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woman-walking-dirt-road

Restoring Health: A Lifestyle Rx

America is in bad shape. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), 60% of adults are living with one chronic disease and 40% have two or more.(1)  Astoundingly, 12% of adults are living with 5 or more chronic conditions(2) including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, coronary obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension. A concept people need to understand is that these diseases can be prevented, managed and even reversed with lifestyle choices.

Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a bright light on how our level of health can literally be a matter of life or death. A study of thousands of patients hospitalized with the novel coronavirus in the New York City area found that 94% had one chronic disease and 88% had two or more. The most common conditions included hypertension, obesity and diabetes.(3) In May of this year, the CDC reported that people with an underlying chronic illness had six times the risk of being hospitalized and twelve times the risk for dying.(4)

Boost Health & Immunity

Now is the right time to take small steps to improve health and build immune resilience with daily lifestyle choices. While there isn’t one diet, exercise regimen, or stress-relieving technique that is good for everyone, there are principles to follow that can boost health and vitality at any age.

There is a huge misconception that our genes determine our health destiny. This simply isn’t true. The study of epigenetics shows that we have the ability to change the expression of our genes by the way we think, feel, move and eat.(5) Each of our daily decisions and choices can increase or decrease inflammation in the body, moving us towards disease or back to health.

Acute & Chronic Inflammation

Our immune system uses the ancient, biological pathway of inflammation to protect us against injury and infections.(6) When you cut your finger, immune cells are sent to kill invading bacteria and begin the process of wound healing. This is acute inflammation that goes away in days or weeks when the body is healed.

One the other hand, chronic inflammation lasts a long time, from months to years.(2) It’s basically an abnormal immune response that causes damage to cells, tissues and organs. Oxidative stress plays a big role; it occurs when more free radicals are produced within cells than the body can neutralize.(2)  As you can imagine, when more damage occurs than can be repaired, health problems crop up.

It is now widely accepted that chronic inflammation is at the root of most, if not all, chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, arthritis and joint disease.(2)

Lifestyle Matters

The good news is that deliberate and healthier lifestyle choices can prevent, manage and even reverse chronic inflammatory disease, the most important cause of morbidity and mortality facing people today.(7) It’s empowering to know that if you have, or want to prevent a chronic disease, you can regain your health and vitality by choosing real whole foods, optimizing sleep, reducing stress, being social, and moving more.

You may be thinking, “How the heck can simple lifestyle decisions address the complexities of chronic conditions?”  The body has an innate ability and intelligence to heal itself. You experience it each time you cut your hand; you wash the wound, put a bandage on and don’t have to think about it.

The research also supports it and I have lived it; by utilizing the power of lifestyle medicine I was able to restore my health from the ravages of chronic Lyme disease. You just need to provide the right environment for healing. This is not an easy task, but it can be done with time, effort and a plan.

Taking Action

Changing your lifestyle habits can feel overwhelming. To help you embrace this challenge, think about this analogy, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!”   Any healing journey begins with awareness, learning and exploration; then gradually taking action, one small step at a time.

Start today by exploring lifestyle behaviors that decrease inflammation and can put your health back on track so you can live with less pain, more energy, and greater vitality. A lifestyle prescription to restore health includes:

  • Reducing stress with deep breathing.
  • Getting good quality sleep by going to bed and rising at the same time.
  • Eating a plant-based diet rich in a rainbow of vegetables.
  • Hydrating with filtered water in the morning and during the day.
  • Nurturing relationships and engaging with positive people.
  • Moving well with good posture when performing daily activities and exercise.

Be proactive, make one hour a week to learn more by reading books, researching on PubMed.gov, listening to podcasts, attending lectures and webinars so you can find the strategies and practices that work best for you. As you begin to feel better, you will naturally be motivated to continue learning and making better lifestyle choices because healthy feels so good!

Learn more about restoring health with lifestyle practices!

Register now for Cate Reade’s webinar on this topic. This webinar will give a basic overview of the principles and practices of why and how lifestyle choices can help prevent, manage and reverse chronic conditions.


Cate Reade, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist and Functional Medicine Practitioner candidate on a mission to improve functional mobility and health span utilizing the power of lifestyle medicine. She has been teaching, writing and prescribing healthy eating and exercise programs for over 25 years. Today, as CEO of Resistance Dynamics and inventor of the MoveMor™ Mobility Trainer, she develops exercise products and programs that target joint flexibility, strength and balance deficits to help older adults fall less and live more.

 

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/index.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  3. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/nearly-all-nyc-area-covid-19-hospitalizations-had-comorbidities-67476
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/Novel_Coronavirus_Reports.html June 19, 2020
  5. https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/epigenetic-influences-and-disease-895/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345337/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23974765/
alarm clock

10 Tips for Sleep Health

Here are ten critical pieces of information every person should know about sleep and how to optimize and enhance sleep for healthy living.

Sleep is the secret weapon for maintaining overall health and wellness.

1. Be asleep > 2 hours before midnight.

Quality sleep is biologically driven by the brain and is often inflexible to environmental change. The best quality sleep is achieved between 2200 – 0600. Quality sleep helps to clear toxins and repair muscle.

2. Electronic devices reduce quality sleep.

A recent study found that late-night tweeting increases next-day fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Biologically speaking, blue light emitted from smartphones and TVs stops nighttime release of the hormone that helps us fall asleep: melatonin. Melatonin helps us achieve restorative sleep responsible for overall rejuvenation and repair.

3. Quality sleep releases anabolic hormones.

It is a myth that we release growth hormone and testosterone after we exercise. Rather, the body “saves” that information and releases these anabolic hormones during sleep but only if quality, restorative sleep is achieved.

4. No sugary foods before bedtime.

While it is common to wake up starving in the middle of the night, eating low glycemic foods that do not elevate blood sugar (e.g., sweet potatoes over a banana or ice cream) before bedtime will help reduce awakenings in the middle of the night.

5. Supplementation with magnesium and zinc.

These are two key minerals rapidly depleted during the day that are critical for a healthy nervous system. Most foods do not provide adequate amounts of magnesium/zinc.  Both will help reduce leg cramping and muscle twitching common at night as well as with achieving quality sleep.

6. Sleep in the fetal position.

Sleeping on your back or stomach makes the ability to breath difficult during sleep. Use pillows to condition the body to sleep in the fetal position.

7. Keep the room cool for quality sleep.

A room temperature between 68 -72 degrees Fahrenheit will help ensure that you do not wake up in the middle of the night and can achieve quality stages of sleep.

8. Mentally rehearse important information before bedtime.

Sleep is necessary to learn and recall new information.

9. “Sleep bank” prior to intended sleep deprivation.

It is common to have poor sleep the night before travel.  Extending sleep by > 1 -2 hours for 3 – 4 days leading up to travel will help protect against declines in physical and mental performances.

10. Use sleep medications as a last resort for insomnia or other sleep difficulties.

When all else fails, take half a recommended dose of a prescribed sleep medication or use melatonin (3 -5 mg; 1 -2 capsules) to help re-adjust a sleep schedule to a new time zone. The easiest way to prepare for time zone travel is to slowly adjust sleep by 30 – 60 min in the direction of travel a few days prior.

Learn more about sleep physiology!

Register now for Dr. Brager’s free webinar on this topic. This webinar will give a basic overview of the principles and practices of how and why we sleep, and how sleep timing & quality shape overall health status.

 


Dr. Allison Brager is an expert in sleep physiology and relevance to issues of mental health. She serves in several leadership and scientific advisory board positions with professional research societies, industry, and professional, Olympic, and collegiate teams.

She has over 30 publications in flagship journals of medicine, neuroscience, and physiology widely featured by large media outlets and is author of the popular science book Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain. She has a Sc.B from Brown University and a PhD from Kent State University.

trainer-and-client-exercise-fitness-machine

Healing is a Skill

One aspect of training and conditioning the human body the right way, that I find particularly fascinating, is the anabolic effect that occurs, and the healing response that it creates. Anabolic, or anabolism, refers to the metabolic process of building up tissue structure in the body. You can easily remember that anabolism refers to building up when you think about anabolic steroids – the performance-enhancing drugs that bodybuilders, baseball players, and others have used to gain bulk. However, we are not talking about artificial anabolism through taking anabolic steroids here; we are talking about the body’s natural and healthy anabolism. Many times, this anabolic effect gets discussed among athletes and strength coaches in terms of getting bigger, faster, and stronger, or amongst fitness enthusiasts in terms of shedding fat, looking lean and ripped, and feeling great. However, when we think about anabolic response from an injury standpoint, one of the best parts of an elevated anabolic effect is the tissue growth and healing response it stimulates.

To further discuss anabolism in the body, we must understand that metabolic processes are controlled by our body’s hormones. Hormones regulate many of the major physiologic processes in our bodies. These processes include metabolism, appetite, strength, lean muscle mass, body fat percentage, body composition, tissue integrity, heart rate, blood pressure, energy and fatigue, mood, sex drive, emotions, and stress. Many factors affect hormone levels, including nutrition, sleep, physical activity, and physical, emotional, and mental stress. We cannot control all of these factors, but we are able to control some of them.

One major factor influencing hormone regulation that we as humans are (for the most part) in control of is physical activity, aka exercise. The type of exercise is important. The intensity and the duration of exercise are the two main factors to consider when thinking about how hormones will be influenced by exercise. This is why I say training the body the “right way” will produce an anabolic effect. We will get back to exactly what the “right way” is in terms of hormone regulation in the next section. For now, let’s finish discussing how these hormones are promoting a healing effect in the body.

Basically, exercise is really a form of trauma to the body. Correct exercise training is a controlled, mild form of trauma done in a very specific way to produce a very specific result. So one main, and very cool, thing that happens when you consistently train your body the right way is that you are actually teaching your body how to recover from damage. You are training your body to recover from trauma. You are literally teaching your body how to heal in a more efficient manner. The way I see it, healing is a skill. You can train yourself to be better at that skill!

During our one-hour webinar, we will take a look at some of the science and practical application of how this works to give you the knowledge and skills to train your ability to heal.


Dr. Donnie Richardson, DC, CCSP, DACBSP, CSCS, is a Sports Medicine Specialist and Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Dr. Donnie has worked for the Many United States National Teams since 2008, serving as both a team doctor and sports performance coach, traveling both nationally and traveling internationally all over the world with our countries top athletes. Dr. Donnie also owns and operates his own private practice in Los Angeles, Universal Sports Performance, offering services ranging from sports medicine, injury diagnosis, physical rehabilitation, physiotherapy, injury prevention, sports performance training, personal fitness training, nutrition and diet programming, among other health care services.

back-pain

Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom

I’ve heard a saying regarding pain in the body, “the victim screams while the criminal is silent.”

When Tom Myers, internationally known fascia expert and author of Anatomy Trains, said this he was referring to the interconnected relationships between the soft tissues in the body. The pain is not always, and actually not often, being generated where it hurts, but rather is in response to an imbalance somewhere else.

For example, consider pain on the top of your shoulders. You know the spot, where you have those annoying, chronic knots that hurt like crazy when you apply pressure. Why do you have that tightness? Is there something wrong with those muscles? A problem in your shoulders? Your neck? Maybe. . . Or perhaps, the tightness signals a compensation in those muscles for something else going on in the body. The upper back/neck muscles are the victims screaming, while the real perpetrators—a hip disparity, lower back dysfunction or weakness in the core is silent.

Modern medicine is symptom-oriented, focused on relieving the pain often without looking deeper to find out WHY the pain is occurring. Medical professionals have become very good at treating painful symptoms. Unfortunately, these dedicated healers often overlook or lack the time needed to investigate the cause of the pain. This leads to an unending cycle of symptoms and invasive procedures.

You’ve probably heard stories of people who have had multiple joints replaced or repeated back surgeries. Chronic pain and joint degeneration is caused by stress within the body. If the cause of this stress (e.g. muscles imbalances) is not addressed the stress will just be redirected to other joints and soft tissues.

Misaligned Posture Was the Cause of My Chronic Symptoms

When I had my third knee surgery, on the same knee, I told the doctor I felt like there was something bigger to these injuries. The majority of my surgeries were to repair “wear and tear” issues that developed slowly over time. I didn’t understand WHY I was having these problems while my competitors, who probably logged more bike miles than me continued to pedal pain free.

It wasn’t until starting posture therapy and seeing my position that I realized the knee wasn’t the problem. The cause was the position of my spine! Too much forward rounding in my upper back and shoulders which was balanced by an equally exaggerated curve in my lower back in the opposite direction.

This position increased the forward tilt of my pelvis and changed the orientation of my hips that internally rotated my knees. Not long after my last knee surgery, I had hip surgery, again on the same side. The knee and hip were the victims being damaged to the point of needing repair while my curved back and shoulders didn’t make a sound.

After my final knee surgery I had not taken action to find and correct the cause of my pain so the cycle continued damaging my hip. Only by reducing the dramatic curves of my back, which created a positive chain reaction on the alignment of my hips and knees did my frequent trips to the operating room end. Now I am hot on the trail of the criminals, which is silencing the victims.

Join Jessica for her upcoming webinar on this topic: Posture: The Undiagnosed Cause of Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

Article originally printed on thepfathlete.com. Reprinted with permission.


Coach, author, and former professional athlete, Jessica Kisiel, MS, is passionate about helping people who are in chronic pain maintain an active lifestyle. She has overcome many injuries herself, including severe hip osteoarthritis. Using her professional knowledge and personal experience, Jessica has guided hundreds of clients out of pain and back to activity and competitive sports.

During her healing, she discovered Posture Therapy, which turned out to be the missing piece in her recovery from hip, back and neck pain. When she was a patient, she began the certification process for The Egoscue Method® and continued her posture training to receive credentialing from the Postural Restoration Institute® (PRI). Unique in holding both these designations, Jessica is sought out by people worldwide in search of answers to their pain. Jessica’s story, and much of what she gained through her recovery process, is explained in her book, “Winning The Injury Game”. 

DHEA=article-feature

“You want a what?”: A Story for Our Times

Imagine you’re house hunting and at last you’ve found what might be the perfect home. Like all home buyers, you are eager to see the kitchen. Mostly, you’re looking for quality appliances. When you arrive, everything looks great, with one glaring exception. There’s no refrigerator. There’s a gaping hole where the refrigerator should be. And when you ask the realtor, you’re astounded to hear him say, “Hmmm. You want a what?”

“A refrigerator,” you reply.

“What’s that?” he asks. You laugh nervously, because his question sounded sincere, and then you explain what a refrigerator is.  “

Yeah, no,” he replies, “You don’t want one of those. They’re dangerous.”

“How are refrigerators dangerous?” you ask.

The realtor pauses for a few seconds, then replies, “They… um… they explode!”

This is what happens when a well-informed patient asks their doctor about DHEA. More than 2 million people have read one of Stephen Cherniske’s books and articles that describe why DHEA is an essential part of any healthcare plan. Millions more have seen him interviewed on national TV, or read about him in Time, Newsweek and Oprah. They understood Cherniske’s simple graphic showing that health is a see-saw of damage and repair, and how DHEA is the most important factor driving repair in every tissue of the human body. They were impressed with the author’s scientific credentials and the mountain of evidence published in biomedical journals.

But when they ask their doctor about this critically important factor that literally determines how fast they age, they are shocked to hear that many physicians have no real understanding of the hormone. Even worse, many doctors disregard the question, essentially saying “Yeah, no. You don’t want one of those. They’re dangerous.” And when asked exactly why DHEA is dangerous, they reply with something they heard 25 years ago that has been soundly debunked.

Join Stephen Cherniske for his upcoming webinar, The Case for DHEA, to learn more about this topic. He’ll review the metabolic model of aging and show how DHEA plays a key role in tissue repair, neuroprotection, metabolism, cardiovascular health, mood and memory.

 


Stephen Cherniske, MSc is a biochemist with more than 50 years of academic, clinical and research experience. He taught university clinical nutrition, directed the nation’s first FDA-licensed clinical lab specializing in nutrition and immunology, and served on the faculty of the American College of Sports Medicine. His book “The DHEA Breakthrough” was an international best-seller that helped launch the anti-aging movement worldwide. Cherniske is considered to be the chief architect of the metabolic model of aging – now the predominant model used in research protocols throughout the world.

scale

The Habits of Successful Weight Losers

In a national television interview with Barbara Walters in 2014, Oprah Winfrey confessed that not being able to maintain her weight loss was her biggest regret. In that interview, Walters asked Winfrey to finish the sentence, “Before I leave this Earth, I will not be satisfied until I…”

“Until I make peace with the whole weight thing,” Oprah replied.

Losing weight is hard; keeping it off is even harder. What is unique about those who succeed? The answer is buried deep in the archives at the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center in Providence, Rhode Island: The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), the largest database ever assembled on individuals successful at long-term maintenance of weight loss. Founded in 1994, the NWCR includes more than 10,000 individuals who complete annual questionnaires about their current weight, diet and exercise habits, and behavioral strategies for weight loss maintenance.

Habit #1: Live with Intention

Living with intention eliminates the random approach to weight loss maintenance in favor of the systematic and methodical one that leads to results. The NWCR has shown that, when intention is behind weight loss maintenance, 21 percent of overweight people are successful weight losers.[1]

The longer people keep their weight off, the fewer strategies they need to continue keeping weight off.[2] In other words, weight maintenance gets easier. The longer your clients persist in their intention and behave in accord with that intention, the easier it is for that behavior to “stick” and turn into a habit.

What makes one individual persist at a specific behavior while another individual doesn’t? For starters, the persistent individual has a conscientious personality. In the most recent NWCR study published in 2020, conscientiousness was compared between successful weight losers from the NWCR and non-NWCR weight regainers.[3] The successful weight losers were found to be more conscientious than the weight regainers and scored higher on measures of order, virtue, responsibility, and industriousness. The scientists suggest that being conscientious may help individuals maintain their weight loss by improving adherence to specific behaviors.

In a review of 56 studies that contained 58 health behaviors, researchers at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada and the University of Limburg in The Netherlands found that intention remained the most important predictor of health behavior, explaining 66 percent of the variance.[4] In half of the reviewed studies, perceived behavioral control (believing that you have control over your behavior) significantly added to the prediction.

Habit #2: Control Yourself

Being a successful weight loser requires a lot of self-control, delaying gratification now (e.g., dessert) for the more desirable reward later (e.g., a slimmer waistline, better health, enhanced self-esteem, and happiness).

Compared to typical unsuccessful dieters, successful weight losers are better able to resist temptation, control themselves, and push back against the environment. They restrict certain foods,[5] weigh themselves regularly,[6],[7] and use digital health technology.[8]

One of the key factors of self-control is disinhibition, which literally means not being inhibited. Some inhibition is good, because it prevents people from not giving into temptation and eating whatever and how much they want. High levels of disinhibition are bad, because it leads to risky behavior. Disinhibited eating is a failure to maintain control over eating. The opposite of disinhibited eating is dietary restraint. Several NWCR studies have found that increased disinhibition leads to regaining lost weight.[9],[10],[11],[12],[13] Other studies have found strong relationships between a lack of self-control—impulsivity—and obesity.[14],[15],[16]

Habit #3: Control Calories

Successful weight losers consume fewer daily calories than the general population. Table 1 shows the number of calories the NWCR members consume per day, from the several studies that have reported it, along with the amount of weight they lost at the time they entered the NWCR.

Table 1 – Caloric Intake of Successful Weight Losers

  Calories Per Day Pounds Lost
1,381([17],[18])

1,297 (women)

1,725 (men)

66

63 (women)

78 (men)

1,306 (women)([19])

1,685 (men)

63 (women)

77 (men)

1,390([20]) 69
1,462([21]) 124
1,400([22]) 62
1,399([23]) 73
Average

Women

Men

1,406

1,302

1,705

79

63

78

Successful weight losers consume a low-calorie diet of about 1,400 calories per day, with women consuming about 1,300 and men consuming about 1,700 calories per day. By comparison, the U.S. adult population consumes an average of 2,120 calories per day (women consume about 1,820 calories per day and men consume about 2,480 calories per day).[24],[25]

Successful weight losers control calories several ways, including limiting how often they eat out at restaurants,[26] rarely eating fast food,[27] and limiting how many calories they drink.[28] They are also more likely than normal-weight individuals to have plans to be extremely strict in maintaining their caloric intake, even during times of the year when it’s easy to consume calories, like during holidays.[29]

Want to learn about more of the habits of successful weight losers? Register for Dr. Karp’s webinar, Lose It: The Habits of Successful Weight Losers from the National Weight Control Registry


Content from this article is adapted from Lose It Forever: The Habits of Successful Weight Losers from the National Weight Control Registry by Jason R. Karp, Ph.D.

A competitive runner since sixth grade, Dr. Jason Karp pursues his passion every day as a run coach, exercise physiologist, bestselling author of 10 books and 400+ articles, speaker, and educator. He is the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and two-time recipient of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition Community Leadership award. His REVO₂LUTION RUNNING™ certification has been obtained by fitness professionals and coaches in 23 countries. His new book, “Lose It Forever: The Habits of Successful Weight Losers from the National Weight Control Registry” is available on Amazon.

 

References

[1] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[2] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., Lang, W., McGuire, M.T., and Hill, J.O. Does weight loss maintenance become easier over time? Obesity Research, 8:438-444, 2000.

[3] Gold, J.M., Carr, L.J., Thomas, J.G., Burrus, J., O’Leary, K.C., Wing, R., and Bond, D.S. Conscientiousness in weight loss maintainers and regainers. Health Psychology, 2020.

[4] Godin, G. and Kok, G. The theory of planned behavior: a review of its applications to health-related behaviors. American Journal of Health Promotion, 11(2):87-98, 1996.

[5] Wing, R.R. and Phelan, S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82:222S-225S, 2005.

[6] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21: 323-341, 2001.

[7] Butryn, M.L., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Consistent self-monitoring of weight: A key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:3091-3096, 2007.

[8] Goldstein, C.M., Thomas, J.G., Wing, R.R., and Bond, D.S. Successful weight loss maintainers use health-tracking smartphone applications more than a nationally representative sample: comparison of the National Weight Control Registry to Pew Tracking for Health. Obesity Science and Practice, 3(2):117-126, 2017.

[9] McGuire, M.T., Wing, R.R., Klem, M.L., Lang, W. and Hill, J.O. What predicts weight regain among a group of successful weight losers? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67:177-185, 1999.

[10] Niemeier, H.M., Phelan, S., Fava, J.L., and Wing, R.R. Internal disinhibition predicts weight regain following weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:2485-2494, 2007.

[11] Butryn, M.L., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Consistent self-monitoring of weight: A key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:3091-3096, 2007.

[12] Thomas, J.G., Bond, D.S., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Weight-loss maintenance for 10 years in the National Weight Control Registry. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46(1):17-23, 2014.

[13] Lillis, J., Thomas, J.G., Niemeier, H., and Wing, R.R. Internal disinhibition predicts 5-year weight regain in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). Obesity Science and Practice, 2(1):83-87, 2016.

[14] Chamberlain, S.R., Derbyshire, K.L., Leppink, E., and Grant, J.E. Obesity and dissociable forms of impulsivity in young adults. CNS Spectrums, 20(5):500-507, 2015.

[15] Fields, S.A., Sabet, M., and Reynolds, B. Dimensions of impulsive behavior in obese, overweight, and healthy-weight adolescents. Appetite, 70:60-66, 2013.

[16] Amlung, M., Petker, T., Jackson, J., Balodis, I., MacKillop, J. Steep discounting of delayed monetary and food rewards in obesity: a meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 46(11):2423-2434, 2016.

[17] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., McGuire, M.T., Seagle, H.M., and Hill, J.O.  A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66:239-246, 1997.

[18] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[19] Shick, S.M., Wing, R.R., Klem, M.L., McGuire, M.T., Hill, J.O., and Seagle, H.M. Persons successful at long-term weight loss and maintenance continue to consume a low calorie, low fat diet. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 98:408-413, 1998.

[20] McGuire, M.T., Wing, R.R., Klem, M.L., Seagle, H.M., and Hill, J.O. Long-term maintenance of weight loss: Do people who lose weight through various weight loss methods use different behaviors to maintain their weight? International Journal of Obesity, 22:572-577, 1998.

[21] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., Chang, C.H., Lang, W., McGuire, M.T., Sugerman, H.J., Hutchison, S.L., Makovich, A.L., and Hill, J.O. A case-control study of successful maintenance of a substantial weight loss: Individuals who lost weight through surgery versus those who lost weight through non-surgical means. International Journal of Obesity, 24:573-579, 2000.

[22] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., Lang, W., McGuire, M.T., and Hill, J.O. Does weight loss maintenance become easier over time? Obesity Research, 8:438-444, 2000.

[23] Ogden, L.G., Stroebele, N., Wyatt, H.R., Catenacci, V.A., Peters, J.C., Stuht, J., Wing, R.R., and Hill, J.O. Cluster analysis of the National Weight Control Registry to identify distinct subgroups maintaining successful weight loss. Obesity, 20(10):2039-2047, 2012.

[24] Wright J.D., Wang, C.Y., Kennedy-Stephenson, J., Ervin, R.B. Dietary intake of ten key nutrients for public health, United States: 1999-2000. Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics, 334:1-4, 2003.

[25] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Energy intakes: percentages of energy from protein, carbohydrate, fat, and alcohol, by gender and age. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2015-2016, 2018.

[26] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[27] Thomas, J.G. and Wing, R.R. Maintenance of long-term weight loss. Medicine & Health Rhode Island, 92(2):56-57, 2009.

[28] Catenacci, V.A., Pan, Z., Thomas, J.G., Ogden, L.G., Roberts, S.A., Wyatt, H.R., Wing, R.R., and Hill, J.O. Low/no calorie sweetened beverage consumption in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity, 22(10):2244-2251, 2014.

[29] Phelan, S., Wing, R.R., Raynor, H.A., Dibello, J., Nedeau, K., and Peng, W. Holiday weight management by successful weight losers and normal weight individuals. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(3):442-448, 2008.

feet sneakers

The Feet: The Body’s Foundation

The feet are one of the most overused and taken for granted parts of the body. Since the feet are the foundation for the rest of the body, it would only be logical to begin developing strong, aligned, and full functioning feet from the start when developing a personalized fitness program. The feet should be a priority for developing sound fitness education in order to prevent injuries. Most fitness and sport injuries usually involve the feet. Even when the injury is to the knee, hip or back it can usually be traced back to a misaligned foot pattern.

In the fitness and wellness world there is hardly ever a designated focus on the feet. Since the feet are involved in almost all fitness activities it would make sense that starting with a careful assessment of a person’s feet would be the best place to start. Observing how a person stands, walks, runs, and moves normally can tell you why a person might have a hip, knee, or lower back problem. People who have difficulty with balance almost always have a foot alignment and gait which cannot support the body in movement. Maintaining and working foot function is crucial for insuring continuous mobility, and independence in populations who are handi-capped, have had strokes, who have M.S. or Parkinson’s, or diabetes.

Feet often are good indicators for what is going on in other parts of the body. Abnormalities or pain in the feet can often be a precursor for more serious health conditions. This means that we as wellness practitioners and fitness experts need to pay attention to the feet so much more than is commonly done today.

As wellness/fitness educators it makes sense to understand the anatomy of the feet. It is easy to understand and be able to explain to clients that there are three posterior muscles which go into the plantar foot, three muscles into the dorsal foot. There are three muscles which attach at the calcaneus stabilizing the ankle, heel and lower leg to knee. Both the tibialis posterior and anterior are major stabilizers and the flexors and extensors can only reach their insertions based on the full function of these two muscles. It is not difficult to give people simple and clear understandings of these basic muscles and how they need to be in balance in order for the muscles of the legs to work correctly.

Throughout the body we train muscle groups and chains to function and support the body in movement. These muscles are largely unrestricted by outside forces. Only in the feet are the muscle insertions cut off and thus, restrict the muscles from their full function.

This means that over time the muscle chains will slowly contract upward from these restricted insertions. Wearing shoes to train restricts full function of the feet and legs. This in no way means you should train people barefoot, however, it does mean that part of each training session should be focusing on the feet without shoes worn.

Here are simple facts about the feet:

  • There are 52 bones in your feet which makes up 1/4 of the bones in your body. This means that it pays to focus on the anatomy of the feet and to best understand how to transfer weight through them.
  • Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles and tendons which are supposed to hold the structure and allow it to move the rest of the body. The more you can analyze a person’s gait and standing position and observe which muscles are not being used properly and where weight is impacting and damaging the foot, the easier it can become to correct the problem and prevent injuries.
  • 75% of all Americans will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. This is epidemic. More people are living active lives and more foot injuries are occurring annually. Starting at the feet is essential for avoiding foot injuries.
  • With a foot injury, without education about how to change the way a person is using his feet, the injury will continue to occur and worsen with time. Using orthotics and other devices does not re-educate the feet. They are temporary fixes. Over time a person will continue to breakdown in the same pattern while weight bearing into the orthotic.
  • When walking the feet receive more pressure into them than the actual weight of a person and when running it can be up to four times the weight of a person. Learning how to use the entire foot when walking allows a transfer of weight throughout the foot. This can mean a person stops walking into the same point repetitively breaking down. Weight needs to be transferred equally through the feet.
  • Only a small percentage of people are actually born with foot problems. People blame foot problems on their genetics. Genetics in the feet as well as in any other structural part of the body can be identified and improved upon to avoid repeating the family pattern.

Bringing the Best Foot Practices into the Medical Fitness Community

It is important to bring the feet into your client’s fitness/wellness program. Learn how to break foot education down so it is mindful and allows a person the ability to understand how to use his/her feet. Here are some pointers:

  • Observe how your client stands, walks, and runs to see the most used foot pattern.
  • Observe where this pattern might be repetitively stressing and impacting the joints of the feet and above in the body.
  • Teach a client how to walk and stand in parallel with feet at hips distance a part.
  • Train people how to transfer their weight from the heels, through the outside of the feet, through the transverse arch from lateral foot to medial, from fifth toe to big toe. The knee must stay in line with the middle foot when the big toe presses down into the floor.
  • Explain what pronation and supination are. Explain the difference between pronation and collapsing the feet medial breaking down the arch.
  • Train clients how to activate and strengthen and stretch their toes.
  • If your client is weight bearing into the medial knee, focus on the feet to realign the knees and avoid a knee injury.
  • The more you bring a foot practice into your program, the better your results will be and the less injuries will be experienced.

Learn more from Yamuna on this topic! Register to watch her webinar, Rebuilding Healthy Foot Function.


Yamuna Zake is a visionary healer dedicated to demystifying the body and providing simple, powerful tools that make lifelong fitness and well-being a reality for everyone. She has developed her deep knowledge of how the body works over forty years, starting at sixteen, when she became a certified hatha yoga instructor. She is the founder of Yamuna, a leading source of education for teachers, therapists, and fitness instructors interested in expanding their knowledge in BodySustainability which can enhance their core expertise, and often lead to a longer term interest in becoming a certified Yamuna instructor.

 

References

  • Information taken from Illinois Pediatric Medical association – Simple facts
  • Yamuna Foot Fitness Training Manuals – Bringing best foot Practices
meditation

Meditation for a New Normal

Regardless of how you’ve been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and racial justice movement, it’s likely you’ve felt it  in some way. Maybe on a small scale your grocery store trips have become less (or more) frequent. Or maybe you haven’t been able to go to events with friends. Or maybe it’s been further reaching, and your day-to-day work situation is upended. Maybe your financial situation is too. Or maybe you or a family member is sick. And in the past few weeks, glaring racial inequality has caused an awakening to injustice that’s shaken people’s worlds.

There are countless ways 2020 has changed our lives (can you believe we’re only halfway through!?). Amidst the upheaval–  the disruption of routines and habitual ways of thinking also creates an incredible opportunity. For some, this time can be beneficial for introducing practices and habits that can help a person in all aspects of their life. As people spend more time alone, introducing or deepening a meditation practice can be a powerful way to not just survive, but also grow, through this unprecedented time.

Relieve Stress and Improve Health

A new study from researchers at San Diego State University and Florida State University found that in April 2020, during the pandemic, roughly 70% of Americans experienced moderate-to-severe mental distress – triple the rate of 2018. Racial injustice and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are creating the perfect storm for even more severe mental health disparities.

As people attempt to deal with the real and imagined dangers of their current situations and the unrest in the world, many of us can become filled with anxiety, fear, and insecurity. The resulting physiological effects can then negatively impact our physical health. Meditation offers us the opportunity to better deal with disempowering thoughts and emotions that arise, while also improving physical well-being (Note: sometimes beginning a meditation practice while experiencing intense difficulty or trauma can intensify the discomfort and leave us feeling worse than before. It’s important to find a meditation practice that meets you where you are and supports your needs). 

Many meditation apps and in-person studios have responded by making their offerings more widely available online or curating them for certain groups. Los Angeles-based meditation app Headspace is offering free services and guides to help people cope with stress by introducing Headspace for Healthcare Professionals, Headspace for Work, and Headspace for Educators, in addition to teaming up with the Office of New York Governor Cuomo to offer free meditation and mindfulness content for all New Yorkers. Kaiser Permanente announced that it added meditation app Calm to its digital self-care portfolio, so Kaiser Permanente members can access it at no cost.

Guided meditations through apps are wonderful entryways into meditation for many people. However, they’re also an example of the external stimuli which so many of us have become addicted to. Because of this, it’s extremely beneficial to learn a meditation technique with a teacher. With a teacher, you’re better able to create a sustainable practice that evolves with you and doesn’t rely on external tools. They can also help navigate stumbling blocks. It’s important to keep in mind there are many different types of meditation. Similar to “sports” serving as an umbrella term, meditation encompasses different categories that engage and affect your brain differently. Some also require more mental effort and nuanced practice than others. 

Learn more about different meditation categories and physiological effects in the MedFit webinar “The Meditation Landscape”)

Transform Isolation Into Solitude

Regardless of how deeply one’s mental state has been affected during this time, many people have found themselves spending more time alone. And while physical distancing, by nature, is isolating and can take a toll on one’s mental health, being alone and lonely are two different things. During meditation, when we’re alone and become still, our emotions and thoughts rise to the surface. This can be difficult. By developing a meditation practice, we’re able to cultivate a sense of solitude and deepen our relationship with ourselves. Meditation is a powerful gateway into self-acceptance, stillness, and gratitude.

It’s common for weeks, months, years, and even decades to pass by while being engulfed in the busyness of our lives. The demands and responsibilities can seem endless. It may not feel like there’s time or it’s not the best use of our time to meditate. However, meditation is often most beneficial for those who think they don’t have time to meditate.

It’s by creating the space in our day that creates the space in our minds to pause. And through this brief pause we’re able to develop a more finely tuned awareness of ourselves, our thoughts and emotions, our needs, and our behaviors. We also become more aware of what our priorities are and how we can make adjustments in our inner and outer lives to meet our needs. By becoming more aware, we’re able to cultivate the patience, resilience, and compassion to make better choices.

The extended pause or disruption to our day-to-day lives is a powerful time to adopt or deepen a meditation practice. Many of our current habits are linked to cues from our environment and schedule. So when your life changes, it can be a great time to establish new routines because your environment and schedule are changing anyway. It might feel easier to adopt a meditation practice when it’s moving along with a larger transition, especially when it includes more time alone.

Cultivate Compassion and Deepen Communication 

Even though many people are practicing physical distancing for public health reasons, thankfully social interactions with friends and family can continue. Zoom, FaceTime, and even a quick phone call or text can make a big difference in our daily lives. Meditation gives us the opportunity to not only deepen our relationship with ourselves, but also improve our relationships with one another. As we cultivate a deeper sense of peace, happiness, and compassion within, the people around us benefit as well. 

Meditation can help curb stress, which can prevent negative environments that lead to tension between people. By taking responsibility for and curbing your stress you can also benefit your relationships with others. Certain meditations can even help strengthen feelings of connection. Regardless of the physical distance between people, the feeling of connection and belonging can remain strong.

In particular, compassion and loving-kindness meditations can literally train your brain to feel more compassionate and loving. And research shows that empathy and compassion also have tremendous benefits for health and wellbeing — improved happiness, lower inflammation, decreased anxiety and depression, and even a longer life. 

Meditation for a New Normal

Living through a pandemic and racial justice revolution can bring up a wide range of emotions, fears, and challenges. There’s no right or wrong way to feel or deal with it. If you’re looking for a way to use the disruption to change habits and create a meditation practice, remember that the mind, just like a muscle, can be strengthened. While there won’t be an overnight transformation, you can begin to develop the neurological pathways that will help you now and in the future.

As cities and countries begin to reopen, a push toward the old way of doing things and being in the world arises. Be vigilant and strategic about making room for the things you’ve found and cultivated during this time, such as meditation, so they can become part of your new normal. Old habits and patterns can get locked inside of us. Be clear about what you want to bring into this next phase of your life. What did you discover about yourself or life you want to hold onto? Write them down so you have a place you can come back to and remember. Developing a meditation practice isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon – so be patient as you discover what works for you in each phase of your life.


Angela Singer has been studying and practicing meditation and mental wellness for 8 years. Through earning meditation and wellness coaching certifications, she’s created a toolbox of accessible mental wellness workouts for all levels. She is the founder of Traverse Meditation Studio, a boutique, virtual studio.

She teaches her students and clients to unlock their natural intelligence and creativity, reconnect to their flow state, and achieve professional and personal resiliency. Through her research of neuroscience, neuroplasticity, meditation, positive and perceptual psychology, and the mind-body connection, she’s found that human beings can have an immense amount of power over how we experience life. When we develop and practice this superpower daily, it can become a habit that transforms how we live our lives.

Among many other things, meditation and mental wellness workouts have helped her step into her expression as a voice actress, painter, and entrepreneur. It brings her so much joy to share these practices with clients to help them experience more of what they want in life.