JEWEL: Journal for Experienced Women Enjoying Life

Health and Wellness

What Muscle Mass Means to Your Health

fat size vs. muscle

Muscle is one component of lean body mass.  The other two are body fluid (the largest percentage) and bones.  Anything that is not lean mass is the opposite: fat.   Lean mass burns more calories at rest than fat, so the greater the percentage of lean mass, the more calories you burn at rest.

Muscle mass declines with age.  Most of us lose muscle as we age – a loss of one to two percent a year after age 50.  At that rate, by age 70 most people have lost 30 percent of their muscle.  Arms and legs weaken and look thinner or flabbier. With less muscle, everyday activities like lifting packages, grocery bags and laundry baskets become more difficult. The steady loss of muscle mass and strength tends to accompany many of the things we associate with aging including larger midsections, frailty and the development of chronic diseases.

In our younger years, maintaining muscle mass was pretty easy.  Our activities of daily living had us using muscles (laundry, house cleaning, child care, etc.), and estrogen played an important part in muscle maintenance.  With menopause came the departure of estrogen, and at the same time, the physical demands placed on the body declined, and so muscle mass began to decline.

Don’t be a statistic.   Even if you have allowed your muscle mass to diminish, it’s not too late to regain much of it. You must building musclesimultaneously do two things to build or maintain muscle.  First, you need to work each muscle group to fatigue at least once a week—two times is even better.  You cannot simply eat your way to strong muscles; however, an optimal diet which includes adequate protein, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients is the second part of the equation. 

Insufficient protein intake equals muscle loss.  To synthesize new muscle tissue, the body needs the right amount of protein at the right time.

How much protein you need is based on weight and age.   Use this simple method to determine your protein needs: divide your body weight by two.  The result is the number of grams of protein you need each day.  For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need about 75 grams of protein daily.  It’s not just the amount of protein that matters.  When you consume it matters too.

Spread out your protein intake.  Older adults are less able to convert protein from food into muscle tissue, thus it is important to consume protein throughout the day. For most people, the first meal of the day is very light in protein, where dinner is a protein eating frenzy.  For optimum muscle synthesis, strive for 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal.  On days when you do strength training, consume 20 grams of protein within an hour of working out.

Seek help.  A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) can partner with you to design a personal food plan to support muscle synthesis and overall health.  For muscle building activities, a fitness trainer experienced in working with older women is indispensable. 

Article by Nancy Teeter, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist



What is Meditation?

The word Meditation may seem intimidating or bring to mind a Buddhist Monk sitting on a hilltop. In reality, meditation is simply becoming aware of your breath and how your body feels in this very moment. In a quiet room or even in a calm outdoor space, free of the typical modern day distractions including television, computers and phones, lie down, make yourself comfortable and begin to simply notice your breath. Notice the inhalation with the gentle
expansion of your belly and chest. Bring awareness to the exhalation that happens naturally and that contracts your belly and chest gently. Observe if you are breathing from your nose or your mouth without judgement.

After a few moments of observing your breath, bring awareness to your body. Notice any tension that resides yogatypically in the face, jawline, neck and shoulders. Notice how your arms and hands feel, your pelvic area and back, your hands and feet. Next begin to participate actively in your breath. “Equal Ratio Breath” is an excellent breath to practice for Meditation.
● Inhale from the nose slowly for 6 counts
● Exhale from the nose slowly for 6 counts

Congratulations you are now meditating!

To deepen your meditation practice with equal breath, bring awareness to and observe your body. Beginning with your toes, gently move the toes and then pause to soften the toes. Allow your feet to surrender and fall to the side. Continue mentally scanning your body as you move up your body and apply this same practice of observing, moving gently and then softening.
Your legs will gently fall to the side and you will actually feel your muscles falling away from bones as your legs relax. Surrendering your body to the earth’s gravity helps to relax. Continue to your glutes, low back, spine, hips, and belly all the way to the crown of your head.
With your body completely relaxed, center your thoughts once again on your slow, equal breath.

If you can practice this meditation for just a few minutes a day, you will find the benefit of calming the mind and body, lowering your stress level, blood pressure and even blood cortisol levels. The goal is to begin extending the time you spend in meditation to increase the benefits.

This is also an excellent way to avoid those sleepless nights. We’ve all awakened in the night and then felt the frustration of “Monkey Mind” where your mind goes in all directions. Typically our thoughts at this time are a bit disturbing and unsettling. We can now choose instead to observe our breath and our bodies. Begin to count our breath to find Equal Ratio Breath and then scan and release tension from each part of our body. Amazingly the next thing you know you are awakening refreshed with the sunrise!

Article by Bridget Bonner “Total wellness with every breath you take”
E-RYT Yoga Alliance
Bridget is currently teaching Vinyasa Flow and Restorative Yoga at SaddleBrooke Ranch (SBR) La Hacienda Club and at
SaddleBrooke (SB) HOA1 Group Fitness Center. Check SB and SBR schedules for class days and times or email Bridget at
Lifeshops by Bridget

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

It’s National Nutrition Month! The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” You are encouraged to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors, and social experiences food can add to your life.

Though what you eat is very important, how, when, why and where you eat is equally so. Studies are showing us that people who pay attention to hunger cues, select nutritious foods more often than not, and savor the chosen food areeat-right more likely to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Try this mindfulness technique and practice it as often as you can. Put a small morsel of rich or sweet food in your mouth (e.g. dark chocolate, raisin, ripe banana or rich chocolate brownie). Chew the morsel thoroughly. Use your tongue to push the food particles to all parts of your mouth. Coat your tongue with the mixture. Close your eyes and concentrate on the flavors and sensation. Assess your level of enjoyment of the food and then swallow. As you do so, picture the food traveling down your esophagus to your stomach. Pause. Take five deep breaths. Decide if you are satisfied or if you desire another bite. Repeat until you feel sated and stop eating when you are – even if there is food left on the plate, in the wrapper or in the skin.

For optimal health, I encourage you to develop mindful eating habits, and to include a wide variety of nutritious and flavorful foods in your food pattern — that’s the best way to savor the flavor of eating right. For more tips on eating for optimal health, look for a previous blog article: Eating to Ward off Inflammation.

Article by Nancy Teeter,RDN


  Its Never too Late to Achieve a Healthy Weight

In my article Why inflammation is a Hot Topic & What to Do to Prevent It, I list five lifestyle factors which can help put a damper on inflammation: veg out; eat real foods; maintain a healthy weight, move more, and get adequate sleep.

You may be wondering how weight influences inflammation. Fat tissue, especially visceral fat (that’s the stuff around your middle) is metabolically active and the by-products of fat metabolism are inflammatory. A possible side effect of inflammation is increased cell resistance to insulin which increases the risk of high blood sugar which may in turn increase the amount of fat in the middle. It’s a cycle you can stop by losing some of the extra fat you are toting around; however, fad diets that promise to melt away the pounds are not the answer. Diets don’t work in the long run. Instead, focus on two things: (1) choose nutrient dense foods more often than highly processed foods that are stripped of nutrients and (2) eat only when you are hungry.

stomach fatNutrient dense foods provide loads of vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients per calories. Examples are vegetables, intact fruit (not juice), unstripped grains, beans, nuts, seeds and fatty fish. Foods that come in boxes are low in nutrients and high in chemical additives that typically provide lots of calories, but very few nutrients. As we age, we generally burn fewer calories, so we need to make sure that most of our foods are nutrient-rich. That doesn’t mean giving up treats all together. It just means that you need to be choosy. That is where item number two comes into play.

Eat only when you are hungry. In the past, we had limited exposure to food. We ate three “square meals” a day and rarely snacked. Now we are exposed to foods –or food images that promote eating – throughout the day. We’ve been told that we should eat five and six times a day if we want to lose weight. We’ve turned into a herd of grazers. Americans munch all day long and consume more calories than they burn.

If you want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, you need to be aware of your level of hunger, and before you take a bite of food answer three questions. Am I hungry? How hungry am I? What am I hungry for? If the answer to the first question is “no” then explore why you are driven to eat. If you are hungry, then choose the amount and type of food that will satisfy your hunger. A great book on this topic is Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michele May, M.D.

People often say to me “I know what to do; I just need to do it.” That’s where a nutrition coach can help. In regularly scheduled short sessions, a coach can help you identify behaviors that contribute to extra pounds, establish attainable goals and guide you as you work through obstacles to achieving your goals. You can find a nutrition expert on the web site for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, EatRight. org.

Older women need more protein than many younger ones. In my next article, I will reveal why this is true and identify your best sources of protein.
Article by Nancy Teeter, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Eating to Ward Off Inflammation

In the article “Why Inflammation is A Hot Topic & What to Do to Prevent It”, I listed five lifestyle changes which can help put a damper on inflammation: veg out, eat real foods; maintain a healthy weight, move more; and get adequate sleep.

When it comes to fueling your body, the two most important habits to incorporate are increasing the amount of produce and reducing the amount of processed foods you eat. There is no limit to the amount of non-starchy vegetables you can eat each day, but you should strive to get at least three cups in a wide variety of colors. Each of the color groups provides unique plant nutrients that are vital for good health.veggies_on_white We don’t need as much fruit, so for most women a couple handfuls of fresh or frozen fruit will suffice. Some examples of a “handful” are a medium apple or banana; a large orange; two plums; a palm full of grapes or eight strawberries.

Getting the recommended amount of fruit is pretty easy, so let’s just focus on the veggies for now. Here are some quick tips to help you get the recommended quantities.

• Include a veggie in the first meal of the day. Canned pumpkin can be stirred into cooked hot cereal or plain yogurt. Either can be sweetened with a small amount of real maple syrup and enhanced with chopped toasted nuts and pumpkin pie spice.

• Sauté a variety of veggies (e.g. spinach, onions, mushrooms) in extra virgin olive oil and then add two lightly beaten eggs for a veggie scramble. This combo makes a good meal any time of the day and, if you like, you can substitute crumbled tofu for the eggs. Liberally season with herbs and spices (go easy on the salt). typical-plate

• Blend up a green breakfast smoothie using low-fat milk, frozen fruit, leafy greens, avocado and Greek yogurt.

• Fill half your plate with vegetables at both lunch and dinner.

• Enjoy a broth-based vegetable soup or a fresh vegetable salad as a starter for lunch and dinner.

• Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes or for a quick nibble while waiting for dinner. Ready-to-eat favorites include: colorful bell pepper strips, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots or celery sticks, cucumber rounds, snap peas or whole radishes. Hummus, a ready-to-use vegetable dip, is healthy and can provide a serving of beans.

• Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low fat cottage cheese.

• Add grated, shredded or finely chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to marinara sauces and rice dishes.

• Bake a batch of kale chips for a snack or side dish.

• Stock up your freezer with frozen vegetables to microwave or stir-fry for a quick side dish.

Whether purchased fresh or frozen and eaten cooked or raw, vegetables provide plant nutrients that nourish your body and ward off cancer and inflammation. The fiber fills you up which can help whittle away your waist while promoting good gut health.

Article by Nancy Teeter, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Nancy Teeter,RD Registered Dietitian Nutritionist



YogaPracticeForSeniorsWhat does yoga do for me?

The more that we practice yoga the more we realize that yoga seeps into our daily lives both on and off the mat.   We learn to breathe more deeply, effectively and mindfully.  We bring awareness and effort to our posture.  We move fluidly. We cultivate living in the present moment, which we realize is the only place that life occurs.  

As we stand tall and grounded in our mountain pose we connect with the earth as both feet connect mindfully to gravity.  We learn to lengthen our legs upward from our feet, our torso elevating as we lengthen our spine and the crown of our head rises to the sky.  Amazingly our breath naturally deepens as we provide space for our heart and lungs. 

Our mindful, deep breath enlivens each cell and organ of our bodies, including our brain.  We become more alert, our mood improves, and even our memory becomes sharper as oxygen rich blood flows through our bodies from head to toe.

Bridget is currently teaching Vinyasa Flow and Restorative Yoga at SaddleBrooke Ranch (SBR) La Hacienda Club and at SaddleBrooke (SB) HOA1 Group Fitness Center.  Check SB and SBR schedules for class days and times or email Bridget at

Bridget Bonner

E-RYT Yoga Alliance
“Total wellness with every breath you take”
Lifeshops by Bridget

diet and exerciseWhy inflammation is a hot topic & what to do to prevent it

Inflammation is your body’s response to infection or injury. This immune response is vital  to life. When the inflammation is visible and lasts a relatively short time, it is no cause for concern. But when inflammation becomes chronic and systemic, it can lead to premature aging and disease. This condition is sometimes referred to as “inflammaging.” Medical research has determined that chronic inflammation may be responsible for many diseases and conditions of poor health. These include heart disease, cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and COPD. Even inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis may begin with chronic inflammation. As we age, the risk of inflammation naturally increases, so we cannot prevent inflammation completely. However, there are many lifestyle factors that we can control. Future articles will delve more deeply into each of the following topics which are initial ways to begin inflammation control.

  • Veg Out: There’s no limit to the number of servings of non-starchy vegetables you can eat, but most American’s don’t come close to eating the recommended three cups each day.
  • Eat Real Foods: More often, choose foods that closely resemble how they appear in nature as opposed to processed foods. These include unstripped grains, beans, and whole vegetables and fruit (rather than juices)
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Be mindful of the reason we eat. Is it for hunger or to satisfy an emotion?
  • Move it: Physical activity keeps the body and brain healthy. If you are sedentary for hours on end, set a goal to walk around for five minutes every hour.
  • Adequate Sleep: Lack of sleep may negatively impact your food choices that result in an imbalance of hormones that influence hunger and
 Article by Nancy Teeter, Registered Dietitian Nurtitionist