November 26, 2008
The first time I visited what is now MY church (as in “excuse me, that’s my seat, my parking space, my eggo”) I felt like I’d arrived home after a long trip.
First of all it was in a school auditorium so it wasn’t really a church, which has it’s appeal since the kind of praying I do is not the type that requires altars, stained glass windows or clerical collars. And I certainly didn’t look around to find the missing confessional booth.
And since my best praying is usually done in my car or, say, my bed in the middle of the night or while I’m unloading the dishwasher, I didn’t feel like anything was missing when I walked into this service that also had a rockin’ live band so good you looked around to see if there was a cover charge.
My husband didn’t come with me the first time because he has a hard time with plans that are not his idea so I was with my kids on my recon mission to find GOD. Although my hopes were not high after visiting lots of churches that made me sleepy, hungry and hankering for Starbucks, still, Il was intrigued.
The next few moments I remember like yesterday. The then fresh from Princeton Youth Minister, had gathered all the kids for a five minute pre“off-to-your-own Sunday-School”pep talk and I expected to use this time to make my grocery list in my head.
He distracted me though with the tube of Crest toothpaste he had in his hand. Hmmm.
He asked the kids how easy would it be to squeeze out some toothpaste onto a plate, which one lucky volunteer easily did. Splat.(ah the satisfaction of squeezing in the middle)
He then said “Okay, now put it back in.” All of us parents were now on board and watching where this could be going. His next sentence was the equivalent of the Sermon on the Mount in my book.
He said, “Kids,Words are like toothpaste. They are easy to spill out but almost impossible to take back. So watch what you say.”
Amen.He could’ve had the benediction right there and I’d have gotten my dose of God. I’d come home and didn’t even know I’d been gone.
What does this have to do with the health slash fitness rant you were expecting? Since my brain is capable of making far-stretching associations I realized (in bed last night in the middle of my 3am prayers) that the eating that goes on in the next few days, which for most people is the cumulative caloric equivalent of what other people in other countries eat in a month,
this feeding frenzy is the reverse match to the toothpaste analogy.
What you put in cannot easily be taken off.
Does that mean you can’t taste wonderful recipes and relax and enjoy?
No. It only means that just like toothpaste, where you usually need less than you think, and also with your words, where being concise is better than rambling on and on, try to eat just enough.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in my Workout World. Watch carefully what you eat, since it won’t come off nearly as easily
and it can’t hurt to watch your words as well.
November 24, 2008
I hate to be a nag. But weeks like this get me overly revved up. I feel like it’s early enough in the holiday season that none of us have fallen off the fitness spin wagon YET. There is still HOPE.
And if somehow, some way we can figure out how to manage ourselves and our eating and exercise, then there’s hope that we won’t end up another five ell-bees (lbs equal pounds) heavier come January.
If it were just five lbs it wouldn’t be a big deal but if the same thing happened last year then it will most likely happen again NEXT year and your metabolism is doing it’s aging/slow down/I used to be able to cut back but now the weight doesn’t budge thing
then keeping that extra weight off will be the easier route and let’s face it, never gaining it is more realistic than trying to lose it.
Like I often say, five minutes of eating can often (and at Thanksgiving I should say always) take five hours of exercise to burn off and no pumpkin pie ever tasted good enough to be worth jogging 20 miles (pecan pie, maybe).
And further more, no one ever wakes up the next morning regretting not having eaten more. Can you imagine? “Dammit. I don’t feel bloated enough and not a whiff of gas. I didn’t get second helpings of stuffing and I should’ve tried ALL of the pies. My rings still fit and what’s up with the scales? I still weigh the same? Next year I’m gonna eat MORE.”
Can we break the cycle? Can we eat on smaller plates? Start with the green beans and skip the sweet potato pie? Do we really need a roll just because they’re warm?Can we leave the serving dishes in the kitchen and use smaller serving spoons? Can we nicely say no thank you and not worry about offending the family food-pusher(every family has one- “Come on! Just one bite! You have to try this, I made it just for you!”)
Only consider this idea if you can close your eyes right now and think back to last year and tell me honestly that you were at no point nauseous or needing to unbutton your pants.
November 21, 2008
Have you had one or more days this week when your tank was more than topped off? By this I mean that you ate until you were overfull, beyond the point of comfort? Every time I go to a restaurant at least one person at my table ends the meal by saying, “I ate too much.” Firstly I can’t be friends with, let alone go out to dinner with, anyone who isn’t predisposed to this tank-topping tendency, it goes hand in hand(or should I say bite to bite) with being social. I also have a soft spot in my heart for adults who still get brain-freeze from drinking frozen drinks too fast. My husband holds the world record for brain-freeze headaches from straw sucking or should I call it vaccuming. His gulping makes me slow down, as well as laugh and since laughing makes a man sexier, I never mind. Also there’s nothing worse than dining with someone who picks at their food but that’s another rant.
Back to the hidden dangers of overeating. The scary news is that overeating, especially if it’s a regular habit (regular means you overeat at least once a week. If you overeat every day or go to bed stuffed every night,
then imagine that what I say next is written in CAPS just for you).
Overeating produces free radicals in your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause accelerated aging.
Here’s another trick question. Do you overexercise on a regular basis? By this I mean that you exercise for sixty minutes plus or have muscle soreness after a workout. If you do this regularly, it produces a significant amount of oxidative stress, whether your workout feels good or not.
And oxidative stress results from the production of free radicals.
Usually, I say that more is better when it comes to exercise but often, and this was true for me when I experienced hip arthritis and had to have both hips replaced, more was not better.
So should you eat less at each meal? Only if you want to live as long as possible and look as good as possible while living it.
Also, should you exercise less? Not necessarily if you are feeling no limiting side effects. Here’s a quick check, can you reach down and effortlessly tie your shoe? or jump up from the soccer sidelines and throw the ball back in if it comes your way? or run up the stairs two at a time? These all indicate ease of movement.
But even if you feel your best, you are still definitely producing free radicals which will have the opposite effect on your body that you are aiming for with exercise, which I assume is to be healthier (not just thinner, harhar).
The way to counteract the aging effects of free radicals is to stabilize them. How do you do that? Antioxidants, of course and thank you for asking.
Eating more leafy green veggies and dark purple fruits in a balanced, low glycemic diet, eating mini-meals rather than tank-toppers, taking a multi-vitamin, and extra vitamin D will all help but the show stopping news, in my workout world, is about the new super fruits and how they can help us not just feel better but look better to boot.
According to the smart doctors at Canyon Ranch, they’ve introduced the new science of aging which deals with an area called nutrigenomics, the notion that food is information that speaks to our genes and turns on messages that create health OR illness.
According to Dr Mark Hyman,MD,
nutrigenomics factors in stress, nutrition, hormonal balance, the balance in our gut, and the importance of detoxification and food.
Nutrigenomics says food is our medicine and that good health is as far away as the bottom of our fruit bowl. But who can eat 14 servings of fruit which is often the amount of antioxidant supply needed to stabilize our average daily free radical output? Talk about tank topping.
This is where my new crush on the Acai Berry comes in. The acai berry has an antioxidant capacity that is off the charts compared to all other fruits and after researching the many acai products out there, I’ve put my bets on MonaVie, only because this company has a patent on the flash freeze-dry process that ensures that what you are drinking still has all the nutrients that the berry had when it was growing on top of the tree in the Amazon rain forest where it built up all of it’s antioxidant capabilities as a natural response to the Brazilian sun beating down on it.
The reason people feel so radically better when drinking acai juice is because of nutrigenomics. Healthy food in general and the acai berry specifically illicits a dramatic, therapeutic response that helps us decrease inflammation (by stabilizing free radicals)and therefore feel better, with no side effects unless you count all the positive ones, like more energy, sleeping better, improved skin among many other improvements that sound too crazy to list here.
Sometimes I feel like a cross between a cheerleader (Bring it on!!!!) and a crossing guard (slow down and look both ways) but we know more now about aging better than ever before and there’s no time to waste.Good Health is the New Sexy and feeling better is sexy enough for me.
Email me if you want more info on MonaVie Acai Juice.
November 17, 2008
Here’s my 74th Canyon Ranch Health Tip:
at your next physical, ask for a CRP test.
This stands for
A CRP test measures the degree of INVISIBLE inflammation in your body, long before inflammation shows up on the more traditional tests that screen for things like cholesterol.
In bodily terms, think of inflammation as an insidious, smoldering fire that can secretly build up and run amok in your body, causing or worsening the start of most age-related diseases like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Let’s not forget arthritis, which begins with inflammation in the body, mainly the joints. Inflammation is also a culprit in autoimmune diseases like allergies and digestive disorders.
Any doctor will say that these diseases age us.
What they don’t usually tell us is that we can have control whether we get these diseases and therefore, how quickly we age. Our key to aging slower is to control our inflammation and therefore keep our immune system in balance.
Smart new science has shown that all age related diseases start with an overactive immune system.
So if you keep your immune system in balance you can age more slowly and avoid cancer, heart attack, diabetes and Alzheimer’s because studies have linked these age-related diseases with an overactive immune system.
You cannot die of cancer if it cannot make it past your immune system. You will not have a heart attack if the plague does not build up on your arterial walls. Arthritis will not cripple you if your immune system does not directly assault your joints.
Yes, genetics and family history play a small role but your lifestyle is much more predictive of aging better so the good news is that HOW QUICKLY WE AGE IS LARGELY WITHIN OUR CONTROL!
Maybe you are content with the speed of your aging. I don’t know, maybe you wake up feeling younger as you get older(!!) but if you are like me and would like to put the brakes on (or even reverse) the aging process there are things you can do to stay younger for longer.
One thing is to floss. Plague that builds up in your mouth can travel directly into you gut and contribute to inflammation which is directly correlated with plaque (get it? Tooth plaque/heart plaque?)build up in the arteries. People that have heart attacks more often than not have never flossed!
Another tool is exercise. Have you broken a sweat in the last 2 days? This helps keep your immune system in balance in a way that keeps you feeling young.
But the biggest key on your anti-aging keychain is diet and nutrition. Have you ever heard of NCR?
NCR stands for Nutrient-To-Calorie Ratio and refers to making sure that food is as high in nutrients and as low in calories as possible so that you get food that is as chock full of usuable energy with the least amount of calories as possible. So a McDonald’s Milkshake would have low NCR because it is high in calories and low in nutritional value, same with most candy and junk food.
Some examples of eating high NCR foods are eating a piece of whole fruit instead of drinking fruit-flavored beverages, eating green vegetables instead of potatoes, and snacking on nuts instead of chips.
But the grand daddy of all NCRs is (you knew I was getting to this) Acai juice. Two swallows of this fruit juice (which actually tastes good) has the antioxidant equivalent of 13-14 servings of fruits and veggies, plus heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and esterified fats as well as plant steryls. Plus it only has 30 calories per ounce. Talk about triple-coupons!
Now, fruits and vegetables are wonderful but I don’t think I could eat 14 servings in one day and it’s impossible to get that nutritive value in that small of a serving. This means the Acai juice NCR is off the charts as far as bang for your anti-aging buck.
That is why Oprah featured it on her show as the number one new superfood and why I felt a big improvement in my energy level and exercise performance and why I keep beating the Brazilian Rain Forest Drum of MonaVie.
There is tremendous value (and it will be improvements that you will actually be able to feel in your body in a week or two)in adding these small changes to help you slow down or even halt the speed of your own body’s aging process and
to decrease your chances of ever having to deal with the C–word.
November 14, 2008
People (and by people I mean all women) people have a magic number. It’s that number on the scale that is just on the OTHER side of the gulf (on the count of three, let’s all shout out our magic number,1-2-3!) You know the gulf. It’s the 5,10 or 50 (fill in the number) pound gulf between where you are and where you want to be.
Most people(and by most people I mean most women) the gulf is like the difference between a passing grade and an “F”, between Harvard and The Belmont County Branch Of Ohio U, between third base and all the way, between being nominated and actually winning.
And most always, the gulf is wider than it needs to be, with the other side being more beyond reach than it needs to be. The other side is often unrealistic (thank you Uma and Anjelina) and I’ve also noticed that the magic number is usually a few “el bees”(get it? Ell bees-lbs)below one’s “set point.”
Set point is where your body likes to be, weight-wise. It’s the poundage that your body gravitates towards even when Thanksgiving dinner is served on manhole covers disguised as plates or an evening alone with an open sleeve of Oreo cookies. It is your stasis. Your set point is often where you have to battle to go below. You often discover the definition of the word “plateau”when you try to challenge your set point. You could be clipping along on a diet or exercise routine, steadily losing one or two el bees a week. Then, screeeech!!!! You get within a biceps reach of your goal weight and you stop losing. You practically have to switch to only celery sticks and run marathon type mileage to go below your set point. (Actually I’ve seen women running marathon type distances and still be stuck at their set point).
What’s a girl to do? Two things. Number one is to think hard about your magic number and your set point and the gulf between the two and see if you can somehow, some way
Reconcile the two. (I can hear the deceptively quiet, yet Nazi-like voice in some of your heads, refusing to let go of say, 116 or is it 122? Or maybe 129?)
Can you consider the possibility of inventing a new magic number? Would it be ridiculous to have the old set point be the new black? The new magic number?
On a side note, do you know the feeling that makes you think that your stomach shrunk after a few days of the flu or eating less? Well, that’s not really your stomach shrinking. The nerves that detect fullness actually recalibrate to detect fullness with less food so you FEEL full with less food. Same size stomach. Different sensation.
So if your gut can do THAT without you having to think it to make it happen, then surely you can do the same type of mental recalibration with your scales. Can you decide to detect less criticism with a higher number?
The next question is what happens when you mentally recalibrate?
You stop fighting something immutable. Fighting to get to a magic number (or worse, simply feeling self-loathing at the thought of not weighing your magic weight) is like fighting high tide. At a certain point (this is where the word “wisdom” comes in) you (hopefully) realize that it’s smarter to turn on your back and float or maybe dog-paddle. I’m not recommending sinking, mind you. Or drowning. Just going with the flow. Just facing what is and working with it rather than against it.
Geriathletes like me usually like to try the never-before-attempted. All my life I’ve taken chances and attempted the, maybe not impossible, but more like the highly unlikely. I used to drive on an Empty tank, I used the men’s room if my bladder was full enough and the coast was clear enough and I drank the milk without checking the expiration date, not that a past due date would’ve stopped me from taking a swig. But at a certain Nora Ephron phase of my life, wisdom started whispering to me (in my mother’s tone of voice) saying things like “maybe you should gas up”, “pee before you get in the car”, “have a glass of water instead.”
Think about it. Hoping to get to a magic number that was imprinted in your brain long before pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and supersize is like the kind of praying you do after you’ve spun the roulette wheel.
Which brings me to my last point which is you need to stop hoping and
If you have a GPS system in your car you know that in order to get anywhere, you have to program in your final destination. Any fitness regime worth it’s weight in dumbbells needs to do the same. Pick a long-term goal (closer to your new magic number,hey! Look! It’s your old set point!) and a long-term date, break it down into weekly goals then daily goals, the minutes.
And just get STARTED on your way.
Never give up.
Never give up does not mean fighting to maintain a weight that your metabolism refuses to maintain. Never give up refers to dedication and commitment over the long haul. One week of workouts becomes two. Then a month goes by. You feel better. Your jeans fit better.And so on.
You get the picture.
So start recalibrating your brain about your weight by starting to notice how you feel about where you are now and where you WANT to be.
Mentally try to let go, without letting yourself go. And don’t just talk the talk, Jog the jog.
November 11, 2008
There was an interesting article in the New York Times last week about problems with a type of hip replacement called hip resurfacing which was just approved by the FDA a few years ago. . Hip resurfacing (basically a total hip replacement designed to preserve more bone by cutting the bone up higher on the neck of the femur rather than below the ball- you don’t really wanna know, it’s basically carpentry) but hip resurfacing has become more common and is sometimes recommended for younger, more active hip replacement patients.
But research has recently shown that there is a high rate of failure with the procedure when it’s done on middle aged women. Guess what that means? The integrity of women’s bones diminishes as we approach and pass through menopause so their hips fracture or the cup slips due to lack of bone integrity.
Also my friend Karen who is battling breast cancer was recently getting a bone density screening for her upcoming round of radiation.
She thought for sure that at age 47 and having been an excellent, life-long “weight-bearer”-meaning that she has always exercised by running- this is a major factor on bones remaining strong. Anyone who has ever had a cast on their leg for months can see how a limb shrivels if it does not bear weight.
Anyway, she was shocked to learn that she has borderline osteoporotis which is a thinning of the bone where the skeleton becomes less dense and is prone towards all kinds of problems like breakage, arthritis and pain. Part of this is from her chemo regime but perhaps a calcium supplement could’ve avoided this extreme depletion of bone strength.
A further complication that women face is that females can only maintain or lose bone density as we age. That means you can never get it back.
Of course, there are a few Osteoporosis drugs that can build back some bone like Fosamax (Sally Field advertises for it) but they come with a long list of negative side effects, including pain, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, hypertension etc. And a recent study has found that Fosamax – may actually be responsible for causing femur fractures. The warning label is enough to scare the most eager pill-popper.
What should we do? There are a few natural things we can incorporate into our lifestyle. We should be getting daily weight-bearing exercise. Also aim to get a half-hour of daily sunshine on our forearms for the Vitamin D, especially during the winter months. I like this assignment. It sounds like something that I could accomplish pleasurably if I sat down near the kitchen window with my lunch and the newspaper.
When I asked my doctor friend, Rosemarie,
what else she recommends, she said this:
“All women over the age of thirty, particularly those who have had children (because developing skeletons rob your skeleton of calcium stores) should be on calcium daily!!!!”
Those four exclamations points are hers.
I know I said it last week, but have your Vitamin D level checked next time you get your physical.
For good measure, I take Viactiv, which is a chocolate chew that you can get at any drugstore.
Take two chews every day to get a 1000 milligrams but take them at least four hours apart since more than 500 milligrams cannot be absorbed at once. Or get the calcium fortified OJ, since Vitamin C aides in the absorption of calcium.
Little lifestyle changes you make today can have a serious impact on how you hold up as senior citizens so start strengthening those bones today so they keep you upright for the duration.
November 7, 2008
I think I have early onset seasonal affective disorder.
We changed our clocks back from Daylight Savings Time last week and it’s just after four o’clock and it’s getting dark outside.
The only time I’ve ever appreciated this transition to shorter days was when my kids were babies.
I was the Queen of Beddie-Bye. Back then, I actually looked forward to the early arrival of evening. I remember sometimes having my three babes tucked into bed for the night by 5:10pm, the world record for overwhelmed moms.
But things change.
Now that they are teens, my “babies” get a second wind at about 9:45pm and let’s just say I really don’t need an extra hour of darkness anymore.
Speaking of darkness, we now have a very real health related darkness problem. I first heard of this issue at, where else, but brilliant doctors on staff at
Since the advent of sunscreen usage many people (and Canyon Ranch estimates the number of people to be nearly 70%of Americans!) have developed a Vitamin D deficiency.
And it gets worse.
I hate to break this to you
but there is a conclusive, growing body of evidence about the potential link between lack of Vitamin D and risk for certain cancers and diseases.
Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least seventeen varieties of cancer (!!)as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more!
This is especially a concern for people with black skin or people over the age of seventy, neither of which convert vitamin D effectively.
The Canadian Cancer Society has gone so far as to issue a recommendation that Canadians consider adding a vitamin D supplement when Daylight Savings Time ends (and it is darker for a greater portion of the day).
You get your vitamin D from one of three sources: sunlight, fortified dietary foods, especially dairy products, some cereals and oily fish like salmon.
The radiation that converts vitamin D in the skin is the same wavelength that causes sunburn, so those of you who are religious about application of sunscreen (even if it’s just 15 SPF!) can drastically impair vitamin D production. It just ain’t fair!
If you live in the northern latitudes, there is not enough radiation to convert vitamin D into a usable nutrient, especially during the winter.
What to do?
Check with your doctor first,
but if you typically avoid sunlight exposure, research indicates a necessity to supplement with at least 5,000 units (IU) of vitamin D daily. The US government recommends only 200 IU a day! It is my humble opinion that this is an outdated guideline that was based on Vtiamin D not being a water-soluable vitamin that could possibly build up in the body to toxic levels. This was prior to the sunscreen era. Tell me now that federal nutritional guidelines aren’t in need of an overhaul.
To give you an idea of how much 5000 IUs of vitamin D is, it is equal to 50 glasses of milk. With a multivitamin, that’s more than 10 tablets.
The skin produces approximately 20,000 IUs of vitamin D from twenty to thirty minutes of summer sun exposure on your forearms and face—100 times more than the US government’s recommendation of 200 IU per day!
What to do? Get your vitamin D level checked at your next physical.
It’s a $20 to $30 test. Just don’t load up on vitamin D because it still can be toxic at mega doses if you are not deficient.
I’m moving to Brazil.
If it weren’t enough incentive that I’ve just become obsessed with getting everyone I know who has an ache or pain (or seasonal affective disorder) to try the Brazilian Acai berry juice, I do think I could benefit from the sunlight.
And now that I have conclusive medical science to back me up, does anyone know if the Brazilian Rain Forest has good beaches?
November 5, 2008
• It’s good for you.
• It makes you feel like you are doing something worthwhile.
• You might not want to take the time to do it but you always feel better after you do it
• Some people don’t get excited about it at all. Others wish they could do it several times in one day.
• Some people think they’ll never recover if they don’t get exactly what they wanted out of it. But they do.
• The more you do it the more you want to do it. The less you do it the less you want to do it. Some rare people have never done it in their entire lives. And don’t want to either.
• Sometimes you do it for yourself. Sometimes you do it for your loved ones. Sometimes you do it because you think it will bring you change.
• You can do it alone or with many people.
• It’s free.
• You can do it in any town but usually you do it in your hometown.
• You can bring your dog with you but he usually has to wait outside until you’re done.
• Sometimes it makes you feel really great. Occasionally it can make you ecstatic. Mostly it’s just routine.
• Most people prefer to do it in private but some like an audience.
• If you do it right, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
• If you are lucky it gets you the results that you’ve dreamed of.
November 2, 2008
I like to think of DST changes, both in the spring and in the fall, as a time to switch up your workout, much in the same way that many people switch their smoke alarm batteries.
The “Fall Back” is an especially opportune time to add or change a morning exercise plan because you will surely wake up, maybe like me, thinking “Wow, I’m not late” all of this week. It’s the only time of year I wake up BEFORE my alarm and feel refreshed and unruffled,everyone’s lunch’s get packed ,no one misses the bus for sure and I may even get to sit down for breakfast
At our gym, I encourage my 6am class takers to bring a friend to the early classes this week because getting in the car to go work out (when it is light) is so much easier than in the dark.
Consider adding a morning walk or even some floor calisthenics. Your dog will love this part.
Commit for one week and see if you can use the jump start of the end of DST to make it easier.
If exercise were a pill, we’d all be addicted. It’d be the oxycontin for everything. We’d wreck our lives to get a refill. Insurance would not cover it because we’d put them out of business by fixing most age-related illnesses that keep those companies rolling in the money.
Think about it!
Also, exercise is an especially effective medicine to give yourself in the morning. You will have more energy,be more awake,productive and your day will go better.
Did I mention that exercise is FREE???
So,If anyone in your family asks you what you are doing on the living room floor doing crunches, as they step over you on their way to the coffee pot, tell them you are trying to become an addict.
Maybe you can get them hooked,too