Choosing the right footwear for your kids is crucial for promoting optimal development of gait patterns, spinal curves, deep body stabilization, proper alignment of bones and efficient control of the body by the nervous system. There are more than 33 joints in your feet; In the wrong shoes, many of them (sometimes all) can’t move properly. You need healthy kids shoes!
Healthy Kids Shoes
Give your kids as much barefoot time as possible. Even a shoe that fits all of my “shoe rules” can’t replace barefoot time – a shoe threshold between the foot and the ground prevents foot nerves from sensing important information like temperature, ground texture, and other environmental factors. Nerves are meant to feel stuff, so they aren’t as healthy when they’re deprived of information (stimulus). In fact, neurologists often recommend wearing water shoes (on my list of good shoes) year round for kids with developmental delays. If your babies/kids can’t be barefoot then consider a double layer of socks. If that won’t work, then find kids barefoot shoes that fit the following parameters:
1. “Foldable” – you should be able to fold it in half from front to back.
2. Thin soled – as thin as possible. You’l’l notice that thick soles interfere with the “foldable” factor, too.
3. Flush from front to back – no heels!! – the toes should sit on the same level as the heels, with no rising or dipping in the sole at any point.
4. Plenty of room for all the toes – no squishing and regularly check the fit.
5. Attached to the heel and the toe – unlike flip flops, which are just attached the toe. Shoes fixed at the toe cause a pattern of tension throughout the foot and lower leg. Ultimately, they can lead to bunions.
6. Fits snugly without constricting the foot – some shoes can become cast-like when they fit too snugly, preventing proper muscular function.
OPTIONS OF BRANDS/STYLES FOR TODDLERS, KIDS AND YOUTH
Check out our “Store” link for the direct link to the shoes that are available at Amazon.com
Robeez (Baby & Toddler)
My all time favorite. Robeez are a great brand because they combine an exceptional shoe with an unparalleled cute-factor. Unfortunately, they stop making shoes after 24 months. Not all the shoes have rubber soles and are no-slip, so check the description. My favorite style is the Ethan Minishoefollow.
Skidderz are a very mainstream brand – you can find them at Target, Big Lots and Babies R Us. There are a lot of similar brands on the market, sold as non-skid socks or shoe socks. Like the name implies, they’re more like socks with a grippy rubber sole. Sometimes they’re so grippy that they get “stuck” on things and come off of little feet. Occasionally, I do get concerned about the grips holding the foot in one direction while the knee goes another – however, we’ve never experienced any injuries. These are affordable, ranging in price between $6.99 and $12.99 per pair. I’ve seen sizes for older kids at Big Lots, where the prices are also the lowest, but they’re most widely available for babies and toddlers through size 18-24 months.
PediPed (Infant, Toddler & Little Kid)
I’ve gotten great shoes from Pediped. Many of them don’t look like they have a flat sole from the outside, but the appearance is actually an illusion meant to make the shoe more fashion-y. The shoes are flat on the inside. We got a great pair of waterproof boots from Pediped – they weren’t as flexible as I would like, but they are the best I have found so far.
See Kai Run (Infant, Toddler & Little Kid)
Similar to my PediPed review, mmany of them don’t look like they have a flat sole from the outside, but the appearance is actually an illusion meant to make the shoe more fashion-y. The shoes are flat on the inside. I’ve only purchased one shoe from See Kai Run, so I’m not sure if all the shoes are the same quality and meet my “shoe rules.”
ShoesZoo (Infant, Toddler & Little Kids)
ShoesZoo is like Robeez in bigger sizes. They are also extraordinarily affordable because they make the shoes themselves and there is no middle man. They are a Canadian company with reasonable shipping charge to the US. However, the don’t make rubber soled or grippy shoes – only soft suede, moccasin-style shoes. The ShoesZoo line has hundreds of adorable patterns.
Soft Star(Toddler & Child)
Soft star makes leather and sheepskin shoes in moccasin and slipper styles. Many people I know love them and they may be a good option for your family. I didn’t like the construction of the shoes because they have a thick lip around the outside of the shoe, beyond the point where the top fabric is sewn into the sole. My son kept tripping when he was wearing them and the lip would get caught on tree roots, etc, when we were in the woods. I contacted SoftStar about it and received great customer service – they believe that a child will adapt their movement to the shape of the shoe and tripping shouldn’t be a problem after they get used to wearing the shoes. They are right, but I prefer a shoe that my child doesn’t have to adapt to – to me, the whole point of a minimalist shoe is “minimizing” adjustments the body must make for the shoe.
Water Shoes (Toddler and Child)
Water shoes make great every day shoes for toddlers and children. However, not all water shoes meet the six roles above – and some tend to wear out quickly because they’re made of fabric. Avoid using them on concrete or gravel if you want to prolong their life. I love them for warm rainy days or morning playground trips when everything is still wet – they’re so easy to wash and dry that I don’t worry about ruining shoes from wet grass.
We’ve yet to try VivoBarefoot, but I hear good things about the brand – however, they’re expensive.
Vibram Five Fingers (Child)
They don’t sell shoes for toddlers, but the famous five finger shoes are available for kids. Smallest size is a toddler 11.5.
Minnetonka (Toddler and Child)
We haven’t used these, personally: Minnetonka makes a variety of moccasin products for kids and toddlers. Not all of them meet my requirements because some have padded insoles or thick soles, but a great many do – includingthe Minnetonka Back Flap Booties follow and Minnetonka Classic Fringe Bootfollowie. I have a more extensive list of Minnetonkas under the shoe section of the store (click on the menu bar).
Mostly for infants. Sizes stop at 18-24 Months.
See the “Specific Product Links” below for good shoes that come from manufacturers that make traditional shoes, too.
WEB SITES FOR BROWSING BAREFOOT KIDS’ SHOES
1. Happy Little Soles
I just made my first purchase from Happy Little Soles – they are a web site and store that stocks products from several different shoe companies, like Bobux, Vivobarefoot, See Kai Run & Livie and Luca. The company is in the UK, so expect the price to reflect the difference in the American Dollar v. the UK Pound AND the price of shipping via Royal Air Mail. Shamless Plug: Use my name at check out (Lauren Saglimbene) to help me work towards rewards points and free shoes!
SPECIFIC PRODUCT LINKS
Some companies have select shoes that fit my “shoe rules.”
1. Bogs Kids Baby Dots Rain Boot for Toddlers: Girls
2. Bogs Kids Baby Zoo Rain Boot for Toddlers: Boys
follow3. Stonz Rain Bootz
follow3. Barefoot Merrell Trailglove
4. Barefoot Merrell Flux
followI wear the adult version of this shoe and it’s my favorite on the market. I haven’t been able to purchase these shoes for my son because they don’t make his size anymore. Merrell sells some infant shoes and other models on their web site, but I find that they have too much structure in the shoe for my taste – particularly where the arch of the foot is concerned.
5. Haflinger Kids’s Slippers for Toddler/Little Kid: My Star
These are intended to be slippers but they have a rubber sole, so I don’t see why they couldn’t be used as shoes. I don’t believe they have any cushioning or arch support but I can’t guarantee it.
6. New Balance Minimus for Kids
As a general rule, “kid equipment” can be undesirable in three ways:
1. It forces your child to be sedentary – time spent moving is extremely important for a child’s physical development. Movement is the “miracle grow” of the brain, so it’s also important for learning and cognitive development.
2. It overly supporting the body, so it takes away from the activity of postural muscles.
3. Placing a child’s skeleton into an undesirable position, affecting his muscles, joints and nervous system.
Car Seats: Car seats are only good in one way: They are the safest place for your child to be in the event of a motor vehicle accident. For movement, however, they’re bad in all three ways listed above. Time spent in a car seat means time not moving. The child is completely and totally inactive in the seat – since her entire body is supported by the cushions of the seat, there’s no need to use any muscles at all. Lastly, your pelvis is tucked under and your shoulders/upper back are rounded when you sit in a car seat. This is particularly undesirable for infants because they’re still working towards developing the natural curves of their spine – the car seat directly counteracts that. Unfortunately, cars are a real and permanent part of our lives. Here are a few things you can do to help minimize the effect of car seats:
Spend as little time in the car seat as possible. Organize your day to prevent unnecessary trips and time spent in the car. Walk whenever and wherever you can. Don’t take your baby places and leave them in their car seat. Remove your child from the car seat to sleep.
Have an active lifestyle. The only thing that counteracts poor movement/lack of movement is more good movement!
Cloth Diapers & Disposable Diapers: In most cases, all types of diapers force a child’s legs apart and affect their walking gait/leg position in some way. I love cloth diapers because they’re cute and environmentally friendly, but they’re a huge offender when it comes to alignment – they’re so bulky and force little legs apart quite a lot, which impacts your baby’s movement quality and ability. Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, give your child as much naked time as possible. Make sure you’re choosing the right size diaper for your child so you don’t have too much bulky fabric accumulating between their legs. Change disposable diapers frequently to avoid the “mass” of wet diaper between your baby’s legs. Note: Your pediatrician should check your baby’s pelvis for abnormalities at check ups.
Strollers: Strollers force your child to be sedentary AND often put them in an undesirable body position. Go for baby carrying or baby wearing, instead. Ask your older ones to walk – they’ll learn about how they’re expected to behave as well at the same time they’re getting physical activity.
Wraps & Carriers: I prefer baby carrying (just using your arms) over baby wearing because wraps, slings and carriers often OVER support infants. This takes away from their ability to use the postural muscles of their head, neck and trunk. Still want to use your wrap or carrier? Reevaluate your infant every few weeks and adjust the position of your wrap or carrier according to their abilities . For example, fold your wrap down a little more so your baby is only supported up to the middle back – she has to support her upper back and head herself.
Booster Activity Seats: These are the seats with toys all around them for baby to play with – they only allow a little rotation, so they limit a baby’s movement at an age where what the baby really needs to do is develop functional sitting – the only way to do that is by moving!! They need to be moving via tummy time, being carried (upright stability), rolling and more. The only benefit to a booster activity seat is that it might give mom a brief break to do something that she can’t do while carrying a baby.
Bottle Feeding v. Breastfeeding: The movements of bottle feeding are different than breastfeeding, so the mouth & jaw develop differently. Read more about the implications of oral development here.
The Bumbo Seat
Having a healthy, vibrant adult body starts during childhood. Team sports, PE class and normal play aren’t enough to keep children’s bodies mobile, aligned and healthy.
Our bodies change in response to our environment – everything from the temperature, light and smell to the seating options, floor surface and air quality. School and home environments are where kids spend the most time. The school is a harder environment to control, but your house isn’t.
Is your home set up to promote healthy and normal physical development for your child? Most people’s homes aren’t. These five items can take your kids from sedentary and stiff to constantly moving.
1. Eliminate most “sitting” furniture.
Furniture like chairs and couches puts kids in a 90/90 position (90 degree angle and knees and hips) – a passive position that requires little strength, flexibility or muscle activity. Add a cushion and kids will likely sit for a long time without moving. As small children, we all have a natural drive to move around. However, we lose the drive as we get older. In theory, the cultural and social impetus to move should replace the biological imperative. It doesn’t work that way anymore, thoug; Instead of engaging in hunting, gardening and migrating kids now go to school and sit in a desk.
Why is that bad? A lifestyle of constant movement is important for healthy mental development, healthy structural development (bones and joints) and maintaining the level of flexibility that we are born with and are meant to maintain as adults (yes, your teenage son should still be able to sit in a deep squat position or touch his toes. So should your husband. So should your grandma.) Constant movement doesn’t mean running on a tr eadmill all day long – it means sitting criss cross applesauce, then squatting, then sitting with your legs wide apart, then kneeling, then playing hopscotch, then hanging from the monkey bars, then going inside and squatting on the floor again… and so on.
Sitting on the floor is self-limiting; Meaning, you get uncomfortable pretty fast and move into a different position. Sitting on the floor/eliminating “sitting furniture” is the easiest, most no-brainerest (definitely a made up word) way to encourage constant movement in your child’s life. Kids will naturally move from one position/activity to another as they regulate their comfort level and attention levels.
Are you totally confused by how this works in real life? Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well has a wonderful video tour of her mostly-furniture-free home. Click here to go to the postfollow. Also, stay tuned for TLM tutorials on living without chairs.
Not ready to ditch the couches? Save them for guests and institute a “no sitting on the couch” rule. If your children have learned to stay away from great grandma’s China then they can also adapt to the new couch rule.
2. Introduce a squatty potty.
Squatting is easy and natural for a toddler. Keep it up!
A squatty potty is a platform that you stand on while you use the traditional toilet, allowing you to descend into a squat position while you do your business. Yes, I know I’ve lost a lot of you right here! “Weird,” “Gross,” “Freaky,” you might be thinking.
First, let me tell you that many far eastern countries ONLY have squatty potties. As-in the toilet is actually sunken into the floor and you have to squat over it. I first saw them when I visited Japan. It was so shocking for me that I used an entire roll of film for toilet pictures. If you’ve never seen a squatty potty then head over to this Amazon.com Linkfollow.
Second, know that squatting is one of the most important positions to put your body in. It’s crucial for maintaining supple ankles, knees, hips and spines. It was also the only way we sat for centuries. My brother in law called me from Turkey a few months ago in disbelief because everyone squats there. He saw an extremely overweight, very old woman squatting at the bus stop and couldn’t believe his eyes. He wanted to take a picture to show me. Everyone is capable of squatting if they never stop squatting!
A squatty potty is part of a “lifestyle of movement.” Simply trying to squat more during the day may mean that you drop into a squat for 3 or 5 extra times per day. It becomes homework. However, if you had to squat every time you went to the bathroom then you’re naturally integrating several repetitions of squatting into your daily life. No need to think about it. No need to plan.
A side note: If you know anything about natural birthing methods then you probably know that the deep squat position is one of the best positions to eliminate things from your body – like babies and *cough* other stuff. Ideally, your knees should always be above your pelvis during elimination. The higher your knees are the better the position. Traditional toilets place your thigh bone in line with or below your pelvis, so elimination requires straining (a major player in hemorrhoids). Interestingly, many babies and toddlers prefer to potty while squatting but are untrained to do so.
Don’t want people to think you or your kids are weird? Put the squatty potty platform in a bathroom that guests don’t use, or get a squatty potty platform that you can stash away when guests come. Teach your kids about the difference between the different ways of pottying and why they don’t have a squatty potty at school. My husband and I had many heated discussions about the squatty potty and if it would introduce unnecessary social challenges for our son – I believe that offering the squatty potty as an option and also offering the traditional potty as an option is the best course of action, provided that you explain to your child that they use the regular toilet outside the house.
As a side note, if you have daughters then the act of introducing the squatty potty is helping to educate them and prepare them for successful child birthing as adults. The oral tradition of birthing education has been lost over the last century, just as with breastfeeding, but it doesn’t have to be.
3. Have a place to “hang out.”
Kids need objects to hang from.
Hanging from the hands is an extremely important part of a child’s physical development. Most parents know that hanging helps develop upper body and core strength, but many don’t realize that it also helps with grip strength, hand articulation and wrist articulation that are crucial for writing.
Unfortunately, most kids only have access to a place to “hang out” when they are at a playground – nowadays, many kids don’t even have a good tree limb to hang from.
Even a baby and toddler can grab on to a bar and experiment with hanging. At 1.5 years old, hanging made my son giggle and he kept running back to his bar for more.
Get a child-sized pull-up bar or monkey bar set for your home. Some people install monkey bars near the ceiling of a long hallway with a wall ladder providing access for tiny people.
You can also use a trapeze, gymnastic rings or TRX Suspension Trainer – note, however, that A) Children love to swing on these things, which may or may not be a bad thing to you B) the straps are a potential strangulation hazard and your child should always be supervised during use. Also, remove any necklaces, hoodies with strings and jackets with strings.
If you’re worried about your child crash landing (let’s admit it, that’s likely!) then arrange some couch pillows, body pillows or gymnastics mats under their hanging area. You’re never too young OR too old to start hanging!
4. Have objects to climb.
Kids often only get the chance to climb at the playground.
Climbing is also a big part of a child’s physical development. If you make it to a playground or wooded area for your child’s daily dose of climbing then you may not need to introduce climbing objects in your home. However, if your schedule is inconsistent then you may want to introduce at-home options.
There’s no need to buy fancy playground equipment for them to climb on- consider using used items like an A-frame pool ladder, a wooden ladder installed on an angle or an ottoman. Don’t forget about trees, too – those are free! Get creative.
Just as with some hanging equipment, remove any necklaces, hoodies with strings and jackets with strings.
If you’re worried about your child crash landing (let’s admit it, that’s likely!) then arrange some couch pillows, body pillows or gymnastics mats under the hanging area.
5. Never introduce a pillow for sleeping.
Humans don’t actually need pillows, by design. Pillows are assistive devices for sleeping when no assistance is needed (Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well likens them to orthotics in your shoes). We adapt to the stimulus of the pillow, meaning simply that using a pillow makes you need a pillow.
Humans have been sleeping on the ground, without pillows, for thousands of years. Our bodies adapt to every situation we’re in – including our sleeping situation. If your torso, shoulders and neck are malleable, relaxed and flexible then you’ll have no problem sleeping without a pillow. It’s a a chicken-or-the-egg situation because sleeping without a pillow also keeps your body malleable, relaxed and flexible.
Children are born with the perfect structure for pillowless sleep, so don’t mess with a good thing.
Most children A) Never ask for a pillow but are given one by well meaning, concerned parents or B) Ask for one because they see that there parents have one.
Please note that older children who are used to sleeping with a pillow may need gentle exercises for regaining neck, shoulder and torso mobility before they are able to enjoy pillowless sleep. Gradually downsize the pillow from extra puffy, to normal, to flat, to a camping pillow, to a rolled towel to nothing. Immediately removing the pillow can lead to discomfort. You may find that children who sleep pillowless may have some discomfort while sleeping if their bodies are becoming immobile from other parts of their day, like sitting in a desk at school or riding in the car for long trips. This is a sign that daily activities need to become more body-friendly.
Kids are less likely to resist sleeping pillowless if they see their parents doing the same. Stay tuned for tips on helping adults sleep without a pillow.
I don’t believe in “good” or “bad” foods. I believe in eating what’s right for you, your life and your family. That depends on who you are, what you’re eating and how much of it.
There are some elite athletes who have included pizza delivery as a regular part of their diet…or consumed up to 20% of their weekly calories from added sugar. In most cases, you can accomplish your goals and maintain your health while including a little junky food. However, there are just as many people who are very affected by added sugars, refined foods and more.
That being said, I do have a philosophy that we stick to in our house. These are our “food rules,” in list format. Stay tuned for blog posts going into more depth about the reasoning behind each.
There are also very specific “proportions” of food intake I recommend (protein:fat:carbs) for different goals – these are NOT included here. For more information on those, contact me about nutrition coaching! Even without thatinformation, you can make a big change to your diet just by keeping this rules in mind.
My philosophy on eating is summed up perfectly by Michael Pollan in his book “In Defense of Food.” They’re general rules and apply no matter what goal you’re working towards – including fat loss, muscle gain, weight maintenance, longevity and just plain ol’ feeling good!
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.”
On the outside, these seven words may seem simple. Here are some “quick notes.”
– More Than 6 Ingredients? It’s not food, it’s a product.
– Can’t understand or easily identify an ingredient? It’s not food, it’s a product.
– Is it more than 2 steps of human processing from it’s original form?
(Flour, for example, is harvested as a grain , ground , then bleached  and sometimes enriched with vitamins/minerals).
– Is it found in nature in its current form? For example, you cannot find low fat cow’s milk or dairy products in nature. They do not exist. Lowfat dairy products are not food – they are a product.
Eat to Nourish.
NOT TOO MUCH
– Eat only when you’re truly hungry.
– No second helpings
– Or, second helping of vegetables only.
– If you’re having alcohol or dessert then don’t have a starch with dinner.
– Avoid using food as a treat or relaxation method.
Pretty self explanatory! Aim to consume a mostly plant-based diet.
And some more items…
Cultivate your taste for things other than sweets.
– Even natural sugar sources like agave, honey and dates.
– Even artificial sweeteners like stevia and splenda.
– Try to eat more vegetables than fruits, or at least an even amount.
– Choose less sweet fruits over sweeter ones (ie apples, papaya, berries). Save sweeter ones for treats (watermelon, cantaloupe).
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE CARBOHYDRATES
– Fruits and veggies can make up a large portion of your daily carbohydrate requirements.
– Refined grains, pasta and bread are not nutritionally necessary when other foods are present in your diet.
BE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH
– Being healthy is an uphill battle in our social climate.
– Being passionate means you’ll keep learning, helping you to make the right choices happily.
– Your family will feed off your passionate energy and will understand that new changes are important.
– Being passionate about losing weight and being passionate about being healthy are not the same thing.
MAKE IT SOCIAL
– Meal time is primarily for nourishing your body, secondarily for nourishing your friends and family.
– Eat with your family and friends.
– Focus on the people around you just as much as the food around you.
– Eating shouldn’t be about filling your tummy or gorging.
ople always say that you need to live a healthy lifestyle. What exactly does that mean? To most people, living a healthy lifestyle is going to the gym 4-5 days per week and sticking to a healthy, clean diet. While I’m in favor of anything that gets people active and eating well, an hour per day in the gym is not enough – neither is a spin class, a hot yoga class or a long run.
It’s true, one hour per day and a healthy diet can keep you slim and sexy. That part is a matter of calories in, calories out. However, having a beautiful-to-look-at body won’t be enough for you one day.
All gym goers – actually, all humans – have one thing in common: you are going to grow old. The question is, how do you want to grow old? Do you want to be the 75 year old who still lives by himself, can still play with her grandchildren, who can walk confidently and unassisted? Or do you want to be the 75 year old who lives in an assisted living or nursing home, who needs a walker to walk, who sits on a bench and watches her grandchildren run around the yard and isn’t able to follow them? Do you want to be the 45 year old who has already had two knee surgeries and is on track for a hip replacement because of osteoporosis? Or do you want to grow old with all your own joints and bones? Do you want your child to be the
Another question is, how do you want to be young?
Do you want your child to be the 14 year old who pees a little when she sneezes because years of sitting at a desk have affected her pelvic floor muscles? The child who is diagnosed with arthritis in his early twenties because he overused a body that wasn’t aligned correctly to begin with?
What’s the best healthy lifestyle tip I can give you?
The most important thing you can do is take care of your bones, joints, muscles and organs by engaging in a lifestyle of movement. A lifestyle of movement isn’t about running, lifting heavy weights, working up a sweat or burning a lot of calories – it’s about returning to a way of life that helps maintain optimal alignment and healthy bones and joints. You can do all the fun, extreme fitness stuff to some degree – but only when you’ve set a foundation for your body to handle it.
The most important element to a lifestyle of movement is… you guessed it… movement.
Movement keeps your muscles strong and mobile. It keeps your tissues pliable and hydrated. It prevents you from losing range of motion and postural strength as you age, which ultimately limits your ability to move independently.
Working towards a lifestyle of movement means workings towards:
1. Putting your joints and body in as many different positions as possible, per day.
Examples of possible “resting positions” – squatting, sitting cross legged, sitting cross legged with one leg out, sitting with legs apart, kneeling on two knees, kneeling on one knee, sitting with legs in a butterfly, lying on your stomach, lying on your side, lying on your back, sitting in child’s pose, standing, standing with one leg up, standing while leaning forward onto something and sitting in a chair with your legs elevated.
Examples of possible “active positions” are infinite – walking, running, walking while carrying an object, squatting, bending and lifting, lunging, digging with a shovel and more.
2. Avoiding any one position for too long, especially the 90/90 position of sitting in a chair.
Chairs and couches need to go.
An hour per day in the gym is not enough time to counteract 8 to 10 hours sitting.
To accomplish goal #1 and #2 (above), you must make changes to the way you live.
The #1, best thing you can change?
Minimize the presence of chairs/couches in your life.
This means modifying your home, your office or your school to allow for more movement.
What’s the problem with chairs?
They’re not self limiting. That means the nature of the chair doesn’t inspire movement. The 90/90 position doesn’t put any of your joints in an extreme, active position. Cushioned surfaces mean that you’re not bothered by the downward pressure of your body onto the chair surface, as you would with other types of sitting.
Children sit in desks for hours at a time.
In other words, sitting in a chair is so comfortable that you don’t want to move and you don’t need to move. You could sit for hours without getting uncomfortable enough to move. So you do – you sit for hours while your body stiffens and your muscles don’t do anything. You miss out on countless chances to move your body into different positions, helping you to stay strong and limber.
If you squat, your hips will begin to ache after 5 minutes. When you kneel, your feet will begin to lose circulation from the weight of your hips on your feet. When you stand, eventually you’ll get tired and want to sit down. And so on.
In theory, you could achieve 5 different body positions in the course of a day (during your “chair life”) or you could achieve 10 different body positions more than five times each in the course of a day (during your chairless life) Multiply that by the number of days in a week, the number of weeks in a year, then the number of years in your life… if you live until 80, then you are doing 145,600 different body positions compared to 1,456,000 different body positions over the course of your life time.
That’s a pretty big difference in the health of your joints, your overall mobility and about one million billion gazillion trillion other health benefits associated with activity.
Living with minimal sitting can sound pretty intimidating/crazy/overwhelming/etc. to begin with… but I assure you it’s possible and actually pretty easy. And people everywhere are doing it.
They’re changing their offices. They’re changing their homesfollow. They’re changing their classroomsfollow. Most importantly, they’re changing their bodies and their lives.
Not ready to ditch your chairs and couches completely? Change the way you use them. I have a mental rule that I won’t sit on my bottom in a chair. I sit cross legged. I kneel on chairs. I sit like a pretzel. I sit on the floor and use the chair as a desk. Anything is possible! The more you practice a lifestyle of movement, the more natural it becomes.
Hey everybody! I’m excited to tell you that I was featured in “13 Ways You’re Not As Fit As You Think You Are” in Men’s Fitness online. Please check out the article here and see the two sections I contributed to – I am sure that most of you have probably never tried these two exercises before. Try them out – you will see a difference in your training!
I’d like to thank Amy Roberts and Men’s Fitness Online for the opportunity to share my knowledge with others! Training and nutrition are my greatest passion and it’s an honor to share that in a nationally recognized publication!
Do you run? I’ve dabbled in running for most of my “Fit” life – it’s so convenient and I love being in the great outdoors. I would by no means consider myself a great runner. About 10 years ago, I could hardly run two blocks (truth – just ask my husband. He thought I was faking it). I rarely go over 5 miles now and prefer shorter, faster distances…. but I’m still a much better runner now. Even with my improved performance, I’ve noticed my internal monologue isn’t so great when I’m running. “This is hard. I can’t wait to stop. Are we there yet?” Enter Sports Affirmations for Running.
Sports Affirmations for Running
Years ago, I decided to help change my inner monologue by making an audio track of positive statements about running. Affirmations had worked great for me when I had used them before, so I was excited to apply them to my athletic endeavors. Low and behold, my clients loved using the MP3s too. I made them for my golfers and tennis players, too.
Affirmations are positive statements that help to improve the way you feel about yourself and your athletic performance. As long as you have some shred of positivity about running and YOU running, these MP3s can help magnify those positive feelings and reset your inner monologue (Side note: Are you a complete negative Nancy about running? You’ve probably chosen the wrong way to get fit. I highly recommend contacting me, so you can find a way of getting fit that makes you JOYFUL!). Having a stronger mind means you will run faster and go farther – whether you are a beginner on those first few (very difficult) runs, or a seasoned athlete looking to push your pace in your next race.
After a successful stint on Amazon and ITunes, I’m offering my Sports Affirmations for runners FREE for a limited time. All you have to do is click here and sign up for my newsletter – after you sign-up, you’ll receive an e-mail with a link to your downloads (you can download Sports Affirmations for Golf, Sports Affirmations for Tennis AND Sports Affirmations for Runners!). Even better, you’ll be the first to know when I upload other FREEBIES and you’ll have access to exclusive articles that are only for my newsletter subscribers.
Inspiration, Motivation and Perspective. Brittany Culp was the first blind competitor in the NPC Bikini Division – I am honored that she granted me an interview. Brittany and I became friends as co-members in an exclusive online community called FitnessModels.com/
She talks candidly about life, fitness and blindness. Sometimes we all need a little inspiration to put some pep in our step and recommit to our goals, regardless of the forces we feel are working against us. I hope this interview with Brittany does that for you.
“We can create our own future. We can travel different paths, decide which way to go, and we can find the positive even in not so positive situations. We have a choice. I did not choose to be blind… unfortunately, I did not have a say in that. I do however, have a say in what I am going to do with my life.” – Brittany Culp
LS: Give us an introduction to YOU. Tell us your story! I know this will include your vision, so please share.
BC: I’m 24 years old, born and raised in the south Texas area. Currently I reside in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I work part time at a gym called Body Shop, as a front desk attendant. In 2014 I graduated
with my bachelors double majoring in Psychology and Sociology.
At the moment, I’m a full time graduate student, pursuing my masters in Psychology at Texas A&M University- Kingsville. Once I graduate, I will take the state exam to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC).
Long-term, I want to open a private practice where I can do counseling, and on the other side of it have a fitness studio to train people. This will allow me to not only incorporate the two things I am
most passionate about, but also give my clients that total mind and body connection. Mental health and physical health go hand in hand when it comes to the overall wellness of a person.
I’m hoping to have some free time this summer, to get my personal trainer certification. Outside of school, I’m a model. I enjoy doing photo shoots, and have placed in the top at all local bikini model
competitions I have competed in. I also compete in NPC competitions, and am sponsored by a supplement store called Rock’s discount vitamins and more. They have expanded to having over ten locations around Texas, and plan to open even more.
I’m the first blind NPC bikini competitor.
LS: How did you lose your eyesight? You seem to cope with it positively – did that come naturally or have you struggled?
BC: At six months of age, I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which has caused me to lose my sight with age. It took me a long time to fully accept my disability.
When I was a child, I did not quite understand what it meant to be blind, especially because at that time I was what you would call “visually impaired” or “low-vision”. I could see a lot more than I can
now. Back then, most of my trouble was at night and in dimly lit places, being near-sighted, and having tunnel vision. I could read large print with glasses, and did not use a cane at that time. I was
always at the top of my class academically, so I was not in special education. Even my class mates and teachers did not understand the extent of what I could and could not see.
I always tried to fit in as best I could, and I suppose in a sense, try to pass as a sighted
person. I cannot tell you how many times I would try to participate in dodge ball in P.E and would get hit in the face, causing my glasses to break. At that time, I would have rather the other kids think I was
just super clumsy, than have to explain I was different from them.
Honestly, I did not want to admit it to myself either; I was indenial. There was that fine line where I was too sighted to be considered “blind”, but too blind to be considered sighted. At times I felt very alone and depressed inside. I also had no outlet to express myself. I wanted to participate in sports so badly, but my vision loss was always getting in my way. I wanted to run track, but the coaches just saw me as a liability. I eventually even got taken out of P.E, because the coaches did not know what to do with me. Looking back on things, they could have let me participate on days when we went to the weight room, but I was too shy and self conscious at that time to even begin to think of suggesting ways they could accommodate me.
As I got older, my vision got worse, so it became harder to deny and hide. My glasses stopped working for me, I was getting even more near-sighted, and even large print became difficult for me to read.
Still, I resisted. I began learning Braille, getting mobility lessons to learn how to travel with a cane, and other useful skills every blind person should be taught, but I found it to be ridiculous. I had no idea how much I was cheating myself. By my teenage years, my grades began to suffer. I was once an honors student, and suddenly became a barely passing student.
From middle school to junior year of high school, my vision plummeted dramatically. One day our guidance counselor spoke to my class about applying for colleges and getting ready to take the SAT’s. It was at that moment, it hit me. I was barely making it in high school. How was I going to succeed in
college, let alone pass the SAT’s to get into one.
My mother suggested putting me in the Texas school for the blind, which I reluctantly
agreed to try out. I was only there for two weeks however. I hated it! I was so used to public school, and being around my sighted friends, going to parties, and all that stuff that high school kids typically
It was odd… in public school I felt out of place because I was the only blind kid, but at this school full of blind kids I still felt alone because I was so much more social than they were. Don’t get me wrong; there were some pretty cool blind kids there, but since this was a boarding school of sorts, there were too many rules. I made an agreement with my mother. I said that if she let me go back to public school, I would try harder in the classroom and be more open to learning blindness skills from the vision teachers they appointed me.
When I came back, I began using my cane every day. Once senior year rolled around, I was an A-B student again. Even then though, I still felt unready for college, so I decided to take a year off after
graduation, and went to a vocational rehabilitation training program for people losing their vision in Austin, Texas called Criss Coll Rehabilitation Center.
I was there for seven months, and was blind folded Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. I learned how to cook, clean, travel, and use assistive technology as a blind person.
The most memorable accomplishment I remember from my time there was my first drop off. Drop offs were done during Orientation and Mobility training (O&M), where they would drop us off blind folded with our canes at a random place in town, and have us find our way back to the
training center. They would observe from across the street or in a car of course, but they would not help you out unless you were in immediate danger, so you felt completely alone. Traveling alone was my
biggest phobia at that time, so I was freaking out when they dropped me off that day! Nevertheless, the skills they taught me just kicked in, and I found my way to a bus stop 3 blocks away, asked the bus
driver which route his bus was taking, and road it back to the training center.
Once I made it back, I felt so liberated. I never knew what independence felt like until I went there. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. After I graduated the training program, I came back to south Texas and began college as a new person. The rest
LS: What’s it like to stay physically active without your eyesight? Do you have any special challenges at the gym?
BC: Staying physically active without vision, is not as hard or different as some people may think. I lift weights, do my cardio, and have even participated in group classes before. It’s all just a matter
of making it work. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
The only things I have had trouble with, are things that require a lot of balance. Since quite a bit of my vision has deteriorated, I don’t have that total hand-eye coordination; its more like just hand coordination. So I try to avoid doing box jumps and one legged movements, unless I have
something or someone to kind of stabilize me. I also avoid doing squats with the squat rack, because now that I have gotten stronger and lift heavier weight, it’s just not safe if I were to be off
balance that day, so I do squats on the smith machine instead.
My left eye is my “good” eye, so I can see a little bit out of that one. It is hard to explain to what extent. I will say this though… I have good eye days and bad eye days, hence why my balance may be thrown off more one day versus another. Rarely does it ever become a serious issue though.
Aside from that, I’m just your typical gym goer! For two years, I worked out with personal trainers, but these past 5 months, I have just been working out with my boyfriend and friends. I hold on to their arm as we walk from machine to machine, just because it’s faster, especially during those peak times. For this prep I’m in right now, prepping for the Phil Heath classic on March 12, I’m working with David Schachtrle of Siccmade Muscle via online coaching. He has been a joy to work with, and I can’t wait to show off the new package he has helped me bring in this season.
4. LS: You were the first blind woman to compete in the NPC – Wow! How did you become interested in showing? Were you extra-nervous about any aspects of doing a show?
BC: I think there might have been a blind women’s physique competitor who started competing before me [LS: My error, But Britney IS the first in the bikini division]. I came across a video of her posing routine with her guide dog one day on google. There havealso been blind men who competed in body building before me, so I
cannot take all the credit [for being the first in the NPC].
However, I am indeed the first and currently only blind competitor in the bikini division of the NPC. I
became interested in competing in the NPC back in 2014. I came across an ad for a local competition they were having right here in Corpus Christi, called Battle on the Bay. All my life I wanted to be able to
participate in a sport, and body building never crossed my mind, until that moment.
I figured I was already modeling, working out, and had a sparked interest, so let’s just go for it. I hired a personal trainer a few weeks later, and began preparing for it. I did not become nervous until I began looking up videos of how to pose. I was completely lost. I knew it would be a challenge getting down the
posing and doing my model walk not only well, but independently. I wanted to be as independent as possible on that stage.
I did not want the judges or audience knowing I was blind until afterwards, that way I knew I was being judged on my body, not my disability. I was also hesitant about finding the right coach, because I wanted somebody who was going to take me seriously. Luckily, I found a local posing coach, Lee Trapasso, who is now my boss at the Body Shop, and he helped me out a lot. It was funny, because when I first contacted him on the phone, we were talking about what would be covered in a posing session
and he said, “I tell all my clients that when you are out on stage, you don’t have a mirror, so you should have practiced posing so much at that point that you should be able to do it blind folded.”
I had not told him I was blind yet, so I responded, “Well, that’s perfect, because I was about to tell you… I’m blind.” He then said, “Shut up… Really? Awesome! I can’t wait to work with you, and have you show what you learn to the competitors in my posing class.” I knew at that moment, I was in the right hands. He taught me how to pose and walk more confidentlly, and I came up with the counting steps idea.
Before every show, I get to the venue early to check out the stage, and once they lay down the tape, I practice walking from line to line a few times and count my steps. Like I said, I like to be as independent as possible on stage. I trained, dieted, sweated, and sacrificed for months for my time on that stage; its my moment to shine, and I don’t want some random person in my pictures.
At my first two shows, a majority of the people watching did not know about my disability. Shortly after though, I was featured on the news and on social media, so the word traveled quickly. At shows after that, I was getting recognized, and I was initially worried that people would begin to treat me like an outsider because of it, but that wasn’t the case at all. I had never felt more welcomed.
LS: What do you feel your biggest obstacle is, whether due to your sight or not?
BC: At times, my blindness is an obstacle, I won’t lie to you about that. However, it is not my biggest obstacle. I think of it more as an inconvenience. Nevertheless, it is a part of who I am, so I can either accept that and embrace it, or let it interfere with my life, which I refuse to do. My biggest obstacle, is that I am extremely hard on myself at times. I get wrapped up in my own head, look at all the
things I did wrong, don’t give myself enough credit for the good I do, and by the time I realize what I’m doing, I have already made myself an emotional mess.
It took me a while to realize this about myself, and I have had other people point it out to me. I suppose it just stems from wanting to be more than people expect of me. In many things I have accomplished, people expected me to fail. In turn, that made me fear failure even more, and I saw it as not an option. I suppose you could also call it compensation or perfectionism, but that’s just the psychologist in me talking.
Let’s just say, we are our own worst critics sometimes. I try to not be so hard on myself, but another way
I see it is… If I’m not hard on myself, who’s going to be? I need to make myself accountable.
LS: How do you approach obstacles in your path?
BC: A wise professor once told me, “There are no obstacles in life, only challenges to be met and overcome.” Whenever I am faced with a challenge, I first ask myself, “How badly do you want it?”. If what I really want is on the other side of that “obstacle”, then I start thinking of how I am going to get through it. Then I just take it step by step.
If for whatever reason it doesn’t work out, then I let out some frustration in the gym or sing it out in the shower. What I’ve learned is, that when something absolutely does not work out, there will eventually be something that will work out completely in your favor. You just have to keep moving forward, and take some things with a grain of salt.
LS: How do you make time for exercising and eating well? What are your other commitments?
BC: Fitness has become such a huge part of my life and daily routine now, that it’s just a way of life. I can always make time for the gym. The only times I absolutely cannot is around finals when I have exams,
presentations, and 20 page papers due all at once. I do fasted cardio 3-5 days a week at 6-8am, depending on if I get to sleep in, and weight lifting 5-6 days a week. In between that time, I’m either in
class, eating, doing homework, or spending time with my boyfriend and friends and family. On my rest days is when I will schedule photo shoots every now and then. I do have those days where I’m just not
feeling the gym; I’m only human. Whenever I feel like this I ask myself if I will regret not hitting the gym once the next day rolls around. If the answer is yes, I force myself to go. If my mind and body are just flat out exhausted and need the time off, I’ll take it. My boyfriend and I prep food throughout the week, so we are prepared.
If you don’t have your food prepped, you are more likely to want to go eat junk instead, so we try to stay prepared. If we ever go out to eat, I order my food as healthy as possible, unless it’s a cheat meal,
which I save for after I train legs on leg day. Since I am in full on prep mode right now, I put my meals into containers and take them with me when I’m on the go.
My friends and family used to give me a hard time when I would do this, but now they understand the dedication and hard work this sport takes, and are more supportive. Fitness is truly a lifestyle change. It is a commitment, but it is one that I am glad I have made. It has made me better mentally and physically. I could not imagine living my life any other way ever again.
LS: What motivates you, both in fitness and in life?
BC: The future is my motivation. Years ago, I could not imagine one for myself. I didn’t even care what happened… I thought there was nothing out there for me. Now, I know different. The possibilities are
endless. We can create our own future. We can travel different paths, decide which way to go, and we can find the positive even in not so positive situations. We have a choice. I did not choose to be blind…
unfortunately, I did not have a say in that.
I do however, have a say in what I am going to do with my life. I am pursuing higher education,
in a field that interests me, and is about helping other people. I am competing in a sport, that has given me the opportunity to meet wonderful people, given me a platform to inspire and educate others,
and to transform my mind and body into something great. In addition to that, I am not an outsider in this sport. I am training like everyone else, dieting like everyone else, sacrificing like everyone else, and
I am a blind athlete on that stage posing next to sighted athletes.
In this sport, I am not seperated from others; I am one hundred percent included.
LS: Do you have a “mission” as a person? Something you feel you were put on this earth to accomplish?
BC: My purpose is to live my life. That should be everyone’s purpose. Live the life you want to live. Try new things, meet new people, don’t take things for granted.
LS: Is there anything else you want readers to know?
BC: People often come up and tell me what an inspiration I am to them. At first, I did not know how to take that, or understand why. Part of me thought it was because people have this misconception that
blindness should be a death sentence. If you live in the dark, then your life should reflect that. Sit inside your house, be a shut in, keep your head down, and be hopeless. Then here I come with my pink cane, tattoos, blonde hair, and muscles, not being a stereotype. I guess I could understand how that would be inspiring. T
hen I realized… if that is your reasoning, that’s not inspiring. That is you being
uneducated about blind people. It’s okay though… I used to be uneducated about blindness too. Fact of the matter is, there are plenty of blind people out there just like me, living their lives independently, successfully, and happily.
The only reason you know about me, is because I am in the spotlight more than they are. I used
to shy away from the spotlight when I was younger, but now I welcome it. Somebody needs to bring the reality of blindness into the light. Sometimes yes, I do hate having to answer all the ignorant questions
from people. Yes, sometimes I get p****d when someone says an ignorant statement like, “You don’t look blind…”. What is blindness supposed to look like? If you need a certain look to be associated with blindness, I’ll gladly take on the challenge of creating a new look. The look of a person accepting blindness as nothing but a characteristic, and living their life as they were meant to do.
In this, I finally understood why people are inspired. People do not take advantage of their blessings or appreciate them. Instead of living the lives they want to live, they make excuses, they find reasons not to do something, and then they wonder why they feel as if something is missing. Take a risk people! Have some blind faith. *giggle*
LS: Where can readers keep track of you? Do you have a web site or social media?
My instagram name is @culpbrit. I have a facebook page, facebook.com/culpbrit but I’m more active on my instagram. I have a website, but I have not been posting on there because it needs some serious reconstruction, so if you know anyone who can help me out and make it screen reader accessible, I’ll definitely start up my blog again! I have been wanting to.
LS: Thank you so much, Brittany Culp!
So, there once was a family of three who decided they were going to move to Spain. Yes, you heard me. Spain. And we sold everything we owned. Almost.
Why We Sold Everything We Own (Almost)
Most of you may not know this, but we very nearly moved to Spain this year. LIKE… we had paid to have all of our important documents translated into Spanish. We had appointments to get our Visas. Ron had been accepted to a graduate school in Barcelona. We were looking at apartments. I was making Facebook friends in Barcelona.
And then we didn’t.
A big something came up and put a wrench in our plans.
But, before Spain “didn’t happen,” we had started selling everything we owned… because we couldn’t take it with us on the airplane. We made the decision to go to Spain with just a duffel bag per person. And that was a hard decision for me.
What about my stuff? My furniture? My art? My sheets? My towels? My jewelry? My extra clothes?? My plates, my bowls… MY STUFF!!!!!
As attached to my stuff as I was, I was more attached to the idea of taking an adventure.
And selling everything we owned turned out to be the most freeing, adventurous experience of my life. Over the course of six months of selling things, I experienced a massive shift of perspective. With every item sold or donated, I became more attached to my family, my values and my health instead of my furniture, my vases, my things. I began to feel lighter and more free.
It worked out well, in the end… we decided to do our move out West without renting a moving truck, so everything must go anyways…
This piece is the last of the last. My great grandfather’s dresser. It has been in my bedroom since I was a little girl.
This dresser represents the last of the last.
I am selling it this week. It’s just a thing. A beautiful thing, but there are a lot of beautiful things in the world. I am going to live from a place of “I CAN.” If I want another beautiful thing, I CAN GO OUT AND BUY IT AGAIN. There are other beautiful things in the world. This is not the last beautiful thing I will own.
Instead, I’m taking this picture of my dresser and I’m putting it in a photo album called “Stuff I used to own.” It will be a beautiful memory for me. And I am not sad. I think everyone should do this once in their lives… get rid of EVERYTHING!
Are you attached to your things? Could you envision yourself doing this?
This is my sugar addiction story. 10 years ago, this was my section of the grocery store. I would have little Debbie Swiss rolls at breakfast and Chocolate chip cookies with dinner. I would sometimes eat 20 or 30 cookies PER SITTING!! It was embarrassing, but I played it off like it was something cool. I drank maple syrup from the bottle. While I was thin from hours of dance class per week, I got sick all the time and never had any energy. I got into the habit of doing “penalty box” cardio to compensate for my overeating. I even lied to my then-boyfriend-now-husband about what I was eating. He would throw away junk food that I brought home. I ate out of the trash on several occasions.
My Sugar Addiction Story Continues…
Even after I became a personal trainer/strength and conditioning coach, changing my ways was extremely hard. I wanted to stop and become healthier, but I would ALWAYS find myself back to binge eating sugar and junk food. Did you watch my periscope about eating out of the trash? Lying about what I was eating?? I was ashamed and felt like a failure. I felt like I was the only person who couldn’t just suck it up and “eat right”.
I became involved with coaches who had a tough love mentality, which didn’t make anything better. Tough love doesn’t work. Extreme programs don’t work. I adopted the same mentality with my clients in an attempt to hide my own failures . I knew what I needed to do but somehow I just couldn’t do it.
Flash forward to 2016. I am like a different person. I don’t battle my sugar addiction on a daily basis anymore. I don’t have to crash exercise to make up for bingeing. I rarely get sick and I have tons of energy. Most importantly, I am happy and understand that sugar addiction is a very real thing that no one should feel ashamed of!!
Six months postpartum, my body is back to where it was pre baby… with less than 40 minutes per day of exercise. I’ve found a sustainable, fool proof way to eat… Without feeling deprived or starving myself!!
Do you hear YOUR story in any of this?