Tag Archives: exercise

Happy new year/happy autumn

September is my favorite month. I love the transition between summer and fall: from bright hot sunny days , lazy schedules, family vacations, experimenting with all foods on the grill(I  even mastered pizza on the grill this summer!) to cool, crisp sunny days, perfect sleeping weather, earlier sunsets, “back to school”  routines and a feeling of new beginnings.

I can’t help but think of September as the start of a new year of sorts. After all,  the start of the new school year has formed the rhythm of my life since 1958(I know, I am definitely dating myself!), for myself and then my children. And I am not alone in thinking of September as the beginning of the new year. Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year, falls during this month. Just 2 years ago I met my husband in Israel for several days  before heading off to Greece for 2 weeks of vacationing.  The air in Tel Aviv was electric with anticipation of Rosh Hashana and everywhere we went, we were greeted with ‘L’Shana tova’, which means ‘happy new year to you’.  I was elated to be a part of this tradition , as it resonated with me and my feelings about this  special month.

Driving through Tel Aviv, September 2010

.

It makes sense that all that we have ‘planted’ in the spring’ reaches harvest in the  fall and allows us to think about the next things we will ‘sow’. I remember that in January, the ‘other new year’, I wrote a post on my aspirations for 2012, which included doing more yoga. Hmmm: how did I do with that one?  Well, to be honest, like all aspirations/resolutions, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I did start out with a bang, attending yoga at least once a week and I loved the way I felt after each class. But the class schedule didn’t work well with my own so I soon found that weeks turned into months and I just couldn’t seem to fit it in: sound familiar????

All too often, we start out with the best on intentions, soon to discover that life sometimes gets in the way. But I was determined to do something different in terms of physical fitness in 2012 so I shifted gears. I turned to tennis and race walking. I started taking tennis classes at my local community tennis center and met a wonderful group of women who also wanted to finally learn how to play, so that’s been an unexpected fun activity for me both socially and as a great form of exercise. Believe me, I have a long way to go before I can call myself a “tennis player” but the physical and mental challenges are definitely paying off.   Studies on exercise have shown the multiple benefits gained from being physical active: not only improved muscle strength, improved balance and agility, which are important in preventing falls as we age, but better cognitive functioning as well and a deterrent to the development of dementia.

I also took several clinics on racewalking as part of our walking team’s preparation for the Hood/Portland to Coast Relay. I set some personal goals for myself(walk a 12 minute pace or less for 5 plus miles) and used a terrific mobile phone app called ENDOMONDO(available as a free download) which helped me to track my progress. Like so many of us baby boomers, at first I resisted some of the newer technology, feeling a bit overwhelmed while trying to keep up.  Luckily I have some tech-savvy friends who prodded me along(thanks Deb and Anne for mentoring me and for being so patient with me) and now I am comfortable using some of these apps and devices to help me reach some of my goals.

So as September ushers in this new year of sorts, think of how you can challenge yourself to be more active physically. One of our instructors at the gym, Willee(who is an accomplished swimmer/runner and Ironman triathelete herself) always reminds us each fall to set a goal that we can reach by late spring/early summer: perhaps a 10K, 1/2 marathon, join a tennis league, learn a new sport/dance/exercise routine…so that as the days get darker and shorter, we have something to work towards and look forward to in order to stave off the doldrums that often settle in as winter arrives.

As always, we invite you to share your thoughts/personal goals/suggestions for your life. And oh, I almost forgot! Our walking team finished the relay almost 2 hours ahead of our estimated time, as well as finishing in the top 40% of all of the walking teams. Our team included some women who had never really walked long distances before so this is a real example of how we can set a goal, join a group and motivate one another towards achieving a higher level of fitness. Keep us posted…lots more to come about maintaining wellness in the weeks to come. Happy new year, L’Shana tova.

Walking my first leg: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

Our WTF(we ARE totally fabulous!) team happy in Seaside

3 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Hormones 101

What is a hormone exactly? 

How do I know if I have a hormone imbalance?

And if I do, what can I do about it anyway?

These are common questions that Candace and I hear as we work with women everyday.  Sometimes we forget how many of us don’t know the basics about our own bodies so don’t feel embarrassed if you are among those who don’t. I rely on my car mechanic to sort through the ins and outs of my vehicle when IT is out of balance. But I always feel a little sheepish because I don’t even know the right questions to ask. In many ways, I think women feel the same way about their bodies when they begin to show signs of imbalance. So here is a brief overview to answer these questions and help you understand when it is time to do something about how you feel.
A hormone is a chemical that is produced in a gland(such as the ovary or the thyroid) which is released and has far-reaching effects on other parts of the body. These hormones have many functions, including regulating metabolism, fertility, fluid balance, mood, blood sugar regulation, to name a few. Hormones act on organs, tissues and cells throughout the body and are essential for optimal functioning.
Hormones work best when they work together and are balanced with one another.

Think of a symphony which consists of various musical instrument sections  coordinated in such a way  that each section comes in at just the right moment, volume and tempo to complement the other sections. When the conductor and the musicians work well together, the music is melodic and lovely. When they don’t, it is difficult  to hear the music at all(it sounds more like a bunch of noise!).
There are days when all of us wake up and we just feel ‘in balance’ and have energy to spare. Then there are those days that we know our balance is definitely off; everything seems off-kilter. This brings me to some of the symptoms of hormone imbalance. We have mentioned a few in previous blogposts but here are some you may(or may not ) be aware of: hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, belly fat, irritability , depressed mood, anxiety, foggy thinking, feeling cold, hair loss, hair in new places, weak or peeling nails, insomnia, low libido, menstrual changes, dry skin, vaginal dryness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, memory changes…… I could go on but I think you get the picture.

If any of these sound familiar,  there is a good chance that something has caused your hormones to be out of balance.  Common causes include pregnancy, stressful life events, over scheduled and busy lives(sound like anyone you know???), lack of exercise, poor diet, toxins in our environment, toxic relationships, job stresses, and the simple act of moving into ‘midlife’ .We all have so many demands on us and often don’t have enough time in the day to get it all done, leaving us feeling depleted and ‘not like ourselves’.

Hmmm…got you thinking hopefully, so now what? Stay tuned and we will be posting a ‘checklist of symptoms of hormone imbalance’ in the near future so that you can do an inventory of your individual symptoms.  Once you have those identified, the next step will be to get your hormone levels tested.  Let us know if you would like to   get this done as we are working on putting together an offer for our readers and would like to get an idea of how many people are interested.  Just list your first name and first letter of your last name in the comments section.

As always, give us YOUR suggestions for future blogposts and feel free to ask us questions….there is no such thing as a silly question!

Wishing you balance

3 Comments

Filed under Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Report from Austin, TX: notes on the road

I dropped in for a quick visit to Austin this past weekend(my husband Joe is working from there for now so we are turning this into an adventure…)and I want to report that this is ONE FIT CITY!! Barely 100 feet from the front door of his apartment complex is a beautiful pedestrian bridge, complete with wood inlaid railings, that drops you into an incredible matrix of walking, jogging and cycling trails. I headed out on a January morning, the weather a balmy 60 degrees(Nirvana to a Portland girl like me). And although Joe had given me basic instructions for the 3.1 mile loop, I promptly got lost trying to navigate between the many choices in front of me. I ended up walking at least 5 miles but I was in good company. There were hundreds of Austinites walking, jogging, sprinting, biking, young mothers pushing massive strollers, others with panting dogs in tow~a wonderful sight indeed.

Austin activity on a January morning

The trails meander along the lovely and serene Colorado River, known fondly as Lady Bird Lake by those in the know. And this lake is full of life! I saw great blue herons, graceful white swans, swooping cormorants, ducks, birds I’d never seen before, fishermen, kayakers, canoers, crewteams and paddleboarders. I was inspired by the energy and the level of commitment to fitness here, truly an amazing sight.

A lone fisherman on a January morning in Austin

Of course Austin is renowned for its sunny weather(300 days of natural vitamin D each year) and I imagine the summer heat is a bit brutal for outdoor enthusiasts. But this reminded me of the challenges many of us face living in colder climates: how do we all stay motivated to be active when the weather outside is dreary, cold and wet?
I was hoping to link to an article that I was recently interviewed for in a local publication, Explore the Pearl(Jan/Feb issue) but unfortunately they are not set up with that feature yet. If you do live in the area, pick up a copy and read “Chasing Away the Winter Blahs” for some suggestions from myself and other health related professionals in the Pearl district of Portland.
For those of you in other regions, here are a few “pearls from The Pearl” to help keep you motivated when the weather is just not calling you outside!
1. Get outside every day, even if it’s just for 20 minutes/day. The fresh air is invigorating.
2. There are no days too bad to be outside, just bad clothing! Whenever I think it is too cold/rainy/wet here, I think of those who live in places like Sweden and I remind myself it really isn’t that bad. Find some functional and even stylish clothes that will keep you warm and dry and it will make getting outside more of a pleasure than a chore.
3. Okay, so maybe it is just too miserable to work out in the elements. Try a new indoor activity: Zumba, yoga, Pilates, stair stepper, treadmill. It is so important to have variety in your routine to get the benefits of cross training as well as avoiding boredom.
4. Find a pool: swim some laps, take a water exercise class.
5. Try a winter sport: cross country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing(major calorie burner!), sledding.
6. Find an exercise buddy or two, someone who will hold you accountable when you just aren’t feeling it…..
7. Walk your dog, walk your friend’s dog. Make the canine world a happier place(my dog LOVES the wind, the rain, the snow: she gets me out on even the stormiest of days and I am always so happy afterwards).

Another example of staying fit while outside

The sky is the limit when it comes to exercise, even when the skies are not as perfect as those January days I just experienced in Austin. Find a way to stay active. The benefits of exercise(increased strength, more energy, better mood, improved sleep and flexibility, enhanced immune system) far outweigh the excuses not to exercise.
Staying active is an essential component of living a balanced life. See you on the trail!
Kyle

8 Comments

Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness

2012 Re-velations and Re-solutions of the Re-Woman!

If January is the time for taking stock, new beginnings, and all that, then it’s well ‘nigh time for me to follow suit…. as much as I hate to admit it, I have not exactly been the poster child for a woman in balance these past couple months….ever since Christmas (or was it more like Halloween…)  I’ve been on a roll, celebrating life as it were, which all too often boils down to eating and drinking too much, staying up too late, and generally overdoing it. Sound familiar? Well I hope it does… I mean I can’t possibly be the only menopausal woman out here hanging on to Christmas and all the dear, sweet, hallelujah I’m still here celebrations  that mark the stages of our lives.

Masquerade Ball New Years Eve 2011, the Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon ... behind the mask ...a Re-woman in waiting!

Still… I knew the party was over the other day when I woke up with a nasty head cold and a bad case of middle age. Instead of being “out there” living it up and having a ball (although the Masquerade ball I attended on New Years Eve has to become a tradition),  I need to be “in here” where head, heart, and balanced hormones reside.

Yes! AND at the same time I need to be more like Elizabeth Gilbert  in Eat, Pray, Love, when she went to the ashram to cultivate stillness, learn to listen, and stop talking so darn much… In this first 30 days of the new year I need to become the quietest woman in the room for a change; the most cleansed, serene, and balanced woman I know.  I need to re-view, re-do, re-new. I need to Re-woman!

And just so’s you know I mean every word, here is my RE-Balance aspiration (see Kyle’s last blog on aspirations vs. resolutions) list for 2012 – I’ll let you know how I’m doing….:-)

Get into that bed one hour earlier every single night. (The extra sleep will help to balance my stress hormones which in turn will help to reduce cravings, belly fat, and the tension I sometimes hang on to for dear life!)

Rise one hour earlier to a cup of green tea vs. coffee (This will help to reduce the havoc wreaked upon my adrenals by caffeine and allow the magic green antioxidants to boost my immunities and in turn my longevity!)

Spend at least 15 to 20 mns. morning and/or evening in stillness: no talking, no electronic stimuli, no nothing – just breathing. (This practice will help me to calm down, FOCUS, and eventually become the most serene woman I have ever met.)

Walking faster, than slower at intervals builds strength and balance

Rev up my 40 minute walk to 1 hour a day, and walk faster. No lollygagging and no excuses, even if I have to walk in the rain and the dark.  (This will help to humidfy my skin and oxygenate my brain and body so that I will live forever, or at least look and feel like I can!)

Learn how to make Brussells sprouts taste good! Got any recipes ladies?? (Adding way more cruciferous vegetables (kale, chard, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage) to my daily diet will help to metabolize excess and/or toxic, ie. ‘xeno’ estrogens from my body, thus clearing my onward path to natural hormone balance.)

Tune out all talking heads before bedtime. (This will stop the overstimulation of the 24/7 news cycle and rid my tired brain of useless chatter AND prevent me from becoming one of those people who develops ADHD in her 60s, heaven forbid!)

Reject all foods that are genetically modified or filled with pesticides, synthetic hormones, xenoestrogens, antibiotics, or empty calories. (This will significantly reduce my risk of getting indigestion, a fat belly, a leaky gut, gluten-intolerance, insomnia and hormone imbalance, not to mention diseases of aging like breast cancer!)

Cancel one appointment a week and banish anything, anyone, and everything else in my life that is an unneccesary stressor. (This will enable me to become more authentic and the most stress-free person I could ever hope to meet!)

I could go on, and no doubt I will be adding more to my list like RE-testing my hormones this year, and Re-doubling my efforts to spread the word about the virtues of natural progesterone and bioidentical hormones, but enough already…lofty goals yes, out of my mind? No, on the contrary, back in it. This is the Re-Woman talking!

If YOU have a Re-balance plan you’d like to share, or for that matter, a great Re-cipe for Brussells sprouts, PLEASE do!!

Essential ingredient: Finding, being and staying in balance is a work in progress.

21 Comments

Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Candace Burch

35 shopping days till you know what:some thoughts on ways to de-stress

It happens every year without fail. One moment, I am blissfully settled into the rhythm of the summer, with our elongated days of early sunrises and late sunsets, energized by the seemingly extra hours in each day.

Another 4th of July in Manzanita with the family

Time moves slowly, schedules are easier with more time for beach trips, barbeques with family and friends, tennis and long walks, gardening and spending as much time as possible outside soaking up the sun’ s warming rays(and generous doses of natural vitamin D).

The shortening of each day is almost imperceptible but soon I am aware that I am waking up in the dark(I am one of those early morning “nuts” who exercises  while most people are contemplating an extra 30 minutes of sleep) and coming home from work in the dark. Which means only one thing: the holidays are coming!

Honestly, I love the holidays: the extra time spent with family, friends, roasting turkeys, holiday baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping , etc. But I have to admit, I do get a bit stressed out while contemplating all that I need to accomplish, on top of my usual life’s schedule(which is already pretty busy, like most of us). And stress has a distinct impact on our bodies’ abilities to stay in balance.

Stress is actually an essential element of living: our bodies were made to respond to stimuli, both negative and positive, in order to react and grow and adapt to life’s many challenges. A classic example  that is used to describe how stress helps us is this: in our cave dwelling days, if I was out looking for food for my family and I encountered a wild boar, my adrenals would produce a burst of cortisol, which then released  glucose from storage for fuel and epinephrine which allows my heart rate and blood pressure to increase(fight or flight response) so that I could run like crazy to avoid becoming said boar’s dinner. That is an adaptive response to a stressful situation. Our bodies have evolved to respond to episodic bouts of stress. Sadly, in our modern world, we are bombarded with a multitude of stressors: work, financial, relationship, less than optimal diets, chemicals, pollution, noise, world affairs, you name it. Oh yes, and holidays….

In response to chronic, repeated stressors, our bodies no longer need the glucose, or fuel, to run from danger so we store this fuel as fat just in case we need it later. Many of us begin to develop anxiety and insomnia, because our cortisol rhythms get disrupted and our body has lost its way back to balance.  This is obviously a maladaptive response with far-reaching effects on our physical and mental health.

Here are some suggestions to help you beat the stress and stay in balance during these next 35 days and beyond.

Exercise:  aim for 4-5 times/week: find something you enjoy; the rewards are higher metabolic rate, endorphin release(boosts mood and helps decrease inflammation); My next blog post will talk about specific types of exercise and how each one benefits you.

Rocket and Riley: having a blast on the beach!

Riley and Rocket, blissfully exhausted, getting some R and R

Nutrition: “Just say no to whites”: try to avoid foods made with white sugar, white flour, white rice and even white potatoes(okay, youcan have some mashed potatoes this Thursday but be sure to eat the yams as well). The whites are almost completely without nutritional value, even if it says “fortified” and your body recognizes them as a source of sugar. Overindulgence of sugar raises your risk of high cholesterol, belly fat, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, just to name a few. Choose whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, agave , stevia, amaranth. Nuts are loaded with micronutrients: eat a small handful everyday. Set a goal for yourself: try something new every week. Choose dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits. Drink herbal teas and water, lots of it

Supplements: be sure to take Vitamin D everyday . It is best to get tested first: the normal range is 30-100. I recommend that my patients take enough D3 to bring their levels up to between 50-70(I retest 3 months after they start the new dose, just to make sure). Vitamin D boosts your immune system(you won’t catch everything this winter), helps you stave off winter blues, and a myriad of other health benefits: watch for a future blog post about this amazing vitamin). If you are having a particularly bad day, try some Rescue Remedy. This is a “Bach flower” remedy that helps alleviate anxiety and nervousness, restoring a feeling of calm. It is so effective that even veterinarians recommend it for anxious dogs. It is a terrific go-t0 supplement. I never leave home without it!

Sleep and rest: It goes without saying that our bodies need to recharge and restore themselves. Each day carve out some time to be alone, with your thoughts, your prayers, to reflect away from all of the noise and distractions of daily living. And be sure to get enough sleep, at minimum 7 hours. Your body and your brain need that much rest to be ready to face the next day and be able to function optimally.

Kyle and Riley, enjoying a nap in the hammock(nirvana....)

Try to keep everything in perspective these next  weeks and reflect back to the meanings of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Take time to enjoy the hours spent with family and friends and create new and everlasting memories. And remember this essential truth:

Finding, being and staying in balance is a work in progress.

So much to talk about, so little time. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

See you soon.

Kyle

13 Comments

Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance