Imagine getting your DEXA (bone density test) results and learning you have osteoporosis. You’re frightened you’re going to “break,” and the first thing your doctor suggests is medication.

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, that scenario is all too common.

Here’s the story of how I came to specialize in bone safe movement

The year was 2010, and the wife of a Stanford professor came to me for an evaluation and treatment plan.  She’d just been diagnosed with osteoporosis and wanted “out of the box” ideas to address her bone health.  For the sake of privacy, I’ll refer to her as “Clara.”  Her doctor had discussed prescription drugs as a recommended treatment approach.

Taking extra time to explain her test results in ways she could understand, I also had her complete the online FRAX assessment, which calculates your estimated personal risk of fracture.  I listened and answered her questions.

I shared with her the kind of movements that help build bone and the types of movements and postures to avoid that increase her risk of fracture.

teaching alignment at a workshop

Teaching alignment at a workshop

Like a sponge, Clara soaked it all in.

I taught her the spine sparing hip hinging technique with the use of a dowel to ensure optimal alignment. For her homework, I asked her to practice this technique whenever she needed to bend over—also, any time she transitioned from sit to stand or stand to sit.

She learned my BoneSmart ABCs for maintaining and building bone. These principles of Alignment, Balance, and Contraction (as in muscle strengthening contraction and contraction from impact like stomping) are the cornerstone of my method.

 

This remark she made still gives me pause.

“Why didn’t the doctors tell me any of this?”  You might be asking yourself the same thing.

Why don’t doctors share this movement information?

In many cases, movement and exercise for osteoporosis is not their area of training or expertise. The medical model often defaults to drugs as the first line of defense.  I’m not saying osteoporosis meds are bad. They are appropriate for some people, but not all people in all situations.  In addition, many lifestyle changes can help your bone health.  (I won’t get into them here. That’s another article-my focus here is on movement.)

The link between the pink pole, Clara, and BoneSmart Pilates.

On our next appointment, Clara proudly presented her homemade dowel, fashioned from a Home Depot closet rod which she festively festooned in neon pink tape!

It was clear to me that she’d done her homework and was applying the principles of safe movement and bone-building exercise in her life.  The trajectory of her bone health took a turn for the better. Her infectious enthusiasm and that pink pole fueled me to do more.

Encountering more people with excessive bone loss

After that experience, I continued to meet more people of all ages dealing with excessive bone loss. Some people were quite young, experiencing the effects of bone loss due to secondary causes like the adverse effects of drugs, eating disorders, and cancer. All had little understanding of the ways to move safely with bone loss or the movements to avoid that might cause a break.

She broke her back

pilates exercise rollover

                           Pilates exercise, “Rollover”

Another incident that spurred me on… my client has a sister with osteopenia, and she fractured her spine doing a “rollover” in a Pilates class.

This is a typical move in Pilates but one that you should avoid if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. The reason being that position puts compressive loads on the spine predisposing you to fracture.

Although she didn’t have full-blown osteoporosis, the movement guidelines are the same for osteopenia and osteoporosis

Because this teacher was not well informed of the need to modify for her client with excessive bone loss,  the client broke her back.

The realization hit me that too many Pilates teachers and general exercise instructors don’t understand the movement guidelines for their clients with excessive bone loss. Unknowingly, they are putting their clients at risk of injury with every unmodified Pilates or exercise class they teach.

Enhancing my expertise and the birth of BoneSmart Pilates

To bolster my expertise in this area, I immersed myself in research and trained with experts such as Sherri Betz PT and geriatric specialist Sara Meeks PT, a pioneer in osteoporosis work and whom I consider a mentor.

In 2013, I created the BoneSmart Pilates method and produced my first DVD BoneSmart Pilates®: Exercise to Prevent or Reverse Osteoporosis. Met with critical acclaim, it won the  Pilates Style Magazine’s best DVD award.  Soon after, Sara Meeks endorsed my DVD, which now appears on the cover.

Because osteoporosis is a silent disease that affects people of different ages, it was important to me that my first DVD had diverse demonstrators. Each demonstrator represents a different decade from their 40’s to ’80s, as seen here on my DVD cover.  I intended to create a DVD relatable to people of varying ages.   

Here’s a fun contest. Can you match each person to their correct decade 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s ?! 

From left to right- Rose, Jean (French pronunciation), Me, Caren, Carla

Email me with your guesses for a special prize if you get it right!

 

Teaching the teachers

Teaching Pilates Instructors in Costa Mesa, CA

I made it my mission to continue to spread the word about bone-healthy movement by presenting educational workshops to Pilates teachers.

My goal, to empower them to work safely with their clients that have osteopenia or osteoporosis.  There are so many healthy alternatives to improve muscle and bone strength. No more crunches or “Rollover”  fractures!

 

Spreading community awareness

Leading an American Bone Health presentation

In 2012,  I became an ambassador for the national organization American Bone Health.  I continue to serve as a volunteer educator, leading bone health awareness community presentations.  Topics include fall prevention,  fracture prevention, bone safe exercise, and proper nutrition to support bone health.

 

The genesis of the Aging Strong DVD Series

As an active ager myself, I know firsthand the physical challenges that seem to creep in with aging.  How does one safely navigate exercise with arthritis, joint replacements, and the plethora of itis’s and issues that come with aging?  I realized I needed to create something that spoke to a broader audience, not just those with osteoporosis.

This was the seed of inspiration for creating my 2 volume BoneSmart Pilates® AGING STRONG DVD set.   I wanted to address the needs of our active aging population that would benefit from safe Pilates.   “Motion is Lotion.”  We need to keep moving, but we need to do it safely and efficiently.

These DVDs pick up where “Exercise to Prevent or Reverse Osteoporosis” left off. They increase challenge and complexity while still observing the rules of bone safety.  My AGING STRONG DVDs speak not only to bone loss but to common challenges seen with aging, such as sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss), compromised joints, arthritis, and disc herniations.

All of my DVDs and live or virtual classes are bone safe, spine safe, and active aging friendly.

My diagnosis

I used to wonder if people would listen to me since I didn’t have excessive bone loss.  In the last year, due to risk factors like increasing age, low body weight, petite body frame, and being a female, I’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia.  While this may have been a stress point in the past, I’m confident that I have the knowledge to ensure my safety and bone health.

Connecting through movement

I also believe that what I have to share is helping more people than I realize.  It warms my heart to get a call or email from someone I don’t know reaching out to tell me how my work, my movement ideas, have improved their bone health and quality of life. That means more to me than any sales target.  You may think it silly but I still have many of those first letters I received from some of you mounted where I can enjoy them.  Seeing them keeps me motivated.

One bright aspect of the pandemic: It forced me to learn to teach virtually, and this has increased my outreach more than I could imagine. Moving together virtually has helped deepen our connections across our community.  I hope you feel that. I surely do.

I’ve loved experiencing this journey of spine health, bone health, and aging strong with all of you, whether we’ve connected through my DVD, through virtual class, or my live classes.  Together we’ve gained new perspectives on our perceived limitations and the surprising extent of our physical and mental resiliency. We are, in essence, co-creators of our well-being.

 

I’m honored and grateful that you have allowed me into your lives and trusted me in this journey of transformation. I commend you for committing to live your lives with intelligence, mindfulness, and an energetic, playful spirit.

 

About the author

Teresa Maldonado Marchok PT is the creator of the BoneSmart Pilates® Method and award-winning DVD series.  Her passion for bone-safe exercise and active aging is reflected in the classes she teaches and the way she lives her life.

Her DVDs have national and international exposure, and her products have received over 200 Amazon 5 star reviews.

Half Dome Upper Right

There’s something to be said for having a goal, and conquering something you thought was beyond your reach. You can use this hike as a metaphor for any challenge you face. The victory is truly in the “trying” not necessarily the outcome.

I questioned whether my 63-year-old body would tolerate the demands of this strenuous Yosemite National Park Half Dome hike.  My FitBit Post Hike Stats: 24 ½ miles, over 60,000 steps, 422 floors, 427 active minutes…Yowza!

Not only did I come through, but I came out stronger than the previous two times I’d done this hike. That was unexpected.

Here are some of my best tips in a nutshell, for successfully completing a hike or very long walk and avoiding injury or unwanted pain. I hope my insights might offer you some useful ideas for your next venture.

I want to spare you the mistakes I’ve made in the past. I’ll go into depth with each of these categories below.

 

 

John Muir Trail descent at sunset

  1. PREPARE
  2. Bring enough WATER with electrolytes and if needed, bring a water filtration system
  3. TREKKING POLES
  4. A FANNY PACK or other easy access to your phone to capture awe-inspiring moments
  5. MUSIC for when the going gets rough
  6. LISTEN to your BODY
  7. HEADLAMP: If you suspect you might end up in the dark for whatever reason, get an LED headlamp

 

1. PREPARE: It’s all in the preparation. As a PT, I tell people before surgery, for say a shoulder or knee, to strengthen the structures around that joint so their post-surgical outcomes will be brighter.   It’s a similar concept when preparing for a big hike.  You don’t want to crawl off the couch and onto a mountain without any preparation or you’ll be crawling off said mountain!

 

 

  • Hubby and I stretching pre hike

    Make sure your tissues are ready for the load and volume of your anticipated demands.

  • Practice putting some weights in a backpack, building up gradually as you tackle your local hills. My neighbor who joined us for his first Half Dome hike, trained by walking around our level neighborhood with hiking shoes and a backpack. He laughed afterward that this in no way prepared him for what was to come.
  • Cross-train with strength classes, cardio/HIIT. Make long walks or multiple shorter walks, part of your daily routine so your endurance improves.
  • Inner thigh stretch

    Stretch before, perhaps during, and definitely after your hike.

  • Always have good hiking shoes that support your ankles and break-in your shoes if they’re new.
  • Trim your toenails so they don’t turn black from jamming into the front of your shoes going downhill. Learned that the hard way.
  • Wear silk socks under your wool socks to prevent blisters and chaffing. I also learned that the hard way.

 

  • Stretch before the final stretch

    Depending on the anticipated weather, it’s good to layer with light quick-drying non-cotton clothing. I wore a sleeveless crop top and started the day with a long sleeve sun-protective nylon top, trekking shorts without zippers or buttons so easy for those impromptu bathroom breaks in nature.  My clothing was perfect.

  • Coming down the mountain at dusk into nightfall, we encountered a lot of gnat-like flies/mosquitoes that seemed to enjoy buzzing near my mouth. I would have loved a pandemic mask at that moment. Luckily that didn’t last too long.
  • If you wear contacts bring spares. Easy to carry and brings peace of mind. I’ve had to use one once in the past so it’s good insurance-you want to be able to see!
  • Get to bed early and make sure you get a good night’s sleep. We were in bed by 9 pm the night before and up at 4:30 am to get ready to leave.

 

 

2.  WATER – Hydrating yourself adequately can mean the difference between headaches and cramps or feeling at your best. The trick for us this time was combining our water with electrolytes, packages of powdered Gatorade, and the like.  We used just enough to feed our tissues and encourage us to drink more, but not so concentrated that it tasted sugary. This was huge for us-no one cramped and all drank plenty.

Refilling at the Merced river

If you’re planning a very long trek and have access to a river, bringing a hand pump filtration system will lighten your load for how much water you need to carry from the start. I had a fanny pack with a water bottle at my waist and a camelback in my backpack.  I tell you I bit and sucked on that little tube and barely got any liquid out. Felt it wasn’t worth the effort so I just kept refilling my water bottle from the camelback (which is like a sack filled with water that molds nicely in your backpack.) That worked.

 

My daughter with trekking poles.

3.  TREKKING POLES – I’ve said it before, these are a lifesaver particularly on long hikes.

I found I didn’t need them for the first few hours of the hike.  My body let me know when to take them out.  They’re great for several reasons.

  • They help with balance, at any point one foot and the opposite pole are in contact with the ground. This allowed me to enjoy the scenery more as I wasn’t constantly looking down where I was stepping.
  • They help offload your joints by using your upper body to propel you forward or to help you climb to higher elevations. It makes hiking a full-body workout because, at each heel strike, you’re activating the glut of that side and your lat (latissimus dorsi-the muscle that pulls your arm back) on the opposite side.
  • If you have bone density issues, trekking poles decrease your risk of falling which is a plus.
  • These poles are a similar style and identical brand to the ones I have. (I got mine at REI a long time ago) It was important to me that they were collapsible, easy to store when not in use, lightweight, and had great reviews.

 

4.  FANNY PACK (in addition to a backpack) This is for easy access to items like your bottle of water, trail mix, energy bars, tissues, sunscreen, Blistex…and your phone/camera. You don’t want to have to take off your backpack for every little thing you need.

Of course, also bring a hat and sunglasses.

 

5.  MUSIC for when you’re tired and need some inspiration. On the way down I rocked out on Hamilton, Broadway musicals, and pop tunes. Amazing how inspiring music can add a spring to your step no matter how tired you are.  I wore earpods of course so I didn’t bother anyone else.  Did I tell you we were 15 hours in total on the mountain?

 

 

6.  LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – My husband took regular doses of Alleve to prevent back pain that’s been recently plaguing him. He also took a lightweight insulated bag and brought an ice pack in there.  He used it at the summit and it was still frozen!  Helped immensely.  He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to complete the hike due to his back but it all worked out.  I took 2 aspirin during the hike to fend off an elevation-related headache.  Worked like a charm.

The most famous–or infamous–part of the hike is the ascent up the cables. The two metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment.

My neighbor got 1/3 of the way up the cables, He listened to his body, stopped, and said that was it. This is his photo from that spot.  It wasn’t a matter of fear of heights but just running out of steam and strength, and knowing we still had a 9-mile trip ahead of us to get back down to our car.  Though he didn’t summit, he was victorious and so happy with his accomplishments!  He listened to his body.

 

A little Pilates at the Summit

 

7.  HEADLAMP – On a whim my husband ordered 2 extra LED headlamps from Amazon so we were all equipped. At just 13.99 for 2, these were a lifesaver. Going on this hike with someone who has never done it before motivated us to show Larry a great time and not feel pressured.  He had us going at a slower pace which was fine but that meant the last 2 hours of the hike were in the dark.  That was difficult but the strong LEDs saved our ankles and our nerves.

 

Myself, Katelyn, and Tom on the “Diving Board” at the top of Half Dome

 

I told my husband this is the last time I’m doing this hike.  Though exhilarating, it’s also extremely strenuous. Besides, there are other summits to climb and places to explore.

With that said…we just placed our name in a lottery to hike the Grand Canyon next year and stay overnight at Phantom Ranch at the base of the Canyon. That’s like doing half the hike we did in Yosemite, having a good night’s rest, then completing the hike the next day.

I can do that! We’ll see if we get it!

 

 

 

 

Click the video for details and find the meerkats!
This class is designed for those of us in the last and best third of our lives. Incorporating the science of aging, the class is bone safe, spine safe, and joint-friendly. We challenge our nervous system through fun movement brain games to develop new neural pathways that improve balance, fall response time, and focus. We work on core, lower and upper body strength, we dance and we practice how to catch ourselves safely if we trip, to help prevent injury.

This class is appropriate for the beginner to advanced intermediate active ager. Expect improved posture, injury prevention, coordination, core strength, flexibility, and balance with crossover benefits to your daily activities. 

No prior Pilates experience necessary, just a willingness to learn and have fun. To participate, you must be able to get up and down from a mat safely and independently.

Do you find your butt slowly disappearing or migrating south? Are your jeans sliding off your butt?

Age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, is a real thing. The good news is you can do targeted workouts to minimize the loss that people experience from increasing age and all the excessive sitting that’s been happening recently.

It’s not too late to literally perk things up.

Round perky butts play a role in aesthetics but there’s even more that’s important!

Having strong gluteal muscles gives you the power to stand up, sit down, squat, and perform all your life activities with power and grace.

Strong glutes are important for proper pelvic alignment, propulsion during walking and running, and single-leg balance support.  They also help to support the lower back during lifting motions.

 

6 Benefits of taking the Active Aging Bootie Barre class

Strong glutes help your posture and lessen back and neck pain.

Increased sitting can result in slumped posture and “dead butt syndrome”. This is when your butt muscles become inhibited and literally forget how to fire.

How does this happen?  It’s actually a common problem today.  People are spending inordinate amounts of time sitting behind their computers, zooming, etc.  Picture it, your butt is tucked under, your back is in a C curve (I call it cashew posture) and your head is shifted forward in front of your shoulders. Feeling the back and neck pain yet? With all this faulty sitting, the muscles in the front of your hip joints become short and tight and the opposite muscles, the butt muscles, become neurologically inhibited, overstretched, weak, and inactive.  Strengthening the butt muscles, back muscles and stretching the muscles in front of the hip, exercises that are included in the active aging bootie barre class, address these common issues.

 

Strong Glutes help Prevent Injuries.

Building strong gluteal muscles (the focus of “bootie barre”) can help you avoid injury as well as recover from injury to your low back, hips, knees, and ankles by creating better alignment and stability.  As an example, when squatting sometimes people will cave one knee in towards midline instead of tracking the knee over the foot. That’s often a result of weak gluteal muscles on that side. This is a common dysfunctional pattern known as “dynamic valgus” and it can be prevented with strong gluteal and hip muscles. Proper hip, knee, foot alignment is cued regularly during our bootie barre class.

Strong Glutes Improve Balance

Who remembers those old commercials “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  Though people joked about it, those commercials depicted a real and serious situation.  Maybe it’s not an issue for you currently but having strong glutes now means you’ll have a strong foundation to propel yourself when walking, have the stability in your pelvis to balance on one leg, get in and out of your vehicle, or shower with ease and if you fall, “you Will be able to get up”!  This all translates to better long-term quality of life.

 

Strong Glutes Enhance Bone Density in the Hips and Pelvis

Strength training is the best way to improve localized bone density. This happens when muscle tissue tugs on your bones during strength training. By building up the muscles around your pelvis (your glutes) as we do in class, you are improving your muscle and bone strength as well as the stability of your entire pelvis and hips.

 

 

Strong Gluts are Aesthetically Appealing

Though not the most important reason, this is often the primary reason people start working on their glutes. It’s a valid goal to have to keep our pants from sliding down and if chasing a perky butt is your goal, I say go for it!

This class is targeted for you, in the last and best third of your life, to get strong safely and efficiently.

As a physical therapist, I ensure that you’re not using your low back to lift your leg behind you (a common error).  I design exercises that work all ranges of motion of the hip and stimulate both slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers found in your glutes.  And, we get it all done in just 30 time-efficient minutes!  Allow me to be your guide to lift your tush and safely challenge your limits.

Sign up for the Active Aging Bootie Barre Class every Wednesday at 11:30 PM PST. Can’t make that time? Not a problem. You can purchase the class and I can send you a recording to do at your convenience!

Click here for a preview of some Active Aging Bootie Barre Moves!

 

 

 

Written by Teresa Maldonado Marchok, MPT

Physical Therapist,  Pilates Teacher, Aging Strong Activist, Educator, and lifelong learner.   www.BoneSmartPilates.com

 

 

References

BoneSmart Pilates Youtube channel Gluteal Amnesia aka Dead Butt Syndrome  https://youtu.be/YevqgbmS4K8

Buckthorpe M, Stride M, Villa FD. ASSESSING AND TREATING GLUTEUS MAXIMUS WEAKNESS — A CLINICAL COMMENTARYInt J Sports Phys Ther. 2019;14(4):655–669.

Dunsky A. The Effect of Balance and Coordination Exercises on Quality of Life in Older Adults: A Mini-Review. Front Aging Neurosci. 2019;11:318. Published 2019 Nov 15. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2019.00318

America is growing increasingly sedentary.  85% of our adult population is insufficiently active, meaning they’re not meeting even the minimum recommended requirements of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This may surprise some readers because at times it can seem as if health has gotten trendy in the U.S.  We’re inundated with fitness influencers sharing social media content, the latest trendy workout gear, and TV ads pitching healthy products. But while these factors can have a positive influence for some it’s not making the intended impact to the greater community.

 

In 2018 the Physical Activity Guidelines were revised and updated based on new scientific evidence.

2 key changes were made that’s great news for us all.

The first change was the directive to Move More and Sit Less. Evidence proved the health consequences of prolonged uninterrupted sitting cause a cascade of health problems.

The second big change included dropping the 10-minute bout rule. Previous to the update, exercise didn’t “count” unless you accumulated at least 10 minutes of moderate activity at one time.  Even trackers like the FitBit did not register activity in smaller bouts.  The good news is that newer models now honor and give credit for shorter than 10 min bouts.  I was even able to add an update to my Fitbit Charge 3 to include this new feature.

Why have we gotten so sedentary?

This ongoing health crisis is largely to blame. Health writer Jamie Ducharme details in an article on the impact of the pandemic how Americans are now sitting more and moving less rather than moving more and sitting less. Cambridge Open Engage found a 32% decrease in physical activity ever since social distancing measures were implemented. Sitting a lot more, in particular, are work-from-homers — office workers and professionals who are now working at home due to stay-at-home directives.

 

Time to Move More, Sit Less

Integrating core work at your desk

There are a lot of ways to start working toward a lifestyle in which you move more and sit less. If you work at a desk — particularly if it’s at home — you might consider investing in a standing desk, described by Pain Free Working as an ergonomic innovation designed to let you switch between sitting down and standing up.  The standing desk is a stand-alone piece of equipment that allows you to adjust the desk height and customize it so you’ll be comfortable

You might also consider alternating between a physioball and a chair to encourage more movement. A physioball, because of its inherent instability, invites subtle often unconscious movements to stabilize your spine and keep you upright. I’ve created a short video showing you a few things you can do while seated on a ball at your desk.

You might implement a habit to get up and move around for 3 minutes at the top of every hour. Though it may seem like a small step, evidence shows that interrupting your bouts of sitting decreases the negative effects of being sedentary including your risk of mortality.

Walk More

More broadly, in your day-to-day life, you can make exercise more of a priority. If you’re not used to it, we at BoneSmart Pilates suggest you start with the art of walking — just one step at a time, progressing gradually until walks become part of your routine.  As a former professional dancer, I used to think that walking wasn’t really “exercise”.

I certainly know better now and with my pandemic puppy “Chip”, walking and sometimes eager sprints to get to the park, are a regular part of my daily routine!  If you’re familiar with physical activity but struggle to find time for it these days, consider “Habit Integration”.  This is a technique I created that I shared in my virtual workshop Life Hacks to Move More Sit Less. Habit Integration helps you seamlessly weave habits you currently do with desired movement habits so your new desired habit is cued by your “I always do this” habit.  For instance, while I’m taking a shower I’ll do a corner pec stretch to open up the front of my shoulders and help me hunch less. You’ll find yourself moving more automatically.

 

Physical activity recommendations

The revised Physical Activity Guidelines of 2018 recommends the following:

For adults

• Do at least 150−300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity exercise to get substantial health benefits.
• Do more than 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity for additional health benefits.
• Do muscle-strengthening exercises on 2 or more days a week for additional health benefits (stronger bones, increased strength).

For older adults

• Include balance, aerobic, and muscle-strengthening activities weekly.
• Be as physically active as your condition will allow.
• Exert as much effort as your condition will allow.

 

Once you apply some of the habit-forming strategies shared in the Move More, Sit Less workshop, you’ll notice positive effects with how you feel, physically and mentally. The more you can incorporate this simple “move more, sit less” mantra into your life, the healthier you’ll become.

Quotes for Motivation

If you need a little nudge to get you started, I encourage you to consider the following inspirational quotes in support of more movement.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”                                                         -Mahatma Gandhi

Much of our sedentary lifestyle can be chalked up to the need to work. Our world is a very competitive one, and we can trick ourselves into thinking that each minute not spent at the computer means a minute that we’re falling behind. Gandhi’s quote is a reminder, however, that there are truly more important things — namely, health and wellness — rather than the pursuit of material wealth.

“Exercise should be regarded as a tribute to the heart.” – Gene Tunney

What a lovely little way to think about the effort to move more. The quote reminds us to consider exercise in a deeper manner, rather than as an inconvenience or obligation.

“You are the architect of your life.  It’s never too late.  Start now.” -Teresa Maldonado Marchok

Avoid thinking you can’t start fresh.  Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks.  Movement enhances life at every single point in our life cycle.

 

If you’d like to learn more about “Life Hacks to Move More and Sit Less” which is available for on-demand viewing, click here.

 

Written by Teresa Maldonado Marchok with additional contributions penned exclusively for bonesmartpilates.com by Jorgina Bowen

 

We live in a society where we are bombarded with unrealistic images of how to look and what to strive for. And now that we are also dealing with pandemic-induced isolation and limitations, it’s no surprise that mental health issues are rising, excessive drinking is on an upswing, and yo-yo dieting and eating disorders are prevalent.

Though media is trying to program us into thinking we need to be a certain way, we need to carve out our own way. Find your movement happy place. Prioritize what is unique about you. Protect and nurture the invisible magnet that draws other like-minded souls to dance in your world.

With so much emphasis on appearance I think in some ways, people are more afraid about gaining the dreaded “Quarantine 15” than getting the virus!  Public Service Announcement (PSA): skinny does not equal fit.  PSA #2: fit comes in a spectrum of different shapes and sizes.

Personally, I patronize the athletic sportswear store “Athleta” because I love the fit and feel of their clothes and I believe in their messaging which is inclusive—you can see in the photos below that they celebrate fitness in varied ages, shapes, sizes, and colors.

To highlight my point about the impact of media on self-image, I’d like to share with you a study done in the mid ‘90’s which looked at the introduction of Western media to the island of Fiji. This Pacific island nation didn’t have electricity until 1985In 1995, western programming similar to American prime-time network TV shows was introduced.  Prior to this, Fijian men and women cherished fuller figured, well-muscled body types.

A former Fijian beauty queen explained to researchers that when she was growing up she was constantly told to put on weight, and that slim women were seen as weak.  Fast forward three years later to 1998: eating disorders skyrocketed. Nearly three quarters of Fijian girls (74%) reported that they felt too big or fat, and almost 12% of girls reported using purge techniques to control their weight. By 2007, purging had increased to 45%.  Coincidence?  Not likely.

 

What is important to you? Is it more about appearance, or how you move and feel?  How do you talk to yourself? What comprises your inner mental chatter?  Do you feel  shame when you indulge in a treat? Do you put yourself down?

I admit the chatter of my inner critic and wrestling with imposter syndrome can sometimes overwhelm me.

I know it will not surprise you to learn that studies have shown women are more susceptible than men to our inner critics and imposter syndrome.

We all need to recognize and be aware of our female brains playing these tricks on our self perception. We need to quiet the negative self-talk and lift ourselves, and each other, up.

The BoneSmart Pilates® classes I instruct have at their core a message of mutual acceptance, respect, and working smarter not harder. In my classes you won’t see us doing super fast crunches and twists. We work slowly and mindfully, supported by breath, in ranges of motion that protect rather than compromise your spine. The video of Amy below illustrates core training with spine safety in mind.

 

I am a movement educator. I share principles that can be applied to your life, whether it’s doing sports or your daily activities—like being aligned when working at your desk, or being mindful as you dress or unload the groceries from your car. With the active ager in mind, I like to keep things challenging yet safe as well as spicy and fun.

 

The magic of our work together actually happens in the cross application of the principles that I teach you of alignment, breath, balance, centering, and flow—and how those principles apply to your life. To me, the concept of balance applies to more than standing on one leg. Do you allow yourself the life balance of enjoying occasional indulgences without self-reproach?

 

I say enjoy that Ben and Jerry’s or cake from time to time. Savor it. Then get back on your healthy track. I believe we should strive to be at a healthy weight for our frame.

Though my classes don’t focus on weight loss, with consistent practice combined with good nutrition, dropping pounds is often a by-product.  Create a lifestyle lane for yourself that you can manage and that keeps you happy. We shouldn’t drink diet cokes all day. Neither should we drink kale smoothies all day. Neither is sustainable. Strike a balance you can live with.

 

My classes are designed to support and elevate all bodies. I believe we can and should be as strong and capable as we can be.

I recently participated in a medically supervised nine-month clinical trial called “Reversal of Cognitive Decline” which follows the Alzheimers preventing protocol of Dr. Dale Bredesen.

Through that experience, I learned that a healthy lifestyle that supports brain health includes strength and cardiovascular training, as well as sufficient quantity and quality of sleep for healing and brain regeneration. Proper hydration and nutrition are also critical to nurturing this gift of a body we were given. Finally, connection with others, continually learning new things, and quiet reflection (however that looks for you—whether that’s meditation, prayer, or a walk in nature) rounds out the healthy lifestyle package.

With COVID-19 restrictions and working from home, people are more sedentary than ever. Our bodies are meant to move, not to sit still for eight hours. My happy place, my place of skill and purpose, is helping you to peel off the layers of self-doubt regarding your body and movement ability.

 

I want to help you achieve your movement potential. When we’re comfortable in our skin, we are better able to share the gifts that we were born to share with the world, whatever that might be. Each one of you is a unique combination of life experiences, skills, and point of view. There is, and never will be, anyone exactly like you and we need your gifts!

 

In closing, we are meant to move and we must not allow unrealistic media images and societal norms to shape our self-image. Don’t eat, or not eat, for the sake of someone else’s ideals. Be authentic and true to yourself.

Sources:

This workshop is for you if you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis or if you have healthy bones and want to keep them that way! In this 90 minute session you will discover how to move safely with bone loss.   You’ll learn to find your ideal posture, how to lift safely, what exercises help with hip and spine bone strength, and how to avoid fractures.

I’ll share my easy to remember BoneSmart ABC’s for bone health, which will be the foundation for you to live a  bone healthy life.

Bonus:

Along with the workshop, you’ll get free access to my Private Forum on the BoneSmart Pilates website.  You can ask any exercise-related questions that you have on the forum. Your password will be emailed to you when you register.

This workshop is presented by Teresa Maldonado Marchok, licensed PT, nationally certified Pilates teacher, former professional dancer, ambassador for the national organization American Bone Health and creator of the award winning DVD series BoneSmart Pilates®

This workshop is a great balance of research and information, along with exercise and practice. I highly recommend this workshop if you are 50+ whether you have osteoporosis or not. Brilliant!

– Linda A.

Purchase the workshop here!

I want to thank you, my clients, for bearing with me as I’ve transitioned to a new online appointment scheduling system. After 2 decades of pen and paper documentation, I’ve finally taken the leap. There are the inevitable road bumps and you’ve been so patient during my learning curve. I anticipate more hiccups and ask for your patience as we charter this new territory together.

Below are 3 separate video tutorials I’ve created to help you navigate the new system. Each video is dedicated to the type of class you’re interested in whether it be New Client Welcome packages, Group Classes, or Private Sessions.  I hope you find them helpful but as always, I’m only a quick email away to lend a helping hand!

Step by Step Tutorial for booking online virtual classes

This tutorial above targets orienting New Clients to the new online scheduling system, those of you who have never taken a class from me but are curious.  Perhaps you have one of my DVDs, like my teaching style, and want to try out a Zoom class.  There are some amazing Welcome Packages for newcomers and a Free Consultation to answer your questions and discuss your goals.

Need a gift idea? Welcome Packages can be purchased as Gift Certificates to print or share electronically ranging from $25-$50, They make an exceptional gift of health for a friend or loved one. Details in this video. Single group class certificates are also available for $20 and a 3 pack of Express Private Sessions are available for $175

 

 

 

Follow along as I guide you in the steps to purchase/register for Virtual Group classes on my new online scheduling platform at  bonesmartpilates.as.me

This is for those who are taking group classes with me and need a little extra guidance to navigate this appointment software. This is also appropriate for those of you new to my group classes and who are ready to commit to an active aging class.

 

Online Scheduling for Private Clients of BoneSmart Pilates

Need a little help booking your Private Appointment? Follow me above in this step by step tutorial on how to purchase and book private appts with my new online scheduling system located at BoneSmartPilates.as.me

 

For those who have been following my blog posts/newsletters, you know that I just completed a ReCode (Reversal of Cognitive Decline) 10-month clinical trial. In this, my final blog post on this topic, I’ll summarize key points, answer most commonly asked questions and hopefully, there will be a nugget or two here that might help you.  The main purpose of the trial was to try and halt quantifiable cognitive decline and improve cognition.

 

This newest book by Dr. Dale Bredesen, The End of Alzheimer’s Program-The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline is updated, has clearer guidelines on the diet, and is easier to understand than his first book. I would recommend it. I just got it on kindle. His protocol is the one followed in the ReCode clinical trial that I was a part of.

 

 

Clinical Study Results:

I’ve experienced improvements in cognition, weight loss, sleep, gum health, and overall energy.

 

My Cognition Improved which was my main reason for joining this trial
The Recode protocol which includes a combination of a Ketogenic diet, Intermittent Fasting, exercise, nutritional and hormonal supplementation, brain training, getting adequate sleep, and mindfulness training has helped me to crawl out of cognitive decline.

  • Cognitive function tests have all markedly improved since baseline testing in December of 2019 to the point of testing “out of the range” of cognitive decline to normal levels.  I was in the range of “cognitive decline” for my initial testing.

 

“What do I think has made the most difference?” 

Honestly, I believe it’s a combination of many factors including:

  • Improved quality and quantity of sleep (this was huge for me)
  • The addition of targeted supplementation and balancing my hormones
  • Intermittent fasting to boost ones’ metabolism, for healing, and for weight loss.  We had to make sure we didn’t eat for 3 hrs. before going to bed. Our goal in the study is 12-16 hours of fasting each day. That may sound draconian at first but it’s not that bad. If you have your last meal at 7 pm, you can eat 12 hrs. later at 7 am the following morning. It also helps with sleep as your overactive digestive system won’t wake you up.
  • Getting the junk out of my diet!
  • Consistent and varied exercise has been key including my Pilates, HIIT workouts 2x/week, dancing, and walking my pandemic puppy regularly.  I learned through my research that aerobic exercise is critical for brain health but there’s more.  Our ability to dual-task deteriorates with age. Dual-Task Training– combining cognitive activity with physical activity helps promote neuroplasticity!  This is something I incorporate regularly into the virtual standing/mat Quarantine classes that I teach. An example of this is the new warm-up series I created which links various movements together into a brain-building, memory reinforcing challenge.

“We assume, that physical exercise increases the potential for neurogenesis while cognitive exercise guides it to induce positive plastic change”
~ Bamidis et al, 2014

  • Online brain training because I’ve seen objective improvement particularly in my focus and processing speed.  Online Brain Training was one of my daily requirements as a study participant. The program we were using, HQ.com is the most scientifically validated program on the market. This is way beyond crossword puzzles in sophistication and the exercises get harder as you become more successful so it’s continually challenging your brain.  Check it out!  You can do it on your phone, iPad, or laptop.

 

Insider’s tip-my nutritionist told me BrainHQ.com tends to run a subscription discount around Thanksgiving weekend.

 

So can I point to one thing that helped the most?  No. That’s why the Recode Protocol is a multi-modal approach and why a single pill will not plug up all the problems that contribute to cognitive decline.

 

In addition to improved cognition, I lost considerable weight.

I lost 15 pounds on this protocol, with a noticeable improvement around my waistline. I’ve lost fat but not muscle as evidenced by the physical testing that I underwent at the beginning and end of the study and by Body Mass Index (BMI) testing on special equipment.  For me, I believe the aspects that contributed to weight loss were intermittent fasting (no nighttime snacking), no sugar, and the high fat/low carb ketogenic diet which includes no bread.  Exercise is also very important but I was doing that already. It was the food and fasting that were the new variables.

 

What else improved?  I’m Sleeping Better

Since I’ve been in this study my sleep has markedly improved.  I used to get up repeatedly to go to the bathroom and at times would have difficulty getting back to sleep. I now sleep through the night and when I do get up, I can fall right back asleep easily.  A light-blocking eye mask ($10 for three on Amazon) at night helped tremendously with my sleep.  I had to get beyond the fact that they look like training bras for the eyes but the comfort and effectiveness won out!

 

From my understanding, the following that I’m taking positively affects my sleep. Remember the recommendations may look very different for you and your body.

Over the counter supplements:

  • NeuroMag by Designs for Health 3 capsules at bedtime  (=144 mg magnesium)
  • Melatonin SRT by Designs for Health 1 tablet bedtime (6mg)

Prescription meds

  • Progesterone 200mg cap (Costco has it the cheapest)

 

What else got better?  Improved Gum Health

Dentalcidin toothpaste with Biocidin by Bio-Botanical Research 

This is the natural toothpaste that was provided for me to use for the entire clinical study. My dental hygienist asked me what I was doing differently as my gum health improved significantly. I told her about the study and apparently, the change in diet and toothpaste resulted in this improvement. Warning, this stuff is not cheap-about $30 for a month supply.

 

How will I proceed now that the study is over?

Though it’s technically over,  my doctor is continuing to refine certain aspects of my protocol including potencies of hormones, etc so I’m doing more blood testing in Nov. and Dec. so she can dial in the correct dosing.

I will continue with many of the supplements I’ve been taking, though thankfully we did discontinue or minimize some. I’m remaining on all 3 bioidentical hormones.

I know I said previously that I’d be adding A2 milk back into my diet, probably in the form of latte’s.  I’ve since changed my mind. Amazingly I now find I prefer the flavor of the oat milk in my coffee to regular milk so I’m sticking with that. BTW, oat milk has 240 mg of Calcium per 8 oz serving.

I’ve found that this Califia brand Oat Barista Blend is the best for foaming milk for lattes.

I will be adding in cheese here and there which is technically within a keto diet but was not part of the clinical study guidelines.

I’ll be continuing with Infra-Red sauna but on an intermittent basis.  It was hard on my family for me to disappear so frequently in the evening to detox during the study. I have to juggle the needs of many.

I’m sticking with the Biocidin toothpaste for my gum health. I don’t mess with good results and people I’ve recommended it to have had similar positive gum effects.

Intermittent fasting will continue to factor into my wellness plan.

My go-to snacks are now Macadamia nuts, Trader Joe’s Mixed nut butter with Jicama sticks, or cauliflower florets.  Avocados with olive oil are my healthy fat of choice along with fish.  I regularly cook with avocado oil now as it doesn’t degrade at high heat.

I will continue to prioritize quantity and quality of sleep over late-night TV or getting more “work” done.  The positive effects have been far-reaching including more energy, focus, and clearer thinking.

Re: the Keto diet, there are no studies about the effects of being on a keto diet long term.  I don’t particularly want to stay on keto long term.  I’m interested in carb cycling and one option that was presented by my study nutritionist is keto for morning and afternoon and higher carb allowance for dinner. That’s what I’m doing presently.   I’ve added back in my Puerto Rican rice and beans-very happy about that I must say.  Have also reintroduced higher carb foods like bananas and sweet potatoes.

On the last day of my clinical study, my son surprised me after dinner with a slice of my favorite chocolate fudge cake with cream cheese icing. Hadn’t touched that for 10 months. Decadent, delicious and you know what, I don’t crave it anymore which I’m grateful for.  It used to be a weekly indulgence!

In full transparency-I still eat high cacao count chocolate (over 80%) not a lot, just enough to satisfy my chocolate craving.  I particularly like the brand Blanxart at 82% cacao. I purchase it at my local Zanatto’s market.  I also sneak in occasional spoonfuls of ice cream.  I’m not a saint!

 

Protocol for the Study for those interested in the details

As a ReCode (Reversal of Cognitive Decline) clinical study participant these were my requirements:

  • Adhere to a Ketogenic diet
  • Be gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, alcohol-free
  • Agree to undergo various genetic tests, as well as blood, poo, pee, MRI and everything in between.
  • Prick myself daily to check my ketone levels to ensure adherence to the diet.
  • Take bioidentical hormones (testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone)
  • Daily online brain training through BrainHQ.com
  • Daily mindfulness training-I’d wear a biofeedback gadget that tracked heart wave variability and coherence to teach you how to reduce stress and bring your brain, body, and emotions into balanced alignment.
  • Take a heck of a lot of supplements
  • Do intermittent fasting (fast for 12-16 hrs each day-starting from your last meal of the day till your first meal the following day)
  • Exercise daily
  • Monitor quality and quantity of healing sleep (I did this with a FitBit)
  • Sauna or hot yoga regularly (3-5x wk) for detoxification
  • Document everything I eat and my lifestyle activities in the clinical study binder
  • Consult with the clinical study nutritionist and the exercise coach along with the medical doctor

 

Some people have asked-Why a ketogenic diet?

Here are some of the benefits of Ketosis as quoted by Dr. Jockers from DrJockers.com

  1. Reduced inflammation
  2. Enhanced mitochondrial health
  3. Reduced oxidative stress
  4. Increased mental clarity
  5. Abundant energy levels
  6. Reduced cravings
  7. Accelerated fat burning and Weight Loss
  8. Improved insulin sensitivity
  9. Reduced risk of chronic disease
  10. Anti-aging effects

 

If you are interested in trying this protocol, I would start with Dr. Bredesen’s newest book mentioned above and I would do a google search for Bredesen trained practitioners in your area.  Given the complexity of the program and the multitude of tests that need to be done and interpreted, it is not something you want to embark on without guidance.

 

With that said there are many aspects of the protocol that you could start right away, like diet, intermittent fasting, focus on exercise, brain training, and sleep.

 

 

Wherever you are in your cognitive journey and whatever your concerns are for your cognitive health, I wish you all the best.  Please comment, offer your suggestions, or post your questions below.  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Do you ever wonder how the hunchback of Notre Dame got his hump? And do you worry that you are heading toward the same fate?  If you spend too much of your time sitting, driving, doing computer work and/or texting, you just might be. Or, if you’re a breast cancer survivor experiencing surgical tissue tightness across the front of your shoulders, you might collapse your chest in subconscious protective posturing.

These activities all promote a forward flexed spine which can restrict our mobility, impair our balance and breathing, and cause all kinds of problems we don’t want to deal with—including the dreaded hump!

How often do you extend (bend backward)? Unless you change lightbulbs for a profession, I bet not very often. Extension is especially crucial for those with osteopenia or osteopososis-a silent disease of low bone density.  Decreased bone density can lead to a forward flexed spine due to common undiagnosed spine compression fractures.

Extension exercises will help to decrease that forward curve inclination. Those with decreased bone density are more susceptible to fractures, especially from falls. Upright posture is associated with decreased falls and studies show extension exercises build stronger bones in the spine. Added bonus, extending the spine just feels great!

In this workshop, discover the secrets of spine extension exercises to

  • Improve your posture and prevent falls
  • Build bone in your spine
  • Promote healthy aging to continue to do what you love

Learn how to do spine extension correctly, avoiding common pitfalls.  Experience simple extension exercises in multiple body positions, to unleash your optimal posture and bone health throughout the day.

You’ll receive a printable follow-along guide that you can also reference afterward to remind yourself of all the things you’ll learn in the workshop.

Extend Yourself!

PURCHASE HERE