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Archive for March, 2010

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

Do you ever listen to music at work to help keep focus? Do you have a particular artist or genre that you listen to in different moods? Dr. Ellen Weber says that research suggests many peoples’ tendencies to turn on some tunes exist because the brain rewards that behavior. Listening to music shifts your brain waves that control how neurons communicate.

Interestingly enough, it looks like people tend to respond to certain genres in different ways as well. In his book The Mozart Effect, Don Campbell conducted interviews to see how people responded across genres. According to Campbell:

Gregorian chant creates quiet in our minds and can reduce stress.

Slower Baroque music, such as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi or Corelli, can create mentally stimulating environments for creativity and new innovations.

Classical music, such as Haydn and Mozart, often improves concentration and memory when played in the background.

Romantic music, such as Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky , Chopin and Liszt, enhances our senses and increases a sense of sympathy and love.

Impressionist music, such as Debussy, Faure and Ravel, can unlock dreamlike images that put us in touch with our unconscious thoughts and belief systems.

Jazz, blues, soul or calypso music can uplift and inspire us, releasing deep joy or even deep sadness, conveying wit and affirming our common humanity.

Salsa, rhumba, merengue and any form of South American music sets our hearts racing, gets us moving, both relaxing us and awakening us at the same time.

Big band, Top 40 and country music engage our emotions and comfort us.

Rock music, from Elvis Presley to the Rolling Stones, stirs passion and activity, and so can release daily tensions. Rock can also mask pain and cover up unpleasant noises. It also has the power to create dissonance, stress or physical pain if we are not in the mood for energizing.

Ambient or New Age music such as Stephen Halpern and Brian Eno has no dominant rhythm, so it elongates the sense of space and time, inducing a state of relaxed alertness.

Heavy metal and hip-hop music excites our nervous system, and sometimes leads us into acting out dynamic behavior and self-expression.

Religious and sacred music such as hymns and gospel moves us to feel grounded in the moment, and leads to deep peace and spiritual awareness. Sacred music often helps us to transcend pain.

So the next time you feel down at work, consider getting out your headphones and listening to music while you work. It might just make your day a little brighter (and more productive).

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

Do you ever find yourself rubbing and stretching your wrists after a long day at work? Do you frequently have shoulder and neck tension after a long day typing and mousing?    The United States Occupational Safety & Health Administration says the culprit could easily be improper keyboard height and/or distance. Proper keyboard placement can help prevent repetition injuries, awkward posture and stress.

Keyboards that are too high or too low can lead to awkward wrist, arm, and shoulder postures. For example, when keyboards are too low you may type with your wrists bent up. When keyboards are too high, you may need to raise your shoulders to elevate your arms. Performing typing tasks in awkward postures such as these can result in hand, wrist and shoulder discomfort.

Here are some possible height-related solutions the OSHA recommends:

  • Image courtesy of OSHA

    Adjust the chair height and work surface height to maintain a neutral body posture (illustrated here). Elbows should be about the same height as the keyboard and hang comfortably to the side of the body. Shoulders should be relaxed, and wrists should not bend up or down or to either side during keyboard use.

  • Remove central pencil drawers from traditional desks if you can’t raise your chair high enough because of contact between the drawer and the top of the thighs. The work surface should generally be no more than 2 inches thick.
  • may be needed if the work surface or chair cannot be properly adjusted. The keyboard tray should:
    • Be adjustable in height and tilt,
    • Provide adequate leg and foot clearance, and
    • Have adequate space for multiple input devices (for example, a keyboard and pointer/mouse).
  • The keyboard’s vertical position should be maintained within the recommended range shown here. The tilt of the keyboard may need to be raised or lowered using the keyboard feet to maintain straight, neutral wrist postures while accommodating changes in arm angles.

    Image courtesy of OSHA

If your keyboard or mouse  is too close or too far away this may cause you to assume awkward postures such as reaching with the arms, leaning forward with the torso and extreme elbow angles. These awkward postures may lead to musculoskeletal disorders of the elbows, shoulders, hands, and wrists.

Keyboard too far away (courtesy OSHA)

Keyboard too close (courtesy OSHA)

Here are some possible distance-related solutions the OSHA recommends:

  • Place the keyboard directly in front of you at a distance that allows your elbows to stay close to your body with your forearms approximately parallel with the floor.
  • A keyboard tray may be useful if you have limited desk space or if your chair has armrests that interfere with adequate positioning.

Making these simple changes may make a world of difference for you in your workplace and your neck and shoulders. Give them a try and feel the difference!

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

Check out My Fat Secret website. It provides you with an online method to record and track your food intake long with a host of other great nutrition tools!

Become a member of FatSecret, get involved and experience the benefits. Best of all, it’s free!

A food diary to plan and keep track of what you’re eating
A list of common diets and their components
An activity diary to record all the calories you burn
Your own weight ticker and weight chart
A journal to record your progress
Recipes, tips and foods just for your diet
Challenges, groups and buddies to keep you motivated
Comparisons of your food and activities to your buddies
Common foods and their calories

It doesn’t have to be a secret anymore!  Click here to go to MyFatSecret.com

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Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

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

Do you Tweet? Maybe you heard about Aston Kusher’s record tweets? Do you know what Twitter is? Well, maybe it’s time to find out!

What is Twitter?

According to the Twitter website, “Twitter is a real-time information network powered by people all around the world that lets you share and discover what’s happening now. Users can access Twitter on powerful broadband connections via a video game console or through faint connections in rural areas via SMS on a simple mobile phone. You can also access Twitter through more than 50,000 third-party Internet and mobile applications.” That’s quite a mouthful!

I consider Twitter to be a user-controlled Instant Messaging news service for people “on the go” that want to stay “in the know.”  (Yes, I admit,  I am a bad punner.)

When Twitter first came out, I was turned off on it because the only people I saw “tweeting” (Sending a Twitter message) where friends writing to blogs with boring tweets about what they were having for lunch.  As a business owner and wellness afficionado, however, I soon saw that Twitter can be an actual useful tool to keep customers up to date about the latest news about our services and special offerings. I also tweet about our blog posts, and share “retweets” from other twitter friends about topics of interest on fitness, nutrition, and wellness overall.

I recently had a fellow blogger share a post with me about great nutrition-oriented Tweeters. I  share her blog post and list with you.

Note: A few of her recommendation are no longer Tweeting. But most of them are still intact and can be easily accessed via a free twitter account. You can set one up in minutes and then receive tweets from Working Well and then ONLY other groups you want to follow.

Working Well’s Twitter name is “WorkWellMassage.” Follow us if you like! I often Tweet about discounts and special local event’s. Click here to follow us at WorkWellMassage.

A Physical Therapists Twitter List

Jeanne Peterson, author of Physical Therapy Blog wrote the following post, “50 Nutritionists You Should Follow on Twitter.”
Health costs are on the rise, along with food prices, and everything else. So who has the time or money to pay for a nutritionist? If your answer is “not me,” then look to the internet. And if your internet time is limited as is, then Twitter is the site for you. It brings you the headlines and information you want as 140 character “tweets.”

Now that you know what and where, you’re only halfway there. With millions of users, Twitter can also be a nightmare to navigate. But no worries there. We have already done the work of gathering the 50 nutritionists you should follow on Twitter. Whether looking to lose weight, get healthy, or exercise more, they offer loads of help at no charge.

Nutritionists You Should Follow on Twitter

These nutritionists offer their expertise to tens of thousands of followers every day. Be one of them by following.


    1. Paris Jordan
    : She is a fitness and nutrition coach. With over 20,000 followers, her tips are practical and useful. Several tweets a day are on diet, exercise, and other topics.

    2. Fitness 4 Her : Karen Ficarelli is a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. Her specialty is in motivating and inspiring women to achieve their goals. Tweets are full of useful tips.

    3. Linda Miner : Linda is a nutritionist from Vancouver. She helps others achieve optimal health through proper diet. Tweets are almost exclusively on nutritional links.

    4. Above Game : Get a Twitter feed for sports nutrition fitness here. You can also get an exercise wellness programs, network marketing coach, and more. Tweets are full of useful tips.

    5. My Healthy Bfast : This anonymous blogger uses the Twitter stream to tell all about a healthy breakfast. Get updates on why and what to eat. The main site even has recipes.

    6. Vicky Laney : Discover a deeper appreciation for nutrition by clicking here. Vicky tweets on whole nutrition for improved immune function and natural healing of chronic disease. See what she recommends for which ailment by stopping by.

    7. Nutrition 00 : Get loads of tips related to nutrition with this Twitter feed. They include how to get and stay healthy. They often comment about nutritional items in the news.

    8. Mandura : She is a former nurse who values nutrition. Based in Chicago, she launched several websites in support of it. She often tweets on health items.

Male Nutritionists You Should Follow on Twitter

Because men have loads to say about nutrition, take a look at the below nutritionists on Twitter.


    9. My Trainer Bob
    : Bob Harper is best known as one of the training and nutrition experts from “The Biggest Loser.” Visit to learn how you can inspire others to make healthier decisions. You can also check out his Facebook page or YouTube videos.

    10. Lobster and Chick : Henry Palmer is the author of “The Lobster and The Chicken” and an intuitive energy healer. Tweets mostly give life recommendations. However, there is still an occasional nutrition tweet.

    11. DJ Morris : An expert in the areas of nutrition, health, and the beach body, he tweets from Florida. His tweets regularly contain words of inspiration.

    12. Cussy : Get more inspirational tweets by following John Cusworth. He is into quotes, health, nutrition, fitness, and education. He also has lists on weight loss and body building.

    13. Healthy Hank : Hank Heister has been a health coach for over 25 years. He is also an EFT practitioner who specializes on cardiovascular nutrition. Tweets are often useful tips, along with do’s and don’ts.

    14. Mercola : Dr. Mercola is an osteopathic physician in Chicago. Founder of the natural health site, Mercola, he advocates dietary and lifestyle approaches to health. Get tweets on nutrition, health, and much more.

    15. Weight Loss Infos : Rolf Joho is from Switzerland and helps people all over the world lose weight. Tweets contain information on diets, emotional eating, nutrition, and cooking. He often links to items of interest.

    16. Wellness Twitts : Doc Bunnell practices at Berkeley. He brings all of his followers expert information on health, exercise, nutrition, and alternative medicine. He also often retweets on related items. (Note: This Twitter account is no longer active. Sue}

    17. Raw Nature Boy : Nick Stern is a longevity expert. He accomplishes this through raw foods and body building. Learn more about him and his lifestyle by following the tweets.

Semi-Nutritionists You Should Follow on Twitter

These Twitter users focus on many aspects of health and life, including nutrition.

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    18. The Peppermint Leaf
    : Amanda recently graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Her Twitter stream is all about vegan, biochemistry, Christian, pilates, health, bagpipes, and her husband’s LED company. With over 40,000 followers, she’s doing something right.

    19. Simple Living 1 : John Haines is an author and radio host. He also dabbles as a nutrition tutor, organic gardener, raw food vegan, and yogi. Check out his tweets for tips on all of the above.

    20. Jonus 855 : Wally Feschuk is an nutrition internet marketer from Ontario. He constantly features specials and items of interest as tweets. In addition, he also tweets about health and entrepreneurship.

    21. Joe Gigantino : He is a fitness and motivation expert from California. There are also tweets on workouts, communication, nutrition, and love. He often tweets on what works for him.

    22. Ganogirl : If coffee is part of your everyday nutrition, visit here. Rhonda Sellsted shows you the healthiest coffees and even ways to make money just by drinking. She also tweets on items that interest her.

    23. RH Pritchard : Richard is from Ohio and is a scientist and grandfather. He also tweets on nutrition and for fitness over 60. He often gathers tweets of interest and features them on his feed.

    24. Doc Wellness : Dr. David Orman is a naturopath who believes in acupuncture. Other areas of interest include nutrition, writing, and marathons. Tweets rarely link to external items, as he prefers to give his own advice.

Group Nutritionists You Should Follow on Twitter

The below teams of health experts tweet on nutrition and so much more.

    25. Men’s Health Mag : Both men and women can find useful nutritional information here. There are tweets on fitness, health, weight loss, sex, style, and nutrition. A highlight of the Twitter account is the Eat This, Not That links.26. Women’s Health Mag : Stop here for an ultimate guide to looking and feeling great. They bring you the latest in health, fitness, sex, beauty, and nutrition. Tweets often link to useful items.

    27. GHC Health : Get tweets on natural health and organic living here. Also known as the Global Healing Center, there are many natural remedies here. Visit the main site for more.

    28. one80dotcom : This site helps all visitors lose weight and get healthy. The Twitter feed is written by health and fitness experts, personal trainers, and nutritionists. There is a weight loss tip of the day and more.

    29. Fit Menu : Don’t derail your nutrition goals by going out to eat. This Twitter feed can help you eat healthy at restaurants. Stop by for the latest tweets or visit the main site.

    30. MSNBC Health : The main site is a great source of information on the latest health headlines. Check out the Twitter stream for information on health, diet, and nutrition. Tweets often link back to full articles.

    31. Healthy Stuff : The website Stay Healthy Forever has loads of tips for doing just that. Their twitter stream gathers info on health, fitness, weight loss, nutrition, and more. Click to read the full item.

    32. Nutrition Helper : Because great nutrition equals a healthy lifestyle, visit here. They give you the information you need to get that healthy lifestyle you want. Tweets are often nutrition headlines.

    33. MB Holistic : Get holistic health news from California with these tweets. Topics include world health news, holistic medicine, and alternative nutrition. Get related links by following them.

    34. Women’s Health : The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintain this Twitter stream for the health of women. Get the latest headlines, recall information, and more here. The main site also has many other tools for health.

Lesser Known Nutritionists You Should Follow on Twitter

These nutritionists have less than 15,000 followers but are still worth a look.

    35. Fertile Foods : Nutrition adviser Kathryn Flynn tweets on using the healing benefits of whole foods, exercise, and relaxation. These are ideal for balanced living before, during, and after pregnancy. Tips are on all sorts of diets and pregnancies.36. Dancing in Life : Get nutrition information for gluten free health by stopping here. Diana Herrington has been a health nut all of her life and is currently writing a cookbook. Nutrition tips, along with daily life, are featured.

    37. Starlightlife: Gina lives in Maui where she is a mind body nutritionist. She is also a personal coach and blogger who helps people see their true relationship with food. There are regular tweets on items of interest, and she also takes time answer questions.

    38. Karen4Fitness : Located in Palm Beach, Karen is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. She specializes in helping women reach their goals. Tweets are often things she enjoys and recommends to her clients.

    39. Your Nutrition : Vicki Berry is a nutritionist from North Carolina. She specializes in supplements and staying healthy. Links are to related items and even episodes of her very own podcast on Blog Talk Radio.

    40. Nutrition Unplugged : Registered dietician Janet Helm tweets from Chicago. She is also a food and nutrition consultant, as well as a mother of twins. Lists include cooking, health, food, and more.

    41. Nutrition Expert : Tweeting from Kansas City, Mitzi Dulan is a nutrition expert. She also co-authored “The All Pro Diet” and has been seen throughout the country. Tweets are often inspirational and interesting quotes.

Supplement Nutritionists You Should Follow on Twitter

Get the latest news on vitamins and supplements by following these Twitter feeds.

    42. Health, Fitness, Diet : Over 50,000 Twitter users follow this stream to get nutritional information. Genesis PURE health products and fitness supplements offer natural, pure, and organic nutrition. Tweets are often headlines of nutritional interest.

    43. Your Nutrition World : Get information on nutrition, health, eating disorders, vitamins, and supplements. Tweets are on a regular basis with links to more. You can also visit their website with other information.

    44. Liquid 4 All : Why liquid vitamins? Stop by this Twitter feed or site to find out. They also offer a 60 day empty bottle guarantee.

    45. Liquid 4 You : Similar to the above, they specialize in liquid vitamins and supplements. They also offer a similar guarantee.

    46. Our Aloe Business : Tim Sander lives in London and tweets on natural health. Learn how to live a healthier life by checking out these natural products. He also tweets on useful health and nutritional topics.

    47. Abel Nunez : Vitabase Store is based in Las Vegas. Nearly 14,000 followers get information on popular and lesser known supplements by following them. There are also tips for fitness and nutrition.

    48. Dog Vitamins : If your pet needs a nutritionist too, visit here. These vitamins are for healthier, happier dogs. Tweets are on recent activities and related news items.

    49. The Best 4 Health : Brain Britton promotes both nutrition and health supplements here. You can also get information on weight loss, natural energy boosters, and snacks. Tweets often feature recommendations.

    50. Raw Beauty Team : Don’t stop at supplements, get your beauty products with a nutritional frame of mind. Raw Natural Beauty offers paraben-free natural cosmetics, skincare with age-defying botanicals, and nutrients to restore the complexion. Get loads of useful tips by following them.

Be sure and check with your physician before starting a new diet plan, taking supplements, or beginning a fitness program you read about in the above 50 nutritionists you should follow on Twitter.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
One of the problems I run into, and many of my clients run into, is how to eat healthy “on the go.” I am a big fan of Lara Bars, “wraps” (tuna salad or hummus or even turkey in a pita or tortilla) and hot meals from Whole Foods. But for those of you that don’t have easy access to a Whole Foods hot bar, or even to healthy restaurants, Hungry-Girl has some great tips on how to start your day with a healthy and easy to prepare (read: quick to prepare!) breakfast. Note: Whole Foods  Fat Free Tortillas are 100 calories and ZERO grams of fat.

And, not to sound like your mother, but remember, eating breakfast helps keep your brain and body well fueled AND can help you with a fat reduction program (if you are trying to lose adipose tissue).

Hungry-Girl recommends this Do-it-Yourself Smoothie recipe:

Combine fresh or no-sugar-added frozen fruit, light yogurt, and light soymilk (or Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze — YUM!). Throw that stuff into the blender with some ice, and pulverize your way to breakfast!

I personally like to make my own Smoothie concoction:

Vanilla Rice Dream rice milk about 1 cup,

1 frozen banana,

a few (3) frozen strawberries or (10) blueberries and

a scoop of Jay Rob’s Egg White protean powder (again I am partial to vanilla although  Jay Rob’s does make a tasty strawberry version). 100 calories and ZERO Fat, ZERO sugar an ZERO apartame, sucralose or artificial sweeteners!

Blend and drink slowly so as not to give you brain freeze.

Hungry-Girl’s The Microwave Scramble + Pita

It’s fast, it’s portable, and it has protein and carbs to satisfy you. Make one of these quickie scrambles-in-a-mug, stuff it inside a high-fiber or whole-wheat pita, and walk out the door.

For more Hungry-Girl Breakfast tips, click here.

The Hungry Girl Book

To get more tips from Hungry_Girl, read her book, Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet, by Lisa Lillien.

Hungry Girl 1, 2, 3 is available from Amazon.com

The new book, Hungry Girl 1-2-3, will help you make the world’s most delicious guilt-free appetizers, meals, snacks, desserts, etc., with practically no effort whatsoever! There are loads of crock-pot recipes, microwavable meals, HG’s famous “foil packs,” and more. Some are such a cinch, you won’t even have to turn on the oven or stove! Really.

With more than 200 recipes and two-ingredient “couples” to choose from, you’ll never be hungry again! Get ready to chew on:

* Crazy Pineapple Salmon Teriyaki (347 calories)
* Mom-Style Creamy Chicken ’n Veggies (307 calories)
* Queen-of-the-Castle Sliders (254 calories)
* Caramel Swirl Cream Puffs (121 calories)
* Corndog Millionaire Muffins (160 calories)
* Chili Cheese Dog Nachos (218 calories)
* Turkey & Veggie Meatloaf Minis (142 calories)
* Planet Hungrywood Sweet & Cap’n Crunchy Chicken (234 calories)
* Shrimp & Grits . . . for Hungry Chicks! (380 calories)
* Cannoli-Stuffed French Toast Nuggets (228 calories)

The book will be available starting March 30, 2010. To order your copy from Amazon.com for $10.79, click here.

Who IS Hungry Girl?

She’s not a nutritionist, she’s just hungry! Lisa Lillien is a number-one New York Times bestselling author and the creator of the Hungry Girl brand. She is the founder of http://www.hungry-girl.com, the phenomenal worldwide free daily email service that entertains and informs hungry people everywhere!

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Fresh fruit and vegetables
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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensd Massage Therapists, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Today an article about Wellness Coaching caught my eye.  There’s been a new study that shows that using wellness coaching has had a positive effect on people maintaining their health after completing their cancer treatments.

Read the excerpt below from the press release from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, “Wellness Coaching Study Finds Long Term Benefits for Cancer Survivors,” by Tim Kelly of the Office of Public Relations of Galloway Township, NJ to find out more.

New research published in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences and conducted by The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, showed that wellness coaching, a relatively new type of health intervention, had significant, immediate, and lasting impact in reducing anxiety and depression, while simultaneously improving quality of life and increasing other healthy lifestyle behaviors.

The American Cancer Society recommends survivors maintain a healthy weight and engage in healthy lifestyle habits to reduce risk of recurrence, mortality, and other chronic diseases, yet the majority do not, according to recent research. This study looked at the initial and longitudinal benefits that wellness coaching might have with cancer survivors.

The Study

Principle Investigator, Dr. Mary Lou Galantino, PT, PhD, MSCE, professor at Stockton College and Adjunct Research Scholar at University of Pennsylvania, said that it is the first research published utilizing this methodology as a single intervention, which has promising results and potential application in other areas.

The idea to apply this methodology to cancer survivorship came in 2004, when wellness coach and fitness professional, Pam Schmid was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was a leader in the new field of wellness coaching and recognized the wide reaching benefits coaching might offer survivors, after struggling personally with the challenges treatment brought her way.

Pam Schmid said, “Being a professional, I knew what I needed to do to be healthy and feel my best, yet so many obstacles came my way. I watched others struggle and saw no real support for them. Some health behaviors can reduce risk of recurrence or dying of their cancer as much as 50 percent. It’s critical to support survivors to do the things they can do to not only improve their risks but to improve their quality of life.”

Read Pam’s blog, Priorities Simplified, here.

In this observational cohort study of 30 breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors, participants received six coaching sessions over a three month period. They were followed for a year after the intervention to evaluate the sustainability of changes through the wellness coaching. Wellness coaches are credentialed professionals who are trained and certified as coaches.

How Wellness Coaching Helps Patients

In this study, a fitness professional certified as an ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) Health Fitness Instructor and Wellness Coach (through Wellcoaches Corporation – in partnership with ACSM) served as the coach.

Wellness coaching moves people from point A to B says Schmid, “Instead of being stuck, they have a partner to start moving ahead to be their best. As one survivor told me, ‘This is not like anything I’ve experienced. It’s given me a pathway out … I need to move forward to do the things I know I need to do to be my best’.”

To read the entire press release, click here.

And, according to the actual study reported in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Wellness Coaching helped study patients improve their lifestyle habits using goal setting, increased food choice awareness and exercise.  Working with a personal coach helped subjects by providing  motivation and feedback. Patients reports that their consumption of fruits and vegetables increased, and their BMI and weight was reduced with the help of Wellness Coaching.

Link to the actual study abstract in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences here.

What is Wellness Coaching?
Coaching focuses on building self-efficacy and autonomy from a strength-based approach that encourages the individual to think about what is going well, where they have been successful in the past, and what will support success in the future and is delivered using a number of tools from evidence based domains/theories such as positive psychology, motivational interviewing, and appreciative inquiry.

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

Last night I enjoyed the advantages of 2010 technology. I watched an episode of the show “30 Days”  on my television downloaded from Netflix! 30 Days is a TV show is about people spending 30 days in an environment fairly different from their own. The episode I watched was about a highly stressed man that visited a Life Coach and spent 30 days doing “New Age” therapies to  reduce his reaction to stress. While some of the “therapies” were of questionable merit, many of them helped the man and he ended up becoming a calmer, happier man and building a closer relationships with his wife!

One of the things the man enjoyed, and continued to keep up after the 30 days had ended, was yoga.  More and more research is coming out about the benefits of yoga. I don’t see yoga as a New Age therapy, but then I’ve been doing yoga for about 17 years. And yoga has been around for much longer than the U.S has been a  country (as has acupuncture). As more and more Western style scientific research is done on the benefits of yoga and more people in the U.S.  incorporate it into their daily lives, yoga has become more “mainstream.”

I came across a great article from Yoga Journal on “Banishing Burnout.” In the article, author Jennifer Pirtle shares some information about current research on yoga and stress relief.  She shares some insights into how doing yoga can help you learn to react less to stressors in the workplace. I am sharing some excerpts with you below:

More Bad News About Workplace Stress

Recently, a team of researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) found that stress may even accelerate aging at the cellular level. The study found that the blood cells of women who had spent many years caring for a child with a health condition appeared to be, genetically, about 10 years older than the cells of women whose caretaking responsibilities were less prolonged.

Although the study focused on caregivers, the findings apply to overworked employees, too. “People with other sources of life stress showed similar relationships between their levels of stress and cell aging,” says Elissa Epel, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF and the study’s lead author.

Stress itself, Epel emphasizes, is neither inherently good nor bad. Instead, how you perceive and react to it determines how it will affect your health. “In the study,” she explains, “the perception of stress was more important than whether one was under the strain of caregiving or not.”

Making your work less stressful doesn’t have to mean leaving it behind for good. (And how many of us can hope to do that, anyway?) Instead, the key is to transform your relationship to the stress so that it no longer overwhelms you. More and more people are discovering that mind-body practices like yoga, qi gong, and meditation can be hugely helpful in shifting the way they react to stress.

How Does Yoga Help With Stress?

You’re likely to feel many of yoga’s benefits the first time you step onto the mat, says Timothy McCall, M.D., an internist and Yoga Journal‘s medical editor. “When you’re doing Downward-Facing Dog, your mind is saying, ‘I want to come down now; my arms are tired,’ but if your teacher tells you to hold the asana a little longer, you find the strength to do it,” he says. “At that point, you realize that you don’t have to respond to every urge you feel. At other times, when your body says it needs to come down, it really needs to. Yoga teaches you to tune in to what your body is telling you and to act accordingly.”

With practice, this awareness will spread into other areas of your life, including your work. “As you learn to separate the urge to act from the reaction, you begin to find that something like a canceled meeting or having a last-minute project handed to you may not rattle you as much as it once did,” says McCall. “You can detect stressors—what Buddhists call the spark before the flame—earlier, then pause long enough to think, ‘Well, maybe I don’t need to respond.'”

That’s what happened for David Freda, a 41-year-old software engineer in Pasadena, California. He had practiced yoga sporadically to help him deal with job-related anxiety in the past, but after he took a new position at an investment company in 1999, he decided to get serious. “I have very high standards as an engineer. As a result, I have a pattern of getting fed up with co-workers and bolting from my jobs,” he says. “When I took this job, I decided to stick it out to see what I could change in myself. I had a strong sense that yoga could help me do that.”

“When I’m doing a challenging posture such as Revolved Triangle [Parivrtta Trikonasana], I can stay in the posture, focus on my breathing, and perhaps not push quite so hard,” he says. “That approach helps me in my job. When I’m confronting someone who is making a bad technical decision, I consider what I could say that would facilitate what I want to achieve. In the past, my emotions would have gotten the best of me, but now people are more inclined to listen and to engage. Even my boss has commented on the changes.”

Read the entire article with many more great insights into how yoga can help you learn to battle workplace and life stress here.

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