Cover photo: Deb Oliviara with OliviaraMultiMedia.com
Makeup: Jen-Dedeaux-Priest Hair: Cynthia Hoang
This month, I'm sharing something really personal with you which is scary for me, but I know that someone out there needs to hear that there is hope that things that we thought we could never change about our health might possibly be able to! So let's dive into:
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Timing Your Smile
Over the past few decades, there have been many research studies and anecdotal articles written on how smiling affects our emotions, including articles with headlines like, Fake Smiling Doesn’t Work and one that I find quite interesting, that was published in Medical News in 2022: Is Fake Smiling enough to Improve Your Mood. You can check it out here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/is-faking-a-smile-enough-to-improve-your-mood
What all of the studies are missing is the critical factor of the timing of the smile. One of the first tools I teach my clients is to smile. But the timing is the key.
If you can begin your smile in the ten seconds when you first start experience an emotion, a tension, or a trigger that could possibly result in you releasing an over-abundance of stress hormones, you can prevent significant changes in your brain chemistry, your response, and the outcome of the event, including how you feel.
During my college years, I participated as a subject in several psychological studies at the University of Michigan and had a first-hand glimpse of labs and protocols. Just walking into one of those labs can be triggering!
As I dig deeper into the side effects of the stress response, I’ve started to question the results of research studies because when I consider the subjects involved, chances are nearly every one of them, like I did back in college, has triggered the stress response prior to participating in the study.
This means their cognitive function and emotions are under the influence of the stress hormones rendering results that will reflect the myriad of side effects of these hormones. So I take them with a grain of salt, and focus instead on the results my cients are getting.
Your smile can be silly, sarcastic, small, or so big your fillings show! So keep noticing what causes you to feel any tension or any emotion like feeling angry, annoyed, anxious or ashamed, and smile, especially in the 10-second window. I'd love to know your experience!
Healthy Breast Tissue
If you know me, you know that I’m a fairly modest person. I rarely show cleavage like in the photo on this month's e-zine cover. But, I decided to do so to bring attention to the importance of breast health.
My mother passed away in 2005 at age 68 of breast cancer. Her first diagnosis was at 62, which is the age I will be this year.
I still remember sitting at the breakfast table back in the late 90’s, reading a Wall Street Journal article about a study linking dense fibrous breast tissue to cancer. A shiver passed through my body as I read that. Because, you see, I had dense, fibrous breast tissues. So dense that mammograms hurt.
And then when my mother died, I started to wonder when, not if, I would go down that path.
That nagging fear probably caused me to trigger the stress response more often than I care to know. Until 2010. That’s the year I developed The Pressure-Free Method and started experimenting with it. At first, I thought I had developed this method to help people perform at higher levels - in athletics, in the performing arts, in business, in school. But it is far more than that.
Eight weeks into using the method, my breast tissues were no longer dense! I was so amazed at the change, that I decided to share with my mother-in-law. In fact, I was so excited that I whipped off my bra to show her! She exclaimed, “Oh my! They’re so youthful!” And then we cried together, for she had lost a breast to cancer in her 40’s.
Recently, a client of mine experienced a similar change in her tissues, calling Pressure-Free truly life-saving. Of course, I can make no promises about what will happen for any of my clients, but what I can promise, is that mastering the Pressure-Free Method prevents the side effects of stress hormone release. And that does have an impact on gene expression and cancer according to a 2022 research study that you can access here: https://factor.niehs.nih.gov/2022/2/papers/stress-hormones.
The Power of Dynamic Posture
over Static Posture
by Lila Veronica
Dynamic posture, in stark contrast to its static counterpart, is a powerful force that embraces the natural curvatures of the body while in motion. Unlike static posture, which emphasizes the importance of staying still with a straight spine, dynamic posture recognizes that the body is designed for movement and constant adaptation.
The magic of dynamic posture lies in its ability to allow the body's natural curves to work harmoniously, promoting strength, flexibility, and resilience. When we move dynamically, whether walking, running, or engaging in physical activities, the body instinctively adjusts to maintain stability while accommodating its inherent curves. This adaptability not only prevents strain on specific muscles and joints but also promotes a more comprehensive engagement of the musculoskeletal system.
Static posture, on the other hand, often leads to stiffness and rigidity. While a straight spine is crucial for certain activities, maintaining this position for extended periods can result in discomfort and potential health issues. Dynamic posture, by embracing the body's curves, encourages a more fluid and natural way of moving, reducing the risk of chronic pain and promoting overall well-being.
Understanding the power of dynamic posture is crucial in a world where sedentary lifestyles prevail. Incorporating dynamic movements into daily routines not only fosters physical health but also enhances mental well-being. By acknowledging and respecting the body's natural curvatures during movement, individuals can unlock the full potential of dynamic posture, leading to a more balanced and resilient approach to life.
If you’d like to learn how you can integrate dynamic posture into your everyday life, feel free to schedule. A complimentary posture assessment at https://speakwithlila.com/body
What's Your Fun for February?
In 2021, I was in a coaching program with Shanda Sumpter, and on a call at the end of the year, she shared two tips that have changed my life:
1. Plan your fun for next year.
2. Whatever goals you set for yourself for the next year, do it in half the time.
That year was one of the most fun, most successful years of my life. I planned two amazing trips. One to Vancouver and Victoria where our son William ran the marathon and our eldest son Hugh and my husband Peter ran the 10K, plus my husband got to see his friend from college for the first time since our wedding in 1988 - he ran the half marathon. And I ran all over Vancouver cheering them all on!
I also planned an extended time in New York City for our whole family to go to William's graduation from Columbia, then hop over to Brooklyn to watch him and his friend Ignacio run the Brooklyn half marathon in their graduation gowns!
And it keeps getting better, as I do more spontaneous travel and take time to visit family and friends.
For 2024, when I asked myself what I wanted to do for fun, the first thing that came to mind was to go to a concert of Vikingur Olaffson, my current favorite pianist, to see him play the Bach Goldberg Variations.
At first, I wanted to fly to Iceland this month to see him play in his home concert hall in Reykjavik, but then I saw that he was playing in Carnegie Hall a week earlier. I have performed and attended concerts in dozens of halls in the US and Europe, but I've never been to Carnegie Hall! That changes this week. I WILL see Vikingur perform there! And I can't wait to hear my favorite variation, 13, played live.
What is fun for you?
And what fun will you plan this month?
And is there a goal you are working on that you could achieve in half the time?
In this first e-zine issue are three short articles to give you some ideas for creating clarity as we start the new year:
Your Theme for the Year
Back in 2018, when a business coach I was working with asked me, "What's your word for the year," I had no idea what they were talking about. Apparently, I missed the memo floating around that focusing on a word or theme can be beneficial.
And I found myself resisting choosing a word. Which was a sign to me that it might be helpful! Since then, each year, I have had a word or a theme that really has helped me focus on what's important to me.
The best one I've chosen to-date was streamline. I chose it by asking myself, "What do I need more of this year?" And the answer that came back to me was organization which I translated into streamline.
You, too, might benefit from a theme. And if the first word you choose needs to change, you get to change it!
The author Stuart Wilde would say that if you're feeling a bit muddled, clean something.
Streamlining means a few things to me:
My computer background is just a solid color, no photo or design. That helped me significantly. I did it to my phone, too, but recently have added a photo that is significant to me.
Another streamlining trick is to reduce how often I touch things, like mail, dishes. I engineer where I keep things to reduce how often I open drawers. I know it may seem like I'm just shaving off a few seconds, but they add up! Even just a little streamlining will give your more time for the things that matter.
As I continue to work with CEOs and high achievers on their stress response, I find myself reflecting on random circumstances in my past that are analogous to their situations. One of these was believing an assumption that was reinforced by the opinion of an expert.
A few years ago, I watched a crowd of parents at a cross-country championship run from spot-to-spot on the course to get a better view of the runners. I was walking, not running, and next to me was a Big 10 cross-country coach. He shook his head, looked at me and said, “nobody should run after the age of forty.”
It was an assumption that I had also made. I was primarily a walker, in part because I’m ultra sensitive about my joints, having damaged my knees in track in high school (they took a year to heal), and having hip issues after my pregnancies. I thought that running after the age of 40 would have me replacing joints, and this Big 10 coach confirmed it.
So for two decades, I rarely ran…until April of 2023 when I was out for a walk and my body just wanted to run…barefoot! So I took off my shoes and socks, and I ran—I’ve been running ever since.
It turns out that I can run after 40 (after 60!) In fact, we are built to run our whole lives! But, we often aren’t trained appropriately and that leads to false-assumptions, like: don’t run after forty. These assumptions become culture when they are reaffirmed by others, especially those whose opinion we respect.
I changed my assumption about running when I applied the methods of alignment that my personal body coach Lila Veronica had taught me - how to sit, stand, and walk - to my running. And it worked!
The reason I was thinking about this and my work with CEOs is that there are cultural assumptions related to stress that are espoused by experts and the inexpert alike.
Many of my clients are told by health professionals and their family members to get a handle on their stress, to slow down, to take a vacation - go to the Bahamas for a week! They assume that this will reduce the effects of stress.
For most people, going on a vacation will not de-stress them. You’ll encounter different stressors: flight delays, traffic, the weather, the rude or incompetent person at the counter.
And for many of the leaders I coach, who love being in the driver’s seat, it can be triggering to relinquish control of their lives to pilots and taxi drivers. In fact, many people get back home and say they need a vacation from their vacation!
There is no moment in our lives where the environments are pure enough to not potentially be stressed by them. That means we need a different way to approach stress by releasing assumptions that are not truly serving us.
For example, not: where can I go to avoid it (you can’t) but: how do I prevent the stress response so that it doesn’t derail my day, my week, my career, my vacation.
There aren’t stressful and not-stressful scenarios There are moment-to-moment habits of reaction that cause us to trigger the stress response and experience the resulting side effects of stress hormone release.
Experts and non-experts alike may assume that you need a break to remove yourself from stressors. But that doesn’t solve the issue. By preventing your stress response, you’ll find that you can do exceptional things. You can be aligned anywhere (work, vacation, social situations) and perform at even higher levels than what other people—even expert people—did not think would be possible.
I believe that you deserve a beautiful life, no matter what challenges and difficulties you encounter. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, I am here for you!