In the past week, I’ve had three separate requests for more details on the seniors’ exercise guides I have published. To date, I have written and published 6 books focused on helping seniors prevent life-altering falls and stay in their own homes longer.
While there is some crossover with the books, each one has a unique focus. This month’s blog post will focus on these 6 books, but you can see a snapshot of all my books on my recently-updated website.
These books are self-help exercise guides for caregivers, family members, and, most importantly, seniors. They all feature foundational exercises with step-by-step instructions and illustrations that they can use as a home-based exercise plan.
The exercises don’t require special equipment or the need to get on the floor—any lying-down exercises are safe to perform on a bed. Each exercise also includes modifications on how to make it easier—or harder, in some of the more advanced books—depending on abilities. Falls are the leading cause of injury, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations for seniors in North America. The goal with my books is to help seniors increase their confidence—after all, the fear of falling contributes to the risk of falling—and improve their strength and balance so they won’t sustain a life-altering fall.
Some of these titles are available for sale in Ottawa, while all of them can be ordered online from Amazon. And you can check out the table of contents with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature if you want more details.
Foundations of Balance and Fall Prevention (2-book series). The books Balance and Your Body and Balance 2.0 are standalone books, but can also be purchased together as the Foundations of Balance and Fall Prevention series. Both books are divided into three sections: The Problem, The Solution, and The Action Plan, which include a background on falls and fall prevention, personal stories, and targeted exercises.
Balance and Your Body features all-standing exercises, with modifications for seated options where possible. It focuses on three components:
Balance 2.0 focuses on balance through strength. It features exercises in three positions:
- lying (bed or floor)
Also included are visualizations to help with brain training.
Balance Exercises for Fall Prevention
Balance Exercises for Fall Prevention is available in English and Spanish, and there is an audiobook of the English version. If you want just a straight exercise guide, this book has all the exercises featured in Balance and Your Body and Balance 2.0, while the background information on falls and fall prevention has been removed. It also includes 8 workout plans and an exercise breakdown by goal—balance, posture, strength, and flexibility.
Chair Exercises for Fall Prevention
Chair Exercises for Fall Prevention features seated exercises only and includes 4 gentle, seated workout plans that focus on balance, posture, strength, and flexibility.
The Aging Parents Book
The Aging Parents Books: Gentle Exercise for Seniors Over 80 is a movement and gentle exercise guide. All of the exercises in this book are completed lying down on a bed or seated in a chair. The font size has been increased and the font style has been changed, to improve readability for those with eyesight challenges.
If you’re still unsure about which book is right for you, or have any other questions, please feel free to reach out.
The following excerpt comes from my upcoming 13th book, Shawna's Outreach: When we each give a little, a lot gets done, by Shawna Thibodeau and Amanda Sterczyk. All royalties from this book will go directly to help people living in poverty and on the streets of Ottawa. It's called, "A day in the life of a donation."
Let’s meet Hotel Hank, the complimentary bar of soap we all pick up on overnight hotel stays. His journey is one example of how even the smallest item can have a profound influence on someone’s life.
Hotel Hank has been languishing on the stairs of a suburban Ottawa home for at least six months. Don’t let his diminutive appearance fool you: he has big dreams. All he wants is to meet up with his pal, Water, and help someone get clean. Never quite making it to a water source, his mission has been thwarted. Until today.
9:37 a.m. A careless footfall on the stairs sends Hotel Hank reeling, tumbling end over end until he lands at the bottom of the stairs, slightly askew. The person responsible for said relocation picks up Hotel Hank with one hand, as the other hand scrolls distractedly on a smartphone.
9:38 a.m. A friend’s social media post about Shawna’s Outreach fills the smartphone screen. Coincidentally, it’s a post detailing the need for toiletries.
9:39 a.m. Eyes shift from one hand to the other, from looking at Hotel Hank to reading the post about Shawna’s Outreach. A lightbulb goes off as a plan is formed.
9:40 a.m. A direct message arrives at Shawna’s Outreach: “Hi, I have a bar of soap that I’d like to donate. How can I get it to you?”
10:37 a.m. Hotel Hank is delivered to a local shop that serves as a drop-off point for Shawna’s Outreach. Shawna will be coming by in a few hours to gather the items in this donation bin. In the meantime, Hotel Hank chills with the other products that are awaiting delivery to their final destination.
12:44 p.m. Shawna arrives and collects Hotel Hank and the other donated items. She brings them to the back of her vehicle and begins distributing them in the half-filled bags. Hotel Hank joins a bag that already contains the usual items (drink, source of protein, socks, etc.).
3:00 p.m. After a few additional stops to pick up more donations and sort them into waiting bags, Shawna arrives in downtown Ottawa to begin sharing the bags with the unhoused people she meets on the street.
4:12 p.m. The bag containing Hotel Hank is handed to a young man sitting on the curb. He quickly opens the bag and begins pulling out the items. A smile forms across his face as he takes out Hotel Hank, and he tells Shawna that he hasn’t had a shower in four days. He’s looking forward to using his new bar of soap—Hotel Hank.
5:13 p.m. Hotel Hank’s dream comes true at last as he meets his pal, Water. More exuberant than soapy bubbles is his pride in helping this young homeless person. It’s been a good day all around.
Copyright: Shawna Thibodeau and Amanda Sterczyk 2023, all rights reserved.
If you’ve been following my Facebook author page, you may be aware that I’ve embarked on my first author collaboration. If not, keep reading to learn more.
Earlier this year, I met Shawna Thibodeau at a women’s networking event. Shawna runs a grassroots initiative called Shawna’s Outreach. She accepts donations from all over the city and creates outreach bags to distribute to people living on the street.
At the event, Shawna received a generous cash donation to support her outreach work. Attendees were also invited to see how they could support in their own way, which leads us to today.
My idea was to write a book—you know, give back through writing. The book is called Shawna's Outreach: When we each give a little, a lot gets done. Shawna and I are co-authors on this book, and we’re excited to let you know that it will be available for sale in a few months’ time.
I have donated my time and services to write the book, but I have also recruited a volunteer editorial team. Everyone involved in producing this book is donating their time and services, so that all royalties can directly benefit Shawna's Outreach.
The book will cover who Shawna is, how Shawna’s Outreach began, who donates to and who benefits from Shawna’s Outreach, and much more. We are telling the story of the homelessness crisis in Ottawa with hope and humour—in effort to demonstrate that every small act of kindness and sharing is important.
As we look towards a fall book launch, we hope those of you in Ottawa will join us. If you are outside the Ottawa area and would like to donate directly to Shawna’s Outreach, please get in touch via email: email@example.com. You can also follow Shawna's Outreach on Facebook.
Inactivity can be a vicious cycle, particularly for frail, older seniors. Fear of falling keeps some seniors from getting up and moving more. Unfortunately, lack of movement further weakens muscles, stiffens joints, and reduces the ability to balance.
The Aging Parents Book is a movement and gentle exercise guide. The purpose of this book is to show you, or your older loved one, how to do gentle movement-based exercises that will both feel good AND improve mobility and strength, as you (they) go about daily life.
This is the sixth exercise book for seniors that I have published. It is different than my other Balance exercise guides, in that all of the exercises are completed either lying down or sitting in a chair. They still address the balance system, strength, posture, and joint mobility. These exercises will improve walking, reinforce good posture, and enhance ease of movement during day-to-day life. This book is all about gentle, low-key movement, so unlike my previous guides, there are no additional instructions on how to make the exercises harder.
The font size has been increased and the font style has been changed, to improve readability for those with eyesight challenges.
Exercise Sample: Foot Alphabet
Copyright: Amanda Sterczyk 2023, all rights reserved.
I am always astounded at how quickly the time goes during live appearances. This appearance was no different. Before I knew it, the host was wrapping up my segment, thanking me for my time and directing folks to visit my website for more information.
The next day, I received an email from someone who did just that. They wanted to know about my books and where they were available. They had seen me on the episode of Daytime Ottawa, and they wanted to access my books. I directed them to my Amazon page first (not knowing yet that they lived locally), then indicated they could buy directly from me if they were in the Ottawa area.
"I saw you on TV, but I can't afford your books." The email response did not deter me, as I directed them to our library to access them for free. I am so proud that my library has chosen to put their faith in my books by ordering multiple copies. Libraries support education and literary in an equitable fashion. As a child, we didn't have a library branch near our home, but we did have monthly visits from their bookmobile. It was my favourite day of the month.
When I published my first book, it was a great feeling of accomplishment. It was only when I saw that book in circulation at our library that I truly felt I was an author. Even if you can't afford to buy one of my books, I hope you'll be able to access it via the library.
If you live in another city, you can request that they purchase a book. This blog explains how to do it. And if you'd like to request they purchase one of my books, you can find details you'll need for your request by following the book links on my Amazon Author Page.
On that note, I'm off to read a book. That I checked out of the library.
After publishing five non-fiction books, I decided to turn my hand to the world of make-believe. Earlier this year, I published my debut novel, Selfried and the Secrets. Unfortunately, it happened in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, stifling my ability to hold an official, in-person book launch. Instead, I hosted a live launch online. If you missed it, not to worry, the book is still available for sale, and I'm sharing another excerpt below.*
Dedication: To anyone who’s felt sucked in by social media, this book is for you.
If you don't want anyone to know, don't do it.
– Chinese Proverb
One year earlier
Selfried removed her large sunglasses and scarf as she seated herself opposite the lawyer. When Digital Dialogue had first suggested she hire staff to populate her online world and help her grow her bottom line, she knew the proper paperwork would be required to lock down their loyalty. She wanted the most ironclad non-disclosure agreement money could buy, so she had donned a blond wig to jet off to Los Angeles, choosing to hire an out-of-state law firm that was recommended by Wister himself. Accustomed to dealing with high-priced clients that wanted their privacy maintained, the firm had a car service pick her up at the airport, the driver carrying a sign for “Roberta Jones”—the name they employed to keep female clients’ actual identities under wraps. The other side of the sign he held covered the bases in case the potential client was male. The driver was further instructed to keep the privacy screen raised on the hour-long drive to their office, to not engage in small talk with clients, and to avoid direct eye contact when taking bags and opening doors. The less he knew about his passenger, the better it was for his long-term employment with Blosky, Charles, and Smith.
Selfried had to admit, she was impressed by the level of discretion displayed by the firm, settling in to the cozy sedan with its well-stocked mini fridge, sliding off her black boots and reaching for a sparkling water. Her online celebrity was growing, and she could easily get used to this level of luxury. Opting to keep her small travel bag in the back seat, Selfried reached into the outside pocket, pulling out her phone to check Justin’s progress with a quick text. Any luck finding a trainer?
His response came quickly, as her phone dinged in her hand. Yup. When will you have the paperwork?
She checked her watch before responding. Soon. I’m half an hour out from the lawyer’s office. I’ll fax it to you shortly.
Selfried watched the three dots for a few moments before Justin’s reply popped up on her screen. Don’t. Have them transfer it to the USB I gave you, and then upload it like I showed you how.
He was right, they wanted to keep the trail back to her base under wraps. And anyone could be bought, even a disgruntled staff member at a high-priced law firm. Fine. I’ll text you when it’s been uploaded.
Tossing her phone onto the seat beside her, Selfried leaned back and closed her eyes. No need to worry about the outside world at the moment…unless. The relaxing ride was helping her brain plan out new posts, new images. With her dark glasses still in place, she decided a selfie was in order. No need to keep her adoring fans from enjoying her flawless style. And Digital Dialogue had indicated that she’d receive bonuses for posts that could skirt the new ad regulations being imposed on social media influencers. She tried a number of angles before choosing a photo that clearly showed the shades without revealing the logo on the arm, but everyone knew the iconically-shaped glasses were a bestseller for Urbane Accessories. She opened the Instagram app and loaded the image into her stories, pausing a moment to choose the best caption.
#luxury #treatyourself #limo
Perfect, she thought, tossing her phone down once again and retrieving her sparkling water from the cup holder. She’d wait a few hours before checking the stats, then she’d upload one of the other photos she’d just captured, with a little bit less of the glasses showing, the rest of the frame being taken over by her right ear and a glimpse out the window of the moving car. There was nothing identifiable in the shot, so no one would know it was a suburb of LA they were seeing pass by.
The driver pulled into a sleepy suburban strip mall, slowing down only when he arrived at the end unit. They were far enough away from the next business for Selfried to emerge from the back seat undetected. But she needn't have worried, as there was no one around to take note of celebrity comings and goings. The front office staff were deferential to her as they were to all incoming clients, and she waved them away when they offered to stow her luggage and bring her a beverage of her choice. She was here for one thing and one thing only, and she wanted to get right down to business. They led her to the largest office, that of lead partner and founder, Dick Blosky.
Selfried leaned towards the massive desk, locking eyes with the equally massive man occupying the other side of it. “Well, Mr. Blosky. Do you have my documents ready?”
“Document, Ms. Jones.” He was keeping up the veil of secrecy, not referring to Selfried’s true name, since he didn’t actually know it. Their meeting today would be the final time they would interact, once Selfried had a copy of the non-disclosure agreement on her USB drive and Blosky had an envelope of cash that would more than cover creation of the legal document. “A confidentiality agreement and a non-disclosure agreement are one and the same. Here’s your copy to review.”
Blosky pushed a stack of printed papers towards Selfried and continued, “You’ll see where you need to enter your name and where your employee enters their details. I would recommend you have them initial each page, to ensure they’ve read it through.”
Selfried glanced at the first page before leafing through the entire document. “And this will keep them from blabbing about me to others?”
“While they work for you and for the next five years, at risk of serious financial penalty. If they sign this NDA, you’ve got an airtight guarantee that will hold up in court, should they breach their contract.”
Shaking her head, Selfried was growing frustrated by Blosky’s bravado. “I don’t want to win in court. I don’t want to end up in court. Period. I want to prevent them from talking at all by scaring them into silence. Will this document do the job?”
“Most certainly it will, if they have any sense at all. Our clients are the top-tier in their fields and they value their privacy. We have never had a contract breach.”
Reaching into her bag, Selfried retrieved the USB drive and slid it across the table. “Kindly have one of your staff copy it for me. Then I’ll be on my way.”
*Copyright Amanda Sterczyk 2020, all rights reserved.
The following excerpt is from my upcoming first novel, Selfried and the Secrets, and provides a unique take on physical distancing. I wrote this scene six months ago, but it seems very relevant in our current reality. Remember, stay healthy, stay home.
"Her concern for her younger brother’s safety kept Charlotte up at night. Chris was different, he lacked finesse and social skills when it came to interacting with others. Despite the fact that his mind was a steel trap, never forgetting anything he saw, read or heard, he struggled with unwritten social norms.
As a young boy, their mother had taken him two towns over to learn about proper distancing when you were in public, because they had a shop with automatic doors. Chris couldn’t grasp that people expected you to remain outside their “invisible bubble,” as their mother had described it, and so he always stood too close to strangers. This kind of behaviour would get him into trouble, she explained to Charlotte, and was a key factor in her pulling Charlotte out of school to homeschool both children. Charlotte could help around the house during her brother’s lessons, her mother no longer needed to drive her to school—since the elementary school was even further away than the high school and the bus didn’t stop in their town—and could then focus more of her time and energy on preparing Chris for life outside their home.
And that’s how they found themselves outside the automatic doors on a summer day, waiting for a break in shoppers, and coaxing Chris forward until he was close enough to trigger the sensor and witness for himself the opening doors. Their mother explained that if the doors were a person, standing close enough for them to open meant Chris was inside the person’s privacy bubble, and that was too close. He needed to back up ever so slightly—too far away could also be off-putting as you would need to raise your voice to speak—so that the doors remained closed and the strangers weren’t on guard.
The lesson lasted over two hours, as Chris paced back and forth, counting off the number of small steps, and then the number of large steps, required to keep the doors from opening. Finally, their mother felt he was ready to test out his new social skills at another store, where he couldn’t use the cues of the surrounding environment to determine if he was remaining just outside the bubble. She piled them back into the car and drove for half an hour, before stopping in a town that was completely new to both Chris and Charlotte. Their juvenile minds were fascinated to discover new sights and sounds, despite the fact that this stop lasted less than 30 seconds. After parking the car in a new-to-them store parking lot, their mother turned to Chris and instructed him to approach the doors as if it was a person who wanted their privacy bubble preserved. Ever the obedient son, Chris hopped out and walked confidently towards the automatic doors, his older sister marvelling at the determination in his step. He stopped just shy of the door, turned to see his mother’s nod of approval, then leaned forward until he heard the telltale swish of the doors opening.
One lesson down, so many to go to keep Chris safe in a world that didn’t understand that his brain was wired differently, that he couldn’t decipher social cues or interpret nonverbal communication. Charlotte became very protective of her brother in public, working to help her mother train his brain to function outside the home without drawing attention, or worse, ire to his actions."
Image source: CDC/ Richard Duncan, MRP, Sr. Proj. Mngr, North Carolina State University, The Center for Universal Design (free of copyright restricitions)
Text: Copyright Amanda Sterczyk, 2020, All rights reserved.
After 10 years in the fitness industry, I decided to pack it in. But not before sharing my experiences as a solopreneur (solo entrepreneur). And some funny, some crazy, things that happened to me along the way. Below, you'll find the complete table of contents, as well as an excerpt from the foreword. And if you'd like to order your very own copy, you can pick it up on Amazon.
Like I say in the introduction of this, my fourth book, "If I'm being honest, I entered the fitness industry for all the wrong reasons."
From the foreword: “Whether you are an avid fitness junkie, weekend warrior, fitness instructor, or just your everyday Joe, there's something for you in this book…As you read through Amanda's journey from beginning to end, you gain inside information and a few laughs you didn't know you needed. So sit down with a cup of coffee and get ready to have a great conversation with a friend. Because that's exactly what this book feels like — a conversation with a friend about real life.”
And here's a glimpse at the Table of Contents:
The following excerpt comes from my upcoming fifth book, I Can See Your Underwear: My Journey Through the Fitness World. It's been a decade since I first took the plunge into fitness as a profession. As I look at that experience through the rear-view mirror, I can honestly say that I entered the fitness world for all the wrong reasons. Have I piqued your interest? Read on...
Did I Ever Look Like a Fitness Professional?*
I have spent many years, decades even, focused on dieting and never being truly happy with my appearance. As I said at the beginning, a huge part of me believed a career in the fitness would accelerate the process of changing my appearance.
It has never once occurred to me to judge someone else based on their appearance. Instead, I look at their character — how they treat me and others. Are they reliable? Do they keep their word? Are they kind to those less fortunate?
Yet, when it came to me, I always assumed no one would accept me unless I was skinny and svelte, especially as I transitioned into my new career in the fitness industry. What if clients wouldn’t accept me as a fitness expert because of my appearance?
More than once, I heard, “You don’t look like a fitness instructor.” What, exactly, is a fitness instructor meant to look like? People come in all shapes in sizes. Shouldn’t that ring true for individuals, no matter their profession? Rhetorical question.
I also heard, “I like taking classes with you because you look like a normal person.” Where does that come from? An unrealistic expectation and representation of everyone in the fitness industry as rake-thin, that’s where.
Skinny does not equal fit. There, I said it. A skinny person can be unfit just as easily as someone who is not as skinny. But there’s always been a part of me that doesn’t believe that for myself. Yes, I have a double standard, in that I judge myself more critically than others.
Don’t worry, I know I’m not the only one setting up base camp here. The problem is, being in the fitness industry was a constant reminder that my internal voice was judging my fitness, or rather, my unfitness to practice.
And our new-found selfie culture doesn’t help. Too many svelte fit pros spend too much time touting their amazing bodies. Or we see the before and after photos of “incredible transformations” of their previously fat clients. The “fitspiration” (fitness inspiration) images on social media imply that you’re better off being skinny and photogenic than being your true self and healthy.
My fragile ego has had enough. Even when I was starving and over-exercising to maintain what I thought was the proper form for a fitness professional, I still lacked the confidence to have my picture taken while wearing a swimsuit.
The anxiety of not looking the part created a cycle of overeating for me that collided with the start of menopause. I’m sure you know what happened next: a self-fulfilling prophecy of not “looking” like a toned fitness professional. Yes, it was self-sabotage at its worst. But the messages online also said I should look like a ballet dancer, and I’ve always been built like a soccer player. These messages, by the way, came directly from fitness gurus and their most avid followers, including fellow fitness professionals. No wonder I wasn’t able to accept myself — I didn’t feel accepted by fitness colleagues and mentors.
*Copyright Amanda Sterczyk 2020, all rights reserved.
I've been working on a novel, my first novel. It's called Selfried and the Secret. The story follows a social media influencer whose secret is exposed in a very public way. But Selfried isn't the only one who's harbouring a secret. It would seem that everyone in her life has something to hide. I hope you enjoy the following excerpt.
(copyright Amanda Sterczyk 2019, all rights reserved)
Brooke hadn’t planned to be a young mother, just as she hadn’t planned to be a dropout. Before everything went to shit, she was an aspiring singer, studying music at a midwest—somewhat decent—public university, with dreams of moving to New York and performing on Broadway—not as an actor that could sing, as a bona fide singer—but that was before the shitstorm, a period in her life that left her conflicted. Because the After, after the shitstorm, that is, was more than she could have ever imagined. There were challenges, she wasn’t going to lie or try to sugarcoat it, but the After, well, that was all about Lincoln, her new love. And although her life went to shit before Lincoln, the shitstorm had partly produced him, so she determined that she would begin referring to the shitstorm as the In-Between.
In-Between the Before and the After, that was a better way to think of the time that had produced her beautiful baby boy. Sure, she had had to drop out of school, delete her social media accounts, move to another town where no one knew her, and cut ties with family and friends. Dropping out was a no-brainer, she would have lost her scholarship anyway. If the Chrisitan college had discovered her pregnancy, she would have been shown the door, and she never would have been able to show her face back home.
Many of the students recruited to attend Go with God College came from lower income families who couldn’t afford tuition, Brooke included. And so, they signed the draconian celibacy agreement on the first day of classes, thankful for the opportunity of better jobs that came with higher education.
Amanda Sterczyk is an international author, Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), an Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) Fitness Professional, and a Certified Essentrics® Instructor.