senior fitness Archives

Ouch! Back Pain Again!

Today is the first day of Spring - are you ready? I certainly hope Mother Nature is ready for Spring; we've had enough of this white stuff in the last couple of weeks to last well into next winter!

Speaking of snow shoveling, quite a few people have come in with back issues in the last week or so. Back pain is the worst, isn't it? Especially when it radiates down your leg. This is often due to the piriformis muscle tightening up and pressing on that pesky sciatic nerve. Today's video will show you a technique to end that sciatic spasm right away, with the help of a friend or family member! In addition, we’ll talk about another way to do this piriformis massage if you don’t have someone else available to help. Either way, you’ll be able to relieve that pain and feel better.

Today’s video demonstrates how to use an acupressure point that releases any spasm in your piriformis muscle. It’s usually a bit painful at first, but if you take a few deep breaths and get through it, the pain reduces and reduces until it’s just about gone. Try it – I’m sure you’ll like it.

If you are home alone when your piriformis spasms, not to worry. You can do this amazing little technique that helps release all of the tension in your piriformis muscle, through a simple self-massage:

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on floor.

Place your fists or back of your hands under the center of each buttock.

Now, inhale as you roll your knees gently to the right, then exhale slowly while using your abdominal muscles to pull your knees back to the center.

On your next breath, roll your knees to the other side.

Breathe deeply and continue slowly rolling your knees from one side to the other for 1 to 2 minutes. Be sure to keep your feet flat and knees bent throughout this entire exercise.

Dropping knees to the left with the fists placed under buttocks

You can also use a small child’s ball for this self-massage. Place one of these handy and inexpensive balls (you can pick them up at Walmart or Target) under one buttock at a time, instead of using your hands, making it a little easier to relax your arms and shoulders. Some people use tennis balls, but I find them too firm.

Best of Health,


How NOT To Get Old…

It's funny how sayings take on different meanings as we age, isn't it? Several years ago, when someone would tell me "Don't get old," I'd laugh and say that the alternative isn't too good. Recently, I've been thinking about that phrase and realized that I pretty much cringe when people say this. So, why has that particular phrase changed for me now? Well, here's the thing, I used to believe that we could prevent old age by exercising, eating right, meditating, etc. But now that I have experienced some "aging" myself, I know differently. What I know now is that our bodies age. They wear out. And, while this is not what I had pictured, nor is it what advertising wants us to believe, I am grateful for my career as a health coach. I’m grateful because I know that this doesn't mean that we have to become decrepit, or that we can no longer do the things we love to do, like kayaking, hiking, and Pilates. What is DOES mean, is that we might have to take a new vitamin, or make a change to our exercise program, or maybe eat a bit more fiber. Here’s the catalyst that pushed me to a better understanding.

Back in October, I got what I thought was a stomach bug. BUT, it didn’t go away. In fact, I got worse. I would have a few good days and think that I was getting better, and then BAM! Sick as a dog again. I thought maybe I wasn’t eating enough greens, so I made an effort to eat tons more and that didn’t help. I tried everything that I could think of, but I spent my Thanksgiving lying on pillows on my bathroom floor sick as a dog, I got dressed long enough to drive down to the local country store and pick up an over the counter laxative, which made me sicker. That’s when I decided enough was enough and made an appointment with my doctor. My doc knows that I have a great mind body connection. I’m also fortunate to have a doc who will spend more than 15 minutes with you when it’s necessary. She ordered some tests, and even ordered a test for heavy metals because I asked for it. She did question why I was asking, but when I explained that I have been drinking well water for most of my life, which can be high in heavy metals; and that for 8 years, I lived in an area where there was a high amount of arsenic in the water, she had the test done. She gave me a referral to a gastroenterologist and recommended a plant supplement called psyllium. Psyllium is high in fiber, and after not getting the results I wanted from adding prune juice, tons of kale, etc., I hesitated on the psyllium.

The next week, when I meet with my gastroenterologist, I brought all the results of those tests with me to discuss with him. He was pleasantly surprised that my primary care doc had ordered all the same tests that he would have ordered. (He told me she was a good doctor!) Basically, he said all the tests were normal, and since I had had a colonoscopy two years prior that was spotless, he didn’t think it necessary to repeat that yet. He gave me a brief, but very good, explanation of how our digested food works its way through the body and what can happen as we age.

Did you know that there are little nerve endings in the small and large intestines that trigger Peristalsis (muscle contractions) which work the food through the digestive system? YUP. Little nerve endings make those contractions move the food through and out. And as we age, those nerve ending can become lazy. Imagine these little buggers getting tired after 66 years! :0 He also recommended psyllium. Psyllium is not only extra fiber, which gives the food something to grab onto, so it can move through easier, but, according to Ayurvedic medicine, it also has the capacity to nourish those little nerve endings. Cool. Psyllium worked well for me: regular pooping and no more pain. 😊

Some of my clients have asked, “Isn’t Metamucil the same as psyllium?” The answer is no. Citrical and Metamucil both contain other ingredients like sugar, color, etc. which your body doesn’t need. Pick up plain old ground psyllium husks with nothing added at your local whole foods or similar store.

As they say, (whoever “they” are), experience is the best teacher. In the last several years I’ve learned that we can do specific exercises to help restore the bone loss that occurs as we age, and that we can take magnesium to help those leg cramps and our heart health, and that Kirtan Kriya meditation can keep our grey matter from wilting away, and the list goes on. And now I’ve learned that psyllium helps us poop better. Too much information? Maybe, but now you know, too! I wonder what my next lesson will be?!

Best of Health,


The 4 Lies The Food Industry Is Selling Us!

Today I have a guest post from my friend and colleague Dr. Mark Hyman:

Food can energize, heal, repair, and uplift us. Every bite you take creates a powerful opportunity to create health or promote disease.

Unfortunately, most of us find nutrition confusing. While many things play into that confusion, misinformation, poor reporting, and personal biases make what should be simple – just eat whole, real foods, period – confusing and contentious.

You know what I’m talking about. One day experts warn against eating eggs, and then suddenly eggs are a miracle food. We were advised to only eat egg whites until we discovered cholesterol in food minimally impacts blood cholesterol, so now we can eat the whole egg.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines told us 35 years ago that dietary fat could create heart disease and lots more. They recommended we eat fat “only sparingly.” But in 2015, those same guidelines told us research shows no connection between obesity or heart disease and dietary fat.

If our government can’t get it right, is it any wonder the public and even many experts are so confused?

The $1 trillion food industry only adds to this confusion. They provide us with all sorts of “healthy” options like low-fat, high-fiber, whole-grain, and gluten-free, most of which are the opposite of healthy.

All of this is enough to make you give up and just eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and in whatever quantities you want.

I’ve got a far better solution. Let’s get back to real food, the kind that comes from the earth and fuels and sustains us, not the industrialized, hyper-processed, hyper-palatable junk that degrades us and makes us sick.

Most of these foods lie in the periphery of our grocery stores. They don’t have barcodes or ingredient lists. They don’t claim to be “fat-free” or whatever health claims dominate the front of packaged foods. They don’t have preservatives to lengthen shelf life. They come nature-packaged with nutrients, not produced in labs using inferior versions of vitamins and minerals.

In my new book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, I dispel this confusion by looking at what the latest science says about the best foods to eat (and which ones to avoid).

Some of this information might surprise you. Foods you thought were healthy might contain added sugars or food sensitivities. Others that experts have deemed unhealthy actually contain health-providing nutrients.

My ultimately aim with this book is to empower you and end confusion and miscommunication about what to eat. I truly believe Food has the power to change your health and your life. To give you a taste of what you’ll find, here are 5 takeaways you’ll find in my book.

  1. If there are health claims on the label, what’s inside is probably unhealthy. Most real food is naturally gluten free and free of other food sensitivities like corn and dairy. And when you eat a variety of real foods – things like fresh vegetables and fruits, wild-caught fish, nuts and seeds – you naturally get the right amount of protein, fiber, and other health-sustaining nutrients.
  2. There are no one-size-fits-all diets. In the landscape of eating, there are many beliefs and dogmas, including vegan, Paleo, vegetarian, Mediterranean, raw food, ketogenic, high-fat, low-fat, and omnivore. Adherents can get pretty dogmatic about their approach, dismissing others in the bargain. There are benefits to each of these diets, but an all-in approach to one or another may not be the all-in answer. In Food, I combine the best principles from many of these plans to provide a sustainable, simple-to-implement way of eating that keeps you lean and healthy.
  3. Most of what we eat is not really food. At least, it has been so adulterated and processed we may as well not call it food. It is more of a food-like substance. Look at pretty much any processed food and you’ll find dozens of ingredients. The front label might have some bold health claims, but its ingredients show otherwise. As a result, most of us are confused, baffled, and frustrated, not knowing whom to believe or what to eat.
  4. Cultivating and consuming real, whole food is the answer to many of our world’s problems. How we grow it, produce it, and eat it affects almost every aspect of our lives and our society. When we vote with our fork and take back our kitchens using real, whole food, we are making a powerful impact on our families and future generations while sending a message to the food industry that has profit and not your health as the bottom line.
  5. Food is more than fuel. It is medicine. It is information. What you put on your fork is the most important thing you do every day. It influences your capacity to live a rich, energetic, connected, soulful life—a life in which you have the energy to care for yourself, to love your friends and family, to help your neighbor, to fully show up for your work in the world, and to live your dreams. If you enjoy real, whole, fresh foods that you cook using real ingredients, you are positively affecting everything around you.

I’ve designed Food to be a road map based on the best and latest science of what to eat. This book provides all the information you need to take back your health, to become lean and vibrant and free from disease, one meal at a time. Never underestimate the power of food to change your life.

Healthfully yours,

Dr. Mark Hyman

Chair Exercise For Back Pain Relief

What Can You Do In Your Office Chair? Plenty!

In today's video I demonstrate an exercise that stretches all those muscles around your hip. In fact, they’re same ones we stretched a few weeks ago in the video that talked about the piriformis. The best thing about today's exercise is that you don't even have to get out of your chair to do it!

Our bodies have not evolved to be sitting all day long at a desk, yet many of us spend 8-10 hours a day, or more, sitting – at a desk, at a table for meals, talking on the phone, reading a book or watching TV. When you take a moment to think about it, I’ll bet you’ll find that you actually spend a lot more time sitting than you thought. And all that sitting plays havoc with your back.

Getting up and walking around is highly recommended, but what if you can’t do that as often as you’d like? Those who work in a cubicle or an office where there isn’t room to get up and walk around can still get up and walk to the rest room a few times a day, and maybe stretch a bit while you’re in there…

Additionally, there are a couple of simple exercises that can help you stretch without leaving your chair. The first one we’ll be doing together this week is “Sitting Pigeon.” When you’re doing this exercise, you’ll surely feel those muscles stretching, and your hips will thank you!

Enjoy the video!

Best of Health,


Do You Know Your Psoas!?

Today, I'd like to get back to my series of videos on how unevenness in our pelvic area can cause some pretty nasty back pain, and what you can do about it.

Our previous discussions revolved around having one hip higher than the other and a simple exercise that you can do to remedy that; and also, a tight piriformis muscle (across your butt) and an exercise for that.

If you don’t know much about your psoas muscle, it’s similar to the piriformis, but on the front of the body. It connects the top of your leg to the front of the spine, crossing over the hip.

Sitting for long periods can cause this muscle to tighten up. When the front of your pelvic area is tighter than the back, you have more of that unevenness that your back doesn’t like. Sooooooo, now that we all spend so much time sitting in front of our computers, we are seeing more back pain caused by a tight psoas.

Fortunately, there is a simple stretch that can help lengthen that psoas for relief, and, when done regularly, prevent that pain in your hip/low back from becoming a regular visitor.

The lunge in the video, below, is the crème de la crème of psoas exercises. If yours is tight, you will not be able to stretch very far at first, but, no worries! Just keep at it and you will gain more and more flexibility as the days go by.

AND, if you have had that tightness and the accompanying pain for a while, don’t forget to relax your back first. This relaxation technique is the best one, but if you can’t get down on the floor, you can stack some pillows under your lower legs and lie on your bed to relax.







Notice, in the second photo, a small pillow under the head. This is to make sure that your neck is not arched. If your chin is pointing toward the ceiling, use a pillow, or a rolled hand towel, to support the head.

If you need additional modifications, or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Meanwhile, take care of your back and it will take care of you!

Best of Health,




This past weekend, I tried out my new snowshoes. Saturday was a glorious day in the Berkshires – I didn't even need my big arctic coat! It didn’t take long before my heart was pumping right along with my arms, and it was fun to breathe in air that didn't freeze my lungs on its way in...

As I tried out different strides and worked my way around to a pace that worked for both my heart AND my hips, I thought about additional benefits this activity provides and realized that since this was something I'd never done before, it's new learning. That means it's good for my brain. And then I took that one step further and realized that I was out in nature, enjoying a physical activity, in company with a like-minded person. Cool. That covers several of the recommendations made in Dr. Mark Hyman's docuseries (as well as my own research) on how to keep your brain healthy. Want to learn a couple of small steps that you can take right away to ward off dementia and improve your own brain health?

Structural plasticity is when the brain changes its physical structure or reorganizes itself through new learning. And this new learning doesn’t have to be something as big as learning how to play the guitar or studying advanced computer software. New pathways can be made by doing something like trying a different physical activity. Let’s say that you enjoy riding your stationary bike in the winter to keep fit, or working with weights. So, perhaps you can pick up an inexpensive pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis and learn how to do that without falling on your butt or crashing into ponds, etc. 😊 That is definitely new learning as well as aerobic exercise, which are both good for your brain.

How about meditation? Are you an experienced meditator? Would you like to learn a new type of meditation or begin with a simple twelve minute a day meditation?

Prestigious medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, and Carnegie Mellon University have all reported on the many health benefits of meditation.

Big, successful companies like Google, Target, Apple, Nike, and Procter & Gamble offer structured meditation programs for executives and encourage employees at all levels to meditate, because people are less stressed and more productive when they meditate.

Well, there is now quite a bit of scientific evidence that aside from all the health benefits of returning your body to homeostasis and reducing stress hormones, your brain also has a chance to do some housecleaning when you meditate.

As we go about our busy daily lives, most of us are juggling tons of tasks at once. Our amazing brains can help us do that because they are bigger than Google. But, unlike Google, our minds become stressed with too many things going on, and that, in turn, makes it hard to concentrate or to get anything done completely.

In one study from Harvard, they measured changes in the size, structure and thickness of the brain in those who meditate regularly, compared to those who don’t. Their conclusion: “Our initial results suggest that meditation may be associated with structural changes in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.”

These guys also found that the meditators had more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision making. In fact, in this study, they found that 50 year old meditators had as much grey matter in the frontal cortex as 25 year olds. That’s certainly good news for us Baby Boomers!

More studies have shown that meditation increases activity of the anti-aging enzyme telomerase, which keeps telomere length long, thus keeping our brain functioning as well as it did when we were younger. Yippee!

The simple meditation practice that was most mentioned in all the studies I read is the one that I love to both practice and teach. It’s called Kirtan Kryia, and is part of the Kundalini Yoga tradition. It’s short and sweet, which makes it perfect for those of us in the Western world who don’t have time for anything else…

If you’d like to learn how to do this powerful twelve minute a day meditation, click HERE and I can teach you. Or, contact me with your questions.

Best of Health,


Is Your Butt Tight?

Is there such a thing as a “too tight butt”? I couldn't resist asking that one, but the answer is, YES; especially when one cheek is tighter than the other. Perhaps you have a diagnosis of Piriformis Syndrome? Well, that's what this diagnosis means. Your piriformis muscle on one side is tighter than on the other side, and when that happens, your whole pelvic area is out of sync. The piriformis is a thick muscle that runs very close to your sciatic nerve. So, when it tenses up, it sometimes presses on your sciatic nerve, causing pain that radiates down your whole leg. YIKES!

My uncle Stanley got sciatica sometime during his retirement and his doctor told him there was nothing he could do except to take pain pills. Sciatic pain can be debilitating. I watched an active, vital man shrivel up and die in about 18 months. Uncle Stanley’s experience is one of the reasons I started coaching people with back pain. He could have been helped through exercise but both he and his doctor were older and set in their ways…

Today's exercise will help you stretch the piriformis muscle and take the pressure right off that sciatic nerve!

As always, don’t hesitate to ask any questions, or about more modifications. I am happy to respond.

And think about getting someone on your holiday gift list a gift certificate for personalized coaching for their chronic pain, or Reiki healing sessions. Contact me for more information.

Best of Health,


Chronic Pain shrinks the grey matter in your brain. Studies have shown this, but those who are in pain didn't need science to prove it - you know it! It's difficult to smile or laugh when you're in pain, and as time goes on you can't even think clearly. Today, I'll talk about two things you can do to help rid yourself of that back or neck pain.

First, let’s look at our plastic brain and using Neuroplasticity to help reduce that pain.

Imagining activates the same neural pathways as the real experience!

This is something that sports psychologists have known and used for years. Allopathic medicine is now “getting the picture” and using visualization to help people reduce chronic pain as well. In fact, the reason that I began to study Neuroplasticity was to help my clients who are in pain.

So here’s a simple step that you can start today:

  • Sit comfortably, but tall (not in a recliner), and close your eyes.
  • Take three very deep breaths, slowing down your exhalations more with each breath
  • Visualize your back (or neck, butt, knee, etc.) before you began having the pain. See yourself doing all the things that you could do easily back then, visualize your back in perfect health. See it lengthen easily, see yourself standing tall without effort, visualize your shoulders even and down where they belong. Continue deep breathing as you visualize yourself in perfect health.

Keep this going for at least five minutes, each day, for 30 days.

Your brain processes through images, so keeping these healthy images in your mind each day for 30 days will cause the brain to believe that you ARE healthy. Then, your exercises, relaxation techniques, and the other methods you are using to bring health back to your body will have a more powerful effect.

Secondly, I’ll like to share an exercise with you that helps take the tension out of your entire back and shoulder area, while strengthening the lower back at the same time – you know how I love multitasking!

Remember to relax your back for at least five minutes each day too – this is vitally important for back health!

Best of Health,


Halloween Fun Just For You!

Recently, a reader remarked that much of what I discuss and share in these posts is very serious. Although I attempt to bring a bit of humor into my writing, it's true that relieving back pain or preventing dementia is something that I take very seriously, and I share anything I learn which can help you.

So, today I am going to lighten the mood with one of my favorite topics - laughter! I hope you enjoy the comedy being shared today. Laughter is, indeed, the best medicine.

Here is a clip from Ellen DeGeneres show what has the audience howling. Go ahead and let loose!

And here are a couple of shots my brother took when we were hiking this weekend; it’s our own attempt at Yoga humor! Do you get it? I’ve circled a clue…


And here’s what happens when we attempt to do Yoga with pets in the room…

And me with Jade attempting to do down dog...


Best of Health,




Wow, today is 10-17-17. That seems crazy to write. How did it get to be 2017? Where have I been since singing along with Jimmy Buffet “where the party will be on Jan 1, 2001”? The years have flown by and now I’m 65. (Paul McCartney reached this age long before I did, and he still looks pretty good!)

How do you feel about your age? Do you wonder if you’ll have the time and money to do all the things you want to before leaving the planet? Have you made any decisions about what you’ll do in retirement? Are you downsizing so your kids won’t have to rent one of those HUGE dumpsters to clear out your house after you’ve gone? We had to rent THREE of those construction dumpsters to clear out my parent’s house…

I have been doing all of these things for about a year now. Clearing out the house has been the most difficult goal for me. I was the one who saved my grandmother’s bowls, great aunt Catherine’s candy dish, the rocking chair Aunt Belle brought home on the bus and then carried on her head as she walked the 2 miles to her house… You get the idea. But this younger generation does not seem to have the same sentiments about all these family items as ours did. None of the nieces and nephews, or their children, want any of these things, so I’m slowly bringing all of them to the “Re-Store,” which is part of Habitat For Humanity. It’s been a journey, I will admit that. I’m glad that I made the decision to take one box a month, as I have put some things back on the shelf, and then a month or two later, taken them down and let them go.

I have also asked my kids about certain things they may want to have when I’m gone and am putting their name on the bottom of each of those items. They are in their 30’s, with their whole lives ahead of them, and don’t really want to talk about the end of my life; it’s uncomfortable for them. Again, I’m glad that I am going slowly with all these things. I let them think about something for a while and bring it back up again several weeks later. This is a process that’s going to take a while.

I’d love to hear from you about this topic. What have you done so far in planning ahead?

Are you stuck and haven’t done anything at all yet? Maybe you don’t want to think about it either?

Well, as Nanea Hoffman once put on her coffee mugs, “none of us are getting out of here alive...” It’s time to come face to face with these hard to discuss matters, as well as planning our walking on the shore, climbing that mountain, etc. We can continue our discussion through the comments section or via e-mail replies. I can even set up a private Facebook page if you want to. Let me know your thoughts.

And, if you are stuck, let’s use new Brain Science to get unstuck and make some good decisions. I can teach you how to get VERY clear on your goal, and then show you techniques and practices that will forge new pathways in your brain that will make it easier to accomplish that goal without the yucky feelings that you may be experiencing now. Want to know more? Check this video out.

There are a lot of mentors who’re excited about neuroplasticity and what that means for living our best life. I mentioned Dr. Mark Hyman’s upcoming program in my last post. This past week, John Asaraf (of The Secret fame), was promoting his program; JJ Virgin ran her program a couple of months ago. This new science is truly the way to go for changing behaviors that you don’t want to keep in your inventory anymore, and making healthy habits that improve your life. See for yourself here!

Best of Health,


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