Today's post may be considered controversial, but I feel the need to talk about wine. Specifically, all the women who are being lead to believe by the wine industry that they deserve "Mommie's little helper," after a long day taking care of children, home, work, etc.

Every day there are memes that show up on my Facebook feed designed to encourage women to drink alcohol - all of them are shared by women... It's been a very long time since I have liked, laughed at, or shared any of them. Here's why.

So many women that I know bought into the whole idea that a little alcohol is good for your health, or that your mental health needs a glass of wine or two, or a bottle. Most of these women either now participate in AA or are suffering the effects of alcoholism but not seeking help yet. Some of them have battled throat and/or breast cancer. This is sad and unacceptable. To me, it's the exact same thing as when the tobacco industry did not share the information that cigarettes cause cancer, emphysema, and other lung diseases for so many years. Yes, you heard that right, THE SAME THING.

At last some physicians are now speaking out and sharing the information that alcohol CAUSES seven types of cancer.

"Epidemiologic evidence supports a causal association of alcohol consumption and cancers of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and female breast, says Jennie Connor, MB, ChB, MPH, from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, in Dunegin, New Zealand. In short, alcohol causes cancer."

Dr. Connor goes on to say that this is not news. Many cancer treatment/research facilities have long known and listed these as alcohol related cancers. The alcohol industry uses words like related, linked to, risk of, instead of stating the truth, which is that alcohol causes these cancers. According to the research that she studied, greater than 50 grams (1.609 ounces) of alcohol daily raises your risk for mouth, pharynx and esophageal cancer 4-7 times. Less than that for the rest of the above cancers. That amount is a little over a shot of alcohol and according to the National Consumers League, "one 12-oz. beer has as much alcohol as a 1.5-oz. shot of whiskey, or a 5-oz. glass of wine."

Another  report from the American Public Health Association back in 2013 concluded that 3.5% of cancer deaths in the US are caused by alcohol. This report talks about more than two drinks a day.

So, my point here is, not only can you become addicted to alcohol and join the millions of others in AA, you are also taking a risk for developing certain types of cancer. Having witnessed my brother's radiation/chemo treatment for his throat cancer a few years back, and the permanent damage that the followup surgery caused, believe me when I say you don't wish that on your worst enemy. AND, I will add that at that time, the Dana Faber Cancer Center listed alcohol as one of the causes of throat cancer.

You are probably wondering if I drink? Well, as these studies and more information has come out in recent years, I have been reducing the amount of wine I drink. Having been a lightweight in that department who couldn't handle anything stronger than wine all of my life, I now limit myself to drinking a glass of red wine with the special dinners that Ned and I cook together on weekends, or holiday parties. Perhaps some day I will not have any at all, but for now, that feels right for me.

What I ask is that you begin to think about whether you truly want that glass of wine (or other alcoholic beverage) or not. Think about the risk you are taking, think about your family and friends. Simply think before you drink. Then you will discover what feels right for you, and not what the media is pushing. Take care of you!

And if you are wondering about the news stories you have seen touting the benefits of drinking a small amount of alcohol daily, I can find no reliable scientific evidence supporting that. In fact, the Mayo Clinic states "The evidence about the possible health benefits of alcohol isn't certain, and alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks." In short, the few possible benefits do not outweigh the risks.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Does Menopause NEVER End?!

After menopause some symptoms hang on or come back to visit. I’ve recently received some questions about why this happens and what can be done to alleviate these symptoms. Here are some useful practices that can bring balance back to your life.

Extra adipose (fat) tissue can act as an endocrine organ, producing more estrogen in the body, keeping it in circulation even when ovarian production stops at menopause. So, regular exercise and eating mindfully help to reduce that extra fat around your mid section, and then your body is not encouraged to overproduce those hormones. This is especially important for women because studies show that weight gain is a risk factor for breast cancer after menopause. An American Cancer Society study found that women who gained 20–30 pounds after age twenty were 40% more likely to develop breast cancer after menopause than women who gained no more than 5 pounds. Keep that fat away!

Include phytoestrogens in your diet. Phytoestrogens are plant-based and they help balance hormones naturally. These are found in soy foods, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, bean sprouts, and legumes such as garbanzo beans and peas. Now I know the press has been full of controversy about soy products, but as I posted last year, I have not found any scientific studies showing that eating food containing soy is harmful. I believe that a small amount of soy is beneficial. However, I do not recommend soy supplements as there has not been enough research as to the effects of taking these compounds in such high doses. Traditional soy foods such as tofu, edamame, tempeh, and miso are a part of my own diet.  

Eat your broccoli. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kohlrabi contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is metabolized in the body to produce diindolylmethane (DIM). Both of these substances help to regulate estrogen and, BONUS, they’ve been shown to have some anti-cancer effects, particularly for breast cancer.

The Ayurvedic herb shatavari has been used for centuries to reduce menopausal hot flashes, irritability and mood swings. Part of the asparagus family, the herb can have a cooling effect for those of us who are “too hot” for our own comfort! As with any herb, though, if you have allergies, please go slowly at first to make sure that you don’t have an allergic reaction.

As little as fifteen minutes of deep breathing twice daily has been shown, in several clinical trials, to decrease hot flashes and night sweats as well as improve your sense of well-being. Additionally, meditation helps decrease stress hormones and allows the body to return to homeostasis as well as calm the mind. As far back as the 1970’s Dr. Richard Benson proved the “relaxation response” reduced hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. My own research has shown that his relaxation response is exactly the Yoga Nidra, or deep relaxation, that is done at the end of most Yoga classes. This guided meditation has been shown through many scientific studies to benefit over-all health and well being in addition to reducing hot flashes.

If you are interested in a fabulous program of menopause symptom relief, personally designed for you, click this link for my coaching program.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Can Exercise Help You Avoid Knee Surgery?

Another Article, this week, about knee injuries in Baby Boomers, and how exercise can help many of us avoid surgery.

I won't go on a rant about how Western medicine is all about the money generated for big pharma and unnecessary surgeries. Instead, I will tell you about a knee strengthening exercise that I have been teaching my clients and students for the last few years which has helped many of them avoid knee surgery. At the very least, it can reduce pain and strengthen your knees.

When I showed this exercise to my friend Dr. Carolyn Dean, several years back, she termed them, "Super Squats," and I've kept that name because the results are, "SUPER!"

As the above article says, meniscal tears affect many of us at some point in our lives. A meniscal tear happens when there is damage to the cushioning that surrounds the knee. Most orthopedic surgeons agree that the size of the tear matters, but for many of us Baby Boomers, this happens after many years of normal wear and tear, and not due to a football injury.

What I have found is that the exercises we are given, like normal squats, strengthen the muscles above or below your knee, but not many strengthen the muscles on the sides of the knee. This is the key problem; we need an exercise that does both. Voila, Super Squats to the rescue! In case you haven't figured that out yet, I love this exercise!!!! I think it should be taught to kids in school as part of the regular PE curriculum, for healthier knees as we age.

Everyone that does this exercise consistently improves the condition and strength of their knees. It takes only a few minutes to do and just about everyone can do it, with or without modifications.

Super Squats strengthen ALL the muscles surrounding your knee. This makes the knee more stable so that ordinary walking does not wear or tear as much; also, when you step off a curb or onto an uneven surface, the knee is more stable and less likely to twist out of alignment.

I recommend doing this at least three times a week. If you are currently in pain, try it daily for a couple of weeks, and then, after you feel better, go to three times a week.

super squats side view

Also, if you have not done a squat before, please check these photos for placement of your feet to avoid over extension of your knees. Toes are above my foot. Make sure yours are too!

 

 

 

If you'd like to work with me privately, for this and other exercises, let's set up a time to chat about your personal health and wellness, what you'd like to achieve, and how to get there! Hit reply or send me an e-mail here.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Help! I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up!

Hope all US residents had a fabulous 4th of July celebration! Did you include some healthy recipes from my previous posts? Grilled Peaches is always a good one for summer holidays.

Today I am sharing a short video of the best way to get up (and down) from the floor. So many people in my classes for seniors say they can't get down on the floor because they'll never be able to get back up, yet when I show them how simple and safe it can be, they have no problem!

If you're afraid of getting stuck down on the floor, or if you know someone who is, please take a look, and share:

Notice that my feet are a several inches apart. I've seen some people try this with their feet too close together, which makes it harder to balance, so make sure yours are apart.

You simply reverse the pattern to get down onto the floor.

Now there's no reason that you can't take a Yoga or Pilates class! Join us at the Claire Teague Sr. Center, in Great Barrington, or the West Springfield Sr. Center! We have a lot of fun AND get strong in the process!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Try Peaches For Healthy Summer Grilling!

Nothing beats a 4th of July grill fest! 

Someone always brings a pie or cake decorated as a flag...

BUT, my favorite is grilled peaches. So sweet, juicy and delicious!

Try them and you'll be hooked too!

Grilled Peaches - Yummmmmmm!

Ingredients:

4 ripe peaches, cut in half with the pit removed

2 TBSP Butter

2 tsp cinnamon

2 TBSP coconut sugar

Preparation:

In a small saucepan, heat the butter, sugar and cinnamon until it boils. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

Make sure you grill is very hot and oiled, then brush the peach halves with the butter and sugar mixture

And gill for about three minutes on each side. Yummmmmm!

Each serving has approx : 160 calories (70 from fat), 8g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 1g protein, 19g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 17g sugar), 20mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium

If you want to be really decadent at 4th of July or a birthday party - serve the peaches over coconut ice cream  Wow!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Mid Year Goal Recap

Well, it's mid June - that means 2016 is more than half over. How are you doing on your goals for this year? Have you completed some of them?

What I have noticed lately is that it's just about impossible to meet new goals when life is buzzing along with more responsibilities than one can handle. I have my garden, which takes up a lot of time in spring and summer. The lawn (what little is left) needs mowing often. I have my work, graduations, summer parties, and I live on a lake so it's nice to get down there for a swim or to watch the sunset over the water...

Here's an idea I started about six weeks ago, and so far it's working for me. You may want to give this a try.

I have a checklist of five habits that I want to make a part of my daily routine. Things that I find myself letting slip sometimes, like taking my morning AND evening vitamins, getting more aerobic exercise, filling the tea kettle at night before bed, etc. I started with five items and each day checked them off when they were done. I also have an accountability partner that checks in with me to help keep me on track. After about five weeks, three of my habits had become ingrained and I now do them regularly - even when travelling!

Now, you may not think that filling the tea kettle before bed, so that I only need to turn it on in the morning on my way to the bathroom, is a big deal. But I knew that it would make me feel better to be more prepared for my day and I also knew that a couple of the items had to be simple so I could get them down pat in a month. It worked. Now I've added three more items to replace the three that are routine and I'll keep going with these five for several weeks until they also become routine.

Science shows that it takes about 30 days to form a new habit, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Want Younger Looking Skin? Of Course You Do!

It's been a while since I wrote Beautiful Sexy Skin For Women Over 40, and since then I've found another natural product that I really love, which I'd like to share with you today.

A couple of months ago I began to use BADGER Damascus Rose Face Oil, and I fell in LOVE right away, with the smell and the way it made my face feel!  At first, I didn't notice much difference in skin tone though, but I loved how it made me feel. In the last couple of weeks, however, I've been told three times, that I look younger. I started paying attention to my face, and, sure enough, the skin tone is more even, wrinkles are less evident, and there are no dry patches at all!  WOW!  Hard to find a better recommendation than that. Badger is the name of the company and Damascus Rose Face Oil is the name of this fabulous product. I have found it at Vitacost, Thrive Market, and, of course, on the Badger web site.

As we know, what works for me doesn't necessarily work for you. Every BODY is different, but this one is priced right, so give it a try!

If you haven't seen this video on moisturizers, take a look at what you may be putting on your face...

While you are looking at Badger, check out their Bug Balm. That is what I originally purchased from the company, as it smells good, is chemical free, and works!  Best mosquito and other bug repellent I have found. Believe me, Otis has mosquitoes that can pick you up and carry you away! If it works here, it will work anywhere! Let me know how you like it!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Gardening Causing A Pain In Your Back? RELAX!

I am excited to say that I have planted my garden this year BEFORE Memorial Day! Can't remember ever doing that before; hope that means an early and fruitful harvest...

May is the month for gardening in the Berkshires. And, once again this year, most of my friends and neighbors are walking around with stiff backs from all the weeding, tilling, planting, etc. Each spring I find time to remind everyone of the single most important way to help your back when you know you have done too much - RELAX!

This is the only position which will relax all the muscles along your spine at the same time. Do it every day for at least 5 minutes to reduce that tension and give your back a break. You'll be glad you did!

relaxation pic - me

Make sure that your butt is right up against the couch, with your calves resting on the seat of the couch. If your neck is arched up, you can place a small pillow or folded towel under your head (not under the neck) so your neck is also resting. For more information, or to purchase my Amazon bestselling book STOP Back Pain, click HERE!

Please take time to remember the reason for this holiday. Stop during your activities, for a moment of silence, for all those who have given their lives so that we can live free and safe!

Wishing you a happy and safe Memorial Day!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategy!

 

A while back I wrote about a study that showed aerobic exercise increased the brain's hippocampal volume in older women, which increased memory performance.

Now, another study has confirmed that meditation is good for your brain. This Harvard study used MRI scans to document, for the very first time in medical history, how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain's gray matter. Senior author Sara Lazar, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology states, "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."

Wow! I have felt that for years, and certainly Eastern traditions have known that for centuries, but now even Western science has proven it to be true. Color me happy!

The participants of this study spent an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and that is all it took for a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. MRI's were done before they started this eight week course and again after. In previous studies this group also found that experienced meditators have a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration.

"It is fascinating to see the brain's plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life," says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. I agree!

Imagine - 8 weeks to better brain health!

If you would like to take a more active role in improving your brain health by learning meditation techniques, let me know! You can get a few friends together and I'll come to your home to teach the group, or you can click HERE to learn about an individual program!

Mindfulness exercises do not mean that you have to sit in an uncomfortable position for an hour and "clear your mind."There are many techniques to help you meditate. For instance, prayer is often a meditation. There are mantra meditations, visualizing yourself in your "place of calm", e.g., a beach or the woods.
Contact me today and we'll discover what works for you!

Ready For Shorts and Tanks?

Yayayyyyyyyy! Sunshine and blue skies!

Just went for a walk between my classes and I am soooooo enjoying this sunshine. Summer will be here in the blink of an eye (I hope). Are you ready for shorts and tanks season?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 36 percent of Americans are considered obese and an additional 34 percent are considered overweight. This is an alarming statistic because that's 70% of the population...!? I did my own local survey, during a break from my classes at the senior center; I walked around and counted the number of people here that appeared to be overweight. Of the 61 people here, at least 37 appeared overweight or obese. That's 60%, YIKES! Double Yikes!

The National Cancer Institute estimates that obesity contributes to 34,000 new cases of cancer in men and 50,000 in women each year. But if every adult reduced their BMI by 1 percent - a loss of roughly 2.2 pounds - about 100,000 new cases of cancer could be avoided, according to the agency's website. Cancer is scary and it has touched many of our lives. My friend Ned has lost several family members and friends to cancer and now he rides his bike 100 miles every year in Bicycles Battling Cancer. As human beings, we feel better when we can take some action to help others. This is Ned's way to help fight the big "C."

What about helping ourselves? Are you as healthy as you'd like to be? Are you overweight? Would you like to do something about it?

I see many people in my classes, or coaching that are attempting to lose weight. Most want to lose 10-15 lbs. Only a few want to lose more than that. Based on how many gyms, bike clubs, hiking trails, Yoga, Pilates, and other health centers there are in the Berkshires, I think our population is most likely on the lower end of the CDC statistics.

What does your community look like? Are there plenty of opportunities to walk, ride a bike, or work out? Do people access them? Do you?

If you have a desire to lose weight, build more muscle, take care of your health and your family's health, then make the commitment! This is important. Find something that works for you - even if it's only once a week. That first baby step is crucial. Once you begin to feel more energy, you'll want to experience that more often and you'll make time during your busy day for a few more bits of exercise. As little as three, 10 minute exercise breaks during your day can bring huge benefits. Here are my top recommendations for the best way to spend 10 minutes when you want to lose weight:

  • Brushing Teeth - an excellent time to march in place, bringing those knees up as high as you can, then lunge walk around the house as you select your clothes for the day, put breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, etc.
  • Morning coffee break - instead of that muffin and coffee, walk around the block, then grab a cup of coffee (sans muffin) to take back to your desk.
  • Lunch break - eat a kitchen sink salad with lots of dark greens, tomatoes, avocado, apple or pear, and a few nuts. This gives you plenty of energy, and takes about 15 minutes to eat, giving you another ten minute break to walk.
  • After dinner - While sitting on the couch watching your favorite show, do five minutes of leg lifts and circles on each side. Here is a video to demonstrate this one.

Best of Health,

Kathi

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