Tag Archives: exercise

QUIT IT

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.

THE WHY AND HOW
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.

PATIENCE AS A STRATEGY
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.

Love,
JoAnn

THE MENOPAUSE WEIGHT GAIN MYTH?

Women complain to me about their menopause middle and ask how to get rid of it.  Exercise, good nutrition and sound sleep –  the traits of a healthy lifestyle at any age, are ever more important at middle age.  According to Nancy Clark, author of the upcoming new edition of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (Human Kinetics, November 2013), women do not always gain weight during menopause. “Yes, women aged 45 to 50 commonly gain weight as fat settles in and around the abdominal area,” Clark says. “But, these changes are due more to lack of exercise and a surplus of calories than to a reduction of hormones.”

STAY ACTIVEPilates ball exercise
In a three-year study of more than 3,000 women (initial age 42 to 52 years), the average weight gain was 4.6 pounds. The weight gain occurred in all women, regardless of their menopause status. According to Clark, weight gain is not caused by the hormonal shifts of menopause, but by other culprits associated with midlife. That is lack of exercise and excess calories.

Middle age women (and men) tend to be less active which is especially unhealthful as we age.  We need to keep our muscles strong and flexible for many reasons: better balance, good bone mass, and for weight control.

more muscle = faster metabolism = increased calorie burn

FORGET DIETS AND EXTREME EXERCISE – GO FOR JOY
You’ve probably dieted a gazillion times by now, has it led to permanent weight loss or are you dieting several times year?  That ought to tell you something about how effective that approach is.  There is no magic bullet when it comes to food or fitness.

What does work is eating fresh, whole foods that are nutrient dense. That is foods that pack a lot nutrition for the amount of calories – think apple vs pretzels.  They may have the same calories but your body gets more satisfaction out of that apple.

Choose movement that you enjoy.  If you like boxing – great! Weight-lifting, Pilates?  Perfer bike riding to dancing?  Do what feels good.  Mix up some resistance training with activities that increase your heart rate enough so that you can talk but not sing while you are doing it and you’ve got a good aerobic pace.

exercise 3 – 5x/wk for at least 30-minutes.

Once you experience how good it feels to live in a strong, fit and healthy body, you’ll want to keep it that way.  You only have one body, one life.  It is mostly up to you how you’re going to feel in it.  Of course, you’ll probably reduce or get rid of the menopause middle too.  That’s just the bonus.  Feeling great in your own skin is the real prize.

Love,
JoAnn

THE MIGHTY MUSHROOM

There has been much ado about eating colorful produce for health.  While it’s true that deep color is an indicator of phytonutrients; that might lead you to believe mushrooms, especially the white button variety, may pale in nutritional comparison.  Not so. Turns out mushrooms are a very good source of a number of nutrients for example, selenium. They contain more of this immune-enhancing mineral than any other form of produce. They are also a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin and pantothenic acid.

Read more about how vitamins and minerals perform mini miracles in your body in The Essential Guide to  Healthy and Healing Foods, a book I co-authored with R.D. Victoria Shanta Retelny. 

WHAT’S INSIDE THE WHITE
The button is the most widely available and least expensive mushroom variety.  Research published in the Society of Chemical Industry’s Journal of Food and Agriculture cites that the humble white has as much anti-oxidant properties as its more expensive rivals, the maitake and the matsutake mushrooms – both of which are highly prized in Japanese cuisine for their healthful benefits including lowering blood pressure and their suggested ability to fight cancer. Mushrooms are also the only veggie with vitamin D.  About five white button mushrooms provides 15 IU of D (or 4% of the daily recommended value).

Check out this cast-iron mushroom recipe to get all the mushroom benefits plus iron!

Farmers markets and produce aisles will soon be bursting with blueberries, tomatoes and the ubiquitous white mushroom.  Eat to your heart’s content. Then freeze some to enjoy in smoothies and stir-fry.

For more information on how to freeze food, check out the recipe section of The Green City Market.   In Chicago, this market dedicated to local and organic farmers is now open.

Enjoy!

JoAnn

GOT BACKBONE?

Your spine is, in many ways, the center of your universe. Knowing more about it and its function will help you understand why your posture and movement affect the health of your back. If something more serious should be the culprit in your back pain, anatomy basics will help you better understand what’s wrong. They’re your body parts. You own them for life. Why not get better acquainted?  Here’s a bit about your bones and in other blogs we’ll explore more.

THEY’RE ALIVE!

Bones are efficient and sophisticated bundles of tissue, minerals and water. Their jobs go well beyond basic skeletal framework. They are protective shells for vital organs such as the heart, the brain, and the spinal cord; they are scaffolding upon which muscles attach; and they are manufacturing centers for blood cells. Talk about multitasking! Linked by ligaments and moved by muscles, bones support a lot of weight without being crushed or broken (at least not until there is trauma or disease.)

SPINE FAST FACTS:

The spine is a stack of cylindrical bones called vertebrae. They form a natural double S-curve from your head to your hips.

The joint formed where the sacrum/tail bone intersect with the hips (SI joint) can be an overlooked source of back pain.

Muscles of the abdominals and back support your spine.

Nerves run through your spinal column and exit out to the rest of the body. Nerves can be compressed due to trauma or diseases leading to pain and lack of organ or limb function.

Vertebral bones are highly intricate bones supported by ligaments and moved by muscles

Intervertebral discs create a cushion between the vertebrae and also absorb the shock of movement.

For more about your spinal anatomy: http://www.spineuniverse.com/anatomy

PILATES – IT’S ABOUT THE SPINE

Bet you thought it was all about the core?  Well, yes and no.  Your core muscles support your spine, help you stay upright, and help you move in many beautiful directions.  A good Pilates session will take you through all the ways your spine moves: forward, back, side to side and twists. For more about Pilates: http://www.pilatesmethodalliance.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3277

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

PILATES: THE ESSENCE

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!