Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Have you ever heard the phrase, “do one thing every day that scares you?” I am sure if you live on this planet than someone has said it to you or you have read it on the back of an inspirational t-shirt or mug at some point in your life. As most people will know, I love cheesy inspirational quotes but for some reason this one has never spoken to me. Perhaps it’s because I have always been a little put off by the frightening. I have never liked scary movies. I occasionally like suspense, but only when I am with other people and if it’s too suspenseful I need to read something really funny before bed. After watching the movie Seven, I couldn’t take out the trash for a week. (The garbage bins were located in this really creepy alley that resembled somewhere a person might get murdered.)

I am also pretty turned off by thrill seeking scares. I can actually say without any reservation whatsoever that I will never go bungee jumping. The idea of jumping out of an airplane (while quite exciting and daring and awesome) makes my stomach turn. When I was a kid I would practically start crying with fear while waiting in line for roller coasters. (Luckily I’ve dropped that habit)

All of this will help explain why I’ve never been fond of the idea of self-inflicted fear on a daily basis. However in honor of Halloween this year I have decided to let myself experience a little scare and I invite you all to join me. You are more than welcome to watch a horror film or try out a new sport but I am thinking of a different kind of fear.

Fear of loss. It is extremely scary to think of losing something, especially something that we think we need. It can drum up an even bigger fear than participating in the X games. I am not talking about losing something like a loved one or a pet or a favorite t-shirt, I am referring to the loss of self-defeating thoughts that weigh us down.

“But Sarah”, you may be saying, “If it’s self-defeating or bad for me, I am probably not afraid to lose it, I want it gone.”

Think of your negative self-talk: Do you hate your triceps or your back? Do you grab your stomach and wish it smaller? Do you loathe your thighs? Are you afraid to leave the house without make-up or spanx?

We think it wouldn’t be scary to lose these behaviors/thoughts. But it is, if it weren’t they might be gone already.

What would it feel like to not hate that part of your body? Is it scary to think of what it might be like if you loved it. I am not saying that the body part will change. You don’t get to say, “if it were different I would love it and that’s not scary to me.” I am asking you if it’s scary to think about loving it, as it is, right now. What’s scary? What’s stopping you? Is it scary because if you love yourself as you are, then you become more vulnerable? Is it scary because you wouldn’t have anything to bitch with your friends about anymore? Is it scary to think of how powerful you might be?

This Halloween week, I urge you all to frighten yourself. Find the negative thought you are most afraid of losing and spend a few minutes every day telling yourself the opposite. I love my thighs. I am wonderful just as I am. I am loved. My stomach is perfect.

Notice what reading those sentences did to you. Did it scare you? Say it. My stomach is perfect. My stomach is perfect. My stomach is perfect. Come on, scare yourself. I promise it won’t give you nightmares.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hi Sarah I have a question regarding physical/emotional? rehabilitation following a c-section. I am looking to re-connect my ABS!

Hi Gina, Having a cesarean whether it's planned or unplanned can be very traumatic for many reasons. Whether you are dealing with the healing process of major surgery, the emotional loss of a vaginal birth, or the reminiscence of abs gone by, it can be a difficult time that is rarely talked about. There is an amazing website written by a woman who had a cesarean and felt there weren't enough resources for her. On her site she has links and groups that can help you deal with any issue you may have in the recovery process.
I was also recently turned onto a fabulous book by a good friend of mine who also had a cesarean, on how to get back the core you had before. It's called, "Lose your Mummy Tummy" and I have to say, having read it, it inspires even those of us who have yet to give birth or even get pregnant. I hope that these resources help!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Take a load off

Two weeks ago I graduated from school. I now have a master’s degree in psychology and counseling. Woo-hoo for me right? Everyone keeps coming up to me and slapping me on the back, “congratulations Sarah, you must be so excited. What’s next?” And all I want to do is walk my dog and watch TV. Well, I have become a smidgen more motivated but last week, that was it. I would come home from work, leisurely walk Coco for a couple hours (read: stand at the dog park while he plays with other dogs) and then come home to watch TV. Last Tuesday I watched 6 hours of television in one stretch. I have never done that before in my entire life. Even when I have been ill, the watching was at least intertwined with napping and soup eating. I watched two movies, one hour-length sitcom and three half hour ones. Needless to say, I was very entertained.

Unfortunately I awoke the next day to a searing soreness in my hips and hamstrings. I hobbled out of bed grabbing my lower back and wincing. When I tried to stand up straight, my legs wouldn’t unbend. I was in a permanent skier stance.

“What happened to me?” I cried.

As I as I walked to work like a little old lady I ran over the past two days exercise regimes. Did I partake in an extremely advanced yoga class? Did I actually sign up for those boxing lessons I’ve been meaning to try? What could have possibly done this to me? Could it have been the dog walking? And then I realized, I haven’t done any intense exercise in the past few days, all I have done is watch TV.

Ah-ha! Call Oprah, it’s my moment: Sitting down can cause our muscles to get tight!

How come it’s not good for me then? Don’t I want tight muscles? Ok, smart Alex, yes it’s true, but would you ever hold an isometric bicep curl for 6 hours? Not only that but when we sit in front of the TV we are generally not propped up in ergonomic chairs and perfect posture. I certainly wasn’t. I was slumped down with a curve in my lower back and my feet on the coffee table (sorry mom).

So if sitting can cause our muscles to get tight than maybe the pain in your back (the one you thought was caused from that one time you played racquetball two months ago) is from sitting too much.

Sarah, you are a revolutionary. Could it be the answer? Could it be the thing that makes me feel better? Should I just be sitting less? Bingo!

We sit all day long: in the car, at work, at home, on the bus, in the kitchen and in the can. It’s become the thing we do to feel better. Yet, it might be making us feel worse. How about the next time you feel exhausted and want to let a load off you stretch instead.

I am not saying you need to stop watching TV but try just one time this week when you are feeling tired and you just want to sit down in front of the tube... stretch instead and see how it feels.

Be Good to your Body, it’s where you Live

Monday, October 11, 2010

Please tell us what exercises are best for those of us who have early signs of osteoporosis or minor compression fractures.

First off, please talk to your doctor about an exercise plan. Minor compression fractures are usually caused because of heavy lifting or falling/tripping while walking so it's important that you talk to a professional to make sure there is nothing that you specifically should not be doing.
When you are trying to build bone density the best exercises are weight bearing. Walking is my personal favorite! Cardio exercises that are not weight bearing are the bicycle or elyptical machine. You are much better off with good old fashioned walking. However because tripping can cause compression fractures, make sure you are walking on even ground. Other exercises that are good are anything that helps improve your balance (try standing on one leg and looking left and right) and strengthen your core. Lifting weights is also ideal for strengthening your bone density however you should start slow and light if you have never done it before. I always recommend talking to a personal trainer. Weight lifting exercises that are NOT good if you have signs of osteoporosis are anything high impact such as jogging or jumping. Also stay away from (or seek professional help for) anything that has you bending and twisting at the same time. (like bending over to touch your toes while twisting at the waist or playing golf.) These exercises can put pressure on the spine and increase your risk for compression fractures.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

What is the best exercise to tone the abdominal muscles?

The abdominal muscles (abs) are just like other muscles in your body. If they are covered by a layer of fatty tissue than no amount of crunching is going to give you a six-pack. In order to get toned abs you have to exercise with your entire body (walking/swimming etc.) and lay off the second helping at dinner.
It is however extremely important to strengthen the abs even if you aren't planning on getting rid of the fatty tissue. Having strong abdominal muscles helps us in every other exercise we do from bending over to lifting to getting out of bed. Strong abs will also help prevent back pain. So here are my favorites in the abdominal/core department.
The Dolphin Plank: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2463
The Plank: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/470
The Side Plank: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/783
The Basic Crunch: http://exercise.about.com/cs/abs/ht/Crunch.htm
Obviously if there are any others that you love, please tuck in. Remeber to be careful if you are new to ab work and if anything feels funny in your lower back, please stop and consult your doctor. :-)

Ask me anything

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Double Entendre

Although I am a somewhat unorthodox writer (I write how I speak without much bother of proper usage or grammatical perfection. And I have a penchant for slang) I am quite the fan of linguistics, grammar and syntax. I even subscribe to a daily grammar email. Every morning along side of all the spam, facebook updates and groupons, I receive a lovely bit of grammarly advice. Well, it’s not always lovely, sometimes it’s quite dull but on occasion (as happened last week), a gem will appear…

"Sanction" is something called a Janus word--a word with two opposite meanings. Such words are named after the Roman god Janus, who has two faces that look in opposite directions. Other Janus words are "cleave" (which can mean to cling to or to separate), "screen" (which can mean to review or display or to hide or shield from view), and "trim" (which can mean to remove things or add things).

I have never heard this term before, have you? I mean, of course I was aware that there existed words with two meanings; I just didn’t know they had their own name and I love it. Here is a list of other janus words


Some words that aren’t on that list but also tend to have more than one meaning are:

Fat: Tissue that insulates

Fat: Feeling that deflates

Fat: Avocados

Diet: the way you eat

Diet: the way you don’t eat

Sugar: Good

Sugar: Bad

Sugar: Term of endearment

Health: The absence of sickness

Health: To Thrive

Exercise: Makes you feel great

Exercise: Hurts really bad

Fried Chicken: So freaking good

Fried Chicken: So freaking bad

Fried Chicken: Term of endearment (it could be)

Can you think of any words that you use to mean one thing but really they could mean something else? I know that when it comes to janus words I usually only use one meaning. I don’t think that I have ever used the word screen to mean, “shield from”. I have also never said, “My knees buckled at the sight of him”, however I am constantly buckled in safely while driving. I have never used the word cleave in a sentence, but if I were to, it would be in reference to a split, not a join. I do think that if I take the time to notice both definitions, the meaning I am using becomes richer. Knowing that a bolt can be a securing device and lighting fast action brings a deeper meaning to either definition.

Knowing that sugar can be a delicious treat and something to be avoided makes it easier to enjoy it in moderation. Recognizing that exercise rocks but is also a pain in the $%&* will help make it more doable, even when it burns.

Is there anything you are looking at as only black or white? Have you decided that the stair master is evil? Do you believe that fat is a feeling? If you pay attention to all the definitions of a word, you may find that it loses some of its power or gains a little more.

Be Good to your Body, it's where you Live