Want to lose weight, feel stronger, healthier, and more vibrant? Pick up a dumbbell! While strength training is a good addition to anyone’s fitness routine, recent studies show that lifting weights may have special health benefits for women. And that’s particularly true for older women. Among its many benefits, strength training:
- Boosts bone mineral density. Two recent Norwegian studies show that that resistance training using body weight (squats) not only optimizes peak bone mass in younger women, it also stimulates bone formation in those with osteoporosis and osteopenia.
- Reduces the risk factors for heart disease. Scientists at Appalachian State University have confirmed that resistance training can enhance blood flow while reducing blood pressure by as much as 20 percent.
- Lowers the risk of diabetes. Research in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness reported that lifting weights prevented inflammation and blood sugar spikes in a group of overweight postmenopausal women who engaged in weight lifting three times per week.
- Lifting weights makes you smarter. Canadian researchers at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, found that women in their 60s and 70s who engaged in strength training once or twice a week improved the executive cognitive function 10.9 percent and 12.6 percent respectively. Executive function in those women that only engaged in balance and tone exercises (think yoga or stretching) actually deteriorated by 0.5 percent.
- Helps thwart low back pain. Core-strengthening resistance exercises (planks, crunches, etc.) help to prevent and relieve low back pain, according to a recent trial at the William Beaumont Health Center in Royal Oak, Michigan.
- Enhances joint flexibility and range of motion. When elderly women took part in either low volume weight training (one set of several exercises) or high volume (three sets) weight training twice a week for 13 weeks, Brazilian researchers found that both groups experienced a significant increase in muscle quality as well as range of motion in the knee and elbow.
- Prevents frailty and the loss of muscle mass. Even very low-intensity resistance training done slowly has been found to boost muscle size and strength in healthy senior citizens. Practiced twice a week, scientists at the University of Tokyo noted that even low intensity weight lifting can help prevent sarcopenia—the gradual loss of muscle mass common in the elderly.
It’s ideal if you can work with a trainer who will instruct you on proper form and help you find the right weight for your fitness level. If you are taking a strength-training class or setting up a program on your own, it’s important to always warm up by doing five or ten minutes of light cardio. Once you begin, lift and lower your weights slowly. Don’t use momentum—if you have to swing to get the weight up, chances are you’re using too much weight. And remember to engage your abs and breathe. Finally, make sure you give your muscles time to recover. Give specific muscle groups at least one full day to recuperate before exercising them again. Also be careful to listen to your body. Although mild muscle soreness is normal, sharp pain and sore or swollen joints are signs that you’ve overdone it.
I have just returned from a glorious vacation in the Cayman Islands to witness one of my best friend’s wedding! Besides cool comfortable clothes, sunglasses and a hat, skin protection was certainly top of mind. So much that I wanted to share these cool “FOOD AS MEDICINE” tips from my friends at Natural Health Advisory!
As I am about to enter my 5th decade, I am aware that wrinkles are the most dreaded sign of aging skin, but they are not inevitable. The skin damage that leads to their development is caused by two factors: UV radiation from the sun, and diminished cellular production of the proteins collagen and elastin.
The sun emits many different frequencies of radiation that can ionize molecules and contribute to the development of free radicals. This causes DNA damage and cell death that can eventually lead to diseased or unhealthy skin. Clothing does typically not cover the face and hands, so the sun’s rays often affect them the most. Compounding the danger of sun exposure, nutrient and water deficiency can lead to decreased collagen and elastin production. These two proteins help connect cells to each other. When they are deficient, skin tissue becomes loose and inelastic, and wrinkles develop.
Prevent wrinkles and skin damage naturally
Preventing skin damage before it leads to wrinkles is always the best strategy, and counteracting UV radiation is the first step. Surprisingly, using sunscreen, lotion, or moisturizer may actually be a harmful method of doing so. Moisturizers and sunscreens treat symptoms; they do not cure problems. A much healthier option is to increase your intake of vitamins and foods that prevent wrinkles.
Top foods that prevent wrinkles
Many foods contain powerful skin-protective nutrients. Incorporating a variety of these into the diet is the most beneficial. The following have been shown to contain wrinkle-reducing compounds:
- chaga mushrooms
- goji berries
- sweet potatoes
- yellow bell peppers
- mustard greens
- rice bran
Naturally reduce the appearance of existing wrinkles
Once antioxidants are abundant enough to protect cells from free-radical damage, the second step is to rebuild the collagen and elastin fibers that hold skin cells together. The most important vitamin for this is vitamin A. According to a 2007 study at the University of Michigan, topical vitamin A (retinol) significantly increases collagen production—even in cells that are already damaged by the sun.
The most important minerals for collagen production are copper, iron, and manganese. Another study found that vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin C cause a systemic increase of these metals in the body In this study, this increase led to enhanced wound repair and collagen production.
Where to naturally find what you need
All of these nutrients can be found in some very common foods. For example:
- Vitamin B5 is best found in mushrooms and cheese, and has many benefits in addition to skin repair.
- Vitamin A is found abundantly in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, and squash.
- Vitamin C comes from yellow bell peppers, kale, and broccoli.
- Vitamin E can be found in spinach, mustard greens, and kale.
- Ferulic acid is present in large quantities in tomatoes and rice bran.
It is best to incorporate all of these nutrients into the diet by eating a variety of the featured foods that prevent wrinkles, and by adding pure supplements as needed. Be cautious of using lotions and creams that may also have harsh ingredients that lead to allergies and side effects.
The skin is the outward manifestation of overall health. A few common foods can greatly benefit both.
I always have thought that empathy is an essential quality of a superior and effective practitioner, noted here in an excerpt I wrote for an upcoming textbook. “We are the healing container that our patients seek out to get help and feel safe to partner with. In order to intuit compassion, ease, gentleness, and understanding, providing the necessary space for the immeasurable bandwidth of emotions, feelings, sentiments, and experiences our patients present, it is imperative that we have a process of understanding ourselves. Whether it be with our bodies (e.g., healing from a physical crisis, being increasingly conscious of how we nourish ourselves, reaching and maintaining an ideal weight); with our minds (e.g., calming the judgmental tendencies we suffer due to our own fear and ignorance of the incongruence we have within the chasm of “knowing” and “doing”); with our hearts (e.g., calming the fires of pain around unresolved or misunderstood emotional issues); or with our souls (e.g., screaming from a deeper place, crying out for attention and begging us to change), we must continue to become aware and grow our own container in order to be able to authentically and fully facilitate this growth in another person.” I was poignantly reminded of this quality recently. Here is what happened.
It was 7:30 pm on a Friday evening, I had landed from a business trip where I had lost my phone, made my way through the maze at LAX to stand on an hour long cab line, spent and hour and fifteen minutes on the 10 freeway to go approximately 8.2 miles to my home, only to be greeted by a stack of mail, (mostly bills), 67 emails, (mostly spam), 5 voice mails (2 were my mother in law) and a nice pile of cat puke on my entryway landing. Exhausted, I poured myself a glass of wine and slumped down in a chair, chin in hand, fought back the tears and thought to myself, “this is what I hear my patients share with me every day!”
Life in our modern day society seems to have brought, not only a flight of prevailing technology, a sea of information and anti-biotic resistant bacteria, but as well, a new form of “stress”. Stress that is chronic, insidious and worthy of a new paradigm of meaning and a different conversation when it comes to the way it is affecting our health. A national survey, released by the American Psychological Association found that one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress and nearly half (48%) report their stress levels have increased within the past five years. This is an area of my life that I can fully admit to needing to continue to learn and grow my own container, in order to most effectively help my patients because as Bob Dylan sings, “the times they are a-changin”.
The traditional definitions of stress summarize the entity as a physical event, for example an injury, or a mental state like anxiety that disturbs the body’s normal state of functioning and / or requires the body to respond. In its most refined and simple definition, stress is a disruption that causes a reaction. The traditional stress reaction consists of a surge of chemicals released in the body after an individual perceives danger to prepare the body for survival. It is part of the very primitive ‘fight or flight’ reaction to danger, one that has not evolved with these modern times. Whether the stress is acute or chronic, perceived or real, good or bad, passive or active, the response by our bodies is intended to preserve life; it is our survival mechanism. A healthy human stress response involves many components. As a general review, the brain initiates the most immediate response signaling the adrenal glands to release epinephrine and norepinephrine. The hypothalamus and pituitary glands then activate another part of the adrenals releasing cortisol. This is followed by the nervous system initiating behavioral responses like alertness, focus, reduction of pain receptors, increase in heart rate, blood pressure, release of glucose and the inhibition of reproductive behaviors and desires. To accommodate these demands there is a massive increase in energy production and utilization of nutrients and fluids in the body. Traditionally of course, once the stressful situation has passed, the brain signals the responses to be “turned off” and finally recovery and relaxation allows the body to re-establish balance in all systems, replacing lost nutrients and eliminating waste products accumulated during the process.
Besides the damage done to our tissue by the chronic release of cortisol and catecholamine’s another of the key element in this stress response that is missing in our modern day stress paradigm and therefore contributing to what is showing up clinically is RECOVERY. While there were built in recovery times for life threatening events like getting chased by a polar bear, there are few for the recurring events like backed up traffic, relationship troubles, financial pressures, job stresses, negative self-talk and image, poor physical conditioning, artificial lighting, malnourished diet, inadequate sleep, genetically modified foods, environmental toxin accumulation and so on. In fact, these types of stressors each day can string themselves together rendering the stress response to be “turned on” all of the time and is contributing to many of the health issues I see in my practice each and every day. Patients, with their own stories of persistent stress, are complaining of anything from a compromised sleep/wake cycle free of medication, a decrease in libido, poor digestion, constipation, hormone imbalances, thinning hair, adult acne, chronic and persistent fatigue, weight gain around the belly, mood swings, hormonal imbalances, and depression. In addition, my patients who are under this type of chronic stress utilize medications, drug, food, alcohol and tobacco products in order to help them cope, making the entire situation worse! (I will remind you of the glass of wine I poured J)
No matter what the diagnosis rendered clinically, there has not been one patient that I have seen in the past several months who hasn’t had a story of stress and a need for modulation and support. In these times, it is absolutely crucial that the underlying aspects of stress and adrenal dysregulation are addressed or most of our treatments will be implemented as if they were sand against the tide. Note, I use the word “dysregulation” instead of “fatigue or failure”, which are commonly used by alternative practitioner, because I believe this is what is happening. There is a complex collection of symptoms a patient presents that is due to a dyregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis of which there are several phases and different aspects to depending on the individual.
As adjunctive interventions to the clinical treatment plan for the rendered diagnosis I use a three-pronged approach in helping to control this pervasive contributing factor influencing our modern day disease landscape. First, repleting nutrients lost due to the lack of recovery and also increased need is essential. Pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, are often depleted when the demands on adrenal gland cortisol production are continuous. Second, helping the patient to break the sympathetic constant fodder of fight or flight responses by offering instruction on simple and effective activities to induce the parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system can be very helpful. I have one of my patients, diagnosed with anxiety and hypertension, who starts off his day with coffee and about 360 emails, take a “power pause” and do alternate nostril breathing, before he gets downloaded with a barrage of information. You would be surprised and how effective that 3-minute intervention has been in his healing process. Lastly, utilizing the class of herbs called adaptogens to aid in resisting and managing the myriad of stressors in a patient’s life can improve treatment outcomes. An adaptogen is an agent that produces a nonspecific response to counter physical, chemical or biological stressors, thus allowing the body to “adapt” to the stressful circumstance. This normalizing influence on physiology is irrespective of hyperfunction or hypofunction of an organ or organ system. Adaptogens commonly used for their anti-stress qualities and stabilizing effect on the HPA axis include American ginseng, astragalus, ashwagandha, rhodiola, Asian ginseng, cordyceps, eleutherococcus, holy basil, schisandra, and licorice.
The batter has already hit two home runs. When he gets up to bat for the third time, his confidence is running high…
It’s easy to feel confident when we’re on a roll, when the cards are going our way, or we’re closing sales right and left. This symptomatic confidence, one built on a recent series of successes, isn’t particularly difficult to accomplish or useful.
Effective confidence comes from within; it’s not the result of external events. The confident salesperson is likely to close more sales. The confident violinist expresses more of the music. The confident leader points us to the places we want (and need) to go.
You succeed because you’ve chosen to be confident. It’s not really useful to require yourself to be successful before you’re able to become confident”.
I read the above blog by Seth Godin and my chin hit the floor. I thought to myself “OF COURSE” and “DUH”, being beyond inspired and thinking this makes so much sense. Yet, looking back at my own experience in the past month, I noticed that I (yes, me), had been choosing wrongly. This last month has been riddled with darker days and feelings of vulnerability, insecurity and doubt. I had allowed for my confidence be shaken, just because I didn’t get a job I was up for; a job I know I am good at, really good at!
Reading the wise words of Seth Godin, reminded me of my truth, my belief and my choice. I know that my life has a purpose and everything happens as it should. I believe in blind faith; meaning, you can’t see the next move or the next opportunity but you know it is there and you live it. I choose once again to be that beautiful, confident woman.
Confidence is a choice. Whether you set out today to start a new exercise regimen, get a new job, stop eating gluten and sugar, lower your cholesterol, be less defensive, ask for a raise, drink less alcohol, lose the weight or get more sleep, no matter what your track record is, choosing to be confident will help grease your skids for success!
Are you in?
I first came across this story while researching and advocating for a postive outlook on the tranisiton into menopause. I had been growing increasingly tired of the way this very normal phase was being medicalized as I feel menopause is one of the most powerful transitions for a woman. As I stumbled on it again earlier this week, I started to think about all transitions, especially those that feel rather difficult. Struggles don’t have to cripple us, in fact, if we look at them as part of our birthright to growth, they can actually help us fly.
One day, a small opening appeared on a cocoon; a man sat and watched for the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.
Then, it seems to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could not go any further.
So the man decided to help the butterfly: he took a pair of scissors and opened the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a withered body; it was tiny and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would open, enlarge and expand, to be able to support the butterfly’s body, and become firm.
Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a withered body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and his goodwill did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were ways of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been and never been able to fly.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.
~ Mother Theresa
This quote rather amazes me. When I read it, it is one of those passages that I truly feel in my bones. I feel it in my heart. I know it is the way I want to behave, always and in all ways. But here is the catch: I am usually reading this type of message during my allotted “screen time” each day while sitting on my couch surrounded by the love of both 2 and 4-legged family members, sipping hot tea and letting my face mask dry. Rarely (ok, almost never) does something of this significance flash through my mind while someone who has envy, jealousy, mean, destructive and illogical actions is coming at me. Yesterday, I sat in civil court for over 3 hours waiting to defend myself against the harassment and malicious prosecution of the squatters in the unit next to me. I was not alone, as they are also suing other neighbors of mine for equally preposterous reasons. I don’t understand it. I don’t even know these people but they seem to be mentally disturbed and mean spirited, flying high with agendas way beyond their filed suits. I have long stopped asking the “Universe” why things happen as they do, thanks to “Wisdom.” However, how am I supposed to sit and hear horrible, wicked, hateful things about myself, that are blatantly defaming lies, and still induct the spirit and message of peaceful loving people like Mother Theresa? How am I to hold onto who I truly am when my blood feels like it is actually boiling due to this crime affecting me on personal and professional levels? How am I to forgive and love in this circumstance?
I’ve been thinking about this incessantly, especially after we did not receive a judgment, only a continuance. That’s right, I have to go back. I have to be near the darkness again. It isn’t over. My thoughts have lead me to that familiar place; that place where love and hate are not mutually exclusive but standing next to one another, existing simultaneously.
I can love that these are fellow humans, once dependent little babies. I can have compassion for their motivation, their need for money, their sense of desperation and at the same time, I can hate this experience, their actions and the resulting stress falling down on my family. I can forgive them but I can hate the damage, the disappointment, and the fear that has been mustered up in my fairly charmed life. I can love my life, have faith in it and trust that all that is in play is meaningful and needed and I can hate the gut twisting feeling of injustice and victimization. I can love and hate at the same time and I think it is really important.
Maybe that is really the gist of what Mother Theresa was saying. Maybe, despite feeling the blast of destruction aimed right at me, I heard her words anyway.
I belong to a “club” in my neighborhood that has fostered friendships, a community and social and emotional stimulation for me for over 2 years. It has been one of the best things that I have ever been a part of and I am so grateful that it and everything about it was brought to my life so as I travel on this path of mine, I stumbled upon it.
But lately, things have been changing. (sorry for the vagueness but I am still working through this) I am not feeling the same sense of support or belonging that I once did. I am not feeling that same spirit that filled my heart once by simply being there. Who knows what happened. I do know at my ripe age of 48 that the only constant is change. Maybe it is me, maybe just the natural progression of the “club”, who knows. But here is where I stand. When something like this happens, as humans, I think it is natural to want to start colluding with others and bitching and complaining perhaps to create a sense of validation for the waning feelings by talking negatively about this, that or the other thing. But for what? I can choose to be a victim of my perceived changes in this club or a creative cause in my life. I could gossip or protest, or, use this as an opportunity to reassess my own needs. Perhaps choose a new club, do something different and love, accept, take responsibility for my experience and move on with grace and appreciation for what once was! Whether it is at work, in your family or at play ask yourself, are you a victim or a creative cause in your life?
Keep on becoming…..
First of all, thank you so much for visiting my BLOG! I do love that word, as very few words are both a noun and a verb. Yes, this is my BLOG (noun) and I will BLOG (verb) on issues and topics, which I feel, will stimulate thoughts, conversations, actions, behavior changes or insights for people who are looking to grow in their health and their lives. I am quite aware that there is a sea of information out there… posts, tweets, articles, videos and more! My goal is to help you sift through information and facilitate true understanding. I want to help put the “dots really close together” so that you can connect them and truly own your own health care.
A mentor of mine always has said “words don’t matter, you have to feel it in your bones!”
I wrote the above paragraph when I started my “blog” over 2 years ago. As I started off in the “blogging” world, it felt like I was learning a whole knew language, one filled with words like “brand” “search engine optimization” “conversion” “likes” “followers” “strategy” ETCETERA~ J I thought to myself…..hey, what is all this, I just want to help people! But I was so excited to have a voice and help that I learned the new marketing mumbo jumbo and took off writing. Turns out that my initial fervor to simply and truly help pull the dots close together so that folks can connect them and use their own mind, understand something at the core and own their choices and health got stymied by my own internal process. I started out wanting to blog weekly and did ok. Then summer hit, I got a bit busy and I tapered to twice a month. Then, there were some dark months as in NO BLOG. Then……I started to notice this deep, yet strange resistance to settling from a busy practice, an intense personal fitness regimen, fielding media inquiries, family obligation and other events that keep me on the move to sit still and write. It became so daunting that I actually talked to a professional about it. Here is what I came to understand. For several reasons, mostly those stemming from my upbringing, I feel that if I slow down and relax (the state needed to write and express) I am in fear. It seems that if I reside in vigilance (moving, doing, accomplishing), I feel safety. There in lies my issue with settling, sitting, thinking and blogging. I know I have a voice. I know there is an undying need in me to facilitate understanding in the swirl of marketing medicine and health and I vow to continue to know my fears, my opportunities and myself so I can grow and continue to express.
Thank you for your patience and let’s keep on becoming together.
I see a lot of active people in my practice. Many of them have sprains, cuts, bruises, scrapes, and all kinds of minor (and sometimes not so minor) trauma. In times past, comfrey was considered a powerful healing plant and would have been a remarkable natural intervention to relieve pain and hasten healing. Unfortunately, comfrey contains liver toxic compounds (pyrrolizidine alkaloids, or PA), so its oral use was banned in the United States. Some doctors were even concerned with creams and soaks, for fear these compounds would absorb.
Fortunately, there is a new comfrey topical cream that is great for open wounds, so any cuts and other normal results of an active life can be healed quickly. The other good news is that this comfrey cream is safe for children as young as four years old, so it’s an option even for kids who get into enough of their own scrapes.
Thanks to a wonderful blend of age-old wisdom and modern plant science, there is a type of comfrey that avoids the problem of liver toxicity altogether. This variety of comfrey, known as Symphytum x uplandicum NYMAN, has been designated as “Trauma Comfrey” by the German Health authorities a specialized species, much like a patent.
This special form of comfrey has been specifically cultivated to be low in PA content. Plus, only the aerial parts – leaves, stems and flowers – that are naturally PA-free (rather than the roots that typically have a higher PA content) are used.
Three major compounds in this comfrey cream are allantoin, choline, and rosamarinic acid. They are powerful.
- Allantoin quickly helps regenerate damaged tissue, including; skin, tendons, cartilage and bone.
- Choline helps injured blood vessels and nerve endings recover faster.
- Rosmarinic acid fights inflammation and slows down cell damage.
For anyone needing relief and healing from everyday bumps and bruises, or more serious injuries and trauma, this clinically tested comfrey cream, known as Traumaplant®, is the one I recommend. It’s safe for kids and adults, and to me it’s like having an entire medical kit in just one tube.
I have a radio show that airs every Wednesday at noon Pacific Time on RadioMD.com called “Mindful Medicine”. It is simply another format for me to hopefully “knock ‘em alive” with empowering information that can help people be their own PCPs “primary care providers” and have their homes be their own HMOs “Health Maintenance Organization” Get it?
I am fortunate to have a fascinating and amazing regular contributor, Dr. Jacob Tietlbaum MD, join me every week to talk about easy, effective, natural ways to help people take back control and manage their health. Jacob and I were talking very passionately about the newest recommendations, handed down from a government agency, which suggested (based on a faulty calculation) that many more people would be candidates for taking statin medications. We both were fairly incensed about this notion, knowing that statin medications come with serious risks and side effects and research has shown that there are many common lifestyle choices that are far more likely to be associated with a lower risk of heart attack and heart attack death than taking statins medications. Some of these include eating chocolate, participating in regular exercise, getting adequate nutrition and having cats. YES, having cats, check this out:
Cats More Effective Than Cholesterol Meds for Preventing Heart Disease Deaths:
A research study found that having a cat can reduce stress in people’s lives, and consequently lowers the risk of having a heart attack or stroke or developing a heart disease. The findings are based on a 10-year study, carried out by the researchers at the Stroke Research Center at the University of Minnesota. The study, which looked at 4,435 Americans, aged 30 to 75, showed that those who did not have a cat had a 40 percent higher risk of having a heart attack and a 30 percent greater risk of dying from other heart diseases than those who have or have had a cat. The study was presented at the American Stroke Association meeting in New Orleans. Unfortunately, in this study owning a dog did not have the same heart protective benefits. Several studies have confirmed that owning a pet reduces stress, decreases blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces risk of depression. This makes cats (and other natural alternatives) much safer, cheaper, and more fun than cholesterol lowering medications!
If cats aren’t for you….rest assured there are still SO many more ways that are clinically proven, effective and devoid of serious side effects to help prevent and treat heart disease!
YOU ARE YOUR OWN PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER! Stay informed and… MEOW!