Nicaragua: How it went from the body perspective

Dear Reader,

From yoga to Central America and back.  I am happy to report that I needed very few of my Shaklee herbal Pain Relief tablets.  I packed about 18 in my little emergency pill-box, plus 6 Aleve.  In the airport back here in Seattle after sitting on the airplane for 10 hours and hauling the 2 rolling suit cases along miles of hall ways, I swallowed the last herbal remedy.  There are still 4 Aleve in my box!  I was amazed.

Exercise: practically impossible to get the usual exercise.  Unconventional exercise opportunities came along frequently.  In Managua, we all stayed in various homes clustered around the Cultural Center in the barrio of Batahola.  After a 36 hour trip (we missed our plane leaving Seattle and had to re-book 18 hours later), Alicia (my granddaughter of 13) and I joined our group for tours of two collectives in which Nicaraguans produce products from local materials for sale locally.  From there we headed for our home stays where, after meeting the family and unpacking my suitcase, I showered and washed the clothes I had on so long. This is the first exercise.  One washes standing over a double sink, the washing side of which has an old-fashioned rubbing surface.  You wet the clothes by dipping water from the larger of the two tubs and splashing it over the clothes and then scrubbing.  Of course my delicate ExOfficio sports clothing wouldn’t tolerate that kind of treatment.  I used my laundry soap from home and gently got the sweat and grime out, rinsed over and over with dips from the water tub and finally hung the clothes on the lines strung in the patio over the concrete floor and potted plants all around the edge.  Open to the sky, everything was dry in the morning.

There was no early to bed for us.  Around 8:15 after dinner of rice and beans, fried bananas and steamed beets and a strange new root vegetable that had been boiled and mashed with butter (yummy), the family announced they were going to a concert.  Would we like to come?  Exhausted as we were, we chose to go along.  We walked–three children, grandma and grandpa and daughter–to the main road (about 1/2 mile) and hailed a cab.  Four adults and 3 children sat in the back seat with Don Encarnacion Nicaragua in front with the taxi driver.  What a ride!  The concert was a first gig for a talented young group with a clear, warm tenor; a rich sultry contralto and our family’s friend, Ana, the back up singer, violinist, flute player, castanet shaking beauty.  The rhythm section included every sort of Latin drum and vibs, acoustic and electric guitars.  The music rocked.  The audience knew the words of all the popular songs from the Misa Campesina and their original tunes were haunting and worthy of a CD.  The place was an outdoor bar, tables and people filling the concrete slab just below the stage area which was right in front of the serving bar.  We were a bit late at 8:45 and sat at a table on the dirt slightly sloping floor along side the stage and right in front of the powerful sound system.  No chance of nodding off.  Huge bottles of Tona, the Nica beer, fried cheese and fried bananas and coke for the kids arrived.  By mid-night I pleaded total exhaustion and the mother and children took us home in a cab while the seniors, Mr. and Mrs. Nicaragua stayed to the end.  Amazing.

The next day, real exercise presented itself in a dance lesson at the cultural center led by probably one of the best group class exercise leaders I have had.  We practiced the salsa, merengue, and several other steps I can’t name.  She had us stretching.  Washing out those clothes and showering all over was a necessity after that work out.  And no pain.

Was it the heat?  Was it the vacation?  Was it the clean diet of corn, beans, rice, vegetables and no wheat at all?  Who knows.  I was grateful.

Not to give you an entire travel log, but I want to mention a couple more exercise moments.  We stayed a night in the lovely hill city of Matagalpa, where like Seattle, to get anywhere you have to walk up and down.  At one moment I was able to take off alone and walk up hill.  We would never permit that steep an incline for normal driving.  On my way back down from a high point in front of a lovely house, I passed a woman about my age carrying 2 sacks of groceries, her face contorted in pain, breathing hard and resting often.  I thought how fortunate I am to have all the self-care and practitioners to keep me in such good shape.  I can elect to walk the hills of Matagalpa.  She cannot.

Our group of 10 from Saint Mark’s Cathedral was organized through Matagalpa tours.  We spent two nights in the campo, staying with farm people, members of the fair trade coffee collective, Cecocafen.  Two from our group and I walked over a mile to get to our farm stay, again on gravel/dirt road that rolled with the hills up and down.  At the house, visiting the bathroom was an athletic even.  At night the doors were bolted with heavy iron bars which I had to lift and move, then removing a heavy beam holding the upper half of the door shut.  Then I had to navigate a steep stone stair case down to a dirt slope that descended to the outhouse, being careful to duck under the clothes wire set to smack me right in the eye balls.  A few stone steps up to the heavy wooden door to the two hole latrine.  I scoped out the outhouse trip during the day light and wore my head lamp.  Oh, did I forget to mention that going down the outside stone steps included trying not to disturb a pile of dogs who slept there.

I was glad I had tucked in a therma-rest mattress to help me sleep on the 2 inch thick foam pad on a ply wood sheet on 4×4 legs of a bed.

Several in our group climbed an active volcano outside Leon, the colonial city in the western part of the country.  I chose a city tour with two of the other older participants and we got to climb to the roof of the cathedral, a classic Spanish structure.  The ring of fire around Leon is impressive and most residents have experienced ash in their homes and on their faces.  It makes for very fertile soil and beautiful vegetables and fruits are produced on the mountain farms.  We learned about the complex mixed farming of shade grown, organic coffee, tucked in with bananas, fruit trees as the upper story.  Beans were ready for harvest, pineapple had just been planted, corn was bagged and carried by a yoke of oxen to a high place for winnowing the chaff.  A little mechanical help from a small John Deer tractor would ease the hardship of these farmers’ lives.  They rise at 4 to shower in the dark, make tortillas and get their children ready in their blue trousers or shirts and spotless white shirts to walk the 1 1/2 miles to school by 7:30.  What a pleasure to watch the children gather from the scattered farms to form a river of blue and white, each with their back pack, the 5 year olds holding hands with the older sisters and brothers.

At night, returning from our day exploring the area as a group, we walked home to our farm on a moonless clear night. Seldom have I seen such stars, the Milky Way so brilliant as to light our way with Orion leading to the south.  Everyone was in bed by 8:30.

Our Saint Mark’s group returned to Seattle last Monday and Alicia and I stayed another 6 days, she with her father and his family; I with a welcoming couple and their 40-year-old son living in Batahola, across from the Cultural Center.  Here is a link in English where you can read about this remarkable place.  I signed up for more of Carla’s dance classes and met a great group of women who come twice a week to learn about nutrition, health (mini lectures between the merengue and salsa) and exercise.  They were very welcoming and chatted me up with questions about the US and plenty of sharing about their work, families and home life.  My Spanish was up to it, I am pleased to say.

My host mother is interested in prevention and nutrition and we had wonderful long conversations about herbs and vitamins and foods that help with her aches and pains.  She is 61 and not taking any medications.  She was #5 in a family of 12 and her parents both lived into their 90’s.  Her grandmother lived in the mountainous countryside until her death at the age of 115.  Besides keeping visitors for a small sum (room and 3 meals $20 a day), Dona Cony made helado, a fresh popsicle sort of fruit ice cream.  She made 5 flavors: one, chopped mango, banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, and something else, vanilla and cinnamon poured into 1/2 cup sized plastic bags and tied by hand and frozen. Other flavors are coconut, cocoa, cherries ground fine and mixed with milk, and a slightly fermented concoction of pineapple and some other fruits that she first cooks to get the acid out and then skims, added a bit of rum and other flavors and largish pieces of banana.  I didn’t get to try this one and had to content myself with helping.  They sold for 5 cordobas.  23 cordabas = $1.  She doesn’t advertise.  There is no sign.  People come from all over the neighborhood and beyond to buy one or a dozen at a time.  I explained that such cottage industry would require an enormous amount of red tape here in the States.  They let the buyer beware and the seller maintains a spotless kitchen. One bad batch and she’d be out of business.  News travels fast, especially when it is bad.

I’ll get back to the wonderful topic of preventing and managing arthritis next Monday.

Be well and Do well and most of all, keep moving!

Betsy

BetsyBell’s Health4U

206 933 1889

www.hihohealth.com

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Yoga and arthritis

Gentle Reader,

My morning routine of lying on the floor, legs over the Back2Life machine, followed by several gentle yoga poses gets my body functioning.  I am then ready for the chair chi gong exercises, free weight lifting both standing and the lying on an ethafoam bolster and more stretches with a theraband, emphasizing the IT band with the leg slightly drawn high across the body.

Yoga, what I call the essence of Yoga, is at the core of all this early morning routine.  Mary Sue Corrado, my Pilates instructor, worried that I would overdue yoga and increase the damage to the L5 disc, that I would exacerbate the osteoarthritis slowly worsening at age 68.  I was training to climb Mt. Shasta, the 14000 ft peak in northern California.  I was part of a team climbing to raise money for The Breast Cancer fund, whose aim is to prevent breast cancer by advocating for the elimination of human causes of environmental pollution.  All the training materials recommended yoga for core strength.

If you would like to climb mt. Shasta with the best support you could imagine, get in touch with Connie George at the Breast Cancer Fund today and GO FOR IT!  It was a top experience of mine and could be yours.

I asked for a private appointment with an instructor at the 8 Limbs yoga studio, only a 1 mile walk from my house in West Seattle.  I needed a private lesson and assessment because I required guidance on how to modify any program to take care of my weaknesses and physical vulnerabilities.  The early morning class led by Amelia Gailey taught me how to center with my breathing, gently move to wake up the body and slowly build to a strong powerful series of poses.  Over the next 5 years, I practiced at 8 Limbs and gained tremendous core strength.  Pain management took care of itself.

A couple years ago, pain increased with a full yoga session involving all the asanas and I had to discontinue a full practice session.  I know that it would be beneficial for me to find a gentle class.  Instead I found Jennifer Kreis’s Hot Body/Cool Mind DVD and use her yoga routine, and seated chi gong for a morning workout.

My own exploration resulted in using yoga for pain management.  A recent study conducted by the Arthritis Foundation found that arthritis patients who maintained a regular routine of range-of-motion and low-resistance exercises (like yoga) showed less pain and better mood over the long term. Studies also show that people who start a regular routine of gentle yoga exercises are less likely to drop out than people who start other kinds of exercises for arthritis. Over 50% of people who start other kinds of arthritis exercise programs drop out after six months. Studies show that because yoga is more fun and more pleasurable, people are more likely to stick with it as an exercise for arthritis.

Whether you go to a studio (the very best) or learn a few moves you can do at home, yoga is an outstanding over all mind, body and spirit healer.

The following comes from the study.

Health benefits in general

“Yoga is more than an arthritis exercise. Yoga, which comes from a Sanskrit word that literally means ‘yoke’, is designed to bring all body systems into proper alignment so that the entire system functions correctly. Health benefits of regular yoga practice include increased energy, better posture, weight loss, deeper relaxation, an ongoing sense of well being and calm, greater flexibility, lower blood pressure, healthier diet, and increased alertness and mental functioning.”

“All yoga practice includes deep relaxation techniques and an emphasis on proper breathing, both of which have been shown to improve mood and reduce pain and anxiety. Many types of yoga teach healthy diet as well. Regular yoga practice is often recommended for heart and cancer patients because of its usefulness in a healing aid and an aid to relaxation.”


Benefits for arthritis

“Yoga is one of the very best exercises for arthritis because it directly treats the main problems arthritis sufferers face: pain, swelling, joint stiffness and lack or flexibility, depression, and anxiety. Yoga is very gentle, so arthritis patients can learn the stretches and poses at their own pace, making very gradual progress that improves well-being rather than causes pain. The long term effect is increased flexibility and reduced or eliminated pain in the joints, as well as better general health and mental functioning, and better, healthier sleep and positive mood.”

Finding a yoga class

“Yoga classes are widely offered across the U.S. at YMCAs and YWCAs, through hospitals and community centers, at health clubs, and at senior centers. The websitewww.yogaalliance.org maintains a list of yoga teachers and yoga centers where classes are offered. Arthritis sufferers will probably be able to locate a class specifically for people with disabilities or for older students, as these are becoming more and more popular as yoga becomes a more and more popular arthritis exercise.”

There is so much variety in the classes offered and you want a teacher who will understand your limitations and goals and help you not over due.  If you are a type “A” person, like me, you have to be careful not to overdo.  Not all instructors and classes are equal.  I have tried a lot of them and for my body’s problems; I need the slow, gentle routine with held poses rather than the faster movement of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.  Above all, if you have arthritis, please get a private consultation first before launching into a full scale yoga practice.  Learn what helps your particular condition and gently pursue it.

The Arthritis foundation of course recommends discussing with your doctor the use of yoga as an exercise.

“Your doctor probably has a list of resources and an opinion about where your needs would be best met. Ask for a note describing your physical limitation that you can give to the yoga instructor before starting your first class. Yoga instructors are trained to take disabilities and limitations into account and work individually with students at their own level, not matter how limited that may be.

“No matter how disabled you may from arthritis, or how much pain you may be experiencing, you will be able to start a gentle yoga routine based on your abilities and begin to move forward. That is why many yoga classes specifically for older and disabled persons are springing up through hospitals and wellness centers. Yoga is one of the few exercises for arthritis that absolutely anyone can do.”

A Happy Downward Facing Dog to you!

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving.  Betsy

PS:  I’ll be traveling in Nicaragua for the next 2 weeks.  Watch for a new posting after March 1st.

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Ankle replacement? How bad is it?

 

Gentle Reader,

 

Have you dried off from your most recent visit to the Y’s water aerobics for arthritics?  Not there yet?  Today I want to share information about replacing those joints that just keep hurting so much that you prefer to sit or lie down rather than try to move through the pain.  My favorite website for the latest procedures is Johns Hopkins Medicine.  This week they have an article about ankle replacement.  Replace your ankles?  Oh, my goodness.  It would have to be really bad before I’d do that.

 

My own experience with arthritis in the ankles came as a result of breaking the left ankle while cross country skiing in 1997. The snow conditions were our usual white cement so often prevalent in the Cascade mountains.  The Women on Wednesday group I ski with had chosen the Swan Lake trail that begins along Lake Kachess and then rises through twists and turns to an upper plateau. We have never made it to Swan Lake. It must be there somewhere.  Our ski day usually begins with a couple hours of climbing on skis, then lunch in a nice trail side spot, followed by another 20 minutes uphill to warm up.  Then we usually turn around and come down.  These logging roads are never groomed except by the occasional  snow mobile.  Snow mobiles can create moguls that make skiing even more challenging than breaking trail.  If the uphill has been through new snow, even cement (heavy) snow, the downhill can go quite well.  On the particular day of the breakage, I was doing my usual fast downhill and on one curve, planted the tip of my left ski squarely into a snow bank.  My body continued on.  I could hear the snap.

 

It was possible to ski out the remaining 4 miles or so by keeping the left leg slightly bent and the foot rigid in the boot, using the polls and right ski to snow plow.  On the bus, a fellow skier and nurse, filled a sandwich bag with snow and wrapped my ankle with an emergency tape.

 

The next day, an x-ray revealed a hair line fracture which they cast. I was in this non-weight baring thing for 60 days and a walking boot for another 30 days.  I worked hard to keep the muscles functional with all sorts of floor exercises including leg lifts in all directions, and was ready to walk as soon as they gave the go ahead.

 

Now, fifteen years later, I am getting little twinges when setting off on a hike or long city walk.  Do I stop?  Is it harmful to keep going?  I can report that I may slow down a bit, exercise great care in foot placement and gait, and above all keep going.  So far so good.  The pain doesn’t stop me and the ankle is still functioning well.  Will it get worse?  Probably.  Will I go for surgery someday?  Who knows.  I would recommend doing every possible thing before going there.  If you do read the article at the link, you’ll see that people have good results.  Are they hikers, cyclists, climbers?  Or are they people who just want to be able to walk around their house when the pain has become so unbearable they are confined to a chair?

 

Osteoarthritis and arthritis caused by injury often come down to the same thing as one ages.  I prefer to take hands full of supportive supplements to 3 Advil because I am sure that the supplements strengthen tissue and feed cells for better all over health.  Advil will mask the pain for sure.  It is pretty conclusive that vitamins, minerals and protein build healthy tendons, muscles and bone.  There may still be pain.  Try an herbal pain inhibitor first.  Shaklee makes a good one.  If you want to explore these, go to HiHoHealth dot com.  We have a Pain Relief page there.

 

The Johns Hopkins site on arthritis gives good information about the other joint replacements as well.  Good luck if you are facing this decision.  If you want to talk more about your options with a person who has been dealing with arthritis for 35 years, I’d love to hear from you at 206 933 1889.  If you would like to comment, please do.

 

Do well, Be well and Keep Moving,

 

Betsy

 

 

 

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Water Aerobics for Osteoarthritis

Dear Gentle Reader,

Around the time when our youngest child was born, my parents put a swimming pool in their back yard.  We used to joke that it was the only way they could get their children to bring their grandchildren to Muskogee, OK in the summer.  Like bees to honey, it certainly attracted us, and our four daughters spent time alone with my parents learning to swim, dive.  My father loved the chance to teach a new batch of children how to race and win.  The design of the pool made it a tax deduction.  He was an orthopedist and many of his patients needed rehabilitation that could best be done with pool walking.  This pool was 25 ft in length and down one side was an elevated floor the ideal depth for an adult to walk, only the upper torso above water.  That was back in 1967, well before water aerobics for rehab and helping arthritis sufferers exercise became an important treatment option.

Water walking is recognized today as easy on the joints and beneficial for those who suffer from osteoarthritis.  “The water’s buoyancy supports the body’s weight, which reduces stress on the joints and minimizes pain,” says Jones [Vennie Jones, aquatic coordinator for the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center in Dallas]. “And it’s still a great workout. Water provides 12 times the resistance of air, so as you walk, you’re really strengthening and building muscle.” You do not bear weight while swimming and walking, therefore you need to find some exercise that is weight bearing so you don’t lose bone density.

Our YMCA here in West Seattle has at least 2 levels of water aerobics:  one mid day for the older, arthritic set and several other opportunities for moderate and vigorous exercise in the water.  My husband Chuck found the noon day class gave him a destination for his 1 ½ mile walk three times a week.  He loved being one of the only men in a large class of women.  They flirted with them and he returned the favor.  The pool conversation sometimes rose to such a pitch one could no longer hear the instructor give the calls for the next move.  On a few really bad weather days, I joined him, especially when it was too hard for him to walk.  So congenial and supportive is this group of about 30 and their patient instructor, that when I took this class two years after Chuck died, they recognized me and asked about his well-being.  Now, that is a beneficial reason to join a water aerobics class right there!

Personally, as long as I can get outside to exercise, I will do that over any indoor sport.  However, water aerobics for anyone who has joint pain is one of the best ways to get exercise. Get over the inconvenience of changing clothes, getting wet and chilly.  Think about the whirl pool hot tub you can soak in (or perhaps your facility has a sauna) and go for it.

If you do not have a Y or club with an aerobics class for people with arthritis, here is a link to a web site that gives detailed descriptions of water walking.  Here is an excellent You tube video of other water aerobics moves specifically for arthritics. My personal favorite is playing the piano:  the surface of the water is the key board and you lift and lower your fingers while moving your hands from left to right and back pretending to play.  The door knob twist is another good one for arthritic hands.

Check with your doctor if you are experiencing a lot of pain.  Then take your aching body to the pool.  You’ll be amazed at how much better you will feel after moving in that weightless environment for 45 minutes.  It will lift your spirits.  Our Y has a lift so that even if you are wheel chair bound, you can be helped into the pool.

My readers would enjoy hearing your water aerobics stories.  So please share.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving.

Betsy Bell

206 933 1889

www.tirednomore dot com

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More Travel tips for a healthy back

Gentle Reader,

A month ago, reflecting on managing arthritis when traveling,  http://nowheelchair.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/pain-free-flying/, I promised more hints for healthy travel.  Here they are.

Overnight flights: these are the killers for a bad back, especially when you really do need that sleep to begin your first day functioning.  I can usually sleep with the help of a sleep aid, a neck pillow and a pillow for lumbar support.  You can buy these on line at Amazon I haven’t actually tried the one pictured, but will probably get it for my next big adventure mid February.  My granddaughter and I are off to Nicaragua with a group from Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.  This is an all day trip and I chose a two stop itinerary.  You probably think I’m crazy.  I have found that shorter hops and getting up to change plans, actually helps maintain back health.  It is long flights that put the lower back at greatest risk.

We will probably be at the airport and through the check in and security screening with plenty of time to spare.  While waiting for my flight, I often lie on the floor in an out-of-the way spot and do some simple Feldenkrais and Pilates moves to line everything up before boarding.  Alicia will probably be totally embarrassed at her grandmother’s bizarre behavior.  It is easy to make a 13 yr. old uncomfortable!

Once we arrive at our hotel, I will do some simple stretches, mostly lying flat on my back before getting into bed.  Take the bed covering and lay it on the floor as a mat to protect yourself from the myriad leavings of many previous shoes and bare fee.  In the morning, find a chair without arms or the corner of the bed to sit on and do a series of sitting stretches.  I use Jennifer Kreis’s Hot Body, Cool Mind sitting series designed to wake up every joint and gently stretch every muscle.  I have been using this DVD and this particular segment for so many years that I have the moves memorized.  I think my immune system is greatly supported by the lymphatic thumping at the head, neck, inner elbow and underarms, chest, stomach and groin, then down the spine.  The same DVD has a standing chi gong segment, plus a Pilates routine (too rigorous for most of us dealing with spinal issues), a simple yoga routine I love following, and several other segments.  You certainly get your money’s worth when you buy this DVD.  My grandchildren think this little routine of mine at the corner of the bed is hilarious and they have teased me about it months after our trips together.  By the way if you are interested in the pictures from these trips, go to www.betsystrips.shutterfly.com.  Enjoy.

For those overnight flights getting to your destination between 6 and 9 in the morning, the best antidote to jet lag is outdoor walking.  Arriving in Ireland with May, and in Scotland with Danny and Carsten, we set out walking the town, the countryside, the castle grounds (save serious tourist investigation for later when you are rested).  Keep moving.  Stop for a snack when needed.  Tea helps.  When you check in to your hotel, maybe 30 minutes flat, but avoid a deep sleep.  Walk to a place for supper and then go to bed.  You will wake up remarkably rested and in tune with the new time zone.  Once traveling to India, I walked my legs off all day long in Bombay, now Mumbai.  There was no where to sit down, the parks occupied by homeless.  I knocked on the door of a church and asked if I could sit for a little while.  A little later I joined at lot of office workers in a cafeteria style restaurant, sitting at a long table and listening to their chatter.  I’ve never felt unsafe.  People are nice the world over.  As someone said, there are only 10 bad people in the world; they just move around a lot.

I carry a back pack instead of a purse.  This was recommended to me by my chiropractor years ago.  I know it’s hard to fashionable, but they make some really cute back packs these days.  When traveling, keep your eyes wide open and aware at all times, and pull that pack around in front to hug next to your chest at the slightest hint of crowded conditions or motor scooters approaching too close.  Never leave it hanging on the back of a chair.

My really important stuff, i.e.  money and passport, plane tickets, URail pass, CC and Drivers License, are always in a money belt.  If you haven’t heard of him,

Rick Steves, Europe Through the Back Door, is a travel guru and his store in Edmonds, WA (and on line) sells the most comfortable money belts ever made.  The material handles sweaty Latin American, Asian and African climates and there is a plastic lining to keep your documents and money from getting wet from your dripping sweat.

I just heard a story yesterday at our Nicaragua orientation about a woman whose back pack with her money in an outside pocket was on top of the bus transporting them to their next home stay.  A sudden down pour soaked her pack and her money was ruined.  USA dollars with a black bleed from a notebook making every bill’s denomination indistinguishable.  Keep your money in your money belt inside the plastic liner.   Put in on with your underpants every morning.  Loose change for the day’s expense can live in your pants pocket in a small purse.

Personally, I think the stress of travel can increase your arthritis twinges.  The money belt wearing practice and the back pack for your sun screen, water bottle, camera, notebook and guide book, can smooth out your day and reduce stress.  Keep your pain-reducing supplements or medicines for the day, plus your supplements for the next meal and a couple meal bars or snack bars in the back pack as well.

One last tip:  when walking, a brisk pace will keep your back healthier.  The museum walk is lethal.  I remind myself to pull up the pelvic floor while staring at a painting or waiting in line, a kegel exercise.  Straighten your shoulders and let your skeleton drop from the base of the skull.  You will fatigue much more slowly.  Take tea breaks to rest.  If it gets too bad, hang upside down.  Here I am doing that in Montreal.  My grandson hid when some other tourist came by.  Ah, youth.  They will have arthritis someday and perhaps he’ll remember his silly grandma.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

Betsy Bell’s Healt4u

206 933 1889

www.HiHoHealth dot com

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The Fat Trap

Dear Reader,

I have been thinking a lot about weight and arthritis, about weight loss and how challenging it is to begin and maintain a healthier relationship to food.  In my last post, I talked about the study that found our hypothalamus may be running the show.  If this regulating organ has been damaged by a long term diet of too rich food, is it possible to ever heal it and establish a new normal for ourselves?

Perhaps you saw this article in the New York Times on January 1, written by Tana Parker Pope.  I recommend it to you.  She has struggled with extra weight for years and takes heart and hope from the understanding she has about the hypothalamus and the possibility of actually changing its messaging system.

I am going to leave you with this long article from the NYTimes.  I would love to hear your reaction to it.  Please share.

Are you engaging in any winter sport?  I enjoyed my first day on cross country skis this past Wednesday and managed a pain free day with 2 Aleve at breakfast.  Thursday morning wasn’t bad either, maybe because I took a protein sports recovery drink with me and drank it on the bus coming home and again before bed.  The one I use is called Physique and is made by Shaklee.  It repairs torn muscle with the proteins, vitamins and minerals in it.  Thursday night I could feel a stiffening up and did some of my Pilates floor exercises before hottub and bed and this morning did a big routine of Feldenkrais, Pilates, weight lifting and other stretching and then took a long walk including a stair case with 190 treads.  All this helped keep me from arthritis pain.

What is your routine after a work out?  BTW when you climb stairs try walking up sideways, facing the railing, right shoulder toward to top.  Lift the left leg and place it on the step above crossing the right.  Then, weight on the left foot, step up with the right still  facing the railing.  Next step with the left foot, swing it behind and up.  You are going up the stairs with the left foot traveling in front and then in back and then in front.  Then turn to face the left shoulder to the top and do the weave with the right leg. This strengthens the sides of the knees.  We girls hurt our knees by always walking straight up the stairs because we are just slightly (sometimes more than slightly) knock kneed.  This stair climbing (and descending) greatly strengthens the muscles and tendons along the sides.  Do this slowly, planting your foot solidly and lifting with the thigh engaged instead of heaving the body up with the shoulders.  Make the legs and side knees work for you.  I may have described this in an earlier blog when I was talking about my training program for climbing Mt. Shasta.   If you try this, let me know how it goes.

Good luck and keep moving.

Betsy

206 933 1889

www.TiredNoMore. com

 

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Speaking of weight

Dear Reader,

Have  you sat with your plans for the New Year and included weight management?  If you are suffering from arthritis pain and stiffness, and you are even 15 pounds over-weight, your plans will turn out better if they include weight management.  The bloggers are full of advice on this topic.  I would like to share some new research with you that may help you realize just how challenging it is to establish a new “normal” weight.  You may forgive yourself for all that struggle without permanent results.  You may decide to figure out what you must do to change your own future, a daunting but not impossible task.

Take heart.  There may be an explanation for why we get stuck at certain weight.

In a recent study, scientists discovered a change in the appetite regulator in the brain that interferes with our internal conversation

about what to eat when.  Apparently the hypothalamus gets inflammed when a person eats a fatty meal (fried clams, fudge, ice cream, cheese cake, sugar cookies, onion rings, you know, fried foods and buttery sweets).  It takes a few days for the repair mechanism of a normal healthy body to quiet down this inflammation and restore the hypothalamus to its regulating job.  Repeatedly eating a high fat diet day after day interferes with the body’s ability to repair the organ that helps us say ‘no’ to weight gaining foods.  If we do manage to stop eating them as we try to lose all the weight we put on while the hypothalamus wasn’t helping, it is extremely difficult.  We just can not hit the re-set button.  The mechanism is broken.The study is reported here.  http://www.gpb.org/news/2011/12/28/could

-obesity-change-the-brain

The actual published abstract is here http://www.jci.org/articles/view/59660?search%5barticle_text%5d=obesity+&search%5bauthors_text%5d=schwartz

You may have seen Carol Ostrom’s report in the Seattle Times on 12/30. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017122171_brain30m.html

Scientific discoveries like this tend to make the obese shake their heads grimly and say “no wonder it is so hard to loss 10 lbs. and have that be my new ‘high'”.  Their brain is urging them toward the old higher set point.  More research needs to be done.  An MRI scan of the brains of 34 obese individuals tells us there is inflammation there, but leaves a lot of questions.  While they are rare, some people who drop 15 to 100 pounds are able to maintain their weight loss for years.  In my own case, I spent eight years with a psychotherapist dealing with childhood issues, and at the end of that time I was no longer uncontrollably tempted by cookies in the house.  I’ve been at my healthy body weight for a while now after many years of yo-yo diet struggle. There was a time when I couldn’t bring a box of cookies in the house and I certainly never baked them.  I would plan my behavior carefully before attending a stand up party with hors d’oeuvres and deserts. I still eat a healthy protein snack before going to a stand up party.  If I put on 3 to 4 pounds during the vacation, I drop it easily.  Did my hypothalamus recover and establish a new, lower set-point?  Could yours do the same thing?

When I first went into business as a wellness adviser, I held weight management classes in my home.  The attendees came at lunch time for 8 weeks.  I prepared healthy food, taught them about the way our body handles sugars, how the pancreas reacts to coffee/black tea/cola drinks all day long and how to recover from exercise so they could get up and do it again the next day.  I taught them how to prepare and carry healthy snacks, introduced them to thin slices of jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, and bean sprouts.  They learned about alternatives to wheat flour: rice bread, soba and rice noodles, rye breads, breakfast cereal of cooked rye, barley and oat flakes.  Today the stores are full of gluten free foods.

My students fell into two groups:  people whose metabolism had slowed down as they aged and one day they realized they had gained 15 pounds and needed some help to change their eating and exercise habits; people who had put on a lot of weight over the years and developed a real love/hate relationship with food. Learning these tools helped this second group, but did not guarantee permanent weight loss.  Both groups found the extra weight caused creaky joins and discomfort.  The first group relieved their arthritis pain considerably by following the dietary suggestions and moving more.  The second group were discouraged.  I was discouraged that I couldn’t seem to help them.

If you are in this second group and suffer from a chronic over-weight dieting cycle and you feel this weight is causing or increasing your arthritis pain, take heart from this new study. Inflammation is real.  It is present whenever there is disease.  The immune system can repair inflammation and does so every moment of every day.  Perhaps, with careful healthy eating, even the hypothalamus can be repaired.
I take a lot of food supplements manufactured by the Shaklee Corporation.  They have helped my body repair tissue damaged by inflammation.  Food alone could not do the job for me.  After reading this study, I wonder if 10 years of daily intake of extra nutrients provided by the Shaklee Wellness Program actually repaired the hypothalamus. I don’t think it can be done in 6 months or even 2 years.  A long term approach is necessary.  Perhaps you need the help of a top quality line of food supplements to pour massive amounts of nutrients into your damaged body.  If you would like to learn more about the weight management program Shaklee has to offer, please email or call me.  betsy@HiHoHealth.com or 206 933 1889.  Wordpress doesn’t allow me to put an active link to my shopping website.  I prefer to discuss these nutritional issues with you first anyway. So be in touch.

Be Well, Do Well, and Keep Moving.

Betsy

Watch for a review of an independent study showing how resveratrol and polyphenols can literally stop this inflammation process at the cellular level.  I will present this information in my next blog.

BTW here is an interesting blog on weight management.  I pass it along to you.  http://kirbsfitness.wordpress.com/

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The 2nd most popular New Year’s resolution and the power of excuses: guess writer Lisa Stubing

Dear Reader,  I have mentioned this energetic trainer, Lisa Stuebing in a former blog post. She and I walked the 3 miles around Greenlake at a quick pace.  I was impressed with Lisa’s own story of sitting at a desk most of her professional life and slowed putting on weight and losing mobility.  You should see her now.  She’s slim and agile.  I asked her to write a post to share with all my readers.  Here it is:

The Second Most Popular New Year’s Resolution and the Positive Power of Excuses

Adapted from a speech given at the 12th Annual World Arthritis Day in Redmond, WA.  October 2011.

Lisa Stuebing, Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist, Owner, Mud Puddle Fitness, LLC

Did you know that the Second-Most-Popular -New-Year’s-Resolution-Of-All-Time is to become more fit?  And yet, we often make the same resolution the following year.  If you have arthritis, you have an extra challenge to keeping this resolution.  Fortunately, you also have ready access to a powerful resource to ensure your success.

This essay is about the positive power of making excuses.  Excuses are important.  Now is the time to recognize that your excuses have strength and depth and validity.

Researchers find that three barriers to success recur over and over. 1.) Embarrassment, 2.) Procrastination,  and 3.) Fear of injury.  These well-funded longitudinal studies have included thousands of participants who in turn represent millions of excuse makers.  They were conducted by reputable institutions like the Mayo Clinic, the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Institute of Health.

  1. EMBARASSMENT

Do you put off going to the pool until after you look good?  Have you walked into a gym tried out some equipment and goose-stepped out of there because you didn’t want people you didn’t really know how to use it?  Discouragement is a powerful inhibitor.  Which leads us to the second big excuse honest people have for not getting regular exercise.

 

  1. PROCRASTINATION

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”
– Don Marquis

 

What keeps you inside?

In a London study, 64% of the participants simply did not know what a good work out was supposed to feel like.  So, they avoided it.  Learning what is normal and what’s not normal takes time.    It takes practice.  When you are getting the right amount of exercise, during the best part of your day – you will build up your stamina.  You will feel better and even energized at some level.  And, yes, you will feel a little tired.

Finally, there is another big reason people tend to stay away from exercise.

 

  1. FEAR OF INJURY

People worry that because they are not athletes already that they will hurt themselves. 

If you have arthritis, be a careful consumer of information.  There is still a lot of bad information out there.  You can still find literature that will tell you that exercise is not good for you.  The old thinking is that physical activity will damage joints and make arthritis worse.

In reality, multiple studies have clearly shown that appropriate exercise for people with arthritis leads to better flexibility, strength and endurance.  It also leads to less pain, fatigue and depression.

ACKNOWLEGE YOUR EXCUSES AND THEN TACKLE THEM ONE BY ONE

Find people who are doing fun stuff and do it with them.   Laughing together is the best antidote for embarrassment.

Build up your knowledge and stamina one day at a time.  The key is to start small and pace yourself — If you are going to take up cross country skiing – start with a small country.

Finally, if you have arthritis, know that hurt does not always equal harm.  Take an Arthritis Foundation “Walk with Ease” class and learn to reduce your pain while getting fit.

Enroll in an Arthritis Foundation, “Walk with Ease” class

Take an Arthritis Foundation “Walk with Ease” class and you will learn how to set realistic goals.  You will learn how to measure your progress.  You will feel more energized because you will know the best time to exercise and how much exercise is right for you.  You’ll meet new people and have tons of fun.

The Walk with Ease Course was developed by the Stanford University Patient Education Research Center.

The efficacy of the program was tested, studied and reviewed by the University of North Carolina in collaboration with the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the University’s Institute on Aging.

The program’s published materials were made possible, in part, with funds from the Center for Disease Control.

In my professional opinion, the most important thing the Walk with Ease program teaches is an understanding of your pain.  Hurt does not always equal harm.  Sometimes, moving when you didn’t really want to, results in actually feeling better.  This isn’t all hocus pocus – this is about focus.  Focusing on you, testing yourself and then understanding the result.  I think this takes the entire six weeks to learn and apply the program.  And the bonus is, by the end of all 18 class sessions – you will have made a pleasant habit of joining friends for a little fun exercise.  Some classmates get together long after the class had ended.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, there are three steps to take.  1.)  Work with yourself, understand your reluctance to plunge into a planned exercise routine and give yourself a break.  Your concerns are real and based on a lifetime of personal observations.  Be honest with yourself and then take the next step.  2.)  Educate yourself; take the Arthritis Foundation’s “Walk with Ease”. Learn when exercise will reduce your pain and how to make that happen.  Finally,  3.) Include yourself – join others for group activities.  Invite friends out for a walk.  Having fun with friends is your best chance of sticking with and enjoying a lifelong habit of exercise.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Let me know how you do!  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Coach Lisa

Lisa Stuebing
Owner, Mud Puddle Fitness, LLC
Nationally Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist

www.MudPuddleFitness.com

CoachLisa@MudPuddleFitness.com

206-524-6788

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pain free flying

Avoiding increased pain when on vacation.

This is the first of a series of posts on staying pain free while traveling.

I just spent 10 days in Mexico with 4 friends, enjoying my time share and a few extra days in Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the coast of the Yucatan as 25 minute ferry ride from Cancun.  It was wonderful.  I had my herbal pain killers at the ready, and took a couple every 4 -5 hours.

Plane rides are the worst for osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis and the 4 plus hours from Seattle to Houston were challenging. I am reminded of the many long plane rides I have taken and the technique I have learned for staying comfortable.

Back in 1992, right after my husband died, I took a trip to San Francisco for some R & R.  We sat in the plane on the runway for 6 hours waiting for the fog to clear in SF so we could leave Seattle and land 2 1/2 hours later.  If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that the traumatic injury to my L5 happened only 3 years earlier, and while I had rehabilitated enough to do 3/4 of the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in 1990, I was still at risk.  Slouching in a chair, especially an airplane seat, is the worse possible thing to do for a potentially unstable back.  As Moshe Feldenkrais would say, you are either sitting (sits bones directly under your erect back) or you are lying down (any tilted back position on down to prone).  I was lying down in the most unsupported manner.  When we finally landed in San Francisco, I could hardly walk.  My left leg had extreme sciatica pain from the pinching at L5.  What I learned from that experience has saved me from ever repeating it.  It may help you.

I drink a lot of water and a rehydrating drink called Performance which I carry in a zip lock bag and mix with the water they offer, or in the bottle I carry on.  Do you know that you lose a cup of water every hour you are in the air?  You do not excrete only water, but minerals that you must have for proper balance in your system.  These are the electrolytes you add with a high quality hydrating drink like Performance.  (If you want to know more about the products I mention, go to www.HiHoHealth dot com.)

Drinking a lot forces me to get up and down to use the rest room.  Moving prevents prolonged slouching from setting in.  While sitting, I do isometric exercises.  I seldom tilt my chair back but try to stay upright.  On long flights to Asia and Africa, the TV monitor w shows isometric exercises that are helpful.  Here are several that I have used.

Isometric Leg Exercises

Isometric exercises are an effective way to exercise during a flight. Also called static tension, isometric exercise involves a contraction of a muscle without a change in the length of the muscle. Bodybuilding.com recommends doing an isometric thigh exercise while sitting on your seat. Make a fist with your hands and place them under your knees. Squeeze your thigh and calve “around” your fist, and hold for five to 10 seconds.

 

Knee Exercises

Knee flexions and extensions are other simple exercises to do during your flight. Knee flexion involves lifting your knee toward your chest while sitting on your seat with your back against the back rest. Lower your leg, and repeat with the opposite leg. Knee extension involves straightening your leg as far as you can while sitting with your back against the rest. This is crazy making in steerage where I sit.  Do these exercises as many times as desired.

Calf Exercises

Deep vein clots are common in the lower leg or thigh, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Improve the blood flow in your lower leg by contracting your muscles. To do a calf raise, place your tiptoes on the floor. Thrust your heels upward as high as you can until you feel a contraction in your calves. Hold for five to 10 seconds, and lower your heals, or repeat continuously with a pumping motion. Repeat as often as you can to improve blood flow in your veins. This is a really good one.

 Arms

Exercise your arms with a wrist roller workout. Cross your fingers and do a rolling motion with your wrists for 10 to 20 seconds. Improve blood flow in your arms by making a fist with each hand and flexing your forearms toward the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat. Optionally, raise your fists toward your chest and down to your thighs for 10 to 20 times to also target your biceps.

Shoulders and Chest

Shoulder shrugs are a way to relieve tension in your upper body. Hold the shrug for 10 seconds and release. Exercise both the chest and shoulders by doing a rope climb. Imagine a rope hanging over your head, and “grasp” it with your hands as to climb it. With each motion, reach from over your head and pull down until your arms touch your thighs. Repeat 20 times with each hand.

Back and Abs

Stretch your back by bending at your waist until your chest reaches your upper thighs. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return to an upright position. Keep your back straight throughout the stretch. Target your abdominal muscles sitting upright and exhaling completely. Without inhaling, suck in your stomach as deeply as you can and hold for few seconds. Release and repeat.

 

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/532387-seated-exercises-to-prevent-dvts/#ixzz1h1GMalQ5

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/460480-leg-exercises-for-while-you-are-in-flight/#ixzz1h1ExSucs

Do not worry about what other people think.  After all, your body needs this and their bodies could probably use it to.  You might have the whole row exercising.  You will have much less jet lag and arrive ready to walk and pull your suit case.

I would love to hear your techniques for keeping aches and pains under control while flying.  Next week I will share my away-from-home morning routine before setting off for a day of site seeing.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

www.HiHoHealth dot com

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Let’s Get Motivated Ladies And Gentlemen!!!

Let’s Get Motivated Ladies And Gentlemen!!!.

Hi, from Mexico, the Yucatan’s tiny island, Isla Mujeres where sister in law Joan and I have just finished the most relaxing time in the sun, surf, sand and seafood.  I switched on my computer and found that Sweetopiagirl (link above) had put my last posting on her blog about weight loss. I return the favor.  She talks about finding Curves and walking there every day when she was at her very lowest spirit and highest weight.  If you really want to lessen arthritis pain and suffering and you are carrying 15 pounds of extra weight or more, her advice helps the faint of heart.  Go for it.

Down here in Mexico I have managed my own pain pretty well even without my usual regimen of exercise.  I have spread the bed cover on the floor and done a few Pilates and Feldenkrais moves to remind my body where my core strength comes from. (See my earlier blog posts for more information about these modalities). I haven’t been too crazy with Margaritas and salsa and chips.  It is hard to get a clean vegetable/fruit diet when the market is far away and restaurants do not serve such fare.

Little twinges were kept under control with Pain Relief Complex, plenty of water and fresh lime juice.  You can read more about the herbal pain relief product I use daily at www.HiHoHealth dot com.

Back to the cold and rain tomorrow.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving!

Thank you, Sweetopiagirl.

Betsy

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