James Hollister

Hey There, I'm James. I'm a Hacker That Writes About Health, Posture, Alignment and Human Biomechanics.

The Writing Process Blog Tour

So this whole viral social media thing of people dumping buckets of ice has seemed to go main stream, hopefully it dies out soon enough. But recently I was tagged in another, similar type of thing that sounded cool. It is called #mywritingprocess, it’s for bloggers, authors, etc and if you’re tagged you’re supposed to respond with an article about your writing projects and why & how you write.

Gideon Walker another entrepreneur dad and writer from here in Vegas was the one who challenged me. So here goes!

Question 1. What are you working on?

I’m new to this writing thing.  My background is in hacking on code for websites, software and other shit like that.

I’ve always fancied the idea of writing and teaching about things I care about though. Just never dedicated and took the leap.

Recently I landed on a topic that I decided to throw my weight behind and focus on. Decided to roll up my sleeves and commit to writing, no matter how shitty it was at first.

That topic is our health, specifically related to our posture, alignment and biomechanics. I’ve always been interested in health and nutrition but just by chance I started to come across material on alignment. Didn’t take long before I realized how broken I am and how broken almost everyone in our modern society is.

Why is no one talking more about this? Guess it’s up to me to try to help spread the word.

That’s why I’m writing a book about it. The working title is “A Hacker’s Guide to Biomechanics“.  I’m aiming to bring the message to a group of people who really need it, and a group of people who I resonate well with, programmers, designers and hackers in general.

 

Question 2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

There are a few others that speak about this topic and are trying to bring the word of proper alignment and how important it is to the masses. A couple in particular that have touched me are Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD.com and Katy Bowman from KatySays.com.

Kelly is a pro that focuses mostly on helping the fitness community and the CrossFit community more specifically, he talks a lot about how mobility and flexibility help with weight training gains.

Katy talks mostly about alignment and health for all kinds of people but usually has a spin that focuses on women, pregnancy and child labor. She also has an institute that aims to teach her skills to other health pros (a program that I should probably take soon).

My main difference from those and others is that I’m trying to bring this message to a different audience – the hackers that have been glued to a cubicle desk chair for far too long.

 

Question 3. Why do you write what you do?

Now that I know what I know about this stuff (admittedly, its not a whole lot, still way more that I need to understand about the deeper science) I can’t go anywhere without noticing how broken we all are.  Right now I’m working a 3 month contract in an office building – typical cubicle type desk workers. Get any of them to open up about it and you will hear that almost all of them have some sort of back pain or something to show for the time they spend sitting, staring at a computer screen.

There needs to be a big shift and it will take a lot of people to make it happen. Why shouldn’t I be one of them?

 

Question 4. How does your writing process work?

I’ve been battling with this for the last few weeks, trying to find my groove and the way that I can write the best. I’m married with 2 little girls, I do contract software dev work at an office 3 days a week, so I’m still working on a schedule that lets me stay consistent with writing.

Here’s a bit about my current process.

Whenever I think of a topic or idea for a blog or chapter in my book I add it to a list in Scrivener. Then, when I sit down to write I have a goal of 1000 words and scan through the list of ides to see what strikes me the most and get to writing.  I try to just get it all out.

Next Up: #mywritingprocess

Part of the fun with being a part of this challenge is the chance to challenge other writers. I decided to pick a few people who I don’t know all that well but who have all been instrumental in my development professionally because of what they teach. They have large audiences so perhaps if any of them pick it up they’ll keep the ball rolling.

Nathan Barry - Nathan is a designer, a developer, an entrepreneur and a teacher. He writes about how to make a living as a writer and I’ve been absorbing his stuff for a few months now. He can be found at http://NathanBarry.com and his most recent book is called Authority.

Brennan Dunn - Brennan is recovering from a past life of running a successful web development consulting firm. He teaches on the topics of freelancing and becoming a high paid, valuable consultant. He has a series of content, free courses, books, and in depth workshops to do that through. He also has a successful SAAS product called Planscope.io that helps consultants manage their projects.

Noah Kagan Noah is a badass that does all kinds of awesome things. He may not need much introduction, but just in case: He runs AppSumo.com and recently reorganized it to focus more on teaching people how to build a profitable business with Monthly1k.com and now is building tools to help people grow their audiences using SumoMe.com , a suite of tools and WordPress Plugins to improve email opt ins. He also blogs occasionally at OKDork.com.

You guys, answer the 4 questions above and then tag a few other people.

 

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Legal Stuff: Any tips or techniques that I share on this blog are not meant to serve as medical advice. I am no expert, I'm on the journey to learn more about my body, just as much as you are. If you have an existing medical condition or are concerned about anything related to your health - please seek the guidance of a licensed medical practitioner.

Let’s Go For A Walk

We don’t walk enough.  Plain and simple.

I don’t walk enough.

Our bodies didn’t evolve to sit down at a keyboard in a cubicle for 40+ hours per week (over 1/3 of our waking hours).

Add onto that the time we spend in the car to and from that cubicle. And by the time we get home we’re probably spending the majority of the remaining time on the couch watching the tube.

It sucks the life out of us. 

We’re meant to be moving, to be walking long distances like our ancestors did when they were searching for food and shelter.

We try to make up for all this time being sedentary by buying gym memberships.

But… even if we go often it’s still not enough.

The things we’re taught to do there end up doing more harm than good.

If you went to work out and ran on a treadmill – even if it was 7 times a week for a full hour.  The time we spend there amounts to 6.25% of our lives.

I’m no different, or better, this topic is something I still struggle with daily.  I’m trying to recover from a decade of putting in my time at the computer hacking on code.

Today it was time to go for a walk.

See, I live in Las Vegas – it’s August right now.  If you’ve never been here around now, it’s hot.

But today was different.

Today I didn’t have any excuse.  We’ve been getting some rain and today was gorgeous out.  Overcast and drizzly.

So I strapped on my Merrell minimalist shoes and headed out the front door.

I’ve been writing and learning about the subject of proper walking recently so I decided to take this time to practice my new habits.

You’ll be able to read all about the subject of walking and gait in my upcoming book A Hacker’s Guide to Biomechanics, but until that comes out lets talk about it here.

The Problems With How We Walk

The way that most people walk (myself included unless I force myself to think about it) can’t really be considered “walking” it’s really more of a series of small, controlled falls.

Most of us are used to having our weight rest on the front part of our feet, which forces our center of gravity forward and leaves us inherently unbalanced.  To achieve forward movement we lean even more forward and then catch our self with the next step.

This may seem like an efficient way to move, after all it feels like its easier because we’re being aided by gravity.  However the problem with gravity is that things that are falling eventually have to land.  Each time that your forward foot lands it needs to absorb the impact, which also reverberates through your shins, knees and all the way up through your hip.

These repeated impacts add up when we’re talking about the 200 million steps that you’re expected to take in your life.

There are other downfalls of this falling forward method of walking.

Because you’re using gravity instead of your own muscle power to create most of the movement you’re no longer engaging the muscles that are designed to provide locomotion.

If muscles aren’t used as they are supposed to then they end up atrophying.

So how should we walk?

Now that I’ve told you how you’ve been walking wrong most of your life… hopefully I can turn on the sunshine.

First, ditch the cushy walking or running shoes.  Find something that is pretty flat and doesn’t have any kind of heel.  Even if the heel is only half an inch it is shifting your balance forward making you more likely to use the falling method.

Next, try to keep your feet pointing forward while standing or walking.  Just like the wheels on a car, the alignment of your feet is extremely important.  Look at your feet and turn them back inwards until you can draw two parallel imaginary line on the outsides of your soles which point forward.

Now… while walking, try to imagine that you are roller skating.  The old school kind, you know the ones where there is a big stopper in the front that you use to push off.

The idea here is that you should be using the actual muscles in your legs (the calves, quads and hamstrings) to create forward movement.

Then as you take each step, aim to land on the balls of your foot (the pad in the front where all the toes connect to).  This will soften the impact and allow the arches in your feet which act like springs to absorb the majority of the impact.

Try it. Might take a bit of practice at first but when you get it, you’ll get it.

Back to my walk…

If figured I’d just go for a few laps around my neighborhood block, clear my mind and think about what to write next.

But I got on such a roll with practicing my new walk and it was such a nice day I might as well keep going…

Goin for a walk

We needed a couple of things from the grocery store, so why not head down there?

It turned into a great jaunt, and they even had the organic Kale on sale for 99 cents a bunch.

On the way back the rain picked up and I got thoroughly drenched by the time I made it to the front door.  The people driving by probably thought I was crazy but it made my day.  Now I’m recharged and ready to get back to work.

Leave a comment below if you have any questions about how to walk the way I described.  Also, if you get it, let me know how it feels and whether you keep planning on trying to make it your default.

-james

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Legal Stuff: Any tips or techniques that I share on this blog are not meant to serve as medical advice. I am no expert, I'm on the journey to learn more about my body, just as much as you are. If you have an existing medical condition or are concerned about anything related to your health - please seek the guidance of a licensed medical practitioner.