Tag Archives: blood pressure

Exercise? I don’t wanna!

Excellent post on getting your butt in gear, and getting healthy. Enjoy!

You’ll Never “Feel” Like It

I was waiting for an appointment yesterday and the woman noticed I was wearing a Mohr Results Boot Camp jacket.  She asked about it and said “wow, that sounds fun … we did a Biggest Loser program here at work, but IT didn’t work.”

I came back and asked what didn’t work about it.

She said — OK, well I guess I didn’t try.  I really didn’t feel like working to change.

Now I didn’t quite say this, but in my head I thought…

“You’re NEVER going to feel like it!”

While she was talking about losing weight, this is really in reference to anything in life … any change you want to make.

Yes In “our” world, that’s losing weight.  Improving your diet.  Exercising daily.

I recently made a confession how I had been slacking with my daily routine.

Although I’ve since been back at it in full force, mixing some variety into my workouts with more TRX, kettlebells, hill sprints (and loving the unseasonably warm weather in Louisville so I’m not out there in 20 degrees), etc … I too finally said in my head that “NOW is the time because I would never feel like it.”

In fact we also heard a recent interview with author and radio personality Mel Robbins where she quotes some research saying it takes just 5 seconds for a thought to leave you.  In other words, if you’re sitting on the couch and thinking “I should get up and go exercise,” within 5 seconds if you don’t act, it’s gone.

Interesting.

So here’s how you need to take this to the next level.

First, decide WHY you want to make change.  The outcome you’re after.

Getting healthy is NOT a good reason.

‘Health’ is like a moving target without a solid definition because it’s different for everyone.

So scratch “I want to get healthy” off the list.  Of course that’s an outcome that will result from changing behaviors.

What’s the REAL reason?

It might be 100% focused on your appearance.  That’s fine.

It may very well seem selfish.  Even better.

Why?

Because when YOU personally want to make change, it needs to be about YOU and what’s in it for you.  Not your spouse, kids, girlfriend, boyfriend or whoever else.

Now here’s step #2.  You’ve figure out your REAL why.

Make it very specific.

Fit better in your clothes isn’t specific enough.

Do you want to drop a pants size?  Two pants sizes?

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Finally and most importantly, what behaviors are necessary to achieve this outcome?

A goal that’s focused on the behaviors to achieve the desired outcome is the one that will get you the results you want.

Focus on the behaviors, not the outcome, if you want to achieve permanent success.

And this all goes back to the line from the interview we listened to the other day “You’re never going to feel like it.”

You’re never going to feel like taking the necessary steps to make change permanent, but as soon as you do have that previously fleeting thought that you want to make change, TAKE ACTION.

Your action may not be perfect, but taking action is exactly what’s needed to get the ball rolling!

Source: http://blogs.menshealth.com/bellyoff-nutritionist/youll-never-feel-like-it/2012/02/29/?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-MensHealth-_-Content-Blogs-_-HowToChange


You’ve Lost the Weight- Now What?

I found an excellent article I had stashed away since 2008! This article, written by Camille Noe Pagan and published in Fitness Magazine,  is all about keeping your goal weight, once you’ve finally hit it. There are a lot of great mental health tips in here as well- if you have lost weight and are feeling bad habits creep back in, or if you’ve just begun your journey to a healthy body, you must read this article. Enjoy!

Life After Weight Loss (the truth no one tells you)

You finally lost the extra pounds; good for you! You’ve achieved what more than half of all Americans are still struggling to do. But here’s something few trainers, dieticians or magazine will tell you; After you reach your goal, you’re not done. Complete your success story using these 7 easy steps.

When Heather Radi traded fast food for a high-protein diet and regular exercise last year, she earned a slimmer figure, more energy and lower blood pressure in return. She also wound up with a “stomach that looked like a deflated balloon”, says the 27-year-old publicist from Miami. “Don’t get me wrong, my life is much better now that I’m 80 pounds lighter. But I wish I’d known that losing it wasn’t the final step.”

The truth is, weight loss is a journey that continues well past the day your goal number registers on the scale. “Whether you lose 30 pounds or 200, you need to be mentally prepared for what happens next,” says Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., director of the Weight Management Center at the university of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “The more ready you are, thebetter you’ll be able to cope and keep the pounds off.” Find out what really happens after you shed the pounds- and what steps you can take to get the figure and mind-set you want, for good.

Step One: Learn to love the limelight

“After I lost 120 pounds, I struggled with the comments I received,” says Pamela Monfredo, 32, a teacher in Melville, New York. “Guys who had never glanced my way were flirting with me; people held doors open; strangers complimented me. After years of feeling invisible, I was overwhelmed.”

Being heavy- with the social pressures and the self-blame tat can go along with it- can do a number on a person’s self-esteem, explains Martin Binks, Ph.D., director of behavioral health at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina. And that doesn’t magically disappear when the weight is gone. The result: “Newly thin people may feel unworthy of the fuss others make over their success,” says Binks. The best way to coax yourself into feeling worthy? Say thank you the next time you get a compliment, even if you’re dying to tell the person she’s wrong. “If you give credibility to the negative voice inside, then you’ll never fully accept your achievement,” he says.

Consider seeing a cognitive-behavioral therapist, who can help you shift your feelings and behaviors with an action plan, if you’re still struggling after several months. Monfredo did: “My therapist helped me stop worrying about how to respond to compliments. If I reacted awkwardly, it was a learning experience; I’d try to be more graceful next time. It was a bumpy road, but today I’m finally comfortable.”

Step Two: Tone and tighten

“Based on the number of women who seek surgery to correct loose skin after weight loss [about 66,000 in 2006], it’s a prevalent issue,” says Richard D’Amico, M.D., president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Although sagginess is more common in women 30 years old and up (elasticity decreases with age) and in those who lose 70 pounds or more, younger women who drop as little as 20 pounds may be left with extra skin, says Dr. D’Amico.

The safest (and cheapest) way to tighten your skin is through strength training, says Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore. “Building muscles in virtually nay area of the body can ‘fill out’ the skin and give you a firmer appearance.”

“If you work your major muscle groups three of four times a week for 60-90 minutes, you’ll likely see an improvement within two months,” says Nicole Glor, a certified personal trainer in New York City. To help women reach their goals, she makes sure her clients lift the right weights. An Ohio State University study found that nearly everyone without a trainer or experience underestimates the amount of weight they should be lifting, usually by 50 percent. Glor suggests gradually increasing the heft of the dumbbells: Started with 8 pounds? Move to 10, then 15 after about a month.

If you remain unsatisfied with the firmness of your skin after about nine months of regular, targeted strength training at your goal weight, and you lost 100 pounds or more, you may want to mull over body-contouring surgery, which removes and tightens excess skin. The latest numbers show that 63 percent of thigh and upper-arm body-contouring surgeries in 2006 were performed on patients following drastic weight loss; that’s an increase of about 30 percent in three years according to the American Soceity of Plastic Surgeons. A recent survey from the National Women’s Health Resource Center found that weight loss is one of the leading reasons women choose to have breast lifts, reductions and/or implants. After breast surgery, abdominoplasty (aka a tummy tuck) is most popular, followed by body lifts, which tighten skin all over the body.

The downside: Surgery is a risk, it can take weeks to recover, and some scarring is inevitable. Plus, it’s pricey.  The average cost of a tummy tuck, for instance, is $5,000- and insurance most likely won’t cover the cost.

Step Three: Put the sizzle back in sex

People who lost an average of 13 percent body fat over the course of two years felt more attractive and enjoyed sex more post-slim-sown, according to a report from the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. But while your libido may be sky-high after weight loss, if you lose more than 40 pounds, estrogen levels may plummet, lowering lubrication and making intercourse uncomfortable. If it happens, don’t panic. “It’s usually temporary, especially if you’re not in menopause,” says Rosemarie Schulman, R.N., coauthor of Tipping the Scales. Use an over-the-counter lube until your natural lubrication returns after three to six months.

Step Four: Strengthen your bonds

“The vast majority of women emerge from weight loss with at least one altered relationship,” says Binks. “Some friends may fear you’ll become different after losing weight; others may feel threatened by your success or upset that you no longer want to do unhealthy things, like skip the gym to hang out.”

LEslie Engel, 39, a marketing manager from Chicago, learned that firsthand. “When I decided to lose weight five years ago, one of my closest friends was clearly threatened,” she says. “She criticized my diet plan and tried to upstage me when people complimented my figure. It really hurt, and eventually I let the relationship fade away. I realized she just wanted me to be her fat friend.”

If this happens to you, “say something like, ‘I know my weight loss is a big change, but I need your support. Do you think that’s possible?’,” says Brinks. If her attitude persists, it’s time to reevaluate the relationship. “As we grow and change, people fall in and out of our lives- and after weight loss is no exception. That doesn’t mean you didn’t have a good friendship. It just means that its time has passed.”

Step Five: Rev your metabolism

Your metabolism will temporarily slow after you lose weight. “Your body is used to running on more calories,” explains Cheskin. “So when you’re eating less for weight loss, your body begins to act as is it’s being short-changed. Your metabolism slows in an attempt to conserve fuel.” Offset the lull by eating healthy snacks, like an apple with peanut butter, or mini-meals every three or four hours. “You’ll ward off hunger, an becasue your body burns calories when digesting food, your metabolism will be more consistently revved,” Cheskin says. Son’t leave exercise out of the equation; it’s key for burning more calories.

Step Six: Revamp your medicine cabinet

When you lose weight, you may also ease or reverse conditions like Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. If you used to take medication for them, you may not need to now, says Cheskin. (To know for sure, consult your physician throughout your weight-loss progress.) And because you weigh less, you likely need lower doses for other drugs, too. For example, a woman who weighs 200 pounds may take two extra-strength Motrin to cope with knee pain- but once she drops to 130 pounds, just one regular-strength pill may do the trick. “While overdosing is rare, you still want to be careful,” says Cheskin, “particularly if you take meds that can affect the liver, heart or other organs, such as diabetes or cholesterol drugs.”

Step Seven: Embrace imperfection

“I always assumed the world would roll out the red carpet for me if only I were thin. So when I finally shed those 40 extra pounds I’d been carrying, I was truly surprised that my problems didn’t disappear,” says Nicole Corey, 29, an office manager in Chandler, Arizona. “Most people who are overweight think being thin will drastically improve their lives,” says Ed Abramson, Ph.D., author of Body Intelligence. “And it does in many ways as far as better health and less social stigma.” But it’s important to be realistic about what weight loss can’t do- like fix a bad marriage or bolster a less-than-exciting career. “If your reality and your expectations don’t mesh, it’s easy to feel disillusioned and return to bad habits, like overeating, to make yourself feel better,” Abramson says.

To avoid that setback, give yourself regular reminders- verbally or in a journal- that you have the ability to change aspects of your life that you dislike, no matter what you weigh. “If there’s something you’re not happy about, such as your job, start putting the effort in to fixing it,” Abramson says. “Taking concrete action will boost your self-worth.” It’s also a good idea to take stock of why you decided to lose weight in the first place, like Corey did: “After a few months of stewing, it finally occurred to me that I slimmed down for my health, not to get a better job or more friends. Life may not be perfect now, but I’ve never felt better.”


Lose the Weight, Lose the Stones

More and more I’m being contacted by clients looking to lose weight to deal with medical problems, such as hypertension, pre-diabetic blood sugar levels, and now, kidney stones. It is true that many medical problems are exacerbated by excess body weight and kidney stones are no different. Here is some great information on kidney stones and obesity.

Weight Gain, Obesity Linked to Kidney Stones

Risk of Developing Kidney Stones May Be Another Reason to Maintain Healthy Weight

Being obese or gaining weightmay increase the risk of developing painful kidney stones, and women may be especially vulnerable to these added risks, according to a new study.

Researchers found women who weighed more than 220 pounds were 90% more likely to develop kidney stones than those who weighed less than 150 pounds. Men and women who gained more than 35 pounds since they were 21 years old also had a 39% to 82% higher risk of kidney stones.

Kidney stones are made of salts, minerals, and other substances normally found in urine. When the normal balance of water and other substances is out of balance, such as from dehydration, these substances stick together and build up to form stones. As the stones pass through the urinary system, they can cause sudden, intense pain, nausea and vomiting, and blood in the urine.

Researchers estimate that 10% of men and 5% of women develop kidney stones during their lifetime, and more than $2 billion is spent each year on treating the painful condition.

Although higher BMIs (body mass index, a measure of weight in relation to height used to indicate obesity) and insulin resistancemay increase the amount of calcium and other substances in the urine, researchers say that few studies have looked at the association between obesity and/or weight gain and the risk of developing kidney stones.

Weight May Raise Kidney Stone Risks

In the study, researchers analyzed data from three large study groups: the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study I and II, which included nearly 250,000 men and women.

After adjusting for age, diet, fluid intake, and the use of water pills (known as diuretics) that might affect the risk of kidney stones, researchers found obesity was strongly linked to kidney stone development.

For example:

  • Men weighing more than 220 pounds had a 44% higher risk of kidney stones compared with men who weighed less than 150 pounds.
  • Older women (aged 34-59) who weighed more than 220 pounds had an 89% higher risk of kidney stones compared with those weighing less than 150 pounds. Younger women in this higher weight category had a 92% higher risk.
  • Men who gained more than 35 pounds since age 21 had a 39% higher risk of kidney stones compared with men whose weight did not change.
  • Older women who gained a similar amount since age 21 had a 70% higher risk of developing kidney stones, and younger women had an 82% higher risk.

In addition, researchers found having a higher BMI or waist size was also associated with a higher risk of kidney stones.

The results of the study appear in the Jan. 26 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Further studies should explore the effect of obesity and sex on urine composition, and weight loss should be explored as a potential treatment to prevent kidney stone formation,” write researcher Eric N. Taylor, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.

But for now, researchers say people have one more reason to maintain a healthy weight and avoid weight gain.

So what is your best bet in fighting off the occurrence of kidney stones? Lose the excess weight and get your body to a healthy weight. You may still be prone to stones, but you can do your best to stop the bad habits that can increase your risk of stone frequency as well as other medical problems.

source: http://www.webmd.com/kidney-stones


Losing Weight as a Senior

Recently a few readers have asked to see some articles on Senior health and routines- as luck wold have it, I found an excellent article on Discovery Fit & Health website. This article was written by Densie Webb, Ph.D., R.D., and Elizabeth Ward, M.S., R.D.

How to Lose Weight as a Senior

It’s time for some straight talk: You weigh more than you did ten years ago, or even five years ago. The extra pounds didn’t arrive all at once but accumulated gradually before you even realized they were climbing on board. Now you’re looking at some serious extra poundage. But that’s to be expected as you get older, right? Wrong.

Putting on excess weight is very common for a number of reasons that we’ll explain. But it’s not an inevitable part of the aging process, and it could put your health at risk. If you understand why you tend to gain weight more easily as you get older, you can do something about it. And doing something about it is what this book is all about.

You can blame a lot of your weight gain on your metabolism. Beginning as early as your mid-twenties, body fat begins to increase while muscle mass decreases. And less muscle mass translates into a slower metabolic rate.

Muscle mass decreases from about 45 percent of your total body weight in your youth to about 27 percent by the time you reach age 70. And the drop in hormones that accompanies menopause also precipitates a decrease in muscle mass, triggering even more weight gain for women. Your body fat, meanwhile, can double, even if your weight remains the same.

The bottom line is that you burn fewer calories in your 50s, 60s, or 70s doing the same activities, and the same number of them, that you did in your 20s, 30s, or 40s. The key to preventing weight gain is to compensate by adjusting your food intake, exercising, and generally becoming more physically active.

Now that you have made the decision to lose weight, it’s time to figure how much weight you need to lose. Continue to the next page to assess your weight as a senior.

Assessing Your Weight as a Senior

The best way to determine if you’re carrying around too much weight (and probably not enough muscle) is to calculate your body mass index (BMI). BMI is just one indicator of good health, but it’s a good place to start. A lower BMI indicates you’re more likely to be healthy.

Here’s how to figure your BMI:

  1. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, without clothes.
  2. Measure your height in inches.
  3. Multiply your weight in pounds by 700.
  4. Divide the answer in #3 by your height.
  5. Divide the answer in #4 by your height again.
  6. The answer in #5 is your BMI.

What Your BMI Means:

  • 18.5 or less is underweight
  • 18.5-24.9 is a healthy weight
  • 25-29.9 is overweight
  • 30 or more is obese

Knowing how many calories you need each day is another important piece of information that will help you manage your weight. Most experts say that 2,000 to 2,600 calories a day should meet the energy needs of men older than 50 who are lightly to moderately active.

For women over 50 who are lightly to moderately active, 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day should do it. However, these are just ballpark figures. Individual calorie needs can differ greatly depending on muscle mass, physical activity, and genetic differences.

On page 40 you’ll find a guide for calculating your calorie needs if you’re lightly to moderately active (you’re not a couch potato but you don’t work out five times a week at the gym, either). You’ll need 20 percent to 30 percent more calories if you’re very physically active (you regularly participate in competitive sports, run, or go to exercise classes or the gym and spend little time just sitting and watching TV or reading).

While it’s true that the more calories you cut, the quicker you’ll lose, don’t make the mistake of cutting back too much. If you go too low (below 1,600 calories a day), you won’t get enough nutrients, you’ll be fatigued, and your body will simply compensate by slowing its metabolic rate even further so that each calorie is used as efficiently as possible.

A slower metabolic rate means that your food sacrifices won’t amount to the weight loss you expected: You’ll have sacrificed for little reward.

For men: Multiply your goal or ideal weight by 13.5 to get your daily calorie needs. For women: Multiply your goal or ideal weight by 13.2 to get your daily calorie needs.

So you’ve figured out how much weight you need to lose. The next step is to come up with a weight-loss plan. Continue to the next section to prepare to lose weight as as a senior.

Preparing to Lose Weight as a Senior

Managing your weight doesn’t just mean counting calories and figuring out your BMI. It also means taking control of your emotions and your food cravings. Most of us discover sooner or later that its usually emotions and cravings (sometimes triggered by emotions), not an insatiable appetite, that make us overeat.

If you uncover the triggers that make you overeat and learn how to manage them, you’ll have won half the weight-loss battle. Just be sure the coping techniques you develop are those you can live with. If they aren’t, you won’t stick with them.

Though there is research suggesting that some cravings may have a biological origin, most are brought on by out-of-control emotions or situations. Here are a few common emotional triggers and tips for gaining control over them.

Anger

If anger (especially suppressed anger) sends you seeking comfort food, then you’re managing your anger by overeating. While food may seem like your most dependable source of comfort, it ultimately leaves you more out of sorts than before. Face the source of your anger head on. Once you’ve done that, it’s less likely to blow up and compel you to eat — and overeat.

Stress

Stress, no matter what its source, is a common trigger for overeating. Ask yourself, do you reach for chocolate-chip ice cream every time your nosy neighbor calls? Do you pack away the potato chips every time you balance your checkbook? You can’t eliminate these triggers from your life, but you can try to reduce the anxiety.

First, make sure you get enough sleep. You’re more susceptible to stress when you’re not rested. Try different relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, reading, or listening to soft music — whatever works for you. Try to find other, more positive outlets for your stress.

Boredom

There’s nothing on TV tonight, you’ve already finished reading that novel, and you certainly don’t feel like washing dishes or sweeping the kitchen floor. The refrigerator sure looks good right about now! Before you find yourself rummaging through the freezer for ice cream, do whatever it takes to shift the focus away from food.

Take a shower, paint your nails, throw out old newspapers, or take one last look through that magazine before you toss it. Make a list of your favorite diversions and keep them posted on the fridge.

Depression

We’re talking here about the blue mood that takes hold of everyone now and then. The blues not only prevent us from doing the things we want to do; sometimes they make us do things we’d rather not — such as overeat. Instead of letting that funk make you overeat, view it as a call to action.

Getting active is one of the best ways for lifting a black cloud. Physical activity may raise levels of endorphins, which are compounds in the brain that promote a sense of well-being, according to John Foreyt, Ph.D., a psychologist and director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Any exercise will do, just make it regular.

Happiness

Yes, it’s true. Even happiness can make you fat. Who doesn’t feel like celebrating when something good happens? And celebrations often involve food. That doesn’t mean you should never celebrate because you might overeat. Just learn to compensate. If you overeat at a celebratory dinner, simply cut back the next day.

Demystifying Food

Before you can take control of your eating habits, you have to take away the power that food has over you. In the process, you can begin to look at what you put on your plate as a positive power instead of an evil force over which you’ve lost all control.

The following are tips on “de-powerizing” the role food plays in your life from Marsha Hudnall, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist at Green Mountain at Fox Run, the nation’s oldest and most respected weight-management retreat for women.

  • Think moderation, not elimination. Figure out what’s important and what’s not. Learn to eat less of the high-fat, high-calorie foods you enjoy the most. Knowing you can still look forward to your favorite foods makes the process something you can live with for a lifetime.
  • Eat regularly in response to real hunger. Learn to listen to your body’s cues. By eating healthful, balanced meals and snacks when you’re hungry, you’re less likely to get caught up in out-of-control eating that you’ll regret later.
  • Say good-bye to calorie counting. Switch your focus from calories to good nutrition. Make your healthful eating changes gradual, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Picture portions. It’s hard to manage your food intake if you don’t have a clue what a 1/2 cup serving of pasta looks like or what a 6-ounce glass of juice is. When you start out, measure your food until you’ve learned to judge portion sizes accurately. If portion sizes start creeping back up, return to measuring and weighing for a while.
  • Disconnect with the scale. Don’t focus on a number, instead use how you feel and the way your clothes fit to measure success. If you just can’t give up the scale, make your weigh-ins less frequent. Weighing yourself once a week is adequate.

In the next section find out how easy it can be to incorporate more physical activity into your current daily routine.

Getting More Physical Activity as a Senior

If you’re determined to succeed at losing weight, simply cutting calories won’t guarantee success. Physical activity is as essential to achieving long-term weight loss as a healthful diet, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). By themselves, neither exercise nor diet can get you to your goal as effectively or as fast as the two of them can together. That’s especially true for people over age 50.

Not only is physical activity essential for weight-loss success, the NIH says it’s an important factor in maintaining your weight once you’ve lost the extra pounds. Take comfort in the NIH’s use of the words “physical activity,” not “exercise.”

The message is that you can win the weight-loss game with many different kinds of physical activity. You don’t have to do killer aerobics and lift heavy weights at a gym to drop pounds and keep them off. But you do have to do something, and you have to do it regularly.

Anti-Aging Bonus

Researchers have recently learned that regular physical activity can have a powerful effect on age-related declines in metabolism. One study out of Tufts University Center for Physical Fitness found that strength training by itself increased the metabolic rate of postmenopausal women by 15 percent. Not much, you say?

If the boost translates to only 100 calories a day, which is a realistic expectation, you could save yourself from putting on an extra 10 pounds in a year. Regular exercise offers a trifecta of good health: It burns calories, builds muscle, and improves your overall health. Experts on aging say that the body is better able to repair itself and perform efficiently if it is properly conditioned by exercise and good nutrition.

And the calorie-burning rewards of exercise are not limited to your workout time. Some research suggests that your revved up metabolic rate stays elevated for several hours after you stop exercising.

While weight management may be your number one priority now, think fitness not thinness. Just look at all the other health bonuses experts attribute to being physically active:

Regular physical activity reduces your risk of developing:

  • heart disease
  • some kinds of cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • osteoporosis
  • diabetes
  • obesity

It also can reduce the symptoms of:

  • arthritis
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • insomnia

And it boosts and builds:

  • the immune system
  • your energy level
  • your muscle mass
  • blood flow to the brain, which helps keep you mentally sharp

So how should you get started? It doesn’t matter how you begin, just get moving! Any activity is better than vegetating in front of the television. Look for every opportunity you can to stand instead of sit, walk instead of drive, or run instead of walk. Turn your everyday activities into opportunities for physical activity, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Make movement a routine part of your everyday life.

Triad of Physical Activity

Recent research has found that when it comes to exercise, you need a combination of three types to reap the most health benefits — weight training for strength, aerobic exercise for strength and endurance, and calisthenics (stretching, bending, and twisting exercises) for flexibility.

Studies have found that extreme physical exertion is no more useful to gaining and maintaining fitness than is moderate exercise. What’s more, you place yourself at risk for injury or a heart attack if you’re not already in good physical shape. So start off slowly and increase your activity gradually. Get your doctor’s okay before beginning a new physical activity if you haven’t exercised in years or have a medical condition.

The Benefits of Walking

One of the easiest ways to get physically active is to walk at a pace that makes you breathe a little harder and work up a mild sweat for 30 minutes to 1 hour three days a week. This kind of walking will keep your heart, lungs, and vascular system in good working order and strengthen your bones and muscles.

If you just don’t have time for a 30-minute walk each day, experts say that walking about 10,000 steps a day (the equivalent of about five miles) while doing your normal activities should keep you fit.

Haven’t a clue how much walking that is? Try using a pedometer. It’s a small battery-operated gizmo about the size of a matchbox that you attach to your waist so it can monitor your every step. By keeping track of your movements all day, you can easily see how far you’ve gone and how far you have yet to go to reach your goal.

Swim Your Way to Fitness

If you have arthritis that makes some movements painful, swimming is an excellent way to get aerobically fit. It offers some of the same benefits as walking or other aerobic exercises without putting stress on joints that may be unable to repair themselves like healthy joints would. The one benefit swimming can’t provide, however, is strengthening bones because it is not a weight-bearing exercise.

Weight Training for Seniors

If you think lifting weights is just for 20-somethings in spandex, think again. It’s a little-appreciated fact that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, even when at rest. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.

Since muscle mass declines with age — typically about five percent per decade beginning in your late twenties or early thirties — it’s to your advantage to try to increase your muscle mass through strength training. The older you get, the greater the potential benefit. So, as the saying goes, use it or lose it.

Research from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently confirmed that the gradual loss of muscle mass that occurs with age means a decreasing need for calories — and sometimes a creeping weight gain if you don’t lower your calorie intake. The more you can do to minimize the effect of muscle loss, whether it’s due to age, inactivity, or both, the easier weight loss will be.

But before you start trying to bench-press your own body weight, it’s important to distinguish between true weight lifting and strength training. Weight lifting is about bulking up so you can lift heavy weights swiftly. Strength training, on the other hand, is about firming by repeatedly lifting weights in a very slow, controlled way.

It’s a good idea when you first get started to have a trainer show you exactly how it should be done to avoid injury. Your training can be done with free weights, such as barbells, or with specially designed equipment that works specific parts of the body.

You should do a set number of repetitions with each exercise as you slowly progress to your goal. Muscle strengthening exercises should be done for at least 20 minutes, three times a week.

Where to Get Started

Don’t want to fork over the cash for a high-class health club? Many kinds of organizations, such as the YMCA and YWCA, junior colleges and universities, senior and community centers, and adult and continuing education programs, offer inexpensive classes in sports, exercise, dance, and weight training.

The instructors in these classes can help you get the most benefit from exercise while avoiding injury. Attend with a friend; you’re more likely to stick with it if you know you have a partner waiting for you.

When you’re increasing your physical activity, don’t drastically cut your calorie intake. Of course, you have to cut calories to lose weight — just don’t get carried away. Fewer than 1,600 calories a day may not leave you with enough energy to make it through a regular day, much less a day filled with more physical activity than you’re used to.

And make sure 40 to 60 percent of those calories come from carbohydrates, the chief power source for your body and your brain. Diets that ban carbohydrates could leave you with a power-draining energy deficit.

Do You Need More Protein?

It’s a myth that you need more protein if you’re going to be more active and build muscle. Only serious athletes require more protein than the rest of us, and even then it’s not a lot more. Most of us can get all the protein we need in a day — about 46 to 56 grams — from about five ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish, plus two to three 8-ounce glasses of low-fat milk.

Of course, there are other good dietary sources of protein that you can also use to fill your protein needs. So, don’t waste your money on high-protein shakes that promise to bulk you up. Best advice? Be physically active and start a strength-training routine.

Densie Webb, Ph.D., R.D. is the author of seven books, including Foods for Better Health, The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!, and Super Nutrition After 50. Webb also writes about health and nutrition for numerous magazines, including Family Circle, Fitness, Parade, Men’s Fitness, and Redbook. She is a regular columnist for Woman’s Day and Prevention magazines, a contributing writer for The New York Times, the associate editor of Environmental Nutrition newsletter, and a writer for the American Botanical Council.

Elizabeth Ward, M.S., R.D. is a nutrition consultant and writer. She is the author or co-author of five books, including Super Nutrition After 50 and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler. Ward is a contributing editor for Environmental Nutrition newsletter and a contributing writer for WebMD.com. She also writes for publications such as Parenting magazine and The Boston Globe.

Source: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/aging/senior-health-lifestyle/lose-weight-senior.htm


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Not Too Thin To Worry

So many people assume that because they are thin, they must be safe from many weight-related diseases; such as heart disease, diabetes etc. This belief is simply not the case, and this article from http://health.discovery.com does an excellent job of illustrating why this belief is bunk!

5 Health Problems Caused by Being Too Thin

The United States is in the midst of an obesity epidemic. As a result, the media is full of stories about how to eat and exercise so that we can lose weight and avoid health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Because obesity is so prominent, we often avoid the people on the other side of the scale — the underweight. And we’re not talking about people with eating disorders or dangerous habits such as smoking that keep them thin; in this article, we’re concerned about those who just can’t put on any weight no matter how hard they try. We might write these people off and say they’re lucky that they don’t have to worry about their skinny jeans fitting, but as it turns out, people with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 have their own set of health problems to worry about.
5: Heart Disease and Diabetes

Heart disease and diabetes are usually thought to be problems for the overweight and the obese, but thin people aren’t immune from these conditions. It’s very easy to be thin yet unhealthy, as naturally thin people might indulge in fast food, skip the gym and think they can get away with it. No matter the number on the scale, though, blood sugar levels and bad cholesterol counts can be rising. Thin people might also skip out on the check-ups that can detect these problems because they think they’re in good shape.

Additionally, the very factor that keeps people thin may cause diabetes. People who are naturally very thin are usually that way thanks to genetics, and a 2011 study revealed that these “lean genes” might work by placing fat very deep within the body. Rather than carrying a spare tire, these people might be carrying fat around the heart or the liver. According to the study findings, fat located at these spots might put a person at higher risk for diabetes than visible fat
4: Lowered Immune System

The immune system is like a guard at the gate, ensuring that foreign and abnormal cells do not pass. This system needs fuel to take on invading infections, and unless an underweight person is eating very carefully, he or she could easily starve this disease defense guard. That means that very thin people are at extra risk for getting sick during cold and flu season, and they could be at risk for more serious conditions such as cancer, which begins with abnormal cell activity. If you’re very thin, check with a doctor or a nutritionist about dietary supplements that might be necessary to keep you well year-round.

Nutritional deficiencies can also lead to the next problem on our list. What is it?
3: Anemia

Many underweight people find themselves feeling tired all the time. This lack of energy and fatigue is a classic symptom of anemia. Other symptoms of anemia include irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness and headache. Anemia is a disease of the blood that occurs when there’s a deficiency of red blood cells. These blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to the organs, and when they don’t show up for work, the body doesn’t receive the fuel it needs to energize the body. Anemia is caused by nutritional deficiencies of iron, B-12 and folate, which is another reason why underweight people should constantly check with their doctors about whether they’re consuming enough of the right foods.
2: Fertility Issues

Being underweight can cause many reproductive issues for women. First, a woman’s menstrual cycle often stops or becomes irregular when she is too skinny. While that might not matter to a young woman, that irregularity could become an issue when she decides to conceive. Not only is it harder for underweight women to conceive, it’s also harder for them to sustain the pregnancy, as menstrual irregularities affect the uterine lining that supports a fetus. According to one study, underweight women who got pregnant were 72 percent more likely to miscarry during the first trimester.

Men aren’t off the hook, either — underweight men are 22 times more at risk for persistent sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction, painful intercourse or inability to ejaculate.
1: Osteoporosis and Broken Bones

While many of us worry about having too much body fat, we all have to have a little bit in order to keep our bodies healthy. One task that fat performs is producing estrogen. We associate estrogen with women, but both men and women need it for healthy bones. Without enough estrogen, bones become brittle and prone to breakage. That leaves both sexes at risk for osteoporosis, no matter their age. As a result, a simple fall or accident is more likely to cause serious injury or even death in an underweight person.

To avoid osteoporosis and the other conditions we’ve discussed in this article, people who fall below the body mass index of normal weight (18.5) should speak to a medical professional about gaining weight safely.


Anxiety Relief

Did yesterday’s anxiety article make you more anxious? Great news, today is all about meditation!

Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Robert Segal, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A.

Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief

Finding the Relaxation Exercises That Work for You

For many of us with hectic, stressful lives, relaxation means zoning out in front of the TV at the end of the day or snatching some extra sleep at the weekend. Unfortunately, this does little to help reduce the damaging effects of stress on the mind and body.

To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques including deep breathing, visualization, meditation, and yoga, or by performing rhythmic exercise, such as running, cycling, or mindful walking. Finding ways to fit these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress and boost your energy and mood. They’ll also help you to stay calm in the face of life’s unexpected events.

The relaxation response: bringing your nervous system back into balance

Stress is necessary for life. You need stress for creativity, learning, and your very survival. Stress is only harmful when it becomes overwhelming and interrupts the healthy state of equilibrium that your nervous system needs to remain in balance. Unfortunately, overwhelming stress has become an increasingly common characteristic of contemporary life. When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques can bring it back into a balanced state by producing the relaxation response, a state of deep calmness that is the polar opposite of the stress response.

When stress overwhelms your nervous system your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight”. While the stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly, it wears your body down when constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life. The relaxation response puts the brakes on this heightened state of readiness and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.

Producing the relaxation response

A variety of different relaxation techniques can help you bring your nervous system back into balance by producing the relaxation response. The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused.

Learning the basics of these relaxation techniques isn’t difficult, but it does take practice. Most stress experts recommend setting aside at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. If you’d like to get even more stress relief, aim for 30 minutes to an hour. If that sounds like a daunting commitment, remember that many of these techniques can be incorporated into your existing daily schedule—practiced at your desk over lunch or on the bus during your morning commute.

Finding the relaxation technique that’s best for you

There is no single relaxation technique that is best for everyone. When choosing a relaxation technique, consider your specific needs, preferences, fitness level, and the way you tend to react to stress. The right relaxation technique is the one that resonates with you, fits your lifestyle, and is able to focus your mind and interrupt your everyday thoughts in order to elicit the relaxation response. In many cases, you may find that alternating or combining different techniques will keep you motivated and provide you with the best results.

How do you react to stress?

How you react to stress may influence the relaxation technique that works best for you:

Stress Response Symptoms Relaxation Technique
Overexcited You tend to become angry, agitated, or keyed up under stress You may respond best to relaxation techniques that quiet you down, such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery
Under excited You tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress You may respond best to relaxation techniques that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system, such as rhythmic exercise
Frozen (both overexcited and under excited at the same time – like pressing on the brakes and gas simultaneously) You tend to freeze: speeding up in some ways while slowing down in others Your challenge is to identify relaxation techniques that provide both safety and stimulation to help you “reboot” your system. Techniques such as mindfulness walking or power yoga might work well for you

Do you need alone time or social stimulation?

If you crave solitude, solo relaxation techniques such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation will give you the space to quiet your mind and recharge your batteries. If you crave social interaction, a class setting will give you the stimulation and support you’re looking for. Practicing with others may also help you stay motivated.

Relaxation technique 1: Breathing meditation for stress relief

With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple, yet powerful, relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere, and provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check. Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices, too, and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy and music. All you really need is a few minutes and a place to stretch out.

Practicing deep breathing meditation

The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
  • Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
  • Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.

If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor. Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

Relaxation technique 2: Progressive muscle relaxation for stress relief

Progressive muscle relaxation involves a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body.

With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps you spot and counteract the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of stress relief.

Practicing progressive muscle relaxation

Before practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation, consult with your doctor if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.

Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. For a sequence of muscle groups to follow, see the box below.

  • Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
  • Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths.
  • When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
  • Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
  • Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
  • When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
  • Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
  • It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Sequence

The most popular sequence runs as follows:

  1. Right foot*
  2. Left foot
  3. Right calf
  4. Left calf
  5. Right thigh
  1. Left thigh
  2. Hips and buttocks
  3. Stomach
  4. Chest
  5. Back
  1. Right arm and hand
  2. Left arm and hand
  3. Neck and shoulders
  4. Face

* If you are left-handed you may want to begin with your left foot instead.

Relaxation technique 3: Body scan meditation for stress relief

A body scan is similar to progressive muscle relaxation except, instead of tensing and relaxing muscles, you simply focus on the sensations in each part of your body.

Practicing body scan meditation

  • Sit or lie down. Breathe deeply, allowing your stomach to rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Breathe this way for two minutes.
  • Begin scanning by focusing on the toes of the right foot and slowly move up the foot and leg, feeling the sensations and directing your breath into and out of each area. Repeat the sequence for your left leg. From there, move up the torso, through the lower back and abdomen, the upper back and chest, and the shoulders.
  • Move your focus to the fingers in your right arm and move up to the shoulders. Repeat for your left arm. Then move through the neck and throat, and finally all the regions of your face, the back of the head, and the top of the head. Try breathing through an imaginary “hole” in the very top of your head, as if you were a whale with a blowhole.
  • After completing the body scan, relax for a while in silence and stillness, noting how your body feels. Then open your eyes slowly. Take a moment to stretch, if necessary.

For a guided body scan meditation, see the Resources section below.

Relaxation technique 4: Mindfulness for stress relief

Mindfulness is the ability to remain aware of how you’re feeling right now, your “moment-to-moment” experience—both internal and external. Thinking about the past—blaming and judging yourself—or worrying about the future can often lead to a degree of stress that is overwhelming. But by staying calm and focused in the present moment, you can bring your nervous system back into balance. Mindfulness can be applied to activities such as walking, exercising, eating, or meditation.

Meditations that cultivate mindfulness have long been used to reduce overwhelming stress. Some of these meditations bring you into the present by focusing your attention on a single repetitive action, such as your breathing, a few repeated words, or flickering light from a candle. Other forms of mindfulness meditation encourage you to follow and then release internal thoughts or sensations.

Practicing mindfulness meditation

Key points in mindfulness mediation are:

  • A quiet environment. Choose a secluded place in your home, office, garden, place of worship, or in the great outdoors where you can relax without distractions or interruptions.
  • A comfortable position. Get comfortable, but avoid lying down as this may lead to you falling asleep. Sit up with your spine straight, either in a chair or on the floor. You can also try a cross-legged or lotus position.
  • A point of focus. This point can be internal – a feeling or imaginary scene – or something external – a flame or meaningful word or phrase that you repeat it throughout your session. You may meditate with eyes open or closed. Also choose to focus on an object in your surroundings to enhance your concentration, or alternately, you can close your eyes.
  • An observant, noncritical attitude. Don’t worry about distracting thoughts that go through your mind or about how well you’re doing. If thoughts intrude during your relaxation session, don’t fight them. Instead, gently turn your attention back to your point of focus.

For more on mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, see the Harvard Bonus Article “Cultivating Mindfulness” below.

Relaxation technique 5: Visualization meditation for stress relief

Visualization, or guided imagery, is a variation on traditional meditation that requires you to employ not only your visual sense, but also your sense of taste, touch, smell, and sound. When used as a relaxation technique, visualization involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all tension and anxiety.

Choose whatever setting is most calming to you, whether it’s a tropical beach, a favorite childhood spot, or a quiet wooded glen. You can do this visualization exercise on your own in silence, while listening to soothing music, or with a therapist (or an audio recording of a therapist) guiding you through the imagery. To help you employ your sense of hearing you can use a sound machine or download sounds that match your chosen setting—the sound of ocean waves if you’ve chosen a beach, for example.

Practicing visualization

Find a quiet, relaxed place. Beginners sometimes fall asleep during a visualization meditation, so you might try sitting up or standing.

Close your eyes and let your worries drift away. Imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can—everything you can see, hear, smell, and feel. Visualization works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible, using at least three of your senses. When visualizing, choose imagery that appeals to you; don’t select images because someone else suggests them, or because you think they should be appealing. Let your own images come up and work for you.

If you are thinking about a dock on a quiet lake, for example:

  • Walk slowly around the dock and notice the colors and textures around you.
  • Spend some time exploring each of your senses.
  • See the sun setting over the water.
  • Hear the birds singing.
  • Smell the pine trees.
  • Feel the cool water on your bare feet.
  • Taste the fresh, clean air.

Enjoy the feeling of deep relaxation that envelopes you as you slowly explore your restful place. When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present.

Don’t worry if you sometimes zone out or lose track of where you are during a guided imagery session.  This is normal. You may also experience feelings of stiffness or heaviness in your limbs, minor, involuntary muscle-movements, or even cough or yawn. Again, these are normal responses.

Relaxation technique 6: Yoga and tai chi for stress relief

Yoga involves a series of both moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. As well as reducing anxiety and stress, yoga can also improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. Practiced regularly, it can also strengthen the relaxation response in your daily life. Since injuries can happen when yoga is practiced incorrectly, it’s best to learn by attending group classes, hiring a private teacher, or at least following video instructions.

What type of yoga is best for stress?

Although almost all yoga classes end in a relaxation pose, classes that emphasize slow, steady movement, deep breathing, and gentle stretching are best for stress relief.

  • Satyananda is a traditional form of yoga. It features gentle poses, deep relaxation, and meditation, making it suitable for beginners as well as anyone primarily looking for stress reduction.
  • Hatha yoga is also reasonably gentle way to relieve stress and is suitable for beginners. Alternately, look for labels like gentle, for stress relief, or for beginners when selecting a yoga class.
  • Power yoga, with its intense poses and focus on fitness, is better suited to those looking for stimulation as well as relaxation.

If you’re unsure whether a specific yoga class is appropriate for stress relief, call the studio or ask the teacher.

Tai chi

If you’ve ever seen a group of people in the park slowly moving in synch, you’ve probably witnessed tai chi. Tai chi is a self-paced, non-competitive series of slow, flowing body movements. These movements emphasize concentration, relaxation, and the conscious circulation of vital energy throughout the body. Though tai chi has its roots in martial arts, today it is primarily practiced as a way of calming the mind, conditioning the body, and reducing stress. As in meditation, tai chi practitioners focus on their breathing and keeping their attention in the present moment.

Tai chi is a safe, low-impact option for people of all ages and levels of fitness, including older adults and those recovering from injuries. Like yoga, once you’ve learned the basics of tai chi or qi gong, you can practice alone or with others, tailoring your sessions as you see fit.

Making relaxation techniques a part of your life

The best way to start and maintain a relaxation practice is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Between work, family, school, and other commitments, though, it can be tough for many people to find the time. Fortunately, many of the techniques can be practiced while you’re doing other things.

Rhythmic exercise as a mindfulness relaxation technique

Rhythmic exercise—such as running, walking, rowing, or cycling—is most effective at relieving stress when performed with relaxation in mind. As with meditation, mindfulness requires being fully engaged in the present moment, focusing your mind on how your body feels right now. As you exercise, focus on the physicality of your body’s movement and how your breathing complements that movement. If your mind wanders to other thoughts, gently return to focusing on your breathing and movement.

If walking or running, for example, focus on each step—the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath while moving, and the feeling of the wind against your face.

Tips for fitting relaxation techniques into your life

  • If possible, schedule a set time to practice each day. Set aside one or two periods each day. You may find that it’s easier to stick with your practice if you do it first thing in the morning, before other tasks and responsibilities get in the way.
  • Practice relaxation techniques while you’re doing other things. Meditate while commuting to work on a bus or train, or waiting for a dentist appointment. Try deep breathing while you’re doing housework or mowing the lawn. Mindfulness walking can be done while exercising your dog, walking to your car, or climbing the stairs at work instead of using the elevator. Once you’ve learned techniques such as tai chi, you can practice them in your office or in the park at lunchtime.
  • If you exercise, improve the relaxation benefits by adopting mindfulness. Instead of zoning out or staring at a TV as you exercise, try focusing your attention on your body. If you’re resistance training, for example, focus on coordinating your breathing with your movements and pay attention to how your body feels as you raise and lower the weights.
  • Avoid practicing when you’re sleepy. These techniques can relax you so much that they can make you very sleepy, especially if it’s close to bedtime. You will get the most benefit if you practice when you’re fully awake and alert. Do not practice after eating a heavy meal or while using drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.
  • Expect ups and downs. Don’t be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. It happens. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.

Source: http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_relief_meditation_yoga_relaxation.htm


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