Better posture leads to better health

A lot of people think they can build better posture in the gym by lifting weights. Or just by being conscious of it and not slouching. Unfortunately, both of these fall short of achieve better posture. And age plus gravity are not on your side. The older you get, the worse your posture will be.…

Better posture leads to better health was originally published on Self Evolve

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A lot of people think they can build better posture in the gym by lifting weights. Or just by being conscious of it and not slouching. Unfortunately, both of these fall short of achieve better posture. And age plus gravity are not on your side. The older you get, the worse your posture will be. Bad posture affects way more than just how you look or feel. Did you know it can compromise your organs and how they function as well? Today we’re diving into posture and why it matters.

5 ways your posture affects your health

  1. Poor circulation: If you sit in a chair for hours every day with poor posture, you’re at risk of developing or worsening circulation issues. Taking the time to move throughout the day and making postural changes can not only help you have better posture, it can help you prevent serious health issues later in life.
  2. Exacerbating arthritis: Poor posture can lead to malalignment of your spine or knees, which can increase stress on your knees. Over time, that malalignment can worsen the effects of arthritis by putting pressure on one part of the joint and causing pain.
  3. Breathing efficacy: To breathe properly, your diaphragm needs to have enough space in the thoracic cavity to properly release and contract with each breath. Your ability to breathe optimally is boosted when your body is lengthened and in proper alignment. Poor posture and spine misalignment can compromise your ability to breathe well. 
  4. Headaches: Bad posture can contribute to tight neck muscles and compromise the natural curvature of your spine, which can lead to headaches.
  5. Sexual function: Having poor posture while sitting can adversely affect your sexual function. Rounded lower back sitting can have profound effects on men’s and women’s sexual function because this posture shortens and tightens the pelvic floor muscles. When the pelvic floor muscles are tight and weak, they cannot exert their power and strength. The end result can be weak or nonexistent orgasms.

How to improve your posture

Now that you know how important posture is, you’re likely going to start sitting up straighter and become more aware of your posture. But for some of us, sitting up straight just isn’t going to cut it. And no matter how much iron you’re pumping at the gym, your muscles can’t fix bad posture. So what’s next?

I recommend getting aligned by a professional. Being aligned helps you improve your health in a multitude of ways. And if you’re in the Chicagoland area, I can’t recommend Dr. Stephen Spencer enough. You can visit his website HERE and see some of his client and their amazing transformations HERE.

I even gave Dr. Spencer a try and felt instant relief after just one adjustment. Not that I have bad posture, but it is helpful to improve overall health.

What do you do to improve your posture?

 

Better posture leads to better health was originally published on Self Evolve

Mindful fitness: more effective than any medication

What is Mindful Fitness? A new and growing fitness and health trend is focusing more on the brain. For years, doctors have turned to medications to help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD and memory loss. While these pills do provide some temporary relief, most patients continue to suffer and sometimes experience unpleasant side-effects. Enter…

Mindful fitness: more effective than any medication was originally published on Self Evolve

What is Mindful Fitness?

A new and growing fitness and health trend is focusing more on the brain. For years, doctors have turned to medications to help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD and memory loss. While these pills do provide some temporary relief, most patients continue to suffer and sometimes experience unpleasant side-effects. Enter mindful fitness: a natural way to reduce the symptoms related to mood and an aging brain without the unwanted side effects.

Benefits of exercise on the brain

Most people think of the muscles they’ll gain or the fat they’ll lose by exercising, but don’t even think of the effects on the brain. Here are just a few benefits that come from exercising a mere 30 minutes a day for 3-5 days a week.

  • Improves and alleviates depression and anxiety (source)
  • Prevents Alzheimers (source)
  • Slows brain aging by 10 years (source)
  • Improves cognitive function and memory (source)
  • Improves mood and alleviates symptoms of ADHD (source)

Eight weeks to a better brain

A study done at Harvard proves meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s gray matter in 8 weeks. (source) What does this mean? Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.

So what is mindful fitness?

It is a proven combination of exercise and meditation that leads to a healthier brain. With just 30 minutes of exercise followed by 30 minutes of meditation, you can significantly change the way your brain functions. We offer classes and private sessions to help you on your journey to decreased stress, better memory, improved sense of self, and improved mood. We teach you techniques that you can apply to your daily life and that you can perform virtually anywhere. Currently offering in the Chicagoland area, but also able to set up something virtually if you’re interested.

What do you do to improve your mental health?

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Mindful fitness: more effective than any medication was originally published on Self Evolve

Making and keeping fitness resolutions

This year is a little different for me. Most years, I write distinct fitness goals like lose 10 pounds in 8 weeks, or reach 18% body fat by a certain day. I even write up a workout plan, writing the days I will workout and the types of workouts I’ll do. I also put together…

Making and keeping fitness resolutions was originally published on Self Evolve

This year is a little different for me. Most years, I write distinct fitness goals like lose 10 pounds in 8 weeks, or reach 18% body fat by a certain day. I even write up a workout plan, writing the days I will workout and the types of workouts I’ll do. I also put together a meal plan so that I don’t cheat too much on the diet, which is about 75% of the effort anyways. But this year, I’m growing a human. How exactly do I write anything concrete while pregnant? How do I make and keep my fitness resolutions?

Write them down..

In pencil. The one thing they can’t tell you in pregnancy is the exact number of pounds you’ll gain. Of course, there’s a range they prefer you to stay in. But if you gain a few extra pounds in addition to that range, it isn’t the end of the world. I have a friend who gained 40 pounds for both her pregnancies, and has successfully lost it all and looks amazing afterwards. While it’s ideal to only gain 25-30 pounds while pregnant, it is okay if your weight gain isn’t textbook, as long as baby and you are healthy. So keep those goals written in pencil, but still keep the standard format.

Have a measurable

A number of pounds or even better percentage of body fat is ideal to write down. While pregnant with your first baby like me, you have no idea just how long it’ll take you to “bounce back.” We’re not all blessed like Beyonce, some of us will take longer than others. And it’s better to be realistic and give yourself time. For me, I have big ideas and hoping they manifest themselves this year. But goal-wise I keep it simple. When I got pregnant, I was hovering around 145-150 pounds and was pretty happy with my weight. My goal is to get back to that range 6 months after baby girl arrives. Obviously, 6 months is a long time. But this includes the 6 weeks post-partum that no high-intensity exercise is allowed. And this also includes caring for a baby full-time. Which I’m not sure but I hear is pretty time-consuming.

Don’t beat yourself up

If you don’t hit your exact goal by the exact date, don’t beat yourself up. Just keep plugging away. Maybe it’ll take you 8 months to reach those fitness resolutions. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Your health and fitness are number one. No one else should come before you. Not even that little adorable mini me demanding all of your time.

What are your fitness resolutions?

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Making and keeping fitness resolutions was originally published on Self Evolve

DEXA Scan: Accuracy and injury prevention

How do you track your progress? Most people turn to the scale to track their weight-loss progress. While this does show one aspect of your health, it doesn’t show the whole picture. Just because you’re losing weight and in the healthy weight zone doesn’t mean you’re healthy. It’s better to take a holistic approach when…

DEXA Scan: Accuracy and injury prevention was originally published on Self Evolve

How do you track your progress?

Most people turn to the scale to track their weight-loss progress. While this does show one aspect of your health, it doesn’t show the whole picture. Just because you’re losing weight and in the healthy weight zone doesn’t mean you’re healthy. It’s better to take a holistic approach when tracking your progress towards fitness and health. Most gyms offer the standard Omron hand-held device that detects your body-fat percentage. But this is not very accurate, seeing how it could be off by up to 5% either way, so if it says you’re 15% body fat, you could actually be 10 or 20%! So what’s a better option?

DEXA scan is the future

DEXA scan, or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, uses x-ray technology to figure out the distribution of lean muscle, fat, water and bone in your body. Unlike any other body composition measuring tool, DEXA results are highly accurate and reproducible. And it’s quick! The scan only takes about 7 minutes and you get your thorough results right away. With hundreds of locations world-wide, it’s easy to schedule a scan at a nearby facility.

In addition to DEXA being a great way to track progress, it can also provide a window into many other areas of your health and fitness life. The scans show advanced findings such as muscle asymmetry and visceral fat. Knowing your muscle asymmetries can help you avoid injuries while working out and can help you tailor your exercises accordingly. Visceral fat is hard to detect but so very important since it affects your organs. Excess visceral fat can cause serious health problems.

Accuracy leads to better results

What type of results should you expect from the DEXA scan?

  • Total body bone mineral density
  • Total body muscle mass
  • Total body fat mass
  • Total body bone mass
  • Total body fat percentage
  • Muscle and fat mass in the trunk
  • Muscle and fat mass in your right and left arm
  • Muscle and fat mass in your right and left leg
  • Central abdominal fat measurement

With these results and information, your health and fitness journey becomes more stream-lined. They help you make a plan that works for you and your specific customized goals.

I plan on getting a DEXA scan after my baby girl arrives in April 2019. Although the amount of radiation in a DEXA scan is tiny, it isn’t recommended that a developing baby to be exposed to radiation no matter how low it is. But I’m excited to utilize the DEXA scan to help me make my plan of action to get my body back after baby.

How do you track your progress?

 

DEXA Scan: Accuracy and injury prevention was originally published on Self Evolve

Stan Lee lives on: The Real Superhero

The original superhero If you somehow haven’t heard, Stan Lee passed away this week. But while his human form may be gone, his legacy will live on forever. And if you somehow don’t know who he is, continue reading to find out why and how Stan Lee has touched so many lives. The very beginning…

Stan Lee lives on: The Real Superhero was originally published on Self Evolve

The original superhero

If you somehow haven’t heard, Stan Lee passed away this week. But while his human form may be gone, his legacy will live on forever. And if you somehow don’t know who he is, continue reading to find out why and how Stan Lee has touched so many lives.

The very beginning

Way back in 1939, Stan Lieber became an assistant at the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazine. By 1960, Timely evolved into Marvel Comics. His duties were pretty mundane at first. He would make sure the inkwells were full, proofread, erase pencil marks, and fetch lunch for the artists. His comic-book debut was the text filler “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” in 1941. He was so embarrassed that he used the pen name Stan Lee. He graduated from writing filler to actual comics with a backup feature, “‘Headline’ Hunter, Foreign Correspondent”, two issues later. 

Fast forward a few years in the late 1950s, and DC comics revived the superhero archetype and experienced significant success with Flash and the Justice League of America. Tasked with the request to create a superhero team and with nothing to lose, Lee created a team of superheroes with flaws. This was very different from the typical idealistically perfect people with no real, lasting problems that were in the comics meant for preteens. Lee introduced complex, naturalistic characters who could have bad tempers, fits of melancholy, and vanity; they bickered amongst themselves, worried about paying their bills and impressing girlfriends, got bored or were even sometimes physically ill.

Marvel Comics

Lee started with the Fantastic Four and developed all the well-known superheroes of Marvel Universe. The popularity of the heroes wasn’t expected, and it took a snowball effect. Lee continued to write monthly comics up until 1972, then assumed the role of publisher. Over time, Lee became a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics. As you know, he would make appearances in all his films and would meet his fans at comic cons including the comic con he created.

While Stan Lee has physically departed, his writings and superheroes he created will live on. They will continue to show not only kids but also us adults that even superheroes have human problems.

How has Stan Lee and the Marvel Universe affected your life?

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Stan Lee lives on: The Real Superhero was originally published on Self Evolve

Working out while pregnant and shortened labor times

As a first time Mom.. Labor is scary to me. I know people who had labors lasting as long as 36 or over 40 hours. The idea of doing anything for two days straight sounds awful, especially when there’s a lot of pain and uncomfortable actions involved. So once I found out I was pregnant,…

Working out while pregnant and shortened labor times was originally published on Self Evolve

As a first time Mom..

Labor is scary to me. I know people who had labors lasting as long as 36 or over 40 hours. The idea of doing anything for two days straight sounds awful, especially when there’s a lot of pain and uncomfortable actions involved. So once I found out I was pregnant, I started researching what could I do to hopefully have a shortened labor time. And I was pleased with what I found. So happy that I just had to share with you all.

Exercise during pregnancy

For a long time, it was frowned upon for expectant mothers to do much more than lay around all day. Many women were told to just not workout once they were pregnant. This stemmed from the belief that exercise could somehow affect the fetus in a negative way. Doctors were concerned for early deliveries or perhaps fetus deformities from the increased activity. Thankfully, research actually shows quite the opposite. 

A study done in Spain found that women who exercise just three times per week during pregnancy have a shorter labor. The women who exercised had a total labor time that was an average of 57 minutes shorter than the women not led in exercise. Not just labor time affected, the women in the exercise group were also less likely to get an epidural. Another notable difference, the women who didn’t exercise reported higher weight gain during pregnancy. 

Shortened labor time

So how much exercise is enough? Pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity according to the CDC. In addition to the shortened labor benefit found in the study, exercising during pregnancy may also help decrease the risk of gestational diabetespreeclampsia and cesarean delivery, reduce back pain, strengthen heart and blood vessels, and give other benefits, notes the ACOG. With all these benefits, exercise should be a no-brainer, right?

It is important to note that before starting any exercise program you should talk to your doctor. With your doctor’s approval, the intensity of your workouts depends on your level of physical fitness before becoming pregnant. Women who are very active before pregnancy can maintain the same intensity of workouts with their healthcare professional’s approval. Women who are just getting started should ease into the exercises. I’m currently working on workout programs geared towards both beginners and more active expectant Mothers. Stay tuned to learn more about the safe way to a shortened labor time.

Working out while pregnant and shortened labor times was originally published on Self Evolve

5 surprising benefits of sex: beyond the bedroom

If you’re anything like me.. You love sex. You may even be a little addicted. For me, I didn’t discover my love for sex until I hit my 30’s. My ex-husband mistakenly took my increased libido as something else and left me hanging dry (literally). But since my divorce, I have been able to find…

5 surprising benefits of sex: beyond the bedroom was originally published on Self Evolve

If you’re anything like me..

You love sex. You may even be a little addicted. For me, I didn’t discover my love for sex until I hit my 30’s. My ex-husband mistakenly took my increased libido as something else and left me hanging dry (literally). But since my divorce, I have been able to find not just good sex, but amazing sex. I feel like a child who was locked in a closet for most of it’s life and just now being released into the world. Everything is new and awesome! But a few of my friends have been trying to tell me that I should be waiting for the next husband to saddle up in bed. So this prompted me to find good reasons to stop or continue having sex. All I could find were these benefits:

5 benefits of sex

  1. Helps keep your immune system humming. Sexually active people take fewer sick days. A study showed that people who have sex once or twice a week have higher levels of a certain antibody compared to those who had sex less often.
  2. Boosts your libido. I’ve noticed this in myself. I went 3 months this year without any sex (it is possible), but once I started again there was no going back. Having more sex helps it feel better and keeps you coming back for more.
  3. Improves bladder control. This applies to women. Good sex is like a workout for your pelvic floor muscles. When you have an orgasm, it causes contractions in those muscles which strengthens them.
  4. Lowers blood pressure. Unfortunately, masturbation doesn’t count. Sexual intercourse lowered systolic blood pressure in one of many studies.
  5. Counts as exercise. Sex uses about 5 calories per minute, four more calories than watching TV. It gives you a one-two punch: it bumps your heart rate and makes you use various muscles. So similar to going to the gym, be sure to clear your schedule to make time for it. Consistency helps maximize benefits.

These are just 5 of many benefits of sex.  And I know this isn’t a common topic, but wanted to shine light on it once more. And while many of us may think that our sex life will only worsen with age and longevity of our relationship, this is not necessarily true. A study done recently showed that even people who have been together for over 24 years still had a great sex life. It showed that having similar sexual desires/ personalities mattered when it came to sexual happiness.

What time of day is your favorite to have sex?

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5 surprising benefits of sex: beyond the bedroom was originally published on Self Evolve