Hiking the Central Coast

February 22, 2016

    Yesterday I went for a glorious hike up the Coast. I found myself thinking about how our environment can be an outdoor playground for all of us. The beautiful scenery, the sounds of waterfalls or the quiet forest, the smell of nature and pleasant people all contribute to enjoying the outdoors. This is just another way we can continue to maintain our healthy lifestyles. Hiking is also a great way to maintain aerobic fitness by burning calories which helps prevent weight gain. I believe that any time spent on the trail can contribute to an overall sense of well being and satisfaction. 

Muscle Conditioning for these  hikes

   So now your wondering how can you prepare your muscles for these hikes especially if your not working out at a gym. Simple Lunges, step ups, wall squats and tricep dips are really effective. These exercises target all your lower body muscles as well as help you with balance. If you want to incorporate some abdominal exercises try planks, v-sits or crunches. They will contribute to a strong core needed for maintaining your balance on those uneven surfaces along the trails. Here are a few of my favorite hikes....

Salmon Creek Trail

    As we hiked up the hill we heard the flowing of the waterfall. I felt like we were in a tropical rainforest. The trail was moist but well packed do to last weeks brief rain so the slippage was minimal. A good four hour hike left our thighs reminding us of our days adventure.

     Salmon Creek Trail is located in a large horseshoe bend on Highway One, 3.7 miles north of Ragged Point Inn (or 26 miles north of Cambria). If your coming from Monterey drive 33.6 miles south from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park  or 41.6 miles from the Nepenthe Restaurant turnoff in Big Sur. The trail to Salmon Creek Falls is located right on the bend in the road, south of the out-of-service Salmon Creek Ranger Station and Buckeye Trail. Dogs are welcome on all the trails.

Harmony Headlands Trail

    This an easy hike where you can enjoy seeing lots of our natural habitat in action. The swallows, whales, and crashing waves make this a fun place to come to. The  green valleys (after a good rain) and bluffs are covered in grasses and sagebrush. At the end of the bluff you can appreciate the beautiful views of our coastline taking in the smells of the salty air. 

    To find Harmony Headlands from San Luis Obispo, drive 25 miles north up Highway One to Harmony Headlands State Park. Turn left into a small trailhead parking area.There is room for maybe 10 vehicles and you will be at the start of the trail. From highway 46 west and highway 1, head south 4.5 miles.The parking area is on the right hand side.

Fiscalini Ranch Bluff Trail

    My all time favorite and one I'm on at least three time a week is this bluff trail. Walking along the the 20-40 foot cliffs where the ocean meets the forest one can see a variety of wildlife. Egrets, red tailed hawks, dolphins, seal lions, butterfly colonies, whales and even coyotes. It's very dog friendly and the smiles on their faces tell just how much they too enjoy the walks. The upper trails wind around the forested area while the lower ones give great views of the bright blue ocean. I pinch myself every day appreciating that i have this in my own backyard. 

    To get to the trail from San Luis Obispo, drive 34.2 miles north up Highway One to Cambria. Turn left at the traffic light onto Windsor Boulevard. Pass Moonstone Beach Drive and make a sharp left passing  Shamel  Park.  Go 1.1 miles to the end of Windsor Boulevard. You can park along the street or in one of the few spots at the end of the road by the entrance to Fiscalini Ranch Preserve.

Whatever you choose to do get out and enjoy the outdoors.... your head, heart and body will thank you!


Fix That Flat

February 8, 2016

Once again my fellow studio owner and blogger Sherry McMillan has great insights as to how we all can get back on track!!!

  We all get off track at various times of the year, when we are celebrating at social get-togethers.The key to long-term success is how quickly we get back on track!

  One of the best things we can do after we indulge is immediately workout and sweat out all those toxins!

    It will reset your body and your mind and keep you focused on your goals. Many people attempt goals but it seems like the ones who actually achieve them are those that keep going no matter how many times they fail or fall off track.  Perseverance is one of the keys to success at any initiative.

    A short term effort is not going to get you where you ultimately want to be. In order to achieve any goal, you must stick to your game plan on an ongoing, long-term, consistent basis. Getting off track for a day or even a week is no big deal if you are consistent in your efforts. But if you are regularly tempted away from your plan, you will not succeed. Consistency and persistency are the keys to manifesting any goal.  Remember that if you want to be 10 pounds thinner 10 years from now, it is not what you do over the next eight weeks that matters, it is what you do over the next 10 years. Researchers have found only one characteristic common to those who succeed with goals including exercise.  All such people move towards their goal one step at a time. They are committed to constant, never-ending improvement. In practical terms, it means that regardless of anything else – busy work schedules, lack of energy, lack of time, feeling old, feeling lazy, hating exercise – they made no excuses!  They kept moving forward, taking their long-term goals and splitting them up into smaller goals. They took it one day at a time.

    Have you ever found yourself in one of these situations? You are scheduled for a 90 minute workout but something comes up and you cannot get to the gym for the allocated time. You scrap the workout and decide you will try to fit it in tomorrow. Or you have decided to eat healthier but one day you slip a bit at lunch and have a chocolate bar. You decide that since you have already failed for the day, you might as well throw in the towel and indulge in a few cookies, a bowl of ice cream and a bag of chips. Tomorrow is another day. Can you see how this “all or nothing” approach works against you?  Wouldn’t a 30 minute workout have been better than no exercise as all?  Wouldn’t a single chocolate bar have been better than an all-out binge?

Sometimes, striving for perfection is what leads to failure. 

    Or imagine this scenario.  You have scheduled a two-week vacation and have decided to drive to your favorite holiday destination. You get half way there, get a flat tire and turn around and go back home. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  But this is exactly what happens when most people start an exercise or nutrition program. They are on their way to their goals and they slip up. Instead of “fixing the flat” and continuing on toward their goal, they give up and return to old habits and patterns.  We know that 70 percent of people who start an exercise program drop out within a matter of months.  And most people who lose 10 pounds gain them back. So how do you avoid being one of the failures? It is important to accept that there are going to be obstacles, challenges or perceived failures along the way to any goal.  Those who succeed learn from the challenge and get right back on the track.

   It’s also important to note that often before someone experiences a big success, they will experience some difficulty. The key is to maintain your focus, believe in yourself and keep going. You don’t want to quit when you may have been just inches away from experiencing an incredible break through.

So no matter what obstacle your experience, don’t let it set you back. Fix the flat and get back on the road to your dream life.

What are the causes of Muscle Atrophy

February 1, 2016

    I have a home bound client whom I see two times a week. Mary is a 75 year old retired school teacher who was vibrant and active in her day. Over the years Mary has become more sedentary frequently spending a lot of time in bed or sitting at her computer playing games. This sedentary lifestyle has caused her legs to be less functional than they used to be. This lack of function restricts not only her movement but, it also effects her social life and the ability for her to go into her living area downstairs to relax and watch t.v. So now your probably wondering how this could happen after all 75 isn't really old... and why is this information important for me? 

 Muscle Atrophy

     Muscle atrophy is the wasting away or loss of muscle tissue. When muscles are no longer in use, they slowly become weak and eventually begin to shrink. In some cases, disuse atrophy can be reversed if the muscles become active again.There are other causes too which cause this syndrome. They include injury, aging, alcohol associated myopathy (which would be pain or weakness in muscles due to excessive drinking over a time period), burns, malnutrition, stroke or spinal cord injury. Having one limb shorter than the other can also cause some atrophy. Muscle atrophy also occurs when a limb is immobilized like having your arm or leg in a cast for extended periods of time. Major diseases affecting the nerves that control muscles are: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), Guillain-Barre syndrome, Neuropathy and Polio (poliomyelitis). People can adapt to muscle atrophy, but even minor muscle atrophy usually causes some loss of movement or strength. 

When should I be concerned?

   If your having unexplained or long-term muscle loss or unusual clumsiness such as dropping things or tripping while walking. When your getting up and out of a chair and you find that your legs can no longer support you. Also if you noticing one arm or leg becomes shorter than the other. 

Is there a cure?

   The mode of treatment may vary widely depending on the symptoms and intensity of the disease. The most common cure for disuse is using those muscles more often. Begin with normal physical activity like  getting up, moving around, lifting and carrying. Dedicating yourself to regular exercise can reverse this disorder and stimulate the muscles to regrow as long as the nerves are intact and connected to the muscles as well as a well-nourished body. Body builders like Arnold Schwarzenegger go through extremes to build muscle then as soon as they stop working out, their muscles shrink back to normal size.  Anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroids are prescribed for decreasing inflammation and pain when one is  suffering from nerve compression. Chiropractor therapy and stretching exercises may be recommended for curing muscle atrophy due to nerve issues to reduce nerve compression. Medical professionals are concerned that many people are not remaining active and mobile on a regular basis due to long periods of time sitting in a car or at home which are  major contributors to this syndrome.

Loss of Muscle with Arthritis

    Another way that muscle atrophy can develop is from lack of physical activity due to joint pain and limited range of motion.  Arthritis pain leads to decreased physical activity, which can lead to muscle atrophy. Over time this vicious cycle can hamper movement.

Your Action Plan

    Make sure you eat right. While results are inconclusive as to whether eating more protein can prevent muscle loss, a balanced diet does help to ensure that muscles get the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals they need to build and stay strong. Start early because we can’t control aging. A recent study found that recreational athletes who consistently worked out four to five times each week were able to "freeze" levels of muscle mass as they aged. Try to work out hard when your at the gym building those muscles as strong as possible. Loss occurs gradually, the fitter the muscle, the longer it will take to hit ground zero.

   To stay healthy, active and vibrant we must be vigilant in our quest for regular exercise. So start exercising today to maintain what muscle mass you have now and in your future... 

Is a Fasting Diet Right for You?

January 18, 2016

   The obvious benefit of fasting is weight loss. These days, many people are attracted to a number of diets, some of them fads, to lose weight quickly. And if you just stop eating the weight will roll off. But that's a yo-yo. When the fast ends and you resume eating as before, the weight comes back.

   So, should you fast or not?

   Fasting (or more accurately, calorie restriction) isn't something you should just jump into willy nilly. So I'll emphasize this from the beginning, if you want to try a fasting diet go consult with your doctor first and get advice or a referral to an expert who can give you advice. My purpose in this article is to lay out what's been happening lately in the research and practice of fasting diets.


   Fasting probably was practiced, and not on purpose, during our very early hunting and gathering stage. All wild animals experience major interruptions in their food supply and early man did, too. Our bodies, over millions of years of adaption and evolution, were made to sustain periods of limited or no food intake. In fact, some nutritionists theorize it's unhealthy to eat full meals, 3 times a day, day after day, throughout a lifetime. And some paleobiologists who study the evolution of cells think that caloric restriction triggers a repair cycle in the cell that can't be triggered any other way. So, the benefits of fasting are more than just about weight loss. More on this further down.

   Once ancient peoples started getting 3-squares a day, more or less, they realized those periods of food scarcity gave them special abilities to concentrate. Feelings of hunger tend to become a priority and cancel out other concerns, like worrying about the leaky roof of the hut or paying taxes to the Pharaoh. What if you could take that feeling of hunger and redefine it in your mind as "focus?" It turns out that fasting is a powerful tool to help clear the mind.

Christianity - One of the most famous fasts in history is the 40 days Jesus abstained from food while in the desert, tempted by Satan to give up his mission. Fasting is the basis of the Lenten season for Christians of most denominations, and it's practiced in numerous forms as an aid in prayer and inner thought. 

Judaism - Jews have several fasting rituals but the 25-hour fast during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is perhaps the most important. The withholding of food and water puts the body and soul in a state of vulnerability, and helps one to be closer to God.

Hinduism - Fasting is woven into one's comprehension of life. Hindus have many kinds of fasting rules depending on local customs and even personal beliefs. Some Hindu fasts last from sunrise to sunset while other practices call for not eating for a month.

Islam - Fasting is a way to draw closer to God and to disconnect oneself from negativity as well as the pleasures of the body. Fasting during the month of Ramadan (in which no food or water is consumed from sunrise to sunset) is one of the Four Pillars of Islam. 

Buddhism - The Buddha prescribed the Middle Way as a life practice and so Buddhists generally fast by reducing food intake or eliminating a meal to help in meditation. Complete deprivation is as unsatisfactory as over-indulgence.

What Science Says

   It's interesting that of all the things we know about physics, information technologies, and even medicine, science is woefully short on certainty about how we digest food and how the body uses nutrients... or in the case of fasting, what the body does without them. But science does know something and that's cause for considering how to eat and live a healthy life. What I'm saying is, don't read an article on a new health finding and then dive in whole hog. And likewise, don't ignore the warnings when there's consensus.

   First, scientists have established that caloric restriction slows aging in primates. And research into human health has shown that fasting has an effect on reducing factors associated with heart disease and cancer. Still, there remains a debate on how much fasting is a good thing. And there are many diets on the market that purport a variety of techniques. I'll hit on some of them below.

   These are theories but some scientists think that as food is reduced or eliminated, the old mitochondria in the cells generate fewer free radicals, which are tied to diseases like cancer. Reduction of food also results in less sugar in the blood stream. For bodies at risk of type-2 diabetes that means taking a significant break from exposure to high blood sugar which can improve or maintain sensitivity to insulin. It's when the body becomes insensitive to insulin that type-2 diabetes emerges. Less blood sugar also means a reduction in glycation, a bonding of sugars (especially fructose) with proteins or lipids that are associated with heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and DNA damage.

Types of Fasts

    Lets take a look at the 24 hr fasting diet. It requires one to fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. During this 24 hour fasting period no food is consumed, but you can drink calorie-free beverages. After the fast is over, you then go back to eating normally.  For some they need to finish the fast at a normal mealtime with a big meal, while others are OK ending the fast with an afternoon snack. The main rationale here is that eating this way will reduce overall calorie intake without really limiting what you’re able to eat.

   Lean Gains another way of changing up the system is based on intermittent fasting and lifting heavy weights. It is meant to be a way of changing the way you look by losing fat and gaining muscle/strength at the same time. It uses power body building and carbohydrate cycling.

    A study done at the University of Southern California revealed that the Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) is yet another way to reduce calories and reap some healthy benefits. It's about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration. It has been shown that these benefits include reducing the incidence of cancer, boosting the immune system, reducing inflammatory diseases, slowing bone mineral density loss and improving cognitive abilities. This plan has you rotate what your eating throughout each week. 

    Fasting for the purpose of detoxifying is not without its risks — and should never be undertaken without medical supervision. This recommendation becomes even more important as health challenges become more complex.  

    I do believe that fasting can be a healthy way for all of us to get rid of those toxins we put into our bodies with mindless eating, emotional eating or just to fill the hunger void. It can be a way to practice a mindful way of  paying attention to our bodies and souls which can help us to feel more vital, creative and open to emotional and spiritual energies.

Exercise and Your Heart: Find Your Target Heart Rate

February 10, 2014

   As a fitness trainer helping people to maintain a healthy heart is truly close to my own heart. In the interest of your own heart health, before jumping into an exercise regimen you should clear it with your doctor.

   Regular exercise that gets your heart beating is the key. But how much? Here are some basics about understanding how to gauge the right amount.

Resting Heart Rate

   First, know your resting heart rate, which is the number of times your heart beats per minute while doing no activity. It’s best to check it in the morning after you’ve had a good night’s sleep and before you get out of bed.

   The average resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. There are some factors to consider. The better fit you are, the lower your resting heart rate will be. And as you get older it will test higher. But in general, too low or too high of a pulse could be a sign of something that needs a doctor's attention.

   Take your pulse on the inside of the wrist on the thumb side. Use the tips of your first two fingers (not your thumb) to press lightly over the blood vessels on your wrist. Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute.

Maximum Heart Rate

   Maximum heart rate is the highest rate your heart should be allowed to go during a workout. Exercising at this level is awesome if you're training for the Tour de France or the New York Marathon. But for the rest of us maximum heart rate is important because it's the data point that helps map out a program.

   To find your maximum heart rate, take 220 and minus your age. If you're 53, for example, your maximum heart rate is 167.

Target Heart Rate

   Your target heart rate is the key to exercising for heart health whether it's on a stationary bike or in a sea kayak. A range between 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate is your target heart rate.

   So, for the 53 year-old with a maximum heart rate of 167, you multiply .50 x 167 for the low end and .85 x 167 for the high end. Rounded it's a range of 84 to 142 beats per minute. Exercise you do that gets your heart beating in the range of the target rate is what you want.

   That's a pretty wide margin. For my clients who are just starting out, I train them at their lowest end of the range and develop a program to help them to higher levels over time. A heart rate monitor is the piece of equipment that will help you keep tabs on how fast your heart is beating.

Rules of Thumb

   If you're straining at, say, 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, you're probably taking on too much and you should back it down. You don't have to exercise that hard to get a heart benefit and to stay in shape. Some people can actually achieve 50 percent of maximum heart rate with a brisk walk. Everyone is different.

   If your workout feels light at 50 percent of maximum heart rate - if you can have a conversation without having to stop talking to take breaths - the intensity is probably too low. Push yourself to exercise at a higher target heart rate.

2016: New Year, New Breath, New Chances

December 28, 2015

   Can anyone have 365 days of greatness? Probably not. Life itself has ups and downs and the curve balls you're thrown teach you about your own strengths and weaknesses. What you do with that knowledge is what truly makes you a better stronger person. 

   The beginning of 2015 started out with a wonderful BANG for me! A new studio, a live-in partner... and a new life began. As the year progressed the stresses of life and starting anew weren't exactly what I had envisioned. The year ends with another big BANG and not in a good way. So now I'm preparing for the new year like everyone else deciding what I want to change and how I want to go about it.

Begin with affirmations 
Write down your intentions for the year.  What do you want to happen? Make those statements positive ones. Re-visit them often reminding you what your intent is... 

Trust that whatever comes up you will be able to handle it, growing and learning from the process. Drop the fears when they arise, since it only blocks the good from coming into your life. Fear constricts your energy and ability to receive. Think of these blocks and fears as ongoing experiments rather than a successful or failed attempt at change. And don't be too hard on yourself - it's really about the progress you've made not the perfection of it.  

In order to receive you will need to remain open and let go of the judgments of how you think things should go. This one is most difficult when challenges arise. Feel your feelings and truthfully express them in a way that takes personal responsibility. Accept and acknowledge the good things that have happened to you and then look to see where you can change and grow. This one is the hardest for me.

Trust in yourself and your journey as the months unfold in 2016. Your spirit always leads you to what is best for your soul. When you have those triumphs, which you will, celebrate! It's wonderful when you manifest your desires, survive a tough situation, or overcome an obstacle.

Make 2016 a great year no matter what!

Motivate Yourself
Make that change with actions. Set a goal and move towards it. Try something new if your previous ways haven't worked out for you. Find something that will make your life more enjoyable and, who knows, down the road it might happen. Changing one thing in your life now can create that domino effect of things happening for you in the way you hope for. Change leads to new beginnings. 

Here's to new beginnings for everyone in 2016 !!!

Morning Stretches

December 21, 2015

   Do you ever wake up stiff and creaky after a good nights sleep? Most of us wake up with some stiffness which can be caused by a number of things. 

   Body position during sleep, tight muscles from activities the day before and arthritis are just a few. Morning stretches help the spine stay supple and agile. It relieves back pain by reducing tensions in your spine and muscles. Stretching lengthens and relaxes your muscles improving flexibility. This helps to raise the body's core temperature, preparing your muscles for daily activity. Here are a few great exercises to start your day with.
Pelvic Tilt
Lie on your back with your knees pointed to the ceiling and your feet on floor. Force your back down to the floor and hold for 15 seconds. Do this three times.

Lumbar Flexion Stretch
Lie on your back and bring both your knees to your chest. Hold them with both hands pulling them tightly into your chest for 10-15 seconds. Then rock your knees side to side rotating the hips from right to left for another 15 seconds. Next, with both feet on the floor rotate your knees to the right side holding your arms out to your side on the floor with your palms up. Hold this for 15 seconds. Repeat on your left side.

Hamstring Stretch

Lying on your back lift your right leg straight up to the ceiling flexing your foot. Extend your left leg out keeping it on the floor. Hold your right leg up and flexed for 15 seconds. Repeat this on the left side.

   By incorporating regular stretching into your daily routine along with other moderate physical exercise you can change the way you feel as well as your mood throughout the day. Just 10 minutes of stretching every day will help you feel more relaxed and can improve the quality of every day.

Holiday Mini Home Workout

December 14, 2015

    Presents to buy, trees to decorate, cards to send and parties to attend all these additional activities can derail your fitness routine. I too find that during the Christmas holidays I am pulled in so many different directions that I have to make a real effort to make exercise a priority. This year, rather than waiting for holiday stress and goodie overload to pile up, make an effort to get in a little bit of exercise at least 3 times a week. Here are 3 exercises I think are really effective with minimal time.

    Stand in a staggered stance with one leg positioned in front of the other leg. Keep the back knee underneath or slightly behind your hips.  Slowly lower the back knee towards the ground keeping the front knee over the top of the ankle/foot the entire time. Only go as low as you feel comfortable. Keep your body weight positioned over the front leg. Hold your body upright maintaining good posture. 
8-15 reps each leg. Repeat - 2 times.

or Squats

     Stand with your feet hip width apart.  Press your chest out and up with shoulders back holding in those abdominals. Squat as if your sitting in a chair keeping your knees pointing forward but not coming beyond your toes. Remember don't let your knees fall inward. Keep your weight equally distributed on all 4 corners of your feet. Lower your butt to a comfortable position. Pay attention to the fact that your upper body will come forward slightly as your buttocks travels backwards. Now... slowly extend back up.  When getting started, you may want to start with mini-squats until you master the technique and then start dropping lower as your muscles get stronger.

10-15 reps     Repeat- 2 times. Add a weight in each hand if you need more resistance.


Push- Ups

     Place your hands on the floor so they’re slightly outside shoulder width. Spread your fingers slightly out and have them pointed forward. Raise up onto your toes so that all of your body weight is on your hands and your feet. Hold in your abdominals keeping your torso in a straight line. It will prevent arching your back or pointing your bottom in the air. Bend your elbows and lower your chest down toward the floor. Once your elbows bend slightly beyond 90 degrees, push off the floor and extend them so that you return to starting position. Push ups can also be done on your knees with your feet lifted or by placing your hands on an incline like a bench, step or wall providing a more gentle beginner level option. 8-15 reps repeat- 2 times.


    Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor place your fingertips behind your ears. Pull your shoulder blades back with elbows out to the side.Then hold your abdominals in and raise your body up toward your knees lifting shoulders off the floor. Keep your head straight not straining your neck or your chin. Slowly roll back to start position. 

                                                                                                          10-15 reps. Repeat - 2 times.

or Abdominal Crunches

    Lie on your back knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your fingertips behind your ears holding your elbows out to the side as in the sit up position description.  Tilt your chin down and gently pull your abdominals inward. Curl up and forward using your abdominals lifting your shoulder blades off the floor. Hold for a count of two and slowly lower your torso back down.     

10-15 reps. Repeat - 2 times.                                                      


    Make sure you get in a walk or run too. Try the Fiscalini Ranch in Cambria offering plenty of hills to get that heart rate up.There are plenty of trails to try if you need variety. Remember that the minimum recommended time is 30 minutes for each walk/run. It will help clear your head and hopefully help with that holiday stress!

5 Habits that Damage your Health and Contribute to Early Aging

November 30, 2015

   "The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes." 
                                                     Frank Lloyd Wright 

   Aging is something we all go through if we live long enough. We know that with aging comes wrinkles and gray hair. Our heart rates slow down and the organ itself might even become larger. Blood vessels and arteries become stiffer, causing our hearts to work harder to pump blood through them which can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Bones shrink in size and density, and this weakens them making them more susceptible to fracture. Muscles lose strength and flexibility, and we become less coordinated or have trouble balancing. Memory become less efficient with age, too, and it takes longer to learn new things, or remember familiar words or names.

   The good news is that our lifestyle choices are some of the main contributors to premature aging. By becoming aware of some of them you can hold off the inevitable for a little while longer.

Habit #1: Smoking

If you want to preserve your good looks, i.e., keep your face looking younger... don't smoke! Cigarettes can accelerate the aging process in the smoker and those who live with him or her. Several studies have shown that regular exposure to cigarette smoke causes skin dryness and facial wrinkles. This occurs because cigarette smoke drains vitamin C, which plays a significant role in the growth of healthy looking skin. 

   Smoking also causes physical changes in your eyes that can threaten eyesight. Nicotine from cigarettes restricts the production of a chemical necessary for you to be able to see at night and smoking increases your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration which can lead to blindness. And it can cause mild to moderate hearing loss by reducing the oxygen supply to the cochlea causing irreversible damage.
 Habit #2: Not Exercising Daily

   Being sedentary may be twice as deadly as being obese says Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. He pointed to a study published earlier this year of over 300,000 people and their daily activity, noting that being lean without being fit was a predictor of premature death.

   So, walk, swim, run, cycle or do any other activity you enjoy. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and lessen the extent of arterial stiffening. Exercising regularly helps to maintain muscle tone and improve the flow of blood to various organs in your body including your skin. These benefits are reflected on your face giving you that youthful glow. Exercising prompts the release of a feel-good hormone (serotonin) which can also improve your mood.

 Habit #3: Not Getting Enough Sleep

   Quality sleep plays an important role in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, reduced immune function, memory loss and mood disorders can also be results of inadequate sleep. Studies have found that a single night of inadequate sleep in people who have existing hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure throughout the following day correlating poor sleep over time with cardiovascular disease and stroke. The recommended amount of sleep is 7 to 8 hours a night. 

Habit #4: Not Getting Enough Calcium and Vitamin D

   Body weakness, fatigue, reduced ability to perform activities of daily living, poor balance, falls and injuries are all associated with decreased muscle mass and strength of an older body. As we age, the discs between our vertebrates lose fluid and they flatten, our vertebrates then begin to come together actually shrinking our spine a bit. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis, climbing stairs and strength training can help you build strong bones, maintain muscle mass and hopefully help you maintain your height.

   Calcium builds bones and keeps them healthy. It helps our blood clot and aids in helping our nerves to send messages to our muscles when they contract.  Adults ages 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70 should take in 1,000 milligrams a day. RDA for women is  1,200 mg a day if you are  age 51 and older and for men age 71 and older. Vitamin D is also important as it plays a role in protecting your bones by helping your body to absorb the calcium. 

   Foods like spinach, kale, okra, collard greens, soybeans and white beans have lots of calcium in them. And you'll get vitamin D, in fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon, as well, as from beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.

Habit #5: Too Much Exposure to the Sun and to Cold Environmental Conditions

   Too much sun exposure is another way we can easily accelerate the aging process. Sun damage is the number one cause of wrinkles. Age spots and other forms of discoloration are exacerbated by the sun’s harmful rays and the sun's ultraviolet light also damages the fibers in the skin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. A face that has spent years working on its tan appears heavily wrinkled. 

   Yes, sunshine is healthy... to a point. It only takes 20 minutes in the sun before it's benefits are reversed.

   Cold winds and low temperatures can also potentially cause premature aging. Spending a life time in a cold environment can create thin skin contributing to more wrinkles. Use a good moisturizer during the winter months and apply moisturizers right after a shower. It will help to lock in hydration. Use of a humidifier in your home or office can also help with keeping your skin hydrated.

    By making small adjustments to change some of these habits you will be taking care of yourself inside and out. Helping to slow down how quickly your body ages and feeling youthful for many years to come.

Glutathione the " Master" of Antioxidants

November 16, 2015

    If biochemistry were like the stuff in comic books, antioxidants would be the superheroes — with glutathione (gloota-thigh-own) being  a cross between Superman and Underdog. As the most powerful antioxidant in the body, glutathione works around the clock to fend off these despicable characters. And yet, few people recognize its importance.

    Glutathione is a substance found in every cell in the body. It neutralizes free radicals, enhances the immune system and detoxifies the liver.  Glutathione is a simple molecule composed of three protein building blocks or amino acids- cysteine, glutamine and glycine.

     While certain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals also act as antioxidants, glutathione is different because it is intracellular and  it's produced within a well-nourished healthy body. Proper glutathione levels are actually required so that the other antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, selenium and carotenoids, can be properly utilized within the body. Natural glutathione production is easily disrupted and stores can become quickly depleted by poor diet, stress, medications, infections, radiation and other toxins. Low glutathione levels have been linked with close to 70 diseases associated with aging including cancers, heart diseases, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, auto-immune diseases and strokes. Glutathione has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and immediately gets rid of potentially damaging free radicals as they are produced in the cells. This prevents cellular inflammation, thus slowing down aging as well as the keeping the body healthy and the immune system strong.  Starting at age 20 Glutathione production in your body will start reducing and at about age 45, our glutathione levels start to slip even more dipping as much as 50 percent below optimal as we age.

What About Supplement Versions?

    It makes sense that we should be able to incorporate a bit extra with a simple supplement and feel instantly revitalized. The problem with this is that oral glutathione supplements have repeatedly performed poorly in studies testing their absorption. Although some practitioners have reported a success with patients receiving glutathione intravenously, this method is invasive, expensive and often inaccessible to most of us. A concern with the supplement is that large quantities upset the body's natural system causing disruption. The body may stop creating it's own production assuming falsely that there is enough stored already.  Over time, this mis-signaling could lead to a dependency on supplements as natural production ceases to exist.

 What foods are high in Glutathione?

    Several spices found in Indian curry including turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and curcumin, and rosemary. Sulfur containing vegetables such as kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, garlic, cauliflower, bok choy, watercress, mustard, horseradish, turnips, rutabagas and kohlrabi. Other foods included are asparagus, green beans, spinach, avocado, red beets, peaches, watermelon, raw eggs and grape seed extract. Aloe vera,whey protein, raw goats milk (should be hormone and antibiotic free), milk thistle, okra, rice bran and brazil nuts are also great sources.

 Disease fighter

      Glutathione has been tried on a wide range of diseases and conditions including cancer and these studies have yielded promising results. A scottish study of one hundred and fifty women with cancer, being treated with standard chemotherapy cisplatin, were supplemented to raise their GSH(Glutathione) levels. In this study the building blocks of glutathione are introduced into the system of a cancer patient, it then raises GHS in normal healthy cells but triggers the opposite reaction in cancer cells, it effectively shuts down their GSH production.This means your healthy cells get stronger, and your cancer cells get weaker. This enhances the effectiveness of the chemotherapy or radiation treatment while reducing or eliminating side effects since your healthy cells are not as vulnerable to damage. The group raised their GSH and had statistically less: depression, vomiting, hair loss, shortness of breath, neurotoxicity and wasting. Their mental concentration and kidney function improved measurably and a healthier outcome was much more promising. 

What other practices will help with promoting Glutathione?

    It is also important to actively minimize the factors contributing to its depletion in your body. Chronic low-level stress is key in the loss of glutathione. Our bodies simply weren’t designed to handle the prolonged cortisol and adrenaline release experienced as a result of unchecked stress responses. Find a way to reduce stress through practices of mindfulness, yoga, time spent outside, reading and laughing. I know finding a way to manage stress can be difficult.... but it is one of the most healing steps you can take towards having a healthy life.