The 2nd most popular New Year’s resolution and the power of excuses: guess writer Lisa Stubing

Dear Reader,  I have mentioned this energetic trainer, Lisa Stuebing in a former blog post. She and I walked the 3 miles around Greenlake at a quick pace.  I was impressed with Lisa’s own story of sitting at a desk most of her professional life and slowed putting on weight and losing mobility.  You should see her now.  She’s slim and agile.  I asked her to write a post to share with all my readers.  Here it is:

The Second Most Popular New Year’s Resolution and the Positive Power of Excuses

Adapted from a speech given at the 12th Annual World Arthritis Day in Redmond, WA.  October 2011.

Lisa Stuebing, Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist, Owner, Mud Puddle Fitness, LLC

Did you know that the Second-Most-Popular -New-Year’s-Resolution-Of-All-Time is to become more fit?  And yet, we often make the same resolution the following year.  If you have arthritis, you have an extra challenge to keeping this resolution.  Fortunately, you also have ready access to a powerful resource to ensure your success.

This essay is about the positive power of making excuses.  Excuses are important.  Now is the time to recognize that your excuses have strength and depth and validity.

Researchers find that three barriers to success recur over and over. 1.) Embarrassment, 2.) Procrastination,  and 3.) Fear of injury.  These well-funded longitudinal studies have included thousands of participants who in turn represent millions of excuse makers.  They were conducted by reputable institutions like the Mayo Clinic, the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Institute of Health.


Do you put off going to the pool until after you look good?  Have you walked into a gym tried out some equipment and goose-stepped out of there because you didn’t want people you didn’t really know how to use it?  Discouragement is a powerful inhibitor.  Which leads us to the second big excuse honest people have for not getting regular exercise.



“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”
– Don Marquis


What keeps you inside?

In a London study, 64% of the participants simply did not know what a good work out was supposed to feel like.  So, they avoided it.  Learning what is normal and what’s not normal takes time.    It takes practice.  When you are getting the right amount of exercise, during the best part of your day – you will build up your stamina.  You will feel better and even energized at some level.  And, yes, you will feel a little tired.

Finally, there is another big reason people tend to stay away from exercise.



People worry that because they are not athletes already that they will hurt themselves. 

If you have arthritis, be a careful consumer of information.  There is still a lot of bad information out there.  You can still find literature that will tell you that exercise is not good for you.  The old thinking is that physical activity will damage joints and make arthritis worse.

In reality, multiple studies have clearly shown that appropriate exercise for people with arthritis leads to better flexibility, strength and endurance.  It also leads to less pain, fatigue and depression.


Find people who are doing fun stuff and do it with them.   Laughing together is the best antidote for embarrassment.

Build up your knowledge and stamina one day at a time.  The key is to start small and pace yourself — If you are going to take up cross country skiing – start with a small country.

Finally, if you have arthritis, know that hurt does not always equal harm.  Take an Arthritis Foundation “Walk with Ease” class and learn to reduce your pain while getting fit.

Enroll in an Arthritis Foundation, “Walk with Ease” class

Take an Arthritis Foundation “Walk with Ease” class and you will learn how to set realistic goals.  You will learn how to measure your progress.  You will feel more energized because you will know the best time to exercise and how much exercise is right for you.  You’ll meet new people and have tons of fun.

The Walk with Ease Course was developed by the Stanford University Patient Education Research Center.

The efficacy of the program was tested, studied and reviewed by the University of North Carolina in collaboration with the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the University’s Institute on Aging.

The program’s published materials were made possible, in part, with funds from the Center for Disease Control.

In my professional opinion, the most important thing the Walk with Ease program teaches is an understanding of your pain.  Hurt does not always equal harm.  Sometimes, moving when you didn’t really want to, results in actually feeling better.  This isn’t all hocus pocus – this is about focus.  Focusing on you, testing yourself and then understanding the result.  I think this takes the entire six weeks to learn and apply the program.  And the bonus is, by the end of all 18 class sessions – you will have made a pleasant habit of joining friends for a little fun exercise.  Some classmates get together long after the class had ended.


In conclusion, there are three steps to take.  1.)  Work with yourself, understand your reluctance to plunge into a planned exercise routine and give yourself a break.  Your concerns are real and based on a lifetime of personal observations.  Be honest with yourself and then take the next step.  2.)  Educate yourself; take the Arthritis Foundation’s “Walk with Ease”. Learn when exercise will reduce your pain and how to make that happen.  Finally,  3.) Include yourself – join others for group activities.  Invite friends out for a walk.  Having fun with friends is your best chance of sticking with and enjoying a lifelong habit of exercise.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Let me know how you do!  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Coach Lisa

Lisa Stuebing
Owner, Mud Puddle Fitness, LLC
Nationally Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist












Pain free flying

Avoiding increased pain when on vacation.

This is the first of a series of posts on staying pain free while traveling.

I just spent 10 days in Mexico with 4 friends, enjoying my time share and a few extra days in Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the coast of the Yucatan as 25 minute ferry ride from Cancun.  It was wonderful.  I had my herbal pain killers at the ready, and took a couple every 4 -5 hours.

Plane rides are the worst for osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis and the 4 plus hours from Seattle to Houston were challenging. I am reminded of the many long plane rides I have taken and the technique I have learned for staying comfortable.

Back in 1992, right after my husband died, I took a trip to San Francisco for some R & R.  We sat in the plane on the runway for 6 hours waiting for the fog to clear in SF so we could leave Seattle and land 2 1/2 hours later.  If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that the traumatic injury to my L5 happened only 3 years earlier, and while I had rehabilitated enough to do 3/4 of the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in 1990, I was still at risk.  Slouching in a chair, especially an airplane seat, is the worse possible thing to do for a potentially unstable back.  As Moshe Feldenkrais would say, you are either sitting (sits bones directly under your erect back) or you are lying down (any tilted back position on down to prone).  I was lying down in the most unsupported manner.  When we finally landed in San Francisco, I could hardly walk.  My left leg had extreme sciatica pain from the pinching at L5.  What I learned from that experience has saved me from ever repeating it.  It may help you.

I drink a lot of water and a rehydrating drink called Performance which I carry in a zip lock bag and mix with the water they offer, or in the bottle I carry on.  Do you know that you lose a cup of water every hour you are in the air?  You do not excrete only water, but minerals that you must have for proper balance in your system.  These are the electrolytes you add with a high quality hydrating drink like Performance.  (If you want to know more about the products I mention, go to www.HiHoHealth dot com.)

Drinking a lot forces me to get up and down to use the rest room.  Moving prevents prolonged slouching from setting in.  While sitting, I do isometric exercises.  I seldom tilt my chair back but try to stay upright.  On long flights to Asia and Africa, the TV monitor w shows isometric exercises that are helpful.  Here are several that I have used.

Isometric Leg Exercises

Isometric exercises are an effective way to exercise during a flight. Also called static tension, isometric exercise involves a contraction of a muscle without a change in the length of the muscle. recommends doing an isometric thigh exercise while sitting on your seat. Make a fist with your hands and place them under your knees. Squeeze your thigh and calve “around” your fist, and hold for five to 10 seconds.


Knee Exercises

Knee flexions and extensions are other simple exercises to do during your flight. Knee flexion involves lifting your knee toward your chest while sitting on your seat with your back against the back rest. Lower your leg, and repeat with the opposite leg. Knee extension involves straightening your leg as far as you can while sitting with your back against the rest. This is crazy making in steerage where I sit.  Do these exercises as many times as desired.

Calf Exercises

Deep vein clots are common in the lower leg or thigh, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Improve the blood flow in your lower leg by contracting your muscles. To do a calf raise, place your tiptoes on the floor. Thrust your heels upward as high as you can until you feel a contraction in your calves. Hold for five to 10 seconds, and lower your heals, or repeat continuously with a pumping motion. Repeat as often as you can to improve blood flow in your veins. This is a really good one.


Exercise your arms with a wrist roller workout. Cross your fingers and do a rolling motion with your wrists for 10 to 20 seconds. Improve blood flow in your arms by making a fist with each hand and flexing your forearms toward the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat. Optionally, raise your fists toward your chest and down to your thighs for 10 to 20 times to also target your biceps.

Shoulders and Chest

Shoulder shrugs are a way to relieve tension in your upper body. Hold the shrug for 10 seconds and release. Exercise both the chest and shoulders by doing a rope climb. Imagine a rope hanging over your head, and “grasp” it with your hands as to climb it. With each motion, reach from over your head and pull down until your arms touch your thighs. Repeat 20 times with each hand.

Back and Abs

Stretch your back by bending at your waist until your chest reaches your upper thighs. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return to an upright position. Keep your back straight throughout the stretch. Target your abdominal muscles sitting upright and exhaling completely. Without inhaling, suck in your stomach as deeply as you can and hold for few seconds. Release and repeat.


Read more:

Read more:

Do not worry about what other people think.  After all, your body needs this and their bodies could probably use it to.  You might have the whole row exercising.  You will have much less jet lag and arrive ready to walk and pull your suit case.

I would love to hear your techniques for keeping aches and pains under control while flying.  Next week I will share my away-from-home morning routine before setting off for a day of site seeing.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving.


www.HiHoHealth dot com

Let’s Get Motivated Ladies And Gentlemen!!!

Let’s Get Motivated Ladies And Gentlemen!!!.

Hi, from Mexico, the Yucatan’s tiny island, Isla Mujeres where sister in law Joan and I have just finished the most relaxing time in the sun, surf, sand and seafood.  I switched on my computer and found that Sweetopiagirl (link above) had put my last posting on her blog about weight loss. I return the favor.  She talks about finding Curves and walking there every day when she was at her very lowest spirit and highest weight.  If you really want to lessen arthritis pain and suffering and you are carrying 15 pounds of extra weight or more, her advice helps the faint of heart.  Go for it.

Down here in Mexico I have managed my own pain pretty well even without my usual regimen of exercise.  I have spread the bed cover on the floor and done a few Pilates and Feldenkrais moves to remind my body where my core strength comes from. (See my earlier blog posts for more information about these modalities). I haven’t been too crazy with Margaritas and salsa and chips.  It is hard to get a clean vegetable/fruit diet when the market is far away and restaurants do not serve such fare.

Little twinges were kept under control with Pain Relief Complex, plenty of water and fresh lime juice.  You can read more about the herbal pain relief product I use daily at http://www.HiHoHealth dot com.

Back to the cold and rain tomorrow.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving!

Thank you, Sweetopiagirl.


Does it matter What I Eat?

Does it matter what I eat?

You bet it does.  But what specific dietary precautions a person needs to take to ease painful arthritis depends on a number of conditions.  First of all, there are 5 types of arthritis:

Degenerative (Osteoarthritis)

Inflammatory (rheumatoid arthritis, allergic autoimmune)

Toxic (gout)

Traumatic (old fractures, etc)

Infection (Lyme disease)

There are many web sites where you can study and learn what experts have to say about diet and arthritis.  One that I found particularly helpful is found on the WebMD website as the authors have researched the science behind popular dietary recommendations, affirming some and debunking others.  I will not go into great detail about specific dietary strategies as there are so many resources available to you.  I will offer my own experiences with various dietary interventions and especially with the supplements I have found to be helpful.

I started out with a medically induced arthritis in my knees caused by an anti-biotic.  Let’s classify that as an inflammatory arthritis.  I was a teenager, stressed out and sick with a serious sinus infection.  If arthritis results from a weakened immune system, it is perhaps not surprising that the anti-biotic kicked off the symptoms.  (Details of this are in my last post)

Foods that support a strong immune system are discussed, listed, touted, advertised on bill boards, radio, TV, newspapers, talk shows, pod casts and Face Book side bar ads.  Do we not know what they are?  Of course.  Fresh organic fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy green ones like Chard, Collard and mustard greens, asparagus, and bring on the color: carrots, beets, black berries, blue berries, cantaloupe.  Protein from lean sources like lamb, chicken, fish provides the essential building blocks.  Minerals like zinc are particularly instrumental in the immune battle of attack on bacteria or viruses.

There is no excuse for ignorance on this topic in today’s world.  I googled “foods for immune support” and Whole Foods came up top with its thorough general article on the immune system and foods that  keep it functioning.  Whole Foods sends daily health tips including detailed articles on every vegetable and fruit under the sun and that specific food’s contribution to your health.  My friend and massage therapist Kate McCoy sends these articles on to her client list.  Thank you, Kate.

Back in 1954, we didn’t have all these details, but we knew to eat liver once a week, take cod liver oil, have several servings of brightly colored fruits and vegetables every day.  Today’s 5th graders all watch the movie Supersize Me.  They know the consequences of a poor diet.

Do we make the right choice?  Do they?

Consider traumatic arthritis, the kind that results from injury, my second type of arthritis.  A herniated disc results in arthritis eventually if not immediately.  Doctors expect injury to bring on arthritis. I remember jumping down from a high fence after this herniation.  I needed a short cut and chose to scale a chain link fence about 6 ft tall and drop down on the other side.  Because the nerves in my left leg were no longer functioning, it did not do that springy little bounce when I hit the ground and the top of the tibia broke.  I drove myself to the emergency room.  While discussing with the orthopedist at the University of Washington hospital whether surgery would be necessary, he looked right at me and predicted “You’ll have arthritis in this knee in a couple years and be in here for a knee replacement in 10 years.”

I still have the original knee and have no arthritis in it 20 years later.

I attribute the healthy and long lasting recovery from that knee break and an ankle break while cross country skiing in 1997 to some very specific dietary interventions in the form of supplements.  Every time your body suffers a major trauma like this, there is a lot of inflammation.  “ Inflammation is the body’s healthy response to infection, tissue damage or both. By sending increased amounts of white blood cells to the injured area, the body is better able to repair any damage. Without the inflammation process, injuries would not heal. Most holistic health practitioners feel that taking anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs in fact masks and hence lessens the chances of proper healing.” Quoting from Michelle Schoffro Cook’s Healing Soft Tissue Injury the Natural Way 

There is an appropriate time for anti inflammatory drugs, probably in the first 48 to 72 hours, but after the initial easing of the situation, allowing the white cells to do their job and assisting with the removal of the damaged tissue naturally has a much greater healing effect.  I used copious amounts of Lecithin and Alfalfa.  Lecithin is an emulsifier, so it makes more liquid any sticky clumps of damaged cells thus helping them flow more easily into the blood stream and out in the waste.  Alfalfa is a natural anti-inflammatory bringing minerals to the affected area in ways not fully understood.  Vitamin C helps rebuild the cellular integrity in the damaged area as C is the main component of collagen, the stuff that makes the cell wall strong.  These supplemental nutrients plus daily exercises, sitting on the floor and doing leg raises with the cast on helped me come out of 3 months non-weight bearing with almost no muscle tone loss.  The swelling subsided quickly because of the supplements.  I’d say my left leg is as strong as the right one today even after these two injuries.

The final arthritis I’m going to consider from a dietary point of view is osteoarthritis, by far the most common for people as we age.   This is simply the result of living beyond our joints’ ability to keep us moving.  The joints, especially the knees and hips, wear out.  The soft cushion that protects the joint wears down and the bone itself thickens.  Bone on bone is that awful grinding that makes getting up and down the stairs impossible and kills the hip with every upward step.  Those of us who use our bodies hard with hiking and skiing, running and bending and lifting, wear the joints down even before we think we might be getting old.

Since one in five people in the US today have arthritis, you can bet there are a million stories about what foods help.  A friend of mine who had a cherry orchard in Eastern Washington swore that 10 dried cherries every day kept her from having arthritis pain.  How is a person to decide?  Trying out 10 dried cherries a day to see how that works for you isn’t a very expensive or challenging proposition.  I’m going to pass on a few more that are easy to try out.  But first.

First and foremost, you must do everything you can to get to your best weight.  Even 10 pounds less will help your suffering joints.  If you don’t think it matters that much, try carrying around 10 lbs of flour or potatoes for a couple hours and see how your knees, hips and back hold up.

The food claims—fact or fiction—that help from the article mentioned above includes a few references with which I have personal experience.  I’ll share them here.

Nightshade plants.  Some people seem to get relief when they eliminate the nightshade plants which include tomatoes, egg plant, potatoes and peppers.  I have tried this and it doesn’t seem to make any difference.  However, during one period of particularly bad pain in my lower back from spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis, I evaluated my dietary intake and realized I had greatly increased my seasonal intake of potatoes and peppers.  I cut them out for a couple weeks and did notice improvement.  There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that the nightshade plants cause arthritis pain.  Just experiment and see if you are helped when you eliminate these foods.

The Alkaline Diet.  “The alkaline diet presumes both OA and RA are caused by too much acid. Among the foods it excludes are sugar, coffee, red meat, most grains, nuts, and citrus fruits.” I have subscribed to this theory and perhaps felt some relief.  Going back to grains, nuts and fruit did not make the arthritis worse.  There are no scientific studies to support this theory.  From my own experience, when I eliminate sugar and white flour in all its delicious forms, my joints do much better.  And my weight has been stable at its ideal level for years now.  It is true that during the holidays, when the tasty pies and cookies show up and I enjoy more than one piece for several days on end, I generally suffer from stiffer joints, more painful limbs and a fuzzy brain as well.  Try doing without refined white flour for a month and see how you feel.  You might be surprised and you’ll certainly drop a pound or two.  Need help identifying aklaline and acid foods? ACID&ALKALINEchart Bevacqua 3-04 (2).pdf is a chart that will help.

Vegetarian Diet.  Especially people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis get relief when they switch to a vegetarian diet and that relief remains pretty constant over time.  I followed a vegetarian diet for several years after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, and ran myself completely in the ground, became extremely anemic and exhausted all the time. I had no idea how to eat a healthy vegetarian diet.  Now that I know more about all the wonderful ways you can get complete protein, I might not be so adversely effected.  When I talk with vegetarians who depend on cheese and pasta, I shudder to think of their joints.  There is a science to getting all the nutrients you need, especially that chief building block, protein, from a vegetarian diet, so get the knowledge you need to eat well.

Switching fats.  Probably the most helpful of the popular suggestions is this one.  Get off butter and corn oil and switch to olive oil.  Omega 3, fish oil, borage oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Flax seed oil really do make a difference to cranky joints. Butter just congeals.  You’d be surprised how much you can come to enjoy olive oil over butter and you’ll love the results in your joints.

Green Tea.  I was not expecting this in the list, even though I have known about the benefits of a Pomegranate Green Tea that I have been drinking for a couple years now.  Combining green, red, white and red tea in a power that can be taken in hot water or cool has a 2 page of beneficial properties not the least of which is joint comfort.  There is evidence in the scientific community to back the claim that green tea helps with arthritis.

Chondroitin and Glucosamine Many take supplements containing these together and get some relief.  In a fascinating article on an Orthopedics web site, I learned how glucosamine and chondroitin work.
“Glucosamine and chondroitin are two molecules that make up the type of cartilage found within joints. Inside your joints, cartilage undergoes a constant process of breakdown and repair. However, to be properly repaired, the building blocks of cartilage must be present and available. The theory behind using the glucosamine and chondroitin joint supplements is that more of the cartilage building blocks will be available for cartilage repair.

  • Glucosamine is a precursor to a molecule called a glycosaminoglycan-this molecule is used in the formation and repair of cartilage.
  • Chondroitin is the most abundant glycosaminoglycan in cartilage and is responsible for the resiliency of cartilage.

Treatment with these joint supplements is based on the theory that oral consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin may increase the rate of formation of new cartilage by providing more of the necessary building blocks.”

Unfortunately supplemental use of glucosamine and chondroitin “ has not been shown to alter the availability or quantity of these cartilage building blocks inside an arthritic joint.”

Long term users of these supplements do experience less pain and often can discontinue the NSAIDS medications.

The joint health supplements I take are manufactured by the Shaklee Corp.  Their scientists have also found no evidence that chondroitin taken orally increases cartilage.  Their product uses boswellia, a botanical that interferes with the damaging action of chemicals in our body that attack cartilage.  New research suggests that chondrotin interferes with the absorption of glucosamine, the primary building block of new cartilage.  Adding boswellia may indeed deliver more of these glucosamine building blocks to the joints where they can actually build new cartilage.  Shaklee’s glucosamine is shell fish free and has C, zinc, cooper and manganese, all helpful in supporting healthy connective tissue.

I hope these comments have been helpful and have added to your own research into dietary and supplemental help for arthritis.  The most important take away is weight management.  Amongst my hiking and cross-country skiing buddies, most of us in our late 60s and 70s, most of us are at our healthy weight.  We are still moving well. However, joints have begun to wear out and one of our group had a hip replacement last year.  She is back hiking and skiing with us.  Age takes its toll, but good diet, healthy weight and continued exercise can keep the aging joints moving.

In my next post I will consider pain relief.  I’ll be back after a brief hiatus enjoying the sun on the Mayan Riviera.

Be Well, Do Well, Keeping Moving.

Betsy Bell

Betsy Bell’s Health4U