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Fat Free

A few years ago I participated in the Muscular Dystrophy Association Lock Up fundraiser–I use the word participated lightly.  My boss had me arrested and I graciously adhered. The organization came to my office, picking me up in a black limo, and then taking me to a mock jail at the Sun Trust building, downtown Orlando.

I spent a few hours there making phone calls to clients and friends asking for “bail money” while being served brunch. Honestly, not a bad way to spend a morning.

At the end of my sentence, I turned in the money collected; then I stood in line waiting to be photographed with stripes and handcuffs leaning against rails. Out came the lip gloss and mirrors as all of the other women touched up their makeup and brushed their hair. Some people posed, others offered larger than life smiles. I did none of the above.

I accepted my picture and tossed it into the dark abyss of my purse. Once home, I buried the image deep inside my nightstand. I don’t know why I didn’t throw that picture away. But I couldn’t. I knew something deep was captured in that moment that I needed to recognize. Yet, I just wasn’t ready to look.

Recently I unpacked the remaining boxes from a move to the city. Stopping as I ran my hand across the slick surface of the photo, I sat back on the bed and drew in a deep breath. The picture stared at me. The woman in the picture appeared as a stranger. Sad and uncomfortable posing, trying her best to offer some resemblance of a smile, she stares into the distance, trying unsuccessfully not to look pained. The backdrop jail suits her.

The truth is my weight does make me feel like a prisoner.

Oh, I haven’t always been overweight.  I have had the pleasure of eating Twinkies and slugging Coke without thinking twice about counting carbs or calories. There was a time when the only exercise equipment I purchased was a little black dress and a pair of heels for dancing the night away. My pantyhose size coincided with the beginning of the alphabet not titles of royalty.

I refer to my thinner self as if she’s an actual person, separate from me. I feel like the thin me is an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time. I miss her. I pull out pictures of her and reminisce. I still keep some of her clothes in my closet. The closet that’s divided into three sections: I’m fat, didn’t think I could get any bigger, and damn, I’ll never get into those again.

This prison is made up of diets, Weight Watchers meetings, low-fat, low carb, running, walking, sweating and starving. It’s a scary place to visit and once you’re here, the truth is, it’s hard to leave. In the lonely confines of these walls there is no beautiful imagery, no breathtaking views, only guilt and shame.

Today, I’m putting my mug shot up on my mirror right beside an old picture of my long-lost friend. I hope together they can inspire me to make a new friend. I can emerge as a new person, not the prisoner of fat or the thin young Twinkie eater. Fearlessly, breaking the chains of guilt and fear I’ll be new and improved, low carb, low-fat, and a healthier version of me. I will be free.

Sole Sister


Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.

~Anäis Nin

Starsky has Hutch, Thelma has Louise, Batman has Robin, Will has Grace, and I have Amy.

A dynamic duo. That’s how we’re known around the gym . . . well, not really, not yet, but I see it coming. It’s only a matter of time.

We’ve made our presence known and that’s what’s important. Every morning, just after the sun rises and the teens dash off to school, 7:30ish, you’ll catch Amy and me sweating, talking, albeit breathlessly, and laughing. Crying enters our mind on occasion, but that’s the beauty of a buddy system. When one’s down, the other one picks up the slack, jumping in full force, and getting us going again.

Our favorite routine, at the moment, is the fat burning cardio workout on our Life Fitness Elliptical Machines. We’re like elliptical maniacs, opting for another machine only when there’s no elliptical available. Our workouts have become the elixir for improving our lives. One workout at a time.

I’ve known Amy less than a year and yet I feel that I’ve always known her. Shaded by bamboo on a rooftop terrace, Amy and I have spent our days discussing kids, husbands, careers, and life. In a short amount of time, I’ve revealed my doubts and insecurities about weight loss, fitness, trying to live a healthier life and the fact that I’m no longer in Cosmopolitan’s demographic but now More Magazine’s.  I’ve listened to Amy reveal the same. Camaraderie blossomed and here we are.

We motivate. We listen. We reveal insecurities with no fear of judgment. We get it without saying a word. Like today, I finish my workout drained, exhausted, unmotivated. Noticing Amy staring at me, I look up and she smiles, telling me how great I did and how impressed she is with me. It’s genuine and exactly what I need.

On the days she can’t join me, I recognize her absence and even catch myself glancing at the machine beside me longingly. I know, I know. Pathetic. But it’s the truth. Working out with a partner like Amy makes the drudgery of it all less daunting. With her cheering me on, I know I’ve got this. And trust me, when you start hearing about the hot chicks tearing up the gym, you’ll have no doubt who they’re all talking about.

by Guest Blogger Rose Caillier, DPM

Occasional swollen feet and ankles are quite common and often do not pose much concern.   Whether it is due to a strenuous exercise or a long day of shopping, increased daily activities on the feet can lead to accumulation of fluid called edema.   Normally, blood flow along with muscle contraction pushes blood in one direction from our feet back to the heart.  But when valves in the veins do not work properly, fluid can back up and pool around the feet and ankles.

Swelling in the feet and ankles is also a common finding in pregnancy.  Increase in blood volume along with a growing fetus puts pressure on the veins causing fluid to be pushed out into the surrounding tissues.

Here are some things a person can do to help reduce swelling in the feet and ankles. 

Move the Feet.  Standing and sitting for long periods of time (like during airplane flights and car rides) does not allow the muscles to actively pump blood in the veins.  Stretch the legs, take walks down the aisle, or flex the feet up and down several times to keep moving.  A simple exercise is to trace the alphabet in the air with the feet.

Elevate the Legs.  When sitting, the feet should be propped up on a chair or stool.  Allowing the legs to hang down allows gravity to further collect fluid around the feet and ankles.  While lying down, a pillow placed under the heels or legs can keep the feet elevated.

Apply Compression.  Support stockings found at most drug stores help control swelling.  If they are not worn to sleep with, they should be applied first thing in the morning even before getting out of bed.

Get a Massage.  A Foot massage can be soothing and helpful.   Just a 5-10 minute foot massage per day can help stimulate circulation.

Consult a Doctor.  Feet that stay swollen can be a sign of serious medical conditions like heart, kidney, or liver failure.  Other causes of swollen feet and ankles include: being overweight, increased age, infection, sprain/strain or fracture, a blood clot in the leg, and side-effects of certain medications.  The doctor may even prescribe medications to help the body eliminate excess fluid and recommend a diet low in sodium.

Since a swollen foot can be a symptom of an underlying problem, it is wise to determine its cause particularly if there is pain or other areas of the body swells.  People who have loss of feeling in the feet, like a person with diabetic neuropathy, should seek medical attention right away if swelling occurs.   Otherwise, keeping an active lifestyle with regular exercise and proper nutrition will help maintain good circulation.

 

Rose Caillier, DPM, is a board certified podiatrist who has written for Podiatry Management magazine, is a contributing writer for The National Podiatric Medical Association’s newsletter Footnotes, and maintains her own blog at www.FootScribe.com. You can connect with Rose on Twitter; her handle is @FootScribe.

If you’re like me, you wait until the last minute to finish, or even start, your Christmas shopping. It’s easy to become flustered and panic. Or you can ask for a little help from your friends, which is what I did. I reached out to one of my favorite communities, our Twitter friends. I received advice from some of our favorite health and wellness experts like @ArthritistAshley who tweets about chronic pain, RA, and OA. I chatted with Dr. Mo aka @FitInMyHeart and @GirlGoneHealthy, excited by their unique suggestions. @RunnerLuis, our favorite Before & After Icon, shared several of his best workout/running gift ideas. A few tweets later, I created a last minute Christmas list full of fun and practical ideas for everyone on your list—from teachers to mom to colleagues at work. And in true holiday spirit, I’m paying it forward and sharing with you. I hope you’ll find inspiration, motivation, and maybe even a little something for yourself. Thanks to all of our Twitter friends for their excellent suggestions and helpful holiday tips. 

Cleaning Service Gift Card. “Cleaning your home can be a chore for anyone, but is especially difficult if you live with pain or illness. Consider giving a gift card for a cleaning service or offer services to help a person who may need it this holiday season. A clean home for the holidays is a happy home!” ~Ashley Boynes-Shuck.  Connect with Ashley  on Twitter @ArthritisAshley and Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arthritis-Ashley/140748292608472.

Indoor Cycling Bike. @IronMikeStone didn’t hesitate when asked what his ideal Christmas gift would be. “It’s the Must-Have new training bike.” If you’ve followed the Le Tour De France, you’ll remember seeing commercials with Lance Armstrong working out on a bike like this—it’s the official training bike of the Tour, made by Pro-Form. Be sure to check out Mike’s Triathlon, Fitness, & Motivational Blog.

Aromatherapy Hot/Cold Packs. Podiatrist Rose Caillier, @FootScribe, offered this great suggestion for a favorite gift. She suggests using these for neck, shoulders, feet, and ankles. We took her advice and found this great deal at Brookstone: n•a•p® 2-Piece Lavender Aromatherapy Set.  You can learn more from Rose at www.footscribe.com.

i-Tunes Gift Cards. “I love i-Tunes gift card so I can build up my running playlists.” ~ @RunnerLuis

GU Pure Performance Energy Products. Luis is a marathon runner and hates running out of GU. He suggests buying a box for that special running someone.

Running Undies. Athletic underwear are made of wicking fabric to prevent chafing. “My best gift one year was running undies. They were awesome, and I use them multiple times a week.” Our favorite spot for finding great running undies for men and women is Lululemon. Luis offers health and weight loss advice on Fat Free Life, and he writes a blog at Muddy Runner.

Blender, Food Processor & Juicer Machine. @GirlGoneHealthy recommends this as the perfect gift. “It’s perfect for health nuts or those just starting!” ~ Tera Norberg. And after talking with Tera, we searched and found a great all-in-one product by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck.  Tera features articles about healthy food on her blog Girl Gone Healthy.

Fitbit. “Oh yes, you know what I recommend? A Fitbit. It’s a $99 investment in #LifeLoveANDHealth. It is like having a personal trainer with you at all times. There is also a wonderful community to cheer you on!”  ~ @FitInMyHeart, aka, Dr. Mo, a Florida Podiatrist. For fun, motivation and education check out Dr. Mo’s website at www.FitInMyHeart.com.

Sleep-N-Heel Night Conditioning Heel Sleeves. Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey N. Bowman, recommends the Heel Sleeves for conditioning dry, cracked skin. Visit www.HoustonFootSpecialists.com for more on ordering this product.

Gift Grab Bag. Our friends at AARP Magazine went out of their way this season to create an amazing Holiday Gift Guide specifically tailored for, well, everyone—the fitness enthusiast, the Gardner, the great outdoors enthusiast, pet lovers, and the list goes on. Not only are the gift ideas fun and creative, did we mention they’re all under $50? Now that’s a reason to celebrate! Rather than pick one, we recommend grabbing a warm latte, a fluffy croissant, and curling up with the mag as if it were a good book.  

Body Media Fit Core Armband: http://www.bodymedia.com/Shop/Armband-Packages  @BrooklynFitChik is always up on the latest & greatest in health & wellness and she’s giving us some of her top picks she hopes will find their way under her own Christmas tree this year.” I have the slightly bigger version but would love this sleeker version. Easily one of my favorite workout products that keeps me on track. LOVE!”

Nordic Track 3-in-1 Foal Roller: http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/gifts-under-75?page=5 “My IT Band has it on her wish list.” ~ @BrooklynFitChik

Sorel Tofino Boots: What more can we say about footwear that’s comfy and fashion forward? Maybe we should leave that to someone else who says it best . . . “Because I am worth it!” ~ @BrooklynFitChik. Be sure to visit Margo’s website at www.BrooklynFitChick.com.

Holstee Manifesto Poster. Embrace motivation & inspiration each and every day with words to live by. Did we mention that it’s eco-friendly too? Yep, that’s why Holstee is one of our favorite companies—inspiring a little Happy in our day—as they use sustainable materials and processes. And they have some of the coolest products around.

Happy Feet Insoles. What Gift List would be complete without a quick nod to our fabulous massaging insoles? Trust us, Ole’ Saint Nick himself couldn’t get through Christmas Eve deliveries if he didn’t wear his Happy Feet Insoles all year long.  Or at least that’s what we believe . . . and isn’t that what Christmas is all about? www.happyfeet.net.

 Happy Holidays from the Happy Feet Team!

Guest Blogger, Iron Mike Stone
 
As Bruce Springsteen once said… glory days, they’ll pass you by… did you ever feel that way?  Kevin played baseball in high school and was always a top athlete… that was 20 years, three kids, and several jobs ago. Sandy, was always active as a kid, but the demands of college changed her priorities fast. Kim, used to love to run and often entered 5k races, but motherhood took her energy in another direction. Weather your glory days were many years ago or just months ago, you can get them back. Whatever your story, and whatever your previous fitness level, you can make a comeback. Here are seven steps that you can use now to get back to those better fitness days. Try them in your own personal sports and training routine to stay motivated and to train well.  
1. Start at your own pace – but START
Don’t be afraid to start slow. Getting out and starting is what counts. Don’t become distracted by what other people are doing or what level they are at. If you’re a runner, start off with a short comfortable distance and pace and increase your mileage each week. If you weight train, begin with light weights and add weight and reps slowly. Make your training your own.
 
2. Set goals and keep a log
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up someplace else! Pick a small goal to start, and after you hit that goal move to a bigger goal.  Next, track your training- it will help encourage you when you see that you’ve been making progress. Be patient with yourself. Some days you may feel happy with your improvements, and other days you may feel slow. Focus on the big picture and always keep up with your workouts. Hint: Check out http://www.dailymile.com for a great way to keep track of your training.
 
3. Join a training group and find a friend
 
Having company and accountability is important. It’s easy to become unmotivated when you know what your body used to be capable of. Some peer pressure can help keep you on track and make great friends. Join a gym, find a training partner, and join a local club. When they run local events, join in. A good group will support you every step of your comeback.
 
4. Make training a priority
It’s easy to become distracted with the various demands of life. When we fall out of the habit of training, other things start becoming more important and it’s hard to get back into the routine of training. Schedule your trainings and make appointments with yourself or with your group. Resist the temptation to skip anything pre-scheduled.  Creating a regular routine for yourself can change your life.

5. Change your diet

Now that you are back to training you need to think about how you fuel your body.  Remember garbage in equal’s garbage out.  Start with slow changes and focus on adding protein and complex carbohydrates to fuel your body. Don’t focus on cutting things out at first as that can sabotage your enthusiasm and your attitude. Put good fuel in your body. Check out “Fast Nutritional Tips” on my blog: 
http://mikes-tri-moto- blog.blogspot.com/p/nutrition.html 
 
6. Setbacks beware-treat them as guideposts not road blocks
Defeat may test you, it need not stop you.  Before you begin your new training plan, be prepared for the day when you will lose focus, miss training, and get discouraged.  By understanding that these obstacles are inevitable on the path to success you can change your reaction to them when they arrive.  Consider them a guidepost to success, check them off as old friends you expected to see along the way. Just be sure to keep moving down the path.
 
7. Believe in yourself–you can do it 

This is the most important step. You were once there and you can get there again. Often we crave instant results, even though we know better. Staying focused will pay off in the long run. Believe in yourself—have faith. Motivation can be a funny thing and it does come and go. Write down some inspirational quotes. Listen to music. As Zig Ziglar once said, “People say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”  

Implement these seven steps right now and you’ll be on your way to your own personal comeback or even more. Who knows, maybe your best glory days are yet to come!
 
Iron Mike Stone is an Ironman Triathlete–  High Performance/Personal Development Trainer/Coach/Motivator — as well as an Independent Financial & Tax Advisor  (MBA & RFC with 22yrs experience) — Check him out at: Mikes Triathlon, Fitness, and Motivational Blog    & http://www.freedomtandf.com/– email him for a complimentary newsletter at mjjstone@yahoo.com

 

Forget things that go bump in the night and monsters under the bed, my biggest fear is waking from a deep sleep with an excruciating Charley Horse, which is what happened to me a few days ago. This occurs randomly every few months. The pain proves almost unbearable as it takes several minutes for the spasm to release. So why do some of us battle this type of leg pain while others have never experienced even one (aka my husband)?

According to the National Institute of Health, a charley horse or muscle spasm can occur in any muscle in the body. Several of my family members endure back muscle spasms. Mine have always been in my legs, and for some reason, usually my right leg. Although my spasms attack at night only, many people, including some of my favorite athletes, experience a charley horse while exercising or performing some sort of physical activity.

Several different causes bring on the dreaded charley horse, including overworking or injuring muscles and working out while low on fluids or certain minerals like potassium. And there you have it . . . I’ve upped my fitness routine over the past two months. While I drink excessive amounts of water, on certain days I can tell it’s not enough. Dehydration and low potassium levels prompt my wicked leg pain. While I’ve read quite a bit about bananas helping to eliminate or lower the occurrence of leg cramps, I don’t find this to be effective.

I know I’m somewhat dehydrated because my lips and skin are dry, and I crave water at night. So in an effort to reduce my number of nightly visits, I’ve upped my water and potassium intake. I can already feel a difference, noticing only a slight sore spot where the spasm occurred. Sports drinks also help replenish nutrients lost during a hard workout—keeping a few bottles around the house is a good idea.

Finally, know your body. A few days before the charley horse, I had a tightening in one of my leg muscles. It was not a cramp but tightened, like a light spasm, at random times throughout the day and night—sometimes while working out or stretching and during down times, reading in bed. In retrospect I realize it was my body’s way of sending signals of what was to come. We hear it all the time, listen to your body. Mine certainly forewarned me about the dangers lurking around the corner.

As with any type of health related issue, if pain persists, make sure you see a health professional immediately.

Guest Blogger: Dr. Jeffrey N. Bowman

I frequently get asked by my patients, “Why did I develop this rash on my foot?”  More often than not, they have Contact Dermatitis.  Contact Dermatitis is inflammation caused by direct skin contact with an irritating substance or allergen (allergic reaction).  This is different from an allergic reaction to medications.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis, the most common type, results from direct skin contact with acids, soaps, detergents, leather dye, or other chemicals and does not require a prior sensitization.  The reaction often resembles a rash or burn. Allergic Contact Dermatitis is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction that appears 24-48 hours after the exposure.

The reaction varies from a mild irritation and redness to open sores or very small blisters and may vary in the same person over time.  A history of any type of allergy increases the risk for this condition.
The diagnosis is usually based on the skin appearance and a history of exposure to a new product, such as soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, or other irritant.  Treatments include removal and avoidance of the offending agent, topical corticosteroids or in severe cases oral steroids.  If you see this or something unusual, you will want to contact your physician right away for treatment.  Contact Dermatitis is quite common but if left untreated can lead to infections or other problems.  Quick treatment is a key to getting rid of the problem. 

To learn more about foot health, you can visit Houston Foot Specialists. You can also connect with Dr. Bowman on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Jeffrey N. Bowman, DPM, MS
Houston Foot Specialists
Past President, Texas Podiatric Medical Association
Board Member, Texas Podiatric Medical Association
Houston, Tx. 77043

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