Tag Archives: Health

Dear WordPress Followers

Thank you so much for following my blog.  It is moving to www.JoAnnMilPilates.com The site looks the same but there are some back end technical differences.

CONSIDER SUBSCRIBING VIA EMAIL
If you are following via WordPress, consider subscribing  via email on the blog site itself.  The subscribe link is on the right side of the page – you may need to scroll down a bit to see it.

Otherwise, I’m told RSS feeds will continue.  Those who have already subscribed via email should continue to get email alerts to new posts.

LOOKING FORWARD
In the days ahead I’ll be posting about

  • bringing more peace and happiness into your life
  • how to achieve greater health and fitness
  • miracles of modern medicine
  • joy and benefits of Pilates

I hope what I provide is useful and will help you enjoy life more.

Love,
JoAnn
follow me @JoAnnMilPilates

THE ULTIMATE HANG

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.

INVERSION THERAPY
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.

Love,
JoAnn

CHAMPIONS

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.

KEEP IT GOING ON ALL LIFE LONG
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. 

Love,
JoAnn

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!

MAJORITY OF AMERICANS TAKE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

An extensive Mayo clinic study reveals that most Americans take at least one drug, and many take two or more. While prescriptions for lifestyle-related chronic diseases (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes) are on the list, the most prescribed drugs are antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opioids. Twenty percent of patients are on five or more prescription medications, according to the findings.

A COSTLY ISSUE
Prescription drug use has increased steadily in the U.S. for the past decade. The percentage of people who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44 percent in 1999-2000 to 48 percent in 2007-08. Spending reached $250 billion in 2009 the year studied, and accounted for 12 percent of total personal health care expenditures.

With obesity now officially classified as a disease, prescriptions will continue to rise especially as pharmaceuticals to treat obesity rush to market.

The cost is not only monetary, side effects to patients abound. Learn more about specific drugs and their side effects.  The good news is that lifestyle choices can reduce or even eliminate your condition and your drug dependence.

WHAT YOU CAN DO DIFFERENTLY
Type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, depression and of course obesity can be reduced and possibly reversed. It’s within your control.

  • exercise 3-5/x per week for at least 30-minute per session
  • eat more nutrient-dense whole foods (fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish)
  • avoid processed and fried foods
  • reduce stress (meditate, spend time in nature, get a pet)

Living a healthier lifestyle leads to a higher quality of life meaning more joy and happiness for you and those around you.

Love,
JoAnn

STOP

The other day I attended a very different kind of meditation which the practitioners called, Flowing with Musical Expression. Essentially it was people making all manner of odd sounds, chirps, whistles, hums, ooos and ahhhs – randomly and loudly for 30 minutes.  I thought I was in room with people who had Tourrents. It was distracting and uncomfortable. According to literature at the center, the founders said that Westerners always need to be “doing” something.  So their active meditations were a response to that.

There are of course, many different ways and reasons to meditate.

NOT DOINGBahaiTempleFacingNorth
I thought of a dear Baha’i friend who once said to me that meditation does not have to be formal.  It can be during a walk with your dog, a simple stopping to appreciate the beauty in a cloud, architecture or perfectly made crème brûlée.   For me, it is about the stopping. I think and do way too much as it is.

Poetry helps me to stop and to savor. One of my favorite poets is Mekeel McBride who I met at women’s conference just after I graduated from college.  I’ve memorized many of her poems; the pages of her book all dog-eared and yellowed now.  I’ve never been one to keep books pristine.  I underline, highlight, and bend the pages.

“… Just that some people love words
as much as a locksmith loves the machine
that duplicates keys, allowing the lost
to once again enter familiar rooms,
touch the chipped blue china cup,
stand quietly in the sun-drenched kitchen,
amazed that such return in this word is possible.”
From The Going Under of the Evening Land by Mekeel McBride

Love,
JoAnn

MONEY CAN BUY YOU HAPPINESS

Turns out the old adage that money can’t buy you happiness is not true.  Money CAN buy you happiness IF you know how and where to spend it.  In this Ted Talk , Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can, indeed buy happiness — when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending makes a difference in your life and the lives of others.

Michael I. Norton,  is Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit and Marvin Bower Fellow at the Harvard Business School.

For more on creating happiness in your life, check out the book: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Life is what you make it.

Love,
JoAnn

NATIONAL DONUT DAY

Well in case you missed it, yesterday June 7 was National Donut Day.  But don’t worry there’s still time to do something sweet for a good cause and you could win free donuts for a year. In its continued support of The Salvation Army, from May 1st to June 15th Entenmann’s Bakery will donate $1 to the organization for every person who “likes” the Entemann’s Facebook page up to $30,000.

Entenmann’s will also be rewarding lucky winners with ‘Free Donuts for a Year’ and additional prizes through a sweepstakes link on their Facebook page. All entries must be received by 11:59: p.m. ET on June 30, 2013. Winners will be randomly selected from all submissions. Official Rules can be found at http://www.entenmanns.com 

A SWEET TRADITION
The first National Donut Day was celebrated by The Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938 to help raise needed funds during the Great Depression and commemorate the work of the “donut lassies” who helped make the donut what it is today by feeding the tasty confection to American soldiers during World War I. The donuts became synonymous with The Salvation Army, as well as the American soldiers who were returning home with the nickname, “doughboys.”

This significant occasion established the donut as a long-standing symbol of the services The Salvation Army continues to provide. The partnership between Entenmann’s and The Salvation Army reinforces Entenmann’s as a brand synonymous with National Donut Day.

JUST SO YOU KNOW
While it’s fine to indulge that sweet tooth every once in a while, there are some down sides.  Sugar and fat in combination can create powerful cravings. Some experts even say that that combination is down right addictive.  Regardless, the scant nutrition means you’ll be hungry soon after chowing down on donuts.  That’s why you can eat a few of them in short amount of time but I double dog dare you to try to eat five bananas. Your body absorbs the nutrients from bananas but there isn’t much nutrition in a donut so nothing to really satisfy you biologically speaking. One Starbucks Old Fashioned glazed donut  has nearly 500 calories and so does five bananas.

How long does it take to burn off 500 calories? About an hour’s worth of moderate to high aerobics to burn off.  Just so you know.

Bon Appetit
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

LAUGHTER AS MEDICINE

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember the Reader’s Digest series, Laughter is the Best Medicine. Those days you had to read all about it on actual paper. Today a simple search brings you instant funny on a screen that’s touted as almost as good as paper.

It feels good to laugh.  But, come on, really? Medicine? Yes.  Laughter has shown physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits. So say researchers from around the world … so it must be true.

SELF-MEDICATE EARLY AND OFTEN
Turns out it doesn’t even matter much of you make yourself laugh or if you spontaneously laugh at joke.  The brain doesn’t really care either way.  In this era of evidence-based medicine, laughter is now discussed in the realm of alternative medicine.  And if you want to self-medicate – it’s OK, there aren’t any side effects, unless you count your checks hurting from laughing too much.

The many benefits of laughter include:

  • Exercises face muscles (hey free cosmetic benefits)
  • Increases oxygen levels (can you say aerobics?)
  • Releases endorphins (non-addictive feel good body chemicals)
  • Reduces stress (no laughing matter)

It’s no wonder there are so many images of the Buddha laughing.

These days there are laughter therapists helping cancer patients; , laughter yoga;  and of course a ton of comedy clubs, jokes online, and on TV.  It’s easy to get your daily dose.  So go ahead. Laugh. Chuckle. Smile.

Just keep in mind:

  • On the other hand, you have different fingers
  • Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
  • The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.
  • Support bacteria. They’re the only culture most people have.
  • OK, so what’s the speed of dark?

More here.

Love,

JoAnn

What’s SUP? Stand-Up Paddleboarding.

Stand-up paddleboarding that what’s up.  The sport is a combo of kayaking and surfing. You stand on a wide board and paddle your way through the water. Originally used by ancient Polynesian cultures, it’s been steadily making its way from Hawaii  as a great way to play on water and get a good workout too. Talk about balance and power, you’ll need that plus a sense of humor when you fall off. Read and see all about it here, at SUP magazine.

NEW CITY VIEW
Finally thawing out of the cold, cruel and LONG winter this year, we Chicagoans are every ready to get out and play.  Enjoy the city skyline in a whole new way, by jumping on a board.  Yeah, Lake Michigan can be choppy, but hey there are rivers too and some days all our waters are as calm as glass.  This outfitter will help you get started with gear and lessons.

A FESTIVAL AFLOAT
Up north, standup paddleboarding is exploding in popularity in Madison, Wisconsin.  This summer, industry leader SUP the Mag, is sponsoring the Midwest Standup Paddle Festival, a benefit for the UW Health Children’s Hospital and the Henry Vilas Zoo. It’s set for July 12 & 13, 2013 at Bishop’s Bay Country Club in Middleton, WI. The abundance of clean flatwater in the area plus the reputation Madison has for being such an active community led organizers to add Madison to its nationwide festival of events.  Madison is one of eight stops on their SUP America Tour.

STAY ON BOARD WITH CORE POWER
Your core muscles are like the glue that holds everything together while your arms push and pull you through the water. Lots of ways to keep that core strong as you move your limbs, and Pilates is one of the best ways to get in shape and stay in shape for all you do.  Great for post rehab and even better, Pilates is a highly efficient muscle balancing full workout that helps you avoid injuries in the first place. Good instructors can customize the workout for your specific sport.

Now go out and play!

Love,
JoAnn Milivojevic
Certified Pilates Instructor