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Archive for the ‘Walking’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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I’m lucky when it comes to working out. Three people hold the title of workout partner—one is my husband, Bill. On the weekends we start our days working out together. Even though his ten years in the Army and four years of high school athletics make him way more physical than me, I find working out with him by my side pushes me that extra mile, literally. Not to say I don’t feel a little frustrated from time to time when I see his 12 miles up against my 3. But I learned long ago that it’s a bad idea to compare my exercise regime to anyone else’s.

During the week, shortly after my teenager heads off for her morning commute to school, I make my way to the gym in my apartment building. Many mornings one or both of my friends, who live down the street, pop in and join me. Afterwards we chat about our plans for the rest of the day, and occasionally make a special trip over to our local Starbucks.

The ladies support me and my workout efforts. It’s nice to have a team cheering me on the days I’m not feeling it. And of course, I’m always glad I made it and worked through the blahs. I do the same for them. We’ve got a good thing going.

But then there are mornings where schedules collide and duty calls. I waltz into the gym, only to discover I’ll be dancing alone. This morning my workout partners couldn’t join me and neither did anyone else in the building. I had the entire gym to myself.

For a moment I paused in the center of the room. I placed my water bottle on the elliptical, turned up the volume on my iPod, and spent time on weight machines and doing left lifts. Endurance became my companion. I worked out alone, feeling strong and dedicated, and it pumped me up to go at top speed longer than I ever have before on that machine.

Holding myself accountable for a healthier lifestyle is the most important key to my success. It’s great to have partners and support, but it’s crucial to depend on the one person who makes it all happen.

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On average, Americans spend more than 7.5 hours working weekdays.  Our jobs can many times feel like our home away from home. So it’s important that employers recognize our commitment to the workplace and understand the need for balance and a healthy lifestyle. If you aren’t working as hard on your health and wellness, mental and physical ability diminishes over time. Many companies are working on plans to prevent employee health problems by creating health and wellness programs in the workplace.

Recently I talked with Shannon Muller, HR Generalist, of The Conti Group about their Building a Better You employee wellness program. Launched this year, the program has met with instant success. Part of that success is due to Conti’s partnership with employees—the program is designed with employee feedback and contributions. Building a Better You encourages employees to lead a healthier lifestyle at work and home, providing the tools, resources and support to make it happen.  

Happy Feet: When did Conti start a wellness program? 

Shannon Muller: Conti initially began researching and developing plans for a wellness program in 2010. After we were sure we had a good plan in place and management support behind us, the program was launched in early 2011. We surveyed employees to gauge their interests and make sure we were developing a program to which they would respond. We even opened up for program name suggestions from employees and selected Building a Better You, from a list of great suggestions.  

Happy Feet:  Explain how your wellness program works? 

Muller: The program is designed to attract the variety of personalities and interests of our employees. The idea is to educate and motivate employees to live healthier lives and there are a variety of ways to do that. We host lunch & learns on various topics, we distribute newsletters and healthy recipes, we spark the friendly competition amongst coworkers and we offer incentives for participation. As you know we have the Conti Walking Competition, for which, we provided pedometers to participants and they submit weekly step counts competing against coworkers. I have recently incorporated bonus point values for other healthy habits including eating fruits and vegetables or taking vitamins. 

We also recently held a Health Screening event at our corporate office to allow employees the convenience of being screened without leaving the office and plan to begin a Weight Watchers at Work program in the fall.

Here’s an excerpt from the Conti Newsletter discussing the company’s committment to its employees: Conti cares about its’ employees and wants to see each one of us live healthy, balanced lives. There are so many benefits to making healthier choices in your life such as, increased energy and motivation as well as decreased stress and tension.  Healthy choices improve your overall physical, mental, and emotional well being and can enhance your outlook on life.

Happy Feet: How have employees responded overall? I know the walk program has sparked a little competitiveness on the Whitestone Bridge project. 

Muller: Employee response has been great! As mentioned before, we surveyed employees to be sure the plan would catch their attention. Nearly 50% of employees signed up for the Walking Competition and are especially competitive.  The Health Screening appointments filled within 3 days of announcement. Employees respond to my various emails and announcements with excitement and suggestions. They offer their recipes and links for helpful sites on fitness and nutrition. It is great to see how many people appreciate and enjoy the program.

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