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Stressed Man Working At Desk In Busy Creative Office

Stress: An Easy Exercise To Help You Deal With It!

Stress. It’s everywhere. If you live and work on this planet it’s almost impossible to avoid. In normal times are stressful enough but this past year we have had to share our lives with Covid 19.

Feeling stressed? Me too!

Today I’m writing about how to reduce stress and suggest some easy ways to get that burden off your back.

Stress has been around since the beginning of time. It started as the fight-or-flight response when early humans confronted a life-threatening situation. In that situation, stress hormones- adrenaline and cortisol- are produced. Your blood vessels constrict, blood pressure goes up, pupils dilate, heart rate quickens, and breathing becomes more rapid. The body is preparing itself to do battle or run. This response is essential in times of acute danger. But problems at work, crying kids, traffic, you name it can trigger the same response.

Given the pressures of daily life, chronic stress itself has become a life-threatening situation. It can cause a host of health problems including headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, trouble concentrating, anxiety, depression, increased body weight, high blood pressure and heart disease.

We can’t eliminate the stress. But we can relieve the fight-or-flight response that sends our bodies into danger mode. And we can cultivate a relaxation response over time that will reduce our physiological stress reaction.

So what do we do about chronic stress? How do we get rid of it?

How? Relax. That’s what my first yoga teacher used to say when I was all bent up in the pretzel pose with a grimace on my face. Once I was able to relax, I was stress-free even in the pretzel pose.

Seriously, daily conscious relaxation exercises can make a real difference in the way your body responds to stress. Dr. Herbert Benson coined the phrase “relaxation response” in his book by the same name in 1975.

Since then, he and others have conducted numerous studies, including a recent one at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine, that have detailed the body’s intricate positive response to conscious relaxation exercises. In a nutshell, the relaxation response has the opposite effect of fight-or-flight. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the effects of stress. You experience a feeling of deep relaxation and well-being. And if you practice relaxation regularly, you’ll feel better and help yourself avoid those stress-related health issues. That’s how we get rid of chronic stress.

Meditation is just one of an almost infinite number of ways to consciously relax. Virtually anything that takes your attention away from your daily grind and makes you concentrate on just one thing can work. Doing the dishes, aerobic exercise, yoga, stretching, golf, playing a musical instrument, casting a fishing rod, playing with a cat — almost anything can work if you pay attention to only that and clear your mind. I’m partial to exercise because I get the benefits of a workout as well as the relaxation. It’s my mantra. It’s what I do to get rid of chronic stress.

Dr. Benson suggests you practice some form of conscious relaxation for 10 to 20 minutes every day to get rid of chronic stress in the long term.

But what if you’re pressed for time? (Pressed rhymes with stressed.)

Reduce Chronic Stress with this little exercise. 

Sometimes you only need a few seconds and you feel a lot better.

  • Sit down and close your eyes. (If you’re on the street, duck into a doorway, stand and keep your eyes open and one hand on your purse.)
  • Let your muscles relax. Concentrate on your breathing.
  • Breathe in and hold your breath for one second, count “one, one-hundred-thousand”, and breathe out.
  • Breathe in again a little deeper and hold for two seconds – “one, one-hundred-thousand; two, one-hundred-thousand” — breathe out.
  • Breathe in deeper and hold for three, then four, then five seconds.
  • When you get to around three seconds of breath-holding, your stress level should start to drop and your mind should start to clear itself of thoughts.
  • After five, you should feel pretty good. This works well for me particularly in moments of acute stress.

That one worked too, didn’t it? I hope concentrating on reading this helped you reduce your stress and I hope you’ll make conscious relaxation a part of your life.

It’s a lifestyle change that’s easy to make because it feels so good when you do it.

Check out Mirabai’s video below, guiding you through a short Meditation and Stretch to reduce stress that can be done at work or home.


Mirabai Holland MFA, EP-C, CHC is one of the foremost authorities in the health and fitness industry. Her customer top-rated exercise videos for Health issues like Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Diabetes & more are available on her website, mirabaiholland.com. Join her NEW Online Workout ClubMirabai offers one-on-on Health Coaching on Skype or Phone. Contact her at askmirabai@movingfree.com

purse-question

Osteoporosis: What Does Buying A Purse Have To Do With It?

We all have a lot to lose if we take a serious fall. Assuming we survive, the effects can be life-altering. And if you have osteoporosis, what would have been a minor slip and fall for others, could have devastating consequences for you.

There’s a story that prompted me to write this article. Here it is.

I have a friend who had been eyeballing this cute little red purse for a couple of months.  She didn’t need it but she wanted it and sort of became obsessed with it.

She’d visit it online and wave to it in the store. But, there’s no way she was going to buy that purse because wanting it that badly made her feel a little stupid.

Well, the darn thing went on sale the other day at 40-percent off and another 10-percent off with her store card. Now, of course, she had to have that red bag.

Apparently, so did every other woman in the United States. Because, she had it in her online shopping cart and by the time she got her credit card out, it was no longer available. It had been snatched right out of her cart.

She was furious. She felt violated. “How dare they sell MY red purse?”

She called the company. They apologized and looked for one in their inventory anywhere. They gave her stores and a warehouse to call and reserve it before the last one could be sold. She called around for over an hour and finally got to someone who found one in California and ordered it for her.

As she was patting herself on the back for her investigative skills and persistence my friend had an aha! moment. She had recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Her doctor had given her a list of endocrinologists he’d be comfortable recommending but she hadn’t even looked at it, let alone researched it.

“I had been meaning to but I had been putting it off for no good reason. I thought why on earth don’t I apply that same purse passion to taking charge of my own health care?”

She thought about it for a minute and the answer she came up with unnerved her a little. “Health care is not sexy,”  Purses are sexy! Purses are sexier than being healthier and maybe living longer? Eek!

But health is sexy! Quality of life is sexy!

As she started to Google the doctors on the list, she began to sing a parody to that old rock song:
“I’m too sexy for my purse, too sexy for my mouse pad, but not too sexy for my doctor’s office. Maybe a little bit too sexy, but I’m goin’ anyway.”

I think perhaps my friend has touched a nerve in many of us. Would we really rather look good than feel good?

Sure seems like it. I think it’s that very premise that prompted an ad agency to come up with a TV commercial for a dietary supplement featuring a sexy dancing X-ray skeleton of a baby boomer model that’s protecting her looks by protecting her bones.

It got my attention. If you can’t get them to do it for health, get them to do it for beauty. Twistedly brilliant!

So I guess, if beauty is your motivation, go for it; especially when the health comes with it.

But what do you do if you already have osteoporosis like my friend, or have low bone mass, or you just have the good sense to want to take of your bones?

Osteoporosis And Calcium

“Getting enough calcium in our diet is really important. The NOF recommends an intake of 1,000 milligrams for adult women from age 50 or younger, and age 51 and older — 1,200 milligrams a day for adult women. If a woman isn’t paying enough attention to calcium in her diet she puts herself at risk. But more is not necessarily better when it comes to calcium. Neither women nor men should get more than about 2,000 milligrams a day.”

Weight Bearing Exercise

Weight bearing exercise actually builds bone in youth and will help maintain bone. As we get older the type of exercise changes a little bit. We still have to do some impact work but it has to be safe to avoid injury and falls so you want to add balance training, flexibility training, and safe movement to make sure the individual is able to stay active and healthy.”

So what’s the takeaway here? My takeaway is if you like standing on your own two feet, taking care of your bones is about as sexy as it gets!


Originally printed on Moving Free with Mirabai. Reprinted with permission.

Mirabai Holland MFA, EP-C, CHC is one of the foremost authorities in the health and fitness industry. Her customer top rated exercise videos for Health issues like Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Diabetes & more are available on her website, mirabaiholland.com. Join her NEW Online Workout ClubMirabai offers one-on-on Health Coaching on Skype or Phone. Contact her at askmirabai@movingfree.com

cardio exercise

Cardio Exercise Routines May Improve Memory

I became interested in cardio exercise routines and memory several years ago when my older students began to tell me that their memories seemed to improve after they took my class. I was teaching mostly cardio exercise routines in those days. I started with simple steps and built up to a pretty complex routine. There has to be a connection I thought, between the physical movement, making your brain learn this routine, and improved memory.

pexels-anna-shvets-3962285

Lowering Your Risk Factors For Covid 19: A Perfect Time To Work On Your Health

No one wants to get Covid 19. And if we do get it, we don’t want to end up on a ventilator with a slim chance of survival. But what can we do? Masks, hand washing, social distancing of course. Avoid crowds, sure, but what if we just get it anyway? Is there any way we can protect our immune system so we’re more likely to recover? Yes, there is. Improving your general health can greatly improve your chances. So as a certified Health Coach and Exercise Physiologist, I felt like I had to share some recent Covid 19 research with you. It’s both alarming and encouraging.

calcium-food-sources

Osteoporosis Prevention Diet

Osteoporosis Prevention Diet? EEK! One more thing to worry about? Sounds like more bad news but it’s not. True, our bodies can lose up to 40% of their bone mass in the 10 years following menopause. And true, if we don’t do something we could easily end up with osteoporosis. But also true, the fix for this is both easy and delicious.

Human Osteoporosis

Does Low Bone Mass Mean Osteoporosis?

Nearly 30 years ago when I was in school, I wrote an exercise physiology paper on exercise and osteoporosis.

At that time there wasn’t much research available. But even then, the studies I found on tennis players, astronauts, and bed rest pointed in the direction that weight-bearing exercise could help maintain the bone density you have and even promote bone growth. I was intrigued. I’ve followed the research over the years and even created an osteoporosis exercise program.

In working with my clients, I often hear the question, “What’s the difference between osteoporosis and low bone mass (osteopenia)? And what can I do about it?”

Well to answer these questions, I have to start at the beginning.

Osteoporosis is a disease, which, over time, causes bones to become thinner, more porous and less able to support the body. Bones can become so thin that they break during normal, everyday activity. Osteoporosis is a major health threat. 54 Million are at risk, nearly 80% are women.

Postmenopausal women are particularly at risk because they stop producing estrogen, a major protector of bone mass.

As we age some bone loss is inevitable. Women age 65 or men age 70 should get a bone mineral density test. If you have a family history of osteoporosis or other risk factors, you may need a BMD much earlier.

The test is completely painless, non-invasive and takes only a few minutes. It compares your bone mineral density to that of an average healthy young person. Your results are called your T score. The difference between your score and the average young person’s T-score is called a standard deviation. (SD)

Here is how to interpret your T score:

  • Between +1 and –1: normal bone density.
  • Between -1 and -2.5: low bone density (osteopenia).
  • T-score of -2.5 or lower: osteoporosis.

Until recently it was thought that if you had low bone mass (osteopenia) you were well on your way to getting osteoporosis. But it’s now known even at this stage bone loss can be slowed down, stopped and even reversed. You and your doctor will have a number of options depending upon your particular condition.

Many MDs like to start with a calcium and vitamin D rich diet coupled with weight-bearing exercise. For many of us, that’s all we need. Others will require medication and there are many bone-building medications available.

Remember it’s never too early to start taking care of your bones. The more bone density you have as a young person the less likely to end up with osteoporosis later in life.

EASE IN, BECOME MOBILE, GET STRONG, LIVE LONG!  May is Osteoporosis Prevention Month! It’s Never Too Late To Take Care Of Your Bones!


Mirabai Holland MFA, EP-C, CHC is one of the foremost authorities in the health and fitness industry. Her customer top rated exercise videos for Health issues like Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Diabetes & more are available mirabaiholland.com. Join her NEW Online Workout Club at movingfreewithmirabai.com. Mirabai offers one-on-on Health Coaching on Skype or Phone. Contact her at askmirabai@movingfree.com.

Mirabai New Year Article

Health Coaching: A New Way To Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions

So you go to your annual check-up and your doc says “whoops your blood pressure is up and you’re 15 pounds heavier than last year. I’ll give you some meds, but you’ll have to lose weight and get into shape, OK?

You say OK, you walk out and then what?

Join a gym, hire a personal trainer, go on a diet, take a walk? You might do one or several of these because, after all, it’s a new year and a new you.

Right? Right, and you try something. But how long is it till you throw up your hands and say, “ugh, I got started and now I’m off the track just like last year.”

What went wrong? Maybe nothing, except you might not have been psychologically ready to take those steps.

For any change there is a process. One of the models that are used is the transtheoretical model of behavior change (TTM) developed by James O. Prochaska , Ph.D

There are 5 stages:

Precontemplation – going along not aware of a need for, or not wanting a change.

Contemplation – recognizing a need to do something to improve your situation and considering making some sort of change.

Preparation – doing some research, making small changes, or at least thinking about what you’re going to do to help yourself.

Action – Actively making lifestyle changes,

Maintenance – Having made changes, keeping the healthy lifestyle going.

All too often we jump from contemplation to action without being ready for the change. It can feel like getting off a plane in Antarctica wearing shorts and a T-shirt. You wanted to be there but you weren’t ready for what that change would be like, and what you’d need to do to stay there comfortably.

But there is help, a new kind of help.

The health and fitness industry is rising to the challenge of our increased involvement with our own health care.

Many of us still think of fitness professionals as muscle heads with great bodies and not much else. Those types will always exist, but more educational opportunities including degrees and certifications are spawning a new breed of health & fitness professional, one that’s part of the health as well as the fitness industry.

Enter the Health & Wellness Coach

Not to be confused with a personal trainer, the Health & Wellness Coach is a consultant who helps you go, through, preparation, to action and on to maintenance. The coach helps you determine your health and wellness goals and needs. Once you have a path to your goals the coach continues to work with you to help you find the behavior modifications, activities, facilities and allied health professionals (MDs, Ph.Ds, Nurse Practitioners RDs, PTs, Personal Trainers, Exercise Instructors, etc.) to support your healthy lifestyle. You can do this on your own, but having someone with health industry knowledge who has your back, who is nonjudgmental, who just wants to help you focus and succeed can make all the difference.


Mirabai Holland MFA, EP-C, CHC is one of the foremost authorities is the health and fitness industry. Her customer top rated exercise videos for Age-Onset health issues like Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Diabetes & more are available at www.mirabaiholland.com. Mirabai also offers one-on-on Health Coaching on Skype or Phone. Contact her at askmirabai@movingfree.com.

apple-scale-weight-loss

To Weigh or Not to Weigh

Do you want to lose weight?

You might be asking should I weigh or not to weigh, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of knowing one’s outrageous weight, or to take arms against a sea of bulges by simply ignoring the scale and trying to eat less and exercise more. For some of us, the scale is a tool. For others, it’s the enemy.

So let’s say your plan is to lose 1lb a Week.

Some health and fitness professionals have made a compelling case for ignoring the scale, saying that measuring one’s percentage of body fat is the most accurate way to track one’s fitness level.

It indicates a healthy body composition, regardless of height and weight. I agree that you should know your body fat as a baseline for fitness.

Here are some body fat guidelines according to the American Council On Exercise

Body Fat Percentage for Women

  • Athlete: 14-20 percent
  • Fit: 21-24 percent
  • Average: 25-31 percent
  • Obese: > 32 percent

Body Fat Percentage for Men

  • Athlete: 6-13 percent
  • Fit: 14-17 percent
  • Average: 18-24 percent
  • Obese: > 25 percent

So why bother weighing yourself at all? When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to use any indication you can get that your efforts are paying off. It can take a couple of weeks before you see any difference in body fat. Your weight will change more quickly. Besides, there are relatively inexpensive scales that give you both your actual weight and your percentage of body fat.

My personal prejudice is to weigh yourself at least once every week or two. I do, and I find that facing my weight on a regular basis helps me stay motivated. Believe me, there have been times when I’ve dreaded getting on that scale. But I do it anyway because no matter what it says, I feel relief. I find it liberating. Why? Because now I know where I am and what I need to do next. It helps me maintain a healthy weight.

In my practice, I have helped hundreds of people lose weight. And many of them initially fight me about getting on the scale, and I understand this because I know that terror. Part of the process of losing weight is to prepare oneself to do it. If you are not psychologically ready to lose, stepping on the scale can be a real turnoff and actually deter you from losing weight. But once you’re ready, facing that number can jump-start your weight-loss program and keep you going.

I give my clients a baseline of their body fat percentage and get them to use the scale. Then we set up a diet and exercise plan. You can lose weight by diet alone. But dieting can reduce muscle mass along with fat. This becomes ever more important as we age. We can lose as much as 6 pounds of muscle tissue per decade as we age. And metabolism can slow down as much as 3 percent per decade. You can see that if left unchecked, you’re on a slow boat to obesity. Adding an exercise program may be all you need to turn this process around. Cardio exercise burns calories, and strength training raises your metabolism and builds lean muscle mass while you are losing. Losing about 1 percent body fat a month and one to two pounds a week is considered safe and realistic. Here’s the winning combination. Reduce calorie intake with diet, do cardio most days to burn calories, and strength train at least a couple of days a week to build muscle mass and increase metabolism.

So, I’ve made my case for using the scale as a tool, and I hope you’ll try it when you are ready. Regardless, to be or not to be at a healthy weight should not be in question.


Mirabai Holland MFA, EP-C, CHC is one of the foremost authorities is the health and fitness industry. Her customer top rated exercise videos for Age-Onset health issues like Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Diabetes & more are available at www.mirabaiholland.com. Mirabai also offers one-on-on Health Coaching on Skype or Phone. Contact her at askmirabai@movingfree.com.