Cupping Q&A With Shaila Suleman, LMT

Shaila Suleman Cupping Q&A

The Good Life Massage is proud to offer a new service you may have heard of: cupping! Cupping goes way back to ancient Egypt. It has long been known as a method of getting many of the same benefits of massage, but in a way that dramatically improves circulation. It can give you a feeling of deep relaxation and euphoria like nothing else this side of prescription pain killers, and has a host of other benefits.

We sat down with our resident expert on cupping, Shaila Suleman, LMT to ask her about this interesting and ancient practice, and how it can help you.

What is cupping?
Cupping is a form of traditional Chinese therapy, which has been used for thousands and thousands of years. It started back in Egypt.

The concept of cupping is moving and manipulating muscle tissue and scar tissue, stimulate blood flow. It’s like an opening for congestion or stagnance, or hyper-tense muscles. With massage, we do this with a push motion. Cupping is the same kind of thing, but with a pulling motion.

Cupping - GLM_Jan2018-93Is it uncomfortable or painful?
It can be to some degree, and that’s because it’s a form of therapy. Unlike massage where you’re pushing to move out, it’s pulling, so you have this pulling sensation that can kind of be uncomfortable. But there’s a way to adjust the suction so it doesn’t have to be extremely painful. You can also move the cups, which can also be painful depending on the state of the body we’re working on.

What equipment do you use and how does it work?
The kind of cups we use are plastic pump cups. We us a pump to create the suction that’s more stable and adjustable than silicon cups or glass and fire cups.

What is cupping good for?
If you’re having caral tunnel, that’s one. It’s great for TMJ. A compression in your shoulders can be helped with cupping. If you have scar tissue, you can break that apart. It’s good for removing scar tissue post-injury. Even, like, 20 years down the road, you can still work with it enough and manipulate it enough to where it dramatically decreases the size of the scar tissue. So, post injuries or post surgeries are really great.

If you’re losing a lot of weight, it’s really great, too. When you’re losing weight rapidly, your skin can’t quite keep up with your body getting smaller, because you’re losing so much weight at one time. What cupping does is it stretches the skin out, but as it’s stretched out, it tries to get back to its orignal shape. You stretch it out so the blood can move, as it comes back, it forms close to your current shape.

Is there blood?
Not in the cupping we do, no. The idea is to make an incision on the skin to draw out “bad blood” with the suction. It’s illegal to do in Washington State. Actually, it’s illegal in every state.

If I get cupping done at The Good Life Massage, what will it be like?
For the first part of the session, we’ll start with massaging. The core idea of the massage is to relax the muscles enough so that the pulling of the cups will not be as rough, whereas if you just put a cup right on top from the get-go it can be really painful. So we manipulate the muscles as much as we can, try to get the muscles as loose as we can. Once we’re able to kinda get some movement between the muscles and the tension and the adhesions, then that’s when we use the cups.

The cups start out by moving–what we call “running cups”. We move them around the spine, around the shoulders, wherever needs to be worked on. So, running cups around, and after a few minutes, after the blood starts to come up and show as redness on the skin, that’s when we start placing the cups. Once we’ve started the cupping, we’ll move them down by sections down the back or wherever else they need it. But as the cups are sitting, I can work on massaging the arms or the legs or another body part. A full body session with massage is usually around 90 minutes. If all we’re doing is cupping, 60 minutes is usually enough.

You will end up getting bruises, just because that’s where the blood is more stagnant. They’re perfectly circular. There may also be some mild bruising from the running, but those go away after a day or so.

Where will you not put a cup?
The inner thighs. That’s a really tender, painful area. There are nerves that go through there. You can work it with massage, but only with very light tension. It’s also very uncomfortable. You can do the face, but just don’t be getting your picture taken the next day. If you’re worried about dirt and exposure on your face, the few hours after are when you’re really vulnerable to get that kind of stuff inside it. You should wash your face immediately right after so there’s nothing getting clogged.

Would you recommend doing a Chocolate Fudge Face Mask afterwards?
That would be really good! Because the cupping pulls the pores open. For this reason, cupping isn’t so good for people with severe acne. If you add a Chocolate Fudge Face Mask, it’s all set to go. because it will kind of cover it and clean it out.

If you’re a bride or a groom, or anyone who’s getting their picture taken for a big event soon, what kind of gap do you need after cupping on the face or visible areas?
Probably about a week and a half. That would be the least amount of time you would want to give it.

Otherwise you’re playing with fire?
Exactly. Less than a week is cutting it too close. I know that when I have the running done on me, it takes two to three days for the redness to go away. It really depends on the body of the person.

What are some physical conditions that would keep you from getting cupping done?
Pregnancy. Cupping releases blood clots. People of advanced age are okay. They just have to keep us aware of how they’re doing during the session.

Also, if you have stage four metastasized cancer, cupping is not a good idea because cupping can move the lymph, which helps spread the cancer cells to other parts of the body.

If you have some kind of blood disorder, or if you have any doubts or concerns whatsoever, talk to your doctor before making an appointment.

What about minors?
Minors are great for cupping! We can work with kids from age three and up, but again, it’s really light, mild cupping. We can work with kids!

It’s really good for kids having digestive problems. We can do cupping on the stomach and lower back, which can be really beneficial to their digestion. If they’re having any pain, cupping can be good for that too.

 

Do you need a license to do this?
I thought you did for a long time, but I called the Department of Health and they said our state doesn’t really license cupping. You just have to be trained. I was trained and I trained the other therapists here at The Good Life Massage.

Shaila Headshot

 

Shaila Suleman is certified in cupping and is a licensed massage therapist at The Good Life Massage. You can learn more about her here.

 

 

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and Marketing Director at The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help you build your brand with content marketing by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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How Massage Can Boost Your Workout

How Massage Can Give Your Workout a Boost

Massage has long been known as a great way to relax and soothe aching muscles, but the proof is in: massage is truly therapeutic to sore muscles, accelerating healing in muscle and connective tissue.

A recent study at McMaster university showed that not only did sore muscles have fewer signs of inflammation. It also showed that massaged muscles were better able to produce new mitochondria, which accelerate healing after intense exercise.

Why you hurt the next day
Muscles feel sore after an intense workout because exercise puts your body through stress–stress that can actually do some damage to muscle tissue. You’d think this would make exercise bad for you, but the theory is that exercise puts your body through relatively mild stress consistently so that it can better handle short periods of more intense physical stress from time to time. The point is, exercise is very hard on your body! This is known as micro-level fiber damage.

Although you’ve done your body some good by working out in the long term, you’ve actually done some damage in the short-term. You can reduce some of this damage and shorten your recovery time by giving your muscles a little TLC after your workouts.

Performance like you’ve never seen before
It’s not just about feeling better. Massage can help your performance and ensure an injury-free journey to the results you want.

As you put your body through the intense stress of a workout, the connective tissue can scar and gather in adhesions–stubbornly sticky masses that reduce flexibility and inflict unnecessary pain as you recover. Adhesions can also hinder your performance, throwing off your form and making it that much more difficult for your muscles to function smoothly.

Massage breaks down these adhesions, stretching the muscle fibers gently. By the time you’re back in action, not only are your muscles stronger, they’re ready to perform at an optimal level without painful adhesions holding them back.

Massage can also help you maintain your posture–a vital factor in keeping your form even and consistent. This is a particular concern in weight lifting, where form and balance can make a significant difference in results. Have you ever noticed that big bench-pressers can sometimes have a slight hunch forward? That’s because their pectoral muscles aren’t releasing the tension as easily as the opposing back muscles–both of which work together to complete that particular motion.

As they persist without stretching or getting regular massage, the effect compounds on itself. As a result, they’re over-taxing the pectorals, causing their form to suffer over time. You may not be a bench presser, or maybe weights just aren’t your thing, but this kind of imbalance can manifest in any number of activities. And you may not be fully aware of the imbalance until it results in a strange posture, uneven results in your workout, or even injury.

Regular massage after intense workouts will help keep your form consistent and allow your muscles to perform at an optimal level.

Book your next massage to coincide with your workout recovery. (Whatever you do, don’t schedule your massage BEFORE your workout! This could result in injury!)

Choose the good life!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your brand and reach your customers by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

6 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Wellness Goals

6 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Wellness Goals

The Good Life Massage would like to commend you on trying to live a healthier lifestyle! Even simple things like reading this blog post are steps in the right direction. But is every step you take a step forward?

We’d like to point out a few things people commonly do in the interest of taking care of themselves that are actually counter-productive and even self-sabotaging. Do any of these describe what you’ve been doing?

“Diet” Soda and other pre-packaged “Health” Foods
To be sure, diet soda is not as bad for you as regular soda, but it isn’t doing you any favors, either. You’ll tend to drink more of it than you think you are, which can damage your teeth and marinate your nervous system in caffeine! Regular consumption can even increase appetite, especially if you’re used to drinking it with meals or snacks. Low fat/carb “treats” from companies like Weight Watchers also tend to deceive you into thinking you’re eating well, when in fact you’re eating very poorly. Read labels! They may have reduced the fat, but they also may have increased the sugar to balance it out.

Leave it to Western consumerism to create a cycle where what you consume (low fat, high sugar food products), creates a problem (weight gain), which in turn has to be solved by some other product. It’s a cycle of madness that stops the minute you stop thinking you can buy your way into eating better. The science is clear: a diet consisting mainly of whole foods–whole grains, nuts, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits–is the key to good nutrition. Don’t be seduced into thinking some magic product will remove your responsibility to make better choices.

Being your own trainer
Sorry, but you really can’t be your own trainer. It’s an appealing idea, especially in American culture, that you can bootstrap yourself into physical fitness and lifelong habits of activity and health. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually a realistic expectation.

You’re a more complicated, more social animal than that, whether you want to admit it or not. Don’t believe me? Those mostly-wasted gym memberships of years past and the lightly-used abdominizer which you bought from TV and that now languishes under your bed are all the evidence you need that I’m right. That’s not to say a more detailed explanation isn’t merited.

There are just some things you can’t do all on your own. Even if you have the athletic experience and history on your side, your own will power is a finite and unreliable resource. You just can’t depend on it alone. You’ll need several levels of redundancy to account for it’s inevitable failure. These can include sheer habit–a powerful tool–or building in some kind of accountability. If you can’t afford a trainer and can’t find a workout buddy, consider joining a team or taking a class, preferably in-person so someone will hold you to your commitment.

Skipping meals
Sure, you’re motivated. You want to eat less, hoping that it might give your metabolism a kick in the butt. And besides, you’re busy! Who has time to eat anyway! So goes the logic. But skipping meals is a big mistake if better health is your goal. It actually slows your metabolism down! Regularly stressing your body like that signals your metabolism to store more calories as fat in the interest of long-term survival. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a famine and being busy. Don’t send it the wrong message by skipping meals!

Eating small meals high in protein and complex carbohydrates will keep your appetite at a moderate level, while reassuring your body that it will get all the fuel it needs to survive.

Going it alone
We get it: health is a personal thing, and not everyone wants to share their progress towards their health and fitness goals on social media. (And truthfully, most of your followers probably don’t want to follow you *that* closely!) But that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Invite those closest to you–those people you know in three dimensional meat space–to be your cheering section. And get your doctor, massage therapist, and other health professionals in your life in on it! They’ll be able to help you measure your progress, set realistic goals, and give you expert advice on diet and exercise tailored to your body’s needs.

But above all, having people support you feeds your progress! When you have people interested in your progress and in seeing your wellness improve, you won’t want to flake out and let them down. And when you succeed, it feels even bigger and more significant. Because it is big. It is significant. Your life matters, and we all want it to continue as long as possible.

Getting lost in the stats
Data can be helpful… to a point. Knowing whether or not it will rain today: helpful. Knowing exact rainfall stats for this day for every year in recorded history? Consuming all those numbers might be interesting, but ultimately doesn’t help you decide how to dress. All the information you get from your food scale, measuring tape, wearable fitness tracker, nutrition labels, and your bathroom scale–numbers, numbers, numbers–can create an unhealthy obsession.

Not convinced? Consider this possible scenario:

You’ve been good! Excellent, even. You’ve been pushing yourself hard on your workouts, and you’ve been eating well (which is more enjoyable than you ever could have expected). You rise one glorious morning feeling fantastic–healthier than you’ve been in years. You do your workout, and feel pretty good about it.

But your wearable fitness tracker gives you results far worse than you were expecting. Kind of frustrating, but no big deal, right? Surely the results will show on the scale. But no! Betrayed there, too! What was the point of all this? Why have you worked so hard, made so many big changes if this is the result you could expect?

Remember, you woke up feeling great, feeling healthy. But the only conclusion you can draw from all that scientific data is that you were wrong about that–that you aren’t as healthy as you felt. And while you may know logically that what you’re doing is fine, that the way you feel about your progress is valid, that you just have to keep at it, the emotional signal you’re giving yourself is the opposite: you’re defeated. You’ve been wasting your time. You should quit. You might not be committed to that defeatest way of thinking. No! you say to yourself defiantly. This is good. I will persist! And while that war is raging inside you, someone brings a big bag of candy bars to the office to share with everyone. It’s pouring rain and freezing cold for your jog the next morning. What do you do? Chances are, your efforts have just come to a quiet, ineffectual close. Why? Because the data psyched you out.

You’re always telling yourself a story about yourself. To persist as the hero of that story, you need to be able to trust your own gauge on how you’re doing in moving forward with it. Data can be very helpful! It can even be essential, not allowing you to fool yourself about what you’re doing or how well you’re doing. Just don’t forget to think long-term. The game isn’t won or lost with one days’ data. Take control of your narrative by taking that data with a grain of salt. Try working out a few times with the wearable left at home. The results you want will, in time, be fully measurable and satisfying, but don’t let those numbers stop you from moving towards that goal.

Ignoring your body, because “the program”
This is common early on, especially when you’re determined to make a change and you’re feeling zealous. If you’re too hard on yourself, you could actually injure yourself, sabotaging the whole project. Educate yourself on what kind of pain you should be feeling and when! If it’s the day after your first heavy activity in a long time, don’t be surprised if you feel sore. But don’t dismiss all pain!Pain

Contrary to that meme, pain is not just weakness leaving your body–it can also be health leaving your body and being replaced with pain–terrible, agonizing pain. So be smart! Get in for a massage after your first few workouts, or after a particularly tough session. See a doctor if you have pain that persists for longer than a few minutes. Get your form down so you can up the intensity without hurting yourself. Yes, progress matters, but don’t damage your body in its name.

Don’t quit! We’re pulling for you.

Choose the good life.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to develop your brand and social media strategy by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

How to Start a Workout Routine–One That Sticks This Time

How to start a workout routine

Mark Twain said “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

His point is as well taken now as it was more than a hundred years ago: change is hard! The same can be said of breaking a bad habit or picking up a good one. As of this posting, we’re at that point in the year where New Years resolutions to be more active are a distant memory. Now that the weather is improving, many of us are starting to think about getting taking another crack at it.

But how do you break out of the start-and-stop cycle with your workout routine? What can you do to really make it stick this time?

You may want to begin by thinking about the common obstacles that break your routine and bring your efforts to a silent halt. All these obstacles can be described with the blanket term Resistance. Resistance comes in many forms, and appears whenever you’re trying to make a significant personal change. It swallows your initial burst of enthusiasm with unforeseen circumstances or feelings that can easily derail your efforts and leave you frustrated. Its appearance is inevitable. But if you know it’s coming, you can be ready.

You know the drill
Routine can be key in maintaining an exercise habit long term. This can work really well if most of your days have a steady rhythm. Do you leave work at pretty much the same time each day? Make that unwinding period your gym time. If before work is better for you, then do that. The key to this strategy is consistency and predictability. If your lifestyle isn’t so steady, it might be very difficult to make this strategy work for you.

Your workout won’t take much will power if it’s all part of the plan. If it’s built into your day in a way that’s almost automatic, it will be much easier to punch through the resistance phase and just do it because it’s what’s next on your schedule.

Who’s got your six?
One of the many forms the Resistance takes is the people who are closest to you. Ever try to cut back on your fat intake, only to have your spouse or significant other bring home some form of temptation along with the milk you had them pick up? Ever set a date to hit the gym only to have to cross if off the calendar to do a favor for a friend? Your loved ones aren’t intentionally trying to sabotage you (usually), but when you live with and around people with different needs, their interests inevitably clash with whatever change you’re trying to make in your life. It’s like trying to go the bathroom in an airplane: chances are, meeting your needs is going to mean someone else is going to be inconvenienced.

How do you get past this? It may not be realistic or helpful to announce to everyone in your circle the changes you’re trying to make and ask for everyone’s support. Sure, the bigger the cheering section you have, the better, but not everyone is comfortable with that. Pick at least one person who’s willing to help you be accountable. Tell them when you plan to go exercise and have them check in with you every week or every few days to see how things are going. You’re not asking a lot, and a best friend or romantic partner will probably be happy to help. Better yet, if you have a friend with similar goals, support each other! Keep each other accountable and committed.

If you’re not having fun . . .
You’re doing it wrong! If working out is a miserable experience you dread every time, you’re simply not going to be able to keep it up. Even if you’re just bored and you’re doing it just to do it, you could be in trouble. Sure, you won’t ‘feel like it’ every time, but go anyway. That’s good! The Resistance hates when you do that. But the motivation has to be there. You have to want it, not just for the promised results, but for the experience itself. Try different things! Sign up for various lessons. Find a sport or a class you truly enjoy and make it a part of your who you are. Routines come and go: passion is forever.

Practice makes perfect? No!
Actually, perfect practice makes perfect. Go into each workout with a problem solving mentality, or with a goal to improve. In weight training, that might mean improving your form or raising the amount of weight. In basketball it might mean perfecting your jump shot. Engage with the activity, not just with your body, but with your mind as well. You will see better results from what you’re doing, and skipping out or giving up will be the farthest thing from your mind.

Payoff
Make sure you’re rewarding yourself for sticking with it. Keep track and reward yourself for reaching milestones. (Wherever possible, make sure these rewards don’t involve calories, so as not to compromise your goals.) Massage, it turns out, is both a fantastic non-food reward you can treat yourself to, and a great way to take care of your body. You can even purchase the reward ahead of time as a gift card or in a prepaid package and use it whenever you’ve earned it. It’s easy to place buy a package or gift card online or by phone (425-243-7705). You can also book your appointment online.

A final thought on the Resistance …
If you’re still struggling after trying all these strategies, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. Is there some underlying issue, some lurking thought error or negative belief about yourself that’s quietly undermining your motivation? A great first step in that direction is to look the Resistance in the eye and recognize it for what it is, no matter what form it takes. If you can name it, you can get around it.

So get out there and stay with it! This time, things are going to be different.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to handle your content and social media marketing needs by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

The Wellness-Mindfulness Connection

The Wellness - Mindfulness Connection

How are you?

No, really, how are you? Do you really have the information to answer that question? Maybe this is a question you should be asking yourself more often. Anyone experienced in meditation will tell you–answering that question thoroughly can be the quest of a lifetime, and takes more effort than you might think.

We live in a distracted time, so much so that most of us have no idea how to be anything other than distracted–bouncing through our lives like a pinball from one obligation to the next, resorting to our mobile phones or some other bad habit when even the slightest boredom or discomfort threatens our equilibium.

Is this you? If so, what are you afraid of? What’s got you running to cheap thrills every time you feel uncomfortable?

This is how bad habits and addictive behaviors take root in our lives. Some experts think addiction and compulsiveness begin way back in the development of our brains. Inspired by this prospect, a kindergarten in Germany is experimenting with a classroom in which the children are given nothing at all to play with–a room with some simple furniture and some blankets and pillows. Teachers observe, but do not interfere. The children are given no direction in what to play or what to do.

Harsh, you might say, but it’s based on an addiction study which found that, for many, addictive behaviors began in early childhood. In many ways, toys do for kids what bad habits and addicting behaviors do for us: they thoroughly distract us from our bad feelings–at least for a time. The idea is to allow the children to come up with their own games–to give them a chance to find fun in themselves and in each other. The hope is that the children will develop key skills that will help them cope with the adult world–skills like empathy, critical and creative thinking, and above all, self care and healthy self regard.

Could you use a little more strength in any of these areas? (Is there anyone who couldn’t?)

Are you trying to kick a bad habit, lose weight, or just be happier with yourself generally?

Your journey begins with an understanding of how your brain really works as it does its best to keep you happy and breathing. You’ll need a sense of curiosity–adventure, even. Mindfulness isn’t as much a destination as it is a journey into the unknown.

Are you ready? Let’s go.

First, you should understand that your brain is wired to flee pain and seek pleasure. It’s not bad. This instinct helped our ancestors survive. For example, when you find good food–especially high-calorie food–your brain goes out of its way to remember what you ate, how good it was, and where you found it. It doesn’t care that the food is cheap and easy to get, that too much of it might kill you, or that it’s filled with additives that might harm your health. Survival is the priority.

From there, it’s not a big leap to go from satisfying hunger for the sake of survival to soothing other kinds of pain or discomfort. Before you know it, there’s no bad day that can’t be made a little better with pizza or a slice of chocolate cake. The same mechanism works for other kinds of bad habits or addictions. Your body receives a visceral, memorable payoff for engaging in the behavior, and eventually you’re going to it without even thinking.

And the grownup “toys”? They’re everywhere: cheap high calorie foods, social media, alcohol, gambling, narcotics, TV, pornography, and that’s just the beginning. It’s not to say that all these things are bad all the time–there’s nothing wrong with giving a child a toy once in a while. But these distractions, if mistaken for something essential to survival, can destroy your life.

So what’s the solution? Practice mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?
When was the last time you ate a meal–and focused only on the food in front of you and maybe the company you’re keeping in that moment? That’s mindfulness.

Meditation is one method of developing mindfulness. The task in meditation–what makes it such a challenge for so many–is doing and thinking literally nothing. It’s tougher than it sounds. No sooner have you tried to clear your mind than a jingle for laundry detergent or a bill that needs to be paid soon comes flooding in to fill that void.

The trick is to observe yourself calmly and with a sense of curiosity. When mastered, you’ll be able to observe your body and mind working, holding your own consciousness at arm’s length for a moment.

While meditating, one way to gently dismiss thoughts is to picture yourself by a small stream with fallen leaves drifting by on the water. When an intrusive thought comes into your mind, pin that thought to one of the leaves and watch it drift away. When another thought inevitably intrudes, pin that thought on a leaf and watch it drift away.

Are you thinking “this is hokey and hippy-dippy and dumb”? Pin that thought to a leaf and watch it drift away. You can do this with sensory intrusions as well–that car alarm going off, the sound of the heat kicking on, your watch ticking, your phone buzzing at you–pin these to a leaf and watch them drift away. Set a timer and give yourself 15 or 20 minutes to practice this every day. This may feel like a waste of time; it’s anything but. It gets you ready to live in your skin for the rest of the day.

Out there in the trenches of your life, this exercise starts to pay off. You’ll find that when you get a phone notification while you’re driving, you won’t automatically have to check it. When you’ve had a rotten day at work and you suddenly crave cheese fries, you won’t automatically have to give in to it.

These occasions are opportunities to observe yourself, to be curious and collect data about how your body and mind react when a craving comes on. As you work at this, the more intense urge becomes not satisfying the craving, but curiosity about the craving to see what you can learn from it.

Even if you go for that dopamine hit, whatever form that takes for you, observe! You have an opportunity to watch your mind and body as you give in to a temptation. Pay attention to how those cheese fries really taste and how they make your body feel afterward. Ask yourself questions about whether that notification was really worth risking a car accident to check, and what you really got out of the experience. For extra credit, write down what you observe. Journaling adds an extra layer of self-awareness to the exercise which can help develop mindfulness even faster.

The ultimate payoff
Thinking in this way, over time, has a cumulative effect. Your brain is like a muscle. CAT scans of experienced practitioners of meditation show clearly that certain areas of their brains light up more than for the average person. Their ability to observe themselves has grown like a muscle after years of working out. It has an impact on their personality, and these individuals show lower incidence of compulsive behavior and addiction, better focus and concentration, and can better cope with stress.

While it’s true that meditation isn’t a one-and-done proposition, adopting it as a regular practice for even a short time can begin to show significant benefits. In this way, it’s a lot like massage: it feels great once or twice, and can have great benefits long-term, but you have to give it some time.

Honestly, this is just a toe-dip in a vast pool of what there is to know about meditation and mindfulness. There is so much to learn. What’s nice is that if you only want to take it so far, you can. This isn’t a panacea, and there are cautions to consider as you go forward, but just being more aware of your thoughts and your body’s needs is crucial to building more wellness into your lifestyle.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist with your content marketing and social media by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Massage and Weight Loss: Fact vs. Fiction

Massage & Weight Loss

Let’s rip a bandage off right now: there’s no miracle cure for weight loss. Any doctor worth their salt will tell you the truth: to lose weight, there’s no real substitute for exercise and diet. This easy to say, much harder to do. Most people need a strong social support system, and must be willing to commit to long term change to achieve permanent results.

Now for some good news: Massage can play a key role in helping you achieve your weight loss goal.

No miracles, just healing
While some have tried to find in massage some kind of miracle weight-loss cure, massage isn’t that. Massage does nothing directly to burn fat or calories or reduce your waistline.

But massage can be a great supplemental treatment to give your efforts a vital boost to your brain chemisty and morale as your body transitions to a healthier way of living. Massage can help you transition your mindset from self-loathing and punishment to self-worth and healing, all while providing real physical benefits that accumulate over time.

True recovery
As a mode of touch therapy, massage has been shown to have measurable mental health benefits. Studies have shown that regular massage can help improve body image generally, and can be an effective treatment for depression.

It’s been well established by multiple studies that massage reduces cortisol levels–the stress hormone–and helps increase production of dopamine and norepenephrine–the hormones that give us a feeling of happiness and well being.

This really isn’t all that surprsing when you think about it. Humans have evolved to be connected, social creatures. We thrive on personal connection, and struggle in isolation. Touch gives a sense that we’re going to survive, that we’re not alone, and that we’re an individual with value.

And for many, sugary and fatty foods serve as a way to medicate against feelings of isolation and depression. These foods can trick your brain into wanting more by releasing those pleasurable hormones as you eat. Massage can be a healthy alternative to get that dopamine fix as you try to get your brain chemistry back to a healthy balance.

And when you consider the fact that retaining body fat has been linked to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, massage is a no-brainer for helping you lose weight.

Reward yourself
It’s key to your efforts to set up rewards for doing the hard work of behavioral change. The challenge is to find rewards for yourself that don’t involve food–a reward that could derail your efforts to change.

Massage is the ideal reward for making progress towards your goals. Let’s say, for instance, that you set a goal to work out three times a week for a month. If, at the end of that month, you’ve reached your goal, go ahead and book a massage for yourself! You might even consider a session enhancement or two. (Who knows? Maybe, for you, aromatherapy will become the sweet smell of success.)

Whether your weight loss goals are major or modest, regular massage therapy could mean the difference between success and failure.

If you’d like to get regular massage, but are concerned about the cost, a pre-paid package can save you 10% or more, and can help ensure you’re getting the care you need over time.

If you’re struggling with weight, The Good Life Massage would love to be on your team, both cheering you on and giving you a supportive push along the way.

Book a massage today.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can learn more about his freelance writing and editing work by contacting him at marketstediting@gmail.com

5 Hydration Myths

If you’ve been in to see us, there’s one thing all our therapists recommend after a massage session:

“Drink plenty of water.”

But just how much is “plenty”? How much do you need, anyway?Gold fish jumping to big fishbowl

The Internet is full of information on hydration, but it turns out that the Internet is as good at spreading myths and misconceptions as it is at spreading facts.

Here are 7 myths about water to watch out for, and the facts you need to maximize your self care.

1. Drinking a glass of water before taking a bath helps lower blood pressure.

This simply isn’t true. According to the University of Washington, blood pressure is controlled by hormones, not your water intake. Decreasing the salt and sodium in your diet and increasing physical activity is the best way to lower your blood pressure.

2. Everyone should drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

This oft-repeated rule of thumb is just a starting point. Every body is different, and fluid intake should increase with heat and exercise to stay hydrated. But there’s no need to force-feed yourself water if your urine is a pale yellow and odorless and you’re not thirsty.

3. Caffeine dehydrates you. It’s like drinking negative water.

Caffeine is a dihurettic, which means it makes you need to urinate more often. According to the Mayo Clinic, however, caffeine poses no real risk of dehydration. While cafeinnated beverages like coffee and soda can be considered part of your fluid intake, water is still best. Water has no extra calories and doesn’t cause headaches or insomnia the way cafeinne does. Water, in fact, has been shown to reduce headaches and staying hydrated generally improves sleep.

4. Water keeps your skin looking young.

According to UW, your skin is about 30% water, so it naturally follows that staying hydrated is key for healthy skin. It should be remembered, however, that a number of other factors determine the health and longevity of your skin including genetics, age, sun exposure, diet, and more.

Hydrating may make a visible difference in someone who’s usually dehydrated, but you can’t expect that drinking your eight-a-day will keep you looking twenty forever. While water is not a magical youth potion, it is essential for maintaining health and that goes for your skin as much as any other part of you.

5. Drinking cold water helps you lose weight.

The logic goes like this: your body burns approximately 8 extra calories warming up a glass of ice water in your stomach so your body can process it. You do that ten times, and that’s a total of 80 calories.

That sounds pretty good, right? It might even help you burn off that stick of string-cheese you binged on or that small handful of grapes. Yep, that’s it. You can’t expect dramatic weight loss results from drinking ice-cold water.

Staying generally hydrated is essential to weight loss, but the primary proven method is a combination of increasing physical activity while decreasing calorie intake.

Drinking plenty of water may not offer all the magical benefits some Facebook memes may promise, but the real health benefits are well worth remembering this important aspect of health.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

For more tips on wellness, you can keep up with us on social media including:

Facebook: facebook.com/TheGoodLifeMassage
Twitter: @goodliferenton