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fitness and exercise

  • Assess your health, your strengths, as well as your problems and bad habits, and look for (ask yourself and take time to listen) the causes or basis of each concern. What are your issues? It’s best to ask for this deeper information and healing in your quiet, meditative place or before sleep to ask your dream imagery to come forth. (Review my Staying Healthy Tips on The Nature of Healing.) This is a time to work on solutions.

    Make a list of your goals. What are you willing to work on, work out, and achieve? Do you need to lose weight; have more energy; or find a new doctor/practitioner to help you resolve a problem or illness? Or would a therapist or intuitive be more helpful? For example, you could assess your teeth in January, schedule a Thai massage and an acupuncture or chiropractic session in February, and a five-day health retreat in March. First assess your health budget and see what is covered by insurance if you have it, but also look at what you are willing or able to invest into the health of you and your loved ones.

    Review your SNACC habits (sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals). These are common substances that undermine most people’s health, and dealing with them is often the beginning of life improvement. Clearing the daily use (even temporarily) of these habits/abuses/ addictions that takes your vitality is often my first step in the Purification Process (see my book, The New Detox Diet). January is a perfect month to take a vacation from these habits. You may also choose two or three habits to get started. Rather than attempting too much at once, do what you know you can. Step by step still gets you along the health path.

    Next, look at your food habits and what you may be overusing that stresses your body and causes reactions.Is it breads and baked goods, refined sugars, or a dependency on drinking cow’s milk or eating cheese? You may not be able to tell this unless you take a break and re-check your response again later. Most of us aren’t fully aware of how specific foods or meals effect us, but we know when we don’t feel fully alive or well, or maybe we want to digest better or reduce some aches and pains or sinus congestion, or just lose a few pounds. Here then, the ideas of The False Fat Diet book can guide you in this important process. A reminder is that this process is more difficult with a stress-filled schedule; thus, you may need to carve out some time both physically and mentally. I like starting my program on a Friday to have the weekend to adjust to the new plan.

    Exercise your body, keep it moving! Just because it’s winter, don’t get lazy. Get your activity, but get your rest and sleep as well. Stretch that body and don’t let it get old, get it pumping, and tone those muscles. Cleanse and brush your skin daily as well. Inner clean creates outer sheen. Stay fit and stay healthy.

    Do some positive therapies. There are many that can be of help, such as massage and other body therapies; acupuncture, counseling, or a personal reading for guidance. Sometimes merely a walk and talk in the trees with a good friend is all you need to set things right. Try something new or go back to something you liked. New experiences are helpful to growth and healing.

    What is your spiritual practice? This may be prayer, religious studies, or meditation. We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Our reverence for life, our own and others, is the basic premise for a spiritual life. Treating our body as a temple of Living Spirit provides a motivation to treat ourselves as special and thus feed and care for ourselves in a loving and healthful way. It’s the base and the beginning of a healthy life.

    Your career or work is often a core area for your well-being. Are you doing something that is important to you? Do you have a plan for life? Some jobs are what you wish for, others are on the way to somewhere else, and still others are there just to support you and your family. These are all important reasons. If you are not pleased with what you are doing, ask why and what can be done differently. Do you need to review this with a professional counselor? Do you need more education and training? Or will a shift in attitude help you to feel better about your work?

    What can you complete this year?What’s been on your mind or sitting around your house? Make a list of a few or more areas that could use some of your valuable energy. (Add these to your list of goals.) This may involve old health habits, a messy room to clean up or rearrange, stuck areas in a relationship, or letting go of old patterns at work. Don’t be afraid to go for it this year.

    Make your resolutions and commitments. Begin by looking at the key areas of your life. Health and personal habits, love and relationships, and career or work. And if LOVE moves into all those areas, that’s all the better as you’ll care for yourself and your life, plus your relationships in a positive way. Make more room for love to fill your daily life, and let it be the higher Love. Human love is temporal for many, yet love in the Spirit is everlasting. We are all blessed to share this garden, this Earth, which needs our love and protection. We must take the time to nurture nature, to nourish and flourish.

  • (Adapted from Dr. Haas’ upcoming book, Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine)

    We are designed to move, lift, swing and stretch. Exercise, in its varied forms, stimulates metabolism, circulation, oxygenation, lymphatic activity, and neurological function; strengthens our immune system; reduces stress; lessens inflammation, and with endorphin enhancement, exercise improves our overall attitude. A consistent program of balanced exercise supports the body and helps prevent or improve so many health issues. Depression is one example where regular exercise often helps, by improving mood and energy, reducing anxiety and promoting better sleep.

    A Balanced Fitness Program Includes:
    • Some exercise daily — with a goal of 7–10 hours of physical activity each week
    • Stretching — for flexibility, also good before and after aerobics and/or weights
    • Aerobic activity — running, hiking, biking, or swimming, for endurance, cardiovascular health and detoxification (sweating)
    • Toning — using weights or resistance exercises, for strength and muscle mass
    • Energy balancing — yoga, qigong, and Tai Chi (especially helpful for elders)
    • Mood enhancing — dance and all aerobics support the feel good “endorphins”

    Even with physical limitations, do what you can, from isometrics to using a stretch band, or even stretching or yoga in a chair. You can also do deep breathing along with tightening and relaxing muscles while sitting or working at your computer. Remember, if you aren’t already exercising regularly, have a physical exam before you begin and build your endurance at a healthy pace.

    My attitude is (and it could be yours, too): “This is the only body I have and I am going to treat it with love.” Once we develop this approach, giving our body some vitamin L (Love), we develop an internal commitment to being healthy. With this essential feeling of body respect and love, we will often tend to eat better, exercise more regularly, learn to manage stress more effectively and take better overall care of ourselves.

    The Best Exercise Program
    “Do you know what your best exercise is?” Many will answer, “walking” or “swimming.” The BEST exercise program is “the one that you’ll do.” I find when people are given suggestions that are beyond their ability to enact, they won’t do anything. Of course, there are many aspects in regard to healthy exercise to support the body and avoid injury. We could also say this about dietary changes and the individuality of what we choose to eat.

    Evaluate Your Exercise Program
    • Do you enjoy exercise?
    • Which activities do you like most?
    • Do you exercise daily? If not, how often?
    • How many hours of exercise do you average weekly?
    • Do you dislike exercise and find it hard to pick something that motivates you?
    • Do you stretch daily?
    • Do you run or engage in other active aerobic activity?
    • Do you lift weights or do other strength and muscle development activities?
    • Do you like to go to a gym, or do you prefer to be on your own?
    • Do you like team activities?
    • Have you been accused of being an exercise fanatic or exercising too much?
    • Have you injured yourself from any of your exercise activities?
    • Do you sense that exercise is helpful for your long-term health?
    • What can you do to improve or enhance your overall fitness program?

    The benefits of staying fit can last a lifetime. It’s part of my Healthy Aging program. The difference in how we feel from staying fit has to do with our life attitude and vitality. So much of our health is up to each of us. How we live matters and we are totally worth it!

  • What are your goals for this year? When we arrive at December 2016, what will you be able to look back at to tell yourself you've had a fantastic year and have made progress towards optimizing your health? What would you like to be able to see, feel, or do?

    • 10 pounds lighter? A dress size smaller? A 6 pack?
    • No more Nanna naps? Waking up feeling rested in the mornings?
    • Sticking to a regular exercise regime?

    The first step to achieving something is to write it down and then make a plan to get there. If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up someplace else. Set yourself:

    1. 1–3 long term goals (6–12 months)
    2. Break each one down to medium term goals (3 months)
    3. Break these down to short term goals (4 weeks)
    4. Set weekly targets to help you reach your short term goals–one step at a time!
    5. 5. Set daily habits and actions that will help you reach your weekly targets

    Your goals need to be SMARTE: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, RELEVANT, TIME SPECIFIC and EXCITING. They should be stated positively, be things you have control over and be things that YOU want, not that others want.

    An example of a goal that needs to be re-thought and re-worded:

    "By the end of 2016 I want to fit back into my old jeans because my husband thinks I look great in them."

    This goal focuses on what someone else wants, not what the actual goal setter wants, thereby decreasing the likelihood the goal will be achieved. This person needs to think about what is important to them personally and then re-write their goal so it is something that inspires and excites them. For example:

    “By the end of 2016 I will have completed my first 5km fun run because it’s something I have always wanted to do.”

    Why is it important for you to achieve your goals? You must have a strong enough long term emotional reason to be successful in achieving your goals; otherwise it’s unlikely you will put in the required planning, preparation, time and effort required for success. E.g. a goal of losing weight needs to have a personal, emotional driver behind it to determine that it is important enough to achieve and maintain.

    Keep asking yourself why you want to lose the weight and eventually you will get to the deep seated pain you want to avoid and/or pleasure you want to seek.

    Your first answer to why could be, “I want to lose weight so I can feel fit and healthy.” This is not strong enough. Why do you want to be fit and healthy?

    “So I can keep up with my kids, feel confident about the way I look and can avoid having any more heart scares.”

    Getting closer now…ask yourself again why the above reason is important.

    “I want to lose weight because when I had the heart scare a few weeks ago I was terrified that my kids might grow up without a dad and that I would play a role in that eventuation by failing to look after my health.” (Pain avoiding)

    “I want to be alive, fit, healthy and full of energy at each of my children’s 50th birthdays and to know I have been there as a positive, healthy role model throughout their lives.” (Pleasure seeking)

    Let’s look at the earlier goal that was established with the person who wanted to complete a 5km run.

    “By the end of 2016 I will have completed my first 5km fun run because it’s something I have always wanted to do.”

    This is a good goal. It’s time specific, measurable and relevant. We could make it even more likely to result in success by further asking why it is always something that person has wanted to do. This is also where the exciting part of goal setting comes in—it’s the emotional reasons behind the goals that will make a person excited to achieve them.

    “I really want to complete the 5km run because I will feel so proud to be able to show my children that consistency and dedication pay off and that I am the role model I want to be. The increased energy I will have as a result of exercising regularly will allow me to spend more quality time with my family, and to feel inspired to bound out of bed every day. I am so excited about this because the opportunities that will result will be completely life changing for me.”

    With this extended answer it is likely that this person will have asked themselves why at least a few times.

    Once you have gotten to the really important reason(s) for wanting to exercise, remind yourself of them often, and this will be the first step to your success. What’s your why?

    So grab a pen and write down your goal(s) for this year. Then, following the principles above, break them down into smaller goals, targets and habits so that it becomes apparent where you need to start. Put these goals in prominent places where you are going to be reminded of them (e.g. on your wall and fridge, and in your wallet) and then tell people about them—accountability is another factor that will contribute towards your success.

    Ask a life coach or health and fitness trainer if you need additional help in setting goals or in following them through to completion.

  • Contrary to popular belief, as it pertains to your metabolism, slow and steady does not win the race. Most people are under the impression they need to spend hours upon hours in a gym running on a treadmill or flying through the air on an elliptical machine, but most of them are just wasting their time. That is if their goal is to see real results!

    Luckily, the notion that your results are proportional to time spent exercising can be considered dead and gone. Have you ever heard the saying; it’s not the amount of time you spend working that counts, it’s the amount of productivity you achieve while working? It may sound too good to be true, but you can get more results in much less time, if you are willing to exercise the right way.

    Exercising the “right way” means chucking most 60-minute cardio sessions in the proverbial trashcan. Instead, research has shown that by adopting an entirely new and more effective approach to exercise, known as High-Intensity-Interval-Training or HIIT, you can see results in a fraction of the time—especially as you get older. Aging seems to make it more and more difficult to lose fat and gain muscle, however by changing our exercise patterns to HIIT, we may be able to experience the metabolism of our youth once again.1

    HIIT is an exercise strategy—lasting anywhere from four to thirty minutes, which incorporates short periods (i.e. 20–30 seconds) of intense resistance exercise (i.e. weight training or high resistance cardio) with cool-down recovery periods (30 seconds to one and a half minutes). It’s basically a higher-intensity form of cardio/resistance training done in a fraction of the time that most workouts take. Numerous studies have proven that interval training burns more fat in less time.2,3

    Take this study that compared interval training with old-school cardio for 15-weeks. One group did 20 minutes of interval training three times per week. The other group spent 40 minutes three times per week on steady-state cardio work. Even though the interval training group spent half as much time exercising, they lost six pounds of fat, while the steady-state group actually gained fat.4 In other words, even though it eats up more time, steady-state cardio created a group of smaller fat people.

    Stop Resisting
    I have always been a huge advocate for resistance training, as we cannot afford to lose even an ounce of muscle tissue, especially as we get older. Age is often associated with a loss of lean body mass and a gain in fat. Yes, our metabolisms do slow down, but that’s because muscle is the key metabolic engine of the body, dictating how effective we are at burning calories—even at rest. Jan Helgerud, PhD, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, states that, “High-intensity interval training is twice as effective as normal exercise. This is like finding a new pill that works twice as well… we should immediately throw out the old way of exercising.”5

    When you use resistance exercises in your routine (i.e. elastic bands and/or weights), you can expect your muscles (and metabolism) to rev up. The best part is this happens even as stubborn fat melts away. Researchers from the University of Maryland recently found that women who did regular resistance training not only lost weight, but they were able to build muscle while the number on the scale took a nosedive6, which is music to any woman’s ears. Best of all, resistance training seems to laser-target nasty, stubborn, and inflammation producing abdominal fat.7

    So the verdict is in, those that perform HIIT and resistance style training, find themselves with a higher metabolic rate than before. Think about it this way, for every pound of muscle you tack on, you can expect to burn a lot more calories each and every day. One study found that resistance training over a few weeks upped metabolic rate by an impressive 7 percent,8 and if you shrug your shoulders at a mere 7 percent, try thinking of it this way; that could equate to an impressive 50,000 extra calories9 burned off in one year, which could mean you’d be about 14 pounds lighter this time next year. Not so bad after all, is it?


    1. HIIT moves out of the exercise lab and into the real world. A modified version of the High-Intensity Interval Training may be a timesaving, effective way for older, less fit adults to stay in shape. Duke med Health News. 2014 Jun;20(6):3–4
    2. Giannaki CD, et al. Eight weeks of a combination of high intensity interval training and conventional training reduce visceral adiposity and improve physical fitness: a group-based intervention. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015 Jan 8.
    3. Falcone PH, et al. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Mar;29(3):779–85.
    4. Trapp EG and Boutcher SH. Fat loss following 15 weeks of high intensity, intermittent cycle training. Fat Loss Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
    5. Telegraph Media Group. A week’s exercise could be squeezed into one hour, say experts. The Telegraph. 26 Feb, 2010
    6. Schmitz KH, et al. Strength training and adiposity in premenopausal women: Strong, Healthy, and Empowered study American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Sep 2007; 86: 566–72.
    7. Shaw BS, Shaw I, Mamen A. Contrasting effects in anthropometric measures of total fatness and abdominal fat mass following endurance and concurrent endurance and resistance training. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010 Jun;50(2):207–13.
    8. Lemmer JT, et al. MEffect of strength training on resting metabolic rate and physical activity: age and gender comparisons. Med Sci Sports Exer. 2001 Apr;33(4):532–41.
    9. Ehrman JK, Gordon PM, Visich PS, Keteyian SJ. Clinical Exercise Physiology. 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2009:135–46.
  • If you, like me, came into a family who was intently involved in music and dance, you KNOW you were born with a beat, a dance beat, that is. I began dancing around the age of six, mimicking my aunts who danced around the house, even while house-cleaning Saturdays to tunes that kept your toes tapping and hips jarring. That said, sixty plus years ago there was no mention of specific health benefits of dancing and, after all, you just couldn’t sit through those tunes without moving, I couldn’t. Today we KNOW there ARE health benefits, which only add to the internal beat of someone like me who finds dancing my best de-stressor and exercise.

    New Life For A Tired Soul…
    Dancing is magical and transforming. It can breathe new life into a tired soul; make a spirit soar; unleash locked-away creativity; unite generations and cultures; bring neutrality to two opposing views; inspire new romances or rekindle old ones; trigger long-forgotten memories; and turn sadness into joy! Dancing requires you to remember dance steps and sequences—that alone is brain-power that improves memory skills. Furthermore, it’s the best stress-reducer—ever tried dancing and worrying about other extraneous concerns? You can’t.

    According to Costas Karageorghis, PhD, a music and sports researcher, we’re hardwired to sync-up our movements to music—possibly because even primitive cultures used rhythmic movements to express themselves. This instinctual response to rhythm actually begins in your brain—where musical vibrations “light-up” timing circuits intertwined with your brain’s communication and memory systems. This explains why you may find yourself singing, swaying, and choking-up to tunes that bring back memories of days gone by. Albeit you may not “feel” the beat like I do, it’s true some people’s mind-beat connection is stronger than others. The trick, it seems, is that environmental factors play an important role in the impact of the memories.

    Re-wiring Your Brain…
    According to Joe Verghese, MD, a professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “The brain rewires itself based on use—you lose what you don’t use. The more time you spend dancing, for instance, the more you train your brain to open those feel-good floodgates the more you’ll start to amp-up your overall well-being.”

    Scientifically Speaking…
    A study in overall circulation found that people with cardiac conditions who danced for just 20 minutes three times weekly saw their heart health improve significantly more than those who stuck to their traditional cardio workouts. Dancing helps make your skeleton strong, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, AND, it works wonders for overall body chemistry. Researchers confirmed overall health benefits by comparing dancers to non-dancers and found evidence that dancing may preserve and enhance both motor skills and perceptual abilities.

    Dancing releases ample flow of mood-improving chemicals that creates elevation of your overall mental state. Just one lively dance session can slay depression more than vigorous exercise or simply listening to upbeat music. According to a study in The Arts in Psychotherapy, having a dance partner leads to less stress and stronger social bonds—key factors in mental and physical health.

    Saving Your Mind, Literally…
    Dancing enhances your memory, coordination and focus by giving it an intense workout—leading to stronger synapses and beefed-up gray matter. In a New England Journal of Medicine study they reported that out of 11 physical activities, dancing was the ONLY one that actually lowered dementia risk by a whopping 76 percent. Maybe the question should now be, “May I have this dance? A better question to ask rather than what drug should I take for the beginning symptoms of dementia or any other cognitive disorder?” Just a thought…

    The study results showed that dancers are sharper in the short-term and less likely to succumb to debilitating brain diseases of all kinds in the short and long term.

    A 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that ballroom dancing at least twice a week made people less likely to develop or accelerate dementia. It also showed that people with Alzheimer’s disease were able to recall forgotten memories when they dance to music they used to know. Not ambulatory? Try chair-dancing, it’s very therapeutic for those with physical limitations.

    Dancing 101…
    When non-dancers, and my clients, find out I’ve danced for…more years than I’d like to admit…they want to know what type of dancing should they begin with. That’s a hard question because it depends on individual mobility and rhythm choices—maybe the following will help you get motivated.

    Newbies: Line Dancing—The rhythm is generally easy-to-follow, movements are repetitive and easy to catch-on…life in the country lane of line dancing is fun and you don’t need a partner.

    Burning Calories: Zumba—The type of dancing you see on television simply scorches the calories but its professional moves at professional speed are NOT for those untrained and out-of-shape. For something similar and more accessible, check out Zumba—the pace is intense but fun and you burn about 250 calories in just 30 minutes…and how can you resist all those beats?

    Mood-Booster: Swing—You need a partner to dance swing and the touch factor, along with the high-energy music beat, helps trigger a mood-enhancing hormone called oxytocin—the “happy” hormone.

    Strength/Endurance: Pole Dancing—I have to admit I tried it once and almost killed myself. Yes, this is great for toning your lower body and the activity at the pole provides great upper body and arm strength but you have to be in really good shape OR?

    Stress-Relief: DANCE—any dance, just get out, find friends who will support your efforts and dance to upbeat music to not only reap the health benefits for your body but also for your mind as camaraderie helps to blow-out that excess stress.

    The Way I See It….
    If you’re not inclined to exercise or not motivated by that dusty treadmill in the corner, yet motivated to get healthier and fit, dust-off those dancing shoes and kick-up your heels…doctors’ orders!