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volume 15, issue 4


Better Sleep Means Better Health

Usha Reddi, MD Sleep Medicine

Marna Butler, ARNP Sleep Medicine

Personalized Solutions for Better Sleep Sleep is vital for human health. Chronic sleep deprivation may have long-term health consequences. At Olympic Medical Sleep Center, expert medical and technical professionals work together to provide patients with personalized solutions for a range of sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and narcolepsy.

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Make successful New Year’s resolutions

Volume 15, Issue 4 · Winter 2019 Produced and published by the PENINSULA DAILY NEWS & SEQUIM GAZETTE Advertising Department O�fices: 305 W. First St., Port Angeles, WA 98362 360-452-2345 · 147 W. Washington St., Sequim, WA 98382 360-683-3311 ·

about the winter theme

Terry R. Ward, regional publisher Eran Kennedy, advertising director Shawna Dixson, special sections editor Denise Buchner, Jeanette Elledge, Vivian Hansen, John Jaeger Harmony Liebert, Joylena Owen and Marilyn Parrish, advertising sales team

ARE YOU AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD? Share your knowledge with your community! Health-related professionals are invited to contribute informative and educational articles for consideration in Healthy Living. Contact special sections editor Shawna Dixson at for more information. Submitted articles are the opinions and beliefs of the contributing writer and in no way represent an endorsement by Healthy Living, Peninsula Daily News or Sequim Gazette.

Solar On Your Mind?

It’s easy to get enthusiastic about making a New Year’s resolution and go overboard in your attempts to improve yourself. However, small measures are your best hope for success. The stories in this Healthy Living provide solid advice and recommendations for eating better, starting a new exercise regimen and paying attention to what your body and mind are asking for. No matter what you resolve to do this new year, remember these tips: 1. Start with small, achievable goals that build incrementally. 2. Don’t give up if you fail your first, second or “nth” try, especially with addictive habits like sugar, alcohol and smoking.

3. Tell your most supportive friends and/or family about your resolution and ask them to keep you on track. 4. Be kind to yourself. Whether you tell yourself you will or won’t succeed, you’re right!


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Be proactive to safeguard your long-term health against sleep apnea

by Shawna Dixson peninsula daily news With many people experiencing congestion during winter months, snoring might be interrupting your long, peaceful nights. But it’s “just snoring,” right? Maybe. When we look at the general population, about 44 percent of men and 28 percent of women between 30 and 60 years of age are known to snore. “Snoring is a sound that’s produced by the soft tissues in our airway vibrating — in the back of the throat — with the passage of air,” said Dr. Usha Reddi, sleep medicine specialist at Olympic Medical Center in Sequim. Although snoring is technically defined as occurring when we breathe in, some people also snore when breathing out. The vibrations that cause snoring indicate resistance to the flow of air, as these tissues do not vibrate unless the airway is narrowed and the back of the throat is collapsed to some extent.



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In other words, if you are audibly snoring, it may be a sign that you’re not getting enough air. Typically, you see an increased risk of snoring when someone has an innately narrow airway: because of the way their nasal cavity is structured, increased weight, increased tonsil size, allergies, alterations to the nose structure that restrict the passage of air, even hypothyroidism and Down syndrome. If you do snore, it may not come to your attention. Because we all have different sensitivities to noises, whether or not snoring is bothersome or disruptive to others is subjective. You also may not have someone nearby to alert you to the issue. Because snoring is so common, we can sometimes be dismissive about its potential consequences, but it can be indicative of a deeper issue. SLEEP APNEA Although snoring is often harmless, habitual snorers, people who snore all the time regardless of their sleeping position, are at an increased risk of sleep apnea, a chronic disease that can have serious long-term consequences if left untreated. In sleep apnea, your breathing starts and stops irregularly, usually in combination with heavy snoring sounds. A Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study of sleep disordered breathing (SDB) found that up to 34 percent of men and 19 percent of women who snore all the time may have some degree of sleep apnea. The followup to the original 1988 study also found a correlation between sleep apnea and an increased mortality rate.

Snoring usually occurs in isolation, but the degree to which snoring interrupts your quality of sleep is a continuum. Initially it’s intermittent, such as after drinking alcohol, during allergies, sleeping on your back or when you have a cold. It’s a “red flag” when snoring becomes an every-night occurrence and you may notice that you: • Wake yourself up with your own snoring • Stop breathing and have a “recovery snore” that’s louder • Are told by a bed partner that you’re not breathing • Wake frequently at night to go to the bathroom without any other reasons • Wake up groggy or feel hungover without cause • Feel sleepy during the day These are potential signs of a much deeper problem than simple snoring, but some people don’t notice the symptoms or misinterpret them, so it goes untreated. If you identify with some or all of the symptoms listed above, your snoring may have progressed to sleep apnea and you should speak to a medical professional to ensure you’re sleeping and breathing properly. SNORING continues on Page 6 >>




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WHICH CAME FIRST — FOOD OR STRESS? Key steps toward making your life easier to manage by Monica Dixon, olympic peninsula healthy community coalition When it comes to the relationship between food and stress, it’s a classic example of the “chicken or the egg” conundrum. What we eat influences how our brains and body manage stress, and being stressed for long periods can lead us straight to the candy bar aisle and to overeat. Stress, the hormones it unleashes and the effects of high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” can push people toward overeating. No matter what stage of life you are at, it’s likely you will experience stress on a regular basis. Some stress can be good, perhaps inspiring you to make changes in your life or motivate you, yet getting stressed too often and staying stressed for too long takes a toll on your body. Remaining stressed for too long can lead to health issues ranging from weight gain to increased inflammation to elevated blood sugar. Yet it isn’t just our environments or tough situations that cause stress — certain foods can have the same negative impact on our body. If you want to reduce your stress levels and reduce your risk of disease, resolve to decrease or

eliminate the following foods: sugar, processed carbohydrates, alcohol and excess caffeine. This may seem like a daunting task — and it can be — but if you tackle one thing at a time, you can build better eating habits that will improve your overall resilience and health. SUGAR Sugar seems to be in everything these days, from ketchup to bottled dressing to bread, so it’s a difficult but important ingredient to try to reduce in your diet. When you eat sugary foods, blood sugar levels spike and the body must release cortisol to help balance your blood sugar. But increased cortisol can cause a host of problems, including sleep problems, decreased immune response, headaches and even more cravings for sugary foods. Eliminate foods with added sugars like pastries, sodas, sugary coffee drinks and desserts and substitute a piece of fresh or dried fruit instead. The best part is that decreasing sugary foods will almost immediately make you feel better and more energetic. FOOD continues on Page 7 >>

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<<SNORING continued from page 4 Occasionally, people who have had surgery to prevent snoring (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) can suffer from sleep apnea without snoring symptoms. As with any chronic disease — high blood pressure, diabetes and sleep apnea, to name a few — sleep apnea does not manifest immediately. It often impacts you long before you realize what’s happening. “What comes to the surface is sometimes like the tip of an iceberg,” Reddi said. “The body absorbs a lot of disease before [a recognizable symptom] pokes its head out and manifests. “Occasionally, some of our patients come to our attention because they develop atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), pulmonary hypertension and high blood pressure …” Reddi said. “These are more distant manifestations of sleep apnea going untreated.”


WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP SNORING? To treat snoring, you have to know what’s causing it. If snoring was caused by substantial weight gain, losing weight could help. If it’s allergies, treat the allergies. If someone has large tonsils (child or adult), talk to a physician about the risks and benefits of removing them. If sleeping on your back causes it, ensure you sleep on your side by using a position

better sleep. better quality of life.

Dr. Usha Reddi is a sleep specialist at Olympic Medical Center. After graduating from Sri Venkateswara Medical College in India, she completed her residency at Pennsylvania Hospital. Reddi completed fellowships in sleep and pulmonary medicine and holds certifications from the American boards of Sleep Medicine and Internal Medicine.

UVULO·PALATO·PHARYNGO·PLASTY Called UPPP for short, this surgery was popular approximately 20 years ago. The process included snipping the uvula (the flap that hangs down at the back of the throat) and reducing the palette size to eliminate snoring. However, this was an overly simplistic view of a very complex physiology. Down the road, people who received this surgery experienced scarring and sometimes retained their sleep apnea, even without audible snoring.


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monitor or body pillow. Avoid alcohol several hours before bed and give up smoking. Have a consistent bedtime. Treat any hypothyroidism. Women tend to snore more after menopause, because it causes weight gain and the tissues in the throat tend to thicken with less estrogen. Diagnosing sleep issues is complicated. If you’re experiencing a combination of symptoms, including not feeling refreshed in the morning, don’t just ignore them. Look at the context: If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, chronic congestion or other risk factors of sleep apnea, it’s important to discuss sleep issues and snoring with your doctor, because addressing sleep apnea can positively impact your overall health significantly in the long run. “Be proactive,” Reddi advised. If you snore all the time and experience additional symptoms, definitely speak to your doctor about sleep testing and current sleep apnea treatments. Protect your health by taking a moment to ask, “Do I think I should get screened for sleep apnea?”

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<<FOOD continued from page 5 PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES Following closely behind the effects of added sugar are those of highly processed carbohydrate foods like white bread, white rice and pasta. They have little nutritional value, while leading to fluctuating blood sugar levels that can leave you feeling moody and irritable. These empty-calorie foods are often inexpensive but not as filling as their whole-grain alternatives, so we eat larger portions of them, thus not really helping our budget or our health. The fiber in whole-grain alternatives such as brown rice, whole-grain pasta and whole-wheat breads take longer to digest and are much easier on our blood sugar levels. ALCOHOL A glass of wine might help you feel better at the end of the day, but drinking more than this negates any health benefits and instead adds even more stress to your life. Alcohol increases the production of hormones that can leave you feeling more anxious and stressed than before you drank. In addition, many alcoholic drinks are loaded with sugar, again causing havoc on your blood sugar levels, and can interrupt your deep sleep cycles, leaving you more cranky and stressed the next morning. EXCESS CAFFEINE A few cups of coffee in the morning for most people won’t cause undue stress, but if you’re overdoing it, you may find yourself feeling more stressed and anxious than you’d like. Too much caffeine stimulates the nervous system, can raise blood pressure and heart rate leading to increased anxiety. In addition, the pervasiveness of heavily sweetened coffee or energy drinks

during the day turns caffeine into a double whammy for your blood sugar and mood. On the other side of the spectrum, researchers are just beginning to discover that what you eat can actually change your brain’s ability to regulate food intake. Researchers at the University of Washington fed mice a high-fat diet for 12 weeks and, as the mice became obese, the researchers found that neurons within their brains progressively lost their “brakes,” or the capacity to pass along signals of fullness. In other words, our brain’s natural eating inhibitors might lose their sway over time as we continue to overindulge. A junk food meal may be fine now and then, but having them more frequently may make it much more difficult to lose weight. There are two simple strategies to help you begin making healthier changes, the “perimeter” strategy and the “five ingredients” rule.

A candy bar

CHOOSE A few pieces of dark chocolate (75% cocoa or darker)

Ice Cream

Frozen yogurt pops


Homemade smoothies


Chocolate dipped nuts


Fruity sparkling water


Grilled chicken, turkey or salmon burger

Fried chicken wings

Baked chicken wings or legs



(Potato, corn or other fried salty snack)


Baked sweet potato fries

Traditional dips

Veggies and hummus


Joseph L. Price, PhD


• • •


992409507 9C2443469

Use the chart below to guide your snacking choices as you go into the new year. Address eating habits you would like to change one at a time to improve your chance of success.


THE ‘FIVE INGREDIENTS’ RULE Not everything on the perimeter is healthy, but by following the “five ingredients” strategy, it becomes even


Dr. Monica Dixon is a psychologist and registered dietitian nutritionist with over 35 years working in the health promotion field. She is the co-founder of the Olympic Peninsula Healthy Community Coalition, a nonprofit organization in Clallam County of over 50 partners working to decrease chronic disease rates in our communities.


THE ‘PERIMETER’ STRATEGY If it’s not in your cupboard, you can’t eat it. Food manufacturers use every chemical, physical and marketing trick in the book to get us to overeat, so it’s important not only to be aware of the power of these foods to draw us in, but also how to outsmart them. The perimeter strategy helps you avoid processed and packaged foods at the grocery store by sticking to the perimeter of the store and only occasionally heading down the aisles. If you limit yourself to buying foods on the perimeter, you will generally buy whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, etc.

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easier to find the healthier choices. If something has more than five ingredients in it, don’t buy it. Odds are, it has been designed to fool you into eating more of it with added sodium, preservatives and sugars. Finally, find a better way to deal with your stress besides eating: Take a short walk outdoors, have a chat with a friend or neighbor, spend a few minutes doing yoga or gentle stretching, or read a good book. These steps will be much better for your physical and mental health, while leaving you feeling energized and calmer to face the world.


SUPPLEMENTING GOOD HEALTH HABITS Making vitamins work for you by Shawna Dixson peninsula daily news

If you drink alcohol, even just one to two drinks per day, you might need folate and thiamine (both are B vitamins) to help your liver clear the alcohol. B12 usually only becomes a concern as people Everybody needs vitamins, but only if you’re age. This is because meat is the predominant talking about the nutrients that naturally occur in source of B12, but it is provided in such a way that food. According to Elizabeth Schuerman, registered dietician at Olympic Medical Center, it’s important to a long chain of processes within your body has to be working properly to absorb the nutrient. For understand the distinction. example, if your stomach acid is insufficient, which “Do we need vitamins? Yes. Do we need can happen naturally as you age but is exacerbated supplements? Not so much — most of the time,” by acid reflux medications and the like, your body Schuerman said. can’t get to the B12 in the meat being consumed, resulting in a deficiency. For the average healthy American who has After women go through menopause, they often access to a regular supply of fresh food, getting need calcium supplements to reduce the likelihood enough vitamins is not usually a problem. However, for people who are dealing with chronic osteoporosis will develop. Calcium also can be a problem for vegan diets. You disease or are in a situation that requires extra have to be very purposeful to get enough calcium; help, vitamin supplements are a good option. some vegetables have calcium, but you would need When you are in a particular life stage or disease to eat an unrealistic amount to supply your daily needs. For example, to get your recommended daily state, supplements help your body deal with the calcium intake from broccoli, you would need to eat situation. Pregnancy is a good example: If you don’t 14 cups — talk about gastric distress! However, tofu get enough folic acid (folate), neural tube defects cured in calcium may be able to provide your daily become a problem. If you are of childbearing age quota. As long as you’re looking at the big picture and might become pregnant, taking folic acid and intentionally eating a well-rounded variety of supplements is critical for bringing a healthy food, you can make most diets work. child to term. If you smoke, take extra vitamin C to help offset the free radicals. Although, “Ideally, we’d like you to quit smoking,” Schuerman added.


Even if you get enough calcium, if you don’t get out and exercise, your body won’t be stimulated to use it. What you demand from your body gives it instructions for what it needs. Without the impact from exercise putting stress on the bones, your body is not signaled to make your bones stronger, so it flushes the calcium instead of using it. If you sit all day, your body will get rid of the extra minerals because it doesn’t think it needs them. WHICH VITAMINS DO YOU NEED MORE OF? There’s no easy answer. Appropriate vitamin supplementation requires understanding a complicated network of interlocking parts. It’s easy to waste money and potentially risk your health when you don’t have the guidance of a real nutritionist. Supplement manufacturers can easily lead you astray. There’s a psychological component to the “magic of the pill,” Schuerman said. “We take it and it makes us better.” So it’s easy to grab a bottle of vitamin “x” and feel good about it, but you don’t have “y” and “z” to make it do any good. For example, the supplement bottle tells you to take calcium to support bone health, but rarely does the packaging mention that it’s useless without enough vitamin D and potassium available alongside; your body won’t be able to absorb and use the calcium. Just about everyone in the Pacific Northwest is vitamin D deficient, so you might want to plan to include mushrooms in your diet or get enough sunlight to combat that part of it. There’s more to it than most supplement marketing bothers to tell you. The “2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, identifies several common nutrient deficiencies among Americans, including potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, D, E and C. (Iron also is underconsumed by adolescent girls and women ages 19 to 50 years.) Of these, four “nutrients of concern” were identified as having the strongest impact on overall health: vitamin D, calcium, dietary fiber and potassium. Vitamin D and calcium work together for bone health. Fiber content is necessary for bacterial flora in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract — the bacteria feed on fiber found in plants. Potassium helps your kidneys excrete more sodium, which can help salt-sensitive people limit problems with blood pressure. Peninsula Daily News / Sequim Gazette

Part of what a dietitian does is check for deficiencies using various physical indications. Little purple dots on the skin, where the blood vessel has come to the surface, indicate not enough vitamin C. Hypercarotenosis, a vitamin A deficiency, causes a bumpy/scaly rash. Spoonshaped nails, which curve up instead of down, could be iron deficiency. Splinter hemorrhages in nails may mean you’re not eating enough, if you haven’t smashed your finger or had other trauma. If your hair is falling out more than usual, this also can indicate vitamin deficiencies. “Hair, skin and nails are our big ones that tell us how well somebody is doing,” Schuerman said. “That’s one of the reasons that we, as humans, show off our skin and decorate our hair and try to take care of it and show everybody else out there that we’re ‘healthy.’ When your hair is dull and falling out, something’s wrong.” HOW TO SELECT A VITAMIN REGIMEN If you determine that vitamin supplements are appropriate for your situation, don’t just go grab one of everything and do be mindful of manufacture quality. “Not every supplement on the shelf is appropriate,” Schuerman said. Supplements are regulated, but not to the extent that medications are. A good manufacturer will ensure the quality of its product, but there is a gap between government regulation and responsible supplement production. Not every brand does its due diligence. “Look for a USP [US Pharmacopeial] certification on the bottle,” Schuerman said. Anything that has a “proprietary blend” may be using fancy marketing to hide junk you don’t want or need. Good supplements are transparent about their ingredients and are more likely to provide you with real benefits. When and how you take supplements also impacts their effectiveness. To maximize absorption, take your supplements with food.

Also be mindful of which vitamins you take together. Any of the minerals — calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus — use the same absorption channels in your GI tract, so if you provide all of them at once, then they’re competing for absorption. “It’s no different than when the doors open at a concert and only one person can go through at a time,” Schuerman said. “You have a flood of vitamins all trying to get through to the body.” Despite this potential for “maxing out” your channels for absorption, taking a multivitamin isn’t necessarily a bad thing. No one can eat perfectly 100 percent of the time and it’s good to get the vitamins somehow. It doesn’t hurt as long as you can afford it and you don’t exceed your “upper limit,” which is the point at which side effects or harm can occur. But there’s no guarantee it will be worth the investment. If you’re getting lots of weird colors in your urine, something isn’t getting absorbed. Whenever possible, find out exactly what you need and focus on that, instead. If you’re dealing with a specific vitamin deficiency, give that vitamin priority. This is likely the most cost-effective option, and the safest. The key is balance. “Your body is very smart,” Schuerman said. “It says, ‘Well, I have too much of this so I’m getting rid of it right now.’ ” While it is harder to take too many water-soluble vitamins, it’s not completely without risk. You can still give yourself kidney stones with too much vitamin C. “The ones you really have to be careful with are our fat-soluble vitamins: That’s our A, E, D and K [vitamins]. Those get stored inside of our fat cells and we can actually get toxic. The water-soluble ones — the rest of them — our body can get rid of.” Whatever your vitamin needs are, remember that it’s best to get them from your food. The typical American diet needs more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy to stay healthy. Include exercise in your regimen to remind your body to use all the good stuff you’re giving it.

USP STANDARDS ENSURE THAT THE END PRODUCT: 1. Contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amounts. 2. Does not contain harmful levels of specifi ed contaminants. 3. Will break down and release into the body within a specifi ed amount of time [so it is absorbed fully by your stomach, where it will do the most good]. 4. Has been made according to FDA current Good Manufacturing Practices using sanitary and wellcontrolled procedures. It is important to follow a medical professional’s guidance while choosing a supplement regimen and before changing your activity levels or diet significantly. Ask your doctor to help you identify your vitamin “weak points” and establish a sustainable health regimen. Elizabeth Schuerman is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist (RDN) and certified nutrition support clinician (CNSC). She uses her nutrition knowledge and culinary skills to assess, diagnose and treat nutritional problems at Olympic Medical Center, with a focus on nutrition support therapy. Schuerman received her Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, and completed her dietetic internship at Montana State University. She also worked as a professional chef for more than 10 years and has a Certificate in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu.


Common Dietary sources Milk, yogurt, tofu (calcium set), fortified Calcium beverages, fortified cereals, rhubarb, spinach, almonds, white beans Beef, fortified cereals, beans, oysters, Iron molasses, lentils, tofu, cashews, shrimp, tuna and prunes

Folate or Folic acid (B9) Potassium


Other nutrients required for absorption

Iron and calcium supplements should not be taken together.

Vitamin D

Iron, zinc and calcium supplements should not be taken together.

Vitamin A, zinc, copper and manganese

Beans, lentils, spinach, peanuts, peas, corn, chicken, orange juice

Take with vitamin C.

Beans, potatoes (with skin), prunes, acorn squash, bananas, oranges

Taking phosphates together with potassium supplements may cause high blood potassium.

Fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines), eggs, fortified foods (milk, juice, cereals), Vitamin D sun-dried mushrooms (morel, chanterelle, shiitake and oyster)

For supplement dosage recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, visit Peninsula Daily News / Sequim Gazette


| DECEMBER 2019 9


Training for a long-distance run starts with short-term goals By Victoria Jones, north olympic discovery marathon Running a race at any distance can be challenging, rewarding and fun for experienced and new runners alike. Fortunately, many races offered on the Olympic Peninsula have multiple distances and styles to spark your running interest, from 5K and 10K races that allow you to walk or run at your leisure, to half-marathons (13.1 miles) and full marathons (26.2 miles). There are even full marathons with walk and relay options, like the North Olympic Discovery Marathon (NODM). But how do you start getting ready for a marathon or other distance race? Beginning training for a race in the future can be daunting, but making a plan can and will help you achieve your goal. While there are untold numbers of training regimens out there, and not every strategy is going to be right for everyone, most include these basic steps:

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DETERMINE YOUR GOAL What do you really want to do? Do you want to finish a race at a longer distance than you have tried before? Do you want to beat a particular time at a distance you’ve already run? Do you want to achieve something more general, such as improving your overall fitness or just having fun? Deciding at the outset what you are really shooting for will help you set smaller — and easier to achieve — checkpoint goals along the way that can guide you in selecting the training regimen most likely to get you there.

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PICK YOUR TRAINING REGIMEN There are as many available training regimens as there are people to write them. Start with one that seems reasonable to you and ask others you trust what they have done. Reputable running training regimens will have a few common goals, including: ••increasing the distance you can comfortably run over time ••increasing your speed over that distance ••minimizing injury ••increasing your distress tolerance It may take a few races before you find a training regimen that works for you, so be patient and forgiving with yourself.

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ASSESS YOUR STARTING FITNESS LEVEL If you haven’t run more than a half-mile since high school, setting out to run a 26.2-mile marathon in less than a month is likely unrealistic and potentially dangerous. Most adults know their bodies pretty well, even if they don’t want to admit it publicly. Be honest with yourself. If you have two months to train up from limited running shape, maybe the 5K or 10K is right for you. Acknowledging this will guide your training. If you have a year to train, maybe the sky’s the limit. Remember, if you have questions about your fitness level and what you might be able to handle, consult your healthcare professional before starting a new training regimen.

Preferred | Precise | Effective Peninsula Daily News / Sequim Gazette


Local teachers help students unite body & mind

by Drew Herman, peninsula daily news

CHI continues on Page 13 >>


Low impact. Big reward. Taught by certified personal trainers, this hour-long lowimpact fitness class uses gentle movement, stretching, and strengthening and is suitable for anyone able to move independently.


In yoga studios, gyms, senior centers and dojos across the North Olympic Peninsula, tai chi students wave their hands like clouds, spread their wings, ride tigers and repulse monkeys. These fancifully-named, slow, lowimpact movements help practitioners feel relaxed and grounded, as more organizations add the traditional Chinese martial art to their activity schedules. “Tai chi is moving, making ground,” said Mike Siegel, who leads sessions at the YMCA of Sequim. Siegel has seen the growth of tai chi firsthand, as students now pack his large upstairs studio. A recent demonstration he gave with some of those students at a Soroptimist club meeting brought in another half-dozen. “The turnout was tremendous,” he said. A physical therapist by training, Siegel teaches the Yang family long form of tai chi, one of the more popular styles. Most tai chi classes use a particular “form,” or sequence of memorized movements, as the basis of their practice, like a kata pattern in karate. As has become common in American classes, tai chi’s martial fighting background plays no role in the YMCA sessions. Instead, Siegel focuses on preventing falls and emphasizes the community aspect, calling tai chi a “group sport.” “It’s not just an exercise class,” he said. “It’s a class that encourages people to socialize.”

The social atmosphere helps people keep up regular practice, he said. When Siegel travels out of town, his students continue to meet, helping each other learn and practice the movements. The social aspect also plays a big part in tai chi practice in China, where the art originated — some say thousands of years ago. Even today, people gather in parks across China for regular tai chi and chi kung practice. “Every day in the morning they’re doing this,” said Wei Lindstrom. “It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old.” Lindstrom started teaching at White Crane Martial Arts in Port Angeles in fall 2019. She moved to the area in 2017 after she retired from her 26-year career teaching English translation at Beijing International Studies University in China. She remembers that when she was a young child getting up in the morning before sunrise to study, she would watch her grandfather (also an English teacher) practice tai chi in a courtyard under the stars. The peace and beauty of his movements fascinated her, and she took up the practice herself years later as a way to appreciate Chinese culture and promote a healthy way of life. She noted the teacher she found who lived nearby was 85 years old, but looked and moved like a much younger woman. Lindstrom teaches a popular 24-move form based on Yang style tai chi. She said someone can learn the sequence in as little as two months, but the important physical transformation and insights come after much longer practice.

Offering morning and afternoon drop-in classes at the Wellness Center, 1230 W. Sims, Port Townsend. Find out more at 360.385.2200 x 1223 or Nina Cesena demonstrates a tai chi posture in her home studio in Sequim. Photo by Drew Herman Peninsula Daily News / Sequim Gazette


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<<CHI continued from page 11 “It can take five years, at least,” she said. Tai chi combines movement with mental focus and attention to coordinated breathing, with the goal of uniting the mind and body. “This breath is different from our everyday breath,” Lindston said. “It’s not a chest breath, it’s a belly breath.” Even standing in tai chi is not like regular standing, Lindstrom explained. “It’s not standing; you’re sitting on your legs” to develop a strong base. “That’s the amazing thing about tai chi,” she said. The postures and movements develop balance and leg strength, and are good for the joints and heart without the violent jolting of exercises like jogging. While Lindstrom is among the area’s newer teachers to offer tai chi instruction, Teresa Schmid has been at it for about 20 years. Although she was born and raised in North Dakota, Teresa Schmid’s parents came from China, and she felt an immediate connection to tai chi when she and her sister visited a class in Los Angeles’s Chinatown after the family moved to southern California.

“It just felt comfortable to me,” she said. “I just went in and never stopped.” After years of study, Schmid’s master told her she should be a teacher. She has taught in Sequim since 1999. She currently offers weekly classes at the Aspire Academy of Expressive Arts, where she also teaches Zumba. Schmid uses the Yang style long form as the basis of her practice, and works with more advanced students on a “fast form.” They can also aspire to learn some of the weapon forms in tai chi, including sword, staff and ball. “It’s not really well known how deep tai chi goes,” Schmid said. With 40 years experience, Michael Yeager has explored those depths. He teaches long and short forms from the Yang, Sun and Chen styles at Blue Mountain Yoga+ in Sequim and at Port Townsend Athletic Club. His advanced students can learn sword, cane and “push hands,” or one-on-one sparring. “That doesn’t happen until a person’s been practicing for a while, usually several years,” Yeager said. Another local teacher began welcoming students for Saturday morning classes in her Sequim home studio about a year ago. CHI continues on Page 15 >>

BASIC TAI CHI STARTER MOVE With its roots in the theories of traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts, tai chi teaches practitioners to be aware of and use “chi” (or “qi”), the internal energy of living beings. According to tai chi teachers, the best way to promote physical and mental health is to allow chi to flow freely through the body, by practicing proper alignment, relaxation and breathing. Students also learn to apply the idea of yin and yang to their body and movements, contrasting full and empty, hard and soft, expansion and contraction, and so on. In many systems of tai chi, the practice sequence begins with a simple raising and lowering of the arms. The posture, called “wu chi,” can be practiced high or low, depending on the particular style of tai chi or a person’s level of practice. 1. Place the feet parallel to each other, about shoulder-width apart, with the toes facing straight forward. 2. Bend the knees slightly, but not past the toes. 3. Drop the tailbone (the pelvis may tilt slightly upward).

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4. Imagine the head suspended from above, as with a string attached to the crown of the head above the spine, dropping the chin toward the chest. 5. Relax the shoulders and open the hands, palms facing back, parallel to the thighs. 6. While inhaling, raise the hands to shoulder level and slightly straighten the legs. Imagine strings tied to the wrists are drawing the hands upward, so the shoulders stay relaxed and the elbows stay low. 7. While exhaling, lower the hands to the starting position with the wrists leading the way, and bend the knees. 8. Repeat as desired, paying attention to the breath and how the body expands and contracts. Think about energy flowing downward as you rise and upward as you sink (finding opposite energies in all movement is part of the yin-yang theory). There are hundreds of books and videos about tai chi available in stores, libraries and the internet. Of course, nothing can beat regular work with a skilled, live instructor.


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UPCOMING EVENTS IN THE AREA WINTER 2020 Elwha River Bridge Run, Feb. 1: 5K, 10K. First of five in the Port Angeles Marathon Association’s (PAMA) Run the Peninsula Series. • Frosty Moss Relay, Feb. 29: 80 miles, 30 miles. • Sequim Sunshine Festival Sun Fun Color Run, March 7: Sequim Sunshine Festival Sun Fun Color Run, 1K, 5K. visitsunnysequim. com/266/Sun-Fun-Color-Run •

SPRING 2020 Salt Creek 24 Hour, March 21-22: Run/ Walk on a 1.3-mile loop course. Solo and relay options available. • OAT Run, April 18: 12K, Half Marathon. • Railroad Bridge Park, April 25: 5K, 10K. Second of five in Run the Peninsula. • Irrigation Festival Fun Run, annually in May: Kids Dash, 1K Walk, 5K Run/Walk. • Jefferson Healthcare Rhody Run, May 17: 6K, 12K.* •

North Olympic Discovery Marathon, June 7: 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon,* Marathon,*^ Marathon Walk, Marathon Relay. Third of five in Run the Peninsula.

SUMMER 2020 Great Olympic Adventure Trail (GOAT) Run, Sept. 12: Half Marathon (Two Waves), Full Marathon, 50K. • Quilcene Oyster Races, held annually in September: Kid’s, 5K, 10K,* Half Marathon.* •

<<MARATHON continued from page 10

FALL 2020 Big Hurt, Sept. 26: Mountain Bike 15 miles + Kayak 3 miles + Road Bike 30 miles + Run 10K • CrabFest 5K Fun Run, held annually in October: • Larry Scott Trail, Oct. 17: 5K, 10K. Fourth of five in Run the Peninsula. • North Olympic Turkey Trot, Nov. 28: 5K, 10K. • Jamestown S’Klallam, Dec. 5: 5K, 10K. *Certified by USATF ^Boston Marathon Qualifier

Don’t let a stumble or two prevent you from trying next time.

BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR TRAINING Once you’ve picked a training regimen and are ready to go, unless you are a professional athlete paid to train, life will get in the way. It’s OK to delay or defer a workout, or swap days if you can get your sprints in but just don’t have time for that long run today. Know that injuries may pop up and, while it’s good to have a goal in mind, it’s more important to take care of your body. You will have a much more satisfying running experience if you

are flexible and forgiving of yourself on this journey. PAY ATTENTION TO THE HYDRATION AND NUTRITION PART OF TRAINING One big surprise for many new runners after their first long distance race is how much their hydration and nutrition — both before and during a race — played into their success or setbacks. Especially at longer distances, fluid, electrolyte and calorie balance can play a big part in completing a race. Above: Local training group Rain Bear Running Club, facebook. com/RainBearRunningClub, during the Elwha River Bridge Run. Pictured left to right: Greg Geyer, Carmen Lee Geyer, Cheryl Eekhoff, Sheila Miller-Danielson, Ruth Mollinet and Alisha Freeman. Photo courtesy of Run the Peninsula

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<<CHI continued from page 13 Nina Cesena started learning kung fu in Long Beach, California, in 2009 with her 5-year-old son. The kung fu master there included tai chi in the curriculum to build up martial arts skills. Cesena taught special education for 18 years and now offers church services, community workshops and counseling in the same long, bright room where she holds tai chi classes. Cesena compared tai chi to crock pot cooking, because with many “external” or “hard” martial arts like kung fu, karate or tae kwon do, students can apply what they learn to combat and self-defense relatively quickly. With tai chi, one of the “soft” or “internal” styles, it takes longer to attain results, but the student gets to a stronger ability in the end. Cesena learned tai chi for its self-defense and fighting techniques, and she likes to finish class with some punching and kicking practice. But fighting is not a focus of her teaching. Instead, she came to value tai chi for its benefits in improving health and wellness, and promoting physical and emotional balance. “That’s where my heart is,” she said. Personal trainer and group fitness instructor Pauline Geraci also added tai chi to the schedule at her Fit 4 Life studio in Sequim in January 2019. “I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time,” she said. Not finding an available instructor to take on, Geraci, a runner and former Army fitness trainer, went through months of intensive study and practice, then traveled to Florida for more training and got certified to teach tai chi. Now she leads three classes per week, adding chi kung to the form practice. Like Siegel and many other local teachers, Geraci pairs chi kung (also spelled “qi gong”), which means “energy work,” with tai chi as a related internal art. Geraci calls chi kung an easy, therapeutic exercise that can be practiced seated. While not as focused on balance as tai chi, it helps with mobility in the shoulders and back. It does not require memorizing any long sequences, and it makes a great warm-up for other exercise. “I use it before I run,” she said. Students who joined the class when she began teaching tai chi have now learned the 24-move sequence she uses as the basis of the practice, but memorizing that sequence is really only the beginning of tai chi. The students can now spend years refining and perfecting the movements to incorporate the principles of posture and relaxation. “Tai chi is a flowing movement,” she said. Its quiet, gentle movement has countless physical benefits while also helping focus the mind — a true “all-in-one” wellness exercise. “I tried sitting meditation,” she said. “[But] I can’t sit still and my mind wanders like a squirrel. “Tai chi is perfect for me.”

Peninsula Daily News / Sequim Gazette

Contact the organization or instructor for fees and updated schedules

ASPIRE ACADEMY OF EXPRESSIVE ARTS Teresa Schmid 160 Harrison Road, Unit 1, Sequim 360-477-3945 Thursdays, 10-11:30 a.m. BLUE MOUNTAIN YOGA+ Michael Yeager 803 Carlsborg Road, Suite D, Sequim 360- 775-9078 Wednesdays 2:30 p.m. (beginners) and 4 p.m (advanced) FIT4LIFE STUDIO Pauline Geraci 990 E. Washington St., Suite 103, Sequim 360-464-5231, 9-9:45 a.m. Wednesdays and 10-10:45 a.m. Fridays NINA CESENA 1033 River Road, Sequim 562-544-5396, 10 a.m. Saturdays PORT TOWNSEND ATHLETIC CLUB Michael Yeager 229 Monroe St., Port Townsend 360- 385-6560 Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. (beginners) and 10:45 a.m. (advanced)

PORT ANGELES SENIOR CENTER 328 East Seventh St., Port Angeles 360- 417-4554 9 a.m. Mondays WHITE CRANE MARTIAL ARTS Wei Lindstrom 129 West First St., Port Angeles 360- 808-2271 Noon-1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays YMCA OF SEQUIM 675 North Fifth Ave., Sequim 360-477-4381 See class schedule at schedules/sequim-group-fitness YMCA OF PORT ANGELES 302 South Francis St., Port Angeles 360-452-9244 See class schedule schedules/port-angeles-group-fitness While every attempt was made to provide inclusive coverage of tai chi classes available in Sequim, Port Angeles and surrounding areas, it is possible some were missed. Please email special sections editor Shawna Dixson at to submit your routine tai chi courses for potential future exercise directories.

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Drew Herman is a page designer and copy editor at Peninsula Daily News. He has been practicing tai chi for 22 years and believes in its power to help people lead a healthy life.


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