Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My adventures with T-Tapp 3

What have I learned so far in my adventures with T-Tapp?

1)  There is something special about the way T-Tapp gives me extra energy and a sense of well-being.  Most exercise, if not overdone, gives me a similar result.  However, T-Tapp does seem to be tops so far.  My husband has noticed that I have been having more energy and a lighter, sunnier mood lately.  I'm not ready to second all of the T-Tapp hype, but I have to say that I am pleased with this effect of T-Tapping.  
2)  You can overdo T-Tapp, especially if you are hypothyroid and especially also if you are obsessive.  I dove right into a T-Tapp "boot camp" plan while greatly upping other aerobic exercise at the same time.  After five days, I was exhausted and had to rest for four days.  Doh.  After my crash and burn experience, I have tried it again with more moderation.  This time, I feel stronger.
3)  I will probably alternate T-Tapp with straight aerobic training.  A new study  indicates that the best exercise method for losing weight and reducing belly fat is aerobic.  Next in effectiveness is aerobic training plus resistance.  Resistance training alone builds lean muscle faster than the other methods, but does not reduce fat.  In fact, if you do resistance training alone and don't change your diet, you can actually gain weight and increase your waist measurement.  This is because the lean muscle that you are building is still sitting underneath any excess fat that you might have.  So, the study concludes that if you are short on exercise time, your exercise minutes are best spent in aerobic conditioning. T-Tapp does provide some aerobic benefit along with using your own body weight to provide resistance. For me, it seems to work as interval training, and I can feel the aerobic heat.   Plus, I believe that there is some value to resistance training, as there are many benefits to building lean muscle.  So, T Tapp would seem to me to be a winner there. However, I don't know yet if it's enough to give me the aerobic benefit that I need.  Just to be sure, I will work some aerobic conditioning into my workout plan. 
4.  If you join the T-Tapp forums, you can get personalized answers to any question you might have regarding T-Tapp, especially when it comes to correct form or how much and what T-Tapp to do in your current health condition.  I ran into a couple of little snags and asked about them.  I received prompt help.
5.  T-Tappers focus more on inches lost than on the scale.  As in point 3, T-Tapp exercises provide enough resistance to build lean muscle and, what's more, to build lean muscle alone the spine.  At the same time, many T-Tappers experience fat loss.  In the beginning, this may be a trade-off.  Since a pound of new muscle is denser than a pound of lost fat, you might find that you fit into a smaller size while weighing virtually the same.  As you progress, you should lose weight as well.  I'm still too early in my journey to comment one way or the other, but I'll let you know.  Again, I might have to add cardio at times to achieve the fat loss.  

I do want to lose weight, but I also want to gain muscle strength.  As you know, Hashimoto's disease can accelerate loss of muscle tone.  Aging does as well.  So, I am all for a program that will help me develop lean muscle in a way that my hypothyroid body can handle. 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

My adventures with T-Tapp 2

Whew!  Today's T-Tapp workout made me sweat.  The exercises look easy, but the emphasis on holding an exact form renders them more taxing than they look.  I thought that yesterday's session of my T-Tapp boot camp might have made some sciatica flare, but it seems to be ok today.  I am enjoying my after-workout glow.  (Just a reminder:  I am also walking and riding a recumbent bike.)                  

After working with various patients with lymphatic edema, Teresa Tapp became interested in creating exercises that stimulate the lymph system.  Thus, the program was first developed with this in mind, and benefits to the lymphoid or lymphatic system is one of the program's major claims.  As I understand it, the benefits are related to the fact that the exercises use seldom used muscles along the spine and also work through all layers of muscle. 

This much is true:  The lymph system does not have a pump, as blood circulation has the heart, and body movement is the major mechanism for moving fluid through the lymph vessels, glands, and nodes.  Even the muscles used in breathing are vital for lymph movement and drainage, though we also need to move other muscles to move lymph fluid. 

We've all seen the damaging effects of inactivity on the lymph system.  Have you ever known someone who was suddenly wheel chair bound and began to experience swelling in the legs and ankles?  I have.  I also knew an older woman whose work required her to stand in one spot all day.  Each day, gravity would pull her lymph fluid downward, and her lack of movement, combined with her age, rendered her unable to move it upward, where it could drain properly.  

It stand to reason that T-Tapp, with exercises and an emphasis on breathing, would benefit the lymph system.  T-Tapp also recommends staying hydrated.  New studies indicate that we don't need to drink as much water as many exercise experts recommend.  Even so, drinking enough fluids is essential for circulatory health and would help the lymph system too, I should think. 

Is T-Tapp more beneficial to the lymph system than any other form of exercise?  I would love to know.  That is a question for someone with more knowledge of human physiology than I have.  

At any rate, I expect T-Tapp to help my lymph system at least as much as the same amount of time spent in any other exercise.  As someone who is hypothyroid with sluggish body systems, I am grateful that any movement helps our systems function at their best.  If T-Tapp is the best workout for lymphatic health, perhaps I will be able to detect that in concrete, measurable ways.

Have you ever studied the body's lymph system?  It's fascinating!  I am awed by the intricate systems the body and how they all work together. There are so many tiny details, such as valves in our lymph vessels to keep fluid from flowing backward, that must be in place for the body to function.  To me, the body is strong proof that we are God's handiwork.   

Checking T-Tapp's claims are leading me into research in which I re-familiarize myself with human anatomy and also learn new things.  I guess that's a benefit, too!  

To your health!

Friday, March 7, 2014

My adventures with T-Tapp

Me standing next to hubby and giant sequoia in an attempt to look slimmer by comparison to the huge tree.  Is it working?

If T-Tapp can deliver on all of its claims, it would be the perfect exercise for those of us with hypothyroid disease.  This program was created by Theresa Tapp and consists of anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes of very specific muscle movements.  Here are a few of the claimed benefits:

1)  Helps to reset your metabolism to burn at a faster rate.  Obviously, that -- if true -- is great news for those of us whose metabolisms have been slowed by hypothyroid disease.
2)  Is a left-brain-right-bran exercise that has a positive effect on neurotransmitters in the brain.  If true, can we say good-bye to brain fog?
3)  Builds internal core muscles at a rate of up to five to seven pounds in one week!  This ups your calorie burning by as much as 350 calories a day without any changes in diet.
4)  Works muscles at both ends, not just one end as traditional exercises often do.  Creates strong muscles without bulk in the middle.  Also, works more of the muscle so a single movement accomplishes more than a traditional exercise might.
5.  Stimulates body to use glucose as fuel to support movement instead of storing glucose as fat.
6.  Activates and cleanses the lymphiod system.  Reduces edema.
7.  Improves posture.
8.  Drop inches and dress sizes within a week to 8 weeks.
9.  Helps to balance hormones.
10.Increases bone density, which is an issue for those who take replacement hormone as I do.
11. Improves balance
12.  Improves digestion.

These are gleaned from Tapp's book, Fit ad Fabulous in 15 minutes.  I've simplified these and pulled them into a list.  Tapp gives her reasons why the T-Tapp programs provide these benefits more efficiently than other systems.  I will have to do some research to know if some of the scientific basis for the program is valid.

I have the book and two workout DVD's.  I tried T-Tapp a while back and found that it gave me some pain and soreness, and not in the good "I've exercised and can feel it way", but in a way that concerned me.   One thing to note about T-Tapp is that it depends on following the correct form, and I wonder if I might have been doing it incorrectly.  At any rate, I am going to give it a second try and record my results.

Here's my plan:

Tapp cays that the benefits of T-Tapp can accure if you begin by doing her program 3 times a week.  However, if you want to lose dress sizes quickly, she outlines various "boot camp" strategies.  Two lose three dress sizes, you being by doing the fifteen minute Basic Plus Workout or the 45 minute Total workout for 10 days in a row.  After that, yoou switch to an every other day workout schedule for four to six weeks.  Following that, there is another step-down in how many workouts you do a week.  Once you have builtt a certain amount of muscle, the theory is that you can follow a maintenance schedule, rather than a building schedule.

T-Tapp requires no equipment other than a good pair of cross trainers.

In addition to the workout, Tapp includes a way of eating to consider, as well as the suggestion to brush your skin with a brush that she sells.  This supposedly reduces celluite and improves the skin function.  I won't be trying the eating plan, but will most likely brush my skin to see if it has any effect.  She also recommends water to stay hydrated.

Tapp suggests that during the first phase of T-Tapp that you not confuse your body with other types of exercises, other than walking.  She offers fitness challenges on her sites, as well as an online community.  To participate in the challenges, your results must come from T-Tapp.  I will walk and also use a recumbent bycycle during my trail run.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

What happens when Hashimoto's has run it's course far enough that the thyroid has actually died?  This is a question I am researching.

My endocrinologist said something that led me to believe that I am at this point.  That makes sense, as my current dosage level represents an increase that occurred during a time when my thyroid was creating extreme symptoms:  strange problems in muscles and nerves, extreme fatigue, and slowed thinking.  The increase in dosage helped tremendously, and my further tests have shown that I have remained stable on this dose for two years.  I suppose that period of intense symptoms might have been my thyroid's last little struggle to cope.

I am so thankful that I have a team of wonderful, caring doctors who do want me to experience my best health possible.  They are all very well educated on the subject of Hashimoto's, and all do listen to me and suggest things to try to improve my overall comfort and energy level.  I would not trade any one of them.  Yet, in asking each what happens when the thyroid dies, I've received slightly different answers. I'm a little confused as to whether the Hashimoto's goes away or whether it continues to attack other areas of the body.  

So, I'm just beginning to research this question.  This article doesn't exactly answer that, but it does explain why a thyroid dies.  It also mentions that Hashimoto's not only affects the thyroid, but the gut, brain, and pancreas, as well.  I'd need further research to decide whether to go to the bank on that supposition or not, but it does make sense.

If you know of any links to research in this area, please leave it in the comments.    I'd also love to hear from long-time Hashimoto's patients about how the progression of the disease does or doesn't affect their health.

Here's to your health!  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Inspiration from PInterest...

I have had one of those mornings.  Before I went to bed last night, I planned my activities for today.  I was looking forward to getting some special things done.  When I woke up, however, my allergies and my fatigue had caught up with me.  I tried to get in gear. but I ended up frittering away my precious morning hours.  I even indulged a craving for junk food, and, of course, that did not give me the healthy fuel that I needed.

I finally went out for a 50 minute stroll with the dog.  The weather was dreary.  I could not make my best time.  However, it felt good to be steadily moving in the outdoors.  There's something about being outside that so often soothes and energizes me.

When I came back, I was struck by how true this saying on Pinterest is, especially for those of us who have chronic illness.  True, we have days when we wake up with "normal" energy. The weather is pleasant and beckons us outside to walk or run or to the gym.  Our brains are clear, and we move efficiently from task to task.  Let's face it though.  We have many days when our physical strength and energy are low.  Weather fronts are moving through, and our bones ache.  Our minds are distracted by the pain of our bodies, and we can't manage our tasks as well.

Even on those days, there is usually a little something we can do to accomplish our work and to move toward our life's goals.  It may not be much, but it is something, and, if we do it, we will feel better about our day.  Setting little goals and doing them can do much to lift our spirits and add to our physical well being.  The goals might be as small as stretching for ten minutes,  making one healthy, homemade dish to go with a takeout meal, or finishing one step in a larger project.

Here are five random thoughts I have for dealing with low energy days through movement:

1)  Test your energy level for the day by walking or moving for a ten minute period.  If your activity tires you more than it energizes you, it might be time to rest.  If it energizes you, you might be able to move on to another task that requires physical or mental energy, and another, and so forth.  
2)  The reality of a chronic illness is that you will have more energy on some days than you do on others.  In addition, some people with chronic illness fight depression, either because of effects of the illness on the brain or because they are simply frustrated with their condition.  Depression begets inactivity and inactivity begets more depression.  Fatigue begets inactivity and, over time, inactivity begets more fatigue.  The fastest ways to break these cycles is to include at least a little healthy movement in each day.  Don't overdo, but don't underdo, either.
3)  Celebrate even small victories.
4) Weather permitting, spend at least ten to fifteen minutes a day outside.  do this year round, not just in spring and summer.
5) As the caption on the image says, remember that if we wait for perfect conditions, we'll never get anything done.



Saturday, October 19, 2013

Health Diary...

Do you keep a diary of your physical and emotional symptoms, as well as other pertinent information?  I'm horrible about keeping up with one, but I benefit when I do track my health.   For one thing, I am able to make connections between between how I feel on a particular day and factors that may influence my daily well-being.  For another, I am able to give my doctor a true picture of my health.  I lead a busy life -- as we all do nowadays -- and I can forget exactly when a cough started or a bout of unusual fatigue began.  My diary provides the answers for both my physician and myself.  Not only that, my doctor can see how my autoimmune issues do or don't affect my daily life.

What should you include in a health diary?  Whatever you find helpful to note.  Your entries don't have to be long.  You might jot down one or two words on subjects like the following:

1)  Physical and emotional symptoms
2)  Whether today was an energy day or a tire day
3)  Where you are in your menstrual cycle
4)  What the daily pollen count or mold count is in your area.
5)  What you ate, particularly if you noticed a stomach upset after a meal or a reaction to any one food.
6)  Your body's reaction to gluten, diary, nightshades, or chocolate.  (You might want to track just one of these at a time).
7)  weather patterns in your area

As you keep this diary, look for patterns in it.  Are your symptoms worse before a rain?  After a rain?  Do you feel awesome on a low pollen count day?  Do your symptoms wax and wane in a predictable pattern or do they seem random?  

Make special note of times you are feeling well.  Record happy things like the beauty of a spring afternoon, even if you don't feel well that day.  Create some happy patterns to look for so that your focus is not entirely on your limitations.  There is always a reason to rejoice in a given day, and we must train ourselves to find that reason. We are more than our disease, and there is more to life than our unpleasant symptoms.  Keeping note of the good along with the hard times provides a balanced view of our life.  That can go along way to helping us fight the depression and frustration that often accompanies illness, particularly thyroid disease.  

Knowledge of our body and its connection to internal and external factors can equip us to cope with our illness.  If we do find a cyclical pattern to our symptoms, for example, we can be proactive about making extra time for rest as we approach a possible down time.  We can tweak our diet to our body's particular needs.  We can better understand the up and down nature of our ailments, which will help us understand that a bad day, week, or month will likely be followed by a day of better health.  

Hang in there! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stepping Up!

By now, everyone's heard of the 10,000 steps a day method of gaining fitness and losing weight.  We've all also heard of the study of an Old Order Amish community, in which the men generally average 18,000 steps a day and the women, 14,000 a day.  This reflects the rural lifestyle that was common in most parts of the world, including the U.S., until some point in the twentieth century.  The Old Order Amish who farm generally don't have any problems with obesity.  (Interestingly, those who manage stores and are more sedentary are more prone to being overweight than their more active counterparts.)   It's my belief that our bodies were meant to move and not to sit, sit, sit.

As I discussed in my last post, there are some who think that exercise that is too strenuous might be counterproductive for people who are hypothyroid.  Some think that burnout of the adrenal glands often accompanies hypothyroid issues and that over-exercising only makes that worse.  However, there are so many ways that exercise can help those of us with thyroid issues that we can't afford not to partake of it in some fashion.

Achieving 10,000 steps a day does not necessarily require you to walk at such a high intensity that your exercise efforts could backfire.  If you, like me, live a typical modern lifestyle, however, you probably will have to spend time in dedicated walking.  This is a good time to build stamina.  As you become fitter, you might find that you can up the intensity of your exercise a bit without overtaxing your adrenals and thyroid. Some people believe that at least part of your stepping routine should be at high intensity.  People who have struggled with hypothyroid for a long time and who are out of shape, overweight, and possibly fighting one or more immune diseases shouldn't feel that they need to jump right there.  Building up slowly is wise.  

Adding more steps to your day has been known to help many health problems.  I have a good friend with type 2 diabetes who has greatly improved her health through taking 10,000 steps a day and watching what she eats.

I'm using myself as a guinea pig to see how the 10,000 steps program might work for a person with thyroid issues.  I started doing it a few months ago, but I was sidelined when I caught a respiratory virus and had complications related to asthma afterward.  I think I might have jumped in too quickly and that I over-stressed my immune system.  I've been trying again lately, though.  In one short week, I am seeing an increase in energy and a lessening of brain fog.  I'll keep you posted on how my experiment goes.

Some say that to actually lose weight and keep it off, you should work up to at least 13,000 steps a day.  Again, no one should jump right to such a goal.  The usual advice is to wear a pedometer for a week without changing your routine.  At the end of a week, you can average your daily steps to come up with a current daily step range.  To this range, add about 500 steps a day for the next week and so forth.  Gradually, over many weeks, you will reach your ultimate step goal.  You'll begin to see benefits long before you reach your goal, especially if your beginning point falls into the range of a sedentary lifestyle.