Category Archives: Articles

Temporary Color, Permanent Damages

“For me, I always thought to look attractive and healthy you needed that dark tan glow. To come to terms with being fare-skinned was rough. It’s weird looking in the mirror and seeing a lighter skin color looking at me. But what made me stop tanning was when I got cancer. People don’t think of the future consequences and how draining having cancer is. I stopped tanning because of the surgeries- the amount of surgeries and the amount of money and time. Every Friday I would have to get my skin checked and check out my stitches from surgery. Now I still have to go to the dermatologist every six months. I wish I took care of myself instead of having cancer be my wake up call.”- Joanna Confalone, 29.

Confalone’s Deadly Tanning Story

Joanna Confalone, a 25-year-old Northeastern grad student at the time, had just arrived at Wingaersheek Beach, Mass. to spend the summer weekend at her mother’s shorefront beach house where she planned to slip into her two-piece bathing suit for the next couple of days. She was excited to go back to work the following Monday with a real summer glow instead of having an artificial tan from Tanorama Suntanning Center, a Boston salon she visited about three times a week after work. But before stepping onto the beach, Confalone’s doctor called, and suddenly she decided to keep her bathing suit folded up in her travel bag for the entire weekend.

Just five days before the doctor called to break the news, Confalone had a black mole the size of a “No. 2 pencil eraser” removed from her leg, a mole she had been overlooking for months. She didn’t think it was serious but when she learned that it was, she was too shocked to respond to her doctor who was listing off what the next steps were to fighting the melanoma she had developed. All that was going through her head was, “Melanoma, melanoma, how do I have melanoma?”

“She told me that me fake tanning all these years caused my cancer,” says Confalone, who added that she regularly scheduled in a 20-minute tanning session three or more times a week in high school, and later continued her
tanning regimen throughout college. “I never thought once that I would be a cancer patient.”

Confalone explains that using tanning beds caused her skin cancer.

Like Confalone, over one million young adults in the United States ignore the potential consequences of using tanning beds because they often think they are invincible when it comes to getting skin cancer. In most cases, fake tanning is just another item to cross off on some of these fake-n-bakers’ daily to-do lists, along with going to school, work, and doing laundry. But statistcs show that, obviously, tanning is a tad bit extremely more dangerous than just folding freshly clean clothes from out of the dryer.

“Young people generally feel it’s not going to happen to them and it does,” says Deb Girard, the executive director of the Melanoma Foundation of New England, an organization that provides educational programs to raise awareness about skin cancer. “The UV rays of the tanning beds cause cancer.”

… And many studies can prove the deadly consequences of fake tanning, but still, people choose to ignore them. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent, and among people ages 18 to 29 who have ever used a tanning bed and were diagnosed with melanoma, 76 percent of those melanoma cases were attributable to tanning bed use.”

These are just a few out of hundreds of statistics that prove how dangerous tanning beds are, and I could go on and on listing them out for you, but like I said before, many people choose to ignore these facts, and I don’t think it takes numbers to make people realize these extremely real consequences… I think it takes people to realize it when it’s too late.

Unfortunately for Confalone, the consequences were real once they actually happened to her. Now, after five surgeries that left behind several four-to-seven-inch scars on her legs and back, Confalone is reminded every day of the deathly consequences of artificial tanning and is still paying for her tanning-bed ritual.

“Even though I’m melanoma free, I still have to go in for check ups every four to six months,” says Confalone who will be cancer free for five years this summer. “All the doctors appointments and surgeries are not worth it.”

Here’s a powerful video Confalone was in that was produced by the Melanoma Foundation of New England. These are real people, real stories, and most importantly, real consequences of that oh-so popular trend of fake tanning.

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I first met Joanna Confalone, a 29-year-old marketing and research associate at McCall and Almy, my freshman year in college when I was writing my very first magazine-style article about “tanorexic” college students. Prior to writing the article, I, myself, was a fake-tanner and had gone twice a week for about a year. After speaking to a real melanoma survivor, I realized that I needed to stop while I was ahead. The consequences are very real, I could have been another young adult getting treated for a deadly cancer. One thing that really resonated with me while I was interviewing her was when she told me that her experience with cancer made her realize that fake tanning was selfish because of the anxiety, stress and pain she caused her family and friends while fighting cancer. It made me think, yeah, even though tanning was my own choice and it directly affected me, it could be my own choices that directly affect the people closest to me, too. It’s one thing causing myself pain, but causing pain to others is something else. I would never want my mom  to cry over the medical bills she would have to help pay for in order to keep me alive, or even worse… mourn because I’m no longer here. I stopped fake tanning because  Confalone made me realize we have one body, pale or tan, and it’s not worth damaging it for a certain look. And we have one life, and it’s our responsibility to make it a healthy one.  

A Celebrity Butt Workout

Let’s face it… we all aren’t blessed with a plump JLo rear or a luscious Kardashian bottom, but even though our backsides aren’t featured in the tabloids everyday, it doesn’t mean we can’t have celebrity-looking bums that are magazine-worthy. So I sat down with a Hollywood personal trainer, Steve Zim, at his Los Angeles fitness studio, A Tighter U, to see how we can make our natural gifts resemble those of the stars he trains.

So act like the paparazzi are chasing you and flaunt your superstar bum by adding this quick and easy butt workout to your routine, no weights required.

Steve Zim’s Celebrity Butt Workout: Bridges

Step 1: Set up the exercise. “The most important thing before you start any exercise is [setting] up the exercise,” says Zim.

Here’s what he says to do:  Lie on your back. Take a deep breath and hold in the belly button by sucking in your stomach as much as you can. Then breathe out while still making sure the abs are flexed. Remember, the tighter the stomach, the better, “because if your stomach is loose, that makes your back really susceptible to injury,” he says.

Step 2: Place your hands to your sides with both palms on the mat and your feet shoulder-width apart. Now “hold the belly button in, drive up, hold, and come down,” says Zim.

Make sure the abs are tight and lift up the pelvis as high as you can.

Your feet and shoulder blades should remain on the mat. Do 3 sets of 20.

Step 3: Too easy? Then make it more challenging by making them one-legged bridges. “Now pick one foot up in the air, drive through your heel and go all the way up,” says Zim. “Hold the glut, squeeze the glut, and now let it down slow on a 2 count. One, two, stop, breath out and drive up.”

Keep the feet shoulder-width apart.

Do 3 sets of 20.

 *Before attempting any workout, consult your doctor to make sure it’s the right one for you. 

What vitamins should I take? Vitamin D

Fall has finally arrived and it’s time to store away the bikinis and bring out the winter coats. As lovely as it is to stay indoors on a rainy day and enjoy a steamy cup of hot cocoa, there’s just something about the summer sun that makes us all feel alive, literally.

The sun not only provides a backdrop to our endless summer memories, but it also triggers the body to produce vitamin D, which is arguably the most important vitamin for human beings because it keeps us alive. This is because it plays a vital role in cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and bone health, along with many other metabolic processes, such as calcium absorption and neurological functioning.

During the fall and winter seasons, there is no doubt that our exposure to sunlight is reduced because of weather conditions and warm wardrobe choices, and experts say that 90 percent of people’s vitamin D intake is from the sun, and only 10-20 percent is from their diets. This is dangerous because the lack of sun exposure during these hibernation months doubles a person’s likelihood of dying, according to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology last year.

Experts say that if there’s one vitamin people should take, it is hands down vitamin D.

“The risk of dying in the study was significantly higher if [the participants] were vitamin D deficient,” says Dr. James Vacek, a lead researcher of the University of Kansas study and has been a cardiologist for 30 years in Kansas City, Kan. “But it was reduced when supplementation was provided.”

The large study included more than 10,000 participants and 70 percent of them were vitamin D deficient, but when treated with a vitamin D supplement, the risk of dying dramatically decreased by 60 percent, suggesting that treating the deficiency definitely improves many cardiovascular outcomes, as well overall mortality.

People who are lacking adequate amounts of vitamin D are more likely to develop all sorts of diseases, including but not limited to, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes, and it affects mortality rates because “if you’re deficient, you’re more likely to have [these diseases],” says Vacek, but “vitamin D helps prevent all [of them].”

One way to obtain the vitamin is by eating food items such as milk, fish and eggs, but since vitamin D is only found in animal-based foods, vegetarians and vegans are highly at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Others who are prone to deficiency are individuals who are obese and those who work indoors during the day.

But the problem is, although sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, sun exposure can be extremely damaging to the skin and can cause melanoma, and most doctors recommend the use of sunscreen when outdoors, which not only shields harmful UV rays, but also the vitamin D we need.

Vitamin D can be found at various drug stores. It is important to note that there are several different types of vitamin D, and experts recommend buying vitamin D2 or D3, which can be found at places like Trader Joe’s for $4.99.

The solution, Vacek says, is taking a vitamin D supplement with 1,000 to 2,000 units a day to ensure an adequate amount of the vitamin in the blood system, which is 30 ng/ml. He also recommends consulting a doctor for a blood test because the symptoms of deficiency are subtle, and in most cases, “it’s nothing you can detect.”

So think about it this way… vitamin D can stand for “vitamin death” if you don’t have enough of it. So if you’re not in the sun, you should be stocking up on vitamin D supplements, and the earlier you start, the better your health will be in the future, preventing many health risks as an adult.

“You want to make sure you have a lot of vitamin D when you’re young,” says Vacek. “Low vitamin D is one of the factors that increases the risk of heart problems as you get older.”

M&M’s: Mindless Munching

Mars and Murries, the inventors of one of the most popular candies on earth, M&M’s, originally named their product after themselves, but I’m convinced these two candy gods labeled the chocolate with an evil subliminal message: Mindless Munching.

Along with nuts, M&M’s are a great social treat that are commonly served in large bowls at a bar or at a friend’s BBQ. They’re perfect because they’re small enough to quickly chow down so you can continue socializing with others. But just like that, you’ve become a mindless munching machine, oblivious to the amount of candy you’re actually consuming. Subconsciously, you keep eating, and it’s okay because just one little piece can’t do any harm- it’s so tiny, therefore, it contains only zero calories.

NEWS FLASH: If you do the math, one single ityy-bitty M&M is about 3.5 calories and one bag has around 70-80 pieces (around 260 calories), and Fitness Magazine reports that on average, people consume 59 extra M&M’s when eating from a party bowl, and that’s almost 200 extra secret calories you had no idea you were even ingesting.

“We tend to overeat which can lead to gaining weight without even knowing it,” says Susan Albers who has been a clinical psychologist for 10 years now and is the author of the 2009 book, Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful: How to End Your Struggle with Mindless Eating and Start Savoring Food with Intention and Joy. “Eating is one of those things we don’t have to work hard to do, so we can do it automatically. You don’t really have to think about it and you can eat an entire plate of food.”

So you see what I mean? M&M’s are evil.

But no fear, here are some tips to prevent your mindless munching:

1. Try using the other hand. Think about it, when you reach over across the table to grab a handful of M&M’s, what hand do you use? The hand that you use to write with.  So one technique that can help reduce your munching is to eat with your non-dominant  hand. “It disrupts that flow of mindless eating, and that can reduce your eating by 30 percent,” says Albers. “Same thing if you’re using utensils. It’s almost like if you’re trying to write with the other hand, it’s a little more challenging.”

2. Make sure you always take a mindful bite. Whether you’re talking with a friend or watching TV, it’s easy to put your attention on something else other than the food that’s right in front of your face, often making you eat too fast and too much. So sit down and acknowledge each and every single one of your bites. “[Make] sure you eat slowly and pay attention to how the food tastes and how it smells,” says Albers. “Each bite really matters.”

3. Don’t do what your friends do. Numerous studies have proven that a friend’s eating habit can heavily influence your own, whether they eat healthy or not, and this is because we tend to “mirror” what other people do subconsciously.  So make sure you’re not playing ‘follow the leader’ next time you’re at lunch catching up with your high school pals. “You have to be very mindful of who you’re eating with and how fast they’re eating,” says Albers.

So there ya go! Now let’s make M&Ms stand for Mindful Munching.

“When you’re mindful, you’re more in charge and in control of what you’re eating,” says Albers.

Get on the Knuckle Sandwich Diet

From pre-packaged diets to Jenny Craig, it seems that almost everyone is on some sort of diet these days, but do they really work?

According to statistics, approximately 50 million Americans put themselves on a diet every year, but only 5 percent of these dieters successfully keep off the weight, and experts say it’s because restricting certain foods while dieting can cause people to crave them even more, which often leads to “destructive behaviors,” such as overeating.

“Often times, most diets are pretty restrictive of certain food areas and our body will crave whatever it is we’re restricting,” says Melissa Wright, a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders and has been practicing at Sure Haven Addiction Treatment Center in Costa Mesa, Calif. for four years now. “People go too far with diets and won’t eat certain food groups. Then they’ll give in and then go too far.”

It’s kind of like when someone tells you not to look inside of that box. It’s funny how you didn’t even realize that the box was there in the first place, but now you’re dying to see what could possibly be inside… just because someone told you not to look. This restriction leads to temptation, and dieting can have the same don’t-look-in-the-box effect, says Wright, which ultimately detours people from their meal-plan.

So are we doomed if we can’t diet? Nope.

The solution: Go on the Knuckle Sandwich Diet

“Don’t have anything bigger than your fist,” says Mark Desh who has been a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in Los Angeles for 3 years. “All your portions should be that size,” as he holds his fist out in the air.

The trick is to eat less but more, says Desh. In other words, cut your portion sizes in half and have about five-to-six “small meals” a day.

“Your body cannot break down more than 500 calories at one time for at least three hours,” he says. “When you have small portions, the body gets a chance to break down [the food] easily and not store it as fat.”

Chris Capparelli, 55, a mother in Villa Park, Calif., lists off a few of the countless diets she has tried in the past, including the Lindora Scarsdale Diet and Nutrisystem, but three months ago she decided to ditch all the weight-loss programs and start focusing on the size of her meals.

“It took me 8 weeks to lose 10 pounds…. but it hasn’t come back,” say Capparelli who adds that she’s lost a total of 16 pounds since cutting her portion sizes. “It’s better because it’s real life, not fake [weight-loss] shots. It’s more of a life change,” and that helps keep the weight off.

So don’t deprive your body if you’re trying to lose weight because chances are, you’ll just be another statistic. Whether it’s the size of the chicken breast or how much rice you put on your plate, as long as you’re having Knuckle-sized portions, you can eat whatever you want six times a day! Nice.

“I still eat ice cream,” says Capparelli. “Whatever I want… just a smaller portion.”

Q&A: How these two celebrities stay in shape

BREAKING NEWS! This just in, Johansson is in fact human, according to this tabloid!

I have no shame to admit that celebrity gossip is my guilty pleasure, but sometimes, flipping through the magazines can be a little bit of an emotional roller coaster. First I catch myself envious, muttering under my breath, “Damn you Cameron Diaz, it’s impossible to look like that when your 40!” Then I think, “Aw… I’m fat,” after that awkward moment when Scarlet Johansson’s bum on the Worst Celebrity Beach Bodies page looks better than mine in a bikini.

I don’t know about you guys, but I just don’t consider celebrities as real human beings. How are they so perfect? They have the best bodies, best hair, best clothes, best everything, and I want to be them. And then that’s when I experience another total emotional volta and think, “Hey, celebrities are just like us, but they’re just a little bit cooler. I could maybe look like them one day too.” Suddenly, I feel  inspired to get in shape and look the best I possibly can be.

So on behalf of all of us who wish they could look like a celebrity,  I sat down with two stars and got the skinny on their perfect-body secrets.

A Q&A with an American Idol Singer and a How I Met Your Mother Star.

Pia Toscano

You’ve seen her sing in front of  Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler on the American Idol stage, and you’ve heard her on the radio with her single “This Time.” Pia Toscano, 23, tells me what it’s like to always be under the lime light and how she stays fit for it. 

Q: After being on season 10 of American Idol, what was it like to go from a regular girl from New York to being a LA star getting her photo taken all the time? Is there a lot of pressure to stay thin?

A: I try not to let the pressure of this business get to me. I feel like if you are confident in yourself that shows a lot, but you know… when you’re in this business, you always want to feel and look your best, so I just take care of myself, that’s all.

I snapped this photo, thank you very much

Q: How do you stay in shape for photo shoots or special events?

I’ve been really busy lately, but I always try to get some cardio in, whether it’s just walking with my girlfriend or something. I do Barry’s Bootcamp and I just try to keep myself active because I feel like when I feel better about myself, my whole mind frame is different, my whole lifestyle is different. But I’m very conscious of my diet.

Q: What does your diet look like?

A: I basically eat really clean, I eat gluten-free. I’m a pescaterian, so I eat fish, but I don’t eat meat. I try to limit my carbs, and you know, I’m very health conscious because I’m a very curvy girl.

Q: One last question, what’s your favorite vegetable?

A: I love broccolini and I love asparagus. [They're] my favorite.

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Charlene Amoia

 

Most commonly known for her role as Wendy on ‘How I met Your Mother’, actress Charlene Amoia, who has also been on shows such as Glee, Castle and Days of Our Lives, let’s us in on how she stays fit under the public eye.

Q: How I Met Your Mother is a really popular show and it has a lot of viewers. Do you feel pressure to stay in shape with so many eyes on you?

A:  I don’t feel any pressure- I haven’t had any kind of attention in that direction, I know other women have. I stay in shape just because I feel better, like mentally and altogether if I’m working out a lot. I just feel better if I’m doing it.

Q: What kind of workouts do you like to do to stay fit?

A: I [alternate] between boxing and yoga and just running. Actually, my girlfriend and I are just about to start that stripping class.

Q: Stripping class? What made you get into that?

We were looking for all the promotions and deals that all these studios offer, like they offer a free week or a free month, and we found this one that’s pole dancing, so we’re going for a week at the S Factor on Wilshire. I heard it’s a really good workout.

Q: What’s a good getting-in-shape tip for people who want to look like a celebrity?

A: For me, I just have to keep switching it so I don’t get bored because if I do one thing long enough, I quit because I’m bored of it. And that’s part of the inspiration for us going around to all the free weeks of classes- to try and see what we like. I do some boxing to get the energy out and some yoga for relaxation, but I kinda just see what mood I’m in that day.

Posture Part 2-C: Change the work station

C) Change the work station 

In today’s world, we are demanded to sit, I mean, it’s even hard to find a job that doesn’t require you to be seated. And even if you’re not at work, to be entertained also means sitting down some more.

“After we sit for long hours [at work], that turns out to be exhausting, partly because you’re not getting good oxygenation and you’re not digesting your food well because you’re not up right,” says Bond. “Then you come home from a day like that and your exhausted and most people are not motivated to go to the gym… to counter balance the effects of this, so they sit down some more and watch television.”

We do it all the time- sitting. So whether it’s your job or just for pleasure, if you’re working on a lap top or computer, change up your work station so you don’t slouch over.

Here’s how:

1) Adjust your keyboard level

  • “The perfect keyboard level for any given person is- if you let your arms hang by your side, your forearm is at a 90 degree angle with your upper arm,” says Novak. “Where your finger tips fall is exactly where your keyboard should be. For most people their keyboard is too high or too far away.”

2) Adjust your monitor

  • “You want your eyes to be level with the mid or upper part of your screen,” says Novak. “Most people have their monitor level way too low on their desks, so when they sit there, the neck has to crane forward.”
  • If you’re using a lap top, she suggests to place a pillow or shoe box underneath it so the monitor is raised up. She also says to buy a wireless keyboard for your lap top so your keyboard level well be at the proper level as well.
  • “Laptops are the worst for this,” she says. “You look down and your head cranes forward and your concentrating on what you’re doing.”

3) Adjust your seat

  • “The chair seat should be at a height so that the hip-joint is slightly higher than the knee when the feet are on the ground. That’s the best chair height.” says Bond. “What that does is that it encourages the pelvis to sit in a slightly forward tilt and that supports the normal curve of the spine. But what people tend to do is roll back so they’re sitting on their tail bone- that’s rolling the pelvis back.”

4) Be conscious of your surroundings

  • “When you’re on the computer, you’re not aware of what’s around you, and a lot of times you shut down on purpose- there might be noisy people around you- but when you shut them all out, your body becomes more compressed,” says Bond. “The body curls up in order to be by itself.”

So there you go! A couple of simple tips for improving your posture. You should try them out. After all, “all these little changes add up,” says Novak.

For more posture tips, continue scrolling or click on the following:

Posture Part 2-B: Strengthen the muscles that have gotten too weak

B) Strengthen the “good posture” muscles that are too weak and relax the “poor posture” muscles that work the most when slouching

When you have bad posture, your neck and immediate upper back are the muscles that gather all the tension and are working the most when sitting with poor posture. When you do this, you don’t use the mid-back muscles and they become weak, and you need these muscles in order to obtain good posture. So just do the reverse of what you’ve been doing- stop using the neck muscles and start using the mid-back ones, and you’ll weaken the “poor posture” muscles and strengthen the “good posture” ones.

Here’s how:

1) The Ribbon Trick

“Do this so when you’re sitting at the computer, you’ll know you’re slumping when you notice slack in that ribbon, and then you can immediately reposition your rib cage again,” says Novak. “People will be amazed that they’ll see slack in the ribbon a million times when they first try this because they don’t even realize they crane their heads forward.”

 

 

 

 

  • Grab a ribbon and cut it so it’s as long as your torso
  • When you’re siting at the computer shift your rib cage up. Imagine there is a string attached from the breast bone to the ceiling, and then the string tightens, so it brings the rib cage up an inch or two. (This, by the way, is where the rib cage should ALWAYS be).
  • Stay in that position and pin the ribbon about chest level to your shirt. Then pull the ribbon down tight and pin it to the bottom of your shirt.
  • Start working.
  • Try to stay in good posture for 5-10 minutes at a time.

Notice how much thinner I look with better posture. Slouching for too long can  train the body to stay in that position, making you look chubbier than you really are even when you’re standing. With good posture, “you immediately make your mid section an inch or two slimmer,” says Novak.

2) Contractions

  • Shift your rib cage up an inch or two.
  • Pull the shoulder back and then shift them down toward your lower back.
  • Hold the contraction for a slow count of ten.
  • Do this multiple times a day. You can be standing or sitting.

“When you do that, it takes the tension off your neck muscles, and those mid-back muscles contract and strengthen,” says Novak. “It makes a huge difference in ‘unrounding’ the shoulders and strengthen the mid-back.”

For more posture tips, continue scrolling or click on the following:

Posture Part 2-A:  The ABCs For A Healthier And More Attractive You 

Posture Part 2-C: Change the work station 

 

Posture Part 2-A: The ABCs For A Healthier And More Attractive You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the most part, being in shape has lots to do with having healthy habits, such as eating right, exercising often and getting enough sleep. But many people tend to forget that having good posture is also an important healthy habit that plays a huge role in staying physically fit. Having a poor-posture habit can compromise your overall health, just like having a poor eating habit would. It can lead to arthritis, cause digestion problems, and obviously, back pain, but it also can really affect the way you look, such as making your waistline 2 inches wider, and of course, making you have a hunch back.

But a hunch back is inevitable when we’re older, right? No, absolutely not. The truth is, from skin care to weight-gain, most people wait until it’s too late to start improving themselves, and the answer to becoming the healthiest and best looking you in the future is having healthy habits now while your young.

So don’t wait until you’re permanently slouching over to start focusing on your posture… start now! You won’t regret it when you’re 40.

Posture experts and authors, Janice Novak and Mary Bond, gave us a few tips when it comes to sitting up straight.  For more tips, you can purchase Novak’s book, Posture, Get it Straight!, and Mary Bond’s, The New Rules of Posture: How to Sit, Stand and Move in the Modern World.

Novak and Bond’s Posture Tips

A) Be aware of alignment!

 

The body’s joints always need to be aligned, otherwise, the body cannot function properly, especially when it comes to movement and other things like digestion.

“How you assess good posture is that from a side view, your ear, your shoulder, your hip, your knee, and your ankle should line up vertically,” says Novak. ”And for most people, if you look at them at a side view, everything is all over the place.”

Here’s how to be aware of your alignment:

1) Put the attention to the knees

  • “Make sure they are not locking back because when they are locked, you throw your lower back out,” says Novak. “You curve all your spinal curves out of alignment.”
  • Look at the “lumbar lordosis” picture above for an example.

 2) Take your hands off your hips

  • “It’s a way of sinking into yourself. That hand on the hip position has actually become fashionable, but it’s a lazy use of the structure,” says Bond. “What you’re doing is resting your shoulder girdle and your chest on your hip rather than allowing the spine to really rise up out of the pelvis and support your torso the way it should be doing.”
  • Also, standing with your arms crossed can be equally as damaging.

3) Get supportive shoes

  • “If the feet are too flat, then what tends to happen is that the knees start to assume the function to support the rest of the body,” says Bond. “So the knees will become hyper-extended or locked, and that causes bad posture.”

For more posture tips, continue scrolling or click on the following:

Posture Part 2-B: Strengthen the muscles that have gotten too weak

Posture Part 2-C: Change the work station 

 

Posture Part 1: Modern Day Posture

Technology has changed our lives in countless of ways.  It’s changed the way we communicate, transformed the way we work and it even exposed us to new forms of entertainment. From cell phones, to laptops, to driving cars, technology has revolutionized our modern-day lifestyle, and our posture is evolving right along with it.

Poor posture is the number one cause for back and neck problems and statistics show that 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain in their lifetime. Experts say a large part of today’s modern posture has to do with the evolution of technology and the inactivity that it demands. Before technology, sitting down wasn’t something people wanted to do or even could do often – work meant hunting, traveling meant walking and entertainment was an outdoor activity. But in today’s world, most of our daily duties, such as our jobs and transportation, require us to sit, which is damaging to our back bones.

“What’s happening is that computers, cell phones and all this technology that we have makes people sit abnormal and it makes people lose the curvature of the neck,” says Dr. Matthew DeMoss who has been a chiropractor for 15 years and is currently practicing at DeMoss Chiropractic in Orange, Calif.

Laptops, experts say, are the biggest posture destroyers because of the way they force the back and neck to curve.

“The first and foremost cause [of bad posture] in this day and age are laptops because people do use them for work and entertainment,” says Janice Novak, author of the 1999 book, Posture, Get it Straight!. “People constantly crane their heads forward so they get that kind of vulture posture, you know, when your head hangs really far from your shoulders.”

Having a hunch back isn’t so much an elderly problem anymore. Statistics show that kids as young as middle schoolers are now going to doctors for back, shoulder and neck pain associated with bad posture. It used to be that once people hit their 40s or 50s, they would start to round over, but unfortunately, kids who were born in the year 1990 and after are experiencing the old-grandma symptoms.

“I see young patients all the time,” says Dr. Demoss. “I see kids with the phones and the games, looking down with bad posture for hours. That’s typically why young people come in.”

According to Novak who also teaches posture workshops and seminars in Minneapolis, Minn., poor posture throws all your joints out of alignment, and is most dangerous among young children whose bones are still growing because it will result in back and neck problems as they get older.

“[Poor Posture] makes it so your joints no longer fit together the way they’re supposed to, and this is what causes some muscles to work really hard to stabilize the joints while other muscles just get weaker and weaker, ” she says.

For 24-year-old, Alisha Albinder, visiting a chiropractor has been the norm ever since she was 14.  At a young age, Albinder, 5’8, was always the tallest amongst her friends and often slouched to fit in. She admits, she was never really aware of her posture until her back pain became unbearable and was constantly hurting throughout the day.

“Basically I never had good posture,” says Albinder who is currently working as a produce buyer at Fresh Direct in New York City, a nine-to-five job that, ironically enough, requires her to sit and work on a computer all day . “I went to the chiropractor and what happened was that because of my bad posture, the bones in my neck started growing together, so I lost the curve in my neck and the curve in my back. Because of that, it was making my spine work hard to compensate the extra pressure.”

Experts say the head weighs 8-10 pounds, and for every inch a person’s head goes forward, 8-10 more pounds of pressure is being put on the spine, and this can affect the nervous system causing chronic pain, according to a new Jordan Valley Innovation Center study conducted earlier this year.

“The study showed that pain in  your head and neck muscles, because of poor posture, can actually cause sensitization of the nerves,” says Dr. Paul Durham, a researcher of the study and is also the director of the Center for Biomedical and Life Sciences at Missouri State University. “Those muscles in your head and neck – basically the nerve fibers for those actually project to the same place in the spinal cord that the nerves do that are involved with migraines.”

Poor posture can also make you look fatter than you really are.

“When you slump forward, you’re pressing on all of your organs in the body and they have no where to go but press down and out against your belly muscle, and that immediately makes your middle section a couple inches wider,” says Novak who adds that the organ compaction also causes digestion and circulation problems.

Along with migraines and unfavorable appearance, there are other disadvantages of bad posture when it comes to your overall health. It lowers breathing capacity as much as 30 percent and it also puts you more at risk for injury when you are active because the joints are not aligned. Studies have also shown that bad posture affects the way people perceive you, often judging you as weak or lacking confidence.

“Posture is way more important than people even realize,” says Novak.

Continually practicing bad posture becomes a “vicious cycle,” she says, because  the muscles needed for good posture continue to become weaker and the muscles used during bad posture become tighter, which gradually results in a more exaggerated hunch.

“The ones that get weaker are the muscles right across the mid-back and the muscles right across the back of the shoulders because [they] are in a stretched position,” says Novak. “If you think of somebody sitting at their computer, they’re craning their head forward and automatically their upper back curves forward too, so the neck muscles are the ones that are gathering the tension and causes pain. It’s the neck and immediate upper back that are working the most when sitting with poor posture.”

The solution to all of this is weakening the the neck and upper back muscles used during bad posture by not using them, and using the mid-back muscles instead to strengthen them and to keep you up straight. “The good news is, that’s why it’s easy to correct poor posture. Its just a matter of, you know, strengthening and putting your attention to some of those muscles that have gotten too weak.”

For tips to improving posture, tune in to next week’s Posture Part 2 post ;)