5 Ways To Use The Mind Muscle Connection For Better Workouts

Ever wonder why some people are so committed to working out? Maybe it’s because you have never experienced and truly enjoyed the feeling of what many weightlifters call the ‘pump.’ It’s the stimulating and euphoric feeling that directly results from the mind muscle connection.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, it’s actually easy to achieve.

We are not always in the prime position to reap the full benefits of exercise. If we are simply going through the motions and repetitions, we miss out on the good stuff. We miss out on that euphoric feeling and “pump” that comes with exercising.

As a guide, here are 5 tips to help you achieve the right mind muscle connection for a better workout.

Touch the muscle you are trying to work

Before starting out with your routine, you should do a pre-ritual. It will mentally prepare you to give your best in your workout. Flexing and touching the muscle you are about to exercise can help you build the right mind muscle connection. It will bring awareness to the muscles.

Think positively

think positively

Arnold Schwarzenegger believed that the origin of all of his power came from “channeling positive energy into his muscles during every exercise.” He created such a positive emotional attachment to them that each time he steps into the gym, he aims to re-experience the rush of endorphins his mind and body work together to create.

In practice, we must learn to imagine the strength we are gaining and embrace the struggle. Remember why you are working out and visualize the body and physique you are trying to achieve. Because, when we become aware, we generate more happy feelings and endorphins in our body.

Understand the feeling of the muscle working

When we take the time to visualize and experience the feeling of the muscles we are working out, we subconsciously remember what that feels like during the exercise. This helps us to know whether or not we are working our muscles properly. Armed with this knowledge, we can determine if we need to make any adjustments to our exercise routine.

Sometimes, touching our muscles and flexing them is not enough. Try to do a lightweight isolation exercise that focuses on the muscle you are trying to work so you can get an idea.

Check your ego

check ego

Sometimes, we get caught up in reaching that PR that we forget about proper form.

For example, when we add more weight without establishing a good foundation, we are only tricking our minds into thinking we can handle it. This is the primary reason for muscle imbalances, which eventually turn into pain.

The body is a complex mechanism with hundreds of muscles, bones, and tissues. All of these things work together to help you complete a move.

This makes it essential that you know what other muscle groups are used in every exercise you do. If your primary focus is muscle X, don’t allow yourself to become lazy and allow other muscles to compensate for it.

Take a 5-minute warmup before your workout

Rushing into anything rarely produces the best results. When we jump from one task to another, it becomes harder to gain immediate focus, especially if we haven’t cleared our minds enough to focus on the present moment.

When our workout becomes focused on getting the job done, we rush in order to advance to the next task on our list. This makes us miss the whole purpose of working out.

Don’t jump right into the thick of things. You can take as little as 5 minutes to calm your mind and clear your thoughts before your warm up. Get lost in your music, float around and stay loose.

Think about getting into “the zone.”

See Also: 5 Essential Items to Enhance Your Gym Experience

Moving forward

If we cannot feel the muscles we are trying to work on, then what is the point of exercising? Achieving the ‘pump’ or muscle stimulation is the primary purpose of lifting weights. If you have experienced this, then you are in on the secret. You have a very good idea of what makes a good mind muscle connection.

The ‘pump’, however, is something anyone can achieve.

By making your mind work together with your muscles, you can progress at a much faster rate. Don’t just move the weight, lift it purposefully! You will soon discover how exercise can make you experience that ‘pump’ feeling, and it can be the driving force that keeps you progressing in the gym.

How do you channel your inner beast?

See Also: 19 Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise

 

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Burn the Village Down: Melissa Febos on “Abandon Me”

Many readers have called Melissa Febos’s second book, Abandon Me, “emotionally devastating,” and that’s just what she wants. “I hope for nothing more,” she says, “than to burn the village down with my writing.”

A memoir in essays, Abandon Me centers on the consuming, emotionally abusive relationship Febos fell into with a married woman while she simultaneously reconnected with the Native American birth father she hadn’t seen since childhood. Both relationships push Febos to explore the many ways in which abandonment played out in her childhood and early romantic relationships. The book focuses in particular on her relationship to the man who raised her, a sea captain who, while loving, was absent from her life for months at a time, propelling Febos into a protective self-sufficiency that kept her from experiencing the pain of being left for most of her adult life. The particular magic of this book, however, is, that while it may burn the reader’s village to the ground, it also equips the reader with the tools to build a better, more resilient village. The book explores shame, loss, and the meaning of family with such tenderness and vulnerability that readers can’t help but look at their own wounds through a more empathetic and, hopefully, healing lens.

I spoke with Melissa in her Brooklyn apartment about heartbreak, writing as an act of faith, and how the most frightening and painful experiences are the ones that set us free. —Amy Gall

The Barnes & Noble Review: You once told me that your writing process for this book was completely different from anything you’d previously written. Can you say more about that?

Melissa Febos: I’ve long been a pragmatic writer. I do outlines, I make lists, I impose structure. This book just wouldn’t allow for that. I had to find my way into the narrative and meaning of all the essays in this collection pretty much blind.

The first essay I wrote for the book was “Call My Name,” which is about my reaction to hearing people say my name. I entered the writing of it completely phonically. It made sense, because my relationship to my name is so fused with sound, but it was unlike any kind of writing I’d ever done before. I made my way through each paragraph very slowly, sound by sound, and that led to another paragraph where I did the same thing, and it went from there. I groped my way through without knowing what I was writing about or trying to say. Once I had what I thought was a draft, I took that draft and completely broke it apart and shuffled around the paragraphs endlessly and then I hammered each line for months. It was the only thing I worked on. I say to my students that by the time you are done with something you should have it completely memorized and you should have a relationship to every shape and every white space on the page, because every single aspect of what you write should be a choice — and that was 100 percent true for this book.

The revision process was the same for all the essays. Once I had a draft, to figure out the structure I would literally print it out, cut up the paragraphs, and organize them on the floor in piles by theme, by narrative thread, by subject, and then I would arrange them in an order that seemed right and make notes where I needed to add transitions, and then I would tape it all up on a board on the wall. It looked crazy, like some formula out of A Beautiful Mind, but it became a map that saw me through. Without fail, every essay I did this for I’d have this background voice in my mind saying, “This is ridiculous. This is a very elaborate form of procrastination. You are failing.” I’d think, “You’re right. This is impossible. But I don’t know what else to do and it worked last time,” and then at some point, seemingly out of nowhere, it would work. It was totally frightening, but I knew I had to keep the blinders on and go. This was the most spiritual writing I’ve ever done, because it required so much faith.

BNR: How has your definition of abandonment changed since you wrote this book?

MF: So much of my narrative of myself and my relationships is about leaving and being left. And I had the idea early on, maybe when I thought of the title — which I came up with before I wrote any of the book — that I wanted to find the other meaning of abandonment, which was to let go of yourself, yielding to something in a liberating way, rather than having something wrenched away from you. And that felt really beautiful and open to me, especially since it had never been my experience.

Even though I’ve had very intense life experiences and it seems kind of wild and crazy to have been a junkie or a dominatrix, I’ve always been incredibly controlled. And in fact those experiences were my way of attempting to show that I was in control. Even pushing boundaries is a way to prove that you have power.

So I wanted to give myself to something that felt soft and free and joyful. I wanted to give myself to myself. That was the dimension that I did find in writing the book. The whole process was this big circle through all the abandonments of my life, back to myself.

From the age of seven until thirty-two I think I was very committed in a conscious and unconscious way to not being abandoned, and by that I mean to not feeling the way being abandoned felt. I made sure I was never left and never had my heart broken by someone else. I was successful at that and it made me safe in some ways. But it also kept me in bondage to a smaller realm of experience. But, in living the relationship I write about in Abandon Me, that wasn’t an option any more. I got hurt. And there’s something incredibly freeing about being hurt. Because, if you survive it, you know that it’s possible.

BNR: In some ways, it’s freeing to be hurt, too, because you bear less responsibility.

MF: Yes. While less painful, it’s lonelier to be the person who leaves, because you are the one who made the decision and you can’t fight against yourself. Whereas, in my relationship with Amaia, I gave away all my power, or convinced myself I had, so I had someone to beat my fists against and to blame and long for, and before I had never had that. I had never wanted something that fiercely from someone. I had only had people want that of me.

BNR: Did that relationship and the experience reframe your sense of past relationships both romantic and familial?

MF: It gave a body to something I had believed in in name only. I knew that not knowing my birth father and that my [step]father leaving to go to sea for my whole childhood was traumatic. I knew that I had a certain reaction to that which was to become superhumanly self-sufficient and to never fall in love with anyone who didn’t love me a little bit more, as an insurance policy, and I knew that the feelings of grief I experienced with my birth father not being in my life and my father being absent probably still happened but I had never accessed them at all. And it genuinely didn’t feel like a conscious manipulation on my part. I didn’t go into relationships saying, “I will not allow myself to get hurt.” But that moment of recognition would always come where I said, “Fuck, I’m going to break this person’s heart and I’m going to be alone again.” And with Amaia, the story I had been making jokes about my whole life, where my abandonment issues were going to catch up to me and rise to the surface and I was going to go nuts and be the neediest person on the planet, happened.

This is maybe bad news for some people: needing someone and feeling disempowered and afraid and feeling like you can’t live without someone and having all of that childhood survival imperative attached to a love interest was as painful as I had feared. It was excruciating. But it didn’t last forever, and maybe it had to be that blunt because I have such a high tolerance for painful things. In order for me to get clean from heroin, it had to get really, really ugly. In order for me to stop being a dominatrix it had to get dark, and in order for me to really face my own shadow parts and childhood pain it had to be something I couldn’t negotiate with.

BNR: One of the sentences that really grabbed me happens to be on the first page of the book. You say of your childhood, “We were lucky and we were loved, which isn’t the same as happy, if you believe in such a thing.” Do you believe in happiness? What is the difference between love and happiness?

MF: I think of happiness and love as being in the same category insofar as they are not endpoints or sustainable conditions. They are processes. But I think love is an act. And I think that what we refer to as happiness is just a point in the wave of human emotional experience. It’s the peak rather than the trough. If you are a changing person, then you will have moments that you could call happiness, and then you will have moments that are many other things. So, for instance, in my family I had a privileged upbringing. I was loved and I never doubted that, and no violence was committed against me, but, my parents were sad and struggling and working through things. They were also inspired and affectionate and hilarious, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but it wasn’t all an unbroken line of happiness. I think families are simply more complicated than that.

BNR: Your connection to literature and reading is one of the most illuminating aspects of the book, and you incorporate other authors into your own narrative so seamlessly. How did you make decisions about what works to include?

MF: It wasn’t a decision or plan, it was organic to the material and also to the process, which was one of relentless intrusion. Different characters, different sounds, different texts would just come in while I was writing because I didn’t know where my next step was going to fall. Normally, if I was writing an essay and a quote from John Berger busted in I would say, “Get out of here!” But because I had no idea what the structure was going to be, I just let these lines in. It makes sense to me now because I was writing about my childhood and narrative and patterns throughout history and my understanding of all of this has come from other people’s words.

Some of the books I mention, like The Road Less Traveled or Franny and Zooey, were books that were on my parents’ shelf when I was a child or books that were central to the time in my life that I was writing about. Others, like the books by Jung or Winnicott, were books that I came to when I was living the adult experiences I describe in the book because I was grasping for a way to feel in control of what was happening to me. I felt so unhinged, and those were the kind of thinkers who made me feel like it was possible to make sense of things. Jung is a psychologist, but he’s also magic. He’s dreams and archetypes and delving into the psyche. He studies madness by practicing it in some ways, and that was what I wished for myself. I get asked a lot if I pursue crazy experiences so I can write about them. I don’t. What happens is, I get entrenched in crazy experiences and then I try to survive them by attaching a narrative to them.

I also have always been attached to books that make sense of pain. There’s something in us — that I think has to do in part with contemporary American culture, but is also human nature — where we recoil from pain and see it as a sign that something needs to be fixed. But, with emotional pain, there isn’t always something to fix. Philosophers and psychologists and historians have paradigms for understanding how pain is not always a sign that something is broken, and I need a lot of reminders of that, especially when I’m in pain.

BNR: Sometimes, I find it easier to be vulnerable on the page than face-to-face with another human being.

MF: Sometimes?! [Laughs]

BNR: That’s true for you, right?

MF: 100 percent. That’s why I’m a writer. Almost everything I write about is a conversation I couldn’t have with another human being. Only after I have a conversation with myself on the page can I put it out into the world. And after I’ve done that, I have to talk about it out loud to other humans, and I’m more comfortable talking about it by that point. But I am a secret keeper and a compartmentalizer, and I used to be a liar. It’s not in my nature to be forthcoming and vulnerable. All my instincts scream at the idea. And yet, I have figured out that my survival depends upon it.

BNR: What is your favorite thing about language?

MF: Language will never let me win. I’ll never be able to master it. I’ll never be able to make it do exactly what I want. And that’s why it’s the one thing I’ll never be finished with, because it will never give itself to me completely. Which also means, I’ll always be in love with it. So, read into that what you want. [Laughs]

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How Runners Can Easily Improve Their Foot Strength

The average runner lands about 5,000 times on each foot during a one-hour run. Their feet, on the other hand, can absorb 2-3 times their body weight with each stride. Considering these things, it’s easy to assume that runners have very strong feet.

The truth is that most runners only develop those muscles required for running. Without proper exercise, the other small muscles can become weak and this can spell disaster. Weak foot muscles put runners at increased risk of incurring common running injuries, such as sprained ankles, shin splints, plantar fasciitis and problems with the Achilles tendon.

Since the feet provide the balance and power they need to run, runners should take the time to stretch and strengthen them. Here are some workouts for runners that can help:

Going Barefoot

going barefoot

Going barefoot surprisingly strengthens foot muscles and is a brilliant way to build up your fitness. Removing the support offered by running shoes forces the stabilizing muscles in your feet to work harder.

Start by going barefoot indoors and practice standing and walking on the balls of your feet. Gradually progress to walking barefoot outdoors but take care and go slowly at first. As your feet become more stable, gradually increase your range of activities to include jumping and running.

Toe And Heel Walks

Walking on tiptoe helps improve your balance and strengthen the foot muscles. This is best done when barefoot to really work your ankles and the small muscles of your feet.

To tiptoe, simply balance your weight on the toes and balls of your feet with your heels touching the ground. For heel walking, reverse this position and lift your toes off of the ground instead.

Spend a minute or two walking around in both positions before going back to your normal walking posture. Both exercises force more calf and shin muscle engagement, making them stronger.

Toe Abduction

wearing shoes all day

Having shoes on all day can compress your toes in a space that’s too narrow for them to move. This often causes problems with the adductor and abductor muscles which can prevent you from easily spreading your toes.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, one of the best workouts for runners you can do is toe abduction. Start by standing barefoot, with your feet flat on the floor.

Shift your weight to your heels so you can easily lift your toes. Then, spread your toes as far from each other as they can before relaxing them again. Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions with rests in between. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times a day until the motion comes effortlessly.

Toe Curls

Deceptively simple, this exercise involves placing an object, like a towel, on the floor then using your toes to pull it towards you. You can be creative with this exercise as long as the objects you choose can be picked up or pulled by your toes.

This exercise targets the intrinsic foot muscles (those inside the foot) as well as the front shin muscles.

Calf Raises

Endurance athletes are familiar with the benefits offered by high-intensity interval training (HIIT). However, your calf muscles need to be strong first before you can enjoy the advantages of doing the exercise.

To work your calves, stand on the edge of a step and allow your heels to drop below the step’s level. Push up to the balls of your feet and hold this position. You should feel the pull on your calf muscles.

Bent-Knee Wall Stretches

Bent-knee wall stretches target the soleus muscle deep in the calves. To perform this exercise, begin by placing your palms flat against a wall and stand with one leg forward and one leg back.

Slowly bend your legs, lower yourself into a “seated” position and lean into the wall until you feel the muscles in your back calf stretching. Hold this position for 30 seconds then switch legs.

Using Resistance Bands

Take an exercise band and fasten one end to a secure point, like a bedpost or table leg. Sit with your legs extended in front of you then loop the other end of the band around the top of your foot, just below your toes.

Keeping your legs straight, pull this foot towards you. Once you’ve gone as far as you can, relax and return to your starting position. Several reps of this will gradually strengthen the Achilles tendon.

Foot strength is vital for runners hoping to increase their speed and endurance. Including these workouts for runners in your routine can give you that much-needed edge over your competitors.

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Ellivo Architects Design a Spacious Contemporary Home in Brisbane, Australia

This home, constructed in a simple style, was designed by Ellivo Architects in 2017. It is located in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and has an area of 2,115 square meters. With a beautiful exterior with stone and glass walls and a wooden ceiling, if we can be sure of anything, it is that this home does not go unnoticed. A fantastic entrance welcomes us, perfectly taken care of in all aspects…

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March is the start of Florida’s sea turtle nesting season. 🐢…

March is the start of Florida’s sea turtle nesting season. 🐢  Female sea turtles leave the ocean to dig nests and lay golf ball-size eggs in the sand. Visiting a Florida beach? Do your part to help sea turtles – leave the beach as natural as possible by removing beach furniture and other obstacles before sunset each day. Photo of Loggerhead hatchlings by Tonya Long, Florida Fish and Wildlife.

5 Legal Issues To Consider And Address Before A Divorce

Divorce is an ugly process filled with drama and heated-up emotions.

Despite this, divorce rate continues to increase in number across the globe. A 2014 divorce data showed that America has a 53% divorce rate while Belgium has the highest rate at a staggering 70%.

Some individuals decide to push through with a divorce case after spending a long time in their relationships. One good example is the woman who sought to end her 39-year marriage in a Valentine’s day court appeal.

If you are thinking of the same thing, here are some of the most common divorce legal issues you should be prepared to address.

Divorce types and processes

types of divorce

The first step in any divorce case involves deciding what type of divorce case to pursue and how to go about it. We are in the 21st century and time has taken its toll on everything, including divorce types and the processes involved.

To legally put an end to a marriage, a number of processes and approaches have to be taken. Some of these processes are not only physically exhausting but stressful, too.

Divorce legal issues vary from case to case and the laws governing them differ greatly from state to state. Before you take any action, it’s advisable that you verify the laws and divorce rules and regulations applicable in your region.

  • Collaborative divorce

In this divorce, each party hires his own attorney to help draft the divorce terms and conditions. However, the application of this law is limited as not all states offer it.

  • Mediated divorce

In this case, both spouses hire one attorney to assist and facilitate the divorce process. Not all states offer this law either.

  • No-Fault divorce

A no-fault divorce does not put the blame on any party. It only cites the breakdown of the union. This is the most commonly pursued divorce type by couples with personal issues they wish not to disclose to the public.

  • Summary divorce

This divorce type works best for couples that have been married for a short period of time and have limited properties, no spousal support, and children. This divorce type does not exist in MA and a few other states.

  • Uncontested divorce

In this type of divorce, couples are able to decide the divorce terms without the interference or assistance of external forces. This is the most common divorce type and couples who file this case gets to decide what suits their needs.

It’s also important for couples to take into consideration the average duration of time it would take for their divorce case to actually push through. This will help them to take appropriate precautions and measures if there be a need.

See Also: The ‘Dos and Don’ts when going through a divorce

Financial issues

This is one of those factors that tend to aggravate the divorce process. In some cases, it can even be the root cause of the problem.

During the process, it’s important for divorcing couples to legally settle and document their agreed financial terms and conditions. One good example is child support.

Failure to do this can lead to a contested divorce case and this can initiate an unending debate between parties. This goes particularly true with couples who aim to gain an upper hand.

In addition to prolonging the case, it can also cause money to be wasted on attorney fees and related divorce procedures. Although it’s natural for both parties to feel angry and act irrationally, they should still consider the big picture if they want to settle the case faster. 

Custody issues

child custody

Child custody is the single most important issue divorcing parents must deal with. Failure to address the issue properly can put kids through hell and make them suffer heavily for their parents’ decisions.

Divorcing parents must come to an agreement about the important issues that can affect the welfare of their kids. This includes legal child custody, physical child custody, health insurance for the children, and their religious upbringing. They must also agree on their education, visitation rights, and other expenses that may arise in the future.

It’s advisable for divorcing parents to decide on such issues together. However, for parents who can’t get along, the court will review a number of factors that can determine which parent is the best fit for the kid. If a kid is 12-years or older, the court follows the child’s preference.

Spousal support issues

To successfully settle a divorce case, it’s important for spouses to keep a fair share of funds and support for one another.

Some support types are not really concerned with immediate financial needs. Some of them refer to long-term financial assistance, like pension plans to support the spouse for a certain period of time.

It’s important for couples to legally address this issue to certify the spouse’s entitlement to support, the amount to be paid in pension and the duration it should be paid for.

This will inevitably help both parties to hold their stance and will serve as a checkbook whenever unplanned events pop up.

Preparation of necessary documents

Lastly, it’s important to be able to present clear documents that can affect the terms and conditions of the divorce. Order than child custodian statement, a few other important documents to prepare include the following:

  • Prenuptial agreement
  • Separation agreement
  • Pension statements
  • Bank statements
  • Utility bills
  • Credit card statements
  • Mortgages
  • Loan documents
  • Life insurance policies
  • Benefits statements
  • Other bills (tuition fees, medical bills, etc)

Ability to have such files documented will help the union to remain solid and will prevent unnecessary drama at a later time.

See Also: 5 Divorce Mistakes to Avoid Right Now

 

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Bureau XII Architects Complete a Renovation in Sofia, Bulgaria

This house, built in 1945, was renovated and expanded by Bureau XII Architects in 2016. It’s located between the Iskar River and the Vitosha Mountains, twelve kilometers from the city center of Sofia, Bulgaria. It covers a total space of 1,206 meters squared. The beautiful gardens that surround the structure are full of towering trees, offering a pleasant shade beneath, under which people can find refuge in the scorching heat..

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