Dry Brushing Your Skin

While at my Sister’s house on Christmas Eve this last year, I saw a woman whom I know, who looked fantastic. When I asked her what had she been doing to look so good, she said that she had been working with a nutritionist who had her on a strict diet, supplement regimen and she was dry brushing her skin every day. I had never heard of dry brushing before. She said she did it twice a day which took about 45 extra minutes to get ready in the morning.

When she first explained what it was, my first reaction was how self-indulgent. But I went home and did some research on it and was sufficiently intrigued to try it. I have been dry brushing for about a month now for only 5 minutes once a day before my shower and I can tell you it is a fantastic thing.

Below are seven benefits you can expect from dry brushing your skin:

1. Stimulates Your Lymphatic System
In your body, your lymphatic system is the system responsible for eliminating cellular waste products. Hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules allow waste to be collected from your tissues and transported to your blood for elimination, a process referred to as lymphatic drainage.
When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick. Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. By stimulating your lymphatic system and helping it release toxins, dry skin brushing is a powerful detoxification aid.

2. Exfoliation
Dry skin brushing removes dead dry skin, improving appearance, clearing your clogged pores, and allowing your skin to “breathe.”

3. Increases Circulation
When you dry brush your skin, it increases circulation to your skin, which encourages the elimination of metabolic waste.

4. Reduces Cellulite
Dry skin brushing may help to soften hard fat deposits below the skin while distributing fat deposits more evenly. This may help to diminish the appearance of cellulite.
Dry brushing is also said to help reduce cellulite by removing toxins that may break down connective tissue, although some believe the effect is temporary (and mostly a result of skin become more plump and swollen after brushing).

5. Stress Relief
The act of dry brushing has been described as meditative (especially if you do it in a quiet space) and may reduce muscle tension, calm your mind, and relieve stress. Many compare it to a light whole-body massage.

6. Improves Digestion and Kidney Function
Dry skin brushing may go even deeper, helping to support your digestion and organ function.

7. It’s Invigorating
I have become “addicted” to dry skin brushing (in a good way) because it simply feels so good. Along with glowing and tighter skin, I feel invigorated after a quick 5 minute session.

Dry Brushing your skin is very simple to do and there are many internet resources and YouTube videos to show you exactly how to do it.

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First you’ll need a high-quality dry brush. Look for one with bristles made from natural materials. They should feel stiff but not overly so. Ideally, choose a brush with a long handle so you can reach your entire back and other hard-to-reach spots.

Dry skin brushing should be done daily for best results, or even twice a day if you like. Try incorporating it into your normal daily routine, such as brushing before your morning shower and then again after work (avoid doing it too close to bedtime, as it may leave you feeling energized).

When brushing, always brush toward your heart, which is best for circulation and your lymphatic system. You can brush your entire body (including the soles of your feet). Start at your feet and work your way up your legs to your arms, chest, back, and stomach. Avoid brushing your face (unless you have a special brush designed for this delicate skin), your genitals, or any areas with irritations or abrasions (including varicose veins).

The pressure you apply while brushing your skin should be firm but not painful (avoid “scrubbing”). Your skin should be pink after a session (not red or irritated) and you can brush for as long (or as little) as you’d like. An average dry brushing session may last between two and 20 minutes.

Science Behind Health

With the start of each new year come many health claims. Frequently they promote this diet or that: low carb, no carb, high protein, no fat and so on. What has started to change is incorporating science into these trends. Here’s some of the latest from David Zinczenko, the author of the, “Eat This, Not That” series and of the new book, “Zero Belly Fat”:

healthy-food

Take a brisk walk before breakfast: exposure to sunlight in the morning reduces weight gain by synchronizing your metabolism. You’re also burning calories in a fasted state.

Start the morning with oatmeal. It contains insoluble fiber which reduces cholesterol and helps control hunger. It also produces butyrate, which reduces inflammation.

Choose red fruit over green. The higher level of flavonoids calm the fat storage genes. Add avocados to your diet: they add healthy unsaturated fats, fight hunger and prevent the storage of belly fat. Make protein shakes with plant protein, which reduce hunger and supply ample nutrients without the inflammation issues associated with commercial shakes.  Add eggs to your diet. They contain choline, which fights your body’s trigger to store fat.

Drink lots of water embellished with citrus fruit: anti-oxidants which help flush toxins out of your body.

Make your own trail mix. Many health benefits from fruits and nuts and seeds. Without additives from commercial products.

Mini workouts can be as effective or more than trying to find hours to commit to exercise.

Try to get as much of your vitamin and mineral intake from food rather than supplements. Mega-dosing can trigger fat genes.

For dessert: try blackberries and chocolate. Anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Eat wild salmon over farmed. Mostly omega 3’s and minimal less-healthy omega 6’s. Eat real peanut butter over commercially processed brands. Contains genistein, reducing the body’s ability to store fat.

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Eat a big, green leafy salad before a meal. It fills you up with the good stuff so you eat less of the not-so-good stuff.

Fad trends and diets are becoming a thing of the past. Good advice based on science is becoming more vocal and in the forefront. Seems sensible and about time.

Interpreting My Test Results

Blood-Test

I recently viewed my most recent lab results on my health care website and wondered what the results meant. I could have called my doctor and found out what each test result meant but I didn’t want to be charged for my doctor’s time so I went online and found a website called Lab Tests Online which gives information about each test and what they diagnose or evaluate. Below are the results of some of the markers of my blood test and a couple of explanations about what each marker means. The results indicate that in all areas I am in the acceptable ranges. Hopefully if anything were way out of wack, I would have heard from my physician. I won’t bore you with the all of my results but it is good to know that if you want to have a clearer understanding of your health and what your test results mean it is easy to access online.

White Blood Cell Count  

My Result 7.0  Standard Range 4.16 – 9.95

The White blood cell count (WBC) is used as part of a full complete blood count (CBC)
screen for a wide range of diseases and conditions including diagnosing an infection or
inflammatory process. It helps to determine the presence of other diseases that affect
WBCs such as allergies, leukemia or immune disorders. It monitors the body’s response
to various treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy that are known to affect WBCs.

Red Blood Cell Count  

My Result 4.42  Standard Range 3.96 – 5.09

Red blood cells circulate in the blood and carry oxygen throughout the body. They are produced in the bone marrow and then released into the bloodstream as they mature. RBCs have a typical lifespan of about 120 days and are continuously renewed and replaced as they age and degrade or are lost through bleeding. A relatively stable number of RBCs is maintained in the circulation by increasing or decreasing the rate of production by the bone marrow.

Some conditions affect RBC production and may cause an increase or decrease in the number of mature RBCs released into the blood circulation. Other conditions may affect the lifespan of RBCs in circulation, especially if the RBCs are deformed due to an inherited or acquired defect or abnormality. If RBCs are lost or destroyed faster than they can be replaced, if bone marrow production is disrupted, or if the RBCs produced do not function normally, then a person will become anemic, which affects the amount of oxygen reaching tissues.

If too many RBCs are produced and released, then a person can develop polycythemia. This can cause decreased blood flow and related problems.

Hemoglobin  

My Result 12.6   Standard Range 11.6 – 15

The hemoglobin test may be used to screen for, diagnose, or monitor a number of conditions and diseases that affect red blood cells (RBCs) and/or the amount of hemoglobin in blood. It is often used with a hematocrit as a quick evaluation of the number of RBCs or is performed as part of a complete blood count (CBC) as an integral part of a health evaluation.

Hematocrit  

My Result 38.5%  Standard Range 34.9 – 45.2%

The hematocrit may be used to screen for, diagnose, or monitor a number of conditions and diseases that affect the proportion of the blood made up of red blood cells (RBCs). It is often used with a hemoglobin level as a simple and quick evaluation of RBCs or is performed as part of a complete blood count (CBC) as an integral part of a health evaluation.  This test screens for, diagnoses, and evaluates the severity of anemia and dehydration.

Mixing Up The Exercise Routine

As we get older, it is highly recommended that as active adults we vary our exercise routine. Although we may have favored running or biking, skiing or tennis in our younger years, over time the wear and tear on our body parts encourages us to mix it up to make the best of what we have moving forward.

For me, after many years of running and while training for my first (and only) marathon, I found that I had a moderate wear-and-tear injury to my right knee. Formally known as osteoarthritis, but more commonly understood by me as a deterioration of my meniscus due to poor alignment (who knew?), I really had no choice but to modify my exercise regime.

Physical Therapy

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Attending appointments with my physical therapist 2 times per week, I learned to strengthen the muscles around my compromised knee, adjust my poor knee alignment and work on my balance. I now do these exercises on my own at home, 3 days per week.

Treadmill

This was my exercise of choice before my injury and it continues to be after my injury. However, I cannot rely solely on this. I have reduced my use of the treadmill for my cardio training to less than 50% of my weekly routine.

Stationary Bike

I purchased a stationary bike after getting serious about my knee injury. The truth is, if I ignore the knee, I will end up with a knee replacement. I am too young for that. So an offset to the treadmill is a stationary bike. I prefer the recumbent style and I am able to get a similar workout as I would on the treadmill but with less stress on my knee.

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Pilates

I recently started taking a Pilates class twice each week. Pilates is excellent in improving core strength, which I sorely need. I found a studio nearby and work with an apprentice trainer for a reduced hourly fee. This works a completely different set of skills and muscles than my other exercises and improves my posture and presence in every moment. I love it!

Hiking

One or two days each week I trade my indoor equipment for outdoor. I absolutely love hiking and being in nature and I exercise while hiking trails in my local mountains. It feels like there is absolutely no work involved and it can be a great social activity when I hike with friends or family.

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Yoga

Another addition to my work out regimen in the recent past has been yoga. I have taken classes at a local studio that I like and I also have several home yoga videos for beginners that I have yet to try. I like the peaceful, stretching movements of yoga and the bits of meditation. The benefits I receive from yoga last long after I leave a class. I plan to work yoga back into my weekly routine not only for the exercise benefits but also for the peace of mind I receive from it.

Just For Fun

Occasionally I also play tennis, take long neighborhood walks or walks in my local park, downhill ski and attempt to play golf! All of these activities complement my regular routine and not only help me balance taking care of my body, but are a lot of fun. Raquetball? Basketball? Zumba? The list of possibilities is endless. I hope to add more interesting and active choices to my routine in the coming year.

An Anti-Aging Secret

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I have a beauty secret. It is something I have been doing for about 20 years now and I am convinced it is one of the major reasons I look younger than my age. It is facials. I started getting facials when a girlfriend mentioned that she was getting them and her skin was and still is like peaches and cream. She referred me to her facialist who was an older man that was retired from working in the movie industry and was giving facials out of his home. I went to him for about 6 years until he retired again and moved away. Then I was referred to another aesthetician by my hairdresser and was diligent about going to her every 8 weeks until she decided to go out of the business and concentrate on doing only makeup.

I felt a little lost and went about trying to find another facialist for about three months and after trying different ones, found Camille at Skin Addiks in Studio City.

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Although Camille never pushes products or therapies on her clients, I have found as I have gotten older that my skin is needing some additional attention. So I have started going to her every four weeks rather than spreading it out to eight weeks and have undergone some more intense facial therapies. I find it to be a more pleasurable alternative and a lot less expensive to going under the knife for cosmetic surgery. Besides I believe once you start experimenting with expensive injections and surgery it is addictive and a slippery slope.

I never have been someone who has been diligent about getting manicures or other personal care procedures other than getting a hair cut and color every six weeks. But facials are something I swear by and will continue until maybe I get to an age that I won’t care anymore what my face looks like.

Fitness Tools

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I have discovered some new and interesting fitness tools over the past several years while working with my arthritic knee and IT band injury. Now I can’t live without them.

Once you reach 30 years old, you start to lose muscle mass. One way to offset this is through weight training. I use hand weights to perform upper body training. For the seated exercises, I sit on the inflated blue ball for core strengthening and challenge for my balance.

The thick blue rubber band I found during my physical therapy training. It creates significant resistance while worn around both ankles or around the knees in lower body exercises that build alternate muscles to take pressure off the ones I am overusing.

The blue inflated disk is for balance. Since my balance is weak, standing on the disk with one foot for longer and longer periods of time helps me strengthen my balance, my core strength and posture. It’s fun to do and I have improved greatly over time.

The purple dog leash is used to stretch hamstrings. It provides an amazing stretch and ability to control and push the stretch by pulling on the leash. You can get this tool from a fitness store but if you have a dog leash, it works just as well.

The black tube is hard PVC-like pipe, covered in softer foam. Using this to roll on with problematic areas helps loosen them. I found this tool from Trigger Point and I use it to roll my IT band on. It’s painful but it works! When I travel, I take a tennis ball to use for the same purpose.

I use these tools 3 times each week as part of my normal exercise regimen. They not only help me build alternate muscles and improve my alignment and overall condition, but they also help me preserve my joints and supplement my injury prone areas. Working out smarter as I get older rather than harder is what I need to do. And these tools help me do it.

Scientific 7 Minute Workout

I am always looking for a quick way to stay fit when I travel. So I was happy to come across this Scientific 7 Minute Workout and the Advanced 7 Minute Workout in the New York Times recently. It is a series of high-intensity interval training exercises, similar to the ones I do three times a week in Bootcamp but instead of an hour it is done in a few minutes. There has been a lot of research of late reporting that seven minutes or so of relatively punishing training may produce greater gains than an hour of more gentle exercise. They are designed to increase endurance, squelch appetite, improve metabolic and cardiovascular health. The New York Times is offering a free mobile app that is a step-by-step guide to both 7-minute workouts. It has animated pictures similar to the ones below along audio and a great timer.

To download the app, on your phone, tablet or other device, go to nytimes.com/7minute-workout.

Scientific 7 Minute Workout

7-minute-workout

Advanced 7 Minute Workout

Advanced 7 Minute Workout

In addition whenever my Pilates clients are traveling, I instruct them to do the Pilates Five. They are the five Pilates moves that if done everyday will give you a flat tummy and strong core. These can be done in about 5 minutes.

The Roll Up

Roll Up

Single Leg Stretch

Single leg stretch

Double Leg Stretch

Double Leg Stretch
Scissors

ScissorsCriss Cross

Criss Cross

Pilates at Any Age

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As we grow older, our bodies can really benefit from a daily dose of healthy movement with emphasis on proper alignment. With its focus on controlled breathing and quality of movement, not quantity of repetitions, many experts agree that Pilates is one of the best ways for older adults to stay healthy. Pilates is perfect for older adults because it does not have the impact on the body that other forms of exercise do, and is not nearly as severe on the joints as other workouts. I have been teaching and doing Pilates 2-3 times a week for eight years and it is only recently how much I have come to realize the enormous payoff of this incredible exercise method. Joseph Pilates believed that if we maintain a strong core and flexible spine that we enhance our lives as we age and continue to have a youthful and healthy appearance. I have worked with clients who started their Pilates Journey with all kinds of physical limitations, such as hip replacements, scoliosis, injuries from high impact exercise regimens and pregnancy. It has been extremely gratifying for me to see their transformations after a couple of series of 10 Pilates sessions.

I decided to become a certified Pilates instructor after I retired from a career in Corporate Marketing. I really had no clue what I was getting myself into but I thought since I had done Yoga for about 10 years, how hard could it be. I did not expect Pilates to be as challenging as it was. Not only did I have to learn a whole new language of Anatomy and how the body moves in space but I also had to master the exercise regimen. There are over 400 different exercises in the Pilates repertoire both on equipment and on the Mat. We had to know how to do each exercise properly, the name of each exercise, the breathing pattern and the muscles that each exercise works. It
wasn’t until I started teaching that I learned how to transfer that knowledge in helping my clients transform and heal their bodies. I learned how good cuing really helped clients understand each exercise, the muscles they are working & why we focus on proper alignment and breathing when doing each exercise rather than repetitions.

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After working at a studio near my home for about 3 years, I decided to open my own studio and give private and semi-private lessons.Pilates3
I don’t work as a Pilates instructor as much as I would like because my husband & I are still traveling quite a bit but I have enough clients to keep me in the game and still work on my own Pilates journey. It is an exercise that I plan on doing for the rest of my life.

How Many Calories Burned During Sex

Well Being
If you have ever wondered how many calories you burn during sex, I recently came across the following excerpt written by Professor Richard Smith in his book The Dieter’s Guide to Weight Loss During Sex.

How much energy is consumed while making love? If you consider that two hours of golf uses 71 calories, while simulating a convincing orgasm for 19 seconds uses 160, you can see that sex is the more enjoyable and more effective form of exercise and with a little care you can even practice outside. Weather permitting.

Whoever starts well is half way there, so let’s start with personal care: taking a shower uses 8 calories – 2 more than having a bath – and drying your hair with a hairdryer uses 3. If, however, you let your hair dry in the wind, you need 348 calories.

Getting your home ready – plumping up the cushions, lighting the candles, scattering some poetry books here and there to show that you are not only excited by spicy sauces – will use 42 calories, while trying to put your partner at ease can range from 248 calories required to listen to Wagner up to 1573 for reading “War and Peace” without interruption. If you relax by playing an instrument like the trumpet you will use 26 calories. 320 without the mouthpiece.

At this point you will be feeling more at ease and you could start to get a bit more intimate, trying to seduce your partner: if you are rich you’ll use 5 calories, but if you’re poor you’ll spend 164.

For a delicate kiss you need about 10 calories, 17 for a more impetuous one and 18 for a french kiss. If you give a french kiss with your mouth closed you will use 239 calories.

To stroke your partner 10 calories are sufficient, 17 to give them a massage and 19 to embrace them: see for yourself.

To get undressed in the summer you use 3 calories, but in the winter you need 25. And if in colder weather you try to remove a pair of pantyhose without having removed your trousers first you’ll use a good 375 calories. Add 100 to that if you succeed.

A basic striptease uses about 55 calories, a belly dance 100, discovering your partner was better-dressed 10 calories and finding out your partner is the wrong sex 100. If the discovery does not shock you, you will use a quarter of that.

Even oral sex has its place: on average the task requires 27 calories. 200 if you are very cold.

Sudden and unexpected feelings like embarrassment or disappointment (such as “that’s it?”) consume energy too: between 15 and 60 calories.

Deciding on which position is important too: Professor Smith correctly underlines the fact that the Royal Academy of Tibet counts more than 860 positions, but if you are a bit arthritic and you’ve had a bit too much wine you will find that 859 of these can not be practiced. However, average consummation varies from 20 to 40 calories to which you can add even more if you make love somewhere other than in bed: 38 on the saddle of a Vespa, 24 close to the aisle in an airplane or 100 in the toilet, 50 in a hammock, 14 if you are standing up in a telephone booth and 274 if you are lying down.

Chuckling burns 7 calories, cheering your partner on 22 and giving them a Hi-five, 78.

Changing position will make you use 16.

Erotic fantasies can use between 15 and 35 calories.

And finally… the orgasm! A real one uses 27 calories, faked 160. Just before it you will use 500, and just after only a quarter of a calorie .

And you might fall asleep: if it happens after making love you will consume 18 calories, but if you fall asleep during, 32. If you fall asleep in the kitchen, 5 calories.

Cleanliness is next to godliness: if you feel like taking a shower afterwards, you will consume 7 calories if alone, 12 if you shower with your partner, 187 if the heater breaks
down.

With all this energy expended just to have sex, it’s a miracle the human race isn’t just too exhausted to procreate.

Osteoarthritis

I have been a runner, on and off, most of my life. I loved running track as a child, tried cross country in high school and ran for recreation and exercise on my own into adulthood. But while training for a marathon in 2007, I suddenly experienced severe pain in my right knee. I had made it in training to the 20+ mile mark, but the subsequent week at mile 7 the pain came on out of nowhere.

Being very competitive, I was not giving up on the marathon. I went to top sports medicine doctors, had xrays, physical therapy and got a steroid injection in my knee. It was suggested that I had IT (Iliotibial) Band Syndrome so I rested it and treated it accordingly.

What happened in the marathon is in the marathon post (Inspiration-archives). What happened after the marathon is: I continued physical therapy, saw the sports medicine doctor but I never returned to running. My knee would go out now at 3 miles instead of 7. I got frustrated and turned to walking and hiking instead of running.

Fast forward 5 years. Raelene asks me if I want to try a new Bootcamp exercise class. I join with her and absolutely love it. Intense cardio and weight circuit training. Fun. However about 2 months in they add short bouts of running which they increase each week. Shortly thereafter my knee pain returns and I am sidelined.

Following a recommendation from the Bootcamp director, I crazily let a woman try to break up my IT band knots through forced massage. I am black and blue. Around the same time I am in the pediatric sports medicine office with another one of my children’s injuries when it occurs to me to speak to this doctor who we really like and have been using for almost 10 years. He can’t believe I haven’t been able to run for so long or that I’ve been massaged until I’m black and blue (which apparently doesn’t work). He has me stand up straight and then bend my knees. And he tells me my alignment looks off. Then he sends me for an MRI.

Diagnoses: Osteoarthritis, often known as “wear and tear” injury, affects millions of people around the world. Essentially it is the wearing down of the cartilage between bones as the result of time (age), excessive weight or injury. There is no known cure and it progressively worsens over time.

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The good news: I happened to be at the right doctor at the right time to get innovative treatment. Injections into the space where the cartilage has worn down of Hyaluronic Acid, a natural plant-based substance (Euflexxa brand), cushions and protects the joint. And over the past few years that I have been receiving it, insurance companies have begun to accept it as a normal (not experimental) procedure and to pay for it.

The upsides of this treatment are many: if you’re a candidate, this treatment can stave off further deterioration or eventual surgery – for me, knee replacement. It lasts for about 6 months before being absorbed in the body. It’s natural (Euflexxa) and not chemical. After the injections, my knee feels great and pain free. I can do many activities that I wouldn’t be able to do without it.

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Downsides? Relative to the benefits, minimal. The injections are a series of 3 – one per week for 3 weeks. If you don’t like needles injected into the affected joint space, that would be a downside. I don’t like it per se, but it’s worth it. You will likely be sore for a day or two and are recommended to rest the joint during that time. Additionally if your insurance doesn’t cover the procedure, it’s not inexpensive. I can’t quote it here because it will depend on the doctor, but it’s in the several thousands versus several hundreds.

For me, it’s been a miracle. Like getting a new knee every 6 months. And I’m not limited in what I can do – even trying to run again. Although I am now better educated on alignment, joints, aging and the “wear and tear” on our bodies over time, I’m not ready to give up or become sedentary. And thank goodness, I don’t have to.