MOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, AND TOES
As an athlete, you know the key to a healthy, active, well-rounded lifestyle goes well beyond diet and exercise trends. It takes many different components and a whole lot of effort to find your ideal life balance, and the work is never done. Finding your balance – and maintaining it – is a process you must work on every day.
It’s a process I call the Mountain of Youth.
The Mountain is made up of rocks and boulders, each representing areas of life that contribute to your overall fitness and happiness. If all of these rocks and boulders are secure and you’ve got your footing, you can slowly but surely make your way to the top, where you’ll find true balance.
When I think of how the Mountain of Youth process applies to athletes I can’t help but think of a sweet song I sing with my grandson, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” You know that one, right? Now I know you are wondering: how in the world does that apply to me? It’s a children’s song – I’m a full-grown, superstar athlete!
Hear me out (and sing along!)…
HEAD: As an athlete you absolutely must keep your head in the game in order to meet your goals. If you are not focused, you’re likely to make a mistake during training or even lose motivation altogether. That’s where meditation comes in. Did you know that if athletes meditated for a few minutes a day, they may be better able to handle the demands of strenuous physical training?1 It doesn’t need to be complicated, but mindful meditation proved more effective than simply relaxing the mind. Never meditated before? No problem. There are athlete-specific meditation apps out there that can make it easy to get started, like Headspace for Sport. Try it out and see the difference for yourself.
SHOULDERS: We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Shoulders hold stress and tension, even when they are strong and powerful. But everyone, especially athletes, should do more to prevent injuries and protect their shoulders every single day. Adding Pilates exercises into your daily routine is a wonderful way to reduce strain on the shoulder joint and rotator cuff while also increasing your awareness of how you use your neck muscles in relation to your shoulders and back. This will enhance your posture, strengthen your core, and reduce the risk of injury. And you’ll carry yourself taller, helping you feel like you can conquer the world!
KNEES: Your knees are not always the bee’s knees. As an athlete, you naturally place more stress on your knees than a non-athlete, so it’s likely you’ll face a knee injury at some point, if you haven’t already. You should take special precautions to keep your knees healthy. Strength training and stretching can go a long way to healthy knees. Strong quads will help stabilize your knee, and strong hips, glutes, and core muscles prevent your hip from dropping and your knee from caving in. Squats, lunges and mountain climbers are all good exercises to add into your regular routine.
AND TOES: Your toes provide balance and support for your entire body when you stand and walk. They are small but mighty! Your foot is a very complex structure made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and nerves. Your feet support your body weight, absorb shock when walking, running, and jumping, and help you maintain your balance by adjusting the body to uneven surfaces. It’s no coincidence that I start every Pilates regimen with footwork. Knee bends, heel lifts,and toe lifts can also help keep your feet healthy. Working from those grounding feet up, you can correct imbalances all the way up to your hips.
Take the time to focus on the health of your full body – your Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes – as you create your very own personal Mountain of Youth. Combine that total body health approach with other important areas of your life (like family and friends!) and you’ll be amazed at how much fuller and more in balance your life will be.
Three Steps To Live Your Best Life From a Woman In Her 60s
There is a powerful connection between our body, mind and heart. I believe it is the balance of these connections that help us optimize our health and allow us to achieve true happiness. Finding that balance is a process I call the Mountain of Youth (and it’s the title ofmy new book.) The mountain is made up of rocks and boulders, each representing areas of life you must focus on to have more energy and happiness than you could ever imagine. Healthy eating and exercise are obvious ones, but there are many, many more.
I’ve worked hard over my life to find my perfect balance. At 60, I am living proof that it’s possible to live a life filled to the brim with health and happiness. I have a very happy and full life – a wonderful balance of family, friends and my own personal needs and goals. That’s not an accident – I’ve created my own happiness.
You can achieve your perfect balance, too. Start with these small steps and you’ll be well on your way to the top of your mountain.
Seek beauty and joy. Find the beauty and joy in all that’s around you. Put down your phone and take the time to be grateful for all you have. Notice nature, the beauty of it and the joy it brings. Find the beauty in people, animals and your environment. It’s about taking a moment to breathe through quiet times and meditation.
Make the time to look your best. Get a great haircut, treat yourself to a new outfit or try a new lipstick. It’s amazing how great you can feel when you make the effort.
Cultivate relationships. Surround yourself with positive, loving and supportive people. Everyone has his or her own idea of what relationships should be, but they all require give and take. They all take work. Put your energy into ones that make you feel good.
Physical touch is also crucial to our well-being and relationships. It could be a simple as a hug or holding hands or more involved like giving or getting a massage. Touch is necessary for relationship survival and self-preservation.
Live with compassion. We all say we are compassionate beings, but we need to spread this compassion to all living things. It goes well beyond “us” – by being compassionately aware we could possibly save the planet for our future generations. Be more conscious of where your food comes from. Choose vegan style sources. Make healthy lifestyle decisions that honor all living creatures on this planet and watch your compassionate heart flourish.
Make the effort to find balance and your Mountain of Youth. Once you do, you’ll be able to fully embrace all the beauty and joy this planet and life of ours has to offer, like I do each and every day.
Living Your Best Vegan Life: 5 Tips for Finding Beauty and Joy in Every Day
Our lives have become increasingly busy. More and more, we find ourselves distracted by the never-ending list of things that we think we have to do. Distracted by this busyness, we fail to recognize the beauty that’s all around us. Even more, we forget to create moments that bring us joy.
Beauty and joy are critically important to living our best, most meaningful life. There are many different ways to inject health, energy, joy, and beauty into your life. How to get there will be different for everyone, but here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Find the fun in fitness.
Whatever makes you get up and move—do it. I like walking. Instead of taking cabs or the subway when I’m in New York City, I throw on my sneakers and walk. When I’m strolling, I can’t help but take in all the beauty that the city has to offer. In our hometown, my husband and I have walking dates. We pay attention to each other and enjoy our surroundings. I also love to ice skate and practice Pilates. Ice skating gives me a wonderful thrill, while Pilates forces me to slow down and pay attention to my body and its movement.
2. Pamper yourself.
Take some time to take care of yourself. Get a facial. Schedule a massage. Be good to your body. Pay attention to what goes in (for example, eat breakfast, aim for lots of greens, and chew your food—the more you chew, the less work that your body needs to do) and pay attention to what comes out (did you know that ideally you should poop more than once a day?).
This is a big one. The skin is the largest organ we have that helps us detox our cells so that we can stay healthy, full of energy, and disease-free. These are my tips for clearing away toxins:
– Breathe. Full breaths are important—they help make our ribs move. Try this: Inhale for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts, exhale for eight counts, and then repeat the sequence four times.
– Dry brush. Dry brushing opens the pores and stimulates your skin. You’ll look and feel better. Use a dry brush daily before you get in the shower to get rid of dead layers of skin.
– Hydrate. Hydration is good for your skin and for weight loss. Take your body weight and divide it by two. That’s how many ounces of water you need to drink daily.
4. Sink into meditation.
Meditation forces you to take the time out that you need to cleanse your mind, de-stress, and sink into the joy of living. It reminds you to live consciously. It helps you to nurture yourself. And it takes only 10 minutes a day. Not sure where to start? Try one of the many wonderful meditation apps on your phone. The benefits you reap will be astounding.
5. Sleep deeply.
It’s really unfortunate that sleep is so undervalued in our society, but it’s important that we all get plenty of shut-eye each night. Make your room dark and turn off your phone, computer, and TV well before you settle into bed. Also, I take Natural Calm magnesium every night. In addition to helping me sleep, it has so many unbelievable benefits—like preventing muscle cramps and twitching—with no downside.
Try these five fab methods and you’ll find not only that you’ll pay more attention to the beauty that already exists all around you but also that you’ll discover ways to bring joy into your life in a whole new way.
Achieve Lasting Health and Happiness: The Mountain of Youth
Are you – like so many other smart, savvy women – forever searching for that fountain of youth? You know there’s no magic pill or quick fix, but you can’t help but be drawn to new health trends. You reluctantly try the latest diet that promises to melt your pounds away. You sign up for the hot new fitness class that guarantees you’ll be in tip-top shape in no time. But so far nothing makes you feel healthier, younger or more energized.
That’s because the key to a healthy lifestyle and youthful feeling goes well beyond diet and exercise trends. It takes many different components and a whole lot of effort to find your ideal life balance. And the work is never done. Finding your balance – and maintaining it – is a process that you must work on every day.
It’s a process I call the Mountain of Youth.
The Mountain is made up of rocks and boulders, each representing areas of life that contribute to your overall fitness. If all of these rocks and boulders are secure and you’ve got your footing (and a safety harness!), you can slowly but surely make your way to the top.
Not sure where to start? Here are some “boulders” to focus on and some easy action steps you can take today:
Eat more plants. Fill your plate with lots and lots of green plants – spinach, kale, broccoli, green beans, lettuce, peas… the list goes on and on. Add grains, beans, nuts and seeds to your meals. Cook with healthy oils. Snack on fruits.
Hydrate. Drink at least half your body weight of water in ounces daily.
Exercise. There is nothing like moving your body to make you feel good and get you into balance. Move every single day. Walk, run, bike, practice yoga or Pilates. Don’t follow trends; trends can block your progress. Find a form of exercise you most enjoy and do it mindfully. Think about how your body feels before, during and after. Regular exercise is the number one detox.
Seek beauty and joy. Find the beauty and joy that is all around you. Put down your phone and take a few minutes to appreciate nature and the joy it brings. Be grateful for what you have. Find the beauty in people, animals and your environment. Pay attention. Enjoy this beautiful planet we live on.
Get in touch with your spiritual side. This doesn’t have to be organized religion, but it can be. For some, it is practicing kindness, being grateful for life and feeling a sense of a higher power, like in meditation. Find a practice that resonates for you. You will see yourself feeling nourished in profound ways when you discover your spiritual connection.
Live with compassion. This is the biggest one for me. We all say we are compassionate beings, but we need to spread this compassion to all living things. It goes well beyond “us” – by being compassionately aware we could possibly save the planet for our future generations. So how do we do that? Be more conscious of where your food comes from. Understand how your clothes are made. Choose stores that offer vegan styles. Making thoughtful lifestyle decisions that honor all living creatures on this planet will make your compassionate heart flourish.
Get your creative juices flowing. Creativity is an important piece to finding your balance. Creativity comes in all forms – art, music, dance and more. Look within. Cooking is creative, as is gardening or organizing a party or event. Write in a journal your thoughts and feelings and your creative energy will grow with each day.
Do what you love. Hopefully you are in a career (or have hobbies) you love, but if not, look for the hidden passions in what you do and be open to new opportunity. There is much truth in the old saying, “do what you love and love what you do!”
Dine in. Especially for those of you living in big cities, like NYC and LA, this can be a hard one. But if you make just half of your meals at home, you will reap the health benefits. Knowing where your food comes from and how it’s prepared can make all the difference in the way you feel and look. Always cook fresh with organic ingredients when possible and include lots of fruits and vegetables. Not only will cooking at home keep you healthier, but it will also bring on positive feelings.
Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! It can sometimes seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the amazing things we want to, and sleep is usually the first area of our life to suffer. I get it. But if you’re feeling tired or just “off,” listen to your body and find more time for sleep. I promise you’ll see long-term health benefits.
Everyone’s Mountain of Youth looks different. Identifying your own rocks and boulders and finding ways to balance them all together is part of the process. It’s not easy, but getting to the top and seeing that incredible view – a happy, healthy life – is the wonderful reward.