SEIZE THE MOMENT

SEIZE THE MOMENT I don’t think I am being presumptuous in saying we all desire to be healthy; we all want to be strong and fit and feel good. Everyone wants to grow older with the use and the capacity to be mobile and able-bodied.

Recognizing this, what stops us from accomplishing this relatively simple task? What stops this course of action in your life? Maybe you started a “program” and then stopped (many times)? Or maybe you just let things go altogether but you think about creating a healthier life style? Why don’t you?

I am not pointing a figure at anyone and I am certainly not going to cast the first stone. If it makes you feel any better (and it won’t), according to the World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. Obesity is a bigger (pun intended) health crisis globally than hunger. Our culture is getting fatter and unhealthier and no one likes it, yet we continue on this path. If we know something is creating discontentment and poor health, and we also know that by changing some of our actions and by doing some things like exercise and improving our eating will make us happier and healthier why don’t we do it? It is so frustrating and maddening how we are at times.  I have been trying to figure this out. How can we “fix” this dilemma?  What are the magic words to help others and myself? I am not sure but I have come up with some ideas to offer.

This is what is not: There are no magic words, there are no simple solutions, there is no amazing diet or any miracle exercise programs or pill or gadgets or anything you can buy. But what there is, is you!  You and every part of of you, your mind, your body, your heart and your soul, nothing more and nothing less!

I think fear gets in our way and that is when we come up with excuses and reasons why we cannot do what it is we really want to do. At times of clarity and strength we can see and feel the changes we want to be and then… bam something stops us. So infuriating isn’t it? We see others make changes that we hope to make in ourselves, it seems seemingly simple from that view point. But what we don’t experience is their fear and the resistance and the doubt that life-changing goals come with.

Maybe the best way to deal with these fears is to walk right up to them, stare at them and then move right through them like they don’t exist. Strength and belief in yourself, in your power, because you are very powerful and that in itself is a bit scary but once you give yourself permission to feel your own unique strength you will experience a sense of liberation and self respect. Facing our fears robs them of their powers.  This experience comes moment by moment. It is not always about getting somewhere. Goals are great and helpful but goals are only achieved by each step along the way.  It does mean building incrementally; the challenge is in the moment and in the moment after that. Remember a “journey of a thousand mile journey begins with a single step” (Laozi).  When you hear the self-talk that is self-defeating similar to “oh I use to be…” or “if I could only be…” and so on that is you leaving the moment and letting your fear get in the way. Step back and observe your mind as it offers many excuses for not taking action. This is your opportunity to take that walk through the fear.

 

It is the opportunity to making those life changing choices that give you the satisfaction and feel of success. It is as simple as ordering a meal at a restaurant, reaching for a healthy snack when you are hungry or putting your shoes on to walk out the door for a hike or walk. Each moment you choose to act in the positive life changing ways that you desire, you are choosing an action that will dissolve the fears you cling to. Try to quiet that noise and get back to You! By finding this strength you will get to enjoy the place live in – your body.

By Janice B Gaines BS LMT

 

TO HAVE THE FLU SHOT OR NOT

  As of writing this article I am presently recovering from THE FLU, and I mean the flu not a cold.  I am sure I have had the flu before in my life but to tell you the truth I do not recall such a profound experience. After the first few days of suffering I found myself googling influenza to learn more and about this infectious disease. I was also thinking about the fact that I did not get my flu shot this year and I have in past years. I wondered if that is why I go the flu or would I have gotten anyways?

In 1918 influenza virus caused a pandemic that killed about 50 to 100 million people in about a year’s time worldwide, making it the largest human disaster known.  Influenza viruses weren’t known to exist in 1918, so there is no direct information about the virus and it is still a big medical mystery that is to this day being studied. Now we understand that the influenza viruses are known to circulate continuously and they cause small outbreaks every winter. And with great regularity, new forms of the virus arise in the population and spread throughout the world very quickly and with modern modes of transportation travel is faster than ever.  The influenza virus is very clever, like a chameleon they can change their coats, so that what was going around last year is not the same as this year. These mutations tend to be sort of slow and steady but occasionally there can be a dramatic change that occurs in which an entirely new kind of influenza virus emerges. It is termed a recombinant, which is a mixture of genes of two different influenza viruses and it would be so different that no one on earth would have any kind of immunity and would be allowed to spread like wildfire throughout the population. Presumably this scenario for a pandemic, and there have been four them in the last one hundred years, 1918, 1957, 1968 and in 2009 the Swine Flu epidemic.

The good news is we are in much better off than we were in 1918. Research and technology has made it so we can keep a close eye on world health. Health care has come a long way as well as drugs that inhibit virus replication. We also now have (since the early 1930s), created a vaccine, which currently is the greatest weapon we have against the influenza virus.

The first documented idea of vaccinations was in 1721 with the introduction of an inoculation (placing a small amount of a substance to boost immune response), during the smallpox epidemic. There has been overwhelming success from large-scale vaccination campaigns. Smallpox which once killed one in 7 children, polio is nearly eradicated and a number of other less known diseases like meningitis.  There are influenza surveillance centers around the world monitoring the influenza strains for trends year-round. This data is collected and new mutations are identified. The World- Health Organization (WHO) is then responsible for selecting three strains that they believe will continue to circulate and from this point the development and production of the vaccine begins. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states:  “an annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the seasonal flue and spread it to others.” Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infections with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

There has been strong disagreement every since vaccinations began in the 18th century. The first arguments against this practice of inoculations was religious based, many argued that diseases are sent by God to punish sin and that any attempt to prevent was seen as a “diabolical operation”. Now many sectors of the population present a worthy argument against the vaccine. Reasons vary from it being dangerous, non-effective and there is the position of individual liberty.

Unfortunately there are studies that show the performance of the vaccine in healthy adults is not producing the kind of results that the WHO and CDC hopes for but even with marginal results the public health organizations continue to push for widespread influenza vaccinations as the most effective means of prevention. The debate will go on for years, so it comes down for each of us to make up our own mind about whether to get that shot – or not.

Janice B Gaines BS LMT

BORED?

Ask Janice BORED?

It’s time to get back in the gym, summer is over and the rain is on its way or already here depending on when you read this. If you get going now you will be way ahead of the winter blues.

As a reminder (like you need it), here is the short list with the reasons why your body and your mind needs to exercise:

  1. Exercise controls weight
  2. Exercise combats health conditions and disease
  3. Exercise improves mood
  4. Exercise boosts energy
  5. And so and so on……

I can hear you now; “I would go to the gym but you just don’t like it”. Boy do I wish I had a dollar for the all the times I have heard these words:  “I just get bored in the gym” or “I know I should lift weights but I just don’t like it – it bores me.”   And this is the topic I want to address.

Bored? “What does that mean? Psychology boredom is a state of mind in which a person feels a lack of interest in where they are and what they are doing. Boredom means a problem or failure with a commitment of attention. Philosophically boredom is a condition characterized by one’s perception of the environment or task as dull and tedious. Boredom is essentially an issue with attention and awareness and in a sense this is how we connect with the world around us and this is a choice we make. When we choose to be bored we chose not to be successful. If you covet boredom and allow yourself to flounder in it than your ability to do whatever the task at hand is will not be done with any joy or success.

All too often I see people dispassionately lifting weights or doing their exercise program, chatting away, lifting a weight in-between a round of texting or reading a newspaper,  anything to not be present. No wonder so many people tell me they find the gym boring – I would be too, if I spent my time as they did.

Without the mental connection or the emotional investment in what you are doing you are destined for boredom and disappointment. It may seem a bit harsh but exercise is exactly like life, if you muddle your way through with little focus you will get exactly that- MEH!

For me, however when I go to the gym or workout (not every single time but mostly), I feel a renewed sense of joy and excitement. This is a private time (or with friends that feel the same way), to attune my mind and connect with my body-my muscles whether it is my heart, lungs, legs or upper body. It is an opportunity to feel the genesis of growth and circulation.

Practice being present: when you walk into the gym, get on the treadmill, lift weights – stop for a moment, take a deep breath, observe, determine your goals for the day and pay attention. Turn your focus to where you want to go, start practicing and strengthening the muscle of determination and choice. If you choose to want to strengthen your body and improve your overall health then get started.  Expect yourself to achieve results and in order to do that you must engage fully. What would you tell your kid if they were studying a math problem or practicing an instrument? Would you tell them to “go ahead turn on the TV, talk to your friends, do whatever you want just so you don’t have to pay attention to what you are trying to accomplish?” No you would not, so why would you allow yourself to be that way? Once you get started on this concept to fitness you will find it gets easier and momentum will take over and the happiness of feeling more fit will start to quiet the internal mind chatter and the desire for distraction.

The choice is yours and once you decide and commit you will be successful!

Janice B Gaines BS LMT

Fitness/ Health Trainer

 

 

A New Kind of New Year's Resolution

Ask JaniceA NEW KIND OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION This New Year I would like to suggest a different kind of resolution. Instead of thinking of ways in which you can improve yourself, I suggest make a resolution that each day you do a random act of kindness and work towards improving someone else’s life. Our New Year’s resolutions are often born from thoughts and feelings about ourselves; things we don’t like and want to change. I have noticed in my own life that when I am feeling bad it is easier for me to act in ways that are not so good for me, like eating the wrong things or drinking or other ways that actually can make me feel worse. I also have noticed that when I do something good for someone else especially during those hard times I feel better. As a massage therapist and fitness/health trainer for almost 3 decades there has been many times I have not felt like working because I was sad or mad about something in my own life but being work and having that responsibility I had to continue and to my amazement and gratefulness I would start feeling better almost as soon as I started either doing a massage and helping someone else out with their problems. You see we are all struggling and we all share the same challenges, the more we reach out to help others the better our own lives will be. There was a study (you knew I would quote a study), published in which participants were asked to behave helpfully toward another person for just a few minutes a day. After six months, participants reported a much greater self-esteem and happiness than those in the control group. Not only is doing good deeds sure to spike your happy meter, but more and more research proves there are physical benefits, too. Studies have found that people who make a habit of helping others report better health than those who don’t, and seniors who do volunteer work may actually live longer. In 1890 William James (brother to author Henry James) wrote a two-volume magnum opus The Principles of Psychology and is still required reading for students of behavioral science. James paid attention to the relationship between emotion and behavior. Conventional wisdom tells us that your emotions cause you to behave in certain ways. James became convinced that this commonsense view was unfinished and he proposed a new theory which took 6 decades to become accepted. He hypothesized that the relationship between behavior and feelings is a two-way street. By changing behaviors you can change feelings. As Aristotle said “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I found an article written by Dr Oz and DR Rozien, they explain that when people give to others, whether it be money, time, or some other act of kindness, they experience a rush of endorphins similar to a runner’s high. Even just thinking about helping people can boost positive emotion, strengthen your immune system, reduce stress, and decrease pain. In one study 20 percent of the people lost weight after they started volunteering. . Creating small acts of kindness is behaviors that can improve your feelings of self. It has been scientifically proven to have therapeutic that it can help those with depression disorders. On Friday December 14th we as a nation had our breath knocked out of us. The grief is more than words can describe and it is almost beyond our abilities to know what to do or even begin to breathe again. A suggestion made by the wife of the Rabbi in Sandy Hook CT appeals to me. “What we need is a good flood - a flood of kindness, of caring, of compassion, of goodness, of warmth, of benevolence, of support, of reaching out. There are, thank G-d, enough of us on this planet to make sure that not one human being ever feels lost. We need a Flood of connections. Not just the trickles that come from time to time, but everywhere, all the time. We need to be at least as aware of the ecology of human behavior as we are of the ecology of the physical resources of the planet. It has to penetrate all aspects of our world - the worlds of business, the media, education, culture, science, the arts, medicine - we need a flood, a good flood. Every single one of us has to know that we can make a difference, and we need to put serious thought to how we can best do that.”

ASK JANICE

THE HOLIDAY GIFT YOU DON’T WANT We all know about the holiday weight gain syndrome; they say “10 to 15lbs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s”. I wanted to find out if that was really true, so I did some fact checking. In my research I came across some pretty alarming “statistics” about the average American’s holiday-season weight gain. I found reports of everything from 3 to 20 lbs. Howe

ver what I did not see was any actual scientific data to back such numbers up. One should always check the resource! Holiday Weight Gain Facts: There are only a small handful of real studies that have actually gone to the trouble of methodically and scientifically measuring holiday weight gain trends in American, the findings suggestion us some good news and bad news. Good news first: it appears we tend to gain only about 1lb. of body weight during the holiday season on average. This figure comes from a highly respected and cited research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study followed 165 racially diverse people whose average age was 39 and whose average weights reflected those found in the general U.S. population, from the pre-holiday period through the post-holiday period. Now for the bad news: what we do gain during those magical 7 weeks is a gift that does not go away in January. This study and other respected studies suggest that this seemingly harmless holiday gain of just 1lb may add up over the course of years and contribute to the bigger (pun intended) problem: the upward creep”. In addition the studies show that those whom start the holiday already on the heavy side end up with more like a 5lb gain. There is more; when we look closer at the research we see a trend in body compositional change; meaning the results of holiday indulgences lead to higher fat mass and a decrease in lean body tissue, the consequences of which contribute lowering metabolism. So you see even though one may not gain very much weight from Turkey day to January 1, some other things change and can be a bit sneaky. The 1lb holiday weight gain syndrome is of real concern. We have all heard ourselves say and we have heard our friends say it. Every year we get fatter and fatter, but often we don’t feel like we can put our fingers right on the source. So I am going to make a suggestion (I am sure you knew that was coming). I am not going to suggest that you should not eat any goodies over the holidays or even over indulge once or twice. I try to practice what I preach and I personally enjoy the holidays and all the wonderful fares and treats. I would hate to miss that. Family and friends gathering around food and sprites is delightful. I want you to enjoy the holidays but I also want you to start 2013 feeling good. Decide now to enroll these guideline and we you do just fine.GOOD ADVICE FOR THE HOLIDAYS 1. Drink Lots of Water: water naturally helps you not eat much, sleep better, process food and being hydrated burns more fat. 2. Eat Slowly and Appreciate: take a deep breath and control your excitement when you see all those goodies. 3. Do Not Skip Meals: this messes with your metabolism and leads you to overeating at the next meal. 4. Protein and Simple Carbs: If you are going to “pig-out” reach for the proteins and the simple carbs. 5. Workout in the Morning: (or anytime you can), but if you work out in the morning you will perk up your metabolism for the whole day. I have an annual tradition of a harder than average workout on the big eating days of the holidays. I remember back when I worked at Gold’s gym in Portland, one of my most favorite workouts was the morning of Thanksgiving. I would walk into the gym and the energy was fantastic and every treadmill or elliptical was taken, you had to wait in line and everyone was just having a blast. So go for a long walk or hike or jog, get those engines revving. You can add weight training to build muscles; they increase your metabolism even more. 6. Friends: Hook up with some friends and make it a group effort. More the merrier! Lastly happy holidays!

FALL IS IN THE AIR; LET’S GO FOR A WALK!

ASK JANICE This time of year is the “primo” time of year for getting outside, taking a deep breath and going for a walk. Summer and all its commotions are over and winter is just around the corner.

Time to slow down a bit and be reflective and maybe think about how you want to end 2012 with some new habits and begin 2013 with a healthy bang.

 

Taking in the colors of autumn has continuously been one of life’s simplest pleasures. Here on the Oregon Coast we have great fall colors, maybe not as they do inland but what we do have some of nature’s other magic. Fall offers particular tones of light and the distinctive way it falls (pun intended), through the trees and across the ocean. The coast also offers an amazing air quality and there is something extraordinary about it this time of year. The combination of these three characters offers an amazing gift of nature that is so accessible and affordable to us. All we have to do is walk out the door.

Beside the pure mental therapy of going for a walk this time of year there are some fantastic health benefits. Wow all that for the low price of $0.

 

The consequences of walking!

  • Walking is a mode of transportation that gets you from one place to another.
  • Walking is easy and you can do it alone or with friends.
  • You will be healthier mentally and physically.
  • Improves your sex life. J

 

Harvard Research says: “Later in life, walking becomes as much an indicator of health as a promoter of it. After age 65, how fast you walk may predict how long you have to live. Walking, or gait, has long been recognized as a proxy for overall health and has been measured in many studies. Researchers have found a remarkably consistent association between faster walking speed and longer life.” This statement was made because a number of studies done. One study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published Jan. 5 2011; issue of The Journal of the American Medical association found a remarkably consistent association between faster gait speed and longer life. They calculated that people with gait speeds of 1 meter per second or faster lived longer than would be expected given their age of gender. (1 meter/second is equal to 2.2 miles/hour. That is just a bit slower than the speed needed to cross the street at most timed traffic lights.)

So does this does not mean if you are older and you work on going out there and walking faster you will live longer. One cannot draw that kind of cause-and-effect conclusion from this study. But on the other hand countless studies undisputed conclusions that walking and walking faster results in better health and a longer life.

 

Counting Steps

How about counting steps to make it a bit more interesting and to be sure you are walking you’re way to a longer healthier life?  I suggest adding in a pedometer. They can help you set and reach goals, offer motivation and accountability. Just clip it to your waistband and of f you go, you won’t even know its there. You can even use it in your daily life to see how many steps you are taking.  Other studies show that distance counts too! In addition people that wear a pedometer walk about 2000 more steps a day, (about a mile), then those that don’t.

 

  • Fewer than 3,500 steps: very sedentary.
  • 3,500 to 5,000: sedentary.
  • 5,500 to 7,500: somewhat active. You're headed in the right direction but need to step it up.
  • 7,500 to 9,000: doing better, but still not meeting the minimum recommendation.
  • More than 9,000 steps: active. Stick with it and keep moving.
  • 10,000: the minimum goal recommended by health experts.
  • If your goal is to lose weight, you probably need to work up to 12,000 or more steps a day.

Forgive me for seguing from the beauty of autumn on the Oregon Coast to research studies to pedometer technology.  I am a bit of a nerd in that sense. Never the less this is a great time of year to go out and enjoy the outdoors, and get a jumpstart on the winter. Nature is a great motivator; it wants you out there enjoying it!

 

ASK JANICE The Reclassification of Sugar as a Drug

 “If sugar were to be put on the market for the first time today, it would probably be difficult to get it past the FDA.” Of all the foods consumed today, refined sugar is considered to be one of the most harmful to our bodies!

Sugar is a simple, edible, crystalline carbohydrate. The history of sugar dates back thousands of yeas. The process of making sugar from sugarcane was developed in India around 500 BC. Sugar production has a dark ugly history, intertwined with corporate fights for profits at the expense of third world country slavery and enormous environmental impacts. To this day sugar production still uses exploitative labor practices. Sugar manufacturers are aggressive in defending their product and have a strong political lobby, which allows them to continue selling a deadly food item that by all reason should not be allowed in the American diet. However this article is not about the politics or history of sugar.

 

Sugar meets the definition of a drug.

Refined sugar, by some is called a drug, because in the refining process everything of food value has been removed except the carbohydrates – pure calories without vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, enzymes or any of the other elements that make up food.

When you take a substance out of nature and refine it to maximize its chemical surface area and biological activity you are creating a drug with intentions of a desired bodily affect. Cocaine is a drug that's refined from coca leaves. Opium is a drug that's refined from poppies. And sugar is a drug that's refined from sugarcane.

...Dr. David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition says, “…white refined sugar-is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways. Its true name is sucrose and its chemical formula is C12H22O11.

Sugar is, essentially, a legalized recreational drug that's socially acceptable to consume. And yet, just like other drugs, it destroys a person's health over time, rotting out their teeth, disrupting normal brain function, promoting heart disease and directly causing diabetes and obesity. The argument that "street drugs are outlawed because they're dangerous to a person's health" falls flat on its face when you consider what sugar does to the human body.

If you have any doubts as to the detriments of sugar (sucrose), try leaving it out of your diet for several weeks and see if it makes a difference! You may also notice you have acquired an addiction and experience some withdrawal symptoms. 

...Studies show that “sugar” is just as habit-forming as any narcotic; and its use, misuse, and abuse is our nation’s number one disaster.

 

Sugar is now 20 percent of the American diet. More facts: the average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, in 2003 we ate 142 pounds on average of sugar (much more for teenagers), and sweeteners, 46 gallons of soft drinks but only 8.3 pounds of leafy vegetables.

Hidden sugars: Sugar has many forms and is hidden in our food. You may have stopped adding that teaspoon of sugar to your coffee and cut back on your afternoon candy run, many not-so-obvious foods are chock-full of hidden sugars. Anything from bagels to yogurt can contain a high amount of added sugars.

 

Deciphering Labels

It can be confusing to try to find out how much added sugar a food contains. The sugar listing on a Nutrition Facts label lumps all sugars together, including naturally-occurring milk and fruit sugars, which can be deceiving. This explains why, according to the label, one cup of milk has 11 grams of sugar even though it doesn't contain any sugar “added” to it.

 

Read the ingredients list. Learn to identify terms that mean added sugars, including sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, honey, invert sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, corn sweeteners, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, malt, molasses, and turbinado sugar, to name a few.

Sugar means beat and cane sugar, white or brown, fructose and corn: the biological effects are all the same. The point is sugar is poison!

For more information I suggest watching a lecture given by Dr. Robert Lustig called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” posted on YouTube.

 

 

HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR INNER ATHLETE?

You may not believe it. “An athlete? Ha, Ha!” you say. But it is true! That athlete lives in your head. Your body is only the instrument your mind uses to take more steps, lift more weights, run faster or do any other physical activity. That is, of course, when and if the inner athlete in your head chooses to come out and take action

  • Believe in yourself:  find that athlete inside you and attitude is the key! When it comes to reaching any goal in life, attitude is important.
  • Expectations for yourself: this means self-efficacy, which in this case is the belief that you can do something successfully.

Put the two together and you have a formula for success. However the question may really be: Are you afraid to find your inner-athlete? Many of us get fearful when thinking of taking fitness on and looking for that inner-athlete.

While I'm sure some of us are lazy at times, I'm convinced that one reason we don't exercise isn't laziness, but a feeling of dread at the thought of exercise. Physical exertion can be scary if you haven't done it in a long time and, for some people, moving the body to the point of increased heart rate, heavy breathing and excessive sweating may seem as foreign as flying pigs.

Most of us are afraid to fail and, when it comes to exercise, that failure can be experienced in so many ways-failure to lose weight, to make it through a workout, to stick to an exercise program, to do the right thing, etc.

Do you want to get old fast? Do you choose to retain your flexibility and strength? In your mind’s eye, can you picture yourself running at the beach or playing volleyball? Does it interest you to be able to roll around on the floor with your children or grandchildren?

Attitude Adjustment - The simplest way to deal with this fear is to set a goal you know you can reach. It's nice to have long-term goals to work for but, for right now, you need to do what you can handle. If you set the bar too high, you also set yourself up for failure and that could become an excuse to quit altogether.

Anytime you do something out of your comfort zone, you're taking a risk. But, just the act of taking a risk can be all the success you need to keep you going.

“Okay, so I’ll join a gym,” you say. Sure, it’s what we want to hear ... but starting an exercise program is kind of like starting a diet. Sticking to either is the difficult part.

It takes work to stick to your resolve and establish self-efficacy. One thing to watch out for and I know because it is something I am guilty of, perfectionism.

At the risk of sounding trite: "live in the moment", one of those overused phrases that sounds good but, for perfectionists, may feel as impossible as growing another nose. However, paying attention what you're doing allows your worries ("Am I doing this right? Should I be doing something else?") to fade away as you immerse yourself in the movement of your body. Practice focusing on your workouts. When your mind drifts, bring it back to the exercise you're doing with a remind that this is your exercise time. Find the value in your every effort and be proud of your accomplishments. Tune out the negative self-talk.

Here are some other tools that you might like: goal-setting skills, motivation and imagination. Choose images to help you keep going - Put some "before" pictures in plain view. Add some more recent ones of your more active lifestyle. Choose a "hero" (someone whose active life you admire) and put his or her picture up along with yours.

From time to time you may find that your inner athlete has stalled. You can help get it going again by calling upon that part of yourself to direct the action in your “mind’s eye.” You won’t burn any extra calories doing this, but the imagery you create may just get you going … and keep you going.

Close your eyes (leave them closed for 20 minutes) and imagine a limber and flexible "you" go through whatever paces you have designated as helpful and fun.

Now, create a picture of yourself the way you choose to be.

Visualize all the benefits that the exercising is creating for you in the rest of your life.

Remind yourself how good it is to feel comfortable in your own skin...how you are almost there and how you deserve to succeed and maintain you resolve.

You have taken the plunge into a healthier lifestyle. Congratulations!

FALL BACK INTO FITNESS

Fall is officially here and we all know whats coming for the next eight months. It’s exciting, we do love the storms high seas and big winds it is one of the many reasons we live here. But something I hear over and over again is the moaning about winter weight gain and depression. That does not have to be. Why not make a vow right now to not let that happen this year? Let fall of 2011 be the beginning of a new way to do the winter on the north Oregon coast.

We are having our first storms of the season and it can be a bit shocking, we spent the last couple months enjoying lots of light and warm temperatures. We walked on the beach, went for bike rides and sat outside. That made us feel better, we all have smiles on our faces, but now it’s changing, it is dark in the morning when we get up, and it is getting darker earlier. If you start your new habits now before the weightlessness of summer leaves you then you will be ahead of the game. Please don’t wait until you are feeling miserable and low to inspire yourself to do “something about it”. You can still have that summer kind of smile throughout the winter.

First you need to ask yourself “who is in charge of your life”. Then when you answer yourself that you are and no one else then you are on your way to taking control. Your thoughts control your actions and in turn affect your behavior and thus your moods.

YOU

Thoughts

Physical Moods

Behavior

Focus on doing one thing at a time. If it is your time to exercise then do it and think of nothing else that you “need” to do because you already decided that this is one of those things. Accomplish that and it will set you up for feeling focused all day.

All of us on the coast get hit with the dark day blues but even if you do not suffer from depression, you will benefit emotionally from half an hour of exercise; feeling instantly invigorated, lighter and happier. You need to get out and exercise every day to help keep your body and your brain healthy. Exercise is useful in controlling feelings of depression and anxiety for a number of reasons;

• While exercising your body produces endorphins or feel-good chemicals which make you feel instantly better and happier; effects last for some time after you stop exercising. These chemicals may also help combat depression.

• Exercise removes the build-up of stress hormones in the body which can undermine wellbeing, causing problems such as headaches, fatigue, and loss of concentration, problems sleeping and many other mental and physical symptoms.

• Exercise can provide focus; having new goals provides direction, and obtaining those goals however big or small breeds a sense of achievement and self confidence.

• Exercise gives a feeling of release from problems; you can abandon responsibilities and concentrate on the purely physical; controlling your breathing, running for that extra half a mile, following a class etc.

• Exercise can provide a change of scene, getting people out of their homes and routines, meeting new people and feeling less isolated. Group exercise can provide a sense of belonging, even if it is just smiling at the other runners or walkers in the park. Joining a team or class provides opportunities for social contact beyond the normal sphere of your life and its attendant stresses, and can make a refreshing change.

• Exercise can boost self-esteem, gaining new skills, improving body image, becoming fitter, and looking healthier.

• The benefits of exercise last longer than quick-fixes such as comfort-eating, smoking, or drinking tea or coffee, all of which may contribute to the problem.

Walking is one of the best ways to get in extra exercise throughout the day. Start a new habit!

· Get up 15 minutes early and start your day with a brisk walk around the block. Use this time to think about your day and what you want to accomplish.

Hiking in the fall is by far the most wonderful time to be out there.

· Research some great places to hike nearby, so on your next day off have field trip day planned. That will give you a goal and something to look forward to.

Indoor strength training is perfect for those really stormy days.

· It’s time to look into getting home gym set up or joining a local facility. My next article is going to cover that topic.

Fall is a time of year to recommit yourself to exercise; it is good for the mind, the body and the soul!

CAN EXERCISE BE A FORM OF MEDITATION?

A couple years ago I was riding my bike down 101 into a head wind and a friend drove by.  I did not see him at the time, but later he said to me “you looked so serious”. I have actually have heard this comment a few times in my life and I had to give it some thought. What my friend had seen was in fact just a face void of emotion. To tell you the truth, often when I am running or riding or weight lifting (if I am in the “zone”); I am not really present at the surface and somewhat absent. I am meditating! As a long time educator of fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyles,  my goal has always been to help my clients and friends and anyone else that will listen, understand the spirituality of training and fitness. The experience one has, no matter what sport or action you choose is so much more than purely a physical event. There are elements to training that go far beyond that.  And there lies the hook. I will admit of course there are times when I go for a run or workout in the gym when it just does not sync and the pistons are not firing. I call those times utility workouts. These are dues that must be paid because I know there are the payoff days.  This part of the discipline, which in itself is a form of mediation- the ever existing balance in life and in training, the Ying and the Yang.

The beginning is difficult. We tend to mostly experience fitness in the left brain and the body seems uncomfortable. I want to convey to you the need to allow that experience, and move through it. Allow yourself to be a beginner, knowing that with the consistency of the discipline you will begin to reap rewards. And it can happen very quickly. When you begin your training it is important to let go of some of the images  you have in your mind of what your body “should” look like or the mind chatter of how “out of shape you are” and so on. Training is more than vanity and more than looking good. Yes you are there to improve your health by becoming more fit but the real catch is the sense of self and well-being. A transformation occurs through training that leads you to discover who you are and a time to commune with yourself, a time to self-reflect.

TRAINING

I personally love strength/weight training and have been hooked since I was 17 years old. For me, it’s something I enjoy doing for its own sake apart from the results it gives me.

  • Weight training allows you to communicate precisely with every muscle in your body, to send blood and vitality to every space.
  • Weight training lets you lose track of time. You go into a flow where you become absorbed in the moment-by-moment process.
  • Weight training develops physical intuition. You get a gut-level sense, an instinct of what your body needs.
  • Weight training is ever changing and you learn to be flexible and receptive. You learn to let go of preconceptions of how you think you will train on any certain day. You go with plans but they do not always happen.

Another love of mine is running. It allows me to experience myself like nothing else. I do not see running as a social event.  Usually I run alone. I don’t like to talk and breathe at the same time when I run. Personally I like to focus on breathing, and natural awareness that puts the world on hold. Thoughts come and go from my mind and all I can really do is breath and tune into the effort and surroundings. I love running trails and I don’t mind if they are uphill, (that just means I go slower and think of breathing even more). Nature and running go together like peanut butter and jelly, another one of my favorite things.  But that’s for another article about nutrition.

Whether you are a runner or a walker, the solitarily aspect of that event allows each of us a uniqueness. It is what Ralph Waldo Emerson called our "individual genius," our special way of being in the world. George Sheehan the famous running guru phrased it nicely when he said, “I know of no better way to find my own genius than running with no companion except the rhythm of my breathing.”

STARTING YOUR PRACTICE

I suggest that you mix it up, use different forms of fitness so you get to experience a variety of feelings and environments. Strive to do something that involves you being in nature. Something outdoors that you love to do and that can lead to a need to do other physical things that support that. Let’s call that the “physical domino affect”!  Stay positive, I know that sounds cliché but try and let go of negative thoughts and chose to simply stay aware of your physical experience, with practice and with the physiological changes that will occur it gets easier!

Training is not a destination it is a place that you can find in within yourself and spirit!

Ask Janice - JOINT PAIN?

JOINT PAIN? What is a joint? I think we need to understand that before we can go on to discuss why it hurts.

What would you be like if you had no bones? You'd be floppin' around like a Raggedy Ann or Andy doll. You wouldn't even be able to stand up, walk or even sit up in a chair. Without your bones you'd simply be a pile of organs, guts, skin, water and biochemical goo on the floor. When your muscles contract, they act as levers and pull on the joint between two bones creating movement. Look at your finger and then move it. The muscle contracted, pulled on the joint between two small bones and bent your finger. If you didn't have bones, a muscle would have nothing to attach itself to.  The end of a muscle turns into a tendon before it cross a joint; it is actually the tendon that actually pulls on the bone.

You have 206 bones in your body and about 230 moveable and semi-moveable joints.

A joint is:

  1. 1. Cartilage: the end of each bone is covered with articular cartilage. This stuff cushions and protects the end of bones. When it breaks down, arthritis symptoms occur. Muscle weakness can be a cause.
  2. Synovial Sac: this is filled with Synovial fluid which serves to lubricate and nourish the joint.
  3. Bursa: the bursa sac is not actually part of a joint by close by. It has fluid that lubricates the movement of muscles across bones.
  4. Muscles: these allow motion across the joint and provide muscle balance.
  5. 5. Tendon: Tendons are cords that attach muscles to the bones. Unlike muscles which change length (contract), the tendons are unable to change length. However, as the muscle moves, the tendon to which it is attached also moves. Muscles run the show!
  6. Ligaments: are short fibrous cords that attach go from bone to bone. Typically, ligaments are located around the joints. They provide for the stability of a joint and hold the adjacent bones in the proper alignment.

Freely movable joints move in many directions. The main joints of the body — found at the hip, shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles — are freely movable or not

Dysfunction: Abnormal or impaired functioning, any malfunctioning part or element in a system. What if one of your or more the muscles around a joint was dysfunctional? Wouldn’t that cause a problem?

In order to heal from an injury or a pain (acute or chronic), one needs to evaluate and consider why these pains exist. Rehabilitation from injury or pain and correction of muscle imbalances and joint dysfunction should be priority number one priority. If you are in pain, you can rest assured that the muscles crossing any joints in pain are being shut off, resulting in even more instability in that joint. When this type of compensation occurs, there is a direct effect that leads to more dysfunctions which then leads to more pain, degeneration of the body as it compensates for faulty movement and posture. The stress can take many forms. It may cause unnecessary work or movement in another part of the body, placing greater stress on certain muscles and tendons (strains). It may create unnatural motion of the spine or limbs, placing greater stress on joints and ligaments (sprains). It becomes a cycle of injury where one dysfunction leads to another, which in turn leads to another and so on. Wow that all sounds quite unpleasant!

STOP - Let go back to the beginning and start over, I don’t want to go through all of that and I am sure you don’t either or maybe you have already begun this journey. What do we have to do so this does not happen or if it has started what can we do to fix the “problem”?

Evaluation is the key or as we say in the trades “assessment”. That means stop and think, notice and appraise. If you have had your “pain” for awhile (more than a few weeks) then you are already into the world of compensation. That means that some other players (muscles) are involved. More simply put you need to learn what muscles are working incorrectly on that joint involved. Typically overactive (shortened) muscles become tight and under-active muscles become weak or stretched. Look at a telephone pole the next time you are driving. The wires on either side of the pole must possess equal tension keep the pole vertical. If there is more tension on one side, the pole will lean. The body works the same way with regard to length/tension ratios between agonist and antagonist muscle groups, (in other words the muscle which oppose each other, for example biceps and triceps.)

The key to reversing this type of joint pains is to rehabilitate the muscles surrounding the joint. Can you guess where I am going from here? That’s right exercise! In case of injury or pain work it is best to get an expert to assess the imbalances. You want to evaluate the way the joint and the muscles surrounding it are working or not working together. Being proactive is the key here!

ASK JANICE --- ARE YOU READY?

Are You Tsunami Ready? The unkind truth is: it’s a physical event! We have all had our eyes opened up to reality, actually twice in the last couple years. We know we live in a vulnerable area, but who doesn’t. Living means being in danger of dying! So what’s new? It does not mean we have to live in fear.  In fact it’s the opposite. The question becomes one of awareness.

Being prepared will eliminate fear!

In order to be prepared for an emergency, one must think about what this really means. I was chatting with someone the other day and I asked her if she had an emergency supply kit ready to go. The response was yes; she and her husband had packed a large container with all the right stuff. I asked her if she could carry that up a hill, since driving your car will most likely be unavailable. You can probably guess her answer.  Now, can you imagine this scenario? You are in your home or office, an earthquake occurs, windows crash, dressers fall over, beams fall down etc...I think you get the picture. You are okay but you now have to grab your back pack that has your supplies and get going up the hill! Your heart is racing. You are now tapping into your “Flight or Fight” response system.

This is a natural part of our nervous system. It can help you respond to a dangerous situation.

  • Mental clarity of mind is more acute if you are prepared, i.e. you visualized or lived the situation before it happens.
  • Pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible.
  • Veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups; which means less blood to the skin to keep you warm.
  • Muscles tense up since they are being energized by adrenaline and blood glucose.
  • More oxygen is sent to the lungs
  • Non-essential systems shut down, like digestion and immune. This allows more energy to go to the emergency functions.
  • Your mind will have a hard time focusing on small tasks (like finding your keys or eye glasses). The brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to respond to the immediate threat.

All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term "fight or flight"). This is an instinct that every animal possesses.  But what every animal does not naturally possess are fitness, strength and endurance. If you don’t think you will need these abilities, you may want to reconsider.

I want you to imagine the possible scenarios and try to visualize your course of action.  Consider these things:

  • Are you strong enough to pick up the bookshelf that fell between you and the door?
  • Can you carry your child and the pack on your back?
  • Could you dig and lift heavy objects from a pile of rubble?
  • Do you have the cardiovascular fitness to make it up a hill for a mile or more?
  • Can you do that while carrying your pack?
  • Do you have the endurance to then build a fire, a shelter and help others?

If not, a fitness program would serve you well. The benefits are not only that you will be prepared for emergencies, but you may be able to help someone else you care about that is not.

If you never had a good excuse to exercise (which is hard to believe), you now have a dandy.

  1. Your first workout:

From every usual place you spend time make some concerted efforts to walk fast,  jog or sprint your way to your safety zone. So that means 3 to 5 or more places depending on your lifestyle. If you do this once or twice a week you will not only gain familiarity and confidence with your basic escape routes but will enhance your cardio vascular strength.

  1. Your second workout:

Get your emergency evacuation pack ready, pick it up, put it on and walk around for a while. Do your legs feel strong and secure? If not you are going to need to find a way to strengthen your lower body.

  1. Your third workout:

Imagine how much a things weigh that you are going to have to lift or help others lift. Are your arms, shoulders and back strong? If not you are going to need to find a way to strengthen your upper body and core.

  1. Your forth workout:

Once a week walk, ride, paddle, dance or whatever works for you (physically), but do it for at least an hour or even better for 2 or 3. This will build your endurance.

Build gradually and slowly, and most importantly be consistent. This will get you the best results in the shortest amount of time.

This is not about living in fear.  This is about awareness, intelligence, and being prepared for what life can dish out. Live your life in less fear knowing you will be ready if need be.

I know these are strong words but I say them because I care and I want to see you at the top of the hill if and when an emergency hits, such as a major earthquake/Tsunami.

Ah...A New Year and a Fresh Start

Ask Janice The concept of New Year’s Resolution to actuate change is very popular because there are things in our lives that we are just not happy with. We all have hopes and aspirations to make changes and often the resolution or goal setting works.

Statistics show that each year 40% to 50% of adults make one or more resolutions or goals for themselves. Research shows that 75% make it past the first week, and 45% make it past 6 months. On the bright side while a lot of people break there resolutions, statistics on New Year’s resolutions also show that setting goals for yourself is still a good thing to do, because you are 10 times more likely to attain your goal, rather than people who don’t explicitly make goals.  So this means that if you decide to set a goal for yourself this year, not only will you be a part of the statistics on New Year’s resolutions makers, but you will also be 10 times more likely to attain your goal. Setting goals is a great way to help dedicate yourself to reaching positive change.

On the other hand, glass half empty - 50% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them. And as the year goes on that number does increase by 10%.

So, what’s the point if you are more likely to fail then not? As my husband Mike says- “if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

We want to change, but why? Because without change, we are assured of staying just the way we are and doing things just the way we always have.  That is why 50% of us make New Year’s resolutions. Yet as you know and I know it’s hard to make significant changes in our lives but why?  Because change is difficult and there is no magical formula that is quick and without effort, despite the claims of motivational speakers and self-help books- an industry that makes about $2.5 million a year off of those of us that are looking for magic potions or words.

The bottom line is, change is easier said than done. It is a real test, and needs to be taken seriously with full presence of mind and heart. Change starts with a simple, yet powerful, epiphany that comes from a very deep and personal place inside us. A client said to me just the other day “it just became too sad to stay the way I was.” Sometimes it comes down to the realization that you just don’t want to continue down the same road any longer, things must change.

Emotions can be potent motivators for change, whether positive, such as hope or inspiration, or negative, such as fear.

Courage is essential because change requires risk and risk is scary. Courage to change means the willingness to acknowledge and confront aspects of ourselves that we may not know about or may not like. It’s uncertain, and takes a leap of faith that involves a belief in a vision of who, where and what we want to be in the future.

Determination is needed to overcome obstacles, resist the status quo. Determination is needed to pursue our goals. This determination and resolve is what inspires us to engage in the moment-to-moment process of change especially when it is difficult. This is what it comes down to. Those moments that you get add together which then becomes the sum of your efforts. That is the formula for a successful change.

You have a choice. You get to decide for yourself. This is the time to be selfish, the time to create the person you want to be, to compose those resolutions and then be successful.  If you have some setbacks, fine. We all have setbacks on a difficult path. Lance Armstrong is quoted when asked how he dealt with his challenges- “pain is temporary and quitting is not an option.”  The key is to not give up you can restart your resolution any day. While New Years is a great time to regroup and move ahead, any Monday morning or the 1st of the month or your birthday etc… can serve the same purpose. Tuesday anyone?

Keep in mind that change is not easy. Embrace it.  You could even try cozying up to the concept.

Get tough and stay inspired. Change is a process and not an event, so be patient.

Lastly “keep your eyes on the prize”, visualize.

One of Life Greatest Pleasures – PLAYING

Ask Janice “If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good” Dr Seuss

What happened to play? Is it a value in our society that is now a four letter word?

Remember those words “go outside and play”? What happened to those words in your life? When was the last time you heard them or said them? Think back to your childhood and recount your most treasured memories of childhood play.  Mixed emotions?   A sort of sadness lays over you.  Is it because we are not playing anymore? Is life too serious?

A lack of play can lead to depression, hostility and the loss of the “thing that makes us human beings.” Play lets you feel happiness, love, healthy and human. It may even make you smarter.

“Play is the beginning of knowledge.” George Dorsey

Play refreshes and stimulates the mind. It can be spontaneous or as part of planned activity. It can be physical or mental but really it should serve no purpose or objective other than pure enjoyment or amusement. A flow occurs and all feels effortless. Nine common elements are found over and over again when one asks the question:  “what do you experience when you are playing?”

  1. There are clear goals every step of the way.
  2. There is immediate feedback on one’s actions.
  3. There is balance between challenges and skills.
  4. Action and awareness are merged.
  5. Distractions are excluded from consciousness.
  6. There is no worry of failure.
  7. Self-consciousness disappears.
  8. The sense of time becomes distorted.
  9. The activity becomes an end in and of itself.

Not Sure How to Play?

Kids seem to know inherently just what to do to have fun, but adults may need a little help. Playing should be simple, fun, easy, and something that's a regular part of your routine. Above all else, make sure your playtime is enjoyable, and not something that feels like”one more thing to fit into the day.”

I would like you to make a list of those moments of wonder and “fun”. Those moments not fueled by expensive toys or gadgets but the ones found in backyards. In these simple authentic moments not only is joy to be found but profound truths about us and nature and our connection. It has been said that “play has been man’s most useful preoccupation.” Biographies of creative people of the past are full of accounts of long hours they spent sitting by a river, thinking their own thoughts, roaming woods and dreaming dreams. Who can afford this type of leisure time anymore? But I think this lack of sufficient free time (recess), to develop a rich inner life is a large part of the reason there is much frustration and aggression in our society.

So now we are coming up with a formula:

Leisure Time + Play + Fun = Happiness.

-Leisure time is a period of time spent out of work and other essential activity. It is time that is recreational and spent doing things that are not necessary. -Play refers to a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities associated with pleasure. It may be amusing, pretend or imaginary interpersonal or intrapersonal. –Fun is enjoyment or pleasurable. -Happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.

I have a challenge for all of us! Let’s see what we can stir up this next year? Go find the kid in you (I know it’s there). I propose to a make a New Year’s Resolution right now for 2011. To take time to play!

Here is another challenge for you:

Polar Plunge 2011 is a great way to start your New Year and your resolution to play. Just ask anyone that has done it!!!  Feel free to call me with any questions.

Where: Neahkahnie Beach

When: January 1st 2011

Time: Be there by 11am. Plunge time 11:11am

Playtime leads to optimism, and optimism leads to happiness and happiness leads to love and love leads to….

Are You a Frog in the Water?

By Janice B Gaines BS LMT

Everybody knows that proper diet and nutrition is good for the body, but are you aware of how important eating right is for mental and emotional health? The mind is integrated into the body’s system as much as any organ and must not been seen as a separate entity. You feel better when you eat right!

When we neglect to feed our bodies good food and proper nutrition it affects us in many ways; fatigue, weariness, lack of clarity, malaise and the list goes on… Often these symptoms are not noticed in and of themselves because we adapt and it becomes normal over time.  If left alone for too long, these states of existence can lead to more serious conditions. This is a slow progression, similar to the story of the Boiling Frog. If a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. This applies to us; the inability to react to significant changes that occur gradually.

Keep in mind (pun intended), that depression and anxiety are caused by imbalances in chemical messengers in the brain - neurotransmitters. Remember neurotransmitters are chemicals that are produced in the brain and they are the information network for our body and mind.

Three to Avoid

  1. Caffeine: Why do so many people (yours truly included), consume so much caffeine?  How does it work? It’s easy to understand. There is a chemical called adenosine created in the brain and it binds to its receptor.  This normal binding action causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity. Caffeine looks like adenosine. It therefore binds to the receptor blocking out the real adenosine, but instead of slowing down nerve cell activity it does the opposite and speeds it up. Caffeine also increases dopamine levels. This seems cool at first because dopamine is a neurotransmitter that activates our pleasure centers. Heroin and cocaine do that too, obviously to a higher degree but same mechanism.  There are a number of problems with this over the long run. Deep-sleep is a real issue and without it many unwanted symptoms come about such as depression. Caffeine causes stress on our system the affects of which cause the body a state of exhaustion that can seriously weaken emotional health.
  2. Refined sugar: The reasons to avoid sugar are numerous. Sugar acts on the same brain receptors that alcohol and heroin do. Along with this comes the addiction. Like caffeine the long term affect is bad, causing brain chemical imbalances. In addition excess sugar creates unstable blood sugar levels that leave us irritable, moody and craving more sugar. That leads to weight gain and you know how “good’ that feels.
  3. Junk Food: I think the name says it all! Junk food according to Wikipedia: “is an informal term applied to some foods which are perceived to have little or no nutritional value, or to products with nutritional value but which also have ingredients considered unhealthy when regularly eaten, or to those considered unhealthy to consume at all.” Recent research: Scripps Research Study Shows Compulsive Eating Shares Same Addictive Biochemical Mechanism with Cocaine, Heroin Abuse. The study showed that rats on junk food would rather starve than eat healthy. This says quite a bit about the effects on brain chemistry and imbalances that occur. By the way this category includes sugar, salt and saturated fats.

Three to Eat

  1. 1. Rice, oats and other whole grains: these foods are rich in vitamin B and folic acid. They are low-glycemic foods, which mean they release glucose into the bloodstream gradually, thus preventing sugar lows and mood swings. They are rich in the trace minerals which we need to function properly, as well as being a high-fiber food that can keep the digestive system healthy and lower cholesterol levels. Stay away from instant varieties. In fact anytime you see “instant” on a food label, “just say no”.
  2. 2. Proteins: choose organic, low fat proteins. Eggs, fish, chicken and beef are all good choices. Protein should be part of every meal; your body does not store it. You need it to maintain healthy metabolic rates and feed your body the fuel it needs to regenerate muscle, bone, blood cells and brain cells.
  3. 3. Fruits and vegetables: my theory is mix up the colors. Different colors indicate that you’re getting different nutrients and vitamins, plus it’s a fun way to put the meal together. Choose organic and fresh!  Mom was right vegetables are good for you and you will feel better for eating them.

Don’t be the frog in the water, jump out now!

Is It All In Your Head?

By Janice B Gaines BS LMT

You bet it is!   The path to a peaceful, healthy and happy life comes from the capacity to channel your thoughts in a positive direction. Our body and mind are intimately connected to each other; your thoughts affect your physical health.

I know I have addressed this subject before, but it is so significant that I want to attempt to present it different way.

Biologically our brains produce chemicals, called neurotransmitters that regulate mood, emotions and even how we experience pain.  Neurotransmitters communicate information throughout the whole body. The transmitted message goes from one nerve cell called neurons to another across the synapse. The health and balance of these (about 50 of them have been identified) neurotransmitters are very important. Statistically it is estimated about 80% of Americans are running at a suboptimal level.  A neurotransmitter imbalance can cause Depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritable  bowel, eating disorders, obsession, compulsions, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Fibromyalgia, headaches as well as a host other health issues.

Why is our society experiencing these symptoms at such alarming rates? Chronic stress, poor dietary choices, (which I will address in my next article), toxic exposure such as industrial work, pollution and drug use are affecters. Also genetic predisposition, however whether we have good genes or bad new research from Yale University found that genes contribute only 25% to the health of your life. The last major influence of neurotransmitter imbalance is thought patterns.

Mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body) is a famous Latin quotation, often translated as "A sound mind in a sound body." Attitude and train of thoughts have a key role in the balance of our brain’s chemicals.

A strong and hearty mind is what we all wish for. Life is intended to be positive, despite the difficulties that come along. The powers of our mind determine our future.  Attitude drives that power. The utmost discovery we can make in our lives is when we realize we can alter our life’s experience by altering our attitude. It’s something that you can put into action immediately. It’s a choice you a can make over and over again.

While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us. -- Benjamin Franklin, 84

Attitude or thoughts cannot be changed overnight. We have habits and patterns that we have to catch in action. So to make this change you have to keep in mind (pun intended) and remind yourself of your “new” way of thinking of things. Here are some exercises that I like. Remember this isn’t something you do one time only.  As the Nike phrase goes “there is no finish line”. This focus and discipline is like physical exercise, diet and flossing!

1.      Make use of positive words in your conversations, try not to use negative words or perpetuate negative thoughts and conversations. Don’t spread negativity there is enough of it in the world as it is!

2.      Replace negative feelings with positive thinking. Inspire yourself!

3.       Fear is often the key factor behind our negative feelings but often it’s just “smoke and mirrors”. Don’t let it hold you back. What if you do fail? So what?

I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can't make it through one door, I'll go through another door--or I'll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present. -- Joan Rivers, 77

4.      Surround yourself with positive, happy and optimistic people. If you need to talk to someone, pick one of the happy ones. It’s contagious!

5.      Visualize a positive outcome. Aim for the best outcome and your actions will likely follow.

An optimist is someone who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him. -- Zig Ziglar, 80

6.      Set backs are part of life; they are part of the journey, valleys as well as peaks. Do not to judge setbacks too hard, just ride them out and take care of yourself. Do something for someone else that needs help I guarantee that will make you feel better!!!

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  ~Dalai Lama

Heart Attack

I have a story to share about something that happened to me. I was going to do it sooner but I needed time for process because it is disturbing.In early March I went to visit my mom as I do every winter. She lives in Palm Desert. I have been going there since I was a little girl and I just the love the dessert. This is not a story about my mom or Palm Desert. There is Gold’s Gym near my mom’s house. I have been going there since it opened. Its home away from home as I know most of the trainers and staff and it’s a great gym. My usual routine is to get up every morning really early and take a quick drive east on Washington St to the Coachella Valley Preserve and head out for a dessert run/hike/adventure, then back to mom’s to do “mom stuff”. Then around 3pm or 4pm I go to the gym for a couple hours of a wonderful workout and socializing with old friends that I don’t see that often. When I am done I enjoy a delicious protein drink from their juice bar and watch the gym scene of southern California. What a perfect day! On one of those days of my two week vacation mom and I made some special dinner plans so I had to go to the gym early that day and not do my usual desert jaunt. I pulled into the parking lot at Gold’s about 6:30am; the sun was just starting to peak over the Coachella Valley Mountains from the other side of Joshua Tree National Park. I was excited to be at the gym so early and thought to myself ‘I wonder who anyone is here in the early morning, if I will know and I wondered what time the Juice Bar opened.” I remember feeling happy to be at the gym, glad to be on vacation and that the sun was shining, what more could you ask for? I walk into the gym, approach the reception counter and was about to give them my member code when a young man runs up to the counter and says “a man just collapsed!” He pointed across the gym. I looked to where he pointed. I could see a large man on the floor by the cable rack. I see a couple of people looking down at him. I shoved the gate open and ran as fast as I could to the “scene”. A quick assessment and I saw right away that he was unconscious, as he had emptied his bladder. There was blood on his elbow and knee where he hit the equipment on his way down. It was apparent to me that he had had a massive heart attack. I looked at the half dozen people there and asked if there was anyone that knew CPR? Two said yes. The three of us began. Noting the time I began to pump the chest. 6 minutes went by. We also applied a heart defibulator unit that the gym had on the wall which took awhile to find and figure out how to use. I could go into more details but I don’t think it is necessary. I knew early on in this tragedy that this man was lifeless. I pumped and pumped as hard as I could not carrying if I broke a rib, just wanting to get the oxygen to the brain, hoping that if this man could be shocked back into life by the paramedics when they arrived. The brain needs oxygen or there will be irreversibly damaged. The paramedics arrived and took over. They continued working on the man as they loaded him into the ambulance. I looked on knowing that he was already gone. I also knew that this man died because he was obese. It was obvious to all of us that tried to save him. Obesity kills. There, I said it. I’m sorry to tell this story and be so blunt but I felt compelled. Not sure where I want to go from here…. Obesity is defined simply as too much body fat. Your body is made up of water, fat, protein, carbohydrate and various vitamins and minerals. If you have too much fat — especially in your waist area — you're at higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Obesity is now recognized as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which can does lead to heart attack.

R and R, how to incorporate it into your exercise program?

Rest and Recovery are generic terms meaning a return to a “state of readiness”. Recovery will provide a replenishment of nutrients and energy stores. In the last article you learned about the importance of long-term rest and recovery. That included sleep and a day off from strenuous exercise about once a week. So long-term recovery is the between workouts, and short-term recovery is related to rest during your workout. Okay, this can get a bit tricky so stay with me here. There are two ways we will look at short-term recovery: 1) interval training during cardiovascular exercise and 2) rest while strength training.  I am going to skip the strength training topic and go into interval training and why you want to incorporate this into your exercise routine.

Interval training during cardiovascular exercise will take you to the next level of fitness. Adding intervals to your workout is also a great way to cross train. (A topic we will cover more at another time).

If you have been consistent (I mean consistent on your cardio program), and have a base of about 4 to 6 weeks then you are ready to start interval training. You lucky dog!   It’s not rocket science so don’t let this concept scare you! Interval training is simply alternating bursts of more intense activity with… you guessed it, rest and recovery! The deal with interval training is really great, (you can tell I live an exciting life). It will make your workouts more interesting, it’s a fat burner, helps prevent injuries, uses more calories, makes you fitter and its free. What a deal!

I’d like to explain the nitty gritty of what’s going on physiologically. I think the more you understand your body’s physics the easier it is to do the work outs, and better than that the more exciting and inspirational it is. I have a philosophy that “with knowledge comes motivation.” I have always trained myself and others in this manner.  With understanding why it is you are putting your body through this “torture” you are more likely going to stick to it.

Interval training defined:  Interval training works the aerobic (with oxygen) and the anaerobic (without oxygen) system. These two systems use different fuel sources to work. During high intensity efforts the body burns glycogen which is stored in muscles.  The by-product is lactic acid which is that stuff that burns and makes you make funny faces while training. That is called oxygen debt. During the R and R phase of the interval your heart and lungs work to pay back this debt and clean out the lactic acid. And then you do it again and again until its time to go home and brag to your friends and loved ones about what a great workout you had!

This respective form of training leads to the something we call “adaptation response”. See all the cool stuff you are learning today. The body starts to build new road ways to the muscles. These road ways are called capillaries. With new capillaries you are better able to take in and deliver oxygen to the working muscles. The muscles then respond by having higher tolerance to the lactic acid. We call that “lactic acid tolerance”. The heart muscle gets stronger and the whole cardiovascular system is improved and better than that you feel good even when you are doing intervals.

Apply interval training to just about any movement you like, walking, jogging, swimming, and elliptical, rowing and roller skates.

w   Set some attainable goals before the workout.

w   Warm up

w   Stay steady and consistent

w   Be sure to get to full recovery during the rest interval (this is a very important part of the picture).

w   The way to improve is to build intensity (higher heart rate) and duration, but not in the same workout.

Here are a few examples that I like:

  1. Short bursts. 15 to 30 seconds going as hard as you can. 1 to 2 minute recovery.
  2. Sustains. 3 to 6 minutes holding a steady but anaerobic pace. 3 to 5 minute recovery.
  3. Pyramids: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 minute intervals with appropriate recovery and then back down.

Its fun to mix it up and add intervals to your workouts a couple of times per week. Remember to set goals within your reach and let the adaptation do its work and trust that it will work and you will get fitter.

The key is being consistent and trying to incorporate some fitness in your day every day. I promise you, you will see and feel the results.

Yours in good health- Janice

Fitness for Healthy Living

It starts with a commitment to healthier living. When you make that commitment you make a decision to change in some way, somehow that you accept the responsibility to transform and believe in your ability to do so. It’s about passion and enjoyment, go back to when you were a kid; you didn’t think about what you had to do today for activity, you just did it. It can still be like that now and really should be. But if you have not been active for many years, it is difficult to a have fun and enjoy yourself. As an adult what comes into play is commitment and taking that seriously. That is the key! You really have to want it and believe you can make it happen and make that promise to yourself and then make it a priority.

Vigorous exercise involves minimal health risks for persons in good health or those following a doctor's advice. Far greater risks are present by habitual inactivity and obesity.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or exercising for fitness and mental health, it’s important for everyone to do some level of weightlifting and aerobic exercise. Ultimately you want strength, flexibility and endurance.

No More Excuses

You can probably come up with plenty of excuses for why you're not more active. You're too young, you're too old, you're too busy, you're too tired or you're in pretty good shape - for your age. But with few exceptions, these excuses are pretty flimsy. There are activities for the young and old and for those with little time. So the next time you think about getting fit, don't ask "Who has time?" Instead, ask yourself "Who doesn't want to feel better?"

Action precedes motivation. We get caught up thinking that we have to wait for motivation to start doing something good for ourselves, but that is not how it works. You just need to initiate action; even the smallest of actions will facilitate some momentum.

  • Start with bite-sized pieces that you’ll be able to accomplish.  If your goals are too big, you can end up feeling defeated before you get a good start.
  • Schedule it in your day. Pick a time of day and stick to it. You have to make it a priority because it is. I would say this is the biggest obstacle for most of us.
  • Keep it real. Avoid perfectionist thinking and
  • Focus on positive terms; avoid self talk that is negative.
  • Share with a friend. Tell someone you trust about your goals.
  • Make your goals yours. The goals you have set for yourself should be something you really desire. If you don’t have a strong internal motivation you won’t be successful.
  • Tune in to your spirituality. Spend some time outside; nature will help you find balance!

Patience is essential. Don't to do too much too soon and don't quit before you have a chance to experience the rewards of improved fitness. You can't regain in a few days or weeks what you have lost in years of sedentary living, but you can get it back if you persevere. Consistency will result in success. And the prize is worth the price. Fitness for healthy living is about priorities and commitment.

Try not. Do or do not there is no try! ---Yoda

The decision to carry out a physical fitness program cannot be taken lightly. It requires a lifelong commitment of time and effort. Exercise must become one of those things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the benefits of fitness and the risks of unfitness, you will not succeed.

Trying is no kind of commitment, to say you are going to “try and do something” is a set up for failure; it’s just like saying “I don’t really think I can do this.”  Don’t give yourself an “out”.  Trying presupposes that you are going to fail. To make a commitment means “I’ll do it”. Commitment is when you go beyond mere hoping, wishing, dreaming, yearning or pining.  Commitment is where you cut off all other options and you make a real decision. The decision is not traced in the sand; it is carved into stone, set into cement. It's solid. Making a commitment requires courage, but the instant you make a commitment, wonderful and amazing things start to happen.  The moment you commit yourself 100%, you begin to utilize the parts of your mind that most humans never tap into.  You harness the awesome strength of your will. Obstacles evaporate.  All the pieces of the puzzle come together. You experience synchronicity. You set into motion powerful forces