Tag Archives: Human

Facing the scale – Menopause weight gain

This is a declaration of intent to change.

Gotta face the truth. I’m fat! Definitely time to do something about my weight.

In 2002 I was at a maximum weight and joined on-line Weight Watchers.  In 2 years I slowly lost 40 pounds and learned to make better choices. Eventually I got tired of counting the “points” and having to constantly think about what I should and shouldn’t eat, so quit the program. I did maintain a 30 pound loss for many years, but over time my weight crept back up.

Stepping on my scale recently saw my 2002 year’s max weight PLUS 5 pounds!! ACK!! OK… that’s IT… my breaking point! Enough is enough. Something does need to change, as whatever the factors are that are making it more difficult to keep my weight under control are real. Medications? Stress? Grief? Lower metabolism? Is this menopause weight gain? Weight is easy to put on, while very difficult to take off. It is even more important to make better choices.

If I don’t make a plan, I’m just going to keep gaining and end up a very fat old lady unable to get off the couch. Losing weight is only going to get more difficult with my increasing age. Time to make a plan. I would like to lose enough weight to not be technically “obese”, but merely “overweight”. This means losing at least 25 pounds, which is doable and a good goal. We can revisit the goal after I make this first one, which is a large enough commitment.

I now regret eating so many holiday cookies and treats. Unfortunately my body is very good at converting extra cookie calories into fat stores for a possible future famine. I did enjoy the cookies, but am reminded of the old Weight Watcher’s motto of “Nothing feels as good as skinny feels”. I would have to go all the way back to high school when I was running on the track team to recall feeling “skinny”. Maybe my extra current weight will come in handy if the 2012 Doomsday preppers are right that the ‘End of the World’ is coming or complete economic collapse is at hand.

What’s really infuriating is that it doesn’t seem like we are eating that many bad choices. Well, except we did eat all those holiday cookies, plus my hubby came home with a box of Girl Scout cookies that I munched on. Even given my consumption of extra sugary calories, my weight has been jumping up when I am eating good choices.

Eating too much by just a few calories a day will add up, particularly at this age. That alone is enough. One extra 100 calorie slice of bread a day will be 10 pounds at the end of a year. Unfortunately I really love bread and have a bread machine! Eating 100 calories of whole wheat homemade bread is still 100 extra calories that will add up.

I know that I am not going to be able to exercise off much weight. Takes a lot of exercise to burn off an extra 100 calories. Yesterday I did quite a bit of aerobic exercise by push mowing most of the front yard. Did make me realize that I am out of shape when I was huffing. Sure tired me out.

Definitely time for the 2 humans, 2 horses, and 2 cats in this household to get on a plan to change. We all could stand to lose some weight and add in more exercise. Bottom line is that we need to start working on more calories out than calories in.

In honor of my history with Weight Watchers will make some “Zero Point” vegetable soup in my crock pot.


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Bend at the hip joints

‘Lifeloveandhorses’ blog is about “optimizing health, happiness, and peace” for my horses and myself. Yoga is a good form of exercise to increase strength, stamina, balance and flexibility.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

ut = intense
tan = to stretch or extend
asana = pose
Pronounced: (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna)

Uttanasana is used as a resting position between the standing poses, as in the Sun Salutation series. There are also seated variations of this forward bending pose.

My basic understanding of the pose:

  • Stand in Mountain Pose – neutral spine & neutral pelvis.
  • Think about the structure of the hip joints in the pelvis. Exhale and reach your chest out and down bending forward from the hip joints, not from the waist, keeping the back straight. Do NOT lock the knees and can bend the knees to ease the stretch. Do NOT bounce and do NOT strain to bend farther than your body is comfortable while keeping the spine straight. Bending half way over is called “Ardha (half) Uttasana”.
  • Breathe and relax into the stretch (for example, 30 seconds to a minute).
  • Exhale lifting the body keeping the spine straight returning to Mountain Pose.
  • Relax and breathe in Mountain Pose.

Using a chair for forward bend:

My husband is unable to bend far enough to lean on a chair. My suggestion is to practice using a wall as a resting spot. I am able to do “Ardha Uttasana”.  I can feel the greatest stretch in the back of my legs (ham strings), as well as my stiff right knee. Bending forwards sitting in my office chair with the spine straight works an upper body stretch without stretch in the knees and lower legs.

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Change a habit

I’ve reviewed in the prior posts of the blog the basic structure of the joints and spine. With this knowledge we can visualize the alignment of the skeleton in the body to improve how we move.

Sitting in neutral spine and pelvis, then how do we properly get up and down from a chair in alignment with the least strain on our body? The method of movement suggested by the Alexander Technique requires strength in the legs to lift the body, but won’t strain the back and neck.

Lelia Calder gives a lesson in “The Alexander Technique” in the following video discussing some basic principles and teachings.

In the chair you should sit on your hip bones (ischial tuberosity) and not to slump sitting on your tail bone (coccyx). Talk to your body to ask the neck and shoulders to be relaxed and free. Feel the ribcage’s movement as you breathe expanding out all around to front and back.

Stand with  your feet apart under your hips (hip wide spacing).  Pause and think to not sit your usual method. This is the “choice point” allowing you to take the time to remember you want to change a habit and do something differently.

Ask the neck to relax and the head to free from the occipital joint. Ask the back to lengthen. Use your leg muscles to lower yourself onto the chair. Bend moving the knees forward and hips bend moving back to make a squat and lower into the chair with the head and spine aligned. Muscles are not required to work hard if you are in balance and you have alignment over your spine.

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Human Spine

Human skeleton side view (S curve)

Normal spine has an S shape

The spinal column is separated into 5 sections. Seen from the side, a human’s healthy spine has two curves resembling the shape of the letter “S”.

Pivot point of the head on the neck

The head rests on top of the spine at the atlanto occipital joint.

The cervical (neck) (red color) / C 1-7 has an inward curve. Arteries that carry blood to the brain pass through openings in the side of the cervical vertebrae. The flexible neck supports the head, which is like a bowling ball. The head balances on the first cervical vertebra called the atlas and pivots on the second vertebra called the axis.

A head neck joint has two joints. The atlanto-occipital joint and the atlanto-axial joint.

Atlas (C1), and Axis (C2) vertebrae

Knowing how the cervical vertebrae function is important to understand how your head and neck moves and stays in proper alignment.

This site provides an exercise to help you find the pivot point of your head on your spine. http://www.alexandertechniqueinoxford.com/critical-for-the-alexander-technique-finding-the-top-of-the-spine/

The thoracic (chest) (blue color) / T 1 – 12 has an outward curve. This area of the spine is very stable. The vertebrae are  attached firmly to the ribs and sternum (breast bone).

Lumbar (abdominal & lower back) (yellow color) / L 1 – 5   has an inward curve. These vertebrae are able to move and flex. Sometimes people are born with a sixth vertebra in the lumbar region

Sacral (buttocks) (green color) / S1-5 fused into one  has an outward curve. They are at the base of the spine and form part of the pelvic area.

Coccyx (tail bone) (purple color) / fused


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Human skeleton

Human skeleton

Engraving from the Iconographic Encyclopaedia of Science, Literature, and Art By Johann Georg Heck. Engraved by Henry Winkles. 1851

We all have a skeleton inside us. What is the posture of your skeleton?

Click for link to Front and Back view of skeletonwith bone names labelled.

1940s Importance of Proper Posture

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Human skeleton

There are over 206 bones in the typical adult human skeleton, a number which varies between individuals and with age. Human babies are born with 270 soft bones that fuse together by the age of twenty or twenty-five into the 206 hard, permanent adult bones.

Human appendicular skeleton diagram

Human Appendicular skeleton diagram (from Wikimedia)

Human Axial skeleton diagram

Human Axial skeleton diagram (from Wikimedia)

The axial skeleton has 80 bones together and includes the skull, the spine, the ribs and the sternum (breastbone).

The appendicular skeleton has 126 bones. This includes the two limb girdles of the shoulders and the pelvis) and their attached limb bones (arms and hands, legs and feet).

Horse skeleton diagram

Horse skeleton diagram (from Wikimedia)

Horse skeleton

Horses typically have 205 bones.

The axial skeleton contains the skull, vertebral column, sternum, and ribs. The appendicular skeleton contains the fore and hind limbs. Unlike his human rider the horse has no collarbone, plus the horse is able to lock the legs to rest and sleep standing up.

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