How to Minimize Aches & Pains Through Movement – Tips for the Work From Home Crowd

Since the pandemic, many of us have shifted to working from home (WFH). While WFH policies have created a lot of flexibility for us, it also came with a lot of ….sitting. In one place. All day. Every (week)day. All the walking to the meetings, cafeteria, coffee room or lunch out with colleagues became a short video conference or a 10-second walk to the kitchen or bathroom.

When you move less, you might feel your body aching more, unfortunately. Humans (and most animals — apart from maybe a sloth) weren’t meant to be sedentary, and our body will let us know with stiffness and pain when we’re not moving and grooving enough!

Authors Juliet and Kelly Starrett released the book, Built to Move: The 10 Essential Habits to Help You Move Freely and Live Fully, which outlines basic movements you can do each week to boost your physical health. The Starretts give you tips to decrease the stiffness, aches, and pains that can come with being less mobile. We’ve outlined 8 of them below!


1. Stretch while you sit on the floor, using three simple positions

As you sit in a chair each day, your body stiffens in the same position, and may ache from the lack of movement. To get a different kind of movement in, consider sitting on the floor for a few minutes—15 to 30—each day. Try these three positions:

1. Sit criss cross with your legs in front of you

2. Sit with one leg bent at 90 degrees in front of you. While resting on the front, bend the other leg at a 90-degree angle so that its foot is behind you. Do each side for five minutes!

3. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, leaning slightly forward.


2. When you get up from the floor, don’t use assistance (if possible)

It takes practice, but it’s a worthy challenge that can improve your long-term health and wellbeing!

This is a challenge that can be slightly harder than you think! When you stand up from the floor (or even up from your chair), avoid using the arms of a chair or supports nearby. Use your core and arm and leg muscles instead. For an extra challenge, also avoid putting your hand on your knee. Some research has shown that standing up from the floor without assistance is also a predictor of long life.


3. Squat more frequently!

In a variety of cultures, squatting is a much more frequently used posture than in the US. The squat position can be good for the knees, back, hips, and pelvic floor. You want to make sure your feet are slightly further apart than the hips, feet slightly turned out, and squat as low as you can with your heels on the floor. Unlike the last recommendation, you can use a wall or something similar to support you!


4. Balance on one leg

Falls can be extremely dangerous as we age. There are about 36 million falls each year in the US alone, with a third requiring medical attention. One way to prevent falls is to practice balance! Each day, try standing on one leg—simply lift up the other or do a “tree pose” from yoga—for 10-20 seconds on each side. Staring at one fixed point can help you as you get started. Start with 10 seconds, then move to 20, and then, if you really want to challenge yourself, try with your eyes closed!


5. Get more steps in — with some weight added

This one is obvious—take a few more walks per day. The recommendation is 10,000 steps per day, and if you’re not close to that yet, try increasing your number of steps by 500-1000 each week! Your phone likely has a steps tracker, though some people love to use an Apple watch or FitBit to track their activity. I wear this 8 pound vest to walk the dogs around the neighborhood.

If you want to up the ante, you can also get some walking weights to make your walk a more intense aerobic activity! Here’s an adjustable one I use if I need to amp up the cardio.


6. Try a standing desk

If you’re sitting at work or your remote job all day, try standing for 20-30 minutes! You can invest in a standing desk for sure, but you could also bring a laptop to a countertop or higher table in your home. Take one call per day while standing or do 30 minutes standing after lunch!


7. Circle your arms

Remember those activities from middle school gym class where you would hold your arms out to the side and circle them in tiny circles over and over and over again? And it somehow was the most tiresome of all the exercises (push-ups included)?

Try doing a few rounds of those per day! 30 seconds in one direction, followed by 30 seconds in the other direction, or about 10 rounds each.


8. BONUS: Give yourself a little foot massage!

Your feet are powerful proprioceptors in the body; this means, they help sense where your body is in space. Your feet have been desensitized by the thick shoes we wear all the time. Rubbing the soles of your feet or even massaging your toes several times a week can help your feet restore their proprioceptive abilities.

I recently learned about the benefits of walking barefoot as it lets your foot move naturally.  As I like wearing shoes, these Xero shoes give me the right protection and support without having to go ‘sans’ shoes.

There are plenty of simple things you can do to move more and feel less aches and pains throughout the day. Try one or a few of these tips this week and see how your body feels afterwards!

Blue Zones and the Keys to Healthy Longevity

Occasionally on the news, you’ll see a headline about a woman who lived to 112, or perhaps someone in your county who just hit their 100th birthday. But what if there were whole communities of people who lived to 100 and beyond? What if becoming a centenarian was the norm in your town, rather than the exception?

That’s precisely the case in Blue Zones, a name for areas where people regularly live to be one hundred years old. Blue Zones were originally identified by two gerontologists, Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain. They noticed that certain parts of Sardinia in Italy had extremely high concentrations of men who lived to be 100 – the highest in the world, actually. Then they began to find other areas with similarly high numbers of 100 year-olds, and termed these areas “Blue Zones.”

Blue Zones are found across the world. The most well documented regions include: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.

So what makes a Blue Zone a Blue Zone, apart from the concentration of elderly folks? Researchers found similar qualities amongst these Blue Zones. And in this blog, we’ll share these secrets, with tips on how to bring these traits into your own life.

1. Move regularly in your daily schedule

People in Blue Zones aren’t healthier because they go to the gym for 90 minutes each day or complete triathlons. Instead, movement is a normal part of their day. Whether that’s walking to the store, a family member’s house or community center, movement is bound into the fabric of their life.

Oftentimes, people in Blue Zones also have gardens that they tend to by hand, rather than opting for machines or other conveniences that decrease the exercise of the work.

How can you embody this trait of Blue Zones? Consider things like…

  • Walking your dog a few times / day
  • Biking to nearby stores instead of driving
  • Starting a garden to grow your own fruits and veggies

2. Prioritize belonging and your loved ones

In each of these communities, members have been able to establish a sense of purpose. It goes by different names in each culture, but the meaning remains the same: these centenarians have been able to find a purpose that motivates them to get up each day.

If you feel unsure about your purpose, consider the following questions:

  • When do I feel the most lit up and happy in my day-to-day life?
  • What gives me the greatest sense of fulfillment each week?
  • How can I better prioritize these things in my daily life?

When finding your purpose, allow yourself to follow the things that bring you a natural sense of contentment or joy. For some people, this is work related, for others, it has to do with family. Prioritize your fulfillment and see the purpose that unfolds in front of you.

3. Learn to manage your stress

Yes, 100 year-olds experience stress, too. Stress is universal to the human experience. The difference in Blue Zones, however, is that people have practices bound into their daily routines to decrease stress.

For instance, those in Okinawa take a few minutes to honor their ancestors. Those in Ikaria take a midday nap. Sardinians opt for a glass of wine in the afternoon. All of these activities minimize stress that’s built up in the day.

Consider your own daily schedule: How do you manage stress? What do you do each day to minimize it? If you don’t have anything you do each day, think about…

  • Adding 5-10 minutes of reflection, meditation or prayer
  • Starting a yoga or stretching practice
  • Giving yourself permission to take a nap!
  • Calling a friend to catch up

Find what de-stresses you and add it into your daily routine.

4. Follow the 80% rule

People in Blue Zones typically follow eating patterns that set them up for long-term health. For instance, they often follow the 80% rule: the idea that you should stop eating once you’re 80% full. Often, it can take our bodies time to register the amount of food ingested and can delay the process of telling us when we’re “full.” Stopping at 80% ensures you don’t overeat.

Additionally, the smallest meal is at dinner time – likely before it. This is contradictory to the US, where dinner is often the biggest meal of the day.

Try out the 80% meal for yourself and aim to have a larger lunch and a smaller dinner!

5. Favor plants in your diet

Blue Zone diets typically are high in legumes – AKA beans. The fiber content and protein of beans provides plant-based nutrition. You should increase your intake of beans to once per day or at minimum, a few times per week, to embody a Blue Zone diet.

Additionally, there isn’t a high meat intake in Blue Zones. Typically, meat is only eaten five times per month in average portions.

Takeaways? Eat more beans and plants, and less meat to emulate a centenarian’s diet.

6. Drink moderately

People in Blue Zones do in fact drink alcohol, and frequently! However, they limit it to 1-2 glasses at a time, and it’s typically social. They’ll have a glass of wine with friends or family over dinner, and binge drinking isn’t a result.

If you do drink, keep it light, and aim for higher quality alcohol. Sardinian Cannonau wine could be the next glass you order with dinner!

7. Prioritize belonging and your loved ones

The majority of centenarians felt belonging with a larger group – typically a faith-based organization that they were involved with weekly. Additionally, they prioritized their families, keeping their elders in the house or nearby as they aged. Most typically, they also had a committed life partner, and spent ample time with their family.

The main tip here? Make time for the people and groups that matter in your life. The sense of love, belonging, and fulfillment that can come from relationships transcends all aspects of health and wellness. It’s what serves as the cornerstone of the human experience, and people in Blue Zones honor that.

If you follow these tips, perhaps you’ll live to be 100. Even if you don’t, your quality of life, sense of inner peace, and overall health will certainly increase. Choose a few of these to implement this week and see how your mental and physical health transforms.

Simple Tips to Incorporate Exercise Into Your Day

Do you find yourself struggling to find time to exercise or make it to the gym? If you’re like most of us, life throws a lot at us and before you know it, the day is over. But, exercise doesn’t have to be as onerous to your schedule as you may think. In this blog, we’ll share some facts on the importance of exercise and five tips to add into your daily routine.

Why do I need to exercise?

Physical activity, along with good nutrition and social connection, are the pillars of good health. As reported by the CDC, being more physically active can help:

  • Increase brain function and health
  • Decrease stress and anxiety (read more about this in our nervous system series here)
  • Manage healthy weight
  • Strengthen muscles and bones
  • Improve critical thinking skills
  • Improve heart health and decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Lower risk for certain cancers
  • Manage chronic conditions
  • Increase overall health and ability to do daily activities

Simply, exercise is a long-term investment in YOU.

How much exercise do I need?

Always talk with your doctor or primary care physician about exactly how much exercise is recommended for you, depending on any conditions or injuries you may have. Generally speaking, however, the following amount of time exercising is recommended by the CDC for adults over 18 years old:

  • 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week
  • Muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days per week
  • For adults over 64: Activities which improve balance (yoga, standing on one foot, etc.)

Now, what does 150 minutes of “moderate physical activity” really mean?

Moderate physical activity can be many things: a brisk walk, yoga, pilates, playing with your kids outside, swimming, biking, mowing the lawn—and so much more!

Muscle strengthening also includes a wide swath of activities: weightlifting, walking with weighted bracelets or small dumbbells, digging or shoveling in the garden, bodyweight exercises (pushups, etc.), using resistance bands while you watch Netflix—again, so much!

We’ve listed a few simple ways you can start working some of those 150 minutes into your workday or daily schedule below. And note: you can spread your 150 minutes throughout the week in whatever ways that work best for you! It could be 30 minutes / day for 5 days; 15-20 minutes every day—the options are endless, and it’s all about finding what works best for you.

How can I easily add exercise into my schedule?

Simple Daily Exercise Hacks

Before you dive into adding in new chunks of time to your schedule to work out, there are a few simple things you can do to add more movement into your day:

  • Park far away from your location when going to the store, mall, etc. You can get extra steps in by walking further, and if you’re carrying a few bags, you also get some muscle strengthening in!
  • Use the stairs rather than the elevator (yes, even if you’re on the 6th floor!) This is a simple way to get your heart rate up with some daily cardio.
  • During your lunch break, take a quick walk outside if possible. This is great for stress management and getting a few extra steps in.
  • Put on some ankle weights while you run errands! This adds some resistance and additional cardiovascular training to something as simple as going to the grocery store.
  • Take your Zoom calls on the move—walk around the office, house or garden (but make sure your camera is turned off!)

Pick one or two of these to add as a new habit! It’s the little things done consistently over time that can make big changes to your health.

10-Minute Chair Yoga

Need to stretch a bit while you’re at work? Want to start small with bringing more physical movement into your day? Chair yoga is the perfect starting point. If you’re at work all day and aren’t able to really leave your desk, this guided chair yoga video will help you get moving!

Lunchtime Zumba Class

If you’re wanting to really move and groove, check out this high energy Zumba class! You can do this in your lunch break, during an afternoon slump, or anytime in your day that you’re wanting to shake out some movement.

Mini-Bodyweight Exercise Session

 The easiest way to get more muscle strengthening into your day is with bodyweight exercises. No equipment needed, just you! This includes pushups, sit ups, wall sits, lunges—and so much more. Use the video below to hit the major muscle groups all in 10 minutes!

Beyonce 10-Minute Walking Workout

 Do you want to get more steps in, but maybe your neighborhood isn’t conducive to walking? Or hey, maybe going for walks feels like a drag? If that sounds like you, check out this fun 10-minute Beyonce-themed workout to help you get more steps in!

Adding exercise into your schedule can feel like a huge feat, but in reality, taking a few extra minutes to move during your workday can simplify the process of getting physical activity into your daily routine. Remember: start with what you can manage! Some physical activity is always better than none—for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Carve out time for yourself or use a few of the simple tips and tricks we’ve shared with you to boost your health and wellness over time.

The 5-Minute Morning Routine for a Fantastic Day

“How you wake up each day dramatically affects your level of success in every single area of your life.” – Hal Elrod, Author

I listened to an interesting podcast on a 5-minute morning routine that anyone can implement and follow. The routine framework is based on Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s book: Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being.

Do you have a morning routine that is consistent and positive to kick off your day? Even if you do, read on for tips on how to make the most out of your morning coffee (or walk)…

Here are the highlights:

  • If you struggle with being consistent in the mornings, the goal isn’t about the routine but taking time for yourself to start the day GROUNDED. And believe it or not, 5 minutes is all you need to transition into the day.
  • We all know that changing behavior is hard so an easy way to implement a habit that will stick is via habit-stacking. According to Dr. BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits, stacking a new behavior on top of old ones will provide the impetus to do them. For example – use the time for brewing your morning cup-a-joe or taking the dog for a walk to do your 5-minute self-care ritual.

Here are the 3 Ms of the morning routine to include:  

M1: Mindfulness – 1-2 minutes:

  • Practice being in the present moment. The past or future are only ideas in your head. Enjoy the power of NOW.
  • Mindful breathing for 1-2 minutes is sufficient. Close your eyes. Notice your breath coming in and going out. Let thoughts and sounds come and go. Come back to the breath. Try some deep breaths – hold it and then exhale out. If you need guidance, try this video to follow along.
  • Even a minute of ‘falling still’ makes a difference in our lives.  Another falling still practice to try is to get sunshine on your face for 1-2 minutes to center the circadian rhythm for the rest of the day. 

M2: Movement – 1-2 minutes:

  • Do some squats while coffee is brewing. Or push ups if you are motivated.
  • The key is to wake up the body and get not only your blood flowing but also your lymphatic system. Unlike blood, our body does not have a pump for the lymphatic system so the primary way to move it is through exercise. Try squats, jumping jacks, push-ups or even dancing.
  • Here’s an exercise you can try. Grab a chair and practice getting up and sitting down without using your hands. Then try getting up with no hand movement and balancing on one foot.
  • Once you’ve mastered that, then try sitting down on the floor and getting up without using your hands to assist. This type of balance is key to longevity. This video shows how:

M3: Mindset – 1-2 minute:

  • For a positive mindset, try practicing gratitude. You can do this with journaling.
  • Or if you are not a fan of writing in journals, you can send a text or a short note and give gratitude to others. How about a nice memory of your time with a loved one and reminding them how much fun that was? Or thanking someone for a job well done – no matter how small.  
  • You can also read scripture, books, or whatever gets you into the positive mindset.

If you are worried that doing squats while walking the dog is going to look weird, remember what Dave Ramsey of The Ramsey Shows says: “If being broke is normal, I want to be weird for the rest of my life”. Weird is how you get to health – most of us are sedentary and overweight.  Our  population is sick and unhealthy – so we need to be weird. Gosh – how many times have I heard that? People think I’m nuts and beyond weird for all the things I’m doing to stay healthy and young. But my goal is to live well so that I can focus on the priorities in my life – family, leadership in business, friends and community.  

Try these techniques – you will notice how much impact 5 minutes can make to your day.  Remember that you have to come first so you can help others. Don’t jump into social media or into the priorities of others UNTIL you’ve taken time for your 5 minutes to ground yourself.

Here’s the podcast on the 5-minute morning routine.

¿Por qué es importante hacer ejercicio?

El ejercicio debería ser considerado como algo indispensable en la vida de cada persona, ya que no solo funciona como algo que nos ayuda a deshacernos del estrés, sino también previene problemas para la salud a largo plazo. 

No todos tienen el mismo gusto o motivación para realizar actividad física y por otro lado, hay personas que pueden llegar a obsesionarse pero al final todo se trata de tener balance. También es importante que tu médico pueda ayudarte a alcanzar un estilo de vida más saludable ya que todos los cuerpos son diferentes. 

Es sumamente importante que el ejercicio sea parte de la vida de los adultos, niños y adultos mayores, ya que en cada etapa de la vida este tiene muchos beneficios, incluso durante el embarazo es necesario seguir estando activa.  La actividad física no tiene que ser obligatoriamente enérgico, sino que puede ser algo que se adapte a tu rutina, como caminar. 

Recuerda que informarte junto a tu nutricionista sobre lo que necesitas comer para tener buenos niveles de energía al momento de hacer ejercicio juega un papel muy importante. 

¿Cuánto ejercicio es recomendable para obtener beneficios para la salud?

El Dr. Oscar Figueroa, profesor de medicina en la Universidad Francisco Marroquín, comenta que en términos generales es necesario hacer ejercicio al menos de 30 a 45 minutos a una frecuencia cardíaca  minutos, cinco días a la semana. Esto para tener un mayor pulso y ritmo cardiáco y evitar problemas de estrés. 

30 a 45 minutos por lo menos a una frecuencia cardíaca al 80 por ciento de su capacidad mxima al menos 4 a 5 veces a la semana. 

Añadió que la práctica de actividad física puede tener muchos beneficios para la salud, como disminuir el estrés y la ansiedad, disminuir el riesgo de obesidad, diabetes y enfermedades cardíacas, aumentar la energía,nos permite sentirnos más felices por la generación de endorfinas, nos ayuda a tener más flexibilidad y resistencia, incrementa los niveles de melatonina por lo que mejora el sueño y reduce efectos del envejecimiento.  

Tips para no desanimarte en el entrenamiento

  • Recuerda que toda actividad física va a compañada de una buena alimentación. Puedes acudir a un profesional para que te ayude con las dietas. 
  • Establece metas realistas y no te exijas más de lo que puedes dar, ya que esto puede desilucionarte o incluso causar alguna lesión. 
  • Busca un compañero de ejercicio que te motive a mantener la rutina. 
  • No olvides que debes concocer tu condición  física junto a tu médico para saber qué tipo de ejercicio es le mejor para ti y con qué intensidad debes hacerlo. Además,  te dará tranquilidad y más claridad en cuanto qué quieres lograr. 
  • Es importante tratar de dejar el teléfono celular a un lado cuando se está entrenando, ya que es un momento para enfocarte en ti sin ninguna distracción de por medio. 

Hacer ejercicio para prevenir la osteoporosis

¿Sabías que la osteoporosis y la osteopenia (baja masa ósea) afectan a más de 50 millones de estadounidenses y hacen que los huesos se debiliten y se vuelvan quebradizos? Para las mujeres mayores, es una de las principales causas de discapacidad. Por lo tanto, si te preocupa la salud de tus huesos y la prueba de densitometría ósea (Dexa scan) te dio un resultado bajo, sigue leyendo para averiguar qué tipo de ejercicio necesita para reducir el riesgo de desarrollar osteoporosis y minimizar los efectos negativos.

Un programa completo de ejercicios consiste en lo siguiente:

  • Entrenamiento de fuerza/resistencia
  • Actividades aeróbicas con carga de peso
  • Ejercicios de estiramiento y flexibilidad
  • Ejercicios de estabilidad y equilibrio.

Entrenamiento de fuerza/resistencia

El entrenamiento de fuerza implica el uso de pesas libres, máquinas, bandas de resistencia o incluso tu propio peso corporal para generar tensión muscular en los huesos y fortalecer todos los grupos musculares principales. Solo necesitas hacer estos ejercicios unas 2 o 3 veces por semana (no todos los días) para obtener los beneficios. Recuerda que la forma y la técnica adecuadas son importantes para prevenir lesiones, por lo que si eres nuevo/a en el entrenamiento de fuerza, es posible que desees consultar con un entrenador para que te ayude a comenzar. 

Actividades aeróbicas con carga de peso

Los ejercicios que soportan peso, como caminar, correr, escalar y bailar, son actividades en las que el peso de tu cuerpo trabaja contra la gravedad. Estos ejercicios actúan directamente sobre los huesos de las piernas, las caderas y la parte baja de la columna para disminuir la pérdida de minerales. También mejoran la circulación y la salud del corazón. Estos ejercicios deben realizarse de 5 a 7 días a la semana durante al menos 30 minutos diarios. También brindan beneficios cardiovasculares, que mejoran la salud del corazón y del sistema circulatorio. Los ejercicios aeróbicos como nadar y andar en bicicleta ofrecen muchos beneficios, pero no ofrecen la carga de soporte de peso para fortalecer los huesos. Entonces, si eres nadador y ciclista, asegúrate de incluir otras actividades aeróbicas para combinar.

Ejercicios de estiramiento y flexibilidad

Los ejercicios de estiramiento y posturales ayudan a mover las articulaciones en todo su rango de movimiento y disminuyen el estrés dañino en la espalda. Estos ejercicios se pueden realizar a lo largo del día para reforzar una buena postura y se deben realizar con delicadeza y sin rebotes.

Ejercicios de estabilidad y equilibrio.

Los ejercicios de estabilidad y equilibrio ayudan a reducir el riesgo de caídas y deben realizarse diariamente. ¿Sabías que más de una de cada cuatro personas mayores de 65 años se cae cada año? Los ejercicios de movimiento equilibrado como el tai chi o pararse sobre una pierna mejoran la fuerza y ​​el equilibrio de la zona media.

Precaución: si ya tienes osteoporosis, debes hablar con su médico sobre qué ejercicios son mejores para ti. Evita ejercicios de alto impacto como correr y saltar, que pueden provocar fracturas en los huesos debilitados. Además, los movimientos bruscos y el exceso de flexión y torsión (como el golf, el tenis, los bolos, algunas posturas de yoga) pueden provocar fracturas por compresión. 

5 Tips to Starting Off the New Year in a Healthy Fashion

I used to make New Year’s Resolutions every year until I realized that making promises at the beginning of the year which inevitably get broken within 90 days was not a sustainable habit. So, in light of the New Year, I’ll share some things you can do to take control of your health without a calendar to dictate your actions.

Cut the Carbs, Sugar & Bad Fats

One of the first things we can do is control what goes into our mouth. We as a society eat way too many carbs, sugar and bad fats. As you may be aware, chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity are all tied to our over-reliance on what has become the standard American diet. Have you noticed how having a high-carb/high-sugar meal makes you crave more snacks several hours later? These high-carb foods (breads, cereals, pastas, waffles, pancakes, cookies, cakes, pies) cause blood sugar fluctuations that lead to incessant carb cravings thereafter. So, what to do after weeks of eggnog, wine (of course – alcohol is formed from sugar), grandma’s pumpkin pie and that holiday feast with turkey, stuffing, and mac and cheese?

First, reduce your carb and sugar intake. This does not mean you have to go on a ketogenic diet as moderation is key as you transition from all the holiday festivities.

  • Get most of your carbs from plant-based sources, primarily non-starchy vegetables like greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage). You can add some fruit like apples and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and beets to up your carb intake but the key is to make greens and veggies the mainstay of your daily plate. And no need to count calories – eat until you are satisfied as these veggies are high in fiber and volume and low in calories. Also, eating a naturally fiber-rich diet will help with elimination and keep you ‘regular’.

  • Eliminate bad fats and add good ones.
    • Man-made fats that are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils like margarine should be avoided like the plague. If nature intended for humans to consume them, they would be naturally available. Also, vegetable oils (corn, soybean, canola, grapeseed, peanut, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower) are HIGHLY processed and READILY oxidized when exposed to light, air or heat. Oxidized or ‘rancid’ oils are NOT healthy for humans so it’s best to avoid them.
    • Healthy fats should be added to the diet – it sounds counter-intuitive for losing weight but healthy fats are necessary building blocks for cell membranes and for keeping hormones in balance. Non-animal sources of fat include avocados, avocado oil, nuts and nut butters, coconut and coconut oil, olives and olive oil. Animal sources include lard, grass-fed butter/ghee, grass-fed/wild-caught/pasture-raised meats and fish. 

Good Health Begins in the Gut

Good health = healthy gut = good intestinal bacteria. The human gut is home to more than 100 trillion micro-organisms and contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body. Recent studies suggest the role that the gut microbiome plays in regulating the risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer AND the importance of diet in altering the gut’s microbial composition. So to keep your gut flora healthy:

Manage stress levels as studies have shown that prolonged stress can negatively alter intestinal microbiota composition

Get Moving!

If you don’t have time to exercise, how about starting off with a daily 7-minute workout? This free app called 7M offers exercises for a variety of body parts and they are only 7 minutes long. They have options with weights or without so no need to invest in equipment to get going.

Here are two 7-minute high-intensity interval training workouts to try without downloading the app:

Take Time to Meditate/Reflect

You don’t need a 30-minute meditation or yoga practice to get your mindfulness quotient in. Upon waking, try a 5-minute breathing or meditation exercise. Here are a couple to try:

And before bed, try to reflect on the happenings of the day – what went well and what could be improved. This raises awareness of the positive things achieved in the day along with areas for improvement. Continuous improvement and learning is key to keeping us youthful and vibrant!

Practice Good Sleep Habits

And last but not least, establish a sleep rhythm that works for YOU as we all have different sleep clocks. I have tried to be an early riser (before 6:30am) SO many times but it’s not my optimal sleep clock and ends up making me more tired and run down. Against my better judgment, I woke up REALLY early (5:30am) over Thanksgiving holiday to go walking with my sister – although I got my steps in, I ended up with a head cold which lasted for weeks.

If you are an early morning person, you can do a lot of the important tasks early in the day. But if you’re like me and cannot get going until around 7am after a stiff cup of coffee, you may be more prone to get some productive work done well into the evening.

So, in addition to when you sleep, determine how much sleep you need to feel optimal – some feel fantastic after just six hours but if you’re like me, you will need at least 7-8 hours to survive the next day.

So, how about a New Year’s plan of consistency, moderation and steady improvement to keep you going and going? Happy Holidays!

Exercising to Prevent Osteoporosis

Did you know that osteoporosis and osteopenia (low bone mass) affects more than 50 million Americans and causes bones to become weak and brittle? For older women, it is a major cause of disability. So, if you are concerned about your bone health and tested low on the bone density scan (Dexa scan), read on to find out what types of exercise you need to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and minimize the negative effects.

A complete exercise program consists of the following:

  • Strength/resistance training
  • Weight-bearing aerobic activities
  • Stretching and flexibility exercises
  • Stability and balance exercises


Strength/resistance training

Strength training involves the use of free weights, machines, resistance bands or even your own body weight to generate muscle tension on the bones and strengthen all the major muscle groups. You only need to do these exercises about 2-3 times a week (not daily) to get the benefits. Remember that proper form and technique are important to prevent injury so if you are new to strength training, you may want to consult with a trainer to help get you started. You don’t need a lot of heavy weights either – when not at the gym, I use the 5-15 pound dumbbells or resistance bands at home to get a great workout.

Here are some to try at home:

I like this 20-minute full body workout because it has no repeats – if you are not a fan of weight training like me, this one is for you:

If you have resistance bands, try this 30 minute full body workout:

Here’s one that requires no equipment so very travel friendly:

Weight-bearing aerobic activities

Weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, climbing, and dancing are activities where the weight of your body is working against gravity. These exercises work directly on the bones of your legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss. They also boost circulation and heart health. These exercises should be done 5-7 days a week for at least 30 minutes daily. They also provide cardiovascular benefits, which boost heart and circulatory system health. Aerobics like swimming and biking offer many benefits but they don’t offer the weight-bearing load to strengthen bones. So, if you are a swimmer and biker, make sure to include other aerobic activities to mix it up.


Stretching and flexibility exercises

Stretching and postural exercises help move your joints through their full range of motion and decrease harmful stress on the back. These exercises can be performed throughout the day to reinforce good posture and should be done gently and without bouncing.

Here are some exercises to incorporate:

(to improve posture and balance)

Stability and balance exercises

Stability and balance exercises help reduce the risk of falling and these should be performed daily. Did you know that more than one in four people over the age of 65 fall each year? Balanced movement exercises like tai chi or standing on one leg improve core strength and equilibrium.  Here are some easy options to try:

A 10 minute tai chi with relaxing music to try:

How about a Qi Gong morning routine? Qi Gong is a mind-body-spirit practice that integrates posture, movement, breathing and focused intent:

A word of caution – If you already have osteoporosis, you should talk with your doctor about what exercises are best for you. You should avoid high-impact exercises like running and jumping which can lead to fractures in weakened bones. Also, jerky movements and excess bending and twisting (like golf, tennis, bowling, some yoga poses) can lead to compression fractures so when in doubt, be the turtle, not the hare.

Don’t Go Breaking Your Heart – Myth-busting and Top Tips for a Healthier Heart

I recently listened to a healthy heart masterclass sponsored by the Food Revolution Network where Dr. Mimi Guarneri, a holistic cardiologist, shares tips on how to prevent or reverse heart disease without relying solely on drugs, surgeries or stents. So, in this blog, I’ll highlight the top myths along with health tips to keep your blood pumping machine in optimal condition.

Myth #1:

  • Your genes are not your destiny. Did you know that 90% of heart disease is related to lifestyle? And because these lifestyle and environmental factors are passed down from previous generations, you see family histories of heart disease. 
  • And according to Dr. Dean Ornish who is a proponent of a plant-based diet, four out of five cases of coronary atherosclerosis can be reversed using diet, exercise, meditation and group support. I’m personally a fan of the pegan or flexitarian diet (mostly vegetables and fruits but occasional meat and fish consumption) which is considered mostly plant-based.
  • Age and genetics do not seal your fate. You’re never too old to adopt new habits in spite of what all the old, ‘not-so-wise’ sayings indicate. Based on this Johns Hopkins study, conducted on 6,000 atherosclerosis patients aged from 44-84 years old, healthy lifestyle changes decreased risk of death by 80% no matter what age group they were in. 

Myth #2:

  • There is more evidence pointing to the lack of evidence on dietary cholesterol as the main risk factor in heart disease. In fact, up to 75% of people who experience heart attacks have what’s considered normal cholesterol levels.
  • Read my earlier blog on the role that cholesterol has in heart disease:
  • In order to avoid or reverse heart disease, you need to consider all pillars of health (nutrition, exercise, mind and sleep) and stop focusing on just a number that is not even a good predictor of heart disease.

Myth #3:

  • According to Dr. Guarneri, if medicine took care of heart disease, it wouldn’t be killing eight million people every year. She states that 92% of first heart attacks are totally preventable.
  • Medications can decrease heart disease risk but they are almost never as effective as sustainable and lasting lifestyle changes.
  • Addressing root causes of heart disease is what’s important, not reducing symptoms with medications.

Heart Health Tips #1:

  • Eat more of the right omega oils (omega 3) like oily fish and fish oil to get the right balance.
  • You need omega-6 oils but we consume way too much with oils like corn, safflower, soy, sunflower and canola and these processed vegetable oils create a pro-inflammatory response in our bodies.
  • The best vegetarian sources of omega-3 oils are flax seeds and chia seeds which should be ground up prior to consumption so they are digested properly.
  • Of the three types of Omega 3s (ALA, EPA, DHA), ALA is found in flax and chia seeds but EPA and DHA are mainly found in fish and algae. And your body needs all three, so if you don’t like the idea of consuming oily fish, you can opt for algae. Here’s my favorite that’s been tested to be free of heavy-metals:

Heart Health Tip #2

  • White flour, sugar and other processed foods cause inflammation and increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • When consuming grains, opt for whole grain to ensure you’re also getting the soluble fiber and the phytonutrients.
  • Pseudo-grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth are good options.
  • I’m personally not a fan of a lot of whole grain consumption – eating a bowl of whole grain pasta will make my glucose monitor sing but when eaten sparingly, it’s fine.

Heart Health Tip #3

  • Dr. Guarneri suggests to NOT eat red or processed meat. Although I agree with avoiding processed meat which is high in salt, nitrates and other additives, I think eating clean, grass-fed meat in small portions should be ok if you are generally healthy and want to avoid heart disease.

Heart Health Tip #4

  • If you don’t visit the dentist regularly for oral check-ups and cleaning, you should know that periodontal (gum) disease is related to heart disease. Evidence has shown that bacteria in the mouth that causes gum disease travels to the heart and triggers inflammation in the blood vessels and increases your cardiovascular disease risk.
  • So keep up the daily flossing, Waterpik (which I love) and the bi-annual visits to the dentist.

Heart Health Tip #5

  • Did you know that evidence shows that emotional intelligence plays a significant role in the occurrence of coronary heart disease? When you experience feelings like anger and hostility, you can increase your risk of heart attack by more than 200%!
  • It’s important to be in loving relationships with family and friends as it will have a physical impact on your heart health.
  • Make sure to take actions to support your emotional well-being with mind care (yoga, meditation, etc.) and positive social interactions.

Heart Health Tip #6

Heart Health Tip #7

  • Dr. Guarneri suggests dancing as an excellent form of exercise as it’s not only great physical movement but the music and the rhythms elicit positive emotional responses which are great for the heart.
  • If you prefer regular exercise over dance, keep it up 3-5x per week and make sure to include aerobics, strength training and stretching into the regimen.
  • Remember – variety, frequency and FUN are key to a sustainable program of movement.

Heart Health Tip #8

  • Did you know that more than 70% of all visits to the doctor are related to stress? And research shows that chronic stress can raise your blood pressure, cause inflammation and increase your risk of a heart attack.
  • Engaging in activities like yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises can calm your heart and your brain.
  • I like Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing exercise to shift the energy balance to a peaceful state:

Heart Health Tips #9

  • The journey is as important as the destination so focus on progress with small, tangible steps that you CAN do that will become a habit over the long term.

To learn more about this masterclass visit:

Weekend Warrior Injury Prevention and Management: Part 2

As we age, our mind may say ‘yes’ but our body says ‘no’. If you love sports and activities but mostly enjoy them at the weekend, you may be a Weekend Warrior. In this blog, I will highlight some nutritional and supplement tips for injury prevention and management. You don’t have to stop doing what you love if you take stock of what your body is telling you and give it the TLC it needs to regenerate and repair.


Did you know that this enzyme that comes from pineapples is used as a meat tenderizer to break down the connective tissues that makes meat tough? If you want to tenderize a cut of meat fast, make a marinade with some pineapple – it will make the chewy cuts of meat more enjoyable. Bromelain’s enzyme action has been touted and widely used as a natural remedy for improving digestion and reducing inflammation. There’s a lot of scientific evidence (more than 70 studies) evaluating the benefits of bromelain on a variety of conditions including connective tissues injuries, ACL tears, sprained ankles, tendonitis, joint pain and arthritis. In this study, oral bromelain supplementation was as effective as a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug in reducing pain, swelling and quality of life. 

Bromelain is safe for most people but if you are on blood-thinning medication or supplements, it may increase the risk of bleeding so get the ‘ok’ from your doctor before supplementing. Here’s one to try:


Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and vital to our health as it gives strength and elasticity to our bones, muscles, tendons and skin. As we age, our body naturally loses collagen which leads to sagging skin and achy joints. Your body needs collagen to heal and repair damaged tissue. In this study, daily supplementation with collagen peptides improved skin elasticity while improving joint function and general wellbeing. To get collagen from food, try adding beef or chicken bone broth to your diet. I use it as a cooking base in the winter for soups and stews. I prefer to make my own and store in freezable containers. Here’s a simple recipe:

If you decide to supplement, opt for the multi-collagen variety. Our body has over 15 types of collagen in the body so you want the most comprehensive collagen available in supplemental form. Here’s my favorite:


This essential mineral is involved in over 300 chemical processes in our body to support bone health and aid in the healing of connective tissues and muscles. Magnesium also impacts your muscles’ ability to contract and relax so it’s great for relieving cramps and pain. In this study, even one week of magnesium supplementation showed improvements in muscle soreness and pro-inflammatory responses after strenuous exercise.

 Some magnesium rich foods include spinach, avocado, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate. If you need a supplement, opt for a type which has multiple forms. I use this one as it contains all seven forms of magnesium.

MSM, Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Most often sold in a combination, these three are natural components of connective tissues and support and restore cartilage tissue and joints. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a great source of sulfur which is critical to the proteins of muscle tissues, bones and joints. Glucosamine is a simple carbohydrate that is used to synthesize cartilage tissue and chondroitin is formed from glucosamine.  Chondroitin is responsible for structuring the connective tissue and providing strength to cartilage, ligaments and bones. These three compounds are produced in sufficient quantities in young and healthy bodies but slow down as we age which result in loss of strength and elasticity.

It is recommended that the compounds are taken together as they reinforce each other’s actions. This controlled trial shows the clinical benefit that the combination of MSM, glucosamine-chondroitin has on osteoarthritis patients.

Here are two to try:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Often called essential fatty acids (EFAs) as our body is not capable of producing its own so we need to consume it in food or supplement form. There is plenty of well-established evidence on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for supporting cardiovascular, skin and mental health, but did you know that EFAs are as effective as NSAIDS in reducing arthritis pain?  

The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are from cold water fatty fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies which can be consumed twice a week for optimal health benefits. If you are not a fan of fish or prefer to supplement, here are two high-dosage products that have been tested for freshness and purity.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fishoil-1.png


Known as a super spice and widely used as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, the active compounds in turmeric, curcuminoids, have also been frequently studied for their impact on joint pain. Turmeric helps heal and repair damaged tissues so the spice should be an integral part of your diet. If you’re like me and don’t cook with turmeric often, you can opt for the supplement form – look for ones that contain bioperine (ingredient in black pepper) to optimize bioavailability. Here’s one to try:

Vitamin C

An essential micronutrient, vitamin C aids in healing and is a potent antioxidant that reduces inflammation and provides immunity by supporting cellular function. There are numerous studies on the role of vitamin C to support immunity. In this randomized clinical trial, high-dose vitamin C (2,000mg/daily) and E (1,400mg/daily) reduced muscle damage and inflammatory responses in athletes.

There are so many ways to get vitamin C into the diet but if you need more than 1,500mg, you can supplement with pure ascorbic acid powder. It is inexpensive but as it can give you disaster pants on too high of a dosage, take it slow until your body can tolerate it (bowel tolerance = until you get the runs). Or if you don’t want the hassle, take the liposomal vitamin C which is more expensive but coated to prevent intestinal discomfort with good bioavailability. I take the more economical powder form at home and add it to my shake but have the liposomal capsules on hand for travel. Here are a couple to try:

Pure ascorbic powder:

Liposomal Vitamin C: