12 Minutes of Yoga for Bone Health

CreditPaul Rogers

Yoga enthusiasts link the practice to a long list of health benefits, including greater flexibility and range of motion, stronger muscles, better posture and balance, reduced emotional and physical stress, and increased self-awareness and self-esteem.

But definitively proving these benefits is challenging, requiring years of costly research. A pharmaceutical company is unlikely to fund a study that doesn’t involve a drug, and in any event, the research requires a large group of volunteers tracked over a very long time.

The subjects must provide health measurements at the outset, learn the proper poses, continue to do them regularly for years and be regularly evaluated.

No one knows these challenges better than Dr. Loren M. Fishman, a physiatrist at Columbia University who specializes in rehabilitative medicine. For years, he has been gathering evidence on yoga and bone health, hoping to determine whether yoga might be an effective therapy for osteoporosis.

The idea is not widely accepted in the medical community, but then, researchers know comparatively little about complementary medicine in general. So in 2005, Dr. Fishman began a small pilot study of yoga moves that turned up some encouraging results. Eleven practitioners had increased bone density in their spine and hips, he reported in 2009, compared with seven controls who did not practice yoga.

Knowing that more than 700,000 spinal fractures and more than 300,000 hip fractures occur annually in the United States, Dr. Fishman hoped that similar findings from a much larger study might convince doctors that this low-cost and less dangerous alternative to bone-loss drugs is worth pursuing.

Those medications can produce adverse side effects like gastrointestinal distress and fractures of the femur. Indeed, a recent study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging found that among 126,188 women found to have osteoporosis, all of whom had Medicare Part D drug coverage, only 28 percent started bone drug therapy within a year of diagnosis.

Many of those who avoided drugs were trying to avoid gastrointestinal problems.

On the other hand, yoga’s “side effects,” Dr. Fishman and colleagues wrote recently, “include better posture, improved balance, enhanced coordination, greater range of motion, higher strength, reduced levels of anxiety and better gait.”

Weight-bearing activity is often recommended to patients with bone loss, and Dr. Fishman argues that certain yoga positions fit the bill.

“Yoga puts more pressure on bone than gravity does,” he said in an interview. “By opposing one group of muscles against another, it stimulates osteocytes, the bone-making cells.”

Most experts argue that it’s difficult, perhaps impossible, for adults to gain significant bone mass. Undeterred, Dr. Fishman invested a chunk of his own money and with three collaborators — Yi-Hsueh Lu of The Rockefeller University, Bernard Rosner of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. Gregory Chang of New York University — solicited volunteers worldwide via the Internet for a follow-up to his small pilot study.

Of the 741 people who joined his experiment from 2005 to 2015, 227 (202 of them women) followed through with doing the 12 assigned yoga poses daily or at least every other day. The average age of the 227 participants upon joining the study was 68, and 83 percent had osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia.

The 12 poses, by their English names, were tree, triangle, warrior II, side-angle, twisted triangle, locust, bridge, supine hand-to-foot I, supine hand-to-foot II, straight-legged twist, bent-knee twist and corpse pose. Each pose was held for 30 seconds. The daily regimen, once learned, took 12 minutes to complete.

The researchers collected data at the start of the study on the participants’ bone density measurements, blood and urine chemistry and X-rays of their spines and hips. They were each given a DVD of the 12 yoga poses used in the pilot study and an online program in which to record what they did and how often.

A decade after the start of the study, bone density measurements were again taken and emailed to the researchers; many participants also had repeat X-rays done. The findings, as reported last month in Topics of Geriatric Rehabilitation, showed improved bone density in the spine and femur of the 227 participants who were moderately or fully compliant with the assigned yoga exercises.

Improvements were seen in bone density in the hip as well, but they were not statistically significant.

Before the study, the participants had had 109 fractures, reported by them or found on X-rays.

At the time the study was submitted for publication, “with more than 90,000 hours of yoga practiced largely by people with osteoporosis or osteopenia, there have been no reported or X-ray detected fractures or serious injuries of any kind related to the practice of yoga in any of the 741 participants,” Dr. Fishman and his colleagues wrote.

“Yoga looks like it’s safe, even for people who have suffered significant bone loss,” Dr. Fishman said in an interview.

Furthermore, a special study of bone quality done on 18 of the participants showed that they had “better internal support of their bones, which is not measured by a bone density scan but is important to resisting fractures,” Dr. Fishman said.

The study has many limitations, including the use of self-selected volunteers and the lack of a control group. But all told, the team concluded, the results may lend support to Dr. Fishman’s long-held belief that yoga can help reverse bone loss.

Even if bone density did not increase, improvements in posture and balance that can accrue from the practice of yoga can be protective, Dr. Fishman said.

“Spinal fractures can result from poor posture, and there’s no medication for that, but yoga is helpful,” he said.

In addition, “Yoga is good for range of motion, strength, coordination and reduced anxiety,” he said, “all of which contribute to the ability to stay upright and not fall. If you don’t fall, you greatly reduce your risk of a serious fracture.”

 

5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise Regularly

by Julie Kailus

zfavy3a jd3a bb3bIf losing pounds is as easy as journaling about what you put in your mouth, can you use the same technique to help you stick to a fitness routine?

Dieters who keep a food diary lose twice as much weight as those who kept no records, according to a recent study by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research. But while keeping a journal holds you more accountable for how you treat your body, sticking to a fitness routine is different from sticking to a healthy eating routine. Personal trainers we talked to recommend these tactics to keep you motivated and inspired to work out.

1. Change your perspective

Shift your thinking from couch potato mentality to thinking like an athlete. This may sound like a big challenge, but it’s not as big a leap as you think. Essex, Massachusetts mom April Bowling, 33, stopped using her busy life as an excuse not to exercise. After the birth of her children (now ages 5 and 3), Bowling started viewing exercise as a way to set a strong example for her kids.

“At first I looked at it as time away from them, but I realized kids do what they see you doing,” she says. “Now both kids are very physically active.”

Bowling started thinking about her workouts at odd hours as a blessing rather than a sacrifice. She also found inspiration in others—looking outward for extra motivation. “Take inspiration from everyone you meet—even people who can’t be physically active,” she says. “It reinforces why I’m lucky.” Whether you need to hang an “I’m lucky” sticky note on the mirror, or you can see the power of health in your children’s eyes, committing to a fitness routine begins in your head.

2. Set a goal

There’s nothing more motivating — sometimes even scary — than that first 5K looming in bold letters on the calendar. Register early and commit to an exercise program that will get you in shape by race day.

“Set realistic goals that include clear milestones, and as you progress toward your goal, you’ll find a ripple effect occurs and things fall into place in your work, home life and health,” says Stacy Fowler, a Denver-based personal trainer and life coach.

The goal doesn’t even have to be an organized race. Maybe it’s a mission to fit into that bikini by the annual beach vacation or that old pair of jeans buried in your closet. Whatever it is is, define it, write it down and revisit it daily.

Make sure it’s realistic and you can actually adapt your life around meeting the goal, says Philip Haberstro, executive director of the National Association for Health and Fitness in Buffalo, N.Y. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure. Bowling started with a mini triathlon in 2006 (250 yard swim, 10 mile bike ride and 3.5 mile run). This year she completed Ironman Wisconsin (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run).

3. Schedule a regular workout time

Some of the most committed exercisers do it every day before the sun comes up or late at night when the kids are in bed. Sit down with your weekly schedule and try to build in an hour each day to be good to your body.

Tamira Cole, 24, a graduate student in Clarksville,Tenn., was motivated to exercise regularly by the energy boost it brought to her day. “It’s easy to stay in bed. But you have to set an alarm and take the extra initiative,” she says. “Then you’ll find you have more energy and can be more efficient throughout the day.”

If you convince yourself you’ll fit in a workout some time after that last meeting, once the kids go down for a nap or when your spouse arrives home on time, failure is certain. Chances are a last-minute invitation will come along; weather will foil a bike ride; or the kids won’t nap. Write your workout on your calendar, set up daycare, and rearrange things around this one hour as if were any other important appointment you have to keep. Or use technology like daily e-mail reminders, workout journaling websites or iPhone applications to keep you on task, says Haberstro.

4. Think fun and variety

By nature, humans need change and variety to stay motivated. We also need to have fun — even while we’re working hard. Do both!

Whether it’s a toning and sculpting class that changes choreography every week or a trail run that changes scenery every season, design your exercise routine around a variety of exercise methods. Make sure you include activities you truly enjoy and look forward to doing. Think movement that’s more like recreation and makes you forget you’re working out — like dancing, hula hooping or playing sports with family and friends.

Listen to your inner voice when choosing the best workout for you, says Fowler. Cole found a hip-hop class that satisfied her passion for dance. “I had more energy from dancing than I did from running,” she says.

Workout variety also challenges your body in unique ways, which may introduce you to new muscle groups you didn’t even know you had. Consider disciplines that give you more bang for your buck, suggests Haberstro. Ta’i chi and yoga, for example, serve dual purposes as mental therapy and physical activity. Or try a workout DVD to help you shake up your routine.)

5. Reach out to others for support

In America, some tend to have trouble asking for help, says Bowling. Yet in order to stick to a fitness program, we need buy-in and encouragement from other people.

“Exercising is built into our family life,” Bowling adds. “We view it as a necessity. Sometimes it takes the place of watching TV together.”

For others, it’s finding a friend with a shared zest for running, and planning scheduled workouts together. It’s easy to hit the snooze button when it’s just you, but much harder to leave a friend waiting at the track.

Consider joining a social networking site or online community with fitness trainers and nutrition experts — and support from other people trying to lose weight and maintain healthy eating and exercise routines. People who get this kind of online support are proven to lose three times more weight than people going it alone.

Lobbying your workplace to offer on-site fitness, yoga or Pilates classes will also support your mission for a healthy lifestyle, Haberstro points out.

So start thinking of yourself as an athlete, and not a spectator. Set a goal, enlist a friend, mark it on your calendar and have some fun. You’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of better health, more happiness, and more energy for everything else in your life.

Physical activity guidelines: How much exercise do you need?

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2013/11/20/physical-activity-guidelines-how-much-exercise-do-you-need/

Physical activity guidelines: How much exercise do you need?

Weigths_largeFor general good health, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get a minimum of 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. (37) Yet many people may need more than 2-1/2 hours of moderate intensity activity a week to stay at a stable weight. (37)

  • The Women’s Health Study, for example, followed 34,000 middle-aged women for 13 years to see just how much physical activity they needed to stay within 5 pounds of their weight at the start of the study. Researchers found that women who were in the normal weight range at the start of the study needed the equivalent of an hour a day of physical activity to stay at a steady weight.(43)
  • If you are exercising mainly to lose weight, 30 minutes or so a day may be effective in conjunction with a healthy diet. (44)

If you currently don’t exercise and aren’t very active during the day, any increase in exercise or physical activity is good for you.

  • Aerobic physical activity—any activity that causes a noticeable increase in your heart rate—is especially beneficial for disease prevention.
  • Some studies show that walking briskly for even one to two hours a week (15 to 20 minutes a day) starts to decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke, developing diabetes, or dying prematurely.
  • You can combine moderate and vigorous exercise over the course of the week, and it’s fine to break up your activity into smaller bursts as long as you sustain the activity for at least 10 minutes.

Exercise Intensity:

  • Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is any activity that causes a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. One way to gauge moderate activity is with the “talk test”—exercising hard enough to break a sweat but not so hard you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation.
  • Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity causes more rapid breathing and a greater increase in heart rate, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation—with shorter sentences.

Here is a summary of the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. More information is available on the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans website.

Children and adolescents should get at least 1 hour or more a day of physical activity in age-appropriate activities, spending most of that engaged in moderate- or vigorous–intensity aerobic activities. They should partake in vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on at least three days of the week, and include muscle-strengthening and bone strengthening activities on at least three days of the week.

Healthy adults should get a minimum of 2-1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or a minimum of 1-1/4 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of the two. That could mean a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week; a high-intensity spinning class one day for 45 minutes, plus a half hour jog another day; or some other combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Doubling the amount of activity (5 hours moderate- or 2-1/2 hours vigorous-intensity aerobic activity) provides even more health benefits. Adults should also aim to do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.

Healthy older Adults should follow the guidelines for healthy adults. Older adults who cannot meet the guidelines for healthy adults because of chronic conditions should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. People who have chronic conditions such as arthritis and type 2 diabetes should talk to a healthcare provider about the amount and type of activity that is best. Physical activity can help people manage chronic conditions, as long as the activities that individuals choose match their fitness level and abilities. Even just an hour a week of activity has health benefits. Older adults who are at risk of falling should include activities that promote balance. (37)

Strength training for all ages

Studies have shown strength training to increase lean body mass, decrease fat mass, and increase resting metabolic rate (a measurement of the amount of calories burned per day) in adults. (5960) While strength training on its own typically does not lead to weight loss, (61) its beneficial effects on body composition may make it easier to manage one’s weight and ultimately reduce the risk of disease, by slowing the gain of fat—especially abdominal fat. (62)

  • Muscle is metabolically active tissue; it utilizes calories to work, repair, and refuel itself. Fat, on the other hand, doesn’t use as much energy. We slowly lose muscle as part of the natural aging process, which means that the amount of calories we need each day starts to decrease, and it becomes easier to gain weight.
  • Strength training regularly helps preserve lean muscle tissue and can even rebuild some that has been lost already.
  • Weight training has also been shown to help fight osteoporosis. For example, a study in postmenopausal women examined whether regular strength training and high-impact aerobics sessions would help prevent osteoporosis. Researchers found that the women who participated in at least two sessions a week for three years were able to preserve bone mineral density at the spine and hip; over the same time period, a sedentary control group showed bone mineral density losses of 2 to 8 percent. (63)
  • In older populations, resistance training can help maintain the ability to perform functional tasks such as walking, rising from a chair, climbing stairs, and even carrying one’s own groceries. An emerging area of research suggests that muscular strength and fitness may also be important to reducing the risk of chronic disease and mortality, but more research is needed. (64-68)
  • A systematic review of 8 studies examining the effects of weight-bearing and resistance-based exercises on the bone mineral density (BMD) in older men found resistance training to be an effective strategy for preventing osteoporosis in this population. Resistance training was found to have more positive effects on BMD than walking, which has a lower impact. (69)

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that muscle strengthening activities be done at least two days a week. (37) Different types of strength training activities are best for different age groups.

  • When talking about the benefits of exercise, keeping the heart and blood vessels healthy usually gets most of the attention. For many individuals, though, stretching and strength training exercises may be just as important.
  • Strength training, also known as resistance training, weight training, or muscle-strengthening activity, is one of the most beneficial components of a fitness program.

Children and Adolescents: Choose unstructured activities rather than weight lifting exercises. (37)

Examples:

  •  Playing on playground equipment
  • Climbing trees
  • Playing tug-of-war

Active Adults: Weight training is a familiar example, but there are other options: (37)

  • Calisthenics that use body weight for resistance (such as push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups)
  • Carrying heavy loads
  • Heavy gardening (such as digging or hoeing)

Older Adults: The guidelines for older adults are similar to those for adults; older adults who have chronic conditions should consult with a health care provider to set their activity goals. (37) Muscle strengthening activities in this age group include the following:

  • Digging, lifting, and carrying as part of gardening
  • Carrying groceries
  • Some yoga and tai chi exercises
  • Strength exercises done as part of a rehab program or physical therapy

Flexibility training

Flexibility training or stretching exercise is another important part of overall fitness. It may help older adults preserve the range of motion they need to perform daily tasks and other physical activities. (7071)

  • The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults engage in flexibility training two to three days per week, stretching major muscle and tendon groups. (60)
  • For older adults, the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine recommend two days a week of flexibility training, in sessions at least 10 minutes long. (70) Older adults who are at risk of falling should also do exercises to improve their balance.

References


37. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, U.S.D.o.H.a.H. Services, Editor. 2008.
43. Lee, I.M., et al., Physical activity and weight gain prevention. JAMA, 2010. 303(12): p. 1173-9.
44. Jakicic, J.M., et al., Effect of exercise duration and intensity on weight loss in overweight, sedentary women: a randomized trial. JAMA, 2003. 290(10): p. 1323-30.
49. Sesso, H.D., R.S. Paffenbarger, Jr., and I.M. Lee, Physical activity and coronary heart disease in men: The Harvard Alumni Health Study. Circulation, 2000. 102(9): p. 975-80.
59. Hunter, G.R., J.P. McCarthy, and M.M. Bamman, Effects of resistance training on older adults. Sports Med, 2004. 34(5): p. 329-48.
60. Williams, M.A., et al., Resistance exercise in individuals with and without cardiovascular disease: 2007 update: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology and Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism. Circulation, 2007. 116(5): p. 572-84.
61. Committee, P.A.G.A., Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. Washington, D.C.(2008).
62. Schmitz, K.H., et al., Strength training and adiposity in premenopausal women: strong, healthy, and empowered study. Am J Clin Nutr, 2007. 86(3): p. 566-72.
63. Engelke, K., et al., Exercise maintains bone density at spine and hip EFOPS: a 3-year longitudinal study in early postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int, 2006. 17(1): p. 133-42.
64. Katzmarzyk, P.T. and C.L. Craig, Musculoskeletal fitness and risk of mortality.Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2002. 34(5): p. 740-4.
65. Gale, C.R., et al., Grip strength, body composition, and mortality. Int J Epidemiol2007. 36(1): p. 228-35.
66. Bohannon, R.W., Hand-grip dynamometry predicts future outcomes in aging adults. J Geriatr Phys Ther, 2008. 31(1): p. 3-10.
67. Ling, C.H., et al., Handgrip strength and mortality in the oldest old population: the Leiden 85-plus study. CMAJ, 2010. 182(5): p. 429-35.
68. Ruiz, J.R., et al., Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study. BMJ, 2008. 337: p. a439.
69. Bolam, K.A., J.G. van Uffelen, and D.R. Taaffe, The effect of physical exercise on bone density in middle-aged and older men: A systematic review.Osteoporos Int, 2013.
70. Nelson, M.E., et al., Physical activity and public health in older adults: recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation, 2007. 116(9): p. 1094-105.

There’s a room in Poland where people can smash everything in sight #stress #angermanagement #health

http://www.businessinsider.com/a-room-where-people-can-smash-everything-2015-10
Stressed? An entrepreneur in Poland has an innovative new way for you to deal with it, and it sure beats those squishy stress balls.

Inspired by “how people can throw a TV set from 11th floor after a football match,” a new room in Lodz, known as the “rage room,” invites guests to let out their anger by breaking things. For $40, people can enter the room, pick a weapon, and destroy everything they can get their hands on, from old TVs to plates and glasses.

All items in the rage room are donated.

Story by Jacob Shamsian and editing by Kristen Griffin Business Insider

Quick Tip: Stress

Quick Tip: Before you settle into a feel of overwhelm, remember… stress is often a figment of our imagination. Worry about what needs to be accomplished and our inevitable failure to get it done can weigh heavily. Instead, spend time organizing your workload. “What can I realistically get done today?” Create a list, then focus on and complete one task at a time. You will find that being in the present moment and not worrying about what is to come will relieve much of your stress. ~ Maggie Hernandez-Knight

Good health = happy employees #health #happiness #worklife

6035 Lifestyle: Good health = happy employees
by John Hazlehurst

Happy Healthy Employees!

Happy Healthy Employees!

When Ent Federal Credit Union was founded in 1957, three banks dominated the Colorado Springs market: First National Bank, Exchange National Bank and Colorado Springs National Bank. Named for Gen. Uzal Girard Ent, commander of the Ninth Air Force during World War II, Ent FCU was a tiny, specialized player, at first serving only service members stationed at Ent Air Force Base and their dependents.

The Ent Air Force base has long since closed (replaced by the Olympic Training Center), and the three once-dominant institutions have merged or closed their doors.

Ent is now the leading financial institution in southern Colorado with $4 billion in assets and more than 240,000 members, according to its website.

Thanks to its health and wellness efforts, the credit union has been named the 6035 Healthiest Large Company by the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

Ent’s business mission statement is “to improve members’ quality of life through education, unbiased financial advice and access to the highest quality financial products and services.” And it carries that business mission through to its employees.

One of the region’s largest employers, Ent pays particular attention to the health and well-being of its staff.

The company’s employee benefits include:

• insurance (health, dental and vision);
• paid time off (PTO);
• gym membership discounts;
• short- and long-term disability;
• life insurance;
• retirement savings plan;
• employee service awards;
• employee health and wellness program.

The Health and Wellness program is focused and comprehensive. Seventy percent of Ent’s leadership team (at the vice president level and above) currently participate. Employees who participate are given $10 in every paycheck as incentive to continue participation.

The program has many components, including blood drives, local 5K running events, other community fitness events and lunch-and-learn presentations on a variety of topics. These include: quick and fit, maintain don’t gain, dental hygiene, proper nutrition, food labels, gut health, healthier recipes, diet fads and facts, healthy eating on the run, creating a culture of health and wellness in the workplace, food is medicine, healthy holiday eating, stress management and the power of sleep, according to Victoria Selfridge, vice president for corporate communications.

Participating employees first complete a customized health risk assessment, personally assessing their own well-being. Assisted by a clinical health coach, the employee then completes a biometric screening that assesses 15 health risks. If an employee demonstrates three or more risk factors, he or she is encouraged to work with a health coach and establish treatment goals.

The program is free for all employees, even if they do not participate in the medical plan.

Selfridge said the program’s goals reflect the company’s mission statement. It’s dedicated to:

• improving employees’ quality of life;
• maintaining the dignity and privacy of employees; and
• improving health measures to reduce increases to employees’ health care costs.

The wellness program focuses on a partnership between Ent and its employees to achieve a common goal of being a world-class workforce by:

• maintaining or improving health risks year-over-year;
• supporting each other by building camaraderie; and
• employees holding themselves accountable for their well-being.

“Since the implementation of the wellness program,” Selfridge said, “our health care renewal premiums have been single digit increases, where the trend has been double digit across the Front Range. While we don’t currently correlate sick days [absenteeism] or employee turnover statistics to participation in our Employee Health and Wellness Program, we believe the wellness program has boosted employee morale and created a healthier and more engaged workforce.”

The credit union provides a full range of financial solutions through 27 service centers throughout Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, Pueblo and Denver. They offer members online, mobile and telephone banking services, a Colorado call center and both consumer and mortgage loan centers.

Ent Federal Credit Union • ent.com
Contact: 719-550-6894
Type of business: Credit Union

10 Ways To Shift Your Mindset and Feel Better Right Now #stress #mindset #happiness

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-21820/10-ways-to-feel-better-right-now.html 10 Ways To Feel Better Right Now by Shannon Kaiser

Today, I consider myself an extremely happy person, but it hasn’t always been that way. The truth is that I’ve made HUGE strides to get where I am today. I had to dig deep inside myself to access authentic joy. I used to cry myself to sleep every night. I felt lifeless, numb, and bored with life.

I’d obsess over my day and feel tremendous guilt and anxiety tied to my eating disorders, drug addictions, poor choices in men, and unfulfilling job.

We get what we focus on.

I did whatever I could to avoid the feeling that I hated my life and myself — I tried to numb myself with food, drugs, codependent relationships, etc. It was a vicious cycle. I felt so much pressure to be happy, which only kept me more miserable.

I thought I needed to get a new job, a thinner body, and more money in order to become happier, but this mentality just kept me unhappy. I was always waiting for the next thing.

Looking back now, I see that the real transformation in turning my pain into purpose was learning how to shift my mindset in each momentWe get what we focus on. If I wanted a healthier and happier life, I needed to focus on that. Small, moment by moment mindset shifts helped pull me out of depression and led me to find my purpose and passion as an author, life coach, and teacher.

If you’re having a bad day, month, or even a bad year, instead of waiting for your happiness to come in some achievement or big life change, start small by shifting your perception in this moment.

Here are 10 simple ways to do it:

  1. Remind yourself as much as you need to: You get what you focus on. If you don’t like what you see, change your focus.
  2. Instead of asking How can I get?, ask What can I give? The energy of giving rewards your soul.
  3. Joy is contagious. When you do what brings you joy, you uplift the world.
  4. Remember what’s meant to be will always find a way.
  5. Any troubling situation is designed to show you what needs to be worked on.
  6. Maybe you’re exhausted because you’re tired of acting stronger than you feel. It’s okay to be vulnerable.
  7. Say what you need to say. There is freedom in self-expression.
  8. Things don’t happen to you, they happen for you.
  9. Treat yourself more kindly. When you nourish the inside, the outside will flourish.
  10. Experience is the best way to learn. What you’re going through is preparing you for what you asked for.

20 Tips To Curb #Sugar #Cravings And Kick The #Addiction #health #diet #weightloss

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-frank-lipman/sugar-addiction_b_783203.html

by FRANK LIPMAN, MD

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Practical tips from Dr. Frank Lipman to kick your sugar habit.

As a serious sugar addict still struggling with my “addiction” I know first hand how difficult it is to get off sugar, and to stay off it. Part of the reason it’s so hard to kick the habit is that over time our brains actually become addicted to the natural opioids that are triggered by sugar consumption. Much like the classic drugs of abuse such as cocaine, alcohol and nicotine, a diet loaded with sugar can generate excessive reward signals in the brain which can override one’s self-control and lead to addiction.

One study out of France, presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, showed that when rats (who metabolize sugar much like we do) were given the choice between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous cocaine, 94 percent chose the saccharin water. When the water was sweetened with sucrose (sugar), the same preference was observed — the rats overwhelmingly chose the sugar water. When the rats were offered larger doses of cocaine, it did not alter their preference for the saccharin or sugar water. Even rats addicted to cocaine, switched to sweetened water when given the choice. In other words, intense sweetness was more rewarding to the brain than cocaine.

The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction to include three stages: bingeing, withdrawal and craving. Until recently, the rats had only met two of the elements of addiction, bingeing and withdrawal. But recent experiments by Princeton University scientist, Professor Bart Hoebel and his team showed craving and relapse as well. By showing that excess sugar led not only to bingeing and withdrawal, but to cravings for sweets as well, the final critical component of addiction fell into place and completed the picture of sugar as a highly addictive substance.

In stark contrast to this clinical assessment is the fact that for most of us, “something sweet” is a symbol of love and nurturance. As infants, our first food is lactose, or milk sugar. Later on, well-intended parents (me included) reward children with sugary snacks, giving them a “treat,” turning a biochemically harmful substance into a comfort food. We become conditioned to need something sweet to feel complete or satisfied and continue to self-medicate with sugar as adults, using it to temporarily boost our mood or energy. But as any addict knows, one quick fix soon leaves you looking for another — each hit of momentary satisfaction comes with a long term price.

The bottom line is that sugar works the addiction and reward pathways in the brain in much the same way as many illegal drugs. And, like other drugs, it can destroy your health and lead to all sorts of ailments including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, and premature aging. Sugar is basically a socially acceptable, legal, recreational drug, with deadly consequences — and like with any drug addiction, you have to have a flexible but structured plan to beat it.

Here are some tips to help you cope with sugar cravings:

  1. Eat Regularly: Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.
  2. Choose Whole Foods: The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety. (For more information, read “The Whole Thing” in the ExperienceLife archives).
  3. Have A Breakfast Of Protein, Fat And Phytonutrients: Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. The typical breakfast full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is the worst option since you’ll have cravings all day. Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings. (For more information, read “Phyto Power” in the ExperienceLife archives).
  4. Try To Incorporate Protein/Fat Into Each Meal: This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.
  5. Add Spices: Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.  (For more information, read “5 Healing Spices” in the ExperienceLife archives).
  6. Take A Good Quality Multivitamin And Mineral Supplement, Omega 3 Fatty Acids And Vitamin D3: Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, vitamin B3 and magnesium.
  7. Move Your Body: Exercise, dance or do some yoga. Whatever movement you enjoy will help reduce tension, boost your energy and decrease your need for a sugar lift.
  8. Get Enough Sleep: When we are tired we often use sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion.
  9. Do A Detox: My experience has been that when people do a detox, not only does it reset their appetites but it often decreases their sugar cravings. After the initial sugar cravings, which can be overwhelming, our bodies adjust and we won’t even want the sugar anymore and the desire will disappear.  (For more information, read “Detox Done Right” in the ExperienceLife archives).
  10. Be Mindful Of Emotions: Be open to explore the emotional issues around your sugar addiction. Many times our craving for sugar is more for an emotional need that isn’t being met.
  11. Keep It Out of Reach: Keep sugary snacks out of your house and office. It’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t there!
  12. Don’t Substitute Artificial Sweeteners For Sugar: This will do little to alter your desire for sweets. If you do need a sweetener, try Stevia, it’s the healthiest.
  13. Learn to Read Labels: Although I would encourage you to eat as few foods as possible that have labels, educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list. So check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving. For more information, read “How Health People Decode Labels” in the ExperienceLife archives
  14. Become Familiar With Sugar Terminology: Recognize that all of these are sweeteners: corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, molasses, turbinado sugar and brown sugar.
  15. Look Out for Sugar in Disguise: Remember that most of the “complex” carbohydrates we consume like bread, bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined and act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided.
  16. Take L-Glutamine: Take 1000-2000mg every couple of hours as necessary. It often relieves sugar cravings as the brain uses it for fuel.
  17. Take a “Breathing Break:” Find a quiet spot, get comfortable and sit for a few minutes and focus on your breath. After a few minutes of this, the craving will pass.
  18. Distract Yourself: Go for a walk, if possible, in nature. Cravings usually last for 10-20 minutes maximum. If you can distract yourself with something else, it often passes. The more you do this, the easier it gets and the cravings get easier to deal with.
  19. Drink Lots of Water: Sometimes drinking water or seltzer water can help with the sugar cravings. Also sometimes what we perceive as a food craving is really thirst.  (For more information, read “How to Hydrate” in the ExperienceLife archives).
  20. Have a Piece of Fruit: If you give in to your cravings, have a piece of fruit, it should satisfy a sweet craving and is much healthier.

If you follow these guidelines, perhaps you’ll be able to have an occasional “treat.” Be realistic with yourself and remember that a slip is not a failure. Don’t get down on yourself if you slip, just dust yourself off and get back in the saddle. However, if even just a little causes you to lose control, then it’s best to stay away from it completely. And my ultimate tip for sugar-free bliss is to remind ourselves to find and pursue “sweet satisfaction” in nourishing experiences other than food.

BY FRANK LIPMAN, MD

Frank Lipman, M.D., is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC and the author of “REVIVE; Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again” (2009) (previously called SPENT).

10 Workout Secrets From the Pros #workout #exercise #fitness #tips

Getting and staying fit can be a challenge. For many of us, it’s hard just to get up off the couch. So what’s the secret of people who have managed to make exercise a way of life?
woman working with trainer

1. Be Consistent

Chase Squires is the first to admit that he’s no fitness expert. But he is a guy who used to weigh 205 pounds, more than was healthy for his 5’4″ frame. “In my vacation pictures in 2002, I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at the beach,” says the 42-year-old Colorado resident. Squires decided enough was enough, cut out fatty food, and started walking on a treadmill. The pounds came off and soon he was running marathons — not fast, but in the race. He ran his first 50-mile race in October 2003 and completed his first 100-miler a year later. Since then, he’s completed several 100-mile, 50-mile, and 50k races.

His secret? “I’m not fast, but I’m consistent,” says Squires, who says consistency is his best tip for maintaining a successful fitness regimen.

“It all started with 20 minutes on a treadmill,” he says. “The difference between my success and others who have struggled is that I did it every single day. No exercise program in the world works if you don’t do it consistently.”

2. Follow an Effective Exercise Routine

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently surveyed 1,000 ACE-certified personal trainers about the best techniques to get fit. Their top three suggestions:

  • Strength training. Even 20 minutes a day twice a week will help tone the entire body.
  • Interval training. “In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, FACSM, chief science officer for ACE. “It is an extremely time-efficient and productive way to exercise.”
  • Increased cardio/aerobic exercise. Bryant suggests accumulating 60 minutes or more a day of low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, running, or dancing.

3. Set Realistic Goals

“Don’t strive for perfection or an improbable goal that can’t be met,” says Kara Thompson, spokesperson for the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). “Focus instead on increasing healthy behaviors.”

In other words, don’t worry if you can’t run a 5K just yet. Make it a habit to walk 15 minutes a day, and add time, distance, and intensity from there.

4. Use the Buddy System

Find a friend or relative whom you like and trust who also wants to establish a healthier lifestyle, suggests Thompson. “Encourage one another. Exercise together. Use this as an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company and to strengthen the relationship.”

5. Make Your Plan Fit Your Life

Too busy to get to the gym? Tennis star Martina Navratilova, health and fitness ambassador for the AARP, knows a thing or two about being busy and staying fit.

Make your plan fit your life, she advises in an article on the AARP web site. “You don’t need fancy exercise gear and gyms to get fit.”

If you’ve got floor space, try simple floor exercises to target areas such as the hips and buttocks, legs and thighs, and chest and arms (like push-ups, squats, and lunges). Aim for 10-12 repetitions of each exercise, adding more reps and intensity as you build strength.

6. Be Happy

Be sure to pick an activity you actually enjoy doing, suggests Los Angeles celebrity trainer Sebastien Lagree.

“If you hate weights, don’t go to the gym. You can lose weight and get in shape with any type of training or activity,” he says.

And choose something that is convenient. Rock climbing may be a great workout, but if you live in a city, it’s not something you’ll be doing every day.

7. Watch the Clock

Your body clock, that is. Try to work out at the time you have the most energy, suggests Jason Theodosakis, MD, exercise physiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. If you’re a morning person, schedule your fitness activities early in the day; if you perk up as the day goes along, plan your activities in the afternoon or evening.

“Working out while you have the most energy will yield the best results,” Theodosakis says.

8. Call In the Pros

Especially if you’re first getting started, Theodosakis suggests having a professional assessment to determine what types of exercise you need most.

“For some people, attention to flexibility or to balance and agility, may be more important than resistance training or aerobics,” he says. “By getting a professional assessment, you can determine your weakest links and focus on them. This will improve your overall fitness balance.”

9. Get Inspired

“Fitness is a state of mind,” says fitness professional and life coach Allan Fine of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. One of Fine’s tricks to get and stay motivated is to read blogs or web sites that show him how others have been successful. “Who inspires you?” he asks.

10. Be Patient

Finally, remember that even if you follow all these tips, there will be ups and downs, setbacks and victories, advises Navratilova. Just be patient, and don’t give up, she says on the AARP web site: “Hang in there, and you’ll see solid results.”

 

10 Natural Ways to Ease Allergies

Remedies From Neti Pots to Spicy Food

By AMANDA GARDNER
Health.com http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Allergies/10-natural-ways-ease-allergies/story?id=18981304#

April 19, 2013—

Spring brings plenty of delights: warmer weather, longer days, blossoming trees. But these seasonal changes aren’t welcomed by everyone. For many of us, they’re eclipsed by the itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion of hay fever and other spring allergies.

What to do???Some allergies are severe and require the attention of a doctor or other health care professional. For milder cases, though, home remedies may provide all the relief you need, with relatively little expense or hassle. Even people with bad allergies who need medication may find these at-home tips helpful for easing symptoms.

Net Pots

They may look exotic, but Neti pots are fast becoming a mainstream remedy for allergies and stuffed-up sinuses. The treatment, which involves rinsing your nasal cavity with a saline solution, flushes out allergens (like pollen) and loosens mucus. Using a Neti pot is simple. First, fill the pot with a mixture of salt and warm water (you can buy premeasured kits or make your own. Then tilt your head to the side and pour the solution in one nostril until it flows out the other, repeating the process on the opposite side. (Important note: Use boiled or distilled water only, as tap water can introduce potentially dangerous organisms into your system.)

Saline Spray

Prepackaged saline nasal sprays function much like Neti pots, but some allergy sufferers may find them easier to use. Sprays deliver saline solution a bit more gently and evenly, whereas pots can sometimes be a little “sloppy,” says Robert Graham, MD, an internist and integrative medicine specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. Saline sprays should provide comparable results. Although Neti pots have been studied more extensively, and in some cases may prove more effective, sprays too have been shown to help with allergy symptoms and other sinus problems.

Local honey

Eating honey produced by bees in your region can help relieve allergies. The bees transfer pollen from flower blossoms to honey, so if you eat a little honey every day you’ll gradually become inoculated against the irritating effects of pollen. That’s the widely held theory, anyway. Unfortunately, there’s little to no scientific evidence to back it up. Although a small 2011 study from Finland that compared regular honey and pollen-laced honey did report modestly encouraging results, an earlier study in the United States found that unaltered local honey had no impact on allergy symptoms.

HEPA filters

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters ease symptoms by trapping allergens and other airborne irritants, such as pet dander and dust. Portable wire cleaners equipped with HEPA filters can purify the air in bedrooms and other confined spaces, but whole-house systems that incorporate HEPA filters into your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system are generally more effective. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers also can help clean air, Dr. Graham says. They remove moisture from the air and floor, which will curb the growth of the mold and mildew that can worsen allergies.

Herbs and supplements

Several herbs and supplements—including spirulina, eyebright, and goldenseal—have been studied for allergy relief. The plant extract butterbur, which is thought to reduce airway inflammation, has produced what are perhaps the strongest results. In a pair of clinical trials led by a Swiss research team, butterbur tablets eased symptoms just as much as the over-the-counter antihistamines fexofenadine and cetirizine, respectively. For his part, Dr. Graham suggests his patients first try bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple that is sometimes used to curb inflammation after sinus surgery. “It reduces swelling and improves breathing,” he says. “It’s a safe first step.”

Showering

Anyone who has even been stuffed-up knows the impressive ability of a steaming hot shower to soothe sinuses and clear nasal passages, if only temporarily. But showers offer an added benefit for springtime allergy sufferers. A quick rinse after spending time outdoors can help remove allergens from your skin and hair—and prevent them from spreading to clothes, furniture, pillowcases, and other surfaces where they’re likely to dog you. This is especially true if you’ve been gardening. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends stripping off your shoes and clothes and showering immediately if you’ve been weeding, pruning, or planting.

Steam

Don’t feel like getting soaked and toweling off every time your sinuses get clogged? Other methods of inhaling steam—store-bought vaporizers, for instance—can flush out mucus and moisten dry nasal passages nearly as well as a shower. The easiest method is simply to pour boiling water into a bowl or other container, drape a towel over your head to form a tent, and inhale deeply through your nose for five to 10 minutes. (Just be careful not to get your face too close to the water, as you may scald yourself.) If you find yourself really clogged up, this may be more convenient than taking several showers a day.

Eucalyptus oil

The strong, piney aroma of eucalyptus oil can supercharge steam inhalation, helping to open your sinuses and nasal passages further. Some research suggests the essential oil, extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but if nothing else the vapor provides a bracing, menthol-like sensation that can make breathing seem easier. Try adding a few drops of oil to a bowl of steaming water, or to the floor of the shower before you step in. Just don’t swallow the oil or apply it directly to your skin; it’s toxic in concentrated amounts.

Spicy foods

Many people swear by the sinus-clearing effects of spicy foods like chili peppers, wasabi, Dijon mustard, fresh garlic, and horseradish. Sure enough, an active ingredient in garlic (allyl thiosulfinate) and a similar ingredient in wasabi (isothiocyanates) do appear to have a temporary decongestant effect. Foods with a kick can definitely start your eyes watering and open your nasal passages, but it’s unclear whether they provide anything more than fleeting relief.

Tea

Holding your face over a hot cup of tea may open your nasal passages, but the steam isn’t the only thing that’s beneficial. The menthol in peppermint tea, for instance, seems to work as a decongestant and expectorant, meaning it can break up mucus and help clear it out of your nose and throat. Similarly, green tea contains a compound (methylated epigallocatechin gallate) that has been shown in lab tests to have antioxidant properties that inhibit allergic reactions. These results may not necessarily translate into noticeable symptom relief for spring allergy sufferers, however. If you do have spring allergies, you’ll probably want to stay away from chamomile, as it can cause reactions in people allergic to ragweed.