Archive for June, 2010

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

I recently had a fantastic massage from Mysti Cobb at our Working Well Massage station inside Whole Foods Lincoln Park. One of the reason I like getting massage from Mysti is that she knows her anatomy and kineseology. When I told her I was having pain in my wrist and my pecs were tight, she knew exactly where to work and how to position me on the massage chair to get maximum exposure of my pectoral muscles. (She sat me facing away from the chair as opposed to how you would normally sit, facing the chair.) I have had experience both receiving and giving massage for chronic tension and injury rehab, and Mysti has had similar experiences as both a patient and a massage therapist.

Mysti Cobb-smiling and providng pain relief at Working Well Massage. Image by Sue Shekut

A personal trainer and Pilates instructor as well as a massage therapists, I think Mysti brings more to the massage session than your average massage therapist. (Or course, we don’t have any average massage therapists in our booths!) Since Mysti is female and has a fantastic smile,  some people think Mysti is a lightweight massage therapist. Those people would be sadly incorrect! Mysti is STRONG and can give super deep tissue massages or she can back off the pressure and give a more gentle relaxation massage. For me, I go to Mysti for deep work though!

Mysti hard at work, concentrating on releasing muscle tension. Image by Sue Shekut

Mysti Cobb’s Bio

Tall and lean, it’s no surprise that Mysti’s passion for movement began in her ballet classes at age 4.  Her years of practice and love of dance led  to a full dance scholarship with the Joseph Holmes Dance Company in 1993. Unfortunately for Mystia, she later tore her ACL while studying at Millikin University and that put an end to a full-time dance career. After six months of physical therapy and rehabilitation, Mysti realized strength training was a new way for her to incorporate movement into her daily life and career.  In 2003, Mysti began studying at the Personal Training Institute in Chicago. In 2004, Mysti completed her personal training (NSCA) certification. Between her dance injury and experience as a personal train, Mysti decided to  add a therapeutic and healing dimension to her work by becoming a licensed massage therapist in 2005 through the Soma Institute of Clinical Massage Therapy.

While rehabbing, dancing and strength training,  Pilates had been an core element of Mysti’s personal fitness routine. In2009, Mysti became certified through the Body Arts and Science program as a comprehensively certified Pilates Instructor. For Mysti, the Pilates certification has added analytical and intuitive tools to help her clients gain strength, eliminate pain, and fine tune body alignment, finding focus in their sessions which carries over into their daily lives.

You can try out a massage session with Mysti at Whole Foods Lincoln Park every Tuesday from 4pm to 8pm. But come in soon because with skills like these, Mysti tends to book up fast!

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Reebok EASY TONE(2009)
Bottom of Reebok Easy Tone Shows. Image via Wikipedia

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

While on our recent trip, we stopped in Tennessee at an outlet mall. I shopped at a Reebok store and bought a pair of the new “toning shoes” that are supposed to work your gluts, hamstrings and lower legs to help better tone your muscles and help improve your fitness levels.

Conceptually I applaud the new trend in walking shoes. Why? Because nowadays too many people walk on concrete-a flat unyielding surface that does not give or provide any instability for your lower legs and feet.  What’s so great about instability? It allows your lower leg muscles to work harder and get stronger. This in turn can help your feet grow stronger, prevent potential lower leg/foot issues like sore heels or heel spurs and also gives your muscles a new way to work. Walking barefoot in sand or grass is also great but impractical in our times for many people.

Note: As usual I am going to post my derriere-covering disclaimer here: I am not a doctor. Any info I post is either my own opinion or a summary of other articles written by medical personal with a link to the original article.

WebMD weighs in on the toner shoes here. From a podiatrist point of view, the new shoes take pressure off the heel and give better support to the ankle. A Chicago doc says the shoes are not great for arthritis sufferers (which makes sense because arthritis is about joint inflammation, not about muscle tone). And most experts agree that the shoes should be broken in slowly. As in, don’t wear them for a 4 mile walk the first day you try them out!

My Reebok Easy Tone shoes are super comfortable. They felt great from the moment I put them on until the moment I took them off. The Reebok brand is not as rounded and high as the other toner type shoes I’ve seen which was a plus to me. From afar they look like regular running or walking shoes. It’s only when you turn them over that you see the round “balls” underneath the pad of the foot and heel. These balls cause your foot to be slightly unstable. (Not “I am going to fall off my shoes” unstable, but more “I feel myself rocking a slight bit as I walk” unstable.) After a day of walking int he Easy Tones on concrete, my legs do feel different and I do feel more muscle “soreness” (slight) in my hams and gluts but also my lower legs. To me, this is  a good sign of the shoes making me use my leg muscles differently!

My Easy Tone Shoes by Reebok. Image by Sue Shekut

There’s an excellent You Tube video segment of the Today Show that shows three woman trying out the MBT’s, Skechers and Reebok versions of the shoes with a great explanation of how the shoes work along with a short segment on the former NASA engineer at Reebok that created their version of the shoe based on how a Bosu ball works. Check it out here.

CNN’s experts don’t think much of the manufacturer’s claims that the shoes will be a substitute for the gym or regular workouts. on this I agree. Like any other immediate gratification fix, such claims are too good to be true. Plus you would likely have to significantly increase your walking time to get a real benefit from the shoes. For me, though, having the shoes in my “fitness arsenal” aka my shoe rack, gives me a way to work my lower legs and gluts as I walk around the city.

The Associated Press gives a short rundown on the top toner shoes by brand here. The article is short but gives the basics abotu the top five selling brands of toning shoes.

HubPages gives us this article about how Dr. Scholl got the toner idea first with his wooden sandals. I don’t know about you, but I had a few pair and I loved them way back when.

The only way to lose weight is to exercise and reduce your caloric intake. But if wearing these shoes makes you walk more, then it’s a great tool in your fitness toolbox. If wearing these shoes makes you fall and twist your ankle or lose balance and fall or causes any foot or ankle pain, then don’t wear them!

Do you have a pair of toning shoes? Tell us about your experience in the comment section!

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

A while ago I wrote about the ergonomic problems inherent is using the new iPad (and iPods and even reading books can put you in the same uncomfortable positions) Some people have theorized that Apple is counting on aftermarket vendors to come up with ergonomic products to support the nifty gadgets Apple creates.  And there are a slew of aftermarket products coming out now to make your “iViewing” more ergonomic. Below is a list of some of the aftermarket products I’ve found to help you more comfortably view your iPad, smart phone, etc.

Portabook is still one of my favorites for its light weight portability, versatility, ease of use and cost. It’s not designed specially for the iPad, but it can be used to read books, cookbooks, for laptop use as well as your iPad. Why buy multiple stands when one device can work for them all! And the Portabook costs about $20 and weighs only ounces so it fits into a backpack along with your iPad easily. Hmmm, if my clients use the iPad and Portabook on the Metra their neck pain may disappear!

iLounge has a great review of a more versatile iPad holder here. iLounge recommends the Luxa2’s H4 iPad Holder  for its versatility, price and polish. iLounge says that the H4 is “an iPad-matching aluminum base with a cable managing slot, and a rotating, pivoting cradle with expanding rubber-tipped metal arms that can hold a bare or encased iPad as firmly as you prefer…it feels solid and sturdy even without an iPad resting in its cradle; but unlike Griffin’s A-Frame, all of its edges are polished to prevent iPad or finger damage.”

MacWorld also weighs in on the various aftermarket iPad stands. Their top vote mirrors that of iLounge: the Luxa2 H4 iPad Holder. Check out their other reviews here.

A fantastic story and video about this iPad stand designed and made by  75-year-old Dutch woodworker, Simon Blazer, is only $5!  Reviewed by Wired and CrunchGear already, this simply wooden block stand is what it is-just a stand. But ti’s also only $5.

Simon Blazer and his $5 wooden iPad stand

The Articulating Easel has one of the best web presentations about the ergonomics of iPad viewing here. Their product looks very similar to the Portabook but as of today, according to the website, its’ not yet available. Ha!  So you can subscribe to their mailing list and get a 10% discount on the product when it becomes available. I’d guess it will likely retail for about the same price as the PortaBook, maybe $20 to $30. But with so many other products ALREADY available, the Articulating Easel may be marketing for the competition.

The Artculating Easel in use with an iPad

The  picture below shows the Articulating Easel in use on a plane. This is a great pic because it shows how much better you can sit using an iPad holder (although the Portabook could be used much the same way.)

Here’s the Articulating Easel’s diagram showing Steve Jobs uncomfortable viewing angle with the iPad:

Steve Jobs viewing angle of iPad

The Articulating Easel also has a great page showing ergonomic issues with the iPad (and how aftermarket stands like the Articulating Easel can help!) Check out the ergonomic explanation here.

iGearUSA sells leather case that can hold the IPad and stand it up at a more comfortable viewing angle. Cost about $30.00. Check it out and order here.

iGear iPad Stand

There is also an iPad Holder for your car. Which I DO NOT recommend. It’s bad enough that we are distracted by cell phones, board advertising, and GPS systems. now we are going to use the iPad in our cars? A scary marriage of social networking (which is already a distracting, multitasking activity) with something dangerous like operating a motor vehicle. I see the day when municipalities and state governments ban iPad use in your car!

If you have an iPad, tell us about your ergonomic issues in the Comments section. Do you like/love/hate the iPad? What do you use it for? What is your most comfortable iPad viewing position? (Downward facing dog?!)

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

This May we traveled to Cashiers, North Carolina to scout for locations for future seminars and group trips. One of my clients had told me to travel to Cashiers versus Asheville, NC for great hiking and a more outdoorsy experience. He was absolutely right! I found a great Inn on Trip Advisor. (My favorite travel site. If you don’t know about it, check it out! Similar to Yelp, but for travel, Trip Advisor provides user-generated reviews of hotels, cities, attractions, national parks, etc.)

View from top of Glen Falls, one of 17 area waterfalls near Cashiers, NC. Image by Sue Shekut

We stayed at the Laurelwood Mountain Inn, which is a sweet hotel sitting in the middle of beautiful downtown Cashiers!  “Downtown” Cashiers consists of the Inn, a gas station, a number of restaurants (from the BBQ at the farmers market store to the high-end Italian Restaurant, Horacio’s, to Bucks Coffee House with free WI-FI). There are also some antique shops and other small businesses but it’s mainly a two street town (at the junction of highways 64 and 107).

Farmer's Market in Beautiful Downtown Cashiers, NC, Image by Sue Shekut

The biggest find and a great surprise to us, was that there is a hiking store, Highland Hiker, just 1 block away from Laurelwood Mountain Inn. For a small “town” in the middle of the mountains, it was a shock to find such a large well equipped hiking store. The shop keepers we met were all avid hikers and gave us great service in helping us find new camel backs and hiking gear for our day hikes in the area.

Laurelwood Mountain Inn was a fantastic find. We stayed in one of their “suites” which is really a duplex condo, 2 bedroom, 2 bath with a two-person hot tub in the master bath. (A well deserved treat after hiking all day.) The condo had all the amenities of home with cable TV, a small kitchen (with mini-fridge versus a full size fridge) and was built by the current owner.

Laurelwood Mountain Inn Condo Staircase. Quality craftsmanship throughout. Image by Sue Shekut

The owner of the Inn built a waterfall right outside the door of our cabin (long before we came to stay, of course) along with a  gazebo. Eric, the Innkeeper, told us that the owner’s waterfalls were so popular he got busy building waterfalls for area residents. Now the owner is too busy to run the Inn so he hired the Innkeeper and his wife. After spending time in Cashiers, I could see why people would want to leave the big city and live up in the mountains!

Waterfall outside our suite at Laurelwood Mountain Inn. Image by Sue Shekut

Note: There are a number of vacation rentals in the area for large families and groups. Check out VBRO (Vacation rental by Owner), Trip Advisor or the GoCashiers site here for pics of great homes to rent on nearby Lake Glenville. Cashiers Chamber of Commerce also has a listing for accommodations here. There is also a higher end hotel with a golf course and tennis courts, High Hampton Inn & Country Club.

And, yes, the waterfalls at the Laurelwood Mountain Inn are a lovely but a small replica of the actual waterfalls to be found all around the Cashiers area. There are about 17 waterfalls near Cashiers. We did a day hike to Glen Falls and were not disappointed! It was a very active hike with a fair amount of climbing and many many photo opportunities like this one below!

Glen Falls, Cashiers, NC area. Image by Sue Shekut

Descending to the next level of the Falls we were glad to have brought our hiking poles!

Hiking Glen Falls, NC. Image by Sue Shekut

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is only an hour away from Cashiers so we were able to take another day hike to see the actual “Smoke” from along the Great Smoky Mountains. (The “smoke” in the Great Smoky Mountains comes from the mystical blue mist (from water vapors) shrouding its peaks.)

View from Newfoundland Gap Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Image by Sue Shekut

Our last view of the Great Smoky Mountains from Jump Off Point.

Great Smoky Mountains Jump off Point. image by Sue Shekut

Would we go back? As often as we can!

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There is no case of my sore feet that Sarah ca...
Image by colorblindPICASO via Flickr

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

The internet is full of great exercise videos. The news publishes reports daily about the benefits of exercise. Yet I hear the same refrain from people all the time: I don’t have time to exercise. I have great sympathy for those with no time to workout. And I offer you this: maybe it’s not that you don’t have time. Maybe it’s more a question of changing our thinking about exercise rather than finding time to exercise.

In the U.S., we tend to compartmentalize exercise. We think we can only exercise if we go to special places and wear special clothes. We think “we have to sweat to be doing any good.” But these are all myths.

Exercise myths include:

• Exercise is something we only do at the gym.

• Exercise is something you need a personal trainer to do.

• Exercise requires long hours of sweat and exertion to be effective.

• Exercise is something we have to set aside large chunks of time to accomplish.

These belief’s only keep us from doing what we need to do. Before The Industrial Revolution, people got “exercise” doing daily chores and work. Farmers and farm hands got “exercise” toiling in the fields, herding cattle, riding horses around the ranch, milking cows, etc. Before “labor-saving devices” like dishwashers, washers and dryers and the infamous automobile, people got “exercise” every day without needing gyms or “workouts.” Of course, people didn’t live as long. 40-45  was the average life expectancy. But since then we’ve made great progress in modern medicine, diet and education. People don’t HAVE to labor to earn a living. And labor-oriented jobs have been leaving the U.S. for years. So how do we get our daily exercise dose?

Flash forward to the typical American life in 2010. Male or female, the typical American works 50-60 hours, drives or takes a train or bus to work, averaging 1 hour commute each way. With a few small children at home, by the time mom or dad gets done helping kids with homework, preparing dinner, and putting the kids to bed, the day is done and it’s time for a little TV time. There is little time to “work out.”

So, think about putting a little labor back into your life. You don’t have to go to the gym to ‘work out.” If you can find the time and need the focus of the gym to squeeze in some cardio or strength training, go for it. But if going to the gym means taking precious time away from the family, incorporate your kids into your workout. use yoga tapes or the Wii Fit at home. Make it a family fun time.

Ways to Put a Little “Labor” Back  Into Your Life

• If you normally try to park as close as possible to the store or work, park  farther away. The extra walk will do you good!

• Hang your laundry on a clothesline outdoors to dry (also saves energy and money).

• Plant a garden and spend time weeding, watering and enjoying your garden a few minutes every day.

• If you take public trans, get of or on the bus/train/etc. a few blocks earlier.

• At work, do some mid-day squats at your desk. Simply stand up then start to sit down. But don’t let yourself sit. As you feel the chair under your posterior, slowly stand back up again. Then “sit” again, without resting on the chair. Lather, Rinse and repeat 10 times.

• Take a walk around the block after dinner. Even a 15-min walk helps you feel better, teaches your kids the benefits of exercise and allows you to spend quality time with your family.

• Whenever possible, at work, take the stairs. If you can, take two 10 minute breaks each day to walk up and down a few flights of stairs. Don’t run, take your time so you don’t get sweaty! Your form is more important than trying to race up the stairs.

• In parking garages, take the stairs, too, versus the elevator.

• If you live in a home with stairs and you are doing housework, putting away laundry, etc., make more trips up and down the stairs.

• If you don’t have kids, get a dog. You are more likely to make walking the dog part of your daily routine than if you were to take yourself for a daily walk!

• If you are single and live alone, get to know your neighbors. Help out the sick and elderly by volunteering to do their chores. It will give you exercise and make you feel good about yourself!

• Buy a set of dumbbells (even Target sells them!) and do basic resistance training at home in front of the television. (Versus sitting on the coach with a bag of chips!)

• Take your kids to a water park, a forest preserve or a park on the weekends. Climb the stairs of a few slides with your kids. At a forest preserve or park, paddle boat or canoe with them. Take nature walks.

• Ride your bike to work or around the neighborhood after work, before dinner.

Related articles:

How to Get a total Body Workout without going to the gym here.

Reasons why you don’t exercise here.

The best exercises for lazy people here.

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

There a new Chicago holistic magazine out now: Mindful Metropolis. I’ve read the first few issues and it reminds me of a cross between the former Conscious Choice and the defunct Monthly Aspectarian. (Content is similar to Conscious Choice, ads similar to those of the former Aspectarian).

According to the Mindful Metropolis website, the magazine aims to bring communities in Chicago together with fresh ideas about green art and culture.  The magazine and website showcases ways we can live  sustainable lifestyles in an urban setting.  MM promotes businesses, non-profits, local organizations and educational institutions that aim to inspire people to to act responsibly.  MM says it is “low impact and high concept” and is  “eco-active, enviro-sensitive and socially involved. ”

The magazine looks like it’s about 50-60% advertisements and 40-50% content. Hopefully as time goes on they will add more content. For now, it’s fairly small and an easy read on the bus or train. Hard copies are available for free  in stores like Whole Foods.

In the April issue, (June issue available here in digital form), some of the articles include:

• Growing Healthy kids

• Meditation for Beginners

• Eat Here; Karyn’s on Green

• Let’s redo lunch (about healthy kids lunches)

• Sometimes less is More (Colin Bevan talks about consumption, finding ecological balance and how we can all make an impact)

• Bursting the water bubble (Info about Chicago water shortages and how to avoid them)

Some of the June issue articles:

• Leave your car at home (tips on commuting without your car)

• A walk on the wild Side (Info on Lincoln Parks’ new nature walk)

• Finding balance with preventative health care

Who is Behind Mindful Metropolis?

Richard McGinnis Publisher & CEO

Richard lives by four basic principles: Nothing is impossible; abnormal is the new normal; do your best every waking moment; inspire and support others. He combines these principles with three simple …

Richard lives by four basic principles: Nothing is impossible; abnormal is the new normal; do your best every waking moment; inspire and support others. He combines these principles with three simple career concepts: If it is rewarding, keep doing it; if it is not rewarding, stop doing it; if it is not rewarding and you have to keep doing it, make it rewarding.

A born entrepreneur, he owned his first business at 16 (a commercial interior painting and cleaning service). A Business Management graduate from LSU, he has since owned and operated a vegan restaurant, a mail consolidation business, and a commercial incentive/premium packaging, marketing and consulting company. Not rewarding, not rewarding, and not rewarding. It turns out he had to wait a few decades for the rewarding stuff to happen.

After 10 years in sales management in commercial printing, four years in corporate healthcare marketing (totally not rewarding on any level), and seven years of LOHAS media publishing, he is very happy to have settled in with his Chicago community and “family” to facilitate publication of Mindful Metropolis, where he can apply all the tools experience has laid at his feet.

James Faber Editorial & Production Director

James Faber has a B.A. in Journalism along with a science writing concentration from Columbia College Chicago. He graduated in 1998. Faber began at Conscious Choice magazine as an intern in 1997, then became a full-time staff member.

After working as associate editor, senior editor and managing editor, Faber became production manager in early 2001 and produced nearly 100 issues of the magazine before the magazine closed it’s doors in April 2009.

In his free time, James enjoys writing fiction, watching Chicago sports (mainly the Bears, Blackhawks and White Sox) and is a total music fanatic — both playing and checking out live shows. He lives on the northwest side of Chicago, and manages a family business on weekends during the summer.

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

I love this guy: Dr. Michael Silbert.

Dr. Michael Silbert, DC

Why? Because his adjustments make me feel so much better. I’ve had a lot of adjustments and I really like this “Goldilocks” style: He does not use too much force nor too little. And he knows A LOT about chiropractic care, injury rehab, you name it.

Today I stopped by Dr. Silbert’s office, the Chicago Wellness Center. in the Board of Trade (141 W. Jackson Blvd, Level A aka Basement) office for a quick adjustment and had a special treat. He had me lay down on a mechanical traction table, locked my feet in and and then tractioned (stretched) my lower body. He joked about strapping me down to a medieval rack (remember how they used to stretch people back in the gold ole Spanish Inquisition days). Then he pulled my legs right to left in a careful manner and I felt myself grow an inch taller! (Maybe I didn’t actually grow but I felt like I did!) For me, I find that Dr. Silbert IS a low back pain savior. And a neck pain savoir too!

If you have any questions about your spine, your muscles, or general anatomy, his website has a lot of really well done multimedia slides that explain how your body works in detail. Check out his info on topics such as Relief From Neck Pain and Understanding Disc Problems here.

Note: Neither Working Well Massage nor I, Sue Shekut, has an affiliation with Dr. Silbert (Other than my being a patient). We do not get any advertising revenue from Dr. Silbert for this post.  He treats me like any other patient–with great care!

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