Building Muscle, Building Vitality

zip pic

A still photo clip from the above YouTube video link:  I use this zip line far more than my kids (and their tire swing, as well). So glad I did not grow up in this era of video games being more important than outdoor play! Playing outside is the zest of life and builds muscles!  Use it or lose it!

Ok gang, the season is upon us (this was taken just before the snow was all melted, Spring 2014) to get outside and move our beautiful bodies, build muscle, increase lean body mass, and just plain feel better and stronger inside ourselves.

"Why?" you ask, "Why Paula would I want to do that?"

1.  Muscle tissue is healthier than fat tissue.  Muscle cells, each individual cell, is more active than fat cells.  This means each muscle cell has a higher metabolic activity level. That means your whole body, with more muscle, will have a higher metabolic rate.

2.  Muscle is active tissue.  Muscle tissue actively moves fluids around your body, massaging blood vessels and body tissues as you move your muscles, helping blood flow and other fluids to flow smoothly and easily.

3.  Conversely, fat tissue squeezes blood vessels, having more of a collapsing effect on blood vessels.  If the blood vessels running through your excess adipose tissue are being squeezed, this makes it more work for your heart to pump blood through these vessels.  Up goes the blood pressure...

4.  A moving body, with healthy amounts of muscle tissue, keeps your body young. And seriously, who does not want this?

Looking for more reasons why exercise is good for you?  See below for my "Benefits of Exercise" handout I use with clients.

Easy ways to build muscle: (with no equipment or minimal equipment required)

  • walk
  • push ups
  • reverse push ups (back bend push ups, you bet I do them!)
  • power push ups
  • pull ups
  • chin ups
  • yoga squat poses
  • yoga arm poses

How's that for some fun muscle building poses to try out.  One just needs their body and some comfortable clothes that will move with you! Have fun building muscle and zesty health!

Love, Paula

PS  The Benefits of Exercise:

23 Great Reasons to ExerciseBelieve me, I have more if you would like to chat!

Exercise, coupled with whole food eating & whole health lifestyles, may be the closest thing to the fountain of youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, but it can also reduce your risk of major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells and even add years to your life. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that's required to reap big benefits.  A simple walk that we start and finish with a round or two of push-ups and we are on our way to creating healthy fitness.

The range of health bonuses now attributed to exercise has surprised even doctors.  I am completely amazed this is not common sense!  We need research to prove moving our body, the way nature intended, is good for us???  What has happened to human beings' collective common sense???

Ok.... let's look at the benefits of daily exercise:

Keeps you younger than your actual chronological age.  Exercise boosts the amount of oxygen you consume during and after exercising.  This benefit of increasing oxygen consumption is how we increase our aerobic capacity and live longer.  More oxygen to the cells means healthier cells and longer cell life spans.  The longer your cells live, the longer you could live!  Every minute of good exercise and it does not need to be hard, pounding exercise, adds two to three minutes to your life!  Can you get payoffs like that with any other investment?  Aerobic exercise has also been shown to perhaps stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults.  Makes sense to me that it stimulates the growth of new brain cells in anyone who exercises!

Healthier, glowing skin.  When we exercise we increase our oxygen intake capabilities (see above) and increase our circulatory function.  This means blood, lymph and intracellular fluids all move about your body more efficiently.  The micro capillary beds of your face (really, your whole body’s skin) work at top-notch keeping you young and vibrant looking.  More oxygen and food nutrients will arrive at your cells and cellular waste products will more efficiently removed from your cells.  This means better waste removal both through efficient respiratory expiration and your fluid circulation.  End result:  healthier cells, including skin cells.  Your skin and whole body will glow with health!

Fewer asthma problems.  Yoga breathing exercises have .long been used to increase respiratory capacity and ease the symptoms of asthma.  When people with mild asthma exercise regularly and increase their  aerobic capacity and their lung strength, they can reduce the need to use their inhalers.

Boost the immune system and reduces infections.  Your immune cells work faster and more efficiently when you are a regular exerciser.  Those white cells rev up their aggressiveness against antigens entering your body.  A better functioning immune system cuts down on the viral and bacterial ills we pick up; cold, flu, etc.

Better blood sugar control.  When you exercise (and eat a whole food diet) your body will shed the extra pounds.  This creates a stable blood sugar regulation mechanism; lower insulin levels, lower and stable levels of blood sugar.  What a great way to prevent diabetes.  If you are an adult onset diabetic, what a great way to heal your body from this lifestyle induced disease.

Lessen your risk for cancer.  Exercise prevents constipation.  A properly functioning colon is less likely to develop cancer.  People with balanced blood sugars, see above, have less chance of developing colon cancer.  When our bodies are functioning well from whole foods, exercise and lifestyle choices, our hormones balance out creating a lesser chance of developing hormone related cancers: breast and prostate.

Fewer heart attacks, prevention of heart attacks.  Exercise raises your HDL cholesterol.  This is the cholesterol that is considered “good,” the cholesterol reading we want to be high.  Exercise is great for reducing inflammation in the body; less inflammation, less heart attacks, strokes and the resultant vascular health problems.

Lowers stress levels. Regular exercise reduces stress levels in the body, mind and soul creating calmer and more centered human beings.  We were meant to move.  Moving helps to burn up those “fight or flight” hormones in a healthy manner.  Exercise is a great remedy for relieving mild anxiety, frustration and depression.  Think of it as movement meditation, movement “medication!”

Better sleep.  A body that moves daily will sleep better for all reasons: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  Make it outdoor exercise and the fresh air and natural light exposure increases this benefit many times over!

Prevents and restores bone loss.  Moving your body keeps the bones healthy and young.  The bone cells lay down more new bone, preventing and reversing osteoporosis.

Stronger muscles, better flexibility and balance.  Exercise keeps your muscles strong. Moving through full range of motion everyday keeps your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints flexible and strong.  Exercise creates balance in body, mind and spirit.  Yoga is one great way to increase your muscle strength while creating better flexibility and balance for ease of movement!

Better organ function and health.  Anything that makes your body stronger is going to make all organs, right down to your very cells, function better.  Better circulation means better oxygen and nutrition being transported to the cells and better waste removal from the cells.  This makes for healthier cells, organs and ultimately a healthier You!

Protect female and male health.  Full body exercise keeps your sex hormones balanced:  this means goodbye PMS and menopausal symptoms, hello healthy life!  Exercise to reduce and possibly remove the symptoms of: PMS and menopause.  Men benefit with lower incidence of erectile problems and increased overall “male” healthiness.   Pelvic exercises, called kegel exercises, help prevent reproductive and urinary organ prolapse, clitoral erectile dysfunction and urinary leaking in females; impotence/erectile dysfunction and possibly enlarged prostate which is a common cause of urinary symptoms in males. Women benefit as they have the same erectile tissues in their external genitalia.  Men, despite not having a monthly menstrual flow, do have a monthly hormonal cycle.  Regular exercise keeps this sex hormone cycle at top-notch function.  Because all body hormones and chemicals work in synergy, healthy sex hormones keep the rest of your body chemistry humming along in great health.  Got those walking shoes on your feet?  Heading out the door?

Weight loss and loss of belly fat.  We are back to the common sense thing again, moving your body, as opposed to sitting on the couch, will keep you naturally thinner.  The body was meant for movement, so it stands to reason it will be thinner with less belly fat than an inert body mass!  Forty-five minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning may actually reduce your food cravings so you eat less all day.  That is a healthy body bonus!

Reduces Inflammation.  Inflammation in the body is the precursor to chronic lifestyle diseases.  Reduce your bodily inflammation and you reduce disease.  See heart attack information above.

Regulates your appetite, reduces cravings, promote healthy digestion.  When you feel good from moving, you are more apt to want to accentuate these good feelings with good food, avoiding the junk. When you eat good food and feel great, you are more apt to feel like moving.  What a wonderful catch 22!

Lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raises HDL cholesterol.  Trust me, you want this to happen!  Again, see heart attack information above.

Improve mood, concentration, nervous system function and memory.  Healthier bodies with healthier circulation means healthier brains for both intellectual and mood functioning!  See section, above, on lowering stress levels.

  1. Your body will express its positive, healthy genes (epigenetics) when you exercise and eat 100% whole foods.  Whole Health lifestyles turn off the negative genes that cause disease.  Start flicking those healthy genes switches on today;  Get Moving!

Attraction.  Exercising makes us more attractive to others in mind, body and soul.  We will attract to us people who have similar healthy lifestyles.

Prolong life.  I think we are back to number one:  exercise keeps you young! Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent for men and women.  You have mitochondria in your body cells; these are the powerhouses of the cells. When you exercise, you produce more and healthier mitochondria.  This means your body functions better energetically, your metabolism is higher and you live longer because of your powerful powerhouses!

FUN!  Exercise increases the fun factor in your life.  Do things that make you happy.  If running is not your thing, do not do it just because it is supposedly “healthy.”  Do whatever makes your heart sing.  Find several options that make you happy to move and mix them up.  Every day do something that makes you feel good inside and out!  This is your dose of daily fun that keeps you happy all day and night.  Remember the sleep and lower stress benefits of exercise?

Exercise with a friend or a group of friends and create community.  Healthy friendships up the fun factor of exercise and give you a positive support group from which to draw strength.

(Can you see how all of these benefits interrelate with each other?  Every benefit of exercise is part of the “web” of creating better health of mind, body and soul.)

*Adapted, revised and added to from Consumer Reports, September, 2007  and Institute for Integrative Nutrition Top 10 Reasons to Exercise handout

Need I say more????  Are you convinced?  Please, keep in mind that over doing exercise, seriously pounding the body from high intensity training is not the same as regular daily exercise.  Intense training,  the type of training that serious athletes do to compete in marathons, triathlon, etc., may actually age the body faster.

Get outside and move.  You get the added benefit of fresh air and natural light.  Your body will thank you in ways you can only imagine so let your imagination run wild (or walk wild!)!

Just a word from Garfield…… “I think that tossing and turning all night should be counted as exercise!” 

Why I Love Yoga and Other Thoughts on Whole Food, Whole Health Healing

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Frost, my Siamese Mutt Cat, doing her version of Downward Facing Cat Pose. She IS a natural at Yoga!

I wrote this article for the Potsdam Food Coop's Fall newsletter.  I decided to re-post it here as many people commented on the words being meaningful to them.  Thanks for the kind words Potsdam Coop friends!

Frost doing the "downward facing cat"!

Why I Love Yoga…and other thoughts on local, whole foods!

And you are now thinking, what does yoga have to do with the food?  My answer is quite simple. When we create mindfulness through a regular yoga practice (or any other form of body awareness exercises: Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Tae Kwon Do), we consciously make healthier choices in all areas of our lives.  This means healthier food choices. 

Back to yoga.  Why I love yoga… because it works!  It works on many levels, see my above comment around food choices.  The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj and means to yoke or bind. Yoga is often interpreted as a method of discipline that brings union (yoking or binding) to body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is the study of the Self.  Yoga gives us tools to improve our lives by stripping away the illusions that block us from connecting with our true self, with others, and with life itself.

Yoga is a whole food that nourishes body, mind, and soul.  Food is sacred to the body; it nourishes and sustains us.  Love is sacred to the mind and heart; nourishing the very part of us, our spirits, that gives to others and back to ourselves.  Yoga is the breath of the soul; keeping our life force strong and our 3 parts (body, mind, soul) in harmony and union.

Getting down to the brass tack: I am an exercise enthusiast.  Those who know me, know this well.  As long as I am not sitting still, I am happy.  The list of activities I have engaged in goes on and on and blurs together over the years and decades of my life. I love and have loved them all.

For many years I was into serious weight training and I felt that I was very strong.  When I started to do yoga, I was humbled.  I could not push up into a back bend.  My arms would just not do it.  After a few weeks I had the back bend thing down.  Years later, I now do reverse push ups.  Push ups from the back bend pose!  The strength I have gained is through my whole body (mind and soul!).

Over the years I realized my yoga strength ran deeper than that.  My choices around food and other lifestyle habits became more conscious in a health promoting way.  I paid attention to eating with awareness, chewing food well, eating only what I needed, and stopping before I was stuffed.  These habits around food and food choices slipped in the back door; all part of the study of self (ha ha, yoga!).  All those years of doing yoga transformed the way I interacted with myself and the world around me and I did not even perceive it happening.

Positive things I noticed around food: not needing to fill my plate to the brim or returning to the potluck table for another round of food, being satisfied with enough, passing on the desserts as sweet foods no longer dominated my taste buds, feeling abundance and satisfaction with light meals, and reveling in the flavors / colors / textures / and gift that each meal brings.

When we stop the constant chatter inside our heads and still our minds through mindfulness activities (yoga and other body awareness exercises), we tend to make choices that are in alignment with what is best for our health without feeling deprived.  This is because we have learned to live in the present moment and are aligned in body, mind, and spirit.  That is the awareness that Yoga brings to our being.

A cluttered "chattery" mind and a body that is not aligned in mind, body, and spirit tends to make decisions based upon impulse and cravings without regard to what is best for long term health.

When we quiet our minds, we use our emotions to our advantage.  When our minds are busy, our emotions use us.

Change is defined as the process of becoming different, substituting one thing for another, biological metamorphosis, personal development especially if seen as personally "life-changing". Consciousness is awareness of one's own existence and behaviors, inwardly attentive and mindful.  Conscious change involves will and deliberateness, altering self in an intentionally conceived manner.

When we discover that something we are doing in our lives no longer serves our higher purpose as a human, conscious change is how we evolve.  When we discover that the lifestyle and food choices we have made, consciously or not, are not reflections of our higher selves, we move to make change.  We realize our bodies are not vibrating at our highest level of health and we seek out ways to change this:  to heal current symptoms and weight issues and prevent lifelong degenerative diseases from interfering with our vibrant quality of life.

Remember that life is always for us!  Life force energy is always moving towards the positive, health and healing.  It is humans who tend to go against the grain of nature and turn this flow of energy against ourselves.  If you allow yourself to be in this flow, positive things will just happen.

Yoga, or any body awareness type exercise, aligns our bodies, our minds and our spirits so we make life giving choices.  Yoga helps us to become normalized in our eating, to reach a pattern of habits that are normal and healthy for us.  Yoga (or any body awareness exercise) help us to walk into the Potsdam Food Coop, Nature's Storehouse, our local farm stands or supermarkets, and we can make choices that feed and nourish every cell of our being.  We walk out with life giving, whole foods to nourish ourselves and our families.

Simply put into words by Donna Farhi, world renowned Yoga Teacher: (image compliments of Trillium Center for Yoga & Health, Potsdam, NY)

A book to inspire you to create conscious living in your life.

This means you no longer make choices based upon emotional triggers. You instead make choices based upon inner wisdom and peacefulness.





Update 7/31/2019 I created and teach my Sacred Circle Yoga Mentorship because I see what a daily Yoga practice does for one’s health.

Update 4/23/2018  Happy Earth Day!  This post has been used and published in several newsletters and journals in the 5 years since I wrote it. My wish is that the gift of Yoga, mindfulness, reaches out to help many heal emotional issues around food, food choices, and eating habits.  I have since created The School of Self Healing home study courses on weight loss, sugar addiction, and whole food eating that embody the mindful / yoga habits to support your feeling whole and happy in the healing choices you make. Much Love to All.

More Why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Yoga Blog Posts, Yup, click on the "blue" back there. Enjoy reading as much as I enjoy sharing my Love of Yoga.

Update on 4/29/16 Great quotes from the book "The Little Red Book Of YOGA WISDOM" Thank you Shelby of Five Elements Living Retreat Center for always keeping my heart and soul open to inspiration.

  • Yoga is the martial art of the soul and the opponent is the strongest you have ever faced: Your Ego. - Unknown

  • Spiritual practices help us move from identifying with the ego to identifying with the soul. -Ram Dass

  • Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked (connected). -Desikashar