“Quitting is easy,” said Mark Twain, “I do it all the time.”

If you smoke or have a loved one that does, how many times have they quit?  Bunches right?  Well I have a predicament now – how to help my new man stop smoking.  Yes,  Me health writer, fitness instructor and all things wellness is dating a smoker.  He said he smoked “casually” but as we became more comfortable the rate of lighting up increased. And frankly at nearly a pack a day, that ain’t casual.

Fact is it takes people MANY times of quitting before it finally sticks.  But people do succeed. It is possible.

It’s not the second hand smoke that bothers me so much because he’s steps away outside. It’s his cough.  It is my father’s cough.  My father who died of lung cancer. This is the cold hard fact.  Heavy smokers will die sooner because of their nasty habit.  This makes me sad.  He’s got young kids and well, there’s this lovely budding relationship… American Lung Association - Fighting For Air

The American Lung Association has a program that might help and I will offer it up to him.  Here’s one testimonial:

“The program was there when I was ready not to smoke.  I had something to reach out for.  Not to take away from the program’s content or research but I just wanted to give [smoking] up. I went to the program every week. I enjoyed that there were people to talk and to listen to. I even went to follow-up meetings and tried to give back, to help at the hospital.” – Steven, 58

Some say acupuncture. I just want him to pick something and start the process.  But only he can do this. In the meantime, I offer my love and support. And will incorporate these tips on helping others quit.

Comments from quitters and those who love them welcome!




What’s your reason for quitting smoking or overeating or acting out in anger?  The answer is an important one because the rationale has to be strong enough to keep you on the path.  Sure it could add years to your life, but what are you living for?

As a Pilates Instructor, weight-loss is often popular goal for clients.  I could recite all the health reasons why losing weight is beneficial but like quitting smoking, I think most people already know why excess weight is bad for health. When I pushed them to be specific about why they wanted to lose weight, here’s what I heard:

  • I want to be a better role model for my daughter
  • I want to hike in Vietnam and keep pace with the front of the group
  • I want to look/feel better naked

Specific, personal, and self-determined – that’s a golden combination.

Once you’ve determined your strong motivator, the next step is figure out WHY you do what you do and put some strategies in play. Sometimes the answers can be simple.  For example, a client told me that she whenever she passes a fancy cupcake shop she can’t stop herself from going inside and eating a few.  When asked what she could do differently, she said, “I guess I could take a different bus route.”  Bingo.  She solved her own problem.  And that’s the key.  Good coaches/therapists can help you by asking the right questions so you can develop strategies that work for you.

I recently listened to a lecture by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. She talked about how patience is the antidote to so many of our struggles and certainly it applies to addictions of every kind.  If we can add the balm of patience – just wait before you eat yet another cupcake or light up another smoke – we are one step closer to making a permanent change.

When we scratch the wound and give into our addictions we do not allow the wound to heal. Pema Chodron.

It will take time.  But keep taking steps toward your goal. Others have done it and so can you.  The choices you make in this moment will and do make a difference.

What one thing can you do right now that can help you quit?

Define it and do it.



Scientists are working on a new biosensor, applied to the human skin like a temporary tattoo, that can alert marathoners, competitive bikers and other “extreme” athletes that they’re about to “bonk,” or “hit the wall.” The study, in ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry, describes the first human tests of this sensor, which also could help soldiers and others who engage in intense exercise — and their trainers — monitor stamina and fitness.

The sensor monitors lactate, a form of lactic acid released in sweat. Lactate forms when the muscles need more energy than the body can supply from aerobic respiration. The body then shifts to anaerobic metabolism, producing lactic acid and lactate. That helps for a while, but lactate builds up in the body, causing extreme fatigue and the infamous “bonking out,” where an athlete just cannot continue. Current methods of measuring lactate are cumbersome, require blood samples or do not give instant results. Joseph Wang and his colleagues sought to develop a better approach.

In their study they describe the first human tests of a lactate sensor applied to the skin like a temporary tattoo that stays on and flexes with body movements. Tests on 10 human volunteers showed that the sensor accurately measured lactate levels in sweat during exercise.  The scientists say that such skin-worn metabolite biosensors could lead to useful insights into physical performance and overall physiological status, hence offering considerable promise for diverse sport, military, and biomedical applications.

Future research will further correlate sweat lactate levels with fitness, performance and blood lactate levels, Wang added.

If you exercise at high intensities for more than 90 minutes, you’ll need to fuSports Nutrition Guidebook 3rd Editionel properly to avoid hitting the wall. How do you know if you’ve hit the wall? You’ll feel dizzy, disoriented, and suddenly heavy and uncoordinated. At this point, it’s best to stop and get some glucose (sugar) into your system. Gels and drinks (Gatorade, Powerade) are best as they take less energy to absorb compared to nutritional bars or bananas.

For more on fueling properly before/during/after a workout, check out Nancy Clark’s books on sports nutrition.


A number of years ago I was on a bike adventure riding between Bryce and Zion National Parks.  In the distance way up high on some sheer cliffs I saw a couple of hammocks hanging as if floating onto the rock.  Climbers, I later learned, carry light weight hammocks, attach them to the rock and actually sleep perched onto the cliff.  Not something I’ll do in this lifetime, but hang I will and do.

Pilates fuzzy boots and aerial yoga inspired me to hang a pink parachute hammock

Hanging Fuzzy Boots Pilates

Woman hanging from fuzzy boots on Pilates trap table. Image courtesy of Balanced Body.

from the ceiling in my living room. Huge hooks mounted right into the studs easily support my body allowing me to swing, stretch, and hang upside down.  In Pilates, one of the most blissful acts is to hang in the fuzzy boots.  It helps the spine stretch, provides the benefit of reverse blood flow, and allows your hip sockets to release.

Turning the body upside to promote a healing effect is nothing new. It’s why yogis do shoulder stands, handstands and other upside down postures. From the standpoint of pure physics, inversions counteract the effects of gravity.  All day long gravity is pressing down on your body, including the spine and intervertebral discs. When we turn upside, the spine is decompressed and surrounding muscles are lengthened.

You don’t have to be completely upside to experience the benefits of hanging. Simply having your torso below your waist you can feel the effects, even at -5 or -10 degrees. For those with back problems, fully hanging upside can overly stress discs and facet joints, and create too much slack within joints. An inversion table allows you to control how far over you will go. You lay down, securely fasten your legs, and tilt the machine backwards. You can move upside down in small increments from as little as a few degrees to fully upside down.

The intervertebral disc is the largest organ in the body without blood supply. Most lumbar discs are the size of a watch face and have no arteries going to them. Discs rely on the surrounding bone for nutrients. These nutrients percolate into the disc much like coffee going through a filter. Some studies suggest that pulling the bones apart through inversion therapy may help this process by drawing more fluid into the disc. This allows greater nutrient flow and improves disc hydration and height. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Back Pain

Inversion tables are primarily devices that you purchase for home use. Some physical therapists or exercise professionals may also have them. Try before your buy.  And talk to your doctor before doing inversion therapy. You shouldn’t invert your body if you have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, detached retina, or glaucoma. Inversion therapy can also exacerbate laxity of the joints or spondylolisthesis.

But if you’re back is fine, hang away wherever you can: with your kids at the monkey bars, off the limb of tree, or from your very own living room hammock. Your back will feel better and you’ll gain a whole new perspective on life too.



Addiction, be it to nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, obsessive sex or compulsive gambling is ultimately about self-soothing. The substance or behavior is done to calm nerves or take the edge off by numbing.  And to do that, you have to ignore and abuse the body.

To return to the body is therefore a crucial part of the recovery process. In a recent issue of Massage Therapy Journal, Clare La Plante details how massage can help people in addiction recovery.

According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, exercise is increasingly becoming a component of many treatment programs and has proven effective, when combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy, at helping people quit smoking. Exercise, the experts say, may help by addressing psychosocial and physiological needs that nicotine replacement alone does not.  Exercise helps because it reduces negative feelings and stress, and by preventing weight gain following cessation. Research to determine if and how exercise programs can play a similar role in the treatment of other forms of drug abuse is under way.

That researchers are moving forward to “prove” the exercise benefit is a good, however, it’s also disturbing in my opinion that exercise as part of addiction treatment/recovery process is not yet mainstream. What are we waiting for?  In the most simplistic and obvious of terms, we have bodies and minds.  How can you treat addictions by focusing primarily on the mind and talk therapy?

Get people to feel their own innate power, the surge of blood coursing through their veins instead of cocaine, and you might reduce the high relapse rate.  Yes there are often gyms on site, but that’s extracurricular. What I’m talking about is integrating exercise in a more comprehensive and substantive way.

We know that exercise benefits the body and mind.  A simple search will pull up reams of data from the likes of Harvard, National Institutes of Health and Mayo clinic.  Exercise:

  • Improves mood
  • Relives mild depression
  • Increases cognitive function

The August edition of Scientific American features an article on exercise and its affects on the cell biology that point to how movement can reduce cancer risk, improve cognition in the elderly, and change how cholesterol moves through your blood system. in ways you may not realize. And guess what?  When it comes to kids, physical activity may thwart drug abuse altogether.

So if you’re trying to quit, in a program already, or trying to help someone you love, consider adding massage therapy and exercise of some kind.  It can’t hurt and it may very well help.  Certainly worth a try, don’t you think?



Age of Champions is the story of five competitors who sprint, leap, and swim for gold at the National Senior Olympics. You’ll meet a 100-year-old tennis champion, 86-year-old pole vaulter, and rough-and-tumble basketball grandmothers as they triumph over the limitations of age. But when one character loses a spouse and another is diagnosed with cancer, they’ve got to dig even deeper to make their Olympic dreams come true.

The film is slated for a slated for a national broadcast and commercial release tonight July 9th, 2013 on PBS, iTunes, and Amazon.

senior olympics

Inspiring. Joyful. Loving.

The 2013 Senior Olympics, is held in Cleveland, Ohio July 19th – August 1st. The filmmakers have partnered with the AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, and National Institute on Aging to encourage viewers to share the film and lead a discussion about healthy aging with their friends, families, and communities.

Also check out Growing Older is Not for Sissies – an awesome book featuring athletes of all types from swimmers to runners to dancers.

In Pilates we say you’re as young as spine – keep it strong and supple and you’ll love your life and your body for a long time. I love Pilates, taking it teaching it and continuing to educate myself with as many masters as I can.  I also know there is more than one way to do anything.  Whether you dance, box, yoga, tai chi, ski or any and all in between – move it and you will be moved. 


p.s. This is Joseph Pilates at age 57! Looking mighty fine. Legend has it he used to run around New York in his skivvies in winter!


p.p.s My dear friend Richard Miller’s father, D Paul Miller is competing in these Olympics.  At 95, he’s qualified for 8 events including discus, cycling, and track.  Go D Paul!


More healthful and less expensive than most commercial energy bars, the portable, perfectly packaged banana gives you what you need to refuel after a tough workout or a midday pick-me-up.  It’s a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium and manganese and the banana is particularly high in vitamin B6.  All that and it merely has about 100 calories!

Marketers for the little yellow nutritional powerhouse got the nod from The Food and Drug Administration allowing them to promote potassium’s link to prevention of high blood pressure and stroke. And that’s not all.  The high concentration of vitamin B6 boosts you immune system and helps your nervous system function better too.

To ripen a banana, leave it at room temperature for a few days or put it in a paper bag to speed up the process.  Once ripe, you can refrigerate it. The skin will turn black but the fruit inside will be just fine.

Bananas give smoothies a silky texture. The only limit is your imagination. This recipe includes lemon, honey, yogurt and a banana for a super smoothie and a big boost of energy to take on any activity. I blend cold coffee, banana and some protein vanilla powder for a refreshing summer pick-me-up.   Enjoy.




From blisters to bunions, most of us will suffer from foot problems more than once during our lives. Some issues can be resolved with over-the-counter remedies, targeted Pilates exercises, reflexology and gently rolling your feet on a tennis ball.

But if the pain you feel is in your heel and it doesn’t go away within a week or so, Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Heel Painsee your doctor.

The pain is usually caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, also known as plantar fasciitis, a chronic irritation due to abnormal biomechanics. Wait too long and you could be headed to surgery.  The pain often feels like you bruised your heel on a stone.  It can also radiate through your arch.

The triangular structure of the feet allows the weight of our bodies to efficiently spread out over a broad base. The plantar fascia is a tight band underneath your foot.  Its job is to prevent the foot collapsing out when you walk. When this band is overly stressed, it can tear, causing pain.

The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is faulty biomechanics (walking  abnormalities) that place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it. It can also be caused by walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing poorly constructed shoes; or being overweight.

To learn more about heel pain and taking care of your feet, visit the American Podiatric Medical Association.


Watermelons are starting to show up in the grocery stores now.  While the best ones really don’t make the scene until the later in the summer (like August in Chicago), I thought you might like a refreshingly different way to enjoy this taste of summer. 

So many varieties out there!  To get the best, look for those with a little yellow at the bottom (meaning they’ve sat on the ground and ripened in the sun, yea!)  My mom taught me the “knock, knock” test and I swear by it.  Knock on the watermelon and listen for a hollow sound (lots of water in there – which is what you want in your watermelon).

Jewel's Watermelon Margaritas RecipeTry this margarita recipe but ditch the sugar – you don’t really need it.  If you prefer rum to tequila like I do, make that way and call it a daiquiri. Or leave out the alcohol all together and just call it delicious.



When it comes to keeping your cholesterol in check, the good can definitely outweigh the bad.  LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it sticks to the walls of your arteries. The increased build up puts you at greater risk of heart attack and stroke.  HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is called “good” cholesterol because it actually helps reduce risk.

According the American Heart Association, HDL cholesterol of 60 mg/dL or higher provides some protection against heart disease. Here are five ways to increase HDLs.

  1. Aerobic Exercise.  Aim for at least 30-minutes 4-5 times per week
  2. Lose Weight. Just seven pounds down can increase your HDL by 1 mg/dl
  3. Eat Heart Smart. Replace polyunsaturated fats with monounsaturated fats, e.g. use olive oil instead of butter
  4. Quite smoking. It can you can raise your HDL by as much as 15%
  5. Consider Niacin.  Available by prescription and over-the-counter. Consult your doctor before starting niacin therapy.

Learn more about what you can do about cholesterol and raising healthy HDL at the American Heart Association.