fitness

Ankle Osteoarthritis and Stem Cell Therapy

By Staness Jonekos

My future was changed forever when I sprained my ankle in a college ballet class. This injury was 40 years ago yet a third degree sprain like mine was treated the same way as today: P-R-I-C-E (protect from further injury, restrict activity, apply ice, apply compression, and elevate the injured area).

Little did I know that the ligaments I injured had started physiological changes that would compromise my joint stability. The healing response that was initiated in an attempt to repair the damage actually increased my risk for degenerative changes that eventually led to osteoarthritis. It is the most common type of arthritis caused by the degradation of a joint’s cartilage. There are up to two million acute ankle sprains each year in just the USA alone.

Fifteen years after the initial ankle sprain I had severe pain and was forced to seek out medical attention in an attempt to walk normally again. Being in my mid-thirties and hearing that my only option was an ankle fusion, limiting motion for the rest of my life, was devastating news. My new mission was to find an ankle expert that was a pioneer.

NOTE reference photo of my left ankle X-ray 40 years after the injury, bone on bone, compared to a healthy normal ankle on the right side.

After five appointments with orthopedic surgeons in the Los Angeles area, I discovered Dr. Richard Ferkel at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute (SCOI). He became my lifetime ankle hero. He specializes in arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery of the ankle, as well as cartilage restoration, but it was his work with the U.S. Olympic teams, the NFL and NBA that really impressed me. If professional athletes entrusted their careers and joints to him, so would I.

Dr. Ferkel did a procedure to clean up the bone spurs, called arthroscopic debridement, and microfracture and drilling to help stimulate cartilage growth.

This procedure, along with lifestyle changes that included eliminating all high-impact activities, bought me over 20 years of good mobility with manageable pain. Once I hit my fifties with an injury over 30 years old, my quality of life was once again compromised with limited motion and bad pain.

Dr. Ferkel then suggested viscosupplementation, an ankle injection procedure with lubricating fluid. It is also called hyaluronic acid injections and commonly used to treat knee osteoarthritis. It was not FDA approved for ankles (and insurance would not cover it), but I wanted to proceed if it meant a decrease in pain and an increase in mobility. It worked, and I did the injection every year for five years. After each injection, it felt like a little cushion in my ankle; there was a spring in my walk again. Acupuncture also greatly helped manage the pain when I could find the time to do it.

Although it was not a cure, my quality of life improved. When I traveled and needed to do a lot of walking, I would take Celebrex, (also know as a COX-2 inhibitor) a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that works by reducing hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body.

There were no real fixes, just management options. Total ankle replacements (TAR) only last about eight to ten years, so that was not an option either. Fortunately for knees and hips total joint replacement surgery is an excellent option with longer-term beneficial results.

Looking at the end of my fifth decade, I was still not interested in ankle fusion, ankle arthrodesis, which can relieve pain but it also limits motion. I still had decent ankle motion and an ankle fusion would reduce existing mobility. My other fear was it could compromise other functioning joints that would eventually become taxed when the injured ankle joint was no longer mobile.

After extensive research there was promise for adult stem cell therapy that is an intervention strategy that introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury.

Stem cells are unprogrammed cells in the human body that have the ability to change or “differentiate” into other types of cells. Since they are obtained from the patient, the risk of rejection is almost non-existent. Knees have shown good results with stem cell therapy.

A 2014 study revealed that mesenchymal stem cell (MSCs) therapy on knees with osteoarthritis had the potential for cartilage regeneration. Today this procedure is considered a reliable alternative treatment for chronic knee OA.

Ankles are still the last frontier in this area. After 40 years since the initial injury, the biomechanical changes across my ankle joint surface had produced severe osteoarthritis. Daily walking became so painful I started planning my day around managing how much walking was needed to accomplish basic life duties.

I had dreams about running, and being free to move without pain. Friends no longer called to go hiking or power walking. It was difficult to maintain a healthy weight without being able to just simply walk. I was envious of friends who counted steps to lose weight, I planned my day around how few steps were needed to survive daily tasks.

Something had to be done, and it wasn’t going to be ankle fusion. That said, I spoke with many people who opted for ankle fusion and it changed their lives. Many even returned to athletic hobbies.

Stem cell therapy was my next move and Dr. Ferkel felt it could be a good option to help reduce pain and increase mobility.

It was an “experimental” procedure because it is not yet FDA approved. Based on research using stem cells from the iliac crest (hip bone), it had promise.

Dr. Ferkel told me,

“The goal is to reduce pain and keep mobility.”

He knew I had a fantasy that those stem cells would grow new cartilage, which it would not in my case of almost total bone on bone. For many who have a smaller injury, stem cells are now an excellent option, even on ankles.

During the surgery they had to collect the stem cells from the hip joint and distract my ankle joint (separate it from my leg) for the injection of bone marrow aspirate.

Concentrated bone marrow aspirate contains healing and growth factors, as well as healing cells called pluripotent cells. Bone marrow is the tissue that is found in the hollow spaces in the interior of our bones.

A centrifugation machine called the Magellan® MAR0Max™ was used to concentrate the platelets and growth factors, as well as the pluripotent (or stem) cells, creating an injectable product that is delivered directly to the ankle. The processing time is about 12-17 minutes, and the entire surgery was less than an hour.

My personal ankle plan now is to wait for another ten years until I am a candidate for a total ankle replacement. I will continue to utilize hyaluronic acid injections, take Celebrex when needed and be open to new options until it is time for my total ankle replacement.

We are all different, and fortunately there are good options available for ankle osteoarthritis now.

My hope is that those with similar injuries catch it early so new treatments like stem cell therapy may stop the progression of osteoarthritis, and joint replacements become a thing of the past for everyone.

*************************************************************************************

References:

Wodicka R, Ferkel E, Ferkel R. Osteochondral Lesions of the Ankle. Foot Ankle Int. 2016 Sep;37(9):1023-34.

Ramponi L, Yasui Y, Murawski CD, Ferkel RD, DiGiovanni CW, Kerkhoffs GM, Calder JD, Takao M, Vannini F, Choi WJ, Lee JW, Stone J, Kennedy JG. Lesion Size Is a Predictor of Clinical Outcomes After Bone Marrow Stimulation for Osteochondral Lesions of the Talus: A Systematic Review. Am J Sports Med. 2016 Nov 16. pii: 0363546516668292.

Jo CH, Lee YG, Shin WH, Kim H, Chai JW, Jeong EC, Kim JE, Shim H, Shin JS, Shin IS, Ra JC, Oh S, Yoon KS. Intra-articular injection of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a proof-of-concept clinical trial. Stem Cells. 2014 May;32(5):1254-66.

Mehrabani D, Mojtahed Jaberi F, Zakerinia M, Hadianfard MJ, Jalli R, Tanideh N, Zare S.
The Healing Effect of Bone Marrow-Derived Stem Cells in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Case Report. World J Plast Surg. 2016 May;5(2):168-74.

Burke J, Hunter M, Kolhe R, Isales C, Hamrick M, Fulzele S. Therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cell based therapy for osteoarthritis. Clin Transl Med. 2016 Dec;5(1):27.

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Exercise May Lower Breast Cancer Risk by Changing Estrogen Metabolism

A message from Staness

About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  For women in the US, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

The most significant risk factor for breast cancer are your sex and age.

Take action, read this insightful article provided by BreastCancer.org and start exercising today! Great chart of aerobic activities below.

_____________

Many studies have shown a link between exercise and a lower risk of breast cancer, but the reason why hasn’t been clear. Now new research is starting to provide an answer by showing that aerobic exercise seems to change how our bodies break down estrogen. It’s the first study to show that aerobic exercise has a direct impact on estrogen metabolism in premenopausal women.

The study was published in the May 2013 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Read the abstract of “The Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Estrogen Metabolism in Healthy Premenopausal Women.”

The researchers wanted to find out whether exercise affects the body’s production of compounds produced when estrogen is broken down. These compounds are called estrogen metabolites. Earlier research has suggested that a higher ratio of certain “good” estrogen metabolites to certain “bad” estrogen metabolites was linked to lower breast cancer risk. The “good” metabolite is called 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1) and the “bad” metabolite is called 16alpha-hydroxyestrone (16alpha-OHE1). 2-OHE1 can reduce the effects of estradiol, a type of estrogen that’s been linked to breast cancer development. 16alpha-OHE1 can contribute to cell processes that could lead to the development of breast cancer.

The researchers randomly assigned 391 inactive, healthy, young, premenopausal women to either a non-exercising control group or an exercise intervention group. The women were between 18 and 30 years old and ranged in weight from healthy to obese.

The women in the control group continued an inactive lifestyle for the 16-week study period. The women in the intervention group did 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise five times a week during the 16 weeks. The intensity of the workouts was adjusted for each woman so they all had similar maximum heart rates.

For 3 days before the study started and 3 days after it ended, the researchers measured the amount of certain estrogen metabolites in the women’s urine.

At the end of the study, the women in the exercise group had higher levels of 2-OHE1 (“good” estrogen metabolites) and lower levels of 16alpha-OHE1 (“bad” estrogen metabolites). This means the ratio of 2-OHE1 to 16alpha-OHE1 was higher in women who exercised. This ratio increase didn’t happen in women in the inactive group.

There were no other differences in other estrogen metabolites or ratios in either group.

Over the course of the study, the women in the exercise group also became more aerobically fit, gained more lean body mass, and lost body fat.

Based on the results, the researchers concluded that the effect exercise has on estrogen metabolism may be one explanation of how exercise reduces breast cancer risk.

Keep in mind that we don’t know the exact ideal amount or intensity of exercise to reduce breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society and many doctors recommend that women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer exercise regularly — about 4 to 5 hours per week at a moderate intensity level.

Along with healthy diet and lifestyle choices, regularly doing moderately intense exercise is one the best steps all women can take to help keep breast cancer risk as low as it can be. Regular exercise also helps keep your general health the best that it can be. No matter how old you are, it’s never too soon or too late to get moving.

Visit the Breastcancer.org  Exercise pages for tips on exercising safely and how to stick to an exercise routine.

Published on May 23, 2013 at 4:03 am. Last modified on May 24, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Aerobic Exercise


Aerobic exercise uses the large muscles in your body in rhythmic, repetitive motions. See the chart below for some examples.

Benefits: Aerobic exercise makes your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles work more efficiently, increasing your stamina and endurance. It also boosts your mood, helps you sleep better, and reduces your stress. It can also reduce your risk of breast cancer coming back (recurrence), as well as reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Type of Aerobic Exercise Equipment You Need Where You Can Do It
Walking walking shoes, comfortable clothing just about anywhere (sidewalk, track, mall, treadmill)
Running/jogging running shoes, comfortable shorts or running pants, comfortable shirt, sports bra inside on a treadmill, outside on running paths, trails, sidewalks (watch out for pedestrians, bikes, and cars), or a track
Bike riding bicycle, comfortable clothing, helmet outside, on bike trails or bike lanes; check your local ordinances about riding a bike on sidewalks
Elliptical machine*/stair stepper elliptical or stair stepper machine, comfortable clothing inside your home if you own a machine, at a gym if you don’t
Dancing (Zumba, belly dancing, flamenco, tap, ballet, square dancing, ballroom dancing, etc.) comfortable clothing; certain types of dance (flamenco or ballet, for example) require special shoes in your home if you have a large, empty room; at a dance studio, gym, or classroom
Skiing skis, poles, boots, helmet, hat, goggles, insulated jacket and pants or bibs, gloves, and socks cross-country skiing* can be done at parks or ski resorts; downhill skiing is usually done at a ski resort
Skating ice or roller skates or roller blades, socks, comfortable clothing, wrist and elbow guards, helmet roller skating and roller blading can be done on jogging paths and sidewalks; ice skating can be done on indoor or outdoor rinks
Tennis* racquet, balls, comfortable clothing, court shoes indoor or outdoor tennis court
Swimming bathing suit and towel; goggles and swim cap may be required at certain pools public or private pools; certain public lakes allow swimming
Aerobics comfortable clothing, court shoes various types of aerobics classes are offered at many gyms; you can also move along to a DVD at home
Rowing* comfortable clothing, a shell and oars if you’re rowing outside, a rowing machine if you’re rowing inside outside on a river or lake, inside on a rowing machine at the gym or your home
Hiking hiking boots or shoes, socks, comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather, water bottles; a hat, pack, sunglasses, insect repellent, and first-aid kit; hiking poles are optional outside at public and national parks
Basketball court shoes, comfortable clothing, basketball, hoop inside at a gym or school with a court, outside on courts, or anywhere with a hoop
Golf clubs, bag, shoes, balls, tees, comfortable clothing (you may be able to rent clubs and a bag at certain golf courses) outside at public or private golf course
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What’s your percent of body fat?

Body Fat Percentile

As we get older our body fat percentile changes.  Body fat percentile provides the most accurate estimate of body composition and is an indication of the percent of your body that is made of fat.

Normal body fat percent for women is 20 to 30.

In women, below 17 is extreme low body fat; between 30 to 33, high body fat; and above 34, extremely high body fat or obese.

The recommended healthy body fat percentiles increase slightly with age.

Body Fat Standards for Women Recommended by Age Group

20 to 29 30 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 59 69+
Very low <16 <17 <18 <19 <20
Low 16-19 17-20 18-21 19-22 20-23
Optimal 20-28 21-29 22-30 23-31 24-32
Moderately high 29-31 30-32 31-33 32-33 33-35
High >31 >32 >33 >34 >35

Do you have a healthy percent of body fat?

Body Fat Percentage calculator, click here.

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Top 10 Household Chores for Burning Calories

When calculating your daily calories, don’t forget to subtract those household chores calories.  Today I moved some furniture then mopped the floor = 414 calories burned, more than my daily walk. WAHOO!  What are you burning while doing chores?

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To Eat or Not to Eat Before Exercise

There are conflicting scientific opinions on this question.  Some say you burn more fat exercising on an empty stomach and others disagree.

Muscles usually get their energy from carbohydrates, which is why pro-athletes eat alot of food before a race.   But if you haven’t eaten before exercising, your body doesn’t have many carbohydrates in reserve. That forces it to burn fat instead, some scientists say.

Other experts say that even though people may burn more fat this way, it is mostly fat within the muscles that will be lost and won’t make a big difference to people trying to lose weight.

Most of these studies are done on young, healthy MEN.

My take, since we are not professional young male athletes, EAT something before exercise!

1.  Without enough fuel, you won’t get the intensity of training you need to get improvements.

2.  If your blood sugar is low, you could wind up getting dizzy and you might not be able to exercise as well as if you were well-nourished.

3.  Not eating before exercise might make you more prone to injury.

4. Eating is important so the body has enough nutrients to recover from a bout of exercise.

5. When you postpone breakfast to exercise, it is possible you might eat more afterward.

My recommendation:

If you exercise in the morning, get up early enough to eat breakfast — that may mean one to two hours before your workout. Most of the energy you got from dinner the previous night is used up by morning, and your blood sugar may be low. If you don’t eat, you may feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise. If you plan to exercise within an hour after breakfast, eat a lighter breakfast to raise your blood sugar. Good breakfast options include:

  • Oatmeal with protein powder and fruit
  • Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit
  • Egg white omelette and veggies
  • Protein bar or shake
  • Hard boiled egg

If you’re not a fan of eating in the morning before you work out, try a protein drink or protein bar. And remember, if you normally have coffee in the mornings, a cup before your workout is probably OK. Just don’t try any foods or drinks for the first time before a workout, or you risk an upset stomach.

Be careful not to overdo it when it comes to how much you eat before exercise.

The general guideline:

Large meals: Eat these at least 3 – 4 hours before exercising.

Small meals: Eat these 2-3 hours before exercising.

Small SNACKS: Eat these an hour before exercising.

Eating too much before you exercise can leave you feeling sluggish, or worse, with a case of diarrhea or stomach cramps. Eating too little may not give you the energy to keep you feeling strong throughout your workout.

Protein shake recipes, breakfast tacos and protein waffles on my website.

I prefer to exercise in the morning and get it off my to-do list  I have a 1/2 cup of coffee with low fat almond milk, and a 100 calorie protein bar.  One hour later I go to a spin class or hit the eliptical and weights.  I have enough energy and strength to do one hour of exercise and I am not starving afterwards.

We are all different, but I have found most women do better eating a little something before working out.   And don’t forget to drink water!

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Cory Everson: Ms. Olympia, Actress, and Author

By Staness Jonekos, Author The Menopause Makeover

Have you ever wondered how female body builders age? How menopause affects them? How do they keep fit after 40 or 50 and beyond?

Cory Everson won the Ms. Olympia contest six years in a row from 1984 to 1989. Cory showed the world you could be sexy and strong – even at 53! Check out her Ironman Magazine cover to the left — she was 50 – woweee!

Cory was the original host and producer of the fitness show “Body Shaping,” which was the number one rated fitness show on television. She is one of the top names in fitness today, and has authored numerous fitness books.

This busy lady has also appeared in the movies “Natural Born Killers,” “Double Impact,” and “Ballistic.” Her television work includes “Charmed,” “Home Improvement,” “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and many more.

Today Cory has a line of workout equipment and accessories, and shares her fitness secrets with us in her “I’ve Still Got It!” interview.

Question: What was your inspiration to start bodybuilding?

Cory: I had a 4-year scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Although I was not required to participate in sports I just didn’t feel complete without it. At the U of W, I lettered in gymnastics (yes I was the worlds largest gymnast) indoor track, badminton and outdoor track.

It wasn’t until I completed competing on college teams that I took a try at Bodybuilding. I had just won my 4th Big Ten Pentathlon Championships and I had this urge to try something new. Since gymnastics had given me a very early head start in the muscularity and stage presence department I felt I had an advantage in bodybuilding because these basics were already formed.

The strength coach at the time, Jeff Everson, was the person who actually noticed my potential and filled me in on the background of bodybuilding. I had never heard of it, so he showed me books and magazines and urged me to compete. I still to this day remember photos of a bodybuilder who came from gymnastics named Lynn Conkwright. I was impressed with the graceful blend of power and athleticism she portrayed.

Question: How long did it take to prepare for your first Ms. Olympia?

Cory: It took me a number of years of training to get to the top due to a major, scary setback during my first year out of college. In the middle of the night I woke up in massive pain, unlike anything I can even describe, but so great I thought I was dying. I was experiencing thrombophlebitus a major blood clot in my three major veins in my left leg which was blocking circulation from my hip down to my toes. I remember overhearing the doctors talking about a possible leg amputation if they couldn’t get blood circulation to the tissues.

I was hospitalized for six weeks in intensive care in Chicago with the doctors stumped as to why this had happened to a young healthy 20-year old athlete. As it turns out, I have a blood clotting disorder called Protein C Deficiency and Factor Five Leiden which put me at high risk to clot, but we didn’t know about this until some 20 years later when tests were finally invented to diagnose this rare and deadly problem. My doctor put me on a dangerous bout of an experimental drug called streptokinase to dissolve the clot that is what ultimately what saved my life and my leg.

I lost a tremendous amount of muscle weight and strength while I was bed ridden in the hospital. I was laying on my back unable to walk or even turn over for weeks on end. After I was released from intensive care I was moved down to critical care for another four weeks where they started to teach me how to walk again. I can’t tell you how afraid I was to just stand up and take one little baby step …but each day I took one more step until I was off my crutches and mobile again.

The doctor’s prognosis was that I would never be able to compete again, and most likely not walk normally either because of all the vascular damage.

It took me a few years of gaining strength, weight and mostly confidence to finally compete again. I lived in daily fear of this clot reoccurring. I had to be so cautious to even exercise, so I took it slowly and set little mini goals. This was 1980, and I won the Ms. Olympia in 1984.

To win my first Ms. O was truly a surprise. Honestly I was not expecting to even place in the top ten as it was my first Professional competition. I was coming off a victory at the National Championships, and was invited to compete in the pros in just a couple weeks.

Question: When you hit 40, did you find it more difficult to stay fit?

Cory: Not really at 40, I didn’t notice much change in my body. For me it was more like 45 when first my eyesight started to go, and then slight body changes followed, but it is not like it happened overnight.

I wasn’t exercising as much and many times not all, so I still wonder if it is not aging per say that makes the body change but instead not exercising with the same intensity as before. Sometimes I believe that we fall out of shape mostly because we get busier with less time to train, we have more responsibilities, maybe don’t eat as correctly and less of the fact that we are getting older.

After we finished with our ESPN-TV fitness series “Gotta Sweat” my husband and I adopted 2 kids from Russian orphanages, so my focus changed almost overnight. It suddenly went from its all about me/us to it is all about them. At age of 40 I became a parent and that alone was a new experience.

I actually don’t think it would be that hard to stay relatively fit if you have the time to exercise a little and can stick to a clean diet. Time management is the biggest challenge I find for most of us. When we lose our motivation the end result is our butts get bigger and cellulite takes hold of where nice toned shape used to exist. Lack of time is a huge culprit.

Question: What body area was the most difficult to keep tone after 40?

Cory: I think across the board it is the lower abdominals, hips and butt. Those are the places as a female fat wants to accumulate. But after saying that I think we don’t give ourselves half the credit we deserve to be able to redirect our own destiny.

I am serious when I say we can have better control over these areas by balancing the right amount of exercise with the right amount of caloric intake. Some people don’t want to hear this, but we have more power to control our physicality than we think.

Menopause definitely has its challenges, but we can’t use it as a crutch nor an excuse. We can do things about it. Of course changes take place but we can slow them down and determine just how far we will let it go.

I know many women in their late 40’s to early 50’s that are in the best shape of their lives. I see it more and more and often times these women are in far better shape than their 16 year old daughters.

The bad news is that as we age our hormone production in our ovaries slows. The good news is our fat cells actually have the capability to produce estrogen. So I welcome a certain amount of body fat to maintain some estrogen production. Exercise also stimulates testosterone production in both men and women which is important to in building our lean body mass (which is responsible for our metabolic rate.) More reason to exercise.

Question: Did menopausal hormone fluctuations affect your body after 40?

Cory: Not until about 48. When I turned 50 I really noticed it mostly in the texture of my skin and neck, legs. I remember last year my daughter playing with the skin on my neck enjoying herself so much commenting how it was like working with Play-doh …funny to her at least not so much to me. I am 53 now and wonder who is staring back at me in the mirror sometimes…when did I get those little lines around my eyes? Seems like they all of a sudden appeared.

I think my body has held up better than my skin, and I honestly believe that would be the same for most women. We can control what we eat, how we exercise, but we can’t really control our skin. I think the hormones really challenge our skin’s texture and color, our hair health, facial lines, and yes moods and patience.

I did a photo shoot when I turned a half century old and believe it or not wore a bikini on the cover. I didn’t even question that since all I had ever worn in photo shoots was bathing suits and leotards. I didn’t really think about being 50, it just didn’t cross my mind …. what was I thinking?

I doubt I would be so quick to jump into a photo shoot nowadays. I would need to prepare a bit more than before.

Question: What tips do you have for women over 40 on staying fit?

Cory: I think to be realistic is key, don’t expect to look like you did when you were 16 or 25. Life has an effect on all of us, so take the good with the bad. Don’t sit back and just give up either. Put up a fight and do a little something for yourself each and everyday. Not only do you need it for physical health, but equally important for your psychological and emotional health as well.

Join a gym. Say hi to new friends, take some classes that push you a little harder than you would push yourself at home. Don’t be afraid to fail or get intimidated, if you even show up you are already more successful than you were yesterday…just go to the back of the class and be the best you can.

No one expects you to be a superstar, so you shouldn’t either. As long as you sweat a little, who the heck cares if you followed the routine correctly. Just live and laugh, and enjoy each day but at the end of the night think back and make sure you did a little something for yourself. Hey it is okay if it was just a 20-minute walk… that was the best 20 minutes you could have ever taken for yourself.

Don’t compare yourself to others… you are your own person and inherited your own set of DNA so don’t compare. You are unique both with the challenges, as well as the gifts you were given so don’t compare. Don’t give up don’t get frustrated. Try to reset your focus onto all the wonderful gifts you have and remove any negative thoughts that are floating around your little head. Be grateful everyday for your health and respect your body.

1.Take a little walk for at least 20 minutes 3-5 days a week. If you are already doing that then add a few minutes to your existing time or try to walk that same walk a little faster to make it more intense.

Or make time for a few cardio days…try spinning or taking a dance class to get your heart rate up to where you feel like you are late for a meeting and you are a little short of breath but not gasping for air. This insures you are in your fat burning zone. Remember the first 15 minutes your body is burning stored sugars, so any amount of time after that you are most likely burning fat stores.

2. Try to do three days a week of 20-30 minutes of weights, either machines or take a sculpting class. You need this to maintain your lean body mass and maintain your muscle and bone strength (will help prevent osteoporosis) your metabolism stoked throughout the day. Muscle burns calories throughout the day it is metabolically active fat on the other hand does not. Lean muscle not only looks great, but allows us to eat a little more.

3. Always eat clean basic foods, reducing the amount of dressings, fats, sugars and white flour items. Don’t fry your food, instead grill bake or broil it. Just eat the way you think our forefathers ate. Eat raw fruits and veggies and lean meats…it is not that hard to do at all and is so uncomplicated. If you eat this way, you can actually eat more, because the choices are so low in fat and processed sugar. Give it a try it is so, so, so easy. It is all about making good choices, just like we teach our kids.

Question: What is your “I’ve Still Got It!” moment? (Cory has a few)

Cory: When a truckload of teenage boys kids drove by saw me walking my dogs and whistled. If they only knew that under my baseball hat and glasses was a 53 year old mom.

When I was on the cover of Ironman Magazine at age 50 in a tiny bikini.

When my sister and I were ‘hit on’ by a college volleyball team …until my nephew yelled at his teammates to stop talking about the hot cougars because they were commenting about his Mom and Aunt.

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6-Week Menopause Makeover Challenge

July 5th we begin the next Menopause Makeover challenge!

It’s FREE for SIX WEEKS!  This challenge we are focusing on EXERCISE.

We will address:

  • What type of exercise is best for you
  • When to do it
  • How long to do it
  • How many days a week to do it
  • What excuses come up to sabotage your goals
  • How to overcome a busy schedule
  • Our attitude towards exercise
  • Making time to exercise

We will continue to honor the Menopause Makeover food pyramid SIX days a week.

Start getting ready TODAY!

  • Read Chapter 3: Feeding the new you, how food can set you free.
  • Read Chapter 4: Exercise it off.
  • Find your target heart rate (THR). You can do the formula on page 73 or click here for a THR calculator.
  • Take the quiz on page 76.
  • Do the one-mile walk fitness test. You will use the result as a tool to track your progress.
  • Figure out your favorite excuse on page 80, and think of a solution to overcome it.
  • Make a planner to record your food intake and exercise. FREE downloads here.

Why am I focusing on an EXERCISE challenge? I have discovered that women are busy taking care of everything in life, we don’t HAVE time to exercise, don’t MAKE time, and would rather control our food intake than put on our sneakers and break a sweat.

Why is this challenge important?

  • Exercise is as important as healthy eating habits!
  • You will have more flexibility in your food planning if you exercise.
  • You will FEEL better because all those feel good hormones kick in when you work out.
  • You can improve your heart and bone health.
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces stress.
  • Regulates blood sugar.
  • Strengthens your joints.
  • Lowers your blood pressure.
  • Builds muscles! Muscles burn calories!
  • Improves your self-esteem.
  • Is an instant facial – sweat cleans your pores better and faster than a facial!
  • Lowers your risk of type 2 Diabetes.

Click here to buy “The Menopause Makeover” and join this six week challenge today!

Click here to register for this PRIVATE forum.  Once you register, email your Community ID name to:

Staness@MenopauseMakeover.com

After I receive your forum name, I will then email you with the PRIVATE link so you can join our incredible community! EASY!

Think about HOW exercise can benefit your life. Visualize a healthy, vibrate, tone, strong YOU.

July 5th is the beginning of a new way of life that celebrates YOU, your time and your body!  NO MORE EXCUSES!

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Check your posture

Are you practicing good posture? You can look pounds thinner and more confident with good posture.

You know you have good posture when you can draw a straight line from your ear through your shoulder, hip and knee.

Sucking in your tummy and tucking in your tush on a regular basis will help strengthen your muscles and improve your appearance and mood.

Practice good posture when going through menopause.

When standing:

1. Hold your chest high.
2. Keep your shoulders back, relaxed.
3. Suck in your tummy and tush.
4. Keep your feet parallel.
5. Balance your weight evenly on both feet.

When seated:

1. Choose a chair that allows you to rest both feet flat on the floor, keep your knees level with your hips.
2. Sit with your back firmly against the chair. Place a small cushion behind the curve of your lower back, if needed.
3. Keep your shoulders relaxed
4. Tuck your chin in slightly.
5. Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.

Practice good posture daily. Think about it when you are at the office, making a meal, doing chores, at the store, getting out of the car, and during exercise.

Having good posture will become automatic the more you practice. Good posture will help prevent injuries during exercise.

I have always been embarrassed about my 34 DD’s rolling my shoulders forward to hide them. It is always a conscious effort to practice good posture. When I do, I feel better about myself.

If you are not practicing good posture, ask yourself, “Why?” Are you ashamed? Lazy? Too weak? Hiding something? Suffering from low self-esteem?

When you have the answer, give yourself a big HUG. Then suck in your tummy and tuck in your tush, and show the world today that YOU MATTER, you are beautiful, you are lovable, and you are strong!

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How to Maximize Your Workout

meno-fitnessresizeAre you exercising at your target heart rate?

Once you commit to an exercise regime, your secret weapon is utilizing your target heart rate ensuring an effective workout. The target heart rate (THR) is your pulse rate per minute, and it can guide you through safely exercising while maximizing your routine.

What is your target heart rate? Click here.

Wear a heart rate monitor when exercising to track your target heart rate. During cardio sessions your target heart rate range should be between 60% (fitness zone) and 80% (aerobic zone) of your maximum heart rate. Monitoring your target heart rate is a great way to make sure you are pushing yourself hard enough to get the fat burning and cardio results you want.

Set goals using your target heart rate. Pace yourself if you have been inactive. If you are not at 60% of your target heart rate, push a little harder and watch your fitness level improve. Within six months of regular exercise you may be able to exercise at 80% of your maximum heart rate.

Always discuss your exercise choices with your healthcare provider.

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The Ultimate Belly Busters

If you want a set of great abs, roll out the ultimate Belly Busters.

A great set of abs has always been a fantasy for me. For years my youthful estrogen-rich skin held my belly so it appeared toned. As the years have passed with too many responsibilities and too little time for exercising, my gut has just started pouching out. Then menopause took the fat from my hips and thighs and redirected it to my belly. I started looking three months pregnant. Ironic isn’t it? I can no longer bear children yet I look like I am carrying one. Just a couple of months ago on the way to yoga class a teenager waiting for a bus smiled and asked me, “When are you expecting?” Escaping a response I ran into the nearest restroom locked myself in a stall and sobbed. Between age, menopause and craving food 24 hours a day…. this mid-aged menopausal girl called in the ultimate Belly Busters!

Benefits of a tone tummy

1. Better balance and coordination
2. A healthy flexible spine
3. A sense of “feeling” better
4. Increased motivation
5. A strong support system for the muscles in your lower back,
hips and pelvis
6. A more stable center of gravity
7. More shopping options

The abdomen consists of three main muscles groups:

1. Rectus abdominis is the large flat muscle wall that runs from the lower chest to the pubic bone. Most of us refer to this
muscle as our “abs”.
2. Oblique abdominis is the muscle that runs diagonally along the side of the mid-section from the lower ribcage to the pubic area. The internal obliques lie underneath the external obliques.
3. Transversus abdominis is the thin strip of muscle that runs horizontally across the abdomen.

The ultimate Belly Busters is a series of exercises focused on each muscle group. All you need is an area in your home that gives you the space to lie down and 10 minutes.

The Ultimate Belly Busters Program
- Three sessions per week, with a “rest” day between workouts
- 10 minutes per session
- 3 Belly Busting exercises that consist of 8 to 12 lifts per set
- 3 sets, with 60 seconds between each set.

The Ultimate Belly Busters

Crunches
- Lie on your back on a mat or a carpet.
- Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
- Press your lower back to the floor.
- Place your hands behind your head.
- Lift your chest to your pelvis. Do not tuck your chin to your chest.
- Keep your elbows pointing outwards; do not wrap your arms around your head. Do not pull on your head. Let your abs lift you up.
- Exhale as you lift your chest upwards.
- Keep your lower back on the floor.
- Contract your abdominal muscle as hard as you can and count to 3.
- Return your shoulders to the floor, with your head still up.
- Repeat this crunch for 8-12 repetitions.

The Bicycle
- Lie on your back.
- Press your lower back into the floor.
- Place your hands behind your head, and do not cross your fingers.
- Bring your knees to a 45- degree angle.
- Lift your shoulders off the floor, and do not pull on your neck.
- Touch your right elbow to our left knee then repeat, as your
right leg extends.
- Switch sides, bringing the left elbow to the right knee and the
left leg extended.
- Continue alternating sides imitating a pedaling motion on a bicycle.
- Do 8-12 repetitions

Cross over crunches
- Lie on your back.
- Press your lower back towards the floor.
- Bend your right knee at a 90- degree angle.
- Cross your left foot on top of your right bent knee.
- Put your hands behind your head – one on top of the other.
- Lift your shoulders up off the floor and twist so your right
elbow tries to touch your left knee.
- Hold for 2 seconds, squeeze those abs.
- Return to start position.
- Do 8-12 reps.
- Then switch sides.

Repeat these three Belly Busters two more times.

Tips
1. Make sure you suck in your belly button toward your spine before curling off the floor. This activates twice as much muscle activity and makes each move more effective.
2. When doing the Belly Busters breathe through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe with full inhalations and exhalations. Exhale when your muscles are tightening and inhale when your muscles are lengthening.
3. Include a cardio activity 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Once you shed excess belly fat you will start seeing your new “abs”.
4. Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol drinkers who consume more than three glasses per sitting have more belly fat than moderate or non-drinkers. Try to limit your alcohol intake to one glass or less per day. Alcohol can also raise levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol helps your tummy to store fat.
5. Eat fiber. Fiber helps fight constipation that can give your abdomen more roundness. A bowl of yummy raspberries is loaded with fiber.
6. Drink water. It is calorie-free and keeps you hydrated.
7. Improve your posture. Start sitting up straighter. Sit with your shoulders back, chin up and your lower back pressed up against the chair.
8. Keep a slow, steady pace while doing the Belly busters. Focus your attention on doing these exercises properly. Proper form and moving slowly will make your session more efficient. If you experience any pain, stop. If you have back issues, speak to your doctor before beginning these Belly Busters program.

Having gone through most of my adult life only dreaming of a firm belly, it took the menopause wake up call and the ultimate Belly Busters to thank for a tone tummy.

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Learning a Sport at Midlife or Beyond

Learning a Sport at Midlife or Beyond

Article provided by  HealthyWomen.org

Were you dragged to ballet class as a child, when your heart really yearned for a softball glove? Did you spend your free hours curled up with books, wondering what it would be like to ride Black Beauty?

It’s not too late to try a new sport, whether it’s one that was a childhood dream or something that caught your fancy as an adult. “People try new sports for a variety of reasons, including finding new ways to be physically active, to challenge themselves, or to keep in shape,” says Kathleen M. Weber, MD, director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. “There may be work-sponsored leagues or activities that employees join for camaraderie or to expand their social circles.”

Isn’t learning a new sport dangerous for middle-aged bodies? Dr. Weber, who’s seen her share of torn ligaments, fractures and other woes, stresses the importance of wearing sports-appropriate protective gear—helmets, as well as padded guards for your wrists, knees and elbows. She cautions that it takes time to get good at a new sport. “It is important to remember that although you are excited about trying something new, it is crucial to pace yourself and gradually increase your activity to avoid injury,” she says. “People who are thinking about getting involved in a new sport might consider working with a fitness professional or seeking consultation from a medical professional.”

Don’t quit your new sport until you’ve developed those skills enough to enjoy yourself, advises the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). If a sport requires too many skills that you don’t have, like quick dribbling or good eye-hand coordination, pick something else.

Facing the challenge

As a ski instructor at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, MI, Lin Westra has taught plenty of women who were new to skiing. Many thought they had little chance of succeeding on downhill snow. “Some will say, ‘I’m a real couch potato, I shouldn’t be out here,’” Ms. Westra says. “But they end up loving it.”

In a two-hour session, she teaches them how to put on and walk in ski boots, as well as steer, stop and turn on their skis. Her goal is to get them on a beginner hill, having fun safely, during their first lesson. “I don’t think there’s a woman out there who can’t learn to ski,” says Ms. Westra. Large women and those who’ve been sedentary can do well. “They don’t have to be an athlete to achieve success.”

That’s not just professional pride speaking. Ms. Westra, a former art teacher, didn’t start skiing until she was 42. “I understand their feelings and their fears,” she says. Her advice: Take a clinic or private lesson and rent your gear for the first few times out.

Is skiing good exercise? “You burn a ton of calories,” says Ms. Westra, who usually shuns the chair lift to add to her workout. That leaves room for plenty of hot chocolate at day’s end.

Which sports should you try?

You’ll find clubs or classes in many sports through local groups, gyms and specialty facilities such as skating rinks, tennis centers or indoor rock-climbing halls. “While you’re taking lessons in your new sport, you also should be working on building your overall flexibility, strength and endurance. Then you incorporate these new skills into the activity,” Dr. Weber advises.

Choose a new activity that’s kind to your body while giving you a good workout. Sports involving jumping, twisting or pounding can be tough on your joints. These are kinder, gentler choices:

  • swimming
  • deep-water running
  • cross-country skiing
  • snowshoeing
  • in-line skating
  • cycling
  • rowing
  • karate, tai chi, soo bahk do (a Korean martial art)

Some physically tough sports can be adapted to keep the fun and exercise without the likely injury risk. Consider “Granny Basketball,” a sport played by several teams of women in Iowa, all age 50 or above. Modeled on girls’ basketball rules from 1929, players wear bloomers, long-sleeved shirts and high socks. There’s no running (but hurrying is allowed), no jumping and no physical contact.

“You can disrupt the throw by trying to hit the ball or steal it,” says Catherine Swatta, 58, who had never played basketball at all before trying a Granny Basketball class earlier this year. She then joined a team in Des Moines and now practices weekly.

Health benefits of a new sport

Ms. Swatta’s doctor approved of her playing Granny Basketball as a good way to stay active, help control her diabetes and drop a few pounds. “Even though there’s no running, you’re still moving. I was surprised how much exercise I was getting,” Ms. Swatta says. “I’ve lost some weight and the muscles in my arms are getting firmer.”

She had been exercising with machine weights at the school where she works. “That’s fine, but it’s boring,” she says. “I like this much better.”

“People are successful in becoming and staying more active if they enjoy what they’re doing,” says Dr. Weber. She notes that some of her patients find their new favorite sports during rehabilitation, while she’s treating them for injuries or other problems.

Dr. Weber encourages patients with arthritis to participate in low-impact activities, such as water aerobics, cycling, yoga or pilates. “They begin to explore new activities that they wouldn’t have done before or have never heard of,” she says. “And they discover that they really enjoy it.”

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Posted in fitness, tips

Keep on walking

iStock_000006737638XSmall150Research has shown that when people exercise by walking, they walk 30% longer if they walk to music.

Benefits of Walking

  • Burns calories
  • Helps control joint swelling and pain from arthritis
  • Lowers blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes
  • Reduces anxiety, boosting your mood
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Improves your self-esteem
  • Walk with a buddy and socialize

Make time for walking, it can be relaxing and burn calories!  This week select some new tunes for your next walk.

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Posted in fitness, tips

Carb Blaster – Interval Training

iStock_000005810778SmallAccording to the American College of Sports Medicine, interval training burns more calories and improves cardiovascular performance.

What is interval training?

Interval training works the heart, lungs and muscles to the max for short lengths of time.

How does it work?

Interval training works both the aerobic (needing oxygen) and anaerobic (not needing oxygen) system.  When you are pushing yourself to the max during interval training, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles for short bursts of activity. Lactic acid is the byproduct. During the high intensity part of your interval training, this lactic acid builds, and you enter into oxygen debt.  When you recover after the interval the heart and lungs work together to replace this oxygen debt by breaking down the lactic acid.  During this phase of the workout your aerobic system takes over using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy.

Beginner routine

  • Warm up 5 minutes at 30% effort
  • 30 seconds at 80% effort
  • 90 seconds 30% effort
  • Repeat 3-5 times
  • Finish routine with 15 minutes of regular cardio to cool down

Experienced routine

  • Warm up 5-10 minutes at 30% effort
  • 30 seconds at 90% effort
  • 60 seconds 30% effort
  • Repeat 7 times
  • Finish with 5 minutes at 30% effort

You can use your circuit training routine or cardio routine to do interval training.

You can do interval training on a spinning bike, treadmill, and the elliptical.  Runners incorporate interval training too.

How do you know what your percentage of effort is? Use your target heart rate.  Before starting interval training, clock a mile at 100% effort and note your target heart rate (you will need a heart rate monitor or a monitor on your exercise equipment).

Safety Tips

  1. Always warm up
  2. Start slowly
  3. Build the number of repetitions over time
  4. Bring your heart rate down during the resting portion of the interval

Changing up interval training

  1. Intensity
  2. Duration of the work interval
  3. Duration of the rest interval
  4. Number of repetitions of each interval

Interval training takes effort and focus.  It is easier if someone (trainer, your hubby, exercise buddy) is timing the intervals and telling you when to speed up and slow down.  I prefer doing interval training on the elliptical or spinning bike because I can program the intervals focusing my energy on performance not the clock.

Interval training will improve your strength, speed agility and stamina.

Always discuss your exercise choices with your healthcare provider.

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Menopause Fitness Tips

Provided by:  The North American Menopause Society

iStock_000006737670XSmallDo you feel like you don’t have time to fit exercise into your busy schedule? You’ll find it easy to find time for fitness with our helpful menopause fitness tips.

Tip 1: Break down those wish-I-worked-out-but-I’m-too-busy barriers

  • Make physical activity a priority. Carve out some time each week to be active and make an appointment with yourself. Write it on your calendar. Try waking up 30 minutes early to walk, scheduling lunchtime workouts, or taking an evening fitness class. Spend some mental energy examining your own schedule and figuring out when it is realistic to exercise regularly.
  • Make family time a physically active time. Plan a weekend hike through a park, a family softball game, or an evening walk around the block.
  • Sneak physical activity into your days. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away in parking lots, and walk in place while watching TV. You can even break those 30 recommended minutes into three 10-minute segments — possibly easier to wedge into busy days and nights.
  • Doing routine chores that involve physical activity is helpful in more ways than one. Rake the yard, wash the car, or dust the furniture a little more enthusiastically. Getting these active jobs done can really get the job done, if you know what we mean!

Tip 2: Settle only for success!

  • Set goals. Set both short-term and long-term goals to keep motivated. Write in on a calendar to make it official.
  • Track progress. Keep an activity log. Include workout activity, length of time exercising, and also record the days a workout was missed, and why. Seeing progress in black and white can help keep you on track.
  • Have fun. Vary your workout routine to decrease boredom and challenge your body. Choosing activities you enjoy will help to keep you going on those days when you really don’t feel like it.
  • Reward yourself. Celebrate every success. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part.

Tip 3: Off the couch, off the tape measure

It takes about 60 minutes of physical activity every day just to prevent weight gain, not to mention lose weight, so get up and get going. Try a bit of gardening, a bike ride, or a brisk walk. At the least, women should be physically active for 30 minutes per day most days of the week. (But even 30 minutes 3 times a week will be rewarding!)

Tip 4: Don’t do too much

While this may sound crazy (or very appealing), exercising in moderation is important. Use common sense! Always start off a new exercise regimen slowly and after checking with your healthcare provider. Following an approved program is one way of exercising to reduce a long list of health risks without adding the risk of injury.

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Power of the Plank

Want an overall body workout in one simple pose?

After losing 25 pounds doing the Menopause Makeover my body was now at a wonderful healthy weight, but my belly and tush were still giggly. It was time to set a new goal – build muscle mass and firm up! At the age of 51 I had lost a lot of muscle mass. That’s a nice way of saying, “I was flabby, droopy and not very strong!” My first 12 weeks doing The Menopause Makeover was spent on the elliptical 30 to 40 minutes most days of the week, and 3 days a week weight lifting (dumbbells). It was time to change up my routine and kick it up a notch – so I hired celebrity trainer, Ashley Conrad – set new goals for my second round.

I first saw Ashley featured in Carmel Magazine. She was an incredible toned young woman and honestly I felt anger seeing her photograph. Being an old flabby 51-year old, how could I ever look young and firm again? Making peace with the fact that I will never look 20, 30 or even 40 again, I decided I could be super healthy! So I called her!!!! A few days later we met, I challenged her with my new goals, and surprisingly – she took me on, even though I was NO celebrity!

You can check out Ashely at:
http://www.clutchbodyshop.com/ashley.html

Ashley incorporated the plank pose into my exercise routine. The plank pose is practiced in yoga and the sports world. I learned the power of the plank pose quickly. I hated it, it hurt, it was hard, but 6 months later I had ABS! I have never had abs before – and now at 51 I have freaking abs! You can see them if you don’t believe me, click here. OK, I don’t have a 6-pack, but I do have a 2-pack.

Once you learn the basics, you will hold this pose for a 10 to 20 count, two or three times in a workout. Sound easy? Once you try, your world will begin to shake, sweat will pour out of every pore and you will beg for it to end. You may be asking, “What’s so great about the plank pose?”

The Plank Pose promises:

• A strong core
• Strong abdominals
• Strong quads
• Strong shoulders
• Strong wrists
• A strong spine
• Strong arms

Basically your entire body in one pose! The plank pose rocks, and improves your posture – which can make you look 10 pounds less.

Doing the plank pose properly is important to avoid injury. If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or low back problems this may not be the pose for you. Always consult with your health care provider before starting any new exercise regime.

How to do the plank pose:

• Get down on a yoga or exercise matt on all fours
• Shoulders over your wrists at a 90 degree angle
• Next, press your feet out and away from your body, so you are now in a push up position
• Your body is straight, like a plank, from your head to your heels
• Make sure your hips do not drop or raise above the straight body line
• Keep your neck neutral, do not strain, a natural extension of your spine
• Do not drop your chest
• Push through your heels, so your legs are strong, and heels are pointing to the ceiling
• Spread your fingers and press through your entire flat hand, this will take pressure off the wrists
• Hold for a 10 count, or 12, 15, 18 or 20 if you can. Then repeat two to three times in one workout session.

Variation of the Plank Pose:

Instead of shoulders over wrists, have your elbows under the shoulders and shoulder width apart. This variation is excellent for your abs and shoulder strength.

Practice the plank pose or variation two to three times per week. Hold for a count of 10, 12, 15, 18 or 20 depending on your level. Repeating two to three times in one workout session. You will quickly build strength and see results. If you are trying to lose weight, the plank pose will burn some serious calories.

Enjoy the power of the plank!

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Posted in fitness

Power Walking Safety Tips

How Power Walking changed my life
10 Safety tips when power walking at night

Terrified at the thought of standing on the scale, it took six months to get the courage to look at the amount of weight I’d rapidly gained after entering menopause. Despite eating better, I had not lost weight. Shocked when I opened my eyes, the number on the scale was almost 22 pounds more than the last time I weighed myself. Dreading the inevitable, I had no choice but to incorporate daily exercise into my life. The days of exercising once or twice a week to lose a couple of pounds were over, no thanks to menopause. The weight I had gained at my waistline was drastic, three inches in less than a year. Looking at myself naked in the mirror, my body had changed from an hourglass to a beach ball. Last year my BMI was a healthy 19, this year I was on the verge of being overweight. It was no longer about looking good, it was now about getting my health back.

Exercise that fits into your lifestyle

My greatest challenge was finding an exercise that would yield weight loss resultsand I would enjoy daily. I was out of shape and no longer wanted to go to my favorite yoga classes. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the class, and I was embarrassed about my weight gain. Depressed that the once simple yoga pose of doing ‘downward dog’ would now inflict injuries as my Jell-O belly slammed into my face, I wanted to find a lifelong exercise choice that I could do whenever I wanted, did not cost money, helped relieve stress, ensured weight loss and kept me healthy.

Living in a scenic area I decided that power walking was my answer. It would give me the chance to get some ‘alone time’, build strength and endurance, allow for flexibility, and give me the opportunity to check out my neighbors latest decorating secrets.

Power walking promised:

• Weight Loss
• More energy
• More strength
• Lower cholesterol levels
• Better sleep, and with terrible night sweats this was important
• Zero cost, with the exception of a good walking shoes

Huffing and puffing for over two weeks, I finally started feeling good about my half hour power walks. I started gradually losing weight and feeling better about myself. Enjoying my walks was good for “my head” and I enjoyed socializing with neighbors as I returned home.

With Daylight savings time ending, coming home from work and power walking before sundown was going to be impossible.

Safety
My only option was to start power walking at night. That decision created another set of problems to deal with…safety. Having been attacked in a foreign country at night years ago, I was nervous about walking in the dark.

My fears included being:
Raped
Robbed
Run over by rush hour traffic

10 Safety Tips when Power Walking at Night

1. Don’t go alone bring a buddy or your husband. If you have a dog, take him too!
2. Walk in an area that is populated. Avoid dark, secluded streets. Possible attackers can hide between parked cars or in bushes. That’s what my attacker did – he jumped out from behind a bush. Avoid putting yourself in a position where someone could jump out and surprise you.
3. Do not wear a headset. At night you must use all of your senses. Be observant and alert at all times.
4. Do not pull your hair back in a ponytail. An attacker can grab you by the ponytail, and have full control of your head and body quickly.
5. Bring your cell phone and your driver’s license. Should there be a problem you can call for help. If you got hurt, having your ID can save your life.
6. Tell someone when you are walking at night. Let that person know when you expect to be home and what route you are taking.
7. Don’t wear jewelry; it could attract a possible attack.
8. Walk in areas that are well lighted. If you think you are being followed, change directions and head for safety.
9. Wear reflective discs on your clothing so others can see you. Most walking shoes have reflective material sewn on the shoes. And wear brightly colored clothes, so you can be seen.
10. Walk in the opposite direction of traffic so you can see on-coming cars. Carry a flashlight.

I fought off the attacker without any physical injury, and he was later thrown in jail. I had failed at Tip #1: never go alone. I failed at Tip #2: walk in an area that is populated and avoid areas with bushes. And I failed at Tip #8: walk in an area that is well lit.

I now follow these safety tips and enjoy my night walks with my husband. Power walking changed my life. It gave me freedom, health and self-esteem.

Treat yourself to a great pair of walking shoes, and start enjoying the benefits of power walking.

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Best Booty Builder

Squat your way to a tight tush

After surviving the menopause transition, the only thing left sagging was my booty.

Always searching for exercises that I can do at home, I discovered squats were the best booty builder. All you need is space in the house, one dumbbell and a full-length mirror.

Your booty’s official name is gluteus maximus, and it is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. The primary function of this muscle is hip extensions meaning moving the thigh to the rear. The gluteus maxiums also moves your leg away from the centerline of the body. Basically, a strong booty makes it possible to move the leg, which gives us the ability to get around. It is an important muscle to keep strong.

The main reason most of us want a beautiful booty- it’s sexy. We all know men love to check out our booties, and to be perfectly honest…so do women (we are always comparing ourselves to other women, I wish we didn’t, but we do). Whether we are looking for the attention or not, who wants a droopy, fat, lumpy butt? It can be difficult for women to get a firm tush because we naturally store fat, especially around our bottom. Usually in our teens we still have a toned tushy because it takes a few years for the fat to stack up. Once the layer of fat settles in, getting a toned butt can be difficult. It is not impossible with dedication and a few squats added to your routine. Once you lose that layer of fat, your beautiful booty will pop out.

During menopause it is important to be healthy and strong. Once you develop a strong booty …it’s sexy!

Squats firm and tighten your tush all in one exercise, as well as tone the legs. You burn lots of energy in a short period of time with squats. If you have fat to lose around your buttocks, squats alone will not firm and tone the booty. You must incorporate healthy eating to lose the fat as you are firming the buttocks with squats.

The benefits of squats:

Higher percentage of fat burned while at rest
Potentially faster weight loss
Improved leg strength
Raised metabolism
Improved cardiovascular
Exercises the gluteus maximus, hips and thighs
Before you add squats to your routine, discuss any health concerns with your doctor. It is always important to start your exercise routine with light cardio to warm up your muscles.

Toning up a muscle requires progressive muscle resistance. Introducing more weight than the muscle can handle will help it grow stronger.

Three Booty Builder squats:
(Select one that is best for you)

Chair Squat
Dumbbell Squat
Assisted Squat

I suggest starting out with the Chair Squat. After you can successfully do 15 Chair Squats progress to the Dumbbell Squat. If the Chair Squat is too difficult, start with the Assisted Squat, then move onto the Chair Squat then the Dumbbell Squat. Rest one day between squat workouts.

What you need:

Space in your house
Full-length mirror
Chair, for the Chair Squat
Dumbbell, for the Dumbbell Squat
Towel, if you do the Assisted Squat

Squat Safety Tips:

Keep your heels on the floor
Stand with your feet hip or shoulder width apart
Keep your weight over the ankles
Always keep the knees lined up over your toes
During the exercise do not lock your knees
Do not go lower than 90 degrees
Keep your knees behind your toes
Do not arch your lower back
Keep your head and neck relaxed in a neutral position
Keep your shoulders back
When you start adding weights to your squats, start out with the lightest weight then increase slowly
Don’t forget to warm up with light cardio before doing your squat

Chair Squat

All you need is a chair and full-length mirror. The Chair Squat is a perfect exercise for beginners, anyone with weight problems or knee issues will benefit from the additional support of the chair during this squat. Stand in front of the mirror sideways to watch your form and make sure your knees stay behind your toes and heels on the floor. Breathe continuously, and don’t hold your breath.

Repetition: 1 to 3 sets of 10-15 squats.

Put the chair behind you, as if you were going to sit down
Stand in front of the chair
Stand with your feet hip or shoulder width apart
Suck in your belly button contracting your abs
Slowly lower your body, lightly touching the chair
Remember to keep those knees behind the toes as you squat, you may have to adjust the position of your feet in front of the chair
Hold for a couple seconds, next squeeze your booty as tight as you can, place your weight in your heels and slowly push up to your starting position. Count to three when you come up
Remember do not lock your knees. Keep them slightly bent
Repeat 10-15 times
Rest 60 seconds between sets. Gently bend over like you are touching your toes and just breathe. This will give you a stretch between sets.
When you get stronger, just hover over the chair when you squat down and hold. Do not actually sit on the chair.

Reminders:

Keep your back straight, no arching
Suck in those abs
Keep the knees behind the toes
Squeeze your booty as hard as you can when you come back up – the harder your squeeze the faster the results

Dumbbell Squat

When the Chair Squats become easy you are ready to progress to the Dumbbell Squats. It is the same move as the Chair Squat, without the chair and holding one dumbbell with both hands in front of your body. The extra weight offers added intensity. Start with the lightest weight and add, as you get stronger.

Repetition: 1 to 3 sets of 10-15 squats.

Just like the Chair Squat, stand with your feet hip or shoulder width apart
Hold the dumbbell with both hands in front of your body with your arms straight and elbows slightly bent
Bend your knees
Suck in your abs
Lower into a squat. Do not go lower than 90 degrees, and do not arch your back
Once you down as far as you can go, squeeze that booty as hard as you can and push up on a count of three seconds
Go to your standing position with bent knees and repeat 10-15 times
Do 1 to 3 sets
Rest for 60 seconds between sets with a gentle stretch. Bend over to touch your toes (it’s OK if you can’t touch your toes, I can’t) and breath deeply stretching for 60 seconds
The Assisted Squat

If the Chair Squat is too difficult for you, start with the Assisted Squat.

Repetition: 1 to 3 sets of 10-15 squats.

Wrap a good strong hand towel around a doorknob that is securely mounted into the door
Stand with your feet hip or shoulder width apart
Suck in your belly button contracting your abs
Hold on to the towel that is wrapped around the door knob with both hands
Slowly lower your body
Remember to keep those knees behind the toes as you squat. You may have to reposition your feet.
Hold for a couple seconds, next squeeze your booty as tight as you can, place your weight in your heels and slowly push up to your starting position. Count to three when you come up
Remember do not lock your knees. Keep them slightly bent
Repeat 10-15 times
Rest 60 seconds between sets. Gently bend over like you are touching your toes and just breathe. This will give you a stretch between sets.

I progressed from the Chair Squats to the Dumbbell Squats in two weeks, so advancement can be quick. My booty feels stronger, it still looks a bit saggy and lumpy, but I know I am on my way to a stronger healthier tush. If weather permits add power walking, biking or hiking to your weekly routine and burn about 150-200 calories in a half an hour.

Keep that booty moving!

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