Thoughts on Grounding

One of the most important lessons taught in the first month of massage therapy school is the concept of grounding... Don't put your hands on the body on your table until you have FIRST grounded to protect yourself, lest you ingest any juju, bad or otherwise, from that body.

This is not just New Age bullshit, it's for real.  We are energy.  If one does not manage their energy properly, it can make them sick, fly them into a rage, run them down, wind them up and then pass it on.  That being said, if one who is poor at managing their energy does not also engage their force field from other peoples energy, well then, they are really screwed.

Grounding is not just for the treatment room.  It is for life.

I know this because I have lost my grounding as of late.  I have become lazy, I suppose.  Going to bed late and waking up late has pushed out my morning quiet time... A time I normally would spend with my coffee, something spiritual to read and some time in meditation and prayer.  Honestly... I cannot remember the last time I have done this and, as such, have lost my grounding.

Yesterday I became completely infected by the negative energies surrounding me.  My mood soured, my outlook on life was met with a snarl.  I was a complaining, ungrateful gossip.  My grounding was no where to be found and the portals to my soul were left wide open for bad juju to enter.

I went to bed in a snit after dumping my lame complaints on the phone to a friend.  I must have infected him, too, because I haven't heard from him since.  Shame on me.

I awoke today with the decision that I was not going to have another crap day.  As I went about my morning, I wondered how I was going to possibly protect myself from the numerous toxic energies that swirl around when it hit me...... Dumb dumb!  Go back to MT1!  Ground yourself!  Protect what you got and don't let in what can't be useful.

Such a simple, yet essential concept... Time to re-engage my force field and pass along only the good.

Oh my bloated belly…

This is what I get for falling hard off the health wagon nearly a year ago.

This time last year, I challenged myself with a 30-Day Isagenix Cleanse. I was very focused on the cleanse, determined to rid my toxic body of all the booze, sugar, fat and gluten I had consumed for months. My bedtime was no later than 10pm and I religiously clocked in 8 hours of sleep. Exercise was regular, MELT was a morning routine and three liters of water a must.

On the plus side, I got in great shape and my body felt amazing. My mental clarity was like nothing I had ever experienced in adult life. On the negative side, by day 20 I was day dreaming of steaks and red wine, pizza and beer, Guinness stew, margaritas, CHEESE….

As soon as my penance was over, I went right back to all the things I veered away from for 30 long days (actually, I think I threw in the towel at day 27).

Now granted, I was still in massage therapy school at the time plus working a full time job and also getting more involved with MELT. Surely indulging my palate and senses was not all together horrible… right?

Cut to today. This morning I took a photo of my bloated belly.

It may not look like much to you, but if you saw it in real life, you would make a pained face and say something like “ooooooh”.

I made the decision months ago that following the Super Bowl, I would once again give the 30-Day Isagenix Cleanse another go. This time, however, I am more determined than ever to stick with it and even keep on with the healthy eating habits following. Why? Because I am a bloated gassy stink bomb mess.

It is apparent that my body is not happy with me right now. Being chronically distended in the gut is NOT normal and neither is chronic gas. This may seem to be a TMI thing for me to put out, but I share with honesty my experience in order to educate myself and others, while also healing what is in disrepair.

Tonight, I will cheer on the Giants and eat Super Bowl food and drink beer and like it. Tomorrow morning I will have bodily regret and forgive myself by beginning the toxic purge. My kidneys and liver will finally rest, my gut will cease it’s current temper tantrum and the cells within my fascial web will rejuvinate … there will be joy and celebration with in this body which has been entrusted to me by my maker.

Along with this resolution, I also resolve to write about my journey and track my progress, so that I may be held accountable by anyone who chooses to waste a few minutes reading this pitiful testimonial. I will hopefully be able to post a photo of my deflated belly within a week or two. Until then… GO GIANTS!

Outside of the Classroom for Night

Last Friday's Clinic was a new adventure for our little class... Chair Massage! We had the pleasure of going to Stamford Hospital and giving free 10 minute chair massage to any doctor, nurse or staff who wanted it. There wasn't a huge crowd, which was a little disappointing and surprising. I mean, who doesn't want ten minutes of getting your aches and pains soothed for free?

For those of you at Stamford Hospital
who did come down to the cafeteria for a rub, thank you. The Section J students at The Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy are grateful, for you ontributed to our educational experience.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I know that it is wise to enjoy the journey and not just look to the destination, but since the destination is only two weeks away, I must say I am over the journey.

Two more weeks of classes and I am officially done with massage therapy school.

This is not to say I haven't enjoyed it. The learning has been amazing, the experience a once in a lifetime opportunity. Yet, it has sucked the life out of me and fried my brain to a crispy nothing.

If I didn't have that darn thing called a Full Time Job, I am sure my house would be clean, my laundry washed, folded and put away, and my calendar open to that other darn thing called a Social Life.

I had big plans at the start of school to blog about the experience once a week. I have been in school since January 2010. You can see how well I progressed. What are there, 6 entries?

So, before me lies my acupressure final (pray for me on this one... Chinese Medicine is not my strength), a project for Business Fundamentals as well as a take home and open book exam, a few more Clinic Sessions (my favorite, yet brutal on a Friday night after a full week of work), and lastly... the National Exam.

My plan is to sit for the big National Exam the Saturday following my acupressure final... if I remember to schedule it tomorrow. My memory for basic things like scheduling my own life, writing rent checks and sending birthday cards in a timely manner has gone in hiding (my poor niece... daily I forget to send her card and check for her long past January Sweet 16 birthday).

Assuming all goes according to plan, I will pass all tests and remember to buy a new dress for my graduation on July 29th.

After that... I haven't a clue.

I'll just follow the light and see where it takes me.

Baby's First Cadaver Lab

If I actually had a baby book from my first years and there was a page for "40 Years Later", I would lovingly add "Baby's First Cadaver Lab", as that is what I had today.

As part of my increasing desire to learn about life and the human form, I participated in a lab up at the University Of Bridgeport (NOT depicted above). These labs are led by Joe Muscolino, a well respected teacher, anatomist, kinesiologist, Chiropractic Physician and author of several books on human anatomy and kinesiology. Joe, unfortunately, was in bed with a terrible cold, so his colleague Alex led our group in the lab.

I have watched many dissection and cadaver labs on DVD from the comfort of my living room (while on my spin bike, oddly enough). The first I watched was Part I of Gil Hedley's Integral Anatomy series. I did pretty well the first time watching a human form being dissected, but got a bit queasy when Gil got to the myofascial layer of the gluteus maximus. Seeing the redness of the muscle with the glistening fascia jiggle as he talked and palpated kept me from eating steak for a few weeks. Yet, after time (and the occasional cut to a nature scene with a babbling brook that Gil so kindly edited in), I was able to watch with a curious eye and calm stomach. I was then brave enough to continue on with the series which went deeper into the form, down to the viscera. This... this was cool stuff.

I also watched Tom Myer's dissected evidence of his Anatomy Trains theory. This series of DVD's blew my mind as I learned all about the fascial relationships of all structures in our bodies. Now I was LOOKING at what I had read about. It was at about this time I realized how much I wanted to participate.

So, there I was this morning, excited and a wee bit nervous as I headed to the lab. It was advised that we wear clothes that we don't mind getting smelly. Great. I made my way to the basement (of course) and was grateful that I dressed warmly for the next three refrigerated hours. I opted to not put Vick's Vapor Rub under my nose and go hard core. I was ready for this!

This is what I discovered: The actual viewing and touching of a cadaver was not a big deal at all. I had no emotional response and if anything, I was eager to get hands on, to touch what I can only imagine I touch when I give massage.

What I also discovered: These particular human forms should have had their last viewing three days ago... some more than others, and definitely one in particular.

Formaldehyde, the embalming fluid used to preserve the human form after life, has a pretty significant odor. It didn't bother me in general. However, with these cadaver who had been around since the fall, the odor seemed to have gone from clinical to down right putrid. The one form who exhibited this the worst was the one used to show the viscera. I really wanted to get close, but the odor was more than I could take. I would step a bit back, get a breath of fresher air and attempt to go back in.

Despite the odor, Alex showed us all the major muscle groups, internal organs and even a pacemaker inside two of the cadavers. I held in my hands a healthy lung, a smokers lung, a heart and a brain. I was absolutely fascinated as I moved these structures around, seeing the different openings where vessels and nerves would wind through. I was truly seeing something... many things, really... for the very first time, and I was giddy.

I felt quite victorious as I left the basement. I made it through my first cadaver lab without getting queasy or emotional. Triumph was mine... until I stepped outside in the fresh air.

At once, I could taste the stench of the lab in my mouth. I began to gag. I breathed in again and the taste was even more profound and I gaged even more, tears piercing out of my eyes. All the way to my car I gagged and coughed, hoping I wouldn't vomit. I got in my car and fumbled for the breakfast bar I had in my bag and stuffed it in my mouth in an attempt to taste something other than what I was now perceiving as death. I ate an apple immediately after and felt better. I took a deep breath and got a dreadful whiff my clothing. I opened the windows in 14 degree weather and called a friend to keep myself from gagging again.

So much for triumph!

Now I am showered, changed and washing every piece of clothing that was on my body earlier this morning. The smell is still lingering in my brain, but surprisingly I have an appetite. I wouldn't even mind a big juicy steak for dinner. For now I will settle for a nap.

On the whole, the experience was great and Alex was a wonderful teacher. It is unfortunate that we did not have the freshest of tissue to view, as most of the cadavers tendons and ligaments were completely dried, making it difficult to really study and palpate.

It has not discouraged me from going to more labs and if anything, I am even more eager. I really look forward to the day I can take a the week long Integral Anatomy Workshop with Gil Hedley where I will actually dissect and graduate to the status of "Somanaut."

TRX... The New Adventure!

Last week I participated in a TRX Suspension Training Course for Personal Trainers.  I had been curious about TRX Suspension Training for a while as I am a big fan of bodyweight training, so I thought it would be a great way to really learn it.

What a cool concept!  No wonder it is the new rage in fitness!  It was created by US Navy SEALs who needed to stay in peak condition wherever they were.  The Trainer had humble beginnings in its creation & was MacGyver'ed by the SEALs using parachute webbing and rubber boat repair tools.   These SEALs soon developed a whole array of bodyweight exercises unique to this crazy new contraption they created.

And then they got really smart and branded a brilliant product.

This single piece of equipment can be set up anywhere and it is designed to accommodate all fitness levels. It is a terrific challenge to the core, can be used as a functional training tool and definitely helps wake up the nervous system.

Our instructor showed us a nice selection from the TRX Exercise Library.  With a new toy like this, how could I not jump at the challenges?

And it seriously kicked my hide....

Of course, I could not help but see the benefits of MELT all over this.  Just doing the foot treatment before a TRX class or one-on-one session will greatly improve proprioception and balance.  Hydrating the connective tissue prior to a workout will allow the body to move through its full range of motion.  Getting on the roller before, during and after will help with recovery and the MELT Strength series will help provide hip and shoulder stability which is crucial to have to avoid injury. 

I can't wait for my TRX Suspension trainer to arrive so I can start integrating it with MELT... I will keep you posted on my discoveries along the way.

This is going to be fun!

A Gripe

This picture here shows what I was hoping to receive today, not what I got.

I received a massage today from a set of hands that had so much tension in them, I almost wanted to switch places with the therapist and help the girl out.

Good body mechanics have been hammered into our brains at school, with soft hands being among the most important if one wants to have a career that lasts more than a year. Quite frankly, I don't know how this therapist makes it though a day at Massage Envy with EIGHT massages in a row (talk about a career ender). Work smarter, not harder, right?

Forgetting the therapist for a minute and the over-taxation going on in the hands up to the neck, how about the person receiving? Oh my poor fascia! It is not even that it was too deep too fast, but just a lack of quality in the touch. A couple of plastic hands does not do the fascial system good. Our fascia is highly intelligent and sensitive, loaded with more sensory neurons than muscle. I think this therapist hurt my fascias feelings.

While I am here, I might as well complete my complaint of this massage. The therapist worked on my back for, what must have been, 25 minutes at least. I finally had to lift my head out of the cradle and say "You have worked on my back a long time. Would you mind moving on?" I was embarrassed to have to say it, but the tissue in my back was beginning to recoil from her touch.

The work on the legs was ok, but was done mainly on the muscle belly. Hello?? Tendons??? Also, this may just be me nit picking, but is a diaper drape really necessary for work on the posterior leg if you are not doing joint range of motion? I do a diaper drape when working on the anterior leg because I always work the inner thigh... another wonderful bit that I have only gotten from one therapist at this establishment. Guess I need to ask for it...

A small amount of time was left for head and neck, with hard thumbs falling anterior to my sternocleidomastoid, giving a lovely bit of compression on my carotid artery. I realize we are all different in our massage styles, but head and neck is one area that should not be skimped on. I devote the last 10-15 minutes to the neck, chest, maybe a little face and finally the head.

Oh, and energy holds? Not one. Not even at the opening. No, the sheet came right down and a 25 minute hard rubdown of my back began.

I did let the front desk know I didn't particularly enjoy my massage, so I feel I did my duty there. Truly, if ever you receive a massage that is just no good, let your voice be heard... and that includes getting one from me! The only way I will become an exceptional bodyworker is by good constructive feedback that I can use as a learning tool.

Ok... that's the end of my gripe. Next time I will stick with my friend Kate who not only works my inner thigh without being asked, but also knows how to respect fascia. Hm!

Three Down, Two To Go!

We are wrapping up our third semester at CCMT. It has been a great one for me, with two science classes (AP II-Systems of the Body & Kinesiology) and the 'hands on' class called Energetic Foundations. I was told by a few people who have been through the class and school that this would be 'the worst' semester, with two sciences and a hands on class that has a lot of hands off.
I couldn't disagree more. For me this was the best one to date. I love science and going deeper into how things work in our bodies and Energetic Foundations totally nurtured my spiritual soul.

My classmates, few as they may be, have various opinions on the classes and I don't think any are in alignment with my overly enthusiastic view of the lymphatic, endocrine, nervous or circulatory systems. I was actually told to stop asking questions by a fellow student.

Oh man... I am now the annoying studious dork in class???? What happened to the girl who used to go to class hung over in college?

As for Energetic Foundations, I totally got into the material: Quantum Physics,
Polarity, Chakra Balancing, Human Energy Fields and the focus of approaching a massage with intention.
This class was hard for many of my classmates. It ran contrary to beliefs or had no scientific proof to render it useful. I get that and respect it, although I felt differently. Just today I gave a massage and I integrated polarity and chakra balancing. The feed back I received was 'I don't know what you did, but when you put your finger in between my eyebrows, I felt everything drain out of me.'


Last night was our last Energetic Foundations class and I am so sad to say goodbye to it (even though next semester is Sports Massage and I am pretty stoked for that).

However, a few of us chose to celebrate in style. A fun night. Now, let's just pass the last two exams...

(pitiful) Confessions of a Fitness Professional

I am out of shape, drank too much this summer and am turning 40 in November.

If it sounds as though I am being dramatic and fishing for compliments, believe me, I fish not.

Let me begin by clarifying that it is not that I drank too much in one sitting night after night, just more than I have normally (or at least since I turned 30).  A six-pack of Corona looked like such a tasty treat at the grocery store, that I almost always put it in my cart along with my vegetables and fruit.  In the summer it is a guarantee that margaritas will be my craving and sipping a beer while sunbathing on a Saturday…and Sunday…is not beyond my reality.  I usually don’t drink at all during the week, yet on some days I could be found patting myself on the back for going a couple of nights sans cervesa.

As for turning 40, I am not opposed to getting older, but I must admit that the actual number looks ominous to me…Like it doesn’t belong next to my name or go with my hair. 

I get many an eye roll when I shamefully admit being in horrible shape.  People assume that being thin means being in good physical condition, and I am here to tell that could not be further from the truth.  At present, I am weak as a kitten and have the endurance of sedentary sloth. 

This fall, I am putting an end to this nonsense.  My battle plan has already been put into action and consists of the following: 

To start, I am doing a very mild cleanse called New Start which I got from  I love Mercola’s products, especially the Krill Oil which is the best Omega-3 anti-inflammatory I have ever taken.  The cleanse is one that is done at dinner time and ‘works while you sleep.’  I was initially worried that I might soil the sheets at three in the morning or have some unpleasantly momentous morning.  None of this has happened thankfully and I am a week in to this 10-day system.  However, I find that I think of food almost constantly.

With that, I put myself on the wagon so the cleanse can effectively do its job of making my liver happy again. 

My meals are frequent and healthy, including eating two apples a day! 
The lights are out no later than 10:30pm (although some nights I am done and asleep by 9:00p… don’t judge me).

My skin is even receiving a new routine with the Roc Multi-Correction Skin System (  I can’t sense a change as all I see are the flaws, but maybe someone else can.  I do feel satisfied when my skin tingles after I apply the night cream, confirming that wrinkles are being stopped before they can begin!

Drinking up to three litres of water a day has been a standard for a while, but for some reason, it seems to taste better these days.  I have a BPA free Nalgene on my desk that I fill three times a day.

Getting my fitness routine back in has been quite humbling.  I began by taking a Cardio Kickboxing class at the East Coast United Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Boxing in Fairfield, CT (   In truth, I had no business taking this class that was taught by Alex, one of the owners (and an accomplished fighter), who is not too far removed from Ivan Drago.  If you don’t believe me, check out their site for proof (and the amazing class schedule for adults and kids): Needless to say the class kicked my hide and I had difficulty walking the following week.  I saw Alex yesterday and told him I was coming Tuesday: “Blah, blah, blah… I believe when I see… you are a wimp!”  I did not disagree with the ‘wimp’ accusation but assured him I would be there Tuesday (please pray for me…).

Along with that, I have given hot yoga a try at Fairfield Hot Yoga... just because I can.  I like the sweat effect and they offer Vinyasa, which is perfect for me.  The facility is really cool and there is quite a variety of different classes to try:  (

I have not made as much of a habit at hitting my regular gym, (, but plan to add that to my weekend schedule… in between teaching MELT, laundry, homework, cooking, cleaning and football (watching, not playing).

Of course, I MELT and I have made it part of my morning routine, whether I want to or not.  I can talk myself out of just about anything, including MELTing, which is just plain silly considering how great it makes me feel.  Recently, I became an Advanced MELT Instructor by getting trained in the MELT Strength Series, which integrates proper muscle timing along with hip and shoulder stability.  I have made a point of incorporating various Strength routines into my morning MELT to get me through a 9.5 hour day of sitting in a chair and typing at a computer.

November 26th, 2010 begins a new decade for me, and at that point I plan to be, if not at the top of my game, at least 80% of the way there.  The tricky part will be staying there once the cold rolls in, making my desire to nest in my little apartment all the stronger. 

Consistency is one of the keys to longevity.  My short term goal is really intended to be the long term goal of approaching 90, looking and feeling great.  Unless I get hit by the proverbial bus, living to be a hot & healthy elder is where it is at for me.

Happy Fall!

Scar Tissue: The gift that keeps on giving!

The drama with my mom continues...

The scar tissue that twisted the colon that caused the hernias and blocked the colon eventually became a nasty case of diverticulitis.

My poor mom. She has been through the wringer.

Her latest hernia repair has been tough to get over and the initial need of pain killers made it difficult to go to the bathroom. After a while of chronic constipation, the diverticulum, or outpouching of a hollow (or a fluid filled) structure, in your intestine will inflame and become infected... which is what happened to my mom.

Horrible cramps brought us back to the hospital for a CAT scan which showed the inflammation and a blood test showed a super high white blood cell count. Needless to say she was admitted and zapped with two antibiotics for the next four days and was finally sent home today, where she will continue the routine, accompanied with a very bland fiber-free diet until she is fully recovered.

Oh, and in case you were curious, here is what your intestine looks like when you develop diverticulm:

And when those diverticulum become infected:

Kinda makes you want to to do a cleanse, doesn't it?

Take care of your bodies, people! Move it, fill it with water, MELT it, get massage, and eat good food. You only get one set of intestines!

Monthly MELT Class & Privates at Fuller Yoga Pilates and Massage

Improve whole-body balance, eliminate tension in your neck and low back, and instantly feel better! Learn how to self-treat your body with MELT and gain immediate results and lasting changes that will help you maintain a pain-free, active lifestyle…longer.
MELT can help improve your yoga practice, sports performance and alleviate common body aches and pains caused by everyday living, habitual postures, and fitness activities. Reduce swelling, chronic neck and low back strain, and keep your whole body working efficiently... Even help improve digestion, sleep patterns & mental focus.  The new self-treatment concept of Hands-off Bodywork™ is in the top fitness clubs in Manhattan and is now here at Fuller Yoga Pilates and Massage!
Whether in a one-on-one instruction setting or in group classes, MELT can help you transform your body! Each month, get MELTed in the monthly morning class or in the private/semi-private one-hour sessions. The right option for you is based on personal preference. For maximum results and MELT mastery, mix it up and try them both!!
Bottom line, you will walk out feeling better than when you walked in.

The third Sunday of each month beginning Sunday, September 19th.
Group MELT Class - $30.00
One- Hour Private and Semi-Private Instruction (up to 3 people) - $125-$150

Contact Fuller Yoga Pilates and Massage to register:

1477 Park ST, 2nd Floor
Hartford, CT 06106

Calm after chaos

I am a bad blogger. I let my last semester at school suck away my energy and motivation to sit down and write. The whole point of this blog is to share my reflections of school as I go through them, not give a three month re-cap. This semester was an interesting one indeed, but telling about it now in summary would be quite the bore.

While I was learning a great deal in the class room between boney landmarks, muscle attachments, new stroke techniques and giving massage to the public, I probably learned the most about the value of hands-on work outside of school.

In May my mother was hospitalized with a bowel obstruction. The details of how she got to this point is a bit lengthy, but in a nutshell, four abdominal surgeries and a resulting pile of nasty scar tissue is what did it. My mother can now add a fifth abdominal surgery to her collection in the form of second hernia repair just three weeks ago.

My study on all of this...abdominal surgery and fascial very small and very new. The training I have done with Sue Hitzmann (The MELT Method) and Tom Myers (Anatomy Trains) have shown me the wonders of the science of connective tissue (much of it way over my head) and just how integral this system is to structure and longevity. I am determined to understand this system more and more as I have made it my mission to save people from what I have come to view as unnecessary suffering from abdominal adhesions.

I believe in the power of human touch and its ability to help encourage the healing process. I also believe that if my mother had received regular abdominal massage and learned how to enhance her neuro-core with MELT after having an ovary removed and after birthing two children via c-section, she probably would not have suffered her first hernia repair in 2007.
Her abdominal wall would not have been weakened to the degree that she would develop another hernia over her small intestine...the colon pushing through the small hole, clinching it off and resulting in a blockage that would cause her to vomit bile for 12 hours before having a nasogastric tube inserted to release the obstruction.

To me, this suffering could have been avoided. But who knew?? No one worried about such things in the 1960's! Strangely, they don't seem to worry about them now, since the option to have a c-section for the convenience of scheduling seems to be quite popular these days...

I am determined to learn more... research more... and educate others more. And when I know more, I will share it here.

In the meantime, drink water, get a massage and get to a MELT class in your neighborhood ( It is good to do your body good!

REMINDER! 2-Day MELT Core Intensive August 14 & 15

Improve whole-body balance, eliminate tension in your neck and low back, and instantly feel better! Learn how to tap into the two subsystems that create core stability that are unaddressed by traditional abdominal exercises. If you have a lower belly paunch that won't budge, low back pain, or a sense of imbalance, MELT Core is your solution! In this introductory event, you will see how you can master the tools to rebalance the spine, stabilize the pelvis, give the organs integrity for proper digestive functioning as well as prevent lower back pain.

Join me at the Fuller Yoga Pilates and Massage in Hartford, CT August 14 & 15 from 9:00a - 11:00a for a two-day, four hour journey through the MELT Core series. The new self-treatment concept of Hands-off Bodywork™ is sweeping the nation! For a fraction of the cost of a hands-on bodywork treatment, you can learn why MELT truly is the “art of self-care”.

MELT Hand & Foot Treatment Kits and rollers will be available for purchase at event. To register, click the below link to the Fuller Movement Events page:

Fuller Yoga Pilates and Massage

1477 Park ST
2nd Floor
Hartford, CT 06106

MELT goes back to Hartford!

Sue Hitzmann made her way to the Fuller Movement Center in Hartford, CT last month and packed the room with happy new MELTer's.

I will be bringing MELT back to Fuller Movement on June 13, 2010 for two different workshops:

  • 90-Minute Intro to MELT - 10:00a-11:30a
  • Intro to MELT Core - 5:00p-3:30p
MELT Hand & Foot Treatment Kits will be available for purchase at both of these events.

Click here for more deatails and to register:
MELT at Fuller Movement Center

Sign up and learn how to get out of pain!!

Why I MELT: the story of how I got out of pain

It stinks to be in pain.  I should know.  I have had all sorts of chronic back pain, foot pain, hip, wrist and finger pain.  There are only so many Advil one can take in a day and even that does not always seem to work.  For some, living with the pain just becomes part of life, and with that, the body adjusts itself to accommodate the compensation... this of course, just exacerbates the pain, and makes a new thing hurt somewhere else.  In my case, I thought corrective muscle strengthening exercises would help, but my pain was getting worse, not better.

Why does this happen, we ask the doctor? They give us an explanation we don't understand and then a prescription.  The pain is dulled for a time, but the problem is still there.

Is there an alternative?

For me, I sought out manual therapy.  Massage was helpful, thought the effects not too lasting.  I went to a chiropractor which was helpful in revealing that I had compression in my right sacroiliac joint, but the cracking was uncomfortable for me and, again, my body would eventually shift back to its original compressed state.

I voiced my frustration to my naturopath who said, 'You should get craniosacral therapy from Dr. Sanders upstairs!  He will fix you up in one session!"

Sure enough, after one session of this incredible, non-invasive body work, I felt... balanced... and pain free.  I didn't want move...ever...for fear of losing this incredible feeling of normalcy.  However, the therapist told me to continue living my life as usual, no need to rest or take time off from running or rowing (in contrast to the chiropractor who ordered me to do nothing for two weeks).  This was an amazing discovery and I would have received this treatment weekly if I could afford the $150.00 per session price tag. 

Cut to that following spring.  I am in New York taking certification classes for The MELT Method.  I had stumbled across Sue Hitzmann and her pain-management method years prior while at a fitness conference and took the 4-hour lecture workshop purely for the CEC's and then walked out of it blown away.  Sue is a manual therapist who specializes in various modalities, one of which was craniosacral.  She developed her method as a form of homework for her clients and a way for them to treat themselves in between sessions.  Her clients were coming back better and feeling empowered with the ability to treat their own pain. What began as a little experiment for Sue's private clients evolved into a remarkably successful group fitness program.

Until my chronic pain had surfaced, I had more or less forgotten about MELT until the next conference when I saw Sue on the menu of lecturers.  After the re-introduction to the method and a look at my own pathetic state of being, I decided that I  needed to learn this technique.

Through the certification course, I learned a whole new science, one that examined the communication of the connective tissue in the human form and how that system affects everything from muscles and joint pain to digestion and sleep patterns.  I was taught the techniques:  The MELT Hand & Foot Treatment, which utilizes little balls for the hands and feet that bring relief, somewhat magically, to the entire body. We learned MELT and MELT Length on the foam roller which added another layer of self-treatment that went beyond the tissues in to the autonomic nervous system.  The material was mind blowing and overwhelming.

In between modules, which were spaced a few weeks apart, I would practice MELT with great focus and discipline.  Although I was getting relief from the decompression techniques and the diaphragmatic breathing, slowly and sometimes suddenly, other issues began cropping up.  Pain from a tail bone injury from childhood came back  as if it had just happened the day before.  My left middle knuckle which had become inflamed and was treated with a cortisone shot, blew back up after just one MELT Hand Treatment.  The compression in my back shifted to the other side. 

I was becoming depressed.

When we reconvened, Sue asked if anyone had been doing any of the MELT Maps we had learned and how it was going.  I raised my hand and proceeded to speak of my woes, finishing with "I feel worse than before." 

"GREAT!" Sue said. 


She proceeded to remind us that our tissue has memory and manipulating that tissue will release whatever has been trapped with in them.  For me, my tailbone injury had become asymptomatic over a decade and a half and hydrating the tissue around it on a foam roller woke up a long sleeping dragon.  The Hand Treatment instantly flushed the cortisone out of my knuckle, proving that cortisone is no permanent solution.  The shifting pain was showing that my body was readjusting, attempting to go back to it's ideal state.

"Don't stop... keep going, and note the changes," Sue encouraged.

I obeyed... and continue to do so to this day because I will testify that my tailbone is now a non-issue.  My knuckle has calmed down between the treatment and a daily dose of Krill Oil.  My back is easily managed by weekly work on the roller and Foot Treatment.

For this I became a Certified MELT Practitioner three years ago.  I use what I have learned in treating my own body and now teach others how to do the same. 

If you are in pain anywhere in your body and want to learn how to treat it on your own, then you need to MELT.  Call or email me to schedule a one-on-session in your home or to inquire about classes.  If you have a group you want to gather to MELT with or have a studio where you think MELT would be welcome, let me know.  If I am not in your area, there ultimately is an instructor who is.

Of course, you, too, could be like me and embrace The MELT Method by getting certified as well.

Be well, be joyful and be pain-free....


Amanda Cizek
Certified Personal Trainer and MELT Practitioner

School is NOT out for summer

Summer semester began yesterday. I am happy to be back and excited to learn new stuff, but at the same time I wish there was no 'summer semester'. Instead of a summer reading list from Oprah's Book Club, my nose will be in anatomy books... which I do enjoy, but still.

Friday Night Happy Hour will be in a classroom from 6:00p-10:00p, although I shouldn't complain too much since a portion of that time will be me, on a massage table, getting body work.

I guess AFTER that I can indulge in a margarita.

If anything, this semester proves to be a super interesting one with a whole pile of new stuff to learn. On the menu: Rhythmic Compression, Body Reading, Joint Movement, Hydrotherapy, Trigger Point and Cross Tissue Theory.

Our upcoming Anatomy & Physiology will continue on from bones to muscles. All I can say is thank God for my past studies of these subjects. Still, diving into the science of human anatomy, teaching the occasional MELT class and logging in massage time while managing the rest of my life will be a delicate balance.

I am still holding out for the generous donor who will fund my living expenses for the next year as I continue my studies.... Anyone??
Well, I may not be taking any fancy trips this summer or sporting a fancy tan due to weekends in the library, but at least I will have lots of massage to give and receive.
Don't hate me 'cause I'm nerdy.

Wait for ME!!!

Recently I received my May/June issue of Massage and Bodywork Magazine. I absolutely love this publication that is full of articles on various bodywork modalities, business news & advice and research & science. The pieces span from energy work and cellular science to the pro's and con's of the massage franchise industry, which all serve as a helpful tool in the further exploration into the complex yet fascinating creation of the Human Body.

I am like a little kid in FAO Schwartz whenever I read through an issue. Every article that delves into hands on work is like a new toy I want: "Oooh! Bowenwork!! I wanna learn that!... Wait, what is this? Balancing Monkey Yoga Teacher Training?? I NEED to know THAT! Hang on... Feldenkrais.... Pretty pleeeeaaasse????"

If only I could... or maybe I can (no, perhaps I will), I would spend my months taking classes and workshops to get deeper, learn more and enhance my skills as a healer. I look at my mentors, who have been in the movement and bodywork fields for decades, and crave their knowledge, wishing I could know as much as them through osmosis. I read articles that are way over my head and recently became a fan of a neuroscience page of Facebook, when I really don't know much about the subject. It is as though I am the little runt, running madly after the big kids shouting "Wait for ME!!!"

Of course, there are no big kids leaving me behind at all. The big kids are helping to show me the way through patient (and realistic) teaching. What I need to do is enjoy the journey rather than clamor for the destination. In truth, in a field such as this, there is never a destination, but rather an endless journey of exquisite 'ah-ha!' moments that keep us on the road.

Although I am a mere toddler at this point in my career, I have already had my share of 'ah-ha' moments. Small as they may be, they are not insignificant, born out of sheer intuition for some and the classroom for others. Just teaching The MELT Method alone has been full of astounding discoveries.

In a week or so I am back at school for my second semester and closer to my future as a massage therapist. I hope my brain doesn't explode from all of the amazingness that I continue to take in...

Holy Hermione!

I just had my last final exam last night and can report with relief that I wrapped up my first semester at CCMT with a fine report card. Completely relaxing in post-school bliss is not yet possible as yesterday was Monday and I had to report for work bright and early this morning.
My classmates all seemed in good spirits as we wrapped up the evening, some discussing how they fared on their grades, but really just happy to have it over with. I definitely felt the same.

Although content with how I completed my first semester, I was terribly bothered that I didn't do better. This is strange coming from a girl who didn't break her back in school in her teens and early 20's. Competition for scholastic excellence was not anywhere in my thoughts or desires.

Interestingly, something has shifted in me since I last graced a classroom some 17 years ago. For starters, I am paying for it. Secondly, I chose to go, taking over a year to make this very important decision... that I was paying for. School was no longer something I had to do, and because it was my choice, I had a burning desire to do excellently and be a top honors student.

Hm. I have become Hermione Granger.

Yea, I have turned into one of those annoying, goody-two-shoes, way too serious, shushing-people-in-class kind of girls. Just last night I looked up my AP Bones grade in the grade-posting binder and was disgusted to see that my grade wasn't the highest. "Someone got a half a point higher than me," I muttered. One of my classmates looked over my shoulder, "Yeah, that was me... get used to it."

Um, them's fightin' words and I will not be beat, thank you very much. Slowly I turned and glared... "Oh really? Just wait until we get to muscles, pal..."

I have a new resolve to crush this young, twenty-something man into submission to my supreme intelligence. The remainder of anatomy and physiology, kinesiology and pathology are MINE to CONQUER and I will NOT be thwarted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(evil laugh, here)

No... Really... I am not in school to prove myself with top honors. That is silly (sort of). Truly, I am on a mission to be a body worker. God made me a healer, and I am blessed with the opportunity to get an education to help me hone this gift.

Some folk may have to go down for me to achieve this... this is only natural... survival of the fittest and finest and smartest. HA!

I say this all, of course, with a twinkle in my eye and love in my heart. rushing my classmates is not desirable and actually I love studying and learning with them. This is an amazing experience. If anything, regardless of just how far up the academic ladder I get, it proves to me that youth is truly wasted on the young.

MELT Hand & Foot Master Class this Saturday, March 27th!

The Art of Self-Care™

Hand and Foot Master Class

Improve whole-body balance, eliminate tension in your neck and low back, and instantly feel better! Learn how to self-treat your body with MELT and gain immediate results and lasting changes that will help you maintain a pain-free, active lifestyle…longer.

Join MELT practitioner Amanda Cizek for a 60-minute Hand and Foot master class.

Learn how the MELT Hand and Foot Treatments can help improve your sports performance, alleviate common foot pain and swelling, reduce chronic wrist and neck strain, and keep your whole body working efficiently! The new self-treatment concept of Hands-off Bodywork™ is sweeping the nation! For a fraction of the cost of a hands-on bodywork treatment, you can learn why MELT truly is the “art of self-care”.

Treat yourself to a relaxing, healthful, and educational Saturday, March 27th from 1:30pm -2:30pm at the Stamford Center for Natural Healing.

The M.E.L.T. Method® is an innovative self-treatment program that's being taught in some of the most prestigious health and fitness centers in Manhattan and was most recently seen on “Live with Regis & Kelly”.
Instructor: Amanda Cizek
Date: Saturday, March 27th, 2010
Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Stamford Center for Natural Healing
111 High Ridge Road
Stamford, CT 06905
Tel: 203-325-3535

Fee: $10.00 at the door

Be one of the first ten people in the door and receive a free MELT gift!