Human Garage - Spring Update!

This is part of a series. If you haven't caught up on what I'm doing with Human Garage, see the other posts here!

I had my last QurEcology, biochemistry evaluation and began an adjusted supplement protocol back in January. My tests came back that my pH was too alkaline (#healthsohard) and instead of being acidic, where disease can thrive, it's too alkaline, (think too many green juices and salads) that the pH goes in the other direction and the body really works best when in balance, so we're trying to correct that. The test also showed that my body still wasn't breaking down or absorbing carbohydrates properly, nor my protein. When i started that protocol I didn't feel great. I was in another "two steps forward, one step back" phase. I was EXHAUSTED despite all the progress I'd made so far, and I was discouraged. Throughout the protocol, though very slowly and not without emotional struggle, my energy improved, my libido skyrocketed (which to me indicated a healthier gut, as hormone production largely happens in the gut) and my mood improved. I've been able to largely stick to what makes me feel good lifestyle and diet-wise (currently mostly low-carb paleo/keto) I still tolerate more vegetables! no more low FODMAP for me! I also indulge on occasion, even in a grain-full manner. (On occasion!) So, overall I have been feeling good!

Fitness-wise, I've mostly been adding in body weight exercises on the road and yoga while at home. I recently started doing The Bar Method at the insistence of a friend. Despite hating that class/exercise style the last time I tried it (about five years ago), I kind of don't now... The connection I now have with my body and the awareness that comes with that, makes it so much easier to push through parts of class that are difficult. It also means I can make adjustments that don't leave my neck sore for days and the anger and frustration that comes along with that discomfort.

Physically, my hamstrings and abductors feel tight, my neck still holds tension and my jaw is still tight. I wanted to touch base at the Human Garage to see where I'm at and where I can go from here. I'd like to not get bloated every time i have starchy carbs, I'd like to be able to drink in moderation without it inflaming my system, I'd like to be able to engage my core muscles without relying on my neck (a common recruitment pair), I'd like to be able to do 10 pull ups by 12/31/18 and I'd like hard legs and also to eat Chinese food from Fat Dragon on occasion without incident.

Today, I met with Alex for a reassessment. He gauged my walk, and noted that my body is holding alignment pretty well from my previous sessions. He released my abductor near my left knee a little, which resulted in a lot of left side psoas/abdominal convulsions and a LOT of laughing-out the energy. (I'll take a laughing release over a crying one any day! It's just a more pleasant form of release for me...) He suggested that I come in for a fascial flow, a custom release session and then schedule a bio-mechanics session so I can update my exercises (bio-mechanic exercises, see previous posts). During this part of my process, I can still work out as I have been, since this "oil change" type of visit is to maintain the progress I've made while living my "normal" life.

Alex and I also talked about energy and emotional growth. The last time i came by the garage, at their old location, I was picking up supplements before leaving for tour and talked to Garry for a bit. He asked how things were going and I said they were fine, I was on the new protocol and working through the "two steps back, one step forward" part of it. I also felt like there was something blocking my progress, likely energetically. I just felt like there was something I wasn't letting go of, despite my openness and constant commitment to being vulnerable, honest and open with myself and where I was at. Garry suggested that I come in and it would "come out on the table", and we'd talk about it.

However, before I had time to do that, while on tour, I was chatting with a friend of mine in the band Front Country (check them out!). I was asking band/business/tour/travel/lifestyle advice and she suggested I look into codependency, nonchalantly. I was confused bc i'm independent and I always assumed codependency was depending on a person (like someone who can't do anything without their partner.) Well I WAS WRONG! I found out through talking to other codependents, some reading and podcast research that i am definitely, and have always been codependent. I really dove into that information, it felt like such a huge relief to know that my "busyness", my need to prove myself, to pour myself into my work, get all of my self worth from how "good of a job i'm doing" at something, to constantly need to prove I deserve to be alive, while also seeking validation, had a name, a reason and a method of recovery. It was also emotional, to know my whole life I'd thought I'd been doing all these actions to be a good person, and it was likely not serving me or anyone I was trying to save or help (facepalm, and some tears).

That seemed to cosmically be in line with what Alex was saying, about how people, right now are going through a change/growth cycle and if we can stay open to it, it'll be a time of great progression. That is in line with my current experience. It felt like a trail marker/synchronicity to be having this conversation. It also felt exciting, to be on the "right track", to feel like there is relief in site from something that I think has lead me to treat my body in unhealthful ways. (secret eating, alcohol and drug use as a coping mechanism rather than a life enhancing habit, over exercising, not exercising etc. etc.)

On my way out, while scheduling my upcoming visits, and picking up some digestive enzymes and some potassium to help my hydration levels (i feel dehydrated even though i put pink salt in my water and drink all the time, i even have that "tongue crack" that indicates dehydrated digestive system) I met a fellow Human Garage-r. He had read this blog before going to HG and we happened to be there at the same time! It was super cool to run into someone who had benefited from reading my experience. That also felt like a moment of synchronicity! Cheers to being Too-Much-Information for some people, and the right information for others!

Side note: if you've read this and it's helped you out, I'd love to hear from you! Facebook message me or shoot me an email!


Human Garage Updates!

This is part of a series. If you haven't caught up on what I'm doing with Human Garage, see the other posts here!

After 3 months of supplementation following my QurEcology test results, I have some updates.

I'm able to ingest more fibrous vegetables without pain or symptoms! (something I was hoping and banking on the HG treatment protocol to help with). It seems that getting my body in alignment and releasing tension coupled with intuitive eating is allowing me to expand my diet. This is SO exciting for me because I've missed some harder-to-digest vegetables like brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower for the past 3-4 years.

I do have more energy... but I think I could still have more. Much of the focus of the supplementation from the test results were to address my poor adrenal function. We also added breath work and additional stress management as this goes hand in hand with supplementation for adrenal recovery.
For those who hear about adrenals a lot and are still not sure "what adrenals do" they're glands that pump out hormones to regulate some systems in your body (heart rate, blood pressure, among other things) and are directly connected to your stress response. So, If you're someone like me who has been stressed or anxious (basically forever) then they can need rehabilitation from being so exhausted and overworked. This is one of the reasons in the beginning of this journey I stopped exercising and am just now able to do more without feeling super exhausted afterwards. I'm interested to see what the adrenal re-test results are.

Not shockingly, due to my symptoms connected with starchy foods, one of the results of my test was carbohydrate malabsorption. One of the continued symptoms that has not waned, is bloating. I am still frustrated that when I eat, I get bloated. I am trying many things to sort this out. I'm still on probiotics. I eat some, but not super large amounts, of fermented foods. I am eating a lower carb diet while still trying to maintain a certain amount (30g+) for adrenal health and healthy hormone production. I am squatting more and trying to gain mobility in my squat (it's been suggested that squatting will relieve pressure and gas from digestion that we as modern people trap because we sit all the time when, as humans, our former resting pose was squatting).
I am not seeing much change yet. My follow up at HG with Dr. Luke, the chiropractor, revealed that my right hip is still really tight and that if I can increase mobility there that it may help ease pressure on my ileocecal valve which hopefully would decrease the bloating. I am also still experiencing symptoms when I eat starchy carbs (so carbs from grains/rice/etc rather than carbs from vegetables). I'm hoping I'll eventually be able to tolerate some, but for now, it's indulge and suffer the consequences.

Remain and may forever remain an indulgence with consequences.

Physically, I've been able to work out more normally (up to my old standards).  My knees are crunchy and poppy so I am at least trying to not aggravate that and keep them working so I can continue to be active in old age. This means not squatting as low, doing burpees slower while squatting down, not running, using my biomechanic neurological exercises if they start to feel loose/wonky.
I am still struggling with motivation. So I am doing what I'm inspired to do, some yoga, stretching, some resistance band training, lifting. I want to be strong and healthy but I don't want to feel like going to an "exercise class" is to look good for someone else, and right now it feels like that. So i'm trying some intuitive exercising, if that's a thing, and trying to gain strength and body love. I am definitely more focused on releasing tension that may be affecting my organ function, that is my first fitness priority. 

Mentally I have been avoiding myself at times. Our tour schedule is tough and being away from loved ones is tough. I still feel like I'm meant to be performing and creating with Dustbowl but I also feel like I should be journaling and I'm avoiding what may come up if I open up to myself. Instinctively it seems like what may be holding me back from more progress. (Supplements, food and exercise can't fix everything! We have to be willing to get uncomfortable.) So, as of yesterday, I'm starting that practice (outside of the Artist's Way) as a way to clear my mind and help me continue to open up my heart. #letitgo

Human Garage, Biomechanics!

This is part six of a series. If you haven't caught up on what I'm doing with Human Garage, see the other posts here!


Session 1

Today was my first biomechanics session with Human Garage, which happens at a gym offsite.

Quad stretch!

Quad stretch!

Coach Yari had me go through a bunch of tests to see how my body moves and which muscles are or are not firing properly. I mentioned the knee pain I sometimes experience that feels like my knees are loose and don't stay in alignment. I sometimes feel pressure or slight pain in my knee in positions that I don't think I should. I also mentioned my neck pain and tension and that I often use my neck to compensate for other muscles and would like to remove that tension. She said my walk looked pretty good, (from all the unwinding at HG) so that was encouraging.

After evaluating my walk and some movements, she had me do exercises to get certainmuscles to fire. These neurological exercises are training my brain to turn on proper muscles so that my brain corrects old patterns of movement.

I have homework to do! I took a video of the exercises that are specified to my issues. I have to do them 3x a day, the more I train slowly my body will start changing and adopting this new way of moving.

One thing that stood out to me, she had me do this sort of superman move, laying on my stomach but my arms back by my sides and pulling my shoulders away from my ears. I did feel a little bit of tension in my traps and I was pulling and stretching them back so I was a little concerned that maybe I was not doing it correctly. BUT when we were finished I didn't maintain that feeling in my shoulders and neck that feels like frustration, or like shrugging...forever. Normally I would, so that was an improvement already!

Session 2!

This exercise increases mobility in the ankle which is important for squat form.

This exercise increases mobility in the ankle which is important for squat form.

Today I met with Ryan. We went back over the neurological exercises and made some adjustments. My knee was feeling a little wiggly when walking down stairs and Ryan switched up the exercises to address that. It really did take care of the instability immediately.

He gave me a bunch of stretches and small exercises that I can do on the road or at home to keep loosening up the tightness and will help me achieve correct form for lifting a load (like in a correct squat position). It also feels like these are a great source of exercise, especially when my food is dialed in, while traveling.

Some of these stretches cause my body to react similarly to when the unwinding was being done at HG. Convulsing or burning sensations (in muscle and soft tissue) will happen if i can relax into the move. This is encouraging because it feels like I'm in control of any forward progress.

Session 3!

Today I was with Ryan again. I was about to leave for a long time of touring and today was the day that he was going to give me a bunch of workout options!

I have posted a couple of these on my Instagram. Because I travel with so much stuff already (food, supplements, life hacking, sleep hacking tools etc.) I wanted to get the most out of body weight and small tool workouts. When asked what my main goals were I said I wanted to be able to lift heavy loads while at home and when there is equipment and I wanted to have hard legs! (Christmas Abbott as fitness inspiration anyone?)

This is what my unassisted squat looks like right now. Not low enough, too far forward, upper body leaned over too far.

This is what my unassisted squat looks like right now. Not low enough, too far forward, upper body leaned over too far.

Ryan showed me some squat prep movements that I can do with resistance bands, and some pulls to couple with that. These will help my body eventually be in the correct position to hold weights and do a proper squat. For instance, one legged squats or kneeling squats with a row. Then on the next day I could pair pushing movements with dead lifts. So I could do a one legged dead lift with a resistance band and then pair that with an overhead press or push-ups. We also went over the stretches that he showed me the session before because I was having some knee pain or discomfort and we adjusted how to do them so that didn't happen.


Here's the exciting part!

  • Since starting at human garage, I've been able to introduce more fiber into my diet with 0 intestinal pain! That includes high fodmap and cruciferous veg! I still can't eat grains or over do it with alcohol without consequence but that just may be how my body works and something I'll have to accommodate forever.
  • I've seen an improvement in my energy levels (likely due to the adrenal supplements) even while feeling tired from touring and having a crazy cold that took/is taking forever to go away.
  • I've been able to get in those workouts around 2x a week and feel comfortable and strong.
  • If I remember to do my neurological exercises, I really notice a difference in my knee (no popping or looseness). So I need to stay on top of them.

I'm about to start phase 3 of my supplemental program. After that I'll be checking in with HG to see what next steps are!


Human Garage, Day 5!

This is part five of a series. If you haven't caught up on what I'm doing with Human Garage, see the other posts here!

Today is my fifth session at Human Garage and I feel totally amazing I feel light, my head feels like it's further back in alignment and my neck isn't really hurting anymore. I'm excited because I get to do my first bio mechanics session tomorrow retraining my body's movement patterns. So that is super exciting! (It can take as little as 5 unwinding sessions to go into biomechanics or up to as many as 8, everyone is different.)

I was with Alex today and this session was just sort of like a general "feeling around for wherever there is tension left". So, we did a lot of calf work because calves are connected to the neck and posterior chain which is where a lot of my tension still is. He used the TheraGun on my calves and I was laughing because it's so ticklish. He worked out a huge knot in my hamstring that I didn't know I had. It was crazy painful and I was breathing through it trying to use what I've learned from all these releases. I did feel some abdominal convulsing as it was releasing and as soon as it let go, a bolt of electricity shot up and around my glute on the left side.

I told Alex that I rolled out my quads when I was in Canada with Dustbowl and wanted to see if it had any effect on the state of that tension. I'd also been doing a ton of emotional and spiritual work to help release it and was so curious if it had helped. He said they felt amazing, really great and so he didn't have to work on them at all. I was so worried it would take a long time to work through all those layers. The knot in my neck is still there but he worked on it for quite a bit and it feels better.

I was curious about why the scheduling of the sessions was so specific and how the package is sold at a discount rather than individual sessions (though, those are available too) to encourage people to go through the whole program. I assumed that if you stopped coming, because you felt better, that it would be such a waste because your old movement patterns would just set you back in your old habits. Alex said when they release the tension in the body and it corrects a lot of alignment, your body doesn't actually regress unless something traumatic or stressful happens like a car accident. Your body might actually hold really well. So, that was interesting and something i didn't really expect. (I would not recommend not doing the whole program, I'm just extrapolating on new information I found out about the body.)

That is why people can come in 2 times over 3 weeks to do the releases (the usual schedule of operations) and daily life won't reset their misalignment. I am on a crazy accelerated track and people keep saying "no one really does it this fast, you might experience things a little differently" and I'm surprised actually at the small amount of brain fog I've had during the process. i have been really tired but I'm just drinking a lot of water and making sure I get enough rest to heal while I'm completing the program. It sort of reminds me of getting rid of SIBO or Chelation and detoxing all that junk.
I forgot to take pics today bc i felt so good i got distracted.


So, Human Garage includes a test within the basic package that I got and it takes urine and saliva samples and tests C protein as markers for things like Carbohydrate Metabolism, Adrenal Function etc. I submitted samples on Day 1 and had my follow up call with them today. I will be honest, throughout my journey I've become skeptical of "all the tests" you can get these days which may or may not really tell you anything about your journey. Some of the offenders I'll mention are microbiome diversity tests (usually a stool test): your bacteria change after a meal, let alone hourly so this test doesn't tell the dr. much that they can already find out from your symptoms. Another test that I don't appreciate is the food allergy test. Unless you are at an allergist, getting a scratch test, taking a test to tell you what foods you're reacting to is a waste of your money. Your reaction can be caused by the level of inflammation you're experiencing from another food and cause you to think you can't eat apples, but it could be the fact that you're eating eggs all the time and now are reacting to apples because your system is all jacked up. The only (current) gold standard for food sensitivities is an elimination diet. I really appreciate that Dr. Ruscio's approach is to get the most information possible from as little testing (and money spending) as possible. Similarly he tries to keep patients on the bare minimum of supplements for the same reason. Some functional medicine practitioners go a little crazy and i think forget that most of this is not covered by insurance and therefore some restraint would be appreciated.
That being said, I wanted to go through the whole HG process and this was part of it so I went in with an open mind, ready to ask questions and stand by what I knew worked for me.

I was actually pleasantly surprised! Asia (the person who walked me through my results) was super familiar with the steps I’ve taken so far. She was like "i don’t want you to introduce anything that you know you can’t tolerate right now but i do want to focus on your adrenals"… (Dr. Ruscio seemed to think my adrenals/thyroid are fine, based on blood tests and I’ve been taking an adrenal support as needed but not in any real long term supporting way. So that could be something that was a missing link.) 


Stuff that kicked up for me (see my results to get the picture) were carbohydrate metabolism (i'm on a v low carb diet), protein metabolism (I need to take a digestive enzyme and i didn't buy more when i ran out last time), adrenal analysis (my adrenals are low functioning, this is not great for my ability to handle stress or have energy and is connected to carbohydrate metabolism which is why the markers are almost neck and neck.) Liver Analysis (I'm doing some liver support but it could use a little boost) and I'm inflamed (shocker!)

I'm willing to do the things she suggested which were to go on a small amount of supplements, mostly ones I'd already be taking anyway like the adrenal support and digestive enzyme with HCL. I also really appreciated that she was like "it’s a challenge because your digestion is giving you issues and what I would like to do to support your adrenals is have you eat more carbs, but a lot of the carbs (not grains or anything) you don’t tolerate well." So i’m going to start taking an adrenal supplement, continue with my lifestyle and diet (and liver support) and just inch up on how many carbs I’m consuming, and see if that will help my adrenals settle down without wreaking havoc on my digestion by adding too much fiber or stuff I know makes me inflamed.

Deep breathing will be added to my lifestyle, i’m not really focusing that as much as I have with meditation, and doing it more regularly will help me stay parasympathetic. Deep breathing will chill me out, which will reduce my inflammation/adrenal/catabolic markers. A lot of her other suggestions i’m already doing: prioritizing sleep, blue light blocking glasses, meditation, light exercise etc.

The big update is that i’m going low histamine diet (in addition to my mostly-keto and low fodmap) to help my body rest and repair. I’ve experienced this being an issue and talked to Dr. Ruscio about it, but I have not committed to doing it because I’ve been so focused on microbiome rebuilding and probiotic foods. 

I do a round of treatment as listed above for 30 days and then we adjust for 60-90 days and then from there there's an ongoing plan. I'm about to leave for Europe so I'll be starting this then, it'll be just over 30 days of travel. No booze in Europe but I've done it before and I really do feel better when I don't drink so I'm sure it'll be easier done than said.

We forgot to take a progress pic this week bc I was so chatty :)

Human Garage, Day 4!

This is part four of a series. If you haven't caught up on what I'm doing with Human Garage, see the other posts here!

This is the first day of the second week of my work with Human Garage. I'm doing 2 weeks with 3 sessions each for the releases to accommodate my touring schedule; as well as make sure the work is being done in a manner that won't regress due to my unavailability.

Today was Neck & Peripheral release with OJ.

He started with my calves bc calves are connected to your neck (and, coincidentally are shaped like the heart muscle AND function as the major leg muscle to return blood to the heart, who knew!) I had some tight knots in there that were pretty uncomfortable. After calves, he worked on some hamstring release. Jordan was also with us almost the whole session, pulling and holding fascia to facilitate tension release.

Now that I'm an old pro at Human Garage, when I go we usually talk about whole body wellness, books and podcasts and personal experiences. This time we were talking about Katy Bowman and her book and a couple of podcasts I've heard her on. She's a movement specialist and has an awesome book called Move Your DNA and it's all about not "working out" but getting your body to move the way it was intended and how that gets nutrients into your muscles, bones, tendons etc. she calls it "Nutritious Movement" and believes there are daily "doses" we need of this movement to actually increase our longevity. She encourages people to walk around without their shoes on so their foot can fully bend and flex. Additionally, OJ mentioned that you pick up information from your feet that your body uses to inform itself about your environment. This is one of the reasons I wear flat shoes with large toe pads so my feet can feel more of the ground and my toes can spread in a more natural way.

After the hamstring attention, he worked on my shoulders again and then got to my neck. My neck has been so tight for so long, it's connected to everything. I engage my neck when it has no business doing anything. This is one example of why the process at HG isn't just releasing tension but also about retraining the brain to stop engaging my neck. It's about breaking the movement pattern. I can remember, playing field hockey in high school and hating ab day because it would hurt my neck so much. My neck would tire out before my abs did. More recently, while working out with Open Sky Fitness, any upper body exercises Rob would give me, I would feel in my neck. It made me feel stressed out, frustrated and cranky. When OJ was releasing these muscles, I felt exactly the same way: irritated, cranky, frustrated and stressed. 

I mentioned on day one that knots in your body form to protect other parts from getting injured, from emotional and physical trauma but I failed to mention another reason. If you're trying to do something, and your muscle isn't strong enough, it will recruit the help of another muscle to do the job. That can cause knots and is yet another reason why the bio mechanical assessment and brain retraining is so important. My neck is engaging whenever I do core work, whenever I do upper body work, it's tensing my neck and my jaw and causing stress. 

Today was my first meeting with Dr. Luke, the Human Garage chiropractor. I have another chiropractor who I usually see but during this process, HG asks you to not get any massages or chiropractic adjustments so as not to interfere with their process. Dr. Luke is similar to my chiropractor in that the doesn't just adjust your whole body. He uses a tool called an activator to make micro adjustments which are only some millimeters rather than large adjustments that you may be more familiar with. A lot of movement patterns knock us out of alignment just slightly, so he focused on areas that felt off. He also uses drop blocks to push through my joints to increase movement and open the joint up. It also allows him to work on a joint without jostling the rest of the body which may or may not need to be adjusted at all. I spoke to Dr. Luke about the reason for coming to Human Garage and he dug around my Ileocecal and Houston valves in my guts to get them to work more properly, he called it "changing the pressure" in my insides. After that we chatted, Brahm came in and then Dr. Luke went over my images to show me how my alignment has changed thus far (all the while, my Houston valve felt like some business was happening.)


Human Garage, Day 3! (Oh, there you go)

This is part three of a series. If you haven't caught up on what I'm doing with Human Garage, see the other posts here!

I will say in this post, that during this series I am not going to be able to remember the names of all the muscles that are worked on each session. I'll talk about general areas of release and focus more on my experience and the effects of the releases.

Today I met with OJ and we did Shoulder Release.


I talked with him about the neck pain I've been having if i turn my head to the right and look down towards my armpit. I think I slept on it wrong after the last tour and it's been sore ever since. He got in and around my arm sockets today, on top, in the front and around the back. He said my subscapula is very tight. A lot of the releases I felt up my neck, up behind my ear and into my jaw. A couple times i'd feel it in my hips, mostly my right hip. I'm not surprised, since I store tension in my neck and feel stress in my neck. Ever since Garry released my jaw I've been more connected to my awareness of tension in my jaw. I know I grind my teeth from when I saw the holistic dentist before I started Chelation. Bruxism or teeth grinding can be a symptom of a number of things including stress and low blood sugar.

i felt stressed. It felt almost like frustration, a sense of urgency for the session to be over, but not painful, impatient. The connection I make is that if you store information in the muscle, when you release it, you have to actually feel it to let it go. I could sense myself trying to avoid the discomfort and my mind would wander. So noticing that, instead, i would really breathe into it and try to relax and allow the discomfort. I was even saying to myself to "relax". Then, when i did that, OJ was like "oh, there you go" (a common theme at Human Garage, and also an inside joke because it's said so much) so it really did seem like the more i could connect my mind to the relaxing the emotion or control, the more the muscle did relax. 

My right side is tighter than my left. It could be from being right handed, or OJ suggested that if I hold the mic with that hand while singing I should try to be conscious of not over extending that arm to do so. The following shows I was much more aware of this and tried to either hold the mic less (and just open my eyes so I don't hit myself in the face) or hold it and tuck my arm into its socket.

Look at how long my neck is in the most recent pic!

Look at how long my neck is in the most recent pic!

I'm really enjoying my time at the garage. For one, it's not terrible to have a ton of time getting my body worked on. It may be intense but it really is like the ultimate massage. I do wonder what it's like for people that come in that don't have the experience I have had, spending the last 4 years tuning into my physical and mental state. I don't know if I would have been able to handle this process as easily and as fully, back in 2004. The yoga, meditation, lifestyle and diet practices I have learned and adopted, allow me to be super aware of bodily sensations and to sit in the discomfort and focus on the mind body connection. I wouldn't discourage anyone without that experience from going to Human Garage but I would encourage people to lean into the process, despite previous experience. Open your mind if you think that "health/wellness stuff" is "woo woo" because it really will make realigning easier.

It's also been really fun to get to know everyone working at the garage. So far everyone I've met came in with their own injury and just never left.

I maintained the alignment that I gained after the Core Release session with Alex. I do feel like i'm walking around like a skeleton animation on the Discovery Channel. I have so much swagger and it feels like i'm standing in a power position. It does have an effect on me mentally and emotionally to feel so open and tall.


Human Garage has supplements and other goodies for sale in the lobby area, essential oils to test out, water bottles that double as foam rollers. I've been using the essential oil sampler of the "heart chakra" oil, each time I leave, to help facilitate the release of what i'm holding on to. I was thinking, too, when i went to sleep last night about how the real task is to let go. It's been my goal for years to learn how to do that, to let go of emotional baggage, of judgement, of past transgressions, shame etc. I was thinking about what that really means, and it came up in my Live Awake meditation (one of my favorites is called healing through letting go) and it struck me.

Letting go = forgiveness. 

Forgiving myself for feeling the way I do, for being stressed or impatient or bloated or controlling. Forgiving others for being who they are, forgiving myself when I'm annoyed by another. Deciding in the moment what that forgiveness means and looks like is part of the challenge but it's at least a mindset and practice. It's been something I've latched onto. I keep talking about how I want to change, to not feel "this way" (depending on the moment and or feeling) but what have I done to change my situation? Lifestyle and diet aside, how can I expect to change if I don't change my daily habit or re-train myself how to respond to stressful stimuli? It's something I'm adding to my tools. Hopefully less circumstances will lead to an "issue" at all if I can lead from a place forgiveness.

Human Garage, Day 2!

This is part two of a series. If you haven't caught up on what I'm doing with Human Garage, see the other posts here!

Today was my Core Release day with Human Garage.

I was with Alex, a motion mechanic I hadn't met yet. He started our session by sort of assessing where I was at after the last time. This session was definitely not as emotional as yesterday but he did go back over some of the areas they worked on, trying to release more. Especially in my quads because there's still a lot of tension in there and he mentioned that it was a lot like peeling back layers. They took away a layer yesterday and he got some more release today. They're incredibly sore, but that's sort of part of the process. That they just go over and over the area until the release happens. I did feel like in the tightest part of the left quad, some of the same burning sensation up and around my back (perhaps my psoas on the left side) and also the burning sensation sort of near the intestinal area and hip area on the left side similarly to what i felt on the right side, last time.

We talked about how I was feeling and what I was hoping to get from my work with Human Garage. He had read my file and was familiar with what I had said upon my initial consultation, he also had Jen's notes from the previous day, but he also asked me.

mood lighting

mood lighting

I was really struck and impressed by this. One of my issues with the western medicine machine is that everything is so separate. You see a neurologist for issues with your brain, a psychologist for emotional issues, a gastroenterologist for your gut health etc. In my experience it is rare for these doctors to work together in an efficient manner to get to the root of a problem. Many emotional consequences come from your gut health being out of whack. But if you go to a psychologist for anxiety, they are likely not going to tell you to examine what you're eating or to test you for leaky gut, despite the fact that it could be causing your anxiety. It was cool to see these practitioners, working on different parts of my body, within the same business, really communicate with one another in the way that I hope more MDs will. It means they're more likely to catch connections between body parts or symptoms.

Alex worked on my core, but it mostly felt like he was working on my guts. I laid on my back, he'd put his hand on the right side of my abdomen (actually, near the ileolcecal valve), have me breathe and just sort of let my body allow his hands to go deeper in my abdominal cavity. It wasn't difficult for him to dig around in my guts and I don't know if that's because I'm really open to healing that part of my body or I'm not very protective of it. It felt like a very non invasive way of releasing the muscle. Then he did the left side. It felt like I had bubbles in my stomach or intestines. I was actually surprised that him working on the front of my abdomen didn't make me need to go to the bathroom. Usually when someone rubs on your guts, it makes you have to poop!

He worked on the muscles between the ribs. He worked on the back which felt like the upper psoas (the psoas wraps up around to your spine). It was pretty tight but didn't really hurt when he released it. It was easy to chat with Alex the whole time. We talked about how he got started at Human Garage. Like a lot of the practitioners I am familiar with in functional/natural/gut centered health he had his own journey of healing that led him to become a practitioner. (Other examples are: Garry Lineham, Dr. Ruscio, Sarah Ballantyne, Chris Kresser, the list goes on...) These people educated themselves and then chose to share their knowledge to help heal others.

The last thing to release was the diaphragm. The rest of the core release allows the diaphragm, once released to really allow you to breathe a full breath. All the sitting we do and shallow breathing we do prevents us from taking those healing, relaxing and oxygenating full breaths.

When he was done with my core (of all the release days, it's the shortest, i was done after an hour and a half or so) he went back to my legs and got them to release a little bit more. I asked if there was something else I could be doing to make sure that I was letting go of it all. It was really difficult, in the face of the extreme discomfort, to not tense up the rest of my body. He said that I was doing it, just breathe and try to relax. It's about stretching my legs and focusing more on the mental aspect of what am I storing in there? what am I holding onto? what are we breaking down and what are we trying to let go of? I do leave feeling a lot lighter and I do I notice a difference in the way that I'm walking for sure. 

At the end of the session he had me walk it off and i felt like i was walking around with my chest puffed up. I felt very powerful and joyful. I was smiling. As a woman and as a sensitive person, I feel like i walk around very physically closed off and hunched over. I had a swagger to my walk from the core release, my hips were swinging in opposition to my arm. I felt great. 

I did talk with Alex a little more about the overall Human Garage process today and about how the process of unwinding is the first step in realignment. They remove the tension from muscles and fascia and then you go into biomechanics sessions where your movement is assessed and you're given exercises to help your brain re-train your movement patterns. I understood the overall idea of Human Garage, but every day that I go, and we chat while on the table, I gain a little bit more understanding.

Human Garage, Day 1!

I started my sessions with Human Garage yesterday!
If you missed my introduction on what they're up to, you can read about it here. 

The entrance to Human Garage is in the alley off of Washington Blvd in Venice. 

The entrance to Human Garage is in the alley off of Washington Blvd in Venice. 

My goals in working with Human Garage are to get my body in the right position so that it's able to heal itself. Misalignment is causing some mechanical issues with my gut and digestion, not to mention make me prone to injury if I exercise. I hope that through working with Human Garage I'll be able to eat more foods with less discomfort and reduce or eliminate bloating after eating. I hope to be able to lift heavier weights. I'm currently experiencing some weird knee sensations and pressures which feel like bone on bone, due to being misaligned. If Human Garage can get me back in a righted position, I'd be able to lift weights without the fear of harming myself.

At my visit we began the first of 6 sessions designed to un-wind my body: Lower Release. They start from the bottom up (legs first) because that method has proven to be the most effective in releasing tension from our bodies. (We walk from our hips, feet first.) Starting with the legs allows the rest of the body to unwind (release tension from our muscles and fascia) easier.

My practitioner was Jen, they call her "gentle Jen" because she is not. She greeted me with a hug (they're all huggers at Human Garage, I love it) and led me to the massage table. We talked a little bit about how the process would go and why they start with lower release first. She started with my calves and ankles, feeling for knots in my fascia and tension in my muscles. Unsurprisingly to me, my body is tight, likely from years of sports but also emotional stress. I came prepared for pain, ready to breathe through the discomfort and "lean in" to the process. She worked on my calves and at one point reached for a tool they call a "TheraGun" it's a drill-like tool that has a rubber ball at the end. The ball vibrates against your muscle making it easier for the practitioner to release the tension. (Side note: I'm not sure if you're aware of this but we don't actually have "knots" in our muscles. What feels like a knot is actually the brain telling that muscle to fire and hold tension, either to protect a part of the body or from stress or trauma. Fascia can have knots, but even that is a misnomer. The "knot" is really a bundle of fascia stuck together. Each of these points of tension can be released with stretching and massage techniques.) After my calves were sufficiently released, Jen worked on my shins.

Most of the massage/acupressure/tension release is done manually. It feels like a really deep tissue massage. They break up the sessions into 6 and schedule the appointments 2 a week for 3 weeks. This is so you don't go too long between sessions and re-tense any of the areas they're working on. No massages, chiropractic appointments (outside of Human Garage) or working out is allowed during this time. The point of the  protocol is to break down the tension in your body, allow it to right itself (alignment speaking) and then train your brain to keep you in that position, not fall back into old patterns of movement. Exercising, massage or chiropractics could interfere with that process and so HG has learned to tell clients to refrain during the realignment process. Walking and light stretching is encouraged.



So far, calves and shins, weren't so tough to sit through. Some of the tense muscle release even made me laugh, the TheraGun was especially tickling. Following the shins, Jen rearranged me to lie on my left side with my right leg at a 90 degree angle (and bent knee) resting on a cushion. This was to make my adductor muscles accessible. I know that these muscles and my hips are pretty tight. I have a hard time sitting cross legged on the ground with my knees not high up in the air. I can't sit in lotus position in yoga without pain because my tight hips put too much pressure on my feet, resting on my calves or thighs. While releasing tension in my adductors I was doing a lot deep breathing. It was painful close to my groin and even more so closer to my knee. I was noticing some sensations during this part of the session. I would tremble and convulse the more I relaxed and let the tension dissipate. (Sometimes, when I give my dog a massage he does this. When I'm rubbing his neck he'll tense up and breathe heavily while his muscles shake out the tension.)

So, she's working on my adductors, I'm shaking and breathing and doing my best to relax or "lean into ;)" the tension as it's releasing. The muscles with a lot of tension sometimes release in layers. So as the first round of tension is letting go and she's getting deeper in there, i start to feel shaking and tension release in other parts of my body. I could feel it in my lower back (perhaps lower back or psoas muscles) and i also felt this burning sensation in the right side of my abdomen. It felt like soft tissue, not muscular. it felt the way scar tissue burns when you massage it to break up. I was reminded of my consultation visit with Garry (owner and founder of Human Garage). He spoke about how my muscles and fascia were pulling my organs out of alignment and that tension was affecting my ileocecal valve and mechanically holding it open. (I know that area is prone to issue from my colonoscopy.) The area that was burning was right where my ileocecal valve is located. Even thought it was uncomfortable, it was encouraging to feel like the tension release in my hip muscles would relieve my gut of that tension. 

From adductors, Jen moved on to lower psoas and quad muscles. Lower psoas wasn't so bad. It's really tight and it was uncomfortable so I just kept focusing on relaxing my body and breathing deeply. Breathing does two things in an instance like this: it will tell your body to relax, that this is a position it's meant to be in and allow the muscle to release and it also chills you out. The instinct is to tighten up, resist and hold your breath to bear down on the pain. But, (and i'm sure this is a metaphor for the mental aspect that Human Garage is also teaching) resisting will only maintain the pain and keep everything all jacked up. So, I'm doing my best and Jen starts on my thigh muscles, my quadriceps. When I first took a yoga class in around 2006, i remember hating it. I was in warrior 3, I think, and I remember my eyes leaking and feeling like I was going to cry because of the emotional surge I felt, connected to my thigh muscles. I was prepared for this at Human Garage. I feel like the last 4 years of my health journey, my relationship with myself, with meditation, with learning to let go (i said learning...), with sitting in the discomfort that life delivers, prepared me to find Human Garage and sit through this... the thigh release. Knowing that I store my feelings in my body (read: everywhere) I was mentally prepared to cry on this table. Jen starts working on my thighs and it's like i have three calf sized "knots" or spots of tension. And they. are. fucking. painful. I'm not shaking at this point, I'm basically lamaze breathing and spontaneously convulsing. I was trying so hard to relax into it but would feel the opposite side of my body tense up. It was hard to tell if I was tensing or if the tension was involuntary connection to other muscles like my lower back/psoas and hips.

Jen had Garry's son Jordan come over who also works at Human Garage doing fascia work, to hold/pull the fascia in my lower leg while she worked on that thigh. My eyes were watering, my lips were quivering and I just sat in it. I was tense, breathing heavy and trying to just feel what was coming up. Jen told me to try and name what I was feeling, that if my brain could identify it, it would actually help the muscle to release. A way of exorcising the emotion out of the muscle. Ironically, I was having a really hard time identifying it. It definitely felt like frustration, maybe some fear and a little sadness. I started thinking about high school and when i first started having panic attacks. It felt like I was scared and alone and no one really knew how to help me. It felt a little bit like the sadness that comes along with and lingers after fear has come and gone. It also felt like the control you seek when you're scared. Like you'll do anything to maintain the power position and relieve the feeling. I have felt this in moments of panic, I have felt this in the aftermath of a break-up, that urge to call the one person you know you can't, the inability to speak when your mind is in panic mode and you're flipping through your brain files, for a way out. It sucked. And that was only the right leg. I did my best the whole appointment, to talk through what I was feeling. Mostly so I could make sure I was articulating it. But also, if i said it out loud, then Jen would sometimes be able to tell me why something was happening or what it was. During this emotional moment she encouraged me to let it out. She tried to get me to name it. I tried to talk through what it kind of  felt like and what i thought it was.

Then we moved on to the left leg. This one was even worse! I tried to take what I had learned from the right leg and really breathe into it. I tried to stretch my left leg longer rather than tensing up my body. I started laughing uncontrollably and saying that it hurt SO MUCH but i couldn't stop laughing. Jen asked if I wanted her to back off, but I said no. It felt like this was my penance. That the pain hurt going in, so it had to hurt going out, and I wanted it out. i want to exorcize the control and the attachment and judgement from my body and I don't think it'll go easily or quietly. Soon, after laughing my head off, I was mouth in a grimace, eyes squinched shut, silently sobbing. I kept thinking about something my therapist said to me back just before I was leaving my day job to do music. It was about me not having to do everything. She said "you think that if you didn't do everything, you'd cease to exist". I have this connection to "actions speak louder than words" so, if I'm not the friend I feel I am inside, and I don't show up for things, or take time for myself, or lead by example, then who am i? How can I exist outside of how i live my life? and Isn't living my life through action?

Remembering that while i'm feeling all this conflict and pain and sadness and frustration i say to myself "you are afraid if you feel this, if you let go of control, the pain and conflict, that you will die, you will break." I'm not exactly sure what it means or how to approach it but it felt true. I do have a terribly hard time letting go of things, emotionally speaking. I will circle around something I've done or said or felt and just hold onto it and revisit it over and over, looking at it from all the angles. It's a bit OCD, which I've written about before. I want to yank that part out of me. I want to live life easy and let things go and not get upset or angry or scared or sad or attach my self worth to the job I do and I'm not sure how to do it. How to release that. I think this is one more step in that direction. Meditation, self reflection and awareness, as debilitating as they can be some times, were also steps.

After Jen worked on my legs, she did my lower psoas and hips and then she put my ankle, knee and hip joints on these blocks to push through them and make sure they were opened up and working properly. Then she had me walk it off. As quickly as the emotions came, they were gone. I felt lighter. I also felt like i had someone else's legs on my body and wasn't sure that I could walk, or that I was re-learning how to walk. My feet felt like they were striking and rolling correctly. We took another photo to track my adjustment process.

I spent the rest of the day with friends and my husband. I felt sad. I felt open, vulnerable and exhausted. I was introspective and tried talking it through. I'm going to spend more time mulling this over. We'll be revisiting my thighs at later release sessions, lucky me, until they're done. So I'm sure there's more to learn from this. 

Because of my tour schedule, I'm cramming all 6 sessions into two weeks. But will be writing and reflecting on them over time. Stay tuned for the next visit which I'll be posting about soon!


From just one visit, you can see my right shoulder is more aligned, my head isn't leaning as far forward and I look high AF.