Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – Weight Loss Hack No 2 – Improving lung function No 2, Musical Therapy by Sally Cronin


Yesterday I shared a way to make some small changes to your diet that would save you 30lbs of body fat a year without causing too much effort.  Today another tactic I used when I was losing my own 150lbs and found bathroom scales accurate but not always motivating.

And it is motivation and making progress with weight loss and toning up that makes all the difference, especially if you need to lose more than a stone in weight.

I was size 32 UK when I started and wore tent like dresses and skirts. I saw a black velvet dress with a cream satin trim and small straps in a size 18 that I fell in love with. It was expensive at the time in 1996 at £75 but I took the plunge and bought it. It hung on the outside of my wardrobe in a clear plastic cover in my bedroom for the next 18 months, and it was the first thing I saw when I got up in the morning.

I would get it out of its wrapper once a week and hold it up against me in the mirror. I did this for about a year, and then I had lost sufficient weight to get it up as far as my hips.. and I then tried it on every week until 6 months later I wore it for the first time. I had visualised myself in that dress so many times and it was the most amazing feeling when it finely fit. I don’t have a photo of me in my dress but here is one with another little black number that I used to wear when I was in my early 30s which was a size 16 and fitted after 2 years of my eating programme.

I am not suggesting that you head out and spend a fortune on an expensive outfit, but I do believe that if you are anything like me.. and this applies to the men reading this too, that at the back of the wardrobe, or in a storage box, is a favourite dress, suit, pair of trousers, skirt or a top that you loved to wear and no longer fits. It might be one size too small or several.

Take it out and wash, iron or have dry cleaned, and put on a hangar somewhere you can see it every day. Then as soon as you feel you have lost a few pounds, begin to try the outfit on once a week until it fits again. I still do this as I have a pair of white trousers that I intend to be wearing by the end of June that are just a little too snug for comfort.

Now time for part two of the exercises to help improve your lung function..

For an action that is so vital to our existence, you will be surprised to find that very few people actually breathe efficiently and are not maintaining adequate lung function. By the end of the first week you should notice a difference in the ease with which you complete the exercises and also when you are active.

The aim is to increase the flexibility and the capacity of your lungs, giving them a better chance of fighting off infection.

Yesterday I shared the morning exercise to get you ready for the day.. and today one to help you get rid of the day’s toxins and get a better night’s sleep.

Evening exercise

Lie down on your back on the floor. If you suffer with lower back pain, better to have your knees resting up over on sofa or chair. If your head doesn’t relax onto the ground easily, use a cushion.

Start with hands on lower belly, fingers pointing down to groin. Notice how you are breathing. The breath reflects our mental, physical and emotional state.

After several minutes consciously encourage the beginning of the breath into the belly to feel the hands rise with the inhale and relax down with the exhale. So you are using the abdomen to breath. This in good health should happen spontaneously, but all too often with stress many people breath only using the upper chest.

Do this for several minutes, then place the arms out in a cross, shoulder height with palms up. Now there is more room to take the breath up into the middle lungs, feel the movement of the rib cage outwards and upwards. But you still begin each breath down deep in the belly. Do this for several minutes, relaxing the body on the exhale.

Last of all, slide the arms higher up above your head relaxing on the floor, if you cannot do this due to tension or injury, leave them where they were in a cross. The purpose of this move is to now bring more space and awareness to the upper chest towards the base of the throat. There is little movement here compared to the ribs, but you can feel the rising of the chest and collarbone to the throat and chin at the peak of the inhale, just before you exhale.

So you now have 3 places to breathe into, the abdomen, the ribs and the upper chest to make one long, deep, satisfying breath. Feel each of the 3 places as the breath flows up the trunk as one long wave. As you exhale the wave retreats back down to the lower abdomen. Remember to feel the slight pause between inhales and exhales, but don’t hold your breath.

Try and practice this for at least 5 minutes, but 10 is better. It also helps improve your posture with the back flat and the arms out.

More details on the lungs and their function can be found in more detail here: The Lungs

Get moving with Music Therapy

One of the perks of being a radio presenter was being asked to MC charity events and my job was to warm everyone up before the walk or race with some motivational music… over the course of these posts I will be sharing my playlist for those events and to help build your resilience and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Give yourself a break after reading this post and get up and get moving.

If you are not particularly active at the moment then you can walk on the spot, but swing your arms in time to the music so that you activate your breathing. If you are a little bit more adventurous then take to the floor and have fun – Here is Tina Turner and she is a role model for all of us who want to still be a rock chic in our 80s…strut your stuff and be Simply the Best.

And if it motivates you even more, imagine what I look like chopping carrots and bopping in my kitchen to some of her hits…..

Uploaded by theravenphoenix665

Buy Tina Turner music: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Next week, three more posts that I hope you will find useful as you boost your immune system, lung and heart functions, and your confidence. As always your feedback is very welcome.. thanks Sally

Here are the links to the pages that support the posts in the series

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Statistic resource Worldometer – Live updates and breakdown by country Worldometer Info

Smorgasbord Health Column – Project 101 – Resilience – Improving lung function, Weight loss hack – The Power of One and Music Therapy by Sally Cronin


In yesterday’s post I set out the project that I have been following for the last six weeks in isolation to improve my lung function, drop a few more pounds to a healthier weight, and to boost my immune system. This involves making small changes to our diet and lifestyle to give all our body’s operating systems the best possible chance to keep us healthy.

In conjunction with the posts, I have created pages in the main directory that cover the topics in more detail if you wish to find out more. This includes the 17 chapters of Size Matters the Sequel that told the story of my 150lb weight loss 25 years ago and the programme that I developed to achieve that and to share with my clients over the years as a nutritional therapist.

A reminder of the topics I will be covering:

  • Weight loss and some hacks that helped me lose over 150lbs
  • Inflammation in the body and brain one of the leading causes of disease
  • Lung function improvement.
  • Immune system boosting
  • Vitamin D and its vital role in keeping our bodies safe.
  • Exercise – keeping moving and the body functioning.
  • Flexibility – not just in body but in mind.
  • Blood Pressure – we need it to pump blood around our bodies, but too high and it can be dangerous.
  • Type II Diabetes and Pre-diabetes – risk factors that are simple to reverse
  • The Brain – The control centre of the body and it needs to be treated with respect.
  • Stress and its impact on weight and major organs such as the heart.
  • Acidity and Alkalinity in the body and how are creating the perfect environment for pathogens.

Improving lung function.

This current virus is respiratory and those with underlying health issues such as COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are at greater risk during recovery. Aging also results in reduced lung function as we become less active and for many, become chair bound without access to the outdoors. Lungs stiffen and cannot express inflammation or infection in an efficient way.

Without oxygen we will die in approximately 6 minutes, without water about 6 days and food around 6 weeks. 

For an action that is so vital to our existence, you will be surprised to find that very few people actually breathe efficiently and are not maintaining adequate lung function. By the end of the first week you should notice a difference in the ease with which you complete the exercises and also when you are active.

The aim is to increase the flexibility and the capacity of your lungs, giving them a better chance of fighting off infection.

Today I will share the morning exercise to get you ready for the day.. and tomorrow one to help you get rid of the day’s toxins and get a better night’s sleep.

Breathing exercises – First thing every morning and evening before bed.

Our breath is much more than just an intake of oxygen. It is our connection to life itself as without air we would die. There are 4 parts to every breath,

The inhale, a moment’s pause, the exhale and another natural moment’s pause before the next inhale. Exhale usually longer than the inhale.

If you can complete these exercises in the fresh air, preferably with some sunshine, you will also help boost your Vitamin D.

Morning exercise

Stand with arms loose by your side, the whole body relaxed and still. The posture straight but not held taut. The shoulders rolling back and down to open the chest and release neck/shoulder tension.

As you inhale slowly lift the arms out and up above your head with palms parallel. Hold the breath then as you exhale through the mouth, release the arms back down gently to your sides.

As you become more comfortable you can extend the time for each of the parts of the breath.

  1. Inhale through your nose to the count of five
  2. Hold for the count of five
  3. Exhale through your mouth to the count of seven
  4. Pause for the count of two

So not only do you receive a gentle stretch to wake you up, but also there is more space in the body to take a deeper inhalation. It is very simple but very effective. The most important thing is to unite the length of the inhale with the rise of the arms so that when the arms reach the furthest point above the head you have completed the inhale; there is a tiny pause, then the exhale down, slowly lowering the arms. When they reach your side the exhale is finished.

Generally the exhale is longer than the inhale as you are ridding the body of impurities with it. Then a little pause. The movements follow the breath, like surfing a wave. Don’t rush the moves or you will get tense, better to do them slowly and relaxed with total concentration, better still outside (on a beach) or in front of an open window to receive all that free energy!

Practice for several minutes or at least 12 times. Better to do 12 focused breaths then 25 rushed ones. Quality versus quantity.

If you suffer with high blood pressure and or restrictive shoulder/ arm movements, better to take the arms up only as far as the shoulder height.

More details on the lungs and their function can be found in more detail here: The Lungs

Now for the Weight Loss Hack…The Power of One….

We love company and two always sounds better than one. It is also something we apply to our diet and it is very difficult to just take one biscuit, eat one piece of toast or one piece of chocolate.

One of the most effective weight loss tools that I put together for myself and my clients all those years ago was this table.

It shows you the accumulative factor of having two or more portions of particular foods regularly on your weight.  In most cases, simply halving the quantity of that food will achieve your healthy weight in a matter of months and perhaps in some cases a year.

It is important to remember that 1lb of fat lost a week is 52lbs/24kilo in a year which is usually what most people are looking to achieve. At the recommended weight loss of 2lbs per week that is 104lbs/ 48kilo in a year.

Take a look at the foods in the table and see if there are some that you are eating a little too much of. And if your favourite daily snack is not on the list… check out the calories and multiply by 365 and then divide by 3,500 (equivalent to 1lb of body fat) and see how much weight you could lose by halving the amount you eat of your particular favourite foods over the year.

For example: if you are used to having two digestive biscuits with your coffee in the morning and afternoon tea, just having one each time will represent 16lbs of body fat over the year.

If you are used to having a full English fried breakfast every morning and grill your bacon and sausage instead and poach your egg it represents 14lbs of body fat over the year.

Just making those two small changes to your daily diet represents 30lbs of body fat per year.

You can read the complete Size Matters the Sequel here: Weight Loss – Size Matters the Sequel

Tomorrow Another weight loss hack: Something to aim for – An evening breathing exercise and more music therapy.

I am very happy to help anyone who wishes to have a review done of their current diet with a two week food diary analysis.  This might be useful if you need to loose weight or feel that you are not getting the full range of nutrients you need. Email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com for details.

Get moving with Music Therapy

One of the perks of being a radio presenter was being asked to MC charity events and my job was to warm everyone up before the walk or race with some motivational music… over the course of these posts I will be sharing my playlist for those events and to help build your resilience and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Give yourself a break after reading this post and get up and get moving.

If you are not particularly active at the moment then you can walk on the spot, but swing your arms in time to the music so that you activate your breathing. If you are a little bit more adventurous then take to the floor and have fun. Chris Rea – Let’s Dance uploaded by Anzan

Buy Chris Rea Music Amazon UK

I hope you will join me again tomorrow but if you miss any posts they will be linked in the weekly round up next Saturday and also in a page in the main menu.  thanks Sally

Here are the links to the pages that support the posts in the series

Weight Loss – Size Matters The Sequel
The Lungs
Stress
The Immune System and Vitamin D
The Digestive and Immune System
Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Statistic resource Worldometer – Live updates and breakdown by country Worldometer Info