Category : Creating Change

This is 34

powered by Fotopedia

 

I turned 34 a few weeks back. It was one of those, “Oh, shit!” days. Not because I repudiate turning older. It doesn’t bother me. It was more, “Oh, shit. I have to stop doing stuff for one hour today and celebrate me. I’m not sure if I have the time or really even care.”

Read More
exercise-at-desk1

Stuck Behind A Desk All Day – 5 Quick Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk

This post was written by Susie Francis an aspiring freelancer who loves all things fitness. If you want to keep up to date with what Susie is upto follow her on twitter @susiefrancisw.

exercise-at-desk1

Many people live a very sedentary lifestyle, stemmed from being stuck at our office desks 9-5. Finding time to exercise when you have a full time job isn’t easy especially if you’re trying to balance work with family and having some form of social life. However having a sedentary job doesn’t mean you can’t have a good workout whilst there!

Elastic Band

You may feel as though you have chosen one of the low-end personal training courses available with the equipment brought by the trainer not being quite top-notch. However they work in their own little way, such as a simple elastic band. You can use it when working on your arms, such as a light stretch of your arms above your hand, whilst pulling apart the elastic band from either side, helping to work your muscles.

Hand Gripper

Buy a hand gripper, they are also very cheap and easily tucked away in your office drawer. If you’re undertaking a task that doesn’t require the use of both hands such as reading, then it’s an opportunity to squeeze the gripper and give your forearm a workout.

Stability Ball

Invest in a large stability ball and it can be your new office chair. Through just sitting on it, with the right posture (back straight, abs firm) you’ll burn a considerable amount of calories. It will take some time to get used to and obviously it is a visible option but don’t be ashamed of wanting to keep fit! It’s also one of the most supportive seating you can get to help prevent tendinitis and carpal tunnel.

Crunches

You can work out your abdominal muscles right from your desk in the form of seated crunches. Simply place your feet flat on the floor, with your knees bent, sat sitting up straight. Place your hands on your lap and slowly push your lower back against the chair whilst tightening your abdominal muscles, release and breathe out and continue this for several repetitions.

Hamstring pull

A hamstring pull helps to stretch your hamstrings, giving you more strength and flexibility. Remain seated with your back and torso aligned. Place the palms of your hands on one of your hamstrings. Lift the other leg towards your stomach, whilst maintaining this bent position. Repeat for several repetitions and then switch to the other leg.

Read More
waiting in the rain

When It Pours

waiting in the rain

You had family stay with you for a week. With all the cooking, cleaning, and entertaining your workouts got pushed to the wayside. Then your kids were sick, you’re a/c went out, and your boss asked you to work overtime to finish a project.

All this stress built up over the course of two weeks and once you finally got back in the gym, you tweak your low back during a deadlift.

You can’t win. What started as a little trickle of rain to dampen your plan turned into a category 4 hurricane. Nothing seems to work in your favor and soon what seemed like reachable goals are now laughable. There’s no way in hell you will ever make any progress. Life is too messy. Nothing is going in your favor. You want to just throw your hands up and forget about it.

I don’t blame you. It seems like the world is trying to tell you that you don’t deserve to get in a good workout or eat a healthy diet.

The world wants you to fail. It’s written in your stars.

Or is it?

Are you really making a concerted effort to create these positive habits in your life, or are the excuses too easy to come by?

Think about this for a moment. How many TV shows do you regularly watch? How many online games do you keep up with or magazines do you read each month? Perhaps you enjoy chatting online or talking on the phone several hours a week.

We create these habits in our lives, simple rituals that add a bit of normalcy to our week. Whether it’s catching the Today Show before work or watching The Voice every season. It may be reading the latest issue of People as soon as it arrives in the mail or feeding that ever-present addiction to Candy Crush on Facebook.

Whatever it is, you’ve created a habit in the form of entertainment. It’s your means of escaping just for a brief moment during your week. It helps you unwind.

Now imagine taking that energy, that time commitment and channeling it toward your health. Sounds crazy, I know. But it may be your ticket to staying on track.

We can easily plop on the sofa at the end of the evening and fixate our minds on these arbitrary activities. Television watching, game playing, magazine reading—whatever your guilty pleasure.

What if you took that time and channeled it toward something active? Of course, the last thing you want to do before bed is workout, right? But there are other places in your schedule to fit in exercise.

Something as simple as an evening walk can get you in the right mindset. A ten minute yoga session  or a quick bodyweight circuit. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, and you don’t even have to leave your house for the gym.

When you get in these ruts and feel like everything is working against your goals, most often it’s all in your head. Stop thinking that you have to follow a plan or it’s not going to work.

If you can’t follow your plan, figure out what you can do to supplement until you have time to commit to that plan. If you miss your favorite show, you record it and watch it later. Think of your fitness plan in the same way. If you can’t get to the gym for your lifting session, do something else in its place.

Don’t just sit around feeling defeated. Take action. Be in charge of your own health.

Read More

Nayad Custom Swimwear Review and Savings!

A few months back, Kate from Nayad Aqua Sports Wear contacted me about her suits. She sent me one of her custom swimwear outfits to test out and I absolutely love it. I am not a big shopper at all, and swimsuit shopping is the pits. Nothing ever fits correctly. So, when Kate told me her suits are made to order, I couldn’t resist accepting her offer.

Sporting my custom Nayad suit

Sporting my custom Nayad suit

The process was seamless, and my suit shipped in no time at all. The best part about Nayad is the suits double as fitness attire. You can work out in these babies! I also love that it’s more ‘mom’ appropriate for this pool parties and beach days, but I don’t feel like I’m wearing mom clothes.

The creation process for each suit is incredible. You have multiple options for tops and bottoms, and an array of colors and patterns to choose from. I really enjoyed going through the process of creating a suit just for me.

I think this apparel is perfect for busy moms who like to spend time outdoors. I can imagine throwing my suit on and heading out for a hike or a swim with my family. I also love training in it during these warm summer months.

As a gift to you, Nayad is offering a 15% discount now through June 15th. Simply add the coupon code “getglutes” to your order and get the savings!

Grab this coupon code for savings!

Grab this coupon code for savings

Read More
A street video of Fitocracy headquarters (I kid, I kid)

Is The Fitness Industry Really Broken: A response to Dick Talens

A street video of Fitocracy headquarters (I kid, I kid)

A street view of Fitocracy headquarters (I kid, I kid)

 

I had the pleasure of meeting a Fitocracy Co-Founder at The Fitness Summit this past weekend. Dick Talens and I have been in correspondence for more than a year, bouncing great ideas off each other from time to time. When I read his post titled “Why the Fitness Industry is Broken,” I had to respond.

I write this response out of great respect for his thoughts. I can see his side, but I also feel that perhaps there’s more to it than what reaches his perception.

If you asked me who stands on the frontlines of the fitness industry in recent years, Dick Talens would be toward the top of my list. Believe me, the list is vast—for many reasons. Thirty years ago we could tick off our fingers when asked to name the men and women revolutionizing fitness. Now we see an incredible thing happening.

What were then polychotomous fields now gather in the same room to canvass new theories, old thoughts, and empirical data. Gym owners, athletic coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists, scientists, computer geeks, writers, physical therapists, and the general populous share jurisdiction in a space that not long ago was very black and white. Talens and I experienced this over the weekend at the JP Fitness Summit in Kansas City, MO.

An entire subculture has formed that allows us to take off our helmets to stop butting heads, and rather put our heads together to solve tangible issues that pose a real threat to our future. That statement in itself seems a bit alarming (something Talens warns us against in his article), but I can’t help bringing up the dire straits we are facing with the current health crisis.

According to the CDC, in 2000 no state reported having an obesity rate over 30%. Ten years later, 12 states reportedly saw an obesity rate of +30%, with a US average of 35.7%. During this time we witnessed one of the greatest economic crises in American history, with it came a rise in unemployment and an increase in healthcare costs.

Anyone calculating this dyad of despair would clench his chest. But when adding the third factor of obesity, his wallet practically disappears. An obese person spends upward 5.5% more of their average household income on healthcare as compared to citizens with a clinically healthy weight, according to a study in 2006. In addition, economists have found a direct correlation with unemployment and obesity. In other words, health care costs and unemployment are higher for those with obesity-related health issues. But the price of healthcare spending on obesity doesn’t just affect the spending of those individuals.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operations and Development reported obesity-related health care spending cost upward of $190 billion per year in 2012, equaling more than 20% of the total U.S. health care costs. This number is predicted to rise another $50 billion by 2030.

I won’t bludgeon you to death with statistical data regarding the economic impact of obesity or the state of health care. I also don’t want it to appear I think the health care crisis is only related to obesity– I know there exists a multitude of other factors and I’ve barely chipped away at this topic. I presented this information as an anti-catalyst to Talens’ argument as to why the fitness industry is broken, largely because a great percentage of the fitness industry works with clients who are overweight.

Before you believe that my goal is to reduce is argument in anyway, I think that no one has collected more real-world data on the psychological aspect of fitness than our friends at Fitocracy. In recent months, Fitocracy reached over 1 million users, giving them access to the largest information pool on how people interact in the fitness and nutrition realm. Coaches interact with dozens and even hundreds of clients each year, but these guys receive a constant stream of feedback regarding all things fitness related.

They read it all. They know who’s got it right and who’s doing it wrong. From reading Talens post we can definitely gauge that more or doing it wrong than right, which is likely what trigger his post in the first place. But his post wasn’t to call out those working hard to improve their well being. He created a call to action to expose why so many people have a hard time making progress. It’s not the individuals themselves, the misinformation that surrounds the fitness arena.

I agree with much of what he said in the article. I’m not going to dissect each statement and provide a counter-statement (that’s just annoying). But I do not agree that the fitness industry is broken.

We must take into account that physical fitness as a cultural substrate is relatively new when looking at the entire context of human history. Not to say that exercise is new—it couldn’t be otherwise man would have extinguished a long time ago. But the idea of this habit that’s taken outside of our normal lives, this hobby almost, hasn’t existed that long.

In the same notion, exercise and nutritional scientists are infants among the scientific universe. Though Hippocrates, Celsus, and da Vinci presented radical ideas about exercise and nutrition, the first scientific experiments on food were not performed until the mid 1700’s. We didn’t even know what elements foods were composed of until the early 1800’s, and Liebig didn’t point out the chemical makeup of carbohydrates, fats, and protein until well into the 19th century.

We can largely thank Gutenberg for the invention of the printing press (16th century) as it allowed theories of exercise to spread among scholars through printed word. But, we still must account for the fact that exercise wasn’t studied in labs until much, much later.

Eating and moving are voluntary human actions, but necessary to survival. Perhaps we can say that the more the fitness subculture evolves, the more complicated we make these two basic survival skills, churning our brains into a heap of confusion?

In turn, we can also argue that in order for the fitness industry to break, it was at one time comprised of uniformly moving parts.

Exercise science, human nutrition, technology, medicine, health care and economics must be coetaneous for the general population to live harmoniously healthy lives. Marketers will always be marketers. We cannot blame faulty marketing on the failing of our current system. It’s not the Tony Horton’s or the Hydroxycut’s of the world that prevent people from achieving their goals. People will always buy into hype because of the rush they feel with instant gratification and the idea of things being easier to accomplish. Man evolves because he works very hard to make hard things easier to do.

PT Barnum taught us  about marketing with the circus. There’s nothing wrong with that rush. It’s what keeps us coming back for more. When we grew tired of sword swallowers, Barnum brought us ladies on elephants. When that no longer excited us, he tamed lions and tigers.

The magic of marketing is to continually create these illusions that distract people from their real lives. The fantasy of having what we think we want.

In the grand scheme of things, the P90X’s are harmless when it’s up against the drug companies and medical manufactures that continue to create bandages that make living with debilitating non-communicable disease possible.  Crossfit seems far less dangerous than Johnson and Johnson who is making more advanced orthopedic devices for obese persons, or Merck’s Januvia and Janumet diabetes medications that pulled in more than $5.7 billion in sales last year.

When we stand up against this wall dodging bullets and cannons being shot at us from the other side, we have to question what is really hurling danger at us in the first place? Is the fitness industry really fighting a battle within itself, or are we up against a much larger force?

We are being taught that it is far easier to take an amalgam of pills and undergo risky surgery to treat symptoms of disease than it is to prevent it in the first place. We are being taught that the only way to get better is keep doing things that may potentially cause other health issues. Band-Aids are easier to put on than to stop doing what hurts us in the first place.

Health care is big business, and until a system is in place that rewards the efforts of those who work to treat and prevent disease rather than symptoms, it will be the fitness industry greatest adversary— which means we (fitness and nutrition professions from all walks) must remain close allies. We must continue to reward the efforts of those who take their health out of the stranglehold imposed on health care and into their own hands. Regardless if they stumble, take the wrong advice, or give up.

As fitness professionals, it is our job to keep battering that wall. The one that separates exercise and nutrition from treatment and prevention of disease. We must continue to turn heads away from pharmaceuticals and medical devices that merely cauterize the wounds caused by a truly broken health care system. A system teaching people being sick is normal—a system that continues to thrive as obesity numbers rise.

The cost of health doesn’t hinge on the $39.99 DVD that failed the deliver its promises. The scope runs much deeper than that. Until the fitness community can unite with health care and work together to create a society that thrives—a society that understands how quality nutrition and movement helps us work harder and more efficiently as employees, making us a more productive society—then will we continue to stand up against the wall. The wall that prevents people from seeing what is possible for their own health.

I commend Talens, who is a dear friend and a brilliant mind in fitness. He has found a way to take something that caused a generation of kids to sit on their butts for hours on end and turn it into something that motivates them to move. These are the innovators who will create those hairline fractures in that wall we stand up against. I also commend him for opening up this dialogue as it forces us to think about the real issue—and also help us realize that we can choose to be a part of the problem or the solution, but we can’t be both at the same time.

Read More
Living with purpose

The Finest Thing

Living with purpose

Living with purpose

 

I sat with fingers resting on the center of my keyboard and eyes fixed on the iPod peeking out from behind my computer. What seemed like hours went by with no movement other than a quick blink every now and again.

I’ve got nothing.

After writing thousands of words per week for months on end, my well of thoughts finally ran dry. I was slurping at the bottom for those last tiny creative bits, so I could at least fulfill my contracts with paying gigs.

Any writer can tell you those blank moments are all but pleasant. When you reach inside your head for bright ideas and all you see is the shadowy outlines of what could be content, but you aren’t really sure if it’s worth pulling out.

I struggled with this for months on end, writing just to fill space. Nothing felt organic. Every idea forced, and every word scraped my tongue as it left my mouth and spat over the pages in front of me (metaphorically. I don’t actually talk myself through every article).

I finally realized I was spending too much time at my computer and not enough time in the real world. The world that goes on behind me as I bang down on letters to create words that eventually flow into sentences, fragments, or incomplete thoughts.

I gave my words a sabbatical. They weren’t really helping anyone, so I figured no better time than the present to just walk away. Every now and again I’d settle back into my desk and attempt to write. Nothing cohesive came out. Just jumbles of letters than fell to the floor because they lacked stickiness.

After a week or so I felt okay with this. I let it go. My mind wandered elsewhere and I became more productive doing other things. I planted a 5 x 20-foot vegetable garden, breathed life back into what I now know to be pomegranate trees, lavender, and roses planted around my yard. I fixed up rooms around my house, studied new subjects, and cleaned my bathrooms on schedule.

I became more involved in what actually felt like accomplishments and less stuck to my chair imposing the strict order not to move until I had 600 or more words on a single page in front of me.

That didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if I wrote every day, or if what I wrote made sense. These practical experiences are what give anyone reason to write. Getting out in the world and doing things that add value to our lives and the relationships that surround us. That’s where real inspiration comes from. Nothing comes to us while hunched in a chair staring at the mess that engulfs our desks.

It’s common to lose sight of our purpose and forget why we do the things that we love, or even why we loved them in the first place. Mother Fitness was created to share, explore, and reconstruct all things relating to fitness, food, and family. I lost that vision and showed in my ability to craft meaningful posts.

I’ve really taken the time to do a bit of self-reflecting so I could rediscover why it is I continue to write in this space. Then I remembered it’s because of you. No matter where my work shows up on the web or in print, none of it would exist if you didn’t provide for me this haven for thoughts. Over the next couple of months I will work behind the scenes to bring my true vision of Mother Fitness to life. It took me a good 3 years to really feel comfortable with my dream of this blog. It’s more than a blog, and I’ve finally realized that. It’s a place for inspiration, comfort, and advice. I want to give you that in the best possible sense, and I’ve been working around the clock to make it work.

I’ve returned knowing full well the gratitude that is owed to each of you for this lesson. My vision going forward will bring you those daily thank you’s for making it all happen.

Keep inspiring and proving to the world that you live with purpose. If ever you lose sight of that (as I recent experienced), then step away from your desk, log all things off, and live in the moment for a while. It will al come back to you. I promise.

 

 

Ready to build your best body yet? Check out GetGlutes for the workouts your body deserves. 

Read More
This is my new neighbor

New Happenings: Book Release, Site Makeovers, and Balancing Work/Life

This is my new neighbor

This is my new neighbor

I just survived another cross-country move. Yep, that’s two moves clocked at a total of 3,500+ miles in six months. Ah, but we finally purchased a home in an incredible neighborhood. Our new home is nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills right inside a nature preserve. It definitely feels like home to me!

I have a larger garage to film more fitness videos and plan to get some snazzy new fitness and camera equipment. So be on the look out for that.

 

Strong Curves

It’s finally here! I received my very own copy last week and it’s beautiful. The full-color 320-page book weighs in at 2.6 lbs (ha, I did weigh it), and it packed with fantastic information for women of all fitness levels. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Bret and I will soon have a nice sample of the book to share with you, your friends, family, neighbors, gym partners, and anyone you think would benefit from the book. So be on the look out for that. The release date is April 2nd, but you can pre-order your copy now to get it on the actual release date.

 

strong_curves_cover LAST

GetGlutes

We’ve gone through some growing pains, and still are . . . but GetGlutes has been such a fantastic adventure so far. Our members are kicking butt (and growing butts too) every month. We couldn’t be happier with their progress.

Right now the site is getting a makeover, so ignore our dust. If you have any questions about the site and what it offers, feel free to email me at motherfitness (at) gmail (dot) com.

In addition to the makeover, I won a contest with 99designs for a free logo. Yesterday I submitted our logo design specs and now fantastic designers from all over the world are putting together some great samples for the new design. It’s really an interesting process and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

Thanks 99Designs! You can read about the contest here.

 

MotherFitness Facelift

Since my first post back in October 2011, I’ve run this baby all on my own. I’ve finally decided to step up my game and hire a pro to help make my site run more efficiently with a polished and pretty appearance. Yep, MotherFitness is growin’ up!

You will see some changes around here soon and I can’t wait to reveal them!

 

Balancing Work and Life

I have to be honest about something. As of late, I’ve had a hard balancing work and life. This morning on the way home from dropping my kids off at school, I listened to a discussion on NPR Morning Edition addressing the exact sentiment.

Diane Rehm interviewed Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg about her new book that reveals her journey to the top of Silicon Valley while balancing a family. I am definitely getting my hands on this book. I think it’s a struggle that women are reluctant to discuss and we just forge ahead without complaint.

You can listen to full interview here: Sheryl Sandberg: “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”

 

 

Read More

And the Winner Is . . . (RunRunRun)

I had so much fun reading your answers for the RunRunRun giveaway! The winners were randomly selected by the ol’ draw a name out of a hat (except I used a shipping box) method. If you ‘liked’ the RunRunRun Facebook page I put your name in the drawing twice.

Without further ado, here are the winner’s from last Friday’s giveaway.

 

The Seattle Kindle Pouch goes to: Michelle Mc. 

 

Seattle for Kindle giveaway

Seattle for Kindle giveaway

 

 

The Aspen Lunch Tote goes to: Vicki Pike

 

Aspen Lunch Tote giveaway

Aspen Lunch Tote giveaway

 

The Italia Tote goes to: Melanie

Italia Tote Shopper giveaway

Italia Tote Shopper giveaway

I will send each winner a notification by email requesting an address. Once I have all three addresses, I will head to the post office to mail out the prizes. If I don’t hear back from the winner by Thursday, I will make another selection.

I hope to have some more giveaways here soon. Thanks for sharing how you promote a better environment.

Read More
RunRunRun totes and bags fold up neatly, perfect for travel.

RunRunRun Luxury Eco-Friendly Tote Bag Giveaway

RunRunRun totes and bags fold up neatly, perfect for travel.

RunRunRun totes and bags fold up neatly–perfect for travel.

I started carrying reusable shopping bags in college. Of course, for quite some time I would leave them in the trunk of my car, only realizing that I forgot them when I hit the checkout line.

But after a couple of months these bags became habit and I now keep a couple folded up on my purse for those impromptu shopping trips. So, when RunRunRun contacted me about their products, I squealed with excitement.

LA Messenger bag holds 65-lbs (this baby is mine)

LA Messenger bag holds 65-lbs (this baby is mine)

RunRunRun takes the ordinary reusable shopping tote and bring to it style and luxury.  This product line extends beyond your usual shopping bag with eco-friendly totes, lunch bags, electronic accessories, and more. All the products are made with waterproof RPET (recycled plastic bottle technology) material that is machine washable. Each bag folds up neatly for easy travel. They also donate a percentage of every sale to an environmental cause.

What I love about the RunRunRun designs is that they pay homage to all the US cities that have made an effort to go plastic bag-free. RunRunRun kindly sent me this adorable and sturdy L.A. Messenger bag in the teal solstice design that holds up to 65 pounds of weight. I can fit a kettlebell in this baby and bring it when I travel!

 

Since I love these bags so much, RunRunRun sent me 3 more to give away to my lucky readers.

As a gift to you, I have a Seattle for Kindle in the teal solstice design that holds the latest generation of Kindle (or anything else you can fit in there). I also have a BPA and phthalate-free Aspen Lunch Tote in sea lily and  an Italia Tote shopper in caramel.

 

Seattle for Kindle giveaway

Seattle for Kindle giveaway

Aspen Lunch Tote giveaway

Aspen Lunch Tote giveaway

Italia Tote Shopper giveaway

Italia Tote Shopper giveaway

The Giveaway Rules

 

To win one of these three ultra-durable and eco-friendly (and super chic!) bags, share in the comments section how long you have used reusable shopping bags or lunch bags, and why you need a new one.

The winner’s will be announced Monday, February 18th, so hurry and get in your comment.  For an even greater chance to win, like the RunRunRun Facebook page and tell them how much you love them on their wall.  You can add a link to your wall post with your comment.

Go ahead, get in those comments!

**Due to shipping costs, winners must live in the US**

 

 

Read More
Huaraches instantly transform you into a Spartan warrior. True story.

Foot Versus Fashion: Our Battle with Shoes

The damage to our feet begins even before we take our first step. Don’t believe me? Look back through your baby pictures and check out your feet. I bet you will see those adorable leather lace-ups that many of us wore (they may even be bronzed).

 

And these days, who can resist baby Toms? Even I get all tickled inside at the sight of them.

 

How are these not cute?

How are these not cute?

In Colorado, we were all a bunch of free-spirited granola crunching hippies. I didn’t wear shoes unless I went somewhere that posted signs telling me I couldn’t enter without them.  I can recount a few occasions when I father looked down at my feet disappointedly asking, “Where are your shoes?” Okay, I didn’t always remember to bring shoes when needed.

When it came time to dress my kids’ feet the battle of foot versus fashion swept through my home. My husband’s family is more traditional in the sense that all children should wear shoes because the world is a dangerous place. And it’s just what people do. They wear shoes—even before they walk.

When our kids started walking it was supposedly time to get them expensive walking shoes. But I always felt they were born with proper walking attire—and unless the sidewalks were hot or covered in glass they should use what they were born to use.

I will admit I pulled more than my fair share of thorns out of my feet as a kid. But I ran through vacant lots shoeless, so it was my own stupid fault. I never did injury my feet on sharp objects or catch some life-threatening parasite that looms in all the seeping crevices of the streets.

To this day I loathe the idea of shoes. I still only wear them when signs tell me to do so. When guest enter my home they take off their shoes. Not because I tell them to, but because I’m not wearing any—they must feel like I’m a clean freak or something. So not true!

After working in a shoe store in college, I am very happy with my decision to go unshod for most of my life. Day in and day out I would assist ladies with all sorts of foot problems. Bunions, corns, plantar fasciitis, hammertoe, and ingrown toenail . . . the list went on and on. It took a good hour to find shoes that actual fit these ladies’ feet.

This is what I faced everyday at work.

This is what I faced everyday at work.

These issues weren’t exactly the fault of the customer, but the fault of the shoe. I don’t just mean stilettos, boots, or penny loafers, or any other foot-torture device in which humans jam their feet. All shoes are bad for your feet because they change how you walk, how your feet grow, align, and connect with the earth. Humans spent millions of years evolving into upright pedestrians, but we choose to fight evolution every time we slip into a shoe.

In 2007, researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, published a study titled “Shod Versus Unshod: The Emergence of Forefoot Pathology in Modern Humans?” in the podiatry journal The Foot. The study examined 180 modern humans from three different population groups (Sotho, Zulu, and European), comparing each foot to one another, and then to the feet of 2,000-year-old skeletons.

Researchers learned that humans had far healthier feet prior to the invention of shoes.  Can you guess which group had the healthiest and unhealthiest feet in their modern subjects? That’s right, the Zulu who often go barefoot had far healthier feet that the Europeans who spend a majority of the time shod. You can read further studies from Harvard’s Skeletal Biology Lab discussing the topic here and here.

Researcher Dr. Bernhard Zipfel commented that American Podiatric Medical Association does not “actively encourage outdoor barefoot walking for healthy individuals. This flies in the face of the increasing scientific evidence, including our study, that most of the commercially available footwear is not good for the feet.”

The largest issue with shoes is that it takes something perfectly natural for humans (walking) and turns it into a totally unnatural movement. Compared to our ancient ancestors who lived pre-Jimmy Choo, humans don’t know how to walk.

Dr. William Rossi was quoted in Podiatry Management,“Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person. It took 4 million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait, a remarkable feat of bioengineering. Yet, in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement head to foot.”

 

If shoes are so darn bad for you, what can you do about it? Go barefoot.

 

Risk of going barefoot: ant bite

Risk of going barefoot: ant bite

Risk associate with shoes all day everyday: um, yeah . . .

Risk associate with shoes all day everyday: um, yeah .

Okay, this might not work in all settings. But you can at least be barefoot as often as possible. You don’t really need to wear shoes around the house. You can safely walk to the mailbox (weather pending) with no shoes, and romp around on the grass without them. Honestly. You won’t get hurt. And if you do, it’s far less painful than what may happen to your feet in the future if you continue to cram your feet into shoes day in and day out.

When shoes are not optional, your best bet is something that closely mimics your natural gait—or the barefoot variety, if you will. Most athletic shoes are designed with features present as more comfortable. They have a toe spring, which causes your toe to rise up from the ground, and most often are so cushiony as to swaddle your feet like a baby in a blanket.

When selecting shoes always go for fit and comfort over style or price. Then whenever you get a chance, take them off and let your feet do the natural work they were intended to do as you walk.

Then come the heels, boots, and everything in between. My thoughts are that yes, they make your feet look lovely on the exterior, but what’s really going on inside your foot, ankle, calf, and knees when you wear these shoes?

Not to say that you should never look at Prada window display again, but wear fashionable foot attire with great discretion and as little as possible. Instead, opt for a more natural approach to shoes.

I recently received a pair of Invisible Shoes from my buddy Steven. The catch is they aren’t really invisible. Not like The Shadow in classic pulp magazines, but they are about as barefoot as you can get without going completely naked from the ankle down.

Huaraches instantly transform you into a Spartan warrior. True story.

Huaraches instantly transform you into a Spartan warrior. True story.

I will do a full review of Invisible Shoes next week, so stay tuned.  You can find out more about these Huarache-style shoes on Steven’s site.

If you want more coverage for your feet, barefoot runners are another great option. I recently purchased Merrell Barefoot Run Pace Glove shoes after I completely wore out my New Balance Minimus (don’t get me started on how the new design for these sucks). Though I don’t love them as much as my original Minimus, they certain do the job when I am forced to wear shoes.

When looking for minimalist footwear, you want something that mimics your natural gait as much as possible. You want to feel your feet spread the ground, have flexibility in the shoe soles, and minimal constriction on the sides of the feet.

It’s important to take care of your feet as they must carry you a long way in life. Choose your shoes wisely and go barefoot whenever you get the chance, especially at home.

 barefoot workout

 

To learn more about what goes on in the body when you run barefoot and whether you should ditch your shoes during activities, check out this article from Runner’s World.

 Martin Rooney is a huge proponent of barefoot training. Having been a therapist before he became a coach, he wanted to address why many of his clients came to him with foot issues. His research over the past ten years has really helped us (both coaches and barefoot trainees) understand the importance of kicking off those shoes from time to time. For more great reads on whether or not to try barefoot, click here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More
1 2 3 14