Expert Advice


Using imagery to increase exercise and posture  

Kathy Joy   

We all know that our imagination is a wonderful part of being human. We use it to take us on mental vacations, or help us be creative at work. But have we ever thought of how it can help us in the health and wellness part of our lives? Using imagery can help us add resistance to our workout, it can help us become more aware of our stance and posture. Let’s try a few things and test this wonderful gift for ourselves.

  • Sit tall, now grow an inch. Ok now imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling you toward the ceiling. Feel the difference? Once the string begins to pull you up, your spine lengthens and you find yourself taller.
  • Chest flies – sit tall and bring your arms around in front of your chest. Now imagine that there is a large tree in front of you. Bring your arms around the tree and give it a big hug. Feel that pull around your arm pits? That is your chest at work.
  • Bicep curls- using a dowel rod or broom stick, keeping your elbows at your side, hands face up, begin to bring the rod toward your chest, squeezing your biceps (Popeye muscles). Now start again, this time imagine a beachball between the rod and your chest. Notice how it feels to press against that imaginary beachball. The work increases.

Can you see how using an image helps you increase your workload or helps you find better posture? Now put that imagination to work and find a stronger you.

August 2015

Timing Your Vitamins
Melissa Dorval, R.D.

Taking vitamins is an important way to boost your nutritional intake. The timing of when we take vitamins, though, can be as vital as the fact that we take them. To ensure that we get the most out of vitamins and supplements when is the best time to take them? We asked Melissa Dorval, R.D., to help us understand when the best time is to take vitamins and supplements.

Q: Why should certain vitamins be taken at different times of the day?
MD: Some vitamins and supplements should be taken with food or a meal for best absorption while you may need to take others on an empty stomach.

Q: What vitamins should be taken in the morning, before I’ve eaten?
MD: We recommend that you take SAM-e on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before you consume food. This is most convenient when you first wake up in the morning, as your stomach is most empty at this time. If you are taking a second dose of this product, try to find a time that your stomach is most empty—at least one hour after you’ve consumed food—and wait at least 30 minutes before you eat after you’ve taken your afternoon dose. Remember not to take SAM-e too close to bedtime, as it may increase your energy level which may interfere with a restful sleep.

Q: Which vitamins should be taken with breakfast?
MD: Most all of your vitamins can be taken with your breakfast meal. This includes your daily multivitamin, B-Complex, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C in addition to others. Not only will this help to start your day off right, but the breakfast meal is often a convenient time to remember to take your vitamins, as many of us consume our morning meal in our homes. In addition, the B vitamins in your multi and B-complex will help to convert food to energy, which can help you start your day off right. There is one caveat, however. We do not recommend taking Calcium along with your multivitamin if your multi contains iron. The calcium may interfere with the iron’s absorption. If you take an iron containing multivitamin with your breakfast meal, take your calcium with the other meals you consume throughout the day, such as lunch and dinner. You may also be interested to know that vitamin C helps increase the absorption of iron, so keep drinking your orange juice for breakfast or take a vitamin C supplement with your iron.

Q: What vitamins should be taken with, before and after lunch?
MD: If lunch is a more convenient time for you to take your vitamins, then go ahead and consume your multivitamin, B-complex, Vitamin E, Vitamin C or any other vitamins at this time. The most important point is that you consume your vitamins and supplements with food, to help with proper dissolution and absorption. If it is easier for you to remember to take your vitamins at lunch, then go ahead and do so. Once again, do not consume an iron containing multivitamin along with a calcium supplement. Many multivitamins do contain a small amount of calcium. The small amount of calcium in the multi should not affect iron absorption.

Q: What vitamins should be taken before, after or during dinner?
MD: Calcium supplements can be taken with dinner, or hours after dinner before bed. Supplemental calcium is best in smaller, more frequent doses to enhance absorption. The form of calcium you are taking determines if you should take it with a meal or snack, or on an empty stomach. Calcium carbonate requires the presence of food for better absorption. Your calcium carbonate supplement may be taken with dinner, as well as earlier in the day with another meal such as lunch. On the other hand, calcium citrate can be taken with or without food, and does not require food or stomach acid for absorption. Therefore, you can take calcium citrate at bedtime on an empty stomach, and also in between meals during the day. We would hope that you would have taken your other vitamins earlier in the day, rather than waiting for your dinner meal. You should enjoy the benefits of the vitamins during your waking hours!

This information came from the NatureMade vitamin website

November 2014

The Health Benefits of Pumpkin     

Joelle Reizes –  (Life Line Screening newsletter)

When it comes to health maintenance, it’s easy to wonder what pills or supplements are best for the body. There are many health benefits of getting the most vitamins and other nutritional requirements from your diet. This is especially true with “superfoods” – items in the produce section that are packed full of nutrients.    

 Did you know that pumpkin is a superfood? If you haven’t noticed (and how could you not?), it’s in-season right now. All of you pumpkin-lovers out there can now rejoice because pumpkin is delicious and healthy. Here’s how:

Nutrients & Vitamins

One half-cup of pumpkin is loaded with things the human body needs to stay healthy. Among them are:

  • Vitamin A, for healthy eyesight
  • Vitamin C, for an immune-system boost
  • Fiber, for weight loss
  • Phytosterols, to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Cancer-fighting antioxidants, according to the National Cancer Institute
  • Tryptophan, a mood stabilizer
  • Potassium, to balance electrolytes

 Lower Cholesterol

Sometimes when people get a cholesterol screening through companies like Life Line Screening, they’re disappointed to learn their levels are high. This may make them feel like healthy aging isn’t possible if they eat good-tasting (and often unhealthy) foods. But as part of a healthy diet determined by their doctor, pumpkin can help them enjoy eating well while losing weight and lowering their levels of bad cholesterol.

In 2009, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study revealing that diets low in calorie, low in carbohydrates, and high in dietary fiber are the most likely to lose more weight over time. Pumpkin is an ideal contribution to such a diet since it is naturally low-calorie, high in fiber, but also delicious.

 Healthy Aging    

Pumpkin is great for anyone who wants to stay healthy as they get older, not just for those who want to lose weight. A single serving of pumpkin packs 200 percent of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A, which is a necessity for aging eyes. And after hard exercise, pumpkin can help restore electrolyte balance. It has more potassium than an equal serving of bananas, but significantly fewer carbohydrates and calories.

Exercise, regular check-ups, preventive screening and a varied, plant-based diet that takes advantage of superfoods are the best ways to stay healthy as you get older. Since pumpkin has so many health benefits, why not enjoy more of it? It’s delicious and healthy, so you don’t have to feel an ounce of guilt.


Recipe: Pumpkin Dip

Joelle Reizes – October 21, 2014

¾ cup (6 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

¼ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup canned pumpkin

1 tablespoon maple syrup                                        

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

 Now the only question is, what to dip? Use fresh fruit like apple slices or grapes to get in a serving of fruit and keep the dip as light as possible. For fall parties, use cinnamon graham crackers, gingersnap cookies, toasted mini bagels, or toast slices.

September 2014                          

 Dr. W. Larson (Northwest Family Physicians)

Health Concerns for the Fall Season

With a chill in the air and leaves on the ground, autumn is definitely here in the Charlotte area. So as the thermometer gradually falls and you begin to spend more time indoors, follow some of these tips to help you stay healthy!

Changing Temperatures

Autumn days are marked by cool mornings and evenings and warm afternoons. So dress appropriately: wear layers that you can peel away or put on again. This is the best way to help your body cope with the varied temperatures. It will also help prevent your coming down with common colds, coughs, sore throats, etc.

Staying Hydrated

Your lungs can be sensitive during autumn as the slowly increasing wind and cold begins to create dryness in the air. This is made worse as you stay indoors and turn on the heat, which dries out the air around you even more. Your skin and lungs don’t like dryness, so make sure to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated. This will help your body continue to function normally as the weather begins to put more stress on it.

Indoor and Outdoor Allergies

Outdoor allergies are still cause for concern until winter sets in. Outdoor molds are still plentiful in gutters, soil, and vegetation, especially as the fallen leaves and wood pile up. You can reduce your expose to fall allergens by:
Avoid being outdoors in the morning when pollen dispersal is peaking.
Avoid lots and fields where ragweed grows.
Shower and wash hair immediately after coming in from outside activities.
Keep the windows and doors or your home and car closed.
Ask your doctor about over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications that may lessen severe symptoms.
Indoor allergies can also be problematic this time of year as you gradually spend more and more time indoors.

If you are allergic to dust, pet dander, mold, and other indoor allergens:
Give your house, car, and office a good cleaning before winter comes.
Keep them cleaned regularly to help ensure that indoor irritants don’t pile up.
Clean your winter blankets before you use them.
Wash or dry clean your pillows and use a dust mite control spray on them if your allergies are severe. Your doctor can help you get the supplies you need.
Try using a free-standing HEPA air purifier to remove allergens in the rooms
where you spend the most time.

Raking Leaves is Exercise!

There is nothing like a crisp autumn day for being outside and hiking, raking leaves, playing football, or some other activity.

Make sure you take advantage of the moderate afternoons for some time outdoors.The fresh air and exercise will do your body good – even if it is just raking leaves!

Get the kids moving too and help them develop and enjoy physical activities outdoors. There are plenty of family activities you can take part in – it helps everyone stay healthy and happy!

Let’s not forget about the flu!!
Shorter days and cooler evenings mean it’s Autumn, often the time that we start seeing people sick with flu. By getting a flu vaccine for yourself and your entire family every season, you can help prevent flu-related illness, missed school, and missed work.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. Pneumonia and bronchitis are examples of serious flu-related complications. The flu also can cause certain health conditions, like diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung disease, to become worse. Even healthy people can become sick with the flu and experience serious complications. But even if you are one of the lucky ones who bounce back quickly from a bout with the flu, people around you might not be so lucky. Getting a flu vaccine is the single best
way to protect yourself and your family from this serious disease.

Enjoy the Fall and Stay Healthy!!!

March 2014

This piece was written by:
Samantha Grimm
UNC-Charlotte intern 2014 spring semester

I’ve only had the pleasure of interning at Body & Soul Senior Fitness for a few months, but throughout this time I have learned more than I ever would have expected to about fitness and older adults. I myself am an exercise junkie; I have to get some form of physical activity everyday in order to function properly, that’s just me. So my perspective of fitness is much different than someone who doesn’t work out as much or as strenuously. I foolishly came into Body & Soul Senior Fitness expecting challenging sweat producing workouts, and what I have discovered is that fitness is so much more than getting in a good sweat, especially for older adults.

As we age our bodies change and are much less able to perform the activities we previously may have been able to. The definition of exercise also changes. The purpose of Body & Soul Senior Fitness is to offer challenging fitness classes for older adults, but also to help with their everyday functions. I’ve spent a good deal of time observing the participants in class, and while a certain set of exercises may be a breeze for me, they struggle with it, and that’s a good thing. It proves that they’re working outside of their limits and are maintaining their health whether or not they know it. A lot of the exercises we perform mimic everyday activities, but in a fun and engaging way.

I’ve learned throughout my time with Body & Soul that older adult fitness needs to incorporate strength and flexibility exercises because it is these two things that diminish the quickest over time. If we are strong and flexible, we can bounce back quicker from illness or injury and I can see now that the goal is to maintain abilities to perform activities of daily living, not so much train for a marathon as I am.

December 2013
This article was provided by:
Dr. Larson (Northwest Family Physicians)

Holiday Nutrition
At this time of the year, diet and exercise can be a struggle.  Our busy gift shopping schedule often leads to snacking or stopping at a fast food restaurant.  The days are shorter and we try to pack so much in that we don’t have time for our regular exercise program.

If you happen to have diabetes or high blood pressure, the traditional high fat and high sodium dishes served in the holidays can spell DISASTER!

Here are some tips and strategies to make it through the holiday season, while enjoying the time with friends and family to the fullest.

Eat something filling before going to an event or party to make food challenges seem less tempting. We all know from personal experience that we make very different decisions when we’re full as opposed to when we’re hungry!  Try to eat something before you head to the mall.  Do not make the “Food Court” a substitute for a healthy, fresh meal.

Don’t skip meals or snacks the day of a party or family get together.  That can cause over-eating as you try to make up for the earlier deprivation.

Be choosey about your parties and your “exposure” to those tempting treats and dishes.  If it’s there, you’ll eat it.  So minimizing exposure can help. If you don’t want to skip the party, can you arrive late and leave early?

If the event is a potluck, then bring a supportive dish such as something based on fruit and/or veggies that will help you feel full at a very low average calorie per bite.

If you are counting calories or carbohydrates, don’t forget to count the appetizers.  Those can really add up over the course of an evening, especially if there is dinner or a brunch afterwards.

Be aware about alcohol.  It can both raise and lower your blood sugar as well as cause dehydration, both of which can increase you hunger. If you are going to drink, be sure to alternate drinks with water and food.  It can also pack on the pounds, particularly if it is a sweet concoction.

Fill your plate with vegetables and/or fruit first (and try to fill at least half of your plate with these items); this will help you automatically portion-control some of the higher calorie offerings if there’s less room on the plate.

Once you fill your plate with the healthy stuff, eat the fruit and veggies on your plate first. This will fill you up and help you even further portion control the higher calorie protein and starchy items on your plate.

If food is being served buffet style, survey the offerings first and make it a plan to have only one pass-through — unless you go back for seconds on fruits and veggies only.

Enlist some accountability and support by telling a friend or family member about your plans. We know from research that the simple act of telling someone what we’re planning to do makes it much more likely that we’ll carry out that plan.

Survey the room or the menu and decide what you want to splurge on.  Make that decision first, so you can “leave room” for the calories and carbs. Of all the tempting items, which do you want the most? Decide to focus on that item (and fill up on other supportive items if you’re hungry) and it can keep you from feeling deprived.

Don’t forget the exercise…Make time to burn some calories.  Enlist the help of thers who are off work or visiting from out of town, to walk or run or go to an exercise class with you.

Invest in lower fat ingredients for cooking.  If you’re preparing a big dinner, why not use half-fat ingredients whenever possible? It’s often difficult to tell the difference where taste and flavor are concerned. It’s also easy to find low-calorie beer, wine and soft drinks. By simply swapping regular ingredients with half-fat alternatives you can make a big cutback on fat and calorie consumption.

Be wary of sugary foods: Always remember that sugary foods have a nasty habit of making us crave more sugary foods. We’ve all been there—over-indulging only to feel bloated, sick, and then make rash promises never eat again rich, sugary foods again, and then finding ourselves back in the kitchen, picking at leftovers a few hours later. However, when you resolve to exercise and eat more healthfully over the holidays, you can expect to have more energy and fewer cravings.

Stock up on healthy snacks: When you go shopping, be sure to throw some healthy snack items in to your trolley. Fill up on raw vegetables, such as carrots or celery, which can make a simple (and satisfying!) snack in times of temptation.

Be assertive!  Don’t feel as though you have to say yes to everyone that offers you food and drink. If you’re not hungry, then simply say so. Don’t let yourself be bullied into eating something that you really don’t want.

No matter what happens, enjoy the holiday season.  If you allow yourself some indulgences, within reason, you will enjoy the festivities and start the New Year off right!

October 2013
This article was provided by:
Dr. Aaron Stump (Gastonia Spine & Sport)

Why Take Fish Oil?
Fish oil is a significant source of the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.  These fatty acids have numerous, documented health benefits: improved cholesterol balance, reduced inflammationincreased blood flowreduced rates of heart disease and atherosclerosisbetter immune system function, improved brain function, improvement in psychiatric disorders, and prevention of cancers (particularly breastcolon, and prostate).  Improved blood flow and reduced inflammation are of particular interest to athletes.  This enables an athlete to train harder and recover faster.

Even for the non-athlete, the benefits of fish oil are profound.  Including the benefits listed above, studies have shown that fish oil can cause weight loss and improved body composition even when supplementing a very poor diet.  I advise everyone to eat a diet rich in lean meat, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, with as little starch and refined sugar as possible. However, if you simply refuse to change your diet then I highly recommend you take fish oil.  It’s super easy and will go a long way towards counteracting those McDonald’s extra value meals.

The only significant negative effect of fish oil is that when taken in large doses and combined with drugs like aspirin, it can cause increased bleeding.  This doesn’t mean you will bleed out from a paper cut, but it could be significant if you incurred a life-threatening injury.  This would probably only happen in rare circumstances where you take an extremely large dose and combine that with an anti-coagulant like Aspirin and suffer life-threatening bleeding. I think the benefits far outweigh the risks, but that’s a decision you must make for yourself.

We suggest taking close to 2400 mg per day with food.  Clinical Omega-3 EPA/DHA Gel caps are available at Gastonia Spine & Sport.  For more info please call 704-866-4725.

Dr. Aaron J. Stump
Chiropractic Physician
Gastonia Spine & Sport
1941 Hoffman Road, Suite 6
Gastonia, NC 28054

All articles published on the Body & Soul Senior Fitness website are the sole property of the writer. The article may not be changed or reproduced without the written permission of the writer. All contact information is listed at the end of each article.