Archive for November, 2010

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



Nutrition+exercise=Good Health

Today I came across an article about a gym that offers cooking classes and teaches basic nutrition to its members. Sadly for Chicagoans, the gym isn’t located in Chicago, but in Pittsburgh, PA. But maybe some enterprising Chicago gym owner/Entrepreneur will like the idea and start one here in the city of restaurants! Hint hint.”An article by Debbie Black in the FOR THE PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW describes the fitness/nutrition experience of My Fitness  Kitchen here:

With over 23 years of experience working in the fitness industry, the owner of My Fitness Kitchen, Mark Rullo is an exercise physiologist, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a medical exercise specialist and certified golf fitness instructor.

Gym members can learn to cook from nutritional recipes and are trained in a healthy lifestyle starting with calories, cooking and eating. My Fitness Kitchen recommends supportive nutrition, stressing the need for oxygen to work muscles, concern for muscles, and relaxation and recuperation.

Read the entire article here.

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CORONADO, Calif. (Nov. 22, 2007) Storekeeper 1...
CORONADO, Calif. Storekeeper 1st Class Andy Zhang enjoys Thanksgiving dinner with his son. Image via Wikipedia

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

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to give thanks and count our blessings. It can also be a time to overeat and overindulge. Here a few tips to help keep you from feeling like you lost control of your healthy eating habits on this feastful holiday:

1. Eat small portions of each food item you want to sample.

2. Don’t deprive yourself of dessert or you may overeat something else. If you want a slice of  pie, have one. Just cut a half  a slice, let that digest an hour or so before you think about having more!

3. Make sure you drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make you want to consume more food. And drinking water fills your stomach so you don’t have as much room for food.

4. If you drink alcohol, remember it is dehydrating. Trade off between one glass of water for every beer or glass of wine (or mixed drink if you are hitting harder stuff.)

5. Remember that this holiday is really about spending time with friends and family. Focus on the social interactions and the food becomes less of an issue.

6. If you are struggling with overeating or overindulging, do the dishes! It helps out the hostess/host and gives you something to do with your hands besides munch!

A Heartfelt Thank You

And thank you for reading my blog. It’s been a great year for Working Well Massage, am exceptionally happy year for me and a wonderful year for the many people in my life that have benefited from massage therapy, wellness coaching, personal training, better ergonomics, outdoor exercising, and good nutrition! I am grateful to have the opportunity to meet so many interesting and positively motivated people as I travel around and find interesting stories for  my blog. It’s the people I meet and work with that make my life interesting and fulfilling. A heartfelt thank you to all of you I’ve come in contact with this year, on the blog and in real life!

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The Artculating Easel in use with an iPad


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

This past weekend I did what I tell other people not to do. I spent the bulk of the weekend at my desk and computer, studying, writing a paper and reading  a textbook. In all, I likely logged 20 hours sitting in my chair, typing, reading and researching. I did use my Port-A-Book to hold my textbook but even with good ergonomics, sitting for that long take sits toll. The result: I got a lot of work done, but I also felt exhausted, my back and neck hurt and I felt my immune system wearing out. I missed my weekly, long forest preserve hike and overall, I missed my weekend. I don’t do this often and I don’t advise spending the weekend working or computing, especially if that is what you do all week at work.

Now research shows that you do on your weekend can effect how well you feel and how productive you are during your workweek.  A study conducted by German researchers on emergency medical service (EMS) workers showed that weekend time spent socializing with friends and family tended to reduce workers’ burnout and increase their general well-being. Kind of a no brainer, don’t you think?  But  many people who work long hours during the week in office jobs that come home to a weekend of more work done in front of their computers. Why do we work so hard? For some, it’s a matter of managers giving workers too many tasks to complete in too little time. But if your manager is one of those people who doesn’t believe you should have time off from work on the weekend, you may want to share the results of this study with him or her. AND, if you are the one that drives yourself to work during the weekend, you may want to read more about this study yourself. And then, give yourself some time off! You will be glad you did.

Researchers at the Technical University of Braunschweig studied the effect of nonwork hassles, time spent in social activity and time spent reflecting positively about work on 87 EMS workers. Nonwork hassles were defined as conflicts with family members or spouse, car trouble, excessive housework  or similar irritation. Social activity was defined as spending time with people one enjoys and positive reflection about work was defined as thinking about the benefits or successes of one’s work. It appears it was easier to study EMS workers (paramedics in U.S. terminology) because they would have a difficult time “bringing their work home with them.” Thus,  the weekend experience for an EMS worker would not include work tasks. (Contrast this with U.S. office workers than can do their work anywhere a Blackberry, laptop or iPhone can be powered up.)

Non work hassles correlated with poor general well-being post-weekend and lower performance in daily work tasks post-weekend. So fighting with your spouse tends to make you feel less healthy and perform more poorly at work the next week). Workers engaged in more social activity on the weekend reported higher levels of general health and well-being as well as better task performance post-weekend.  A high amount of non work hassles tended to associate with lower pursuit of learning post weekend.  Higher positive work reflection on the weekend led to higher pursuit of learning post weekend. Exhaustion was significantly related to task performance (those more exhausted did less well on task performance). The study recommended that workers try to spend more time in positive social activities during weekends and free time.  Employers and organizations could use this study as support for considering reductions in workload and allowing for breaks or comp time after periods of intensive work activity.

I, for one, will be taking time off from the computer and my textbooks for next few days for Thanksgiving activities with my family and friends. And I will be giving my back and neck a much-needed break. And maybe even get  some hiking or swimming in!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!


Fritz, C., and Sonnentag, S. (2005) Recovery, Health, and Job Performance: Effects of Weekend Experiences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 10(3), 187-199

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Personal trainer monitoring a client's movemen...
Image via Wikipedia

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

There are so many workout myths out there I can’t even count them all. Today I ran across an article I really enjoyed that breaks some of the most popular and entrenched workout myths. Number #1 is the myth that sit ups will give you a “six-pack” belly. I have low back problems and doing sit ups is the worst way for me to strengthen my core. Traditional sit ups really work your hip flexors (Iliopsoas muscles for the anatomically aware) more than the abdominal muscles. Instead I prefer Pilates Plank poses or other abdominal exercises that target the core of your torso. (Meaning those muscles deep to your spine  that support your spine. A good thing, supporting the spine, don’t you think?!). Click here for an explanation of how to do Prone Plank with Stability Ball. (Note: Click on More photos under the pic in this short article to show you visually how to do the exercise.)

Also explained: Why running makes you a better runner but doe snot make you necessarily more fit for other activities. How reading effects your body while you workout (Hint: It isn’t helping your posture.) Why weights are not just for bodybuilders. Why exercising longer may not make you burn more calories! Why stretching IS important despite some confusing reports to the contrary. How your workout will make you look like your favorite celebrity. Not. And why you can’t eat like a glutton if you work out a  lot.

Read the list of exercise myth busting tips here by By Gillian Reeves, Personal Trainer from Mail Online. And then workout with a better idea of what you are doing.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
Recently I heard about a great blog that provides posts about the latest research on Industrial/Organizational science, The IOATWORK blog.

Human Resource professionals, as well as those of you interested in reducing stress in your workplace, might learn a lot from articles in this blog. As a massage therapist and wellness coach, I see the effects of workplace stress first-hand. And I can do something about relieving the effects of stress for my clients. But I can’t eliminate the causes of stress. That’s the job of management and Industrial/Organizational psychologists. If you want to know more about what’s going on in the field of research, what’s been shown to work and what does not as far as reducing workplace stress, providing better work/life balance for employees or how to keep yourself from burning out, you would do well to check out this blog! (And of course there are a lot of other great non-wellness related posts in the blog as well.

Who Created the IOATWORK blog and Who May Benefit From Reading It?

The blog editor, Alison Mallard, Ph.D. explains why the blog was created and the audience they intend to serve:

Many consider Industrial/Organizational psychology as the science behind Human Resources, Organizational Development, Organizational Effectiveness, and Organizational Behavior.

I/O AT WORK helps to bridge the gap between I/O research and its application in the HR world (and beyond) by making it easier for practitioners to access and stay on top of recent published research.

So, instead of spending hours scanning multiple journals, we do much of the work for you.  With this site and a few minutes a week, you can stay informed about new research by scrolling through the new reviews posted each week.  Or you can search reviews by topic or journal.

Wellness-related  Blog Posts from IOATWORK blog (links included)

Your Lunchbox is Your Friend

Keeping it Safe for Daylight Saving Time

Heavy Workloads: Much More Than Just a Nuisance

If You Want to Prevent Exhaustion … Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

With Age Comes Wisdom…And Better Job Attitudes

Managing Grief in the Workplace

Oh give me a BREAK! (Why breaks are important)

When Helping Hurts: The Dark Side of Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

When Mental Detachment from Work is a Must

Play Hard, Rest Hard and Maximize Your Performance

The Organizational Benefits of Work Life Balance

Home Sweet Home…At Work?

Work-Family Conflict: White vs Blue Collar

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Cover Your Mouth When Sneezing!

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

The cold and flu season seems to no longer be a season but a constant sharing of germs and sneezes in many of the corporate offices I visit. Aside from sleep and fluids some people swear that exercising helps keep them from getting many of these office bugs.  According to a recent press release from the American College of Sports Medicine, sometimes it’s better to rest when you are sick versus exercise. However, exercise does help boost your body’s immune response. So how do you know when to work out and when to stay in bed?

Read this excerpt from the ACSM press release:

ACSM Fellow David C. Nieman, Dr.P.H., says that moderate exercise (30 minutes a day, on most, if not all, days of the week) actually lowers the risk for respiratory infections.  Prolonged, intense exercise, on the other hand, can weaken the immune system and allow viruses to gain a foothold and spread.

In general, if your symptoms are from the neck up, go ahead and take a walk,” said Dr. Nieman. “But if you have a fever or general aches and pains, rest up and let your body get over the illness.”

Read more from the press releases including Dr. Nieman’s  4 Tips on when to exercise and when to rest here.

And for a more detailed Fact Sheet on the relationship between safe exercise and illnesses download the ACSM fact sheet: “Exercise and the Common Cold,”   This fact sheet was written by Dr. Nieman.

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

One of the advantages to being a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is that I get timely access to the latest studies on sports medicine and exercise science. I also get a lot of information about what’s happening in the U.S. regarding health and wellness. Today I opened my email to find a newsletter from ACSM and a link to a great blog that features stories about real people implementing fitness and nutrition programs into schools, workplaces and the home. The blog is called the “Be Active Your Way Blog” and this week it features a story about the Hip Hop Healthy Heart Program for Children™ (Hip Hop), a comprehensive wellness program bringing together physical education, music, and arts in grade K-6th. The post before that was an article on ways people have overcome environmental barriers to be more active and fit with suggestions. Check it out here!

The blog was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Contributors to the blog include the YMCA,  ACSM, the Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, the National Physical Activity Plan, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, Inc. and many similar organizations.

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