Sunday, December 23, 2012

Massage…not a luxury

One of the small changes I’ve made over the last 18 months is allowing myself a monthly massage. I used to feel that because I was large (read fat), that I really didn’t want to take my clothes off in front of a stranger. As well, I have a real aversion to allowing anyone not family to touch me. But, while having physical therapy for frozen shoulder, I became convinced to try it. It helped with the soreness that the physical therapy caused to start with. It relieved neck and shoulder tension that I didn’t even know I had until it was loosened up. But massage still seemed like a luxury.

Recently though, I started thinking that I should really start taking better care of myself, since I intend to stick around for another decade or two. And so, I started going in once a month for a massage. I have found a goddess massage therapist (Melissa, bless you) who makes me feel like a human being again. And I started doing research into the other benefits of massage.

Massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in lifted spirits and often lower blood pressure. It can also boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in depression. High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones. Stress kills. Even without obvious narrowing of coronary arteries, stress can cause heart attacks.

Obviously, massage helps relieve muscle tightness and aches. But, one of the benefits of flexibility is again, heart related. Arterial stiffness often precedes cardiovascular disease. Staying flexible, through massage and exercise, keeps those arteries flexible as well, and more able to keep the blood moving. My massage therapist told me that the calves, in particular, help move lymph around the body, acting as almost a second heart. So, massaging them helps bring all that lymph back through the system, and helps keep the white blood cells working more efficiently.

But, best of all, I walk lighter after a massage. I have my head held high, I breathe deeper, I have at last a few hours of contentment.

Get a massage!


#massage #cortisol #reducestress

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Why change?

My father died at age 55. He never lived long enough to retire, to see grandchildren, to truly relax. He loved life, and his life choices cut his life short.

So, I've never smoked. That is what took his life. But I've made a lot of other life choices that have probably shortened my life expectancy. I'm hoping that the changes I'm writing about here will allow me to reverse what some of those bad choices have done to me.

The first is weight. I worked out 6 days a week for years, teaching Taekwondo and juijitsu. 3 or 4 classes a day, working out with the students through every class. Although I wasn't slim, I was in good shape. I still have a perception of myself as a strong woman, and every time I have to ask for help with something, it irritates me, and jolts me back to my current reality.

Then, I picked up a box of books the wrong way, and messed up a disc. Back surgery, and fear of more damage stopped my workouts. Not smart. Exercise would have probably kept my core strong and avoided back pain for years. But, I can exercise again. I've added Tai Chi to my mornings. Dr. Paul Lam has a lovely program that is designed for arthritis. Short form, and a type of exercise I am comfortable with.

So, a start back to health. Tai Chi and walking. And, looking back at a previous post, I've cut back the soda. Only about 3 in the last 3 weeks. Not as hard as I had feared.

SO, let's continue. The goal is to have a longer life, a healthier life, an enjoyable life. Hope you come along with me.