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Archive for February, 2011

Plank Pose. Lmage by Wikipedia

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

Newsweek recently had an article about situps causing low back injury, something I’ve been telling clients for years. Situps actually tend to work your hip flexors more than your abdominal muscles as you get into the “sitting” position. And most office workers already have tight hip flexors (Iliopsoas muscles) from sitting all day (contracting Ilipsoas all day in the process). According to Newsweek, “the best exercises for back health and a firmer stomach are ones that work your abs while holding your spine straight, like planks.” (as in Pilates Plank pose or the sit up starting position.)

For a demo of how to do Plank Pose, click here.

Myfitteru has a great video showing you how to do my favorite Abdominal exercise with a  Swiss Ball. Check it out here.

Use Pilates Plank and these abdominal exercises on the Swiss ball and you won’t ever have to do situps again!  And your back will thank you for it.

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

Previously, I’ve blogged about the potential neck and shoulder pain that can result from using iPods and iPads. One way to save yourself from this problem is to get a stand or holder for your iPad so you do not need to hold it or lean far forward to view it.

The iPad looks great and works great. But with its sloping back and glass front it’s tough to handle. When you carry it, it’s awkward to hold and you get fingerprints all over it from grasping it. And when you’re using it, either your neck gets sore from staring downward or your arms and shoulders get tense from holding it up so you can see the screen.

Een Steve Jobs looks uncomfortable viewing the iPad

I came across this product, the Eazel-Stand and it looks like a nice fix. According to their website, you can position your iPad anywhere in 3D space for the most comfortable viewing experience. At your desk, in your reading chair, flat on your back in bed.

Use the Eazel Stand on the coach

Use the Eazel Stand on the plane, train or bus

How it works

Fold your eazel back and it transforms itself into the perfect desk stand. And with the patent-pending friction design, position the screen at any angle that is comfortable for you.

When you’re ready to go, simply close it up into a compact carrying case. Your iPad is fully protected and easy to handle.


Click here for an explanation of how the Eazel Stand works to prevent you from putting stress on your neck and shoulders.

Check it out here. Want to buy an Eazel-Stand. Sorry, it’s not yet available for sale!  But if you sign up or the newsletter, the company will let you know when you can order your own. Til then, try the PortaBook 10086 Multifunctional Laptop Book Document Stand for about $8 on Amazon!

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

I often meet people who have relocated to the Chicago area from more mountainous or forested terrain. A frequent complaint I hear is that there is nowhere to hike, bike or experience nature in Chicago other than the lakefront. Not so! You want forests, we got forests!  You want hills, we got hills. You want mountains…OK, we don’t have mountains. But we have hills and steep terrain at Devils Lake and Starved Rock!

Hiking at Devil's Lake. Photo by Sue Shekut. All rights reserved.

Then another problem arises. Many relocated folks do not know anyone that shares their love for activity in the great outdoors. Well, why not meet up with some new folks that share your enthusiasm and have the gear to experience the same sports and activities you like to participate in.  Try hiking and outdoor activity meet ups!

Hiking and biking is more fun with new friends!

What are Meetups?

From the Meetup website:

Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

Meetup’s mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.

What Does Wiki Say About Meetups?

Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies. Users enter their ZIP code (or their city outside the United States) and the topic they want to meet about, and the website helps them arrange a place and time to meet. Topic listings are also available for users who only enter a location. Meetup.com was founded in 2001 by Scott Heiferman, Matt Meeker and Peter Kamali.

Cool Chicago Area Meetups That Center Around Outdoor Activities

For a view of several different Chicago area Hiking Meetup Group click here. You will find a number of meetups that have hiking involved..

For Chicago Outdoors, Hiking Social meet up, click here.

This group has about 1467 group members. Their page says: e strive for adventures, fun, and friendships. This group is for people who enjoy hiking, being outdoors and meeting new people. We feature hikes for all skill levels, canoeing, camping, biking, social gatherings and other outdoor activities. These events are a great way to get out, meet people, and smell some fresh air. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to contact the Organizer or post them on “ideas for meetup” on the calendar page. Most of the activities are pretty tame, but any participation in this group is at your own risk. If you want to meet fun and adventurous people, this group is for you. They are also looking for Event organizers and hike hosts. Contact the group organizers for info on how you can participate!

Membership Fee/Donations: There are no membership dues to be part of this group. For prepay events, we will sometimes add up to three dollars, normally 1 to 2, to the payment to help out with the Meetup.com monthly fees. For other events, example hikes, we suggest a 1 or 2 dollar donation at the start of the event. This is totally voluntary. No records will be kept for who donates and who doesn’t.

To get info on the Windy City Hiking meet up, click here.

Windy City Hikers is an outdoors group active in the Chicagoland area with about 2710 members so there are plenty of new people to meet and hike with!

Info on Windy City Hikers: In March of 2005, Windy City Hikers began as a couple of friends getting together for a hike. Since that time it’s grown via free and easy advertising on Craigslist, the launch of their web site in September and the fervor and enthusiasm of the hikers! Windy City Hikers is an informal, outdoors group active in the Chicagoland area. They have no membership dues. The group’s goal is to bring people together with common interests in the outdoors to enjoy activities in an environmentally responsible manner. They are all about getting outside; hiking, camping, canoeing…but say “let’s face it hiking is cheap and easy!”

Windy City Hiker outings are a combination of outdoor appreciation and coffee-house conversation all while hiking along the trail. It’s a fun and easy-going atmosphere that’s perfect for meeting new people and relaxing away from work. Currently our hikers range in age from their 20’s to their 60’s, with the majority of the group falling between 25 and 45 years old. The majority of our hikes are within a 2 hour drive from Chicago and range from 4 to 10 miles or so in length. In good weather and average Illinois hiking conditions (flat!) we tend to move at about a 2.5 – 3 mph pace. Fast enough to work up a sweat but slow enough to enjoy a good conversation! During the camping season we also head further afield for some great weekend camping trips.

For info on the Suburban Outdoor Activity group click here.

This 623-member Meetup group was created to connect like-minded adventurous people to get together for adventurous and social outdoor activities. Group members come from all walks of life, but all share the desire to do something different every once in a while. What group members do will vary from week to week, but a large focus will be on day hiking trips, and include rafting, cycling, horseback riding, skiing, weekend trips and whatever else comes up depending on the season and the interests. So if you have something in mind that you’ve always wanted to try, please suggest it! Group activities will include ALL fitness level to ACCOMMODATE all members of the group, and most of the time no special skills but a positive attitude and a desire to have a fun adventure outdoors. The group will try to keep the activities on a budget and will get the group discounts whenever possible. While they don’t provide transportation, they’ll try their best to coordinate drivers with folks that need a ride. Follow them on Facebook at S.O.S.A.G

Looking for other meetup groups, check out all the meetups in your area at Meetup.com. Other meetup website here:

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Rock climbing adventure!

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

I stumbled upon this blog about a fellow Chicagoan’s outdoor adventures. It is aptly titled, “Adventure From Chicago“. The blogger (who does not give his name in his blog) has traveled all over the world and lists many of his outdoor accomplishments such as skiing, mountaineering,  rock climbing,  sailing and more.  It’s worth checking his blog out. It may inspire you to travel or even do some outdoor adventures as well!

Here is what he says about himself:

Blogger with his lady, Lisa

I love to have adventures – I’m an avid climber, sailor, mountain biker, hiker, road-tripper, international traveler… and on and on.  I like to do cool stuff.  And as much of it and as often as possible.  Interesting and/or weird things happen to me fairly often, and I embrace them and think it’ll be fun to tell about them.  I’m in an office most days – and can always use a break from work.  Though in 2008 I managed to take twelve weeks off.

The highlights of what I have done are: traveled the world for 6.5 months, own a sailboat in Chicago, host bachelorette parties on my boat, have a successful business involved in trading and investing, climbed some major mountains in the Himalayas, Andes, the US, and Kilimanjaro in Africa, teach rock climbing part-time at a gym, kayak, ski, do triathlons, fish, surf, etc.  If it’s fun or new or interesting or adventurous, I’m in.

Check out his blog here. Check out his  great videos and pics of recent adventures!

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Vanilla Ice.

Vanilla Ice. Image via Wikipedia

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

I was heading to work this past weekend and took a bad fall on my back stairs. Even though the snow is melting, patches are still icy and I fell hard. Luckily I know that stepping out on ice is a prelude to sitting on ice (packs). For a few hours. On and off.

When we fall on a hard surface we often end up bruised and sore. I am no exception. This weekend, I nursed my wounds with ice packs hot tea and a warm blanket wrapped around me!

Apparently I am in good company because, remember that “rapper” Vanilla Ice? He recently also took a fall on ice. Click here for the gory details!

Luckily I did not gush blood like Vanilla ice did in his fall!

Some of the articles Ice and I both should have read before I fell are below. Read them to handle falling yourself!

• Falling on Ice-Suggestions to help your save back from University of Iowa Healthcare. Click here.

• When to use heat and ice for sports injuries. A fall on ice is kind of athletic, right? Click here for details on when to use heat and ice.

• H ow to fall on ice, including instructions on how to roll. Difficult to do on stairs (rolling down stairs may have given me a concussion and fractured my skull) but good to know. Click here.

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

Since it’s the week of love and romance, I thought I’d add another book recommendation. Years ago someone told me about this book, The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. It helped me better understand that everyone ha a different approach to expressing their love and caring for another person. In my Valentines Day post, I talked about how some people feel love when you take care of them others feel loved when you spend money on them. What does this have to do with Wellness? Think about the stress you have when you think you are showing your love and your partner thinks you are being insensitive. All because you don’t understand each others styles of showing affection and care. Stress can cause a lot of health issues. So, giving you tools to reduce stress  is part of my goal!

If you are in the perfect relationship and understand you partner 100% or even 90%, kudos!  For the rest of the population, though, cultural differences, family experiences and personal history can affect how we view acts of love.  This book is easy to read and insightful. Give it a read and let me know what you think of it!

Check out the book on Amazon here: The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

Here is what Amazon has to say about this book:

Unhappiness in marriage often has a simple root cause: we speak different love languages, believes Dr. Gary Chapman. While working as a marriage counselor for more than 30 years, he identified five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. In a friendly, often humorous style, he unpacks each one. Some husbands or wives may crave focused attention; another needs regular praise. Gifts are highly important to one spouse, while another sees fixing a leaky faucet, ironing a shirt, or cooking a meal as filling their “love tank.” Some partners might find physical touch makes them feel valued: holding hands, giving back rubs, and sexual contact. Chapman illustrates each love language with real-life examples from his counseling practice. How do you discover your spouse’s – and your own – love language? Chapman’s short questionnaires are one of several ways to find out.

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Image from Wikipedia.

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

Valentine’s day is here! Some studies show that sharing love is good for your health. Click here for a great post about the health benefits of love and loving. For those of you in love, wanting to be in love or even old married folks that have a long time partnership, there is a lot of confusion about how to show your love to those you care about. Last week I had a young male client ask me if we were doing anything special for Valentines’ day. My reply was that, in my relationship, every day is Valentine’s day! Why, because we try to show each other we care and enjoy each others company every day even in small ways. For me, taking out the trash is an act of love. It’s care taking and I like being cared for. I also like caring for others so making my man nice meal or giving him hot tea when he is sick is an act of love to me. However, other people may value different things.

Here are some ideas about what to give your loved ones for Valentine’s day or any day to show you care.

• For some woman, feeling loved and appreciated means getting an expensive gift like diamond jewelry or silver jewelry from Tiffany’s.

• For busy moms, it might mean watching the kids so she can go to yoga class, take a hot bath alone and uninterrupted.

• Some lovers buy their partners chocolate (to say I am sweet on you!) for their love. But that can add unwanted fat and calories to your loved ones diet. Try low-fat chocolates or a smaller box so he/she can savor the treat without putting on 10 pounds! Or you can try giving Xocia Healthy Chocolate. Click here for more info.

• Some men and women may want a gift certificate for a massage or even a nice back rub from their partner. In Chicago,  Working Well Massage sells gift certificates for chair massage at both of our chair massage stations. Click here for more info.

• Learn how to give your partner a sensual massage from this DVD – Couples Massage DVD – GTS Therapeutics – Tiffany and Gary Blackden NCMTs.

• There are also health benefits to physical  intimacy as well. Read more about them here.

• For a man in your life (even brother or son) that does not know how to cook, don’t give him a fish, teach him to fish..and cook the fish with this book – Tough Guys Don’t Dice: A Cookbook for Men Who Can’t Cook

For those of you looking for love, there are some great books to help you figure out what it is you really want and figure out how to get it:

• A great book that explains the different ways people express love and how to find a mate you are compatible with love style wise: –The Truth About Love: The Highs, the Lows, and How You Can Make It Last Forever

• A wonderful book for those that are happy to be single or for those that WANT to be happy being single–Living Alone and Loving It

• A helpful book about how couples can better connect through touch –Connecting Through Touch: The Couples’ Massage Book

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