Health

Exercise Is Good for Your Heart—and Your Wallet!

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Do you need more motivation to exercise regularly?

What if someone offered to pay you $2,500 per year?

That’s what you could, in effect, pay yourself in healthcare savings each year if you exercised on a regular basis. NYtimes.com recently reported on a study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association, which found that “On average, someone who met the exercise guidelines paid $2,500 less in annual health care expenses related to heart disease than someone who did not walk or otherwise move for 30 minutes five times per week.

“Those numbers included annual savings of about $400 on prescription medicines and far fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations for people who regularly exercised.”

Even those who had already been diagnosed with a heart disease or had multiple risk factors saved significantly on health-related expenses.

There were more than 26,000 persons in the study, and researchers were involved from universities and hospitals around the country. In trying to look at costs related to inactivity, they decided to limit the scope of the survey to expenses related to cardiovascular disease.

Which probably means that people who exercise regularly save even more— because they’re not developing Type 2 Diabetes or certain kinds of cancer, they’re not missing work, etc.

And here’s the best part: all we have to do to improve our health and save $2500 (or more) per year is engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week!

Just a half hour a day, five days out of seven, of moderate exercise like brisk walking, gentle bike riding, or raking leaves.

Fall is a great time to get moving. Even my dog is friskier as the weather cools off! If you’ve fallen off the exercise wagon during the dog days of summer, start up again with just 30 minutes of moderate activity. You’ll feel better, and you can take that to the bank!

Source: www.nytimes.com/2016/09/07/well/move/whats-the-value-of-exercise-2500.html

Category : Blog &Health

Holistic Massage & Reflexology Moves and Adds Therapist

Julie Wesling, LMT has moved her practice—Holistic Massage & Reflexology—to a new location at 2820 US 1 South, Suite J, in the Century 21 office complex.

Joining her in the new location is registered dietician Amanda Perrin RDN, LDN, with her nutrition consultation practice, Peace of Nutrition.

Seasoned therapist Shawn Nerveza, LMT will also be offering massage therapy at the new location.

“We’re very excited to have more space,” says Wesling. “And, between the three of us, we can offer relaxation, therapeutic and medical massage therapy, reflexology, and nutrition counseling to clients virtually 7 days/week.”

The office plans to hold classes as well. The first one will be a foot reflexology workshop open to the public over 4 evenings in late November and early December.

An open house is planned for Monday, September 26th from 5 – 7 pm. Everyone is invited to stop by to check out the new space and enjoy refreshment and networking!

For more information, contact Julie Wesling at 904-377-6696 or [email protected]
MA 56383 MM 38038

 

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Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Art Abandonment—Random Acts of Beauty

girl releasing heart balloon

Today I placed a beautiful bracelet in a baggie—a piece I consider to be of real value because it’s unique, and because I made it with genuine semi-precious stones and sterling silver—and I took it to the Mission de Nombre Dios, set it down next to a big statue, and walked away.

I “abandoned” it.

Why? Because I’m part of a movement called Art Abandonment, a phenomenon started in June 2012 by Michael deMeng and his wife Andrea Matus deMeng. They published a book entitled “The Art Abandonment Project: Create and Share Random Acts of Art,” and started a Facebook group that grew quickly and now boasts more than 33,000 members worldwide. Including me.

Abandoners simply create something for the joy of making it, and then leave it for an unsuspecting person to find. You put a tag on it stating you are leaving the art as a gift to whomever finds it. They can take it, pass it along to someone else they know would love it, or simply leave it there for someone else to find if they don’t care for it. The tag has directions for how to email or post on the Facebook page telling about their experience of finding free art, if they choose to do so. But it’s anonymous—the finder never knows who the abandoner is.

I’ve done two “art drops,” and so far I haven’t heard from anyone who’s found one of my pieces. But it makes me smile to think about how it might make someone’s day a little brighter.

Recently I read a story on the group’s Facebook page about how a woman found a little painting of a cheerful flower at the hospital on her way out of a breast biopsy. She was so filled with happiness, and was so touched that someone would be generous enough to simply give something handmade and beautiful away with love, that she didn’t have any room left in her heart or mind to be worried about her biopsy results. She posted on the group’s page, and soon dozens of strangers were wishing her well, sending her prayers and words of support that she would never have accessed had it not been for Art Abandonment. Her gratitude kept growing, and I was moved by the abundance of encouragement and kindness.

And that’s really what it’s all about—random acts of kindness in a world that desperately needs more of it.

You don’t have to be a “good artist” to get in on the goodness of the movement. Some people paint designs on stones and leave them out in nature near natural rocks. Some people might color a pre-printed design and cut the pictures to make bookmarks or greeting cards. A few fiber artists are crocheting little Pokemon characters and leaving them where players are known to hunt for the virtual counterparts. The art can be almost anything. The intention of creating and sharing is more important than the “value” of the finished work. Who knows what someone else will find beautiful or valuable anyway? These are lucky, random “finders,” not art critics!

Do you think you’d like to join the fun? Here’s a link to the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/ArtAbandonment/

Happy Abandoning!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

The Joys of Getting Older

older couple

WebMD recently shared an online newsletter/slideshow on nine surprises of growing older.

A few of them were purely physical things—like growing weird hairs out of your nose or ears (male) or chin (female) due to hormonal changes, or how we actually get shorter because of gravity and degenerative processes in our spines.

But some of the items were pretty fun facts about mental/emotional changes that aren’t all bad. Here’s a summary that hopefully will improve how you feel about climbing “over the hill”:

We are more in tune with other people’s emotions in our 40s than any other time in our lives. This empathy helps us get along better with everyone from family to coworkers.

Older women may have sex less frequently than their younger counterparts, but they enjoy it more! Women 40 and over told researchers their sexual satisfaction improved with age. And women over 80 (over 80!) were more likely than those between 55 and 79 to say they were satisfied sexually.

We get good at using what we’ve learned. It’s called crystalized intelligence (the ability to use learned knowledge and experience, as opposed to fluid intelligence—the ability to solve new problems, use logic and identify patterns), and we get better at it as we get older.

We turn into morning people! Our sleep patterns can change as we age; most people in their 60s get to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. At 65, even people who wake up during the night report feeling like they regularly do get a good night’s sleep.

We don’t all turn into grumpy old geezers. In fact, most people get more agreeable, at least through their 60s. We’re likely to feel happier and less apt to get angry. Scientists don’t know why exactly, but seniors seem to be able to control their emotions better, and focus more on making every minute count.

Retirement is not always the best thing for your health. A study called the Longevity Project found that people who work hard at a job they enjoy tend to live the longest! Having good friends and a good marriage seem to be keys to a long life.

Do any of these findings surprise you? Here’s a link to the full report: 9 Things No One Tells You About Aging

 

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Do You Love to Eat?

lady dog ice cream

I love to eat. Sometimes eating makes me feel quite happy. And then sometimes I feel regret allowing an indulgence to make me feel happy. Am I a food addict? Am I a failure for not having more willpower?

I used to say I had an unhealthy relationship with food. For most of my life, I was a stress eater. And a social eater. I’ve eaten out of boredom and used food to try to fill some sort of emptiness that wasn’t quite boredom or hunger. I’ve celebrated with food, I’ve rewarded myself with food, I’ve distracted myself with food, I think I’ve even punished myself for overeating—with food.

It took a lot of work on my end to find out how to deal with unpleasant emotions rather than feed them cookies. I no longer eat for all the wrong reasons, but I still struggle a bit with my love for all food—healthy and unhealthy—and my desire for variety, and my desire for the joy and ease of being undisciplined about food choices. Sometimes I purchase awful and delicious packaged food because it’s affordable, and everyone in my house likes it, and it’s easy, and I’m tired.

And I feel sort of guilty about taking those shortcuts that are not so healthy. Where is my discipline? Where is my health consciousness?

An article in the March/April 2016 issue of “edible Northeast Florida” gave me some real food for thought. Called “Farewell to Food Guilt,” it covered so beautifully the topic of how we feel about food, that I asked for permission to share it in my blog. So here it is, used with permission. Enjoy. And let me know how it makes you feel! Farewell to Food Guilt

Category : Blog &Health

Now Available: Hot Paraffin for the Hands!

hands on black

New at Holistic Massage & Reflexology—a hot paraffin treatment for the hands!

It feels amazing, and it’s very beneficial for the hands. Moist heat delivers therapeutic warmth deep into the tissues, relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow. This can help relieve pain caused by arthritis, rheumatic diseases, overuse/repetitive use, etc.

Plus, the warm paraffin is good for the skin! It moisturizes and increases the skin’s elasticity, helping with mobility. If your hands are ever stiff or sore and hard to move, you’re gonna love this treatment!

My new machine uses a chemical reaction (no electricity!) to heat to the perfect temperature a single-use portion of lightly scented paraffin in a disposable glove—in only 8 minutes. We ease your hands into the gloves, wrap them up and cover with a thermal mitt, and let them rest and enjoy until the paraffin cools.

This service is included in any 60-minute hand reflexology session, and in any 90-minute reflexology session. Paraffin can be added to any other service for only $10. Just let me know when you make your appointment if you want to include it so I can heat it in advance and have it ready at the beginning of your session.

As always, other “add-ons” like aromatherapy and foot bathing are available at no extra charge.

Even if you have no disease process or injury in your hand, I encourage you to give warm paraffin a try. It’s surprising how much tension we can hold in our hands, and how good it feels to release our grip on it!

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Being Your Own Advocate in Wellness Care

Recently I had a conversation with a gentlemen who bemoaned the climate of fear we have created in our society. (I have said something similar many times myself—that the news and media continuously ratcheting up their sensationalism has made us more fearful and less rational!)

But the focus of this person’s complaint was healthcare. He first mentioned the awful TV commercials that described in morbid detail the potential side effects of various medications (and also noted just how many such commercials there are these days—antidotes for whatever ails you!).

Then he went on to criticize websites where a person could research medical conditions ad nauseum, and how reading about possible complications (that may never happen) could scare us to death.

His solution was to completely shun all research and avoid information available on the internet. No misinformation, no undue fear. He actually said that if a doctor found something wrong with him, he would ask the doctor NOT to tell him what it was. Just to treat it and fix it.

This so completely flew against my own belief that knowledge is power, and that it’s imperative that we be informed and direct our own health care, that I couldn’t even think of a diplomatic response.

The very next day there was an article in our local newspaper written by Dr. Philip Caravella, MD that hit the nail on the head. The title is “The doctor can’t do it alone,” and at one point he writes, “You must become the captain of your ship. You must take more responsibility for your own wellbeing. …Your physician cannot do it all. Medicine has made huge strides in the diagnosis and management of many common chronic life-threatening illnesses. We have all sorts of specialized imaging techniques and new procedures geared toward curing diseases, and new surgical methods to treat and defeat cancer. What we lack is the forethought—the will and desire to win.

“It’s time for medical practitioners and patients to learn what it takes to prevent medical problems, rather than to treat them and their related complications. … A physician’s job is to educate, to deliver and to motivate. Your job is to act.”

Hm, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

Someone presented an idea at a seminar I took a while back: that western medicine has become very passive. We go to a doctor, the doctor gives us a shot or a pill or a procedure, and we expect that to fix the problem. We want the doctor to treat us, while we don’t really have to do anything except receive that treatment.

While eastern medicine—which is more about staying healthy rather than treating illness—is more proactive. Whether it’s paying attention to what we eat, staying active, avoiding unhealthy things, practicing meditation and appreciating the energy of thoughts, seeking out therapies like acupuncture and reflexology to actually boost wellness and help the mind and body function optimally—individuals are more responsible for their wellbeing and more mindful about prevention and vitality.

In our country, we tend to think we can only have those treatments that are covered by insurance. Many are so reluctant to pay for additional services out of pocket. (What do we spend our money on, one could argue, that we could potentially live without? And what is more important than our health, really?)

So we take what the doctors give us, and once our insurance company says we can’t have any more shots or physical therapy sessions, etc., we accept that this is as good as it gets. But what if it isn’t?

I encourage you to research, explore alternative solutions—what else is possible? You might read about complications that sound scary, and you might come across misinformation or information that doesn’t apply to you.

But to avoid possibilities is just self limiting. It seems crazy to me to let fear hold us back. This is our quality of life we’re talking about!

We owe it to ourselves to be the best advocates we can be for our own health and wellbeing. Ask questions, seek information, get second opinions, explore all your options.

Stay strong and be well my friends!

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Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Is There Greatness in Being a Follower?

Steve Almond contributed an intriguing article to the March 2016 issue of The Rotarian entitled, “Best in a Supporting Role: Who follows when everyone in the room is a leader?”

He introduced me to the word followership, and he discussed how an organization like Rotary can face challenges when members—who are leaders in their communities and businesses—are asked to be followers in their club projects.

Almond points out that a common misconception about being a good follower is that it requires simply passive obedience. That’s not so, folks who like to study such things will contend! A good follower has to be:
-committed to the mission of the group
-competent in their given role
-able to work independently
-able to maintain ethical standards.

I found myself agreeing with the premise that being a follower is hard for many in our culture because we value “exceptionalism.” Most of us strive for some form of “greatness.” In the corporate world, people often have the mindset that if you’re not the top dog, you’re a nobody.

But I was disappointed that the article neglected to address the intrinsic value of followership. The author wrote a lot about the idea that if you want to be a good leader, you have to learn to be a good follower first. As if being a good follower is merely a stepping stone to the greatness achieved by being a leader.

What about those individuals, millions probably, who for whatever reason(s) don’t aspire to be in a position of leadership?

I did a Google search and found this same premise in virtually every article that popped up about followership: only that it’s a prerequisite of quality leadership. But I’m sure there’s more to it than that!

Still determined to write a blog exploring this topic, I searched for images to accompany this article. And then I saw it. Migratory birds!

I searched and found an article by Ed Yong sponsored by National Geographic that confirmed what I thought I had learned a long time ago: migratory birds that fly in a V formation have no dedicated leader. The leader has the most tiring job—the followers have an easier flight because they save energy mooching off the airflow of the bird(s) in front of them.

So the members of the flock unceremoniously take turns being the leader.

Imagine a corporate culture more like a flock, or a Rotary club, where members take turns leading different functions based on their strengths. No one is good at everything. Maybe a truly great leader admits when he or she is not an expert in something, and defers to someone else on the team to take a turn providing guidance and insights.

And then that person has a chance to excel at what they do best—to show that they are not a nobody. Even though they’re not the “top dog.”

In his article, Almond shares his experience as a teacher. The best-case scenario, he argues, is when the teacher doesn’t feel like he or she needs to have all the answers, but is able to coax the brilliance out of each student.

I would go even further. I would say that in the very best-case scenario, every person in the room takes turns being the “teacher” by having opportunities to share their ideas and experiences. And everyone certainly has an opportunity to be a student. We all can learn from each other!

Almond concludes, “being a good follower boils down to acceptance. You have to be OK with the idea that you achieve simply by contributing.
“To offer your full devotion as a follower isn’t an act of acquiescence or resignation. On the contrary, it’s evidence of a healthy ego of a person bright enough not to need a constant spotlight.
“The question for all of us is whether we can find the grace required to be a follower in good faith—to accept that cooperation is not the enemy of ambition and that recognition never brings us enduring happiness unless it comes from within.”

I wholeheartedly agree that “cooperation is not the enemy of ambition.”

I also agree that the most important validation comes from within. But perhaps a “healthy ego” comes not simply from the graceful acceptance of supporting role, but understanding that true personal excellence comes from doing the very best we can do in whatever part we play.

Not only do we “achieve simply by contributing,” I believe we can achieve greatness in our own individual contributions. Being a good follower (or leader) is also being a good team player.

Even birds know that by working together, they can achieve their most important goal: to successfully cover thousands of miles and get to their desired destination without over-extending themselves.
Sources:
“Best in a Supporting Role: Who follows when everyone in the room is a leader?” by Steve Almond, The Rotarian, March 2016

“Birds That Fly in a V Formation Use an Amazing Trick,” by Ed Yong, NationalGeographic.com
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/15/birds-that-fly-in-a-v-formation-use-an-amazing-trick/

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Category : Blog &Health

Silence is Golden

It’s easy in our modern society to feel overwhelmed, bombarded with sounds and stimulation.

I went on a cruise last December to get away from it all, and everywhere I went on the ship I was met with loud music and flashing lights. I’m sure they were trying to create a “vibrant” atmosphere, but I found it really annoying! Going to a place like Vegas is even more ridiculous.

But even in regular day-to-day life, we’re almost constantly exposed to TV, radio, traffic, machines, music, conversation—noise, noise, noise! It’s not healthy.

In fact, a 2011 World Health Organization report called noise pollution a “modern plague,” concluding that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.”

How many minutes of each day do you spend in silence? If you’re like most people, probably not very many. But more and more, people are finding ways to increase the stillness in their lives, either by deliberately sitting in silence for 10 minutes each morning, or heading off for 10-day silent retreats.

According to Carolyn Gregoire of Huffington Post, here are four reasons why silence is good for our health:

1. Silence Relieves Stress and Tension. Noise pollution has been found to lead to elevated blood pressure and heart attacks, as well as disrupted sleeping, impaired hearing and other health problems.

But just as too much noise can cause our stress hormones to increase, research has  shown that silence has the opposite effect: releasing tension in the mind and body. A 2006 study published in Heart journal found two minutes of silence to be more relaxing than listen to soothing music, based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.

2. Silence Replenishes our Mental Resources. Sensory input is being thrown at us at every turn, constantly competing for our attention. Our brain is literally on high alert, and it stresses the part of our brain we need to use for high-order thinking like decision making and problem solving. It’s extremely draining. When our mental resources are depleted, we can be distracted and fatigued, and struggle to focus, solve problems, and come up with new ideas.

The good news is that we can literally recharge our battery. The “attention restoration theory” says the brain can restore its finite cognitive resources when we’re in environments with lower levels of sensory input. The quieter the better, like taking a walk in a forest (either alone, or with others but without speaking—see below).

3. Silence Encourages Deep and Creative Thought. Gregoire explains that the “default mode network” of the brain is wired for daydreaming, meditating, fantasizing about the future or just letting our minds wander. It’s only when the mind is still and disengaged from external stimuli that we can tap into our deeper thoughts, emotions, memories and ideas. She writes, “Engaging this network helps us to make meaning out of our experiences, empathize with others, be more creative and reflect on our own mental and emotional states. In order to do this, it’s necessary to break away from the distractions that keep us lingering on the shallow surfaces of the mind. Silence is one way of getting there.”

4. Quiet Helps Regenerate Brain Cells. Silence can literally grow the brain.
Gregoire cites a 2013 study using mice to compare the effects of ambient noise, white noise, pup calls, and silence on the rodents’ brains. Although the researchers intended to use silence as a control in the study, they found that two hours of silence daily led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key region of the brain associated with learning, memory and emotion.

Forest Therapy

If you are having difficulty making time at home or other areas in your life for silence, you might try a technique the Japanese call Shinrin-yoku, a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.”

The practice has been around since at least the 1980s, and its traditions are rooted in many cultures. The idea is simply to visit a natural area and walk in a relaxed way. Some practitioners insist on no talking. Some allow cameras or journals/sketch books. But it is proven that just walking and observing nature without agenda provides calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits.

Especially in this year of a presidential election, with all the talking heads and impassioned Facebook friends shouting to get your attention, I highly recommend disconnecting from technology and going for a nice, quiet walk in the woods.

Sources:
“Why Silence is So Good For Your Brain” by Carolyn Gregoire, huffingtonpost.com and republished in dailygood.org

shinrin-yoku.org, the Medicine of Being in the Forest

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Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

What is Dry Brushing?

Very simply, dry brushing is a technique to gently brush the skin with, not surprisingly, a brush that is dry.

“Why in the world would we brush our skin?” you might ask. Well, do you brush your hair? Do you brush your teeth? Does brushing keep those elements healthy?

It’s kind of the same with skin. Daily brushing exfoliates dead skin cells and keeps skin healthy. There are a lot of claims about reducing cellulite, making skin firmer and more youthful and so on, but that is outside my area of expertise so I will leave it to others to debate. But I do know that our skin is our largest organ, it protects us—both as a barrier and in eliminating toxins through sweating—which also helps keep us cool when the temperature goes up, and skin helps us keep our shape (literally!). It is definitely in our best interest to keep our skin healthy!

But there’s a HUGE bonus in brushing skin. Continue reading “What is Dry Brushing?” »

Category : Blog &Health