Presenter: Katherine Lodge
Guest: Lisa Weis
Guest Bio: She has 18 years experience in human movement, especially in areas of sports medicine, osteo-related diseases, postural weaknesses, and health promotion. A special area of interest of hers is the physical and physiological changes associated with menopause and the loss of bone mass in postmenstrual women.
Health Professional Radio – Preventing Osteoporosis
Katherine Lodge: Thank you for listening to Health Professional Radio. Today, our guest is Lisa Weis. She has 18 years experience in human movement, especially in areas of sports medicine, osteoporosis related diseases, postural weaknesses, and health promotion. A special area of interest of hers is the physical and physiological changes associated with menopause and the loss of bone mass in postmenstrual women. Welcome to our show.
Lisa Weis: Oh, thanks for having me.
Katherine: Thanks for coming on and talking to us about osteoporosis. Now, you’re a bone increase specialist. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Lisa: Okay. I sort of just labelled myself that because one of the things that we try and do with the women, whether they have osteo or not … you can still build bone. And certainly, coming into the later years of your life… and certainly, we’re living a lot longer these days. The idea behind bone building is that women can increase their quality of life, living longer.
Lisa: So we try and target… I mean, the women coming in, whether in their 40s, 50s, 60s, or even 70s, the target behind or the thinking behind my programming is to build bone at every opportunity as opposed to building muscles.
Katherine: Sure. For the listeners that don’t know or are not familiar with osteoporosis or a little bit unsure of what it is, can you explain exactly what it is?
Lisa: Osteo is… there’s different levels of osteoporosis. But if a woman is osteoporotic, it means that her bone mass is a certain, sort of, standard deviation between, oh, from where it should be. Before osteoporosis is… it can even be osteopenia. It isn’t as bad, but it usually signifies to the lady that she is in the process of becoming osteoporotic, and it’s probably a good chance for her to do something about that.
Lisa: Typically, what happens, after menopause… I mean, this is about 80 percent of women. It certainly can happen before menopause. The oestrogen, one of the hormones, obviously… without the use of oestrogen, women tend to lose bone mass, and this increases her risk of becoming osteoporotic. Yeah, and just… osteoporosis actually affects both men and women.
Katherine: Yes. Yes, and it’s a common condition, and it actually affects over one million Australians. So that’s quite a large amount of Australians. And osteoporosis has no symptoms until a fracture occurs, which is why often it’s referred to as the silent disease.
Lisa: Correct. There is no indication, and you’re right with the statistics. In actual fact, there’s one in three women who will have osteoporosis, but they wouldn’t necessarily know about that until a fracture happens. I think the men statistics is one in eight, men will end up with osteoporosis but certainly with the loss of oestrogen that increases the risk of osteo in women.
Lisa: [Inaudible 03:42] it’s funny that… I mean, breast cancer is one in eight. So there’s three times as likely women will end up with osteo than breast cancer.
Lisa: But why I think breast cancer is given more of the limelight is because osteoporosis can be preventable and reversible.
Katherine: Okay. That’s really interesting that you mentioned that. I’d love to talk about some preventative measures with you before we talk about reversing it. So what are some of the preventative measures that you can take?
Lisa: The first is, if you smoke, you need to give up smoking.
Lisa: And not only will there be other benefits. But you know, high smoking, a very sort of type of acidic diet. So a lot of ladies go on more of an alkaline diet, a more of a neutral diet. So giving up a lot of sugars in their diet and just eating a lot more fruit and veggies and meat and fish.
Vitamin D is also very important. Without vitamin D, there is not much point in trying to build up bone, because calcium … there’s this beautiful connection between calcium and vitamin D. It doesn’t mean that you need to sit in the sun all day, but I also think with the skin cancer promotion that we’re seeing, we’re just not getting the vitamin D that we used to. And now they’re prescribing vitamin D, and it’s free if you sit in the sun.
Lisa: You know, for maybe 10 minutes a day, or even just going for a walk. I’m not saying without a hat, putting your hat on, but you don’t have to lather yourself in sunscreen either. There seem to be a lot of cases now with women who are lacking vitamin D.
Katherine: Yeah, it’s actually a staggering … a lot of people working indoors and in front of the computers, vitamin D deficiency is quite high in Australian society. And I’m glad you mentioned that about the absorption of calcium, because I think a lot of people, they think osteoporosis has to do with the bones.
“I’m right because I have milk and cheese,” for example. But it’s not about calcium intake, and there are other sources of calcium, too, besides dairy, but it’s the actual absorption that they should be concerned about as well.
Lisa: Yeah … you can double your rate of calcium, but the thing is, with the body, with osteo, is that for some unknown reason, the body is losing as much calcium as it is making it. So you have to find other ways in how to build calcium or how to build bones. And yeah, doubling… you know, I see these… dare I say it? These ads on television, I think it’s called osteo-something, and that’s…
Katherine: You mean with the vitamins?
Lisa: Yes, the vitamins. I mean, even we’ve seen in the studies and the research that I’ve done to date … even with the women who are doing weight-bearing exercises—I’m sure we’ll get on to that in a minute—we are also seeing that they are still losing bone. Even… interesting study. They’re still losing bone, which suggests that they’re still not getting enough calcium in their diet.
Lisa: Yeah, so even though you are trying to ingest calcium, that’s only one sort of third of the… or even one-fifth of the story. Yes, doubling your calcium isn’t going to build bones. It’s not.
Katherine: Okay. Would you be able to tell us a bit about building, increasing bone mass? Becuase you have the “Living With Osteoporosis” program, which you developed, and you also delivered seminars and lectures about increasing bone mass. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Lisa: Yes, certainly. Many years ago… it actually started off about five… no, about, god, could even be seven years now. I was playing golf with a lady, and she knew that I was an Australian weight-lifting coach, and also did Olympic weightlifting. And she had osteoporosis, so this was sort of even before the time of me even coaching women or even having a link into osteo. I really didn’t think much of it at that time.
And she said to me, “My doctor’s told me that weight-bearing exercise is good for osteo. Can you show me a few?” I said, “Yes, sure. Come over, and I’ll show you how to weight-bear exercise.” So she came over, and I showed her a few things. And she really sort of just burst into tears and she said no one has ever been able to show her to squat correctly, and certainly to hold extra weights and how to, just do some basic moves, just very basic movements; three basic things I showed her.
And I thought right that very time when she broke down in front of me, I thought, “You know what? There must be a need for women out there who want to learn how to build bone.” So that’s sort of how it started. And eight years later, as you said, I’m speaking at the Healthy Bones forums, and I have about 80 women under me at my place of business, and they’re doing the osteoporotic program that I have developed.
Katherine: That’s great. And this program, what does it entail?
Lisa: It entails… firstly, a bit of background. All the research out there, everyone knows that the most… the athlete at the Olympic Games – who has the most bone mass? And that is the gymnast and an Olympic weightlifter, and it’s because of the movements that they do.
Lisa: Now, my 60-year-old women cannot snatch, clean, and jerk and do triple pikes off a pummel horse. But, I’ve taken those movements, and with my human movements background, and sort of developed full movements that we do. And one of them is just base-jumping off [indecipherable 10:20]. They start very low, but then over a matter of months, they’re jumping from a 12-inch or even a 20-inch box.
Lisa: So you don’t want to, sort of, start getting women jumping off a box because of the connective tissues within the ankle and the foot still haven’t developed. But if we start them off very low, even just an inch off the ground and telling them how to land and absorb the impact, in over three months they’re jumping off a box. The other three movements are a dead lift, a press, and a squat. And once again, the first things that we teach them is how to brace the core.
Now, when we teach girls the Olympic movements, we don’t have a whole year to teach them how to brace the core. So we teach them… so you can save almost… I will say to them, “I’m just about to save you thousands of dollars in Pilates classes because I’m gonna tell you how to brace the core in 10 seconds.”
Lisa: And so we teach them how to brace the core or stabilise the spine because the amount of volume that they’re about to lift, like dead lift, squatting, and press, is much more than what your gym user or your gym goer would do. ‘Cause what we need to do is to build bone, and the only tissue in our body that can build bone is muscles.
Lisa: So that’s why there’s a saying, “Strong women, strong bone.”
Lisa: But all the programs out there at the moment – the exercise programs – they have bicep curls, tricep dips… that sort of, body-building type of program. That’s not going to build bone.
Lisa: My girls are probably, in their 50s and 60s, they’re lifting about three ton of weight a week. They come twice a week, and they do about 75 reps; that’s it. And they do a bit of hopping, and we do a little bit of stabilisation and some balance work. But in essence, they’re squatting 30 to 40 kilos and I’m not talking knee bends. They’re getting quite low, and they’re dead lifting their body weight.
So if you can lift anywhere between, say, two to three ton of weight a week in as less possible work as you can do, like in as less reps—so the heavier the better—you will build bone, guaranteed.
Katherine: Okay, wow.
Lisa: But bicep curls won’t do it. I’m sorry, girls.
Katherine: Thanks so much for your time today, Lisa. For those of you that are interested in learning more, you can go to her website, barbells.net.au. And thanks for all the insights today, Lisa.
Lisa: Thank you for having me. It was great to talk to you.