Money. Health. Relationships. Time. Work.
Everyone has the same problems, you are neither alone in that regards nor are you exempt. We all suffer from too much of one thing or not enough of another. That is an interesting word, suffer, right? For the majority of us who live an examined life with even the smallest amount of introspection we have identified the deficits in our lives and yet we continue to suffer. Some of us suffer like it was a badge of honor (“I worked 70 hours last week” or “That is a lot but MY student loan debt is over 300k…”). For those that want to read on, a word of caution; I am going to show you strategies that will allow you to achieve what has eluded you this far. However, that comes at a price: your excuses.
The 5 issues listed above are not an exhaustive list by any means but they are most commonly cited as the lead issues that most Americans are struggling with.[i] [ii] If you have another wildly unique problem feel free to throw it on the top of the pile because the principles don’t change.
No really, stop with your meme of the day, pinterest perk up, or today is the day nonsense. If it hasn’t worked yet it won’t ever work. Stop wasting your time.
Motivation has a lot of synonyms (spark, enthusiasm, inducement, stimulus…) and it is no surprise that many represent a TRANSIENT call to action. Motivation doesn’t last nor was it designed to. Motivation is used as a stepping stone to solidify the original purpose or act. Training wheels and bumper bowling are designed to lower the bar far enough that we could get over successfully but they were never meant to be the destination. Diapers served an essential purpose at the time with the intention to progress when the time is right. You are too old to sit in your motivation diapers any longer. Agreed?
Here is the formula:
Planning phase -> Action phase -> Stability phase
Motivation -> Habit -> Ritual
In the planning phase you are insulated from actually making any changes so this is the easiest yet most often overlooked portion. What are your goals? Clearly define your goals using at least 2 qualitative (subjective) and quantitative (objective) goals. Our minds follow The Serial Position Effect (Primacy and Recency https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_position_effect) which basically states we only remember the first couple and the last couple things in a list including how we felt a month ago vs how we feel now. You can see how this would lead us to cast an inaccurate light onto our progress so using objective measures of subjective goals is critical to charting progress. Use the rubric of FID--Frequency, Intensity and Duration--to compare your before to your after accurately. Ask in the comments portion or privately if you have specific questions regarding your FID.
Timeline. Timelines need to be established and they should be stricter than you think. Giving yourself a blank check and endless timeline will all but guarantee nothing will get done. If you have a goal to learn Spanish but you spend two hours a day on social media, your actions are incongruent with your stated mission.
Spend. Time, effort or money, whichever you value most will do. This will serve as leverage against your self-destructive behavior. Give your friend $500 and tell them to keep it if you don’t complete that 5k. Tell your neighbor you will mow their lawn if you don’t lose 10 pounds by July 4th, donate to an opposing political party if you fail to launch your startup…You get the idea.
Burn. Your goals should NOT include a pre-nuptial agreement. No back doors. No retreating. What you hold onto will hold you back. Burn your bridges.
Consistency. Simon Senik does a bit on consistency vs intensity here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NB5y9654qQ. Do yourself a favor and watch this 160 second clip. My suggestion is to do a small amount every day rather than some large amount 3-5 days a week. Why? Because you have a weekday and a weekend routine and you aren’t strong enough (yet) to dial back in on Monday after a weekend full of antithetical actions. You can’t go from thrifty on Thursday to baller on Saturday and back again 52x a year. It is inconsistent with your stated goals. The American Academy of Sports Medicine states it takes 26 consecutive weeks of performing a positive health action with no more than 7 days of inconsistency for it to take root. Meaning, you can work out every day for 20 weeks, go on vacation for 10 days and fall off the wagon and guess what? You start back at zero. Habits take time. Motivation wears out with time. You need habits.
Habits: Smokers will decide to quit then next thing they know, they got another heater between their lips. How did this happen? Because every time they grab a cup of coffee/hit a stoplight or eat a meal they grab for a cigarette. They have a paired response to a neutral action (eating, driving) that enforces their negative behavior. We also do this with positive actions like brushing our teeth before we go to bed. Link your goals to other actions that you already do and your compliance will increase. For instance, I drink 2 big glasses of water before I allow myself to eat a meal. I do a set of pull-ups before I allow myself to enter certain rooms in my house.
Lower the barriers to success: Ramit Sethi is a highly successful investor and coach who had trouble getting out of bed in the morning to work out. His biggest barrier? He had to walk across his cold apartment to change into his workout clothes. It may sound completely ridiculous but he was honest with himself about what stood between his goals and compliance. He fixed it by moving his workout clothes to the side of his bed. For an applicable behavioral psychology podcast, I highly recommend this link: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2016/03/18/podcast-184-harnessing-behavioral-psychology-for-a-rich-life/
Activity: For exercise related choices, follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your activities should be whatever you enjoy doing--be it mountain biking, tennis or lifting. The other 20% is the activities you are terrible at. Love twisting steel? Good, now do some yoga to counteract that. Love marathon training? You’d better pay the piper and start sprinting to activate those fast twitch muscle fibers. The key is to enjoy the activity enough to maintain consistency however we need to recognize that our biases will contribute to our downfall if left to our own devices. For other lifestyle choices, the same principles apply but in different proportions. For small business owners, business books are the obvious choice of reading material. Nevertheless, I would urge them to also read some philosophy and strategy books to direct their attention in the right direction.
Ok, you have been nose to grindstone for a few months now and have some experience under your belt. The next step is to surround yourself with those who will support you and perhaps more importantly, hold you accountable.
Employ Social Contracts: We have a social contract with our workout partner, our co-workers, even our pick-up basketball buddies. Think no one cares? Call off work and see how many people ask why you were gone. Part of the reason that CrossFit is successful is that they employ community pressure to keep you actively engaged. Knowing that social contracts exist helps us to use them to our advantage. Volunteer to set up at the church event, assistant coach your daughter’s soccer team, join a book club (and read), Be a Big Sister/Brother. Whatever you do, remind yourself that people are counting on you to follow through. If not for you, do it for them. The results are the same.
Rituals: My cousin Brendan has run EVERY DAY for the last 8 years or so. In that time he has experienced sickness, soreness, injury, vacation, birthdays, life, death, weather and the Rich Rodriguez experiment. Why does he run? Because it is his ritual. It is more ingrained in him to run than it is in you to floss. Think about that. Once we latch onto a ritual it becomes infectious. The most successful professional sports team of all time is the New Zealand All Blacks whose career win percentage is an insane 77.14%.[i] Winning, one could say is a ritual in NZ. They have always won and will continue to win because that is what they do. Brendan runs and the All Blacks win, what can rituals do for you?
The main takeaways are this: using motivation alone is prohibiting your progression to the next step. Stop trying to drive 70 mph in 1st gear, you are burning your engine out. You will never Ra-Ra your way to success without a plan of action, a support system and a clear understanding of the value of your undertaking. Motivation is a tool and has a place in your tool belt but without proper application, it becomes a burden.
All the best health,
What is in your supplements?
Hello readers! My name's Alena. I'm currently a pre-med student at the University of Michigan getting a minor in music. My favorite composer is Dmitri Shostakovich because he was forced to compose nationalistic music for the USSR, so he wrote his pieces specifically to ridicule Stalin's regime. He would also use musical note lettering to write the names of him and his lover as two independent themes intertwining within the structure of the composition. His pieces always sounded like a mixture between intimately frightening and romantic. I play rugby with the University of Michigan Women's Rugby Football Club--but my biggest fear isn't being smushed, it's becoming lactose intolerant. I really enjoy working for Foundation Chiropractic because I have the opportunity to meet many kind and interesting people while watching their health improve along the way!
While summer has wrapped up here in Michigan and kids are back to school which means that many of our young ones are in full swing with their fall sports. If you are a parent than you know that you’ve signed permission slips, waivers and indemnity clauses like it was your job. You’ll have problems at home if little Susie/Johnny won’t be allowed to play but the real problems happen AFTER the ink dries; Sports Injuries. In a report compiled by researchers at UC Denver, the number of national estimated high school sports related injuries is 1,427,315 for the 2013-2014 year.
Yes, you heard that correctly, almost 1.5 MILLION injuries to our kids in school sanctioned sports. Oh and that number is merely the REPORTED rate, the numbers could be much higher because as you know, athletes will often tough it out in silence rather than admit to a problem.
Right about now you are probably hoping that your child plays a safe sport and that these numbers are probably just for barbaric games like football, lacrosse and that weird European game called “rugby”. While boy’s high school football is top of the charts like a Bon Jovi album in the 80’s as the most injury-inducing sport on the books, you would be shocked to learn the women’s soccer is #2. In fact, softball and basketball (girls and boys) have wildly higher numbers than I would have guessed and while the rate of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries) is lower in non-contact sports, a common ankle sprain can have an insidious effect of the biomechanics of the athlete for years to come that eventually results in knee replacements, back pain, reduced activity and faulty neurological feedback to the cerebellum. And lastly, according to Fong:
“Ankle ligamentous sprain injury is the most common single type of acute sport trauma” accounting for 14% of all sports injuries.
(A systematic review on ankle injury and ankle sprain in sports. Fong DT, Hong Y, Chan LK, Yung PS, Chan KM Sports Med. 2007; 37(1):73-94.)( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724472/)
( https://www.hss.edu/newsroom_sprained-ankle-ignored.asp )
( http://www.backfixer1.com/is-your-old-ankle-injury-causing-knee-hip-and-back-problems-years-later/ )
Let’s dive into that for a minute actually because I am tired of people brushing ankle sprains off like it’s a rite of passage or “no big deal”. What do most people do when they roll their ankle? Spoiler alert, it isn’t get evaluated by a Structural expert to fix the compensation patterns that arise from newly altered striking patterns. They usually take it easy for a couple weeks, buy an ACE bandage from Rite-Aid and ride it out until it stops hurting. Or even worse, they just stop being active because they have a self diagnosed “bad ankle”. Don’t be like most people. Most people have limps. Most people allow an injury to reduce their activity level permanently. Most people have pain. Most people…..
The majority of our patients who experience an ankle “sprain”, “roll” or “tweak” do so in an inversion or forced supination pattern where the ankle rolls in (think pinky toe on the ground/big toe in the air) which stretches the ligaments on the outside of the foot near the bump on your foot right above the shoe line (it’s called the lateral malleolus for you A&P nerds out there). A grade 1 sprain will usually hurts for anywhere between 2-6 weeks and then you are “good to go” again. Only you’re not. Like the picture to the right, you have clearly compensated for the injury in your ankle by doing everything from rotating the knee internally to un-leveling the pelvis and shoulders. We have created a compensation pattern that CAN AND WILL manifest as a myriad of other problems that appear unrelated to the untrained eye.
As you can see from the schematic above, there is no such thing as an isolated injury. So if a seemingly innocuous injury can affect our entire structure, what is our move? Predict our next injury with a magic eight ball? Ouija board? Locking the doors and staying inside? Never playing sports? Obviously I am being facetious but clearly withdrawing our kids/ourselves from activity isn’t the solution so what can you do to lower your injury susceptibility?
Beat an injury BEFORE it happens.
Before you accuse me of drinking on the job remember what old Ben Franklin had to say about proactive measures, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure." To be fair, Franklin also said that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”!
Kids are like trees that are learning to grow straight. Catch them early and all you have to do is add those wire supports, adjust the straps semi-regularly to ensure they progress properly and wait 30 years for a good looking oak to replace the fragile frame of the sapling. Now picture if you didn’t have those support wires in place. Any sort of pressure on the tree could cause a shift in the base of the tree right? Now extrapolate out a couple decades and envision the state of the tree now:
This is a little different eh? Now think how long it’s going to take to fix this older deformed “tree”!
If you are reading this and realizing that you are an old tree and are experiencing back pain, trouble sleeping or headaches, realize that it may be caused due to a biomechanical dysfunction stemming from an injury a long time ago. The first step is admitting there is a problem right? So, now you have to get it fixed but how do you know what the primary cause is and which is the secondary conditions? How do you know if the shoulder is to blame for the neck ache or the neck ache is due to the malposition of the shoulder? Find an expert that you can trust.
Every parent I’ve met wants their kids to have it better than they did growing up and while our intentions are honorable, are we setting them up for the exact same injuries that we as adult suffer from? Recognizing the injuries in our kids today can significantly change their trajectory tomorrow. Don’t wait until your tree is crooked to start shopping for solutions.
I think food is fantastic. It nourishes, heals, comforts, satisfies and builds. Food is the focal point of most gatherings (holidays, dates, meetings). As anyone who has ever hosted a party at their house will know, the kitchen usually is the busiest room in the place.
I have a problem with food.
I last played competitive rugby at around 190-195 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal while in Atlanta. From the outside, I looked awesome. But structurally, I was a nightmare. I retired after winning our second national championship and immediately went into rest and recovery mode. Only it was mostly rest. And eating. Little more rest you say? Don’t mind if I do. What’s that? Eat while you’re resting? Good call. Long story short, I was on vacation for a while. My rationale was solid; I had just played rugby in a professional environment for 41 of the last 48 months and my body was smoked. I needed a break. Hell, I DESERVED a break. And a whole pizza.
I would do the occasional workout but body weight squats and pull-ups 1x every two weeks wasn’t getting it done. This continued for several months until I looked in the mirror and didn’t see the young man I used to know. I stepped on the scale but I already knew the answer. I was 218 pounds. If you had asked me years ago would I ever be almost 220 lbs., I would have said “I wish!” Putting on strong, healthy muscle weight has been my goal since I was 16. This was not THAT type of weight. It was a bigger stomach, thinner arms and legs, less definition and perhaps most importantly, a rejection of my current vessel.
My friends didn’t say anything derogatory to me, but I found myself taking the offensive and declaring my current weight as a joke while making fun of how old and washed up I was. You see, I prided myself on my fitness, strength and athleticism (rugby). It was my IDENTITY. I couldn’t cope with the idea of never playing ball again because that was so ingrained with my projection of self that I had no exit strategy. My retreat became making fun of myself, living in denial about my current situation and eating. A lot.
Before you envision the scene from Monty Python about Mr. Creosote (terrible link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXH_12QWWg8 ) It’s not like I was crushing 5 burgers in a sitting! I didn’t immediately turn into Cookie Monster, but I had programmed myself to eat whatever I wanted because I would burn it all off at the next practice/gym/games. My net gain was negligible, it was analogous to making a $1,000,000 and spending $1,000,000. The quality of the food (fruit and veg vs processed crap) dropped a bit as well so when coupled with my sudden cessation of activity, the results were compounded. Next thing you know…. 218#.
So what did I do?
I started working out a lot more. I lifted 4-6 days a week for months and while it certainly helped improve my mental state, the weight wasn’t falling off the way I had expected. I love working out, but running a new business, coaching full time, being a husband, preparing for a baby (blah excuses blah) ate up a lot of my time. I wasn’t seeing the permanent results that I assumed were just around the corner so I cut back on the gym time. You ready for my next rationalization? I could better use that time to serve my family, patients, business…That I was acting SELFISHLY to spend all my time at the gym! “Yeah, if I don’t work out that is like 10 extra hours I can do X, Y and Z”… Long story short, I believed my own lies.
I was frustrated, depressed and unsatisfied with myself. I didn’t want my son to be raised by a man who only referenced the glory days but someone who could still hack it when my pup becomes a teenager. I wanted Blaise to have a dad who RESPECTED his body and someone who led by example. Whether it is financial stewardship, physical health, manners, work ethic, you name it, don’t we all want that for our kids? So, I did the math (intake vs output) and the results were clear. I need to be MORE ACTIVE but most importantly, EAT LESS FOOD. Pure and simple, eat less food. So easy right? Just eat less food. Well, that was hard.
So, I started doing meal replacements. Not any fancy 20 week program, not a protein bar followed by 18 hours of fasting, not a bacon and nut diet, and no I didn’t eat cabbage for 10 days straight. My problem was an unhealthy relationship with food, not with a lack of cabbage in my life. I started making smoothies that carry me through the day. I stopped eating my usual breakfast (a delicious 2 fried egg, toasted everything bagel, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and salami breakfast sandwich) and instead drink 2 glasses of water, eat some fruit and (wo)man up until I NEED to eat, not when I WANT to eat.
Is it easy? No.
Is it necessary? Yes.
Today I am 191 pounds. I haven’t been that light since I was 25 years old. It isn’t the same body I had years ago and that is something I’m learning to love. I put a lot of miles on my body and in that time, my frame did whatever I asked of it. That being said, I made more withdrawals then I did deposits to the ol’ health bank account. I have started to reconcile my accounts so that I live more of my life in the black than the red. One of my very best friends and training partners, Vince Colella, once told me “It is harder to GET in shape than it is to STAY in shape”. He was right and I learned my lesson.
This issue I’m highlighting is the nutritional aspect of my body reclaiming project. The next installment will feature my workout philosophy. This old dog is learning some new tricks and I am excited to share them with you. If you like what you hear, share it with someone else who needs to hear this message as well.
The philosophy of a smoothie is that it should be healthier than whatever else you were going to eat in its place. A 5 banana, chocolate protein powder, peanut butter infused, whole milk smoothie is only healthier than nachos and beer, 10 slices of pizza or a carton of ice cream. A smoothie is not healthy because you can drink it, it is healthy because of the contents! If you are stuck in cheesecake for breakfast mode (not a joke, my first patient ever used to do this) then yeah, the above mentioned smoothie is a better option. Is it the best? Of course not. But, if that is where you’re at today, you need to get the ball rolling any way you can.
I’m going to lay out some of my favorite smoothie ingredients and let you decide how you want to mix it up. I wrote a longer post about this last year titled: “Shake It Off” (http://www.foundationmi.com/blog/archives/12-2015) but it fell short to provide real recipes.
I use a ninja blender, but for those fancy pants out there, a vitamix is the best blender on the market ( @ $700, it’d better be!) You have no limit on what that thing can chop up. However, this recipe will be written with mere mortal blenders in mind.
Choose your base: A base is the liquid conduit for which the mixing will take place. An edible canvas, if you will! You will add these last, letting them fill in the cracks between the rest of the ingredients. You will have enough liquidity as long as you leave some space to let the base fill in the cracks.
Pros: Gives whatever your drinking a tropical and overwhelming feel. Dominant flavor. Cheap.
Cons: Lots of sugars, processed/concentrate isn’t the best form of nutrients. Doesn’t allow for subtlety in flavors.
Pros: So very good for your nervous system. Thick and rich.
Cons: Subtle flavors. Not cheap.
Pros: Non-dairy source of protein (1 gram for every 4 ounces, not bad). Fresh for weeks.
Cons: Subtle taste.
Pros: God’s premier choice of liquid. 70% of the Earth is covered in it.
Cons: Not a ton of taste, you know, cuz its water.
The Staples. (50-60%)
Baby Leaf Spinach, Kale, Avocado, and Cherry Tomatoes. These 4 consistently account for the majority of most every smoothie I make. Why these four? I have a multitude of reasons. 1) they are hard to consume in other forms, 2) they provide unique necessary nutrients 3) they are accessible and available and finally, 4) they play well with others. Don’t fight me on this one, I promise you I am correct.
The Fun Stuff (30-40%)
Fruits, or as I like to call it, the delicious tarp I lay over my veggies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, bananas are your best friends in all of this. If you decide to go off page and not include a banana in your smoothie, you are going AMA (Against Medical Advice) J
Fresh fruits are always best but are hard to maintain a significant supply. I buy fresh frozen from Costco because they are organic, GMO free and maintain the highest level of nutrient density. Here is your shopping list of frozen fruits: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mango, and pineapple. Skip the cheaper tropical fruit variety, it is mostly strawberries, apple and grape which the latter two don’t mix well in a smoothie. The flavors run together to the point where you can’t distinguish any particular taste, simply that it tastes sweet.
The fresh fruits I like to buy are Kiwi, Papaya, Blackberries (not the phone) and Tangerines. These provide a new and fresh taste to a sometimes monotonous meal and with the exception of the papaya and tangerine, you can just throw them in with no additional work.
Wild Cards? Yea, we got those. (0-10%)
So you’re bored with your current recipe? Want a little something of the beaten path? Oh, I’ve got you covered. In no particular order, try these out: beets, sweet potato, butternut squash, ugly fruit, Greek yogurt, protein powder, peanut butter, chocolate sauce, almonds, honey, Swiss chard, cucumber, lemon, lime, and even ginger. There is no template for success here and I really can’t even give you a quantity because you are in uncharted territory. I have made some mistakes but at the end of the day, the worst thing that will happen is you simply don’t like the flavor. Document your smoothie tragedies, learn from them and move on.
Smoothies are not the end all, be all but for me. They have been the kick in the pants I needed to regain my health, my happiness and my power. I hope this article gives you hope, empowers you to make changes and provides a tangible road map to success.
All the best health!
Dr. Zach and the Foundation Team.
While you all already know Dr. Zach, many of you may not know ALL of our front desk employees. So to introduce you to our staff, we have pulled together a few notes about each of our workers!
Hometown: Ypsilanti, MI
Connection to Dr. Zach: family friend
Current Life Plan: When MarySarah graduated from high school in 2013, she took a gap year and traveled to Glasgow, Scotland where she did service and mission work. MarySarah is currently in her second year at Washtenaw Community College studying Business Administration. She plans on transferring to Eastern next year. MarySarah enjoys running, baking, spending time with her family, and travelling—especially visiting her friends back in Glasgow!
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Connection to Dr. Zach: sister-in-law
Current Life Plan: Mary is a junior at the University of Michigan. She is double majoring in International Studies and French. However, she is following a Pre-Health track and plans to attend Graduate School and achieve Masters of Public Health. Mary enjoys spending time with her family and friends, travelling, anything involving water—going to the beach, swimming, kayaking, etc., puns, cooking, picnicking, stargazing, and watching new movies.
(Fun Fact—MarySarah and Mary have been close friends since the 3rd grade!)
Hometown: Westport, CT
Connection to Dr. Zach: University of Michigan Rugby
Current Life Plan: Kevin is a freshman at the University of Michigan. He is planning on pursuing a degree in either Business or PPE (Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics). After school, Kevin plans on pursuing a career in the United States Navy. Kevin plays Rugby for the University of Michigan Rugby Football Club, but also likes to workout, play the ukulele, and spend time with his family.
All the best health from the Foundation Chiropractic Team!
So, you hurt yourself.
Let me play this scenario for you and see if it reminds you of anyone: Zach joins a gym, yoga studio or CrossFit box and things are going really well. Zach starts to get into a routine, sheds a couple pounds and even made a friend. Zach could get used to this type of consistency! That is until one day Zach decides to try something wacky like deadlifting with terrible form and “blows his back out”. He tries to power through it but man, it hurts a lot and he doesn’t want to injure himself further so he shuts it down for a few days. A few days turn into a couple weeks and next thing you know, being active is a distant memory due to a single episode. Fast forward to whenever the topic of exercise arises and Zach defends his inactivity by hiding behind his hurt back. He claims he wishes he could play basketball/dance/exercise/ help you move (maybe not that last one!) but it’s just that aching back…
If you’ve ever been on either side of this conversation you’ll know this dialogue all too well. Maybe being a chiropractor means that I have a disproportionate amount of random people telling me about their physical ailments, maybe I have a sign on my forehead, I don’t know. For years, I’ve heard scores of people use a minor setback as the sole reasoning to justify their inactivity. I am always polite, encouraging and point them toward one of my preferred health care practitioners so that they can get back on that horse and move towards their goals. What I would LIKE to do is shake them like a polaroid picture (thank you Andre 3000) and smack some sense into them. Instead I shake their hand knowing full well that the majority of people would feel better if they got that weight off their chest but won’t actually do anything about it. Basically the same thing as Facebook activism right?
Does that sound harsh?
You can give up at the first sign of resistance but let’s not blame your back/knees/shoulders/new job/sniffles/papercut for it, ok? Ladies and gentlemen, it is ok to hurt from time to time! Our society has pushed this message that the apex of progression is comfort. Self-actualization? No thanks. Lazy boys, hot tubs and pedicures are all fine and dandy but they aren’t what make us great. They do not challenge us to grow, to learn, to strip down and become a better version of ourselves. You know what does? Pushing your limits, breaking down barriers, overcoming adversity and retraining your mind to dismiss its concept of your own ceiling.
We are built for play, pleasure and yes, work. Work leads to progress and progress leads to betterment. There will always be growing pains associated with your success. I want you to re-frame the experience to welcome the process as much as the results. Only when you view your STRUGGLES as a POSITIVE will you start to appreciate the journey towards actualization.
In all of this, the questions still remains:
What do you do if you are not hurt, but ACTUALLY injured?
1) Find help.
What is the nature of your problem and is there an industry full of people that fix it? If you don’t know what to do at the gym, hire a personal trainer. Can’t sleep at night? See a pulmonologist for a sleep study. Structural Shifts in your spine? You know who! Will it cost time and money? Of course it will. A sandwich isn’t free just because you don’t want to pay for it, no matter how hungry you are.
2) Get the correct diagnosis.
Don’t listen to your crazy Uncle when he says “I had the exact same rotator ‘cup’ tear and you don’t need fancy doctors telling you what to do, just take these leftover muscle relaxers and you’ll feel better soon”. Your uncle makes a great white bean chicken chili but he isn't a professional. Don’t mess around with an amateur diagnostician or you could be wasting a lot of time and money on fixing the wrong problem. Hint: the part that hurts isn’t always the source of your issues.
3) Do what they tell you to do.
Anyone who has spent some time in a kitchen knows why a recipe is important. Perhaps you learned that lesson when you went off page and tried to add a ton of cinnamon to spaghetti sauce (I actually did this, sorry Anne!). What about people that take 5 days of a 10 day Z pack (antibiotics)? They feel a little bit better and then decide they know better than their prescribing physician and what happens? The infection comes back with a vengeance. If you are paying these people for their expert advice, do yourself a favor and follow it. It is for YOUR benefit.
4) Focus on everything else.
For those of you who know me, odds are you’ve seen me injured. A quick glossary includes both hamstrings, 2x MCL tear, UCL tear in left elbow, 2 carpals broken, multiple shoulder separations, left shoulder labral tears, bilateral shoulder dislocations in addition to countless broken noses, rolled ankles, broken fingers or teeth kicked in. You know what I did during each and every one of those intensely frustrating rehab periods? I made sure that every other injury, tweak, deficit and weakness was in peak condition so that I could hit the ground running when the injury had run its course. Don’t sit on your hands and wait for the magical structural correction fairy to wave their healing wand over you just because you waited 6-8 weeks before returning to activity.
Healing is NOT a passive process. If you want something, go out and get it. If you don’t want it, your actions will reflect exactly that. We are what we repeatedly do.
“Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”- Aristotle.
This isn’t meant to be diminutive but rather a dose of reality. I could sit behind this desk and tell you that all
the answers you seek are already inside you (I’m getting sick of that one) but if we are being honest, sometimes you need a kick in the pants and a shot in the arm to take action. I hope you are well into your New Year’s resolutions and they are going perfectly. If not, give me a call and I’ll point you in the right direction. Fluff not included.
For as I can remember, people have asked me questions about exercise, nutrition and rehabbing new and old injuries. I love answering whatever questions people ask and here is why; when I can educate a person, they become empowered and empowered people take charge of their health. Healthy people build healthy families which invariably equals healthy communities. I don’t think I need to sell you on the value of a healthy community do I?
While everyone is a beautiful and unique snowflake (just like Mom told you!) MOST people tend to ask the same questions. For your reading pleasure, some FAQs and their answers.
Q: I want to lose weight, what is the best way?
A: You are not going to like this answer but this has very little to do with a strict adherence to exercise as we know it. You are right when you think that cardio ( jogging, biking, swimming…) uses fat as it’s fuel source however a good, hard cardio session simply doesn’t burn that many calories. For example, let’s say a 200 pound male (me) sets out on a run and is feeling dangerous! At an 8 mph clip and going for 60 minutes, I can expect to burn 637 calories. (http://www.prohealth.com/weightloss/tools/exercise/calculator1_2.cfm) 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories (4 for carbs and protein, 7 per gram of alcohol) so 637/9=70 grams. A pound of fat weighs 454 grams. So, long story short, you need to run 8 miles a day at a 7.5 minute clip, 6 days a week to lose 1 pound of fat. If 48 miles a week sounds like a bit too much effort for 1 pound, you and I are on the same page. What else accounts 637 calories? A small almond Coldstone ice cream cup, a slice of Costco cake and McDonald’s Southwest chicken wrap all clock in around 650 kcals each.
So what are your options? Eat less. Eat better.
Am I proposing that you shouldn’t do exercise and simply watch your caloric intake? No, I am suggesting both. For whatever reason, daily activities coupled with responsible eating isn’t the answer people want to hear.
Q: I don’t want to lift weights because I’m afraid I’ll bulk up. Is that true?
A: This is a common misconception and while I don’t know where it originated from, I have never heard this question from a man probably because most men would love to be referred to as “bulky”! The concept of bulking up scares a lot of conscientious women who would prefer to accentuate their curves and feminine figure but don’t want big veins, a thick neck and broader shoulders than Gaston. Yeah, that is a Beauty and the beast reference, so what? ;)
Ladies, believe me when I say it is extremely difficult to bulk up. If it was that easy, we would see a whole lot more jacked up women right?
Now, I have received a lot of question about women who want a “toned” appearance and for that goal, weight lifting is right up your alley. You see, muscles have something called fast twitch and slow twitch fibers and every muscle in your body is a mixture of the two. The only way to activate the fast twitch ( Type 2 glycolytic fibers for all you nerds out there) portion of those muscles is to perform fast, hard and heavy exercises. Like what? Sprinting instead of jogging, squats instead of the stair master and shoulder presses instead of swimming. I’m not telling you to ONLY do these exercises or to only weight lift but there must a High Intensity Short Duration (HISD) component to your regimen if you want that coveted “toned” body.
Q: My friend does Cross-Fit and keeps trying to get me to join. I heard it hurts you. What do you think?
A: As a 14 year rugby veteran, I don’t have much authority when it comes to pontificating about activities that are harmful to your health. That being said, if you do reckless things, expect bad results and usually sooner than later. I am not saying Cross fit is reckless but I will say this; poor biomechanics accompanied by a pre-existing reduced range of motion (I just described 90% of this country by the way) coupled with maximal/exhaustive exercise almost always equals injury. Do Cross fit, Rugby, mountain climbing, power walking, yoga or whatever else you want BUT, BUT, BUT make sure you are in a good position to handle the activity first.
Q: I hate going to the gym, what else can I do?
A: Lots of people feel uncomfortable going to the gym for numerous reasons (“it is overwhelming”, “it seems like an endless fashion show”, “people sit down to text on my favorite machines” or even the dreaded locker room experience. There is a plethora of activities that don’t require a squat machine and here is a couple examples of *free* sample programs.
My good friend Dr. Tommy John has a theory about working out that can only be explained by watching some of his movement videos. For example, he never lifts anything over 3lbs but performs each movement perfectly for hundreds of reps. Check out his page below but beware, he might blow your mind. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClnvIBpt74qXkkLVEERhOUw I have done body weight movements for a long time now and if done correctly, can be an effective method for maintaining your fitness with minimal risk for injury and thus, dropout.
As I wrap this message up, I have a couple points I would like you to remember:
All exercise is active however all activity is not exercise. Dancing, yoga, walking, gardening and shadow boxing are all exercise. Walking to the fridge to grab some Chinese leftovers may count as steps on your Fitbit but it certainly isn’t exercise.
There is no panacea for health but let’s be honest with ourselves, we all know how to get healthy. Daily activity, proper nutrition, positive mental outlook, quality sleep and correct spinal functioning have been and continue to be the only tried and true path to physical health. If you aren’t currently doing one of the above mentioned “pillars of health”, I would encourage you to seek out a professional in that field and fix your deficits. I have several personal trainers, dieticians and therapists that I would be glad to refer you to.
Lastly, no one is going to kick down your door and force you to make better choices. If a change is required, the change needs to come from YOU! That being said, you will need a support system moving forward. My advice is to find someone who knows what they are talking about and let them educate you. If you want to learn French, you get a French tutor right? Don’t be afraid to employ the experts, they are the experts for a reason.
All the best health,
Dr. Zach and the Foundation Chiropractic team.
Gone are the days when text messages were rationed like rum on a pirate ship. The moment the telecommunications industry lifted the flood gates on unlimited texts and “blessed” their customers with a library of emoticons for one flat fee, medical professionals started dealing with a condition referred to a “Text Neck” or Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS). As silly as it sounds, text neck and AHS are a growing and serious problem within an extremely vulnerable population; Kids. Children are developing their spinal structure for the rest of their lives during the first 20 years or so and if they are laying a poor Foundation (see what I did there?) what do you think that will mean for them down the road? I’m not going to scare you with the particulars but let’s just say for every inch you move your head forward from a neutral position ( ie ears over shoulders) you increase the weight of your head as it sits on your neck by 10 POUNDS! Now the human head clocks in around 10-12 pounds anyway but add even an inch of bad posture and you just doubled the strain you are placing on your neck muscles, ligaments and spinal cord. No, that wasn't a typo, I said spinal cord.
By positioning your head forward ANY distance, you create a tension on your spinal cord that creates stretching on your central nervous system. In short, when you sit there and text for an hour with bad posture, that is an hour that you are physically straining the most important organ in the human body. Picture this, I ask you to hold a bowling ball close to your chest for 5 minutes. Most of us could do that with little to no problem. Now I ask you to hold the ball with your arms straight out in front of you. I’d put a fresh $50 bill down if you could hold it there without getting tired, weak, bending your elbows (compensations) or giving up altogether. Do you see what I’m getting at? We wouldn’t hold a bowling ball like that so why are we holding our brains way out in front of our bodies? Good answer, we shouldn’t. Oh and just in case you’re thinking to yourself “Dr Zach, I only text for like 5 minutes a month”, researchers from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) have determined that the average smartphone user spends 2-4 hours a day on their phone ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25393825 ). So while they may be nerds over there at the NLM (probably) it doesn’t mean that their wrong about your actual usage.
For more info on the proper body positioning associated with phone usage. Check out Dr Kelly Starrett’s video on this very subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uNmXW5km64be forewarned, he is an intelligent, funny and occasionally crude man.
If you're still in denial about your usage, get the Moment app and put that rumor to bed. (1)
All the best health,
Dr. Zach and the Foundation Chiropractic team
Oh and if you comment on this article with your head down, shoulders rolled forward and mid-back rounded, I’ll delete them based on principle and irony.