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Archive for August, 2010

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

As you all know, I am a big believer in eating healthy and exercising outdoors when possible. And I am not afraid to travel to seek out new places to enjoy the great outdoors. However, when traveling or even for short day hikes, it’s a challenge to find healthy food nearby.  For that reason I recently invested in a fantastic product that I can take (and have taken) with me to ensure my partner and I eat healthy when away from home. What is it? It’s a cooler with a mess kit attached. Well, not really a mess kit, more of an upscale picnic set. There are a few different versions of this tote but I liked the Picnic Time Solano 412-44 Blue w/Grey Fully-insulated Picnic Cooler Tote best.

Plates, glasses, silverware, even salt and pepper shakers for the road. Image by Sue Shekut

Before a day hike or a long trip, I pack up the cooler section of this pack with a few cool packs or ice in a plastic baggie. Then I can slip in some fresh sandwiches, fruit or even tuna fish salad or any healthy snack or meal that requires refrigeration.  We set out on our hike and I may take a tortilla and some lunch meat along for a mid day snack. By placing the meat next to the water pack in my camelback, I can keep it cool enough until I eat it a few hours later. The pack in the car keeps the rest of the food cold so we have food when we return from a long day’s hike. Then we can sit in the car and lay out plates, silverware and even cloth napkins for a small feast!  We used this pack on our recent trip to Door County and enjoyed a nice meal on the tailgate of my boyfriends truck.

Blue Picnic Pack and plates for our lunch on the road. Image by Sue Shekut

A Perfect Picnic Stop-Tailgating in the Back of a Gas Station Near Woods. Image by Sue Shekut

You can get this pack or similar packs on Amazon. (I found  a similar picnic pack at REI but it does not include the cooler.)  Order from Amazon here: NEW Picnic Time Solano 412-44 Blue w/Grey Fully-insulated Picnic Cooler Tote High Quality Pretty Cost $49.95.

* Durable polyester canvas construction, an adjustable shoulder strap
* Fully-insulated food/drink compartment with 18-can capacity
* Includes deluxe picnicware for four
* Comes with linens, cutting board, cheese knife and corkscrew
* Perfect for concerts, picnics, days at the park or beach

Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 9.5 x 13.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 3 pounds

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

As fall approaches, I hear winter calling as well. For me that means more indoors workouts and potentially more boredom in my workout routine, UNLESS, I use more Wii Fit. And as luck would have it, game designers are still creating new offerings for the Wii Fit. And while Wii Fit may not have a Tai Chi module ready for us, there is a new combination Yoga and Pilates program coming out for Wii Fit. According to Wii Fit Yoga blog here, there is a plan for a new Wii Fit module to incorporate both Yoga and Pilates exercises. It is being developed by a UK based developer and is slated for release on September 28, 2010.

According to the UK version on Amazon,  this Wii Fit module includes:

  • 117 exercises and 3 Real Personal Trainers
  • A comprehensive Yoga & Pilates training program with relaxation and breathing techniques
  • Customizable goals for a unique experience
  • Videos with different framing and fully localized audio commentary.

Pre-order your own copy of the Wii Fit New U module via this link: New U Fitness First Yoga and Pilates

Check out some of the sample screens below!

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

Looking for a great way to get a cardiovascular workout, strengthen your core muscles and get around town? How about inline skating!

Image from Wikipedia

When I was in college  (Lo so many years ago), we did not have inline skates.  I used to rent actual roller skates and skate around town with other well padded friends (knees and wrist pads were a must). Nowadays people roll around on inline skates aka roller blades.  Since a groin injury years ago, I am leery of putting anything with wheels on my feet that may cause my right leg and my left leg to go in opposite directions. but my colleague, Dr. Bonny Flaster, is an old pro at in line skating and you can see her skating along the Chicago Lakefront every day, her long silver hair flying free. And she’s written a  great post with all you need to know to get started and get skating at her blog, Chicago Workout, here.

According to Dr Flaster, “A terrific way to get started is through the National Skate Patrol (http://nsp-chicago.org/). Volunteers offer a free stopping clinic just north of Oak Street Beach, Saturday afternoon, between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00 pm, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You can find them under a red flag for the National Skate Patrol. They’ll be wearing red NSP shirts.”

In her post, Dr. Flaster also gives tips for beginners, including a few words on the most important tip for newbee inline skaters: how to stop.

Read the full post at Chicago Workout, here.

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

Kayakers and wanna be kayakers, don’t miss the Chicago Shoreline Marathon this Saturday, August 28, at Chicago’s Lakefront! There are three different options to compete depending on your stamina and skill level.  Find detailed race course info here. Register for the race here.

4 x 4 mile relay

For all skill levels, the ideal race for Club or Corporate Teams and Adventure Racers

Each team will have four paddlers and each paddler will complete one 4-mile leg of the race. This 4-leg relay will start on Leone Beach. Each participant will go south two miles, around a marker, then return to Leone where they switch paddlers for the second leg and so on. Starting at 10:00 AM from Leone Beach, each participant will go south approx. two miles, around a marker, then return to Leone where they switch paddlers for the second leg and so on.

8 Mile Two Beach Race

For intermediate paddlers with the drive to compete

The 2-Beach Course will start on Leone Beach and will consist of one round trip between Leone and Montrose Beaches. The 8-mile round trip will finish back at Leone Beach. All Short Course competitors will start at 11:00 AM at Leone Beach.

25 Mile Marathon

For the skilled competitive paddler.

The Marathon will start at Calumet Harbor on the far south side of Chicago and run north to Leone Beach (Touhy Avenue) on the north side. Marathon contestants will be required to check in at 63rd Street, 12th Street, North Avenue and Montrose Avenue Beaches. Starting at 9:00 AM in Calumet Harbor on the far south side of Chicago, competitors will race northward along the entire shoreline to Leone Beach.

Learn to Paddle Class

The day before the race, there will be a two-hour course in paddling offered by Dawid Mocke Clinic “Going Downwind” – Theory then paddling:on Friday, August 27th 2010 at 2pm at Leone Beach

  • Basic principles: Catching a wave, riding a wave, catching and riding swells, power up/power down
  • Finding the swell: where to look, wind direction, swell direction, finish point
  • Linking the swells: where to go, keeping the rhythm and speed
  • Common mistakes and how to fix them

Course length is 2 hours. Cost is $55.00 including insurance.

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

So called “sports” drink advertising campaigns taut the benefits of drinking energy drinks for improved performance, concentration, and mood. However, like most marketing campaigns, as the old adage goes, if it seems to good to be true (energy in a bottle! Lose 30 pounds in 1 week!) it likely is too good to be true.

In his recent article, “The Downside of Energy Drinks – Negative Performance and Psychological Effects” published in ACSM’s Active Voice newsletter, Conrad Woolsey, Ph.D., CHES states that Energy drinks may actually cause long term energy depletion. Dr. Woolsey has published a number of studies regarding energy drink use and it’s effect on the nervous system and health in general. His findings are that that Energy Drinks can inhibit peak performance and that regular Energy Drink use will result in drinkers feeling tired, anxious, and depressed more of the time rather than energized and calm.

Caffeine Overdose?

According to Dr. Woolsey, of the over 500 brands of energy drinks now available, several contain 3-4 times the amount of caffeine (300+ mg/8 oz.) as standard energy drinks (80 mg/8 oz.) such as Red Bull.

Drinks like Spike and Redline also contain other herbal stimulants such as evodamine and yohimbine which are more powerful and dangerous than caffeine.

Energy Drinks: A New Addiction?

According to Dr. Woolsey, energy drinks work, much like drugs of addiction, “ by causing a large release and/or prolonged action of pleasure-reward neurotransmitters (dopamine/serotonin) and stress hormones (nor-adrenaline/adrenaline), which in turn provides a short term high followed by a low.”

In his research Dr. Woolsey found that “using energy drinks can raise pleasure-reward thresholds and damage neurotransmitter receptor sites. This results in more drug craving and/or thrill-seeking to satisfy homeostatic brain deficiencies and increases the chances of developing anxiety and depressive disorders.”

Prior research has shown that significant brain modeling occurs in adolescents all the way up to age 20. Young people under age 25 are also at risk for developing addictive personality traits and behaviors due to incomplete development of the memory (hippocampus), stress, and pleasure-reward systems of the brain with regular use of energy drinks.

In a randomly assigned double-blind placebo controlled study where Dr. Woolsey and his collagues tested energy drinks on a dynamic performance skill, they found performance improvements only when they examined a one-dimensional variables such as reaction time. But reaction time alone is not the only variable needed to coordinate multi-dimensional skills. In the study, performers perceived they were doing better, but actually made significantly more errors, due to being hyper-focused and/or over-aroused. Technical skills require precise timing and coordination and according to Dr. Wollesey’s studies, Energy Drinks can and often do reduce performance. As a sport psychology consultant, Dr. Woolsey regularly works with elite athletes whose performances suffer from using energy drinks, particularly in high-pressure situations.

Energy the Natural, Non-Addictive Way

The best way to feel energized and alert is to get a good nights sleep of about 7-8 hours. There is no substitute for a good night’s sleep, for you or for your children. Pouring caffeine into a sleep deprived person does not make up for the lack of sleep.

Another natural way to perk yourself up include avoiding dehydration by simply drinking enough water to stay hydrated. (Hint: If you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.)

Finally, to keep energy levels constant, maintain steady blood sugar levels (without spikes or lows) by eating small meals at regular intervals (versus starving yourself and then binging on sugar or energy drinks to get you going). Sounds suspiciously like that whole “eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest and fluids” advice we’ve all heard before. Try it yourself and see how you feel.

And save the cost of expensive energy drinks, along with the cost of possible medical bills for anxiety, depression and addiction!

Buy Bottled Sleep By Sue Shekut

Am I really selling bottles of sleep? Of course not. If I could bottle sleep and sell it, I’d be a billionaire. But really, no one can bottle sleep. And if they could, would you have to buy a separate bottle for REM sleep and good dreams? (I’ll have a bottle of 8 hours of Sleep with a side order of good dreams?)

To read the complete article by Dr. Woolsey in Active Voice, click here.

Who is Conrad Woolsey and Why Should We Listen to Him?

Conrad Wolsey, PhD, CHES

Conrad Woolsey, PhD, CHES, is an Assistant Professor of Health and Human Performance at Oklahoma State University and a sport psychology consultant. His research areas include brain chemistry, addiction, positive health behavior change, health psychology and performance in athletes. He has authored publications and several research presentations related to this commentary1 including one at ACSM’s Annual Meeting and World Congress on Exercise is Medicine™, held in Baltimore in June 2010. For further information, contact the author by e-mail via his institutional website.

Studies by Dr. Woolsey on Energy Drinks

Woolsey, C. (in press, due for publication in October, 2010). Energy drink cocktails: A dangerous combination for athletes and beyond. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 54(3), December 2010

Woolsey, C., Waigandt, A., & Beck, N. (2010). Athlete energy drink use: Reported risk taking and consequences from the combined use of alcohol and energy drinks. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 22(1), 65-71. Doi:10.1080/10413200903403224

Woolsey, C. (2010, March 18). Energy drinks: The new gateway drug. AAHPERD National Convention and Exposition in Indianapolis, Indiana. AAHE RCB Oral Session – New Challenges in Drug Use/Abuse Prevention and Intervention.

Woolsey, C., Martens, M.P., Beck, N.C. (2009). Understanding athlete brain chemistry and addiction. American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM Central States Regional Conference, Columbia, MO. November 6, 2009. Oral Presentation – 45 min.

Woolsey, C. & Kensinger, W.S. (2009, November 6). Exercise & energy drink use: Juiced jolts or risky sips? ACSM’s Central States Regional Conference, Columbia, MO. Oral Presentation – 45 min.

Woolsey, C. (2010, March 5). The effects of energy drinks and alcohol on brain development and psychological health. Achieving Wellness Through Community. Sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Norman, OK. Speaker- 60 minutes.

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

I lived in Milwaukee during my grade school years. Each summer, my outdoorsy father would pack up our Vista Cruiser station wagon with tents, a Coleman stove, cots, coolers and our bikes for a camping trip to Door County, Wisconsin. I have fond memories of swimming in Nicolet Bay (the beach at Peninsula State Park), jumping off a pontoon boat in Sister Bay harbor  to swim in the cool Lake Michigan water and watching the goats eat on the roof of Al Johnson’s restaurant. So a few weeks ago, when my partner and I decided to get away for a few days, we headed to Door County to get some R&R, scout for locations for future retreats and seminars, and enjoy some of the last few days of summer.

For the uninitiated, Door County is the area of Wisconsin some call the Thumb. If you look at Wisconsin like a giant hand, the right-hand side has a “thumb” sticking out of it. Along the top of the “thumb” is a lovely area and country called Door County. It has a number of small towns along the lake and it’s been the quieter Wisconsin/Chicago tourist destination compared to the Dells.

Summit House (one of 7 houses) at Eagle Harbor Inn. Image by Sue Shekut

On of the reason I like to go to Door County is that, for this part of the country, there are a lot of outdoor activities you can do within a few miles of your hotel. We stayed in Eagle Harbor Inn in Ephraim and we were so pleased with our suite, we almost did not want to leave our rooms. Eagle Harbor Inn has a small indoor pool and a room with workout equipment. (It’s such a nice place we could see how it would be a great winter get away for snow showing, cross country skiing and sitting by a roaring (gas) fire. This s a great place for a retreat, workshop or even a corporate event since the Inn had about 7 Victorian style houses split into condo-like Suites. We had a one bedroom and it was absolutely cozy, inviting, quiet, and lovely. (The Innkeeper said some people some to Eagle Harbor Inn to enjoy the peace and quiet and to write books or work on software projects.)

Boats in Ephraim Bay. Image by Sue Shekut.

A mere 3 blocks away is South Shore Pier which rents pontoon boats, speed boats and wave runners by the day and half day. We rented a pontoon boat and tooled around the designated bay, boating from Ephraim to Fish Creek to Sisters Bay. Sitting in a boat may give you some time to synthesize vitamin D, but not much fitness, so we dropped anchor around Horseshoe Island, out of the way of speedboat traffic) and swam in the cool refreshing water. Since the boat requires deep water, jumping off the side of the boat means there is no bottom underneath your feet so you get a quite a swim. The water is cool, not freezing, but it’s not bath water either so it really wakes you up. As along as we  kept swimming though, it didn’t feel cold at all.

View from the boat on Lake Michigan in Door County. Image by Sue Shekut.

Peninsula State Park is a mere 5 minute bike ride from Eagle Harbor Inn. There are a number of trails throughout the park which is situated on, you guessed it, a peninsula jutting out of the “thumb” of Door County. On our second day in Door County, we hoped on our bikes took a left out of our hotel and in about 5 minutes (And a BIG hill), we were at the entrance of Peninsula State Park. After getting a map from the golf course info center, we found  miles of interior mountain bikes trails and we rode about 17 miles along the crisscrossing trails, through patches of mosquito ridden woods where we saw no other bikers or hikers. In one section of our ride, we joined the other bikers along the main bike path (gravel) that peeks out into the lake. Wooden benches waited for resting bikers and hikers along rocky beach near the bike path.

After a long days hike, we were fortunate (and also because I planned ahead!) to have a two person hot tub in our room at the Inn. Soaking after a long day of biking and hiking was a wonderful way to end our day.

Hot tub, fireplace and a bed. A great way to rest and relax. Image by Sue Shekut

Our final day in Door County, we decided to act like proper tourists so we did a round of Put putt golf at the Pirates Cove and then eat lunch at All Johnson’s.  If you haven’t gone to Door County, I hope you have a taste of some of the things you can do to enjoy the area and getaway from the big city to nature, peace and quiet and some interesting Door County sights.

Pirate's Cove Mini-Golf. Image by Sue Shekut

Map of Penisula State Park Bike routes. iamge by Sue Shekut

Beach at Nicolet Bay. Image by Sue Shekut

Bikes at Nicolet Bay. Image by Sue Shekut

Volly ball at Niceolet Bay. Image by Sue Shekut

Sequeway Tour of the park for seniors. Image by Sue Shekut

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

Glen Falls, Cashiers, NC. Image by Sue Shekut

It’s an amazing year for outdoor enthusiasts like you and me! Not only did the federal government establish the America Great Outdoors initiative, but outdoor gear retailer, The North Face, announced the creation of the Explore Fund™ Grant Program to Reconnect Children with Nature. This is such a great idea to tackle childhood obesity, stress and give children great health and fitness experiences in the great outdoors. And it gives children a chance to explore a wonderful world that they might not see if left to play video games indoors.

The North Face Partners is providing more than$100,000 Outdoor Nation Youth Summit Delegates and other groups that help reconnect children with nature. “Today’s young skiers, campers, runners and climbers are tomorrow’s outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists,” said Steve Rendle, President of The North Face and VF Outdoor Americas. “We are providing education, access and connection through ongoing events, funding and PlanetExplore—an online community that helps individuals and families discover local outdoor recreational activities. Our goal is to get more people outside, having fun and exploring their world in ways that are meaningful to them.”

The Conservation Fund also announced a $50,000 matching grant to the Outdoor Foundation to be used with the Explore Fund to support concepts generated by the Outdoor Nation delegates. The Outdoor Nation event brings together 500 young delegates from each of the 50 states to champion the outdoors. The delegates were selected based on interest in the outdoor and a commitment to lead local, regional and national efforts that will reconnect youth and nature.

“Reconnecting young people with the outdoors is critical for the health of our population, our economy and our environment. It’s time for a new Outdoor Revolution and we need young people to step up and lead. Thanks to the Outdoor Foundation, The North Face and our many other partners, the delegates at the Outdoor Nation Youth Summit will for the first time be able to do just that,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO, The Conservation Fund.”

“Recent high profile government initiatives like the America’s Great Outdoors program and the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign are part of a national trend to encourage Americans – especially youth – to lead healthier lifestyles and reconnect with nature. Across the country programs are trying to get kids outside and moving; however, few programs are focused on young people as leaders,” said Chris Fanning, Executive Director, The Outdoor Foundation. “Outdoor Nation and the Explore Fund initiatives are two of the first efforts that aim to empower youth to champion outdoor change in their communities and on their campuses.”

What is The North Face®?

The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in San Leandro, California, the company offers technically advanced products to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snow sport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company’s products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snow sport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains.

What is The Conservation Fund?

The Conservation Fund is dedicated to advancing America’s land and water legacy. With our partners, we conserve land, train leaders and invest in conservation at home. Since 1985, it has helped protect more than 6 million acres, sustaining wild havens, working lands and vibrant communities. Learn more here.

What is Outdoor Nation?

As part of a broader national initiative, Outdoor Nation and its community of ‘Outsiders’ are committed to increasing and expanding youth participation through entertainment, education, engagement and action – especially among urban communities and communities of color – resulting in a healthier, more active generation.

What is The Outdoor Foundation?

The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through ground-breaking research, action-oriented convening and outreach and education programs, the Foundation is working with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In 2010, the Foundation launched Outdoor Nation — a ground-breaking initiative that aims to empower youth to champion the outdoors on campuses and in communities. For more information click here.

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