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You’re Going to Age (hopefully): Why Not Prepare for It?

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Take your fingers out of your ears and listen to me! You. Are. Going. To. Get. Old. Unless you don’t. Get strong now and make it easier on yourself. “Nobody wants to think about fixing the roof while the sun is shining,” says actor Rob Lowe, in a recent SF Chronicle article, as keynote speaker for an event on aging, where he talked about donning a “suit” that stimulates being in an older body. The suit includes a helmet that stifles hearing and vision; heavy, imbalanced boots; restrictive fabric that gives the effect of arthritis in the knees, hands, spine and elbows; and sleeves weighed down to imitate muscle loss. The truth is that moving around, getting out of chairs or up off the floor is harder as you get older and more so if you are carrying extra weight. On top of that, as explained in a WebMD article, beginning“…in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia.”. Being active helps counteract this ongoing muscle loss.

Rob Lowe credits his youthful looks to surfing, skiing, CrossFit, running, and swimming. He, along with many of us, hope to live our golden years with gusto. Many individuals in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are living full lives, while others are walker-users who can barely get out of a chair and ambulate. Some are active but have begun falling and, in some cases, have difficulty getting up. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people over 65 according to the New York Times, Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation. To get up off the floor uses nearly every muscle in your body plus a fair amount of flexibility, not to mention putting a tremendous amount of weight on your wrists, and knees. To get up from a chair and stand takes strength in your chest, arms, gluteals, shoulders, legs, core, and ankles. The stronger you are, the less chance of these basic movements being a problem. Don’t wait until you have a crisis to start getting stronger.

How are you preparing for physically aging? I know, you’re not old yet and you’re in decent shape, lots of energy, walk on the treadmill, do Zumba, and garden. When was the last time you had a physical assessment to determine your strengths, weaknesses, and flexibility? Does your current exercise program strengthen ALL the muscles shown in this picture and include balance and flexibility exercises?

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Why not prepare to excel in aging, just as you have for other events in your life…running a marathon, getting a good grade in a class, planning a big work project, assuring your kids turn out okay. You plan ahead. You prepare. You put your heart into it. You practice. You get competitive. You envision the outcome you want. Do that now with your fitness. Make a Plan.

A personal trainer can help you. First, we will conduct a fitness assessment to find imbalances or weaknesses and then help you develop a program to address them. You can quickly begin to make changes in your strength and flexibility. Participants in my Gymformee-Introduction to the Gym class, an ongoing offering at Body Kinetics, where I work, demonstrated better balance and strength gains after just eight classes.

A testimony to the power of daily effort, this man improved his flexibility and was able to touch his toes after just 41 days of practice.Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.06.22 PM

 

 

TWO SIMPLE TESTS YOU CAN TRY AT HOME

 Get Up Off the Floor Test

Simply lower down to the floor, sit, and stand back up. If you are able to do so without assistance from any limbs, you score 10 points, 5 for getting up and 5 for getting down.

10 Points Possible as pictured here

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 Subtract 1 point each, both for standing up and sitting down, using assistance from a hand, knee, forearm, hand on knee, or side of leg.

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 This test not only assesses flexibility, balance, strength, and mobility, but may also be a measure of your mortality according to a study conducted by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo. These two links (Simple Sitting Test Predicts How Long You’ll Live) and (RQOW: Getting Up From the Floor) further describe the study, the test, and provide a link to a YouTube video of the original test.

Stand up, Sit Down Test

Arms crossed, touching chest, rise to full stand, return to fully seated, as many times as possible in 30 seconds. Below is an excerpt from the Senior Fitness Test Manual table ranking you with individuals your age at 95 percentile ranking. If you’re younger than 60 you can still see how you compare.

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PRACTICE TO DO AT HOME

Practice getting off the floor daily.

Sit on the floor to do something (put on your socks, eat off the coffee table, etc.) so you have to get up. Or just practice – check out this link for a “how to” .

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Using a chair or other assistance can lessen pressure on joints. If you have back, hip, wrist, or knee issues, check with your doctor first for the safest way to get up off the floor.

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Make a Habit of Getting Out of Your Chair Unassisted

Notice how you get out of your chairs during your day. Do you have the habit of using the arm rests? If so, change to standing up unassisted. Even better, do chair squats or regular squats everyday. (For knee safety, as you squat back it’s hips, not knees, first, then weight back on heels as you slowly lower; knees stay behind toes.)

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Studies show any amount of regular exercise will benefit you! If you want to get amazing results and become functionally younger than you are today, take this advice from the authors of Younger Next Year, on the secret to great health, “You should exercise hard almost every day of your life – say six days a week. And do strength training…two of those six days. Exercise is the great key to aging.”

 Take Action Now! Make a plan yourself or enlist the help of a personal trainer, but get going. Plan for six days of exercise to include:

 Components of an Overall Fitness Program

  • Strength training: two times per week
  • Aerobic/“Cardio” activities: 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity (less minutes with high intensity workouts)
  • Flexibility (Yoga, Pilates) two times per week
  • Balance: daily

 The good news is that by working hard and getting strong, you can feel better immediately and benefit for the rest of your life.

 References

Stephanie M. Lee,” Does this outfit make me feel old? It’s suppose to”, San Francisco Chronicle, Business Report, page 1, November 21, 2004  http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Ageless-Rob-Lowe-promotes-suit-that-simulates-5907449.php
Reviewed by William Blahd, MD, “Sarcopenia with Aging”, WebMD, 50+: Live Better, Longer, August 3, 201  http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/sarcopenia-with-aging?page=2
Katie Hafner, “Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation”, New York Times, Health Section, Page 1, November 2, 2014  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/03/health/bracing-for-the-falls-of-an-aging-nation.html?_r=0
Paige Waehner, “How to Safely Get Up and Down From the Floor”, About Health, May 1, 2004 http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseforseniors/ss/Get-Up-And-Down-From-Floor.htm?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons_nip
Chair squat image: Arun Shanbhag, “Knee Exercises: Chair Squats”, Aches & Joints, April 27, 2008. http://achesandjoints.org/2008/04/27/chair-squats/
Getting off floor with chair image: Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging, Health and Aging, September 2, 2014   http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity/sample-exercises-flexibility
Body image from:   http://www.builtlean.com/2011/09/15/full-body-workout-vs-split-routine-which-is-better/
Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D., Younger Next Year, Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2007, p. 14

Now eating eggs is okay.

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Have you been wary of the cholesterol-police egg ban or are you a die-hard, egg-white eater? According to an article in the New York Times, the federal government (The Dietary Guidelines for Americans), the American Heart Association, The British Medical Association, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and studies conducted by Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health now say it’s okay to eat eggs.

Read the New York Times article, published in Ask the Well on November 14, 2014, if you want to know how many eggs-per-week experts recommend.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/ask-well-how-many-eggs-can-i-eat/

Great Push Up Video

Here’s a short video demonstrating good push up form as well as how this simple body weight exercise can be a full body workout when done properly. David Jack, Men’s Health Magazine, posted these instructions.

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http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/weight-free-upper-body-workout?cm_mmc=Pinterest-_-MensHealth-_-Content-Fitness-_-WeightlessChestWorkout

Food Rules,  a short book by Michael Pollan

“We’re very confused about food, … which is weird. I mean, what other species needs experts to tell them how to eat?”, says food expert/journalist  Michael Pollan in an NPR program interview. The more he studied about food, the shorter his book, Food Rules, became. Not advocating for one ideal diet, Mr. Pollan wants us to steer away from processed food and towards plant based foods. That simple.   “Populations eating a remarkable wide range of traditional diets generally won’t suffer from (chronic Western) diseases ” and, “People who get off the Western diet see dramatic improvements in their health.”

Eat food, he advocates. Real food that is. Here’s some of my favorite rules; theres’s 64 altogether  in the book:

Part I:  What should I eat? (Eat food.) Like me, your definition of food might change by the end of this chapter.

  • 5. Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients.

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  • 6. Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.
  • 7. Avoid food products containing ingredients that  third-grader cannot pronounce.
  • 12. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
  • 13. Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

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  • 19. If it came from a plant, eat it; it was made in a plant, don’t.

Part II: What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants.)

  • 22. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
  • 24. Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs, and other mammals).
  • 27. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
  • 29. Eat like an omnivore.
  • 35. Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature.

Part III How should I eat? (Not too much.)

  • 44. Pay more, eat less.
  • 45. Eat less.
  • 47. Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored.
  • 53. Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds.
  • 55. Eat meals.
  • 56. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant food.
  • 57. Don’t get your fuel the same place your car does.
  • 60. Treat treats as treats.
  • 63. Cook

This short 140 page book is packed with wisdom you won’t soon forget. It was one of the books and documentaries that changed my eating forever.

Links:

Michael Pollan- Ted Talk

Michael Pollan- NPR interview about his new book, Cooked

http://www.npr.org/2013/04/21/177501735/fire-water-air-earth-michael-pollan-gets-elemental-in-cooked

Michael Pollan- NPR, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me program

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128417647

Learn more about that old Twinkie here-

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/21/news/hancock/38-year-old-twinkie-worlds-oldest-still-a-sweet-treat-at-blue-hill-school/

 

Staying Fit…with style

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What to Eat Between Meals When You’re Really Hungry

HERE’S SOME GOOD, HEALTHY SNACKS….

Healthy eating including healthy snack options takes planning and shopping. Here’s some easy to eat, fast snacks, most of which are protein,  vegetables or fruit. I love this idea of a healthy snack drawer in the frig (skip the packaged food) which came from the blog, Life is Sweet…in Kindergarten.

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  VEGETABLES

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  • Cut and prepped ahead in refrigerator so that grabbing to go is convenient (see previous blog post)
  • Add peanut butter to celery stalks
  • Dip in hummus, yogurt or guacamole

APPLE SLICES

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  • Use an apple slicer
  • In a to-go container, add peanut butter and a knife to spread it (add a napkin, too)

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  • Slice the apple horizontally and add peanut butter, raisins, walnuts, or your imagination then cut in pie shaped slices

ALMONDS, NUTS, SEEDS, TRAILMIX (without chocolate or other sweet additions)

  • Pre-measure a small palm full into a to-go container to avoid over eating
  • Buy almonds at Trader Joe’s where they come prepackaged
  • toss raw sunflower or other seeds with olive oil and bake

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 AVACADO

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  • half an avocado with squeezed lime and sprinkled with spices of your choice

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  • avocado toast with cottage cheese and tomatoes

HARD BOILED EGGS

  • Pack in a to-go container
  • Add tomato slices and scallions or chopped basil leaves

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EDEMAME with sea salt

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TURKEY ROLLS

  • spread with mustard and capers
  • roll olives inside
  • try avocado slices in the middle

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  • with cheese in the middle and a tomato on top

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  •  between slices of cucumber with flavorings of your choice

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SWEET POTATOES

  • baked half with a small amount of butter and walnuts or pecans
  • slices tossed with olive oil and sea salt and baked

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RICE CAKES

  • spread with peanut butter with banana slices on top

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  • topped with avocado, tomatoes, turkey, or your choice

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FRUIT

  • any kind in moderation
  • banana dolphins

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Ok, maybe this is for the kids, but I couldn’t resist. Aren’t they cute! (from blog I’m Just a Wife)

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE GO-TO AND TO-GO HEALTHY SNACKS??? LET US KNOW BELOW….

 

Healthy Eating for Weight Loss – think twice before taking that bite

The best way to lose weight  is to eat meals robust in protein and vegetables and to assure our daily consumption of carbohydrates (complex!) and fats are within recommended guidelines. Tracking what you eat can be revealing.  The USDA MyPlate is one source for guidelines on a healthy eating plan. Below is a link to the USDA site, which includes a resource for online tracking of the food you eat. Two other programs are included, My Fitness Pal, and Spark People. There’s lots more out there, too. Each of them will let you know what food group you may be over consuming.

We’re all busy and the thought of keeping track of everything we eat and getting familiar with a new program might seem daunting, however, the effort, if you are serious about losing weight, is worth it, even if only for a few days. Weight Watchers and other proven-to-be-successful programs include a food tracking component that brings greater awareness to what you’re eating. Try it. I promise that knowing you’ll have to log (admit ) to what you eat will make you think twice before taking that bite.

 

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http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories.html

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http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/expert-articles-and-videos.asp

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http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

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