Author Archive for: jentwistle


Martial Arts is All That…

I started Martial Arts at a time in my life when I was discontent with my emotional, physical and cognitive health.  I was unhappy with myself and listed all the reasons I felt that way to come to a very solid conclusion – I was not getting enough exercise.  After having four kids in five years, my exercise and sports were naturally not at the forefront of my time.  My solution?  Karate.  Why?  It would provide me with the physical outlet I needed, would be a cognitive challenge, and would feed my emotional need to do something for “me”.  Also, I considered self-defence, like CPR and First Aid, a tool I wanted in my “just in case” tool box.  But what I found through Martial Arts was much more than I expected.  I always struggled to explain this to others until I read a wonderful post from Sensei Master Michael Sirota (  Sensei Sirota lives in British Columbia and has created an entire Martial Arts program for people with disabilities.  He is heavily involved in the Para-Olympics and is, in my mind, a pillar in the Martial Arts Community.  I was fortunate enough to meet Michael in person last year.

In his post “Why Martial Arts”, Sensei Sirota highlighted the benefits:

Self-Defense:  “practice the fight so you don’t have to”.  This speaks to the fact that Martial Artists develop a quiet confidence that is seen but not heard.  This confidence makes them less vulnerable as a target of violence, and teaches them to identify potentially dangerous situations early to promote avoidance. 

Athletic Enhancement and Fitness:  Many athletes combine their sports training with Martial Arts to maintain endurance, flexibility, coordination and swiftness.  Being able to strike, kick and move quickly mimics the explosive, fluid and coordinated movements needed in sport.  There are few other activities that burn as many calories, or result in such an overall body workout. 

Other Health Benefits:  Martial Artists tend to take diet and exercise seriously.  This is part of the intensity of their training and their commitment to wellness.  Martial Arts requires concentration and focus, things relatable to all areas of life.  Martial Arts is a commitment with the built in motivation of moving through belt levels to achieve the goal of Sensei.

Respect and Courtesy: Contrary to popular belief, Martial Arts is about restraint and playing nicely in the sand box.  It has been proven that children (and adults) trained in martial arts tend to be disciplined, composed and respectful.  This is beneficial in all areas of life, especially relationships, school and work.  

So, if you are looking for fitness, emotional strength, confidence, and cognitive stimulation, there are few other activities that will provide more bang for your buck.  And, fortunately, there are many forms of Martial Arts to choose from, making it likely that you can connect with a style and form that aligns with your interests.

Eat For Healthy Bones

It has long been understood that bone health becomes increasingly important as you age – especially for women.  It is also known that the functional impacts of a broken bone (reduced self-care, productivity and leisure) can be massive.  The role of calcium is well known, but what other factors contribute to bone health?  Health magazine has created a list of eleven foods that maximize the strength of your bones.  Check this out and see if you can up your consumption of bone health promoting nutrients

What Behaviors Do You Want to Modify?

One of the best courses I took in university was Behavior Modification.  Our main project was to modify one of our own behaviors over a four month period.  Personally, I had a dog and wanted to develop a better walking routine.  So, over the four months I mapped out several walking routes that increased my time spent walking on a weekly basis.  By the end of the four months, I was walking my dog two hours and twelve kilometers a day.  Research indicates that it takes four months to develop a new habit, so by the end of the course my new walking routine became standard practice and something I did religiously with my dog (and then dogs) until I had my family and needed to develop a new routine.

Often, when our regular routines are interrupted by disability bad habits develop.  While not immediate, over time days can become more and more unproductive until soon very little is getting accomplished.  This has a drastic impact on mental health and impacts all areas of physical, cognitive and emotional functioning, let alone the impact on those that we live with.

The best way I have been able to help clients to break such routines is to simply have them track how they spend their time.  Once this is documented, people can quickly identify the problems areas and then together we discuss how to fix them.  For example, through tracking for a week, one client discovered that she does not shower, one found that he watches ten hours of TV per day, and another learned that she does not eat during the day, but consumes junk food all evening.  In every case, people discovered something about their routine that drove them into action for change.

So, if you are concerned that your routine is lacking in productivity, self-care or leisure, or there are activities you would like to resume or goals to achieve, just keep a log of how you spend your time.  After a week, reflect on your log and make a list of the problem areas.  Commit to making small changes (start with the easiest changes first) and over time, you will see huge improvements in how you feel about yourself and your routines.  Or, for a more structured approach, consider hiring a professional to assess your suitability for the Progressive Goal Attainment Program.  This program involves using time tracking over 10 weeks to completely revamp routines to reduce psychosocial barriers to recovery, improve mental health and reduce disability caused by chronic pain.


How Is Your Mood?

Mental illness is the most common cause of lost work and debilitates thousands of Canadians.  Yet, it continues to be a problem not openly discussed.  So, what do you really know about your mental health and the things that can affect it?  Recent studies suggest that eating fast food regularly can increase your chances of developing depression and that stress may be genetic.  Find out more about these and other surprising ways our mental health can be affected in this article from Best Health Magazine.  See how your diet and lifestyle choices may be affecting your mood. 
Best Health– 6 Things You May Not Know About Mental Health