Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

Swinging Moods

I love to swing. Yes, I love to swing from those big old fashioned seats that hang precariously from ropes of hemp or metal chain linked together. The romantic swings that are sometimes hung from giant oak trees are the best but it is much more likely you will find swings in a city park. I adore the feeling of flying up in the air with my body fully reclined, air rushing through my hair, higher and higher until the swing shudders slightly with the abuse and then I just let it glide, pulled by gravity to a stop. I find it soothing and all my cares seem to dwindle in to nothingness.

However swings of another sort can be really disconcerting and alarming and those are the swings of the human psyche. One friend recently described her daughter’s mood swings as “scary” which prompted me to do a little research and put my thoughts together. If you were asked by someone “What can I do for my child and her “scary” mood swings would you automatically have the answer? Well to be honest,  I didn’t and my answer went on for days as I picked through the cobweb covered information in my “files”.

Hormonal mood swings are accepted as a rite of passage for women and just never discussed when it comes to men. Chemical imbalance is referred to as “mental illness” and discussed in hushed tones only and with some ridiculous sense of shame. However, I think it is unacceptable to assume we need to suffer from the ups and downs of hormonal imbalance and/or mental illness. Not just unacceptable but dangerous if the imbalance leads to thoughts of suicide or to illness like endometriosis. There are methods to help us cope with mood swings be they chemical or hormonal imbalances. If you seek medical advice you will most likely be the recipient of a piece of paper that instructs the pharmacist to fill a prescription for birth control chemicals or for a “wonder” drug like Prozac or its myriad of clones. I think this borders on criminal, as you already know by my previous posts.  There are far less harmful treatments that in many cases have even better results than the aforementioned.

First and foremost is Vitamin D3, not really a vitamin at all it is actually “a secosteroid hormone that targets over 2000 genes (about 10% of the human genome) in the human body”. I have recommended Vitamin D3 to several friends and family and all have had positive experiences with mood elevation and energy renewal. The best source of Vitamin D3 is the midday sun on your entire body for 20 minutes.

However, sunshine on your skin is not instantly transformed to Vitamin D3 in your body, so once you have exposed your skin you need to leave it as is for at least 30 minutes and you should not soap exposed areas for 24 hours. This characteristic of Vitamin D was discovered when they puzzled over surfers in Hawaii who showed signs of Vitamin D insufficiency. How could people exposed to the sun so unrelentingly have low levels of the sunshine vitamin?

Eventually they realized a common link, surfers are in and out of the water constantly and from there it was proven that you need to leave the exposed skin untouched for a period of time to allow for complete assimilation otherwise you are just washing it off your skin and there is no time for absorption. Personally I try to expose my skin to sunlight or my Sunsplash Renew right after a shower when my skin is clean and free of lotions. I then don’t need a shower or bath for 24 hours and I don’t use soap on places like my belly or back ever, it only dries out my skin.

If being in the sun for 20 minutes is too frightening for you (first of all read the latest reports on sun exposure) then supplementing with D3 is acceptable. However, before you supplement you should test your D levels. The unfortunate thing about taking a supplement is you could really upset the swing if your levels are already high for some reason. If your levels are terribly low you may need large doses of Vitamin D2 until your D levels are within range (40-65 ng/ml) and it will take awhile because D2 is not easily assimilated by the body and changed from D2 to D3.

There are other solutions to elevating your mood that are simple and can be kept in your refrigerator. A high quality fish oil like the fish oil Vital Choice sells can do wonders for your mood. In an article on Mercola,com it stated “there have been a number of studies that have examined national and international fish consumption data and compared them to rates of depression. Dr. Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health is a pioneer in this area. He, and his group, have shown that higher national consumption of fish for a nation equals lower rates of depression versus countries consuming the least amount of fish. He has also shown that higher fish consumption is correlated with lower risk of postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder.

A larger study published in Archives of General Psychiatry replicated these findings (from a previous study published by The American Journal of Psychiatry) however, this time various doses of EPA were examined. Those on ineffective antidepressants were given 1g, 2g or 4g of pure EPA or a placebo in addition to the medication. Interestingly, the 1g daily dose of EPA led to the most significant improvements over the three-month study; it appeared that less was more. There were significant improvements in depressive symptoms, sleep, anxiety, lassitude, libido and thoughts of suicide.”  Dr. Mercola recommends trying a high quality fish oil and also EFT, emotional freedom technique, as it heals from within by helping you deal with hidden angst and fears.

If diet, exercise, EFT and sunshine exposure have failed you it might be time for blood tests. Hypothyroidism often causes depression and it is not good enough to settle for your doctor reporting that your TSH is “fine” or ‘okay”. You need to step up to the plate and require your doctor to do a complete thyroid panel including tests for autoimmune thyroiditis. If your health care provider won’t do a complete thyroid panel you can get your own done for a reasonable cost. Your TSH could be within normal limits and you could still be suffering from all the symptoms of hypothyroidism. If your health care provider just takes the time to run a full thyroid panel they may find that you do have a thyroid problem and need natural dessicated thyroid to properly treat the situation and rid you of the mood swings caused by an undertreated thyroid.

Much of depression or a mood swing comes down to hormones because not only is your thyroid run by hormones but your sex hormones can be a very likely cause of mood swings if they are out of balance. I found what Dr. Uzzi Reiss is quoted as saying in Suzanne Somer’s book The Sexy Years really fascinating and somewhat revealing. Dr. Reiss stated that estrogen is extremely important to a woman’s peace of mind. Estrogen dominant women are happier women. They sleep better and are less stressed. He then went on to talk about body types and specifically mentioned fashion models describing them as “tall, thin and usually sort of subtly depressed” The tall, thin, small breasted woman often has low estrogen and testosterone but good human growth hormone (because she is tall). And then he talks about the woman who is five feet one, D-size breasts, has no hair over her body, is not very athletic, and does not have strong muscles; this woman has extremely high estrogen, and low testosterone. The last group of women are the athletic type. Most athletes have small breasts, not because they have low estrogen but because they have high testosterone.

Who of the above group will be happiest? The small round woman with high estrogen. “Women of this type are happier and less complex, and it seems that their approach to sexuality is much simpler. The thin model type when asked about the times they were pregnant will respond that “when I was pregnant it was the happiest time of my life”. Why? Their hormone levels were different and the extra estrogen made them happy and more progesterone made them calmer. Hormones have a language of their own and if your hormones are out of whack there is a barrier to communication from one part of the body to the other that results in mood swings.

If you have tried everything else ask your primary care provider to test your hormone levels by running a blood test. You should always ask to see a copy of your blood tests and when you see the levels of your hormones if things seem out of whack bio-identical hormones are a possible answer. A word of caution do not settle for chemically copied Big Pharma versions like Premarin or Progestin as they have been known to contribute to an increase in cancers and heart disease. They are not bio-identical and it is possible that your body will not find its equilibrium with the chemical version.

While I haven’t specifically mentioned men’s body types and their hormones (Dr. Reiss didn’t specifically mention men and their shape), men are affected by out of balance hormones too. Everyone talks about women and their pesky hormones but men are victims of this problem as well and need to request sex hormone blood tests just as women do. Andropause is the term used for men’s hormone upheaval; it is the male counterpart of menopause, when the production of testosterone decreases and there are accompanying mental symptoms. If you are male and suspect you may be in andropause talk to your health care provider or go to Canary Club and request the tests you need. No one needs to suffer from unnecessary mood swings or depression caused by hormones waxing and waning and bio-identical hormones can help males as well as females.

I wish the answer was more simplistic, like hopping in a swing and letting it all hang out, but as we are all so different dealing with mood swings is multi-layered and complex. If you feel desperate and the day is looking bleaker by the moment you should always seek help now, not tomorrow. There should never be any shame in acknowledging a need for counseling. If today seems bright but tomorrow is a bit darker, if you do indeed swing with your highs and lows then what I have offered is a possible solution and worthy of your attention.

I’ll be swinging to good health until next week.



PACEing Again

I find myself time and time again going back to Al Sear’s PACE (Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion) and my husband finds it suits his personal style very nicely, so we are both exercising in this way at least 2-3 times a week. In between I do T-Tapp to maintain my chiropractic adjustments (yes, T-Tapp really does do that).

At our house we have very basic equipment, so my SO uses his Schwinn Airedyne to perform his PACE. He has adapted the technique to suit him, so I think he warms up for three minutes at a slow steady speed. At that point he gives it some gas for one minute, decreases his resistance and speed until his heart rate comes down and then hits the gas again until he breathes hard and is winded. He intersperses this with 30 second bursts now and then and leaves 3 minutes to cool down and end at 30 minutes.

I use my rebounder (and watch Weeds or something with catchy music) warming up for three minutes at a gentle jog. Then I progress to jumping jacks for 2 minutes (that is 130 jumping jacks) and then cool down for 2 minutes. At the 8 minute mark I run as fast as possible for one minute and then cool down for three minutes. At the 12 minute mark I jump off my rebounder and skip around my basement for 6 rounds (1 minute)jump back on the rebounder and run gently for 3 minutes. At 16 minutes I repeat the jumping jacks for 1 minute (65 jumping jacks) and cool down for 2 minutes.

Now I am approximately 19 minutes in to the workout and I want to quit at 30 minutes so I can spend 20 minutes in the FIR sauna before I do 10 minutes in front of my Sunsplash Renew, so I need to fill 11 minutes. I hop off the rebounder and skip around my lower level again for 6 rounds (1 minute +or-) and run gently for three minutes and then run in place for 30 seconds just as fast as I can, using the next three minutes and 30 seconds to get my heart rate down at which time I do 1 minute of jumping jacks (65) and finish by gently running on my rebounder for two minutes and hop off and in to the sauna where I will more easily sweat out many unwanted toxins.
I cannot speak of weight loss (keep in mind I am fighting a hypothyroid condition) but I think both of us have benefited from exercising this way as we don’t need hours of grueling exercise and we are able to keep up with the younger generation quite nicely. We are, and have been for sometime, PACEing again.

Feeding Your Thyroid

My latest update on Facebook from Janie Bowthorpe was basically a continuation of her disagreement with Forest Pharmaceuticals and their changing the formulation of Armour Thyroid and Janie’s successfully getting many people to switch to Naturethroid and Westhroid. It is all getting old to me and I will apologize right now to any readers that offends and tell you that I am grateful to Janie Bowthorpe for her very informative book Stop The Thyroid Madness. I have a different take on the subject of the new formulation causing relapse in everyone and I will share it with my readers.

Early this winter I finally talked my very open minded doctor, Rob Bruley, in to prescribing Armour Thyroid instead of my compounded pharmaceutical T3 and T4 because we were not resolving my hypothyroidism issue after more than a year of constantly increasing my dosage. Admittedly he reluctantly did it, but he did it and told me I had to take a 3 grain dose of Armour Thyroid which by the way had to be special ordered at Target pharmacy (I tell you because it is useful information). 3 grains was equal to the T3 and T4 I was taking that wasn’t working very well although we had corrected several aspects of my thyroid malfunction. At that time I also started a bio-identical testosterone cream and progesterone tablet because those hormones were low in a recent hormone test I had taken.

I don’t want to quote exact times here because it is all a blur of history but approximately 6 weeks later I was having heart palpitations and sudden jolts that would awaken me in the middle of the night. I started taking half a 3 grain tablet at that time and when I called Dr. Bruley he agreed that this was the right thing to do, so he prescribed a blood test  which showed my T3 was now too high, T4 was okay and the TSH was within range although on the low side. I continued on 1 1/2 grains and when I had the next blood test I didn’t take my Armour the morning of the test as it will affect the T3 reading according to Janie and I was not in the mood to take any higher dosage. I was now feeling rather hyper at times and for instance if I was writing something it would almost look scribbled because I was writing too fast (my own test) so I knew I was a little over medicated but the test would tell.

That test came back with both T3 and T4 within range but my total TSH was .3 which indicates suppressed thyroid. I have since cut my half tablet in to half which amounts to 3/4 grain of Armour Thyroid. I will need a blood test in a few weeks but I can tell you that I still feel a little hyperthyroid. On 3/4 grain my heart palpitations are almost non-existent but at times I feel agitated like I need to run a marathon but I don’t run anymore.

Now to my point, the newly formulated Armour has seemingly corrected my thyroid problem greatly reducing my need for thyroid stimulating hormone. I don’t take it sublingually anymore because most of my digestive issues are resolved by not eating grain of any kind and drinking kefir every day. Swallowing Armour allows for slow release of the thyroid stimulating hormone. If and when I did what Janie suggested and took the tablet sublingually I would get a jolt in the morning that was uncomfortable and if I took some early afternoon when it had worn off I was too hyper to relax by bedtime. Swallowing it with my morning tea works perfectly for me I have sustained energy during the day and I am ready for bed at night.

I am now taking Alpha Lipoic Acid (300 mg) twice a day (with breakfast and supper) as well as a B-Complex vitamin for energy and liver health. If you take ALA you must add a B Complex as the ALA lowers your levels of the B vitamins. I also take 200 mcg of a sodium selenate/selenomethionine supplement. When I feel an energy lag I have a great B12 supplement called ProBoneO by Life Enhancement (Dr. Wright). I eat a diet free of gluten, with lots of greens, fresh eggs, avocados, grass fed meat, etc. My conclusion is that by balancing my hormones and taking the right supplements (no excipients or fillers), following a gluten free diet and staying away from excititoxins I am healing my thyroid.

Instead of complaining about the reformulation of Armour Thyroid I would tell you to try it. If it doesn’t work or you start to experience hypo symptoms again follow this advice before you change to Naturethroid or Westhroid:

Balance all your hormones not just your thyroid hormone.

Eat a gluten free diet full of greens which can be from Barley grass and Alfalfa grass or greens from the garden that are raw or lightly steamed. Add homemade kefir with no sugar added for a health gut.

Throw away supplements that have excipients and fillers as they negatively affect your immune system and create a bio film that keeps you from absorbing the supplement.

Judiciously stay away from MSG which means making your own fresh food with no boxed convenience foods and reading The MSG Myth.

Exercise using the T-Tapp method as she concentrates on cleaning your lymph system and allowing your body to heal itself.

If you do all these things and still suffer from hypo symptoms then it is time to try something new. If you choose not to try these steps first don’t cry foul on Forest Pharmaceuticals point your finger at the real guilty party, you.

Cycling and PACE

If you enjoy Al Sear’s PACE exercise, cycling in the Stillwater, Minnesota area has to be one of the best ways to do PACE. If you aren’t going down hill you are going uphill and every change in topography is a change of heart rate and exertion.
If you happen to be in the area and want to PACE yourself Stillwater proper has plenty of challenge and fantastic river city scenery. When you want to just cycle with no particular exertion or rest hit the Gateway Regional Trail and enjoy the ride through forest and open prairie or even in to the city of St. Paul and beyond.

Keep up with the T-Tapp PACE

Yes, you read that right PACE, I am commenting on PACE again but some may not like what I have to say.

I was T-Tapping (the coined phrase for exercising with Teresa Tapp) to Total Workout Slow the other day and I finally heard Teresa say what I had been thinking. The idea behind the Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion (PACE) is not a new idea at all it has just been well promoted by Al Sears and I will give him credit for that as not all of us are clever enough to advertise well. I have felt for sometime that several people actually do the PACE program including, as many have noticed on this blog, Kathy Smith and now Teresa Tapp. This adds a lot of variety to your exercise program and variety is after all the spice of life.

Teresa at one point in her morning long seminar (that she recorded for people like me to exercise to) said that she designed T-Tapp exercise 10 years ago (with the help of Dr. Ken Cooper) with the idea that you elevate the heart rate for a minute or two and then let it come down (she called it sprinting), elevate, let it come down. What does that sound like to you? To me that is PACE in a nutshell and in addition to the cardio workout you will work muscles you didn’t know existed and sweat like you have never perspired when working out. Your posture improves, bone density increases and you just feel perkier. Doing lunges the T-Tapp way I have been able to lunge with none of the knee pain that I always experienced in years past. The Total Workout even includes a T-Tapp chiropractic adjustment called T-Tapp Twist. When you do it with the precision she requires (rather like the discipline involved with traditional Qi Gong) you can actually feel your vertebrae fall in to position, you sleep better at night and you don’t have stiffness.

I’m not really promoting any one of the T-Tapp exercise programs in this article but I did want to address PACE because I think there are many different ways to do PACE and some are better than others. T-Tapping is a common sense approach to PACE that I can vouch for its effectiveness and recommend it. Al Sear’s program is useful and promotes good health it is just not a new idea and also not the only progressively accelerating cardiopulmonary exertion program out there.

T-Tapp for a New Body

You read that right, T-Tapp, and it is a form of exercise that was developed by Teresa Tapp. My initial impression was that it looked ridiculous and I thought it had ruined my back, so I rejected it. However, there was something about it that made sense and kept calling me back.

First, I found out about T-Tapp from Mary Shomon an expert on thyroid disorder. She recommended T-Tapp for anyone with autoimmune disorders. Then I bought Teresa Tapp’s book “Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes” which I found interesting but not very helpful. It was filled with testimonials and I just didn’t get much out of that and I found her exercise instruction difficult to follow. Buying the book was not a complete disaster as it provided me with the ability to get one DVD and a sampling of products very reasonably. I chose “Walk Away the Inches” as my DVD and despite my harsh review of her book I do refer to it and have loaned it out to help others learn about T-Tapp form.

The first time or two I followed the exercise on my newly purchased T-Tapp DVD I found myself with serious back problems which I naturally felt the DVD exercise had created, so I set it aside and went back to Kathy Smith. I think having done exercise with Teresa Tapp and her very specific instructions left me feeling something was missing and that coupled with realizing that it was the Kathy Smith DVD that had started my back problems brought me back to the T-Tapp DVD. I was a bit bored by the “Walk Away the Inches”, so I ordered the Total Workout and that brings me to the present state of being totally hooked on T-Tapping.

Teresa Tapp has a rehabilitative approach to fitness, so even with bad knees you can successfully use her DVDs, your weak and achey back will become stronger and hurt less. I cannot speak to losing weight (I do not weigh myself and that is another blog) but I have lost inches and my back fat is all but gone. I was ecstatic yesterday when I looked in the mirror and noticed that the crease in my back that I thought was a permanent feature was disappearing (which is why I thought I had to let you know about T-Tapp). I stand taller and straighter, my shoulders are no longer rounded and my knees feel great. I am excited to purchase her “Breast Health Package” because I feel prevention of breast cancer is the real key not curing it once someone has it. Teresa is donating $10 of each package purchased to the United Breast Cancer Foundation and she has partnered with that foundation to develop programs to help women with breast cancer and to help the rest of us “prevent” breast cancer.

T-Tapp will remind you of yoga, or Qigong as it is very form specific. The exercises are done with no music and I guarantee you will not miss it as her constant reminders are imperative. You will find yourself “tucking butt” and pushing your knees out to little toe every time she says “KLT”. You exercise from the core out and when you are done your muscles are fatigued, your heart is pumping and your lymphatic system has been purged. Check it out and read all about T-Tapp at

The Pace Continues

I would like to briefly touch on my PACE again. I am still using the general principle and I don’t think I will ever go back to long, back breaking, exercises. They just don’t make sense to me anymore. I seem to have more endurance now than ever should I want a long hike up the mountain side in Idaho or just around my hometown of Stillwater, Minnesota which is full of stairways and hills to climb. I can run when I want to and not find myself struggling, biking is a breeze and jumping rope is finally not a horrible way to get my heart beating.

I like to work out to a simple exercise program by Kathy Smith called Power Walking. It is done inside with weights and a television, simple as simple can be. You primarily march in place and then add weights for your abdominals and upper body. She has two big push interludes and I pick up my jump rope and jump as fast as I can for the time allotted which does increase my heart rate and make me breath deeply. it is not strenuous but when I am done I am sweating and my heart is pumping.

It is criticized on for Kathy Smith’s blunders and for being too easy but I find the blunders entertaining and easy is as easy does, if you don’t put any effort in you will get back just what you put in to the workout. I suspect that Al Sears would not give this DVD the PACE seal of approval but I would like to share with my readers that it is a good workout for those times when you are in a hurry and it does generally follow the principles of PACE.