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Posts from the ‘Health & Beauty’ Category

Forget Thigh Gaps: Healthy Is The New Beautiful!

Strong Is The New Skinny

Greetings from sunny California!

My husband and I take two trips out here per year to the Los Angeles area to be with friends and there is always something new to see. Today I spotted a billboard that I really liked. It showed athlete Marsha Tieken-Christen working out with the message “Strong is the new skinny.”

I’d like to go even further and say “Healthy Is The New Beautiful.”

I was horrified to discover that the concept of a “thigh gap” has somehow become a fitness goal that is furiously circulating in social media, particularly in the athletic community. I’m not sure where that idea came from, but from a doctor’s perspective, the idea of trying to achieve “thigh gap” is absurd. The distance between your upper legs is determined by the shape of your pelvis. The inner part of you leg is composed of muscles. In order to create space – those muscles would need to atrophe, which would also mean reducing your lean muscle mass.

A thigh gap or reduction in size of any body part is not a health or fitness goal.

Please direct your attention to the photo I have posted above. I love this portrait shown in the HuffPost this week because it displays an incredible diversity of female body and bone structure. It is crucial that both women AND men realize their full potential within their OWN bodies instead of trying to achieve the shape and size of others. It seems that most people inherently understand the concept “Every BODY is Different” but are continually blinded by the efforts of advertisers and media tycoons to paint us “the perfect body of society”. For those of us struggling to see through the difference, take a long hard look at that photo again. It is true that all those Olympic women are in the best shape of their lives – but their size, shape and structure are unique and cannot be copied.

Even before Scarlett O’Hara squeezed into a whalebone corset in “Gone with the Wind”, women ( and men too) have felt pressure to achieve certain specific body ideals. It’s well known that if Barbie was a real woman, she’d have measurements of 39-18-33. It’s important to jettison the arbitrary body ideals. As far as the “thigh gap,” for example, most young women need to strengthen their inner thighs to better protect their knees from ligament and cartilage damage. Older women with knee arthritis, every pound of extra weight puts 4 pounds of pressure on the knee joint, so staying at a healthy weight is crucial.  More importantly, strengthening, NOT WEAKENING the inner thigh muscles adds more protection for our bodies.

Evolve your personal fitness goals to be realistic and support your health as well as the activities you enjoy.

These portraits above show us a range of what is healthy and beautiful. These women are fit and powerful and at the peak of their sports. Try to imagine yourself at the peak of your health and fitness for your body type, your age, and your goals. Be realistic about ways you can work towards health and fitness goals for your body and your life. No matter what, a big part of this is maintaining lean muscle mass.

Never mind the gap or anyone else’s arbitrary rules.

Dr. Nolfo

 

Weekly Inspirations: Engineer The Habit of Change

I was never a fan of New Year’s Eve resolutions.

Short, cold winter days are a tough time for me to get super-motivated. But in late September, when the weather starts to get cool at night, the sugar maple leaves start to turn crimson, and Macoun apples are at the farm stands, I feel inspired to clean up, clear out and make positive changes.

Maybe this is because it’s the time of year when the new school year starts. In New England, maybe it’s a helpful natural instinct that helps us rake up the leaves and get out the fall clothes. So, when we want to make a change, like losing summer pounds or quitting smoking  – what strategies can help us make the change happen and last?

I found a great blog on “engineering” successful change, by roadblocking the easy excuses and reducing the pain of the hard work you are trying to do. I’ll share some of it here, but it’s worth reading the whole of it. I am already using some of these strategies.  In my own life, I’m in the process of losing 10 pounds that sneaked up on me this year. I’m also trying to exercise more.

(See! I just used one of the Zen strategies: I  made my “goal” public, so I’ll have to let you know if I succeeded!)

Here is my favorite snippit From the blog ZenHabits:

“Engineer the habit change …Think of it from an engineer’s point of view: When negative feedback outweighs positive feedback, habit change fails. To make the habit change successful, positive feedback has to outweigh negative feedback. The solution: increase positive feedback and/or decrease negative feedback until the ratio favors the habit change. Think of it this way: if you want to take a certain path in the snow, put obstacles along all other paths so that it’s difficult to go anywhere but the path you want to take … and have the path you want to take shoveled, so that it’s easy to take that path. You can engineer your habit change so that it’s harder to quit than to do the habit. You have four options in your custom engineering solution. In each, I’ll give some ideas, but you’ll have to come up with ideas of your own to fit whatever habit you’re trying to change… 3. Increase negative feedback for not doing the habit. You want to make it hard not to do the habit. As hard as humanly possible. So to do that, you need to put all kinds of negative feedback on yourself for not doing the habit. Some ideas: If you join a forum or a real-world group or give people you know regular updates, or update your blog readers (see ideas in #1 above), you will face the embarrassment of having to tell people you didn’t do the challenge. Get a partner or coach or trainer, or your spouse, to make sure you do the habit, and to nag you if you don’t. If you’re trying to develop the reading habit, remove all other temptations. If you’re trying to exercise, get rid of the TV and Internet and make your house uncomfortable, until you do your exercise. Once you exercise, get your cable TV box or Internet modem back from your neighbor who was holding it for you. If you’re trying to quit smoking, tell your kids not to let you smoke. I’m sure you can think of many others — get creative!”

The homework assignment for all my followers out there is to read and absorb this entire article! I truly believe it puts in perspective perfectly the ways in which we can take control of our habits to help endure a healthy – and most importantly, happy, lifestyle.

As always, have a fabulous weekend!!! And stay tuned! We have lots of great things in the works for my readers, patients and clients….If you’d like to join our practice, click the “Get A Free Consultation” link above.

Remember: you DO NOT have to be from Connecticut to join our wellness program!

Thanks,

Dr. Emily Nolfo

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