Tag: tips

Better Your Balance (and More) with Tai Chi

Better Your Balance (and More) with Tai Chi

Better Your Balance (and More) with Tai Chi


by the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team

Perhaps you’ve heard of tai chi, but don’t really know what it’s all about, or perhaps you do know what it’s all about, but don’t really understand the many ways it can benefit you. Maybe you even remember it from the Patrick Swayze film Road House.


Tai chi is a martial art, an elegant marriage of moving and mindfulness. You are slowly moving without stopping from one posture to another. Deep breathing is also a part of it. As with any mindful activity, it takes concentration. You can’t just put your mind on autopilot and blast some tunes like you might be able to on the treadmill!

Tai chi involves no special equipment, is not competitive, and is a great low-impact workout. As WebMD points out, it does not place a high burden on muscles or joints. This makes it a nice, gentle exercise for seniors, allowing them to keep moving into their golden years, while enjoying the social aspect of a group activity. “It’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older,” Dr. I-Min Lee of Harvard notes. Tai chi is also perfect for those who have arthritis, are pregnant, need to sit during workouts, or are in a wheelchair.

In addition to helping balance and potentially preventing falls, tai chi can also help circulation, cholesterol, the heart, strength, flexibility, energy and even the way the body aligns. The results may not even take that long to see – one tai chi teacher said he saw improvement in tai chi students in only 12 weeks. As this is also a mind exercise, it can help stress – everything from your adrenaline to blood pressure.

A recent medical study said that it could also help those who have fibromyalgia. This was the first big study that looked at fibromyalgia and tai chi. Two hundred and twenty-six folks with fibromyalgia were monitored for a year. After 24 weeks, impressive results were already in – those who had been taking tai chi classes were doing better than those in the aerobic exercise group. And those who did tai chi for a bigger stretch of time made more headway in controlling their fibromyalgia than those who took tai chi less often.

What’s so special about tai chi when it comes to fibromyalgia? Any exercise may help blood flow, but the relaxation aspect might make it a more natural fit for this population versus aerobics, which might aggravate physical and/or psychological issues.

Who should not do tai chi? Even though it is gentle, you should always check in with your doctor before beginning any exercise regime. Those with diabetes or circulation issues might want to reconsider, and tai chi can also be contraindicated if you’re taking certain medicines that induce dizziness.

You have lots of options when it comes to tai chi, but I think we have one of the best classes here at L’ifestyle Lounge — our all-ages Tai Chi w/Philip Cross. It is an especially light class that is ideal for beginners. Philip focuses on stretching and improving energy. The class features the 12 classical tendon exchange exercises that help strengthen the tendons and bones. There is also the Tai Chi Long Form which brings the mind into the mix. The goals of the class are to have a healthier immune system. lower stress, better your posture and slow aging. Philip has studied at Peter Kwok’s Kung Fu Academy, he is trained in Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan and Yi Gun Gin, and has taught at Blauvelt Library, Nanuet Community Education and Orangeburg Library. If you can’t join Philip over the summer, he’ll also be part of our Fall class schedule, starting September 12, with an 8-week class on Wednesday nights. It’s the perfect way to get over those Hump Day blues, and who doesn’t need better immunity during cough and cold season? I hope you’ll embrace tai chi and all its benefits for a healthier mind, body and soul.


Think Pink With Me This June!

Think Pink With Me This June!

Think Pink With Me This June!

by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN, Whole Nutrition Services

What are you doing June 7? How does a life-changing night devoted to health and wellness sound, with some of the top names in the field (including yours truly)? I am so excited and honored to be a part of the The Pink Agenda — TPA Talks, a one-night-only event about surviving breast cancer and science’s tremendous fight against it.

The Pink Agenda has been around since 2007 when a 23-year-old named Marisa Renee Lee was looking for some positivity in her own mother’s breast cancer fight. Lee, Liana M. Douillet Guzmán, and Jaquelyn M. Scharnick soon got together to start the nonprofit. To date, it has given two million dollars towards breast cancer research and care as well as educating so many.

The event will be happening at 7pm at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture (Loreto Theater) in the East Village at 18 Bleecker Street. If you’re in NYC or not too far, I encourage you to come. Tickets are only $35 and that includes talks from me; researcher TAL DANINO, PHD; oncology specialist NEIL IYENGAR, MD; assistant director of scientific programs at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation MANEESH KUMAR, MD, PHD, actress and breast cancer survivor KRYSTA RODRIGUEZ (Smash); journalist and activist GERALYN LUCAS and “previvor” PAIGE MORE.

Each speaker brings a unique perspective to the table in the way they’ve used their talents to wage the battle against breast cancer. I am bringing my body-positive and all foods fit theme to the evening – emphasizing self-care as always. There is a dichotomous food message for preventing cancer and or any illness. I will help to balance the message by letting those with breast cancer know that you can still eat kale and cupcakes, and that you can still love your body no matter what. In fact, loving your body should be considered a part of your total prevention and healing regimen. Taking care of you –  in mind, body and spirit are all equal parts of wellness. In fact, stressing over prevention of cancer by avoiding foods could possibly be just as inflammatory as eating them in excess.  As always, the focus is on finding what is right for you and creating balance.

Whether you are a previvor, survivor, have a friend or family member with illness, or just want to learn more about it, I encourage you to come this Thursday, June 7th. TCA also has many other events in the New York area from now through the fall, including a summer night of baseball, so definitely check them out!









The Truth about the BMI

The Truth about the BMI

The Truth about the BMI

by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN, Whole Nutrition Services


BMI is a term you might have heard of — through either your doctor or a health article or maybe even your child’s teacher. If you don’t know what it is, the initials stand for Body Mass Index, and it is determined by making a calculation using your height and weight. The BMI categories are Underweight (any BMI less than 18.5), Normal (18.5-24.9), Overweight (25-29.9) and Obese (30 or more). These categories are taken very seriously by some in the medical community. The Harvard School of Medicine believes that measuring BMI can tell you if a person is at a “healthy weight,” while WebMD says “it’s important for your health to understand what it is and to know your number.”  Yet Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania researchers believe it does not accurately measure body fat content, or consider attributes like muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, race and gender. The BBC says that by itself, BMI can’t predict what diseases we will or won’t get.

I believe the BMI can be both misleading and quite damaging. This is something I speak about at length in the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet and my former blogs at Mom Dishes It Out and Laura Cipullo LLC. I certainly do not use it to measure my own, my clients’ or my children’s health.

The BMI reduces poor health to being caused by just one issue – weight. With its’ categories, it clumps bodies to fit into “healthy” and “not healthy” boxes when the science doesn’t always back that up. These categories can lead you to assume that everything above a 24.9 is a problem. But this is not proven. In adults, only BMI measurements of more than 35 or less than 18.5 are affiliated with higher mortality. In fact, as TIME points out,  “some studies show that people with higher BMI tend to be healthier and have lower premature death rates than those with lower BMI.” Overweight and healthy are not mutually exclusive categories. It is entirely possible to be both. And it is possible to be thin and unhealthy. Researchers from Oxford Brookes University discovered that more than a third of 3,000 people who were measured as having a “normal, healthy” BMI were potentially likely to have cardiovascular disease, something you might think only affects those who are overweight. Athletes also may naturally have a higher BMI, and even the CDC admits that it is not sure the overall BMI requirements should extend to them. The CDC’s list of health consequences associated with a high BMI also do not necessarily apply to everyone whose BMI is higher than 30: Mental illness, certain types of cancer, and low quality of life are a few of the things a person with a high BMI is supposedly at risk of, but I’m sure there are plenty of folks in this category who are living and will continue to live happy, healthy lives with BMIs over 30, and many affected by those issues who have a “normal” BMI.

You can see, then, how taking the BMI as gospel could lead you down a dangerous road. Your health choices are your own, but I would personally not see a healthcare professional who uses the BMI as a health tool.

Health is a complicated thing, and it’s not something that can always be relegated to numbers. We have to see the bigger picture, and that’s what the Health at Every Size movement is all about. BMIs can make a person obsessed with numbers, which is such a terrible thing to do to folks who already feel biased against for being a certain weight. People with eating disorders fight daily with an obsession to hit a certain number on a scale, and an obsession with hitting a BMI can lead to similar negative consequences. Dieting to get to a lower BMI can be physically dangerous as well. As I mentioned in the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, “The famed Framingham Heart Study showed that weight cycling (aka yo-yoing) as a result of restrictive dieting is something that is indeed associated with higher mortality and cardiac disease. It’s actually healthier to be at a higher set weight than to allow your weight to fluctuate up and down by 20 pounds.” Putting pressure on your child to be at a certain BMI can set them up for an unhealthy relationship with food for life. Remember that as a parent you are a role model. Don’t put your child on any kind of fad diet in an effort to achieve any arbitrary weight goals. Body dissatisfaction, body shaming and eating disorders are some of the things a focus on BMI can do to kids.

That being said, you should know that there is a chance your child will get screened for BMI in school. One agency – the Institute of Medicine – endorses that, but others – including the CDC– do not. New York, Arkansas and California are some of the states that do BMI screening for children in schools. BMIs are also part of the FitnessGram. If your child does bring the results of a BMI screening from school, consider asking your child if they have any questions about this screening. Whatever you do, don’t place urgency on it and restrict your child. Be curious. Ask yourself questions such as, Is my child active on a daily basis? Does my child eat in respect to his/her body? Does my child eat all foods without guilt? Does my child hide their food? This is not a question of how many veggies are they eating. Rather, is your child getting caught up in using food or restricting food for emotional reasons? Any concern you have about your child’s health should be discussed with your pediatrician and/or registered dietitian specializing in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders or HAES. And always remember, choose healthcare professionals who share the same All Foods Fit, All Bodies Fit value system you do.




Creating a Body-Positive Social Media Experience

Creating a Body-Positive Social Media Experience

Creating a Body-Positive Social Media Experience


by Laura Cipullo and the Whole Nutrition Services Team

There are many positive aspects to social media — making new friends, expanding community, learning about subjects you care about, and getting various perspectives on the news. But unfortunately, as most of us are aware by now, there is a darker side. Every day there seems to be another story about online harassment. The most high-profile social media news recently involved Lindy West. On January 3, the body-positive activist quit Twitter, disgusted with the platform’s inability to control its abusive members.

So yes, social media can be harmful, whether you are in recovery for an eating disorder or simply trying to feel better about your body, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it. There are ways to make Twitter, Facebook and Instagram more positive. Below, I offer some suggestions.

  • Secure your accounts.

You can make accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram private, meaning you approve who follows you, and no strangers will be able to comment. This easy action will eliminate “trolls” (abusive commenters) and just generally protect your security when you are online. It is also a bright idea if you have children or teens who use social media.

  • Know your hashtags.

If you’re new to social media, you may be confused about what hashtags are. They are ways to organize information. You will see this sign – # – followed by a phrase or a word. To see body-positive accounts, images, comments and news on Instagram and Twitter, look up hashtags like #effyourbodystandards, #bopo, #haes (health at every size), #riotsnotdiets and #bodypositivity.

  • Block when you need to.

If someone is harassing you online, you can block and even report them. If someone is being a persistent enough troll, they can lose their access to Twitter entirely, as happened to Milo Yiannopoulos, the man who waged a harassment campaign against SNL actress Leslie Jones.

  • It’s ok to take a break.

You’ll find most people on social media tweet or post often, but when it comes to social media, there are no rules. A social media break can be good for your mental health. It can certainly help you be more mindful! Simply announce you are taking a break, and when you expect to come back, so your followers are not left in the lurch.

  • You don’t have to overshare.

People tend to overshare online, but you don’t have to. You don’t need to post pictures of yourself, if you aren’t comfortable with that, and you don’t have to talk about the innermost details of your life. Oversharing can invite trolls or unwanted opinions, and may work against you with a future employer. Social media is like a good acquaintance — but not like your very best friend or family member that you tell everything to.

  • Make use of lists.

Twitter has a list function that allows you to group social media accounts based on subject. So you can have a list of body-positive folks, news about fashion, recipes, etc. Doing this makes Twitter less of a mess to wade through, and allows you to control what type of news you get and when you want to get it.

  • Reach out.

One of the best parts of Twitter is being able to talk to others. So if someone is tweeting about a subject important to you, you might want to reach out to them to keep the conversation going. By doing this, you’ll connect with like-minded folks who care about the same issues you do.

  • Remember, you control who you follow.

When you start out on social media, follow the people you know in real life — plus publications and organizations you trust. Avoid those who post selfies of their “perfect” bodies (including celebrities like the Kardashians) or magazines that feature unrealistic diet stories (like advice on how to get that “bikini body in one month”). So many women’s and health magazines promote unrealistic body standards, so you have to be careful about who you let into your feed. Look at the L’ifestyle blog post on five magazines that won’t make you feel bad — all of these publications (except for MORE, which is now out of business) have social media accounts.


Also, many women’s magazines frequently do round-ups of body-positive Instagram accounts to follow. @NicoletteMason is one of the more well-known Instagram bo-po stars and a top fashion writer, while @mynameisjessamyn is great if you need some yoga inspiration.

I follow over 2,000 people on Twitter, and I try to focus on those with body-positive attitudes. My suggestions — straight from that list — include @FoodPsychPod, body-positive author @LesleyKinzel, @DrJennyThomas of Harvard, and Endangered Bodies NYC @EndgrdBodiesNYC. Click on “following” on my Twitter profile, for more of who I follow. I am at @LauraCipullo on Twitter and Instagram, and Lisa Mikus, RD, my colleague, is at @LisaMikusRD on both platforms, and we are all on Instagram at @EatKaleandCupcakes and most recently, @LifestyleLoungeNJ.

Hopefully, these tips will help you create a more body-positive feed. I would love to hear from you — on social media, of course — if you’ve found the article helpful. And feel free to let me know of other suggestions you have that I haven’t covered here.

Here’s to a more body-positive 2017!

New-Trition: These 10 healthy trends—and four recipes—will inspire you to mix it up!

New-Trition: These 10 healthy trends—and four recipes—will inspire you to mix it up!

New-Trition: These 10 healthy trends will inspire you to mix it up!

Check out Lisa’s contribution to the January/February issue of Women’s Running Magazine!

Read rest of the article here: New-Trition .

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