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Fear: Healthy Sometimes…Sometimes Not

By Sherry Steinman

“Desperate for answers, she read about her symptoms in a magazine article.”

Alice would not leave her house without the company of her husband, and would not step across the street to get mail from the mailbox as it was too far from the front door.  She became sweaty and faint every time she tried to do so.  This had been the case for more than a year now.  She did not know exactly when or how the feeling started.

Jack didn’t like being up too high.  He did not like the ‘skydeck’ lookouts on skyscrapers, and wasn’t crazy about airplane trips – although he could handle the flight if he did not look out the window a lot. He certainly did not seek out situations where he would be looking down from high atop anything.

Fear or Phobia?

Alice has a phobia, Jack has a manageable fear.  Phobias are not ordinary fears or minor worries.  Rather, they are generally incapacitating, irrational fears that interfere with and limit a person’s ability to function in everyday life. Phobias, or ‘anxiety disorders’ are mental health issues from which millions of people suffer.  Only about one-fourth of them get help from a professional health and wellness practitioner of some kind.

Alice went to great lengths to hide her phobia, feeling that other people wouldn’t understand, and maybe wouldn’t like her if they did.  She didn’t know what to do, and her regular physician could not find anything physically ‘wrong’ with her.

Desperate for answers, she one day read about a woman with exactly her symptoms in a magazine article.  At least now she had a name for it – agoraphobia – fear of open spaces.  And, now she knew there were other people out there who had the same feelings. Alice sought help, guided by the information in the magazine article.

Jack acknowledged his fear, and those around him were aware that he wanted to be more comfortable with heights.  They applauded him when he accepted a job on the 23rd floor of the office building downtown, and rode the glass elevator daily.  It wasn’t easy!  He bought a self-help book and enjoys his new job.

Family Chemistry

Interestingly, studies show that phobias tend to run in families, and that sufferers may have a sensitivity to their own body chemistry. This may result in an over-reaction to a given stimulus.  According to one expert, it may be described as a person feeling a very strong emotional reaction to a bodily sensation.

Treatments for phobias include those that teach the person different and more effective coping skills, and various relaxation techniques. Also helpful for some people is ‘exposure therapy,’ in which the person is gradually exposed to the frightening experience until it becomes non-threatening.  Medication may be used as well, either alone, or in combination with behavioral treatments.

A relatively new development in treating phobias is the use of virtual reality technology. It uses computer-generated images to simulate an anxiety-provoking situations.  For instance, virtually creating the sensation of being in a confined space (claustrophobia) may be useful in preparing a person for the real life experience.

For those who do conquer their fears and phobias, the relief is monumental!  Lives can change completely.  Alice, who sought help, now urges others to do so, as well.  She advises, “Why limit yourself when help is available?  There is no reason to suffer in silence.”

If you, or someone you know, suffers from fears that seem irrational or disruptive to day-to-day life, you may wish to contact:

Licking and Knox County Mental Health & Recovery: http://www.mhrlk.org/

Dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-544-1601 (24 hours a day/7 days a week).

Volumetrics – An Approach to Improving Your Eating Habits

By Sherry Steinman

In the late 1990’s, two physicians named Barbara Rolls and Robert Barnett proposed that people usually eat about the same weight of food per day – an amount that makes them feel full or satisfied – but they don’t necessarily eat the same number of calories with that volume.  Their stomachs are used to feeling full with that volume of food and not with much less.

Mick Jagger and You

So, Rolls and Barnett focused on this concept and reasoned that if you ‘plumped up’ your meals with lots of fruits and vegetables, water, fiber, or air (think healthy fruit smoothies and popcorn) you will have the volume element satisfied.  And, as Mick Jagger told us long ago, some people ‘can’t get no satisfaction’ until those needs are met.

That’s one of the reasons people try short-term ‘eat all you want of one food’ diets.  They feel satisfied with the volume of foods they’re consuming every day.  Their tummies feel full long enough to get them through until the next fill-up.  The concept of high-volume eating also makes certain high-protein diets appealing because people feel great satisfaction in eating ‘forbidden foods’ such as bacon, while still losing weight – lost for a while, anyway.

Unfortunately, as soon as you start eating carbohydrates and other foods again they combine with the bacon build-up of protein and you regain the lost weight plus more.  That’s why volumetrics is not a ‘diet.’  A diet is a short-term approach to eating for improved health and/or weight, whereas volumetrics is just a fancy name for a long-term approach to eating bulkier healthful foods that give your stomach that satisfied feeling.

Energy Density

Volumetrics promises satisfaction by lightening your favorite meals with foods that won’t raise your cholesterol and clog your arteries – namely fruits and vegetables.  Foods that have a low ‘energy density’ – a term coined by doctors Rolls and Barnett to mean fewer calories per gram – also include lean proteins such as beans, fish, chicken, and some dairy products.  Plus, filling up on carbohydrates cooked in water — such as rice or oatmeal — can fulfill the ‘full feeling’ (try saying that three times, quickly!) as the liquid fluffs them up for a bigger portion serving.

For example, for breakfast you could think about eating only half a bagel, not a whole bagel, and then fill up the ‘lost half’ of your meal by adding a sliced banana and a few orange sections. To try the volumetrics approach with your next lunch, use one less slice of meat and add extra lettuce, and maybe a slice of tomato or cucumber to add the extra volume to feel full.  If you’re like me, there’s nothing like a good BLT, so just go a little lighter on the number of bacon slices and heavier or the lettuce and tomato.

Keep in mind that this may not feel satisfying initially, but it will after a week or two.        Good luck with this different approach to improving your eating habits!

 

Banish Boredom

By Sherry Steinman

Many people overeat because they are bored.  Filling time with food is a common pastime, and it really can put on the pounds.  The next time YOU feel that way (it happens to all of us) don’t head for the refrigerator – head for the door.  Get out of the house.  Or, get away from your desk.  Don’t worry about making practical use of the time, just do something you’ll enjoy.

What could you do?  If you are home, you could: Go window shopping; take a short walk; visit a friend who might appreciate some company; get your car washed (preferably at a do-it-yourself place so you get some exercise.) What else?  OK, go to the Library!

Boring People

Now, about boredom.  I have always felt that only boring people are bored.  And it amazes me when young people, particularly teenagers, indicate with some pride that they are bored!  Is it possible that they already have done everything, been everywhere, learned everything, and seen everything – and now they are bored because nothing surprises them anymore? It’s probably that they just aren’t using their imaginations or looking beyond the obvious.

It is boring to do the same thing every day, with the same people, in the same way, at the same time, and with the same outcome.  Keeping that in mind, it is fairly easy to shake things up a bit.  For example, you can: Drive a different way to work; have something different to eat at lunch; invite someone different to join your group during break time, etc. These small changes are simple to do and will make a difference in how the day feels.

Keeping Fit, Not Bored

Back to eating.  Eating out of boredom is also contagious.  Are you living with someone who can consume a big bowl of buttered popcorn every night and not gain a pound – while you consume six kernels of the stuff and see it immediately on your thighs?  This is eating to be sociable.  It is very much like eating out of boredom because it creeps up on you.  Soon, there you are with butter and salt on your fingers and am empty bowl in your lap.

Acknowledge that this is not OK for you, and get out of ‘the eating area’. Providing a distraction as you head to the snacks is often all that’s needed to delay eating out of boredom.  Stash some healthier snacks for when you are truly hungry, and good luck!

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Body Image and Self Esteem

by Sherry Steinman

There is nothing like the sense of well-being and confidence that follows a vigorous workout or fast-paced walk. By exercising regularly, we not only shed pounds and develop muscles, but our bodies become more fun to live in – more responsive, more flexible, stronger.

Psychological benefits are clear, as well. How one feels physically is a big part of one’s self esteem and self image.  It is generally said that, “When you think you look good, you feel good.”  It is also true that just because a person is in good shape doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t still obsessed with looking better.  It’s easy to be continually dissatisfied with appearance because it is one of the major ways we’re judged by others.

Self esteem and body image are linked, but from a wellness standpoint, one should not be exclusively dependent upon the other.

Obsession’s Toll

Women especially link body image to self esteem and are more likely to take up fad diets or short-term diets of all kinds as a remedy to their perceived weight problem. Putting it bluntly, fad diets are destructive because they don’t work. They stress your body for a short time, during which your body tries mightily to hold onto what you are trying to take away.  In the process, these diets almost always:

    • Eliminate some fat but also consume a measure of muscle;
    • Lower one’s metabolism;
    • Offer inadequate nutrients in imbalanced combinations;
    • Tax the entire body, making some dieters subject to dire consequences such as heart problems; and,
    • Ensure that the dieter gains fat more quickly once the diet is ended.

 

Paying the Toll

Becoming obsessed about your weight is also detrimental to your psychological health, because you:

  • Internalize the standards of what others think is attractive;
  • Emphasize how you look over how you feel;
  • Are kept in a vicious cycle of weight loss followed by unavoidable weight gain once you are off the diet;
  • Perpetuate negative emotions like disgust and frustration; and,
  • Can damage your self esteem.

The Long-Term Approach

So, how do we go about having a healthy outlook on our looks? Are you meant to go through life feeling that you’re a hopelessly overweight, underachieving blob?  Absolutely not!  Starting today, take an objective assessment of yourself from the inside out.  Then, do the same thing with that exterior view.  Now, build on the overall positives and don’t let yourself get sidetracked.

Are you musically talented and a thoughtful friend? Do you have great legs but a thick waist? Focus on the music and the legs, and start to work on the waist.  Are you beautiful but out of shape, getting winded taking a short flight of stairs?  Accentuate your positives, and work on the rest gradually.

Are you creative and computer-savvy, but soft in the upper body due to a desk job? Concentrate on your creativity and skills, and start using some hand-held weights or other strength-building exercises.  Are you balding but … what?  The list goes on.

In fact, your window on reality is a reflection of how you see yourself. Open it up.  There’s nothing like the sense of well-being and confidence that follows the long-term, healthy approach to fitness.

Putting it bluntly, fad diets are destructive because they don’t work.  They stress your body for a short time, during which your body tries mightily to hold onto what you are trying to take away.

New Year’s Revolutions

By Sherry Steinman

Making New Year’s Resolutions is simple – but making New Year’s Revolutions goes well beyond that.  They can be revolutionary resolutions in terms of improving your fitness level, and could include a variety of choices.  No matter what your age and current fitness level, your new choices could positively revolutionize the way you feel by the end of this year.

Put a Spin on It

One of the newer fitness choices is a variation on the old ‘stationary bike’ mode of exercise.  It’s known by various names, including ‘Power Spinning’ and ‘Power Cycling.’ Local fitness centers, including programs at the YMCA, offer classes in this no-impact and highly aerobic form of formatted exercise, and it’s a good idea to get the basics of the workout that way first – because it’s not just sitting on the seat and casually pedaling along for a few minutes.

Then, it’s fairly simple to apply the workout to your own ability and then adapt it later on an outdoor touring bike when it gets nicer outside.

Cycling puts your body through a nice range of heart-pumping and muscle-firming activity, and does not shake up your bones or hurt your feet. It is a no-impact way to get a great workout.  Following a 40-minute session of spinning, your legs have pumped several hundred revolutions.

For those of you who have not yet thrown out your stationary bikes from years ago, you might still want to do so — as the effort you would be exerting with the updated aerobic spinning/cycling format is beyond the old, clunkier models’ capacity.  Just dust it off and put it in a prominent place where you’re more likely to use it to loosen up a little — before you push it out to the trash.

Aerobic Trashing?

In fact, one of my friends has said that the most aerobic activity she ever got out of her old ‘exercycle’ was shoving it out to the trash pick-up area at the end of her long driveway. If that be the case, do it daily!  Retrieving it each night and shoving it into the garage, and returning it again to the trash hauling area may be an aerobic activity yet to be named and marketed.  Let’s see – “Aerobic Trashing” may be the next exercise phenomenon, marketed with a woman feverishly shoving the old exercycle out and back daily, wearing appropriate workout wear, and hopping on the device once or twice between hauling.

This year is still new. Today is a very good day to choose an activity you like and stick with it to improve your overall fitness level.  Delay no longer in resolving to become more physically fit. and to feel better than ever before when you look back next year to good old 2018.

Here’s to your New Year’s Revolution!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprising Shape-Up Sabotage

 By Sherry Steinman

You’ve heard of ‘fear of success’, no doubt—usually in conjunction with one’s career path, or other life-long endeavor. Did you know there is also a fear of success factor for some people as they embark on a fitness plan?  Losing weight, or otherwise significantly changing your fitness level, can be a frightening thing, and can carry with it some heavy personal baggage.  At the edge of a new year it’s a good time to learn more about this shape-up sabotage, and possibly keep it from happening to you.

New You, Old You

Why would someone have a fear of success in changing his or her appearance presumably for the better? A couple of possible reasons come to mind: One would be that the weight you lost, or the shape you rearranged, reveals a ‘new you’ that is too scary to get to know.  So, you revert to the ‘old you’ that at least you knew – and were familiar with – even if you didn’t like the appearance.

Another reason would be that your closest friends or significant other are so used to the ‘old you’ that they are jealous of, or leery of, the new you – and do not want you to succeed in your weight loss or fitness plan. Thus, they help you sabotage your efforts in one way or another … by buying stuff you shouldn’t eat … by telling you they like you better the ‘other way’ … by telling you, “You’re going to gain it all back anyway, so why bother?”

Yes, there are many sophisticated sabotage techniques designed to derail your fitness plan, and they don’t come only from you! But, you are the only one who can control these surprise attacks on your shape-up efforts.

Fight Back!

Some ‘fight-back’ tactics are in order. One would be to surround yourself only with people who are supportive of your efforts.  But, that would not be 100% likely now, would it – as we’re all pretty much stuck with certain people we come in contact with every day, right? So, the next closest thing would be to only pay attention to those who support your efforts, and largely ignore the rest.  Also, in order to not sabotage your efforts yourself, stamp out self-sabotage by acknowledging that it will be worth getting to know the unfamiliar ‘new you’, and realizing that the ‘old you’ is still a the core of that shaped up exterior.

And, it wouldn’t hurt to do a ‘sabotage-checkup’ every once in a while to make sure you aren’t doing any sneaky things to undermine your own shape-up efforts. Like what?  Well … like keeping the clothes that are two or three sizes too big for you now, hanging in the closet — just in case you need them again.  Get rid of them today! Bag them up, and get them out of the house.  If you ever get back to that size, you’ll have to perform the penance of spending money for new, bigger clothes.

Now that we’ve delved into the topic of shape-up sabotage, it’s not really all that surprising, is it? Simply stated, it’s ‘fear of success’, mixed up with your own self-image.  Resolve to resist, and be aware of the things that are out there waiting to challenge you.

I’ll bet you can fend off most sabotage, and truly enjoy your shaped-up self in 2018.

They help you sabotage your efforts in one way or another … by buying stuff you shouldn’t eat … by telling you they like you better the ‘other way’ … by telling you, “You’re going to gain it all back anyway, so why bother?”

December 2017

Keep It Up — Keep It Interesting

By Sherry Steinman

Many people who would otherwise benefit from regular exercise are turned off by it and/or quit because they find it dull. Two ways to work around this are to find your niche in terms of repeating an activity you enjoy, and, vary something about your routine often enough to keep it interesting and fun.

Whether your interests lie in walking, running, dancing, aerobics, bicycling, tennis (or pickle-ball – have you tried it?) weight training, or team sports, the trick to keeping it up is to keep it from getting boring.

How to do that? The options are as many as there are individuals, but here are a few to consider:

  • If you are doing a workout activity that has become very boring for you and you are doing it only because you know it is good for you, it’s time for a change. Do not continue to make it a grind! Change something – the place, the time of day, the music you use, or maybe you’re ready for an entirely different activity.For instance, more than thirty years ago when I began teaching aerobics, our classes didn’t use any music. Believe it or not, that was not unusual at the time! Over the years, music has become one of the most motivating and fun parts of the workout, and adds an extra fun dimension to exercise. Plus, it keeps your mind off how hard you are working.
  • If you enjoy walking, but are ready for something a little more challenging, you may be ready to add free weights (small hand-held barbells or wrist weights) to your walk. Simply adding 1-lb. weights to your routine will increase the work your heart is doing – the cardio effect. Or, you might change your walking pattern from mall-walking in the morning to talking a more uphill or hilly walk on the bike paths. Changes can be done every other workout at the outset to see how you like them.
  • If you are disciplined enough to do strength and cardio-vascular exercise on machines at home there may come a time where you are feeling stale about your workout plan. Short of buying different equipment – or, heaven forbid, quitting! – change the environment. If it’s in the basement and you have done nothing to your basement in years, maybe paint the room a cheerful color … add a plant or two … and some kind of music accompaniment whether or not it’s through earbuds or wall speakers. It should be rousing music that you like. And, beware! You may get into a rut with your fitness activity without even knowing it. One day it will sneak up on you, and you will decide to go eat a big stack of pancakes for breakfast and read the newspaper for your morning activity instead. Or you may drive past the YMCA after work and go to the Dairy Isle across the street instead! STOP! Don’t throw all your hard work away just because you’re momentarily bored. Mix in something new and keep it up! Preferably forever.                           –October 2017

If you are doing a workout activity that has become very boring for you and you are doing it only because you know it is good for you, it’s time for a change.

Do not continue to make it a grind!

Biking to Your Liking?

By Sherry Steinman

Biking always has been to my liking.  An excellent no-impact workout for the body, biking on a touring bike — not a stationary, indoor assembly — also promises untold adventure while you shape up your lower body and strengthen your cardio-vascular system.

The Basics

Your bike does not have to be fancy to do the job. Any model that is the right size for you and is in good working order will do.  A comfortable seat is a plus.  Even if you feel you have additional ‘rear padding’ of your own, think about getting a gel seat for a more comfortable ride. They’re available as wrap-overs, as well as replacement seats.

Don’t like those forward-bent racing bars? (Neither do I!) Have upright touring bars put on your bike, or adjust your current bars downward a bit.  You might feel more balanced.  And as for gears, at least a three-speed model would be nice, or a ten-speed if you’re serious.

Where to go is up to you.  In Licking County, we have wonderful bike trails which offer variety and safety.  So, if you do not live in a neighborhood that has paved roads or walks, treat yourself to a decent bike rack for your vehicle to carry your bike to the desired destination.

Warning:  I bought a cheap bike rack at first, and rode all the way to the trails with one eye glued to the rear view mirror, watching the bikes wobbling precariously.  Never wanting to do that again, I invested in a sturdy bike rack.  It was money well-spent.

Freedom

If you are like me, part of what’s great about riding a bike is the returning wonderful feeling of freedom which was yours when you rode as a youngster.  I didn’t care that I was getting exercise … an aerobic workout … or saving gas while running light errands.  No, just turning the corner past Mom and Dad’s view it was – wow! – freedom.

Out of their sight I could at least contemplate doing something a little clandestine.  Back then I occasionally hit the Dairy Queen while on my bike.  It was no secret for long, as I continued to grow larger even though, as Mom mused, “Sherry rides her bike all the time.  I don’t know why she’s not trimming down.”

Hot fudge sundaes are not known to be trimming.

But, let’s return to biking while enjoying our adult years. If it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a bike, be sure you gradually increase the length of time or number of miles you ride your bike.

After one six-mile ride a few years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m in pretty good shape.” So, the next day, my son and I hit the bike trail and decided to go all the way to Johnstown from the Newark-Cherry Valley Road start-up (14.2 miles each way).  We were absolutely dragging when we got to Johnstown and it was a long way back.  Fortunately, that trail has a slight downward slope on the return trip.

More Tips for Trips

Another thing to remember is to take a water bottle with you, and use it. Your body’s metabolism is designed to work in a water-based environment, not a dry one. Similarly, take along a light, nutritious snack.  A small zip-lock bag filled with dried fruit and some nuts will do.  Aptly named, ‘trail mix’, it’s a good bet.

In any event, do not stop at the Dairy Queen!

Do wear a helmet, because your no-impact bike ride could easily become impact-interrupted.  Case in point: In the 1960’s, when we didn’t wear any protective gear to go biking, I returned one day from a fine ‘freedom’ ride through my neighborhood — the highlight of which was passing by the home of a boy I was interested in at the time.  As I returned home, walking my bike into our driveway, I announced to my Mom that I had broken something.  My forearm looked like a bridge.

Heading to the hospital in our old Buick Riviera, with a Life Magazine wrapped around my broken arm for support, I told my Mom that the last thing I remembered was that I waved to Dave and then fell. (Dave laughed and went into the house).

Protective gear followed some time after that … probably developed by another concerned parent.  So, if you plan on doing a lot of waving on your bike rides, better strap on a few pads! The main thing is to get out there – and enjoy a little adventure of your own along the way.

Summer Swimming

by Sherry Steinman

Do you enjoy swimming? When was the last time you participated? I mean really swam – not walking in water. The water-walking women who wear makeup and perfect hair at the Heath Water Park (a.k.a. Heath Pool) and walk in the water during the ‘adult swim’ breaks are not swimming! They are attending a swimming pool and walking. While water-walking is good exercise, it’s just not as good as swimming.

What I mean by swimming is the ‘dive-in and get your hair wet, all-over no-impact body workout’ that is to be fully enjoyed during the warm days of summer at an outdoor pool. Licking County is blessed to have several nice pools, and even a lake! People of all ages, it’s time to take part in the enjoyment.

Dad, Miss Biddle, and the Butterfly

Many senior citizens enjoy the great workout that swimming offers. When my Dad was 71 years old he came to visit us from Chicago one summer and was delighted to learn about Lake Hudson in Granville. While not as grand as Lake Michigan, Lake Hudson is a very nice natural outdoor recreational area with a body of water.  Dad dove right in and got his hair wet.  He still knew how to swim – and still had hair!  I warmly remember him exiting the water at Lake Hudson, dripping wet and smiling.  He shook himself off like a golden retriever – drops of water flying everywhere.

Most people who enjoy swimming remember how they first learned the sport. I recall learning mostly on my own and was not very good at it until my freshman year at Riverside-Brookfield High School, outside Chicago. My P.E. instructor, Miss Biddle, showed us several strokes beyond the usual crawl.  Turned out that I could do the sidestroke very well!  She even said I looked graceful – and that was hard to do since we had those awful shapeless old cloth Speedos to wear and I was none too slim at the time.  I enjoyed picking up the new strokes, along with some confidence.  But, as for the butterfly stroke, I was definitely a moth!

Mobilize and Energize

Swimming is especially good exercise for people who have certain mobility challenges. Water is kind to the skeleton, and the natural buoyancy offers respite from the stress of gravity.  Watch individuals who have arthritis when they get into the water.  Initially tentative, they are soon gliding along like children, smiling and splashing.  For them, water walking is a great start to enjoying freer movement and broader range of motion than otherwise possible.

So, whether or not you care to join the water-walking women at the Heath Water Park, or the splashing kids at the YMCA outdoor pool, or take a dip in Lake Hudson, do get out and get swimming this summer! If I’m there, I’ll be the one with the wet, flat hair, still trying to learn the butterfly.  I’ll definitely NOT be wearing a Speedo!

Watch individuals who have arthritis when they get into the water.  Initially tentative, they are soon gliding along like children, smiling and splashing.

Heed Before You Weed!

FitNotes

By Sherry Steinman

In the world of Health and Fitness, referring to gardening as good exercise may seem to be a stretch – and it is. And you should!  Stretch, that is, before you garden.  And afterward.

Groundwork

What we’re talking about here is laying the groundwork to prepare your body for the gardening season so you don’t totally stiffen-up after a long stint of crouching and digging. A little stiffness will be natural, but we’re striving for less discomfort.

Remember last season? You went outside to pull a few weeds and maybe loosen up some dirt after spring breezes whispered it was time … and the next day you felt like one of those gnarled roots you ran across and flung in the trash.  Let’s avoid that this year.

First, you will garden approximately four times longer than you intended to. It’s a given — especially if the season is young and the novelty is still there.  So, don’t think that warming up and stretching your muscles is foolish for a “15-minute gardening project.”  There is no such thing.

You know you will be out there at least an hour!

Stretching your arms and legs, as well as loosening up the waistline area and lower back region takes only a few minutes. It should be done slowly.  Long, slow stretches – no bouncing.  Hold the furthest comfortable stretch in each direction, and repeat the moves at least twice through.  For the neck and shoulders, rotate gently – shoulders 360-degrees each way, and neck 180-degrees front only, no neck-to spine.

Proper Rotation and Planning

As you rotate those petunias and impatiens, also rotate your body position. Not too long in one spot, on one knee, or using only one wrist.  Wear a watch that you can peek at under those gardening gloves (yes, wear those, too!) or you may not realize how long you’ve been bent over the same way until it’s too late.  Try not to sit, kneel, or lean in the same way for more than fifteen minutes at a time.

Next, be realistic. You will need at least twice as many tools and other gardening ‘stuff’ than you think you will.

“I’ll just bring this shovel and a basket for the pullings,” I remember saying to myself last spring. Ha! Don’t try to make this work for you.  A shovel is not designed to do everything — and yesterday’s newspaper is not a good knee cushion.

Get a heavy foam pad and the rest of the tools you’ll need, and put everything within easy reach. Maybe in a handy basket, or wheelbarrow to move along with you.  Before you’re done there will be several tools and baskets filled with pullings strewn all about.  But so what?  You planned it that way.

Water and Loving Care

The watering here is for you.  Especially if it’s hot out, be sure to have a bottle of cool water near your gardening area.  Drink it!  If it’s not hot outside and you’re in the shade, you still might find the water handy to sip on and to rinse something clean, or liven up a planting.

Now that you’re about done with your hour of gardening (OK, you can see it’s been at least two hours) aren’t you glad you stretched? Do it again. After you are done, and after all those tools are cleaned and put away, be sure you do the same stretches again at least once through, including the neck and shoulder rotations.

Also, wind your wrists in a ‘figure eight’ pattern a few times and wiggle and flex your fingers. You will be glad for this the next morning.  Also, a little loving care with some good hand and body lotion following a nice bath or shower should work wonders.  Soon you’ll be back out there again, leaving  your neighbors to wonder, “How can he/she do all that gardening and not complain about aches and pains?”

Don’t tell. Just say something cryptic like, “Heed before you weed.”

They’ll probably leave you alone after that!