Monthly Archives: January 2011

100 Strokes…Reaching for Naturally Healthy Hair

I am stepping a bit far afield today to think about healthy hair.  Actually, to think about how healthy hair was achieved in my grandmothers’ time -and before.

Maybe you remember -maybe you don’t- admonishments to brush your hair 100 strokes every night.  It was common when I was a kid back a half century ago.  It disappeared somewhere in the late 60s or early 70s with the advent of a myriad number of hair conditioners.  But I think “grandma” had something going.

Using a natural bristle brush and brushing through the hair every night does several things:

  1. it redistributes the oils from the scalp down the hair shaft naturally conditioning and moisturizing the hair.
  2. it polishes the hair, removing accumulated dust and dirt so the hair remains clean.
  3. it stimulates the scalp, eliminating dead skin flaking (dandruff) and encouraging growth of the hair shaft.

And we gave this all up to smear a rich cream on your heads and then rinse it off? Something seems wrong with this picture.

I am going to start an experiment.  Here am I freshly shampooed (and conditioned).  My hair is clean, but has a slightly dry, over-processed appearance to it (I do color my hair, the over-processed is fairly accurate).  For the next month, I will be brushing my hair every night with my grandmother’s brush.  I will put off washing my hair for several days (we’ll see how many) to let this experiment take shape.

Hair, 1/28/11

At the end of February, will my hair look healthier and less dry simply by washing it less and brushing it more?  I predict that it will.  And I’m looking forward to finding out.


Monday Movement: Inspired by the child

What were you like as a child?  If you sat down and tried to imagine what your child body was doing, where would you be?  Myself, I was up a tree.

Monday Movement: Inspired by the child.

Monday Movement: Inspired by the child

children playing in tree.

Illustration by EmIllustration

Today, I am going to do something that bloggers rarely do.  I am going to suggest that –for a moment– you step away from this post and your computer and try to remember what it felt like to be in a child’s body.  Sit with yourself -relax into your chair- close your eyes and let your body remember what it felt like.  Choose whichever age you wish- 4, 7, 10??- remember yourself on a free day and feel your body.  Go on.  This post will be here when you’re done.

This sensory exercise had one immediate effect upon me: I wanted to be moving.  When I did this, I became a young girl -undetermined age- alternating my time between the swing in our back yard and the maple tree  in the yard 4 doors down.  I could feel the bark on the tree, remember the steps to climb that first limb.  I could feel the not-too-humid early summer air pass through my hair as I swung.  I felt the pull on my arms, the push on my legs, the air moving in and out of my lungs.

I did not remember sitting reading-though I often enough did that.  I certainly didn’t remember watching television; I did that, too.  Those were not  “in the body” experiences.  When I remembered a childhood body,  I remembered moving.  My young body desired it as much as it desired air and sunshine.

Funny thing about this exercise: when I opened my eyes and returned to my current day body, I STILL DESIRED MOVEMENT.  No hours spent passively sitting while my body was not required to act beyond basic support for my brain.  I needed to get up and move around the house, the yard, the neighborhood.

I am embracing my childhood in a way again.  Daily I try to tap into that sense of movement again.  Simple. Graceless.  Constant. Fluid.  Movement not motion.  I feel it changing me on some basic level.

When you close your eyes and imagine yourself in your childhood body- what do you sense?  How does it make you feel today?  How can you use this to inspire you more daily?

What’s for Breakfast? Protein Shake

Chocolate Coconut Banana Protein Shake Recipe
This week’s Morning Protein Shake:

  1. two bunches of spinach, slightly chopped
  2. 1/4-1/2 an avocado – lots of fiber and healthy fats
  3. a handful of walnuts
  4. 1 scoop protein powder
  5. 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
  6. 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  7. flax seed
  8. spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom

Mixed up in my Hamilton Beach blender on the Frozen Drink setting.  The color is interesting, and the spices are the key to the flavor.  Heaven in a cup or three.

Week of Workouts

Slightly discombobulated week of workouts.  I hate the crowds on Monday holidays at the gym, so avoid it.  So this week:

Met a friend at a park on Sunday and we ran through the Par Course.  It’s been years since I’ve done of those.  Push ups, Sit ups, Pull-ups, skipping and jogging (until my pants starting falling down).  Great fun in the sun.

Tuesday: Full body weights with a cardio warm up. Chest press, bent over rows, lat pulls, assisted dip, squats, step ups.

Wednesday: Stability and balance and cardio warm up.

Thursday: Full body weights with cardio warmup.  If enough lung capacity, intervals.

Friday: Stability and balance work.

Saturday: off.

What Does “Exercise” Mean?

Play is Exercise

Play is Exercise

What does the word Exercise mean to you?  Search for definitions online and you will find:

  • exert: put to use;
  • practice: carry out or practice; as of jobs and professions;
  • skilled in the utilization of;use: the act of using;
  • systematic training by multiple repetitions;
  • a task performed or problem solved in order to develop skill or understanding;
  • drill: learn by repetition;
  • do physical exercise.

I often forget that exercise is both a verb and a noun.  Also, that its meaning has nothing directly to do with physical exertion.  The meaning is more about using repetition to learn. When it comes to physical exertion, it is the repetitive movements we undertake in order to learn something about us and the physical world.

  • A person could be running and learning how to breathe into the sweat and ache 10 miles into a 12 mile run.
  • A person could be swinging a kettlebell and learning the natural rhythm of gravity and centrifugal force using their own body as a fulcrum. *
  • A person could be dead lifting for the first time and learning how all the muscles in their body work together.

Those who find exercise mind-numbingly boring are those who do not have their heads in the activity.  They have probably bought into an idea that exercise means only one or two things – running or weight machines for example- and have not spent the time to find those activities that will challenge them mind and spirit.

I could have made this same mistake if I believed that running -or jogging- is a superior form of exercise than walking.  When I run, I find it torture – I cannot get to that place where it becomes meditative.  It remains a step-by-step form of mental torture. Fortunately, I have immobile toes that limit -and sometimes completely eliminate- my ability to run.

Walking, however, is heaven.  The rhythm of the movement sets in, my mind falls into a deep form alertness where I’m aware of my breathing, of the quality of the air around me, of the tension my muscles.  I become unaware of the passing of time as I move.  Walking is a pleasure -and an exercise for me.

Next time you’re exercising your body, take a moment to notice – what are you learning from this day’s physical exertion?

*(fancy language for an English major isn’t that?)

photo credit: The Inadvertent Gardener’s Flickr stream.

Exercising when sick

This time of year, there is often a question about working out when sick. When is OK, when is it not?

The symptoms that suggest you should not work out are:

1. Symptoms “below the neck”: chest congestion and most importantly fever.
2. Diarrhea or vomiting that make it difficult to stay hydrated.

I would say that hydration is the main key that decides if you should hit the gym or the road.

Since Saturday afternoon (I MUST blog about Saturday morning) I have been running a sporadic fever. No other symptoms -nothing that clearly would make it hard to work out. Still, I am embracing wisdom and staying out of the gym until this fever breaks for good.