Monday, April 25, 2011

Challenge Week #4

    This has got to be the oddest challenge I have ever proposed. Ladies for every day that you complete Kegal exercises twice a day you will earn your bonus points. And yes I know you aren't all old ladies that are peeing your pants when you sneeze or jump rope. But this is a good healthy habit for all of us to continue throughout our lives.

    More information about Kegal exercises below but our challenge will be to do Kegal exercises at least 25-30 repetitions twice a day.

    Kegal exercises are daily training program for the muscles that support the uterus, bladder and other pelvic organs. It is also called pelvic floor muscle exercise or pelvic muscle rehabilitation. This exercise will help your pelvic muscles prevent accidental urine leakage.

    Why should I do Kegal exercises?

    Regular Kegal exercises make the muscles that support your pelvic organs stronger and helps you use the muscles more effectively. Women who have a problem with urine leakage have been able to eliminate or greatly improve this problem just by doing pelvic floor muscle exercises each day. Pregnant and postpartum women who do pelvic floor muscle exercises have significantly less urine leakage.

    How do you do Kegal exercises?

    When you are doing pelvic floor muscle exercises in a way that will build muscle strength you will feel all the muscles drawing inward and upward. A good way to learn the exercise is to pretend that you are trying to avoid passing intestinal gas. Think about the way you tighten (or contract) the muscles to keep the gas from escaping. Bring that same tightening motion forward to the muscles around your vagina. Then move the contraction up your vagina toward the small of you back. Another good way to understand kegal exercises is to attempt to stop the flow of urine mid stream.

    Important Tips for pelvic floor muscle exercises
    1. Each contraction should involve a concentrated effort to get maximum tightening.
    2. Try to contract only the pelvic muscles. (If you feel your abdomen, thighs or buttocks tightening then relax and aim just for the pelvic muscles by using a less intense muscle contraction. If it seems impossible not to tighten the abdomen, thigh, or buttock muscles, then concentrate on full relaxation and try gentle flicks of the pelvic muscles, for example, flick, flick, flick, relax--working the muscles to higher layers with each flick.)
    3. Be sure to breathe while holding the muscles contracted.
    4. Practice fully relaxing the muscle for at least 4 seconds between each contraction.
    5. Experiment with contracting the muscles in many different positions (standing upright, lying, sitting, on hands and knees, feet together, feet apart).
    What are the most common mistakes made during pelvic muscle exercises?

    The most serious mistake women make when doing kegal exercise is to strain down instead of drawing the muscles up and in. Try doing this on purpose once so you can feel what NOT to do: take a breath, hold it, and push down with your abdomen. You can feel a pushing out around your vagina. It is very important to avoid this straining down.

    To keep from straining down when you do a kegal contraction: exhale gently and keep your mouth open each time you tighten your muscles. Remember to breathe. Rest a hand lightly on your abdomen. If you feel your stomach pushing out against your hand, you are straining down. If you cannot avoid straining down, do not continue with the exercise until you check with your nurse to learn how to do it properly.

    When should I use the pelvic floor muscles?

    Squeezing the pelvic floor muscles can help you right away to avoid leakage. Practice coordinating contraction of these muscles with an event in which you may be prone to leak urine (i.e., coughing, sneezing, nose-blowing, lifting a heavy object, etc.) You should also contract the muscles when you need to delay going to the toilet.

    How can I work this new health habit into my everyday life?

    1. Think about your typical day. Pick a time (about 5 minutes twice a day) that you should have time to do kegal training, maybe when you first wake up or maybe during a TV program you almost always watch or even in line at the grocery store.
    2. Decide on a way to remind yourself to do pelvic floor muscle training. You might put a note on a mirror you always use in the morning or a sticker on your TV or a special magnet on your refrigerator.
    3. Reward yourself for exercising each time you do it. You could draw a small flower on your calendar to mark each day you exercise and get yourself a real flower or bouquet when you have drawn 10 or 30 flowers. Any small reward that you know will keep you working on this habit is fine.
    4. Monitor your progress. You might want to keep a daily diary of whether or not you have had a leaking accident. Over the weeks you should begin to see a decrease in the frequency and amount of unwanted urine loss. Another way to check your progress is to see whether or not you can slow or stop your urine stream when you are going to the bathroom. We recommend that you try this no more than once a week. As your pelvic muscles get stronger you will find that you are able to stop the stream more quickly.
How to do Kegal exercises:
    The Basic Kegel: Slowly contract your muscles, drawing inward and upward. Hold for a count of three; then slowly relax for three seconds. Repeat as many times as you can, working up to 25 or 30 three-second squeezes.

    Flutter Kegels: Squeeze and relax the PC muscle rapidly, in a pulsing motion. In the beginning aim for consistency of pulses, rather than speed; that will come with time and practice. Work up to 25 or 30 pulses.

    The Kegel push-out: After releasing the contraction, gently push down and out with your PC muscles (no bearing down!). Create Kegel sequences that combine long and short repetitions with push-outs - for example, 10 short squeezes, 10 long squeezes, and five push-outs (any sequence will do).

    Elevator Kegels: Picture your vagina as an elevator shaft, with the elevator car at the opening of your vagina. Slowly tighten your muscles as you imagine raising the elevator, pausing at the top, and then lowering it again. Repeat 10 times.

    Finally, to really work the PC muscles, do Kegels in various positions - while sitting, standing, lying down, or kneeling - two or three times a day. If you do them regularly, you’ll feel the difference in eight to 12 weeks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oops Change of Challenge Week #3

OK ladies here's the new challenge!
FOR EVERY DAY THAT YOU FLOSS YOUR TEETH THIS WEEK YOU EARN YOUR 5 CHALLENGE POINTS. (Note if it is a day or two before you read this e-mail and you have been going outside every day for 15 minutes and not flossing your teeth go ahead and take the challenge points! But for heavens sake start flossing NOW)

I won't require it to earn the bonus points but if you have not been to the Dentist in over 6 months make an appointment. I know it's tough to keep up with these kind of things in our hard economic times. But I can honestly say that regular dental care and sporadic dental care end up costing exactly the same. Because if you go regularly you can best avoid expensive treatments like crowns, bridges and root canals. And better yet you get to enjoy a healthy smile, fresh breath and overall better health.

OK enough of my soapbox (for those of you that don't know my husband is the most gentle dentist in Central Florida). Please read the entire article below.


Healthy Teeth, Healthy Heart

Most everyone knows that a daily flossing helps promote healthy teeth and gums, but that may be just the tip of the iceberg. Research suggests flossing may protect a lot more than your pearly whites.

Let's Start with Your Smile

Without regular flossing, your whole mouth can really suffer. A soft, sticky bacterial film (plaque) begins to accumulate on neglected teeth, especially below the gum line. Eventually, the acids in this plaque begin to destroy the outer enamel of teeth. Gums may become irritated and bleed. Breath may start to smell bad. And after a while, the plaque hardens into crusty yellow or brown deposits -- called tartar -- that make it even easier for more plaque to build up. Eventually, lack of flossing can lead to gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth loss.

As if that weren't reason enough to floss, now research suggests that regular flossing may affect more than the health of your mouth.

  • Flossing may protect your heart. Research has shown a connection betweenperiodontitis and cardiovascular disease. Researchers are not sure what is behind the connection, but it makes the simple task of flossing a no-brainer for optimal health. (Discover more ways to side-step heart disease and help prevent a heart attack down the road.)
  • Flossing may protect your arteries. Flossing and clogged arteries also may be related. Inflammation is a crucial link in the causal chain that leads to arterial plaque and obstruction. Researchers also speculate that bacteria from the mouth may enter the bloodstream and contribute to inflammation and artery clogging.
  • Flossing may reduce your risk of diabetes and its complications. If you already have certain health concerns, flossing may help protect you from any further health complications. For example, periodontal disease appears to make insulin resistance worse. When cells require more insulin to take up blood sugar from the bloodstream, blood insulin and, eventually, blood sugar levels will rise. Increases in blood insulin and blood sugar levels both have undesirable effects, such as the development of type 2 diabetes.

To the extent that good oral hygiene reduces plaque, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and the accompanying inflammatory processes, proper oral hygiene may in turn improve insulin sensitivity of liver and muscle cells and reduce blood sugar levels and the need for insulin.

Let the String Lead the Way

More and more research is pointing to ties between oral health and overall health. Even when taking into consideration other bad health habits, such as smoking or excessive drinking, studies have still shown a strong link between periodontal disease and other diseases. Short of a visit to the dentist, no other oral healthcare habit alone has the same ability to remove plaque between teeth and below your gum line. Being aware of the connection between poor oral health and disease gives you one more opportunity to achieve premium wellness.

The next time you floss, use these tips to get the most out of that little white string:

  • Be sure to slide the floss under your gum line and to gently curl it around each tooth as you floss.
  • Floss gently, but don't quit because your gums bleed. Eventually, they will become stronger and bleed less with regular flossing.
  • Use fresh floss for each tooth juncture.
  • If you find it difficult to manipulate floss with your fingers, purchase dental-floss picks or holders that anchor sections of floss for you in a small, U-shaped plastic device.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Challenge for Week #3

Our Challenge for the week is to get yourself outside in the sunshine. You can exercise in the sunshine if you'd like or you can grab a book and a lawn chair and just bask in the yard but in order to get your daily 5 bonus challenge points you need to partake in sunshine for at least 15 minutes per day.

And why?

What are the Benefits of Vitamin D?

Up until recently, vitamin D’s big claim to fame was that it prevented rickets, a serious bone deformity that can affect kids and babies. Because vitamin D is not widespread in the food supply, health authorities in the U.S. decided back in 1932 that all milk should be fortified with vitamin D in order to prevent rickets. And that’s pretty much the last anyone thought about it.

But we may have underestimated the importance of this vitamin. Over the last few years, researchers have noticed two things. One, people who have heart disease, diabetes, depression, various auto-immune diseases, osteoporosis, several types of cancer, and even obesity also seem to be low in vitamin D.

The second big news flash is that lots of us are deficient in the vitamin. Just last month, a new report found that seven out of ten American children, for example, are low in vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is also a particular concern in the elderly and those with dark skin, and everyone is at greater risk during the winter months.

Where Do We Get Vitamin D?

As I said, vitamin D is not very common in foods. About the only foods that naturally contain a meaningful amount of D are oily fish like salmon and mackerel--and the dreaded cod liver oil. Many of us don’t eat fish that often and even fewer take cod liver oil. And now, we (and our kids) also drink less milk than we used to. So fortified milk isn’t picking up the slack it used to.

Seeing that vitamin D is an essential vitamin, isn’t it strange that it isn’t found in more foods? I mean, you can trundle on down to any grocery store in land-locked Kansas and pick up some fish for dinner. But what did people do in the days before we had such well-traveled food? What did everyone who didn’t live near the sea and know someone who fished do to get vitamin D? Seems like a pretty serious design flaw.

But here’s the thing that makes vitamin D a little different than any other nutrient I can think of: Food wasn’t really meant to be our primary source of this nutrient. Sunlight was. Human skin has a pretty nifty trick: it produces this vitamin when it is exposed to UV rays. No matter how far you live from the ocean, there’s going to be at least some sunlight.

The sun gets weaker the further you go from the equator, of course. And that’s why humans who originated from the northern and southern region of the globe have lighter skin than those who originated from closer to the equator.

Lighter skin allows more UV through, which ensures that people living further from the equator, where the sun’s rays are weaker, can make enough vitamin D to stay healthy. Dark skin acts as a sort of natural sunscreen, providing some protection against the stronger UV rays at the equator, but still allowing for sufficient vitamin D production.

D is for Deficiency

Pretty clever system, huh? But consider our current situation. First, we wear clothes. Second, we work and play inside. Third, lots of dark-skinned people now live far north or south of the equator where the UV rays are weak. Not surprisingly, dark-skinned people living in the U.S. are six times more likely to be deficient than light-skinned folks. And finally, light-skinned people are told never to step outdoors without slathering themselves in sunblock, whichprevents wrinkles and skin cancer but also blocks vitamin D production.

The end result? Rampant vitamin D deficiency. And now that low vitamin D levels are being linked to an ever-growing list of illnesses, researchers are wondering whether getting more vitamin D into people could make everyone a lot healthier. Many experts are arguing that the current recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is way too low and needs to be doubled or even tripled. And vitamin D supplements are flying off the shelves.

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

Rest assured that research is steaming along, full speed ahead. And, while vitamin D may not turn out to be the cure for all that ails us, all this press has been a good reminder that we need to pay attention to be sure that we’re getting enough of it.

The current recommended intake for vitamin D for adults is 200 to 400 IU. If you’re over 70, it goes up to 600 IU. Many recent studies suggest that for optimum health and disease fighting we may need up to 10X that much Vitamin D. For more information go to

How Much Sun Does it Take to Get Enough Vitamin D?

You can also meet your vitamin D needs by exposing your skin to the sun—without sunscreen. You may have read that 10 to 15 minutes of sun per day will do the job. But it’s a little more complicated than that. It all depends on where you are, how high you are, how much skin is exposed, how dark your skin is, the time of day, and the time of year.

I found a great little calculator developed by Norwegian scientists that can help you determine how much sun you need to meet your daily vitamin D requirement, taking all those factors into consideration. It’s very interesting to play around with. For example, I learned that here in Baltimore, in August, I’d need just 5 minutes of sun at midday to top off my vitamin D stores. If I were back home in Buffalo with Annie, I’d need an extra minute or so. If it were November in Buffalo, I’d need about 40 minutes. If it were November in Buffalo and I were black, I’d need two and a half hours.

Here's the link to the calculator so you can determine what you need

For some reason, although it only takes a few hundred IU of vitamin D to maintain blood levels, it can take an enormous amount of supplemental vitamin D to restore them. If you’re deficient, you might need to take 10,000 to 50,000 IU a day for a few weeks to get your levels back up to normal.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Challenge for Week #2

Ladies the challenge for this week is to get more variety in your diet. For each day that you eat a fruit or vegetable that you have not eaten during the last month you earn the 5 daily bonus points.

Enjoy a Variety of Foods

Enjoy a Variety of FoodsDo you find yourself eating the same thing day in and day out? Same breakfast, same lunch, same few dinner recipes. Furthermore do you find yourself always eating WHEAT bread, always eating white rice, always eating the same cereal or snack foods.

Why Variety is Important?

it increases your chances of getting all of the nutrients needed for good health, in the right amounts.

it stacks your diet with protective factors that may disarm would-be cancer causing substances. Protective factors include both nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and non-nutritive substances present in food.

it helps to keep your intake of substances like fat, salt and other negative ingredients at more moderate and healthy levels.

I'd like to add another point to the above list. My middle son has had a lot of problems with food allergies. The doctor that I took him to when he was a young boy explained that food allergies can be caused by three big factors.

1. We eat too many refined and processed foods that don't contain enough roughage and thereby because of the lack of fiber the food can sit in our intestinal tract longer than it should until it putrefies and rots.

2. Our bodies can actually mistake this foreign matter that is not eliminated in a timely manner as a foreign substance which it needs to guard against. This can initiate allergic reactions.

3. Repeatedly eating the same foods over an over can exacerbate the above problem.

How do you get more variety?

Getting variety in your diet is really quite simple.

The most basic way to ensure that you eat a variety of foods is to plan your day's meals around the major food groupings: Grain products; Vegetables and Fruit; Milk products; Meat and Alternatives.

Take advantage of the marvelous range of foods available.

Enjoy ethnic foods and cooking; try the different fruits, great variety of vegetables and many types of whole grains that you find in the ethnic markets and grocery stores.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Welcome Spring Skinnies

So how are you doing? Did you make it through day one without eating any sugar! Did you drink your water? Exercise an hour? Go to and enter all of the food you ate?

There are so many things to keep track of it can feel a bit overwhelming at first but honestly these habits will become second nature to you if you persevere.

We will have a weekly challenge and for this first week it is:
1. Get an account on
2. Using the e-mail addresses of our group invite everyone in the group to be your friend or accept their invitation to you.
3. Make 12 comments to anyone in the group on the newsfeed.

Please let me know if this is too confusing. You can earn 35 points (23 for inviting the other 23 contestants to be your friend and 12 for comments) for the week for our challenge.

Oh and please read the Rules and Frequently Asked Questions portion of this site.

Remember your $5 per week for a total of $40 is due as soon as possible. My info is:
Sandee Spencer
1290 Northridge Drive
Longwood FL 32750