TRENDING NOW – TREKKING POLES

1966 – “Helsinki phys ed instructor Leena Jääskeläinen introduced ‘walking with ski poles’ to her School of Viherlaakso students.” (1)

1988 – “American fitness advocate, Tom Rutlin introduced a slightly different version of Finnish pole-walking with his Exerstrider™ walking poles.” (1)

1989 – My YWCA Santa Monica/Westside student Marie Wike introduced me to Nordic Walking. I rushed right out to get my own poles. It was a hard sell to my private clients who despite feeling the benefits, couldn’t seem to get over feeling conspicuous. Fearless in a fitness setting urban or otherwise, I continued to trek regardless of strange looks from passersby.

Mid-1990s – “Finland’s national Nordic ski team began using the poles to train during off-season (INWA 2013). (1)

2011 – AARP Bulletin published Maureen MacDonald’s article: “Not Your Father’s Cane, Boomers Increasingly Opt for Trekking Poles & Walking Sticks” featuring the benefits and trainer Jayah Faye Paley’s pole walking classes.

2017 – Now more mainstream, you’ll see pole walkers of all ages, not only solo traversing cement but groups conquering asphalt and grassy knolls in public parks or a sandy beach.

 

Rehabbing from bilateral total hip replacement (left October 2016, right February 2017), encouraged to walk 30-minutes per day, I ditched the walker when I realized even though it was adjusted properly, I was leaning into it with round shoulders, forward head and my low back hurt. Grabbed my trusty poles and immediately felt the difference(s):

  • It’s one helluva core workout. Think crunchless crunch. A pole in each hand immediately creates spinal extension – you’re standing more upright forcing abdominal and back muscles to work together.
  • Balance problems. What balance problems? With a pole in each hand, core muscles, balance central, are working to keep you on your feet.
  • Arthritic hips and knees. Joint pressure is reduced allowing you to walk with more ease to strengthen muscles that help stabilize those joints. Think calves, upper thighs and butt.
  • Trekking is also an upper body strengthener – back, shoulders, triceps and biceps, even forearms.
  • And then there’s cardio conditioning! With better balance and joint pressure reduced, getting your heart rate up is easier too.
  • Nordic Walking, although it can be done inside, is best in the great outdoors.

Select poles that can range in price from approximately $70 – $100. I purchased telescopic poles that require a screwdriver to adjust/lock them to the proper length, about a 90-degree angle at your elbows. My Adventure 16 salesman did this for me.  Some manufacturers sell non-adjustable poles based on your height as well as collapsible ones, great for travel but I’m unsure of their stability in use.

Tell your retailer the type of terrain you’ll be walking as the pole tips are different for carpet/cement /asphalt V.S. grass/dirt/sand trails. Metal tips for natural terrain are easily converted with sturdy rubber caps. “Baskets”, snowflake discs that fit around pole tips, usually not included with poles, create additional traction and worth the few extra dollars if mud, sand or snow is where you’ll be trekking.

Ready to take your poles for a spin? Remember the rhythm is just like walking, opposite arm swing/opposite leg strike, heel/toe rolling through the balls of your feet.

Plant poles close to the outside of your body, near the ball of each foot.

Start slow and get the feel of moving through space.

Use the wrist straps and firmly hang on to the poles. Avoid a choking grip that can translate to soreness in hands, wrists, elbows even shoulders.

After a few treks you’ll be ready to work on technique like tightening butt muscles and more targeted poling to increase cardio and upper body conditioning.

Poles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) Why Older Exercisers Should Try Nordic Walking by Lorne Opler, Med (www.ideafit.com/fitness-expert/lorne-opler-med), February 15, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LENTILS, FOR THE MONEY, FOR HEALTH, NOT JUST FOR NEW YEAR’S EVE

Lentil SoupCleaning out my pantry at year’s end, I came across nearly two cups of French green lentils and about a quarter cup of Belugas screaming, “Use me”. Prior to storing, I’d sorted for damaged seeds, stones then tightly sealed them separately in glass jars, knowing they’d keep indefinitely in this cool dark cupboard until it was time to thoroughly rinse and create, but what?

Recent rainy days triggered a sense memory of a former client’s savory vegan soup of brown lentils, tomatoes and spinach and sent me on a personal file search that came up bubkas.

God bless the Internet as right there, on allrecipes.com, I found Marie’s nearly 4.5-star rated Lentil Soup. It was close if not a match, off to Trader Joes!

Creature of kitchen shortcuts these days I grabbed one container of Mirepoix (diced carrots, celery and onion) dashing home to incorporate my high protein, fiber and potassium legumes in time for dinner. It was absolutely delish even with my tweaks (see notes below)

How could I not share? You too can enjoy Marie’s Lentil Soup, which serves six by my calculations (recipe didn’t state quantity).

1 onion chopped (Trader Joes’ Mirepoix)

1/4- cup olive oil (Trader Joes’ Spanish Olive Oil cuz it’s so mild)

2 carrots, diced (Trader Joes’ Mirepoix)

2 stalks celery, chopped (Trader Joes’ Mirepoix)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (Trader Joes’ Organic Diced, No Salt Added)

2 cups dry lentils (Remember to sort for stones and rinse! Leftover Belugas put this over but wasn’t noticeable.)

8 cups water (Any opportunity to use my reverse osmosis alkaline system makes me smile.)

1/2- cup spinach, rinsed, thinly sliced (I used close to 2 cups Trader Joes’ pre-washed organic as it reduces to nearly not noticeable.)

2 tablespoons vinegar (I used Balsamic but I bet lemon would work too.)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery (Mirepoix); cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano and basil; cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least one hour. When ready to serve, stir in spinach and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper and more vinegar if desired.

caloriecounts.com’s Recipe Analyzer gives Marie’s Lentil Soup a nutrition Grade A!

Lentil soup KCAL

 

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“BEAT AVERAGE”

Normally I mute TV commercials, but before I could grab the remote, my eyes when wide as I watched a disheveled overweight guy in different daily scenarios repeatedly slap his forehead V-8 style as he said, “I forgot to workout! Then, a female office worker being chased from the break room by doughnut holes and a fat guy push a “stroll” then “loiter” button on his treadmill. Last frame: “BEAT AVERAGE” GNC. Oh yeah, that GNC or General Nutrition Center stores, purveyors of vitamins, weight loss and sexual health supplements. Wow, now they’ve got a pill to get folks off the couch. Don’t watch much TV so if these ads are still running I can’t say for sure. 

Today, I opened Prevention’s June issue then hurled it across the room. “BEAT AVERAGE” was in my face again, not only page one but two as well, THE most advantageous, expensive placement pushing women’s and men’s supplements complete with a fine print disclaimer that no average, fix-me-quick-person would ever read. “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

Avg CroppedIMG_20140526_132216 Really want to “BEAT AVERAGE”?

Put your wallet away unless you need new athletic shoes or can invest in a high tech fitness tracker. Many apps, like My Fitness Pal are free or you could even use a calendar. Just skip the pills and get accountable to yourself.

Spend a minimum of 15- to 30-minutes a day exercising. Yeah, I know that sounds like a cop-out, not enough, but it adds up. You can even divide it into 2- to 3-segments.
Reduce your daily caloric intake by 100 calories a day and lose 10 pounds in a year! Weigh in weekly.

Oh, and at month’s end average the number of days you exercised, the calories you cut and pat yourself on the back!   

 

 

 

 


   

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No Student Left Behind

Recently, I attended a restorative yoga class. It was my misfortune to have my first class (only my second yoga class ever) be with a substitute practitioner who waltzed in, last minute and immediately began Om-ing. 

I truly didn’t know what to expect or how to modify the postures for my particular overuse injuries and needs. I received no direction during class except to, “Smile, it’s only yoga”. I soldiered on barely in form let alone breathing properly, in short, it was an excruciating experience I hope I have never subjected a student to. As the day progressed, I experienced both physical and emotional pain. The latter nearly pre-empting the physical, as I felt decrepit, old, used up, depressed. I guess I should have been pushier, interrupted the onset of practice to let the instructor know I was new.    

Here are a few things to do to avoid my experience whenever you’re a fitness class first-timer:

  • Research the facility and its instructor’s credentials, if they don’t measure up, move on.
  • If it/they pass muster, arrive early. Check in at reception. Complete any required paperwork.
  • If you’re not approached, let the teacher know you’re new.
  • You should be asked, about any physical challenges or limitations, requiring modification(s).
  • During this conversation, listen carefully to how your needs are addressed. If they’re not, participate at your own risk.

Be a savvy consumer! With so many fine fitness choices available, you’re sure to find the right “fit”.

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Blogger Belly, Is Social Media Making You Fat?

OK, my bloggin’ bro, a sucker for alliteration (runs in our DNA), told me blogger belly, although not uniquely his terminology, is real regardless and although anecdotal, he had the poundage to prove it. During the economic downturn, he took to his laptop with a vengeance, ranting night and day about the state of the nation, hitting the fridge for sustenance to keep his brain and fingers nimble until he tipped the scales with a 25-pound weight gain. A disciplined guy, he took a failed modem as a sign from the gods to back away from the Internet, disabled his website and embarked on nearly a two year media fast.

During that time I grew increasingly irritated that I could not email him. I called. I got his voicemail. He eventually called back but in his own sweet time. I sent text messages. He responded with letters. Yes, handwritten, USPS delivered letters. I was furious, yet on another level I respected what he needed to do as at the same time I became involved in Yelp.

For those of you unfamiliar with Yelp, it’s a social networking site predominately about food/eating out. My food posts there are mostly about where I purchase it in the raw, as well as, prepared forms, e.g. grocery stores, farmers markets. When I do review a restaurant it garners way more “hits” than when I review a professional service, that’s simply the site’s energy.

So, it’s safe to say, Yelp food reviews, make that restaurant reviews, prevail. The accompanying pictures are provocative, so much so, to make you drool, then call whatever resto is still open and willing to deliver. Many a night when comping friends content, I have rushed to the kitchen to simulate a maple-bacon-peanut-butter doughnut with Ezekiel® low-sodium bread, Trader Joe’s unsalted peanut butter, Wellshire® organic bacon bits and honey; Pavlov calling n’est-ce pas? Is my behavior as fattening as my brother’s? Hell yes! Is my midnight pseudo replication as tasty as what I saw on Yelp? Nah.

True confession, I gained five pounds my first year Yelping and not because I was eating out to write reviews. Nope, I was on my butt catching up with over 600 friends, a late night, sitting, fridge-raiding ménage a trios, took place when I should have been sleeping. Yes, I too had to pull the plug and create limits to remain active on a site I truly enjoy. Faced with Facebook, a page recently created (please “like” me there even if you don’t in real life), similar restraint needs to happen and I may have found the tool to do so.

Enter Health-Calc Health & Fitness Calculator. Whether you fritter time away on the net or simply sit for work, use the dials on the Total Energy Expenditure page to enter your activity levels each day and what you learn will be enlightening. For example, yesterday, even though I worked with two private clients (was on my feet but not exercising), taught a 75-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) class, cooked dinner, cleaned the kitchen and vacuumed I still sat a total of 15 hours (three of that in my car)!! This eval was free but equally helpful fitness apps for your iPhone or Android run around $3. I say totally worth it if it gets you off your duff, keeps you on track!

Oh, and my bro, he’s back to his fighting weight, online and bloggin’ in moderation. Me too.

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What Are You Wearing?

Fashion sense still formulating that was the burning question my junior high gal pals asked and answered with a nightly phone call. Heaven forbid we show up at school wearing the wrong or even the same thing!

Today, I’m more likely to be asked about what I’m not wearing. Yes, I quit wearing athletic clothing several years ago. My business “suit”, I got tired of it day in, day out and turned to comfortable, functional, breathable, “normal” clothing which allows me to move from classes to clients without multiple wardrobe changes. Interestingly, athletic clothing companies – Athleta®, Luluemon® and even Levis® – to name a few have created gym to office styles. My highest hope is this trend will encourage people to incorporate more fitness throughout their day! Here’s what I wear:

Monday through Friday, find me in cotton/Lycra® blend jeans and a comfortable top, my uniform for the no-sweat classes I teach. Land’s End All Weather Moccasins, a walking shoe with a wide, flexible toe bed, arch and ankle support, are appropriate for the low impact activity I engage in.

Saturday’s high intensity interval training class (HIIT) requires different attire. Paired with a comfortable top, Land’s End cotton/Lycra® slim side zip pants and Merrell®’s Trail Running (not the barefoot/glove variety) shoes and I’m taking care of fitness.

Whatever clothing you end up exercising in, let it reflect your fashion sense, your style, put it on and forget about it. Think layers for varying temperatures and weather conditions. And always buy the best footwear you can afford for your activity.

10 Tips to Choose Athletic Shoes
Find the Right Athletic Socks
5 Best Sports Bras

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Touchy Topic: Triceps

“If you don’t want your upper arms waving long after you’ve said goodbye, you’ll need to work on your triceps.” From Try This: The skull crusher, for toned triceps by Melinda Fulmer, Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2013

OUCH! I do work on my triceps! However, now that I’m over fifty, still work in the fitness industry, you’d think I’d be immune to the “dreaded jiggle”. But NO! Truth be told, I haven’t worn sleeveless in years. My previously sculpted arms, although incredibly strong, just don’t look the same, less definition and looser skin.

I feel loss, the loss of youth, and shame, especially after reading the aforementioned article. I should be able to, but can’t, short of surgery, restore my appearance and I know better! Yet, I’m sad.

MEA CULPA! I can remember using the exact words quoted above early on in my career to motivate, to eek out, multiple reps from my students. In retrospect, I believe I encouraged the younger women but I fear I created false hope in the aesthetic for those whose age I am now.  If only I knew then what I know today…

So what’s a woman my age to do? First off, let’s face it, young trainers just don’t “get” collagen breakdown, they think, like me, back in the day, that all you have to do is work your triceps and all will be well, you’ll look great.  DON’T LISTEN TO THEM, OK?

But, if you’re younger than me, get your resistive and cardio work on to go sleeveless, flaunt it, enjoy it!  If you’re my generation or older stay strong!

As for the best triceps exercises, I always trust the American Council on Exercise(ACE).

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Things That Make Me Go, Hm…

So Anthem, this is how you’re spending my $90 per month premium increase, a four-color, “nutrition” newsletter, chock full of coupons, promoting Vons, Pavilions, Kellogg’s and the importance of eating breakfast.

A nice gesture, er marketing strategy, especially the lure of saving $3 on fresh fruit but that coupon, like the one for Lucerne’s® yogurt six-pack, is only good if I buy three, 10-ounce, or larger boxes of All Bran®, Raisin Bran®, Corn Flakes® or Rice Krispies®. Since I don’t consume this stuff, these, along with the other, included coupons for WeightWatchers® Greek Frozen Yogurt Bars, Daisy® Brand Low-Fat Cottage Cheese and Murray® Sugar Free Cookies piqued my interest.

My go-to for both product and recipe analysis, is the non-biased, nutrition database at Calorie Count. Breakdowns are based on a 2,000-calorie per day diet and receive a nutrition letter grade. It’s free to become a subscriber. Also, I look forward to receiving the daily, “Healthy Eating” blog in my inbox!

Now, here’s what I learned.

If you’re a Kellogg’s fan, stick with All Bran® at 80 calories per cup, 10 grams of fiber and only 80 milligrams sodium. One cup of Raisin Bran® is 190 calories, 6.5 grams of fiber and 342 milligrams sodium (Daily “Adequate Intake Level” is 1,500 milligrams www.cdc.gov/features/dssodium). A serving of Corn Flakes® or Rice Krispies® is nearly devoid of fiber.

Lucerne’s® low-fat yogurt whether plain or flavored gets a “C” for being high in sugar ranging from 12 grams (approximately 2.5 teaspoons, milk sugar) plain to 34 grams (approximately 7 teaspoons, milk sugar plus fruit) flavored, per 8-ounce serving.

WeightWatchers® Greek Frozen Yogurt Bars although 80 calories per with 13 grams sugar, garnered “C-”.  Interestingly, a 2-ounce Snicker’s bar also gets a “C-” but with a tad over three times the calories and double the sugar. Pick your poison…

“D+” for Daisy® Brand Low-Fat Cottage Cheese for 360 milligrams sodium in a half-cup serving!  If you “do” dairy, Friendship Dairies sells no salt added cottage cheese. Click “Where To Buy” for a retailer near you www.friendshipdairies.com/products/1-lowfat-no-salt-added-cottage-cheese.html

And finally, Murray® Sugar Free Cookies, depending on the variety, ranged from “B-” (lemon wafers) to “D” (chocolate chip). Pass, not worth the calories or additives.

Thanks, but no thanks Anthem. I’ll be eating an “A” breakfast courtesy of Dr. John La Puma

From his, “ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine” www.chefmd.com/book.php

WARM & NUTTY CINNAMON QUINOA – SERVES 4

 

1-cup 1% low-fat milk

1-cup water

1-cup quinoa [blonde or red]

2-cups fresh blackberries

1/2 – teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 – cup chopped pecans, toasted

1- ounce agave nectar

 

Rinse quinoa. Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15-minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Turn off heat; let stand covered 5-minutes.  Stir in blackberries and cinnamon.  Transfer to four bowls, top with pecans, and drizzle one-teaspoon agave nectar over each serving.

 

Approximate KCAL per serving:  287, Fat: 9.9g, Saturated Fat: 1.2g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 31mg, Carbohydrate: 42.5g, Fiber: 8g, Protein: 12.1g

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Following My Own Advice

I can fix my car before my class. I’ve done it before. All I need to do is lift up on the left rear quarter panel and pop it right back into the frame, good as new.

Not exactly! Within seconds, my lower back was in spasm as I tried to repeat the maneuver but with majorly reduced strength.

A no-go, I gathered my gear and limped off telling myself, “it’s muscular, just muscular”, to teach my Senior Shape Up class.

Wrong.

Now if this had happened to you, I’d have told you to stop everything. Depending on the severity of the injury to either seek medical attention, go home and ice repeatedly throughout the day or both. More at: July/Aug. 2012, Vol. XI, Issue Seven/Eight Rest, ice, compress, elevate (R.I.C.E.), Good Pain, Bad Pain, Treat Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Not me, I soldiered through an hour of resistive work followed by an hour of errands. When I returned home I knew I was in trouble. Yet, it took another three hours, while icing and resting, to do the right thing, cancel my appointments for the following day to really rest, recover. Ah, denial…

Sound familiar? Downtime, even for legitimate reasons doesn’t bode well in today’s society. Especially during cold and flu season, most frequently with those, like myself who contract their services and have no paid sick days. Many keep on going, spreading germs or providing less than stellar care, because they’re just not 100%.

Last year, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Hans Gruenn speak on the immune system and on stress. My over simplified, take-away: the body knows what it needs. It sends not-to-be-ignored messages. Heed them.

Semi-heeding, workaholic that I am, while writing this, I’m resting (on ice)!

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