Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

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

I read magazines daily and yet with my schedule,  it takes me a while to get through all the magazines I like (and then longer to find time to blog about them). May’s issue of Scientific American had a fantastic article, , How Bacteria in Our Bodies Protect Our Health, by Jennifer Ackerman about the bacteria in our bodies and how we actually could not survive without some forms of bacteria.  The article is well worth the read. If you don’t subscribe, you can preview and then buy he article via this link. Better yet, why not subscribe here? (Yes, I do subscribe myself, but other than that I have no affiliation with the magazine or its staff.) Scientific American is a very well researched, in-depth publication, that offers up the latest in scientific discovery. And it comes with shiny four-color pages.

A short excerpt from the article, How Bacteria in Our Bodies Protect Our Health, by Jennifer Ackerman: “Over the past 10 years or so, however, researchers have demonstrated that the human body is not such a neatly self-sufficient island after all. It is more like a complex ecosystem—a social network—containing trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit our skin, genital areas, mouth and especially intestines. In fact, most of the cells in the human body are not human at all. Bacterial cells in the human body outnumber human cells 10 to one. Moreover, this mixed community of microbial cells and the genes they contain, collectively known as the microbiome, does not threaten us but offers vital help with basic physiological processes—from digestion to growth to self-defense.”

More on our inner ecosystem, bacterial roommates and life savers in the New York Times article, Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden, By Carl Zimmer  here.

If you are more of an auditory learner, check out this podcast, “Your Inner Ecosystem” from NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook here.   I found this link via blogger StrangeHealth   whose take on bacteria and probiotics is also interesting. As Strangehealth so succinctly puts it, “Humans were designed to co-exist with bacteria in our environment.” Check  out his synopsis of the NPR podcast here.

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

This last week, the web has been a  buzz about an article in new York Times Magazine about “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.” The article is well worth the read. In it, the author, William J. Broad, explores some of the recent news about serious injuries than can occur from doing yoga.

As a long-time yoga practitioner and as a person that has been injured doing yoga, I found this article welcome and extremely helpful. I admit, part of my own ego is stroked when I read others finally voicing the same “radical” opinion I’ve had for years, namely that yoga, like all exercises, is not 100% benign. Yoga can hurt you. When doing yoga, you really need to be mindful of your own body and not blindly following directions of your teacher or others.

I first tried yoga in grade school in grade school when my art teacher gave a series of extra curricular classes and told us she used yoga to help her stretch on breaks during long car rides.  Years later I turned back to yoga as an adult to help combat my muscular tension from sitting at a computer all day. It was amazing–I felt better, stronger and, since I was already flexible, doing yoga only increased my flexibility. Which was great…at first.

When I came to Chicago about 20 years ago, I was taking advanced Iyengar classes (BKS Iyengar is a yoga guru of sorts, teaching in India for years and with a  book out used by many Chicago yogis, Light on Yoga). Many of the classes I took where taught by Iyengar devotees, who tried to not only emulate Iyengar’s structural approach, but also his militant and almost fanatical demeanor. This teacher said that, according to Iyengar, “The pose is more important than the person.” I don’t know if Iyengar actually said that, but since this teacher did, I was not surprised when I soon got injured in his class. Along the way I met other experienced yoga students that told me to be careful and not overdo it as they had also experienced injuries doing yoga. Yoga, like all forms of exercise is not without some risk.

The Expert About Your Body is You

One of the biggest lessons I learned from my yoga teachers me was not so much how to do each pose perfectly. Instead, after experiencing a few injuries, I learned that I know my body better than any teacher, personal trainer or guru. And if something hurts, no matter what the teacher says, I won’t do it. In fact, I am rather picky about which yoga teachers I will take classes with. I let them know at the start of class that I do not want them to touch me or “adjust me,” a common practice in yoga classes I have taken. Adjustments are meant to be settle touches to a limb or your back to show you how to get in better posture and alignment. But many teachers I’ve taken classes with tend to push too much or too aggressively. It becomes an ego thing. “How far can I push my students?” And for students it can become, “how flexible can I be” or “I must work very hard even if it hurts just to be a good student and do it “right.” It’s yoga, not Mathelethes!

Know Your Experience Level and Don’t Over Do It

Yoga is supposed to be relaxing and allow you to really focus on your body, your breathe and connect with your body, not contort or injure your body (although injury does make you connect with your body pretty quickly!). When I do yoga now or recommend yoga to my clients, I show basic standing poses, some side bends and simple forward bends. AND to make sure they have a doctors clearance to do even those poses. I don’t advocate shoulder stand or headstands or even back bends for beginners. For some, these posts may be OK. But they are fairly advanced and, as the New York Times article shows, these poses can cause SERIOUS damage and injury, not just to your spine but to your brain. Who wants a stoke?

Yoga is Not a Rapid Fix–It’s Meant to be a Lifelong Practice

Another problem with yoga is the Western approach to it. We want to get rapid results, so we use maximal effort, as though yoga is a hammer and our body is the nail. Fitness isn’t about cramming in maximal effort into a short period of time to check that exercise off out list of goals. Fitness is an overall body balance of cardio, strength and flexibility. We can improve our cardiovascular fitness, we can improve our strength, we can improve our flexibility. But we can’t get the body we want by trying really hard. Our natural frames and muscles are made the way they are made. A man’s hips will not open as much as a woman’s because he is not made to birth babies. When men say they are not flexible, I say of course not! Stretching and yoga can help improve your flexibility, but you don’t need to be able to turn your body into a pretzel. Yoga can help increase flexibility but not beyond what is natural for your body type, frame and gender. It’s about improvement and feeling better, not about getting a gold star for most flexible!

Yoga is Meditative, A Way to Calm and Focus Your Mind

If you practice yoga, approach it as a time to relax and unwind. Treat each class as thigh you have never done yoga before (beginner’s mind). Really watch your teacher and tell him or her if you are not comfortable doing a particular pose. Modifications may be suggested or you may need to sit that pose out. That’s perfectly OK! Enjoy the rest between poses and be happy you are spending a few minutes away from your phone, email and workplace!

Practice yoga gently, not while hyped up on caffeine and adrenaline. A yoga session is meant to CALM your nervous system–it’s not Grand Theft Auto on Xbox. Some of my clients and many people I’ve spoken to don’t like yoga precisely for this reason–they can’t relax enough to benefit from gentle yoga because it makes them nervous to be that calm and focus on their breath and bodies. They need constant stimulation and the idea of “just laying around” or breathing actually stresses them out. But a really good yoga class, in my experience, is both gentle on your body (not easy or lame–yoga is a workout!) and so mentally active that you don’t have time to be bored. By mentally active I mean that during a good yoga class, teachers I’ve had are constantly calling your attention to an area of your body and having you focus on that. For example, in downward dog, a teacher may tell you to really open your fingers wide, put your pressure on the palm or heel of your hand, move your shoulders away from your head, attempt to pull your ankles away from your body towards the wall (not trying to put your heels on the floor though). Along with other directions. To avoid boredom and get a good yoga practice in, focus on these instructions, try to follow them and pay attention to your body. How does each movement feel? Are you breathing or holding your breath? All these details serve to not only make your yoga practice more physically comfortable, and give your body a good workout, but they also serve to give your active mind something to focus on beyond the next task on your  do list.

Lastly, I don’t think that yoga is evil or that you should not do yoga. But when doing yoga, use your brain! Make sure the spots are comfortable for you–not easy, just not damaging your body!) Then, you can relax and enjoy the positive benefits of yoga…without causing damage to your body or your mind!

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

Here is a list of the top 10 Twitter feeds for health news that I follow. I really like Men’s Health and  Woman’s Health magazines as a starting point for current trends in fitness and sports medicine. The CDC is a great feed to follow for news about any outbreaks of illness or other health concerns. WebMD and the Mayo Clinic tend to have pretty comprehensive coverage of most medical complaints and illnesses. Greythinking is a great mental health resource and I round out the lists with Daily health tips, a Discovery health feed and a New York Times health tweeter.  Check them out!

Mayo Clinic

  • @MayoClinic
  • Location: Minnesota, Florida, Arizona
  • Bio: Excellent integrated group health care practice. Acct maintained by @leeaase. Following not = endorsement. To request follow, tweet @mayoclinic.

Women’s Health Mag

  • @WomensHealthMag
  • Location:
  • Bio: Women’s Health is your ultimate guide to looking and feeling great. We’ll bring you the latest in health, fitness, sex, beauty and more!

Men’s Health Mag

  • @MensHealthMag
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
  • Bio: Men’s Guide to Fitness, Health, Weight Loss, Nutrition, Sex, Style, and Guy Wisdom


  • @WebMD
  • Location: USA
  • Bio: WebMD provides valuable health information, tools for managing your health, and support to those who seek information.


  • @womenshealth
  • Location: US
  • Bio: Womenshealth.gov is part of the U.S. HHS Office on Women’s Health, the federal government’s resource for women’s health information.

CDC Emergency Verified

  • @CDCemergency
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Bio: CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response: increasing the nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.


  • @greythinking
  • Location:
  • Bio: Commentary on mental health, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychopharmacology, etc.

Daily Health Tips

  • @DailyHealthTips
  • Location:
  • Bio: Daily Health Tips to keep you healthy and happy.

Tara Parker-Pope Verified

  • @nytimeswell
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Bio: Follow Tara Parker-Pope as she sifts through medical research and expert opinions to help readers take control of their health and live well every day.
  • Discovery Health Verified

    • @Disc_Health
    • Location: Silver Spring, MD
    • Bio: Your source for health & wellness info, tips, tools, support & great TV!!
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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
One of the problems I run into, and many of my clients run into, is how to eat healthy “on the go.” I am a big fan of Lara Bars, “wraps” (tuna salad or hummus or even turkey in a pita or tortilla) and hot meals from Whole Foods. But for those of you that don’t have easy access to a Whole Foods hot bar, or even to healthy restaurants, Hungry-Girl has some great tips on how to start your day with a healthy and easy to prepare (read: quick to prepare!) breakfast. Note: Whole Foods  Fat Free Tortillas are 100 calories and ZERO grams of fat.

And, not to sound like your mother, but remember, eating breakfast helps keep your brain and body well fueled AND can help you with a fat reduction program (if you are trying to lose adipose tissue).

Hungry-Girl recommends this Do-it-Yourself Smoothie recipe:

Combine fresh or no-sugar-added frozen fruit, light yogurt, and light soymilk (or Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze — YUM!). Throw that stuff into the blender with some ice, and pulverize your way to breakfast!

I personally like to make my own Smoothie concoction:

Vanilla Rice Dream rice milk about 1 cup,

1 frozen banana,

a few (3) frozen strawberries or (10) blueberries and

a scoop of Jay Rob’s Egg White protean powder (again I am partial to vanilla although  Jay Rob’s does make a tasty strawberry version). 100 calories and ZERO Fat, ZERO sugar an ZERO apartame, sucralose or artificial sweeteners!

Blend and drink slowly so as not to give you brain freeze.

Hungry-Girl’s The Microwave Scramble + Pita

It’s fast, it’s portable, and it has protein and carbs to satisfy you. Make one of these quickie scrambles-in-a-mug, stuff it inside a high-fiber or whole-wheat pita, and walk out the door.

For more Hungry-Girl Breakfast tips, click here.

The Hungry Girl Book

To get more tips from Hungry_Girl, read her book, Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet, by Lisa Lillien.

Hungry Girl 1, 2, 3 is available from Amazon.com

The new book, Hungry Girl 1-2-3, will help you make the world’s most delicious guilt-free appetizers, meals, snacks, desserts, etc., with practically no effort whatsoever! There are loads of crock-pot recipes, microwavable meals, HG’s famous “foil packs,” and more. Some are such a cinch, you won’t even have to turn on the oven or stove! Really.

With more than 200 recipes and two-ingredient “couples” to choose from, you’ll never be hungry again! Get ready to chew on:

* Crazy Pineapple Salmon Teriyaki (347 calories)
* Mom-Style Creamy Chicken ’n Veggies (307 calories)
* Queen-of-the-Castle Sliders (254 calories)
* Caramel Swirl Cream Puffs (121 calories)
* Corndog Millionaire Muffins (160 calories)
* Chili Cheese Dog Nachos (218 calories)
* Turkey & Veggie Meatloaf Minis (142 calories)
* Planet Hungrywood Sweet & Cap’n Crunchy Chicken (234 calories)
* Shrimp & Grits . . . for Hungry Chicks! (380 calories)
* Cannoli-Stuffed French Toast Nuggets (228 calories)

The book will be available starting March 30, 2010. To order your copy from Amazon.com for $10.79, click here.

Who IS Hungry Girl?

She’s not a nutritionist, she’s just hungry! Lisa Lillien is a number-one New York Times bestselling author and the creator of the Hungry Girl brand. She is the founder of http://www.hungry-girl.com, the phenomenal worldwide free daily email service that entertains and informs hungry people everywhere!

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