Stress: Dealing With It

Chronic StressStress. It’s everywhere. If you live and work on this planet it’s almost impossible to avoid.

Feeling stressed? Me too!

Today I’m writing about how to get rid of stress and suggest some easy ways to get that burden off your back.

To get us in the mood, let’s start with a short, guided meditation and stretch video to help reduce stress. Try it with me and see for yourself. You can do this at home or at your desk at work. (I use my ear buds at work.)

 

Stress:

Now that you’re a believer, lets have a look at stress and how to get rid of it. (By the way, as you get better at becoming relaxed, you can keep your eyes open while watching the waves on the video.)

Stress has been around since the beginning of time. It started as the fight-or-flight response when early humans confronted a life-threatening situation. In that situation, stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are produced. Your blood vessels constrict, blood pressure goes up, pupils dilate, heart rate quickens, and breathing becomes more rapid. The body is preparing itself to do battle or run. This response is essential in times of acute danger. But problems at work, crying kids, traffic, you name it can trigger the same response.

Given the pressures of daily life, chronic stress itself has become a life-threatening situation. It can cause a host of health problems including headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, trouble concentrating, anxiety, depression, increased body weight, high blood pressure and heart disease.

We can’t eliminate the stress. But we can relieve the fight-or-flight response that sends our bodies into danger mode. And we can cultivate a relaxation response over time that will reduce our physiological stress reaction.

So what do we do about chronic stress? How do we get rid of it?

How? Relax. That’s what my first yoga teacher used to say when I was all bent up in the pretzel pose with a grimace on my face. And, like that meditation you just did, it actually worked. Once I was able to relax, I was stress-free even in the pretzel pose.

Seriously, daily conscious relaxation exercises can make real difference in the way your body responds to stress. Dr Herbert Benson coined the phrase “relaxation response” in his book by the same name in 1975.

Since then he and others have conducted numerous studies, including a recent one at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine, that have detailed the body’s intricate positive response to conscious relaxation exercises. In a nutshell, the relaxation response has the opposite effect of fight-or-flight. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the effects of stress. You experience a feeling of deep relaxation and well being. And if you practice relaxation regularly you’ll feel better and help yourself avoid those stress related health issues. That’s how we get rid of chronic stress.

Meditation is just one of an almost infinite number of ways to consciously relax. Virtually anything that takes your attention away from your daily grind and makes you concentrate on just one thing can work. Doing the dishes, aerobic exercise, yoga, stretching, golf, playing a musical instrument, casting a fishing rod, playing with a cat, almost anything can work if you pay attention to only that and clear your mind. I’m partial to exercise because I get the benefits of a workout as well as the relaxation. It’s my mantra. It’s what I do to get rid of chronic stress.

Dr. Benson suggests you practice some form of conscious relaxation for 10 to 20 minutes every day to get rid of chronic stress in the long-term.

But what if you’re pressed for time? (Pressed rhymes with stressed.)

Reduce Chronic Stress with this little exercise.

Sometimes you only need a few seconds and you feel a lot better.

Sit down and close your eyes. (If you’re on the street, duck into a doorway, stand and keep your eyes open and one hand on your purse.)

Let your muscles relax. Concentrate on your breathing.

Breathe in and hold your breath for one second, count one one hundred thousand, and breathe out.

Breathe in again a little deeper and hold for two seconds — one one hundred thousand, two one hundred thousand — breathe out.

Breathe in deeper and hold for three, then four, then five seconds.
When you get to around three seconds of breath holding, your stress level should start to drop and your mind should start to clear itself of thoughts.

After five, you should feel pretty good. This works well for me particularly in moments of acute stress.

That one worked too didn’t it. I hope concentrating on reading this helped you reduce your stress and I hope you’ll make conscious relaxation a part of your life.

It’s a lifestyle change that’s easy to make because it feels so good when you do it.

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Getting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

Getting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

I was back in my home town recently, where I taught for over 20 years. I missed my ladies so I decided to take some of my former students out for tea and dessert.

I thought for a minute the dessert part was a bad idea when a couple of them wouldn’t eat a piece of cake in front of me. But when I dug in, moderately of course, the party got started in earnest.  Ever the moderator, I asked them each to share things that were important in their lives over the past year.

As we went around the circle, they spoke of getting pregnant, daughter’s weddings, losing your job, becoming a gym rat, outliving heart disease, surviving menopause, the joy of grandchildren, and a trip to China.

Maybe because I was their host, the conversation drifted toward how getting fit had changed their lives.

They shared stories about feeling invisible, not sexy, not pretty, having no energy and feeling like a lump. One remembered showing up in my office, tearing her hair out saying my doctor told me I need to do something, I’ve got serious health issues, but I hate to exercise. What do I do?

She said, I told her “I’m going to give you exercise you can look forward to instead of dread.”

Getting Fit: Find Fabulousity!

Most of my work is done with women who haven’t been active in a while. My coaching style is to start people wherever they may be physically and emotionally and get them moving, gently, and pleasantly. If the first experience is pleasant, you’ll want a second and the third and so on. Sustainability is the key to getting fit and staying fit successfully. And that’s what happened with these ladies. But something else remarkable happened too.

They told me getting fit had given them the self confidence to pursue things they would never have dared to try; that the change in their bodies had kindled a change in the way they saw themselves. Instead of feeling invisible they felt fabulous and that Fabulosity had spilled over into the rest of their lives. As much as I would love to take all the credit for this transformation, I think that it boils down to healthy body, healthy mind;

Getting fit was the key that unlocked the door to their potential.
Pretty cool huh?

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Fashion Flash Online NEW

Fashion FlashFashion Flash is hosted this week by Sheila, creator of  Painted Ladies empower its readers with makeup information and techniques they can utilize to look and feel their very best.

She and the rest of us Fashion Flash Bloggers are just a click away. Come get your insider’s look at the latest info and greatest deals in 40+ Fashion, Beauty, Skincare, Fitness, Travel & Lifestyle.

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Workout: Can You Gain Without The Pain?

WorkoutWorkout? Spring has sprung and I’ve been getting those emails for a month or so asking for advice on how to get on and stay on an exercise program. I get questions about commitment, pushing one’s limits, pain, and quick results. I go a little crazy at this time of year because I’m at odds with a very vocal segment of my industry about how to get started on an exercise program. They’re sincere, well-educated trainers, but I don’t think they remember what it felt like to be de-conditioned. They expect beginners to do to much too soon. I’m beginning to think that over-vigorous exercise dulls one’s sense of empathy.

Workout?

I’ve seen it time and time again: determined beginners pushing so hard and either getting hurt and quitting or just quitting because they couldn’t take it any more. If this sounds like you, don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault. We’ve heard no pain no gain all our lives. We’ve watched contestants push themselves to the brink of disaster on television. We’re inundated with infomercial promises of big results in no time. It’s enough to make anyone think ” I’ve got to beat myself senseless immediately so I can hurry up, get fit, have the body of my dreams and live happily ever-after.”

By the way, I’m not against vigorous exercise. On the contrary, I love vigorous exercise. But I wouldn’t have loved it nor would I have been safe doing it as a beginner. In my experience, that approach only works for a few stoic types and sets the rest of us up to fail.

I believe in moderation, easing in, starting with a little and building up to a lot, staying in your comfort zone. You may get to super-vigorous exercise eventually, or maybe you’ll like moderate exercise better. And moderate may be just as good as vigorous, maybe better. Really.
Just so you know this isn’t some favorite rant of mine, there are people, scientists even, who actually agree with me. Here’s study conducted at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health

I think, the best way to get fit and make exercise a part of your life forever is to keep it pleasant. If you haven’t been exercising in a long time, don’t start lifting weights right away. Don’t try to jog or even walk for a half an hour right away. Do something easy. Do something pleasant. If you enjoy it today you’ll want to get up and do it again tomorrow. It’s the pleasure principal. I believe in it. This study published in the Journal of Health Psychology believes it, too

So, how do you get started? I suggest starting by standing up and doing about five minutes of gentle limbering movements. Do the same for a few days in a row. You may be surprised at how good this feels and what a wonderful state of mind these simple, natural movements put you in. You may find yourself exercising longer than five minutes after a few days because you like it. Don’t question it. Simply do it. You may find the more you do it the more you’ll want to do it, and the more you’ll do.

You may want to go for a little walk, then a brisk walk, then a half hour brisk walk. Don’t rush it. It doesn’t matter if it takes a couple of weeks, or a couple of months. Listen to you body. You’re on nobody’s schedule but your own.

Once you’re enjoying a half hour brisk walk most days of the week, try adding light weight training for your major muscle groups a couple of times a week. Increase the weight, number of reps and number of exercise days only when it feels too easy. Build up slowly to weight training about three days a week with a day off in between sessions.

Remember to keep it pleasant. If it’s too intense, it ceases to be fun and there’s a good chance you’ll quit. This approach takes longer. But I’ve found it to be much more sustainable than those quick fix pump you up methods. Most of those intense immersion exercise programs remind me of the guy who beats his head against a brick wall. When asked why on earth he does that, he says: “because it feels so good when I stop”

Ease-in. Invest in your body. It will pay you back in quality of life.

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Can Sleeping Less Equal Weight Gain?

Can Sleeping Less Equal Weight GainCan Sleeping Less Equal Weight Gain

Eating fewer calories, exercising more and still having a hard time getting those extra pounds off? Here’s a question for you: How’s your sleep?

I for one, every time I travel, seem to gain a couple of pounds just when I want to look my best.

I noticed that I tend to sleep less and intermittently when I am on the road. Once I settle again in a place, my sleep gets more regulated and I am able to drop those pounds.

I’ve adjusted my sleep pattern, as I have gotten older to help myself sleep better. The earlier I get up in the morning the better chance I have of getting to sleep that night and staying asleep for a longer period of time. I’m more energized, and when I eat, I eat less and feel more filled.

Can Sleeping Less Equal Weight Gain

It turns out that there are many studies that indicate that sleeping less then 7 hours can increase body weight. One recent study with several pairs of twins, found that the twin who slept more than 9 hours was about half as likely to gain weight as the one that slept only 7.

Sleep deprivation affects your hunger urge. If you sleep less, you feel like eating more and you probably do. That’s because not sleeping increases your body’s level of gherlin, the hunger hormone and decreases leptin the “I’m full” hormone.

A sleep study in Finland with middle-aged adults who had sleep problems found that women had greater sleep related weight gains than men. Though men were also affected. The study indicated that it seems the fewer hours you sleep the more calories you tend to eat the next day.

If you want a good night sleep here’s are some things to consider:

  • Exercise: Don’t exercise too late in the day. So many of us go to the gym after work but it can keep you up at night. Late exercise can prevent the body from making sleep-inducing melatonin for several hours.
  • Caffeine: It can take 6 or more hours to wear off. Having that cup of coffee after dinner, even with a low fat dessert, may not be such a good idea.
  • Alcohol: A couple of drinks with dinner can wake you up in the middle of the night and make it hard to get back to sleep. I have a friend who swears by a glass or two of wine at lunch but never alcohol after 2pm. She says she sleeps like a baby at night. I think if I had a glass or two at lunch, I’d sleep like a baby at 2pm and be up for the night at 5.
  • Stress: And then there is our old buddy stress. We all have some level of stress and how we deal with it can keep us up at night. Getting yourself relaxed in quiet, dark, temperature controlled environment can relieve stress and induce a desire and ability to sleep.

So what’s it going to be, wide awake at 3am or getting that beauty sleep and waking up lighter and brighter on your toes? Learning to get a good night’s sleep is a process.

Can Sleeping Less Equal Weight GainDon’t stress over it, it may keep you up at night.

 

 

 

 

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Aqua Ballet Lower Body Workout

We are filming for several hours a day starting at the crack of dawn. The weather is cooler but not for long. My only relief has been to strip off my workout clothes, which are almost pasted to my body, jump into a swimsuit and plunge into the pool. After about 45 minutes of laps back and forth (I’m so motivated from watching all these Olympic swimming trials on TV) I get an idea. What if I try some ballet barre exercises in the water, holding on to the side of the pool? Aqua Ballet Barre, not such a bad idea I’m thinking. So I try one of my on land favorites for my legs and butt. I like it! I can really feel it working. It may be even more effective with the water for added resistance.

Try it yourself.

AQUA BALLET WORKOUT:

Stand facing front, heels together, feet turned out. Hold on to the edge of the pool with your right hand. Slowly bend left knee, bringing foot up to right knee forming a triangle. Slowly stretch leg in front of body. Then bring foot back to the knee of the standing leg and return to the starting position. Repeat 4 times to the Front, Side, and Back.

Turn around and repeat exercise on the other leg holding on with your left hand.

Below are Aqua Ballet Workout Photos

Aqua Ballet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as the latest in my world of health and wellness, please check out this health coaching video. If you are ready to break the cycle of failed diets, exercise programs with no results. Do you have low energy, high stress or persistent health issues,

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by Mirabai Holland MFA Certified Health Coach, Certified Exercise Physiologist.

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Clicking Joints: Should I Worry?

Clicking JointsClicking Joints: Should I worry? What are those clicking, popping and crackling sounds in my joints? Is it Arthritis? Have I overdosed on breakfast cereal? No, it’s probably Crepitus. Sounds like a precursor to decrepitude, but it’s not. Crepitus is just the word used to describe the clicking sounds.

In fact, in most cases, if there’s no pain associated with those sounds, it’s nothing to worry about. Many people live their whole lives with some clicking joints and popping without any ill effects.

 Clicking Joints?

Clicking Joints have closed bags of synovial fluid, called bursa, between them. They cushion joint movement so we can walk and work painlessly. That fluid has a little bit of air or gas dissolved in it. Through our daily movement, that gas can form a bubble or cavity in the bag. The fancy term is Cavitation.

When you move your knee, elbow or shoulder, the bubble bursts and makes a click or popping sound. Cracking your knuckles is a good example of breaking those bubbles on purpose. So, the rule of thumb is: no pain, no problem.

Snapping however is another story. That rubber band-like sound is often accompanied by pain. It’s a sign you have an injury, or that some muscle, nerve or connective tissue is out of place.

In this case you should see your doctor. A good way to promote healthy joints in general is to strengthen the muscles around them. Regular strength training can make a difference at any age. If you haven’t been exercising in a while, start slowly and build up. Last thing you want to do is hurt the joints you’re trying to strengthen.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Well, next time your friends have clicks and pops in their joints, you can tell them they probably have Crepitus!

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Fashion Flash 4th of July Edition

Fashion FlashOur 4th of July edition of Fashion Flash is hosted this week by Marsha from Beauty Info Zone which is one of the best makeup and cosmetic blogs online. With an extensive background as a makeup artist and writer she gives you the best of the best reviews on the latest in makeup and skincare.

The rest of our Fashion Flash Team is busy giving you, our lovely readers the most current info on fashion, makeup, beauty, lifestyle and more. Please check us out and have a fabulous 4th!

Menopause, Exercise and Hot Flashes

Menopause pre and post is on the mind of many women. I’d like to share this exercise study that showed that regular exercise did not reduce the intensity or amount of hot flashes in post menopausal women. However, those women that exercised on a regular basis slept better and were less depressed. Guess what? Many of my clients (myself included) who were avid exercisers also said their hot flashes did not diminish. But they experienced less mood swings and had more energy than others who exercised less or not at all.

So keep moving and if you need some help get 25% off all my exercise DVDs. Put in SUMMERFAB at Checkout. Good until 7/30/2017.

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Fight Upper Arm Flab

FIGHT UPPER ARM FLABFight Upper Arm Flab!

My inbox is trying to tell me something. I’ve gotten several versions of this question in the past week alone.
Q: I’m starting to feel that flabby arm anxiety again. Summer is here and I don’t want to face my sleeveless blouses with these 54 old arms a year flabbier than they were last year. Is there anything short of surgery for me to do to fight upper arm flab?
A: Sedentary women in general and women at a certain age in particularly are faced with this problem every Summer.  And it does get worst, as you get older.
In fact we can lose up to 40% of our muscle cells by the time we hit 70. This is called sarcopenia. Weight resistance exercise can reverse this process and can help you regain some muscle you have lost.
Here are two easy site-specific exercises that target those problem areas in your upper arm and fight upper arm flab.

Fight Upper Arm Flab: Two Exercises

Bicep Curl for the Front Arm:
FIGHT UPPER ARM FLABGrab a set up hand weights and stand erect with your feet about shoulder width apart. Weights down at your sides, palms forward. Remaining erect, bending only at your elbows bring the weights up towards you until they reach your shoulders.
Slowly return to starting position. Repeat 8-15 reps.
Pick a weight that will just barely allow you to complete the final rep in good form.

 

Triceps Extension for the Back of the Arm:
FIGHT UPPER ARM FLAB
You will probably need a lighter weight for this exercise because those muscles are often weaker.
Stand erect, weights at your sides, palms in towards your thighs. Remaining erect step forward with one foot and slightly bend the knee. Keeping arms straight, bring both arms behind you just at or above waist height. You should feel the contraction on the back of your arms. Gently lower down to starting position.
Repeat 8-15 reps.

Do these exercises every other day. You should expect some soreness. It’s common when you are building muscle. Doing the exercises every other day gives your muscles a chance to recover and grow. You should see results in about 3-4
weeks. You will be on your way to fight upper arm flab.

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Diabetes Exercise

Diabetes EXercise

Diabetes Exercise Can Help!

Getting regular exercise is key to preventing and managing diabetes. Exercise decreases insulin resistance and helps to metabolize sugar. It also helps circulation, which can be a problem for diabetics. Other benefits include having more stamina, stronger muscles and bones, burning calories and even elevating your mood.
Here are some tips to help you get the best results out of your exercise program.

Diabetes Exercise

  • Before starting anything new, check with your doctor to see what your normal blood sugar range should be and if there are any types of exercise you should avoid. For instance, weight training may be contraindicated if you have eye problems because it may raise blood pressure and rupture blood vessels in the eye.

Diabetes Exercise

  • Test your blood sugar before and after exercising. Don’t start unless it’s in your normal range.
  • Activities that take you outside during hot or cold weather can affect blood sugar levels. If you find your levels are too low or too high, stop, and wait until they are in the appropriate range. Some diabetics find that exercise brings their blood sugar level too low (hypoglycemia). Some of the symptoms are sweating, anxiety, or feeling hungry. It’s important to always keep fruit juice handy just in case.
  • Wear shoes and socks that are supportive and comfortable. Make sure you have enough room to wiggle your toes so as to not to stop circulation.
  • Clothes like breathable cottons or micro fibers help wick away the sweat and keep you from overheating. In colder weather, dress in layers that you can peel off or put on as needed.
  • Drink water before, during and after exercise. You may not even feel that thirsty but not getting enough fluids can affect your blood sugar level.
  • Warm-up and cool-down at least five-ten minutes before and after exercise. Start your warm-up by doing low intensity movement like walking and end with it. Cool-down is a great time to stretch because your muscles are still warm.

Diabetes ExerciseExercise can increase quality of life for most diabetics and in many cases help keep the disease in check. Easy aerobics, easy strength or easy stretch exercise can help.

About Diabetes

People may be born with diabetes (Type 1), but most people who have it developed it after birth (Type 2). Overweight and obesity, a diet high in sugar and fat and low in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans and lack of regular exercise are major contributors to diabetes. Although Type 2 used to be diagnosed mostly in adults, it now is diagnosed frequently in children and teenagers.

According to the American Diabetes Association diabetes occurs when the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Getting your blood glucose level tested as part of your annual checkup is important, particularly if you have pre-diabetes, a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. There are 41 million Americans who have pre-diabetes, in addition to the 20.8 million with diabetes. Research shows that exercise decreases body fat and helps normalize insulin levels.

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