PFTL NEWS October 2019

HOUSEPLANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH (from WebMD Sept 2019)

For Allergy Relief – Researchers found that rooms with plants have less dust and mold than rooms without any foliage. Leaves and other parts of the plants act as natural filters to catch allergens and other airborne particles. Common low-light houseplants like Chinese evergreen or the peace lily can do the job. Violets and other plants with textured leaves might be even better trappers. Avoid plants with pollen or spores.

Spider Plants for Moisture – Furnaces and air conditioners can sap humidity indoors, especially in the winter. That can raise your chances for catching a cold or the flu, or make your skin itch. Houseplants add moisture to the air. One study found a collection of spider plants boosted the relative humidity in a bedroom from 20% to a more comfortable 30%. 

Air Purifiers – Carpets, paint, cleaners, printer toners and inks, and many other indoor objects give off pollutants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They can build up in the air and irritate your eyes and skin, worsen your asthma, or make it hard for you to breathe. Houseplants can soak up VOCs. Some good air-scrubbers are English ivy, asparagus fern, and dragon tree. 

Herbs for Better Digestion – Mint may help tamp down bloating, gas, and other problems after you eat. Common varieties you can grow in containers include peppermint and spearmint (essential in mint juleps). Basil, another herb for cooking, also can help calm your stomach. Try steeping the leaves in hot water.

Relaxing Lavender – This fragrant purple plant has been an important herbal medicine for centuries. You can inhale lavender oil or massage it on your skin for aromatherapy. You can also boil the leaves for tea. Some studies suggest it may help calm you and help lower any anxiety. But more proof is needed.

Aloe for First Aid – Gel from this plant is a popular home remedy. It can treat sunburns and other minor burns. It can soothe your psoriasis and other skin conditions. Juice from the aloe plant can even help you poop if you’re constipated.

Restful Sleep – Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. It’s how they turn sunlight into food, a process called photosynthesis. Some, like gerbera daisies, keep giving off oxygen even after the sun goes down. Put a few cheerful pots in your bedroom and the extra oxygen may help you sleep more soundly.

Stress Relief – Feeling the weight of daily pressures? Try and add a heart-leaf philodendron or a snake plant to your décor. It may help you relax. Several studies have measured people’s levels of blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol while they handled a tough task or were under mental stress. Being around plants has a calming effect on people.

Sharper Focus – Plants may help raise your test scores, make it easier to concentrate on your tasks, and strengthen your memory. Students in classrooms with three potted plants performed better on math, spelling, reading, and science tests than kids in classrooms without any greens. Bring home a golden pothos or a bamboo palm and you just might clear that to-do list.

Faster Healing – Taking a bouquet of flowers or potted foliage to a loved one in the hospital can be more than just a thoughtful gesture. It may actually help them recover more quickly. Researchers found that people who had surgery got better faster if they had plants in their room or even a view of the nature from their window. They also tolerated pain better and needed fewer medications when surrounded by greenery. Try an orchid or a peace lily.

DISCOUNT AVAILABLE FOR ROADRUNNER SPORTS – WILMETTE

We now have referral cards from Roadrunner Sports, which is located in Eden’s Plaza, Wilmette; these are good for a 10% discount on footwear.  Roadrunner Sports is known for having the world’s most accurate 3D Foot Scanner which analyzes your feet for the perfect fit and shoe. They also have active wear, sports bra, accessories for nutrition, safety and injury prevention. Ask Julie Cohen for a Referral Card.

DIETITIAN, SUSAN STEIN

For many years, we have referred clients who seek nutritional and diet advice to Susan Stein. Susan is a highly qualified registered, licensed dietitian. She understands that everyone is different and no one meal plan will work for everyone. 

Susan has been a Registered Dietitian for over twenty years. She provides individualized nutrition counseling in accordance to the guidelines established by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

She works with clients who are dealing with a variety of health issues and with individuals who are seeking a healthier, more fit lifestyle. Ms. Stein is a member of the American Dietetic Association and is certified in both Adult and Childhood/Adolescent Weight Management. She is the coauthor of a children’s book titled Color Me Fit: Nutrition and Fitness for Kids.

Susan will arrange to see our clients on-site at the PFTL studio.  She is offering a package to include a 90-minute evaluation and goal setting session, followed by two 60 minute counselling sessions.  The usual fee is $305, but she is discounting the package by 10% to $275, for PFTL referrals.

Let Julie or Debora know if you would like to be referred to Susan Stein.

ROTARY BOOK DRIVE

Every year the Rotary Club of Wilmette collects books for distribution to inner-city, charter schools in Chicago. The Book Drive runs from October 1 to November 16.  There is a collection box by the front entrance of the studio for gently used books that are suitable for K-12 students.

PFTL News September 2019

UNDERSTANDING CARBS (from WebMD August 2019)

What are Carbs -They’re one of three types of food that give your body energy. The other two are proteins and fats. Together, they provide the fuel your body uses to build and repair itself. Carbs break down into glucose (sugar) that you can use right away.

Your Body’s Fuel – Your body runs on glucose. Your brain, in particular, needs it to work the way it should. Carbohydrates are an almost instant source of it. Your body can break down and use fat for some of the same needs, but not all of them. Plus, fat that’s used for fuel makes compounds called ketones that can raise the level of acid in your blood, and that can be unhealthy.

Workout Prep- Because carbs are a source of energy, they can keep you going strong while you exercise. Experts recommend fueling up 1 to 3 hours beforehand with a combination of carbs and protein, like oatmeal, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, or nuts and raisins.

Full of Nutrients- The best-quality carbs — berries, vegetables, and whole grains — are packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that are important for good health and well-being. Whole grains have fatty acids, magnesium, B vitamins, folate, and zinc. Fruit and starchy veggies have some of those, plus phytonutrients like flavonoids and carotenoids that help prevent disease. If you skip the carbs, you lose out on those nutrients, too.

Simple Carbs – Think of table sugar as simple carbs in pure form. They’re very small molecules, which makes them especially easy for your body to break down and use. That means they raise your glucose levels (blood sugar) really fast. Things that sweeten any number of candies, pastries, and desserts are loaded with these kinds of carbs.

Complex Carbs- String together a bunch of simple carbs, and you get these larger molecules. Your body has to break them down into simple carbohydrates and then into glucose before it can use them. This takes longer, which means your blood sugar goes up more slowly and they’re less likely to be changed into fat. These kinds of carbs include multigrain breads and pasta, beans, potatoes, and other vegetables.

Storage Tank – Before your body turns leftover glucose from carbs into fat, it stores what it can in your liver in the form of glycogen. This keeps your body going between meals. But your liver can only keep a day or so’s worth at a time. 

If You Have Too Many- If you overdo the carbs, your blood sugar levels can get too high. This causes your body to make more insulin, which tells your cells to save the extra glucose as fat. That can be unhealthy if you’re already carrying a few extra pounds. It can also lead to diabetes

If You Don’t Have Enough- If there aren’t enough carbs in your diet, you could get constipated from lack of fiber and nutrients. Your body is also forced to use protein or fat for energy. Proteins are the building blocks of the body. If you use them as fuel, you may not have enough left to make more cells and keep them healthy

The Right Amount – The number of carbs you need can depend on your gender, size, and how active you are — and that can change as you get older. But as a general rule, about half your daily calories should come from carbs in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and dairy products. Just make sure to go with healthy, complex carbs and don’t overdo the simple ones.

Low-Carb Diets – In theory, fewer carbs mean less sugar. And “ketogenic” diets have been shown to help some people lose weight and control their blood sugar in the short term. But these diets include lots of protein, and your body may need to use stored calcium to digest it. Plus, digesting lots of protein can be hard on your kidneys over time. You also tend to eat more saturated fat to replace the carbs, and that can be unhealthy in the long term, too.

Diabetes and Carbs- If you have this disease, you need to watch your carbs carefully because your body has trouble keeping your blood sugar at a safe level. If you have too many, your body may not be able to bring your blood sugar down quickly enough. But if your blood sugar gets too low, a glass of juice or another simple carb might be just the thing to kick it back up again. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about the best way to manage carbs.

Where to Get Healthy Carbs- Look for unrefined whole grains like quinoa, rye, and barley instead of highly processed white bread and pastries. Whole unprocessed fruits and vegetables are better than juices. And it’s a good idea to pass on the high-carb potato foods, especially french fries, in favor of beans, chickpeas, and other legumes.

WHEN NOT TO WEAR SUNGLASSES (Excerpted from Time Health August 2019)

Most people know that sunglasses can protect the eyes from damage which can lead to impaired vision or even blindness. There’s evidence that UV damage may raise a person’s risk for macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of age-related blindness. And sun exposure is also linked to eye cancer.

The most important thing is that the sunglasses block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Price doesn’t necessarily matter; even inexpensive sunglasses can get the job done—just look for a sticker or tag advertising UV protection. The size of the lenses also makes a difference. The bigger the better.

On the other hand, there are times of the day when shielding your eyes behind sunglasses may not be a good idea. Studies have shown that light-sensing photoreceptors in the eye help to set the body’s circadian clocks, which play a role in regulating sleep, appetite, and much else. Research has found that people who get “high levels” of bright light in the morning tend to sleep better than those who don’t. And wearing sunglasses early in the day may interfere with these processes.

It may be prudent to go without sunglasses until 9 or 10 a.m. Assuming a person isn’t staring straight at the sun, its rays aren’t strong enough in the morning to cause much damage, and exposing the eyes to natural light can help set the body’s “internal clocks”.

ENJOY THE WONDERFUL AUTUMN WEATHER.  NOW IS THE BEST TIME FOR ALL OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, SO GET OUTSIDE WHENEVER YOU CAN.

PFTL NEWS August 2019

COULD INTERMITTENT FASTING SOLVE YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS PLATEAU?  (Excerpted from Lifestrong.com, 01/08/18; written by Dan Reardon)

There’s been a lot of buzz around intermittent fasting (IF) recently — but what does it really entail? Think about it like this: When you get up in the morning, you eat breakfast. You’re breaking your fast from the previous night.

While you’re sleeping, technically, you’re fasting (unless you’re sleep eating). Conversely, while you’re awake, you’re eating. Intermittent fasting  (IF) can be simply defined as going without food for a longer period of time than sleep and consuming all of your calories within a specific window of time.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting – Reducing calories (like you do with IF) has been shown to increase the lifespan of cells in the body. In animal models, calorie restriction can actually enhance the longevity of the animals, and limiting food intake might also fight off disease.

From the perspective of body composition, one of the big selling points of IF is your body’s increase in responsiveness to insulin. The hormone insulin is released in response to food. It has the effect of causing the liver, muscle and fat cells to store glucose. In a fasting state, blood glucose levels drop, leading to a decrease in insulin production, which signals the body to start burning stored energy.

There are many potential benefits to intermittent fasting, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved mental state
  • Increased energy
  • Improved fat-burning
  • Increased growth hormone production
  • Lowered blood cholesterol
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Improved cellular repair

Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You? – As of right now, there’s no official test to say whether you should or shouldn’t try intermittent fasting, but there are some general guidelines. You should consider the impact on your lifestyle.

If your IF protocol conflicts with family’s nutrition needs or your work schedule, it might be challenging to commit to an IF schedule. Or let’s say you’re a performance-based athlete: You should consider your nutritional needs, including recovery. Finally, if you’re a woman, intermittent fasting might not be right for you due to hormonal implications.

With any IF protocol, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting. Will you benefit from IF? Remember, just because your friend did it doesn’t mean it will work for you too.

Ultimately, the only sure way to find out if intermittent fasting is right for you is to try it for yourself.  There are a ton of variations on intermittent fasting, and choosing which one is right for you is often a matter of trial and error. To get you started, here are a few examples of IF protocols:

1. Breakfast Skipper (aka 16/8 Method)

  • Fast for 16 hours, and then eat during an eight-hour window.
  • This is a good protocol for those who are new to IF and would typically eat between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight.

2. “Leangains”

  • Women fast for 14 hours, while men fast for 16 hours.
  • Similar to the Breakfast Skipper, but the slight decrease in fast length for women is to ensure you’re not messing up your hormones, as females can be more sensitive to signals of starvation.

3. Fast Diet (aka the 5:2 Diet)

  • Eat for five days and significantly cut calories for for two days.
  • This is a more advanced method of fasting in which you eat as you normally would for five days, and then reduce your calories significantly (600 calories for men and 500 calories for women) for two days.

4. Alternating

  • Eat one day, fast the next.
  • With this diet, on the fasting days you should eat a fifth of your recommended daily caloric intake, and then consume a normal amount of calories on feasting days. This is a slightly easier protocol to follow than Fast Diet.

5. Warrior

  • Fast for 20 hours a day and eat one large meal at night
  • This is a more challenging protocol to follow, as you’ll need to ensure you fit all of your important macro- and micronutrients into one meal a day.

There really are a limitless number of variations on the intermittent fasting protocol, so if you’re considering IF, start with one (say, breakfast skipper) and play around with what works with your schedule and hunger levels.

The Impact of Metabolism and Genetics –  As with any nutrition plan, success is largely based on if the diet is right for you. Two factors that play into this equation are your metabolism and genetics.

Suppose you have a fast metabolism and you’re trying to build muscle. Focusing on your calorie intake around exercise means you have lots of energy to work out, with additional energy and amino acids to recover. If you’re a true “hard gainer” or “skinny fat,” IF might help you achieve your goals — not to mention the potential hormonal benefits.

If you have a slow metabolism or you store energy easily, then eating all your calories in a short space of time might make fat loss hard for you because you will hang onto energy even in the fasting windows, so IF might not be a good protocol for you to follow.

PFT News May 2019

EXERCISES TO HELP ACHIEVE AN INSTANT POSTURAL ADJUSTMENT

(From IDEA Fitness, April 2019)

Did you know that good posture helps minimize stress on tendons, joints and ligaments? Plus, better posture can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

Good posture may improve your job prospects, verbal communication, self-confidence and mood and enhance how others see you. Ryan Halvorson, chief content officer for Fit Scribe Media and a TriggerPoint®master trainer, explains exercises that can help you improve posture.

5 Key Exercises – These easy-to-implement, equipment-free exercises can help you achieve an instant postural adjustment. The moves can be done seated, but standing yields the best results.

Pectoral Massage – Tight chest muscles can make it difficult to pull your shoulders back and down. One way to overcome this is to increase tissue mobility through self-massage.

Begin by rolling the shoulders back and down. Make a fist with the right hand and gently press the knuckles into the left pectoral muscle next to the sternum. Place the palm of the left hand on top of the fist for added pressure. Slowly drive the knuckles across the muscle toward the shoulder joint. Lift the hand, returning it to the starting position, and repeat.

Shoulder External Rotations – Internal rotation is a common problem. External rotation can help. Roll the shoulders back and down. Tuck the pelvis slightly to maintain a neutral lower-back position throughout the exercise. Slowly twist the wrists until the thumbs point away from the body. Hold for a few seconds and release; repeat.

Chin Tuck – This exercise stretches the muscles of the neck, allowing the skull to return to a more neutral, balanced position while the spine is lengthened. Stand with your hips and shoulders against a wall. Heels can be an inch or two away from the wall.

Lifting through the crown of the head, gently bring the chin down toward the throat while pressing the back of the head against the wall for a few seconds. Rest and repeat. Place a pillow behind the head if the pressure is uncomfortable.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Start in a kneeling lunge position (one knee on the floor and the other leg bent 90 degrees in front of you with foot flat). Lift from the crown of the head to elongate the spine. From here, drive the hip of the kneeling leg in a gentle thrusting pattern to achieve the stretch. Hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat. Perform the exercise several times for both hips. Place a pillow under the knee for added cushion.

Hip Hinge With Fly – This exercise improves your ability to extend your upper back. Place feet hip-width apart, and hinge at the hips while simultaneously angling the upper body forward. Aim to slightly arch the lower back by lifting the tailbone. Retract and depress the shoulder blades.

Start with the arms extended and palms clasped together directly in front of the chest. Then slowly swing the arms out to the sides of the body at about shoulder height with a slight external shoulder rotation, and pause when you feel contraction in the upper posterior muscles and a stretch in the pectorals. Release and repeat.

 

EXERCISE SUSTAINS MENTAL ACTIVITY         (Excerpted from PsychCentral August 2018

From a review of studies on exercise and its effect on brain functioning, researchers confirm that physical exercise slows the effects of aging and helps people maintain cognitive abilities well into older age

Fitness training – an increased level of exercise – may improve some mental processes even more than moderate activity, say the authors of the review. Findings from the review of 40 years of research does offer evidence that physical exercise can have a positive influence on cognitive and brain functions in older animal and human subjects. Different methodologies were examined to comprehensively study what effects exercise can have.

The researchers first examined the epidemiological literature of diseases to determine whether exercise and physical activity can at certain points in a person’s lifetime improve cognitive ability and decrease the likelihood of age-related neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Based on a review of the epidemiological literature, the authors found a significant relationship between physical activity and later cognitive function and decreased occurrence of dementia. And the benefits may last several decades.

In a few of the studies that examined men and women over 65 years old, the findings showed that those who exercised for at least 15-30 minutes at a time three times a week were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease, even if they were genetically predisposed to the disease. By examining the human intervention studies, a relationship was also found between fitness training and improved cognition, more efficient brain function and retained brain volume in older people

Other studies confirmed the evidence that fitness does have positive effects on brain function in older adults. A study of older adults who were randomly assigned to either a walking group or a stretching and toning control group for six months found that those in the walking group were better able to ignore distracting information in a distractibility task than those in the control group. Aerobically trained older adults showed increased neural activities in certain parts of the brain that involved attention and reduced activity in other parts of the brain that are sensitive to behavioral conflict.

More research is needed to know exactly how much and what types of exercise produce the most rapid and significant effects on thinking and the brain; how long exercise effects last following the end of training; or how much exercise is needed to get continued benefits.

PFTL News March 2019

4 WAYS TO MAINTAIN BALANCE WHEN THINGS GET HECTIC (ACE Healthy Living Feb 2019)

It seems as though the pace of life continues to gain speed. Constant events, deadlines, goals and to-do lists fill the calendar. This pace of life can become stressful. Unfortunately, stress is one of the primary causes of disease, unhappiness and anxiety. When you are really busy, it’s likely you don’t have time for a shower, much less a massage or a vacation. So, how do you make time for de-stressing? Let’s get right to the point, because time is of the essence. Try any of the following actions to improve your ability to reduce stress, maintain balance and enhance resiliency. Each idea can be implemented daily with little time commitment.

  1. Change the way you think – Shift your focus to abundance rather than lack. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. This simple mindset shift evokes gratitude and a sense of peace. We inherently fear failure and rejection. We worry about trying to control every outcome in our lives. We compare ourselves to other people, and we believe that we are always behind. As easy as it is to compare ourselves to others, it really is something to avoid. Each person has his or her own challenges, feelings of lack and bouts of unhappiness. We all have our own story, each is unique and different. It’s O.K. to be content with where you are right now and be grateful for what you have in the present.

Action: Start a gratitude journal – For one week, each night before bed, write down three things for which you feel grateful, proud, happy or content. Note how these things came into your life. At the end of the week, assess how you feel. It’s likely a mood shift may have occurred, and you feel less stressed.

  1. Take a break – In the midst of an overwhelming schedule, a selfish break can feel irresponsible. However, a short five- to 10-minute break will clear the mind, help with fatigue and provide a much-needed pause during a busy day. If possible, go for a short walk outdoors. Nature provides grounding energy, and movement improves blood flow and produces mood-enhancing hormones. Better yet, pair regular breaks with a daily bout of exercise. Maintaining a consistent exercise program, even when life is hectic, will enhance your physical and emotional abilities to deal with stress.

Action: Walk in the present – In the next hour, take a five-minute break for a walk. Notice your surroundings and pay attention to how your body feels. Take inventory of how you feel prior to the walk and again after the walk.

  1. Be a superhero – Physical activity, smiling, power postures and deep breathing are quick fixes for stress-related physical symptoms. Our bodies display stress in external ways—headaches, gastrointestinal issues, sleeplessness, general aches and pains can often be attributed to stress. Even if you don’t experience severe symptoms, it’s likely you have experienced fatigue, general tightness around the neck and shoulders, and a slouchy, tired posture. You can trick your body into feeling fewer physical symptoms of stress by changing your physical posture. Stand up straight, align the spine and smile. This power posture is an instant boost.

Action: Pose like a superhero – During moments of stress or general tiredness, stand up and place your hands on your hips. Pretend you are a superhero and puff up your chest. Take five deep breaths. Fill your lungs and belly to capacity. Next, smile for 10 seconds. The simple act of smiling sends a positive signal to the brain and allows the body to relax a bit. This power posture can be helpful before presentations and difficult conversations, and for those times when you just feel overwhelmed.

  1. Practice mindfulness – When life is overwhelming, your mind naturally spins with multiple thoughts. Focusing your thoughts on the past can create feelings of regret and depression, and focusing on the future can foster feelings of anxiety. The only place we can be without worry is truly in the present. That means letting go of expectations of anything except what happens right now. Most of us have future deadlines, goals and ambitions. Being mindful in the moment does not mean that we let go of those things. It simply means we turn our attention to the task at hand, and really place our focus and energy with it. For some, mindfulness is being fully immersed in work. Taking the time to eat slowly, taste and enjoy food is a form of mindfulness. Paying attention to how your body feels during movement is mindfulness. Mindfulness might also take the shape of paying attention to the breath, something that occurs all day long without you giving it a second thought. Whatever form mindfulness takes for you, the point is that it can be done anytime, anywhere, and it provides immediate results. In as little as 60 seconds, your body and mind can become calm, and a sense of balance can be restored.

Action: Breathe – Assume a comfortable position with a tall posture, standing or seated. Set a timer for one to three minutes. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Follow the inhale, follow the exhale. Try to inhale for the same duration as you exhale. Notice how you feel before this exercise and after.

It takes conscious effort and commitment to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. These four ideas are quick and efficient ways to navigate stress and maintain balance when life gets hectic.

WAYS TO PREVENT FALLING  (From Washington Post, Lean and Fit, Feb 27, 2019)

The author of this article had taken a fall and was apprehensive about falling again.  She was 53 years of age.  She consulted several people about how to prevent falls, and here are excerpts from that article regarding the advice she received.

  1. Practice the following:

Level 1. Balance on one foot. Start by doing it near a doorway or chair so there is something to grab for support.

Level 2. Use your non-dominant hand to stir a pot.

Level 3. Use your non-dominant hand to stir a pot while standing on one foot.

  1. If you are going to fall, the best way to do it is to bend a knee and roll at an angle over one shoulder to protect your hip and your noggin.
  2. Tuck your head, use your strength to direct your fall, and roll so that you take most of the impact on your backside, the upper back and/or gluts being the most resistant parts of your body.
  3. Wear “minimal” shoes with thin, flexible soles for both sports and everyday living. The information we get from the bottoms of our feet (the technical term is plantar neurosensory input) helps us maintain balance. This input, coupled with muscle strength and agility, is essential for generating a “good correctional movement” should we fall.

Debora’s Note:  I recently took a fall while walking fast on a dark street.  I tripped on uneven pavement and when I realized that I was not going to be able to regain balance, the one thing I told myself as I was falling, was, “Don’t hit your head on the sidewalk”. I did hit my nose and head, but I was able to keep from hitting hard by bracing myself with my arms.  Despite a lot of facial bruising, I was unharmed.  But I learned that walking in the dark requires one to pay extra attention to the surface you are walking on.