How my Dad helps me redefine what it means to be healthy- at 72 or 27

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About a year ago, I decided to dramatically change my lifestyle in order to get back in good health. To offer their support, my parents changed their diets and habits as well. This was an act of love on its own, but it’s even more than that if you consider something additional about my parents: my Dad is 72 this year and my Mom is just a few years younger than that (she still doesn’t like me sharing the number). …


Our felt sense is our most direct link to our needs, wants, and identity- so why don’t most of us use it?

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When people talk about the truth, [they] get away with saying factual truths and calling it truth. I’m talking about full body, primal truth…It means the material reality, the feeling, and the ideas, and the words match. -Kasia Urbaniak

Introduction: A whole body compliment

When was the last time you said something and meant it with your whole body?

I asked myself that question last year as I left a very unusual class at the Russian Arts Theater in New York City. After the director spoke to us about the importance of ethics and honesty in theater, he gave us what appeared to be a very simple exercise: pick out someone else in the class and give them a sincere compliment. …


Why we repress or deny our anger . . . and what it really costs us

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For my entire life, I’ve struggled with anger more than any other emotion. And yet, few people in my life would have recognized it. Not even I recognized it until two years ago when I realized it was making me sick.

Before that point, I thought anger had no place in my personality. I prided myself on being calm, sweet, and easy to be around. When a family friend asked me in my early 20’s, “Do you get angry, Katie?” I thought for a moment and answered, “I don’t really get angry. I’m not an angry person.”

My words gave away something I wish I understood at the time: my anger was buried so far down I couldn’t see it. But the impact in my personal life was glaringly obvious. I found it impossible to say no to anyone, I had no boundaries, and worst of all, I had no idea where other people’s needs and desires ended and mine began. …


My personal experience using breathing and movement for healing

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Out of my head and into my body

If there was any particular event that showed me I needed to get out of my head and back into my body, it was probably a singing lesson three years ago. A family friend and opera singer convinced me she could teach anyone to sing and so I stood nervously facing a music stand, following her piano arpeggios with my thin voice and hoping she was right. Every few minutes, she would pause and give me a tip to open up my voice and project it more fully. …


Three powerful techniques I’ve used to shift my brain and body

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My brain has always struggled with space. As a teenager, this meant I could memorize long poems or do lightning fast mental math, but often got lost driving five minutes away from home. It meant that I could never follow a dance instructor to save my life; or that I aced college physics courses until I bombed the units involving orientations of magnetic and electric fields. It was so bad that on one occasion when I drove a college boyfriend through my hometown, he asked why I didn’t take a shorter route between two points. After a moment of silence, he looked at me in disbelief and said, “Oh my God! …


Exploring places we naturally gather and why they’re essential for wellbeing

“…At night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference… He disliked bars and bodegas. A clean, well-lighted cafe was a very different thing. — “A clean, well-lighted place” by Ernest Hemingway

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Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The Riddle of the Ideal Place

This past weekend, two guests joined our family for dinner and one of them kicked off the conversation by sharing her professional ambition: “I’m a strategic designer and I want to make places that are wonderful for people to live in.” Her comment launched us into a discussion of design principles, places that were designed well, and those that were spectacular failures. …


How Egoscue, Somatics, and Feldenkrais Methods opened my body and mind

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Introduction

About two year ago I walked into a Physical Therapy center in Manhattan with a strange set of symptoms: a stiff neck, carpal tunnel symptoms in my right hand, and the feeling that something was seriously wrong with half my body. The physical therapist I met that day did a routine examination and gave me a set of theraband exercises and a follow-up appointment. As I came back the next week and the one after, my body remained knotted in the same strange pattern and frustration grew for both of us. On my eighth visit, I sat with the same PT who did my initial examination and finally said, “I don’t think it’s working,” to which he answered in disbelief, “You must not be doing the exercises.” …


How a single belief shapes research, medicine, and how patients view themselves

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Introduction

Over the past few months, I’ve paid more attention to scientific research and discussion than I have since studying neuroscience in college. In addition to Covid-19, which has made topics like inflammation and viral load part of everyday conversation, I’ve dug into chronic illness and Lyme disease research on my own. After reading through many articles on both conditions and sitting in on discussions with friends and researchers, I’ve noticed a surprising trend. …


Despite years of meditation and exercise, I got the fundamentals of breathing totally wrong- until I understood the Essential Breath

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Introduction

At the start of the global pandemic, the CEO of my company gave us all a memorable piece of advice: “I invite you all to breathe more consciously. This is a virus that aggressively attacks the lungs, so my biggest piece of advice to those of you who are well is to breathe deeply to bring oxygen to your body and peace to your mind.” …


How what you do- or don’t- eat impacts your brain

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Introduction

A few days ago, I took a long walk through the streets of San Francisco with a nutritionist a mutual friend put me in touch with. In the beginning, we had a typical networking conversation: Linda (name changed) told me about her work as a nutritional consultant to various companies, I told her about my work at a mental health startup. But with a single question, we broke the ice and the conversation became personal for both of us.

When I asked Linda what nutrition meant to her personally, she suddenly opened up about the medical struggles she went through before discovering a severe gut imbalance and a set of food sensitivities. As she put it, “Soy destroys me. If I have even a little, my mood tanks, my body bloats, and I’m in too much of a fog to do anything all day.” Her history was surprisingly similar to mine, and I told her about how I unraveled the systemic inflammation, Lyme disease diagnosis, and food sensitivities had left me similarly depressed and incapacitated. Though her experiences had led her deeper into nutrition and mine had led me into mental health, both of us considered the two fields inseparable. …

About

Katie Critelli

Welcome! I write about aligning my life with nature, getting healthier every day, and defining the values and culture I find meaningful. Join me :)

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