Tag Archives: Inspiration

Spring Training Check In: What direction are you heading?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (10)

In November, we started Spring Training.  Staying active and consistently exercising through the winter is challenging.  It becomes more motivating when you realize you are doing it for a purpose, like to enjoy the activities you like to do on that first beautiful Spring day.

With are only five weeks until the first official day of Spring, it’s time to check in. Which direction are you heading in?  Are you on the path to a Spring that starts with soreness and limitations or are you on the path to a Spring that allows you to do the activities you need and want to do with ease?

If your motivation has taken you off the path to an easy and enjoyable time in Spring, lets renew your energy for Spring Training.

Close your eyes and fast forward to the first beautiful day in Spring.  Ask yourself the following:

  • What do I want to be able to do in Spring?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What do I need to do that activity – more strength, stamina,  mobility?
  • What is one thing I can do starting today that will tell my body to build more of that over the next five weeks?

The great news is, exercise does not need to take a lot of time, it only needs to be done consistently and your body will adapt.  Starting your day with one set of an exercise that you know will improve your strength.  Taking five to ten minutes before dinner to dance or walk.   Before going to bed each night doing that one stretch that you know feels so good.  These are so small you might think they are not worth it, but think again.  It’s the natural laws of nature that they will work.   Just like snow is designed to melt at a certain temperature, your body is designed to adapt to what you give it.   Let it know you  are in Spring Training and it will keep you on a path to a more enjoyable season ahead.

Keep Moving, Be Well, Think Spring!

Janet

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by | February 11, 2020 · 8:58 pm

Stretching: Three benefits you may not know (part 3)

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (8)

In part 1 of this series on Stretching; the three benefits you may not know, we discussed how stretching helps the lymph system do its job to help your immune system function. This makes stretching one of the best ways to reduce the effects of sitting for too long.  In part 2, we reviewed the fascia system and it’s effect on your whole body and your mind.  Stretching then becomes a way to help your body feel less stiff while improving whole person health.  In this last part, let’s take a look at how the effects of stretching on your nervous system can lead to more comfort, less pain and more freedom of movement.  

The nervous system is what controls muscles. When a muscle is tight, it is your nervous system trying to protect your muscles from tearing. A muscle spasm is when your nervous system has to take extreme measures to protect a muscle that is holding a lot of tension. The spasm happens to prevent it from tearing. That spasm is not the result of that one movement, but rather the accumulation of tightness over time. The movement that resulted in a spasm was the final straw, so to speak. Regular stretching helps to keep that tightness from accumulating.  

When you stretch regularly, you are helping your nervous system build up tolerance of movements, so it is less “hyper-protective” of the muscles.  

Nervous systemThe way to get this benefit though goes against the way you may have been taught to stretch in the past.  The word stretching implies you are stretching a muscle like a piece of cloth, and the more you pull the more the muscle will relax.  Because the nervous system is in a large part what is ‘allowing’ the muscle to ‘stretch’ or not, pulling harder means your nervous system needs to go into that ‘hyper-alert’ mode to protect the muscle from injury.

We now know that starting with a gentle stretch and only going into a light to moderate stretch sensation is more likely to result in relaxing a muscle.  Stretching to a point of pain or discomfort can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to do by stretching.

This means, paying attention to how you feel when you are stretching, and listening to your body is the way to get the most from stretching.  When you do a stretch mindlessly, quickly or forcefully, you lower the quality of the stretch and thus waste your time. Rethink stretching as a way to help your body restore and recharge so it becomes a way to reduce the stress in your mind that is held in your body.  Sprinkle your day with stretch breaks to avoid that accumulation, and you raise the quality of your movement breaks while gaining more freedom of movement in daily life.  

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | January 28, 2020 · 4:28 pm

Happy Thanksgiving!

Why exercise for diabetes_ (3)

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by | November 28, 2019 · 4:50 am

How our supervisor keeps moving strong into her seventies

Linda Guerin is our supervisor here at the surgery clinic at UMass Memorial. Outside of work she is active with her grandchildren.   I have known her for many years and her energy level has not wavered.  Her secret?  Healthy eating and exercise!  Read below about what she does for exercise and how she keeps moving strong in her seventies!

Team blog series (5)

What do you currently do for exercise? I currently work out 4 nights a week and have been for over a year- I take a variety of classes including Zumba, P90x, and HIIT class.

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?- I need to have both my knees replaced but it does not prevent me from attending classes

How did you overcome that challenge to keep moving?  I just keep moving, I was doing a fitness program with weights for over five years and decided it was no longer working for me and my knees and joined FIT Friendzy Studios over a year ago and I just over the variety of classes they offer and I love to challenge myself.

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life? I’m determined to stay healthy and fit especially the older I get it’s even more important to me. I will be 71 in January. I  work full time and I eat healthy.  Over a year ago I gave up junk food and sweets (sugar) and don’t miss it at all. It’s so important to me to be healthy, you never know what tomorrow brings but it will not be because I didn’t work on my health.  I have also lost 90 lbs since I changed my lifestyle.

I love spending time with my grandchildren and family and friends. I also love to tent camp for a couple of weeks in the summer when I’m visiting my son and family in Michigan. I need to be healthy to do that. I also found a way to exercise while camping. I truly enjoy being active, it’s a big part of my life.  I stay late at work just not to miss my classes. I truly love my life!

Thank you Linda!

Janet

 

 

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by | November 25, 2019 · 4:19 pm

Moving in the outdoors keeps this physician young and healthy

Team blog series

Dr. Elizabeth Benjevin is one of our physicians here at the UMass Memorial Weight Center.  She shares how she keeps moving by enjoying exercising in the outdoors year round, how she overcame an injury, and stays active on busy days in the clinic.  


What do you currently do for exercise?

Currently I like to mix it up when it comes to exercise.  I enjoy exercising outdoors and being close to nature, so many of my activities revolve around that.  On weekends and my days off I will often go hiking, kayaking or biking in the summer.  During the winter that will switch to skiing – primarily downhill but also cross country as well as occasionally snowshoeing or winter hiking (I use yak trax when walking/hiking to avoid slipping when there’s slippery conditions on the trail.)  I enjoy exercising in the cold.  I realize a lot of people will often hibernate in the winter, but I’ve found that with good warm clothing and practice, one can enjoy exercising outdoors in the cold air.  I often prefer it as I find the cold more invigorating.  But I don’t like being cold so I have invested in some warm jackets, socks (woolen or polyester are much better than the usual cotton), hats, and mittens as well as the footwear.  If I didn’t have these things, I’m sure I would be hibernating as well!   

On days that I am working, I will try to get at least 6000-10,000 steps per day.  I wear my Fitbit and will find excuses to get up and log some extra steps.  It starts in the morning when I park my car in one of the furthest parking spots.  If I have some free time I may walk around the medical school and hospital (outdoors if it’s nice, indoors if not.)  If things are busy then I try to at least get a few steps just walking from my office to the Weight Center front desk – I will often bring charts back one at a time instead of all at once to get more steps as well as to get a break from sitting.  After work, I will often walk with my husband around the neighborhood. 

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?

One of my biggest challenges to exercise has been my knee problems.  I had major knee surgery almost 10 years ago.  That knee does have a tendency to act up from time to time.  Often just pacing myself (going on shorter hikes, taking a break from getting my step goal for the day and babying it a little – but not too much because then it can stiffen up) will be all that is needed.  About three years ago when it was not getting better by my usual routine, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do my usual hiking and skiing, I finally bit the bullet and made an appointment with my orthopedist.  He recommended physical therapy and what a game changer that was!  With a lot of stretching, a little bit of strengthening exercises and attention to form, I was back hiking again and with much less discomfort than I previously had.  (I had almost hung up my hiking boots so I was thrilled!)

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life?

Exercise is obviously a very important part of my life.  I find that I feel not only physically better but also mentally more alert when I exercise.  It can also be stress relieving (even more so when I can get out in nature) and I feel that it keeps me young.   When I was a primary care physician and saw healthy 80 and 90 year olds in the office, the one thing they all had in common was that they stayed physically active.  It also gives me pleasure – the accomplishment of hiking up a mountain or successfully tackling a black diamond ski trail cannot be beat!

Thank you Dr. Benjevin!

Keep moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | October 21, 2019 · 8:31 pm

The exercise mindset shift of a new mom

Inspired by Dr. Gitkind’s story last week, about how he used his fitness to help others, I decided to do a blog series about the real life exercise challenges and successes of UMass Memorial Weight Center Staff. This week I interviewed Anna Grotevant, one of our amazing dietitians.  As many of you know, she had a baby last year.  I asked her about how being a new mom has shifted her mindset about exercise.


Team blog series (2)

What was your mindset about exercise before pregnancy?

Before starting a family I exercised to stay fit and as a social activity. I wasn’t very consistent. I had more time to myself and tended to procrastinate. I didn’t really use exercise as a form of self-care because I had other forms of self-care that were more relaxing. Exercise felt more like something I had to check off on my to-do list. I would go weeks or months without exercising even though it is important to me.

What do you do now for exercise as a new mom?

After giving birth to my daughter a year ago, I spent time recuperating. I stopped exercising completely as I didn’t have the physical or mental energy to think about it. I also felt like I was so “out of shape” that my typical forms of exercise (running /yoga) were out of the question. Once I hit six months postpartum, I started with some walking. I built up from there, and now I’m walking, running, strength training and doing some yoga – usually something every day. I exercise on my own in the evening and with my sister on the weekends (we have “run dates”, which I really enjoy). I also walk on my lunch at work when it’s nice out.

How has your mindset about exercise shifted since having a baby?

My mindset about exercise has shifted. Since I have less time to myself, I tend not to procrastinate. If I’m going to do anything it has to be while my daughter is sleeping, so I get right on it as soon as my daughter goes down. I also have to multitask – I look at exercise not only as a way to stay fit but as a form of self-care and relaxation. I appreciate the time I have to myself a lot more. I’m a lot more gentle and forgiving in my workouts because it’s not about burning calories or running faster, but just about being able to move my body and have some time alone.

What is the biggest challenge about exercising as a new mom?

The biggest challenge about exercising as a new mom is the time that it takes. There’s always something I “should” be doing. Exercising during my daughter’s nap time means I’m not doing any of my household tasks. Having exercise dates with my sister on weekends means I’m not spending time with my daughter and husband.  That can actually make my life feel more stressful, especially if I’m falling behind in my responsibilities or it’s a particularly busy time of life. I try to manage this by prioritizing. I say no to some activities and requests from others so that I can preserve time for the people who are most important to me. I try to incorporate exercise into family activities on the weekends. Most importantly, I try to remember that no one is perfect. I can’t be the perfect mom, wife, sister, daughter, employee or exerciser. I can just do my best with what I’ve got and keep moving forward.

Thank you Anna!

Keep moving, be well,

Janet

 

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by | September 30, 2019 · 8:17 pm

Stepping out to help others

Many of our patients find it rewarding to be able to do a fundraising walk for a cause that is close to their heart.  The ability to participate in these is an added bonus of ‘getting your life back’ after weight loss surgery.

Gitkind

If you are a UMass Memorial Weight Center patient, you know about the diversity and dedication of our team.  What you may not know is how each member of our team makes exercise a part of their lives as well.  Like our patients, many members enjoy using their fitness to benefit others too.

Dr. Mitch Gitkind is one of them.  This past weekend he and his wife completed the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. Together they raised $1000 in memory of a young woman in their town who passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 18.

Gitkind steps

To be able to do 50,000 steps at age 60, raise money to help others, and come in to work with a smile the next day is the reward of someone who is a regular exerciser.  His daily routine keeps him healthy and young.  The ability to enjoy being part of this and other incredible fundraising events during the year is an added bonus to the many ways exercise adds to his enjoyment of life.

Studies show that our health improves when we help others.  We know exercising regularly improves to health too. When you add this kind of meaning to your every day exercise routine, your  health benefits from exercise are multiplied.  You don’t need to walk 50,000 steps to do it either.  The amount of steps you do, nor the money raised don’t matter. It is the fact that you are adding a broader level of purpose to your exercise time.

Has your regular exercise routine enabled you to complete a fundraising event lately?  Share your story in the comments below.

Keep moving,  Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | September 23, 2019 · 5:51 pm