Archive for July, 2013

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

An article about the neurological aspects of yoga and how we can use yoga to train our minds to react less to physical stress caught my eye today.  Alex Korb, Ph.D. wrote a great post “Yoga: Changing the Brain’s Stressful Habits” in his blog, Prefrontal Nudity. His main premise is that yoga is designed to stress our bodies and make us uncomfortable, not calm us. However, the idea is that WHILE you are stressing your body, moving into different yoga poses, you actively seek to breath deeply, focus on the present and basically fight your body’s innate stress response. You literally train yourself to be calm in the face of physical stress and discomfort.

A yoga class.

A yoga class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been a yoga practitioner for many years and I find that the regular practice of yoga is a great way to learn how to be “in the moment” in your own body.  The point of yoga is not to show how flexible we are or to improve our range of motion (although that can be a nice side effect). The point is to give our bodies wonderful movement and train our minds to calm down and focus on what is going on in our bodies in the here and now.

My favorite teachers are the only that give helpful directions for where to focus our minds as we move our bodies. Following the instructions of these teachers has made me far more aware not only of my body, but of how I can make subtle adjustments in my posture, my movements to achieve a deeper stretch, a more balanced pose.  When in downward dog pose, I had an instructor tell us to focus on widening our fingers, putting more weight on our palms, trying to move the skin of our shoulders backward, lengthening our spines and moving our heels toward the back of the room. Like a crazy game of Twister, trying to maintain all these directives without falling over takes a lot of mental concentration and physical stamina. And while I am trying to do all these things, the usual “chatter” in my mind is quieted because I can’t think of anything but my body while I am trying to perform all these tasks! Meanwhile, I get more fit, my body feels great and I have an inner sense of calm I can draw from when life gets hectic!

Here is a nice example of an instructor giving multiple directives to focus on when going into Dogward Dog pose.

Do you practice yoga? Have you ever tried it? What benefits do you get from yoga? If you practice yoga, what are the most helpful things your yoga teachers can do to help you calm your mind?

Who is Alex Korb, Ph.D?

Alex Kolb Ph'D.

Alex Korb Ph.D.

Dr Korb is a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at UCLA. He earned a BS in neuroscience from Brown University in 2002, and his Ph.D. at UCLA in 2010.  He is a consultant with BrainSonix Inc., a company developing therapeutic focused ultrasound neuromodulation for treatment of mental and neurological disorders.  His other research interests include using measurements of brain activity in depressed patients to predict antidepressant treatment response.  Outside of the lab he coaches the UCLA women’s ultimate frisbee team, where he uses his knowledge of brain and behavior to unlock their peak performance.

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

Back in 2010, I wrote a post about the latest fitness fad, toning shoes here. Recently, I had a comment on that post asking for a part 2. And I think it’s time to revisit the toning show topic. So here is what I’ve found flashing forward to 2013.

First off, Skecher the FTC files a lawsuit against Skecher for  deceptive advertising related to its toning shoes and ordered to cough up cash ($40 million) to cover potential injuries of Sketcher show wearers  ” who relied on claims made about toning shoes.”


But does this mean all toning shoes are bad for us or just that Skechers marketing team was overzealous in promoting their new shoe?

Looking at what a podiatrist says about the shoes can give us an idea of what to really think about Toning Shoes  David Y.S. Yee, DPM, FACFAOM wrote this article about toning shoes and the benefit of wearing them for people with specific foot problems. His take on the shoes is that they “can also be helpful in treating a variety of foot problems,” such as Plantar fasciitis, Metatarsalgia, digital fracturs, Hallux limitus/hallux rigidus, Achilles tendinitis and retrocalcaneal bursitis, and Knee osteoarthritis. (If you do not know what these conditions are, count yourself lucky. And if you are curious, read his post.  In this post, he also explains when toning shoes are not desirable and the risks wearing them can entail.

What do you think? Are toning shoes helpful to you in your fitness endeavors or hurtful to your feet and legs? Is the research sufficient either yay or no regarding toning shoes?

My opinion is that if you wear the shoes correctly and realize there is no magic bullet, no quick fix for fitness and weight loss and toning does make you walk more, they can be a helpful aid in your fitness routine. BUT, if the shoes exacerbate a foot problem you have or hurt your feet more than help you, pass on ’em. Like any exercise trend or fitness tool, use the toning shoes to motivate you to get more activity, but do not expect them to magically make you fit and slim like Cinderella’s glass slipper landing her a prince!

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

Today I came across an article by a fellow massage therapist, Dale Favier, on his blog, Portland Home Massage. Dale’s post is How to Stop Eating Too Much, in Ten Moderately Difficult Steps.  

Dale Favier, Portland Massage Therapist

I liked Dale’s approach to dietary lifestyle change for a few reasons:

1. He did not advocate a rapid immediate weight loss plan which can actually be unhealthy and lead to only short-term weight loss..and potentially, later gains.

2. He cautioned readers to really get to know their own eating habits. We often THINK we eat less than we do. Or we think we eat healthier than we are eating. For example, eating a salad as Dale says, but loading it with fatty dressing and other oil based toppings.

3. He gave readers a lot of encouragement to go slowly, make changes over a period of time.

In essence, what Dale is advocating is a major lifestyle change in diet and activity. But done slowly, with careful though and planning.

Read Dale’s blog post and let me know, what do you think about Dale’s plan? What is your plan for healthy lifestyle change? And how has it worked or not worked?

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

Chicago area cyclists, get your ride on this Sunday at the Palos Meltdown hosted by CAMBr, Chicago Area Mount Bikers.
On line registration is now closed but you can register at the race itself on Sunday. Details on start times for each age group here.

Race Cost: $40 Race Day Registration, On Site at CAMBr Registration Tent. Cash or check ONLY. NOTE: Registration closes 45 minutes prior to the start time of each race.

To become a supporting member of CAMBr AND get a discount on your race registration at http://join.cambr.org

Racing Palos!

Racing Palos!

7th Annual Palos Meltdown Hosts 2013 Midwest Regional XC Championships!

Race details from the CAMBr website: The Palos Meltdown is Chicagoland’s premier mountain bike event. With racing for all ages and abilities this event draws riders from all over the region. In it’s fifth consecutive year, the Meltdown is held as a fundraiser for CAMBr to help build and maintain mountain bike trails in Chicagoland.

The race is held on Palos Forest Preserve’s extensive singletrack trail system just half an hour outside of Chicago. The trails are flowy, fun and built with all levels of rider in mind.

The event strives to keep a fun family atmosphere while providing a both challenging and fun race experience for first timers to the seasoned elite athlete. For 2013 we have changes planned to help further raise the level of fun and racing excitement!


Palos Meltdown!

Palos Meltdown!

From CAMBr website: Snaking, fast and flowy singletrack is what Palos is known for. The course will meander itself over rolling hills and around lakes and sloughs. Much of the course is on rolling terrain so riders looking for elevation change won’t be disappointed! The course will offer leg stinging climbs and exciting descents. The trails are built for all levels of riding ability. Faster riders will find them much more challenging as obstacles such as ravines and roots become a challenge at speed.

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

I stumbled on a fantastic blog today written by a licensed therapist from Colorado, Tamara G. Suttle. Ms. Suttle offers a wide range of advice on life change, creativity and handling trauma. I especially enjoyed reading her post, “First Steps For Dismantling Your Inner Critic,” “Resources To Boost Your Personal Power And Self Acceptance,” and “Are You In Search Of Happiness?

  • Tamara G. Suttle Counseling - Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Learn more about Ms. Suttle here.

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