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Friday, May 28, 2010

Calcium, Beyond a Glass of Milk

Two year ago, I was diagnosed with osteopenia. Osteopenia is when one’s bone mineral density is lower than normal, and it’s usually the precursor to osteoporosis. The doctor who diagnosed me gave me very little direction on what to do to care for my bones, and I left the office very upset at the diagnosis as well as the lack of information provided. I took matters into my own hands -- did my research on bone health and began implementing the care into my weekly routine and diet. I incorporated foods that were rich in calcium (listed below), cut back on my caffeine consumption as well as my sugar intake. I made sure that I was consistent with weight bearing exercises each week (mine being yoga, brisk walks/jogs, light weight training) as well as making sure that I was getting at least 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight (with no sunscreen) for enough vitamin D to absorb the calcium I was consuming. I invested in a wonderful bone health (New Chapter’s Bone Strength, Take Care) and vitamin D supplement, which I took to be safe.

One year later after my new doctor (I told the doctor who diagnosed me that I was taking a hike after that whole incident!) reviewed my bone density scan, he smiled and said, “What have you been doing?!
The scan is no different than last years which means whatever you’re doing is working, preventing any further bone loss. Keep it up!” He was happy (and impressed) to hear what I had been doing to keep my bones strong. Also, during a teeth cleaning, my dentist commented on how strong and healthy my teeth were looking. One of the first places a doctor can see deterioration or weakness in the bones is in the teeth.

This was all very good news and I have continued with caring for my bones as such.
I have faith that my bone scan this month will be similar to last years. Since now I’m a Metagenics rep, I have been taking a high quality calcium supplement, along with a high does of vitamin D3 to ensure absorption. If you would like more information on Metagenics, or would like to order any products, feel free to contact me at lauren@centeryourhealth.net
...Now, onto the information to help YOUR bones!

Calcium is a mineral needed by the body for healthy bones, teeth, and proper function of the heart, muscles, and nerves. The body cannot produce calcium; therefore, it must be absorbed through food. Bones play many roles in the body. They provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles, and store calcium. Adequate calcium consumption and weight bearing physical activity build strong bones, optimizes bone mass, and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Getting the calcium and vitamin D you need is easier than
you think -- if you eat the right foods. Because of heavy promotion by the American dairy industry, the public often believes that cow's milk is the sole source of calcium. However, other excellent sources of calcium exist in a variety of different forms. You have to remember that the dairy industry’s number one goal is to sell more dairy products! The truth is that dairy products have been linked to a laundry list of diseases, ailments and increased bone loss. And, while dairy products do contain a lot of calcium, they also contain a lot of protein, which in turn leeches calcium away from the bones.

Keep in mind that excessive alcohol, caffeine, protein, salt and sugar deplete calcium or interfere with calcium absorption. To improve bone health, you should focus on a balanced diet including calcium-rich foods (below) and avoid prepackaged processed foods.

Good sources of calcium (that do NOT come from a cow) include:

Dark Leafy Greens:


Collard Greens


Swiss Chard Kale

Nuts & Seeds:

Flax Seeds

Sesame Seeds

Tahini (sesame seed butter)


Brazil Nuts

Sunflower Seeds

Chia Seeds

Sea Vegetables:






Navy Beans


Pinto Beans

Garbanzo Beans

Lima Beans

Black Beans

Other Foods High in Calcium:

Blackstrap Molasses




As you can see, eating a varied diet rich in dark leafy greens, fruit, nuts, and seeds will give you plenty of calcium and you'll get so many other health benefits from these foods as well!

Don’t Forget Your Vitamin D!

Vitamin D is necessary in helping the body absorb calcium. Sunlight is the best source of this vitamin. When the weather permits, try to make it a point to get at least 10-15 minutes of natural sunlight (with NO sunscreen) each day. Make this gesture as important as anything else in your schedule, because it is! Use it as an excuse to get outside for a bit (make a phone call, take a breather, walk around the building, take the dog for a walk, etc.). Another good way to know that you are getting vitamin D is by choosing organic, free-range dairy and/or animal products. Animals that were able to roam freely, in the natural sunlight, were able to absorb vitamin D which then will be in the food you consume.

Are YOU Calcium Deficient?

If you have a calcium deficiency, you may develop twitching, nerve sensitivity, brittle nails, insomnia, depression, numbness, and heart palpitations. My calcium deficiency was through my brittle, flaky nails. For years my nails were so brittle, little did I know it was a sign from my body saying to feed it calcium rich foods and get moving!

Do you get enough calcium? What non-dairy sources do you include in your diet?

Keep it fresh!

- Lauren

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Prenatal Exercise: Do's and Don'ts

Get out there and shake that pregnant ass!! You heard me, you're a beautiful life creating goddess, now shake it!

Exercise is such an important part of staying healthy during your pregnancy. It will boost your energy, help you sleep better, reduce discomfort, improve your self image and reduce stress and uplift your spirits.

If that's not already a win-win situation add these two zingers to the mix and you won't be able to say no!
First, exercise during pregnancy will prepare you for child birth. Child birth is hard, some equate it to running a marathon. The better shape your in during your pregnancy, the "easier" childbirth will be. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in a recent news release stated "Women who are expecting can benefit greatly from exercise especially yoga." Training for childbirth through yoga may ease labor and even shorten the time it takes to deliver your baby.

Secondly, exercise during your pregnancy will help you get that pre-pregnancy body back after birth....the same one that got you knocked up to begin with! Though yoga and other exercise you will maintain your strength and muscle tone throughout pregnancy allowing you body to bounce back easier after you give birth. This alone may be motivation enough for most women to start a pregnancy exercise regimen.

Whether you're new to yoga or other exercise or you're a fit pro, here are some tips for prenatal exercise:

  • Snack first. About 30 minutes to an hour before you start your exercise, eat high-energy foods such as a fruit smoothie, cereal, banana, or bran muffin.
  • Warm up and cool down. Take about 10 minutes to warm up before you exercise and another 10 minutes to cool down afterward.
  • Wear an athletic bra that will provide good support for your changing body, to avoid any additional pain and tenderness.
  • Wear breathable clothing that will keep you and your baby from getting too hot. Try pairing cotton shorts with an oversize T-shirt. Also make sure to wear supportive, comfortable shoes.
  • Match the exercise to your body. Exercise is good for you, as long as you take into account the current condition of your body.
  • Stop if you feel tired, dizzy, or nauseous. Listen to your body. If it wants to quit, then quit.
  • Drink plenty of water. Drink two glasses of water about an hour before you exercise, then a glass halfway through your workout, and another glass when you're finished.
  • Get your doctor's permission.
  • Exercise if you become short of breath. You should be able to carry on a conversation throughout your workout. If you're unable to speak because you're gasping for air, then you're working too hard.
  • Exercise in extreme heat or humidity. Even a good sweat may not be able to cool your body sufficiently. If you elevate the temperature inside you, it could endanger baby.
  • Use a hot tub or sauna. The high temperatures can raise your core temperature, which puts your baby at risk.
  • Exercise while lying on your back after your third month. Your uterus and baby can press down on major blood vessels, dangerously lowering your blood pressure.
Interested in prenatal yoga? Stay tuned in to 3 Healthy Chicks Keeping it Fresh for more on the benefits of prenatal yoga and incorporating prenatal yoga into your daily routine. Or join me on Tuesday mornings at10:30am The Yoga and Healing Center in Scotch Plains for Wise Mamas Prenatal Yoga!

Keep it Fresh!
~ Terra

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Yoga of Great Sex: The Big OM(mmmmmmmmm)

Yup SEX. I'm not talking about getting sexy in your yoga class like Ogden, the Innappropriate Yoga Guy. I am talking about using your personal practice to connect with yourself and your partner for the the Big O(mmmmmmm).

It's no secret that a regular yoga practice tones, lengthens muscles and increases stamina, I am not letting the cat out of the bag here. The experienced yoga practitioner tests their flexibility with pretzel like asanas, such as dwi pada srisasana (feet behind the head pose), ananda balasana (happy baby pose) and supta kurmasana (reclining tortoise pose). While the point of yoga isn't to tie yourself into knots, it's easy to associate yoga with the work of contortionists. My yoga teacher likes to call those such poses her "yoga party tricks." Don't worry, in this blog post we won't take our yoga party tricks on the road, we save for the bedroom.

Yoga and sex are easily married. They are both physical and emotional, challenging and uplifting, they both use the body to calm the mind and uplift the spirit and they're both great for the immune system (did you know that orgasms improve the immune system?). If you can think of one amazing and fulfilling yoga class that took, it probably included physical agility, sweat, an elevated heart rate, mental clarity and spiritual openness. The perfect yoga class is a sacred experience. Now think about the last time you had great sex. Every fulfilling sexual union relies on the same characteristics. It's simply up to you and your partner to orchestrate it. When you start thinking about sexual contact and sexual energy as sacred, the act of sex begins to shift. Bringing increased awareness and sensitivity into each sexual experience will not only enhance your pleasure, but bring a closer connection to your partner.

"Yoga focuses people on how they feel, which is something they don't do enough during sex," says Dr. Marty Klein, a sex therapist and author of Beyond Orgasm: Dare to be Honest about the Sex You Really Want. "During sex, people tend to think more about what they imagine the other person is looking at or thinking about. Yoga brings the mind away from judgments, thoughts, speculations, assumptions, anxieties - things that interfere with physical response and emotional satisfaction."

The style of yoga doesn't matter. Whether you practice, gentle hatha, vinyasa flow, Kundalini, Jivamukti or Soul Sweat Asana, a consistent practice will bring greater awareness to your body and and who you choose to get physical with. The more in tune and receptive you are to your own body, the more in tune and receptive you will be to your partner. This receptiveness will help you recognize the shifts in energy your partner has and tune into what feels good and what feels great for each of you. Add communication to the mix and you'll be on your way to becoming a sexpot in the bedroom and living a life that includes supersatisfying sex!

3 Healthy Chick's 5 Reasons why Yoga makes for Great Sex!

(the list is close to endless, but this post is getting long, I decided to cap it at 5).

Awareness: A consistent yoga practice brings awareness. Awareness to your own body and those around you. VAKGO is a theory my yoga teacher learned and taught me. It's an acronym that stands for Visual, Auditory, Kinestetic, Gustatory and Olfactory. Fancy names for seeing, hearing, feeling (emotions and tactile), tasting and smelling. All real experiences contain these five elements. Yoga helps the practitioner step into VAKGO and living in the moment. This awareness and ability to be in the moment is essential for great sex.

Yogic Philosophy: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali teach the Yamas and Niyamas, the "dos and don'ts" of living a yogic life. While each of these can be applicable to the yoga of great sex, the first principal (Yama), Ahimsa may be most applicable. Ahimsa translates roughly to non-violence or compassion. It is non-violence and compassion first and foremost to yourself. Bringing ahimsa into the bedroom will allow you to let go of judgment and simply enjoy an uninhibited good time. Remember, he's not watching the cellulite on your ass jiggle, thinking you need to lose a few pounds. He's thinking, OMG I am getting a piece of ass!!!

Bandhas: Bandhas are energy locks in the body. We have 3: Mula Bandha (pelvic floor or root lock), Uddiyana Bandha (solar plexus or abdominal lock) and Jhalandara Bandha (throat or throat lock). Learning to engage your bandhas during your asana practice cleanses and energizes the interior body. Mula Bandha is for both women and men. Engaging mula bandha (which is much like doing a kegel for women or trying to stop the flow of urine while going to the bathroom for men) builds strength in the pelvic floor and improves blood flow and circulation. Blood flow and circulation in the genitals is essential for sexual arousal and orgasm.

Asana: This seems like a no brainer here. Yoga party tricks! Regular asana practice will build energy, stamina, strength and flexibility. Just as there are many asana's out there, there are just as many sexual positions. Have you thumbed through the Karma Sutras? But while there are lots of positions out there, you can't get into them with a tight, stiff body.

Pranayama: Pranayama is yogic breath work or breath control. Yoga teaches that breath is life. Proper breathing bring more oxygen and blood to the brain and helps to harness prana, our life force energy. The practice of Tantric (Tantra meaning two woven together, or two fullness as one) Yoga or tantric sex teaches that though the joining of two spiritual bodies the two poles can be ecstatically merged to reach enlightenment or bliss. This is accomplished through the connection of energy and breath. We don't have to turn into tantric practitioners to use pranayama for great sex. Simply gazing into our partners eyes and breathing together will create a deeper emotional connection. Slowing the breath and using control will increase sexual arousal help to prolong orgasm.

So there you have it. Now go forth, practice yoga and have great sex!!

Keep it Fresh!