Ten on Tuesday #2

The Good Stuff

I wanted to take this Ten for Tuesday to focus on the good stuff. There’s so much bad right now, I quit (for the moment).

This one goes out to the good stuff.

1. Being a mothermy kid is the best.

Look at what he gave me.

2. Having a healthy family.

I know so many people cannot say this. I am truly grateful to have a healthy, able family.

 

3. Living in Florida.

I mean, it’s September and still feels like we’re swimming through humidity, but just wait.My northern friends will be complaining soon enough 😉

4. Being here for all kinds of amazing times,

like when R started 5th grade and his new interest in museum-based weekends.

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5. Good quotes.

“When I hear someone sigh, ‘Life is Hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?'” ~Sydney J Harris

“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” ~ Winston Churchill

6.  Family Time! 

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7. Goofing off.

(See above)

8. Running + Yoga.

Gotta stay active and sane!

9. The Internet.

Seriously, without it I couldn’t write here, or chat with you folks on Twitter. Or Instagram. Or Snapchat… Ok, I don’t get Snapchat beyond marketing to you awesome young folk 😉

Plus, the internet is my career. So, I kinda bank on the Internet.

10. Coffee.

I wouldn’t want to start my day without you.

What do you consider you’re “Good Stuff”? Let me know in the comments. We could all use more good stuff in our lives.

Spice Up Your Life for Better Health

Another piece I had on my OB (original blog) with a few updates on timing.

Ok, so it’s cliche, but for a lot of cultures spice is a part of life. Plus, new research from Penn State shows that adding spices to your meals could have positive health benefits – not to mention making those bland American dishes tastier.

I heard a story on NPR about spices and how certain spices can help cut the risk of a high-fat meal. Note: meal, not diet.

The research looks to have studied spices often used in Indian dishes, curries for example. They did open the segment with turmeric milk.They also chose “bold amounts” of other common household spices.spices_in_ahmedabad

It’s good news for those of us who love a rich curry made with lots of turmeric or bold amounts of garlic and oregano. During the study, they used a blend that included these spices, as well as paprika, rosemary and ginger.

The research showed the spices cut triglycerides in the blood. (NPR story here)

The story got me to thinking about what other spices may have health benefits and what those health benefits might be.

5 Healthy Spices and Herbs

Cinnamon can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol in people with type-2 diabetes.

Suggested Uses: add a teaspoon or two to Greek yogurt, steel cut oats, or even your coffee. Tossing it in smoothies is another great option.

Turmeric contain curcumin which can inhibit cancer cell growth. The study above also shows implications of lowering triglycerides.

Suggested Uses: enhance store bought curries or toss a teaspoon in when cooking rice, quinoa or other grains. Or you could try the turmeric milk mentioned above. Turmeric is also an ingredient in many masala powders.

Chili Peppers contain capsacin which offers medical benefits such as pain relief and improving heart health. Studies also link capsacin to fighting prostate cancer and stopping ulcers.

Suggested Uses: add chili peppers to bean and rice dishes, chilis, stir fries, and any other recipe that needs a little kick.

Ginger helps decrease motion sickness, settle uneasy stomachs, and reduce nausea; it may also provide pain relief and the swelling associated with arthritis.

Suggested Uses: candied ginger or crystalized ginger – which can be found at your local health store – is a quick, easy option for motion sickness. Side note: my son suffered car sickness, I tried ginger candy, it seemed to help. Ground ginger can be sprinkled on sweet potatoes and carrots, in baking recipes, stir fries or on fish.

Oregano has been found to contain the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.

Suggested Uses: Top soups, pizza, salads, or pastas with a bit of chopped or dried oregano. It can also be added to pizza or pasta sauce. Fresh oregano is best for providing antioxidant benefits.

Other Spices

While this is a short list I hope it’s provided some insight in to the health benefits of spices.

Another benefit of spicier dishes is that spices and herbs pack a flavor punch without all the calories.

Sure, curries contain coconut milk and a lot of these would be paired with extra virgin olive oil, but in moderation the healthy fats of those two combined with the health benefits of the accompanying spices are well worth learning a new recipe or two.

If you’re in the Tampa/St. Pete area there are several health stores that offer bulk spices, which means you can select as much or as little of each spice you’d like to try rather than purchasing 6oz of a spice you’re uncertain about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this.It’s a great way to try new flavors without worrying about waste.

What are your favorite spices and herbs?

What are your go-to recipes that pack in a lot of flavors?

Ten on Tuesday #1

Years ago I had a blog called Tales of an SEO Runner. Back then I took part in this meme “Ten on Tuesday”. I’ve decided to revive some of those posts here.

Are they important things? I actually thought not when I started, but reviewing what I’d written, I believe they can be important questions to ask oneself. Ok, based on #1, not all are important.

1. What was the last clothing item that you bought?

My original response was full of hope and love. It was cute, about a mini vacation, etc etc. Today’s answer is actually pretty cute as well. I took a bunch of stuff to a consignment shop a week or so ago. My son was with me and while we waited for them to tell me all my items were out-of-date my kid jammed to whatever weird music they decided to play. It was great. His very own dance party. Who cared what they liked? He and I had a blast.

Oh, I also scored a pair of Vans shoes for $14 that I’ve been wanting for two years. So, there’s that.

2. If you could stay one age forever, what age would you choose?

 

Originally I said “28” because that’s how old I was when I first answered. Honestly, I don’t want to stay one age.

In fact, I can’t wait to be a bizarre old lady who can say whatever she wants, to whomever, and not care one bit.

3. When you say “lol”, are you really laughing?

Most likely, no. Though I’m probably smirking in an, “I can’t believe how idiotic you’re being right now” kind of way.

4. What is the most interesting thing you’ve done in the past year?

I ran an ultra.

Ultra volunteers are THE BEST.

5. If you started a business, what would it be?

Turn-key marketing solutions.

 

6. Who are your favorite Twitter feeds to read in the morning?

Basically I scroll through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email, and whatever else I open in the first 15 min upon waking.

7. What are your top yoga poses?

I’ll always be in love with pigeon pose. Hip openers FTW

8. What do you do when you start feeling ill?
I tend to drink more water. That’s about it.
I don’t rest more, don’t skip workouts, don’t pop vitamins or other pills. Not until it’s apparent I can’t function anymore.
Unless there’s pain in my lower back (I have arthritis in my lower spine, woohoo!), I don’t tend to take meds. Back pain, however, I’ll pop Motrin all day long. I just can’t stand that kind of chronic, low grade, pulsating pain that doesn’t let you rest. It makes me extra bitchy.
9. What’s your favorite board game? 
Scrabble. Oh yeah! I’ve gotten my 5th grader into it and we’re on fire!
10.  How do people find your blog?
Social media with hashtags

Youth Fitness Needs Our Attention

Mom, we’re doing an NFL Fitness test in PE and most of the kids can’t complete it.

My son came to me a few days ago with this gem. “Ok,” I thought, “maybe it’s a tough test.” So I asked for clarification. He said it was easy, he does more each day at TKD, but he’s shocked at his classmates. What he described sounded a little like a HIIT or interval workout, depending on how hardcore they were at monitoring rest breaks. Regardless, it didn’t sound too extensive and definitely not what the actual NFL goes through.

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Let’s all agree this is hilarious. via kindynews.com

I tried to find more info on this “NFL Fitness Test”, but Google just helped solidify why I will never be a footballer. Example about the upper body strength test using the bench press, this test “requir[es] the athlete to press 225 lbs as many times as possible.”  *Sigh*

The real point is: our children are unhealthy. Most of us are aware of the restricted recess and PE times our kids have. Most of us know that sitting is bad and have clicked at least once on a headline about how “sitting is KILLING YOU!!!” Most of us are aware that something needs to change, but what?

To be completely clear. This is NOT the fault of the educators. This is NOT the fault of individual parents. This is not the government, or a conspiracy, or a tirade on how fat kids are. No. Many of these kids aren’t even overweight, they’re just lack cardiovascular fitness because they’ve never had to maintain it. This is not a fault issue, but it is an important one.

So here’s what I think. I think we need to be more diligent about talking to our kids. Rather than just finding out how school was, ask if it was a recess or PE day. Ask how often they were able to be active. If they ran around in the 112 degree heat for 30 min, great! (Not great, it’s awful hot, but stick with me.) If they had other “specials” or recess was cancelled or whatever, consider taking a family walk around the block.

If you’re child hasn’t moved most of the day, help them move. Most of us haven’t moved enough. We know this because, as adults, we’re attached to our wearable tech like it’s a lifeline to health. Our kids don’t monitor their steps, but you can encourage them to move a little more.

The WHO recommends “children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.”

Here are a few ways to help get that number in:

  • After work/school walk around the neighborhood while discussing the day’s events. If you have a dog, take her. She’ll love you even more.
  •  Create an cone obstacle course in the yard. Sprint, run backward, slalom, skip, etc from cone to cone. You can use shoes, rocks, a well trained dog, whatever, in place of “cones”. Do it for time for an added aerobic boost.
  • Remember that baseball/football/frisbee/badminton/Nerf ball you bought to play with the kids? It’s in the back of the closet. Dust it off.
  •  Have a playground nearby? Turn THAT into an obstacle course. Monkey bars are B-A-N-A-N-A-S
  • Hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, even scavenger hunts are inexpensive and easy ways to get everyone moving.
  • Rainy day? I recommend: Twister, indoor scavenger hunts, and puddle jumping if you have rain boots. Seriously, no one’s going to melt. Don’t forget to strategically place towels by the door before heading out!
  • Group fitness classes/bootcamps. Get a group of kids together and challenge them to push ups, jumping jacks, burpees, long jumps, squats, front kicks, sprints, etc. A small group of kids can really be fun, silly, and energizing. No weights required, just get moving!

If you’re local, contact me. I’d love to get a kids fitness camp up and running. I’m a CPT who wants to get kids active.

If you’re not local, consider starting a little group yourself. Or share your hot tips for getting kids away from screen time and sweating to the hip pop.

Living and Training with a Chronic Condition: An Insight

The human body is amazing. Let me just lay that out there first. The intricacies in the ways our bodies function are finer than any machine we can imagine.

Seriously, even a cursory intro to anatomy and/or physiology will give you an appreciation for these bizarre skin suits we live, breathe, train, and die in.

I love how bodies function, even if we aren’t always thrilled with how they look.

As a trainer, and a human, I appreciate that many of us are dealing with challenges inside ourselves.

Degenerative Disc Disease

This is my condition. It is normally an older person condition. I was diagnosed at 23 when I blew out two discs and an MRI confirmed I have “the spinal column of a woman in her sixties.” Sweet. In fact, arthritis.com says “almost everyone older than age 60 has degeneration of the discs,” though not everyone experiences pain.

What is it?

First off, they’ve misnamed it. It’s not a disease (I suspect they like the hashtag #DDD over #DDC). It’s a condition that results in pain when a disc “loses integrity”.

Great.

It’s also the diagnosis given when no better diagnosis can be given.

Cool.

Some specific factors include:

  • Discs drying out. This essentially results in less shock absorption. If you were a car, you’d have them replaced.
  • Sports and other activities (i.e. car accidents) can cause tears in the outer core of the disc.
  • Injuries can cause swelling, soreness, instability.

Sounds awesomesauce, right? Since discs don’t have a regular supply of blood they do not repair. Basically, they die. My lumbar spine consists of very little healthy discs. Others deal with this in different parts of their spine. Due to the location of my DDD tight hamstrings, twisting, unevenly picking up things can all cause inflammation. This often leads to sciatica, which is another party.

What are the Symptoms?

Generally all pain is located in the lower back or the neck. Symptoms care of arthritis.org, comments care of me.

  • Pain that ranges from nagging to severe and disabling
  • Pain that affects the low back, buttocks and thighs (ding ding ding!)
  • Pain in the neck that may radiate to the arms and hands
  • Pain that is worse when sitting (Sitting is the devil)
  • Pain that gets worse when bending, lifting or twisting (YUP)
  • Pain that lessens when walking and moving (Yay, moving!)
  • Pain that lessens with changing positions often or lying down (Can I just sleep until it goes away? I ❤ sleep)
  • Periods of severe pain that come and go, lasting from a few days to a few months (Please be just a few weeks…)
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities (Yeah, weird)
  • Weakness in the leg muscles or foot drop may be a sign that there is damage to the nerve root

How is it Diagnosed?

Mine was diagnosed through MRI when I blew out my back putting my infant child into the backseat of a car. I was given steroid injections on multiple occasions. Once, the doctor hit a nerve and, yes, it hurt like hell. I also went through physical therapy, which helped.

Other ways include medical history and physical examination. Remember, it’s basically a catch all for “we’re not sure what else to call it.”

How is it Treated?

Pain management, mainly. I hate the pills they prescribe because I can’t function on pain pills so I don’t take them. I want a real solution. Physical therapy helped me recover and since then I know what to do and what to avoid. It still flares up at times, generally times of extreme stress, but mostly it’s manageable.

Other options include: surgery (no), heat & cold therapies, OTC medications, spinal mobilization.

My personal and professional opinion is leave surgery to a last resort, especially on your spine. It’s not often effective and can cause many other problems. If you can focus on pain management, spinal mobility, and core strengthening.

Whatever you’re dealing with – diabetes, surgeries, injuries, scoliosis – most likely you can be active to some degree. In fact, it’s typically less healthy for anyone to remain sedentary. I strongly suggest you speak with a qualified person to discuss how to become or remain active. Don’t give up on yourself, even when it hurts.

Good luck!