December Gym Specials!!

Give The Gift Of Fitness This Holiday Season

December 2015 SpecialFor Them:
Receive 20% Off Any Training Package* Or Annual Membership
You Purchase For A Friend or Loved One

For You:
For Every Gift Certificate You Purchase, Receive 1 Complimentary Training Sessions

*Offer only valid for 10 pack training packages
** Offer valid through December 31, 2015

Why Buy Organic?

Organic food is food that is produced without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, genetic engineering, radiation or sewage sludge. Animal products that are labeled as organic do not use antibiotics, growth hormones or any medications except for vaccines and those used for illnesses. They are also fed only organic non GMO feed. Organic foods are, however, more expensive than conventional foods, and many people wonder if the health benefits justify the extra cost.

Sixty percent of studies show that certain nutrients are higher in organic foods than in conventional foods. This is likely due to the stronger natural defenses of organic plants. Organic plants develop stronger defensive compounds since fewer pesticides are used to combat insects.  Additionally, the nitrogen in conventional fertilizer dilutes nutrients in the plants because the plants are bigger but the nutrients are less concentrated. This causes decreased nutritional value in conventional foods.

Organic foods are also lower in toxic pesticides. Over 600 chemical pesticides are used on conventional foods in America, and according to the National Academy of Sciences, 90% of those chemicals have not been tested for long-term health benefits. Pesticides are hazardous to your health. They impact the body neurologically and affect development. Children are especially at risk since they are more sensitive to adverse effects and because they are exposed to more pesticides.  Chemicals have been shown to cause cancer, hormone disruption, and skin, eye, and lung irritation.

It is important to note that organic foods are not always 100% pesticide free because they can pick up traces of chemicals from air or water from conventional farms nearby. In the US, the EPA does have certain standards for pesticide use. However, the US does not control how produce is grown in other countries, so it is probably a good idea to avoid conventional fruits and vegetables grown outside the US.—- not sure this is necessary? Eating organic allows you to lessen your exposure to pesticides. To further lower pesticide intake, make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables and peel their skins.

Certain fruits and vegetables contain more pesticides than others. The “dirty dozen” are apples, celery, sweet bell pepper, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, domestic blueberries, and potatoes. The “clean 15” consist of onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, cabbage, sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, kiwi, domestic cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, and mushrooms.  It is especially important to buy organic produce from the “dirty dozen” list.

Organic farming helps maintain our ecosystem by preserving the soil so that wildlife and insects can play their natural role. It also helps protect the water and soil and reduce overall pollution since it doesn’t permit the use of toxic chemicals, resulting in healthy soil and biodiversity. Organic farms tend to grow an assortment of food instead of focusing on one or two varieties of crops. This diversity is critical to keeping the soil and environment healthy.

The bottom line is that the value of eating organically does seem to be worth the extra cost. It will keep your

 

 

 

Breathe Easily

Breathing is the most basic movement pattern and very often done incorrectly, having tremendous consequences in terms of our musculoskeletal health. If we think about how often we breathe (every moment of our lives), it is easy to see how incorrect patterns can lead to problems. Faulty breathing patterns and the impact they have are often overlooked because it is such a subtle and involuntary movement that we typically do not consciously think about.

Breathing is life. It is common to think of breathing only in terms of respiration, which is obviously essential to sustaining life. But the effects go beyond the basic respiratory function. There has been much research demonstrating a link between breathing pattern disorders and low back pain, neck pain, shoulder imbalances, TMJ pain, poor motor control and posture.

Posture and breathing are directly related. One cannot be addressed without the other. Breathing pattern disorders usually develop as we begin to develop poor postural patterns very early in life. Watching an infant is a great way to see proper breathing, as they have not yet learned to do it the wrong way.

The diaphragm, the main muscle responsible for breathing, can be seen as an essential component of the core function. If we think of the trunk as a cylinder or column, with muscles and fascia wrapping around as a belt, the diaphragm acts a lid, while the pelvic floor muscles make up the floor. Often when working the core, we often focus on the abdominal muscles and do not consider the importance of the diaphragm. If breathing is not correct, one cannot have full core stability.

An easy way to assess your breathing is to stand in front of a mirror placing one hand on the upper part of the chest and one hand over the abdomen. Take a deep breath and notice the movement of the hands. If the hand on the chest elevates, this indicates incorrect breathing, or thoracic breathing.

The correct pattern is when inhaling, the abdomen expands, pushing the hand over the abdomen forward, or outward. The hand on the chest should not move much. This is known as diaphragmatic breathing, and properly engages the diaphragm.

Thoracic breathing engages muscles of the chest, upper back and neck as the primary breathing muscles. Over time, these muscles will develop tension from overloading and doing more work than they are designed to do. While these muscles are overworking, the diaphragm is under-working, contributing to core weakness and the long list of consequences that result.

Awareness of breathing pattern disorders through the simple test above is an important step. To begin working on correcting the pattern, try the following. Lay supine (on your back) and prop your legs up on a cushion, or support, so that the hips and knees are both at 90 degree angles. If you cannot do that, simply laying on the back with knees bent will also work. Place one hand on the abdomen and the other on the chest and breathe normally trying pull the breath into the abdomen. With each inhalation, the goal is expand the abdomen lifting the hand. The ribcage will also expand a bit laterally, but should not elevate. Try to stay as relaxed as possible while doing this and don’t worry about taking deep breaths. Breathe easily and normally. Do this for a few minutes three to four times a day.

This will start to groove the movement pattern and reprogram the system. Gradually you will begin notice when breathing incorrectly and will more easily be able switch to diaphragmatic breathing. It is more difficult to do this while upright, which is why the supine position is the best way to start the training process. It is very important to work on posture simultaneously in order to achieve the best, long lasting results. It is very difficult to breathe correctly with poor posture.

Also keep in mind that this is a process. It will not change overnight. It takes a lot of work and consistency to retrain a system that has been in place for so long. Remember how often you breathe, and for how long it has been done incorrectly! Do not get frustrated if you feel like you are getting nowhere. Keep working on it. If you feel you need more help, consider seeking the help of a professional who has experience with this. Many chiropractors, acupuncturists, trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists and other types of body workers can be very helpful.

There are many other health benefits to proper breathing in addition to musculoskeletal health. One can write volumes on breathing in terms of musculoskeletal, biochemical, respiratory, mental/emotional, endocrine, neurological and spiritual health. Many types of meditation and relaxation exercise focus on the breath. It is synonymous with life. So contribute a few easy minutes a day to your breathing, and ultimately your health. It is a worthy cause.

Ankle Pain

As summer gives way to fall, we may find ourselves hitting the hiking trails. Many times, these uneven surfaces can lead to foot and ankle issues. Many people have sprained their ankle in the past, and are aware what this feels like. A lateral ankle sprain is an acute twisting of the ankle (often an inversion injury or an inward twisting of the foot and heel as compared to the leg). However, there is another condition which can cause pain on the lateral (outside) part of the foot, which many people will incorrectly refer to as “ankle pain”. I am referring to a pathology know as sinus tarsi syndrome.

The ankle joint consists of three bones, the Tibia, the Fibula, and a bone called the Talus. There are several ligaments working to help support the ankle which are very commonly sprained or ruptured with inversion sprains. However, sometimes there is only a small trauma, or repetitive micro-trauma from uneven surfaces that can affect another joint. The Sinus Tarsi (sometimes referred to as the “eye of the foot due to its appearance on an x-ray) is a very specific part of a joint called the subtalar joint.

Ankle Pain

This is the joint between a bone called the talus and the heel bone (known as the calcaneus). This portion of the joint contains many ligamentous attachments between the talus and calcaneus themselves, and between these two bones and the other bones of the mid-foot. When this joint is injured, there is often nagging pain along the lateral foot or across the ankle joint. Patients will often complain of pain in the morning or after periods of rest. They may find themselves hurting at the beginning or a run or hike, with the pain actually subsiding after getting warmed up. Certain motions like stepping off a curb, or walking up and down steps may cause sharp sudden pain.

Two tendons know as the peroneal tendons border the outside foot and ankle and help invert and evert the foot. When the sinus tarsi of the subtalar joint is painful, these tendons often over act, leading to a tendinitis which can even extend all the way to the lateral calf. Patients may complain of a pulling or stretching pain which extends to the outside calf. Often, when people complain of an “ankle pain” but have a difficult time expressing just how they hurt, direct palpation of the sinus tarsi will recreate the symptoms.

Treatments often include the standard RICE therapy (rest, ice compression, elevation), range of motion exercises (often pretending the big toe is the tip of a pen and tracing the letters of the alphabet in broad motions), oral anti-inflammatory medications, or steroid injections into the sinus tarsi itself. Also, many times supporting the foot with an orthotic is extremely beneficial and/or wearing supportive shoe gear with increased shock absorption.

So the next time you have a lingering “ankle pain” that just doesn’t seem to be getting better, ask your foot care professional about a possible sinus tarsi syndrome.

Lower Back Pain

There is a price that we pay for walking upright, and that is namely lower back pain. About 80% of the adult population has back pain at some point in their lives. The pain varies from mild achiness to disabling, tear-drawing, searing pain. The cause of back pain is often due to weakness of the core musculature and tightness of the muscles along the spine. Also, tightness of the hamstrings can cause back pain or exacerbate the pain. It is very important to keep your abdominal muscles strong and your hamstrings stretched to prevent and even to treat back pain.

Besides the pain, it is important to treat nerve symptoms. If you are having back pain that shoots down your leg, that could be a sign of something much more serious. A herniated disc can actually put pressure on one of your nerves, which will not only cause tremendous pain, but can lead to irreparable damage to the nerve. If you have weakness or tingling down your leg, immediately call an orthopedic specialist and get it checked. Fortunately, most people with a herniated disc do not need surgery. Therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and walking can often relieve the symptoms. Do not sit or lie down in one position too long as the muscle spasm will just get worse and cause more pain when you try to move.

As with most medical problems, getting the correct diagnosis is important. Back pain has many causes and I have diagnosed people with fractures and cancer who present with just with lower back pain. There are signs on physical exam that help identify where the pain is coming from. An MRI is a great test for identifying herniated discs. Simple x-rays will show fractures and arthritis. CT scans may be helpful as well, but we try and avoid getting them, as there is much higher radiation from this test.

If you have mild back pain, stretch out and walk around. Take Advil or another anti-inflammatory medications and give it a few days. If you don’t get better, the pain gets worse, or you have any nerve symptoms going down your leg, go see you orthopedic specialist.

Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA
Director of Orthopedic Surgery
Westchester Health Associates

Beware! Low Fat May Mean High Sugar

Many of us are constantly searching for the “best” foods to eat. Our grocery stores are filled with hundreds of products “designed” to help us eat healthier. Foods are labeled as low fat, reduced fat, low calorie, low sugar, sugar free, etc. to presumably aid us on our weight loss or healthy eating quests.

Many Americans choose low and reduced fat items thinking these products are good dietary choices that are lower in calories and therefore, healthier than their full fat counterparts. However, research has shown that low fat foods are not necessarily better for you, because many products that are low in fat or reduced in fat are often very high in sugar. In fact, some studies show that these so-called diet foods sometimes have as much as 40% more sugar than the regular versions and can have the same amount or even a higher number of calories! This is because fat supplies the flavor in many foods, and when fat is eliminated, sugar is often substituted to make the food taste good. Salt and other additives are also usually added to enhance flavor, which makes the food even unhealthier and causes additional health risks.

When people eat lower fat foods, they often wind up overeating. Part of this is psychological – people believe they can eat more of a “healthier” food. There is also a scientific basis for overeating products high in sugar. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and is easily digested and absorbed. This can lead to blood sugar fluctuations and food cravings, which may make it difficult to control caloric intake. Overeating causes fat storage and weight gain. Additionally, sugar causes inflammation in the body and increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

It is extremely important to decrease the amount of sugar we consume. Last year, The World Health Organization changed its sugar intake recommendations from 10 percent of daily calorie intake to 5 percent, which is about 6 teaspoons, or 25 g, of sugar per day. Sugar is hidden in many processed foods, so it is important to read food labels so that you are aware of what you are eating. Be on the lookout for sucrose, corn syrup, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey, and malt syrup to name a few.

Consumers should pay careful attention to the amount of calories per serving and the amount of sugar per serving before assuming that low fat or light is synonymous with healthy. The best way to ensure you eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and calories is to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Eat a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and drink plenty of water. This will ensure you receive all the nutrients that you need in a healthy way.

Can’t Control Your Hunger or Cravings?

It Could Be Your “Hunger Hormones!”

Do you find that you’re always thinking about food? Do you have an insatiable appetite? Are you having trouble losing weight despite cutting your calories way down? If so, you may be realizing that successfully achieving weight loss is not as simple as following the classic “calories in-calories out” model. Instead, you need to focus on the hormonal imbalances that affect metabolism and hunger.

At NY Health & Wellness, we’ve created a proven, science-based program that works with your hormones to control your hunger, appetite and cravings. Our new Balance 3H+ program resets the hormones that are making you feel sick, bloated, and unusually hungry! We specialize in hormonal weight loss programs and metabolic hormone balancing wellness plans that are designed to balance your hormones both naturally and effectively. All of our weight loss programs are predicated on a proven, integrative medical approach that has helped thousands of women nationwide achieve significant weight loss, look younger, and restore their energy at the fastest and safest pace possible. Our programs prove that “It’s not your fault, It’s your hormones!“

Balance 3H+ — What’s the “3H” and How Does It Affect Your Hunger and Weight?
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, and they travel through the bloodstream, delivering messages to tissues and organs throughout the body. Leptin, ghrelin and cortisol are the three most common hormones involved in the regulation of weight and weight-related senses like hunger and satiety. They need to be balanced in order for effective weight loss to take place.

Leptin
Leptin, which produced in fat cells, plays a significant role in the regulation of body weight. Through the effect that it has on the brain, leptin controls the feelings of hunger and satiety. Because it is secreted by adipose (fat) tissue, people who are overweight or obese tend to have higher levels of leptin, causing a vicious cycle that makes weight loss all but impossible.

Gherlin
Gherlin, also known as the “hunger hormone,” is produced by specialized cells that live in the lining of the stomach and the pancreas. When levels of ghrelin are high, the hormone works in conjunction with the brain to stimulate hunger, slow metabolism, and decrease the body’s ability to burn fat.

Cortisol
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.” It is produced in the adrenal glands in response to stress. When cortisol levels are high, the body will believe that it needs to store extra fat, making it impossible to lose weight. In this scenario, fat tends to accumulate in the abdominal region, which contains large quantities of cortisol receptors.

Learn about the revolutionary weight loss program that has helped thousands of women across the nation look and feel their very best. Call NY Health & Wellness at 914-703-4811 now to schedule a complimentary one hour medical weight loss consultation.

The Dangers of Stress

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of physical, emotional, or mental demand. It is a real or perceived threat to your mind and body which can wreak havoc both physically and mentally. When the body perceives stress, it commands the sympathetic nervous system to slow down. This results in increased hunger, decreased metabolism, and fat storage.

When your body perceives any kind of demand or threat –whether life threatening or not – it reacts as if you are actually in a life or death situation. It releases chemicals to give you added strength and energy to protect yourself. This is widely known as the “fight or flight” response. In the proper situation, this response can help your body meet challenges by staying more alert, energetic, and focused. However, if you experience the fight or flight response on a daily basis, the heightened stress can damage your quality of life by suppressing the immune system, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke, enhancing the aging process, and promoting mental and emotional issues.

In order to reduce the harmful effects of stress, it is important to recognize the signs of stress overload. Some of the major external causes of stress are work, school, relationship problems, financial issues, children, family, major life events/changes, and an overly busy schedule. Common internal causes of stress are pessimism, chronic worry, lack of flexibility, unrealistic expectations, and an all-or-nothing attitude.

Everyone tolerate stress differently. Stress management is dependent on many factors including the quality of your relationships, your life experiences, your genetics, and your emotional intelligence. Individuals with strong support networks of friends and family often deal with stress better than those who are lonely and isolated. People who have a sense of control and confidence seem to persevere through life’s challenges better than those who are all over the place. Those who are optimistic and capable of dealing with their emotions tend to manage their stress better than those who get overwhelmed easily and cannot calm and sooth themselves. Stressful situations are easier to cope with when a person is more knowledgeable and realistic about the specific event.

It is important to learn how to manage stress and cope with stressors. Many people cope by drinking too much, eating excessively, taking pills, or lashing out at others. This is unhealthy and unproductive. To take care of oneself, one must learn how to rest and relax. Exercise is extremely effective in managing stress. Additionally, yoga, meditation, prayer, hypnosis, saunas, steam baths, massage, acupuncture, and breathing techniques are all proven relaxation methods. It is also important to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy diet. Some dietary changes to help alleviate stress are to avoid refined sugars, increase fiber intake, and increase omega 3 fatty acids. Supplements shown to decrease stress levels are B complex vitamins, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, ginseng, licorice, rhodiola, and aswagandha.

Don’t let stress overwhelm you and take over your life. Learn to manage it so you can live every day with a glass half full attitude!

Time to Start a Yoga Practice

Do you want to do something good for both your mind and body at the same time?

Try yoga.

Yoga is a mental, physical and spiritual practice which originated in India. The term yoga comes from the Sankskrit word “yuj,” which is defined as “to unite or integrate.” The practice of yoga focuses on the idea that the body, mind, and spirit must all be integrated in order for a person to be in harmony both with himself and his environment. To achieve this integration, emotions, actions, and intelligence all need to be in balance, and this can be achieved through exercise, breathing, and meditation – the three main yoga structures.

There are many different types of yoga. The most common type of yoga in the US is hatha yoga, which is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Hatha yoga is the foundation for many other types of yoga. In hatha yoga, physical poses, called asanas, are used in conjunction with breathing techniques and meditation. Often, classes labeled as hatha are gentle and move at an easy pace.

Other types of yoga include ashtanga, bikram, hot, iyengar, vinyasa, anusara, and restorative. In ashtanga yoga, the poses are always performed in the same order and are linked to the breath. It is physically demanding. Bikram yoga is practiced in a hot room and is a series of 26 poses that always follow the same sequence. It is also very physically demanding. Hot yoga is any type of yoga that is practiced in a heated room, so you should be prepared to sweat! Iyengar yoga focuses on finding proper alignment in a pose and uses a variety of props such as blankets, straps, and blocks to do so. It is physically and mentally challenging, but it will not increase your heart rate too much. Vinyasa yoga is known for its “flow” and the transition from pose to pose in fluid movements. It is intense and will increase your heart rate. Anusara yoga is a new form of yoga that strives to open your heart and connect with yourself and others through alignment. Restorative yoga is used to relax and rejuvenate. It uses props to help the body experience the pose without too much effort.

Yoga has been shown to have many benefits. It is not just about stretching! In fact, it is really about creating balance through increased strength and flexibility. Almost every yoga pose helps build core strength as well as strength in other muscles of the body. Yoga can help improve posture, since you become stronger and more flexible through your practice. Yogis also notice improved body awareness so that they are more aware when they are crouched or slouching. Other physical benefits are improved circulation, decreased stress, increased relaxation, decreased heart rate and blood pressure, and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Additionally, those who practice yoga seem to lessen chronic pain and reduce insomnia.

Anyone can start a yoga practice as there are many different kinds of yoga and modifications for every type of pose. It is individual, and you can go at your own pace and explore your limits. It is a great way to get in tune with both your physical and mental self and engage

Are You Really What You Eat?

There is an old popular adage that states, “You are what you eat,” implying that in order to be fit and healthy you need to eat good food. While this notion is certainly true, it is complicated by our modern food supply. It is no longer enough to eat a balanced diet full of whole grains, lean meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables and expect to have adequate nutrition. Data collected by the US government shows that there has been a decline in the nutritional content of our fruits and vegetables. The USDA has proven that store-bought fruits and vegetables have far less vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than they did 40-50 years ago. One study shows we would have to eat 8 oranges today to get the same amount of vitamin A our grandparents would have gotten from one orange!
The past five decades have been known as the “Green Revolution” which is demonstrated by the increased production and yield of the fastest growing and greatest producing plants. The decline of the nutrients in our crops is due to soil depletion during this mass agricultural phenomenon. The soil that most of our crops is grown on is so deficient in mineral content that our produce contains only about 10% of the vitamins and minerals they should have! Our soil quality has decreased because of the modern intensive agricultural methods that are used to improve size, growth and pest resistance.
Most plants require nitrogen, phosphorus and water in order to grow. However, if they are grown in soil without other nutrients present, the plants will be devoid of any nutrition, even though they will look good to the naked eye. The absence of nutrients in the soil creates plants that are less able to defend themselves against natural predators, and thus they require pesticides in order to protect themselves from damage. These chemicals sprayed on our fruits and vegetables are poisonous and have not been properly tested to determine their effects on humans.
Even though fruits and vegetables are not as healthy as they used to be, we should not avoid eating them. They still have beneficial nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals, and they are much healthier than processed foods and other snacks. Buying organic and local fruits and vegetables helps preserve the nutrient content in our produce and helps us avoid damaging chemicals and pesticides.
So, continue to eat the rainbow of foods in front of you, but also realize that it might not be enough. You may need to replace the missing vitamins and minerals in your diet with nutritional supplements. A good multivitamin might go a long way in helping to ensure optimal health and nutrition and to make sure that you are, in fact, what you eat.