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10 Keys to Planning for Your Health and Fitness Needs

Being proactive beats reacting every time. With our nation’s level of fitness deteriorating with each passing year, I thought it important to highlight these 10 keys. I am evaluating what it is that I may want to change in my own world and by sharing these thoughts with you hopefully move you to such a review as well.

1.  Get a physical

As a nation we are not being proactive when it comes to our health and as a result we are over medicating ourselves and creating other significant health related problems as a result. Being on drugs is not an effective way to maintain our health – making healthy choices instead is a far better strategy for preventing illness and disease in the long run.

2.  Get “real”

Being “real” with yourself starts with an honest evaluation of where you ARE in your physical and mental – and emotional life. Dumping old behaviors – and attitudes – that are no longer serving you is a place to start. Another step we can take is to get moving – doing whatever you can to positively move in the direction of what I call “your highest good”. We all have something we are here to do in life so get going and don’t waste a single day. Writing these articles is part of what I am to do so I am writing them!

3.  Get moving

By way of reminder – we are meant to be active beings – not sitting beings. Find out what it is you enjoy doing and get moving. Your body will thank you every day you do this. I know how I feel after I run and lift weights and it is in one word “happy”.

4.  Get a handle on your stress

We are all stressed at some point during our day so why don’t we start working on strategies for dealing with the stresses – and stressors – in our lives BEFORE they happen. Being proactive in stress management means knowing we are going to have to deal with stress in our lives so why don’t we practice before the event or stress occurs? I have passed on some of my strategies in prior articles: Meditation, prayer, visualization work, focused breathing, running, quiet reflection etc. These and other techniques are readily available and can be learned through classes and other forums.

5.  Get excited

Getting excited about life fuels our imagination and creativity. The more I think about my potential to make a difference in the world the more excited I become about each day of my life. The same experience can happen to you if you are open and receptive to what your subconscious is trying to tell you. The world of technology is taking away our ability to “go into the silence” and discover what life has in store for us. The “noise” we face every day is keeping us from hearing anything that could be of help to us in planning for it is we may want to do – and accomplish. Take a moment and ask yourself “am I living up to my full potential and if not what can I do about it?”

6.  Get clear on your purpose

Purpose driven people are happy people and they are self-actualized – meaning they don’t need someone to tell them what to do, think, feel, say, or do. They approach life from a position of “real power” and at the same time are able to acknowledge the uniqueness of each one of us. I got an email today from a reader telling me I would go to hell if I didn’t believe what he did and my response is – “it’s a free country and we get to live our lives the way we choose”.  I am empowered and energized by this thought. I am free – as are you – to live a purpose driven life or stay on the path you are on. We are ALWAYS “at choice” so CHOOSE YOURSELF TODAY!

7.  Get close to “real” people

This key is important in today’s world. “Friends” are NOT on the internet – they are in our REAL lives. Be aware that we need each other. Make it a point to be kind to others – smile, acknowledge them when you can, call people by their names and look them in the eyes when you speak to them. People are what make life worth living – not the cyber world of “fake” experiences and relationships.

8.  Get close to your family

My daughter is going through a difficult time in her life right now. She is facing challenges that are most uncommon and have her living “on edge” every day. She has a 7 year old son who needs her and a career in business to re-establish and beyond. I spoke with her last night and told her “I am here for you – whatever you need”.  As a father I sometimes feel helpless because she is a grown woman but she is still my daughter and I love her. It is my job now to just be her father and love her – tough as that may be for me. Take this step in your own life in the coming year and see what happens – you might surprise yourself at how your family responds to you.

9.  Get serious about your own health and fitness

Time has a way of marching on and to the degree that you acknowledge the passage of time you begin to appreciate what you have been given – and have in life. I am grateful everyday for my passion for training and running because I know it can be taken from me at any time. I live in the present when I am running or lifting weights and it is a practice I hope to continue until the end. I am serious about my fitness program because it gives me the energy and strength to do my work – teaching, speaking and writing on matters of healthy aging, fitness and exercise. Are your energy levels low? Get moving!

10.  Get to know yourself

This is perhaps the best thing we could do to prepare for the year ahead. Get to know yourself and start appreciating the magnificence that is you. Getting to know your self is a lifelong pursuit. The journey never ends.  I have learned during the course of my 66 years that I DID NOT appreciate myself at all – I had to learn the hard way through difficult and painful experiences that until I could love myself – and appreciate what it is I am here to do – that no one would ever appreciate – or love – me either. I spend time (each day) thinking about my life – and my contribution to life itself – and ask myself “is there more that I can learn or do today?” You should do this too – it will help immeasurably improve the quality of your life now and in the years ahead.

Final Thoughts

Why not take the time between now and the end of the year to see what you might want to work on in the year ahead and see how you can live more fully and completely.  Can you make a more expansive contribution to your own life and the lives of others as well? Of course you can! Isn’t this what the fitness lifestyle enables us to do in the first place? So get moving, be willing, be open, and appreciate who you ARE right now because you have only scratched the surface of your potential!

Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach and fitness professional with over 25 years of experience. His passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii, where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

running-bleachers

Kick up the Cardio

Currently, health clubs offer a variety of cardio and strength options. They offer a plethora of equipment and classes yet attrition remains high. By combining the science of cardio and strength training with a motivated and energetic instructor new programming combining….

grandchildren

The Power of Knowing Your Why

If you want to get fit or stay fit, you need a good motivator — a primary reason why you want to exercise, eat right, and live a healthy lifestyle.

I talk to people about this all the time. Active adults have powerful, compelling reasons why they lift weights, run, swim, take yoga, ride their bikes, and more. Here are just a few most often cited:

  • Playing with children/grandchildren
  • Reducing medication
  • Traveling
  • Sports and hobbies
  • Avoiding obesity, hypertension and falls
  • Social interaction
  • Better recovery from surgeries
  • Treatment of chronic conditions like Parkinson’s, diabetes and more
  • Being active without the risk of joint pain and hurting themselves
  • Do any of these strike a chord with you?

Any reason is a good reason. In fact, you don’t really even have to have one. Most people, however, need to remind themselves of what truly drives them to lead a healthy lifestyle. It can give you a boost when you’re not feeling motivated and it can guide your choices about how to spend your time and energy.

Knowing your deeper WHY leads to better results and a more vibrant life. Fully connecting with your why will motivate you to make better choices with how you eat and maintain your health. Many people are not aging well, but they are living longer, which means that their quality of life may be less than optimal. You have to ask yourself what’s more important to you right now. If you’re going to live a long life, you may as well live a healthy life.

Knowing your motivation is vital, but motivation can only get you so far. Your habits and daily routines are more powerful than motivation. Your motives for being healthy will help you get started on your goals, but your habits will get the results that you want. Think of it like this: You have to work regardless of whether you feel like it or not, right? You can apply the same reasoning with regards to your health. You must work towards good health and wellness regardless of how good or bad you’re feeling. When you discover the power of what good health, wellness and being fit can do for you, you’ll ask why you didn’t embark on your health journey sooner.

Bottom line, don’t let a lack of good health prevent you from living out your best years. Protect your brain health, improve your strength, lower your need for multiple medications. Good health leads to happiness and you deserve to happy. Find your motivation and strengthen your good habits as you eliminate the bad ones.


Ron Kusek is Transformational Wellness Coach & Holistic Chef. He is certified as a personal trainer through the National Strength & Conditioning Association, as well as holding certifications with the Institute of Transformational Nutrition as a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach, and a Functional Aging Specialist with the Functional Aging Institute. Ron specializes in functional aging for mature adults; he runs a home-based wellness program for women 50+ called the Lean & Sexy Fitcamp. He’s working to change the lives of the community in the Antelope Valley in a positive, holistic way. 

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.

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Avoiding Burnout: Daily Balance with Bumbles

We have all heard that we should strive for balance in our life.  Balance requires adequate sleep, food, movement, play, and acts of self-care.  Most of us are lucky if we get 3 of those in one day.  Lack of daily balance interferes with thinking, makes ideal weight almost impossible, and leads to anxiety, depression, and frustration. Most importantly, it decreases chances to succeed.  Burnout was very recently made an official medical diagnosis, and it’s caused by a lack of daily balance.  It is a proven result with medical consequences from living an out of balanced life.

My cat, Bumbles, proves that balance works every day.  Bumbles was born in my home, so I’ve really seen him put this into action, which has given me far greater appreciation for the balance in my life that I strive for.

1. Breakfast is first. This is Bumbles’ highest priority until it’s done.  He tickles my face with his whiskers if I try to sleep later with the intent of skipping it.  Eating a healthy breakfast prepares me for my day, prevents that afternoon slump, and tends to make my portion sizes smaller during all my daily meals and snacks.

2. Meditation is Bumbles’ favorite in the morning, and a powerful form of self-care. As soon as he hears me pulling out the headphones to listen to Deepak, Bumbles is in position.  He can So Hum it with the best of them.  His present moment awareness has been achieved.  Taking the time to calm my mind, become aware of the present moment, and allowing my brain to take a break from overthinking is a centering force that follows me through the day.  When I’m working throughout the day, the only moment that matters is this one.  It’s proven to be the best way to get things done quickly and easily.  If I’m thinking about what’s next, I’m not paying attention to what I’m supposed to be focusing on now.

3. Then it’s time for work. He reigns over his kingdom, making sure nothing has changed overnight, and is sure to bap a few of his friends over the head along the way.  He is also an aeronautical enthusiast that watches every bird that flies anywhere near the house with absolute fascination.  I start work each day with enthusiasm and expectation and allow items to flow naturally without a sense of intense pressure or overwhelm.

4. He breaks for lunch and a short nap. There are numerous studies that show taking a short 20 to 30-minute nap in the middle of the day if you are tired can be extremely beneficial.  In our work-obsessed world, we often judge ourselves as being lazy or not doing what we are supposed to be doing if we allow ourselves to rest, but appropriate rest is essential to normal body function. Even taking a short walk outside can be the slight break that makes the rest of the day much more beneficial.

5. Exercise… Bumbles loves to play fetch with super balls. He does about 3-5 high intensity chase and retrieves drills.  He then does rope climbs, ramp runs, and several roll over on his back maneuvers.  This is followed by a healthy dinner.  Exercise does not have to be done in a gym.  It’s convenient if that is the location you prefer, but exercise can be done in your living room, hotel room, in the back yard, through your neighborhood.  Exercise can be done anywhere.  If you need ideas, I am here to provide them.

6. Just chilling…  Bumbles watches tv. He has a couch right next to it, and he especially likes it when Ellen dances.  He limits it to about an hour though, because its treat time.  We all need downtime, where we have left the cares of the day behind to be begun again tomorrow.  It can be sitting and watching a beautiful sunset or meeting with friends.  Having quiet time and play time during our day is essential for mental well-being.

7. Bumbles finishes his busy day spending time with friends, little man face scratches, and cuddling time with me. A normal bedtime routine reduces insomnia, promotes better quality sleep, and sets you up for a great morning.  It’s best to strive to go to bed at the same time every night to even further the benefits of regular sleep.

And then it’s on to tomorrow.

Bumbles is happy, calm, at a normal weight, healthy, and just really happy to be King Bumbles.  He’s achieved success at work, at meals, at present moment awareness, at play, at relaxation, and most definitely at rest.  We could all learn a bit from Bumbles.   I, as his human, have achieved the same results by following his plan.  If your life is currently out of balance, and it’s impacting your life, weight, or health, then try starting with just one of the missing components.  Ease it into your life in an enjoyable way until it becomes routine, and then move on to the next.  Lack of balance didn’t happen overnight.  Burnout and lack of balance are usually due to a lifetime of small habits adding up.  Give yourself the time to regain balance. My recommendation…. just start with awareness.

Reprinted with permission from Heather Clawson, MD.


Dr. Heather Clawson is a nonclinical physician with a strong background in fitness, both before and after her medical training.  She has the unique ability to take medical issues, convert them into fitness terms, and then deliver that information in an easy to understand way for the person in front of her. She’s been involved in fitness for almost her entire life, and she has extensive ICU experience, but she has chosen to use her medical knowledge on the other side of medicine — before a person becomes a chart, labs, and a room number. Visit her blog, heatherclawsonmdblog.com

healthy middle aged man workout at the beach

Healthy Aging & You: The 7 Keys to Fitness Achievement

What does it mean to be fit or “be in shape”? We set fitness goals for a variety of reasons that are important to us at the time but in the long run is really losing weight a lasting goal? Do we really ever regard the “real” point of becoming fit? Probably not. Getting older means losing “something” in most people’s minds (mobility, independence, freedom to do what we love to do etc.). It however doesn’t have to be that way. If we think in terms of performance based goal setting and being able to do all the things we love to do over time – regardless of age – we will find that getting older doesn’t have to mean “getting old”. I would like to share with you what I consider the seven keys to fitness that if we maintain over time we will be able to be not only functional but vibrant and healthy as well.

Discussion

I have always maintained that if I remained fit for life that I would be training every day toward becoming an “evolving athlete” – capable of “doing what I want, when I want – without getting hurt”. This is as good a definition of what it means to be fit to me given my track record as a fitness professional. Taking time today to evaluate what you REALLY want from your fitness activities is probably a good idea and worth the effort and time up front so that you can access the benefits that you TRULY want from your training program. Here are the seven keys to fitness that will make your efforts worthwhile:

#1.  Strength

Strength is a cornerstone of any fitness program. How we build strength over time is dependent on our effort and focus at being consistent in all we do. I started a weight training program in college with the help of the varsity football team at Syracuse University in 1965 and learned the basic principles of strength training with their help. I am still using those same methods and training principles today 50 years later and the secret to my success is clearly defined methodology and consistency of effort. I record all my results in a written log and am now in a training mode for my 70’s that will enable me to be able to run well into my 80’s thanks to my resistance training program. What do you want to be able to do as you age? Strength training is THE foundation for healthy aging.

#2.  Endurance

Endurance is being able to do an activity – any activity – over time without tiring and running out of fuel. Endurance is training for the heart and the cardiovascular system and enables us to be able to do more in our lives without tiring. Running is a key activity that I have engaged in since 1964 and has remained a cornerstone of my training program since then. I am doing 7 mile runs at a variety of speeds and currently have accumulated a body of work that has stretched over 70,000 miles. Since 2000 I have run 23,500 miles and I know these results because I have recorded each of my workouts in detail in a runner’s calendar and know where I have been, where I am in my training and where I am going. I want to be able to run a 6 minute mile on my 80th birthday in 2026 and current results say I will be able to do it – barring injury or illness. My book on healthy aging is simple but not easy. Pick what you love to do and keep doing it – and continue to learn more about yourself every day. Be a student of your own life and never stop learning!

#3.  Power

Power comes from being able to retain “explosive” ability over time. Old people lose their power and never regain it because they may have known they had it in the first place. Power is both mental and physical. It resides in the mind as well as the body. Many forms of exercise help us retain our power from yoga to dance (yes dance) to tai chi – and of course weight training. I use several exercises in my own programming for this purpose – from pushups, dips, bench press, leg press, weighted ab work, lunges, squats and other exercises that allow me to retain the power in my body. My “mindfulness” work is embodied in my meditation and visualization (imagination) work that I am committed to doing daily. I also use sprint workouts in order to increase my anaerobic threshold which determines my ability to engage as many of my “fast twitch” muscle fibers as I can. So far I am doing 250 pushups, 1000 crunches, and running sub 6 minute miles while still bench pressing 250 lbs. for my “power set”. If I maintain these results over time I WILL retain my power as I enter my 70’s next year.

#4.  Speed

Most of us lose speed after we leave our 20’s. If we have struggles with health issues we most likely never thought of speed as a part of our lives. Injured joints, soft tissue damage and other debilitating issues will prevent us from ever being fast but it is still worth our time to try and improve our speed of movement. I love to run fast and I will always have this aspect of fitness in the front of my mind as I train my body in the future. I love sprint workouts and will most likely keep the track in my sights going forward. Right now running indoors suits me and I am making real strides in developing leg speed and maintaining a “rhythm” that I positively love. What will you do to address speed in your programming? Seek to rise to a higher level of achievement and see what happens to your confidence!

#5.  Agility

Agility is an elusive quality and many of us never really train for it because it is hard to simulate agility in a training program. Athletes must all have some form of agility or quickness to play their sports at the highest level so they routinely add agility drills to their off season programming. It takes effort and desire but can be a real asset to any training regimen. Seek out new ways of addressing this skill set and see how you might incorporate some agility training into your program and see what happens. Personal trainers and group fitness instructors can – and do – use agility training as a part of their instruction. I am thinking about this aspect of fitness as well and have not yet decided on a course for myself yet so I am still an “evolving athlete” too.

#6.  Balance

Balance is a key to becoming fit and implies not only physical balance but mental and emotional balance as well. Being balanced means that we can more easily respond to life’s challenges and roll with the punches as change enters our lives. Being physically capable of balancing our bodies is a worthy goal. Yoga is a great way to learn to balance the mind and body. The poses help you acquire a “sense of self” in space and time. I use yoga as a part of my stretching routine to “release” tension from my joints and muscles following my training. I find breathing exercises to be useful in calming me and balancing my mind with my heart and is also a soothing way to address stress in my life. Use basic principles of achieving balance in your life and you will go far and be healthy along the way.

#7.  Flexibility

I saved flexibility for last because it captures for me the essence of health and fitness. Being flexible in our thinking and in our physical being is a reward for all our hard work. I am more open to change in my life than I ever thought possible. “Change is the only constant in the natural order” is one of the important lessons I learned from a favorite teacher over 30 years ago and only now am I finally beginning to truly understand this concept as change accelerates in my own life. “Feeling in control” of our lives is important but when we realize that what we love today may change in our lives tomorrow we become more adaptable and willing to change so that we can continue to grow and expand in consciousness. Life is bigger than we can imagine and if we become flexible in body we can save ourselves from injury and if we become flexible in our thinking we can become healthier – and happier – grateful for all that we have been given.

Conclusion

The seven keys to becoming – and staying fit are: Strength, endurance, power, speed, agility (quickness), balance and flexibility. Where do you fall short when it comes to your own fitness? Where do you feel you need to improve your training? What do you REALLY want to accomplish with your training? Looking good is fine but what do you want to DO with your training? I want to travel, water ski, play with my grandson and teach him to be active, empower and inspire audiences to make positive changes in their lives, write more books and articles on healthy aging and live a fulfilling and rewarding (and meaningful life). Time is precious so use it well and gain your freedom to be all you were meant to be!

Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach and fitness professional with over 25 years of experience. His passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii, where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

active adults walking

Can movement be therapy for emotional stress?

The more rhythmic and intense the movement, the greater this effect, since it elicits focus.

Emotional stress makes life overwhelming. Sometimes, we experience an extremely stressful or disturbing event, while at other times we accumulate the stress of upsetting interactions over time. In either case we are left feeling emotionally out of control and helpless. Our minds feel like a hamster spinning away on a wheel, leaving us drained, heavy, disconnected and incapable of making rational inferences and decisions. Our bodies feel like logs being lugged around, making daily chores onerous.

Irrespective of how it’s triggered, emotional and/or psychological disharmony has wide-ranging physical reactions and symptoms. While most of us know of the emotional impact (feelings of sadness, anger, fear, guilt, self-doubt and many more) the physical impact is not widely spoken about. This could include muscular tension, aches and pains, difficulty sleeping or insomnia, breathlessness among others.

Everyone’s triggers and responses are unique. Healing from emotional stress, hence, cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution. If symptoms persist for long or are severe, do seek professional help. That said, there are a few practices that can aid in self-healing.

Movement

Movement can be therapeutic for a number of reasons. As we know, stress impacts mental and physical equilibrium, turning the body into a repository of unpleasant side effects. A prolonged state of negative emotions like anger, fear and hyper responsiveness in daily life, adversely impacts the muscular and nervous system. Movement and exercise can help address this at a dual level. At a physical level, it helps by releasing endorphins (aka happy hormones) and calming adrenaline. The more rhythmic and intense the movement, the greater this effect, since it elicits focus. Target at least 30 minutes of exercise/movement on most days. It could be any activity that interests and engages you, be it dancing, yoga, sport, running, swimming, cycling. It might feel better to do it in company, to help break any self-imposed isolation. You could split it up over intervals during the day (though half an hour is not much of an ask to reset yourself and get your mind, body and life on track!).

Mindfulness

Try to pay full attention to the activity and how you perform it. Stay with the process. The mind will eventually tune into the rhythm of the body, making you more ‘mindful’ of the activity and yield a positive sensory outcome, including from deep within. For some, this may be attained with gentler workouts, and for some more intense activities could derive the response, depending on one’s personality as well as physical capacity. Remember, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way here. The beauty of movement is that it serves all, and it can be scaled up and down dynamically to make you feel most connected and generate positive inner vibes.

Deep breathing

Focus on the act of breathing and on how the breath goes in and out of the body (‘mindful’ breathing). It acts as another powerful therapeutic tool. This is true even during movement. Movement becomes more mindful when you focus on the breath while executing it, maximizing positive benefits physically (more oxygen, less physical stress) and mentally (greater connection with self, less mental stress). It aids in giving the mind a much-needed break while energizing the body.

Good sleep

Try maintaining sleeping and waking up time and hours even though it may seem silly or impossible. For those with sleeping difficulties or insomnia, the body clock needs resetting, requiring some repetitive reinforcements to break the negative cycle. It’s essential to retrain the body and mind to rejuvenate, rest and recuperate.

Changes won’t happen overnight, but all these practices together can go a long way to impart a greater sense of control, which propels us towards a happier state. It’s about reclaiming peace, being kind to ourselves and catalyzing inner healing.


Vani Pahwa is a Functional Fitness specialist with over fifteen years of experience, and cutting-edge certifications from leading internationally-accredited and globally recognized fitness institutes. She is also a Cancer Exercise Specialist (perhaps one of the first in the country). Sought after for her multi-disciplinary fitness modules and expertise, Vani has conducted fitness workshops for leading corporate houses, conditioning and training camps for various sports communities, training programs for coaches, personal training programs for CEOs of multi-nationals, athletes, junior and senior sports professionals among others. Her combination of specialties, client profile and range, and extensive work experience makes her unique in the country. She is the founder of Body in Motion.

Original article published in a leading national daily:  https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/movement-as-a-therapy-for-emotional-stress/article26566357.ece

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The Still Life

I am not referring to the still life of the 17th century, a tradition that originated with Dutch painters and spread throughout Europe, where often there was a religious dimension.[1] I am also not referring to still in the sense that Don Henley encapsulates in his 1994 song, “Learn to Be Still.”  Nor am I insinuating an exploration of the archaic use of still that suggests sedentariness. Quite the opposite, although closely connected to the latter.

It’s 5 a.m. I am seated in a plush black leather chair situated in the corner of a soft-red lighted area of our home designed as a small bistro. The Baja-blue ceramic tea pot is on the stove and I am reading the New York Times. A headline captures my immediate attention: “Lifeguards for Life (Or as Long as Possible).”[2] In a 1,122 word story covering lifeguards who are greater than 60 years of age, the word “still” was used 5 times. That is, every 224th word of the story is “still.” My feelings of calm and delight suddenly mix with this internal emblazoned visceral change that underwent chemical synthesis and became a substance fueling the writing this article. I am perplexed at the use of the word still when describing people who are greater than 60 and the daily activities in which they may be involved.

Although well intentioned, selection of the word still is a curious linguistic choice.  This particular article did a beautiful representation of using two-polar opposite definitions of this word: one suggesting change and the other stagnation. On the one hand “still” suggests the possibility of change. A growing or morphing into a larger state than at present. For example, there was reference in the article to the late 1950s when “surfing was still in its infancy on the East Coast.” Now, in 2017, from Kennsington Cove off the coast of Nova Scotia to South Beach, Florida, one can surf up and down the East coast and find plenty of other surfers amidst the waves. Thus, in this case, still implies growth.

Then there’s another use of still when referring to an unchanging situation. The vernacular appeal of using still as a compliment is readily apparent. As in describing Mr. Labert, “One of the oldest active lifeguards – the kind who still dash into the surf to rescue swimmers.” However, his livelihood or successes, as he ages, are redefined in terms of stagnation. Continuing to do the same activities. Use of still in this sense implies accomplishment sans change. Other elderly lifeguards are “still ocean-certified” and “still kept watch.” Still can be likened to a lexiconic hologram: it appears one way from one direction, change your position (or age) and your perspective changes, or the image changes. Faced with a continuum of age from congratulations to offense to oppressive to objectification, our language lends itself to prescribing a limiting condition: “the tyranny of still.”[3]

Some of us will reach, or have reached, an age where marks of success shift from change to stagnation. We could call this the still life. I still live alone. I still drive. I still eat by myself. I still bathroom by myself. While these are not necessarily accomplishments or accolades to be proclaimed at achieving in one’s thirties or forties or fifties, there is that pivotal age when some of the smallest tasks become trophy winning moments. These triumphs are often treated as moments to be captured on camera and lived and relived, with bystanders singing praises such as, “Yay. You are still using a fork.” A comment actually made to a hundred-year-old woman, to which she responded, “Dignity doesn’t age.”

Embedded in these still comments, intended to be compliments, are platitudes served on silver platters. Sure, they appear nice and clean and friendly, yet under the shiny shellacked surface is a sharp jab. What are we saying when we say someone is still capable of completing activities of daily living? Perhaps a round of applause that they are seemingly independent. Why then is inter dependence not congratulated?  As a species is there truly anyone who is fully independent? We all rely on someone to some extent. Taking a look across the life span, we can see a continual push to be independent. If we say, “She’s 47 and she still lives alone,” then this begs questions of “What’s wrong with her?” or simply, “Why?” However, the script and responses are very different if we say, “She’s 97 and she still lives alone.” Often, the question then becomes, “Oh, what is she doing right?” With an implied, “If I take similar measures then I too will live to be that age and be active.”

Perhaps there are more connections between the still life of the 17th century and use of the word still as we age, than is apparent on the surface. Just as with some Dutch painters in the 1600s conveying religious messages, some research suggests we become more religious as we age. Perhaps the use of still is a way of separating the worlds, between the doers and not-doings. If we are still doing something, then we are not dead. If we are still doing, then we are relevant. A good many people desire to be relevant and alive. And one can be both, without adding still into the game. Still relevant and still alive. No. Relevant and alive.


Adrienne Ione is a cognitive behavioral therapist and personal trainer who integrates these fields in support of people thriving across the lifespan. As a pro-aging advocate, she specializes in the self-compassion of dementia.

Website: yes2aging.com
Guided Meditations: insighttimer.com/adrienneIone
Facebook: silverliningsintegrativehealth

References

[1] Vincent Pomarède and Erich Lessing (Nov. 2011) The Louvre: All the Paintings.

[2] Corey Kilgannon. (July 16, 2017). “Lifeguards for Life (Or as Long as Possible).” New York Times.

[3] Bill Thomas (2015). Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life.