healthy living

Keep Up

Keep up and you will be kept up - Yogi Bhajan

When I was first going through yoga training I never fully understood this quote. It seemed so arbitrary to me - keep up with what? who will keep me up?

It wasn't until I was fully immersed in my career as a chiropractor and nutritionist that I finally had a light bulb moment: maintenance now = prevention later.*

When we're young, we tend to think we're invincible and can do whatever we want to our bodies and they will continue to move and breathe and feel ok. Unfortunately this is not the case.  When we're feeling good we tend to take movement and breath for granted. We forget about maintaining our health and our joints. That is why maintenance is so incredibly important. Take care of yourself now and you prevent serious health issues down the road. (Plus, you get the added benefit of actually feeling good now. )

It can be a difficult concept to grasp, but keeping your nervous system healthy through a proper diet, regular chiropractic adjustments, and daily movement is worth so much more than the initial cost or effort that you perceive it to be now. Yes, things like getting adjusted, getting dental checkups, spending a little more for quality foods, or paying for that studio/gym/personal trainer may seem like big expenses now, but in the end the savings are innumerable. Plus - I'll say it again - YOU GET TO FEEL GOOD. How awesome is that??

*I know there are more spiritual interpretations of this famous quote. 

 

Mela's Smoothie

There's no better way to beat winter blues and stave off illness than through good nutrition. Mela, our office manager, shared one of her favorite smoothie recipes with us. It is balanced with healthy fats, vitamins and nutrients to keep you energized and feeling good. Enjoy it for breakfast or after a workout!

Mela's Smoothie: (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 Avocado
  • 3 TBSP chia seeds, soaked for ~15 minutes
  • 2 cups spinach or kale
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 banana

Blend and enjoy!

Healthy Holidays

 

The end of the year is once again upon us. While it is a season of celebration and joy, it can also be stressful. You may feel pressure to host a stellar holiday party, give the perfect gifts,  and entertain family and friends while still finding time to stay healthy and exercise. How can you find a good balance between giving and receiving this season? Below are some tips to help you stay healthy and happy this winter.

Practice Compassion. Overindulging is ubiquitous this time of year and it is ok as long as you don't make it an everyday occurrence. When you do have a high-calorie or high-sugar setback, find an attitude of compassion for yourself. If you forgive yourself for one setback, you will be less likely to keep eating. So if you lose control on one dish, instead of thinking, I've blown my diet, might as well eat more, just forgive yourself and move on.

Be a food snob. If you don't love it, don't eat it. At parties and gatherings, look for foods you truly like and skip the dishes that are available all year long. Go ahead and indulge in your personal holiday favorites, then find a seat and slowly and mindfully enjoy your food. And prior to the party, eat normally. If you skip meals to "save up"  calories for your party, you will have a tendency to overeat once you get there.

Protein and healthy fat are your friends. If your holiday go-to treats are of the sweet variety, it is important to understand that consuming extra sugar gives you more than just an excess of calories. Simple sugar leads to a cascade of hormones causing your blood sugar to spike and crash, sending a signal to your brain that you are still hungry even though you just consumed a lot of energy. But if you eat lean protein and healthy fat (avocados, nuts, full fat dairy), hormones are released that tell your brain that you are full and satisfied. Aim to minimize your consumption of extra sugar and keep yourself satisfied by eating healthy fats,  protein, and fiber.

Eat your fruits and veggies. Aim for 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The fiber content will keep you feeling full and the vitamins and nutrients will nourish your body helping you stay healthy during the winter.

Schedule Your Exercise. Your schedule will likely be hectic this season. Schedule your workouts just as you would any other appointment. It's ok if you can't make it to class, but make sure that you work up a sweat at least three days per week.

Get Adjusted. Whether you're traveling or staying home, maintaining your spinal alignment will help you feel and function your best so you can stay healthy and reduce your stress level.

Rest easy. It is always important to get adequate sleep, but during this busy time of year (and cold and flu season) it is especially critical. To get the best quality sleep, avoid foods that are high in fat or protein and alcohol 2-3 hours prior to bed. Fats and protein require your body to work harder at digestion which interferes with your sleep. And while alcohol helps you fall asleep quickly, when your body starts to metabolize it your sleep is disrupted. You may wake up frequently (even if you don't remember doing so) and you will miss out on restorative sleep. If you’re still hungry close to bedtime, have some complex carbohydrates like whole-wheat crackers, popcorn, or fruit.

Boost your mood. This time of year is typically cold and dark for us in the metro DC area. For many, this can lead to seasonal mood changes. Due to the lack of sunlight, I recommend supplementing with vitamin D3 (400-1000IU/day). You may also want to supplement with the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They have been shown to improve symptoms of depression and aid in brain function. Even if the weather is not the best, try to get outside for at least a few minutes a day for fresh air and sunlight.

Avoid comparison. You’ve read the status updates and have seen gorgeous instagram photos about glamorous vacations, perfectly-behaved kids, and well decorated house, but remember that those people have bad days too. Most people put their best self forward social media, so don't compare your life with those dreamy-sounding posts. Find at least one thing each day to be grateful for and enjoy the season!

What's Stealing Your Energy? Part 2 - Posture

Bad posture is only cute on cats.

Bad posture is only cute on cats.

We've probably all heard the request to "sit up straight" and have "good posture" at some point, but it's easy to forget just how important good posture is. When you come in to the office to get adjusted, we fix your alignment, remove subluxations, and help re-balance your muscles. But outside of the office it is up to you to practice good posture along with the stretches and strengthening exercises we may have prescribed you. Having good posture is part of your care outside of your chiropractic adjustments. Practicing proper posture not only makes you feel and look better, but it will also help you increase the length of time between adjustments and will train your body to maintain proper alignment longer. Additionally, having good posture improves your energy through out the day.

Whether you're standing or seated, slumping forward and rounding your shoulders not only makes you look and feel less confident, but also makes you more tired by slowing your digestion and reducing your tidal volume (breath capacity). It also puts extra strain on the muscles and joints of the lower back, upper back and neck which can lead to quicker joint degeneration and chronic pain.

Good posture: shoulders over hips, shoulder blades down and back, chin parallel to the floor, ears over shoulders.

Good posture: shoulders over hips, shoulder blades down and back, chin parallel to the floor, ears over shoulders.

If you find yourself sitting for the majority of your day, you will also likely feel more tired than you would if you were able to move and stand more. Many recent studies have stated how bad sitting all day is for you. Fortunately, other studies have shown that getting up just once an hour for 5 minutes and walking - even as slow as 2mph - can reverse the negative effects of sitting. Consider setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up, stretch, walk around, or just check in on your posture.

When you catch yourself slouching, stand up or take a stretch break to open your chest: Place your hands behind your head.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together, bringing your elbows back as far as possible.

Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

Relax and slowly return to the starting position.

Repeat 2-3 times.

Once you start practicing proper posture, it will become a habit and slouching will no longer feel normal or comfortable. So start getting the benefits of good posture today: decrease and prevent pain and increase your energy!

 

Image credits: sicknesshealth.com; blog.bufferapp.com; ehs.utoronto.ca, respectively.

What's Stealing Your Energy? Part 1 - Your diet

Everyone has days where they feel tired and unmotivated, but if you find yourself feeling tired nearly every day and need copious amounts of caffeine to get you going, chances are there may be something you're doing (or not doing) that is zapping your energy. Over the next few posts, we will explore some of the things that may be making you feel less than your best and how you can change your routine to feel refreshed and energized through out your day.

Your Diet

Energy zapper #1: Simple Sugar

You are probably familiar with the "sugar high" that is obtained after eating simple sugars (think pastries, candy, etc) followed by the subsequent "crash". This is because consuming simple sugars and foods with a high glycemic index leads to a rapid spike in insulin followed by a subsequent "crash". Say you eat a cupcake. You get a sudden blast of sugar into your blood stream and it must be moved somewhere, it can't just hang out there or it will cause damage. This is where insulin comes in. It grabs the sugars and transports them to your muscles. Insulin usually gets a little over zealous though, and takes your blood sugar down to a low level - sometimes even lower than it was BEFORE you ate. This accounts for the "crash" feeling you get after the initial high. Besides avoiding the obvious high-sugar foods like pastries and candies, watch out for "hidden" sugar in seemingly healthy foods like flavored yogurt and energy bars. Look for items with 5g of sugar or fewer.

Energy zapper #2: not eating frequently enough

Eating every 3-4 hours (or 5-6 times a day) helps maintain stable blood sugar and ensures you have enough energy through out your day. That being said, eating frequently does not mean eat whatever you want - portion control is key. Of course, the amount of nutrients and total calories that are needed varies greatly from person to person depending on age, gender, and activity level, but aim for a combination of protein, complex carbs, and good fats to keep you satisfied. The info graphic below shows some very simple examples.

Some examples of 6 small but balanced snacks

Some examples of 6 small but balanced snacks

Energy zapper #3: Too much caffeine

This seems counter intuitive at first because caffeine is a stimulant that can enhance your mental and physical performance. But like other stimulants, it is a drug that your body builds a tolerance to. This requires you to continually up your dose to feel the same effects. The added caffeine puts stress on your adrenal glands and can actually make you more tired. Consider taking a 2-3 day caffeine hiatus every month or so to reset your caffeine tolerance.

Next week we will be discussing posture and how it affects your digestion, breath, and energy level. Stay Tuned!