A Simple Realistic Guide To Physical, Mental & Spiritual Fitness

Newsletter Enlightening Mind/Body and Spirit


Celebrities are donning "sports bracelets"

These new power bracelets they suggest will improve balance, strength, and flexibility are nothing but a hoax. They are a false confidence builder, a personal placebo effect for individuals who want to believe they will actually do what those who tout them claim they will do. These tests you see performed—pressing the subject's arm down and the tester is easily able to knock the subject off balance, but when the subject dons a bracelet, they are able to withstand the force—are nothing less than a parlor trick. Richard Saunders, the Australian producer of a podcast called "The Skeptic" posted a video on U-tube showing how the trick is done. The video shows the demonstration by the tester pressing the subject's arm down, but he's actually pressing slightly to the side, throwing the subject off balance. Once the subject puts on the bracelet, the tester subtly directs pressure toward the subject's center of gravity. "The harder I press, the more he's anchored the spot," explains Saunders. The benefit of these bracelets proves nothing, except perhaps in the mind of the person wearing it.

Mind and Body Men's Journal, November 2010, "Sports bracelets debunked"

Treat yourself to Chocolate

Indulging in a little chocolate—dark chocolate—can actually help when you're feeling on edge. It can help calm your nerves. Researchers believe that flavonoids in dark chocolate are responsible for the soothing effect. Studies indicate that stressed out participants who ate 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day for one week had reduced levels of stress hormones.
Remember—this does not apply to milk chocolate for it lacks flavonoids.

Prevention December 2010
Yesterday's wisdom: Never soothe yourself with food.
Today's smart strategy: Treat yourself to chocolate on your way to calmness.

You Don't Have to Meditate to Achieve Serenity

Is meditation the secret to serenity? Some people get stressed out just thinking about taking the time to do this. A study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology reports that 54% of participants reported feeling anxiety while meditating. There is no evidence that meditation is the sole technique to calm the mind and body. You need to find what works for you. Anything that allows you to relax the mind and disengage your constant thoughts can help you relax. Personally, I do this while in my spin class for at least five minutes per session. I allow my thoughts to drift away from the mundane, everyday mind chatter and focus on prayer, breathing, or daydreaming. I've found that it does help calm me down.

In his new book, Relaxation Revolution, [Scribner, 2010] Herb Bensin, MD, Director of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, says that "if meditating is not your thing, any repetitive activity that keeps your mind quiet and attention on the present moment, including jogging, swimming, painting, knitting, or praying will work just as well."

Watch yourself! Watch your children!

More and more we are seeing children starting to obsess about their body at a very young age. Children are supposed to be in the "body innocence" stage and carefree about "body dysmorphia" but instead are asking odd questions. According to psychologist Stacey Rosenfeld, who specializes in eating disorders and addictions at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, "Four year olds are asking, 'Do I look fat?'" Sound amazing? Maybe not! One day when my son was nine years old, he grabbed his stomach and said to me, "Look at this!" Well, he's essentially very thin. Concerned, I said, "That's skin. You need something to cover your bones and organs!" I had to be a little careful, knowing my own past negative experiences. I also knew that he'd heard this somewhere or watched someone or something that made him think his stomach was big. This really made me think too!

My own experiences with body obsession began in my early high school years. I remember going to visit my grandparents and my grandfather saying to me, "Jeez, it looks like you're getting a little chubby." In my family, very little "wisdom" was handed down from generation after generation about good health and fitness achieved by proper exercise. No mention was ever made about the importance of my emotional/spiritual well being; instead everything was focused on the physical--from my face to my body. Food was how my family defined love.

Today, at age 45, I still have issues when my mother says, "You look good!" Immediately I think I look fat or I've put on some weight. The reason for this is because she never gave a compliment unless there was something wrong and or because as I got too thin (when my weight fluctuated because of eating disorders), she got concerned. More "meat on my bones" was better than being too thin. She was like the proverbial Italian or Jewish mother who constantly tells their children, "Eat! Eat! Eat!"

Why is it common to hear, "Wow, you look great! Did you lose some weight?" What the heck is that about? So if the majority of people pay compliments based on this one factor, why wouldn't I become paranoid! Wouldn't you think I must have been missing something? Did I miss something? Did I look that bad before? Maybe there's something wrong with me. Body obsession worms its way into your brain. Why don't we say, "You look happy, radiant, at peace?" STOP! Focus on the person, not the "shell."

Stop labeling things as "good" or "bad." Let's use food as an example. All kids love "junk food" — boxed juices, candy, cookies, etc. We all loved these foods as children. As adults, we still do. If we now label these foods as "bad" and take them away from our kids, they'll become like my friend, who is the daughter of a vegan. At her home all she was allowed to eat was "natural" food. When she came over to my house she'd eat every bit of "junk food" (defined above) we had in the cupboard. Remember, a child can have a cookie or a box of juice, but in moderation. Establish some ground rules. How many per day? When? (none before dinner).

Apparently this is a scary concept for many. We have become a physical appearance-based society, especially herein in the United States where our compulsion for perfection is exacerbated by media which inundates us with advertisements (propaganda) that we aren't happy or healthy if we don't look like our favorite celebrities (who are probably more compulsive that the "average" person.) We adults are responsible for the "information" that our children are receiving and we parents need to be aware of where our children are headed if we do nothing to make sure that they are "well-informed" rather than "brainwashed." With everyone harping about obesity, what girls and boys are hearing is "Don't get fat." Instead, I suggest we try healthier approaches to all things in our lives. Parents should talk to their kids about "What can our family do to become healthier?" Then give them common sense suggestions. Explain to your children that "nobody is perfect in anything, much less everything." Talk about sources of satisfaction that have nothing to do with looks. Increase self-esteem by taking care of the self through emotional and spiritual well being. This is the sure way to become beautiful from the inside out.

My booklet, P.S. You're Already Beautiful! (You Just Don't Know It)* has some great tips. Look at athletes—they're not all "jiggle and fat free." Never say the word, "diet." Don't use a scale. Be careful what you say and do. (Don't "say" one thing and "do" another.) Set a good example. (Look at yourself first.) Work on your dysfunctions, then progress to healing your children's. Learn to be proud of your body. As your confidence builds, so will your children's. They will follow in your footsteps.

In Parents magazine, First Lady Michelle Obama was quoted as saying that a couple of years ago her daughter Malia was "getting a little chubby." She was ten years old at that time. Can you imagine your mother calling you chubby in front of the whole world? What issues might she face because of an "innocent" remark made by her mother?

Make some changes in your life and the lives of your children. Start today! Article derived from WOMANSDAY, June 16, 2009 issue "Banish Body Issues" by Paula Spenser.

*To contact Zoe or place an order for her books, visit her website: www.mindmuscle.info

Is exercise addiction real?

For many of us, exercise is a way to maintain our physical and psychological wellbeing. It helps us keep our muscles strong, maintain our body weight, improve our mood, lower anxiety, and causes a feeling of positive emotions. There is scientific proof that certain changes occur in our brain while doing sports/exercise. It does not matter what kind of exercise we do—cross-country running, swimming, or exerting in the gym, our brain releases mood-modulating substances, such as beta-endorphin. This substance is responsible for the euphoria that we feel after exercise.

Another substance that can be responsible for psychological changes caused by doing sports/exercise is serotonin. It's a brain chemical that helps to transmit impulses across neurons. It's also responsible for mood elevation, anxiety, and sleep control. Scientists believe that serotonin is released while exercising and may act like Prozac (i.e., it is the reason for increased mood and lowered anxiety in both healthy and depressed individuals after exercise.)

There are also psychological factors that cause mood improvement in people who do sports/exercise. Specialists say that being distracted from our daily activities while exercising actually helps us to be more satisfied with our bodies and our lives. Sports/exercise actually causes us to forget about our problems for a while, enabling us to get back to our daily routine with a clear mind. Besides, we feel emotionally better when our bodies are stronger and healthier.

It is extremely difficult to differentiate between healthy exercise and an addiction. Physical activity is advertised a lot these days as a way to stay healthy, beautiful/handsome-looking and young-looking. Still, exercise does not become our most important focus in our lives. However, exercising may become abnormal and unhealthy when it starts controlling us and our lives.

Addiction to exercise is still a very new topic. The term "exercise addiction" was first introduced by Dr. William Glasser in 1976. He studied long-distance runners and found out that most of them had this obsessive-compulsive disorder. Statistics show that one percent of the population is affected by this disorder, just like in the case of eating disorders. Nowadays, scientists study it very carefully trying to find more strong evidence to prove the existence of this type of addiction. In a study at the University of Kansas, the percentage of "exercise addiction" was found to be much higher. 5,000 students were polled regarding their exercise habits and the poll's results showed that 30 percent could be classified as having an exercise addiction.

An American College of Sports Medicine study published in 2005 indicated that as many as 25% of serious athletes overdo it. However, people with exercise addiction have an over-involvement with exercise. They usually maintain a rigid schedule of intense exercise, then experience serious guilt feelings when their exercise routine is violated. If these individuals lapse or miss an exercise session, they tend to make up for it in the next session, over-exercising until they've driven themselves to the point of exhaustion and injury. This does not allow the body to recuperate between exercise sessions.

More serious is when the person becomes so driven they will skip work or school, forego social events, doctor appointments, or isolate themselves by excluding family and friends from their lives. They push on, even when they are ill or tired and compulsively record minute details of every workout in a journal. Most become obsessed by food, which eventually leads to disordered eating.

Psychiatrists define exercise addiction as one of the examples of a compulsive disorder. Other examples of compulsive behavior are gambling, sex, work addictions, eating disorders, as well as many more.

What are some of the reasons for regular exercise becoming an addiction? First, people who are classified as "athletes" (no matter what kind) become addicted. The reason the addiction is created is a strong desire for control. Exercise is one of the methods they use because they can change their body shape, as well as improve their mood and physical state in general while doing sports/exercise. For such individuals, activity becomes the only focus in life.

Dr. Andrea Fink is a Chicago neuropsychologist. She says, "If the person can see the warning signs and know they are acting out of character, that's a good thing," but adds, "If they just go along with the compulsive behavior like there is nothing wrong, that's a bad thing. The bottom line is they need to seek professional help at that point before their body gets really sick."

Registered Dietician Christine Palumbo says that a good start at addressing the addiction problem is to have the person question the motivation as to why he/she is working out at such an extreme pace."

Just be careful not to become an addict or at least note the first signs of addiction when they occur. Remember, there are a lot of other nice things you can do in life apart from exercise. Most important, you should realize when more is less.

Reference: Jan/Feb 2009 edition of American Fitness, "Are you an Exercise Addict?" www.nodependence.com "Exercise addiction." /span>

Interval Training

Interval training involves timed periods of bouts of exercise in varying intensity for cardio-respiratory exercise.

Definition: Short-high intensity 90-100 of maximum heart rate. Exercise periods of cardio alternated with longer periods of low intensity 50-80 maximum heart rate. An example would be one minute of high intensity cardio exercise followed by three minutes of lower intensity exercise.

Most people spend their entire workout time in a continuous heart rate state (e.g., walking at a 3.5 pace for 60 minutes straight.) This is great, but if you want to take your physique to the next level, interval training is a must.

Interval training burns more calories, increases speed, power, and more. Studies have shown this method to be more effective at burning fat while maintaining muscle mass. It increases the rate of your metabolism and basal metabolic rate because you are utilizing both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers (when compared to long duration low intensity workouts which may only use one type of muscle fiber.)

Performing high intensity work places added demands on the respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. More fat and glycogen (which works with oxygen) are burned to support the demands of the body during and after intense exercise. Calorie and energy expenditure demands of short, intense interval training are very high. More calories are burned during high intensity workout sessions.

This can add variety to your workouts, which can be shorter in duration because you tend to burn more calories and energy in a lesser period of time.) It also gives you a chance to stop the repetitive training you've been doing and it can reduce injuries, overtraining, and burnout too. You're doing something new!

Circuit training is another form of workout similar to interval training, although the exercise bouts are chosen before you begin and switch from upper to lower body work. For example, jumping rope, one minute pushups, step ups, squats etc., adding in more muscular training with bouts of cardiovascular exercise; whereas interval training is all based on utilizing the cardiovascular gateway.
April 2010 Mind Article

A Society Out of Control
(Reference: March 2009 Mind article)

According to the YWCA August 2008 booklet, "Beauty at any Cost," we have learned that:
A1) Americans' unhealthy obsession with idealized, artificial, and airbrushed female beauty affects every woman and girl; 2) Americans need to change their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors related to female beauty at the individual, community, and policy levels; 3) In partnership with the YWCA, we can lead this fight and raise awareness, ignite a national conversation, motivate women to reclaim their beauty, and mobilize Americans to achieve these changes.

This is a continuation from last month's mind article entitled "Women allowing society to control?" This is an action guide regarding conscious change and the steps that can be taken to becoming whole within yourself. Remember, CHANGE STARTS WITHIN.

Before you begin, remember that we are the ones who can heal ourselves from the inside out. The first step is admitting that we have a problem. The second step is gaining knowledge. Remember: KNOWLEDGE = POWER!

Excerpt from MINDMUSCLE: A Simple, Realistic Guide to Spiritual, Mental, and Physical Fitness, a book by Zoe Roxanne Ztarr/Kakas.*
*To contact Zoe or place an order for her books, visit her website: www.mindmuscle.info

We tend to use our weight or our physical image to tell us how we feel instead of really being aware of what we truly are feeling about ourselves. This can become an addiction. We use only physical appearance to measure our self-esteem and self-worth when in fact the physical body is only a fraction of our true self. This false view of ourselves is debilitating. We are looking for the impossible. As we grow older, we no longer have the young, tight body we had when we were in our teens and 20s, maybe 30s, so we need to learn that being fit is not about being perfect.

Another consideration about body image includes genetic makeup, body type, diet, exercise, and/or surgery. All of these things affect our appearance. There has been an increase in the number of people with eating disorders and they're not all women, some are men and children. My clients tell me about eating issues on a daily basis.

How do I stop wanting to look like someone else?

♦ Realize that the person you wish to look like is not perfect either. No one is perfect.
♦ Appreciate your own beauty. We all have bad days. Find the good things about yourself and say them. I love my arms! I am intelligent! I am a great mother! I am self-sufficient! I am healthy! I am a good tennis player! I am a wonderful friend! I am reliable!
♦ Be more confident! Develop your own sense of style.
♦ Talk to someone about your thoughts. Have this person help you appreciate your strengths and motivate you to work on your flaws bit by bit.
♦ Get a support system—or join one.

How do I stop caring what other people think?

♦ Accept yourself for who you are and how you appear to others.
♦ Remember, others who judge you are envious. Get these people away and out of your life.
♦ Look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I love me."
♦ Become more independent. Try things alone. Do something new. Drive a different route to work.
♦ Smile at people who seem to judge you. Remember, these people are generally the ones who are truly in pain.
♦ Start to talk to others. Ask about them. Talk to all types of people, not just the ones you wish you were or want something from.
♦ Observe others and learn from what they do. If you like them, then mimic their actions. If you don't like them, then avoid the same actions.
♦ Make the best of your experiences. Instead of always pointing out the negative, try to look for one positive attribute. It could be as simple as the color of her/his shirt or the length/cut of their hair.
♦ Try to make new friends. Be open.
♦ Keep a diary or jot a notation in your daytimer/Iphone on the day you're feeling down. This can help you become more aware of what triggers make you feel bad.
♦ Walk with confidence. Take deep breaths. Pull your shoulders up and back. Look ahead at the world.
♦ If you worry, try to fix whatever it is that's bugging you.
♦ Love yourself! Realize that we all have good and bad qualities—including you.
♦ Remember, if you're absolutely feeling powerless to do something, turn it over to a power greater than yourself.
♦ Enjoy your life. Find something simple to enjoy every day. When you become truly happy, it won't matter what anyone says about you.

Next month we shall continue this discussion with these topics:
How do I feel more beautiful?
How do I develop self-esteem?


Roasted salmon with creamy, fat free mustard dill sauce

  • 3 Tbsp FAT FREE mayonnaise
  • ½ Tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Preparation Instructions:
  • Combine above ingredients
  • Place 4-ounce center cut salmon filets on a foil lined baking sheet. Add a little salt and pepper to filets.
  • Spread mixture over top and bake for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Before starting any exercise program consult with your physician. Zoe Roxanne Ztarr, MINDMUSCLE and or anyone affiliated with the contents of this website assumes no liability for the contents herein. Please use your own discretion and with physicians approval.

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