Dr. H’s Reflections: 69 calf raises

As many of you know, I work “remotely, remotely” from Switzerland. This means that a few times per year, I take flights across the ocean to visit family and friends. To tend to my circulation during these long flights, I wear Bombas compression socks. (I have no affiliation with Bombas, but I highly recommend their compression socks!) I also complete 69 calf raises over the course of these long flights.

Research shows flights longer than four hours lead to an increased risk of a blood clot. Wearing compression socks and completing calf raises can help get my blood flowing to prevent one. 

But why 69 calf raises in particular? 

If I do all 69 calf raises at once, my calves are burning. This sensation confirms that I’m getting my circulation going, helping me achieve my blood clot prevention goals. 

Equally as important, by doing these 69 calf raises on each long flight, I strengthen my capacity to honor promises that I’ve made to myself.

When I sit down for a long flight ahead, I often think, “Maybe I’ll only do 30 calf raises on this flight” or even “Maybe I’ll skip the calf raises altogether.” 

These thoughts appear like a pesky fly distracting me from what the moment calls for. 

The good news is I’ve flexed the muscle of ignoring such silly thoughts. This habit – ignoring thoughts that are in direct opposition to what I’m committed to – is one that I’ve cultivated in the area of health over time.

Of course I’m going to do 69 calf raises. If for no other reason, I’m going to do the 69 calf raises because I made a promise to myself:

When I fly, I tend to my circulation.

When I fly, I do 69 calf raises. 

While I could probably break my promise and get away with it (i.e. not get a blood clot), my reasons for honoring my promise go beyond physical benefits.

I honor my promise because doing so is foundational to cultivating self-trust. Every time I honor a promise I’ve made to myself, I add to my self-trust bucket. And I’ve discovered a treasure-trove of gems in expanding my self-trust. 

On the flipside of cultivating self-trust, there are the ill effects of self-betrayal*. This is something I prefer to avoid. When I do not honor a promise I’ve made to myself – without consciously modifying or nullifying my promise – this is an act of self-betrayal. 

I know the cheap momentary gratification of “no effort” would not be worth the harm of self-betrayal. 

How do I know? From personal experience – I’ve tried self-betrayal many times and not once have I felt proud of myself for having dishonored my word.  

Can you learn from self-betrayal and use these learnings to your advantage? Of course, and my wish is that you do. 

In your journey towards honoring your health as sacred, I bet the bank that you will betray yourself along the way. 

I hope you use these instances of broken promises to better understand yourself and your environment – to clarify your promises, to see what works and what doesn’t work, and to adjust accordingly. 

That being said, I also wish that you elevate your capacity to honor the promises you make to yourself – the promises that you see as foundational to fulfilling Your Intention for Your Health and Your Life. 

You can learn from cutting yourself with a knife, but I think we all agree the ideal thing is to not cut yourself with a knife. This is something we can aim for today. 

My invitation…

Look for opportunities to honor your promises to yourself in the area of health today

     Maybe it’s ordering the salad instead of the sandwich even though you feel a moment of “left out” when everyone else is having the sandwich. 

     Maybe it’s being a “no” to that one glass of wine tonight even though your pesky fly mind is telling you that it’s no big deal.

     Maybe it’s putting your phone away at 10pm even though you really want to see your best friend’s text reply. 

Honor these promises to yourself – even in the midst of your mind’s invented reasons and the tug to do otherwise.

Acknowledge yourself for honoring your promises. 


Cultivating self-trust through strengthening our capacity to honor our promises to ourselves – in our health, in our relationships, in our play, in our work – this is the work of a lifetime. In our journey, we will gain clarity on what we uniquely hold sacred and our own self-authored standards of effectiveness. 

We will triumph, and we will fail at honoring our promises. 

If we take our promises to ourselves seriously – which is a requirement for fulfilling what we say matters most to us – we will, over time, change for the better.

What promise to yourself will you honor today? 

*NOTE: Real-life circumstantial disruptions to promises made to yourself (i.e. your child getting sick and your devotion to caring for your child interfering with your 7am yoga class) is different from what I am calling “self-betrayal”. Self-betrayal occurs when you ignore or disregard a promise you had the capacity and ability to follow through with.

A big thank you to Valerie for reading this month’s blog beforehand and making it better!