SPA MANZANITA'S CAITLIN IS NOW TEACHING YOGA!!!

Good Yoga 4 Everyone

With Caitlin Goodwin When: Wednesday evenings from 6pm – 7pm Where: The Contemplative Arts Center 651 Manzanita Avenue Manzanita, OR 97130 Around the back side of the building! Cost: $8

Caitlin Goodwin has been applying her love of helping people through her work as a yoga teacher, fitness and Pilate’s instructor over the last decade. The first time she took a yoga class she knew she wanted to pursue her training wholeheartedly and then to teach others. Caitlin graduated from Portland State University in 2012 with a BS in Health and Exercise Science and she is a licensed esthetician. Over the last twelve years as a yoga instructor Caitlin has continued her education to learn a variety of techniques and practices. She teaches several styles of yoga and enjoys working with different populations of students. When Caitlin isn’t in the studio she is enjoying her other passions as an outdoor enthusiast and true adventure seeker.

CARDIO FITNESS TRAINING = LECTURE

  • Learn how to train cardiovascular and get the most out of your time.

 

  • You will learn about Zone Training, Heart-rate numbers and what that means, Intervals, Perceived Efforts and much more.

 

  • This knowledge will motivate you to get more from you fitness efforts which will result in better results!

This is sponsored by spa manzanita/Janice Gaines, there is no fee. Bring a note pad and pen and a desire to learn!

Wednesday January 15th 6pm

RSVP 503 368-4777

or janice@spamanzanita.com

 

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

 

 

WHAT TIME IS IT? ASK YOUR CELLS.

Ask JaniceLiving organisms developed an internal biological clock, called the Circadian rhythm, to help their bodies adapt to the daily cycle of day and night- light and dark as the Earth rotates every 24 hours. Our body works differently from hour to hour, day to day and year to year. These patterns of change occur in all living organisms. Chronobiology studies the biological rhythms; ultradian rhythms are shorter than a day with a length, from thousandths of a second (like the pulses in neurons) or seconds (like the heartbeat) to the rhythm of about 90 minutes in our sleeping cycle from sleep to deep sleep, circadian rhythms, which last about 24 hours and infradian rhythms, longer than a day. The most well know is the female cycle, another cycle is the week, it has a biological basis – the immune system has a weekly rhythm. The biological clock (a term used long before the clock was created), is a piece of brain made up of two tiny clusters of several thousand nerve cells that “tell time” based on external cues, such as light and darkness. This region of the brain is referred to as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), located very close to the optic nerve where it can get information directly from the eyes. Circadian rhythms are controlled by "clock genes" that carry the genetic instructions to produce proteins. The levels of these proteins rise and fall in rhythmic patterns. These oscillating biochemical signals control various functions, including when we sleep and rest, and when we are awake and active. Circadian rhythms also control body temperature, heart activity, hormone secretion, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, metabolism and many other functions. Daylight resets the internal biological clock every day so it is synchronized with a 24-hour day Air travel to a distant time zone can also disrupt normal cycles. Jet lag is a disconnect between local time and your body's time. Once you arrive at your destination, the change in daylight hours will reset your internal clock, but it will take a few days to get rid of the jet lag. The human circadian rhythm is not exactly 24 hours - it's actually 10 to 20 minutes longer. Other species have circadian rhythms ranging from 22 to 28 hours. The biological clock in living organisms keeps working even when the organism is removed from natural light. Without daylight, the biological clock will eventually start running on its own natural cycle. If you lived in an underground bunker under constant artificial light, you would continue to follow an approximately 24-hour sleep-wake pattern, but your cycles would slowly get out of phase with actual daytime and nighttime. But as soon as morning light hits the eyes, the clock will reset to match the earth's 24-hour day. Why aren't organisms' internal clocks exactly 24 hours long? A theory is the competition for food and other resources is most intense among species with 24-hour cycles. If you eat at the same time as everyone else, you're less likely to get your share. Our slightly out of sync internal clock may have evolved to help us survive the competition. Biological clocks also play a role in longer cycles such as hibernation, bird migrations and even annual changes in the color of a hamster's coat. When the animal brain records longer days in the spring and shorter days in the fall, it triggers hormone secretion that influences these events. Light is the main signaling influencing circadian rhythms: The hormone melatonin is most important in the control of the rhythms. Production of melatonin is in the pineal gland also referred to as the “third eye” and is directly influenced by light. In mammals it is influenced through the eyes. When it gets dark the gland starts the production of melatonin, when it gets light again it stops. During longer nights more melatonin n is produced. Irregularities in melatonin production can cause sleep problems, lethargy and mood disorders. The neurotransmitter serotonin is believed to influence mood and brain activity. Many antidepressants on the market today are used to help in production of serotonin. Interestingly melatonin and serotonin cannot be produced at the same time. Serotonin and melatonin work in conjunction with each other. When serotonin levels are high melatonin levels are held in check – and visa versa. After the lights are out at night your melatonin levels rise and your serotonin levels fall. The morning light immediately starts suppressing melatonin levels and allowing the rise in serotonin. Getting outside in the natural light helps this process and allows a full release of serotonin for the day’s use. Many believe that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is partly caused by high melatonin levels due to the lack of exposure to light which act to suppress serotonin release. The message here is: get out in the light in the morning and turn down the lights at night. Janice Gaines Jan 2012

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.

 

 

The Reclassification of Sugar as a Drug

Ask Janice “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.

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!

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

How Healthy is Your Home?

How Healthy is Your Home? We all want to be on the journey to healthier living; we think and talk about our diets, organic eating, spending more time outdoors, exercise and fitness etc… but what about the health of your home?

We have an intimate relationship with our environment, but how many of us think of the air quality in the environment of our own home the place where we spend most of our hours? Our home is not an inanimate structure; it’s an active enclosed eco-system. The health of your home is an integral component of your health and the wellness of your family.

We are all familiar with term “silent but deadly”, but have you ever thought about what that really means? The average home contains 500 – 1000 chemicals in which we are unable to smell, feel, see, or taste therefore we are often left unaware of the negative effects this has on our bodies.

Working on this article lead me to a conclusion, (not mine alone but that of many experts): Our home’s indoor air quality is typically 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. That really got my attention! So that is why they say “ignorance is bliss”. It’s not very blissful when you are sneezing every day, have itchy dry eyes, irritated nose and throat, or that  headache that just won’t go away , or nasal congestion, and the list goes on. I saw a TV commercial last night where a woman goes to the doctor and confesses she uses eye drops every day and the doctor says that she has “dry eye syndrome” and gives her a prescription. Oh yea that explains it, she felt much better! Agh!

Long-term and repeated exposure to pollutants can and will affect our overall health. Hence it’s an understatement to say “it would be prudent to improve the quality of the air quality in our homes.”

Start with two categories:  Source and Ventilation

Sources can range in a variety of way.  A short list can include home cleaning products, personal care products, dust, mold, wall paint, building materials, upholstery, furniture, carpet and the bits and pieces we track in on our shoes from outside.

Ventilation provides the necessary fresh air for us to breathe, dilutes indoor air pollutants and excess moisture. Complaints of stuffiness, unpleasant odors, and illness are common in houses that contain too little fresh air.

This all can seem a bit overwhelming, it is to me. But like the saying goes; “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Mike (my husband), and I started by getting an environmental home inspection, it was expensive but awfully enlightening and educational. They gave us a detailed report about the environment of our home. Then we sat down and put together a plan. This plan included long term and short term goals. Some things we  executed immediately and that felt great. Just being proactive in whatever way you can is a start.

The first thing I did was to through all our cleaning products; I got a cardboard box and put almost everything in it.  Then we went shopping, (if you know me, then you know I loved that part), and purchased all green, environmentally safe cleaning products, then I cleaned the house for two days and enjoyed it because I was creating a healthier environment The first thing Mike did was research and purchase HEPA air purifiers and HEPA vacuums.  This is one immediate and not too expensive of a step to healthier indoor air quality.

Next we are going to change the way our washer and dryer is situated so that we can control moisture in our house. This meant cleaning out the garage. There are a number of toxic resources in most garages and those can ventilate in to the house. Attics and crawl spaces are also resources for clutter and dust, mite rodent problems. Most of this kind of environmental cleanup can be done without spending very much money, it just takes some desire and good old physical labor.  Be sure to drink lots of water and wear a dust mask with a smile under it!

Congratulations you just took your first step to a healthier environment!

The Sound of Healing

The Sound of Healing By Kathie Hightower

Three years ago, Manzanita resident Ann Butrick had successful surgery to remove three brain aneurysms. One side effect, however, is what’s called an intentional tremor.

“When you intend to use your right hand for example,” Butrick says, “the result is a tremor so bad you can’t use it.” Butrick had tried acupuncture but is very sensitive to the needles, so two years ago she decided to try acutonics at Spa Manzanita with Judy Hathaway.

“It sounded like voodoo to me quite frankly,” she said, “but I tried it anyway since Hathaway combines acutonics with massage.” She started out with a treatment every two weeks at first, and then went to every month.

“It’s quite remarkable,” Butrick says, “Now I have no tremor at all, unless I become really stressed.” She says acutonics also helps control her knee pain and helps with her balance, which was affected by the surgery.

Butrick’s experience is an example of one of the ways music and sound are being used in healing today.

Music therapy is the most accepted of these new therapies, used frequently in hospitals and institutions, including hospice. Often used for pain relief, it’s been shown that post-surgical patients who listen to music require less morphine, for example. Physical therapists and chiropractors use devices to project frequencies into the body to heal muscles or tendons. There are many other modalities, from toning and mantra chanting to psychoacoustics, sonic-entrainment technology and vibroacoustic therapy, used in conditions from heart disease to pulmonary disorders to neurological diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers.

Butrick experienced what is known generically as “sonopuncture,” the use of tuning forks and crystal “singing” bowls in therapy. At Spa Manzanita it’s called acutonics because of the brand of tuning forks Hathaway uses. Also available at Rainbow Lotus Healing in Manzanita, the name there is acu-sound healing.

“It’s acupuncture without the needles,” says Hathaway, “but it’s more than that. Sound moves through liquid more easily than through air and our bodies are made up of 70% water so that magnifies the effect.”

Acutonics was developed by a group of acupuncturists who wanted a way to work with patients who are needle phobic. It uses the same basic principles of Oriental Medicine and energy medicine but makes it accessible in a non-invasive way using precision calibrated tuning forks. The forks allow frequencies to be applied directly to acupuncture points, chakras, and points of pain to vibrate along the meridians.

“Acutonics can be used for anything that acupuncture is used for,” adds Hathaway, “anxiety, depression, pain, asthma, the nausea from chemo.”

Hathaway trained in massage at the Oregon School of Massage in Portland. Always drawn to acupuncture, she focused on acupressure points in her massage. When she discovered acutonics, it seemed a perfect fit. She trained with Patrice Morency and others and loved the work immediately. She continues her training, heading off to Colorado for further workshops this summer.

“I find that most people who try acutonics have had some experience with acupuncture and are intrigued,” she adds.

I recently decided to try acutonics for just that reason. I’ve had some experience with acupuncture, heard about acutonics and was intrigued to experience it as well. It’s an amazing experience to have sound vibrate through your body. I’ve always been envious of my musician friends who get that experience in a different way, either by playing a musical instrument, especially something like drums or the harp, or by singing in a choir.  As much as I love listening to the North Coast Symphony or to a relaxing CD like my favorite David Lanz’s Cristofori’s Dream, experiences that always cause a relaxation response, it’s not the same as having vibrations physically enter your body.

I’ve discovered another advantage to acutonics. When I’ve had acupuncture, I hardly feel the needles. However, every now and then one really hurts.

“Ouch,” I yelled one time. The acupuncturist said, “That means you have toxins there or a blockage of your energy.” That might well be true, but my cynical self thought, “or maybe you just didn’t insert that one right.”

When I feel an extreme sense of heat during acutonics at the placement of the tuning forks in certain areas, a feeling that is very different from the rest, I’m more convinced that yes, there must be a blockage or toxin overload in that area.

Although I can’t yet find any concrete research studies on the effects of acutonics, I’m willing to keep testing it out for myself, especially for knee pain.

Conventional western medicine is taking a closer look at integrative holistic medicine.

Harvard-trained cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Oz has become known country-wide as a result of his television work and his best-selling series of books on health starting with YOU: The Owner’s Manual. He’s one of the many mainstream physicians testifying before Congress about how integrative holistic medicine could help rein in health care costs.

Dr. Oz believes the greatest medical advances of the next decade will come from manipulating the body’s flow of energy, as Chinese practices like acupuncture do.

Add acutonics or acu-sound healing to that. I’m happy to be a test case for that. Hmmm, wonder if there is any funding for study subjects?

As for Butrick, she tells me that she goes in for an acutonics treatment these days “whenever I feel the need for a tune-up.”

What can we do to improve our environment and lend our lives and the lives of our family to a healthier cleaner world? (Or) Environmental cleanup starts at home!

Are molds affecting your health? Fact – over 43 million American are living with hay fever symptoms and/or asthma.

Signs of mold allergies can often look like a cold. Do you wake up in the morning with a runny nose, watery eyes, congestion, sneezing or rashes? Or do you have an allergy that never ends when the seasons change? You may be allergic to the spores of molds.

Molds live everywhere and especially here on the Oregon Coast. Molds are tiny microscopic organisms that digest organic matter and reproduce by releasing spores. Molds are a type of fungi and there are over 100,000 species. In nature, mold helps decompose or break-down leaves, wood and other plant debris. Molds become a problem when they go where they are not wanted and digest materials such as our homes

You know you have mold when you smell the "musty" odor or see small black or white specks along your damp bathroom or basement walls. Some mold is hidden growing behind wall coverings or ceiling tiles. Even dry, dead mold can cause health problems.

Mold enters your home in tiny spores and naturally grows indoors. Mold spores are able to come in many ways. They are the air outside can attach themselves to people and animals, making clothing, shoes, bags, and pets convenient vehicles for carrying mold indoors. When mold spores land on places where there is moisture they will grow.   Common locations include plumbing that leaks, leaky roofs, showers and bathtubs, refrigerators, carpet, damp closets, clothes dryers, fire wood, plant containers and food.

There is no way to get rid of them but you can control mold growth by keeping your home dry. The key point is mold cannot grow without moisture. If there is already mold growing in your home, it’s important to clean it up and fix the problem or it will come back.

Controlling mold growth in your home:

Dry out the house and fix any moisture problems in your home:

  • Stop water leaks, repair leaky roofs and plumbing. Keep water away from concrete slabs and basement walls.
  • Open windows and doors to increase air flow in your home, especially along the inside of exterior walls. Use a fan if there are no windows available.
  • Make sure that warm air flows into all areas of the home. Move large objects a few inches away from the inside of exterior walls to increase air circulation.
  • Install and use exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.
  • Ventilate and insulate attic and crawl spaces. Use heavy plastic to cover earth floors in crawl spaces.
  • Clean and dry water damaged carpets, clothing, bedding, and upholstered furniture within 24 to 48 hours, or consider removing and replacing damaged furnishings.
  • Vacuum and clean your home regularly to remove mold spores.
  • Check around your windows for signs of condensation and water droplets. Wipe them up right away so mold can’t start to grow.

Cleaning mold:

Cleaning mold should be done carefully so it’s done safely and thoroughly. Mold is dangerous to your health and so are many cleaning products. If there is a large serious mold problem you may need profession help.

If you are going to clean the infected area yourself, here are some tips that should be followed:

  • Wear goggles, gloves and a mask.
  • Seal off the area from the rest of your home and open windows.
  • Remove all your furnishings to a mold free area.
  • Bag all moldy materials, take them outdoors and place in garbage right away.
  • Clean the area thoroughly using a mild dish washing liquid or laundry detergent and warm water.
  • Natural mold removal has a clear advantage to any other mold cleaning means. The benefits that it can bring are far more than just for humans but favor the earth even. Vinegar is one of the effective and natural basic home ingredients that could work well for mold cleaning.
  • Sure, there are instances that are calling for the use of chemical based mold removal products. However, they are but extreme cases. Employing a professional is more advisable for larger mold issues.  A borate based detergent works very well for mold removal but it has some environmental issues.

Let’s start taking better care of ourselves and the world around us!

Rest Days? The How and the Why for Improvement in Fitness

I bet you thought you would not hear me talk of this subject, rest. Yes I do take rest days, although I will be honest with you, this is an area I personally have trouble with. As you get more and more into fitness you may find yourself having emotional issues over a rest day. Don’t laugh it happens!

Rest is important and I will tell you why and how to incorporate rest in your week as well as into your workout.

Recovery is a generic term used to describe a return to a state of readiness. It could apply to a number of things in life. In fitness “recovery” means a physical and/or a mental break. Whether you are weekend warrior (which I hope you are not), a high performance athlete, (which I visualize for you), or you exercise for general health and good looks; recovering is essential for success and progress.  Recovery will provide a replenishment of nutrients and energy stores, (remember that term from my last article, hint: muscle glycogen), muscle repair and rebuild and last but not least a mental break.  Like “Ahhh, a day off!”

There are a variety of categories of recovery that can be broken down into long-term and short-term. We will start with long-term since it’s one I know you already know how to do- sleep. I will address short-term recovery in my next article. It is related more to physical exertion during your workouts. Long-term is between workouts.

Sleep shall not be underrated; it is by far (next to hydration, nutrition, love…etc…), the most important element to health and fitness.

In general, one or two nights of poor sleep won’t have much impact, but consistently getting inadequate sleep can really mess you up. At first you won’t notice it because they are subtle changes in hormone levels, especially those related to stress. As you already know hormone balance is crucial to health. Studies have shown sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) as well as a decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is what repairs tissue and builds muscle). To make matters worse you think when you are low in long=term rest you start to feel you are working harder than you really are, so get a decrease in aerobic endurance. I bet you see the picture here, but in case you don’t allow me to lay it out.

You want to get in shape, get healthier and loose weight. You start the program and you have a plan and you have made a commitment, that is great, but unless you are getting enough sleep; which is about 7 to 9 hours a night you are going to have a hard time.

Your workouts will feel hard and unpleasant. You are not getting the physiological recovery, muscle repair, fuel replenishment because your hormones are off and to make matters worse once again, cortisol production is up (that stress hormone) which is related to belly fat, agh what a mess! No wonder you don’t want to work out.

Here is a cheap and easy solution – go to bed! (I know Jay Leno is back on late night but it’s not worth it).

Another piece you can include in your repertoire of healthy living techniques that will help you sleep is hydration. Most people are quite dehydrated, but because they've never been super-hydrated they have no idea just how dehydrated they really are. How does this affect your sleep?  The more dehydrated you are the harder it is for your body to recharge and detoxify. The longer it takes for your body to detoxify the more sleep and energy your body requires. This keeps you awake or wakes you up and then you can actually create sleeping patterns like this.

I know what you are thinking: “if I drink a bunch of water I will have to get up at night and pee”, yes that may be true although its better then not sleeping because of all the other issues related to dehydration. You will find it is much easier to fall back asleep after “tinkling” (as my mother so fondly called it). You may even get so good at it that you can do it in your sleep.

I want you to experiment with increasing you H2O intake to one gallon a day for two weeks and see what happens. I am going to bet that you sleep better, you’ll look better and “bonus” you will drop weight!

So try it, what have you got to loose? Oh yea weight!

Will Exercise Make Me Smarter and Happier?

Increasing scientific evidence says “Yes”! What’s good for your heart and waist line is also good for your mind, and your frame of mind. We all know that working out is great for a wide range of medical reasons including heart disease, diabetes and so on… but did you know it can put you in a good mood? Folks who don’t exercise tend to have a greater chance of getting depressed.  Anti-depressants are handed out these days like candy, and in many cases these patients could have more profound and long term positive results if they just exercised.  The long term impact of drug intervention for depression is questionable.  There have been a number of studies that have evaluated exercise therapy for depression.  These studies have shown long term positive results with additional positive effects on overall health as time goes on.  Drug therapy cannot boast these claims.

You’ve all heard of “the runner’s high”. It’s that euphoria that people experience after prolonged aerobic exercise. This is a real thing! These good feelings are based on the body’s chemistry and how it responds to stimulus. There are neurotransmitters called endorphin and serotonin that are released in the parts of your brain that process emotions. Endorphins and serotonin contribute to making us feel better. So, rather than taking Prozac, a more natural route may just be to exercise more to produce these neurotransmitters.  Depressed people often experience overwhelmingly low levels of energy. They can often lack desire to do anything. This can cause a person to stop exercising which just compounds the effects of depression. The key is to try to get out there for as little as 15 to 30 minutes a day to start the ball rolling in the right direction. You don’t have to be an “athlete” to experience these affects and benefits.

We all know that exercise improves blood circulation throughout the body, which of course includes the brain. Exercise also boosts metabolism, decreases stress and improves mood and ability to focus, all of which help the brain perform better.  Neuro-scientific studies are exploring the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on anxiety, stress, depression, learning, and aging. The Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health (PCPFS Research Digest, 1996) states “physical activity appears to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve mood” and “regular physical activity may reduce the risk of developing depression.”

Exercise and Alzheimer’s disease – New research is now looking into whether progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s can be slowed by exercise.  The Alzheimer’s Association recently stated “physical exercise is essential for maintaining  good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage the production of new brain cells, thereby protecting  against those risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.” A mechanism thought to be responsible for this is a part of the brain called the hippocampus. It plays a large role in memory and learning. One study showed that runners have a boost in blood flow to the area of the hippocampus and an increased growth of new brain cells. Because of these exciting findings and obvious implications there are a number of studies going on.   A study from  Annals of Internal Medicine,  one the largest, most definitive studies to date on the relationship between dementia and exercise stated “In fact, just 15 minutes of exercise — such as walking or swimming — three times a week can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease or other dementia by 30 to 40 percent."

We can also extend this knowledge to children. Again there is growing research in discovering causes that improve concentration and learning. It appears that performance on standardized testing, grades and other measurements of learning show there is a strong relationship between aerobic exercise and higher achievement.  Not to mention lowering body fat, particularly since teenage obesity is a nationwide epidemic.  According to the report, 14% of adolescents in the United States are overweight. This figure has nearly tripled in the last 20 years.

Well...are you sold?  Remember, you don’t need to do much to get the awesome benefits.  As little as 15 minutes of brisk walking can boost the blood flow through the body. Of course more than that will give you better effects. Exercise can make you smarter and happier in as little as 2 weeks. Feel good and be smarter by bikini season!

As my 82 year old friend Donna says: "I'm a better thinker because I have a better body. I really believe that!”

Ready to start some new habits for 2010?

New habits mean a change, which means changes in lifestyle. It is as simple as that but, it’s not that simple is it? What does it mean to create life style changes? What this means is reviewing how we spend the hours in our days, doing what we do. We then decide we want to change some of the ways we spend some of our time.

You have to ask yourself what do you want to do less of, none of, or more of.

Make a point to evaluate how do you spend your hours?

This is your lifestyle!

Make a list:

What do you want to do in your daily routine that you do not do now?

What do you not want to do in your daily routine that you do do now?

I would suggest picking out no more then three items or even one if it’s a big one, (like quitting smoking), from the “do not” list and the same from the “do list”.

Now you have decided which behavior(s) you don’t want and which one(s) you do want we have to make a plan and set some goals. See how easy this is starting to look?

What does it mean to break a habit? “They” say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. I say it takes as long as it takes but remember every journey starts with the first step. Sorry for the cliché but sometimes they just work!

You have made your decision on which piece of your life you want to eliminate or which part you want to bring in your life. Now you need to set a date and write it down. Count out 21 days that you will make the commitment to follow your plan. Getting easier?

Suggestions:

  • Write down your goal. There is magic in the written word when it applies to you. Phrase it in positive affirmations. For example “I want to have healthy clean lungs” instead of “I have to quit this ugly smoking habit”
  • List the reasons why you want this change. Again, writing things down will help you think it out and bring in a higher conscience level. Your commitment becomes solidified.
  • New Habits-Remember the things you want to change take time. They have defined how your spend time.  This is the issue. So, we need to find a new routine for that time. For example, if it’s smoking after eating, try drinking a glass of water or having a sugar free lollypop etc...
  • Talk to yourself but be kind, as if you  were your own best friend! Tell you how good you are doing and keep yourself on track.
  • Ask for support from the folks that are around you.
  • Watch out for those that interfere or want to sabotage. It’s scary for some people to see you change. Be aware, assertive and gentle.

Can You Change the Way You Think?

A teacher takes a bit of lightweight thread and wraps it one time around a student's wrists.

He tells the class, "This string represents the power of doing something one time. Can you break the string?"

The student easily breaks the thread with a small flick of his wrists. The teacher then wraps the string around the student's wrists many times and repeats the challenge to break it.

Despite repeated efforts, the lightweight thread is too strong to break.

His teacher says, "Now you see the power of repeated actions… habits. It takes more than mere willpower and personal strength to break them. It takes a change in the way you think about the problem." (Author unknown to me)

By changing our thoughts and our mental images we can change our reality and our life style. Creative visualization- see it, be it! This mental technique can help you attain the goals you set out for yourself.

When I coached bicyclists on how to avoid crashing (always a good thing), I would say “look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go”!  This works in our daily life as well, keep a picture in your mind of the person you want to be. Thoughts are very powerful. They create and mold our lives. Your personal thoughts travel to others which then can attract assistance.  This can help achieve what it is you would like to accomplish.

Stay positive. Create mental pictures of yourself as having already achieved your goals.

Contentment and health to you in 2010