Category Archives: Engage

Is Pilates The Secret To Youth?

by on June 29, 2015

Audrey / Pilates

PJCC MEMBER PROFILE: AUDREY GUERIN 

I usually don’t ask people their age, especially if it is a woman. When I met Audrey Guerin I was surprised when her age came up; she is 81. She has such a youthful appearance. I told her I needed to know her secret–and we’re sharing it here with you!

Q:  Audrey, I was surprised to learn your age after seeing your picture and then meeting you in person. What is the secret for how you stay so young?

A:  Age just seems like a number and that number does not define me. I listen to my body to tell me what I can do. I eat healthy and exercise daily. Other than that, I have a wonderful family and keep a contented attitude.

Q:  Can you tell us about your fitness history? Were you always interested in fitness?

A:  I grew up in New York and was a professional ballet dancer performing with the NYC Ballet Company and on the TV variety shows (Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, The Danny Thomas Show). Remember those? That was a long time ago.  Since then I’ve kept a low keyed exercise program with some gym classes and incumbent bike riding at home.

Q: PIlates has become a big part of your routine. How long ago did you start doing Pilates? 

A: I started Pilates about 2 years ago at the PJCC.  I felt like I needed to supplement my daily routine with something more.  I particularly loved the classes with Sarah and discovered that with a little work I could increase my core strength.

Q: What has it done for you physically and mentally?

A:  When I was younger I had a goal of being able to do 10 sit ups by age 40, which I never did attain.  Now in my 80s, I can do the Pilates 100 .  My core and back are stronger.  I feel more spacious and can even breathe more deeply.

Another benefit was the friendship that grew between Sarah and me. We quickly bonded over our mutual love for ballet.

Q: What other activities/hobbies are you involved with that contribute to your overall wellness (mental, creative, etc.)?

A:  I do volunteer work for the Foster City Village, a non-profit dedicated to enabling seniors to age in place. I like to read, go to the ballet, theater, and oh yes, I love my daily naps.

Q: What advice would you give to the 40-year old you?

A: Keep moving.  Do not worry about what you cannot do.

Pilates PJCC

Audrey takes Pilates here at the PJCC with personal trainer Sarah Paltridge.
Sarah says, “Audrey and I connected initially over our mutual love of ballet. It blossomed over knitting, lovely lunches, and lively conversations. I love her example of giving back to others by helping seniors in the community and keeping vigorously healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Pilates can really help anyone achieve a better level of fitness because it improves core strength, stability, posture, balance, flexibility and helps prevent and treat back pain. It also helps you to center yourself, to know where you are in space and have more control over your body. It really helps you live a fuller life”.

 

Music As Therapy

by on June 9, 2015

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My Patient
Irene (not her real name) was my patient for many years, and during a routine visit she showed me a lump on her abdomen which turned out to be metastatic pancreatic cancer. I went to visit her one afternoon in hopes of offering her some comfort. The day I visited her was sunny and cloudless, but when I entered the mobile home, I was ushered in by her daughter into a low-lit room with all the shades drawn. Irene was lying in bed surrounded by photos of her children and grandchildren. I inquired about her family, and she shared what life was like growing up as a child in Ireland. I played a few songs for her on my viola, but she had one musical request – “Humoresque” by Dvorak. I felt bad that I did not know this piece from memory or have the music with me, and I apologized for not playing it for her. She died within a few days of my visit, and her daughter telephoned me asking me to play Humoresque at her Rosary Service. Of course, I agreed.

It was a rainy night, but the church sanctuary was packed with over 200 people. I removed my viola from its case at the back of the church sanctuary hoping to play and then make a hasty escape. However, Irene’s son intercepted me, and invited me to play in the front of the sanctuary. The delightfulness of the music triggered smiling expressions on the congregants as it somehow reminded everyone what a vivacious and friendly person Irene had been. Irene’s son did not want me to leave after I played. He welcomed me to sit next to him for the rosary service and asked me to play some additional music for the conclusion. I chose a reflective piece called Meditation on a Theme by Thais by Massenet. After the final note of the music resounded in the church, it was followed by an unearthly silence. The music, together with the rosary service, evidently managed to touch many souls. I felt a sense of comfort because I was able to express a second good bye to Irene.

Medical Benefits of Music
Music has profound effects on our mind and behavior, and medical professionals have begun to harness the neurological effects of music to promote health and well-being of their patients. One of the first ideas of how music affects the brain was published in 1995. It was called “The Mozart Effect.” It claimed that listening to Mozart could improve IQ. Subsequent studies found the effect was minimal. However, children who learn to play music develop neurological benefits which persist until adulthood. Music listening in older adults has been associated with improved cognitive function. Music therapy has been useful to help stroke victims recover speech, and music has been used in patients with Parkinson’s disease to help gait and balance. Patients who listen to music while undergoing cataract surgery are found to have lower blood pressure and heart rate. In patients with post-operative pain, listening to music has been associated with reduced requirement for opiate drugs which suggests that music stimulates the release of pain relieving substances in the brain.

Plato believed, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”  When people are suffering with terminal cancer, depression, or chronic pain, music therapy has been found to improve quality of life and mood. Whenever I have gone to visit patients at end of life, I have brought along my viola and played a few pieces. I like to think my viola playing provides a few minutes of distraction from the burden of illness. I think as we age and maybe recognize our own mortality, senses are heightened, which enhances the appreciation of music. We can listen in ways we did not before. For friends and family members of Irene, her favorite piece of music helped them to remember her as a vibrant person, and provided a sense of closure. In the congregation of 200 friends and family, music united everyone.

Conclusion
It should not be a surprise that the ancient Greeks assigned the roles of healing and music to one god, Apollo. Before there were medicines, music might have been the best therapy to offer to any ill person. Playing music for patients has become one of my favorite interventions.

For additional information about Music As Medicine, please see the excellent review article by Dr. Harvey Simon in American Journal of Medicine, February 2015.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff. He plays viola in the Peninsula Symphony, and he accompanies Hashirim choir with his violin.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider.

Related PJCC Program
Join us on July 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm for a showing of Alive Inside, a moving documentary about social worker Dan Cohen as he uses music to unlock memory in nursing-home patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  Register here…

 

Shape Your Body In Just Minutes A Day

by on May 21, 2015

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Get In Shape Now!

Busy schedules and obligations sometimes make it a challenge to squeeze in a full-body workout. But devoting even 10 minutes a day to just one move can help shape and tone your body. PJCC Personal Trainers Chris Nash and Molly Stenhouse share their favorite exercises for a quick and effective workout.

Around The World

“This is a total body, low impact workout,” says trainer Chris Nash. “And you’ll never plateau, but keep getting stronger.”

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  1. Stand with feet apart at the width of your shoulders
  2. Hold a Bosu Ballast Ball (with sand), straighten your arms and bring the ball over your head
  3.  Twist to your left and, with straight legs, bend at the waist to tap the floor with the ball
  4. Lift up, twist to the right and repeat the move
  5. Do a total of 12 reps (rotations)

Dynamic Piriformis Stretch

“This is an advanced stretch for those who suffer from a tight or spasming piriformis (a flat muscle in back of the hip joint), says trainer Molly Stenhouse. “It’s also a great balance and warm-up exercise.” piriformis-stretch-625

  1. Balance on one straight leg.
  2. Bend opposite knee and using your hands, pull this leg over the straight leg’s thigh.
  3. Support folded leg with both hands, one grasping under the shin and the other grasping over the ankle.
  4. Pull the folded leg up towards the ceiling — hold for three seconds.
  5. Unfold and step forward on the same leg you were just stretching.
  6. Repeat on other side.

And, add these exercises From personal trainers, Mark Dizon and Ginger Watts.

leg-raise-200Bodyweight Leg Raise

“I like this exercise because it’s a nice alternative to a crunch, which can sometimes strain neck muscles,” says trainer Mark Dizon. “This move keeps your back and neck flat on the floor so you can achieve ‘washboard abs’ without discomfort.”

  • Lie on your back and place your hands beneath your glutes (rear end).
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes, and then straighten and extend your legs.
  • Raise your legs toward your upper body until your body is at a 90-degree angle and your toes are pointing toward the sky; hold for one second.
  • Slowly bring your legs down to the floor and repeat.

standing-row-200Bent-over Standing Row

“This is a strength-training exercise that also challenges your core, arms, and back,” says trainer Ginger Watts. “It also helps improve your balance.”

  • Stand on one foot and hold a body bar, barbell, or two hand weights at a comfortable weight.
  • Keep your back flat, not rounded, and bend over at the hips.
  • •Extend one leg behind you and lift off the ground (if too difficult, put your foot on the ground but still keep behind you).
  • Hold the weights or bar with straight arms toward the ground.
  • Pull (or “row”) the weights toward your chest as you squeeze your shoulder blades together to contract.
  • Do 10 to 12 slow reps, then switch feet and repeat.

For more information about Personal Training at the PJCC or Fitness Classes visit www.pjcc.org!

 

 

Warning: Nature Hikes Can Lead to Radical Amazement

by on May 14, 2015

By Deborah Newbrun

Nature Hikes Jewish twist
I have been leading a series of Jewish-themed nature hikes for the PJCC as part of their Jewish Wellness programming for several years. Often the first question on the hike is: What makes a hike Jewish?

Jews have a blessing for what Abraham Joshua Heschel calls radical amazement, when you stop to notice something in nature that is not created by humans and you want to mark the moment with a blessing of thanks.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Elohienu Melech Ha Olam, oseh ma’asay bereshit
Bountiful are you, the one we call ruler, creator of the universe who makes the wonders of creation.

A Harvard Medical School health publication confirms what we already know. Those people who cultivate a practice of gratitude, like writing thank you notes or saying prayers of thanks, are the happiest. “With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

On the PJCC Jewish-themed nature hikes, we enter the woods or fields or ocean-side trails prepared to give gratitude for the world’s bounty. Gently, I create opportunities to stop, take notice and give thanks for the beauty we see around us. These hikes, which are on the shorter side (1.5-3 miles), are a wonderful way to connect to the outdoors, to Jewish teachings, to new and old friends, and to yourself! Sometimes we learn about trees in Jewish texts, and other times we learn about the blessings of the senses. But with each hike, if we are lucky, we connect to what Abraham Joshua Heschel calls radical amazement.

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Join us on one or all three free nature hikes led by Deborah Newbrun in 2015. Earn 100 JCC Rewards points per hike for pre-registering and attending. Pre-registration required.

Deborah Newbrun is a Jewish environmental educator and author of Spirit In Nature: Teaching Judaism and Ecology on the Trail.

Beware Of Ants In Your Toilet!

by on May 5, 2015

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A patient left a message for me which caught my attention. He wanted a blood sugar test for diabetes because there were ants in his toilet. When I spoke to him, he denied having some of the more typical signs of diabetes. His only concern was that there were ants in his toilet. I decided to order the test.

According to the CDC, 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and at least one-quarter of them don’t know it. An additional 86 million people (1 in 3 adults) have pre-diabetes. Without change in lifestyle, 15-30% of pre-diabetics will develop type 2 diabetes in five years.

Diabetes Basics
There are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when your body does not produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type (90-95% of diabetics), and this is when your body does not use insulin properly. Gestational diabetes occurs in 4% of pregnancies, and these women are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.

Symptoms
The typical symptoms of diabetes include feeling thirsty, frequent urination, fatigue, blurry vision, cuts or bruises that heal slowly, and tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. Many people with diabetes have no symptoms or mild ones that go unnoticed. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) does not list ants in the toilet as a warning sign.

Complications of Diabetes
The biggest risks of having diabetes are strokes and heart attacks, which with proper medication can be prevented. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to damage of many organs in the body, particularly the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. Last year I saw a young man for a check-up because his dentist noticed a severe gum problem which was going to require extraction of most of his teeth. I ordered a blood test which revealed he had diabetes. He had not realized that diabetes was the root cause of his dental woes.

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, specifically cancer of liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon, breast, and bladder. The explanation for this is unclear. It could be due to shared risk factors such as obesity, diet, and inactivity, or because of something intrinsic about diabetes such as elevated insulin or blood sugar levels.

Diabetes and pre-diabetes are risk factors for Alzheimer’s dementia and other types of dementia.

The Numbers
The normal fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dL. Pre-diabetes is defined by fasting sugar between 100-125 mg/dL. Diabetes is defined by fasting sugars of 126 mg/dL measured on two different days. Another way of diagnosing diabetes is the A1C test which measures the average glucose in your body over the past 2-3 months. A1C of 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes. Normal A1C is usually less than 5.7%, and 5.7 – 6.4 is considered pre-diabetes depending on the lab reference range.

Treatment
The mainstays of most type 2 diabetics are diet and exercise, but because it is so hard to change one’s habits, pharmaceutical companies are reaping enormous profits from a multitude of diabetic drugs. There are medicines which work on the pancreas, liver, gut hormones, and kidneys to lower sugar, and there is even inhaled insulin now. It takes more effort for people to make personal changes, but an Asian diabetic patient of mine was especially determined to rid herself of diabetes. Her blood sugar was so high when she was diagnosed that she needed to take insulin at least twice a day to keep her diabetes controlled. She decided to give up her routine of eating rice at every meal, the main staple of her diet. She went from minimal exercise to exercising three hours a day. When I saw her back in clinic two months later, she had been successfully able to discontinue her insulin entirely. (Warning: don’t attempt to stop your diabetic meds on your own without doctor’s supervision.) Most people cannot make these dramatic life style changes, but she serves as an example of what healthy lifestyle change can achieve.

Screening for Diabetes
The ADA recommends adults get screened for diabetes every three years. You should get tested more often if you are overweight and have other risks such as family history of diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, history of gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, or a racial background of African-American, Hispanic-American, Native-American, Asian-American, or Pacific Islander ancestry.

Conclusion
My patient who I mentioned in the beginning did not have any particular risk factor for diabetes, but I tested him anyway because normally there should not be any urinary sugar in the toilet to attract ants. The bad news was that his blood test did reveal he had diabetes. The good news was that he did not have to hire an exterminator since once his diabetes was controlled the ants had to find a different location to host their picnic. Hopefully early detection will prevent him from having any future complications or further ant invasions.

For further information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider.

S’mores 2.0

by on May 4, 2015

S'moresS’mores are traditionally a part of the Jewish holiday Lag B’Omer. When you have a holiday that includes having a bonfire, you know s’mores have to be a part of it!  But, personally, I could eat these all year long.  Chocolate. Marshmallows. Graham crackers. Why not?

If you are looking for a more modern twist on an old favorite, here are some upgrades to your go-to campfire dessert , the s’more!

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Baked S’more Cups
By Mindi Cherry

 

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Book Review – Jerusalem: A Cookbook

by on April 30, 2015

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Food in Israel is unique and full of exciting flavors that have come together into a melting pot of centuries of influence from surrounding lands. Bringing the complexity of Jerusalem life to the dinner table, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook is as much a social studies lesson as it is a culinary delight.

Though both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year, they come from opposite sides of the city. Tamimi is from the Muslim East Jerusalem and Ottolenghi from Jewish West Jerusalem. Both independently moved to London years ago and that’s where they met, working in the Continue reading

Joshua’s Summer of Growth

by on April 25, 2015

Joshua and his counselor

Joshua and his Camp Keff counselor at PJCC

by Diana Blank Epstein

Approaching the entrance of the PJCC, visitors are greeted with our guiding principles etched upon the pillars. One of these is Hachnasat Or’chim, which means “welcoming all” in Hebrew. I experienced this inclusivity up close when my husband and I registered our young son, who has special needs, for his very first “TYPICAL” camp experience—an experience that ended up exceeding all expectations. Continue reading

Your New Workout: Interval Training

by on April 23, 2015

interval training pjcc

by Torre Pusey, PJCC Personal Trainer

Ready to take your workout to the next level? Want to burn more calories, burn more fat, see faster results, and be constantly challenged? Consider Interval Training.
Often referred to as HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training has become a powerful tool for the everyday gym user. HIIT workouts evolve around a simple concept: alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter training, such as taking a brisk walk injected with quick jogs.
HIIT workouts can be done anywhere and at any time. It isn’t necessarily about the exercise, the equipment, or the location. Just like the name suggests, the intensity must be high to receive Continue reading

The Butterfly Project: Remembering Children of the Holocaust

by on April 19, 2015

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Inspired by the book I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944, the Butterfly Project was initiated by two teachers in the San Diego Jewish Academy in 2006 to remember the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

The butterflies in our PJCC atrium were created by hands of all ages. Our youngest artists learned that every butterfly is unique, fragile and beautiful for its individuality. Continue reading