Lavender Health

As an herb, lavender has been in documented use for over 2,500 years. In ancient times lavender was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and peoples of Arabia.

Romans used lavender oils for bathing, cooking, and scenting the air, and they most likely gave it the Latin root from which we derive the modern name (either lavare–to wash, or livendula–livid or bluish). The flower’s soothing “tonic” qualities, the insect-repellent effects of the strong scent, and the use of the dried plant in smoking mixtures also added to the value of the herb in ancient times..

Lavender is mentioned often in the Bible, not by the name lavender but rather by the name used at that time–spikenard (from the Greek name for lavender, naardus, after the Syrian city Naarda). In the gospel of Luke the writer reports: “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.”

Another ancient Christian reference to lavender involves how it got its scent. The plant is believed to have been taken from the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. However, the powerful perfume came later. According to legend, the clothing of baby Jesus bestowed the scent when Mother Mary laid them upon a bush to dry. This may explain why the plant is also regarded as a holy safeguard against evil. In many Christian houses, a cross of lavender was hung over the door for protection.

Perhaps first domesticated by the Arabians, lavender spread across Europe from Greece. Around 600 BC, lavender may have come from the Greek Hyeres Islands into France and is now common in France, Spain, Italy and England. The ‘English’ lavender varieties were not locally developed in England but rather introduced in the 1600s, right around the time the first lavender plants were making their way to the Americas. In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, the washing women were known as “lavenders” and they used lavender to scent drawers and dried the laundry on lavender bushes. Also during this time, lavender was grown in so-called “infirmarian’s gardens” in monasteries, along with many other medicinal herbs. According to the German nun Hildegard of Bingen, who lived from 1098-1179, lavender “water,”–a decoction of vodka, gin, or brandy mixed with lavender–is great for migraine headaches.

Its holy reputation may have increased during the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, when it was suggested that a bunch of lavender fastened to each wrist would protect the wearer against the deadly disease. Furthermore, grave-robbers were known to wash in Four Thieves Vinegar, which contained lavender, after doing their dirty work; they rarely contracted the disease. In 16th-century France, lavender was also used to resist infection. For example, glove-makers, who were licensed to perfume their wares with lavender, escaped cholera at that time.

European royal history is also filled with stories of lavender use. Charles VI of France demanded lavender-filled pillows wherever he went. Queen Elizabeth I of England required lavender conserve at the royal table. She also wanted fresh lavender flowers available every day of the year, a daunting task for a gardener if you consider the climate of England. Louis XIV also loved lavender and bathed in water scented with it. Queen Victoria used a lavender deodorant, and both Elizabeth I and II used products from the famous lavender company, Yardley and Co. of London.

Lavender is a unique fragrance produced by the combination of 180 different constituents and is widely used in the perfume industry to add a top or middle note to commercial products. In the world of professional sniffers, it has a green, hay-like sweetness and gives “fruity aspects” to perfumes and other scented products. Lavender is widely grown in England for commercial use, and the Provence region of France is renowned as a world leader in growing and producing lavender.

In the United States and Canada, the Shakers were the first to grow lavender commercially. A strict sect of English Quakers who most likely had little use for lavender’s amorous qualities (they were celibate), they developed herb farms upon their arrival from England. They produced their own herbs and medicines and sold them to the “outside world.” Later a New York advertising firm picked them up and sold the simple products worldwide.

As an herbal medicine, lavender is widely utilized. For soothing, relaxing qualities few herbs can be claimed as effective. Constituents of the oils found in lavender can treat hyperactiviety; insomnia; flatulence; bacteria, fungus, and microbial activity on gums, airborne molds, and (in mixture with pine, thyme, mint, rosemary, clove, and cinnamon oils) Staphyloccus bacteria. Lavender may even be useful against impotence. In a study of men, the scent of pumpkin and lavender rated as the scent found most arousing.

Lavender and love are an ancient match. In an apocryphal book of the Bible, we again hear of the use of lavender. Here the story tells us that Judith anointed herself with perfumes including lavender before seducing Holofernes, the enemy commander. This allowed her to murder him and thus save the City of Jerusalem. The overwhelming power of this seductive scent was also used by Cleopatra to seduce Julius Cesaer and Mark Antony. The Queen of Sheba offered spikenard with frankincense and myrrh to King Solomon

By Tudor times, lavender brew was being sipped by maidens on St. Lukes day to divine the identity of their true loves. They’d chant, “St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me. In my dreams, let me my true love see.” Lavender in the pillows of alpine girls brought hope of romance, while lavender under the bed of newlyweds ensured passion. Finally, a famous nursery rhyme called “Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly” was written in 1680 and talks of “Whilst you and I, diddle, diddle…keep the bed warm.” Lavender-inspired loving strikes again!

(sources: Lavender by Elen Spector Platt and Lavender: Practical Inspirations by Tess Evelegh)

Get on the Ball: Core Stability

Get on the Ball: Core Stability

Have you heard the term, focus on the core? No, we are not talking about the inside of a golf ball; we are talking about the inner muscles that make up the abdominal region, hips and lower back. Most people focus their attention on the muscles that are more visible and easy to train, such as biceps, pecs and back, however, the most important muscles that act as our foundation are often over looked. So what is core training, or better yet core stability, and how does an individual increase their core stability?

Woman working on her abs.

Core training is best done when the body is placed in an unstable environment. One way to accomplish an unstable environment is with the use of those big colourful balls, depending who you talk to, are commonly known as Swiss balls, Resist-A-Ball or stability balls. Once used as a tool for rehabilitation has now become a hot item for healthy individuals to use to core and stability training. Swiss balls can be used in a variety of settings; use with bodyweight only, integrated with selectorized machines and free weights, or can be used with free weight or tubing exercises.

We have all seen Swiss balls in fitness facilities, but the question many people ask is what makes Swiss ball training so great? How can sitting, rolling, moving or performing an exercise on a ball be beneficial? Believe it or not but there are numerous benefits to Swiss ball training, some of them are listed here.

Improved Posture. It takes more energy to move the body when you have poor posture not to mention an increase of stress to the joints and stabilizer muscles. An athlete is always searching for the edge over the competition and simply improving posture will help the body function more effectively and efficiently. Swiss ball training is an excellent form of posture training. Postural muscles have to work in the unstable environment, unlike supported exercises such as machine training.

Improved Balance/Stability. The human body moves in three planes or a combination of planes and for improved balance and stability, an individual needs to perform exercises that allow them to train in these multiple planes. Traditional machine weight training takes the balance out of the picture and the machine actually becomes your stabilizer. Swiss ball training places you in an unstable environment forcing you to utilize your neutralizer and stabilizer muscles to stay balanced in a given position or through a particular motion.

The result is improved sports performance since you are able to apply more power and strength to any situation, especially out on the golf course, when you need to balance and stabilize your body on a hill or unstable position.

Improved Nervous System Activation. The benefit of improving your nervous system activation is that you are able to transform the strength you developed from your training program to real life situations, whether they are sport related or everyday activities.


Strengthen The Core & Extremities. Swiss ball exercises require constant activation of the core muscles, which translates to a more functional core as well as sculpted abdominal and back muscles. Using the Swiss ball with free weight exercises will help develop the extremities while training the core at the same time.

As you will quickly learn, you just don’t get on the Swiss ball and begin your exercises; there are several rules to follow in order to perform the exercises correctly and safely. Seeking the help of a qualified personal trainer experienced in stability training will be beneficial. For starters, using the Swiss balls is not just about getting on one and trying not to fall off; you must maintain proper positioning throughout the exercises. Tucking in the pelvis and pressing the belly button into the spine are some cues that you will need to focus on through the exercises.

In order to improve your athletic performance, have better balance/stability or improve your posture, you will need to train in an environment that places a demand on the core muscles. You will notice that after training on a Swiss ball, you will become more confident in your ability to move effectively and efficiently from the golf course to everyday activities.

Swiss ball training is only one aspect of training in an unstable environment, the use of core boards, wobble boards, foam roller and discs all play a vital role in improving your athletic performance and training in such a way that really translates to real life activities.

No matter what you are trying to accomplish, keeping a balance in your training program is important. Components of fitness that should always be included are: muscle strength & endurance, cardiovascular, flexibility, stability/balance and coordination. Athletes will need to incorporate speed and agility to the list.

Looking at the all the components that one needs to integrate, it seems as though there is not enough time in the day to complete it all in a training program. This is where the professional assistance of a personal trainer comes into play.


A personal trainer will be able to set up your program that is customized to your needs, wants and lifestyle, so that you don’t spend hours in the gym.

After all, we workout so that our life is more enjoyable. Once you start adding stability training into your program, you will quickly see how it will improve other activities in your life as well as your performance on the golf course. No matter what your fitness level may be, anyone can utilize a Swiss ball due to the vast variety of exercises from beginner to advanced level.

author:Vaughn Marxhausen

“Heat Up” New Year Weight Loss with an IR Body wrap

“Heat Up” New Year Weight Loss with an IR Body wrap

Did you know you could lie down, breath deep & burn 900+ calories?

Neither did I…

And it sounded too good to be true so I did some research on my own to find out about this seemingly wonderful body wrap treatment.

First I had to try it. Let’s face it if it doesn’t feel great and get results it isn’t worth doing all of the research on finding out how it works and all the rest. So I dressed up in my cotton sweats and drove up to Ventura California to try it out. Hydrating and drinking my water as I headed up highway 101.


Before the body wrap, I measured the circumference of my upper arms, ribcage, waist, hips and upper thighs before the first treatment and kept it as a reference. I was really skeptical, but you never know unless you try it. I didn’t expect to have any change.

I laid down on a table and 6 large warm pads were wrapped around my upper arms, waist, hips and thighs. Then I was covered with a blanket and padded with towels where it was appropriate and it was that easy. I could hear relaxing music and actually it was wonderful to do a breathing meditation and actually take an hour for myself.

Now I’m sort of a lizard – I love the heat – so the pads got warmer and warmer and I broke put is a good sweat. I continued to sweat, a lot. I hadn’t sweat that much since the dance classes I had loved back at Broadway Dance centre a few summers ago in New York City and I knew I would love this treatment. I had been busy building a business and going back to school so I had not been keeping myself in shape like I did before. I had a thought that this body wrap thing might be a good way to start to get myself back on track.

After an hour, I was drenched – and very happy. I re-measured myself and lost 3 inches total. Not much, but the treatment felt so good it didn’t matter too much and I drove home drinking another huge bottle of water. The gentleman who helped me with the treatment said that the process would continue overnight after the body wrap had finished and the more fluids the better so I took his advice and planned to measure myself again in the morning.

To my surprise, after measuring myself the next morning I had lost 13 inches total! Wow! I called them up and they said that this was more than average – maybe because I have a good diet and stayed hydrated – but regardless I was psyched. I had to learn more…

So how does this Infrared Body Wrap Work?

Infrared light, which we feel in our bodies as heat is an abundant form of energy we receive from sunlight. We as humans radiate infrared heat every second of every day (The army uses infrared binoculars for night vision – to see humans in the darkness). It is part of our human biology. I would discover that FAR Infrared treatments are used worldwide by medical practitioners as they are one of the most resonant (closely matched) forms of heat for the human body.

Radiant Heat or Infrared energy is a form of energy that is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Everything can be described by electrical principles after all we are all electrons protons and neutrons arranged in different patterns. The infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum happens just below red light waves and is not visible to human eyes but can be felt as heat. (This explains the night vision binoculars example above). The sun produces most of its energy in the form of infrared energy, our atmosphere allows it in and the earth radiates it back – living out in nature we are daily surrounded by infrared waves. But not so – in these days of indoor living, SPF sun block and hiding away from the sun.

Our bodies, on average, radiate infrared energy at about 9.4 microns. The internal production of infrared energy that normally occurs within us is associated with a number of healing responses and may require a boost to assist the fullest healing response to assist homeostasis, metabolism and tissue under repair.

As related to Oriental / Chinese Medicine, when our circulation is impeded (described as Blocked Qi flow in Chinese Medicine) our body’s healing capacity, metabolism, and daily functioning are diminished. By enhancing circulation, the infrared therapeutic treatment is helping to unblock the Qi and increase energy and improve body function. Moxa, cupping, Infrared lamps and gua sha are related but different methods of achieving the same result in an Oriental Medicine Treatment.

Because of this special nature of the wavelength, when applied as a treatment, FAR Infrared heat therapy (i.e. body wrap) activates a more thorough and extensive stimulation of local circulation which positively impacts enzymes, metabolism & immune function. The IR therapy helps the body get at toxins & cellulite trapped in the tissue through this increase in circulation and metabolism. The body wrap treatment I had received had “super charged” this process.

Infrared-Body-WrapSo how does all this calorie burning happen?

The amount of sweat an infrared treatment can induce is 2-3 times that of a conventional sauna without creating that claustrophobic feeling, without drying out the sauna or causing undue stress on the cardiovascular system. I know I can barely stay in a regular sauna for 10 minutes – I lasted easily 1 hour in this body wrap treatment.

The best research on this type of infrared treatment has described “Its regular use may be as effective as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning of calories as regular exercise.” in the Journal of the American Medical Association 8/7/81. In fact, NASA in the early 1980’s concluded that infrared therapy would be an ideal way to stimulate cardiovascular function during long space missions.

Someone not used to saunas can easily sweat 500 grams and consume 300 kcalories which is the equivalent of jogging for 30 minutes. The bodywrap is a great in between workouts way to ease the stiffness and once becoming acclimated to the sauna – burning up to 900+ calories are achieved each session. But remember – Hydration is very important you need to constantly replenish the fluids to see results.

The benefits of Infrared Therapy are impressive. Research from Sweden, Japan, Finland, China and Germany cite an impressive list of conditions that can be treated, including:

Arthritis & Joint Stiffness
Soft Tissue Injuries
Menstrual Pain
Wound Healing
GI Problems
Cardiovascular Circulation
Pain & Stiffness
Weight Loss
Endocrine, Immune and Autonomic Function

The FDA has approved the use of FAR infrared treatment for pain relief and more is learned each day. I have more research to do but this was good enough for me. I decided that I wanted to try it again and learn more.

So now I offer it in my practice and medspa… I hope that I’ve opened your eyes to something that might be new, different and helpful. I’ve given you a place to start if it sounds interesting to you as well. To learn more, check out my website Or come experience it for yourself if you’re in the Los Angeles Area. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

author:Debra Clydesdale LAc DNBAO

Nutrition as Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD Alternative Treatment: Help is as Close as the Kitchen

Nutrition as Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD Alternative Treatment: Help is as Close as the Kitchen

The quality of food we eat (or lack thereof) has a profound affect on Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD. For many people, nutrition alone can effectively work as an ADHD alternative treatment.

A growing body of research points to nutritional deficiencies – especially with essential fatty acids and amino acids – as a contributing factor of Attention Deficit Disorder and learning deficiencies.

Put down the Ritalin bottle for one minute to consider these Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD nutrition research findings;

A George Washington University School of Medicine study found that hyperactive children who ate a meal high in protein did equally well, and sometimes better, in school than non-hyperactive kids.

An Oxford University (England) study evaluated the effects of fatty acid supplementation in average intelligence children with significant reading and writing disabilities. The ADHD symptoms in children receiving Essential Fatty Acids significantly improved over the children in the control group receiving a placebo.

Researchers first tied Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD with lower essential fatty acid in 1981. Studies examining essential fatty acid blood levels in children with behavioral problems in 1983 confirmed this Attention Deficit Disorder nutrition connection.

Researchers further documented the essential fatty acid deficiency tie to Attention Deficit Disorder in a 1987 study. Then, a 1995 study comparing essential fatty acid levels in ADHD boys against a control group of boys without ADHD found significantly lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.

In 1996 Purdue University researchers have found that boys with low blood levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have a greater frequency of Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD.

Attention Deficit Disorder is the most common behavioral disorder in children. Not all Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD children are nutritionally deficient in essential fatty acids, statistics and studies show that a significant number of ADHD children are.

Physicians predominately use stimulant drugs such as Ritalin for Attention Deficit Disorder but studies show that Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD children whose treatment program includes only stimulant medication remain at a high risk for vandalism, petty crime, frequency of alcoholic intoxication, and possession of marijuana. Additionally, ADHD medications do not always work, have a host of harmful side effects and never treat the cause the Attention Deficit Disorder.

With Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD, nutrition and food is one the first aspect of treatment to consider, as an ADHD alternative treatment or used in conjunction with traditional ADHD stimulant drug treatment.

Fatty acids are used to make brain and nerve tissue in the body and are crucial for proper growth, mental function, the immune system and brain development. The body cannot produce the two fatty acids families, Omega-3 and Omega-6, on its own and therefore must receive these key Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD nutrition ingredients through diet and supplementation.

Although the typical Western diet is high in the Omega-6 family of fatty acids (found in corn, sunflower, canola and safflower oil, margarine, vegetable oil and shortening), most Americans young and old are highly deficient in Omega-3.

Learning specialists now believe many childhood behavior and learning problems are associated with Omega-3 deficiencies. This deficiency has a greater impact on males because their requirements for essential fatty acids are, in general, much higher. It is no surprise that boys are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder at a much higher rate than girls.

ADHD adults and parents of ADHD children should include food high in Omega-3 fatty acids daily. That said, many children simply will not eat the Omega-3 rich salmon, mackerel and sardines.

Enter flax seed and flax oil – “food of the gods” when it comes to Omega-3 fatty acids.

Flax seed and flax oil are the richest plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids and offers Attention Deficit Disorder nutrition vital to support healthy childhood behavioral and IQ development. One to two tablespoons of flax oil should be part of a every Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD nutrition food action plan.

In addition to the positive affects on brain functioning, flax oil also works to prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. Flax oil helps soften skin, balance energy, burn fat, stimulate the metabolism, strengthen the immune system, manage diabetes, help prevent autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders. Flax oil also helps alleviate PMS and some menopause symptoms.


Here are some great ways to sneak flax oil into the daily diet;

Mix 1 tablespoon of flax oil in flavored yogurt.
1 tablespoon of flax oil in fruit smoothies is virtually undetectable.
Mix 1 tablespoon of flax oil with one tablespoon maple syrup or honey as a sweetener instead of granulated sugar.
Use 1-2 tablespoons of flax oil when making tuna salad or egg salad while proportionably decreasing the amount of Miracle Whip or mayonnaise used.
Flax Butter: Melt one stick organic butter and mix with 4 ounces flax oil when cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate until the flax butter solidifies and use in place of margarine.
Omega-3 “Ice Cream”: Mix 2 cups yogurt with 1 tablespoon flax oil and fresh or frozen fruit. Serve when frozen.

Most studies conducted on the affects of essential fatty acids found that at least 10 weeks of supplementation is needed to adequately raised fatty acid levels in brain cells. Follow a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids for at least 10 weeks, and preferably 12 weeks, before judging the effectiveness of nutrition on Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD symptoms.


Important points about flax oil:

Flax oil is highly perishable and should be kept refrigerated at all time.
Heat destroys the health-giving flax oil properties. Use flax oil only with cold foods, cold proteins are best.
When buying flax oil, use only high quality, cold-pressed flax oil. The date pressed and a freshness date of four months or less from the pressed date should be on the label. If not, don’t buy it!
Do not use flax seed oil beyond its expiration date since the oil will turn rancid.

Essential fatty acids are not the only element needed when addressing Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD nutrition. Amino acids, from which protein is made, are an integral element since amino acids and essential fatty acids are both needed to work in the body. Therefore, adding quality protein is a key in Attention Deficit Disorder nutrition.

Attention Deficit and hyperactive people can greatly reduce the level of unfocused or misdirected energy simply by starting the day with a protein based breakfast. A solid protein breakfast can increase concentration, reduce restlessness and increase mental and physical calm.

Instead of starting the day with sugared cereals, pancakes covered in syrup, sweet rolls, doughnuts or danishes, try these brain-boosting breakfast ideas;

Scrambled eggs, toast and fruit.
Whole wheat toast with peanut butter.
Fruit and yogurt smoothie with flax oil.
Protein shake.
Bacon and eggs with toast and milk.
Egg and sausage patty on English muffin.
Yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of flax oil.

author:Jeannine Virtue

9 Hair Styling Secrets of the Top Salons

9 Hair Styling Secrets of the Top Salons

You may not be able to visit an expensive salon, but you can take advantage of these styling tips from some top hair stylists.

Create Soft Waves – Blow dry your hair straight. Spray Evian (or other bottled water) on hair with a pressurized spray bottle. Let hair dry naturally.

Quick Wavy Look Tip #1 – Part your hair on the sides and loosely braid the pieces that frame your face. Blow dry these pieces for a few minutes. Let your hair cool down before unbraiding it. Results: Your hair will be straight at the top and wavy on the bottom.

Quick Wavy Look Tip #2 – Part your hair into 1-inch sections. Roll sections up into pin curls and secure with hair clips or bobby pins. Put your shower cap on and jump into the shower. The steam will set your hair as you shower. Remove the cap afterwards. Take the clips out of your hair and shake your now wavy hair out.

Elegant Updo Tip #1 – Tease your hair lightly at the crown before pulling it into a French Twist. This creates more fullness.

Elegant Updo Tip #2 – Add a few drops of shine serum product before twisting hair into place to give your updo a polished look.

short_hairstyle_ideas_keira-knightley-short-hair-styleHair Coloring Tip
– Keep hair that’s been color-treated healthy by immediately applying a professional deep conditioner after hair has been dyed. This adds moisture and protects your hair from being over processed.

Best Blow Dryer – Invest in a blow dryer that has a nozzle to control air flow and a diffuser for curly styles.

Ionic Hair Products – Use an ionic blow dryer and iron because they lock in moisture. Hair becomes shinier and easier to manage.


Updated Hot Rollers – Battery operated hot rollers are great for curly hair styles and, best of all, they’re portable.

author:Donna Monday

8 Ways To Fall In Love With Fitness

8 Ways To Fall In Love With Fitness

No, it’s not impossible. You can fall in love with exercise instead of having that dreaded feeling every time you lace up your sneakers. The trick to falling in love with fitness is finding something you love to do, and trying new things because you may discover a dormant passion for line dancing, snow shoeing, or even something as exotic as fencing. It’s time to uncover your inner athlete and fall in love all over again!

Balls, Bosu and Barrels – If you were the kid who was always climbing the monkey bars and ropes at the park, you’ll have tons of fun getting fit with these fitness tools. Exercise balls can be used for all kinds of abdominal exercises, a Bosu is a neat device for balance training and core stability exercises, and you can use a small barrel for practicing Pilates – all in the comfort of your own home. So next time your at the park with your kids, they’ll be chasing you on the monkey bars!

Square Dancing – This energetic style of dance may look strange to you – but it’s great exercise – and great fun! This folk dancing tradition has existed in Canada for hundreds of years and has maintained its popularity as a social activity often deemed “friendship set to music.” Now this form of dance is even more popular as people are doh-si-dohing their way to being fit! Don’t knock IT before you try it! You may forget you’re getting fit because you’re having so much fun!

Snowshoeing – Snowshoes are thousands of years old, and Native Canadians used to use snowshoes as a form of transport. Only in the last century has snowshoeing become a recreational sport. Now, Canadians across the country are strapping on their snowshoes and heading for the trails to spend some time outdoors, at one with nature, while boosting cardiovascular fitness and toning their backsides. Today’s modern snowshoes are typically lightweight, aluminum frames with fabric decks and strap bindings as opposed to the classic bent-wood frames crisscrossed with rawhide strips. In recent years, many celebrities have talked about the physical benefits of snowshoeing, especially when it comes to toning your glutes and quads.

Snowshoes are inexpensive compared to skis and snowboards, and snowshoeing is not a difficult sport, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you are not getting a good workout. Using poles, whether specially designed for snowshoeing or made for cross-country skiing, they will help you maintain balance and give your upper body a good workout too, especially when you’re doing some intense climbing.

Buddy Up! – It’s no secret that having a fitness buddy helps get you going. Let’s face it, when your doorbell rings at 6 a.m., you’re not going to hide under the covers and ignore your buddy. Or, when your work buddy grabs you for your daily lunchtime power walk, you’re less likely to sit at your desk and graze. A workout buddy provides a little extra incentive to get you going, and a little less response time to say no to exercise!

Feel Good in Fun Clothes! – Remember the old adage about how when you look good, you feel better? This goes for the gym too. If you buy yourself some fun fitness clothes that you feel good in, you are more likely to have more confidence in yourself and as a result, push yourself harder at the gym. Stores like Winners and The Bay offer great deals on workout clothes that are able to stand up to any fitness test. Remember, if you look the part, you’re more likely to feel the part!

Bring the Outdoors Inside – So what if the temperature is way below zero and the wind chill is making you shake like a leaf. Quit lamenting warm days gone by, and bring your beloved outdoor sports indoors. Shed all your layers, and find an indoor rollerblading rink, grab your tennis partner and hit your local tennis club, climb the rock wall at your local YMCA, hit a spinning class, or throw on your bathing suit and swim laps at your local pool. Create your own warmth, and you won’t be missing those days any longer.

Position Yourself Properly – Sometimes watching others can give you just the boost you need to get going at the gym. Look around you and position yourself next to someone who inspires you and watch yourself take off! You’ll soon be running to keep up with them…

Take Your Toddler With You– Most mothers never know when they’ll be able to squeeze in a little exercise time while running their kids around all day. Nowadays, many gyms have daycares, but if you don’t want to leave your children, you can exercise with them! Of course, you can run around outside all together, play in the snow, and build snowmen. But, if it’s too cold, why not try a kid-friendly Pilates video? Most companies which sell Pilates videos have kid-friendly ones too. Your kids will have a blast getting fit with you while trying all those fun exercises!

author:Richard Moore

“A Better You” Your 7 days program to self-improvement

I seem to lost count on how many times I’ve read and heard of celebrity marriages failing almost left and right. Not that I care (and personally I don’t), it seems strange that we often see movie and TV stars as flawless people, living the fairytale life of riches and glamour. I suppose we all have to stop sticking our heads in the clouds and face reality.

There are many ways to lose your sense of self-esteem despite of how trivial it could get. But whatever happens, we should all try not to lose our own sense of self.

So what does it take to be a cut above the rest? Here are some of the things you can think and improve on that should be enough for a week.

1. Know your purpose
Are you wandering through life with little direction – hoping that you’ll find happiness, health and prosperity? Identify your life purpose or mission statement and you will have your own unique compass that will lead you to your truth north every time.

This may seem tricky at first when you see yourself to be in a tight or even dead end. But there’s always that little loophole to turn things around and you can make a big difference to yourself.

2. Know your values
What do you value most? Make a list of your top 5 values. Some examples are security, freedom, family, spiritual development, learning. As you set your goals for 2005 – check your goals against your values. If the goal doesn’t align with any of your top five values – you may want to reconsider it or revise it.

The number shouldn’t discourage you, instead it should motivate you to do more than you can ever dreamed of.

3. Know your needs
Unmet needs can keep you from living authentically. Take care of yourself. Do you have a need to be acknowledged, to be right, to be in control, to be loved? There are so many people who lived their lives without realizing their dreams and most of them end up being stressed or even depressed for that matter. List your top four needs and get them met before it’s too late!

4. Know your passions
You know who you are and what you truly enjoy in life. Obstacles like doubt and lack of enthusiasm will only hinder you, but will not derail your chance to become the person you ought to be. Express yourself and honor the people who has inspired you to become the very person you wanted to be.

5. Live from the inside out
Increase your awareness of your inner wisdom by regularly reflecting in silence. Commune with nature. Breathe deeply to quiet your distracted mind. For most of us city slickers it’s hard to even find the peace and quiet we want even in our own home. In my case I often just sit in a dimly lit room and play some classical music. There’s sound, yes, but music does soothe the savage beast.

6. Honour your strengths
What are your positive traits? What special talents do you have? List three – if you get stuck, ask those closest to you to help identify these. Are you imaginative, witty, good with your hands? Find ways to express your authentic self through your strengths. You can increase your self-confidence when you can share what you know to others.

7. Serve others
When you live authentically, you may find that you develop an interconnected sense of being. When you are true to who you are, living your purpose and giving of your talents to the world around you, you give back in service what you came to share with others -your spirit – your essence. The rewards for sharing your gift with those close to you is indeed rewarding, much more if it were to be the eyes of a stranger who can appreciate what you have done to them.

Self-improvement is indeed one type of work that is worth it. It shouldn’t always be within the confines of an office building, or maybe in the four corners of your own room. The difference lies within ourselves and how much we want to change for the better.

17 Secrets to Sticking to Your Exercise Routine – and Maximizing Results

17 Secrets to Sticking to Your Exercise Routine – and Maximizing Results

1. Make natural food choices – go through the pantry and donate anything that is in a box, can or frozen from a processed source. The more natural the foods you eat – in their most raw states, the more energy you will derive from it. Avoid anything that has a wrapper or if your tongue has to do gymnastics to pronounce the ingredients. Food shop often to keep fresh organic foods readily available. Shop only around the outside of the grocery store. The more money spent on marketing a food item, the worse off it is for you. If the food was around 100+ years ago, it’s most likely good for you and not genetically modified, fortified or altered from its natural state.

2. Rely on the Thermic Effect of Food – Ten to 35 % of our metabolism can come from the Thermic Effect of Food – which is the energy needed to process the food consumed. If you eat 5 – 6 smaller meals a day, you will never feel like you are on a diet, your energy will be steady, you will never go into a hyperglycemic state and your body will become a fat burning machine which will be prepared to exercise at any give time. Each meal should be a mini version of what you are likely used to if you currently eat 3 meals a day. Every meal should contain a lean protein, a starchy carbohydrate and a fibrous carbohydrate.

3. Change Your State – Once you make up your mind about something, become relentless about it and the process of achieving the result is much more seamless. When you decide you want to feel and look better and acquire the knowledge to do so, making the right decisions regarding eating and exercising becomes effortless. Relate your health to other accomplishments you have achieved in your life. To decide means to cut off any other possibility. Make your health a must in your schedule and in all of your decisions.

4. Apply the 90 / 10 rule – If 90 percent of the time you are making healthful food choices in the right amounts and you are exercising regularly and intensely, enjoy the other 10% of the time without an ounce of guilt. You can plan ahead for your 10% if you know a party is coming up over the weekend or if you will be traveling and have to miss a workout. But in the event that you are overcome by the dessert menu, indulge without any remorse and know the very next meal that you will be back on track.

5. Warm up before a strength training session – Warming up increases blood flow to muscles by about 55%, giving you better muscle contraction. You’ll sweat earlier, which helps to regulate your body temperature. It also jump starts the neuromuscular connection which initiates the release of carbohydrate and fat enzymes and hormones while reducing your perceived exertion during strength training. Just 5 minutes of walking or cycling will meet this requirement.

6. Vary your cardio exercises – Alternate between two or more cardiovascular activities like walking and cycling or kickboxing and step aerobics. This will help to optimally develop your cardiovascular fitness, maintain the element of fun in exercise, help you avoid over-training, as well as injury. Bottom line, you will expend more calories.

7. Incorporate several cardio techniques – Use a combination of continuous, interval, circuit and Fartlek (speed play) training. Changing techniques forces your body to adapt and become more efficient. Vary the intensity and modify impact styles. For example, if you have been walking the same path at the same pace every day, begin to incorporate bursts of acceleration intermittently. The underlying principle is that change is what keeps the body progressing, making improvements and burning fat.

8. Plan your workouts in Phases – Organize your workouts into a cyclic structure. For example, for two to three weeks, exercise at a lower intensity for 45 to 60 minutes, and then, for the next two to three weeks, perform 20 to 30 minutes at your highest intensity. The following 2 to 3 weeks, workout at a moderate intensity for 30 to 45 minutes. This system allows you to maintain a high level of fitness and not over-train. This cycling of workout structures will help your body become more efficient at fat burning.

9. Circuit Train – Perform several strengthening exercises interspersed with a short cardio segments. For example perform a leg press, lateral pull down and abdominal crunch followed by 3 minutes of cycling. Then repeat another 3 strength exercises followed by 3 minutes of walking. Circuit training has a lower dropout rate, is an efficient calorie burner, increases muscular strength and decreases body fat.

10. Strength Train with Multi Joint exercises – Choose exercises that work compound muscle groups – meaning more than one muscle group at a time. This will give you the most mileage per exercise. Examples include squats, lunges, and push ups. For every pound of muscle on your body you need 35 to 50 calories per day to sustain it, while every pound of fat on your body requires only a modest 2 calories per day.

11. Exercise first thing in the morning – Morning exercisers have a higher likelihood of showing up. Later in the day, the odds that you’ll skip your workout increase as interruptions arise and fatigue sets in. Morning exercise also helps regulate your hormone response, telling your body to release fat and kick start your metabolism.

12. Eat a “primer” meal prior to working out – Having a small balanced meal prior to exercise will help you burn fat. After you eat, your blood sugar rises and exercise acts like insulin to help regulate blood glucose. Eating will also give you the energy for a more intense workout – you will therefore burn more calories.

13. Train with intensity – To get the full benefits of exercise, you must graduate from the “pink weights” and moderate walking. Do not be afraid to increase your resistance and challenge your muscles and cardiovascular system. In order to change, you have to push your physical limits beyond what you are accustomed to.

14. Stay hydrated. In order for fat to be metabolized, it must first be released from the fat cell and then be transported by the bloodstream where it is shunted to the liver and other active tissues to be used as fuel. If you are in a dehydrated state, the liver has to come to the aid of the kidneys and can’t focus on it’s role of releasing fat. A general rule of thumb is to take your body weight and multiply it by .55 to estimate how many ounces of water you should consume daily.

15. Exercise using bursts of acceleration and recovery. Research shows that heart rate variability is the greatest predictor of health. To train for the greatest heart rate ranges, perform bursts of activity throughout the day. For example, you can sprint out to the mail box, run in place for 60 seconds while your food is heating up or burst up 3 flights of stairs. Bursts of acceleration can last up to 60 seconds and can be repeated 5 – 7 times daily every other day. Your metabolism will remain raised after the burst (known as the afterburn) and will remain elevated for up to an hour or more depending on how intense the burst was.

Overall, performing short bursts throughout the day contributes to calories burned, fat lost, improved health and mental clarity.

16. Journal – writing down your goals, having a mission, recording physical activity and logging food consumed are a proven way to get results. Those who commit goals and a plan to paper have a higher success rate. You can use a journal that is specifically developed to walk you through the fat loss process like the one available in the Feminine, Firm & Fit program ( or use a new blank document or notebook to record your feelings, successes, obstacles and achievements.

17. Exercise with a buddy – your chances of sticking to your exercise program are higher when you enlist a significant other. Having accountability to a partner is more motivating than exercising alone. Choose a partner who is important to you, who shares in your goals and is of a similar physical ability (or slightly better).

author:Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS

6 Advantages of Free Weights Over Exercise Machines

6 Advantages of Free Weights Over Exercise Machines

Meet Sarah.
About a year ago, Sarah saw an infomercial about a “multi-unit” workout machine. The announcer called it a “revolutionary” piece of equipment, claiming that people would see results in “just 2-4 weeks”. It exercised all major body parts and the female model shown using the machine said it “was safer and more effective than free weights.”

Intimidated by gyms her whole life, Sarah knew having her own home gym would be the key to her finally getting into shape. She had heard that machines were safer than free weights. Besides, the machine came with “easy to follow video instructions”. The price was steep, but as Sarah imagined changing her body, she got her credit called and grabbed the phone.

On the day of delivery, Sarah was surprised to see it took up twice the space she was told it would, limiting space in her already cramped den. Excited to get started, she popped in the video, and hopped on the machine. Sarah soon found that she, at 5’3″, was too small to fit on the machine for some of the exercises. She continued on anyway, trying to ignore the fact that her lower back and knees were starting to hurt a little.

Sarah used her new revolutionary machine exactly three more times. For the last six months, it has been her unofficial clothes hanger.

What happened? Sarah thought she was buying a machine that would be very easy to operate and be a safe alternative to free-weights. Unfortunately, Sarah and many others are misguided by heavily marketed hype by machine developers. When it comes to effectiveness, particularly for the beginning exerciser, free-weights (i.e., dumbbells) rate much higher than expensive machines in terms of:

1. Cost. Three or four sets of dumbbells would have cost Sarah less than 10 times the amount she spent on her machine. As she gets stronger, she would have to buy more, though even a full set would not set her back nearly as much as the machine did.

2. Space. Dumbbells take up far less space than most of the exercise equipment sold on infomercials. You can easily place them in a closet, out of sight under the bed, or in a corner. There are even dumbbells you can adjust (i.e., PowerBlock) that allow you to adjust the poundage on one set, eliminating the need for single-poundage dumbbells.

3. Variety. Most machines are designed as one-dimensional. Even the most extensive multi-unit machines will allow exercisers to perform only a limited number of movements in a restricted range of motion. Free-weights can be used in ranges of motion based on the exerciser, not a machine. Use free weights along with benches or Swiss Balls and you have multitude of exercise options.

4. Suitability. Sarah couldn’t use her “multi-usage” machine for certain exercises because the machine was too big. This is not an uncommon problem. Even though most machines have adjustable seats, arm pads, and lever arms, there are limitations to their range and some may not fit the very small or very large person. However, if you can grab a dumbbell, you can use it.

5. Functionality. Exercising with free-weights increases the likelihood that the effects of the exercise will cross over into real-world situations. Think about it. How often during the day do you lie in a diagonal supine position and push weight up like you would on a machine leg press? Probably never. But how often are you required to do activities that are biomechanically identical to the squat? Sitting, getting in and out of a car, crouching down to pick something up…all the time! Properly using free weights will increase the functionality of an exercise to real-world situations.

6. Safety. It seems counterintuitive to consider free-weights as safer than machines. Most of us have heard (somewhere..) that we could get hurt with dumbbells and that machines were “safer.” Maybe just the idea of someone doing a huge bench press lends itself to imagining the likelihood that one might lose control of the same amount of weight if they ever attempted it.

Safety during exercise is more about proper form, technique, concentration and control rather than exercise apparatus. Someone can get hurt on a machine just as easily as with a dumbbell if incorrect form is used. As always, if you don’t know how to do something, find someone (i.e., a reputable trainer) to show you how.
Safety as a result of exercise is a long-term issue. It is not necessary for the body to stabilize itself or the weight during movements on most machines, because the weight apparatus is fixed. Key stabilizer muscles are then never given the chance to get stronger. Free-weights allow the exerciser to utilize core muscles and allow multi-plane movement that forces the exerciser to strengthen stabilizer musculature, which support joints. Over the long-term, free weights are superior to machines for building a stronger, more functional body.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on a piece of exercise equipment that you’ll never end up using and won’t suit your needs. A few sets of dumbbells are effective, intelligent alternatives to buying equipment, especially for those setting up their own in-home gym or workout area.

author:Jon Gestl

10 Powerful Keys To Healing Yourself

10 Powerful Keys To Healing Yourself

1. Be Present

Live in the now. The past is gone. You can never go back and make it right. You can never re-live a life that was yesterday. Live positively in the present moment, no matter what is occurring. It is All right and perfect. Do not look ahead and dread what may come. Our mind creates a lot of chatter and makes us afraid in order to keep us safe. Tell your mind “Thanks for sharing” and affirm “I am here, I am present”. You are always at choice and you know how to make this day beautiful.

2. Nature

Sit on the lawn or next to a tree. Feel the pulse of the earth, the grandeur of the sky, the coolness of the breeze on your face, or the warmth of the sun on your face. Smile at nature, say hello to the bugs and all the animals you meet. Take a walk in a park or hike on a trail.

3. Exercise

Daily exercise gives you a break from your mind chatter, helps pump your heart, circulates your blood, clears toxins from your body, charges you with energy and has many other benefits. Choose an activity that is fun and mix it up. Do walking one day and yoga another day. Take a Tai Chi class and meet new people. The list of possibilities is endless.

4. Spirituality

Recognize and know you are important and unique. Meditate, or sit quietly, and be in the moment. Read books that are uplifting and have positive messages. Give thanks for your health, your home, your friends, all the joy and happiness in your life and all the good that surrounds you.

5. Forgiveness

It is time to let it go. Forgive all parts of yourself to be whole and perfect. Forgive yourself for any past mistakes or shortcomings; forgive the child within for being afraid; forgive the teenager that spoke words of anger; forgive the young adult for not being a risk taker. Forgive others in the past. Forgive your parents, your siblings and relatives. Let go of all grudges. Forgiveness is about coming to peace within yourself.

6. Bubble Bath

Give yourself permission to relax and savor quiet times. Read a book for fun. Spend that extra money and get a massage or a facial. Do something selfish for yourself.

7. Nutrition

Listen to your body. Feed it good nutritious food. Take a high quality multi-vitamin or a liquid supplement. Most health challenges can be reduced or eliminated with a dietary supplement.

8. Let Go of Judgment

Give up judgement and give up blame. Never speak critically of others or yourself. Speak words of encouragement to yourself and everyone you meet. Accept everyone for who they are and embrace their differences.

9. Service To Others

Reach out and lend a hand to a friend in need. Offer unconditional service to others. Be a great listener and really listen to people when they speak. Find ways to help others to lift their spirits and help lessen their burdens.

10. Love

Love yourself and use positive words of encouragement. Compliment strangers and make others smile. Speak from a loving heart and shine with joy.

Copyright © 2006 Wayne