If you’ve ever coveted the long, lean physique of a dancer, barre workouts are designed to help achieve just that.
Based on traditional ballet movements, barre classes have been popular with celebrities for some time and barre studios began opening up in big cities throughout the country in the past decade. Now, thanks to a new studio opening in Chesterton called M.O.M.s Method, Northwest Indiana women can give this new craze a try.
The studio has been offering classes since mid-January and teaches what owner Orlee Glazer calls “Mind Over Matter Studio Method,” or M.O.M.s Method, a method she designed to benefit women of all stages in their lives.
Glazer explains, “M.O.M.s Method is a technique that I’ve formulated that combines the best from ballet, Pilates and barre with stretching and conditioning.”
Professionally trained in ballet, Glazer became interested in barre fitness after she took a class in New York City with a friend. She ultimately earned her certification to teach barre classes. When Glazer, a Maryland native, moved to Northwest Indiana, she discovered the closest barre classes were offered in Chicago and decided to open her own studio in Chesterton.
Set to up-beat music, the studio’s hour-long class focuses on isometric or small movements, isolating one muscle at a time, followed by stretching to lengthen the muscle. The workout focuses on all parts of the body, with an emphasis on core strength, and participants keep moving the entire time.
“This is the type of class that energizes you for the day,” Glazer says. In addition to the muscular benefits, “you are getting some cardiovascular benefits because your heart rate will go up and down as you go through the movements.”
Glazer says she not only sees the benefits of the lengthening, strengthening and tightening of the body from barre workouts, but added that clients often tell her how energizing, invigorating and motivating the workout is as well.
Client Amy Morgan shared on the studio’s Facebook page, “Thank you ladies for the wonderful class today. Even 8 months pregnant and the burn was energizing.”
Master Instructor at M.O.M.s Method in Chesterton, Elizabeth Mazepa, agrees, “After each class, your entire body will feel truly worked. You'll feel stretched, lengthened and invigorated. It truly will give you a ‘barre high.’”
Women of all fitness levels are welcome at Glazer’s studio. Because the studio is the first of its kind in Northwest Indiana, many of the students are new to the workout and workouts can be modified to fit each student’s ability.
Students often wear yoga pants and a t-shirt, but nothing too baggy so instructors can help correct form. In addition, socks are required in the studio and a special sock to help with grip when doing movements can be purchased at the studio. All other equipment, including the light weights used during the workout, is provided.
With this new studio, Glazer hopes to help women achieve their goals—whether it’s just to get out of the house, develop upper body strength or take time out of the day to take care of themselves, for example. Her motto is to “Be your better self,” whatever that goal may be.
“I really wanted to create a class that’s not only beneficial for your body, but also for your mind,” Glazer said. “I want our studio to inspire women to come out, to work out and to feel good about themselves.”
IF YOU GO
761 Indian Boundary Rd, Ste 5, Chesterton, Ind.
Jane Bogordos has been an exercise physiologist for 21 years. She has been an exercise physiologist and fitness supervisor at Omni Health & Fitness since 2010. Previously, she spent 15 years working in outpatient physical therapy helping athletes, stroke patients, people suffering from industrial injuries and people recovering from surgery.
How did you get started personal training?
I have always been active, played sports in high school and college, and loved helping people either get started on exercise programs or challenge them to higher levels with their current workouts. Working first in physical therapy and now back in fitness has allowed me to help so many people improve their strength, function, and overall health.
What is a personal trainer? Do trainers specialize in different things?
A personal trainer is a certified health professional who is there to help motivate, educate, support, and provide accountability to their clients. Many of the trainers at Omni have different areas that they specialize in. A few of the specialties include functional training, body building, power lifting, Pilates reformer training, youth sports performance, body fat reduction, and endurance training. Omni offers not only one-on-one training, but also semi-private, small group training, and youth training as well.
Who needs a trainer?
Everyone would benefit from having a trainer. Anyone who is new to exercise would benefit from the expertise and education of a trainer to make sure they are learning proper form and technique. A person who has been exercising independently for a long time, but who is not getting the desired results of all their hard work, also would benefit from a trainer to change up their exercise routines and take their training to a higher level.
How do you choose a trainer who is right for you?
Choosing a trainer that is the right fit for you is very important. We assess everything from the clients goals, preference for female/male trainer, the desire for one-on-one vs. group training preference, and the time/date availability of the client.
6. What should I expect in my first session with a trainer?
First, if the session is a private training session, the trainer and client will discuss goals, previous exercise experience, preference for specific exercises, medical history, and training schedule, followed by your first training session.
If you are participating in small group training, you will first complete an introductory session to learn the basic fundamental training exercises and then continue onto the small group training sessions that are available throughout the week.
7. What are the benefits of working with a trainer?
The greatest benefits of working with a trainer are motivation, accountability, and results! If you have a specific goal of reducing body fat and building upper body strength for instance, often it is very hard to do it on your own. We are creatures of habit and get stuck in a rut doing the same exercises week after week, not making any strides to reach our goals. Trainers are able to use their education, knowledge and experience to provide you with tips and tricks to help you develop a healthier lifestyle and make it easier for you to reach your goals.
Gone are the days of physically writing down on paper a daily food diary or exercise journal, personal trainers say.
In fact, fitness apps have become so common, many personal trainers have integrated them into workout plans for their clients.
"In the past, we provided clients with a small notebook to track their nutrition and exercise," said Karen Schutters, personal trainer and owner of Priority Fitness Personal Training Center. "The trainer would look at the journal during the client's session, providing direction and advice on how to better reach their goals based on what the client recorded."
Now, nearly everyone has access to online sources to track those things, which also provide much more useful information quickly and accurately that can help the client stay motivated and on track, she said.
Erik Carpenter, operations supervisor with Omni Health and Fitness, said the club uses a system called ActivTrax that can be utilized in the club, but also has a mobile app.
"Essentially, all clients and members who are signed up for the service can access their workouts from anywhere in the world, as long as they have the app," he said.
The system recently added a nutrition feature that Carpenter says Omni wants to roll out to its members in 2014 so they can track their eating habits and their exercise all in one place.
"Most apps offer either one or the other - diet or exercise, but ActivTrax has the ability to do both," he said.
With the holidays fast approaching, many are headed to their phones or tablets to download fitness apps to help with their New Years resolutions.
When searching for an app, however, Schutters recommends using a well-known one that has many positive reviews from other users.
"MyFitnessPal is an app many of our clients use," she said. "It has a vast nutritional database to choose from when recording food intake and will give accurate caloric values for a variety of food choices and popular restaurants."
The app also allows one to enter his or her exercise performed to assess caloric expenditure, she said.
Another option is MapMyRide, which provides pre-planned routes or allows someone to map a unique route of her own.
"This app tracks activity, allows the user to log their food intake, and the information may be shared on social media sites," Schutters said.
Endomondo Sports Tracker is used by one of Schutters' trainers as well. This app utilizes GPS to track outdoor exercise.
"Users can analyze their training on their own, compete with others on pre-planned local routes and communicate with others worldwide," she said. "This app also provides audio feedback during the workout, letting the exerciser know how they are measuring up if they are competing with others who have completed a pre-planned course they are currently using."
Aside from ActivTrax, Carpenter said he likes fitness the more old fashioned way.
"I'm a little old school and prefer hard work and sweat over technology," he said.
But for beginners, he said mobile apps definitely have their benefits.
"I don't need my phone to tell me when I've worked out hard enough, but for beginners, it's a great way to learn how much exercise is the right amount so that you can eventually do it on your own."
Just as the notebook idea worked for some clients, but not all, apps work well for those willing to spend the time learning how to use them and entering the appropriate information, Schutters said.
"Accountability is key to achieving results," she said. "So regardless of the source, whether trainer or app, if the person maintains consistency in using it and maintains use over a long period of time, results will be evident."
Carpenter said he advises clients to remember an app is just an app.
"You still have to be motivated to get up and move," he said. "A lot of times people get all excited when they get a new app, just like a kid with a new toy, but eventually the novelty wears off and you still have to have that drive and desire to get the results. The app is really just a tool to assist along the way."
Yoga’s latest trend, hot yoga, has studios across the country turning up the heat, literally. Hot yoga is any type of yoga—Moksha yoga, Bikram yoga, Corepower yoga, etc—performed in a heated room with temperatures somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
For many, holding a yoga pose is hard enough without increasing the heat, so what is drawing so many to this yoga trend? Michelle Robinson, owner of YOUnique Hot Yoga of NWI, thinks it’s the sweat.
“There’s this misconception that when you sweat, you’re working harder,” Robinson says. “Hot yoga is for those people who really like that sweat.”
At YOUnique Hot Yoga of NWI, instructors offer different levels of Vinyasa Yoga, a sequence of poses synchronized with your breath, to make yoga more accessible to people of different skill levels. Students can choose a slower class, a power yoga class, or yoga with weights, among other options.
The increased external temperature actually helps warm the body up faster compared to a traditional yoga class where you warm up from the inside out. Because your body is warmed up before getting into the poses, the risk for injury is reduced.
Other benefits of hot yoga include increased flexibility, strength in large and small muscle groups, breath control, focus and healing. Hot yoga even gets your heart pumping, says Cipriano Romero, instructor and owner of Reflections Yoga Center, whose center also offers Vinyasa Yoga classes.
“Even though you stay on your mat while doing yoga postures in a heated room, your heart can work the same way as it does when you are running,” Romero explained.
Due to the high temperatures in the room, there are some risks with practicing hot yoga—including dehydration and heat exhaustion. Students are advised to stay hydrated before, during and after class. Romero recommends not eating any heavy meals before class and sitting and resting if students feel overwhelmed during class.
“We always remind the students to follow their own pace and to be connected to their inner reality rather than the reality of the other students in the class,” Romero says. “It is not a competition, so we let go of the competitive ego.”
The instructors at YOUnique Hot Yoga of NWI offer modifications, as well as props and straps to aid students. Robinson says. “Our responsibility as a teacher is to provide a safe environment with modifications and props, and to assist our students so they do not get injured.”
While anyone can do hot yoga, this form of exercise isn’t recommended for everyone, including people who are sensitive to heat and pregnant women. As with any form of exercise, you should contact your doctor before beginning a new routine, especially if you have been diagnosed with heart problems, have low or high blood pressure, are taking medication or have a medical condition.
Students new to hot yoga should bring water, a towel and a mat and wear light clothing that allows the skin to breathe. Romero recommends wearing fitted capris, as exposed skin can become slippery when sweating, and a fitted tank top. You should avoid wearing one hundred percent cotton, which absorbs sweat and can become heavy. Also, students should not apply body lotion prior to class.
Most importantly, beginning students should remember that learning and practicing any form of yoga is a journey and not a competition with themselves or other students.
“The moment that the student falls into the game of comparing herself or himself to others is setting herself or himself up for disappointment,” Romero says. “The results of yoga are based on a process that takes time rather than an overnight one.”
Having trouble sticking to your diet? When your body doesn’t respond to your efforts the way you expect, it’s easy to lose the motivation to continue.
“Most dieters are using outdated or inefficient methods to reach their goals,” says Dian Griesel, Ph.D., co-author of “TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust.”
Dian Griesel, and co-author Tom Griesel are attempting to debunk the myths many people believe about weight loss.
“Many dieters see slow results due to bad practices rooted in misguided belief,” says Tom Griesel. “But if you get the basics right, rapid fat loss is not difficult to achieve and you will see your body transform much more quickly.”
If you are not satisfied with your results, the writing duo is offering five suggestions for why you may not be losing fat fast enough:
• Wrong goal: If your goal is an arbitrary number based on your scale, you are already setting yourself up to fail.
Scale weight doesn’t tell you anything about your actual body composition -- how much fat you have and how much you’re losing. Your scale weight could fluctuate for several reasons, such as hydration level, water weight or muscle loss.
Setting the right goal and monitoring changes in your body composition is the first key to success.
• Water retention: Proper hydration is critical to fat loss and overall health. However, too little or too much water can cause problems. Water intake requirements are influenced by several factors, like weight and activity levels. A good starting point is to consume 1/2 ounce of water per pound of current body weight. Drink at least 16 ounces first thing in the morning -- pure water is best -- and more if you are thirsty.
• Too much exercise: Excessive exercise creates stress and can be counterproductive when you’re restricting calories, causing loss of muscle mass.
Low-intensity activities like walking -- along with minimal strength training to retain muscle mass -- is all that’s needed.
• Too much of the wrong thing: Diet is the most efficient way to create a caloric restriction, maintain blood sugar levels, which are conducive to fat loss, and provide all the nutrients you need for optimal health. If you’re not seeing positive changes in body composition, the problem is almost always your diet.
• Stress and lack of sleep: Chronic stress can have an adverse effect on hormonal balance, which can hinder fat loss and cause loss of essential lean body mass. Stress and lack of sleep disrupt many delicate physiological functions. Regularly practicing some method of relaxation and getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night will make a big difference in your fat loss efforts.
More information about smart dieting habits and optimal health can be found at www.TurboCharged.us.com.
Don’t ditch your diet before seeing the results you want. By working smarter, not harder, you can achieve your goals before losing motivation.
Modern hospitals run on battery power. David Marlow has been a biomedical technician for 35 years, and batteries have become a major part of his life.
“They’re in everything,” he said. “I mean, they’re in the beds even.”
The hospital where he works, University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, uses thousands of batteries on any given day to keep its medical devices running – everything from scales and thermometers to more advanced equipment such as life-support machines. At U of M Heath System, batteries range from 30-cent AA’s in doctor pagers to $1,000-dollar lithium ion batteries used to run a life-support device, Marlow said.
Keeping track of so many batteries used for an array of functions is not easy, and the job falls to biomedical technicians like Marlow.
The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation identifies battery management as one of the top 10 challenges for hospital’s biomedical departments. Part of the problem is the fact that Marlow has a lot of other duties on his plate.
“I’m testing batteries all the time,” Marlow said. “But it’s not the main part of my job.”
The Food and Drug Administration held a two-day workshop this week in Silver Spring, Md., to address challenges associated with battery-powered medical devices. In addition to charging problems and concerns about power outages, experts agreed that one of the biggest issues is determining when to throw a battery away.
Bruce Adams, vice president of sales at CADEX battery charger test equipment manufacturer, speaks at the FDA workshop.
Bruce Adams, vice president of sales at CADEX battery charger and test equipment manufacturer, speaks at the FDA workshop Wednesday. (Aubrey Pringle/MNS)
On one hand, hospitals want to mitigate risk of a battery dying, so it is better to err on the side of caution and throw batteries out sooner rather than later. On the other hand, batteries are expensive and it is wasteful to dispose of them too soon.
“Health care in the U.S. is a cost-driven enterprise,” said Bruce Adams, vice president of sales at CADEX, a company that makes battery chargers and test equipment. “There’s no reason to put it in the recycling bin before you have to.”
Some hospitals say they lack the resources to do regular battery checks, so they stick to the ‘two-year rule’ and throw out all batteries after two years, regardless of the size, type and amount of use.
Adams said it is best practice for an engineer to test medical device batteries every few months. This method is safer and less wasteful, he said. Proper disposal or recycling methods can also vary from battery to battery.
David Marlow agreed that a medical device battery should be used for as long as it is in good condition.
“The battery should never fail the user,” Marlow said. “But why throw away a good battery if you know it’s going to last five years?”
There is currently no requirement or standard for testing medical device batteries.
Vlady Rozenbaum has used a battery-powered oxygen device at home for six years, and while he appreciates the portability that it allows, he is always concerned about the batteries.
“You never know when it’s going to fail,” Rozenbaum said.
At the FDA workshop, medical device producers, battery manufacturers and hospital technology management workers joined forces with researchers and government groups to discuss possible solutions.
One idea was to require such devices to provide a label with clear, specific, graphic instructions for the battery. This would aid hospital workers as well as those using the devices at home.
Experts across the board said that creating a set of standards and testing requirements for battery-powered medical devices would go a long way toward solving problems. The FDA and the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation would likely work together to create such standards.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ever suspect you do more housework than your spouse? Or that certain tasks at work raise your blood pressure? Maybe you wonder why you're sneezing more lately, or if carbs are really what is making you tired after lunch?
Turns out, there's an app or gadget to test all of that. Advancements in wearable body sensors, mobile applications and other gadgets mean that nearly everything we do can be captured, logged and analyzed. And everyday consumers are jumping at the chance to conduct their own experiments — tracking sleep, caffeine intake, kids' studying habits, household chores, even whether a baby is nursing more frequently on Mom's left breast versus her right.
"I don't know if I'd use the word 'obsessed,'" said Ernesto Ramirez, a self-tracking devotee who helped to organize a two-day conference on the subject last week in San Francisco. Speakers at past "Quantified Self" conferences have included a man who developed his own app to see if he could walk every street in Manhattan and a dad who used trackers on his kids to monitor chores.
"I think there's an overall trend toward curiosity and proving knowledge of one's self in the world," Ramirez said.
When Tim Davis of Beaver, Pa., tipped the scales at 318 pounds two years ago, he bought a Fitbit gadget to track his physical activity and the Lose It! app on his phone to track calories. He bought a Wi-Fi-enabled scale that published his daily weight on his Twitter feed and turned to other apps to track his pulse, blood pressure, daily moods and medications. At one point, Davis said he was using 15 different apps and gadgets, which he said helped him drop 64 pounds by that following year.
"It's the second-by-second, minute-by-minute changes that really did it," said Davis, 39. "If you're the type of person who likes gadgets and devices and to collect metrics, you're also the kind of person who does not like gaps in data."
A pediatrician in Kansas City, Mo., Natasha Burgert, said apps that track newborn feedings and sleep patterns have become wildly popular among her patients and she now encourages parents to send her the data before their appointments.
"In the first few weeks, parents are so tired. It's really hard for them to give you objective data," Burgert said.
Public health advocates and researchers say tracking technology could be used to encourage people to use less gasoline, conserve water or drive slower by giving them real-time feedback on their daily habits. It also could expose causes of medical conditions that baffle doctors.
HopeLab, based in Redwood, Calif., is one nonprofit looking to harness technology to improve health. It has developed a $30 movement-tracking device for kids called a "Zamzee," and a website that rewards activity with online points and badges.
HopeLab has developed video games for young cancer patients that lets them pretend to blast cancer cells. Researchers there say their studies have shown that the game improved patients' moods and encouraged them to stick with treatment.
"When you give people a sense of autonomy, a sense of agency, that can actually be very transformative to their health," said HopeLab spokesman Richard Tate.
Ramirez said he thinks the next step will be embedding sensors in nearly everything a person encounters throughout the day and linking that information together. Think of a car that won't start if you've consumed too much alcohol or a light bulb that changes colors when it's time to go to bed.
Industry watchers say these kinds of data-driven apps are finding their place in a market that has struggled to profit from advertising.
Raj Aggarwal, CEO of Localytics, a Boston-based analytics firm, says mobile games are still by far the most popular among consumers, but their fan base can be fickle. If a data-logging app is useful enough, it can convince consumers that they should pay for upgraded subscriptions or premium services that earn the developers money.
One mobile app called "GymPact" has found a novel way of making money off its consumers' data. The app lets people bet against one another as to whether they will go to the gym. The non-exercisers have to pay the exercisers, with GymPact taking a cut.
But what becomes of all this data?
In theory, most apps let you delete your information. But programs such as the FitBit reserve the right to keep and analyze your information, and possibly pass along the data to third parties to make sure the program works as promised. What would happen if these tech companies decide to package and sell all that data? Could a person ever be denied a job or life insurance, for example, if their mobile app showed they tried but never quit smoking?
Poorly encrypted data or lax privacy controls could become a problem, too.
In 2011, some FitBit users were surprised to see their sexual activity logs pop up in Google searches; that's something FitBit's privacy settings allowed at the time unless a person knew to opt out. FitBit has since modified its policy to keep hidden more sensitive data unless someone configures his or her account specifically to share it.
As for Davis and his fight to lose weight, he said his biggest mistake was letting his FitBit gadget lose its charge last year. Without the continual feedback, and perhaps a mobile app to remind him, Davis' motivation waned and his weight climbed to 292 pounds.
But Davis insists he won't stay that way for long. He has persuaded his family members and coworkers to wear self-measuring devices, sparking a friendly rivalry.
"Keep an eye on me," he said of the months ahead. "I think you'll see a difference."
BALLWIN, Mo. (AP) — Experts in eating disorders are concerned about an Internet-fueled trend in which teenage girls and young women pursue an elusive and possibly dangerous weight-loss goal: to become so slender that their thighs don't touch even when their feet are together.
Specialists say achieving a so-called thigh gap is risky and virtually impossible. But some exceptionally thin models have the gap, which is upheld as a beauty achievement on countless Tumblr pages, blogs and other social media sites.
"The issue of focusing on a particular body part is very common," said Claire Mysko, who oversees teen outreach and digital media for the National Eating Disorders Association, an advocacy group. "What is new is these things have taken on a life of their own because of the Internet and social media."
When the vast majority of people stand with their feet together, their thighs touch. A tiny percentage of people have thighs so slim that they don't come together. The "thigh gap" refers to this space.
Studies suggest that peer pressure from social media plays a significant role in eating disorders. A 2011 study at the University of Haifa found that adolescent girls who spent the most time using Facebook had a greater chance of developing a negative body image and an eating disorder.
"The intrusion and presence of social media in our lives really does make it very difficult," said Nancy Albus, chief executive officer of Castlewood Treatment Center, a suburban St. Louis facility that focuses on eating disorders. "The important distinction about thigh gap is it gives you an actual visual to achieve, this visual comparison of how your body does or doesn't stack up."
Dr. Vonda Wright, a Pittsburgh-based orthopedic surgeon and fitness expert, said the spacing between a person's legs is based mostly on genetics. And even extraordinarily thin people may not have a body type that can achieve a gap. You have to be both skinny and wide-hipped, she said.
Besides, Wright said, it isn't a goal worth chasing. Most fit people won't have a thigh gap because their thighs are muscular enough that they touch, she said.
"Skinny does not mean fit or muscular," said Wright, who works with Division I athletes. "I cannot think of one athlete I deal with" who has a thigh gap.
Experts say it is impossible to know if the pursuit of a thigh gap has caused any deaths, nor is it known how many eating disorders are blamed on the phenomenon. But Mysko said experts believe that "exposure to online images of extreme beauty standards and the drive to compare does increase the risk of developing eating disorders."
Sara, a 22-year-old Castlewood client, said thigh-gap sites were a contributing factor in her struggle. She spoke on the condition that she be identified only by her first name to avoid the stigma associated with eating disorders.
Always a high achiever, Sara was captain of her high school swim team in Minnesota and a straight-A student. In college, she graduated near the top of her class, even while hiding her secret.
It was in high school that Sara developed anorexia. By college, she was purging and excessively exercising. She was a frequent visitor to thigh-gap sites.
"It helped to normalize what I was doing to myself," Sara said. "I never knew before that I wanted a thigh gap. It felt like it was some type of accomplishment that people would want to achieve."
The sites offered photos of slender-legged models, testimonials on how to achieve the gap and tips such as chewing food but spitting it out before swallowing.
Grotesquely, some of the sites showed pictures of Holocaust victims "for motivational purposes" or martyred those who died from eating disorders. It seemed to make her own struggle OK, Sara said.
"I would say, 'Well, I'm not that bad.'"
Her therapist, Kim Callaway, said she often encourages clients to avoid social media and even delete their Facebook pages.
"It's not uncommon for people to be on Facebook talking about what they ate today, posting pictures of their meals or writing about how they're 10 pounds lighter than they were a month ago," Callaway said.
"The ability to be instantly connected to everybody and see what they look like and see them blog or talk about what they are eating and what they do for exercise — this makes it a lot more difficult for those with eating disorders," Callaway said.
The National Eating Disorders Association is fighting back with its own site, www.Proud2BMe.org, which promotes positive body image and encourages healthy attitudes about food and weight.
Sara is getting better after about four months of treatment at Castlewood. She's moved out of the treatment center to an apartment, though she still gets outpatient therapy.
"I want to recover," she said. "And I don't want this to be my life anymore."
Your bones and spine both play an essential role in your body. They work together to provide the framework of your body, aid in movement and protect your major organs, among other tasks. Keeping your bones and spine healthy can help prevent pain and injury, as well as osteoporosis.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that nearly 9 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis, a disease characterized by weakened bones. An even higher number of Americans suffer from back pain, which affects 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
In order to prevent pain and injury and lower the risk of osteoporosis, maintaining proper strength and flexibility in the spine and bones is essential, explains Helen Mitrakis, DPT, MPA, Cert. MDT and supervisor of Community Spine & Physical Therapy in Munster. Dr. Mitrakis recommends strengthening activities to increase bone density while also improving balance and posture.
She explained: “Increased bone density helps prevent and decrease the risk of fractures, and good balance and stability decrease your risk of falls and sustaining fractures.
“Proper posture is important to prevent compression fractures of the spine, which are common with osteoporosis, and helps decrease the stress on the spine by maintaining proper body mechanics during our daily functional activities.”
Examples of weight-bearing activities that strengthen the bones and spine include walking, stair climbing, hiking, dancing, jogging, racquet sports and Tai Chi. Resistance with bands or weights; water resistance with water weights, paddles or gloves; and gravity resistance such as yoga poses and push-ups also help build bone density and keep the spine healthy.
Orthopedic Spine Surgeon Anton Thompkins, MD at Lakeshore Bone and Joint Institute in Chesterton says weight-bearing exercises—such as walking, step aerobics or anything that puts stress on the bones—help increase bone density.
“According to Wolff’s law, bones heal under stress,” Dr. Thompkins explained. Weight-bearing exercises make your bones work against gravity and become stronger. Without gravity and the benefit of weight-bearing exercises, the bones become weaker, as seen in astronauts who have spent long periods of time in space.
“As soon as you take weight off the bone, it will actually start being degraded or osteofied,” Dr. Thompkins added.
Strong core muscles, which include abdominal, back and pelvis muscles, are important to your spine’s health as they help support the spine. While maintaining a strong core is important, Dr. Mitrakis cautions against abdominal crunches or sit-ups for people with osteoporosis due to the increased risk of fracture. She recommends that abdomen strengthening activities should be done in a neutral spine position to help prevent fractures.
Medical Office Building, 801 MacArthur Blvd, Suite 405, Munster, Ind.
219.836.5381; comhs.org; communityspineandbrain.com
Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute
601 Gateway Blvd, Chesterton, Ind
There’s a lot out there for new moms to think about: Diapers, breastfeeding, and a sudden jump in weekly expenses are just a few worries shared by most.
But not all postpartum women are created equally.
While some new moms may stare at their reflection in the mirror, preoccupied by the leftover baby weight and longing to look like themselves again, others without the time and financial cushions of their more fortunate peers are staring, not at their midsections, but at an empty cupboard, an overdue rent payment, or a notice of eviction.
Doctors and dietitians recommend an organic diet of whole foods paired with an exercise regimen as a way to stay healthy during and post-pregnancy, but these things cost time and money and may be out of reach for lower-income women who are already statistically at a higher risk for obesity and other health issues.
But even for women with the resources to follow all the doctor’s orders, shedding those pesky post-pregnancy pounds is no easy feat.
“I had a vision that after [giving birth], I would be able to keep up my normal workout routine, but the reality is that it doesn’t work like that,” said Jenine Reier, a fitness instructor and franchise owner of Baby Boot Camp in Naperville. The business offers a workout program that allows new moms to incorporate their children into their health routine. “If you’re up every two hours during the night breastfeeding, you’re not going to be able to do the 5 a.m. workouts anymore.”
Reier, a lifelong athlete who got involved with Baby Boot Camp after giving birth to her daughter, said she thinks most moms who come to class like it that they don’t have to squeeze in a workout when their baby is out of the way.
A monthly membership to Baby Boot Camp runs about $55 a month, and while Reier acknowledges that this may be more than many women can afford, she still stresses that working out and eating right are essential to postpartum health.
“If somebody is not able to afford to come to classes, I think that they definitely still need to work out,” she said, suggesting new moms on a budget take their strollers for walks around the neighborhood, or break up workouts in 10-minute bursts.
“I would recommend filling your pantry with whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein. You just got to keep the processed stuff out, and put whole, real foods in!”
This may be easier said than done, however.
“I don’t buy organic food,” said new mom and preschool teacher Katie Macmillan of her pregnancy diet. Though she feels pressured by her friends to get back to her pre-baby figure, the Minnesota native and fervent couponer doesn’t bother sticking to a whole-foods, organic diet because she thinks it’s just too expensive.
Since her husband lost his job last month, Macmillan and her family are on an especially tight budget, and receive assistance from the federally funded Women, Infants and Children program, which provides supplemental food for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children up to age 5.
Despite this help, Macmillan said that buying high-end fruits, vegetables and other healthy food items is often a luxury her family is unable to afford.
“That kind of lifestyle isn’t very accessible to us right now,” Macmillan said. “It’s always harder to eat healthy, you know? A gallon of milk is $4 whereas a case of soda is $2.50 when it’s on sale, so it’s honestly cheaper to not bother eating healthy.”
And this is where the problem lies, said Dr. Angela Odoms-Young, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Odoms-Young points to studies that show women who are “food insecure,” or unsure where their next meal is coming from, are more likely to be overweight even before they get pregnant.
“There are potentially other factors,” Odoms-Young said, “like access to healthy foods. If you don’t have the money and you live in a low access area that becomes, in a sense, a double threat. There are huge inequities within in our food system, and for these women it’s not even an issue of eating a ‘whole foods, organic diet,’ that’s just the ideal.”
And it’s an ideal that’s hard for some women to even fathom.
“If we think broadly, the way that people manage weight is related to what happens to them in their daily lives,” Odoms-Young said. “When women are under dire financial constraints, the lowest thing on their totem pole is managing their weight. These are people in survival mode, they’re thinking, ‘Am I gonna have a place to live?’ or ‘Where is my next meal gonna come from?’”
So what can low-income women do to stay healthy during pregnancy and after giving birth? Odoms-Young, Macmillan and Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all agree there’s no shame in seeking assistance.
Said Johnson: “Low-income mothers should be aware of the WIC program, which provides tremendous benefits in the form of nutrition education and vouchers for healthy food, as well as breastfeeding support.”
Odoms-Young echoes this sentiment, and pushes for more support for programs like WIC, which are at constant risk of being defunded, especially in this divided political environment.
“We need to somehow get people angry about the fact that these programs may potentially be cut. We need to show people what that would mean for the families who rely on them. It’s a different world for women who have to get back up and go to work after having a baby, versus a woman who can stay at home, who has time to really think about, ‘Oh, I need to lose this fat that I gained while I was having a baby.’ [Lower-income women] are thinking, ‘Who is going to look after my baby while I take the bus an hour to work?’”