Monday, November 23, 2009

Taking Charge of Your Holidays!

By Pat Barone, CPCC, PCC
"America's Weight Loss Catalyst"

If you've been near a store lately, you've probably been exposed to holiday music, festive displays of lights and the not-so-subtle urging to buy, buy, buy.

The retail message to buy is second only to the societal push to eat, eat, eat!

So, before venturing down the path to a few extra pounds or a mountain of debt, let's take a look at some common holiday messages that take us away from enjoyable holidays.

If you look closely at the language we use around holiday obligations, you'll notice they are often preceded by the words "should", "ought" or "gotta."

These three little words, uttered so innocently, are clearly directions originating outside ourselves.  They cover tasks, deeds and actions that we feel we
"have to do", whether the direction comes from our mothers, spouses, best friend, children, or even from society.

"Should", "ought" and "gotta" are the source of much anxiety in life.  As we rush to fulfill the wishes of other people or to measure up to someone else's idea of what our lives should look like, we pay very little attention to our own needs.  In fact, the first thing that flies out the window is often our own greater need for health, security, kindness and love.

This creates stress, pressure and conflict that often disrupts celebrations and diminishes our enjoyment of the holidays.

But, how would your holidays look if they were designed around what you want?

Fulfilling Family Expectations IS DIFFERENT THAN Finding Fulfillment

Our needs are important.  They are connected to our deepest values and honoring our values leads to fulfillment in life.  When a niggling feeling of unease, dissatisfaction or even outright stress occurs, it's a sign we're violating our own values.

Take my clients, Tanya and Alex, who spent their Christmases with Tanya's large family for many years.  Tanya and Alex had no children but their rather large extended family included 8 other adults and 8 very young nieces and nephews. 

Each year, there were family discussions and debates over who was going to host Christmas.  Tanya, who hated the mess caused by the children, always refused to host the holiday because she felt the kids "trashed her house."  She and Alex ran an orderly home and disliked mess, noise and anything approaching a spill on their expensive antique furniture. 

Tension between Tanya and her sisters increased as the brood grew.
  Christmas meant a great deal to Tanya and Alex because they identified very strongly with their religion.

Every year, she swore she was going to get a handle on her holiday eating free-for-all but her calorie intake simply increased with every stressful event.
  So, Tanya came to me to help solve her eating issues. 

We looked at the situation through the lens of values.  It was obvious that Tanya and Alex had different values than Tanya's sisters.  Neither was bad or wrong, but they were different.  Her sisters loved the noise and torn wrapping paper; they were proud of their overloaded food table; and they wanted to play during holiday events. 

Tanya and Alex preferred church, traditional celestial music, and quiet contemplation for their holiday.

As Tanya became determined to solve the turmoil she felt over the holidays, I urged her to look for the "oughts", "shoulds" and "gottas" in her life.

I should be with my family at Christmas.

ought to be grateful I have a family and we're all close, even if the kids drive me crazy.

gotta be more patient with the kids, because there are more of them each year!

should go to church on Christmas Eve; my sisters are robbing their children of a spiritual connection to the holiday.  All they care about are material things and toys that make too much noise!

My sisters have gotta stop having kids; they can't seem to handle the ones they have! 

When I suggested Tanya and Alex spend their holiday differently, you would have thought I suggested they shoot themselves!  There was an equally long list of shoulds, oughts and gottas in response to that.

But, after we began to look at their values, I asked them to write about how they'd like to spend the holiday.
  Some themes emerged:  Christian worship, music, relaxation, gratitude and contemplation.  These things weren't present at their family Christmases.

So I urged them to brainstorm ways they could spend their Christmas that would fulfill them and keep them close to their own values.  What they came up with was surprising to both of them:  it was travel.

As they related their findings to me, they could scarcely contain their excitement.  They wanted to travel to other cultures and experience how Christianity was celebrated in other countries.  They had even made a list of places they wanted to visit:  Italy, Spain, Venezuela, Honduras, Portugal, etc. etc.

With much trepidation, they told Tanya's sisters and booked their travel plans.  Tanya was so convinced there would be huge fights and a lot of emotional resistance to their idea, they even tied that first trip to Alex's job so it sounded like they had a good "excuse."

They were shocked when the family didn't protest much!

Now, it may seem very logical from the outside that these people didn't belong together at Christmas, but family ties and the belief in "shoulds" "oughts" and "gottas" is strong. 

Each year for the last 7 years, I've received a post card from Tanya and Alex from some exotic location in the world where they are spending
and enjoying Christmas.  One year I also received a letter.  In it, Tanya told me she had spoken to her sisters about the fact that she and Alex didn't spend the holidays with them anymore.  She had been relieved to hear her sisters say,

"We're so glad you do what makes you happy now."

"You were a complete stick in the mud!  We hated having you here with us because you were miserable and you made us miserable."

"No offense, but now the kids can play without being shushed and criticized!"

"Please continue to travel and make yourself happy!"

So, under the umbrella of "shoulds" "oughts" and "gottas", Tanya had spent many an unhappy moment.  She had convinced herself and her husband she HAD TO be with her family and they would be very hurt if they didn't share their holiday.  She thought she was making them happy at her own expense but she wasn't making anybody happy.

She was also regularly and frequently overeating due to the unpleasant, stressful situation.

Stop "Shoulding" All Over Yourself
1.   Look ahead at the holiday season.  What are your "shoulds", "oughts" and "gottas?" 
2.   Determine your values and design a holiday experience that reflects those values.
3.   Schedule your holiday according to your vision.
4.   Who will be affected by the changes you'd like to make?  Let them know your plans, making it clear you're simply honoring your own values and not rejecting or judging the way they spend the holidays.
5.   Execute your plan.

You can follow these same steps whether you are changing the way you spend the holidays or changing the atmosphere of your holidays.  Perhaps you'd like a simpler holiday or one filled with more activity and exercise. Take the steps to make the special days in your life yours.

Chances are those around you will appreciate your honesty and honor your requests if you communicate in a clear and loving manner.

Pat Barone earned her title "America's Weight Loss Catalyst" by coaching thousands of clients toward permanent weight loss.  Her status as an expert is heightened by her own personal weight loss success (minus 70+ lbs. over 9 years ago).  She's a well-known speaker throughout the U.S. and teaches permanent weight loss worldwide through her intensive teleseminar "enLIGHTen Your Life!"  Learn more at

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dr. Patty Ann’s 7 Simple & Effective Conflict Resolution Tips

By Patty Ann Tublin
I would be willing to bet you that even Cupid’s has had a couple of fights with his/her partner - leaving a few arrows piercing his heart.  So if the quintessential lover, Cupid, can’t avoid a fight or two, is it any wonder all couples fight?  The secret for a happy, romantic relationship is not the ability to avoid fighting (an impossible task for mere mortals like ourselves) but how we fight.  Yes, there is indeed a right way to fight.  Read on and discover Dr. Patty Ann’s 7 simple and effective ways to fight and resolve conflict between you and your partner.
1.    As the emotional heat gets turned up, and you know you are only heading down the path of an all-out blow-out  between yourself and your partner,  give your self a time-out.  Before you enter the emotional point of no return, where all your reasoning and common sense flies out the window, take a deep breathe and you and your partner should both agree to walk away from the argument until you both cool off and calmer emotions prevail. 
2.    Check out your perspective and position in the fight you are currently engaged in and make sure you and your partner are not arguing about unresolved past conflictsSometimes we use a current conflict and use it to fight about a past conflict, unbeknownst to your partner.  If you and your partner are not fighting about the same issue, believe me, it will never get resolved.
3.    To make sure you avoid #2 in your fighting, once the fighting has begun, make sure you ask for clarification on the issue you and your partner are fighting about. Many times couples find out – after the fight has devolved to the point of no return – they were not fighting about the same issue.  This is pretty hard to believe – unless you have ever been in a relationship. lol.
4.    Admit if you are wrong. It really won’t kill you.
5.    Love means saying “I am sorry”You would be shocked to discover how far an apology will get you in your relationship. Don’t just take my word for it – try it.
6.    Avoid generalizations and using statements that place blame.  “You always” or “I never”;  instead say, “I feel hurt when you ….”; “You make me feel  … when you do or say that”.
7.    Walk a mile in your partner’s shoes by engaging in a little role reversal. Take your partner’s position in your fight – you may still not agree with their position, but it will give you a better understanding as to why they feel the way they do. 
Remember the long-term goal of your relationship is to be happy and together.  When fighting with your partner, do not fall into the trap of having to be right, or having to prove you are right at-all-costs.  Instead, use Dr. Patty Ann’s 7 simple and effective conflict resolution tips.  Otherwise, you might win the battle, but lose the war.
Dr. Patty Ann has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work, a Master’s Degree in Nursing and she is a Registered Nurse.  She is a board-certified psychotherapist having graduated from a prestigious three year post-graduate psychotherapy training program.
Dr. Patty Ann is a sought after public speaker, author and confidant to other professionals in the field of relationship coaching and expertise.  She brings 25 years of professional coaching and therapy experience helping people BUILD HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER RELATIONSHIPS that increases SATISFACTION in all areas of their relationship while DRAMATICALLY IMPROVING the overall quality of their lives.
Dr. Patty Ann loves to remind people that a GREAT RELATIONSHIP is the FOUNDATION for EVERYTHING else you do! To learn more about Dr. Patty Ann go directly to her website   You may comment on her blog
Follow drpattyann on twitter and on facebook.
Check out Dr. Patty Ann’s e-book titled: “The 3 Secrets to Increase Romance & Happiness in Your Relationship”.  These 3 secrets have never before been revealed in such a simple, concise and reader friendly way!
About to be introduced for sale:  A ground breaking revolutionary  product called: “Dr. Patty Ann’s Relationship Toolbox TM   Jump Start Your Relationship into a Higher Gear” which includes information, exercises, tricks, tools & so much more to GIVE you the relationship you have always dreamt about and DESERVE!!!
About to be announced:  Dates for Dr. Patty Ann’s online workshop.  These calls are with Dr. Patty Ann, where she will speak directly and openly about ALL of the relationship tips and tricks you will not hear anywhere else.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pilates, Fitness, and Bone Density - the Dilemma of Osteoporosis

By Lynda Lippin

I have recently noticed an increase in the number of physicians referring their patients with low bone density to Pilates classes. And while a modified Pilates program, especially one utilizing the Pilates equipment, is wonderful for maintaining and even increasing bone density, strength, and flexibility while improving posture, there are many Pilates exercises that must be modified or eliminated so as not to put osteoporotic women and men at risk of spine compression fractures and the dreaded “dowager’s hump” (see and the Osteopilates Blog)

The issue of osteoporosis has come up a lot in my Pilates career, both in my higher end studios in the US and at he beautiful A List Parrot Cay resort in Turks and Caicos where I am the Resident Pilates and Fitness teacher. My client base has typically been made up of mostly caucasian women over 50 (and it is a fact that one in two women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis related spinal fracture), many of whom are breast cancer survivors. On the whole, these beautiful active women all look pretty healthy. They have decent posture, play tennis and golf, walk a lot, and really try to eat well. They have access to the best doctors, the latest medical treatments, and the most cutting edge gyms, personal trainers, and Pilates studios.

Even so, most of them have low bone density (osteopenia and osteoporosis), and the majority move on a daily basis in ways that put them at greater risk of fracture—EVEN THOSE WHO HAVE GONE TO CERTIFIED PILATES TEACHERS AND PERSONAL TRAINERS.  My purpose is to educate you about osteoporosis so that you will know what to do and not do for yourselves and those you care about.

Basically, osteoporosis means porous bones. In Greek it translates as “passages through bones.”  The human skelaton reaches its maximum bone mass (amount of bone tissue) and density (how tightly it is packed) around ages 20-30, after which bone removal begins to occur faster than bone production. Bone density is measured by comparison to a healthy young adult; this is called a T-Score. Normal Bone Density is defined by the World Health Organization as density within -1 standard deviation (SD) of the 20-30 year old norm (10-15% bone loss). Osteopenia, or low bone density, is defined as within -1 to -2.5 SD (15-25% bone loss). Osteoporosis is defined as lower than -2.5 SD (over 25% bone loss).

Primary osteoporosis is caused by either a natural estrogen deficiency or age, while secondary osteoporosis is caused by certain medical conditions such as cancer, early removal of overies, reduced testosterone levels in men, spinal cord injury, blood & bone marrow disorders, sex hormone deficiencies, overactive thyroid or parathyroid, overactive adrenal glands, and anorexia nervosa or exercise induced amenorrhea. Osteopenia should be treated like osteoporosis in terms of preventing future loss.

Once diagnosed with osteoporosis, an individual has a documented severe and established loss of bone. While bone density testing is typically done at several sites such as the hip, wrist, or spine, these findings should be generalized to your entire skelatal system. Many clients have told me that I should not worry about their spine because their osteoporosis was only in their hip-WRONG! If you are losing bone you should be worried, period.

All sources are in agreement that getting enough calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D combined with proper exercise is necessary to prevent osteoporosis and to decrease your liklihood of fracture and prevent further bone loss if you do have osteopenia or osteoporosis. On the medication front, biphosphonates such as Fosomax and Actonel have been shown to increase bone density and reverse bone loss.

Our bones hold 99 percent of our body’s total calcium. If we do not ingest enough calcium to assist the bone remodeling process, our body takes it out of the bones themselves. Therefore, adults over 50 years of age should take 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium per day along with 600 to 750 mg of magnesium and 400 to 600 mg of Vitamin D to assist absorption. As our bodies do not hold on to the calcium we don’t use, it is better to spread your calcium supplements over the course of the day. And always take your pills with eight ounces of water.

In addition to nutrition and medication, exercise is the best thing. Wolff’s law states that bone becomes stronger in response to increased stress i.e., exercise. Weight bearing activities such as walking and dancing are done upright and require our bones to fully resist the forces of gravity.

To best maintain what you have and avoid more loss, follow these rules:

DO weight bearing exercise on your feet every day. Weight bearing in our case means standing on your feet! Walking, Jogging, standing pilates, weight training, cardiovascular exercise.

DO work on your balance in standing as often as possible. The less you fall the less your risk of wrist or hip fracture. Standing yoga poses and Standing Pilates can be very helpful here. Even just practicing standing on one leg is good.

DO resistance, cardiovascular, and flexibility training within safe guidelines.

DO focus on spine and torso extension. As our bodies give in to gravity we begin to round forward. It is crucial that we work constantly to stay upright with a gentle squeeze of the shoulder blades and a lovely lift of the breastbone.

DO be careful sneezing and coughing. Many spinal compression fractures happen during forceful coughing and sneezing. Try to stand or sit with your back against something for support.

DO NOT flex your spine forward. Don’t bend over to tie your shoes or pick something up off the floor. Don’t round forward while getting in and out of bed. Do not do sit ups or crunches, plows or shoulder stands. And never roll around on your spine! The microfractures occur in the front of the spine and are irreversible. Do you want to look like a round ball all the time for the rest of your life? I know I don’t!

DO NOT roll around on your spine. I know, I’m saying it again, but this is so important! And I am scared to tell you how many clients with osteoporosis I have seen who have been given extreme flexion exercises by certified Pilates teachers in studios.

DO NOT forcefully twist your spine. Be nice to your spine. Forceful torsion will hurt.

DO NOT do sit ups or crunches! Remember the flexion discussion above? A good Pilates teacher or Fitness trainer can show you many abdominal strengthening alternatives.

DO NOT take your leg far out to the side of your body (abduction). This is where many a hip fracture has occurred.

Now, is there a chance that you could do all of the movements I say are bad for osteoporosis and be fine? Sure. But why take the chance? The death rate after hip fracture is 20 percent for women and 30 percent for men. Spinal fractures can cause the “dowager’s hump” which is uncomfortable, unattractive, and unhealthy.

Pilates Mat Exercises to Eliminate with Low Bone Density:
• Roll-Over
• Rolling like a ball
• Spine-Stretch
• Open leg rocking
• Corkscrew
• Neck-Pull
• Jackknife
• Seal
• Control balance
Pilates Mat Exercises to Modify with Low Bone Density MAT EXERCISES TO MODIFY IF YOU HAVE OSTEOPOROSIS
• Hundreds
• Single leg stretch
• Double leg stretch
• Saw
• Spine-Twist
• Shoulder bridge
• Teaser
• Twist
• Boomerang
• Push-Up

About Lynda:  
Lynda Lippin is a Pilates Teacher with 2 decades of teaching experience, a Usui Reiki Ryoho Master Teacher, and an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. She currently lives (with her husband and dog) and works as the Resident Pilates and Fitness Teacher at the exclusive Caribbean Parrot Cay Resort in Turks and Caicos Islands.

In her spare moments Lynda writes several blogs, creates digital Pilates programs for people to follow at home and while traveling, and writes articles and reviews for BlogCritics and Amazon.

Lynda also enjoys reading, cooking and eating, snorkeling, meditation and yoga, knitting and crocheting, movies, and music.

Monday, November 2, 2009

We think your health, and everyone else’s too, is a matter of laughing....more.

By Perrie Meno-Pudge

While the reason is not always clear, people who laugh more, generally have a better sense of well-being and control in their lives. The power of humor has been recognized and recommended for centuries. Today, modern medicine offers a multitude of clinical studies showing that humor and laughter have a positive effect on our immune system, our heart, liver, internal organs, stress levels and even pain management all appear to benefit from laughter and a positive outlook. A shared laugh is often the best kind of remedy for what's got you down!

"GROW A SENSE OF HUMOR" sunflower seed packet.
When you get the sense of humor knocked out of you,
we recommend you find a sunny spot and grow one back...FAST!!!

Both traditional and alternative medicine use many forms of humor therapy. Scores of physicians, nurses, and other health care practitioners recognize the value of humor and laughter by mixing them in with medication and treatment.

And there’s more good news. Humor has a positive effect on how we function intellectually and emotionally.  It can help us put life’s hard knocks into a healthy perspective. It helps us to overcome fear. Humor allows us to take ourselves less seriously. It  even kindles our creativity.

So how can you add a large dose of humor into your daily routine? We’re glad you asked!

•  Brown bag it! Bring a few kids toys to work with you and keep them handy. Then, when you’re stressed out by a difficult phone call, reach for a toy and play. That caller will have no idea that you’re keeping yourself from losing your marbles literally by playing with some.

•  Keep funny pictures of friends and family around your office, especially ones that remind you of a fun outing or vacation you enjoyed with them

•  Fill your office with funny cartoons, sayings and jokes. (we recommend you include lots of PERRIE MENO-PUDGE® cartoons and some of our Signature Products that are designed to put a smile on your face!) ( Yes, we’re shameless) When things are looking particularly grim, look at them again. You’ll get a good laugh and in no time, be better able to put things back into perspective.

•  Exaggerate! Take a look at your situation and imagine it even bigger than it is. Go for the extreme. Blowing the problem out of proportion in this way will allow you to see the absurdity of it, and studies show that a good laugh may make the worries disappear

•  Share our cartoons, and hopefully a laugh, with your friends and family. Tell them you are thinking of them and that you’ve been there, done that, too! It always makes us feel good to spread the smiles.

Ultimately, we all have a choice. We can continue to let all of the frustrations and disappointments in life weigh us down, or we can find ways to introduce levity into even the toughest circumstances. Take life’s lemons and make lemonade. If we can do that, we are more likely to enjoy each day to its fullest and perhaps spend less time at the doctor’s office in the long run. We think your health, and everyone else’s too,  is a matter of laughing....more.

Please tell us what you do to keep your funny bone strong & healthy. Tell us about a situation in which you used humor to make lemonade from life’s lemons. We might even turn it into a cartoon!!!

"Like" us on Facebook, "Follow" us on Twitter, Sign up for Perrie cartoons and updates to be delivered to your inbox. Midlife is the New Beautiful® We’ve never seen a smiling face that wasn’t beautiful at any age.