Monday, October 9, 2017

Keeping it Lively!

Wow, it will be a year tomorrow since I posted here. I want to show you a bunch of pics (not everyone is on Facebook!) and I think this is the best way.

So, my email is about my mom and her physical vigor. Here are photos from our recent hiking trip: Mom, me, Carolle and Chris. Plus Garcon, Carolle's poodle of magnificence. I'll include the email text after the photos. It was 2.5 miles each way, on an old road that lead to the ruins of the Overlook Mountain Hotel. If you're ever in the Catskills, check it out.
Overlook Mountain Hotel Ruins
Mom as Tree

Carolle Appreciates

Me, Mom & Chris

Mom, Garcon, Carolle

Carolle and Pup
Yes I climbed up!

Chris and me at the top of the fire tower. WINDY!

Heading down at last.

Here's the body of the email, in case you missed it:

I just returned from a lovely weekend away, to a place with no cell phone or cable service, and lots of gorgeous views. Up high in the Catskills the leaves have turned colors and people are turning out to enjoy it! 

We took a nice long hike (5 miles) up an old road to see the ruins of the Overlook Mountain Hotel. That's me in what used to be a window (or maybe a door?). I was with two of my sisters, and my mom, who will turn 80 in few months (sorry for outing you, Mom, but you're the point of this story!). 

Hikers were out in droves on this holiday weekend, and they came in all types. There were those with big backpacks loaded with overnight gear. Some just toted a water bottle. There were families carrying tiny babies on their chest or toddlers riding high on dad's back. Young couples, older couples, and lots of dogs. Some offered to share their baby carrots when we stopped to rest, and others were fascinated with Carolle's poodle Garcon. I'm telling you, there were lots of people out, even on a day that started off very overcast.

Did I mention it was 2.5 miles up, up, up? Although the trail was an old road and so nice and wide, it was still rocky and uneven. Here's where Mom comes in: She made it up and back (heh heh once you're up there's not much choice about the return trip!) for 5 miles total. She was tired, but we had a nice lunch at the top, and there were Rangers handing out Oreos up there so, dessert! 

What is her secret? I hope good genes that I've inherited, for one; but also her own subconscious motto: Don't stop. She worked as a Special Education Teacher's Assistant for 25 years before retiring at about 74 years old. She moved from there to volunteering in a teaching garden, where she was as much a fixture as the hired Farmer. She keeps her house spotless and her yard blooming. She comes to my yoga classes twice a week, and yes, she keeps up! Sometimes I worry that she "overdoes", but a little rest and she's right back at it. 

I've never been and never will be as active as my mom is, but I take seriously the lesson she has modeled. There is never a time to sit in the proverbial rocker and not get back up. Retirement doesn't mean TV all day. Do things for yourself if you can; not only is it exercise but learning new things is fun and rewarding. Cook your own food. Read. If you can't see to thread the needle, get better glasses. You get the picture.

Monday, October 10, 2016

As promised . . .

I'm going to jump right in here and zing you with some great, fast ideas to reduce the effects of stress on your body, mind and spirit. (See previous post for more on stress.)

Pick one or more to sprinkle throughout your day. You may find a regular time to practice, like while you wait for coffee to brew, in the car/bus/train on the way to work, in line at the grocery store. Or set an alert on your computer every hour to remind you.

1. Three full deep breaths.
2. Forward bend.
3. Bounce.
4. Stretch.
5. Walk.

1. Yup, that's it: Inhale/exhale/repeat. You'll be surprised to see how your breath expands as you practice.
2. Bend your knees!! Let your head hang heavy. Only do this one if it feels good.
3. Soften your knees and lift your heels about an inch. Toes stay on the floor. Bounce.
4. Check this video here: Quick Stretch (Yeah, I need to practice my vids!)
5. Take a few flights of stairs. Walk around the outside of your house. March in place.

Keep it easy and quick. You'll naturally extend your stress-relief time as you begin to feel the benefits. You can start to combine a stretch with a bounce, or a forward bend with a walk. See what feels best, or make up your own!

Peace out.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

What would make you feel better?

You know that annoying little ache in your low back, or that kink in your knee? The stiffness in your shoulders, the tingle in your legs, that foggy brain? Any of this ringing a bell? Oops, did I just remind you of the ringing in your ears?!

I bet I know how you explain all this away: It's tough growing old.

What if I told you it's not your age causing this, but stress?

Stress is your body's reaction to pressure and demands. When you are under stress, your body responds by alerting your nervous system and ramping up the specific hormones that increase heart rate,  breathing and metabolism. Your body prepares itself for action or shuts down in the freeze response. The many and complex reactions we have to stress are there to protect us -- from tigers, food scarcity, and the need to hunt prey. So, when's the last time you chased an antelope with a spear, knowing that if you didn't catch him your family would go hungry?

Right. And that's the problem. Since we don't often run into the big stresses, our nervous systems seem to see everything as a threat. We wake in the morning feeling dread in the pit of our bellies at the thought of going to work. Maybe you slink around the office, hoping not to run into that person who knows exactly how to ruin your day: "What a lovely dress! It really hides your thick waist." We worry about every bite we put into our mouths. We walk through beautiful city streets breathing in toxins. Stress, frankly, is unavoidable, and trying to avoid it is very stressful!

The good news is, some stress is good for us. This positive stress even has a label: Eustress. (Which stresses me out because, really?? Couldn't they think of a more attractive name?!) Examples of eustress are making love, exercise, happy surprises, fun challenges. Those times when your body goes Zing! in a good way.

Let's go back to the question I asked in the title: What would make you feel better? How about lowering the EFFECTS of stress! If we can't avoid the distress and we don't have enough eustress to balance it out, maybe stress relief practices should be on your daily to-do list. Don't stress out! I'm talking a few minutes a day, in between your usual activities.

Let that sink in for a few days. Then check back here for some concrete examples of quick stress relieving practices. Meanwhile, go find your honey and explain about eustress and how you could help each other with that tonight . . .


Monday, June 27, 2016

Imagine That!

There is a whole world inside your head, and it is accessed through that app we call Imagination. Go ahead, install the Imagination App to your brain and hit play!

Maybe I should say "reinstall" the app, because when you were young, you used your imagination freely and often. It's how you learned to deal with the world around you, how you configured the craziness into a whole life. And I don't mean craziness in a negative way, but in a way that reflects the innocence of childhood, when everything is new and needs to be sorted and even labeled.

Let your imagination take you over the rainbow!
As adults, we think we have everything figured out, and daydreaming is relegated to those few moments when we accidentally zone out when bored. Let's bring back the daydream! It's fun and it can be inspiring, can jumpstart creativity, and can fill those dull moments with pleasure.

Now you are ready to begin daydreaming! Go ahead and step into that land of the daydream, where you can create your dream life, execute a marvelous event, walk with confidence and live in abundance! As you practice daydreaming, it will get easier to slip in and out, and you'll develop some control -- you don't want to be caught out in a meeting slipping away and coming back with an obvious jolt! Time and place, people!

I like to start a daydream when I'm snuggled in bed waiting for sleep. I think of a beautiful scenario and let it play out as I drift off. The next morning, I try to spend a minute there again before I open my eyes.

You can use your meditation time to daydream, too! That whole "stilling the mind" thing does not mean you actually don't think about anything; that's pretty much impossible for folks who live out in the world and not on a deserted island. Begin your meditation by seeing yourself step onto a path, and see where it takes you! Go ahead and guide it if you want, or just let it play itself out.

I like to daydream about things I want to happen in real life, and I use exaggeration, smell, sound, and touch to make it more than real. This makes things fun and helps set the emotion, which teaches your body how you want to feel and eventually may lead you to discovering that emotion in the "real" world!

Keep it fun, keep it positive, and keep it going! Change it up or create a serial novel in your head. Spend your downtime wisely; let your imagination run free.

A Good Book I Haven't Read

If you dismiss sluggishness, aches, and forgetfulness as "a symptom of aging", you are on the wrong track! We as a human race have been woefully mistreating our bodies for the past generation. We've missed the boat on food, gone off the rails with pharmaceuticals, and jumped without a parachute concerning our exercise!

I am about to recommend a book I haven't actually read yet. But I did just put the CD on hold at the library, so expect an update at some point in the near future!

The book is The Ultramind Solution: Fix your broken brain by healing your body first, by Dr. Mark Hyman. He is a well-respected health guy who's been on all the TV shows and written several books, which is why I'm not worried about my recommendation. I recently heard Dr. Hyman speak on-line, and actually took notes; this is where the following info comes from. Also, it jibes with what I've heard elsewhere, and what I've experienced myself.

Let's start with food and nutrition. Yes, these are separate entities because often what we call "food" isn't actually nutritious. For example, sugar, soybean and vegetable oils, and the things that are added to our foods such as artificial coloring. Toss in the sugar substitutes and you have some folks' daily diet!

Anti-nutrients like these lead to brain drain and physical downgrades. If you switch to eating a real food diet you can upgrade your biology in days. Yes, Days! Bring on the veggies! (And this is the perfect time for that -- summer!!) Get more calories from good fats. Discover how to upgrade your gut biome, that lovely garden in your belly that is probably overrun by weeds that are sucking up the nutrients that you do take in!

What else? Well, get a decent night's sleep. Take a real good look at your list of prescriptions. Are there some that you can reduce or eliminate (with your doc's help) by upgrading your habits? Do you know how to exercise effectively? That "Calories Burned" gadget on your elliptical is not as trustworthy and useful as you'd like to think!

Create a meditation habit. Start small but know that allowing this habit to grow and strengthen will soon be the best hour (yes hour!) you spend all day.

Don't ask how you can cure these "symptoms of aging". Start with preventing them in the first place! And if you're already in the throes, step back, upgrade, and be joyful.

Here's my own question to you:
Why does the thought of a lifetime of exercise and kale sound horrible . . . but a lifetime of aches, pains, being left on a bench at the zoo because you can't walk far, not fitting in the seat at the movies, noticing your brain slowing down, and feeling tired and crappy, sound just peachy? Think about it. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Safe Use of Herbs Often Means Skipping the Supplement Aisle

Natural healing is becoming a trend, and I applaud that. When it comes to everyday health, to maintaining vitality, and to regaining an intimate body-mind-spirit connection, nature knows where it’s at. Energy work, yoga, herbs, essential oils, acupuncture . . . these are gifts of Nature that benefit us all.

When an emergency hits, though, you want the medical community and you want them fast! Broken bones, kidney stones, painful hips and knees – all these and more call for the doctor.

Using both of these in concert is when you really hit the health home run! When you get a diagnosis of diabetes, for example, you may need to get on a course of insulin immediately. Then, when things are under control, you can turn to nature and begin a course of diet and exercise that may reduce your dependence on insulin. The same goes for so many maladies: See the doctor, get diagnosed, follow his/her recommendations, and then seek a natural alternative.

Let’s turn to natural supplements. I get a lot of questions about whether certain supplements are safe, or necessary. I actually spend a good amount of time researching any supplement that sounds helpful for me, and I suggest you do the same. Just because one thing helped your best friend feel more energetic doesn’t mean it will have the same effect for you.

But here’s something to keep in mind: Some herbs and foods that have been found beneficial for certain conditions have been turned into pills, and it behooves you to investigate whether it is better to take the pill or eat the food.

If you hear that, say, turmeric helps relieve joint pain, lowers inflammation, improves cognitive functioning, and even fights wrinkles, well of course we all want us some turmeric! But how you add it to your diet is important.
Here’s where I remind you I’m not a medical professional, not a nutritionist, not an herbalist . . . What I am is someone who is in awe of the power of nature and who is constantly reading and learning about natural foods and supplements. This is my humble opinion, and I hope it is a starting point for you to do your own research and come to your own opinions!

Let’s keep with the turmeric. It’s a root that looks like a miniature gingerroot. It’s small and wrinkly and bright orange. (Check Whole Foods if you want to see it in root form – but you’ll want the powdered form for cooking!) It’s been used for centuries in the food cultures of Asia and North Africa. It’s what gives curry its lovely color and adds to its distinctive flavor. Ground turmeric is added to a milk concoction that is widely praised for its anti-inflammatory properties and often enjoyed as a nighttime beverage during cold and flu season to ward off those illnesses.

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. You can find curcumin and turmeric capsules in the vitamin/supplement aisles. Many people take these as a supplement to obtain the many benefits of curcumin.

Here’s where my opinion comes in: Why take the supplement which may contain other ingredients, come with a list of contraindications, and have the risk of overdosing, when it is so safe and simple to add the spice turmeric to your daily diet?

If you search for dangers of turmeric/curcumin supplementation online, you will read things like, don’t take if pregnant; when taken in large doses can cause diarrhea; taken in high amounts may cause stomach upset . . .

If you search for the number of people who had adverse effects of turmeric when used as a cooking spice, you’ll come up empty. Unless they don’t like curry dishes -- then the adverse effect would be an unhappy dinner experience!

I haven’t seen any cases of turmeric overdose when the spice was used as a flavor enhancer rather than a supplement. And the health benefits of this spice were, after all, noticed and enjoyed by people using turmeric as a spice, not as a supplement. Turmeric isn’t exactly delicious on its own, and is actually used in pretty small amounts in recipes; 1 teaspoon for a recipe that feeds 6 is common.

Here’s my take: Add turmeric to your food daily. Sprinkle it on lightly and enjoy. I even have an easy, delicious way for you to do this: Mix equal amounts of turmeric, cumin, and ground coriander in a saltshaker. Shake onto salads, eggs, veggies, meat  . . . It won’t be easy to overdo, and your food will be delicious!

What do you think?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Maintain or Regain Mobility and Health through Yoga!

15 Real World Benefits of a Regular Yoga Practice for People in Their 50s, 60s, and Beyond

* Your chances of taking a fall are reduced when you improve your balance through yoga.

* You can get up off the floor if you do happen to fall.

* You can get down on the floor to play with your grandchildren or puppy.

* Reversing out of a parking space is safer when you utilize a full twisting movement to see behind you.

* Your increased strength will help you lift and carry small children and groceries.

* Your increased flexibility will assist you in reaching things from high shelves.

* Endurance is enhanced, so you can join in on those family outings to the city without having to rest on every bench you pass.

* You can trim and polish your own toenails!

* No Velcro sneakers because you will be able to bend over and tie the laces.

* You can accept a ride in your grandson’s red roadster, because you are able to hoist yourself in and out with a modicum of grace.

* You will easily bend over to pick up stuff you’ve dropped.

*You will easily bend over to pick up that $5 bill that just blew across the sidewalk.

* You can finish that crossword or Jumble more quickly because of the increased blood flow to the brain during down dogs.

* You can stay in your two-story home because stairs are not an issue.

* You enjoy a good night’s sleep, plus increased energy during the day.

So get on it! Retain your health, vitality and independence through yoga!

See my website . Yoga is a great way to maintain or regain health of body, mind and spirit. With a regular practice you'll simply feel better!