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Moms are the most underestimated athletes in the world. The coordination you guys have in balancing a chid in one arm, handbag on your other shoulder, along with groceries in your hand and much more is impressive beyond explanation. However, these unconventional, on-the-go movements can cause some serious injuries if you aren't careful (1). Today I'd like to show you how you can take care of yourself so that you don't get injured while caring for your family!
Forward Flexion Society
Technology is one of the main culprits for the hunching of the upper back and flexion of the neck. In fact, the term "Tech Neck" has become increasingly more popular over the past few years as this hunched over posture has become much more common. We spent millions of years evolving into the upright walking species we are today, yet with the introduction of cat videos, hilarious memes, and never ending timelines on social media, we are slowly de-evolving back to a much more primitive stature.
This is also relevant for breastfeeding! While it may seem easy to bring yourself to you baby, try putting a pillow or two on your lap to bring your baby higher up so you won't have to hunch forward. Doing this can save you from the same rounding of the upper spine that is caused from tech neck.
The Quickest Posture Straightening Exercise
I understand that time is fleeting, and sometimes we feel were too busy to make it to the gym for a full workout. Luckily there is one simple exercise that takes no more than a minute to do which can be done at home or at work with no equipment at all. Doing this for as little as a minute each day can help you become more aware of your postural habits (for better or worse) so that you can begin to straighten up today.
You can watch the demonstration below and try it today! If the video starts from the beginning, fast forward to minute 10:20
Why I Became Focused On Posture
I first began diving deep into the effects of tech neck on our bodies when I began to feel the effects myself. I've began reading more books in the past year about fitness, business, and mindset efficiency. I also started this online training website which requires me to sit in front of a computer reading, typing, and training clients more than I have ever done before. I began wondering why I was much more tired on the days where I was mostly in front of computer all day while on the days where I was standing up training clients all day I was energized. I figured the more physically active I was throughout the day, the more tired I would be at the ned of the day right?
My research took me to many books including one outstanding one called "The Psoas Solution" by Evan Oscar. I learned how the Psoas Major (the deepest core muscle in the body) gives feedback to the brain about our physical health. I've attached a picture of the Psoas Major below for reference about how sitting effects this muscle's health and ultimately our energy levels.
This muscle is not only the deepest core muscle but its also the only muscle in the body that attaches the upper body to the lower body. For that reason when its chronically shortened from prolonged sitting it becomes stiff and tight. This gives feedback to the brain that something isn't right because we are in a hunched state similar to fetal position, which is the body's natural defense mechanism to protect our vital organs. Not to mention that this shortened state also restricts blood flow to the abdomen and is sometimes linked to erictile dysfunction in males as a result.
Here is a simple cycle of how the Psoas Major gives feedback to our brain about our physical wellness.
Strong and healthy Psoas -> Upright posture -> Happy Brain -> No stress response -> No excess adrenaline flowing through the bloodstream -> Preservation of energy levels
Short and stiff Psoas -> Hunched over posture (restriction of blood and oxygen flow to vital organs)-> Brain releases small amounts of adrenaline as a stress (fight or flight) response -> energy stores get depleted -> Mental fatigue and physical stiffness.
Here are a few great exercises to activate your Psoas from the man himself!
The important thing to note is that this posture isn't just visually unappealing, energy depleting and very uncomfortable. In time, this forward flexed posture can actually lead to severe upper back pain and a variety of spine conditions such as bulging or herniated discs.
Improving your posture can be one of the most immediate ways to feel more energetic and healthy, try it today!
Save Your Spine
This picture illustrates the effects of a compressed spine on the abdomen. See how the abdomen of the women on the right protrudes outwards? That's because when the spine is shortened the organs and muscles of the abdomen are squished together and have nowhere else to go but outwards which results in a very unflattering appearance.
So, how do we achieve good posture so that we look, feel, and move better? Let's take a look at two muscles that play a huge role in helping stabilize the spine and shoulder blades so that we can stand more upright.
Posture Improvement Muscle #1: The Trapezius
This is one of the biggest muscles in the body and it is commonly a target area for what people explain as "storing stress". What that actually means that as we become more tense we tighten up the upper trapezius (highlighted in blue) which makes it stiff and irritated. To strengthen this muscle we would want to shrug upwards as the animation depicts with resistance in our hands.
To release the tension however from this area we would want to hold a weight in both hands and let our shoulders drop naturally, deeply breathing while focusing on relieving any stored tension in the muscle. I've included a video demonstration below for both methods at minute 7:49
Posture Improvement Muscle #2: The Rhomboids
The Rhomboids are a a smaller muscle group that are located directly beneath (deeper) the trapezius. This muscle group is vital in keeping the shoulders in a more natural position which helps us stand much more upright. As you can see the Rhomboids connect the spine to the shoulder blade, to activate them you want to squeeze the shoulders back and then stretch the arms straight outwards. Watch the video below for a demonstration. If the video starts from the beginning, scroll to minute 9:18 for the demonstration.
Proper Baby Lifting Technique
Research shows that within the first year of having a baby you can expect to lift your (roughly 12 lb) child up to 50 times a day. Most of these lifts will more than likely be on the go movements which can put you at risk for lower back pain in the long run.
By the first year your child will be about 20 lbs and by the second year around 30 lbs! If you don't lay the foundation for proper baby lifting within the first year you can really damage your muscles and spine during this time frame (3). Watch from minute : to learn how to prevent this.
Thank you guys so much for reading this article and taking the initiative to take care of yourself so you can take even better care fo your family. As always if you have any questions feel free to email me at email@example.com or click here to book a call.
ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist
1. Park. , Daniel. “Our Knowledge of Orthopaedics. Your Best Health.” Frozen Shoulder - Adhesive Capsulitis - OrthoInfo - AAOS, 2018, orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/preventing-back-pain-tips-for-new-moms/.
2. Psoas Major." Physiopedia, . 15 Nov 2018, 13:38 UTC. 12 Jan 2019, 00:10 <https://www.physio-pedia.com/index.php?title=Psoas_Major&oldid=200513>.
3. Montgomery, Ben. “Repetitive Strain Injury: The Wear and Tear of Parenting.” Step & Spine Physical Therapy of Bend, Redmond and Sisters, Oregon, 4 Dec. 2013, stepandspine.com/repetitive-strain-injury-wear-tear-parenting/.
I give you the resources you need in order to take charge of your life and get more results from your workouts in less time, so you can get healthier everyday.
Ethan embarks on a journey to cut through the negativity and misleading information the is in the fitness industry. He chats with real influencers making a positive change to provide listeners with clarity and inspiration they need to fulfil their goals.