketed as an ‘antibacterial agent’ but is powerful enough to threaten children’s health and pollute mothers’ breast milk. ”

Very briefly, from the article:

According to a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), triclosan has been linked to cancer in lab animals; targeted for removal from some stores in Europe for its health and environmental risks; and recommended against use at home by the American Medical Association.  It may disrupt the thyroid hormone system; it breaks down into very toxic chemicals; and it pollutes the environment.

Some suggestion from the article for safer soap and cleaning:

  • Worry less about germs. Dr. Levy and other medical professionals note that people who are exposed to household germs usually develop stronger immune systems and are healthier overall. Aim to be clean, not germ-free.
  • Read product labels. If you see the words “antibacterial,” “kills germs,” or “triclosan,” find an alternative.
  • Talk to store managers. Tell them you’re refusing to buy antibacterial products because they threaten human health and the environment.
  • Use safe, eco-friendly cleansers: Bon Ami, Baking soda, vinegar and water, Greenworks All Natural Cleaner, Method Non-Toxic, Fragrance-Free All Surface Cleaner
  • For triclosan-free toothpaste, consider UltraBrite Advanced Whitening or Tom’s of Maine, both of which are available in most grocery and drug stores. For other alternatives, consult the Safe Cosmetics Data Base
  • For liquid hand soap, try Kiss My Face Self-Foaming Soaps.

LOVE YOUR TOES! 

I say this to my clients and students often.  Why? Because our feet work so hard for us, and are often neglected, as so much swirls around our heads.  Love your toes and ground yourself.

If you’re having a hard time sleeping because your mind’s racing, spend some time rubbing, squeezing and massaging your toes and feet before you go to sleep.  Do this yourself, or ask your partner to do this for you.  Even a few minutes will feel wonderful.

I haven’t liked my toes or my feet much; my feet are flat and not cute in the dance shoes that I wish I could wear.  But that changed with yoga.  Now I spend a lot of time looking at my toes, and they’re kind of cute! 

So, one way I love my toes is to dress them up once in a while with nail polish.  But I’ve been reluctant to do this too much because the nail polish and nail polish removers are gross.  They smell like chemicals and unhealthy.  Forget about going into a nail salon! 

I finally did something about this. 

Yesterday, I bought non-toxic biodegradable nailpolish remover ($9.99) and a water-based nail polish–desert sunset color ($8.99) from Sun Coat.  (Bought at Real Food Co. in San Francisco, on Polk Street.)  No chemical solvents such as toluene, acetates and alcohol; no pthalates; no formaldehyde.  And no smell!  The conventional nail polish I had on my toenails came off well.  I’ll say it again, No Smell!  I’ll paint my nails again later and will report back.  (My friend told me about another line of healthier nail polish: No Miss Nail Polish.)

PS: Back to a busy mind.  One way to deal with this is to turn it upside down.  Try legs-up-the-wall yoga pose.

Stay hydrated. Drink water.

I tell people this all the time, including–and especially–for plane travel. Why? Because the air in planes is not only stagnant and stuffy, it is incredibly dry.

In-flight air is drier than any of the world’s deserts. Relative humidity is 20-25% in the Sahara or Arabian deserts, while optimum comfort is around 50% humidity.

In-flight cabin humidities gradually fall on long-distance, high-altitude flights; in may cases approaching 1%.  source

And, according to this great tip from Ideal Bite, you can save a little bit of CO2 emissions, by “going” before you go.

Bon (healthy and sustainable) Voyage.

You may wonder why I’m talking about paints in this blog, but since it’s dedicated to Everyday Wellness, and healthy and sustainable living, I think you’ll find this post is on-topic. Read on!

“Your breath is your friend.”

My clients and students hear this from me…often. I encourage them to pay attention to their breath, and make the intention of taking deep breaths as they practice self-acupressure or spend a few minutes to do an acupressure mini-meditation.

However, if the air you’re breathing is unhealthy, your breath is not your friend. That’s what I found a few days ago while helping my parents repaint their small apartment. A few hours after painting the ceiling, the paint smell started to get to me and I was starting to feel bad; I was worried about not being able to sleep in the apartment. Because the apartment is high up and it was windy, it wasn’t an option to sleep with the window open. We worked out that I could sleep in the bedroom that hadn’t been painted; fortunately, I felt fine in the morning.

The good news is that the day before, I also had the first-hand experience of a healthier paint option: a low odor, low VOC paint. GreenHomeGuide.com explains why this is healthier:

Levels of many common organic pollutants are two to five times higher indoors than they are outside, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Most of these pollutants are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from paints, finishes, and other materials. VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; nausea; and perhaps even cancer. Given all that, it makes sense to limit exposure by choosing low- or no-VOC paints—especially in the bedroom, where we spend about one-third of each day.

So, the day before we painted the ceiling with “regular” paint, we used Benjamin Moore’s Eco Spec low odor, low VOC paint for the walls. I’m a novice painter, so I can’t compare to other paints, but it was easy to apply two coats with a roller. The color was Simply White. (Unfortunately, the Eco Spec paint we wanted for the ceiling wasn’t available.)

That day and night, I barely noticed any odor and felt no discomfort, and slept in the room that had been painted. It really felt like a “healthy” option, especially for such a small space.

Here’s to beautiful living spaces that are also healthy, long-term.

I love to learn about the healing value of food. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, plants and foods are an important healing source in the form of herbal medicines, and in teaching us about what foods can help us get back into balance. The basic tenet of eating healthy is to go with the flow of nature.

And I believe that is the essence of what Michael Pollan writes of in an article for the New York Times that begins, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

A helpful blog posting on inspired protagonist has paraphrased Pollan’s rules.

  1. Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  2. Avoid food products that come bearing health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best.
  3. Never eat food products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or more than five in number. Or that contain high-fructose corn syrup. These are all signs that the food has been heavily processed.
  4. Do as little of your shopping at the supermarket as possible. Farmers Markets are much better food sources.
  5. Pay more, eat less. It’s a lot healthier to eat less high quality (i.e. expensive) food than it is to eat a larger quantity of poor quality food. It’s like beer. Better to drink one really great craft-brewed ale than a whole six pack of swill that costs less than that single bottle.
  6. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
  7. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. People who eat by the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier. Any traditional diet will do: if it weren’t healthy, the people who follow it wouldn’t still be around.
  8. Cook. And if you can, plant a garden. To take part in the intricate and endlessly interesting processes of providing for our sustenance is the surest way to escape the culture of fast food and the values implicit in it.
  9. Eat like an omnivore. Try to add new species, not just new foods, to your diet. The greater the diversity of species you eat, the more likely you are to cover all your nutritional bases.

To the last point, I would add, eat like a rainbow-eater. Eat the (natural) spectrum of food colors.

I received a beautiful and playful gift over the holidays, a solar-powered rainbow maker. You stick it on a window, and when sun rays shine on it, little rainbows dance around the room.  It’s delightful.  (And it’s powered by the sun!  How cool is that!)

It reminds me of the colors associated with the Five Elements, a holistic way of the looking at the world.  There are seasons,  colors, emotions, smells, tastes and even times of day associated with each of the Five Elements: earth, metal, water, wood and fire. 

The colors associated with the Five Elements are yellow, white, black/dark blue, green and red.  I won’t go into all the theory of it here, but suffice it to say that we each have all  the elements in us.  In other words, from a color perspective, we each have a rainbow inside.

But often one or two colors in the rainbow are stronger than others.  So what might we learn from that?  For example, when I was a kid, navy blue was my favorite color. I was born in wintertime and was quiet and introverted.  More recently, however, I’ve been salsa dancing and playing latin music.  Coincidentally, I am much more drawn to the color red; it shows up much more in my wardrobe.  I think it reflects a greater expression of my passionate self, and red if definitely a color of passion.

How about you?  What can you learn from paying attention to colors in your life?

  • What’s the most popular color in your closet? 
  • Does your mood change depending on the color of your shirt? 
  • When you’re shopping for clothes, do you gravitate toward a particular color?
  • Is there a color you hate and would never wear? 
  • Has your favorite color changed over the years?

Celebrate the colors that are (and aren’t in your life.)  And see if you might want to bring some more balance.  For example, an all-red wardrobe could be too hot and dry.  Cool it down and introduce some moisture with blues and greens. 

Be inspired by the rainbow.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, balanced daily routine is said to be a key to long healthy life. I think about my grandfather who was very organized; for example, he had his breakfast at 8:30am every morning. I could practically set my watch to it. And he lived fully to 92.

So let’s say you agree that routine is good. But can too much of a good thing become not so good? I’ll share my friend’s experience of getting herself out of a rut.

For five years, my friend started each day with a walk around her neighborhood. It energized her. Got her off to a good start to write. (She’s a poet.) Recently, however, she noticed her aversion to her walks. She just couldn’t get going in the morning. She had walked herself into a rut. (Imagine if she had walked on a dirt path–instead of concrete–for 1800 days; there might be an actual rut in the road.)

So one day, she decided to make just one change. Instead of turning left, when she stepped out, she turned right. That was it. She walked the exact same route, but in the opposite direction. And that one difference made all the difference she needed. She was more present on her walk, because she couldn’t go on automatic pilot. She noticed things anew. She’s now back to her healthful routine. With that one simple–but profoundly effective–change, she has gotten out of a rut.

What daily routine could you change by just one facet, to give you a fresh new experience?

Some ideas (inspired by a great little book on neurobics called Keep Your Brain Alive):

  • Use your non-dominant hand when doing everyday things. For example, if you’re right-handed, use your left hand to brush your teeth, button your shirt, open the door, stir your coffee or tea…
  • Stimulate your other senses. For example, use touch, rather than sight, to pick out your clothes. Smell your lunch before you start eating; can you pick out the ingredients?
  • Change your seat. Choose a new spot at the dinner table. Or try a new seat at your next meeting. You might get an entirely new view of things.

Please share rut-releasing tips that have worked for you!

I have been p a t i e n t l y waiting for my shipment of dried dates. I called The Date People in August, to get on their list. I called in September. In October. In November. And today, ahhh, sweet bliss.

halawi datesAnd the sweetness is key, because I’ve been craving something sweet during this sugar-saturated social season. I’ve been following my friend Mary’s holiday-sweets strategy of keeping a mental list of all the tempting holiday goodies I haven’t indulged in, in anticipation of these wonderful dates: sun-filled packages of natural sweetness and nutrition.

These particular dates that landed at my door today, are from The Date People, who grow 300 trees on six acres in southern California, not far from the Mexico border. Sustainably and veganically grown according to their informative newsletter, which you can see on their website: www.datepeople.net. (760)359-3211

By the way, my 15 lb box of halawi dates cost only $41.50, plus shipping! (Pricing info is in their newsletter; last page. ) I repackage the dates into ziplock baggies (about 1 lb each) and freeze them. Do you have recipes using dates to share?

I keep thinking about a story last week in the New York Times about women with shoulder and back problems because their bags are too heavy. Apparently, there’s a trend to oversized bags–in the world of fashion-conscious–where women are hauling around so much stuff on one shoulder that massage therapists and chiropractors are seeing an increase in women with shoulder and back issues!

I was surprised to read that the women, and even some of the therapists, thought the physical discomfort was merely an unfortunate consequence of adhering to a fashion trend. This line of thinking is so alien to me, that I was dumbfounded. But then I thought, perhaps there are places in my life that I am a slave to “fashion.”

My commitment to sustainable choices, for example, sometimes stymies my making really sensible choices. For example, I might go out of my way to buy a box of recycled tissues (for my wellness studio.) Was that really sensible when I consider that the extra energy (fossil fuel and my personal time/energy) needed to do that may have cost more than the savings of using recycled tissues. But it’s the thought that counts! Well yes, but also the point is in weighing individual choices within the context of the larger goal.

So, I throw out this question (as much to myself as to you):

  • Are you a “slave to fashion” in some way in your life?

Be it handbag fashion, stiletto-heel fashion, or stubbornly-eco fashion. How can you make sensible choices around those? Making a habit of decluttering your purse every Sunday night; stretching and massaging your feet and lower legs after a high-heel day; or remembering the big picture for sustainable choices.