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

In her post, Losing Inches but Not Losing Weight, Paige Waehner talks about how focusing on the scale and pounds as a measurement of wellness and fitness is a losing proposition (bad pun intended). I really like this post about how to conceptualize body fitness versus focusing on weight loss.

8102631-a-woman-has-a-ball-and-chain-on-her-leg-and-standing-on-the-scales

I frequently hear people say, “I need to lose weight,” but that is a frightening idea if you really think about it. Losing weight implies losing important parts of our bodies. What people likely mean is they want to lose fat, get more fit, feel better about my body. The words we use to describe our goals are important. What we tell ourselves effects how we feel about ourselves. Telling ourselves we want to feel better, be more fit is a positive empowering thought. Telling ourselves, I need to lose weight is a more punitive judgemental and frequently unrealistic thought.

A few highlights of Waehner’s post: The number you see on the scale of your weight is a measure of every part of your body. Your bones are heavy, your muscle is heavy, your organs have weight. And most of your body weight is in water!

She also mentions that the weight you measure is not an accurate measure of your overall health nor the proportion of muscle to fat.  And she also agrees with me that focusing on losing “weight” is not a strong motivator to work out. Focusing on feeling better, stronger, more fit helps motivate us to work out.

Lastly she gives great tips about how to change your fitness focus to be more motivating and positive and kind to yourself!

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

For some time, the research behind massage therapy has shown that massage can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and improve the ability to get good nights sleep.

In the Institute for Integrative Health Care, Leslie DeMatteo, LMT, MS,  wrote a good article that sums up the symptoms of anxiety and explains that the way massage therapy helps is to help you sleep more soundly and massage also reduces muscle pain.  For more details, read the article here!

Massage reduces anxiety!

Massage reduces anxiety!

Want the “official word” On anxiety and massage therapy? Read the American Massage Therapy Associations position statement with multiple research articles referenced here.

If you are in Chicago and want to reduce your anxiety,  stop by one of our chair massage locations inside Whole Foods and let us help you relax…in minutes!

 

7 days a week, we reduce anxiety and muscle pain at Whole Foods Lincoln Park and Whole Foods Gold Coast

7 days a week, we reduce anxiety and muscle pain at Whole Foods Lincoln Park and Whole Foods Gold Coast

 

 

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Recently someone who read my Indoor Air Quality post asked me how to know how much humidity to provide indoor plants to maintain good air quality. I don’t honestly know!  So I thought I’d do some research and provide you with some of the best answers I’ve found.

How Stuff Works has a great article on how to care for indoor plants here.

Our House Plants has a good guide on humidity here.

Want to know how exactly plants increase indoor humidity? Check out the Ambius article here for more info.

And if you want to know which plants can help decrease indoor air humidity, check out Doityourself’s article here.

 

 

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Want to eat local and healthy produce from Chicago area farmers?

Farmer's Markets

Farmer’s Markets Fresh!

 

Check out this helpful map and schedule of Chicago farmers markets from DNAInfo here. The City of Chicago’s Farmer’s Market schedule is here.

A helpful Seasonality chart to show when eat type of fruit or veggie is in season is here. 

Why shop at Farmers Markets? CUESA (The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture website explains 10 reasons to shop at Farmer’s markets here. Huffington Post (also affectionately known as HuffPo), finds even more reasons to shop at farmer’s markets in their post, 15 benefits of Shopping at a Local Farmer’s Markets here.

 

Why do you shop at local farmer’s markets?

 

What is your favorite Chicago area farmer’s market?

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

One of my previous posts, Treating Your Sore Muscles: When to Use Ice or Heat gets a lot of website traffic. In my view, that means there must be a lot of people out there feeling muscle soreness! So I thought I’d do a quick follow up to see what my fellow web writers have to say about dealing with muscle soreness.

How-to-Treat-Sore-Muscles-Fast-and-Feel-Good

Men’s Health, one of my favorite magazines about health and fitness, has a short post on the 5 top muscle soreness relievers: They list deep tissue massage, cherry juice, coffee, ice and arnica (nature’s Bengay) as their top 5 Cures for Sore Muscles That Really Work.  And WebMD has a nice post on How to Manage Sore Muscles and Joint Pain. In this post, WebMD lists common pain relievers (mainly NSAIDs), stretching after working out and easing into exercise to reduce muscle soreness.  I really like this article because, 1. it validates much of what I tell clients and believe myself about muscle pain and 2. it emphasizes that any time we do an activity beyond what our bodies are capable of doing or are accustomed to doing, we tend to become sore. This is where mindfulness comes into our workouts!

Image from Huffington Post, Why the Mindfulness Fad Won't Go Away

Image from Huffington Post, Why the Mindfulness Fad Won’t Go Away

It’s one thing to take on an unexpected task like a surprise snow fall that requires you to shovel 8 inches of snow in April. We can’t always plan for these types of tasks and shoveling snow is hard work and does not have a nice stopping point like doing sets at the gym. With some task, you have to keep going until the job is done! However, starting a workout routine or even pushing yourself in your normal routine can lead to joint pain and muscle soreness beyond normal wear and tear if we overdo it. Approaching your workouts (and even snow shoveling) with mindfulness can help reduce not only muscle soreness, but injury as well.

Chris Willitts of Mindful Strength offers  $97 online strength training program centered in mindfulness. I have not completed his program myself but it looks like a good approach to using mindfulness to improve your muscle strength.

Chris Willitts, found of Mindful Strength

Chris Willitts, found of Mindful Strength

Chris looks a bit like a younger Liam Neeson and it sounds like he has a strong background in meditation and mindfulness. If anyone has tried Chris’ program, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

Another Chris, Chris Presto, writing in Sonima.com, offers up The Surprising Ways Mindfulness Can Improve Strength Training.  Chris offers practical insights into how being mindful, focusing awareness on your muscles and form during resistance training can greatly benefit your workout. I also think it benefits our bodies by helping avoid injury due to mindlessly whipping weights around or going too fast through our sets.

How do you use mindfulness in your workouts?

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

You don’t need to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger to life weights! Read more for ideas on getting started.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Photo by Carter News agency

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Photo by Caters News Agency

Note: Make sure you doctor clears you for exercise before attempting any form of new physical activity.

There are a number of useful articles and videos to help you figure out how to start a resistance training (weight training) program. I like this bodybuilding guide Best Beginner Weight-Training Guide With Easy-To-Follow Workout! for men here, although most of us look nothing like the guy demonstrating the activities.

For women, Nia Shanks, Lift Like A Girl blog has a great post, 11 Beginner Strength Training Tips for Women on getting started with weights for women.

Nia Shanks, Lift Like Girl

Nia Shanks, Lift Like Girl

I like this workout video overall for a basic beginners weight training workout: 15 Minute Beginner Weight Training – Easy Exercises – HASfit Beginners Workout Routine – Strength. Check it out here on You Tube. HASfit also has an Interactive Trainer App for your Android or iPhone: To download the app for Android, click here. For  iPhone, click here.

I also like Scooby 1961’s 20 min Full Body Workout for Beginners on You Tube here. 

Scooby

Scooby

 

Scooby seems like a super nice (albeit fairly muscle-bound) guy, in his 55’s who shows great form, provides slow, simple instructions. Scooby’s website is Scooby’sworkshop here.
What are your favorite weight lifting articles and videos?

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

I’ve been lifting weights (also known as resistance training), since I was  a young woman. I am by no means a body builder and at some points in my life, I have lifted less and my body has paid the price (less energy, less muscle mass, feeling more sluggish and low energy). Overall,  I feel much better when I lift weights, even dumbbells, or especially, dumbbells because many weight machines are made for people who are taller than I am.

Weight training isn't just for young people

Weight training isn’t just for young people

Men’s Health posted an article about a study from Penn State College of Medicine that indicates that lifting weights can help us live longer. Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewsk and colleague’s study, Is strength training associated with mortality benefits? A 15 year cohort study of US older adults, found that adults 65 and older who reported that they participated in strength training twice each week had 46% lower odds of all-cause mortality than those who did not. The association between strength training and death remained after adjustment for past medical history and health behaviors.

Another study, “Mental health benefits of strength training in adults,” by O’Connor, Herring, and Carvalho  shows that resistance training also helps us maintain our cognitive abilities (ability to think clearly), longer as well as having other important mental health impacts such as reducing anxiety (American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 4(5), 377-396.).

I try to lift 2-3 time a week with dumbbells and bodyweight, nothing fancy, just the basic muscle groups.

What is your weight lifting routine?

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