An Inside Job

March 11, 2011 by  
Filed under health, Personal Development

hand-energy
By Cheryl Roby
There are days that lack oomph! Let’s face it, the fast paced techno dense life can be stressful.

My computer and blackberry conveniently provide information and up to date status that were unheard of even 10 years ago AND they provide a constant stream of messages that say READ ME, PAY ATTENTION TO ME, I AM URGENT!!

When I realize that my state of mind has gotten out of balance and I am paying more attention to the imagined urgency than to the gift of instant information and connection, my work with stress management and inquiry help bring me back into balance.
stress-work
As a Reiki Master and student of conscious living I have come to understand that my work first and foremost is to be kind and peaceful in this world. If I am anxious or angry or impatient (substitute any emotions other than peace, love and kindness that resonate with you) I am adding to the energy of war. There is a war going on inside me that affects not only me but everyone I come in contact with and the collective conscious. Our energies are all connected. Our thoughts are powerful beyond what most of us can imagine.

So, before I try to fix what’s out there, I refocus on what is inside; using the tools of inquiry, breath, positive affirmation and others to regain peace.
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Cheryl Roby’s website is www.rockyourchakras.com and www.robychart.com

Longevity Quiz for You

March 7, 2011 by  
Filed under health

long-one
I know that I will not live forever, but maybe, just maybe, I can make some lifestyle changes that can influence how long I do live. Most importantly I would like those years to be healthy and as active as possible.

Over the past few years I have been reading some of the work that Thomas Perls, MD has been doing with centenarians at Boston University. He has written many books, papers and articles all about the topic of longevity. He recently developed this quiz based on the latest research on what factors help lengthen a person’s life. (this quiz is recently published in Health Magazine so it’s focused a bit more towards women, but men will learn from this too) Thomas Perls, MD is the real deal and I have the highest respect for the work he has been doing.

So spend a few minutes and take this quiz. Once you figure out your number, examine your numbers to figure out on how some simple changes can potentially add years to your life. This is kind of interesting quiz and  do make you think about your own health. Give it a shot. And yes, you can make some small changes in your life that can make a difference.
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LONGEVITY QUIZ

1. When you’re stressed, how do you handle it?
a) Very well. I thrive on it and find it motivating.
b) Pretty well. I have regular healthy outlets, like yoga, walking, or calling a friend.
c) Not so well. It’s hard for me to let problems and worries go.

2. How often do you do things that keep your brain sharp, like learning a language, playing chess, or solving crosswords?
1) A couple of times a week.
b) Between once a week and once a month.
c) Rarely or never.

3. Do you spend time with friends on a regular basis?
a) Yes, I have lots of friends, and I’m very social
b) Yes, I have a small circle of close friends whom I enjoy spending time with
c) No, I usually either go it alone or spend time just with my partner

4. Have any of your parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles lived to be 97 or older?
a) Yes
b) No
c) Don’t know

5. Do you have a brother, or sister with a history of heart attack or diabetes?
a) Yes
b) No
c) Don’t know

6. How much do you exercise?
a) 30 minutes at least five times a week
b) Some, around twice a week, and/or I regularly do something active like gardening or walking
c) Rarely or never

7. Are you at a health weight? (go to health.com/healthy weight calculator if you’re not sure.)
a) Yes, I’m within my ideal weight range.
b) Pretty close. I’m a bit above what the the charts say I should be, but I’m energetic and don’t have any weight related health problems.
c) No. I am well above my ideal weight, and I get sluggish and out of breath quicker than I’d like.

8. Do you smoke?
a) Yes
b) No

9. Do you floss?
a) every day
b) Once in a while
c) No

10. How often do you eat red meat?
a) 4 times a week or more
b) 2 or 3 times a week
c) Once a week or not at all

11. Did you have a child without fertility assistance after the age of 38, or did you stop getting your period completely after the age of 54?
(If you’re too young for either of these questions or don’t have children, pick “b”

a) Yes
b) No

12. Do you have a primary care doctor you trust whom you’ve seen in the last year?
a) Yes
b) No, but I see my gyno each year
c) No

13. How would you describe your sleep?
a) Great. I sleep enough so that I wake up feeling clearheaded and rested.
b) Could be better. I don’t get enough sleep, and I’m often tired during the day.
c) Not so great. I try to sleep, but I have insomnia sometimes or often.

KEY: For women start with the number 89 and add or subtract based on your answers. Males would start with 86.

1. a) 0 b)0 c)-5
2. a)+5 b)+2 c) 0
3. a)+5 b)+2 c) 0
4. a)+10 b)0 c) 0
5. a)-3 b)0 c) 0
6. a) 0 b)-2 c) -5
7. a) 0 b) 0 c) -8
8. a) -15 b) 0
9. a) 0 b) -3 c) -3
10. a) -5 b) -5 c) 0
11. a) +5 b) 0
12. a) 0 b) 0 c) -3
13. a) 0 b) -2 c) -2

Your potential age = years old.
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The Simple Tool of Assessment

February 5, 2011 by  
Filed under health, Personal Development

nurse-one
Tomorrow marks another birthday. As I age, I recognize that good health is more and more important than anything. It’s everything.

We’ve all heard the “be proactive” call to action. In a sense, this is assessment from a bird’s eye view. We can assess our lifestyle by repeating the mantras we’ve all heard before: Follow a healthful diet. Get plenty of exercise. Channel our stress. Don’t smoke. Moderation is key. Be engaged, be mindful. Okay, okay….let’s say that we do all that. Are we where we should be in the preventative health maze?

When I conduct an on-line search for “How to Assess Your Health”, my computer screen urges me to take a health report card quiz so that I can determine what my risk factors might be and use my overall score to evaluate my health. Been there, done that. I’m healthy, according to my on-line test results. Is there anything else included in proposed self-diagnostic test kit? Yes. One more thing: I need to trace my family history, which will give me clues about what diseases I might be susceptible to. According to my on-line guides, I am now complete. I can feel assured that I can head off problems before they ever come to the surface.

health-phone
I’m not a medical professional and sincerely don’t profess to be, but through a devastating illness which my husband is currently combating, I’ve learned that assessment is key to everything. The assessment that my husband’s doctors and nurses speak of is that of learning about your own norms by following a road map and listening to your body. So this year, I’m challenging myself to actually learn something about my own norms, to “look under the hood of my engine” so to speak. I’m making my first attempt to understand how I run.
worth-less
Last week, I had my annual physical. Although I get blood work done every year or so, this was the first time I requested a hard copy of my lab results. I also requested that my physician walk me through the results. He consented, and was happy to empower me to learn about the person whom I think I’ve known all too well for many-a year now. This was a valuable lesson. Having seen the same physician for years, he told me how my norms have been running for everything from blood sugar to iron, from blood pressure to cholesterol, both good and bad. I asked about hemoglobin, thyroid, and Vitamin D. And the list didn’t stop there.

I feel as though for the very first time, I’ve practiced the best prevention method: understanding. Not only did my physician take the time to teach, I became an inquisitive student. I followed up his assessment by utilizing a primer I found on the New York Times which allows the user to look at blood counts and understand what they mean. This served as a great follow up to help me interpret my test results.

As we continue to drown in this information age, it’s easy to get lost between multiple health blogs, hundreds of internet sites, and countless medical apps. The daily bombardment of drug advertisements and the conflicting (but well intentioned) studies about medical tests can be confusing at best. Ironically, the very best person to advise us, our doctor, is now more likely to spend less time with each and every patient. This is especially why we all need to get acquainted with ourselves, know our baselines and understand what they mean. How else will we recognize a change of status if and when a change happens?
health-cartoon
Of course, when you’re sick, knowledge is power. But I’ve just learned that knowledge is power when you’re healthy as well.

It’s Never too Late to Have oomph

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under health

oomph-pic
I just watched “The Green Buddha” video again for the first time in few months, and am still struck with how my 81 year old mother, Jeanne Dowell, still skis, hikes and travels with great agility and flair. My friends still ask how she is able to stay that active. I always say it’s probably do to her genes, but also the fact that she has kept active all her life. There are scientific studies that back this up.

In a newly published book, “Treat Me, Not My Age”(Viking), Dr. Mark Lachs, director of geriatrics at the NewYork Presbyterian Healthcare System, discusses two major influences (among others) on how well older people are able to function.

The first, called physiologic reserve, refers to excess capacity in organs and biological systems. We’re given this reserve at birth, and it tends to decrease over time. In an interview, Dr. Lachs said that as cells deteriorate or die with advancing age, that excess is lost at different rates in different systems.

The effects can sneak up on a person, he said, because even when most of the excess capacity is gone, we may experience little or no decline in function. A secret of successful aging is to slow down the loss of physiologic reserve.

“You can lose up to 90 percent of the kidney function you had as a child and never experience any symptoms whatsoever related to kidney function failure,” Dr. Lachs said. Likewise, we are born with billions of brain cells we’ll never use, and many if not most of them can be lost or diseased before a person experiences undeniable cognitive deficits.

Muscle strength also declines with age, even in the absence of a muscular disease. Most people (bodybuilders excluded) achieve peak muscle strength between 20 and 30, with variations depending on the muscle group. After that, strength slowly declines, eventually resulting in telling symptoms of muscle weakness, like falling, and difficulty with essential daily tasks, like getting up from a chair or in and out of the tub.

Most otherwise healthy people do not become incapacitated by lost muscle strength until they are 80 or 90. But thanks to advances in medicine and overall living conditions, many more people are reaching those ages, Dr. Lachs writes: “Today millions of people have survived long enough to keep a date with immobility.”

The good news is that the age of immobility can be modified. As life expectancy rises and more people live to celebrate their 100th birthday, postponing the time when physical independence can no longer be maintained is a goal worth striving for.
bike-man
Gerontologists have shown that the rate of decline “can be tweaked to your advantage by a variety of interventions, and it often doesn’t matter whether you’re 50 or 90 when you start tweaking,” Dr. Lachs said. “You just need to get started. The embers of disability begin smoldering long before you’re handed a walker.”

Lifestyle choices made in midlife can have a major impact on your functional ability late in life, he emphasized. If you begin a daily walking program at age 45, he said, you could delay immobility to 90 and beyond. If you become a couch potato at 45 and remain so, immobility can encroach as early as 60.
dna-pic
“It’s not like we’re prescribing chemotherapy, it’s walking,” Dr. Lachs said. “Even the smallest interventions can produce substantial benefits” and “significantly delay your date with disability.”

“It’s never too late for a course correction,” he said.

I certainly agree to Dr. Lachs. I have my own mother to observe as a living example. My mother no longer runs at 81, but she does walk a lot and keeps her active yoga practice. The whole idea here is to keep moving no matter how young or old you are.

8 Best Exercise Tips for Boomers

January 30, 2011 by  
Filed under health

exercise-tips
I’m always looking in newspaper and magazine articles for good tips from experts to keep us healthy.

Here are 8 insider tips from nationally known personal trainers, coaches and exercise physiologists to help us get a little more oomph!

1) The minimum workout you need to stay healthy
Muscle strengthening exercises twice a week plus 2 1/2 hours a week of moderate activity like walking. Or 75 minutes a week of a more intense activity like jogging. Please ask your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

2) Get fitter faster
A more intense workout burns more calories in less time, says Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of Fit to Live. “You can walk 3.1 mile race in 40 minutes, jog it in 30 minutes or run it in under 20 minutes. Either way, you’re burning the same amount of calories,” she says.

3) Short spurts are best
Alternate spurts of hard, high-speed activity with periods of slower activity to shorten a workout while improving fitness, says Ron Woods, a coach at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando Florida.
man-pump
4) Stronger muscles in minutes
We lose muscle mass as we age, making us weaker. Two or three 30-minute weekly sessions using free weights or resistance bands will restore muscle and keep bones strong, says David Sandler, author of Fundamental Weight Training.

5) Upper and lower body moves
Alternating an upper body strength training exercise with a lower-body move is a time saver, says Gina Lombardi, author of Deadline Fitness, who has trained celebrities such as Andy Garcia. Alternate cardio moves, like rope jumping, with strength exercises such as lunges.

6) Say yes to yoga
A few minutes of yoga type stretches after a workout improves flexibility, range of motion and strength in a way that aerobic activities can’t, says Beryl Bender Birch, author of Boomer Yoga. An introductory class is best for beginners, since regular classes often last 90 minutes.

7) Buddy up
Exercising with others makes time fly. Dodo Stevens, 67, of Portland, Maine, meets 10 women and a trainer for a 45 minutes workout at a neighbor’s house. Cost: $11 per person. “I love working out with other people, “she says. “The whole thing is over before you know it.”
exercise-brain
8) Mix it up
Exercise programs need variety. This is key. If you do the same thing all the time, your body adapts and you stop making progress, says Pamula Peeke, the fitness author. Look for classes that provide an introduction to Zumba, Bellyrobics or other new, fun activities.

Keep in mind what James Fries, M.D., said about exercise. He is an expert on aging at Stanford University. He says “If you had to pick one thing that came closest to the fountain of youth, it would have to be exercise.”

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