Archive for July, 2010

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

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to take an entire day off work to visit Deep River Water Park in Indiana. Four of us traveled to this outdoor water park and we spent a good 5 hours climbing up the stairs to different water slides and then swooshing down on inner tubes into the cool refreshing water.

Tuesday the park was fairly crowded so the cardiovascular benefit of climbing up and down the stairs to the Storm Tube Ride over and over was reduced since we had to stand in line quite a bit. However, the act of climbing the stairs is a great way to work out some of the stress from sitting at a computer. And riding down an inner tube with friends (also known as having fun and laughing) is also great stress relief!

When the park is not as crowded (and it wasn’t when I visited last year towards the end of the season and shared my favorite water slide ride, the Double Dueling Cannon Bowl, with a handful of teens) you can get great cardio and stress relief by climbing the stairs, sliding down the ride and then climbing the stairs over and over until you are waterlogged!

One of the other nice benefits of visiting this particular water park is that they allow you to bring in your own coolers and lockers. So you can bring in healthy food and beverages. They do provide snack shops, but the food is not that healthy (nachos, dipping dot ice cream and hot dogs).

Deep River Water Park has a large wave pool which gives you a chance to swim against a man-made”current” and float among your fellow waterparkers. They boost two lazy rivers in which you can float along on one of their comfy inner tubes.

Deep River also has a few “splash zones’ for young children and the wave pool has a gentle wadding area for toddlers.

Avoid Injuries and Concussions

The only down side to our water park adventure was my last trip down the Double Dueling Cannon Bowl ride. I love this ride because you get to ride down two slides and spin around in a big twirling bowl AND you have to climb about 4 flights of stairs to reach the top. However, the slide can be dangerous, as I can now attest. On our last run down the slide, we ended up flipping our tube and I fell on my head before I slide down the last portion of the slide. I don’t recommend this as a way to build cardio fitness or manage your stress! After my fall, I took it easy and didn’t go on any more rides as I could have had (and likely did have) a minor concussion.

Based on my experience, I say, stay on the tube! And don’t try to force your way out of the bowl, let the ride spin you round naturally. Call for help if you do get stuck on a ride and the lifeguards can shut it down to assist you.

Water Park Safety Tips

• Wear sunscreen. Even if it’s waterproof, apply after every 2 hours in the outdoors. Water park water is heavily chlorinated!

• Don’t swim or slide if you feel nauseated or dizzy.

• Do not drink the water in the pools or water attractions.

• When riding on inner tubes, make sure you keep your hands and feet inside the tube.

• When sliding down a ride with inner tubes, make sure you stay on the tube!

• Obey lifeguards and posted signs.

• If you do injure yourself on  a ride and have an open cut or sore, seek medical attention and do not get into a pool or continue to ride.

• Drink plenty of clean water as the sun and activity can dehydrate you.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions  has more safety tips here.

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


Back in 2010, Backpacker Magazine had a feature that is fantastic for my clients and readers that are in a new town or traveling to a new locale. It was a trip search feature that lets you find hiking trails near you by zip code.

EDIT as of 5-25-17, this feature no longer works. Instead, Backpacker, com allows you to search for trips by state. It is only available for some states, however. Check the link here.

For trails in the Chicago area specifically, Backpacker now this this link available here.

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

Massage for Pain and Stress Relief

Massage for Pain and Stress Relief

I’m really happy for Jennifer Love Hewitt. After being bashed in the tabloids for being a bit chubby, she has lost weight, got her body into great shape and graced the cover of People Magazine in a  swimsuit. She looks great and she worked hard to get back into shape! But now she uses her new curvy but fit body to star in a made for TV movie on Lifetime network that disparages massage therapists. Her film is called  “The Client List.”

In the movie, Love Hewitt plays a woman who turns to illicit activity to feed her family during the economic downturn. Love Hewitt’s character takes a job in a massage parlor that turns out to be… a front for prostitution. Despite claims that the movie is “based on a true story,” it is fiction.The movie, it turns out, is not a biography of the woman in Odessa, Texas that was arrested for prostitution which the movie is “loosely” based upon. The movie is a fictionalized account. (According to new reports, in real life, the woman arrested in Odessa did not have a current massage license, did not have a husband and used the money she made to pay for her cocaine habit, not for her family. )

Normally I wouldn’t protest Ms. Love Hewitt’s choice of movie role.  But right now, there seems to be a disturbing trend in the media, from The View to Lifetime to just about every media channel I turn to. The trend is to depict the entire profession of massage as prostitution.

Think about it, what if other professions were used by criminals to hide their real business dealings. What if prostitutes pretended to be interior designers or accountants and then professionals from these businesses had to prove that they were legit and not prostitutes. What if it became a trend for prostitution rings to set up shop as fake dentists offices? Would dentists then have to submit to fingerprinting and police background checks? Would Elizabeth Hasselbeck then joke on The View about being nervous when her husband goes into his office with a hot looking “interior decorator” to discuss “fabric swatches”?

Massage is Boring
The recent Zoning change in the city of Chicago shows just how damaging movies like The Client List can be for the massage therapy profession. Few Hollywood movies or TV shows depict the massage profession in a favorable nonsexual light.

It’s not that Hollywood has it in for us. It’s just that healthy is boring. Watching someone get a sports massage or deep tissue massage is about as entertaining as watching someone get a tooth filled. If Elizabeth Hasselbeck had stayed in the room with her husband while he was getting his massage, she would have likely fallen asleep due to boredom instead of sitting outside letting her  imagination run wild. (Previously this month, members of the View were disparaging the entire massage profession to make light of a complaint against Al Gore here.)

Watching people get muscle pain relieved is not a big ratings draw, it seems. It’s not life threatening as in an Emergency Room drama. And Massage Therapy lacks the excitement of a forensic lab. Or does it?

The Real Stories of Massage

Hollywood is really missing out on the real stories, the real drama behind legitimate massage therapy. Instead of waiting until someone dies and trying to find the cause of death like on many police drama, Licensed Massage Therapists try to find the source of your muscle pain while you are still living. It may not be as interesting to watch, but if you have ever had chronic low back pain or neck and shoulder pain, finding relief for that pain is pretty darn exciting!

Legitimate massage therapist also give clients a safe place to relax from the stress of every day life. In the massage room or even the massage chair, massage therapy clients get a little bit of time and space that’s all about them. It’s the one time they get to be the center of attention. Getting a massage is one place where you can talk about yourself, have someone attend to your aches and pains and literally get a break from stress and demands for your attention.

In some ways I do blame myself for Hollywood’s insistence on showing sensationalized sexual massage versus healthy but boring legitimate massage. I blame myself because, if I had followed a different dream and gotten my MFA in creative writing, I could have written a lot of great scripts about the world of massage!  But then my clients would still be in pain and I would not have had the benefit of helping many people over the past ten years to recover from muscle tension, pain and stress. Which is the real story about massage therapy!

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

When I talk to clients with children looking for a place to take them for a summer vacation and when I talk to young clients looking for a challenging way to spend a few days, I know there are a lot of options for travel this summer. Wisconsin may not stand out as a big destination, especially for those born or raised in the West Coast. But fear not, the Midwest is not all flat and boring.  Aside from Starved Rock and Devil’s Lake, Northern Wisconsin has a lot to offer the outdoor enthusiast.

This past Spring when I attended the Adventure Travel Expo, I stopped by the  booth of Wildman Ranch.  The representatives there were super friendly and a little…wild. They had a white water raft in their booth and one of the gentleman agreed to pose in their raft!

Wildman Ranch Booth at Adventure Travel Expo. Image by Sue Shekut

What can you do at Wilman Ranch?

Be a wild man or wild woman. Or even a wild family!

• Wildman Whitewater Ranch is an outdoor adventure resort and whitewater rafting center in the Midwest.

• The ranch offers whitewater rafting trips down the scenic Peshtigo and Menominee Rivers in Wisconsin near the Michigan border.

• Challenge yourself on their 60-ft tall High Ropes Course and adrenalin-pumping Giant Swing.

• Explore the Northwoods wilderness on an ATV Trail Tours and, in the winter, on a Snowmobile Tours.

• Scale the terrain of the Rock Dam Gorge with a supervised Rock Climbing and Rappelling adventures.

• Team up with your friends or family in an exciting afternoon of Wildman Paintball Pursuit.

If you are feeling mellow, try out the “Lazy River” Tubing, Lake Touring in a Sea Kayak, or a round of golf on the Wildman USGA Golf Course.

Wildman ranch also provides campsites and cabins nestled among towering hemlock trees along the river’s edge just beneath the famous Horse Race Rapid of the Peshtigo River, the longest stretch of whitewater on the entire river.

Rates for rafting run from $32 for an adult up to $54 depending on the rafting course you select. Children rates run less. Click here for rates on all Wildman activities.

Wild Man Ranch is located just north of Door County,  4.5 hours from Chicago.

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

Grocery Store Aisle. Image at Wikipedia

For some time now, we’ve heard about “food deserts,” those areas of Chicago and other cities where there is little to no access to healthy food such as fruit and vegetables. In food deserts, access to food within walking distance of residents homes is often limited to convenience store sand gas stations. this means feeding a family requires a car ride or public transportation ride to a grocery store outside the neighborhood or a dinner of potato chips pop and candy. Public health officials and groups like Building a Healthier Chicago, are working on improving the options for “food desert” areas by helping plant community gardens, creating farmers markets and providing nutritional education. Now the home delivery grocery service, Peapod, provides a 2010 alternative for families needing healthy food in food deserts–Peapod brings the food to the neighborhood!  Read more about PeaPod new offerings in Chicago areas considered food deserts here.

A Food Desert in Your Own Home

But food deserts are not only found in low-income neighborhoods. You may have a food desert in your own home! How can this be? Well, if the majority if your food is frozen, sodium-laced dinners like TV dinners, if your shelves are stocked with many packaged products with high fructose corn sweeteners, high sodium, partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) and if your refrigerator is full of corn sweetened soda pop and juices, you may be under nourishing yourself and your family.

When I was growing up, my mom was so proud that she could afford to feed her family the latest new convenience foods. As a mom and a nurse, she tried to give us what she thought was healthy food. In my childhood (lo so many years ago, but long after fire was invented), TV dinners were a hot new thang. Tang tasted odd, but the astronauts drank it, so it must be good. Canned vegetables meant we could eat veggies year round. (Versus in my mom’s day when she could only get veggies and fruit in season.) Hamburger Helper did help my working mom. Shake and Bake Chicken, Rice a Roni, all these were staples in our kitchen.  My mother and other working parents did the best they can to feed their children what they believed was healthy food.  At the time all theses products came out, my mother thought she as feeding us the very best there was to offer her family. Years later, after childhood and adult obesity has become a national health crisis, we learn that all that new and exciting packaged, astronaut-endorsed food was not so healthy for us. Yet old habits are hard to break. And high fat, high sodium, high sugary foods taste great and are addicting.

If the majority of food in your home is heavily processed and you have few or no fresh fruit or vegetables, you are living in your own food desert. Don’t despair though, help is one the way!

What can you do to change your home from a food desert to a food oasis?

Reduce your purchase and family consumption of processed foods. Processed foods are usually found in the center aisle of the grocery store. When you read the label, even if the box says “NO trans Fats”, if you see “partially hydrogenated oil” or any kind of fat that is hydrogenated at all, that food has trans fats in it. The FDA allows manufacturers to label a food Trans fat-free if a single servicing size has less than .5 grams of trans fats in it. So, if a servicing size is half a cookie, then the whole cookie could have 1 gram of trans fat. The labeling and serving size restriction is easy to circumvent by food manufacturers. Savvy shoppers know to read the label and look for the words “partially hydrogenated” versus the big “Trans Fat Free” label, which often is meaningless as you can see by my illustration.

Increase your purchase and consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. This is difficult for many people because they lack the skills to cook and prepare fresh veggies. Fruit is easier to serve and prepare. Most fruit can be eaten by itself. Apples, pears, peaches, bananas, even watermelon needs little to no preparation beyond washing to outer skin. But small children (and even many adults) used to sugary foods, may have a hard time switching to the real thing: Fresh fruit. Try fruit bowls with multiple types of fruit.  Get in the habit of feeding your children or yourself at least a piece of fruit a day or twice a day. pack a banana for lunch or apple or pair. Fill a ziplock baggie with a serving of dried fruit like raisins and almonds or pecans.

An easy and super healthy way to prepare vegetables is by steaming them. Use a small stainless steel veggie steamer (which you can get a Target or Kmart or Bed Bath and Beyond for about $5.00) to cook your veggies without leaching out a lot of the valuable nutrients. brocoli, asparagus, zucchini, even spinich quick quickly in a vegetable steamer. If you or your family can’t stomach veggies alone, put a small, very very small amount of butter (a sliver not a pat of butter) or olive oil on the veggies to season them. (Over time reduce the amount of  butter or oil you use as you become more accustomed to the taste of fresh steamed veggies).

Eliminate soda pop from your diet and your family’s diet. I know this is a tough one for many people. But soda pop is simply sugary water. Highly sugary water at that. “Diet” sodas are not much better for you. The number one drink for hydration, health and great skin is, water. Not juice, not beer, not tonic water. Just plain water. If you or your family have a hard time drinking plain old water,  try adding a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice for flavor.  If you must have some sweetener, stir in a bit of real sugar, not corn syrup-sweetened soda!

Try serving a meatless meal from time to time (especially, if your dinner menu tends to be meat and potatoes). Meatless does NOT have to be tasteless. A dinner of rice and beans is high in protean and can be favored with a variety of spices to increase the taste. Falafel, a Middle Eastern staple, is a fried pattie made of spices and garbanzo beans. That may not SOUND appetizing, but try it out before you pass it up!

Try baking snacks from scratch. Do it yourself, “Lara bars” are easy to make and super healthy. If you must have cookies or cakes, make them yourself at home instead of from a box or bought from a store. Sorry Sara Lee and Entenmann’s but there is no substitute for homemade. And by making goodies at home you teach your kids to cook, can control the ingredients, and can spend some quality time with your family. If you don’t have time to cook during the week, make it a regular family weekend event!

We want to hear from you!

Share your food desert transformation stories with us in the comment section!

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

Want to find out about Chicago area restaurants, the best food is, reviews, recipes  and more? Check out  the Tasting Table here. I can’t say that all of their recipes and recommendation are healthy, but reading about food options in your city can give you more options for healthy eating.

What is Tasting Table?

According to their website, it is a free daily email that brings the best of food and drink culture to adventurous eaters in major U.S. Cities. Each weekday, Tasting Table send their subscribers a delicious idea about dining, wine, cocktails, cooking or restaurant personalities. Tasting Table  feeds you only first-hand recommendations that they have tested thoroughly themselves—one bite at a time.

In their local editions in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C., they’ll alert you to a must-try dish at a forgotten restaurant, a hot new bar, under-appreciated shops for cooks and neighborhood food stores.

The national edition, Tasting Table National,  keeps you up to date about the most interesting dining trends  and the best new wines, spirits and cocktails around the country. They’ll direct you to essential new websites, kitchen tools and ingredients. And if you like to travel Tasting Table will cover that, too, with weekly updates about where to eat on the road and how to plan your next food-driven vacation.

Twice a week, their other national edition, Tasting Table Chefs’ Recipes, serves up an exclusive recipe adapted and tested for you to cook at home. These recipes offer a behind-the-scenes bonus from the kitchens of America’s hottest new restaurants and a preview of recipes from the latest essential cookbooks.

Read this months offerings to find out what happened to Ukrainian Village eatery Dodo. Also read more about Joeys Shrimp House, Ruxbim and a slew of international restaurants.

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Today I have a guest post about golf from, you guessed it, an actual golfer. I am not a golfer, but many of my clients and friends golf. Today’s post is about the health benefits of the game. Read on…. Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Article By Brian Bujdos – Editorial Manager of accessrx.com

Image by Wikipedia

Golf is not only enjoyable for many people–it’s also intensely healthy. It provides sustained exercise for the body and focus to strengthen the mind, helps develop the muscles of the back and upper body, and—best of all—can still be played into your sixties, seventies, and even eighties in some cases.


The trick to getting the most out of golf for your health is to walk the links. The United States Golf Association argues that golf can offer major health benefits, but that these are greatly diminished with the use of a golf cart.

On the other hand, by walking all eighteen links, you will have the benefit of getting through several miles of good solid walking. However, since these miles are walked with leisure, and in between strokes, they will not feel like as much work. This makes golfing a very healthy addiction. By golfing every weekend—and walking the links—you can lose weight, improve your heart health, and develop an overall healthier stamina.

Burning Calories

Studies have shown that golfing burns calories. However, you will burn the most calories if you walk the links yourself, and even more if you carry your own bag rather than if you use a caddy. You could burn as many as 700 calories in a nine-hole course.  If you find walking every hole to be a bit strenuous, get a cart and take turns walking every other hole with your golfing partner. You’ll still get a great work out! Don’t forget to drink plenty of water so that you stay hydrated and your muscles don’t begin to cramp up and get strained.

Cardiovascular Workout

Both the energetic use of long distance strokes and the long walking distances will benefit your cardiovascular health. Also, the more calories you burn every week, the lower your chances of developing heart problems later on in life. In fact, it is said that burning around 2,500 calories each week can heavily reduce your risk of developing heart problems. By playing just one eighteen hole course and carrying your own bag every week, you can get more than half way to this goal.


Getting a workout outdoors is far more beneficial than working out in a gym, simply because this allows you to get access to the sunlight, and therefore your body’s own stores of vitamin D. And this means strong bones and healthy blood and skin. Of course, always wear proper protection against the sun, which usually entails an SPF of at least 30.

What better way to get in shape and stay healthy into your later years than by playing a sport that is so easy to love and enjoy?

Who is Brian Bujdos and Why Should We Listen to Him?

Brian Bujdos is a professional writer with 15 years of experience in newspaper and magazine journalism, public relations and marketing. He is a former award-winning sports reporter, has worked for professional sports teams and also served as a public relations professional in the tourism industry for five years. His latest duties include serving as the lead contributor and editor of medical-related content for numerous websites. Brian is a native of Pittsburgh, Penn., a graduate of Syracuse University and a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz. He is a former staff writer for the Albuquerque Tribune, Phoenix Suns, and Arizona Diamondbacks. He has written freelance golf articles and course reviews for numerous publications. He professes to be familiar with every player who has a PGA Tour card, yet his swing resembles none of them.

Brain works for the eDrugstore.MD writing team. They write and blogs hundreds of articles published online and in print, covering everything from sexual health to parenting to beauty, fashion, entertainment and more. eDrugstore.MD, provides safe medications online, prescribing medications such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.

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