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Posts in the healthy lifestyle category

Blast Belly Fat in 10 Mins a Day

by Kathy Smith

Nobody has time to spend hours at a gym, but a recent study shows that people who completed a 7-minute bodyweight circuit daily experienced significant changed in their body. After only six weeks, their body fat dropped an average of 2.1%, and lost approximately four pounds of fat mass….without changing their diet.  Resistance exercises can help boost lean body mass and help burn fat.

Want to try it for yourself? Check out this 10-minute resistance training workout designed for toning up, and shedding fat!

It’s important to realize that although incorporating bodyweight exercises is an excellent start, you’ll receive even better results when  provide your body with healthy nutrients and eat a sensible, sustainable diet. If you’re on a mission to lose weight, I recommend replacing at least one meal a day with one of these slimdown shake recipes. 

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

10 Science-Backed Ways To Feel Euphoric

by Kathy Smith

1 – Set Your Oven to 350 – Science shows that watching a treat rise in the oven is emotionally therapeutic. Plus, it boosts your confidence and you feel more accomplished when your goodies are ready to eat. For a double boost of happiness, share your creation with coworkers or neighbors. Where to begin? Try a few of my favorite recipes…Protein Brownies or Frittata Muffins

2 – Walk or Bike to Work – Traffic can be a real drain on your happiness. If changing your commute is possible, try walking or biking to work, because research shows that you’ll arrive feeling more cheerful! If it’s not in the cards for you to avoid traffic, then try listening to a podcast on your way to keep your brain stimulated during the drive.

3 – Cha Cha! – Shake it baby, shake it! A study from the University of Derby showed that depressed patients who took salsa lessons improved their moods. Click here for a 5-minute salsa video from my Latin Rhythm workout!

4 – Take It In – At the top of every hour, try this simple breathing exercise to lower your heart rate… Breathe in through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for one and exhale through your mouth.

5 – Pay It Forward – Treating the person in line behind you at the coffee shop can give you a bigger happiness boost than only paying for your own tab. Spending just $5 on another person can make a significant difference in your mood…and it will make them happier too!

6 – Do A Shot – Take a shot of my favorite ginger tea to stimulate the body and wake up on the bright side! Ginger root has been used for centuries to aid in better digestion, plus it’s a natural anti-inflammatory. Simply boil a cup of hot water, squeeze in a lemon, and add in a few few cubes of freshly-chopped ginger. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper!

7 – Walk Barefoot – Before breakfast, I enjoy a nature walk barefoot in the grass (I call this “grounding”). As silly as it sounds, studies have shown that grounding has remarkable health advantages, such as increasing antioxidants and reducing inflammation.

8 – Put On Your Party Pants –  Dressing up and making yourself look polished tells your brain that you’re valuable. So take out those heels and go out for a girls night on the town!

9 – Get It Om – According to Harvard, “Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve immune function.”

10 – Take a Wonder Drug – I call cardio a “wonder drug,” because it is proved just as helpful as anti-depressants. And, cardio activities such as running, cycling, rowing, using an elliptical, or hiking outdoors release a whole flood of endorphins and feel-good chemicals into the brain. When you do cardio, you activate the same parts of the brain that are involved when you fall in love, or when you listen to music that gives you that “chill” feeling of euphoria.

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

3 Meditations To Nourish Your Heart

by Kathy Smith

In the simplest sense, meditation can help banish negative thoughts by clearing your mind entirely. One popular meditation technique is to focus on a positive idea or happy moment. As soon as a negative thought bubbles to the happy, calm surface you created, think of it as a duck that is paddling away from you and return your focus to happier thoughts. It’s not always easy to erase negative thought patterns, but meditation can at least help you become more conscious of them, and that’s the first step.

As if happier thoughts aren’t enough of a benefit, research is showing that meditation can help restructure the brain in ways that lead to more enhanced concentration, boosted immunity, and increased compassion. Even the most basic attempts at meditation have been shown to have immediate positive results.

If you haven’t begun a meditation practice, or are looking to take your practice to the next level, then stay tuned. Today, I’ll guide you through three meditation styles to enhance your life and recharge your batteries.

1. Nature Meditation

One of my favorite ways to change my mental state is to meditate deeply on a part of nature. Take five minutes to look closely at a flower. Study the details of its texture and the structure. By observing the smallest features of a flower or any object, you develop a sense of reverence. The flower becomes a little miracle. You begin to see how complete and fully alive the natural world is at all levels. Meditating on nature can be calming, fascinating, and inspiring all at once.

2. Gratitude Meditation

I love what Oprah said about gratitude, “I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.”

Every morning, I start my day by making a gratitude list. It gets me moving on a positive track!

So take a few minutes today meditating on all the things in your life that you’re thankful for. You might even think about taking out your phone, opening the notes, and writing your daily list.

3. Breathing Meditation

Slow, deep breathing is one of the best stress busters there is. Focus your attention on the breath entering your body, your breath flowing out, and the spaces in between the breath. Several minutes of this can lower your pulse, reduce your blood pressure, and relax much of the muscular tension in your body.

This popular breathing method is one of the easiest and most effective forms for the uninitiated to attempt. Try it during stressful situations throughout your day. Within minutes, you’ll see how it helps you stay present in the moment, and yet separated from the situation that created stress in the first place.

Remember, as you work through these three meditations negative messages may surface. It’s o.k. (and very common) if they do. Your meditation practice will become more profound as you turn your focus back to nature, what you’re grateful for, or your breath. Like anything new, the more you practice, the easier it becomes to switch your mindset.

Here’s to your health and happiness!

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

Lemon & Garlic Braised Chicken

by Kathy Smith

For the marinade:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper
Directions:
Mix all ingredients together in a large non-reactive bowl.
For the Chicken:
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded slightly to flatten
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Kalamata olives
  • Chopped fresh basil
Directions:

1.     Marinate the chicken breasts for 2–4 hours in the refrigerator.
2.     Remove chicken and discard marinade.
3.     Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and sauté chicken on one side for 5 minutes, turn and cook another 5 minutes until cooked through.
4.      Remove chicken to a warm plate.
5.     Add chopped tomatoes, capers, and olives to pan and cook for a few minutes until tomatoes start to break down.
6.     Serve chicken topped with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with basil.

 

TIP: Serve with kale sautéed with garlic and olive oil.

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

2 Moves To Improve Your Posture

by Kathy Smith

The saying “practice makes perfect” applies to everything in life…including POSTURE! Having a straight posture doesn’t just make you look thinner, but it also can help prevent headaches as well as shoulder and lower back pain.

So if you find yourself slumping while sitting, or looking down at your phone often, it’s time for POSTURE PRACTICE! Today’s 2-minute video will show you 2 moves to do when you wake up in the morning to help you stay upright. All you need is a pair of dumbbells!

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

Epigenetics Proves It: Negative Thoughts and Emotions Harm Your Health

by Kathy Smith

For decades we’ve heard talk of the mind-body connection, but what does it really mean?

Traditionally, the mind-body connection related to the notion that emotions, thoughts, social activities, spiritual practices, and behavior can affect our health. Today, thanks to some intrepid geneticists, we not only know this is true, but also the reason it occurs.

Ever since the discovery of genes, scientists have followed the path of genetic disposition and have strived to fight or prevent disease based on an individual’s genetic code. But, the new science of epigenetics has scientists looking at a much bigger picture.

Let’s take a look at what epigenetics means. Genetics is the study of heredity, or how the characteristics of living things are transmitted from one generation to the next. Every living thing contains the genetic material that makes up DNA molecules. This material is passed on when organisms reproduce. The prefix epi is derived from a Greek word that means “on, upon, at, by, near, over, on top of, toward, against, among.” Now, when we combine the prefix epi with the word genetics, we are referring to what occurs uponover or on top of the expression of genes.

Biologists studying epigenetics understand that environmental factors, such as stress and nutrition, to name a few, affect your genetic expression. And, what these biologists know with certainty is that the expression of your genes, not the genes themselves, dictates whether you develop certain diseases or age prematurely. In other words, one may have the “obesity gene,” but if nothing in the environment triggers that gene, it will never express as obesity.

This means that how you respond to what’s happening in your environment—whether it’s stress at work, final exams, or emotional or physical abuse—has a far greater effect than the event itself. In other words, when it comes to your body, perception is reality.

If you are chronically forlorn, for example, this negative emotion will influence the expression of your genes and thus impact your risk of developing disease. Conversely, there are many obese people, and even heavy smokers, who lead optimistic, balanced lives who are in much better health than their lean or non-smoking, but pessimistic, counterparts.

Dawson Church, in his book, The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention, reports that heart surgery patients who have a strong social support network and spiritual practice have one-seventh the mortality rate of those who don’t.

So, how do you start feeling optimistic when you’re feeling everything but? Well, you can start by recognizing that pessimism is nothing more than a habit—a learned response. And, the good news in that is that habits can be changed.

Habits are formed by the brain when we do something consistently over time. The brain recognizes the pattern and builds a neuropathway. Then, whenever the situation presents itself again, your brain takes that same neuropathway, which is now the path of least resistance. Neuropathways that are used regularly get stronger, and those that aren’t used at all disconnect.

So, the trick to changing habits is consistently doing the positive, new behavior you want until it forms a new neuropathway. Sound like a lot of time and effort? It doesn’t have to be. Since the brain doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined, and because time doesn’t exist at the other-than-conscious level of the mind, visualization can help you form new habits quickly and comfortably. This is where braintapping comes in. With proven technology-enhanced meditation that uses brain wave algorithms and visualization, you can quickly form the positive new habits that will give you a happier life and help safeguard your health.

And, if that’s not enough to convince you, a May 2014 study by the Institute of Science in Society showed that the relaxation response, as achieved through meditative practices, has been shown to positively affect at least 2,209 genes.

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

4 tricks to rev up your memory

by Kathy Smith

Stay ahead of age-related changes in thinking skills by making the most of your brain’s memory process.

We all have moments of forgetfulness about where we put the keys, why we walked into a room, or what an object is called. Most likely, this reflects age-related changes in thinking skills. “In terms of brain function, everyone has a decline over time in all areas, with the exception of vocabulary,” says Dr. Joel Salinas, a neurologist specializing in behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

How memory works

Memory involves three processes: encoding, recording, and retrieval. The brain receives and encodes (takes in) new information; the brain then records (stores) the information; finally, the brain retrieves information when you need it.

Many brain regions are involved in this process. For example, the cerebral cortex — the large outer layer of the brain — acquires new information as input from our senses. The amygdala tags information as being worthy of storage. Nearby, the hippocampus stores memories. And the frontal lobes help us consciously retrieve information.

The aging memory

Many people notice a difference in memory starting in their 50s. That’s when age-related chemical and structural changes can begin in brain regions involved with memory processing, such as the hippocampus or the frontal lobes. These changes may slow processing speed, making it hard to recall familiar names or words.

Other factors may be at play as well. “Working memory — a mental scratch pad that allows us to use important information throughout the day — is susceptible to depression, anxiety, and stress,” explains Dr. Salinas, “and a lack of sleep can affect the brain’s retention and use of information.”

A medication side effect may also affect memory. For example, if you use an anti-anxiety drug like clonazepam (Klonopin), its sedating side effects can make your brain less alert and more sluggish. This in turn makes it more challenging for your brain to carry out the essential encoding, recording, and retrieval steps of memory.

Dr. Salinas says addressing these problems first often helps improve memory.

Memory tricks

Another way to boost memory is to make the most of the way it works. The following strategies may help.

1. Repeat what you hear out loud, such as someone’s name, or an address, or a new idea.Repetition increases the likelihood you’ll record the information and be able to retrieve it later. “With each repetition, your brain has another opportunity to encode the information,” explains Dr. Salinas. “The connections between brain cells are reinforced, much like blazing a trail in the woods. The more you walk the same trail, the easier it is to walk it the next time.”

2. Make a note of people you need to call, errands to run, and appointments. “We are much better at recognition than recall,” Dr. Salinas explains. “With recognition, such as reading a list, you have additional hooks or hints that help you find the information you’re looking for.”

3. Make associations between old and new information. Connect a person’s first name to something familiar. For example, if the person’s name is Sandy, imagine that person on a beach. Or create a story around a shopping list. “Our brain is good at sequences, and putting things into a story helps. The more ridiculous, the more memorable it is. For example, if your list is milk, eggs, and bread, the story could be that you are having milk with Elvis over an egg sandwich,” Dr. Salinas suggests.

4. Divide information into chunks, such as taking a long number and remembering it more like a phone number. “It’s hard to store a long number,” says Dr. Salinas, “but easier to store little bits through working memory.” If you’re trying to memorize a speech for a wedding toast, focus on getting only one sentence or idea down at a time, not the whole speech in one take.

When tricks don’t help

Forgetting something minor from time to time is probably normal. It’s not normal when memory changes interfere with day-to-day functioning. Dr. Salinas recommends that you talk to your doctor if you’re making more mistakes than usual at work; having difficulty paying the bills; or having trouble completing tasks, cooking, emailing, or doing chores. But don’t panic. “More often than not, there’s a temporary or reversible cause behind your memory slips. Once that’s taken care of, you can get back to your more usual remembering self,” says Dr. Salinas.

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

6 Tips For A Healthy Back

by Kathy Smith

    1. Perfect Your Standing Posture
      When standing, keep one foot slightly in front of  the other, with your knees somewhat bent. Stay upright, being careful not to bend forward at the waist for prolonged periods of time. Maintaining this posture helps keep pressure off of your lower back and ensures that your muscles don’t become de-conditioned, leading to pain.

    2. Beware Of Sitting
      If you sit at a desk for much of the day, listen up! When you’re sitting, keep your knees slightly higher than your hips, with your head up and back straight. Avoid rolling your shoulders forward, and aim to maintain the natural curve in your lower back. I like to keep a stretchy band at my desk so I can do a few simple stretching exercises throughout the day to maintain good posture.

    3. Don’t Add Extra Pressure
      If you have extra weight on your body, pressure is added to your back, causing pain. To release as much tension as possible, keep the number on the scale within 10 lbs of your ideal weight. Belly fat is the biggest red flag, because it puts unwanted force on the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your lower back.
    4. Reconsider Your Sleeping Position
      Some sleeping positions are worse than others, especially if you sleep on your back. In fact, sleeping on your back puts apx 50 lbs of pressure on your spine! If you want to lay on your back at night, place a pillow under your knees to cut the pressure of your spine in half. And of course, never sleep in a position that causes a portion of your spine to hurt.

    5. Lifting & Carrying
      One common cause of back pain is improper safety while carrying and lifting objects. When carrying heavier items, keep them as close to your body as possible. If you’re picking up an item from the floor, DON’T bend over at the waist to pick up the item. Instead, kneel down on one knee, as close as possible to the item you’re lifting, with the other foot flat on the floor and pick the item up. When lifting, be sure to not twist as you reach up. Twisting is one of the most dangerous movements for your spine. Is the item is too heavy to lift, keep in mind that pushing and object is easier on your back than pulling it. Whenever possible, use your legs, not your back or upper body, to push an item.

    6. Quit smoking
      Those who smoke have more spinal pain than nonsmokers, and they also heal more slowly once the pain hits. This happens because the chemicals in the tobacco smoke restrict the flow of blood to the tissues in and around your spine.  So if you want to improve your overall health and reduce back pain, it may be time to throw the smokes away!

    Always make sure to keep you exercise program going, maintain a healthy weight, and get a good night’s sleep to help you live a healthier lifestyle with a healthy back. Of course, always consult your doctor if you continue to have ongoing back pain. I’m Kathy Smith, and here’s to your health!

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

By Collage Video | | health, Healthy, healthy aging, healthy lifestyle, Kathy Smith, Weekly Blog | 0 comments | Read more

Dr. Julie Reil & Kathy Smith: Don’t Ignore Your Pelvic Floor

by Kathy Smith

Kathy Smith: Julie, welcome to the show.  

Julie Reil: Thank you, Kathy. Thank you for just having a heart for education for women. Because every woman out there eventually does have to think and address some issues that happen with aging and the pelvic floor. I think every time we have an opportunity to discuss this is a natural part of aging and that there are some things you can be proactive with, I think it’s just another step forward for us. 

Kathy Smith: Let’s just dive in. What prompted your interest in this particular part of a woman’s body? Had you seen, have you been told, do people come in? When I was visiting you in Montana–and by the way we had a lovely visit. It’s been a while now. Maybe a couple of years ago. It was just so much fun to spend time with you in Montana and to see you in your clinic and to hear some of the stories about how women’s lives, even though sometimes we think about it as just the sexual part of our bodies, so many other things are going on down there. As it ages, it really can cause problems. What prompted your interest? 

Julie Reil: My board certifications are in family medicine and also in obstetrics. So, delivering babies for 10 years, of course, firsthand you’re seeing women through the process of childbirth which is probably the number one way that the pelvic floor loses tone of course. Then, also seeing women in their maturing years and helping them through menopause, which is the second basically insult or hit against the body in the pelvic floor area.  

So, childbirth is easy to understand because the area stretches. You don’t get complete rebound. Sometimes there’s extensive tearing in other extenuating circumstances. Menopause is kind of a little-known facts, so whether you’ve had babies or not, once your body is no longer making its own estrogen and you’re officially menopause, you now have 50% less thickness and tone of your entire pelvic floor. That entire hammock of muscles is thin as well as the connective tissue and skin thins out.  

So, your aging scenario going into your golden years is really quite tenuous. So, you’re at a lot of risk for not just urinary incontinence but loss of vaginal wall tone, loss of anal and rectal tone so that is responsible for holding gas and stool and, then the fourth function of the pelvic floor is low back pain and posture. So, all of those actually are important for just everyday life. 

Kathy Smith: Give us a little anatomy lesson when we’re talking about the pelvic floor.  

Julie Reil: It’s very much like a hammock. The front of the hammock is your pubic bone. The back of the hammock is your tailbone. So, in between there is some side attachments to the pelvic wall to your sitz bones and the very center of your hammock is basically that perineal body or the muscle that either is torn or gets cut. But it’s compromised no matter what when you give birth naturally. So, the very center of your hammock of that nice group of muscles that are anchored is already sitting lower and has less support after just one baby – one natural birth. 

So, ultimately, toning those muscles, toning the side wall supports and all the anchoring structures of that entire hammock becomes our goal. So, how do we basically keep those muscles in shape? How do we get them back in shape, for instance, after you have a childbirth? 

Kathy Smith: Of course, we’re taught at every Lamaze class, every Bradly Cat class that you go to and every workout that you go to now about Kegels. Talk to me about – because I know you have a point of view on Kegels and how to do them and their efficacy. 

Julie Reil: Again, Kegels can be helpful, but they’re not always helpful. First of all, if you have urge incontinence, which means you’re getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or all day long you’re going back and forth to the bathroom, so you have urgent or frequent urges, Kegels can make that worse.  

So, you have to know that Kegels are specifically for people that are having more trouble with leaking urine when they sneeze or cough or do exercise. That’s called stress incontinence, which means basically the seal isn’t as tight as it used to be and you can leak and pressure can overcome that.  

Kegels can be helpful, so really you need to be directed towards the right exercise for you. Then, there’s been some advancements of Kegels which are basically some very basic exercises put together by Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1961.  

Now, there’s a program called Beyond Kegels. There are some other things out there that are basically optimizing the things that you know about, Kathy which is what types of muscles are we working on? Are these big muscles? Are these tiny, intrinsic muscles? Yes, they’re tiny muscles. Are they slow twitch? Are they fast twitch? Yes, they’re a little bit of both.  

So, the more advanced toning programs are really helping people to optimize their position, optimize the way they do their exercises to get the most out of them. Then, also, educating women that this is not like working out in the gym. These muscles are very unique and basically when people say, ‘I’ve tried Kegels. It didn’t work.’ Most likely, they haven’t tried something that’s tailored for them, because most everybody thinks a simple Kegel is just squeeze those muscles and you’re out of there. But there’s a lot more that needs to go on in order to effectively tone your pelvic floor. 

Kathy Smith: Let’s talk about it and maybe we can give the listeners one thing to try, because typically you’re told if you want to understand a Kegel, try when you’re urinating, stopping the flow of urine and those muscles that you’re using to do that are the ones you’re trying to tighten. 

Julie Reil: Yes, it’s similar to that, but we don’t recommend you do them during urination. But, yes, you’re right, those are the same muscles that will stop the flow of urine. 

Kathy Smith: I know that when I was doing my Moving Through Menopause book and video, I taught different exercises like the flutter or the elevator exercise where you would imagine that you’re in an elevator and if you imagine your vagina and going up the wall, it would be first floor, second floor, third floor. You get to the penthouse, you hold and then release one at a time.  

Another one is that you just, instead of long squeezes, it would be almost like flutter kicks like squeeze, release, squeeze, release. So, things like that. But what’s interesting when we were together and you were showing me some of the postures, maybe just explain the one of where you lift your hips up and perhaps place them on a pillow or place them in a position so you change the position of your lower body. Explain why that’s effective. 

Julie Reil: Ultimately, who needs Kegels the most, really, are women who had a baby. Those muscles are no longer nice and tight. They don’t communicate and they’re not as effective as they used to be, so you’re trying to accomplish some toning of muscles, but you’re challenged because you’re not starting off with the ideal that you used to have before having babies is those muscles are a little bit stretched apart, almost like fabric that is no longer completely in tone.  

So, what’s interesting is people who need the Kegels also have typically given birth vaginally, so sitting up and doing a Kegel or sitting at a stop sign and saying, ‘Oh, every time I stop in my car, I just do my Kegels.’ First and foremost, this is not the position to do them in because everything sits lower in the abdomen and the pelvis once you’ve given birth even once. So, you want to be in a neutral, laying down position. Ideally, if there’s something you can prop under your lower back, that elevates the hips a little bit, now, you even have less gravity working against you. 

So, sitting up, no. Laying down, better. That’s kind of a neutral. But, then, a little bit of a prop underneath the lower back where the hips kind of almost curve forward. I don’t know what you call that but if you were just doing a little bit of a flexing of the hips forward that is a very nice position because, now, you’ll eliminate gravity and even save tissues that are sitting lower, and you can really work through those full range of motion of what you’re trying to accomplish with your pelvic floor. That’s one position. 

Kathy Smith: Ok. Did you have another one you wanted to share?  

Julie Reil: I was going to say if you were to do one thing besides that position, it would be to do a combination like you mentioned, Kathy, of kind of a long-held isometric, like I’m going to pretend there’s a marble in the vagina. I’m going to squeeze around that marble and I’m going to pull it up towards my belly button and I hold, hold, hold. Count slowly to five and hold it. I call that more of an isometric, like a long-held contraction. Then, rest and do the same thing but do what you mentioned – the flutters – where you lift the marble up, you let it go, you lift the marble up, you let it go.  

So, for most people that have tried to do Kegels in the past, they usually do them in one way. And I think most people do it in kind of a long-held fashion. I’m not sure. But when they do the combination which, then, is allowing you to work both the slow twitch and the fast twitch muscles down there, which are basically there’s 40% of one and 60% of the other – almost half and half – you’re going to be toning the muscles more effectively and getting more out of your exercises if you do that combo.  

Kathy Smith:  I love those combos…and you’re right, it’s so important to switch up your kegel exercisses to work both the fast twitch and slow twitch muscles! Just like any other muscle in the body, the PC (pubococcygius) muscle, which is the muscle you work while kegeling,  needs regular exercise to remain firm. And having a strong pelvic floor is extremely important because when done correctly, “Kegeling” can alleviate up to 90 percent of stress incontinence. And of course, it’s going to heighten pleasure and sensitivity during intercourse! What are some other ways women can be proactive about keeping their pelvic floor strong?  

Julie Reil: It certainly wouldn’t hurt. Exactly. First and foremost, you’ve got your four functions of your pelvic floor. So, urination and having bowel movements or stooling, that’s a necessary part of life every day. And it also has issues of dignity. So, that’s so important that we, as we’re aging and living longer, that we maintain and be able to have the pelvic health that we can. Because it does affect your cardiovascular fitness and activities you do, for instance. So, if you can keep those muscles strong and not be someone who’s leaking urine or unable to control gas or stool, which happens as people get into their 60s and beyond, that’s really important.  

But vaginal wall tone becomes quite important, not only structurally so that you’re not having things sagging and falling out and that discomfort, but to be able to basically enjoy sex more and, then, be able to, I guess, be a little bit more proactive too, because this is an area where if you use it and continue to be able to use it, even through the drying, aging scenario for a pelvic floor is that you have less thickness of the skin. You also have less moisture.  

So, that’s a little bit of the flower that withers away and dries up. So, you have to be proactive to make sure your flower doesn’t wither away and dry up. There’s some things you can do medically, but the tone is probably the cornerstone of it all. Then, using some other strategies to keep things – the mucus glands active and working. So, you had said once, I think, in a question, ‘Is this an area where if you don’t use it, you will lose it?’ There is some truth to that. This is ideally an area where you need to continue to use it, which becomes a challenge when you don’t have a partner. But there are ways that you can keep the area working and keep it from thinning so dramatically. 

Kathy Smith: Exactly…if you don’t use it, you lose it! But if you don’t have a partner, you don’t have to feel left out! There’s all kinds of techniques that will help you everything stay active and toned…including vibrators. It’s nothing to be ashamed of…One out of every three people that go into nursing facilities go in because of incontinence. At one point, if you cannot maintain and hold your urine and your bowels, then life becomes very difficult and it’s not just something that happens in very old age. Women in their 30s start to leak when they jumprope or jog. And a lot of women suffer in silence. It affects their relationships, their self esteem, their sex lives. It’s an important thing to address. So, that’s why it’s never too early to start being proactive. 

Julie Reil: Absolutely. And, again, so in the last 10 years, it’s a thrill to know that I think because of our wonderful, younger generation – these millenniums – they will talk about things. They’re taking the taboo out of a lot of subjects, and women in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s–I treat women in their 90s–they’re realizing they’re not alone. This is actually a fairly normal part of giving birth as well as aging and they can be proactive.  

It’s a very personal subject. It involves matters of dignity, truly. But to empower women to realize, well, there really are some things you can do. It may not be in your mainstream medical doctor’s office yet, but there’s some treatments and there’s combining exercises with, say, bioidentical estrogen cream, used very conservatively. There’s a lot of things where if you do the stuff over the long run, if you started in your 40s, 50s, continue on, your preservation of your pelvic floor and its function will be so much better, of course, than if you just let things go.  

Kathy Smith: Yeah, optimizing that. 

Julie Reil: These young women are saying, ‘Tell me what to do.’ It’s important to them. They don’t want to lose their, let’s say, sexual abilities, their attractiveness but, also, their functional issues and their dignity. They’re looking around, going, ‘Whoa, that could happen to me.’  

I love the fact that people are becoming proactive, and I love that fact that 90-year olds come in. Ninety-year olds are interested in not getting up and down and peeing all night, not having leaking but more than that, they want to feel as young and beautiful down there as they do anywhere else in their body. 

Kathy Smith: Yeah, it makes so much sense. 

Julie Reil: Yes, it’s beautiful.  

Kathy Smith:  And it turns out that engaging in intercourse and other sexual activities that stretch the vagina can actually preserve elasticity by preventing contracting and over-tightening of the tissue in the area. But yet, around 50-60% of women report problems with vaginal dryness. What’s happening in a woman’s body and hormone levels that cause this dryness, and how can we prevent that atrophy…especially during or after menopause?  

Julie Reil: Naturally, in terms of vaginal dryness, what’s happening structurally, physiologically is your pelvic floor is very dependent upon estrogen. When you no longer make your own estrogen and, say, you are officially in menopause, which means you haven’t had a period for 12 months, you are basically already – because of the lack of estrogen influence on those tissues – at least 50 percent thinner than when you were having your menstrual cycle. So, that means the skin, the connective tissue in the muscle are all thinning out. They’re becoming weaker. So, estrogen naturally supports the thickness, the turgor and the elasticity. So, it’s a big deal when you go into menopause.  

If you take systemic hormone replacement, there’s some improvement, but typically people will still have atrophy and they will still have vaginal dryness as well as some difficulty with the stretch of intercourse. That might be felt during intercourse or what we call afterburn. It seems like it’s going fine but, then, when you’re all done, it’s really uncomfortable because those tissues did not stretch well.  

Your strategies really do come down, ideally, ultimately that if you can replace a little bit of that estrogen topically. One of the best things that happened for women, in my opinion, in 2010, the American College of Oncologists, the cancer doctors, issued a position statement reassuring women that use of an estrogen cream on your pelvic floor, on your vaginal walls is not putting you at risk of systemic cancers and long-term risk of heart disease and stroke and things that we know that come from taking systemic hormones over the long term.  

There’s a couple of reasons for that. First of all, you don’t need much in terms of the dose. Second of all, you only dose it three times a week and it’s typically just a little wheel of cream. I have my patients just rub it in like you would a lotion. Interestingly is, that little bit makes a huge difference to preserve some thickness, some elasticity and how to guard against the ultimate withering away and drying up of the flower. You want to preserve the thickness and the blood supply and the stretchability of that area. So, estrogen is your number one thing.  

So, is there natural forms of estrogen? Personally, I like to prescribe Estriol, which is compounded. It has to be prescribed, but it is 100% bioidentical to what’s in the human body. It’s only one subtype of estrogen, but it’s about 85% specific for the pelvic floor. So, you don’t have people talking about breast tenderness, a kind of systemic effect of the hormone, because it’s really just being used three times a week, about 1 ML, which is a small dosing. It takes care topically, or locally, what you need, but it’s not going throughout your whole system. Does that make sense? 

Kathy Smith: It does. Totally. With the product, then, it’s going to help with dryness, with thickness and a little bit of the elasticity and the shape? 

Julie Reil: The tissues that are essentially estrogen dependent, we’re talking the entire hammock of your pelvic floor is skin-connected tissue, and those fine intrinsic muscles all respond a little bit to that estrogen. So, it’s not just like the very surface of the skin becomes less wrinkly. No, it’s actually giving a small, functional improvement.  

It doesn’t suddenly make you re-toned, but we’re talking about the marathon, not the sprint here. So, if you go into menopause – on average 50, 55 – and you’re going to live another 45, 50 years, you’ve got a lot of years where you really want to prevent, which would be the ultimate–which is kind of the withering away of those tissues. When I examine women in their elder years who haven’t had any estrogen, it’s as thin as wet tissue paper. So, you’re talking about an area that really becomes somewhat non-functional. 

Kathy Smith: Because it can tear so easily. 

Julie Reil: Yeah, with hardly any pressure. Imagine sitting in a wet pad, then, having that pliable, fragile tissue. It really behooves us to just become aware of how we can use every possible strategy to make this area preserved and maintained as well as possible. 

Kathy Smith: Right. And also, it’s interesting to note that when estrogen leaves the body, so does important bacteria that lives in the vagina. This changes the pH, and makes the area more acidic and vulnerable to infection. Because of this, combined with the loss of elasticity, little tiny tears form making the vagina more susceptible to infections. And not the infections of the yeast infections we used to get when we were younger but more so, even more bacterial infections. 

Julie Reil: Absolutely. And bladder infections, for sure. 

Kathy Smith: And bladder infections. So, yeah, it really is something to pay attention to. Well, then, for one of the things that–I know in your introduction, I talked about it–but it’s a procedure called Genityte. I know it’s a procedure that helps with the pelvic floor. It helps with all the things we’re talking about.  

Can you talk a little bit – because I know these things are popping up across the country and there’s different claims that are being made for different procedures – can you talk about Genityte? But, also, just in a broader view of a lot of claims that are being made for products out there of how they can tighten, shift, change and which ones work and which ones don’t. 

Julie Reil: Ok, well, good. Essentially, what is out there are different, let’s say, machines or mechanical ways to potentially add a little more tone to the vaginal walls. CO2 laser can be used, radio frequency, electricity. I don’t think ultrasound’s been used successfully.  

What I use in a Genityte procedure is infrared light. It’s light, not heat and it’s a very gentle approach. Because it can go directly in and around the clitoris, the anus, very, very sensitive, highly innervated areas, we’re able to accomplish toning of the entire pelvic floor – pubic bone all the way back to the tailbone and everything in between including the vaginal walls. What I love about Genityte is the four functions of the pelvic floor – urination, having babies, the vaginal wall tone which is our sexual function too, having bowel movements or passing gas and stooling as well as lower back pain and posture are all improved. Therefore, the ability to Kegel, to use those muscles and to return better structural tone by exercising them, all that, then, becomes possible.  

Other than that, the things that are out there are using pretty intense heat or electricity or radio frequency, that can only be used in the vaginal walls where you don’t have a lot of nerve supply; otherwise, you would literally damage nerves to the clitoris or to the anus in which people would never tolerate and, certainly, we can’t risk.  

I think the best of the best things out there because Genityte was something developed right here where I practice myself. The other things have kind of just come as a little bit of a spinoff, if you will. I think the best things that can be accomplished, you just have to work one on one with your physician in terms of what’s safe for you. What you don’t want to risk, of course, with any of those thing is that something might get worse.  

There is a difference between urgent incontinence and there’s a difference between stress incontinence and, then, there’s a difference between vaginal wall prolapse. The person doing the procedure needs to be a physician, and they need to know how to actively diagnose and, then, steer you in the right direction.  

There are some home product, which you might be referring to as well. There’s something now that can help you, let’s say, optimize your Kegeling ability and it connects to your iPhone. I think it costs only about $150. It’s essentially a biofeedback device. It’s used by the physical therapists, and it can give you feedback as to how well you’re squeezing those muscles. I think that’s kind of exciting. It’s something you can actively do along with your Kegeling program at home and give you a sense of are you making strides, are the muscles getting stronger, are you registering, on your biofeedback scale, a higher score? 

Kathy Smith: Is that called a dilator? Just for the audience, what would they look for? I’ve read about them. I’m actually going to order one. That’s a great idea. I read about them.  

Julie Reil: They came out in Europe first, but I know the physician in Vancouver has been using it, meaning recommending it to patients and feeling like it’s a little bit of a step up. Certainly, it’s affordable, which is nice. The other units I’ve seen that are available to order off the internet in the U.S. look more like a vibrator. You insert it. But they’re a little bit bulky and, then, they don’t have the blue tooth. So, what I like about the one he was talking about–I think it’s called eFIT or something. I’m going to look it up and see if I can find it on my phone. 

Kathy Smith: We’ll track it down and we’ll put it in the liner notes here.  

Julie Reil: Yes, because of the affordability, first of all, I think that’s amazing. And, then, the fact that most everybody has an iPhone now or some kind of a blue tooth device, so it just seems like it would be easy to use and, then, have some immediate feedback as to how you’re doing. 

Kathy Smith: So, I guess the message is start with a program to strengthen the pelvic floor, to strengthen the muscles of the vaginal wall. Think about the dryness element of where you are on the spectrum and whether you need a little bit of estrogen cream.  You might also try vaginal moisturizers, which are called “face cream” for the vagina. They work by binding vaginal cells and holding water.  

Then, if things are to the point where you’re finding you’re embarrassed because you can’t hold your urine or your bowels, then the idea is instead of just going out and getting the Depends or getting a pad or something to stop the leakage  – or to not even stop it but to catch the leakage – the idea is to now start to go to a doctor, to perhaps go to even your website, which is ShilohMedicalClinic.com or subscribe to Women’s Voices Magazine, and start to get more information about what are some of these techniques that you can do now to really help with the strengthening of this area. Because it’s a fascinating brave new world, and I encourage everybody to listen up, not be embarrassed about it and perhaps start the dialogue with your girlfriends or even with yourself or with your doctor.  

Julie Reil: Right. 

Kathy Smith: Any last parting words before I have to let you go? 

Julie Reil: No. Once again, Kathy, I just applaud you because you are so proactive for women. You’re broaching topics here, I think, everybody needs to hear about. But the common denominator is these are really embarrassing topics, and I think people are often not reaching out for the help they need because of the embarrassment. So, everything that we can do to encourage each other as women and let them know there are other things.  

Doctors like myself, I’m nothing wonderful but I certainly have a heart for women. Because of my women’s health category, I’m just one of many out there who are trying to make life better. I just want to thank you again for what you do for women. I think just continuing to be a resource for women as to what’s coming out, what’s coming down the pike. I think there’s a lot of interesting things out there and everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. I think looking at things critically, talking with your doctor, making sure things are safe, number one. Then, beyond that, just being proactive for yourself and your own health is what it’s all about these days. 

Kathy Smith: So well put. On another note or just to add to that, I would love to track down the Kegel exercises you’ve mentioned. We’ll also put all those in the liner notes just so people know where they have access to find these newer techniques. 

Julie Reil: Absolutely. The website that you can research is called PhoenixCoreSolutions.com. This is a physical therapist from Missoula, Montana who did this research a good 30 years ago. A very successful program called Beyond Kegels and little things like the wedge to prop under your lower back is all available on here site and the books and what not. She is an interesting woman who basically has done very well as a physical therapist and she said, “In my younger years, I said I’m going to make a million dollars.” Well, then, after she made a million dollars, her next goal was to help a million women.  

That’s what Beyond Kegels has been about. It has been just kind of her giving back to women. I think it’s the best program out there and the easiest to do. She has research to back it up and I would say have hundreds of patients to also credential that it’s something that is realistic, you can do it at home, it works and it can fit into anybody’s everyday life. And you only do it three times a week, which is another helpful thing, so it’s not laborious to do this. 

Kathy Smith: It sounds like a remarkable woman. Once again, it’s great. I’m going to have to fly out to Montana. I need a Dr. Reil fix, so I’ll have to come see you. Thank you so much. 

 

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

Don’t Resist The Resistance Bands!

by Kathy Smith

What’s long, can stretch from head to toe, and will help you look fab in your summer tanks? That’s right…a resistance band!  You already know that they’re one of the best ways to increase your strength, because they’re inexpensive, small enough to travel with, and they make it easy to target specific muscle groups.

But what you might not know is that unlike dumbbells, tubes also provide what’s called linear variable resistance. Basically, this means that as you increase a move’s range of motion, the tension of the elastic also intensifies.
Imagine you’re doing a bicep curl. As you curl your arms up to a ninety-degree angle, the resistance provided by the tube gets stronger. Because the tube is made out of elastic, it provides more workload as it stretches. This can’t be done with dumbbells or other forms of free-weights.
Another reason linear variable resistance is so beneficial is because the elastic tubing better mimics the way a muscle’s strength changes throughout a movement. Until a certain point, most muscles increase in strength over the range of motion. For example, during a bicep curl, the muscle is weakest at the beginning, and at the halfway point the muscle is the most strong.

When you perform a bicep curl with a dumbbell, you’re limited to how much tension you can use based off of how strong your muscle is at the weakest point. This hinders the strongest part of your muscles from receiving adequate training.

But, try this same bicep curl with a tube, and the workload increases as the strength of your muscle increases.
Moral of the story…don’t resist the resistance tube!

To get started, try this 5-minute video designed to strengthen your lower body with a tube!

 

Kathy Smith, New York Times bestselling author, has stood at the forefront of the fitness and health industries for over 30 years. The numbers speak for themselves: Kathy has sold more than 20 million exercise DVDs - landing her in the Video Hall of Fame - and $500 million in Kathy Smith products. With her revolutionary approach to fitness, Smith has touched millions of people, inspiring them to move, live, and love.

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