Posts Tagged ‘posture’

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Back in August last year I wrote a post on posture, essentially saying that simply changing you posture could give you an instant makeover.

As I walked around a town I was vacationing in a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t help but wonder what has happened to America?  I should probably call my dad and a few people of his generation first, but the image I have of kids growing up in the 40’s and 50’s is a classroom with the strict teacher who insists on her students having perfect penmanship and even more importantly, perfect posture.

What has happened to this proud country that we have now become a nation of slouchers?  and it’s not just the kids these days either; it’s my generation and even my dad’s generation.

No wonder obesity levels are rocketing upward in this country.  Have you ever tried motivating yourself when you’re slouched over?  It’s hard!  But straighten that back, lift that head, fill that chest up with oxygen and a wonderful thing happens: Instant Change!

Suddenly you’re filled with energy, motivation, determination.

There are numerous factors that go into our overall health.  Nutrition and the regional availability of healthful food is a topic one could write volumes of books about; exercise, REGULAR exercise is another; as is sleep; but the spark to change has to start from within.  The desire has to be internal and quite honestly, I can’t imagine that there is much desire to motivate, much spark, when we are in a slouched position.

At one point, while sitting on a wall and having an ice cream with Brooke, I watched the crowds walk by.  To my dismay, out of 30 people that walked by us at one point, not one, NOT ONE, was standing proud, head held high.  In fact, some appeared to have entered into a perma-slouch, with their heads bent forward at the shoulders and craned up at the top of the neck.  How can anyone expect to be active walking through life like that?

Now granted, some people have medical conditions that they were born with – this post is not about those people.  This post is about the young moms and dads I see at my daughters’ school when I go to pick them up, almost all of whom have lousy, I mean absolutely lousy posture.  This post is about the kids who slouch in front of a screen for hours a day.

I don’t know what the answer is, but my theory is that part of why we are seeing more and more overweight kids is that we’re not reminding them to sit up and stand up straight.  It’s hard, I know, especially if you haven’t done it in a long time for long periods of time, but I wonder – I wonder what would happen if teachers re-introduced the concept of sitting up straight in class, would we see a change in our kids?  Every time I’ve been in my daughters’ school on PTO business, I make a point of walking by my kids’ classes just to peek in, and you know what? these kids are doing their work or reading with their heads on their desks, sprawled out, their bodies like jello.  I have a hard time believing that one feels motivated when one is essentially lounging.

Posture, for most of us, is much like how we choose to eat.  Going on a diet really doesn’t do a lot for you long term.  Changing the way you eat can change your life.  Posture is the same.  Good posture needs to be a life-style change, a long-term choice.

And I am betting that if you really start to live with your head held up, your shoulders back and your back straight, you’re gonna see an instant change.  You’ll increase the volume of your lungs, which will increase the amount of oxygen you take in, which will give you more energy, which may spark some motivation, which just might get you off the couch or away from the desk for a nice, brisk walk (or even better a run!).

How’s your posture?

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Confidence is sexy, isn’t it? The thing is, none of us necessarily feel confident all of the time. However, there is a simple way to exude confidence, turn up your appeal and do something that is good for your long term health. It’s the simplest thing really. It takes just a moment to do.  It’s something you already know how to do, but it may take you some time to get used to doing again.

So what is this one thing that can improve how people (including yourself) see you?

Let me start with a trip to the pool.

Every summer, my family and I have joined a local pool. It’s been great for the kids and is a nice way to end the day after camp. It is also a fun place to people watch. You get to see all kinds. What struck me the other day was what a difference one thing could make in how I perceive a person. Two sisters walked by. They were around my age, maybe a little younger, a had a very similar look. Empirically, I think that they were equally pretty, but one definitely stood out from the other in terms of appeal. I’m not talking solely sex appeal either. It was that one was simply more appealing than the other.

The one difference between the sisters?


That’s it. One was slouched over, arms crossed, back bent, hips pushed forward. There was no attempt being made to straighten herself out. The other had her shoulders open and down, her head held high. You could see the confidence beaming from her face.

I was instantly brought back to my childhood when my dad used to harangue me about good posture. He would threaten to send me to military school or tie a stick to my back (jokingly, of course…right, dad? Right?). It wasn’t until he passed along the wisdom of his former kung-fu teacher, Sifu Steve Williams, that I really got it though. My father hadn’t taken kung-fu in 10 years at that point, but this particular nugget had stuck with him. His Sifu (the kung-fu equivalent of Sensei) had told him to think of a very thin, taut, golden thread coming out of the top of his head and extending up to the sky, in the process slightly pulling him up. If he slouched the thread would break. The point was to try to keep the thread in tact throughout the day.

That was it. It’s that easy.

Go ahead. Try it.

You naturally fall into good posture.

Now take a deep breath. Do you feel it? With good posture, your lungs open up and allows your body to take in more oxygen. That extra oxygen can wake you up, sharpen your senses and give you an overall sense of confidence. And with that, we’re back to the beginning. Confidence. Confidence is sexy.

I could go on about the myriad benefits of good posture, from the increased oxygen intake, to the maintenance of good spine health, to better running form, but I’ll leave it at confidence.

If you’re feeling down, or think that maybe you’re not getting the attention you’re due, step outside your skin and take a good, hard look at yourself. Odds are you’re slouching and unwittingly shutting out the world. Think of that golden thread and see if you can go through the day without breaking it. Obviously you have to duck under things or nod your head in certain situations, but try to stick to the spirit of the golden thread. My bet is that you’ll end the day a lot happier than you ended the previous one.

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