A new chapter…

a new chapter…or a new book it could seem like!

Every since Greg and I became, well… Greg and I, we have done things against the norm – different from most around us.

We met at college in the middle of the country and began our relationship knowing that we were from opposite ends of the country – opposite worlds. But hey, we really liked each other from minute one so why not! I don’t think we really realized what that meant and exactly what would take place from there.  Months after we began dating, our relationship became the dreaded “long distance relationship”. With this came some bumps in the road and one bump that caused us to believe it was over for good – we both (unknowingly to each other) actually deep down knew we wanted to be together – forever! Obviously and thank God, we ended up back together.  Greg spontaneously flew out to Oregon for the weekend to see me in 2008 (arriving the day after Valentines Day). It had been a while since we had seen each other… for sure a year or more. Long story short: we married in June of 2010! We then moved to a guest ranch in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, away from both of our families and friends for a few months and worked. This was the best time of our lives… the best thing we could have done for US. but who does that? Who leaves their families and jobs for a seasonal position with no promise of anything once the season ends? We do! We are so thankful and grateful that we did.  It was during this time that we became “us”… we were thrown out of our every day routine and were forced to depend on each other alone – a great way to start a marriage! Totally awesome and I would recommend something like that to every body! Awesome time, but for sure not the norm! After this, we moved to Florida where Greg is from… no jobs, just a house and his  family which was a good place to start we thought. We had to go somewhere after all.  After about 6 months of searching, we both were given jobs – phew! I say given on purpose because they were jobs that we did not apply for – they were just offered to us! Talk about awesome!

So, anyways… there we were working and falling into a predictable routine… fitting into the mold of every one else. For us, that was very uncomfortable. We began to see exactly what our lives would look like… forever! I admit it was unsettling, very unsettling. For most, this would be a freeing feeling, a “we have made it” type of feeling, but for us it was scary. We did not like what we saw 5, 10, 20, 30 years from then because it was not what our team had set out to do. Our team being us.  Not only are we as a couple not like the majority of people, but individually as well, so we compliment each other. I have always been a dreamer and have all kinds of ideas (big and small) of what I want to do! It is not that we were unhappy , that we hated things or that we did not agree with how others were living, but we have many goals/dreams/ideas that we want to do and accomplish.  Further,  a bouncy little boy would be joining us in this life we had set up… even more scary because not only did we see our whole lives ahead, we also saw his. Having a baby for many people is like pouring concrete around you – you become stuck. Not us! We refused to let this slow us down or better worded – tie us down.  We looked for different opportunities else where… looked for ways to venture out, but nothing lined up perfectly. So… here is what we did… and in the following order…

We had a baby in April

We quit our jobs in May

We packed up the house (check out my earlier post which really helped me pack) in June

Then we moved all the way across the entire Country

Many people have babies, many people quit their jobs and many people move, but fewer do all of that in the matter of just a couple short months! What we did is probably not advisable but we did it and we are so glad we did. If we would have waited for everything to line up perfectly, we would have never left, became more and more molded. So, here we are beginning a new chapter in our lives. A new adventure. I am not saying that once we both have jobs and get into a routine it is time to pick up and move again, and I am not saying that everyone else do”does it wrong” and we “have it all figured out” or that we were ever unhappy where we were. It totally seems like we fly by the seat of our pants, but this is not true either. I am saying that we both had a stirring and desire to move and so we did! We are now entering a totally new phase of life that we are excited about. We are free to explore things and dream on, strive to achieve something greater. Through our lives we always want to look for ways to increase. We love adventure, the great outdoors and being around people who are excited about life! We have never worried about being able to make it – every one can make it. We live in America. God has always blessed us no matter where we are.  We’re proud of the fact that we have been able to go for it and throw ourselves into the unfamiliar, the unknown. Why not?  Many people go through life always making the safe choice, the most comfortable because they fear what will happen if they fail. You can only fall back to the place where you start! But hey, you may just make it – you will more than make it!  This may be more of a pep talk for me, but I thought I would share what was on my mind today while my sweet baby boy was taking a nap. I appoligze it that was rambled or unorganized, but I was working in a small window of time today!

Pole Creek Mountain

One of our biggest, or should I say the biggest adventure of our time (always too short) in Colorado this year was hiking to the summit of Pole Creek Mountain, a beautiful unique mountain in the San Juan Mountain Range.  When we speak of the incredible view we have from the cabin, this is the very mountain we are referring to, but really…it is just the beginning of the beauty that surrounds us!  I have been to this area since before I was born (if we want to count that).  After all my time in Colorado, even after spending the last 2 summers in the presence of this mountain, this was my first time to the very top!  I have hiked and rode horses on Pole Creek Mountain many times but have never been to the summit… the tippy top!  Now that I have done it, I would really like to do this hike again in the future and even better would be with my husband along! He would love it I am positive… and I intend to sign in on that ledger once again!

On this particular day, the hiking crew consisted of my dad, brother, sister and I, and what a wonderful day we had together.  It was full of adventure, beauty, thrill, dare, challenge and just pain fun!  We crossed quite a bit of snow once we got above tree line  (often as deep as our hips)  and a snow bridge over fast-moving water which was quite thrilling, especially for my brother that broke it on the way back! Yikes! He recovered well and stayed safe and dry. The whole hike had beautiful views but the top was absolutely breathtaking and I did not want to come down for a long time.  The weather was super too which only helps! I have not organized all my pictures yet  but there are some below for you to check out!  If I get around to it I have a few others that show the summit well.

On a deeper note… as there is always some kind of lesson in things (at least for me) as I/we were while hiking along, one step at a time, I had a lot of time to think!  There was plenty of time to talk myself out of the hike if I had wanted to, but I had already made up my mind that I was “going to make it” before we even started out that day.  There were however a  few factors working (or trying to work) against me on this particular day…

  1. The hike itself, the terrain, snow and all that if we want to count that but it was well within my ability I believe – I mean, I made it after all!
  2. The altitude which can be a challenge before and even after proper “acclimation”. You see, I had arrived to the cabin just 3 days before (from sea-level) but I had decided before I even left Florida that the altitude was not going to defeat me no matter what adventures we got into.
  3. The non-joys of the dreaded “monthly cycle”… (yeah I know,  too much information for you and I apologize) of which for me is hardly even tolerable… I mean it is rare that I would normally be able to get out and walk a few steps, let alone hike all day… but again, I had already made up my mind that this would not ruin my week or any activity I wanted to accomplish.
  4. My hiking gear consisted of my hiking shoes,  camelback (which I have had since I was in highschool), a windbreaker/rain shield, sunglasses we found on the side of the river the day before, my mom’s pink hat she insisted I take,  and my headlamp incase it got dark… no hiking boots, gaiters, fancy gear or equipment… but I guess it is my style though and I like it, and it has worked so far!
  5. Half of me was missing – My husband did not get to come along which was sad. I operate the best with him around!

I had decided that it would not be a physical limitation (which really means mental I think) that would prevent me from reaching the top… it would be due to weather or impossible route or the like. All that may be odd, to you, but it works for me and it helped me on that day.  What I am getting at is that if I do not fill my head with undesirable thoughts or outcomes, I will have so much more room for excitement and be able to more clearly see the beauty and greatness in a day or activity.  Because I was not focused on how much hiking we had left, how tired my legs felt, my breathing or all the excuses I could have had to disqualify me for the hike I was free to just enjoy!  There were times I had thoughts enter my head about being tired for example but the faster I excused them, the sooner the enjoyment would come back!  I was able to dream of what adventure could be next rather than when the current one would end.  I also knew I could do it which also helps because I never questioned if I would be able “to make it” or not.  I make the hike sound so hard but it really was not bad… I can just see how if I would have been exhausted in my mind it would have worn me out physically too… I still had some energy to spare when we got home after our 3,500 elevation gain!

Although the hike was challenging for me, I know that I want to continue doing this… not just for the current trip but in the years and years to come.  I don’t see a line in my life that I will cross that would disqualify me from adventure.   My dad is someone who I look up to because I admire that he is still out doing things like this – planning and executing adventures… engaging in physical activity, adventure  beyond the normal Joe.  He has enough aches, pains, tears and patches to disqualify himself years ago from many things he still does… but he still presses on because he knows that the benefit he gets from his activity outweighs the pain that he feels. He is not one to accept that he is just “too old” to do this or that and quit.  I am so thankful that he is able to get out and enjoy life.  There are so many people his age (even younger) that cannot fully enjoy life because they have deemed themselves “too old for that”…  I know people my age that make comments like that too and it makes me sad!   I think about how many years I have left to live and enjoy and I want to enjoy them fully!  I do not plan on excusing myself anytime soon.

Take this as an encouragement for you to strive in whatever stage of life you are in and don’t accept defeat… always at least try! Defeat happens, but moreso when you do not try or give up before something is over. I’m not saying you have to summit mountains for adventure or to avoid defeat. Come up with your own adventures and always try – give it your best.  You never really know the outcome of something unless you don’t try!  If you don’t at least try, the outcome is already lined out for you.

Have a great day and keep it up!

Interesting read on Sunscreen….

Summer is upon us (at least here in sunny Florida) and I am pretty sure we all love that beautiful sunshine!  Here is an interesting article we read today about sunscreen, written by Dr. Phil Maffetone. If you have not heard of him, check out his site if you care to – he has some interesting information about health and related stuff!  I have pasted his exact article below if you want to read it here, or you can click on the title to be directed to the actual website.  Sunscreen is a big topic lately – with continued growth. I have noticed that as the years go on, the SPF or UVA or whatever else gets higher, I saw “95”  in the store the other day or maybe higher, I feel like 45 used to be the high then it moved to 60, then 80…  Not only is the SPF/UVA protection increasing but so is the price – good golly! I don’t feel like I have strong opinions about sunscreen but honestly, I don’t really like it and I know I don’t really want to buy and it slather it all over myself.  I can never put it on even because I don’t want to take the time to do it when the beautiful beach is calling or that hike ahead, it is a pain to even put on… how am I supposed to cover all my body in that goo and no I don’t want to breathe it either out of a spray can….it is itchy, smelly, it washes off when you swim, gets in my eyes and they get red, watery, itchy and irritated… and that is just the start!  If I use it I like to use something like the “15” and then on top of that the non oily, hypoallergenic stuff – goodness, high maintenance sunscreen girl!  But back on track, he does make some interesting points that I feel are worth considering and looking into further. As a dietitian I know the importance of Vitamin D and getting it in the form of a pill is not ideal.  Many times people don’t eat a proper diet and then it is compounded with staying indoors most of the day and when sun exposure is upon them they slather or lather up with sunscreen…  I have seen and heard about this with moms who don’t let their kids outside or even let them look out the window without sunscreen… I know that is a very extreme statement, but honestly,  I heard of someone putting sunscreen on their kid when they played by the window inside at home….

Here is the article finally!

Sunscreen: Natural vs. Artificial

By Dr. Phil Maffetone

The use of sunscreen dates back at least to the ancient Greeks who used olive oil on their skin
(which is still used today by many people). Christopher Columbus observed
natives in the New World painting their skin to protect it from the sun. In the
1930s, after getting sunburned, chemist Franz Greiter was inspired to develop
one of the first commercial sunscreens. By 1962, Greiter created the “sun
protection factor”—SPF—a rating of a sunscreen’s ability to block the sun, which
would become a worldwide standard in skin care and sunscreen
products.

Studies of the relationship between cancer and the sun, and the
importance of vitamin D, first occurred in 1941, in relation to death rates from
breast and colon cancer. But by the post-World War II era, the sunscreen
industry was about to explode, and talk about the good aspects of the sun and
the importance of vitamin D to prevent cancer, would be almost lost.

Many people have used sunscreen with the notion that it will prevent cancer. And
while many studies have attempted to show a relationship between reduced cancer
rates and the use of sunscreen, it’s not clear that’s always the case. On the
contrary, the use of sunscreen may increase your risk of cancer in three ways.
First, using sunscreen gives many people the false sense that it’s perfectly
okay to stay in the sun for longer periods of time. Sunscreen won’t block all
the sun’s rays, it’s often used incorrectly, and, despite what the label says,
washes off easily with water and sweat. As a result, increased exposure
increases your risk of sun damage raising cancer risks.

According to a 2011 published study of 292 national sunscreen brands and 1,700 products by the
nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington, D.C., it found
that over fifty percent of the sunscreens on the market do not provide adequate
UVA protection. Many of them actually contained potentially harmful ingredients.

Second, there may be a relationship between the chemicals used in
sunscreen and cancer development. Early formulations of sunscreens contained
PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) to absorb sunlight, but these sunscreens quietly
disappeared from the market when it was learned that this substance causes DNA
damage (which can trigger cancer). Subsequent products were found to promote
free radicals, which also can contribute to cancer. The latest sunscreens
contain elements such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to scatter or reflect
sunlight, but unfortunately these chemicals can also form free radicals on the
skin; titanium dioxide has been linked to DNA damage as well.

The most popular chemical used in the majority of sunscreens since the early 1980s is
oxybenzone (also called benzophenone-3). Absorption of this chemical occurs
quickly through the skin, and its accumulation in the liver, heart, muscle,
adrenal and intestine has caused significant health concerns that range from
allergy to hormone disturbances, and breast cancer risk.

The EWG also urged sun-loving consumers to avoid retinyl palmitate, a form of synthetic
vitamin A that is used in 30 percent of the sunscreens that were analyzed. In
studies, this ingredient has shown higher rates of skin tumors.

Third, the proper use of sunscreen can reduce vitamin D production in the skin, and as
discussed in my other articles, reduced levels of vitamin D can increase the
risk of most cancers.

In June 2011, the FDA released their long awaited
new rules about sunscreen products—it’s taken 33 years. Reynold Tan, a scientist
in FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development, says the FDA has
been developing, testing and labeling requirements for sunscreen products for
decades. It will still be one to two years before new labeling rules are
implemented, so manufacturers can use their old inventories and create new
labels.

Under the new rules, sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” must
protect equally against UVA and UVB rays, and display the SPF on the front
label. Those with a SPF of 15 or higher can state that they help prevent sunburn
and reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. The FDA is still
considering whether to allow SPF numbers above 50 since they don’t offer
additional protection. Higher SPF ingredients are the most irritating to the
skin, and are more easily absorbed into the body.

Products with SPF values under 15 will now require a warning that reads, “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging
Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early
skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin
cancer or early skin aging.”

Manufacturers will no longer be able to claim that sunscreens are “waterproof” or “sweatproof, and will require to state
on the label how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of
protection while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Two times will
be permitted based on the manufacturer’s tests: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

In addition, manufacturers won’t be allowed to identify their products
as “sunblocks.” Also, sunscreens won’t be able to claim protection immediately
on application—so-called “instant protection”—or claim protection for more than
two hours without reapplication.

Some of these changes are healthy, and prevent companies from making false or exaggerated claims like they’ve been
doing for many years. But it won’t prevent people from midday summer sunbathing,
grabbing as much “holiday” sun, or feeling a false sense of protection just
because they slopped on some sunscreen.

The real sun protection for the skin comes from our diet—groups of natural compounds such as antioxidants,
carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients, and essential fatty acids, to
name some. It’s how human skin has been protected for millions of years.

My recommendation about sunscreen, like all other products used on your
body, is this: Don’t put anything on your skin you’re not willing to eat (since
it usually absorbs quickly into the body).

For most people with light and medium skin, reducing the risks of sunburn will significantly lower the risk of
sun-related cancers. This can easily be accomplished by slowly developing and
maintaining a good tan, avoiding midday sun, especially in the summer months,
and wearing protective clothing as needed, including a hat. In addition,
maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D is key.

Ever been told to buy your shoes too big on purpose?

still “feet” month… we are about half way!

I was never told  that I should buy my shoes too big…  running shoes in this case.  I don’t know how many pairs of shoes I have went through that are just the right size, or so I thought. I was always a participant and competitor in track and volleyball since middle school and always bought the size that fit.  It seemed that I needed to buy the smallest size that was not too small – does that make any sense at all?  “Make sure your toes are not hammered at the end of the shoe, you want it to just barely touch… or not touch, but you don’t want too much extra room” or “wiggle your toe… is it too small?”  Well, my point is that I never knew that they were too small, every time. 

Anyways, I bought some running shoes in August and I knew enough at that time to buy them a “little too big”… whatever size you buy in “other everyday shoes” you should add at least one size to it for running shoes.  This makes sense once I heard that, but it is still a little daunting to buy a bigger shoe because my shoes are already kind of big… Greg had told me this knowing I was going to try to pick out a pair of running shoes for him and I at the same time. So, when I got to the store which is a really good store with very knowledgeable employees (here is my type-out to FootZone in Bend, OR) and not to mention many great shoes.  They also suggested that I get them “too big”.  I tried on one size up from my normal size… “one size too big” (from what I normally wear) and the kind employee felt around my toes and had me walk about and said they would recommend I got another size up… oh my goodness…  So what I ended up with buying was a size 11 which was somewhat embarrassing because I felt like I had monster feet! What is crazy though, after I have been wearing those combined with flip-flops or my 5-finger shoes I feel like so many of the shoes that I have now are actually TOO SMALL and I cannot stand them… so I have a pile of shoes in the house as my get rid of pile… but at one time I thought they fit just right.  I just think it is crazy, but you may not care one bit and that is fine with me! 🙂 

So, what is the reason for needing to buy your exercise shoes too big? I mean it does seem crazy at the first, but if your shoes are too small or “just right”  for starting out – when you are running, your feet are actually cramped in the shoes because your feet will swell a little bit with running and your toes will not have enough room to move like they need to.  Every time you step, your foot expands (needs more width) and needs room to do so and a shoe that is too tight will not allow for the normal expansion (and swelling) etc. and will force your feet into a certain position the whole time and can cause injury to knees, hips etc.  Many times injuries are caused from improper fitting footwear rather than other common thought-to be causes.  A shoe that allows for room and normal expansion is much better.  This topic actually gets quite huge, but I wanted my focus to only be the “sizing” rather than the type of shoe or the brand… I am no expert but just wanted to share my experience with shoe sizing.  Once I bought a size bigger, my feet felt much better during and after when I was wearing shoes that were not so tight.

I thought about putting up some pictures of feet that have been crammed into shoes but I will try and find some for another post… hard to find examples of what I want.  There are some pictures that are really bad, but I am not trying to completely gross you out! 🙂  There are many feet that would be good examples… one way you can tell is by looking at toes – if they have been in too small of shoes, they will be formed to fit eachother really well, almost like a puzzle… they have developed really snug to eachother. 

All for now,

Beka

Dr. Gangemi again, this time on barefoot running…

Another easy day for me, although it is never “hard” to post, but just more fun!  I found this article also written by Dr. Gangemi on barefoot running…. check it out and see what you think, here is the link to the article or see it below!

This Is Zero-Drop: Running Barefoot

Readers and patients know that I only wear socks on my feet while in the office treating patients, hence my alter-ego the Sock Doc. I have yet to ditch the socks in the office setting as I don’t feel they’ll look great with dress pants and a white lab coat. I advise every patient to go barefoot as much as possible since the feet are loaded with nerve endings that sense contact with the ground. Those nerve endings communicate with the brain and affect one’s entire nervous system. Your nervous system runs your entire body, therefore going barefoot can not only improve lower leg function and balance, but your entire health. I never wear shoes at home and I rarely wear them in the yard, (I typically wear sandals), unless it’s cold outside.

This past weekend and with warm weather here in the Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, I decided to shed my last line of defense and leave the running shoes at home. Typically I run in Nike Free 3.0, sometimes my Vibrams FiveFingers. I’ve run in minimalist-type shoes for many years now and I’ve run several times at the beach barefoot, but the most on the road was a one-time stint of just a few minutes. You can’t get any more minimalist than being barefoot; it is truly zero-drop, the heel and ball of the foot are on the same level.

So off I go and I’m feeling pretty good. The soles of my feet were tender, especially on parts of the pavement that weren’t entirely smooth. I had to “dance” around areas at the ends of some roads where gravel tends to accumulate; out here on country roads there tends to be lots of them. But I kept running. Originally I was planning on running maybe 10-15 minutes. But I felt good so I kept going. My heart rate was very aerobic, in the 130-140 range, but there was one thing that really struck me by surprise and excited me – my running cadence.

I think it’s important to check cadence. It’s something I’ve done in the past on the bike and more recently while running. It’s a valuable number to be aware of and easy to check – just count how many times one foot, (either your right or left), hits the ground in one minute. An efficient cyclist will have a cadence rpm above 90, some closer to 100. Inefficient cyclists tend to be in the low 80s or upper 70s, and instead of spinning, they are working too hard, and usually aneorobically.  Running cadence is very similar. Kenyans are running at a cadence of 94 to 98 even in the later stages of the marathon. Other elite runners are running in the 90-94 range. Slower, inefficient runners tend to be in the range of 76-86 and even less when they’re not racing. Elite runners tend to keep their cadence about the same even when running slowly.

Biomechanically, there are only two things you can do to run faster. You can run with a faster cadence or you can run with a longer stride. If you lengthen your stride, you lose efficiency because it produces more vertical oscillation. In other words, you bounce too much. But running with a higher cadence means the foot spends less time in contact with the ground and that means running faster.If you land on your heel it will take a few more milliseconds for the foot to be lowered to the pavement and then roll forward and finally push off the ground at the toes.  Ground time of his type of foot strike will add up over the miles than if you landed with a more flat or midsole strike. Plus, a heavy heel strike produces more impact and that stress adds up too and will cause fatigue sooner than if you stayed off the heel.

So back to my running cadence – even in my Nike Free 3.0 I ran at a 91-92 cadence. That means my right, or left, foot was striking the ground 91-92 times every minute. Not too bad. But going barefoot – for the first time on pavement – my cadence was at 98-99, and I checked it three separate times throughout the run. Wow. I wasn’t even running very hard, yet my feet were hitting the ground a total of 15 times more every minute. That’s amazing. Even adding a few steps per minute is tough to do and typically takes a lot of training. So I kept running barefoot.  I ran 10K in 50 minutes with an average HR at a nice aerobic 136. I was smooth, fast, and efficient.

One other thing I noticed was that other than some slight tenderness on the bottom of my feet, (which was gone by the next day), running barefoot was better for me than running in my FiveFingers. My current thinking on this is that in the Vibrams, my feet are fooled into thinking  they’re barefoot, but they’re really not, and that tricks my nervous system and makes my feet less responsive to the terrain. Small pebbles and rocks actually hurt more in the Vibrams. Going barefoot, my feet can self regulate as I run. I don’t feel that way nearly as much in the Vibrams. Plus, the Vibrams didn’t give me that Kenyan cadence.

One thing I do now know: I will spend more time running barefoot as part of training. Will I ditch my shoes for good?  Highly unlikely.

Dr. Gangemi and the topic of barefoot kids

I guess I am taking the easy way out with my blog today because I found an article to paste in here in lieu of my rambling on and on.  Greg and I had a conversation the other day about shoes and babies who are learning to walk as well as kids etc.  and it left me thinking a little bit.  I have heard that it is good for kids to have the “stability” of shoes and the “support” and all of that, but it still seems odd to me because I can see that it would only help them develop more strength and stability using their own feet…being barefoot/in socks or whatever. but I am no expert on any of this, just developed an interest in it because of how important our feet are.

This is an article by a man named Dr. Gangemi.  I have read some of his previous articles and he is kind of radical on some things, but I like quite a big of what he has to say on some topics… I have just read a little while Greg has read more. I like to read different opinions and find out what I like for myself.  He is a fan of barefoot running and “minimalist footwear” as you will probably pick up on in the article or read any of his others…

Here is his article and it can be found here if you want to look further at other stuff.  I also found one on adults I will save for tomorrow or the next time I post.

Healthy, Active, Barefoot Kids

Kids these days! I sound like my grandparents saying that, but the difference is while they were perhaps referring to some punk kid tailgating them on their way home from their weekly Bingo game, I’m referring to the kids walking around in pumped-up-kicks whose health and fitness levels fall very short of achieving any Presidential Fitness Award.

Raising healthy kids starts with the feet, and that means the bare feet. It’s what our parents and grandparents did as kids. It’s what Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer did too, and they had some pretty cool adventures. Now kids would rather stay indoors, texting and friending on Facebook instead of playing with friends outside. With little exercise to speak of, and processed junk food the norm in many households and school cafeterias, it’s no wonder that most countries have a runaway problem with childhood obesity – approximately one-third of American kids are either overweight or obese.Raising a healthy and fit kid isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s well worth your time, and I’m going to suggest you proceed from the ground up.

Kids, from their elementary school days up through high school, appear to be much less active and less healthy than their parents when they were at that age. Fast food often occupies school lunches, unless they’re eating something processed either from home or the vending machine. Physical education classes have slowly been eliminated, and those that remain are either focused on health and sexual education or the gym class has adopted less intense exercise routines, such as the parachute and childhood interaction – skills that do benefit all kids – but ultimately they are not running, jumping, climbing, and playing like they could be. They often get home from school exhausted as many have been gone for 8-12 hours, much like they’re already in a full-time job. They once again eat a nutritionally poor after-school snack and then veg-out in front of the TV or computer. More kids are becoming overweight and obese and they live much of their childhood lives indoors, many never experiencing daily, or even weekly, outdoor activities.

The health of the child starts long before they’re born, and even before conception as much of the health of that child is dependent on the mom’s health. Her diet, lifestyle, hormonal influence, and emotional well-being will all affect how healthy her baby is. Once the baby is born, his or her health is still dependant on the mom for some time, as hopefully breast milk is the only thing on the menu. Eventually, right around a year, give or take, that child is going to start walking, and essentially their developing fitness becomes a part of life.

As soon as that infant starts to cruise and eventually walk the feet become perhaps the most important non-organ part of the body. What the parent does now can help or hinder their child’s development. Will they put their child in shoes like so many pediatricians recommend? Or will they keep their child barefoot or in sock-like shoes? Unfortunately parents are told shoes give the toddler support “because they need it.” Hopefully the parents have educated themselves and know that their child’s feet are already made perfectly and going barefoot as much as possible, (or in moccasin-like shoes if protection is needed outside), is the best way to not only help their child’s structural development, but also their neurological development.

Each foot is home to approximately 7,000 nerve endings and the information they receive and pass on to the rest of the body is anything less than extraordinary. When that child’s foot feels the ground, the thousands of touch receptors in the nerve endings feed back to the rest of the entire nervous system. As the nervous system runs the entire body, any foot impairment, dysfunction, imbalance, or improper footwear can not only hinder them directly, (such as lower leg function and balance), but their entire health.

As a child grows their foot gradually replaces the cartilage with bone. Improper footwear worn by kids during this stage means that the bones do not develop correctly and a lifetime of foot problems can result. As kids gain weight and eventually enter puberty their risk of foot ailments seems to drastically increase and improper shoes are perhaps part of the blame. Unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity most likely play a part too.

Many are beginning to realize that minimalist shoes are important for healthy and fit kids.However, the medical establishment tends to be conservative on the issue and raise doubts with parents who may question whether this minimalist thing is just a recent, perhaps even harmful, fad. David Davidson, D.P.M., president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM), stated, “Kids should not be running in ‘minimalist footwear’ at all and, as in other shoes, should be wearing brand name running shoes with good motion control, cushioning, etc.” However, there is no research to back up this position. Is it possible that overbuilt shoes contradict the medical mandate to “first, do no harm?”

Once your child is walking and standing correctly, (remember parents, you don’t have to work to get a toddler or young child to move – it comes natural), either because they are barefoot or in a very minimalist type shoe, it’s time to get them back into activity if they aren’t already involved. Outside activities are best, if that’s possible, so the child can interact with nature and develop with all the sensory and motor information received. If you want to encourage your child to be more active, make it fun. My kids like obstacle courses, running and climbing games, and turning yard work into a game. Check out my 2-year old Paxton carrying a rock across the yard in his Vivo Barefoot shoes. He’s barefoot most of the time, but these new shoes are just so cool he wants to wear them all the time.

Your barefoot-exercising kid now is ready for their final step towards health and fitness perfection with a change from their processed, sugary diet to one rich in whole foods, clean water, and items that don’t come in a box, can, or bag. Start weaning your child off juice and soda and onto just water and perhaps some organic whole milk. Hopefully your infant or toddler never became accustomed to juice or soda but if they did, it’s not too late to make healthier choices. Get your child eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and high protein foods (eggs & meats) throughout the day and limit or eliminate white flours and sugars.

The Three Keys To A Healthy, Active, Barefoot Child:

  1. Encourage kids to go barefoot whenever possible whether they are inside or outside – as long as the terrain is safe. If the terrain warrants shoes, have your child wear minimalist shoes during those times. No need for “running shoes.” Running shoes are often miniature versions of over-supported, built-up adult shoes that are terrible for developing feet. The shoes should have a low heel height, low to the ground, very little cushioning, flexible throughout the shoe, plenty of room in the toe box (where a child’s foot is widest), and very light.
  2. Your active child should participate in a wide variety of physical activities and games that build strength, endurance, and overall fitness.
  3. Educate your child on eating healthy foods as early in their life as possible. Lead by example – healthy food choices should be a family affair.

It is pretty interesting to me…  what did you think? I have to agree with him on a lot of what he said, but again I am no expert.  I do not have kids, but I know that when I do, I want the best!  I have seen a lot of shoes on kids that are super cute, I mean those tiny little shoes are so irresistible, but even more cute are their baby toes!  I am just not sure that infants need to wear shoes when they cannot even walk and that even when they are learning to, shoes would not be necessary!  I just realized that I said I was going to take the easy way out with this post and not add too much to what is already super long!  I will stop there, but have a fantastic day everyone!

Beka

“Where are your shoes?”

Our feet after a walk around the neighborhood!

Yes, we are those weird people who walk around the neighborhood barefoot…

…say what you want or think what you will, but we have fun! We get all kinds of comments and looks but on we go!  I am not doing it to be “one with the earth” or whatever, but because it feels so cool!  It is neat to feel the temperature changes of the pavement when you move between the sun and shade, or feel fresh green grass, sand, dirt or whatever (not pokey things of course)!

It is FEET month (according to me) so I thought this would be a very fitting post for today!

Greg had the idea quite a while ago as he had been doing lots of reading about shoes and the effects of “improper fitting footwear”.  Our feet were not made to be crammed into shoes that are too small and sometimes (more often than not) shoes (improper fitting shoes) force our bodies to move in a way that is not natural… like force our feet in or out which strains the knees/hips etc. 

Anyways, there is lots of research on this stuff, but I can tell you a little bit (for now) what I think and what we have found…

Greg has always had a hard time finding shoes that fit. He has an exceptionally wide food and many times he cannot find shoes that support this extra width… extra extra extra extra wide! But before I go any further, he has very nice feet!  For him, being barefoot feels much better than shoes that are too tight and cram his toes.  He has noticed his feet feel better and even look better (his toes).  He has even done some running barefoot.

For me, I started just going along with him barefoot because it would be a fun activity for us… I wanted to try it out, and why would I not want to go on a walk with him? 🙂

…but was not sure if it would “work” if you know what I mean. I mean, what woman out there wants rough, tough, hard, dry, all the time dirty feet? But I still tried it and I have to admit my feet are none of the above, and we even walk on asphalt quite a bit.  My feet are the same if not softer… they’re  thicker skinned I would say, but not in a rough, tough way! It is like they have a softer but thicker layer.

Well, that is all for today – just an introduction to barefoot walking/running – if that is your cup-of tea or style! I am not saying “hey go do this it is the best EVER” – just throwing it out there as just something… go try it at least for the fun of it! Your feet will take a few times to get used to it… just relax and don’t anticipate every step killing you!

Happy April, Happy Feet – no joke!

Happy April Everyone!

Last month was “National Nutrition Month” and my goal was to post several nutrition/health posts, but I admit I did not do a very good job with my posts – they were random and kind of few and far between (we had a lot going on and I just did not get time like I wanted… to sit and tink around on the computer). So I am going to launch a NEW topic with the new month and of course the hope of doing a little bit better job.  This month will be all about….

FEET

Feet…

Feet…

Feet…

Yes, you read it right, several times!

I know it is super weird, but hopefully will be really fun! At least for someone – and we know that someone is ME, but I hope you will find it rather fun too!

So, to explain this a little more, my goal is to talk about feet which includes talk about shoes, pictures of feet, and just random and interesting facts and information about feet.  There are many many people out there which means there are tons of feet… a ridiculous amount of toes!  If you think you have some good feet, or bad ones, send me a picture and I will try to get your feet some publicity here on my little blog!  I am serious though – send me  a picture of your feet or your feet in your favorite pair of shoes and where you walk/run/trek or whatever! It could be fun! But i will be googling to find you some good and yes, bad feet! 🙂  This is supposed to be educational AND fun!

I can tell you that you will be seeing our feet and probably all my favorite shoes as well! 

Feet can be fun… and will be! So, Happy April, Happy Feet!!

This is not an April Fools Joke