Why You Should Use a Foam Roller

Many of you have seen them: at the gym, at the chiropractor, yoga class, or maybe you’ve heard people talking about them.  So what’s all the hype about the giant foam rollers everyone seems to be using these days?

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It’s what some may say “hurts so good”.

Warming up your muscles before any physical activity is crucial to maintaining healthy muscles throughout not only strenuous, kick-ass workouts, but also during routine, daily activities.

Orthopaedic surgeon William Levine, MD, director of sports medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, explains that to increase range of motion and and to avoid injury, it is best to warm up properly before any stretching or exercise. “Warming up increases blood flow, which increases the temperature in the muscle, which makes the collagen fibers more elastic like a rubber band,” he says.

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In the morning, as well as before exercise, take the time to warm up and stretch your body. The great thing about the foam roller is that it helps you stretch muscles and break down tissues, mimicking a certain technique used by therapists called myofascial release. Facia is a thin tissue that covers every muscles and every fiber within each muscle. So at a basic level, when we stretch, we are actually stretching the fascia.

The foam roller also helps to decrease soreness and tightness as a form of recovery.

Myofascial release is done by placing pressure on the area that is tight and applies pressure to the area, lightly stretching it. Once the tissue relaxes, the therapist moves to the next tight area and performs the same pressure-stretch technique. The goal of this therapy is for the body’s muscle tension to equalize. When the body is not symmetrical, nerves and muscles can become compressed easily, causing pain.

The foam roller is a more individual approach to this tissue release. Self-myofascial release is excellent, because it allows the user control over the pressure and the pain. Users also then become responsible for the speed of their healing and recovery process.

1. Increases flexibility
One study concluded that using a foam roller for five minutes increased flexibility in the sit-and-reach test.

2. Reduces soreness and tightness
Another scientific study concludes that a foam roller is an effective recovery tool after exercise-induced muscle damage. Because the roller stretches the user’s muscles and tissues, it leads to an increased range of motion (ROM), making daily activities become more natural and easy.

3. Prevents injuries
Exercise can become bad for your body if you don’t take care of it. Specifically, your muscles develop knots through activity, and the knots lead to more injury and decreased mobility. Releasing the knots in muscles prevents them from becoming trigger points for injury.

4. It hurts so good!
Similar to a massage, the pain we feel during foam rolling may seem counter-active, but once you feel the magnificent results of the roller you won’t question it again! Also, if you maintain a good practice over time, foam rolling becomes less painful because the muscles and tissues are in better, flexible, shape.

The foam roller has recently become my favorite remedy of pain, alone with traditional stretching.

Stay happy and stretchy, folks. 🙂

☮ ✌

And we could all use a little change

“Somebody once asked could I spare some change for gas I need to get myself away from this place. I said yep, what a concept, I could use a little fuel myself and we could all use a little chaaaaange.”

It turns out Smashmouth was right: the years start coming and they don’t stop coming, so we become fed up will all the rules and “hit the ground running”. Our brains become intelligent with knowledge from our learning experiences, but just because we have all this information doesn’t make us head smart or happy.

Thursday Thoughts

Many things don’t make sense in life, but I can agree with this 90s band from California, that what really doesn’t make sense is to not to live for fun. One thing that I can certainly say makes sense, is that we should be living our lives having fun.

“So much to do so much to see so what’s wrong with taking the back streets. You’ll never know if you don’t go, you’ll never shine if you don’t glow” So how do you glow? Embrace the changes that are bound to pop up in your life.

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Yesterday my roommate and I were playing “Would you rather?” and one of the most interesting discussions came from the question: “Would you rather be able to pause your life or rewind your life?” We ended up making the rules for each decision very detailed, but ultimately we all chose to be able to pause life. If humans had the capability of rewinding life and changing our decisions we wouldn’t ever truly live life freely. And as a Sagittarius I am all about my free-eee-eeedom! Love it 🙂

Whether you’ve got to speak in front of a large group of people for the first time, or you’re moving to a new area, or you are in the beginning or end of a relationship, or you’re missing someone you cared about, the ability to ride the wave of change

Change is hard. Sometimes it’s really, really fucking hard. But then we learn, and we move on. Instead of resisting the changes that come your way because you are scared of their possibilities, embrace the opportunity to create new relationships, new experiences, and be able to find happiness in a variety of situations.

I haven’t had to make a lot of extremely tough and life-changing decisions throughout my life, but my changes have always made me a better, more adaptable person. I am more versatile in my ability to communicate and relate to other people, and with this versatility comes peace.

To be able to be balanced and grounded through change helps to keep your energy balanced, which is excellent for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Change of scenery?
I am SUPER STOKED for the changes I’m about to make in my life. I have spent most of my life playing soccer, enjoying the people around me, and dedicating myself to getting a system education. And all of this has gone down the beautiful, monotonous Midwest. For the first time in my life, I am looking forward to not spending my summer in my hometown.

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I have always lived in the same town, with the exception of spending my last 4 academic semesters in middle-of-nowhere Iowa. Even so, since a child I have been intrigued by the idea of travel. I LOVE the airport. Picking people up from the airport, dropping people off at the airport, running through the airport to make my own connection flight- I love it all. The atmosphere is full of EXCITEMENT and CHANGE even if only temporary. One day in the next couple of years I am going to get on a plane with a friend and we are going to go CHANGE ourselves by changing the way we look at the world.

As an individual who embraces the chance to change my opinions based on something new I’ve learned, my heart beats stronger when I think about the opportunities I am going to have to learn about the way people throughout the world work.

Why do we fear change? I think a lot of the fear of change comes from our brains expectation for things to stay the same. Actually, Roger S. Gil, a relationship and family expert, explains how when our expectations from previously learned information fails what we believe, stress levels rise:

Both nature and nurture will influence how we form our core beliefs about how the world works and our roles in our respective worlds. When we experience the world or ourselves in a certain way for an extended period of time, we develop core beliefs that make up our paradigm for how life is supposed to be. The experiences we have as children tend to be the most long-lasting and influential because they represent prototypical experiences that future experiences will be compared to and will likely play a key role in the development of our worldview/paradigm for life. Since our brains are still developing, childhood experiences have a greater chance of influencing how future neural connections will develop. Whether good or bad, children tend to adjust better to change since they don’t have as much “legacy material” to overcome when encountering change (i.e. their worldviews/life paradigms are still developing). As we age and our brains become less plastic, we encounter more difficulties processing changes because our paradigms are more ingrained.

Change is going to happen, we’re going to have to deal with it. Instead of fearing the inevitable change and stress it brings, we should be aware of the changes that are happening in our lives and adapt our mentality and physicality to the changes in the best manner that we can. Being aware and accepting of the changes will reduce the stress they bring along with them.

Also, we could all make some FORWARD MOVING changes in our lives, so let’s start today! I vow to change my location 😀 What can you vow to change in your own life? EMBRACE THE CHANGE

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Peace and happy change 🙂

 

Boobs need government too: why Kansas City is making changes

Once again, I love my city.

http://www.togetherkc.com/about/about-sly-james/

Photo of Mayor James

Kansas City’s mayor, Sly James, is making major improvements to the city by creating government representation more suitable for women. WE HAVE BOOBS. WE ARE GOVERNMENT. WE WANT JOBS. The Women’s Empowerment initiative is designed to increase the number of jobs and high-ranking municipal government positions for women.

“I spend half of my life in meetings,” he said. “And often there’s no women in those meetings.” Yet, as he points out, women make up 51 percent of the population and are now graduating from college at a higher rate than men. Women are a resource for government and business that should not be overlooked. He hasn’t in his office. “Eight of 12 of my staff members are women,” he said. “We look for the best person for the job and wow, guess what, they’re women.”

The initiative is a result of “collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, Central Exchange, Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and UMKC’s Women’s Center” over a series of months.

Its 2 main goals are to:
1. To create an inclusive, diverse, organization &
2.
To improve entrepreneurial women-owned business processes

http://kcmayor.org/we  In December of 2013, the Pew Research Center released a study suggesting that about 75% of women have pessimistic views regarding gender equality in the workplace. “The study finds that women under 32 now make 93 percent of what young men earn, aided by women’s higher rates of college completion. But the analysis of census and labor data also shows the gender pay gap will widen for women by their mid-30s, if the experience of the past three decades is a guide.”

Realistically, one reason for this pay-gap is accounted for in the amount of time women take off of work to start families. And accounting for the progress women have made toward equality in the workplace and community, I’m sure Margaret Fuller would be proud of women’s opportunities today. But, we’ve still got work to do.

“‘The report shows that we have made substantial progress on gender equality in the workplace,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University. “But our progress has shown us more clearly what still needs to be accomplished.'”

After reading up on Kansas City’s initiative, I am becoming excited about the strides the city is taking to help support women in the community, workplace, and government. My favorite part of the initiative is a part of Goal #1: “foster an organizational culture that nurtures diversity of perspectives and experiences”.

Breaking this objective down into pieces, I first would like to point out that I appreciate the vocabulary that was chosen. To foster means to encourage and promote the development of, so this affirms that the city will positively work toward the development of change to gender equality in the work setting.

Organizational culture suggests that the project will include people whose collaborative behavior leads them toward a common goal. The idea that the project will nurture diversity targets women in particular, as we are beings who nurture by instinct. Focusing on a woman’s perspective and experiences will create a better balance in society by accounting for all circumstances that men may not consider when creating government policies.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/04/03/kansas-city-mayor-promotes-womens-empowerment-initiative/ Because us women make up such a significant part of our society, I think we should be more interactive in our government and policy making. Considering that each gender is not represented equally in government committees, this could- either by choice or by unfortunate luck- result in an entire system of inequality.

Identifying himself as a black man who grew up during the Civil Rights movement, Sly James feels like he closely identifies with people who have unequal rights. I think it’s fantastic that he shows the importance of equality by improving opportunities for people of a different demographic than himself. “I think I’m sensitive to discrimination and unequal opportunities because I’m a minority,” says James, who was named one of the five most innovative mayors in the country by Newsweek in 2012, exceeding expectations in entrepreneurial infrastructure.

Kansas City: revolutionizing details of our society in order to create a better world for everybody, breasts included!

Zen in Zum

I love my city. I have no resistance to becoming a nomad, or even just moving away, but I will always defend my beloved Kansas City.

The size of the city is small, relative to other states’ large cities, but it’s a perfect place to grow up and become emmersed into a diverse culture at a young age. We have skyscrapers and farmland, art districts and ghettos. We have some mildly successful sports teams and the best American-brewed beer I have ever had– maybe my opinion is biased, but you should try it for yourself. Boulevard Brewing Co is gaining popularity around the United States and is one of the KC-made companies that I am most excited about.

Whether beer is or is not your drink of choice, Indigo Wild products are products for everyone. A company based in Kansas City, Missouri, Indigo Wild merchandises natural, clean products called Zum. Made by a health-conscious staff who believes in the importance of holistic living, the products are made for every day use such as soaps, other bath and body products, household & cleaning products, lip balm, baby products, soy candles, etc.

1982347_10201955839039925_1699864740_nThese are some of my favorite Zums. The chap-stick is great, I think I have all the flavors! I like to use the Zum Rub for muscles after a tough soccer game- it works sort of like Icy-Hot but its all natural ingredients make it a softer alternative for your skin. The Zum Face is nice because it’s a scrub that really makes your skin feel fresh and clean after you use it. Also, it isn’t made with hundreds of tiny, plastic microbeads that don’t break down and get stuck in your pores and in the plumbing.

Did you know in Albany, New York, legislators are trying to ban microbeads? The tiny plastic beads that are supposed to help exfoliate skin don’t actually dissolve once they make their long, swirly journey through the pipes. The beads actually end up polluting water, feeding the fish, and eventually feeding us fish-eating humans.

Do away with using plastic and chemicals on your skin and start using Mother Nature!! I knew using these Zum products would be better for my body, but I was extra convinced when my boyfriend read the ingredients labels on everything I had and was surprisingly impressed with how honestly good the products are for your bodies (he is a science guy so he knows the difference).

All Zum products are vegetarian.
All Zum products are vegan except: Zum Bars (goat’s milk), Zum Kisses (honey) and Zum Rub (goat’s milk).
All Zum products are gluten free except: Zum Body lotions (oat bran extract) and Oatmeal-Lavender Zum Bar (oatmeal).
Rosemary extract is gluten free and contains soy

Why Goat’s Milk? It’s great for your skin and for nature

http://www.indigowild.com/who-we-are/what-were-made-of/dirty-words

A cloud of dirty words Zum products don’t use. Check the ingredients list on the products you use every day and STOP using them if they contain all this bad stuff

 

Thursday thoughts

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Find your meditation and practice it.

You only need about 20 minutes a day to start feeling better through meditation. Try it out today! Take some time to reflect on balancing your mind, body, and spirit. It sounds so cliche but that’s because all of us who do it are serious about sharing this wonderful experience with all of you. 🙂

How to:
1. Pick a spot. Find a calming, clean space you can regularly use for meditation
2. Set a time. Set aside time each day to focus yourself. 20 minutes a day is a good routine, but it may seem long at first. Start with 10 minutes and gradually increase your time each week. It’s great for a morning routine. It helps wake you up, focus your energy, and prepare balance for your day. You’ll face the day feeling good already!
3. Sit comfortably. Make yourself comfortable to avoid being distracted by your posture, clothing, pillow, etc. Avoid lying down, it causes a state of sleepiness that is not ideal for meditation. You don’t have to contort your legs into flexible yoga poses, but make sure your back is straight, your body is square, and you are balanced. Keep your head up. If it’s more comfortable, you can start in a chair, or sitting against a wall.
4. Focus on your breath. In and out. When you first begin practicing meditation (because that’s what it is- practice), try to simply focus on your BEING. Your constant, rhythmic breaths are a good reminder that you are here in this moment.
5. Meditation doesn’t just have to be sitting down in a quiet room with your eyes closed trying to clear your mind of thoughts that just don’t go away. Meditate on a walk, meditate looking at the stars, meditate doing the dishes. Meditation calls for a focus on the here and now, the connection between your physical body and your mental location. Try and match them up and you’ll open a whole new bundle of happiness and good energy.

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(http://roohowaryoga.com/tag/meditation-quotes/)

Peace and good vibes!
Happy happy Thursday

Organic: The Superhero

“Organic is something we can all partake of and benefit from. When we demand organic, we are demanding poison-free food. We are demanding clean air. We are demanding pure, fresh water.” -Maria Rodale

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Organic vegetables at a farmer’s market in Argentina

I would rather eat eggs all different shades of speckled-brown from chickens that wander around the yard all day and eat a bug or two. They are SO much better than the eggs you get from the grocery store! I live in a rural area, so it’s easy for me to get ahold of locally grown, organic foods, but you can find them in almost any area!

Organic food is better for insects, animals, humans and the environment. With all that good, organic is the newest popular superhero.

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A farmer at Kansas City’s farmer’s market trades produce

Google definition:
or·gan·ic/ ôrˈganik/ adj.
1.of, relating to, or derived from living matter.
“organic soils”
synonyms: living, live, animate, biological, biotic 
2. of, relating to, or denoting compounds containing carbon… produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
synonyms: pesticide-free, additive-free, natural

So, the idea of organic is truly fantastic.

The Good:
1. Organic food is grown without the use of synthesized fertilizers or pesticides
– Some studies show that children and fetuses may be harmed by even a tiny amount of pesticides
2. Synthetic pesticides are chemicals that are designed to kill or keep pests away
– The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes that these pesticides may harmfully affect the nervous system, the hormone or endocrine system, may irritate the skin or eyes, or may be even be carcinogens (directly linked to cause cancer). Organic food is not grown with the use of these harmful chemicals, but instead is grown using pesticides made from natural sources (biological pesticides). Washing produce does not rid it of the pesticides, however, it does remove foodborne-illness pathogens, so don’t skip that step!
3. Like humans adapt to the flu virus, pests may adapt to pesticides
– Conventional farming is NOT sustainable. Pests may develop and immunity to the chemicals, causing a development of stronger chemicals that are more harmful to animals, people, and the soil. Also, because conventional farming is less expensive than the organic alternative, it is keeping organic from becoming more easily affordable. Organic farming uses natural methods to get rid of unwanted pests.
4. Organic isn’t limited to food!
– Sustainability is one of those things that’s just hard to hate. Organic pesticides and products are better for the environment! They can be used for more than just produce or meatf! For you ladies who want natural beauty products, these 4 makeup brands are certified organic by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the USDA only certifies products if they are made with agricultural resources. I know Sephora advertises natural and organic products, but I am not sure of the validity of that. If you love Sephora, as most women I know do, make sure to ask next time you stop in!

simplegetfile.gif This is the seal you will see if the USDA has certified a product organic.

Organic.org does a good job describing the differences between different types of organic. The labeling can be tricky or misleading, but they have tried to sort out the differences for consumers. Here are the three most commonly used/ confused labels:

  • Something that is 100% organic is made with 100% organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). These foods may be labeled with the USDA organic seal.
  • Organic foods contain 95%-99% organic ingredients by weight, and the remaining ingredients have been approved by the NOP. These foods may be labeled with the USDA organic seal.
  • Foods labeled Made with Organic Ingredients are made with 70%-94% organic ingredients. These products will not be labeled with the organic seal, but may list up to three organic ingredients on the front of the package.

The USDA has a blog, and in 2012 they had a series called “Organic 101”, in which their efforts were directed at clarifying some of the organic food dialog. requires that farmers and handlers document their processes and the processes are observed from everything to the “seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems, inputs, contamination and commingling risks and prevention, and record-keeping”

BUT WATCH OUT!

The Misleading:
1. “Organic” doesn’t mean “local”
– People sometimes use these words interchangeably. Some organic food travels overseas to reach you in your local health market or grocery store. Choosing local is good because the goods are fresh, you are supporting your community, and you can check out where you are getting your food and goods.
2. The USDA does not regulate seafood
– Because seafood is, well, seafood, it’s difficult to regulate what the animals are consuming (see my last post). Be wary if you see seafood packaged or labeled as organic- there is no real way to tell that it is.

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Kansas City Farmers’ Market

3. Being organic doesn’t make something a “superfood”
– America’s recent health kick has included a lot of talk about superfoods, but while organic food has many benefits over conventional food, that doesn’t mean it’s probably going to boost your immune system greatly, or help your heart health.  However, reducing your intake of pesticides and chemical fertilizer is a healthy decision.
4. Organic animals do not receive antibiotics
– “Organic practices prohibit the use of hormones, antibiotics… If an antibiotic is used to restore an animal to health, that animal cannot be used for organic production or be sold, labeled or represented as organic.” I feel like, what if the cow was sick and they didn’t know it or didn’t do anything about it because they can’t give them antibiotics? That’s probably not good meat for us to be eating. The Organic Trade Association has compiled a group of studies done by doctors, scientists, and researchers on the use of antibiotics on animals and how it is harmful when transfered to humans.

http://thecitymarket.org/gallery/photo

The entrance to the farmers’ market in my city, which I adore. Kansas City, MO

—–> Just because a food isn’t labeled “organic” doesn’t mean it isn’t organic
– The problem with the system of identifying organic products is that it’s not an easy process; It takes a few years and thousands of dollars. Many small farms or agricultural business do not have the funds to be certified organic. Another perk of buying locally: you can ask! Or even go see for yourself if they are willing to let you take a peek!

Food For Thought: If everybody in the world chose to eat only organic meat, it may be difficult for agriculturalists to keep a large enough yield of organic feed. However, if the population as a whole began eating less meat, we could yield an abundance of organic foods, also making them more convenient and affordable for a greater number of people.

Help this superhero keep you healthy: buy organic!

Peace and happy organic eating!