Archive for January, 2010

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapists, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

So you are in a hurry and want to grab a quick bite. What’s your best bet calorie for dollar? Men’s Health magazine does such a  great job of explaining which fast food meal selections are better for you with their “Eat This Not That “column. They now made it into a  book.

A sample of the trade off between a few extra cents or bucks and the increase to your fat and calorie consumption from the Men’s Health article, “4 Must-Know Restaurant Secret’s,” By David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding –  here.

Here’s exactly how expensive it really is whenever you go for the “bargain”:

  • 7-Eleven: Gulp to Double Gulp Coca-Cola Classic: 37 cents extra buys 450 more calories.
  • Cinnabon: Minibon to Classic Cinnabon: 48 more cents buys 370 more calories.
  • Movie theater: Small to medium unbuttered popcorn: 71 additional cents buys you 500 more calories.
  • Convenience store: Regular to “The Big One” Snickers: 33 more cents packs on 230 more calories.
  • McDonald’s: Quarter Pounder with Cheese to Medium Quarter Pounder with Cheese Extra Value Meal: An additional $1.41 gets you 660 more calories.
  • Subway: 6-inch to 12-inch Tuna Sub: $1.53 more buys 420 more calories.
  • Wendy’s: Classic Double with Cheese to Classic Double with Cheese Old Fashioned Combo Meal: $1.57 extra buys you 600 more calories.
  • Baskin Robbins: Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Kids’ Scoop, to Double Scoop: For another $1.62, you’ve added 390 calories.

Want the Eat This, Not That info but don’t want to carry around a book. Men’s Health has a solution for you: the new Eat This, Not That iphone app. Check it out here.

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An orienteer about to "punch" at a c...
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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Some  of my clients are active outdoorsmen and women. They hike, they backpack, they climb mountains. Now you can join them in a fun activity called Orienteering. In Chicago, the Chicago Area Orienteering is an active group whose members combine mental exercise with physical exercise. (Information below is from the Chicago Area Orienteering website here.)

What is Orienteering?

Orienteering is a sport that gets you off the roads and into the forest preserves in the Chicago area. It has been popular in Europe for many years and is just starting to be popular here in the US.

For a nominal fee ($10) you are given a detailed 5-color map of the forest preserve that is made by our club. You copy one of the five offered courses onto your map and pick up a Punch Card and a Clue Sheet. The Clue Sheet tells you exactly what natural feature you’re to look for inside each of the 100m diameter circles you’ve drawn on your map. You report to the start table for a start time and then you’re off into the woods, trying to find each of the control features of your chosen course where you punch your card, and return to the finish line in as short a time period as possible.

It’s a fast treasure hunt! Sometimes a compass is nice to use, but usually you can navigate using the features marked on the map, just as you would a street map.

Who Can Participate in Orienteering?

Orienteering is often called the “thinking sport” because it involves map reading and decision-making in addition to a great workout. Orienteering is a sport for everyone, regardless of age or experience. The competitive athlete can experience the exhilaration of running through the woods at top speed, while the non-competitive orienteer can enjoy the forest at a more leisurely pace. If you love maps, exploring, and the great outdoors, try orienteering.

Sounds Like Fun. How Do I Try Orienteering?

Just show up at one of the events. The Chicago Area Orienteering group always offers a free beginner’s clinic that will teach you what you need to know.

Are There Good Books on Orienteering?

A good beginner’s book is Orienteering: The Sport of Navigating with Map and Compass by Steven Boga. You can sometimes find copies at outdoor outfitters such as REI, or Dick’s Sporting Goods. It is also available at Amazon.com. Other orienteering books can be found there, and at orienteering suppliers such as GO Orienteering. But really, there is no need to do any prior study.  Just come to a meet. The best way to learn is by doing.

When Does the Orienteering  Day Begin

Most local meets begin at 9:30 a.m. on respective Sundays with a Beginners’ Clinic for first-timers. Master maps and registration are available too, so orienteers can be ready to go by the time first starts are handed out at 10 a.m. Meet fees are a reasonable $10 per person (and only $7 for CAOC members). Make sure you bring a whistle for emergencies.

Read more at the Introduction to Orienteering Page here.

2010 Schedule of Local Orienteering Events here.

Upcoming Orienteering events in February and March 2010:

Saturday February 20, 2010: Snowgaine! event info here.
Mississippi Palisades State Park

March 21 Madnaess #3, Country Lane Woods

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

From time to time I come across a blog that is well written, has great info and coves areas of wellness that pertain to my readers. Recently I came across the blog, Life-Sized Business written by Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin.  I liked one of her posts so much I want to share it with you (with her permission and proper credit to her blog of course!) Enjoy!

Small Business Strategies: Starting a workplace wellness program might be easier than you think

By Elizabeth Baskin

What can you do in the new year to improve employee morale and productivity without spending a ton of money?
Easy answer: start some level of wellness program in your office. If you’ve ever considered doing something like that, this might be the perfect time.

Wellness programs allow you to give employees something they find meaningful without handing out big pay raises.
Many small companies froze salary increases last year. In others, employees watched people in their company lose their jobs, and were understandably meek about pushing for their own salary reviews. But don’t think that means they’re not thinking about what they give the company for what they get. A workplace wellness program can be a very good way to let employees know you value their contributions.

Of course, it’s also the beginning of a new year.
The perfect time for fresh starts, healthy new habits and lifestyle improvements. Your employees are probably already thinking about what they can do in 2010 to be healthier. A wellness program can help support them in their individual goals. It’s also a powerful way to bring new energy into the workplace.

How do you do it?
You don’t have to build a company gym or pay for an on-site spa chef (although you could). Think in terms of providing flexibility (time) or resources (access). You can pick one element of wellness, like fitness or stress management or healthy eating and focus your program around that area. Or you can put together a small smorgasbord of wellness offerings. Here are a few examples:

• Allow employees extra time for lunch two or three days a week so they can fit in a walk or a run.
At Tribe, we tell employees they can put up to three hours a week on their time sheets for exercise during the workday. We’ve found that whenever someone manages to fit in a workout or  yoga class during the day, they’re likely to come back to the office with a good idea or solution for something they’re working on. If nothing else, their energy level is higher that when they left.

• Use one of those empty offices for a meditation room.
Move the desk out and put a small couch or a comfortable armchair in there instead. Or just put out a few yoga mats or some big floor pillows.  Add a few meditation CDs and a CD player, and you’re good to go. If employees feel comfortable spending 20 minutes meditating in the middle of the day, alone or with a coworker, that can go a long way towards reducing stress levels.

• Put a bowl of fresh fruit in the break room, and stock it weekly.
When employees hit that pre-lunch or mid-afternoon slump, being able to skip the vending machine and grab an apple or banana instead can be a highly appreciated perk. Supporting wellness in the office can actually come down to some very simple (and inexpensive) changes.

The biggest thing employees are looking for in a wellness program is a way for the workplace to support them in living a good life.
As a business owner, you do that by providing meaningful work and fair compensation. But lately, many companies have been asking employees to work harder without the hope of a big, fat salary increase. Especially in this economic environment, one of the best things you can do for your employees is to provide the flexibility and resources for them to take care of their own health.

Read Elizabeth’s Live Sized Business blog here.

Workplace Massage
Of course, an easy and cost-effective way to show your staff you care about their health and well being AND give your company a productivity boast, is to offer workplace massage. Working Well Massage provides massage to corporate clients in and around the Chicago area. Contact us today for a customer proposal for your workplace.

Who is Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin and Why Should We Listen to Her?

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin is the CEO and Creative Director of Tribe, Inc., a branding company working with national and global clients like UPS, Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola Enterprises.

She also developed the Starter Cards deck titled “Start Your Own Company,” which takes the gigantic task of launching a business and breaks it down into 52 manageable steps, one step per card. (You can read a recent news story on the cards here.)

She is the author of “Hell Yes! Two Little Words for a Simpler, Happier, Life,” and of a book on women entrepreneurs titled “How to Run Your Business Like a Girl: Successful Strategies from Entrepreneurial Women Who Made It Happen.”

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Basic Acupuncture.
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According to Jenny Dubowsky at Acupuncture Blog Chicago, “A national survey, published online in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that three-quarters of the med students (future physicians) surveyed believe that conventional Western medicine would be improved by integrating more complementary treatments such as: massage, herbal medicine, yoga, acupuncture and meditation.

The data was gathered by researchers at UCLA and UC San Diego from 1,770 surveys received from students at 126 medical schools throughout the United States. There was some hesitation however and students wanted more scientific evidence about the effectiveness of the treatments, not surprising since their training is based on Western studies.”

Read her entire post here.

Now we need the insurance companies to catch up! (Sadly, in the state of Illinois, most insurance companies will not cover massage therapy as a treatment for injuries or chronic muscle tension conditions. However, in Washington State, my fellow massage therapists are able to bill insurance companies directly. )

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Wii Fit Plus
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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I’ve been using the Wii Fit on and off for the past year. I like the exercises overall. They combine video games with a little “Mii” avatar you design yourself.  The Wii Fit consists of a Balance Board which monitors your balance and weight, and a DVD of the Fit program. The Wii itself comes with the Wii Controller and Nunkucks which you use in some of the games.

Now Wii Fit Plus is out and I have to say it is an improvement over the original Wii. Wii Fit Plus includes all the same exercises, yoga, strength training, aerobic activities and balance games. PLUS it includes a set of about 20 new games and adds about 3 new exercises to the yoga, strength training and aerobic activities.

The strength training activities are well done. You get a “personal trainer” avatar that demos each exercise and counts out each set with you. The trainer offers encouragement and tips with each set you do.  As you progress through the program increasing levels of difficulty are unlocked.

The yoga poses are great and the balance board gives you a good indication of where your balance is off and how you need to move your body to be in better balance. While this does not substitute for live instructor as far as having someone watch you and correct subtle deficiencies in your form, the Balance Board does tell you when you are putting too much pressure on one leg over another or when you are leaning too far to one side.

The balance games are fun and silly. In one you are dressed as a penguin and you have to balance on an ice berg and jump up to eat fish as they fly overhead. Sounds silly, right? Well, it is, but it’s also fun. It really works your legs and teaches you to balance as you slide across the iceberg.

The Wii Fit also keeps track of your workouts. Wii uses a timer to let you know how many minutes of each workout you complete.  Some exercises take 1 minute, others like the stepping routine may take 5-6 minutes. Put em all together and you can design your own 30-60 minute workout. It also has a “locker room” in this new version of the game along with a program to let you customize your fitness routines and monitor your progress.

If you are a marathon runner or a serious athlete, you may think Wii Fit will be too easy for you. The aerobic portion may be. But since Wii does such a  good job of monitoring your posture and balance, even the most serious athlete can benefit from the feedback Wii Fit provides. PLUS, even serious athletes need to have fun and the Balance games are a nice break in your running routine.

Some of the new games I like are the Snowball fight where you throw snowballs at friend Miis and they fight back. The Rhythm Kung Fu game which is a step game that incorporates “Kung Fu” moves with a nice rhythm music background. The Island Cycling game is a game where you “bicycle” around the “island,” a course with flags you must ride by for points. You bicycle by stepping on the Balance Board. (This gives you a great calf workout!) The Bird’s Eye Bulls Eye is a fun “arm flapping” exercise. You squat and flap your arms up and down to control your “bird” as he/she flies over the sea and drops down on posts that have bulls eyes painted on them. A great exercise for computer users. If you feel silly doing this game then you aren’t flapping your arms fast enough!
Overall, Wii Fit Plus is a great indoor fitness game for those of you that say you don’t have time to workout. You can use Wii Fit in as little as 10 minutes and get some movement in your day. (Although ideally you want to get 30 minutes of exercise a day!

Check out some of the new games here.

Suggestions for Improvements for The Wii Fit Plus here.

Buy your Wii Fit Plus here at Amazon for $19.99 (Wii sold separately.)

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Yet another study now shows that massage improves productivity, reduces absenteeism and reduces doctors visits due to injury/illness! Read more from The Open Press:

(OPENPRESS) January 21, 2010 — The manufacturing marketing research division of TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com) sponsored the national survey of more than one hundred U.S. manufacturers; all show that massage improved bottom line of employers. The study found that after twelve weeks, 269 employees who had once-weekly, 45-minute massages in the manufacturing workplace had dramatically better productivity, reduced absenteeism, included far fewer doctor visits, than a control group of 250 employees who did not receive the massage therapy. The massaged group experienced reduced stress and improved performance, while the control group did not.

Nearly three-fourths (74%) of manufacturing workers reported in a national survey that their job is very stressful. Stress is the leading cause of disability in the manufacturing workplace, costing employers billions of dollars a year in lost productivity and healthcare costs.

The results of regular massages at the workplace provides quantifiable and immediate results — the employees experience stress reduction and greater satisfaction with their jobs.

By triggering a stress free response there is an improvement in immune system function, which reduces absenteeism, one of the most measurable economic impacts on the manufacturing sector. In the national survey, absenteeism was reduced by more than 50% among those receiving weekly massages. The savings to the manufacturing organization was 1000% greater than the actual cost of the massages, which averaged less than $4000 per month.

Read the entire article at The Open Press here.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Most people like to receive a good back rub but they hate giving them. I hear complaints from, “giving  back rubs hurts my hands, giving back rubs hurts hurts my back,” to “I don’t want to hurt her/him.” I also hear, from the back rub recipients, that their partners don’t use enough pressure, or use too much pressure or don’t massage them long enough.

I’ve been an instructor at the Wellness Massage Training Institute since 2000 and I’ve taught many laypeople to give better massages without hurting themselves.  Now in February, Whole Foods Lincoln Park is graciously allowing me to pass on some of my massage wisdom to a few lucky students in a short form couples massage class.  Class details:

Free Couples Massage Class with
Working Well Massage

Thursday, February 11th
From 5:30pm-6:30pm
Whole Foods Market Lincoln Park Cooking Classroom
1550 N. Kingsbury
Free parking!

Join Sue Shekut from Working Well Massage as she teaches you simple techniques for you and your partner to relax body and mind.  To register, please stop by the Whole Foods Lincoln Park customer service desk or call 312 587 0648 and ask to register for the class. Class size is limited to 14 (or 7 couples) so sign up early!

A couple can be two friends or a mother and daughter or father and son as well. The techniques I teach will cover good body mechanics, the best way to perform simple compressions and gliding strokes. I will also have samples of some the best creams and lotions from Whole Body at the class.

Note: Yes, I am engaging in a little shameless self promotion. But since the class is free, I don’t feel bad about it. I love to share my knowledge with others and help others learn how to take better care of themselves and their loved ones. If I can teach 7 couples how to give each other great mini-massages, I will be very happy.

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