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Summer 2004 Newsletter

Banging the forehand Thank you everybody for reminding me it's time to release another newsletter... You all have been patiently waiting and here it comes. The summer issue loaded with health articles and other fun stuff. What happened with my newsletter during the winter and spring? I just got too "busy" doing my things - playing tennis, and more tennis... I added all these 10-15 hours of playing per week to all the other things I've been doing until now. So from somewhere, that time had to be taken from, right? I guess it was the web work. But who could blame me, living in beautiful sunny California... I have the opportunity to exercise outdoors all winter long. But now, all these requests for the new newsletter....

A lot of things happened during this half year... First, I got down to almost my competition weight, around 173 lbs... without a strict dieting and suffering. I just play soooo much tennis. Pretty much every day at least 1.5 hours,  and sometimes twice a day. And it's all very intense practice, so it's like a great interval training. Absolutely no cardio work in the gym for me. Amazing change, isn't it? I was this treadmill (or stepmill) rat, and now I don't even turn my head towards the aerobics section in the gym... I still workout with weights, 3-4 times a week. Splitting my workouts into upper body and lower body (8 sets for each body part), all together about 44-48 sets. I often superset 2 or 3 exercises, so it's very intense. Very short rests in-between... still trying to push as heavy as my body can take for 8-12 reps.

My diet these days is very healthy, but not too restrictive. I added much more carbs in my diet... I don't count the carbs much, nor protein... I have protein in each meal and I know I get enough during the day. I don't obsess about getting 1.5 grams per pound... it's probably close to 1 gram per pound. More carbs in the diet is protein saving, so it works quiet well.. During my contests diet for bodybuilding shows, I used to avoid fruits almost .altogether If I ate some, it was maybe berries, or apples. No bananas, because of too much carbs, sugar... Lately, I haven't been dieting for any show other than my tennis matches, so I included fruits back into my diet... Every day,  I eat tons of blueberries, apples, pineapples, cranberries... dried or raw. But I also included these "feared" bananas... Chiquita is my favorite! Below in the newsletter, read an interesting article about all the benefits of bananas... you probably haven't heard of half of them. Read on and get your hands on Chiquitas!

So my tennis year is going pretty well so far. I work with a few different coaches. One for the strategy, another one helps with my footwork, I went to Vic Braden's (a famous tennis coach) Tennis College in Utah, to perfect the mechanics of my (heee, heee, already almost perfect, heee, heeee) ground strokes... It's all so fun and so challenging. I started to play leagues and tournaments. Sometimes I get beaten, sometimes I win... each match is a great experience that pushes me to higher level. Actually, in May, I played a three day Michelob Light Tennis tournament at CalState LA, and I won it. So, this year I started to collect tennis trophies. I have three now - still have a lot of to do, to catch up with my 30 or more bodybuilding trophies!). In March, I played a found raising doubles tournament for Boys and Girls of Venice... thanks to all of you who helped me to raise some money for these kids! It was well appreciated! By the way, we won our group.

Lasik Spa Ad in the Backstage West Besides my tennis passion, I also got  certified on three different lasers in the laser vision correction clinic, The Lasik Spa. So now I work there, part time, on the surgery days. If you ever decide that you need to get your vision corrected (and they can do now almost all possible prescriptions), come to us. You get wonderful treatment in the spa environment, and excellent results on a top of it. The Lasik Spa believes so much in its excellence, that we offer money back if you don't get 20/20 or better vision on the custom lasik procedure. That's pretty impressive, isn't it? 

  I've been also working in the Lasik Spa advertising campaign. The ads were, among others, in the Los Angeles Times. Now people know me as the LASIK girl... hmmm, where's the bodybuilding Six Foot Lion??? If  you ever come for your surgery, mention that you are coming from my web site, so you get a discount.

Happy July 4th weekend to all of you! Enjoy reading the rest of the newsletter. I've been getting a lot of questions from women about exercising during pregnancy. As I do not know much about it from my own experience (Peanut got delivered to me from the animal shelter  :-)  ), I looked up some useful information and posted further down in this newsletter. If you only have limited time for your workout, or you are traveling, don't forget to bring your jump rope and you can get excellent cardio workout in a very short amount of time. Read more about it further down.

Water and Weight Loss

weight less in the water... Everyone has heard at one point or another that they should drink more water. Most people give a shrug of their shoulders and a knowing nod of their head, pour themselves a glass of water, and forget about it until they're thirsty. Feeling thirst is NOT the first sign that its time to have some water…it’s the first sign that you are dehydrated!

In the dietary arena, water is an important addition to a successful weight loss program. The main reason for this is the involvement of water in the metabolism of protein and carbohydrate. Without sufficient water, the human body starts slowing down important water-consuming processes in an attempt at “water rationing”. These processes are a large part of what constitutes your metabolic rate. If you decrease your metabolic rate, you will find it MUCH more difficult to lose fat.

Drink water consistently throughout the day. The recommendation of eight 8-oz. glasses of water per day is reasonable for people weighing up to 150 lbs. Larger individuals should add 8-oz of water for every 15lbs over the 150 pound mark. Make sure that the drinks are spread out fairly evenly throughout the day, as drinking a large quantity of water at one time is just going to send you to the restroom in a short while. Make a habit of having one glass of water with each meal. Realize that you! may need to drink significantly more water if you live in a hot environment and/or exercise very intensely.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a great toning and cardiovascular workout. Start slow, take your time, and get enough rest between exercises to re-energize your body. The following is a suggested routine that will help you get the most from your jump rope workout, and have fun doing it:
Jump rope  with those feet... For the first couple of exercises, turn the rope slowly to warm up. Then gradually speed up the pace until you are performing faster moves about halfway through your workout. Then gradually slow your pace down until you are turning the rope very slowly on the last two to three exercises to cool down.

Below are some fun, basic exercises to get you started, and add variety to your jump rope routine that will further help you develop coordination, tone and shape your body and give you the ultimate cardio workout.

* The baseline (also simply called “line”) refers to a starting line to be used as a point of reference on feet placement and jumps. Unless otherwise mentioned, the baseline should be horizontal to your body. Only certain exercises will specifically call for a vertical baseline, which will be vertical to your body and between your feet.
* A balancing bounce is the bounce used between rope turn jumps. The balancing bounce can be a simple jump, or a more complicated movement. Some exercises call for balancing bounces, while others don’t.

A few different steps

Heel Tap
For your first turn, jump over rope with feet together. On second turn, start the jump with both feet together but land with your left foot on the baseline while tapping your right heel directly in front of the line. On third turn, start with feet together, but land with the right foot while tapping your left heel directly in front of the line, and keep alternating feet.

Toe Tap
For your first turn, jump with both feet together. On the second turn, jump with feet together, then land with your left foot on the baseline and right toe on the floor behind the line. On third turn, jump with feet together again, then land with right foot on the baseline and left toe on the floor behind the line and repeat movement, alternating feet.

Twist Things Up
On the first turn, jump with both feet together. On the second turn, keep legs together and chest forward while you twist from your waist in one direction. On the third turn, face forward and jump with feet together again. On the fourth turn, twist from your waist in the opposite direction.

Jumping Jacks
On the first turn, jump with your feet together. On the second turn, jump with your feet apart. On the third turn, jump with your feet together and repeat movement.

High Kicks
On the first turn, jump with your feet together. On the second turn, jump with your right foot while lifting your left knee as much as you can. On the third turn, jump with your feet together. On the fourth turn, jump with your left foot while lifting your right knee as much as you can. Repeat this movement, alternating legs on each jump.

On the first turn, jump with both feet together. On the second turn, jump with both feet together but rotate your feet so that your heels are out and your toes are in, with knees touching. On the third turn, jump with both feet together but rotate feet so that your toes are out and your heels are in, with knees slightly bent outward. Repeat movement.

Dual Bounce

With both feet together, take a small balancing bounce as the rope comes behind your head. Then still with both feet together, take a large jump as the rope goes under your feet. Repeat movement.

Two-legged Jump
Jump only once per turn, high in the air, using no balancing bounces. Keep your feet on the floor as the rope passes over your head and jump with both feet as the rope comes down.

One-legged Jump
On the first turn, lift one foot behind you and jump with the other foot. Keep using only the one foot. Once you’ve finished with your set number of repetitions on that foot, repeat movement using the other foot for an equal number of repetitions.

Skip in Place
On the first turn, jump with your right foot. The left foot should be behind you and raised slightly off the ground with leg bent at the knee behind you. On the second turn, jump with your left foot and raise the right foot slightly off the ground with leg bent at the knee behind you. Repeat movement, alternating feet on each jump.


Suzanna  during the decades Bananas contain three natural sugars -- sucrose, fructose and glucose -- combined with fiber, a banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proved that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills -- eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

 Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a  Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power.  Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin..  Many people find it is amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food ravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases.  It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer, tryptophan.

Smoking: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking.  The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be re-balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in "The New England Journal of Medicine, "eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%".

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, you see, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills.  When you compare  it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three  times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron,  and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around.

Raising the bar at 40
More athletes are staying in the game longer, leading the way for middle-aged Americans.

By Martin Miller, Times Staff Writer
September 29. 2003

Fun in the water... We watch them in awe, amazed by their athletic prowess. They aren't supposed to be this fast, this strong, this dominant as their hair goes gray, as they advance deeper into middle age.

They are an elite class of older athletes including baseball's Barry Bonds (age 39), basketball's Karl Malone (40) and track-and-field star Regina Jacobs (40) whose competitive excellence sends a message to fans and casual observers alike: You too can stay in the game.

There are more professional athletes in their late 30s and 40s in major sports today than at any other time. Major league baseball, for example, has 11 players over age 40, including such stars as New York Yankee Roger Clemens and Arizona Diamondback Randy Johnson. In tennis, Martina Navratilova, at age 46, became the oldest player in Wimbledon history to claim a title when she won a mixed doubles crown last summer. Although not all are record-setters, together they serve as role models for millions of middle-aged and older Americans trying to stay in shape.

"I think when some athletes get older they decide to stop working hard," says Malone, a Laker and the NBA's second all-time leading scorer, whose off-season workouts are legendary around the league. "It's not that their bodies stop, it's just that they've decided to stop pushing it."

Older athletes aren't the only ones who stop pushing it. So do many other Americans, who slip into patterns of overeating, inactivity and fatalistic attitudes about the physical decline that often accompanies middle age. Although even the most ambitious workout and dietary program won't propel your average 40-year-old into the big leagues, it can provide a hardy defense against physical decline, according to exercise physiologists.

"Through science we've learned how to train people and keep them stronger and fitter over a longer period of time," says Dr. Richard Kreider, head of the Center for Exercise, Nutrition and Preventive Health Research at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. "There's no reason to slow down, whether you're a professional athlete or the average person."

Not only have some aging professional athletes not slowed down, a handful have taken the performance to new heights toward the end of their careers. Bonds, of the San Francisco Giants, is one such athlete. His ability to hit a baseball a skill widely regarded as among the most difficult in sports is virtually unparalleled. Last year, he set a single-season home run record with 73; this year, with more than 40 homers already, he was poised to overtake Willie Mays for third place on the all-time career home run list.

Two decades of evidence

Ops, the wave's coming... For decades, the average age of athletes in such North American sports as basketball, baseball, football and hockey has crept higher. Two decades ago, the average age of players in the National Hockey League was 25; today, it's 28. In major league baseball, the average is 29.

Some experts believe that the number of older athletes will continue to rise. "There's definitely going to be more 40-year-old pro athletes," says Kreider. "I wouldn't be surprised if some day we see a 45-year-old running back in the NFL."

For the millions of fans sitting on the sidelines, the growing success of older athletes may be fueling the motivation to remain fit. "It's enormously inspiring for ordinary people over 40," says Dr. Jerry May, a clinical psychologist at the University of Nevada Medical School in Reno who worked with the U.S. Alpine Ski Team from 1980 to 1992.

Exercise physiologists point to the rise of strength and conditioning programs as the engine driving the new athletic durability and longevity.

Many of today's older athletes were entering college and professional sports at the time that strength and conditioning programs were becoming more commonplace. The programs, which stressed cardiovascular fitness and weightlifting, were designed to give athletes an extra competitive edge and they did.

Their success spawned a culture of physical fitness among professional athletes that was absent just 20 years ago. Back then, when even star athletes were known to drink beer and smoke during training and the regular season, few pro teams employed strength and conditioning coaches.

Now, they all do, even in such sports as baseball and basketball, in which the conventional wisdom used to be that lifting weights would ruin the ability to hit a fast ball or shoot a free throw. The new training philosophy forever changed the purpose of training camps as well. Once it was a place to get in shape; now it's a place to get in even better shape.

Lifting data 'astonishing'

OPS... "Guys would show up fat," says William J. Evans, a physiologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who has worked with professional sports teams. "That almost never happens today where players can be denied pay [bonuses] for being out of shape."

Coaches and trainers then were just beginning to understand what exercise physiologists now know: You can stall the deterioration of the body with proper training. Each decade after the age of 25, a person loses about 4% of his or her muscle mass. In addition, the average person can expect to lose endurance, flexibility and the ability to process oxygen at roughly the same rate.

Studies have consistently shown that these natural declines can be slowed in people in their late 40s and early 50s with a vigorous and faithful workout routine, say exercise physiologists. Indeed, Evans showed in one study that even 100-year-olds could increase their strength fourfold within months through light weightlifting. "It was really quite astonishing," says Evans, coauthor of "Biomarkers: The Ten Determinants of Aging You Can Control." Although they are not panaceas, weight training and physical conditioning help combat the other physical deterioration of age. Metabolism, which begins to slow by the late 20s, can be maintained by vigorous exercise. And recovery times from activity and injury greatly improve over what they would have been otherwise, say exercise physiologists.

If any athlete embodies the value of strength and conditioning, it's Malone, who concedes that his highly disciplined fitness regimen could be viewed as obsessive.

During the off-season, he works out from 7 a.m. to noon each day, stretching, lifting weights and mixing in some cardio work.

His well-honed physique is built upon rotating heavy and light weights and concentrating on just two or three major muscle groups per day. For example, chest, shoulder and back one day; calves, thighs and stomach the next.

He typically wraps up a workout with 40 minutes on a treadmill, another 40 minutes on an elliptical trainer and 30 minutes on a stationary bike. Sometimes, he'll follow this program for three weeks without taking a single day of rest. (Of course, no personal trainer would recommend working out every day for three weeks without breaks.) And by the way, he never even picks up a basketball during the off season.

"I'd be finished today if it weren't for my training," says Malone, who developed his training program with the help of the strength and conditioning coach at his former team, the Utah Jazz. "But when I line up against an opponent in the fourth quarter, I ask myself if this guy has paid the price I did. And I always come back and say, you know what, I could be wrong, but I don't think so."

Experience really counts

Tennis practice with the coach It's not only the body but also the mind that keeps older athletes in the game. Experience and wisdom can trump youth and energy. Veterans learn when to regulate their energies, saving themselves for the big play. They also develop a sense of the game that often allows them to anticipate events.

"If you understand athletic ability and you see all these rookies, you know they're all better than the veterans," says Jerry Attaway, physical development coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. "Why aren't they playing instead of the veterans? Well, once you've played for a while you know what's coming. It takes years to learn to play the [pro] game."

A healthy attitude can help extend a player's career, say sports psychologists. A good example is Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Rice, 40. During his 19 years in the league, a common sight was Rice catching a short pass in the middle of the field, then outracing defenders to the end zone.

That rarely happens anymore. But Rice, like so many older athletes, has adapted his game.

No longer considered a "burner," he's become what's known as a possession receiver a player who runs smart, crisp routes and who has a reliable pair of hands.

"The older athlete tends to put less energy into things out of their control," says Jonathan Katz, a psychiatrist at Columbia University who has consulted with the Chicago White Sox and the New Jersey Nets. "If they're slower, they put more energy in their moves. It's an acceptance of where they are. They've learned to avoid the macho chest-bumping of the younger athletes."

Focus on nutrition

Nutrition may be the next frontier in helping tomorrow's older athletes remain in the game even longer. Within the last decade, almost all of the major professional teams have either hired a consultant or created a permanent staff position to supervise diet and nutrition for pro athletes.

Players are usually given advice about what to eat and when to eat it. Much, however, depends on their individual metabolism, the sport and what position they play. Though there is mounting evidence about the critical role nutrition plays in performance, some of today's athletes, particularly older ones, don't put much stock in it.

"A lot of players look at seeing me as a trip to the principal's office," says Julie Burns, owner of Sports Fuel Inc., who is the team nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and Chicago Black Hawks. "They're so ritualistic. Some of these guys are still eating the same meal they'd eat before a high school football game."

Today's younger athletes are usually more open to heeding the pitch for proper nutrition and its long-term rewards, Burns says.

"Premature aging occurs without good nutrition," says Burns, who has accompanied young athletes to grocery stores with wives, girlfriends or even personal chefs in tow to buy the proper kinds of food. "They have to have good daily lifestyle habits."

A little bit of luck

For athletes to continue to thrive in their 40s, they also need to be lucky. To be sure, sports medicine has made extraordinary advancements compared with only a couple of decades ago. It enabled Rice to overcome a serious knee injury in 1997 and return to the game. Still, players must be able to avoid serious injury.

"Look at players like Mark McGwire and Cal Ripken. They didn't stop playing because they lost their skills," Rickey Henderson, 44, remarks before a recent game. "They had to stop because of injury. As far as that goes, I've been blessed."

But in the end, it's not just a case of fans being inspired by the achievement of the older athletes. It works the other way, too. When Malone pivots and hits his trademark jump shot, he realizes now it won't just be for the hometown fans. "I've also said I play for everybody, but especially the 35 and older club. But now that I've turned 40, it's all the 40-year-olds out there."

More Than 8 Hours Sleep Too Much of a Good Thing
Psychosomatic Medicine, March/April 2004.

water all around...
Although the dangers of too little sleep are widely known, new research suggests that people who sleep too much may also suffer the consequences.

Specifically, investigators at the University of California in San Diego found that people who clock up 9 or 10 hours each weeknight appear to have more trouble falling and staying asleep, as well as a host of other sleep problems, than people who sleep 8 hours a night.

People who slept only 7 hours each night also said they had more trouble falling asleep and feeling refreshed after a night's sleep than 8-hour sleepers.

These findings, reported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, demonstrate that people who want to get a good night's rest may not need to set aside more than 8 hours a night, study author Dr. Daniel Kripke told Reuters Health.

He added that "it might be a good idea" for people who sleep more than 8 or 8 1/2 hours each night to consider reducing the amount of time they spend in bed, but cautioned that more research is needed to confirm this.

Previous studies have shown the potential dangers of chronic shortages of sleep-- for instance, one report demonstrated that people who habitually sleep less than 7 hours each night have a higher risk of dying within a fixed period than people who sleep more.

For the current report, Kripke and lead author Michael Grandner reviewed the responses of 1004 adults to sleep questionnaires, in which participants indicated how much they slept during the week - excluding naps - and whether they experienced any sleep problems.

Sleep problems included waking in the middle of the night, arising early in the morning and being unable to fall back to sleep, and having fatigue interfere with day-to-day functioning.

Kripke and Grandner found that people who slept between 9 and 10 hours each night were more likely to report experiencing each sleep problem than people who slept 8 hours.

In an interview, Kripke noted that long sleepers may struggle to get rest at night simply because they spend too much time in bed. As evidence, he added that one way to help insomnia is to spend less time in bed.

"It stands to reason that if a person spends too long a time in bed, then they'll spend a higher percentage of time awake," he said.

Alternatively, Kripke suggested that there may be a link between long sleeping and depression, noting that people who are depressed often temporarily feel better after skipping a night of sleep.

"It might be that depression is causing the long sleep, it might be that the long sleep is causing the depression," Kripke said.

Exercising during pregnancy

Exercising Peanut... Although you may not feel like running a marathon - especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy - most women benefit greatly from exercising throughout their pregnancy. But during that time you'll need to make a few adjustments to your normal exercise routine.

Discuss your exercise plans with your doctor or other health care provider early on. The level of exercise recommended will depend, in part, on your level of prepregnancy fitness.

Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
No doubt about it - if complications don't limit your ability to exercise throughout your pregnancy, exercise is a big plus for both you and your baby. Exercise can help you:
1) feel better - At a time when you wonder if this strange body can possibly be yours, exercise can increase your sense of being in control and boost your energy level. Appropriate exercise can relieve backaches and improve your posture by strengthening and toning muscles in your back, butt, and thighs; reduce constipation by accelerating movement in your intestines; and prevent wear and tear on your joints (which become loosened during pregnancy by normal hormonal changes) by activating the lubricating synovial fluid in your joints. Exercise also releases endorphins, naturally occurring chemicals in your brain that make you feel better. It helps you look better, too, by increasing blood flow to your skin and giving you a healthy glow. And if you have trouble sleeping, there's no better cure than healthy exercise, which can relieve the stress and anxiety that might make you restless at night.

2)prepare for birth - Strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labor and delivery. Gaining control over your breathing can help you manage pain, and in the event of a lengthy labor, increased endurance can be a real help.

3) regain your prepregnancy body more quickly - You'll gain less fat weight during your pregnancy if you continue to exercise (assuming you exercised before becoming pregnant). But don't expect or try to lose weight by exercising while you're pregnant. For most women, the goal is to maintain their fitness level throughout pregnancy.
What's a Safe Exercise Plan When You're Pregnant?
It depends on when you start and whether your pregnancy is complicated. If you exercised regularly before becoming pregnant, continue your program, with modifications as you need them. If you weren't fit before you became pregnant, don't give up! Begin slowly and build gradually as you become stronger. Whatever your fitness level, you should talk to your doctor about exercising while you're pregnant.

As you exercise, the key is to listen to your body's warnings. Many women, for example, become dizzy early in their pregnancy, and as the baby grows, their center of gravity changes. So it may be easy for you to lose your balance, especially in the last trimester. Your energy level may also vary greatly from day to day. And as your baby grows and pushes up on your lungs, you'll notice a decreased ability to breathe in more air (and the oxygen it contains) when you exercise. If your body says, "Stop!" - stop!

Discuss any concerns you have with your doctor. You may need to limit your exercise if you have:
1) pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
2) early contractions
3) vaginal bleeding
4) premature rupture of your membranes, also known as your water (the fluid in the amniotic sac around the fetus) breaking early
What kind of exercise should you do?
It depends on what interests you. Many women enjoy dancing, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, biking, or walking. Swimming is especially appealing, as it gives you welcome buoyancy. Try for a combination of cardio (aerobic), strength, and flexibility exercises, and avoid bouncing. Many experts recommend walking. It's easy to vary the pace, add hills, and add distance. If you're just starting, begin with a moderately brisk pace for a mile, 3 days a week. Add a couple of minutes every week, pick up the pace a bit, and eventually add hills to your route. Whether you're a pro or a novice, go slowly for the first 5 minutes to warm up and use the last 5 minutes to cool down.

Pay attention to your body's signals, and stop when your body indicates it's time. If you feel fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations (feel your heart pounding in your chest), shortness of breath, or pain in your back or pelvis, your body is saying it's had enough. And if you can't talk while you're exercising, you're doing it too strenuously. Keep your heart rate below 160 beats per minute. It's not good for your baby if you become overheated, because temperatures greater than 102.6 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) could cause problems with the developing fetus - especially in the first trimester - potentially leading to birth defects. So don't overdo exercise on hot days. When the weather is hot, try to avoid exercising outside during the hottest part of the day (from about 10 AM to 3 PM), or exercise in an air-conditioned place. Also, note that swimming makes it more difficult for you to notice your body heating up, because the water makes you feel cooler.

Another optical illusion

Although the circles below appears to expand, they are static and your brain is doing all the expanding and moving. It is kind of relaxing just to stare on these circles and let your mind drift and forget everything for a moment. Look and meditate:

The image is static, but your brain is doing the moving...

Copyright Akiyoshi Kitaoka

The "Little" Things in Life.

This is not another story about 9/11. It's more a reflection on the small things in life, that we just don't see how they could be seen. After Sept.11th, one company invited the remaining members of other companies who had been decimated by the attack on the Twin Towers to share their available office space. At a morning meeting, the head of security told stories of why these people were alive...... and all the stories were just "the little things"
  1.   As you might know, the head of the company got in late that day because his son started kindergarten.
  2.   Another fellow was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts.
  3.   One woman was late because her alarm clock didn't go off in time.
  4.   One was late because of being stuck on the NJ Turnpike because of an auto accident.
  5.   One of them missed his bus.
  6.   One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change.
  7.   One's car wouldn't start.
  8.   One went back to answer the telephone.
  9.   One had a child that dawdled and didn't get ready as soon as he should have.
  10.    One could not get a taxi.
  11.    The one that struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning, took the various means to get to work but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid.  That is why he is alive today.
Pleeeeaaaazzzzzeeeee.... give me that treat! Now when you are stuck in traffic, miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone --  all the little things that annoy you... Think to yourself, this is exactly where Your God wants you to be at this very moment. Next time your morning seems to be going wrong, the children are slow getting dressed, you can't seem to find the car keys, you hit every traffic light, don't get mad or frustrated;   Your God  is at work watching over you. May God continue to bless you with all those annoying little things and may you remember their possible purpose.

Adorable kids' views on Marriage


( 1 ) You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like
sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips
and dip coming.
       -- Alan, age 10

( 2 ) No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to
marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're
stuck with.
      -- Kirsten, age 10


( 1 ) Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
       -- Camille, age 10

( 2 ) No age is good to get married at. You got to  be a fool to get married. 
       -- Freddie, age 6 (very wise for his age)


( 1 ) You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at
the same kids.
       -- Derrick, age 8


( 1 ) Both don't want any more kids.
       -- Lori, age 8


( 1 ) Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know
each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
       -- Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure)

( 2 ) On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets
them interested enough to go for a second date.
       -- Martin, age 10


( 1 ) I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the
newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
      -- Craig, age 9


( 1 ) When they're rich.
       -- Pam, age 7

( 2 ) The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
       -- Curt, age 7

( 3 ) The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry
them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do. 
       -- Howard, age 8


( 1 ) I don't know which is better, but I'll tell you one thing. I'm never
going to have sex with my wife. I don't want to be all grossed out.
           -- Theodore, age 8 

( 2 ) It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone
to clean up after them.
       -- Anita, age 9 (bless you child)


( 1 ) There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
       -- Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is........


( 1 ) Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if
she looks like a truck.
           -- Ricky, age 10

See you in the fall!!!
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