stretchingWelcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband, Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.

Challenge #31 It’s a stretch
Several weeks ago I fell backwards and landed on my tailbone and sit bones, bruising them in the process. When I fell I thought to myself, “Thank God I exercise. This could have been a lot worse.” All my balance exercises and leg strengthening exercises didn’t prevent the fall from my carelessness, but they sure made my healing time faster.

The first week I continued with my walking, albeit at a turtle’s pace for me, and Tai Chi but I couldn’t lift anything with any weight. It hurt my tailbone and as Pam Nelson, my Pilates and Tai Chi instructor said, “Everything is connected.” Bill and I went to Pilates on Day 8 after the fall and at the end of class when Pam had us doing our stretching I realized that in one week without stretching I had lost considerable flexibility. I always stretch after my strengthening workouts but since I didn’t do any that week, I didn’t do any stretching at all. That was not a good plan. As I slowly made my way off the Pilates reformer I knew I had to change our goal for the week to do daily stretching.

Stretching is an exercise for all ages and for all levels of fitness. According to the Mayo Clinic the top five benefits of stretching include:
• Increased flexibility and joint range of motion. We become less flexible as we get older. This can make your daily tasks such as bending and lifting, more difficult.
• Improved circulation. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles to bring nourishment and get rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue.
• Better posture. Frequent stretching helps keep your muscles from getting tight allowing you to have better posture. This helps keeps aches and pains at a minimum.
• Stress relief. Stretching relaxes tight, tense muscles that often accompany stress.
• Enhanced coordination. By having better range of motion through your joints, you will have better balance. Coordination and balance can help you prevent falls.
Now you just don’t want to start stretching without some proper instruction and guidance. You can injure yourself if you don’t have proper technique. Our Canadian massage therapist and friend (who is also a physical therapist), Sylvia Leong, has put together a great daily stretch routine with explanations, photos and modifications on her website. Sylvia can help get you started with your routine by clicking here. Sylvia’s stretches

Vicki’s observations:
• Another benefit to the list above….it feels good.
• On the days I only walk I don’t usually stretch. Not a good plan. After I did my walk I had to make a conscious effort to remember to stretch. I missed a day.
• One day I was too busy to get in any intentional exercise and it never entered my mind to do some stretching.
• There really isn’t any reason I can’t do some stretching when I wake up or before I go to bed. It really doesn’t take that much time and the time spent is well worth it.
• At the very least, I need to get off my bum and out of my desk chair every 45 minutes to move and release tight muscles.
• I don’t want to fall again. Next time I might not be so lucky as to hobble away with only bruised bones.

Bill’s observations:
• I have always been the worst about stretching. It really is something that is very necessary for me to do.
• I am always sitting at my desk and it is important for me to get up and move around every hour. I don’t do it and this is one reason why I always have aches and pains.
• Now that I have my new Vivofit by Garmin, which counts my steps, it reminds me to also stretch more often.
• It does make you feel good and your body will thank you for it.
• I recently bought a set of stretching bands and even when I am sitting in front of the TV I use the bands to stretch my arms and legs. I can stretch and laugh at the same time.
• I also bought a foam roller and I use that to loosen up the tight muscles in my lower body.
• Make sure you warm up before you do your stretches. You don’t want to injure your tight muscles.

If you have any health conditions or injuries, be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist about which stretches are right for you. Follow their recommendations to prevent injuries and you will benefit from improved flexibility, balance, and coordination.

Stay tuned for TLC next week.

Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?

The road to success is always under construction
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7  Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.
Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.
Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation.
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment.
Challenge # 13 Switch it up.
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction.
Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Challenge # 16 Drink your water.
Challenge # 17 Count your chews.
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet.
Challenge # 19 Start your day right.
Challenge # 20 Holiday moves.
Challenge # 21 Limit TV time.
Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman.
Challenge # 23 Sweet dreams.
Challenge # 24 What color is your plate?
Challenge # 25 Six month reflections
Challenge # 26 Retro-walking.
Challenge # 27 Gimme a high fiber
Challenge # 28 The Half Plate Rule

Challenge #29 Feel Good Week

Challenge #30 Try one new healthy food a day

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Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, “Health and Lifestyle Program.”