Mighty Muscles and Bones: How Our Muscular And Skeletal Systems Help Us Move

Our Mighty Muscles and Bones: How Our Skeletal And Muscular Systems Help Us Move

In the past we have explored the nervous system, brain function, cranial nerves, digestive function, adrenal function, and the immune system. Now let's take a look at the most glamorized, yet under-appreciated, part of our body—our mighty muscles and bones. So, how do the muscular and skeletal systems help us move?

Muscular Attraction

The muscles get a lot of attention with regard to how they can make us look attractive and sexy to others. Our muscle tone communicates how healthy our body is. The strength of the muscles, the lack of water retention or fat in the muscles, and how flexible we are, all indicate that we may be a good reproductive partner and produce strong, healthy offspring. This is one of the functions we all can relate to, but it is certainly not the most important function of our muscles.

Try to imagine what your life would be like if your muscle tissue could not form the shape of your body. What if it didn't allow you to physically move around your environment? Without locomotion, thru muscle strength and movement, we would be a lump of humanity, never moving from the spot we found ourselves in.

Mighty Bones

Our bones are so amazing too. Apart from their distinctive and critical role as part of the immune system carrying precious bone marrow, they are the armature upon which our muscles are draped. Bones allow cooperation between the muscles, to physically move, play, exercise, work, eat, sleep and achieve all of the mobility we experience throughout our day.

When we look at people stooped over with distorted posture and their musculature not functioning properly, we immediately associate this with either being ill or not vital. Our posture is the number one thing people notice, followed by how we are dressed. Our body language is expressed thru our bone/muscle function. In essence, our personality and how we view the world are all communicated in how we move through the space we inhabit.

Working Together

Our muscles and bones not only share the work load in glucose and immune regulation, body heat production, fat metabolism, mineral storage, and the ability for “fight or flight”—self-preservation. They also communicate to the world what we think about ourselves, others, and the world through the expression of body movement and non-verbal communication. This can be one of the most attractive or frightening aspects about us – depending on how we express our movement and actions.

Keeping your muscles and bones strong thru exercise and a healthy diet is a wise move. Without them, we are literally “going nowhere.”

 

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Postpartum Adjustments Aren’t Limited To Mom

Postpartum Affects Men too, relationships

As a mother of three children, I remember thinking after the births of my children: “Why doesn’t anyone tell the truth about the stress of having a baby or caring for multiple children?” Fortunately, there were plenty of other new moms I could commiserate with about the reality, opposed to the romanticized version, of childbirth and parenting. Still, it’s worth noting that the postpartum adjustment I was struggling with doesn’t only affect women.

The Science Of The Adjustment

It took time and many personal adjustments to fit myself into the role of mom. Along the way were experiences of anxiety. I also read many parenting books, having a sense that I was “learning on the job” with no prior training or knowledge of how to do this.

The fact that moms can feel that way comes as no surprise to those of us who have children. What does surprise people is that many dads also can experience high anxiety, stress, and postnatal depression after the birth of their children.

A British population study obtained psychological questionnaires from 8,431 fathers and 11,833 mothers. Interesting data emerged, relating to postnatal depression in fathers. The study gathered data at three different intervals after the birth of the child: 8 weeks, 21 months and 3.5 years.

The outcomes demonstrated that children born to fathers who experience postnatal depression are twice as likely at the age of 3 to have behavioral problems as children born to fathers who do not experience postnatal depression. This was found to be consistent even after maternal depression was factored out.

New Relationship Focus

What parents are often not prepared for after the joyful birth of their children is the accompanying loss of their personal identity as both an autonomous individual and a romantic partner. After the birth of a baby, the child rightfully becomes the center of concern and attention. The personal and social time and activities that had been couple-centered now become baby-centered.

Spouses can feel abandoned, lonely, or isolated from their partners after the birth of even the most long-awaited and beloved child. Parenthood brings with it enormous joy and equally enormous stresses.

It is best to discuss such feelings and express the negative as well as the positive emotions of parenthood. This is healthier than feeling guilty and turning frustrations into potential depression. As always, the three important rules to sustaining a happy relationship and family are: communicate, communicate and communicate.

For a free download on relationship communication skills that can keep you well connected with your partner, visit http://www.changingbehavior.org/.

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Three Strategies To Build Excellent Relationships In Your Workplace

relationships in the workplace, coworkers

Some of us may not realize just how important it is to build excellent relationships in your workplace. Without the support or cooperation of those with whom we spend a significant amount of our time, our job performance and certainly our work satisfaction can suffer. Several studies have shown that difficult office relationships impair performance and decrease morale even more seriously than rumors of employee layoffs.

Healthy, Friendly Environments

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours working. And as a result, we spend the majority of our time with our co-workers. Just as with other people in our lives with whom we interact on a regular basis, our co-workers need to be viewed as important and essential parts of our “life support” group. Cultivating respectful, considerate relationships with our co-workers is good for our health and our work performance. It creates a positive and friendly environment where we spend a majority of our time.

Here are some easy ways to make the work environment nicer, friendlier and more positive place:

Avoid gossip: No one wants to be gossiped about. If you don’t gossiping about others, your co-workers will get the message that you do not wish to “stir the stink” about them and they will respect your integrity and treat you likewise. If someone starts to gossip with you, simply respond: “Really?” Then change the subject or excuse yourself from the conversation. Reducing gossip effectively enhances the work environment and your reputation.

Show real interest: One of the nicest experiences is having someone show interest in the things that interest us. It makes us feel valued and builds rapport and trust. If you are aware of co-worker’s interests and happen to run across something pertaining to those subjects, giving him information or helpful articles can really make his day and enhance your working relationships.

Give credit: Embrace the win-win attitude and always give credit where credit is due. If people have worked hard and made a huge contribution to a project, they should be recognized and applauded for their efforts. Nothing is more uplifting than being recognized for our contributions and the value we bring to our work.

By supporting and appreciating co-workers, you create for them and for yourself a cooperative and trustworthy environment that encourages them to continue to do their best. Competition can be healthy, but not when it results in giving credit to the wrong people or not recognizing excellence in others. Instead, encourage trust and cooperation to build excellent relationships in your workplace.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
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Reference:

Ewton, Z. (2007). Sustaining Employee Morale; Keeping the Peace or Burning Down the House. (Original work published March 11, 2007) Retrieved April 2, 2008, from Associated Content Web site.

 

Want To Make Your Partner Happy?

When couples are asked what it is in their relationship that makes them feel fulfilled, they inevitably answer that they feel “understood and cared about.” In contrast, bad feelings and unhappiness stem from the realization that the person we are most intimate with and care most deeply about doesn’t understand who we are and what we are feeling.

The Great Unknown

In order to feel loved, we must first experience that others understand and regard us as good and valuable human beings. If your significant other doesn’t get who you are and how you feel, you’re left with a sense of being misjudged. It can also lead to loneliness because only someone who truly knows us, rather than just thinks they know us, can love us for who we actually are.

When you are in a relationship, you do not want to continually explain yourself to another person or to justify your values, beliefs, or choices you make in your life. If, after a time, a partner cannot be really present, listening to what you have to share and sharing their own thoughts and feelings, the relationship begins to deteriorate. This is why one of the important focal points in good couples counseling is learning what is called “active listening.”

Active Listening

The main purpose of active listening is to let your partner know that you are truly listening and hearing what they say. It is demonstrating that that you are really “present," meaning your significant other has your full attention.

When you give someone your full attention, you can better understand how they feel, and you can grasp their point of view and opinions involved in the important discussions that make up all relationships.

Time To Reflect

A key component of active listening is reflection. You have to consider what your partner is trying to communicate so that you can be sure that you understand your partner’s message. Then you don’t misinterpret what your partner is saying.

When you do this, you should ask questions to clarify, such as, “Are you saying that you were upset that I did not go to your aunt’s house for dinner on Sunday, even though you said it didn’t matter if I went or not?”

Communication Is Key

Partners must work together to achieve clarification of communication, participation in active communication and active listening to allow a relationship to take on a greater depth, intimacy and fulfillment. Effective communication is always the key to any good relationship. 

For a free chapter download about changing behavior, visit changingbehavior.org.

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Happiness: It’s Easier Than You Think

If you ask most people what they want in their lives and what is most important, they will likely tell you that they “want to be happy.” The desire for happiness is a universal want. It transcends culture, geography, age, and social status. The topic of happiness even finds its way into the academia, an example of its pervasiveness.

The most popular course at Harvard Medical School is a course on happiness. Taught by Harvard psychology professor Tal D. Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., the course is so popular that students wait a year or longer to get in.

A Different Take

Happiness is traditioanlly defined as a state of well-being and contentment, joy, a pleasurable or satisfying experience; yet many people report that happiness is elusive or too often fleeting at best.

Modern happiness gurus like Ben-Shahar offer an altered take on what happiness is or can be. They invite us to walk around the subject and take a different look at the almost mystical feeling called happiness. They suggest not an “I’ll be happy when…” perspective, but allowing ourselves to see how happiness can be enjoyed anytime we choose to have gratitude and joy about the daily, simple blessings in our life.

Happy Right Now

The lesson is that there are things we can be happy about right now and continue to be happy about throughout the day, no matter what else has happened or is going on. These things and experiences are already built into our lives, and it is just a matter of focusing on the simple pleasures and joys these opportunities can provide.

Things That Spark Happiness:

  • The peace and tranquility of rising early in the morning.
  • Listening to birds singing.
  • Watching strangers laugh and smile.
  • Working cooperatively with others.
  • Curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
  • The pleasure of lying down on clean, soft bedding.
  • Time with your best friend.
  • Being kissed.
  • The smell of apple pie baking.
  • A moment of love shared with family.
  • A home-cooked meal.
  • A freshly cleaned bathroom.
  • A long, hot bath or shower.
  • Music that moves you.
  • Sharing stories and memories.
  • Being hugged.
  • Breathing deeply.
  • Completing a task or project.
  • Time in a garden.

Think of all the things in your day that can bring joy or happiness when you allow yourself to be in the moments of your life, and share your hours and days with others and with yourself. Happiness is all around us. It is often just a matter of allowing ourselves to embrace it.

For a free chapter download about changing behavior, visit changingbehavior.org.

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Calcium May Help You Burn More Fat

Information from the Nutrition Institute of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, appears to confirm the “rumor” that calcium-rich diets result in lower body fat. According to a recent study in mice conducted at the University, a diet that includes low-fat dairy products and calcium supplementation can result in significant weight loss through the burning rather than the storing of fat. This is a result of the role that stored calcium plays in the breakdown and burning of fat inside our body’s cells.

The Science Behind Calcium and Weightloss

Here is an excerpt from an article on the study, written by Jeanie Larche Davis:

“The researchers used mice bred to be obese in their current study. The mice were fed a special high-fat, high-sugar diet for six weeks. All had a 27% increase in body fat.

Some were then switched to a calorie-restricted diet. Of those, one group was given calcium supplements (calcium carbonate similar to Tums) and others were fed “medium” and “high” amounts of low-fat dry milk.

Body fat storage was markedly reduced by all three high-calcium diets, say the authors.
Those given calcium supplements had good results, when combined with the restricted-calorie diet.

Mice getting their calcium via supplements had a 42% decrease in body fat, whereas mice eating without supplements had an 8% body fat loss.”

Dissecting Why It Works 

This was of great interest to me, and it felt important to share. Over the past 10 years, I have observed that during any period of time when I have consistently taken calcium supplementation, in the form of powdered calcium/magnesium, my body weight has definitely decreased.

Within a month or so of not taking the calcium/magnesium powder, the weight starts to creep back on. This article helps to answer the question of why. Thyroxine, secreted by the thyroid, is a critical hormone in intracellular metabolism. Thyroxine also has a significant impact on intracellular metabolism and on the utilization of calcium.

Having a calcium rich diet allows the thyroxin that is necessary for cellular metabolism to be more efficient in utilizing the fat stored in our cells for energy! That is why high calcium diets facilitate weight loss.

Put It In Practice

Armed with that information we can enjoy eating our spinach, kale and sardines, knowing they are working away to keep our body fat burning. 

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Is Organic Produce Better?

Several years ago, scientists at Rutgers University set-out to disprove the claim that organic produce was more nutritious than non-organic produce. The study used produce from supermarkets and health food stores. The strategy was to analyze the mineral content of various vegetables and compare them for nutrition value, particularly mineral content.

What Is Organic?

The term used today to label non-organic produce is “commercial.” This produce is grown using a variety of chemicals to destroy plant pests or enhance growth. Many of these chemical are known carcinogens in addition to being toxic to the soil and environment. Produce grown without any of these chemicals is considered "organic."

There has actually been very little “hard data” to prove that organic produce is in any way superior to conventional produce. Most folks who purchase “organic” innately believe that naturally grown vegetables and fruits, without chemicals and pesticides, are intuitively better and healthier.

Which Is Scientifically Better?

The researchers were prepared to accept an outcome showing a very slightly higher content in the organic produce than the commercial, due to the chemicals used to grow the commercial plants. They were shocked by the actual results. When they saw that the amount of iron found in the organic spinach was 97% higher than in the commercial spinach and that manganese was 99% higher in the organic over the commercial, they were truly amazed. In the commercially grown vegetables, many trace elements were completely absent compared to the organic produce where they were abundant.

Below you will find some comparisons drawn by the study results.

Snap Beans
Phosphorus: Organic (10.45), Commercial (4.04)
Magnesium: Organic (.36 ), Commercial (.22)
Boron: Organic (227), Commercial (10)
Iron: Organic (69), Commercial (3) 

Cabbage
Phosphorus: Organic (10.38). Commercial (6.12)
Magnesium: Organic (.38), Commercial (.18)
Boron: Organic (94). Commercial (20)
Iron: Organic (48), Commercial (.04)

Lettuce:
Phosphorus: Organic (24.48), Commercial (7.01)
Magnesium: Organic (.43), Commercial (.22)
Boron: Organic (516), Commercial (9)
Iron: Organic (60), Commercial (3)

Tomatoes:
Phosphorus: Organic (14.2), Commercial (7.01)
Magnesium: Organic (.35), Commercial (.16)
Boron: Organic (1938), Commercial (1)
Iron: Organic (53), Commercial (0)

Spinach:
Phosphorus: Organic (28.56), Commercial (12.38)
Magnesium: Organic (.52_, Commercial (.27)
Boron:Organic (1584), Commercial (49)
Iron: Organic (32), Commercial (.3)

Here’s a disturbing outcome of this study. In all 5 of the tested vegetables (snap beans, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and spinach) the organic vegetables all contained healthy levels of cobalt, an essential trace mineral. This mineral was completely absent in the commercial vegetables.

The Results Are Clear

So, the next time someone tries to argue that there is no difference between organic and commercial vegetables, you can share this information with them and then happily continue to buy your organic produce! Remember, the food you eat can improve your health and speed healing.

 

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How Beliefs Affect Healing

Given the way the health sciences have been taught in medical and nursing schools, it is perfectly understandable for practitioners who engaged in physician or nursing training more than 25 years ago to think the placebo effect didn’t make sense. Instead, it was considered just another popular explanation for a sudden healing–a “spontaneous remission.” It is a leap for many to accept that a person could think or believe something and that this simple act of belief could heal them.

Create Your Reality

Up until the last twenty or so years, research scientists did not have a grasp on how the brain and our emotions worked to create our reality. The subject of emotions has been and still is very much “uncharted waters” in behavioral science. However, what is well documented today is how the various brain waves function. We know what part of the brain each of the various brain waves control and stimulate and, most importantly, what emotions actually are.

The “beta waves” are allow us to focus on the words on this blog and comprehend, in the moment, what is intellectually being communicated. These waves are produced in the frontal lobe, which is the seat of intellectual functioning. Thinking, analyzing, reasoning and so forth occur in this part of the brain.

The “alpha waves” are the slower brain waves which originate in the mid-brain. These allow access to our unconscious thinking or what some refer to as the soul. All thought processes, be it from the beta wave or alpha wave region of the brain, are actually chemical reactions that produce specific proteins that communicate with our immune cell membranes and other cell membranes of our body.

Hope In Action

The specific thoughts we think and the region of the brain they originate in have an identifiable chemistry that has been shown to create dramatic changes in our physical bodies. In Dr. Paul Pearsall’s ground breaking book “The Hearts Code” he tell many amazing mind/body stories. One in particular is a striking example of how powerful thoughts and images are. The is about a schizophrenic patient who demonstrated completely different disease states depending on the personality she was exhibiting. Ultra sounds, cat-scans, and lab tests all confirmed that one of her personalities had a massive cancerous tumor. Yet when she went into a different personality state, all of her previous pathology disappeared.

Our brains are the ultimate manifestors of matter. The chair you are sitting on was a thought before it became that chair. Thoughts ARE “things.”  Thoughts in action are what manifest reality. A previous blog mentioned a woman who was cured of her stiffness after the a surgery. Her mind manifested a different set of thoughts through her hopes and expectations for the outcome of the surgery. Her brain waves and proteins created positive chemistry, which communicated with her immune system through its cell membranes. The results: She became healthier and could “stride across the room.”

Positive Outlook

The idea of mind over matter is a powerful one. Nonetheless, this science, and our understanding of its amazing chemistry, is in its infancy stage. In the future we will take the possibility of healing ourselves with thought and imagery for granted just as we do with people having an organ transplant–which was thought unheard of not that long ago.

In the meantime, we can all improve our health, success, and happiness but learning to improve our “self-speak” and reinforce our bodies and minds with positive words, thoughts, and images.

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Decoding Body Language: The Messages We Send And Receive

What is also understood is that there are “tells,” or neurological expressions of these withheld, nonverbal communications happening inside our brains. Even though we may not consciously or intentionally express verbally or physically how we feel, our brain/body connection does express these thoughts and feelings in nonverbal ways. These nonverbal ways are the “tells” that police and other professionals use to decide if someone is withholding information. This skill usually relies on instinct, but it might be wise to include such a information in today’s health coach certification programs to assist nurses in treating their patient's ailments holistically and effectively.

Relationship Impact

Many studies have been done on the subject of body language and nonverbal communication. Most of these findings agree that it is important for all of us to become aware of how our physical and verbal or nonverbal behavior impacts others, especially those who spend the most time in our environment.

Nonverbal communication can often cause one individual in a relationship to become upset if he feels he is seeing or interpreting nonverbal actions by his partner as rejection or disinterest. Often, before a relationship ends, one partner suspects the relationship is in trouble because of a lack of eye contact or verbal communication or because of hostile body language, such as the crossing of arms or legs in response to communication attempts.

Thoughts, Feelings, and Your Body

There is a science to nonverbal communication interpretation, as well as a science to understanding the best way to express our feelings. The way we do that can result in a positive or negative outcome. The science is directly related to neurological and neurotransmitter connections between thoughts and feelings in the brain and their communication to the muscles and nerves in the rest of our body.

Healthy Applications

Body language communications are both sent and received. We should become more mindful of the cues others are sharing and learn to read them more effectively because the information can be surprisingly vital. In my consulting practice, I see this all the time. A patient’s body language often conveys information they are leaving out, whether due to timidness, embarrassment, or lack of conscious. Nonetheless, nonverbal communication can alert to a need to press further for more clues about the presenting complaint.

Interpreting a patient’s or loved one’s body language can require close observation, something worth practicing whether you are a practicing nurse, an individual pursing a health coach certification, or simply a person hoping to improve your communication skills and your relationships.

In closing, we should all make an effort to monitor the nonverbal communication we are sharing in both our professional and personal lives. These cues can also offer hints to the real struggles lying beneath the surface.

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How To Overcome Loneliness

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says of loneliness, “The more I’ve learned about happiness, the more I have come to believe that loneliness is a terrible, common, and important obstacle [to happiness].” We have all experienced loneliness in our lives. We know that it is an experience that is not about being alone. We can be by ourselves in solitude and never feel lonely. Or we can be with a crowd of people and feel completely, totally alone in the world.

What Sparks Loneliness

If loneliness is not related to being alone, then what circumstances create this sad and sometimes debilitating feeling? How can we be proactive in avoiding these circumstances and enriching our emotional lives with greater happiness?

In a study conducted by the National Institute of Aging, researcher John T. Cacioppo notes: “The main psychological difference between lonely and non-lonely people is that the former perceive stressful circumstances as threatening rather than challenging and cope passively and withdraw from stress rather than trying to solve the problem.” The study identified the relationship between those who score high for loneliness and those who have the highest blood pressure.

An Epidemic Of Emptiness

While about one in five Americans is reported to be lonely, a study from the British Mental Health Foundation shows Britain is currently in the grip of an “epidemic of loneliness.” This type of loneliness is described as a “patchwork of feeling unhappy, stressed out, friendless and hostile.”

Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says: “Human beings are, of course, social animals, and we’ve evolved to live in extended family groups. If we’re not in a group like that we begin to feel anxious, depressed and begin to find it increasingly difficult to regulate our own behavior.”

The Way Of Elimination

Most studies on loneliness point to a lack of belonging, an absence of being valued, cared about, and appreciated for our contributions to the group. As human beings, we have a need to belong with others and be part a community. Being with others in a meaningful way is identified as a key to eliminating loneliness. Mahatma Gandhi said: “The best way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

By participating in activities that help others, giving of ourselves and serving those in need, we create meaningful relationships that provide us with purpose, fulfillment and greater happiness. Nourishing others has demonstrated the ability to eliminate loneliness and enhance our quality and enjoyment of life.

For a free download on creating excellent communication in relationships, visit www.changingbehavior.org.

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
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