Older & Wiser with Sue Grant

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Happy New You! (Helpful hints to help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions)

It’s that time of year again, where we vow to make some sort of fitness related resolution, only to have abandoned our best intentions by March. Research shows that about 60% of people make them — and that more than half of those of us who do, don't keep them for longer than a few months.

The secret to making a fitness New Year’s resolution last is to admit that getting and staying in shape won’t always be easy.  But SO worth it!  Here are some tips that will help you succeed:

Ditch the term “New Year’s Resolution”

That infamous term is associated with failure and broken promises, so avoid mentioning that expression when thinking and talking about your fitness goals. 

Instead of getting stuck in the “New Year’s resolution” mindset, come up with specific, achievable goals. 

Aim low

It goes without saying that most New Year's resolutions are easier announced (or written) than done-but if you set the bar too high, you're doomed from the start.

Start small, and make your goals realistic enough that you can easily imagine them becoming reality.  If you only focus on your big, long term goal, you might feel like a failure and give up if you don’t achieve that big goal soon.  Set yourself up to succeed by creating reasonable, manageable goals that will bring you to your big goal.

For example, instead of a sweeping declaration like “I’m going to get fit!”, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. Or, if the gym is not your thing, track the number of steps you take each day and work on increasing that number by a reasonable amount each day.

Be Specific

Your declaration should be absolutely clear. Making a concrete goal is really important rather than just vaguely saying “I want to lose weight.” Come up with an explicit goal: How much weight do you want to lose and at what time interval? 

The timeline toward reaching your goal should be realistic and definite too. That means giving yourself enough time to do it with lots of smaller intermediate goals set up along the way. Focusing on these small wins keeps you encouraged along the way—each time you meet one, you have reason to celebrate your progress.

Change one behavior at a time 

Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy    behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life this month. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time. The key to success is to zero in on one goal, not three.

Spread the Word!

You will be much more likely to succeed if you tell your friends and family about your plans (but carefully avoiding the “Resolution” term!). Social support can help you stay accountable, so let your world know about your aspirations. If you’re into social media, post regular updates on your progress. Your fans will cheer you on!

The more people to whom you announce your plan, the more people there'll be to prod you along if you fall behind. Just letting others know that we've committed makes it more likely that we'll follow through — we're less likely to slide if somebody else knows what we've said we'll do. 

Put “exercise” in your calendar for the entire year

There’s a saying that when people retire, they can either schedule their new free time for exercise or for Doctor’s appointments.  Plan on committing to whatever form of movement you enjoy in February, March and the rest of the year, not just January!

Don’t beat yourself up

Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

Don’t Fall for It – Eyes and Feet!

You might be surprised to learn that your eyes and your feet have a huge impact on your balance.  Here’s why:

Your body uses three different sensory systems to maintain balance:

  • Vision – I’m sure you know all too well how hard it is to balance when your eyes are closed!
  • Somatosensory – This system provides us with information about our spatial location and the movement of our body by the sense of touch in your feet.
  • Vestibular – this delicate balance system is located in your inner ear and is activated when your head moves. I’ll discuss this in detail in my next blog.

Eyes
Since your vision is key to maintaining your balance, get your eyes checked at least once a year, or more often if you have a gradually worsening condition like cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration.  Don’t put off getting cataract surgery – blurry vision can cause a catastrophic fall.

If you wear glasses, be sure to update your lens prescription regularly. Speaking of glasses, progressive or bifocal lenses can increase the risk of falls, especially on stairs.  Even though it is not as convenient, I recommend that you have two different pairs of glasses – one for distance and another one for reading.

Feet
Your body receives crucial somatosensory cues when from your feet touching the  firm surface of the ground.  It’s much harder to balance when standing on something compliant, like soft sand or a squishy pad, than when standing on a solid surface. Sneakers with an extra thick padding on the bottom are sort of like standing on a soft pad and will reduce the somatosensory cues your body needs from your feet.  Because of this, shoes with thin soles are better for balance.  I understand that many of us need to wear padded shoes because of bunions or sore feet, so you might want to consult your doctor or a podiatrist about the best choice of footwear for you.

Obviously, never ever walk around in socks or stockings, and if you wear slippers, make sure that they can’t slip off your feet and that they are not slippery. 

Your eyes and your feet are your balance buddies – these tips will help them help you prevent a fall!

By Collage Video | | Healthy, Older & Wiser, Sue Grant, tips, Wellness | Read more

Sue Grant's Holiday Fitness Tips

You know you “should” keep active all year long, but when you add holidays to the mix, many of us find exercise becomes less of a priority.  However, staying active in some way will give you energy, reduce tension and stress, and of course, help mitigate some of the extra calories you may be eating.  Here are some easy tips that will help you keep moving, even during this busy time of year:

Travel

  • If you’re traveling, pack (or wear!)  your comfortable walking shoes, fitness videos, and your  resistance band.
  • If flight delays leave you with extra time at the airport, rejoice!  Store your luggage in an airport locker and enjoy people watching as you take a hike through the airport.
  • Plan Ahead!  Search for walking or park trails nearby, or find out if any nearby gyms allow guests to use their facility. 
  • Malls are also a great place to walk, and if parking is crowded this time of year, consider it a bonus if you have to walk a bit to get to the mall. 
  • If your joints can tolerate it, take the stairs whenever possible.  Just be sure to have a free hand next to the banister for safety’s sake.
  • Invite your family and friends to walk with you.  It’s such a wonderful way to connect.

“Wherever” Exercises

Here are some easy exercises that you can do anywhere:

  • Chair Sit to Stands - Try sitting down very slowly – defy gravity!  This extremely functional exercise will strengthen your “fall prevention” lower body muscles.  Try doing as many as you can before every meal.
  • Wall pushups - Stand facing a wall, and put your hands on the wall about shoulder high and shoulder wide.  Bend and straighten your arms, keeping your body straight.  Don’t forget to breathe!  This exercise is easier if your feet are close to the wall, and harder the farther your feet are farther from the wall.  You’ll be strengthening the “pushing” muscles you use every day with this exercise.
  • Luggage rows - Stand beside a chair, and put the hand next to the chair on the back of the chair for support.  Lean your torso forward, but if your back protests, then stay more upright. Hold something fairly heavy (like a suitcase) in your hand that is not next to the chair.  Lift the suitcase up and down, bringing your elbow up and then straightening your arm.  This exercise strengthens your back muscles, which are crucial for good posture.
By Collage Video | | Healthy, Older & Wiser, Sue Grant, tips, Wellness | Read more

Don’t Fall for It – “Sit to Stands” are Grand!

I met with a new home client yesterday who told me that he falls all the time but assumed that this was a normal consequence of his clumsiness.  Goodness NO!  As you probably know, one of the most frequent causes of death for older adults is “complications from a fall.”  At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I told my new client that fall prevention is truly a matter of life and death.

There are many ways to minimize the chances of a dangerous fall, but I’m just going to write about one thing you can do in this article today.  Keep an eye out for my upcoming blogs to learn about additional things you can do to reduce your risk of falling.

Regular exercise:

This is (in my opinion as a Master Certified FallProof Instructor) THE most important thing you can do to reduce your risk for falls.  Exercise helps you to maintain lower body strength, which is crucial.  Let’s face it – everyone stumbles and trips a little during the day, but if your legs are strong enough, they can help you catch yourself.  If your legs are weak, then you will be much more likely to fall.

One of the easiest and most practical ways to improve your lower body strength is to do “Sit to Stands.”  You simply sit down and stand up from a chair.  Try to do a few Sit to Stands before every meal, and gradually increase the number of repetitions.

When you sit down, try to descend as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible – this will really help to strengthen your fall prevention muscles.

If you need to use your hands on the chair to stand up, then do so, but work towards using your hands as little as possible. The most advanced hand position is to cross your arms across your chest so that you are only using your lower body muscles to propel yourself. 

To measure your progress, see how many Sit to Stands you can do in 30 seconds.  Take note of which chair you use, and record the number of times you stood up.

It will be rewarding to see how much you’ve improved when you time yourself again in a month or so.  Just be sure to use the same chair so you’re comparing apples to apples.  As I’m sure you know, it’s a lot easier to stand up from a tall rigid chair seat than a low squishy couch.

These super-fast Sit to Stands are also a great way to add power to your workout, which is especially important as we get older.  Adding speed and power help to keep your fast twitch muscles tuned up, which help you to react quickly (which is essential when you stumble.)

Boring? You bet!  But anything’s better than falling and ending up in the emergency room!  Stay tuned for more fall prevention tips in my next blog.

The Surprising Benefits of Colorful Produce!

I just read a fascinating article about the benefits of colorful produce in one of my favorite health publications –  Berkeley Wellness.  I don’t pretend to be a registered dietitian, but I thought you might enjoy reading about the unique benefits we get from different colors of fruits and vegetables.  For the details, I encourage you to check out Berkeleywellness.com.

We all assume that colorful fruits and vegetables are “good for us,” but it’s fun to learn about each individual color’s specific benefits.  Here goes!

RED

Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and guava contain something called lycopene, a red pigment.  Lycopene may inhibit the growth of cancer cells in various ways.  Who knew?

RED, PURPLE AND BLUE

Blueberries, strawberries, beets, eggplant, red and blue grapes, red cabbage, plums, red apples and cherries contain potent antioxidants that provide a reddish blue color.  These antioxidants may help protect against heart disease.  What a delicious way to keep your heart healthy!

ORANGE

Acorn and butternut squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apricots, carrots, mangoes and cantaloupe contain alpha and beta carotene, which provide an orange color.  As an antioxidant, beta carotene helps mop up free radicals that may promote cancer.  Alpha carotene intake has been linked with a reduced risk of various cancers, including lung and cervical cancer.  Go, carotenes!

ORANGE-YELLOW

Peaches, oranges, tangerines, nectarines and papayas are rich in beta cryptoxanthin.  (I have no idea how to pronounce that……).  But it must be great, because in addition to acting as an antioxidant, this pigment may help suppress the growth of tumor cells, as in cervical cancer. What’s not to love?

YELLOW-GREEN

Corn, cucumbers (with skin) green beans, green peas, yellow and green peppers, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, romaine lettuce and spinach contain lutein and zeaxanthin,  two carotenoids that seem to protect eye  health.  They may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which can cause loss of vision.  So much for our outdated assumption that only carrots that are good for our eyes!

So, think COLOR when you shop for and eat produce!  The darker and richer the colors, the better.   Pale plant foods such as bananas, pears, and cauliflower also have their share of phytochemicals, and well and vitamins and minerals, so don’t feel like you have to eliminate them from your diet.  But after learning about the impressive benefits of each color, you’ll want to include highly colored produce in every meal and snack.  Enjoy the colorful spectrum!

 

Sue Grant holds numerous certifications within the health and wellness industry.

  • Certified as a personal trainer by the ACE
  • Certified as a Master Instructor for the FallProof Program
  • Certified by the Arthritis Foundation
  • Certified in Older Adult Fitness by the American Institute of Fitness Educators

Sue has also studied personal training and group fitness through U.C. San Diego’s Fitness Professional Certificate program. Click here to find her collection of DVDs.

2 Surprising Myths About Fat That'll Make You Rethink Your Diet

Fat Chance!  I just read a fascinating article by registered dietitian Matthew Kadey in the June 2019 issue of Idea Fitness Journal concerning  some common myths and realities about fat in foods.  You might be surprised  by these findings– read on!

The Myth:  Fat-Free or Low Fat is Healthier

The Reality: The low fat-craze led to the formulation of thousands of lower-fat products, from yogurt to cookies.  However, fat tastes good, so when it is removed or reduced from a food, it loses a lot of its flavor.  To make up for this loss of flavor, manufacturers often add artificial flavors, salt, and sugar –not exactly a nutritional bonus!
Bottom Line: As long as you don’t overindulge, it’s better to enjoy foods in their natural, full-fat state.

 

The Myth:  Coconut oil is a “Super-food”

The Reality:  Often demonized for its upper-high saturated fat content (91% of its calories) coconut oil has experienced a renaissance.  Its supporters claim that it can help with building muscles, losing weight, improving heart, liver and kidney helps, and even taming frizzy hair! 
But coconut oil is not nearly the health boosting, fat-fighting miracle that its fans want it to be.
“There’s no strong evidence directly tying coconut oil either to a greater or reduced risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Patrick Wilson, RD, PhD, assistant professor of exercises at Old Dominion University.
Officials at the American Heart Association still say we should steer clear of coconut oil, citing concerns about its potential impact on cardiovascular health (Sacks et al.2017).
Bottom Line:  If you like the flavor or the moistness it adds to baked goods, it’s probably fine to include modest amounts (no more than a tablespoon daily) as part of a healthy eating plan.

 

I’ll continue to keep you updated as more research is published about health and nutrition.  In the meantime,  keep moving, and keep enjoying your unprocessed, natural foods!

Sue Grant holds numerous certifications within the health and wellness industry.

  • Certified as a personal trainer by the ACE
  • Certified as a Master Instructor for the FallProof Program
  • Certified by the Arthritis Foundation
  • Certified in Older Adult Fitness by the American Institute of Fitness Educators

Sue has also studied personal training and group fitness through U.C. San Diego’s Fitness Professional Certificate program. Click here to find her collection of DVDs.

Have a HEART! Helpful Tips for a Healthy Heart

Do you know the signs of a heart attack?  Do those dramatic scenes in a movie come to mind where the man clutches his chest and falls to the ground?

Both men and women can indeed experience intense chest pressure, but WOMEN CAN EXPERIENCE A HEART ATTACK WITHOUT CHEST PRESSURE!  Instead, women may feel dizziness, extreme fatigue, lightheadedness or fainting, shortness breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, or extreme fatigue. 

heart health

Even though heart disease is the Number 1 killer of women in the United States, women often attribute the symptoms to the flu, acid reflux, or normal aging.  Check out the American Heart Association website www.heart.org for more information.

The good news is that 80% of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action.  The American Heart Association recommends five 30 minute moderate exercise sessions each week.  While this may seem daunting, it is important to note that these sessions can be broken up into two or three 10 or 15 minute segments throughout the day.   As I always say, “A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing!” 

Keep moving for a healthy heart!

 

 

Related Posts:
Women Over 40: Listen Up
Vitamin EX: The Magic Pill

 

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