Osteoporosis: Is Your Thigh Bone Like The Eiffel Tower?

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthMay, is Osteoporosis Awareness Month.I first became interested in bones as a young dancer (about 200,000 years ago, in the Mid Paleolithic era). I was studying body alignment and I became fascinated with the skeleton and the remarkable living tissue that makes up our bones. I was intrigued by the intricate architectural structure of bone.

That interest led me to discover weight bearing exercise for bone building and to design Skeletal Fitness®, the first bone loading workout in the United States. In order to know how and why exercise works, here’s a quick look at how your bones work

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthThere’s the smooth, hard shell we see on the outside called cortical bone, and the amazing crisscrossed, honeycomb like structure on the inside called trabecular bone. The combination of cortical and trabecular bone make our skeletons, strong, light, flexible and efficient.

The structure of trabecular bone is the secret ingredient. The trabecular bracing structure is located at precisely the correct angles to absorb the maximum force.

So when you jump over a puddle or run for a bus, it’s the trabecular bracing that directs the force to the strongest part of your skeleton and prevents a bone from breaking.

Most of us aren’t aware of our beautiful bone structure. But, it hasn’t gone unnoticed or under utilized.

The structure of trabecular bone was copied by the French bridge builder Gustave Eiffel, who wanted to build the tallest man-made structure in the world. When he built the Eiffel tower in 1889, he calculated the positioning of the braces in the curves of the legs to direct any force like high winds on the entire structure to the strongest area; the four legs. This is why the Eiffel tower continues to stand the test of time.

That’s fine for an iron tower. If part of it becomes weakened you can see it and fix it. But what happens to weakened or damaged areas of our skeletons?

I was astonished to find out that bones are pretty smart. They don’t grow to adult size and then stop.

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthOur skeletons are constantly getting rid of old weakened bone tissue and replacing it with new healthy bone. Osteoporosis Awareness MonthIn a process called remodeling, old weakened areas are broken down and replaced with new well-formed tissue. Our bodies replace about 10 percent of our bone each year.

Osteoporosis Awareness MonthIn bones with osteoporosis, the remodeling process has gotten out of whack.Those sturdy crisscrossed structures disappear and bones get weak and start to fracture. Fractures occur most often where there is the most trabecular bone.

The three areas most at risk for osteoporotic fracture are the spine has the most trabecular bone. So, if you have osteoporosis, the vertebrae start to squash under the weight of the torso. The thighbone at the hip is next. It can break just stepping off a curb. And the wrist will likely break if you put out your hands to catch yourself in a fall.

Osteoporosis Awareness Month

But there’s a lot you can do to prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone health. Weight bearing exercise like walking, jogging, aerobic dance and weight resistance training, stimulate the remodeling process and promote bone growth.

Exercise should be site specific. Do weight bearing and resistance exercises for the whole body but pay special attention to the areas most at risk; the spine, the hip and the wrist. Calcium and Vitamin D are also important. Remember your bones are living tissue. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

It’s Never Too Late To Take Care Of Your Bones!

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Heart Health News

Heart Health NewsHeart Health News: Eat Berries, Drink and Be Fit! It just may help to save your  heart and the one that you love!

Since heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and men in the U.S., I thought I’d focus on prevention. After all, if you prevent heart disease, you’re very unlikely to die from it.

Heart Health News Research

A Harvard study says women who eat three or more servings of strawberries or blueberries a week can lower their risk of heart attack by 32 percent. The study also said grapes, eggplant and blackberries may work too. It’s those flavonoids again. The antioxidants you find in red wine, dark chocolate, green tea, apple skin, etc. Rule of thumb: The darker the color, the more flavonoid content. They slow down your aging clock and prevent disease by keeping free radicals from damaging cells in your body.

Free radicals are incomplete molecules looking for an electron so they can complete and stabilize themselves. Sounds like something you’d hear in therapy. They steal an electron from a neighboring molecule, turning it into a free radical and setting off a chain reaction. They contribute to the aging process and a wide range of diseases.

We form them naturally when we breathe and metabolize. Free radicals don’t wreak havoc with your body until you have too many of them. They can be formed by oxidative stress, like intense exercise, smoking and exposure to environmental toxins.

Enter the flavonoids. They give the free radicals one of their electrons and stop them in their tracks. They help prevent heart disease by stopping LDLs (bad cholesterol) from breaking down and forming plaque in your arteries.

Nowadays, you can get berries year round, and they are a perfect low-calorie food, alone, in yogurt, or sprinkled on your cereal. So let’s have a few servings of berries, some eggplant, and maybe a square of dark chocolate for dessert. Not such a major lifestyle change.

Heart Health News: Since we are talking about prevention, how about stress?

A series of studies by Columbia University Medical Center says whether or not we perceive ourselves as stressed can be a measure of whether or not we’ll have a heart attack in the future. So from now on, I’m not going to perceive myself as stressed. Yeah. Good luck with that.

Seriously: My clients who exercise regularly, particularly aerobic exercise, tend to think of themselves as being more relaxed. And they are more relaxed. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural tranquilizer, and they know they’re getting the heart benefits of all that cardio. To get the maximum benefit from cardio exercise, most people should build up to 45 or more minutes at 60 to 80 percent of your max heart rate. If you’re just starting out, you can ease in with a few minutes a day at a comfortable pace and add more as it gets too easy. But here’s the rub: Aerobic exercise, because it requires so much oxygen, is an oxidative stressor. It produces free radicals.

People who exercise once in a while or really hard only on the weekend are more at risk for producing harmful levels of free radicals. But studies have found that people who exercise regularly tend to adapt and produce enzymes that create antioxidants minimizing free radicals’ negative effect.

So here’s the formula: Eat berries, dark chocolate and get regular cardio so you don’t perceive yourself as stressed. It’s an eclectic concoction, but I think it’s tastier than one of those midnight vegetable smoothies. Don’t you?

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: Ease into the Best Shape of Your Life! By Mirabai Holland, MFA

Now if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get back into shape and lose those unwanted pounds I’d like to give you a gentle reminder to get moving again if you want to “live long and prosper”. Here are some ideas to get you started and keep you on track.

EASE into the Best Shape of Your Life.

That’s right I said EASE! After all it is only January  it’s never too late to do the right thing by your body. The reason most diets and exercise programs fail is people ask too much of themselves and expect to see results too soon. We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. Well, this story is not a classic for nothing. A killer diet coupled with a killer workout is a resolution killer. It’ll never work. Over my thirty-year career, having seen hundreds of these types of programs, including my own, fail, I’ve developed a method that works for virtually anyone.

Of course, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning this or any fitness program.

First, weigh in. You don’t need to tell anybody how much you weigh, but you need to know. One pound = 3500 calories. So, to lose a pound you have to either not eat, or exercise off 3500 calories. The right way is to do a combination of both. But start slowly and build up at your own pace. You need to break your goals up into small chewable bites.

Say you want to lose 20 pounds. Break that up into 5-pound increments.

And don’t try to lose 5 pounds in a week or two. The first 5 pounds is the hardest, so give yourself a full six weeks to lose it, while easing into a fitness program. After that you can safely lose about 1 pound a week.

Here’s how it works.

Get a notebook and write down everything you put in your mouth for the first week. Get a calorie book and look up everything you ate every day.  If you’re like most people, you’ll be shocked by how much food that is. Also look at your food labels. For instance, if your ingredients on your tomato sauce don’t look like this, you might want to consider switching brands.

You’ll be surprise how much sugar, saturated fat and just plain gunk you’ll find in unlikely food products like tomato sauce. Eat as much fresh food as you can.

Aerobic exercise carries tremendous health benefits. It also burns calories, boosts your metabolism and keeps you in a positive frame of mind. So, that first week, make it your business to do 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, every day.

The second week, eat everything you normally eat, but cut your portions in half.

Try to exercise 15 minutes a day. The week you first cut your portions down is usually the toughest. But it gets easier.

By week three you should be looking at the kinds of food you eat and trying to eliminate the empty calories; sugary soft drinks, salty snack foods, fat filled fast food etc. Start consuming smart calories .Try to substitute foods you actually like, foods with fewer calories that fill you up and have some nutritional value.

Try not to eat more than 1500 calories a day.

Gradually build up your aerobic exercise until you’re doing a half hour every day.

After six weeks you will be on a fitness program you can stick with and you’ll probably have lost your first five pounds.

You’ll be eating smarter, feel and look better, be healthier and more equipped to stick with it for the next 5 pounds and the next and the next.

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New Year New You: Top Ten Fitness Tips Mirabai Holland

New Year, New You; right? Well it is January again, and are you wondering if you can really stick with your New Year’s fitness resolutions? If getting in shape, and staying in shape is one of yours, it’s probably not the first time you’ve tried it. I’ve spent a lot of my career studying why fitness programs succeed or fail and developing methods to help people succeed. So, Happy New Year, here are my Top 10 Tips to help you ward off decrepitude.

New Year New You Top Ten Tips

•  Start slowly and go at your own pace. Staying in your comfort zone separates the pain from the gain. You’ll get the most benefit with the lowest risk of injury, especially if you’ve been inactive for some time.

•   Find the right kind of exercise for you. Choose activities you like or at least don’t hate. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as taking a brisk walk.

•   Pick a time of the day that is most convenient for you to exercise.  Try to stick with that schedule. Studies show that people who exercise at the same time every day are more likely to stick with it.

•  Before getting out of bed each day, take a moment to visualize yourself fit. Thinking of yourself as a fit person will help make it happen. Professional athletes do this daily.

•  Keep an exercise log. You’ll get a feeling of accomplishment when you stick to your program and will be able to chart your progress.

  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes with good support. Cotton is a breathable classic. But check out the super lightweight fabrics like cool-max that wick the sweat from your skin. When buying shoes, don’t feel weird about actually exercising in them in the store before plunking down the big bucks. I can’t tell you how many pairs of sneakers I have thrown against the wall before I learned this.

•   Exercise with a friend or family member. Supporting each other’s efforts helps keep you on track. One of my students loves to go mall walking with her friend in the early morning at speed and then coming back later for some retail therapy.

•   Music is a powerful motivator. Pick music you love that makes you want to move. There are fitness music companies that sell CDs and downloads with popular tunes played at specific beats per minute. They’ll tell you what speed works for particular types of exercise.

•   Consider professional guidance, especially if you’ve been inactive.  If you don’t want to join a gym or can’t afford a trainer, consider a beginner-level exercise video by a certified teacher so you’ll see the exercises demonstrated properly.

•   Set short-term, easily attainable goals, such as doing some form of exercise two or three days a week to start.  Change your goal when it becomes too easy.

It’s rare when anyone succeeds at anything right out of the gate. That’s why “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is a classic proverb. So if you fall off the wagon one day, just climb back on board the next. And remember you’re not a failure, you’re a success story in progress.

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New Year Fitness Resolutions: 5 Myths

Ease-in-Boot-StillNew Year Fitness Resolutions often fail!

Many of today’s fitness programs are all about the quick sell and even quicker results. Many are based on dangerous fitness myths.

To success in fulfilling those New Year  Fitness Resolutions here are 5 fitness myths to steer away from:

New Year Fitness Resolutions: Myth #1: Pain Equals Gain

It is a popular misconception that only when you feel the pain are you gaining anything from your workout.

“The “no pain, no gain” mentality contributes to more injuries and more burnout than any other fitness factor, especially among my age group (baby boomers). It is wiser to exercise sustainably over a longer term, than to push yourself to the breaking point.

New Year Fitness Resolutions: Myth #2: A Taskmaster Equals the Best Teacher

Reality Exercise Shows that have recently become popular portray drill-sergeant-style trainers as being the most effective fitness mentors.

While leveraging fear and using intimidation techniques may mean instant short-term fitness results, they’re sending the wrong message about how to get and stay fit for a lifetime. Attainable short-term goals and positive reinforcement are more likely to create good fitness habits that are sustainable for life

New Year Fitness Resolutions: Myth #3: Pumping up the Volume Equals Pumping up Your Physique

It seems some fitness instructors think screaming louder and blasting the bass is motivational. It’s time to think again.

While high-decibel workouts might be temporarily motivational, over time these techniques become draining and stressful leading to faster fitness burnout. Look instead for uplifting music and gentle coaching in your workouts.

New Year Fitness Resolutions: Myth #4: Fitness Equals a Fight Against Your Body

Sales pitches that encourage “shaving off the pounds” and busting your abs or your butt have solidified the image of fitness as a battle against your body.

Fighting is not a sustainable activity or philosophy. Instead, think of partnering with your body. Meet it where it is at right now and provide the environment and tools to reveal your body’s best potential. When you take this approach you are setting yourself up for success every step of the way.

New Year Fitness Resolutions: Myth #5: Force Equals Fit

Today’s popular exercise routines promote pounding your body into shape. But ancient fitness modalities, such as Yoga and Tai Chi had it right.

Fitness is not about pumping the most iron or performing the most reps, it is about teaching your body how to move efficiently, using all of your muscles groups, and sustaining these movements over time. Exercise including strength training should be approached as a gradual lifetime process. This way, exercise becomes a pleasure not a chore and you have a much better chance in having your New Year Fitness Resolutions succeed.

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Autumn Weight Loss PlanTAKE CHARGE OF YOUR HEALTH!

GET STRONG, LIVE LONG!

 

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Holiday Moderation: Bah, Humbug!

Holiday Moderation? Really.

It’s starting again. All that advice about how not to gain weight, how to reduce stress and how to stay on your fitness program during the holidays. Well good luck with that. For years I’ve been giving out advice of my own. Moderation I’ve always say, “Just take a little taste of everything”.

Exercise on holiday mornings. Huh? Well, I’m throwing up my hands this year, kind of.
I’m not going to tell you to just take a little taste of pie when you really want to eat the whole piece, nor to bypass that great stuffing that you only eat once a year. Life is short and this behavior is not the culprit anyway. The fact is holidays are a time to embrace life, be social and enjoy activities bordering on the excessive.
And when you come right down to it, it’s not what you do during the holidays, it’s what you do the rest year.

Holiday Moderation Tips:

So, if you really need to hear about holiday moderation in your daily life, here goes.
Know that every pound equals 3500 calories and all calories are not created equal. Some are more nutritious than others and some are downright empty. Try to make healthy food choices, watch your portion size and read your labels.
Get at least a half an hour of moderate exercise most days of the week.
Take a few minutes to do something for yourself, something you like, every day.
For instance, every morning when I get up, I kiss my cat.

If you’re already doing this then you’ve got nothing to worry about this holiday season.
If not, you have my humble suggestion for a New Year’s resolution.

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Wellness Mandala

Wellness: Life is a balancing act.
So I started thinking about wellness. What is wellness anyway?
It’s the absence of disease. If you are not sick you are well.
But it’s more than that isn’t it? It’s quality of life and for some it’s a balancing act; the balance of all things. I like this balance concept so I dug out one of my favorite balancing act tools:

Wellness Balancing Act Tool

The Mandala: the wheel of life. I wrote down all the types of wellness I could think of and ended up with 6 categories that I stuck on my Mandala to enable us to live well.

Here they are:
Physical Wellness
· Taking care of your body, eat right, exercise
· Visit your doctor regularly

Mental Wellness
· Keeping an open mind and trying to see other’s point of view
· Allowing your curiosity to take you to new places and learn new things.

Emotional Wellness
· Trying to keep a positive state of mind
· Cultivating self esteem
· Reaching out to others for support

Spiritual Wellness
· Recognizing your beliefs.
· Allowing your core values to direct your actions.

Social Wellness
· Developing positive inter-personal relationships at home and work
· Allowing yourself to give and receive love: to and from everyone that means that much to you including animals
· Participate in social situations; try not to stay on the sidelines.

Environmental Wellness
· Making your home environment peaceful, pleasant, safe and comfortable.
· Choosing an occupation and a workplace that doesn’t drive you nuts.
· Try to have a positive impact on our natural environment.
Recycle more, pollute less.

When the wheel is in balance it spins evenly. When even one of these categories is out of whack, the whole wheel starts to wobble.
So as a certified health coach I respectfully suggest you get rolling, get your balancing act together so you can live well.

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Triglycerides: Skinny On Your Hidden Fat

TriglyceridesTriglycerides Your Hidden Fat:

Triglycerides:  A too-thick waistline, plus high levels of a fat called triglycerides in the blood can greatly increase risk of coronary artery disease. Triglycerides are both produced by the body and ingested through the food you eat.

High triglyceride levels can increase your risk for heart disease and are more common among inactive people with larger waistlines. Normal triglyceride levels are below 150 mg/dL. The risk of developing coronary artery disease doubles when triglyceride levels are above 200 mg/dL.

Triglycerides are called the hidden fat because they are too often overshadowed by the highly publicized LDL bad cholesterol.

However triglycerides are above 200 mg/dL and “good” (HDL) cholesterol is below 40 mg/dL, a person is at four times the risk.

Triglycerides: How Aerobic Exercise Helps

Moderate aerobic exercise like walking a half hour at least five days a week can signicantly reduce the triglyceride levels in the blood as well as boost your HDL (good cholesterol). Burning 200 calories or so on that half hour walk doesn’t hurt either.

The study also showed that more intense exercise did help with belly fat but produced only half the triglyceride lowering results.

So my recommendation is: consult your doctor, find your triglycerides level and get clearance to exercise.

If it is elevated and belly fat is not an issue do moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking or cardio dance. If you also have extra belly fat, consider adding strength training exercise every other day to raise your metabolism and help your body burn more fat.

Don’t over do it. Ease-in. Start with a few minutes a day of something fun. Pleasure is the key to sustainability.

Couple this with a low fat diet and moderate alcohol consumption and you’ve got a recipe for better quality of life and maybe even a longer one.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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. Spring is coming 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 year when the weather gets warmer.  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

VIDEO:

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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