Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Always Learn Something! (Books, Videos & Blogs for ALS Wellness)

Here’s a short list of books, blogs and videos that helped me during my first years of learning to live with ALS.

When the Body Says No: The Hidden Cost of Stress, by Gabor Maté’, M.D., Wiley. 2011.

This book came recommended by a dear friend during my initial months with ALS and it reaffirmed my understanding of the mind-body connection. Dr. Maté draws on modern research, his decades of experience as a physician and the stories of famous people including Lou Gehrig, to explore the role hidden stress plays in disease. I found his chapter on ALS particularly enlightening. In the book’s final chapter, Dr. Maté offers a list of emotionally-charged words that can be used for personal introspection, journaling or a daily “mantra” to help begin the process of emotional self-healing.

There are quite a few videos on YouTube of Dr. Maté's presentations at health conferences. This particular one, Caring for Ourselves While Caring for Others, (1 hour 15-min) is excellent. YouTube Link

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2008

This book lays the foundation for understanding of how our brains comprehend and crave what Mihaly calls, ‘the optimal experience.’ It does not matter if our physical self is less than perfect; mentally, emotionally and spiritually we can all challenge ourselves in the voluntary effort to accomplish something worthwhile. Flow, will show you how you can create a meaningful life and experience deep meaning - - every single day.

This link is to a full-length presentation on Flow by Mihaly recorded at the prestigious TED Conferences.  Link Here

The Brain That Changes Itself,” Stories of Personal Triumph From the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge, MD. 2007. Penguin Books.

Neuroplasticity has become the buzzword for the brain’s ability to rewire itself. Although most of the early research has been focused on how the brain adjusts to brain injury, spinal injury and loss of limbs - - current research is delving into not only how the brain adjusts to neurological issues but emotional and habitual changes as well.

I found personal inspiration reading how when the body loses its ability to maintain balance (as is the case with ALS) the brain seeks alternate ways to process spatial information. We all have untapped potential!

Link Here - for a short interview with Dr. Doidge on brain plasticity. 

Smart Moves, Why Learning is Not all in Your Head, 
by Carla Hannaford, PhD. Great River Books. 2007.

To understand the effect ALS has on the body, it is wise to first understand how healthy bodies work. Hannaford’s book begins with a detailed yet easy to understand description of how our bodies grow and develop all the way from infancy to adulthood.  She then goes on to explain how our brains learn and what we can do to support our particular learning style. For example: left-brain vs. right brain, left-handed vs. right-handed, cross-lateral learning and more.

I picked up some good drills that help to improve my attention and focus along with simple exercises for enhancing and retraining neural pathways that support physical movement.

For an interview with Dr. Hannaford;  explaining her theories:  Link Here 

I first found and followed the Original Strength blogs and posted videos dubbed, "Movement Snacks" for about two years before ever reading one of their also motivational books. Simply because videos are much easier to follow and I wanted to dive right in with their suggested exercises.
Original Strength: Restoration -  Returning to the Original You, 
by Tim Anderson. Original Strength Systems, LLC. 2014                  

Original Strength is part of the emerging trend in adult fitness that champions a back-to-basics approach; built around simple movement patterns. Tim Anderson and Geoff Neubert's program helps rehabilitate injured, over-trained and aging athletes by incorporating child-like movements into their exercise drills. They take the Smart Moves theories and put them into action!

According to Original Strength, “The very movements that built our resilient bodies as children are still the very movements that can rebuild and return our resilient bodies as adults. These movements, these resets, are programmed, or “hard-wired,” inside all of us. We were all made to be able to breathe with our diaphragms, to lift and move our heads, to roll around, to get up on all fours, to crawl, to stand, and to walk.”

Yes, every morning I’m on the floor crawling, 'rockin-n-rollin' and balancing. And yes, I attribute much of my current strength, balance and joint mobility to practicing the Original Strength movements for the past four years. I'm hooked! If you’re not able to get down on the floor, their exercises can be replicated on your bed or modified for a chair.
To access their blog, Link Here
To access their video page, Link Here


Use these resources to strengthen and build your confidence and resilience. Create resource lists of your own; ones that fit your unique situation. My hope is these will be of benefit to you and I invite you to leave a comment below to share with us which books, blogs and videos inspire YOU. Remember...

Always Learn Something!
Dagmar Munn
ALS and Wellness Blogger 

1 comment:

  1. Great list of books here.....can you find one for me about being resilient?


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