What I learned from a locked-down yoga challenge

be move May 15, 2020

During this time in quarantine, I have been missing my physiotherapist. As an aging long-distance runner, let’s just say that in some weeks I see my physio more than my friends. I had come to the point that I looked forward to IMS treatments (a super painful acupuncture needling technique that releases tight muscles) as much as I looked forward to a good latte. But I had to suddenly give up my love affair with physio when, like other elective health services, my access to treatment vanished overnight.

Being a pragmatic sort, I decided to take on a yoga program in an effort to replace the treatments that had previously been keeping me moving. Although I have done a lot of yoga over the past 20 years, I had virtually given it up after developing a chronic hip injury almost two years ago.

When you’re an endurance athlete, you tend to approach any form of exercise as a long-term commitment. So, of course, I took on the 30-day yoga challenge. A month of yoga has always felt...

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Finding yourself eating more in quarantine? Try mindful eating.

be eat move Apr 24, 2020

Have you found yourself more “snacky” in quarantine? Are you reaching for all sorts of foods that you usually wouldn’t eat? If so, take heart in the fact that you’re not alone - it seems that most people I’ve talked to have had a significant change in their eating and drinking habits while in lockdown.

Before I go on, I need to point out that I am not a trained mental health professional or dietician and that those with problematic or disordered eating should seek out professional help. I also need to recognize and acknowledge the sometimes negative impact that my industry has had on the eating habits and body image of women. What I can offer is observations from a lengthy career in healthy living, which has included examining many food and diet fads.

I would have to write for days to outline all of the dieting trends that I have seen come and go, but here’s the hard truth – none of them tend to work long-term for most of the population.

...

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Practicing survival self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic

be lift move Apr 07, 2020

My parents were children when the Second World War broke out. They were both separated from their parents, lived through rationing, and regularly woke up to bombed-out streets. Although they didn't talk much about the hardships until we were much older, their early lives would have been considered in many ways, horrific by modern standards.

Looking back at my parent's time during the war, I know that their focus was simply on getting through the day. The battle was a signal that they were in a crisis and survival was key.

We may not be facing the same wartime violence, but the COVID-19 pandemic is a massive global change, and we are facing uncertainty, financial worries, and a growing list of causalities; there is still an enemy lurking.

We're all trying to find ways to get through this, and if you're anything like me, you might find yourself in a cycle of consuming. Consuming lots of unnecessary news feeds, way too much Netflix, and snacking on all sorts of things that wouldn't...

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Why is yoga is such a popular choice for the ageing body?

be lift move Nov 09, 2019

Yoga is by far the most popular exercise program used by Age Sisters around the world. Many women tell me that, as they get older, yoga seems to work for their bodies and lifestyles. Why does this ancient practice enhance the modern ageing body? Let’s explore.

In recent years, yoga has moved from a niche activity to a mainstream exercise craze. Yoga’s popularity comes from both mental and physical health benefits. Yoga is a combination of focus on mind, body, and spirit. The practise of yoga integrates these three elements to foster compassion, well-being and inner peace.

Pain Management

Many women over 50 manage chronic pain conditions. Few find complete relief from medications, and many are looking for additional ways to better deal with aches and soreness. As a result, many studies have been conducted to look at the use of exercise to manage pain.

When researchers looked at the results of a study of using different types of exercise to control pain, they initially...

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Let's care for the caregivers

be connect Oct 04, 2019

As modern women, we take planning our lives very seriously. We schedule  appointments into our favourite daytimers (probably one of several), we write lists, and we shape our careers by carefully planning for all the different stages. We also plan for the transitions in the lives of our children and the subsequent changes in our homes. But one thing many of us fail to plan for is the eventual responsibilities of caregiving for someone we love who is ill or at end-of-life.

For some reason, having responsibilities for the care of parents never really factored into my own plans; it seemed like some esoteric idea that was seemingly years down the road. When my mother died, everything in my careful planning was turned on it’s ear.

I don’t think that in our grief, my sister and I could have ever imagined the toll that becoming the sole emotional support for my heartbroken, aging father would take. Before my mother’s death, my father was the pillar of the family - he...

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Let's all take a deep breath...

be connect Sep 13, 2019

Every year, I sit in a little booth while a technician coaches me to expand my lungs as much a possible. “Big breath in! And blow out as hard as you can”, she coaches, as she tests my lungs for overall function and capacity.

The exercise physiologist in me knows that a childhood of constant indoor exposure to secondhand smoke, working in smoke-filled pubs when I was young, along with my genetics, has likely led to my more delicate lungs in adulthood. When you work in health promotion, it feels quite humbling to manage your own chronic health problem, but I’m luckier than most asthmatics in that my condition has remained stable for the last 15 years.

My own experience (and those of loved ones) led me to an interest chronic disease prevention. We know unequivocally that some of the biggest killers and illness-producers (e.g., heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes) can be managed and/or prevented with reducing lifestyle- related risks. Twenty-five years ago, I...

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Is intermittent fasting the best route to weight loss?

be eat Sep 06, 2019

Don’t you love that feeling of new beginnings that happens as we start September? Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time in school, or maybe it’s from watching the transition every year with my own kids, but September always feels like an opportunity to start fresh and get back on track. The fall is the time of year that many of my fellow Age Sisters think about making some changes to live a healthier life. As women, sometimes the change we tend to focus on most often is diet.

I’m asked a lot these days about my view on the latest diet trend, intermittent fasting. Let me start by saying that many of the modern diet approaches have some merit, especially if you are eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, thinking about more variety, or being more thoughtful about when you eat. But the thought of intermittent fasting always causes some tension in my psyche. Here’s why…

Growing up in the era of the grapefruit diet, the lemon-juice and cayenne...

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A little heart to heart from your sister in health

be lift move Aug 09, 2019

OK sisters, it’s time to get serious for a moment. Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women worldwide, and that more women lose their lives to heart disease every year than all cancers combined?[1] Women have different issues with heart disease than men, and our experiences with related illness are complex. Some tough love here: one of the biggest reasons that we are not more effectively reducing our risks, is that we seem to know less about heart disease than we think we do.

Women involved in a study at the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre (CWHHC) showed low levels of awareness about heart disease in general, symptoms unique to women, personal risk factors, and the major lifestyle risks. This tells me that we need to get some facts sorted. Here’s what you need to know:

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of premature death of women

-Women who have a heart attack are more likely to die when compared to men

-Half as...

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Why we could all use self-compassion for kinder self-care

be Aug 01, 2019

Do you know one of those women who is so kind and lovely, that with every encounter you vow to be more that way yourself? That’s the case with my friend and colleague, Erica Bennett.

Erica graciously made some time in her schedule recently to share her thoughts on the topic of some her doctoral and post-doctoral research, self-compassion in older adults. Self-compassion can be defined as, “…being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.

So, what does self-compassion look like exactly? Self-compassion has three components:

1. Mindfulness – which means when you are having difficulties, recognizing that those difficulties will feel tough in the moment.
2. Common humanity – to remember that when we’re suffering, we’re not alone.
3. Self kindness – to be kind to oneself in the face of suffering or challenges.

Erica...

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Why little habits are the key to good health

be eat move Jul 19, 2019

Do you ever wonder how someone you know manages to be so consistent with their healthy habits? You know the type – someone who seems always to eat healthily and exercises consistently. Do they have fantastic willpower and strength? The answer is no. Those folks who are so consistent with diet and activity have just formed little habits that allow them not to have to rely on motivation.

In this post, I want to talk about why establishing small habits is the key to a healthy lifestyle. I also want to debunk the myth that regular exercise, healthy diet, good mental health practices, and so on are only for those people who have incredible willpower. All of us can lead a healthier lifestyle – we need to come at it the right way.

Why do habits matter?

Habits, motivation, and willpower can sometimes seem like the same thing. I like to think of it this way: motivation and willpower get you started, but habits keep you going. Think about your local gym in January.

For the...

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