Monday, November 16, 2009

Don’t Let the Holidays Derail You, Start Now!

A common occurrence seems to happen every year for typical health club members and even dedicated ones. The holidays come and they start to slack off from their exercise routine and good dietary habits. Then they make the excuse that’s its too hard during the holidays and they will start over again after new years.

As humans sometimes we don’t realize how much control we have over our lives and with proper decision making and planning we can foresee and overcome obstacles that may stand in our way. With the holidays coming, its time to make a plan and stick to it, and create the momentum that will carry us through.

The first step is believing that you can do it. Believing in oneself has a huge bearing on behavior. You have to believe in yourself and use daily positive affirmations. One example could be “I am a healthy, lean and vital person. I will eat that way and live that way. I am in complete control of my health and well being.” These affirmations should be said in the present tense and with meaning.

Secondly, you must look into the future and anticipate the challenges and obstacles that may come your way and create a plan of action for you to be successful. If you know you will be at several holiday parties with many desserts, create a plan to eat a balanced meal beforehand so you will not be hungry and tempted to get sidetracked from your fitness program. If you know you have a certain amount of gifts to buy, plan to do a little shopping each day so that you still have time to make it to the gym. These are just examples and the solution lies within each of us. Remember every little bit you do each day is beneficial for your health and fitness, even if you can only do 20 minutes on the treadmill or in the weight room. The key is consistency and avoiding the on again off again fitness lifestyle that makes those goals so hard to reach. Failing to plan is a plan to fail.

Finally, you must execute your plan each day and each week. Everyone experiences minor setbacks now and again but you must remember that you are in control. Each week you should review how things went; celebrate your successes and make revisions if necessary. Focus on your goals and how your life will be different if you achieve them. As you become more successful your beliefs and identity will be reinforced, shaping your lifestyle!

Monday, November 2, 2009

No Marathon Necessary

Exercise has proven to increase the chances of breast cancer survival. A study done by Dr. Michelle Holmes, MD, Dr Ph of Harvard Medical School found that “after 10 years of follow-up, 92% of the women who exercised 3-5 hours per week (or about half an hour per day) were still alive, compared to 86% of those who got less than an hour a week of physical activity” (JAMA Vol. 293, No. 20: 2479-2486). The benefits are limitless for both physical and psychological function for the current fighter as well as the ongoing survivor.

Cancer hits close to home for many and it seems that you always know at least one person affected if not yourself. So whether you are the fighter or supporter there are many physical and psychological benefits of incorporating physical activity to your life. Improvements include an increase in functional capacity, decreased nausea and fatigue (if currently going through treatment), improved mood, self-esteem and quality of life as well as a decreased risk of lymphedema and osteoporosis. Activity combined with healthy choices made in your diet can help manage weight gain often associated with treatment, providing physical and psychological healing for optimal health.

So now what? Your exercise program will vary depending on where you are at in your journey. Incorporating strength training, cardiovascular training and stretching into your daily routine will help you find the physical and psychological benefits talked about above. Before beginning your exercise program, consult with your doctor or physical therapist for release in activity.

Range of Motion: Scar tissue can continue to develop up to two years after surgery thus it is important to maintain the range of motion in the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. Begin movement as early as possible in your diagnosis.

Sample Exercises include:

Wall climbing
Child’s pose
Chest and Tricep stretch

Cardiovascular Exercise: Mode of exercise and duration should be modified depending on the side effects caused by treatment. Generally walking or biking are beneficial modes of activity. It is best to start with 5-10 minutes taking into account your body’s reaction to movement From there you can increase your duration as necessary with a long term goal of 20-30 minutes of continuous activity. It is OK and you most likely will start with bouts of 5-10 minutes working your way to continuous activity.

Strength Training: Once range of motion of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder are achieved, strength training can be incorporated. Depending on your situation, wearing compression sleeves is recommended. Starting with light weights (i.e. 1 pound) an emphasis should be placed on the back, shoulder girdle and arm. Two sets of 10 repetitions is a good start then gauging your body’s response, increase or decrease the number of sets and repetitions. Strength Training of the lower body can be conducted as usual and tolerated.

Sample Exercises include:
Frontal Raise
Rotator Cuff External Rotation

It is important to understand that by adding activity into your journey does not mean running a marathon; even the smallest bouts of activity can make a difference. Adding exercise is one part of the process you can control without the horrible side effects the rest of your treatment may bring.

Link to Journal of the American Medical Association article mentioned in opening paragraph

At the club we offer Focus on Healing classes based on the Lebed Method. This method focuses on stimulation of the lymphatic system reducing the risk of lymphedema, increase energy and weight stabilization. See our group exercise schedule for class times and days.

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