Is it too Stiff?

You know that if you don’t change the oil in your car or try to run it without fuel it’s really not going to do it a lot of good and, sooner or later, the engine will just pack up; our bodies are the most sophisticated machine on the planet so we need to make sure that we are running them on exactly the right kind of fuel.

Throughout our lives we will experience aches and pains; an over energetic session in the bedroom or too many hours spent bopping away on 4 inch heels but, as we get older, we may notice that they occur more frequently and with seemingly less cause. We will have wear an tear on our joints after years of use or it may be that we have a touch of arthritis which causes stiffness, joint pain and inflammation. Fortunately there are a few things we can do to keep our joints well oiled and moving freely.

If we are carrying extra weight, that can exacerbate the problem as we will be putting strain on already stressed joints so maintaining a healthy weight is really important but as well as thinking about how much we put into our bodies, we also need to think about what we put in. You know that if you don’t change the oil in your car or try to run it without fuel it’s really not going to do it a lot of good and, sooner or later, the engine will just pack up; our bodies are the most sophisticated machine on the planet so we need to make sure that we are running them on exactly the right kind of fuel.

Omega 3 foods are great at reducing inflammation so try introducing some of these foods into your diet:

Walnuts, oily fish such as salmon and flax seeds (which you can add to cereal) are all great sources.

 Also make sure that you eat plenty of anti-oxidant foods; load up on fruit and veggies and try to stay away from foods that will make matters worse such as those containing a lot of sugar and anything that’s refined or processed – fresh and natural is really the best way forward.

If we are suffering from aches and pains, we may be tempted to spend the day in bed or in a chair in front of the television but that may be the worst thing that we can do. We need to make sure that we keep our bodies moving to try and increase our muscle strength and our flexibility and also to take our minds off the discomfort that we may be feeling. If our minds aren’t distracted and we focus on the pain, we will become tense and anxious which will only make the pain worse. Think about it, if you had a bad headache and then someone came rushing in and told you that you’d won the lottery, how long do you think the headache would last? You probably wouldn’t give it another thought would you?

Gentle walking and swimming will get your blood circulating and your joints moving and over time you can speed up and increase distances, all the while increasing your fitness levels and improving your muscle tone. You can also think about exercises that will increase your flexibility:

The stretches that form part of both yoga and Pilates are really great for loosening off those muscles and joints and the poses will help to build strength. As with any new exercise, find a really good teacher and, if you have any health concerns at all, check with your doctor before signing up.

There are also some roots, herbs and spices that you could consider.

download (15)Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and can work wonders for those suffering from arthritis. Try adding a few slices of raw ginger to hot water to make a tea or use in cooking to spice up your evening meal.

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Turmeric contains curcumin which is claimed to reduce inflammation, pain and joint stiffness. You can use in cooking but you can also buy as a supplement in capsule form from any good health food shop. (If your skin could do with a boost you can also use it, mixed with yoghurt, as a great facepack!)

You can also try burdock root, liquorice and nettles and try replacing your normal brew with a cup of green tea every day and see what a difference that can make to you.

We all might get a little stiffer with age but that doesn’t mean we can’t carry on with our lives or that we have to stop looking after our bodies. As Ian McKellan said: “I am lucky, I don’t have aches and pains. I do Pilates regularly, which is a series of stretching exercises, and I recommend it to anyone of my age because the temptation is not to exercise when you get older. Well, you should”

Perfect Harmony

Keeping your joints and muscles supple and flexible will offer you protection from injury, allow your muscles to recover more quickly and give you an increased range of movement.

I’m a huge fan of yoga and have been for many years; I first discovered the stretches (or postures) on an obscure TV channel in the UK, I then attended a class at a Buddhist centre (which also then gave me a huge respect for that particular religion) and now I practice at home when I feel the need to relax or to relieve aching muscles. I do a lot of exercise: 2 hour long Pilates classes, spend between 3 and 5 hours in the gym and walk around 20km every single week; I love all of it but nothing leaves me feeling quite so peaceful and at one with the world as yoga. Not only that but the stretches enable me to do as much exercise as I do without succumbing to injury.

Our bodies are amazing, especially in the ways that they try to protect us. A prime example is when we have been working out hard, repetitive exercises which make our muscles tighter and tighter, and our bodies decide to bring in other muscles to help us out. Really kind of them isn’t it? Well, actually, no because if you are using under-trained ‘helper’ muscles you could find that you’ll end up tearing one of them which will leave you in a lot of pain and unable to workout for a while. This is where yoga comes in. Keeping your joints and muscles supple and flexible will offer you protection from injury, allow your muscles to recover more quickly and give you an increased range of movement.

As we get older and our bodies start to get a little stiffer many of us turn to the gym to increase our fitness levels and to keep trim. This is great! Cardio vascular exercises like walking or jogging on a treadmill, using a stair master or an elliptical machine are all great for keeping our hearts and bodies in shape but there’s no point in doing all this if we can’t train 3 weeks out of every 6 because of injury. Yoga, combined with your normal workouts, will enable you to train better and more effectively with the added benefit of making your respiratory system more efficient. The short video below explains how yoga breathing can relax your mind and body allowing you to free yourself to work more dynamically.

By opening posture, yoga significantly increases respiratory capacity; in fact, many have overcome asthma and other respiratory conditions through regular practice. Obviously, this is invaluable to athletes. Yoga has also been proven to dramatically enhance circulation, digestion, and efficiency of motion, which all further improve energy and endurance. [Source]

Whatever forms of exercise you enjoy, whatever sports you like to play, yoga can help both in terms of protecting your body from injury and improving your performance – it’s not just for lycra clad lovelies with long blond hair ;O)

The Sins of the Father

For many generations we have accepted that people, when they reach a certain age become diminished in some way and don’t have the same capabilities that they had in their earlier lives but why are we so willing to accept that?

Much of what we learn over the years comes from our parents and, often, their beliefs and opinions come from their parents and are passed along without question. In years gone by couples would live with one set of parents or the other until they had enough to buy or rent a house of their own and, later as a sort of quid pro quo the aging parents would live with their grown up children. It was always assumed that the children would be looked after by the parents for a given period and then the roles would be reversed when it was deemed that the parents could no longer look after themselves. For many generations we have accepted that people, when they reach a certain age become diminished in some way and don’t have the same capabilities that they had in their earlier lives but why are we so willing to accept that?

Society has a great many ways of reinforcing this stereotype. How many times do you hear the words:

“Not at your age surely”

“Don’t you think you’re a bit old for all that”

“Mutton dressed as lamb” etc etc but just because there is a stereotype it doesn’t mean that we have to conform to it. Which one would you rather be? Someone who takes a nap in the afternoon for wont of something better to do or someone who ignores everything they’ve ever heard about getting older and goes out there and grabs whatever life they’ve got left enjoying every magical second?

Perhaps you’ve said it yourself in the past, “No Grandad, you go and sit down and I’ll do that” or “No don’t you try to do that, I’ll do it for you”. It may be that your Grandparents are or were perfectly capable of doing whatever it was that they wanted to do but they constantly received the message that their place is relaxing in a chair and doing nothing. Eventually, people will usually conform to what is expected of them especially if the idea is being constantly reinforced. We have advertisements for funeral insurance for people over 50, we have pensions and bus passes; we have medical tests for certain deadly diseases once people reach a certain age. This is all well intentioned I am sure but it does rather send out the message that we all better slow down and prepare ourselves for death once we’ve had a few too many birthdays.

We have had these attitudes passed on to us our whole lives but it doesn’t make them right and they certainly shouldn’t dictate how we live our lives. There are many things that we can do physically to help us live better for longer but a great part of how we live comes from our thoughts and attitudes; if we listen to the people who tell us we can’t, we won’t!

Meet the 86 year old nun who competes in triathlons, those punishing endurance trials that many people half her age wouldn’t even contemplate. She says “the only failure is not to try”.

This is the 92 year old Marathon runner who has beaten cancer twice! She says “I think you have to feel that you can do it and keep saying that to yourself”

Maybe not all of us will run marathons or compete in triathlons but who knows what we are capable of until we get out there and try. Ultimately, we all have a choice, we can accept the words of our forefathers and ‘grow old gracefully’ or we can go out there and experience all the wonderful things that life has to offer before it’s too late.

Good Morning World

what you look for to snack on will contain sugar and you end up in a vicious circle – sugar-energy rush-hunger-more sugar-energy rush etc.

If you want to have  really great day then it helps to start out the right way………

As soon as you wake up every morning, before you do anything else, smile. Over 150,000 people die every day; today you are not one of them so smile and thank the Universe for giving you another 24 hours to enjoy. When you have checked that your nearest and dearest are also still alive smile again!

Next we need to think about getting some fuel into that wonderful machine we call our body. Scrambled or poached eggs are a great start to the day because they are super high in protein, they contain anti-oxidants and are a good source of choline which will help to maintain the health of our livers and our brains. Vitamins D, B6, B12 and B2 can also be found in an egg along with selenium and zinc all of which will contribute to your health and well- being. Added to all of this, they will leave you feeling fuller for longer which means that you won’t be tempted to start snacking mid-morning.

If you’re not a big fan of eggs try porridge oats with blueberries or Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit. If you want to lose weight, lower blood sugar and promote heart health then oatmeal is the way forward. It is full of vitamins and nutrients but, unlike other breakfast cereals, it’s not loaded with sugar so it will slowly release energy and keep you full until lunchtime. Greek yoghurt is high in protein and, again, will keep you feeling fuller for longer. With fresh fruit it makes a wonderfully tasty and nutritious breakfast.

So what should you avoid for breakfast? Basically anything that is full of sugar or fried (or both!!) Sugar will give you a pretty much instant energy rush but it won’t last and it won’t be long before you’re looking for something to snack on and that’s when the pounds start piling on because, more than likely, what you look for to snack on will contain sugar and you end up in a vicious circle – sugar-energy rush-hunger-more sugar-energy rush etc. Don’t be fooled into thinking that breakfast cereals are the healthy option either, most of them are packed full of sugar, have a look on the packet before you buy and avoid anything with more than 5g per 100g.

If you normally have a cup of coffee or tea with breakfast that’s great but try it without sugar and green tea makes a super healthy alternative. To re-hydrate your body and flush your digestive system try squeezing the juice of a whole lemon into a glass of hot water.

Ok, so you’ve fuelled the machine so now let’s use it! Most of you will be off to work so let’s just have a look at a few exercises you can do before you set off – just 10 minutes so no need to get up at the crack of dawn! What’s more, you don’t even need to leave your house.

When you’ve finished you should be feeling energised and ready for your day. Wherever you are off to this morning see if you can fit in a 10 minute walk, park a little farther from work or walk to the bus stop after the one you’d usually use or take the stairs when you would usually use the elevator. If your job involves a lot of sitting down just give yourself a mental nudge every hour and get up and have a walk around and keep the blood flowing and your energy levels up.

If you feel a little bit peckish during the morning, firstly, think whether you are really hungry or whether it’s just the case that you would normally snack on something at this time. If it’s the latter, have a glass of water and a little walk around and see if you still feel the need to eat something. If you do then try one of these great healthy snacks rather than reaching for something sugary:

Have a really great day everyone!

Rock the House!

…..there are some fantastic bum toning exercises that you can do at home which will eventually leave you with two perfect peaches.

If you don’t fancy the idea of bedecking yourself in lycra and strutting your stuff in front of the gym bunnies why not try a home workout?

When we get to a certain age there are a few areas of the body that need a little extra care and attention. Things that were once firm and perky become loose and saggy but there are  number of exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own living room to help raise and tighten………

This video is only a few minutes long but it focuses solely on getting rid of ‘bingo wings’ or flabby triceps and, when you’ve finished doing the exercises, you’ll definitely know that you’ve been working those arms!

This is one of those niggly problem areas for older women as it can make you self-conscious about wearing sleeveless or short-sleeved t-shirts in the summer. It’s worth spending a few minutes every day doing these exercises just so you’re not sweating your socks off in long sleeves during July and August!

You may find that your arms ache later in the day or the day after but this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. You’ll certainly forget about any achy muscles when you see the super results that you can achieve in just a short time.

If you want to tighten you tummy muscles this is a great way to start – simple exercises that you can do whilst sitting down in a chair. Once you get these muscles engaged and working well you can move on to more challenging exercises such as sit-ups or planks.

Once you get the muscles working your tummy will appear flatter and more toned and then you can replace those baggy hide everything tops with something altogether more slinky.

Another problem area that seems to creep up on us as we get older is our bum. Actually it doesn’t creep up so much as sag down and the pert bum we had in our youth starts to resemble a deflating balloon. Never fear, there are some fantastic bum toning exercises that you can do at home which will eventually leave you with two perfect peaches.

This video talks you through some awesome exercises step by step, telling you exactly what muscles you need to be working and what position your body needs to be in. There’s no funky music to distract you from what your bum is supposed to be doing; you can listen to that when you’re shaking it on the dance floor!

Last but definitely not least – how do we keep our boobs front and centre as we get older? You’ve tried all the super uplift, supporting, padded bras but when you take them off gravity takes over – know the feeling? Try these simple exercises to strengthen the muscles in the chest and improve your posture and you’ll feel and see the difference in no time!

Again, if these exercises are new to you, take it easy in the beginning and then gradually increase the number of repetitions. You’ll be so happy you made the effort when you are buying pretty and lacy rather than over the shoulder boulder holders.

All these exercises are designed to target the specific areas where we need a bit of help and improvement as we get older. You can do all of them together as a complete work-out a couple of times a week or you can choose to do just one every day if you don’t have as much time to spare. They can all be done in your own home and, once you’ve got the hang of how to do them properly, you can listen to music and just enjoy the feeling of your body getting firmer and leaner. After a few weeks you’ll be amazed at the changes you’ll see when you look in the mirror, your energy levels will be higher and you’ll be ready to get out there and shake your super stuff.

 

Shocking Simon Cowell

“The stereotypes of weak older people hurt us all; I like showing younger people what’s possible”

There    are some things in life that we just don’t think of as being possible and one of them is shocking the famously unflappable Simon Cowell yet that’s just what this 80 year old woman managed to do…

You might be tempted to do what he did in the beginning and just dismiss her out of hand but just watch, appearances really can be deceiving! You will not believe the skill, energy and passion that this woman demonstrates. After watching her perform David Walliams was prompted to state “However old you are, you can still be spectacular and beautiful and do something amazing”

However entertaining it is to see Simon Cowell stuck for words, why are we so amazed when older people do something wonderful? Yes, it’s pretty much a given that your body will not work quite as well when you are 60 or 70 as when you were 16 or 17 but that’s no excuse for giving up on life or on the things that you want to do with it. The more you think that you can’t do something, the more likely it is that you won’t be able to do it so , instead, try telling yourself that you can and see what happens – maybe you’ll be the one shocking people.

A bit like this chap, Ed Whitlock, who completed a Marathon, in under 4 hours, at the age of 85! His motivation apparently comes from running circuits in a cemetery – that’s pretty good inspiration!

Oh and he also holds a World Record for running the fastest mile for someone in this age group: 07:18.55

This beautiful lady is Johanna Quaas and, at the age of 91 she’s the world’s oldest active gymnast – have a look at her in action – you’ll be stunned at her agility. As she says “The stereotypes of weak older people hurt us all; I like showing younger people what’s possible”

What these people have achieved with practice and determination is incredible and, if it’s possible for them, it’s possible for us too – how great is that!

Chchchchchanges

It’s so easy to repeat the same old patterns, to get ourselves in a rut and have the ‘what’s the point’ attitude

One of the hardest things we can do as human beings is to change but, if we don’t change ourselves, we can’t expect our lives to change and sometimes that’s exactly what we need. It’s so easy to repeat the same old patterns, to get ourselves in a rut and have the ‘what’s the point’ attitude, especially as we get older. For many people the thought processes change from ‘what can I do next’ to ‘I’m too old for all that’ and, as we lose our dreams and our expectations, we strive for less and eventually reach a point of stagnation but it doesn’t need to be like that……..

 

This video shows the journey of a 48 year old guy from fat to formidable. He didn’t go to the gym, didn’t have a personal trainer and worked out in his garage at home. What he did have was massive determination to succeed.

He worked out six days a week, 3 days with weights and 3 days of cardio, and he stuck to a sensible diet plan for those 6 days. On his day off he ate what he fancied and didn’t train – the results after just 18 weeks will amaze you.

This woman explains how, at the age of 50, one really awful photograph motivated her to get in shape. She started just by changing what she ate and she started to see results which prompted her to start exercising. She began with walking, then power walking and then long, all day hikes.

Although she had lost a lot of weight, she decided after a few months that her body didn’t look quite the way she wanted it to so she joined a gym, hired a personal trainer and dedicated herself to transforming her body.

At 50 years old she now has the body of a 20 something – as she says “50 is the new fabulous”!

Transforming yourself requires motivation first so think about the things that will improve in your life if you begin to transform your body:

  • You will have more energy
  • You will have more self-esteem
  • You will be healthier
  • Your digestion will improve
  • You will sleep better but need less of it

The next things you will need is determination and that’s all on you; even if you hire a personal trainer, unless you are determined you will find yourself giving them excuses as to why you can’t exercise after a couple of weeks.

But that’s really all that you need if you want to change your life – motivation and determination – if you have both those things you will achieve whatever you want to achieve.

 

If it’s stiff, oil it!

…it’s the same effect as a squirt of WD40 on a sticky hinge

Yoga is considered by the National Institute of Health in America as a form of complementary medicine because it combines muscular activity with an internally directed focus on the self. Regular practice of Yoga promotes strength and flexibility; you were born flexible but a sedentary lifestyle leads to our bodies getting lazy, our muscles atrophy and our joints settle into a limited range. When you were a toddler you would have thought nothing of tucking your legs behind your ears but could you do it now? I guess that the word no springs to mind but you could……

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, these guys have been doing yoga for years!! They probably have but they’re no spring chickens are they? The stretches that they have been doing are, effectively, reducing the natural aging process; our bodies dehydrate and get stiffer with age but yoga slows this process by stimulating the production of tissue lubricants – it’s the same effect as a squirt of WD40 on a sticky hinge. The side benefit of this increased suppleness and flexibility is that our bodies are less prone to injury. How many times have you bent down or leaned over and felt something twinge in your back? Yoga increases range of movement for your muscles and joints which means that, after a few weeks, those twinges will be a thing of the past.

Your image of yoga devotees may be that they are all skinny minnies who can move so easily because they have absolutely no fat on their bodies – not true. Yoga is beneficial to everyone no matter what their size and the increased flexibility and strength that it gives means that other, cardio vascular exercises, become easier and more enjoyable.

Anyone can enjoy yoga so why not give it a try and, please, let me know how you get on.

Go Like Graham!

Dream as if you’ll live forever and live as if you’ll die today

The man in the photo above is called Graham Sayer and he is 80 years old; he works out five days a week but not to keep his body looking good or even to keep fit. In Graham’s own words:

 “It’s so that as I get older, I can continue to do all the things I love so dearly: to have adventures, to always have new experiences, to play, climb, swim, kick and punch to my heart’s content”

If Graham thought ‘I am 80’ every day and subscribed to society’s and the media’s notions of old age he probably wouldn’t do half of what he does but the fact is, to him, his age is just a number. His desire to live a full and exciting life is so strong that he doesn’t consider that there are any negative connotations attached to his chronological age. He’s had challenges along the way, including throat cancer, but he hasn’t let that stop him.

If he can do it why can’t you?

James Dean said: “Dream as if you’ll live forever and live as if you’ll die today” but most of us do exactly the opposite; we live as if we have forever – in short, we exist. However, it doesn’t need to be like that. If we can forget the fears that we have about growing older we can maintain the same mind set that we had when we were a child. Children don’t worry about what other people think, they don’t worry about falling over or hurting themselves, for them every minute of every day is an adventure and there is no reason why we can’t continue to think and live that way throughout our entire lives.

Not Just Bend and Stretch

There are people in the world who appear to have found ways to slow down the aging process……..

There are people in the world who appear to have found ways to slow down the aging process; one group are known as sadhus. They can slow down their heartbeat, slow down their breathing and live for weeks and even months on end without food. They meditate to distance themselves from their surroundings and to turn their focus inwards; they empty their minds so that they are free from all emotional and mental disturbances. Their bodies are not subject to the stresses that are caused by anxiety or depression and their life energies are retained within and therefore not expended.

They practice yoga, not the bending and stretching in lycra that we all know as yoga, but something far more ancient and spiritual. It’s believed to date back to the 5th or 6th century but was only introduced to the West in the late 1900’s by the Indian mystic Swami Vivekandanda. Yoga means ‘unite’ and the practises are designed to lead to the joining of the body and the mind in perfect harmony so that the practitioner can live in a state of complete freedom; free from all sufferings.

 

This video demonstrates traditional Hatha (meaning force) yoga; a series of physical exercises which allow the practitioner to master their body, whilst at the same time, focusing on their breath which will enable them to clear their minds.

swami_yogananda

The picture shows Swami Yogananda who, at 99 years old, shows the power and flexibility that the body can retain through the practice of yoga over many years.

The mix of deep meditation and movement brings a profound sense of peace to practitioners and has a very positive impact on the body.

Yoga combines the physical, spiritual and emotional and the absolute best part about it is it’s available to everyone: