Category Archives: Healing with Exercise

Depressed? Anxious? Exercise Helps says Mayo Clinic

Exercise is the great elixir.  Fountain of youth and mood enhancer.  For those that need proof, countless scientific reports show that exercise helps those with diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis. Ditto for anxiety, depression.

It doesn’t matter what you do – it’s moving that matters. Bike. Hike. Garden. Lift weights. Jump rope. Dance. Wash the car.  If you’re in Chicago, you can join me for Pilates, Yoga, and Zumba.

Even more good news is that exercise may also help keep anxiety and depression from coming back once you’re feeling better.  According the experts at the Mayo clinic, the benefits are many.

How exercise helps:

  • Releases feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increases body temperature, which may have calming effects
  • Boosts confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
  • Takes your mind off worries. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
  • Improves social interaction. Exercise may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
  • Helps you Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptom

While exercise can make you look better, the most significant benefit is that you will feel better for having done it. Just move!



5 Ways to Relieve Back Pain

The bad news is most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives.  The good news is most of it is due to muscle strain and will go away through time.  But no need to grin and bear it!  Here are some quick and easy ways to get relief now!

Increase your endorphins!  These are natural pain-suppressing proteins released by your brain through physical activity, laughter and meditation.




Heat and/or Ice is nice! People often ask me which is right and when?  The rule of thumb is within the first 24-48 hours ice to reduce inflammation (A bag of frozen peas works wonders).  Heat increases circulation, stimulates blood flow and brings healing nutrients to the site of pain. Microwave a moist towel and relax!

Over-the-counter meds. Some reduce pain, some reduce inflammation, some are combined to do both. Nsaids reduce inflammation (Aleve, Aspirin, Advil, Motrin). Tylenol reduces pain but is not an anti-inflammatory.  Take a FULL glass of water with all meds and follow interval dosing on label. It’s easier to keep pain at bay than get rid of it.

Massage. You can do it your self with a foam roller and tennis balls but it’s so much nicer to have it done by a professional massage therapist. Ahhhhh…




Topical Treatments. These heat and cool skin with menthol, wintergreen or eucalyptus oil (Biofreeze, Icy Hot, Flexall, Tiger Balm). Some creams have aspirin (Bengay, Aspercream).  Homeopathic medicine includes Arnica gel (reduce inflammation and bruising)

For more ways to manage and prevent back pain, check out my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Back Pain.


Feel Better in 60-Seconds (or less!)

Back Pain is the second most common ailment in the United States (headaches are number one).  Most back pain is lifestyle and work related.  If you spend tons of time at a computer – this stretch will help you feel better in your body in less than 60-seconds.  Try it!

Check out my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Back Pain, for more ways to be painfree.  Now available for Kindle!



how to lose a pound a week


A pound has about 3,500 calories.  To lose a pound a week (considered very reasonable and doable by most dietitians) you need to reduce 500 calories a day.  That could be a combination of diet and exercise – the best way to go.

EASY WAYS TO CUT CALORIES: (each tip about 100 or more)

  • use nonfat milk instead of whole milk and a no cal sweeter such as stevia or truvia in your coffee
  • skip the bagel and have a banana, hard-boiled egg or English muffin instead
  • substitute high fiber, high protein extend crisps for potato chips
  • use yogurt or mustard instead of mayo
  • half the rice or pasta and double the veggies
  • eat an open face sandwich with only one slice of bread


Most people burn about 400 calories/hour when at a moderate rate on the treadmill.  You an break that up into 2 30-minute sessions or 3-20 minute sessions in any given day.  Just ensure you’re at a high enough heart rate. An easy way to gauge is if you can talk but not sing while you’re exercising.


exercise 4xweek = 1,600 calories burned

cut 300 calories daily = 2,100 calories saved

total: 3,700 calories (or at least a pound a week down)

Play with these concepts and come up with your own food and fitness plan so that will not only fit in your jeans come Jan 1 you just might be flaunting it in your skinny jeans!


Jovanka JoAnn Milivojevic


Do you want to lose weight? Stress less?  Exercise more?  Thrive instead of just survive?  A wellness coach can get you there.

I know you’ve heard these promises many, many times before.  Weight loss is a multi-million dollar industry.  There are countless books, seminars, and workout DVDs that promise you’ll lose weight and feel great.  Some with outrageous claims like lose weight while you sleep, or the all chocolate diet.

Why does wellness coaching work where other programs fail?

Because it is designed specifically around you. Wellness coaching inspires you to reshape your life using your personal strengths, motivations, and passions.  It’s about looking at what’s right, what’s working and how to use that positivity to fuel your wellness goals.


An athletic coach helps athletes reach their highest athletic potential; a wellness coach helps you reach yours. Wellness coaches are specially trained professional who help you design and reach goals specific to you. No one-size-fits-all diets, fitness, or stress-reduction programs here.  The whole process is designed around you.

How?  By asking the right questions and setting the right goals at the right time.  For example, what motivates you to lose weight?  Motivations are personal and include everything from desiring to play with grand children to feeling sexier to walking pain-free during exotic hiking treks. Motivations inspire your journey. Your existing strengths empower to stay the course.


It’s exciting to discover your unique strengths.  Everyone is good at some thing.  At many things really. In wellness coaching, we use these strengths to catapult you toward reaching your goals.  For example, perhaps “love of learning” is strength for you.  Then reading articles about health and fitness; experimenting with new fitness routines; and/or trying new food combinations might be relevant to you.  Or perhaps “passion/zeal” is top strength.  Discovering what you’re passionate about and using that as tactic will help you reach your goals in way that is interesting and fun.  To discover your top strengths, take the VIA questionaire. (scroll half way down the page for quiz)


The process of wellness coaching progresses through several stages:

  • You provide background information through a well-being assessment so that you and your coach are well-informed on the key issues, including medical considerations.
  • During the first 60-90 minute coaching session, you identify your priorities and develop a personal wellness plan including a vision, three month goals and the first steps.
  • In subsequent 30-40 minute weekly coaching sessions you and your coach review the progress toward your vision and goals, explore and resolve the most pressing issues, learn something new, and then agree on a set of goals for the following week. You will enjoy plenty of ah-ah insights along the way.
  • By the end of three months, you can expect to reach more than 70% of your three-month goals and feel energized and confident to embark on new areas with or without your coach.


We all need someone to believe in us, help us, and inspire us. I believe that we can reach our wellness goals. But we need to give ourselves a true chance. We need to accept that long lasting changes require time, patience, a sense of a sense of humor, and lightness of being.

I’ve helped clients make inspiring discoveries about their motivations and be surprised by their capabilities. As a wellness coach, I can help you uncover and use your strengths to get you where you want to be.  It’s an exhilarating journey!

If you’d like more information or a free mini-session, contact me at

In Health,

Jovanka JoAnn Milivojevic

Lunchtime Fitness

Exercise is the elixir for many of life’s challenges – it reduces stress, increases energy and helps you sleep better too. The latest Federal government guidelines recommend 30-60 minutes of exercise on most days to maintain or improve your general wellbeing. That’s a tall order given today’s busy schedules. But fit a little fitness into a few of your lunch breaks and you’ll soon reap the rewards of a more active lifestyle.  These simple strategies can help you get the most of your limited lunch hour.


Multitasking has its benefits in the office and in the gym. Get maximum benefit from limited time by combining cardiovascular exercise with strength training.

  • Hop on a cardio machine for ten minutes, weight train your upper body for ten minutes, then stretch.  Alternate between upper and lower body weight training exercises each time you workout to get a full body benefit by the week’s end.  If you’re not sure how to get the most for your time, book a few sessions with a personal trainer.
  • Check out the facilities’ schedule of classes. Many gyms have shortened noon time instructor-led classes designed to fit into a limited schedule.
  • Entice a coworker to join you.  You can brainstorm new ideas and build better business relationships too.


You don’t need a lot of space to exercise efficiently.

  • Get a yoga mat and a resistance band and you’ve got your own in-office workout.  Resistance bands offer an endless array of strength-training and stretching options. They can be done standing, sitting, or lying down.  These bands are inexpensive and most come with step-by-step workout routines.
  •  No equipment needed. Think calisthenics: push ups, sit ups, squats and jumping jacks.  Good form, precision, and control are key.
  • Step away from the computer for a few minutes to stretch out your back can help reduce stiffness. A few side stretches and spine twists work wonders.
  • Bring in a group exercise instructor.  A savvy instructort can give you a full body workout in just 30-minutes—leaving you time for lunch and errands. If your company doesn’t provide the service, gather a few colleagues together and hire a trainer yourselves.  Splitting the cost can make the session affordable for every one.  All you need is a conference room or other open space.

I offer lunchtime worksite workouts to Chicago companies large and small. Designed to counterbalances the effects of sitting, the 30-minute full body workout is done standing up – no need to change clothes or lie on the floor!  For more info


Keep a gym bag with shoes and toiletries at the office and have an extra lighter bag to carry your workout clothes to and from home.  Likewise, bring your lunch on workout days to save time. Include a pre work out snack, such as a banana or handful of raisins mixed with nuts. If you’re starving at noon, it’ll be too easy to skip the workout. A well timed smart snack an hour before your workout will give you the fuel you need and reduce the hunger excuse.

Joints in Motion – Marathon Training Walk or Run!


If you think participating in a marathon is beyond your fitness level, think again.  Many first-timers, including people with arthritis, do it every year. They gain the needed skills, confidence and camaraderie through the Arthritis Foundation’s Joints in Motion program (JIM).

Each year athletes and non athletes train to walk, run, or both – all in behalf of raising awareness and research funds for the Arthritis Foundation.  It’s a great way to get in shape and make new friends while raising money for a good cause. And here’s another bonus — once your fundraising goal is reached, the Foundation will fly you to one of their race locations of your choice.


Teams form through local Arthritis Foundation chapters and virtually online. Local teams have the added benefit of attending live clinics organized by the Foundation such as sessions about nutrition, shoes, stretching, and fundraising techniques. Local JIM coaches also meet up with teams for training runs/walks.

Virtual teams receive training through online coaching. They get all the clinic information online and also communicate with coaches via email. For example, if you have a question about a sore foot, a coach will help you figure out if it’s a movement technique or shoe issue. Virtual teammates get together online and by conference calls.


Arthritis is the nation’s number one cause of disability.[1] One in five adults[2] lives with arthritis so chances are you know someone affected by the disease. Participants often run in behalf of someone they know which helps them raise funds. The JIM staff helps participants achieve financial goals through online fundraising tools and other methods. Most people raise between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on the location of the marathon selected. Once the goal is reached, you receive airfare, hotel accommodations, local transportation, and event entry fee. The Arthritis Foundation will even handle your travel details.  All you need do is the race.

To find a JIM team near you, call 1-877-9JOINTS. To learn more about the program, go to



Self-Control Secrets

Self-Control Secrets!

It’s not easy to have self-control these days – don’t smoke, eat less, exercise more. At the same time we are bombarded by endless commericals of gooey pizzas and rich chocolate candies. Talk about conflicting messages! It’s a wonder we have any self-control at all.  In my Health Talk, the Seven Secrets of Self-Control, I share what I learned from top researchers and behavioral and sports psychologists. I discovered a lot about what sabbotages self-control and more importantly, what we can do about it. Here are a few insights:


  1. Expect to Fail. Self control is about behavior change and whether we want to lose weight, stop smoking or eat more heathfully, we have to learn to do something new.  Failure is a natural part of the learning process. Like learning to ride a bike, at first you don’t succeeed. You bobble and may be even fall but eventaully you self-correct and riding that bike becomes second nature.  So, too for healthy habits.
  2. Shift Your Attitude.  We often beat our selves up instead of self correcting: I blew it, I’ll never get it right, it’s too hard! Sound familiar? Instead, ask yourself: what happened? Is there anything I can do about it now?  And what can I do to prevent this from happening in the future?
  3. Create a Supportive Environment. It’s easier to avoid the cookies and chips when they’re still in the grocery store.  It’s easier to control portions when you don’t have large bowls of pasta on the kitchen table. Studies show the people with whom we eat can affect our behavior too. If you’re friends eat well and are active, chances are you will do the same. The buddy system works. So grab a buddy and support each other in meeting your health goals.

Click here for more information about my Health Talks.

Pilates Mat vs Machine, which is better?

Pilates was originally a one-on-one training system.  Today, most people are introduced to Pilates through mat classes.  There are benefits to both but to truly understand the work and gain the benefits; private sessions on the machines can’t be beat. The springs both support and challenge you.  Most of all, with good instruction, you’re taught how to work correctly. Just a few sessions will completely change your mat workout and bring better body awareness to all you do.

Here are just a few advantages to using Pilates machines:

  • Spring-based machines assist and challenge deep core muscles. Instructor ensures proper alignment and technique
  • Range of motion increased through machine assistance
  • Easier to find and develop the deep core muscles.  Machines and instructor help ensure you find them
  • Customized to your needs, fitness and goals


While there are variations among styles of Pilates, they all focus on developing strength and flexibility by stabilizing core muscles.   The work, whether mat or machine, is based on several key principles.  The emphasis is quality of over quantity of movement.  In other words, you can accomplish a lot in new concentrated repetition versus doing 500 mindless sloppy exercises.

  • Concentration – the mind and body connect to improve focus and awareness
  • Control – movements are neither jerky nor momentum based
  • Fluidity – exercises are fluid, not static or isolated, we move in space
  • Precision – each exercise has unique benefits which is gained through focusing on the details
  • Breath – full inhales and exhales help you contact your core, energize and revitalize your being
  • Oppositions – using opposing forces develops strength, awareness, and control

Pilates, whether mat or machine, will improve all you do. From yoga to kayaking to picking up groceries, the core is the foundation of all movement.  Pilates builds core strength, increases flexibility, and improves stamina, coordination, concentration and control.  All you need do is show up and enjoy your workout!