Tag Archives: medical fitness

New Year’s Resolutions With Mindfulness

New year’s Resolutions – Making them Mindful

Unfortunately, New Year’s Resolutions are often made flippantly – maybe we really do have

New Year's Resolutions with Mindfulness

the best intentions, but no plan goes into integrating them into our busy lifestyle. Let’s face it – we are all masters of resistance to change. Change can very often be good.  Personal growth comes from change.

 

Now is the accepted time to make your annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~ Mark Twain

We all know what a new year’s resolution is – but let’s first talk about mindfulness – I think its become more of a cliche – rather than appreciating it for its full worth – kind of an oxymoron.

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. Focusing on this moment or topic, pushing aside other distractive thoughts. When we’re mindful, we observe our thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting our life pass us by, mindfulness means living in that moment learning  and awakening to experience.  In our world of priding ourselves on multitasking –  mindfulness, focus and most of all planning are tossed aside.

Only 8% of people who make resolutions attain their goal and  24% of people who make Mindful New Year's resolutions Best In Health Radioresolutions year after year never reach their goals. So this year – let’s be our own anomaly  – impress ourselves – and come up with a systematic plan – rather than flying by the seat of our pants.

For that decision to become a reality, it requires us to develop a series of habits, activities and supporting behaviors  that become second nature to us, and that will keep us moving in the direction of the goal.

1) Reality: we need to make them realistic – please no “I will learn to hate eating chocolate” or “I will lose 30 pounds by March.” So please make new year’s resolutions  realistic, sustainable goals. No setting ourselves up for failure.  Write out your plan – make sure it is realistic.

2) Choosing Our Best Support System:  I believe one of the most important of all is choosing carefully who we invest our time with. Example: Say we are really serious about quitting smoking this year. We know being around those who smoke is going to make it more difficult – for many reasons. Very often those people will try and talk us out of our resolution, as it makes them feel less guilty. Don’t go there. But share your new year’s resolution with people you know will support you, not lecture you, and cheer on your successes.

3) Ritualize: Psychology tells us on average it takes 2 months to form a new habit – of course this will fluctuate. Example: Let’s say we want to be physically active every day.. OK fine – we might not make it to that run, or the gym every day – but on those days we do not have a “workout” find something else to keep you in the activity mindset.  March in place standing at your desk, work with a resistance band while sitting down – pay respect to that resolution in some way every day, even if the activity isn’t for as long or as intense.

4) Expect to Hone Your New Year’s Resolutions: No my way or the highway – you might have to hone and modify your goal.  In the modification – add a timeline – how each month we can add a little something to fully reach or exceed the goal.

5) Inventory your Life: Take a good hard look at your life – what time zappers we can eliminate. No hoarding – clean up any clutter – emotional or material in your life.

6) Track and measure progress: It is well known and accepted that people who keep food and/or exercise journals have far more success with their goals. If the behaviour is worthy of a mindful resolution – it is worth tracking. Adding a section to your daily calendar – an app – whatever will be the most accessible for you to commit to.

7) Word Your New Year’s resolutions is a positive way: Design it as something you really want to achieve – not another miserable task you know you should do.

8) Add a Monetary Commitment: aka put your money where your mouth is. If you want to get in shape – hire a trainer – don’t just get a gym membership or an exercise machine at home. You know what the number one use of the home treadmill is? Hanging laundry. A trainer will keep you dedicated to your resolution, hopefully be fun and help you really love your resolution and want to continue.

9) Make New Year’s Resolutions You Actually Want to Achieve:  Only commit to a New Year’s resolution if it is something you want to do – not because you should do it. If it is something you should do – you first need to analyze it – and turn it into something that you mindfully – feel the worth and value outcome of the commitment. Change your mindset.

10) Identify Rewards: How do you know – how will you recognize you are achieving this New Year's Resolutions identify rewardsgoal? Will you feel physiological rewards? Example: Quitting smoking: focus on the reward of getting rid of the smoker’s cough, the self pride, visualize your lungs healing. Get those pictures of the smokers vs. non smokers lungs. Look up all those steps about how your body recovers from 1 day without a cigarette to 1 year and beyond. Add the mindfulness – know the rewards, track them, pat yourself on the back.

A healthy, happy 2017 all of us. Let’s remember, keeping healthy requires a mindful commitment, it does not just happen. May we become more mindful about ourselves, and the world around us. May we achieve all of our mindful New Year’s resolutions.

 

 

Shira Litwack Medical fitness, Corporate wellness, Radio talk show host
Shira Litwack Medical Fitness Professional, Cancer Exercise Specialist , Corporate wellness Provider Industry expert cancer exercise
Radio talk show host
Health & Fitness Educator

Shira Litwack – founder Best In Health Radio & proudly speaker at the International Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Summit December 2016:

Corporate Health Programs – What an Incredible Way to Make the World A Healthier Happier Place…..so we make them affordable to EVERYONE……Shira@BestInHealthRadio.com

Shira Litwack, Medical fitness professional |Cancer Exercise Specialist|Personal & Corporate Health Coach | Fitness For Disease Recovery| Industry Expert Cancer Exercise| Health and Fitness Professionals’ Educator

Director of International Relations Cancer Exercise Training Institute Master Trainer

Radio talk show host/Guest/Producer Health & Fitness Radio

BSc Psychology & Chemistry| Medical Exercise Specialist|Holistic Nutrition| Addiction Recovery|Total of 18 exercise designations

Articles featured in: ezines, ArticlesInk, European Registry of Exercise Professionals, The National Post, Investment Executive Magazine, Directory of Greater Toronto, Canadian Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Anytime Fitness, Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Seniors, Fitness Clubs of Canada, Medical Fitness Network, Recovery on Water, Willow (Breast Cancer), Sirius XM Doctor Radio, FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), Cancer Exercise Training Institute,  Urban Poling for Breast Cancer Recovery,

Genetic Counselling BRCA Testing

Genetic Counselling BRCA Testing

Knowledge is Power. Now our job is to prove this to the world. Seeking genetic counselling BRCA testing could empower you to live a healthier lifestyle.
We so often want a crystal ball to gaze into our future. We have a number of crystal balls. These are crystal balls based on science and research, customized to our own unique DNA. I am referring to genetic testing, specifically BRCA testing.
With all of our many loves, accomplishments, dreams…they are all for not without our health – health is the very greatest wealth of all. There is a cliche out there – but it is most unfortunately Oh so true….Youth is wasted on the young, which goes hand in hand with hind sight is 20/20. My plea here is that none of you fall into this abyss, and you opt for earlier genetic testing.

If you were cruising along on a mountain road just beckoning us to speed, would you slow down if you knew there were a cliff with a 500 foot drop around the next bend? Of course you would.

genetic counselling BRCA testing
Shira Litwack Medical Fitness Professional, Cancer Exercise Specialist , Corporate wellness Provider Industry expert cancer exercise
Radio talk show host

My #1 goal of this article is to empower people to take charge of their health’s destiny – speak to health care professionals – every one of us can prosper from a good MD and ND. Open dialogue with a number of health care professionals, and determine if genetic testing is right for you.

We have the power for genetic screening for BRCA1 BRCA2 and PALB2. All three genetic mutations are associated with a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

A breast cancer, BRCA gene test is a blood test to check for specific gene mutations that help control normal cell growth. Finding changes in these genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2, can help determine the chance of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.

The BRCA gene is a tumor suppressor gene. The BRCA gene mutation is also associated with male breast cancer, fallopian tube cancer, peritoneal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer. BRCA1 & BRCA2 are responsible for producing a tumor suppressing protein. Tumor suppressor proteins help prevent cells from growing and dividing too rapidly or uncontrollably. When there is a mutation in these genes, they do not produce the protein, or it does not function properly, therefore threatening the stability of the cells by the cell not being able to repair damaged DNA. Our cells take hundreds of hits daily from oxidative stressors in our lives, our bodies must be equipped to repair, otherwise, serious illness results.

Let’s consider some data on BRCA and breast/ovarian cancer. (cancer.gov)

  • 12% of women in general population get breast Cancer
  • 55%-65% of BRCA1 carriers will develop breast cancer before 70 years of age
  • 45% of BRCA carriers will develop breast cancer before age 70
  • About 1.3% of general population will get ovarian cancer
  • 39% of women with BRCA1 and 11-17% with BRCA2 will develop ovarian cancer before 70
  • Mayo Clinic: BRCA gene mutations are responsible for about 5 percent of breast cancers and about 10 to 15 percent of ovarian cancers.

Most women with breast cancer and/or a family history of breast cancer do not have an abnormal gene, and not all women who have inherited one of these genes will develop cancer.

Genetic testing is a subset of genetic counselling. I am NOT a genetic counsellor…but I do know the incredible power of proactively planning lifestyle choices over reactive planning. Genetic counselling is the process by which we can learn and understand relevant aspects of our own genetics, offering us assistance in clarifying options available for any decisions that might be necessary with the newly acquired genetic insight. The psychological component is emphasized equally to the physiological aspect – blood sampling. However, it is equally important to research where you would like to do your genetic counselling. Many doctors offer testing, however, please seek out in your community genetic centers, which can often offer more in-depth consultations by genetic counsellors.

There are a number of choices available if the BRCA1 or BRCA2 tests are positive. And I feel very compelled to remind everyone here, testing negative does NOT give you a get out of jail for free card. A life to prevent cancer is the healthiest lifestyle of all.

If the genetic tests are BRCA positive a genetic counsellor will help you plan and make decisions. Again, various options are available:

  • Prophylactic mastectomy -removal of both breasts,…has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer in high-risk women by about 90%. However, people need to be alerted breast cancer testing changes after a mastectomy. To be discussed with your counsellor.
  • Prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy, or removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes, reduces breast cancer risk up to 50% if done before menopause, as it takes away the body’s main source of the hormone estrogen. It also can greatly reduce ovarian cancer risk.
  • Hormonal therapies
  • Discuss pros and cons of modified screening procedures
  • Opt to modify lifestyle choices
  • A combination. a woman who is tested in her early 20s might decide to modify lifestyle choices, and opt for prophylactic surgery later….this is what genetic counsellors will discuss with you.

One of the many perks of having genetic testing at a younger age, is having the knowledge and power to make lifestyle decisions that can impact your life. These lifestyle choices will not only help prevent breast and ovarian cancer, but are guidance to prevent all of our chronic illnesses.

Please remember, screening does NOT replace a proactive lifestyle and vice versa.

Some of the well documented choices to prevent breast cancer include:

  • Limiting alcohol. Even one drink a day increases risk of breast cancer, and it takes very little more to dramatically increase the risk.
  • Don’t smoke, and this includes “vaping”
  • control body fat levels
  • Exercise and physical activity. However, I feel compelled to mention that excessive, strenuous exercise can be a source of oxidative stress. This is where you need to consult with a qualified exercise professional – specialized in cancer and medical fitness. Many exercise professionals are completely unaware of this. Our outer being does not necessarily reflect our cellular health.
  • Breast feeding: Many women choose not to breast feed. Another potential reward of earlier testing is making the choice to breast feed. According to the Mayo clinic breast feeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer. The longer we breast feed, the greater the reduction.
  • Far too overlooked – learn about potential oxidative stressors, mutagens, viruses, toxins in your life that could potentially lead to DNA damage. Every one of us need to evaluate our level of oxidative stress.Genetic counselling BRCA testing could give you that push to learn about one of our greatest threats to our cellular health.

Most unfortunately, in this world we must consider legal implications of genetic testing. One more aspect of genetic testing I urge everybody to look into in GINA….Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, prevents your insurance company from denying coverage or changing premiums on the basis of your genetic testing results. It also protects from discrimination by employers on the basis of the test or its results. However, it is not as clear cut with other insurance policies, such as life insurance. I urge everybody, as part of planning to look at:

United States:  Cancer Legal Resource Center’s national Telephone Assistance Line (866-THE-CLRC)

Canada: May 3, 2016 – Bill S-201: An Act to prohibit and prevent genetic discrimination was tabled in the House of Commons. A number of provinces already have legislation – best to check with your MPP office to see where the genetic discriminatory laws stand.

The “deer in headlights” refers to being caught off guard – eyes opened wide and forcefully, but no ability for motor response. A terrifying thought. Genetic counselling BRCA testing can prevent the deer in headlights. There are many of us who can live longer, happier, healthier lives, more confident lives, my consulting with a genetic counsellor. A counsellor can help you weigh out the decision to have or not have testing, based on YOU. And for many reasons, our chances are increased dramatically the earlier we have this knowledge and can be encouraged to make wiser decisions.

Genetic counselling BRCA testing………Knowledge is power.

Shira@BestInHealthRadio.com

 

Shira Litwack Medical fitness, Corporate wellness, Radio talk show host

Breast Cancer Recovery with Pole Walking

Breast Cancer Recovery with More Cancer Exercise

Breast cancer recovery demands a solid, safe cancer exercise program. Yes, exercise and physical activity are vital to any healthy lifestyle, disease prevention or recovery program. Please may I introduce you to another great exercise partner – pole walking.

I have had the pleasure of a new walking buddy – a set of 4life poles from Urban Poling. I would like to share with you some of the wonderful health benefits, especially as part of a  breast cancer recovery program. Even better…Urban Poling donates 2% of all proceeds to breast cancer research…..And….Urban Poling donated poles and training to cancer wellness centres in Ontario, BC, AB and Dalhousie university in NS.

Lymphedema is a possibility in breast cancer recovery as with any cancer treatment involving lymph node removal or radiation. Survivors should always consult their health care professional for:

a) Permission to resume exercise, and be aware of any contraindications

b) Recommendations for compression garments and proper fitting

c) Cancer exercise is different. Contraindications must be avoided. Maximize the benefits. Many stereotypes over exercise can be dangerous. Work with someone who is specialized in cancer exercise.

Yes, caution and vigilance are a necessity, but a thorough, carefully planned fitness program is a crucial part of disease recovery, and a healthy lifestyle for all.

Breast Cancer Recovery with Best in Health Radio
Live Laugh Love ……Liberate with Best In Health Radio Health Processes

The obvious that stands out about pole walking for breast cancer recovery is helping people (men and women) with range of motion challenges often faced after treatment. However, there are many other aspects of pole fitness I would like to point out. Far too often in recovery from breast cancer, or any surgery, the immediate surgical area is focused on, the truth is the entire body, is the immediate surgical area.

Think of our body as an ecosystem. Every part of the ecosystem has a crucial function, and when one part is struggling, the entire ecosystem is compromised. When trained properly in form and cardio respiratory management, pole fitness can be a valuable partner in balancing and optimizing the ecosystem by:

  • a wide range of cardio respiratory training options
  • Range of motion and flexibility training
  • metabolic support
  • Development of the Power pump muscles
  • Body fat management and lean muscle mass development
  • affordable and attainable
  • Balance, core strength & postural training
  • hormonal ….mood balance
  • minimizing side effects of treatment – during treatment and beyond
  • Social aspects
  • Fun = adherence

All of these are performance partners in an  effective exercise program, but are also beneficial to lymphedema prevention. Let’s remember lymphedema can happen any time after treatment…even 20 years later.  Unfortunately as a person ages, fitness levels are much harder to maintain. Changes in body fat percentages, lean to fat ratios, can be dangerously conducive to lymphedema.

Cardio respiratory training is vital – and it is critical to include a broad range of training – target heart rate zones are far too often over looked. Health care professionals might recommend a particular target heart rate zone to be respected faithfully. Even for those ready to train in higher zones, it is still important to vary training from easier demands of 40% capacity up to the higher ranges of 75-80% capacity. Constantly training in the more vigorous range can be a source of physiological stress and oxidative stress. Far too overlooked in conventional training – we should all make disease prevention a focus of our training. Many traditional training beliefs are not wise for disease prevention.

Something that women are often far more guilty of is appreciating our muscle mass. Simply put, out muscle mass is our BFF(best friend forever)  in life. Besides the obvious functions, little known is our immune system is helpless without strong muscles. Muscles are the pump of the immune system. Our power pump muscles as I refer to above are our gluteal and leg muscles. Strengthening the power pump muscles is vital for heart health, venous return (VR) to the heart. VR is the flow of blood back to the heart. Muscles are also vital for metabolic control, adiposity management, hormonal and mood control.

The 4Life poles are fully adjustable – allowing a proper fit. It is a very difficult exercise for me to be at the gym, watching MOST people destroying their posture on the machinery. Most people have compromised posture due to their day to day activities – screen time, driving, poor muscle balance…rounded shoulder syndrome, spinal subluxation (misaligned back), exaggerated pelvic tilt.  Good posture affects every aspect of bodily function, comfort, and healthy aging.

A feature of the 4Life poles I especially appreciated was the lack of vibration. Many poles you feel a rippling through the body – not cool. Those vibrations add up to stress on the joints over the years. At every age, we must prioritize keeping our body “young” flowing smoothly.

The handles do not have straps – personally I find straps a nuisance as well as a potential danger. There is no hand cramping or sweaty palms due to the shape.

Every major city has pole walking clubs – and if you do live in a town without, or there are no groups near you – start one. We are social creatures. An analysis by Stats Canada provided convincing data highlight “the importance of frequent social participation to maintaining quality of life.”

“The greater the number of frequent social activities, the higher the odds of positive self-perceived health, and the lower the odds of loneliness and life dissatisfaction,”

Physical activity within a group – being part of a pack – greatly increases chances of adherence.

Breast Cancer Recovery with Cancer Exercise Specialist Shira Litwack
Shira Interviewed on Sirius XM “Doctor Radio” for Breast Cancer Awareness month

And speaking of adherence…….the fun factor with the 4Life poles…..I have never met anyone looking for another torturous, miserable thing to do in their life. Pole walking is fun and exhilarating.  It becomes a focal point of our schedule. And yes, living in Canada – the weather is a brutal reality. I actually used the poles with indoor training with clients. ………We called it – Dancing with the Poles!

I leave the 4Life poles in my front entrance – they are always clean and sparkling as they are durable and very washable looking brand new. They are a source of intrigue (unfortunately I find most people are unaware of pole walking) and motivation for the many people of all ages that come through my home.

Exercise should not be an intrusion in our lives, and should be something we look forward to. After using the 4Life poles  for a few months – myself and within my medical fitness practice – whether it be outside winter and spring or inside Dancing with the Poles” …..they provide hours of invigorating and fun, complete exercise. Get trained with them properly, and reap the benefits for years!

Dr. Radio: Exercise in Cancer Recovery/Prevention

Dr. Radio:  Shira Litwack Interview with  Dr. Jonathan Whiteson,  NYU on Sirius XM

Feb. 29, 2016: Dr. Radio interviews Shira Litwack on Dr. Jonathan Whiteson’s show, Rehabilitative medicine on cancer exercise – cancer prevention and cancer recovery, the latest research.

Dr. Radio – “Real doctors helping real people. Powered by NYU Langone Medical Center.”

Shira & Dr. Whiteson discuss:

  • Medical Exercise
  • Our world of Endocrine Disruptors contributing to Cancer
  • The Many Roles of Exercise
  • The validation and scientific acceptance of the right exercise in cancer recovery
  • Cancer Prevention with Exercise
  • Designing a complete exercise program as part of cancer recovery

It is always compulsory to get permission from the supervising health care professional – whether it be a family doctor, oncologist, naturopath, to participate in a cancer exercise program, as with any complimentary therapy.

Exercise for cancer recovery needs modifications from a regular exercise program. A program will vary based on many factors, including:

  • Type of Cancer
  • Type of Treatment
  • Stage of Recovery
  • Guidance of Health Care Professional

 

Dr. Radio - Shira Litwack, Industry Expert Cancer Exercise Interviewed
Living a Life to Prevent Cancer Live Interactive webinar

Shira Litwack, Industry Expert Cancer Exercise, Director of International Relations for the Cancer Exercise Training Institute will be leading a 4 hour interactive webinar

Living a Life to Prevent Cancer

We will be learning in great detail the latest research on cancer prevention and cancer recovery, citing over 50 studies.

Please join us. This program is open to the general public and qualifies as continuing education credits for the Cancer Exercise Specialist  certification of the Cancer Exercise Training Institute. Please contact Shira for more details and registration. Shira@BestInHealthRadio.com

Next Course Dates:

Part 1: May 24, 8-10 pm Eastern Time Zone and

Part 2: May 31, 8-10 pm Eastern Time Zone

 

Dr. Jonathan Whiteson interviews Shira Litwack on Sirius XM Radio Dr. Radio – Rehabilitative Medicine. First aired on Sirius channel 110 March 1, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise and Cancer – Both Art and Science

Exercise and Cancer Recovery

Exercise and Cancer? Unfortunately most people do not associate the two – but the truth is the right exercise is key in cancer prevention and cancer recovery.

It is well known that exercise through its many functions in weight management, circulation, immune system optimization…exercise is one of our best bffs in cancer prevention. There is no question cancer is a dreaded diagnosis – however a feeling of power and control vs. helplessness takes center stage in disease recovery.

Exercise and Cancer BestInHealthRadio.comIts not just about keeping busy. Its about knowing that we are taking active participation and control in our recovery. Exercise provides great psychological and physiological command in cancer recovery. Exercise and cancer treatments are true compatriots. The challenge here is exercise requirements are very different for different cancers, and different cancer treatments. And where the skill of the cancer exercise specialist comes in is the individual’s response to treatment. This can really make the difference in how well the body responds to treatment. Unfortunately, people tend to think exercise is exercise.

Albeit physical activity is always welcome and stimulates circulation, exercise demands need to be honed. The fitness program for cancer recovery is not only designed for activity, but it is also equally designed for rest. Many cancer patients have a very difficult time getting true rest. A good fitness plan to accompany cancer treatment assures good rest. Choosing the right type of exercise which also engages relaxation techniques (an equal partner to cardio respiratory, strength & stretching), encourages a deeper sleep. Sleep aids and supplements can either be very short lived, or have potentially nasty drug interactions with other treatment medications.

Exercise and Cancer Health Coaching on Best In health RadioCancer treatments themselves such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can dramatically decrease exercise strength and motivation. Therefore, the FITT (frequency, intensity, time, type)of the exercise program has to be carefully planned to support treatment. Certain cancer treatments, especially those used to treat childhood cancers, can have negative long term effects on the heart and lungs. The carefully chosen exercise protocol can help lessen long term side effects of treatment.

Recovery from Surgery: There are certain postural issues that arise after surgery (mastectomy) and lymph node dissections, and the complexities are compounded with reconstruction and radiation. Serious postural implications, muscular imbalances and tightness are the norm here, again compounded by followup treatments such as chemotherapy & radiation. Unfortunately, most people unknowingly add to muscular imbalances with training ( I see personal trainers do this too!) Postural deviations are not just about aesthetics, they can lead to chronic pain, balance issues which can lead to balance issues and increase the risk of falling and injury. Regular postural assessments and checks for muscular imbalances are a necessary component of cancer exercise training.

Cardio respiratory training can be a cancer patients path to rebuilding stamina and combatting fatigue and depression, endorphins are magical for all of us. However, yes for some cancers we need to really assure keeping body fat percentage in check. Other cancers, weight loss is a serious threat – so again we need to find that balance depending on type of cancer, treatment, and response to treatment.

Muscle cachexia is a serious threat to many cancer patients due to treatment, poor nutrient absorption due to compromised digestive capabilities. Choosing exercises that increase flexibility, preserve even encourage muscle hypertrophy, helps people with strength, sugar uptake (excess sugar in the bloodstream is lethal for cancer recovery)and of course enables people to continue with their functional demands.

Exercise is cancer treatments best partner. Worthy of its own article is the ability of again the right exercise to help treatments target the cancer cells, and preserve the healthy cells. Exercise enabling cancer treatment is truly an area worthy of the word infinite, and the even better news – more good news on this partnership is discovered regularly. The right treatment, dosage though, is front and center.