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.
This is not a post bashing medicine! This is not a post bashing medicine! This is not a post bashing medicine!
I think we cleared that up...
All health workers know the potential for harm while working in a hospital, from contracting harmful illnesses to dealing with unruly/violent patients, they know this is part of the job and yet, they still show up every day and put in hours of back breaking labor so that you can go home to your family in better shape than you came in. A new report executed by NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling exposes the dangers associated with very preventable injuries that occur in overwhelming numbers to the nursing population but other employees as well. The full report can be found here :
My incredible wife has been working in hospital in varying capacities for 10 years and an ICU/Emergency care nurse for over 6 years. I have heard her describe the physical demands of the job and it makes me shudder to think my small (but still really strong wife! ) is doing on a daily basis. The accounts in the NPR article sounded all to familiar to both of us and I think it's a shame that those who give so much of their time, energy and emotions are rewarded with debilitating and life altering injuries. So, I wanted to do something about it.
I have nothing new to say concerning this article because the report is thorough, exposing and unabashedly transparent. What I would like to focus on is how you can BEST protect yourself against workplace injuries. Now, as Dr. Marras states within the article “The magnitude of these forces that are on your spine are so large that the best “body mechanics” in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem”. So what are you to do, throw your hands up and hope for the best? Healthcare worker or otherwise, until your life becomes completely automated and without physical stress ( Ha!) I believe that the best method is PREVENTION and not REACTION. Which sounds better to you, putting out fires after the alarm goes off or building a fire resistant structure? Please answer that one correctly!
I know your parents told you that you are as unique as a snowflake and while I’m not going to disagree with momma, you probably fall into a category that puts you at risk for developing a repetitive stress aka “micro-trauma” injury. I know you don’t want to be injured and neither do I so here is my suggestions for prevention of an injury:
1. Stop doing things that you KNOW are bad for you!
Easier to say than to do but if you If you work in a hospital and need to move a patient, don’t be a hero and “save some time”. Sit at a computer for 10 hours a day with terrible posture? Watching 5 hours of TV a day while slumped over on the couch? Do you exercise like a dope? This is a general and largely sarcastic list but it has more truth in it than I (and maybe you) care to admit.
2. Start doing things that you KNOW are good for you!
You need to rotate a patient every 2 hours. Every doctor, nurse, tech and transporter knows this. So why not ask for help every 2 hours? It is unavoidable and necessary so there is no real way to get out of doing it right? If you do it every 2 hours, the nurse down the hall does it too. Partner up with everyone to create an environment where is it OK to ask for help because as the NPR article points out, you WILL injure yourself if you go it alone. If you sit at a computer all day, stand up and move around once an hour. Changing the position of your body redistributes the weight, pressure and muscle tone. I can’t really say anything about the TV addiction but let’s be honest with ourselves here, we don’t feel fantastic and limber after a TV binge do we?. If you exercise like a rookie, seek the advice of those who have been there before. Searching for something with a map is a lot more efficient than just blindly wandering in the dark. Got it?
Bottom line, if you are at risk, ignoring the problem won't save you any time, money or heartache down the road. Putting tape over the check engine light does nothing but help us to ignore the issue (until it breaks down entirely) and last time I checked, our bodies aren't due for a trade in anytime soon. Do yourself a favor and start doing the things that you know are good for you.
My next post will deal with some particulars about some of the most common injuries I have seen as a personal trainer, physical therapy assistant, biomechanist and now as a structural chiropractor. If you simply can’t wait for that moment ( I understand the excitement is palpable), shoot the office an email at email@example.com and we can talk about the best course of action for you.
All the best health!
Dr. Zach and the rest of the Foundation Team!
E plans, time off of work, having the kids home from school or a host of other reasons. All are excuses for being a little sluggish out of the gate but as you already know, the world waits for no one and your life will suffer if you don’t pull yourself out of that tailspin. Fast.
I’m a “rip the Band-Aid off” kind of guy and I know of no better way to reset your sleep schedule. In life, there are two ways to do things; the Easy way and the Right way. I know it’s no fun coming back down to Earth but consider me your wake-up call (pun absolutely intended). This plan might require a little bit of introspection but I promise that you will be better off in the long haul.
1) Treat yourself like a 5 year old.
First off, you must make a deliberate plan to return to normal as fast as possible. Without a target to aim at how will you know if you hit the mark? Establish your nightly sleep target (7 hours? 8?) and then reverse engineer your timeline from when you have to be awake, functioning and alert. If you are the type that hits the snooze for an hour, you don’t get to include that in your sleep timeline because while you are not fully awake, you are not fully asleep either. For example, if my target is 8 hours and I need to be “up” i.e. in the shower at 6am, I’m going to bed at 10pm. If I hit my snooze from 5:01 to 6:00am, I need to go to sleep at 9pm the previous night to achieve my goal. Long story short, bedtimes aren’t just for 5 year olds anymore.
2) Turn off your phone.
Full disclosure, I love playing on my phone when I lay down at night but studies have suggested it not only negatively impacts your brain waves patterns during rapid eye movement (REM), the presence of your phone can also inhibit other intimate aspects of your life(1). All brain patterns and sex life talk aside, the phone serves as a distraction in the bedroom plain and simple.
“But Dr. Zach, my alarm is on my phone!”...Not good enough. Break open that piggy bank, dig out $9.82 and start to claim back your sanctuary (2).
3) Move your body during the day!
This may seem simple but our country’s collective waistline may prove otherwise. The right kind of movement burns calories, lubricates our joints, tires us out and provides us with restful sleep at night. Believe it or not, even the most innocuous of activities can help add to our bottom line not only when it comes to restful sleep but also to increased energy during the day (3,4). Odds are one of your resolutions was to become healthier (81% of all resolutions made) and now you have extra incentive that you didn’t even know existed.
I know from personal experience how destructive having an aberrant sleep pattern can be and I never want anyone to live with the types of limitations that accompanied me for years until I found my solution. If a patient is not getting restful sleep, it will affect most every aspect of her/his life including the effectiveness of the care they receive in my office. If you have any further questions regarding sleep patterns ranging from a full list of tips to a referral to our preferred health partner sleep study institute, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a blessed 2015!
Dr. Zach and the Foundation Chiropractic team.
1 : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/03/no-phone-in-bed_n_6022284.html
Maintaining some semblance of organization during the holidays is never easy. Everything takes a little bit longer, is a little bit harder and between travel to grandma’s house, mid-week breaks in work, traffic every time you go anywhere remotely near the mall and of course those who are getting a jump on their new year’s resolutions by taking your favorite treadmill (curling in MY squat rack is my biggest pet peeve!), any of these things can throw even a seasoned holiday veteran off their tracks. Many of these things are unavoidable so while we all ask for the grace to accept those, let us acknowledge the things in our lives that we can and should control over the next couple weeks. Healthy holiday eating, believe it or not, is attainable however difficult it may be. If you would rather eat with reckless abandon, stop reading now. For the rest of us, here we go.
We are directing our focus to holiday nutrition for a couple reasons;
A) It doesn't matter what philosophy/religion you subscribe to, you will be assaulted by cookies, fruitcake, pies, various honey baked items and more carbs than a bakery. Fact.
B) You need to make it to the other side without derailing your health goals for the coming year.
Without further ado, here is our top 5 ways to manage your intake during the next 3 weeks.
The purpose of a smoothie is two-fold. For starters, you can throw a month’s worth of vegetables in a smoothie, add a banana and Voila’! That’s a good smoothie. They say that time heals all wounds but I would like to change that to “bananas heal all smoothie flavors.” Smoothies are an incredible way to get in your servings of fruit and vegetables without any additional cooking. The second reason is more convenient than anything but consider the scenario where you show up to grandma’s house with a single serve salad topped with flax, almonds, cranberries, avocado, fruit lining your pockets and a little balsamic vinaigrette bottle in tow? Bottom line, smoothies are mobile and non-invasive. Grandma might get offended if you showed up with your own food (read: hers isn't good enough!) but because the act of drinking your calories is psychologically less invasive, we get a free pass. Use that free pass to your advantage.
2) Snack, do not graze!
We’re all guilty of grazing, myself included. Grazing is the nonchalant act of walking by the appetizer table every 5 minutes and pretending we are seeing the four cheese butter biscuits for the first time (every time). Here is a running monologue of the grazer, maybe it sounds familiar. “I’m not really hungry but I’m going to take a look at what we have...…Oh! 4 cheese butter biscuits, what a treat! I’d better have one and that will hold me off until dinner….” Repeat every 5 minutes until dinner is ready. Snacking is different in that it is a deliberate ONE time trip to the table where you have the opportunity to look down and quantify what is on the plate. Which brings me to my next point…
3) Get a plate!
A common adage states that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out immediately and recognize the danger that the boiling water poses to its well being. However, if you put a frog in tepid water and slowly raise the flame to the boiling point the frog will acclimate to it’s increasingly uncomfortable conditions until the moment it dies. The moral of the story? Don’t nickel and dime your way to a full belly. Grabbing a few handfuls of chips is a lot more ambiguous than loading up your plate 3 times. To be successful you must be deliberate in your intentions.
4) Save Room for Dessert.
You read that right. I want you to eat dessert. And why not? You've been good all year, cut loose and have a slice of homemade Dutch apple pie tonight. Why am I suddenly an advocate for chocolate chip cookies? Because you are going to budget accordingly for that very valuable space in your stomach before dinner is even served. Plan to eat dinner in moderation and there is no reason why you shouldn't splurge a little on some homemade frost of the pumpkin.
5) Cool down
I, like many of our patients see many things from an athletic point of view. Approaching the holidays isn't exactly a grudge match but I like to apply the same principles of sport to full contact eating. If you have followed the rules thus far, you have enjoyed a fair amount of appetizers, a satisfying dinner and even some of your seasonally exclusive favorite desserts. Now is the time that you usually slip into a food coma and aren't heard from again until Thanksgiving. Not this year! You are going to grab a cup of coffee/hot chocolate/tea and go for a nice little walk outside. Heck, invite others to join you! The activity of walking will help peristalsis which is the physical process of digestion. Trust me, you will feel much better if you can kick start the process of assimilating those nutrients vs sitting idle on the couch.
Follow these 5 steps and you can be reasonably assured that you won’t regret your actions this holiday season come January 1st. As always, be safe while traveling over the next few weeks and we look forward to hearing your success stories.
From our family at Foundation Chiropractic to yours, have a safe and blessed Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year!
"Get out of my squat rack."
As a fitness enthusiast (see “nut”) I have spent a fair amount of time in the gym since I was old enough to lift in a fitness center (usually 16 without a parent, 14 with). Over the years I have seen a lot of stereotypes confirmed by inconsiderate participants on BOTH sides of the spectrum so in an effort to keep the peace between body builders, “Resolutioners” and everyone in between I wrote this choose your own adventure style blog post. Put yourself in the appropriate category and pay attention. A little perspective will go a long way come January when two worlds collide.
I’ll start with the residents ie those who feel like they “own” the place. I am one of you so take this sitting down knowing it comes from a place of experience and empathy:
I’m sick of the inevitable jokes that land every December warning us about the waves of people coming to invade our sacred space and how we can’t wait for them to fail so we can go back to our regularly scheduled program. Aren’t we the same people who are always preaching the positives associated with working out? Instead we see the rush as an intrusion into our lives rather than a group of people who are excited to get fit. Also, Your monthly payments are as much as the new guy whose loving wife bought him a new “workout outfit”. You may know where everything is and he is wandering around looking bewildered before settling on the bench press because it’s the only piece of equipment he is familiar with but that doesn’t mean you aren’t equals with respect to who “belongs”. Lastly, he isn’t taking his sweet time playing on his phone; he simply doesn’t know what to do and is Googling something like “exercise advice, pushing weight on my back with this bar thing” hoping he gets a quick hit and doesn’t embarrass himself.
Speaking of embarrassing himself, never before has been surrounded by a more intimidating masculine environment than walking into the weight room and not knowing where to stand (think Jr High transfer student at a new school, holding your lunch tray hoping someone invites you to sit at their table before you are forced to eat in the bathroom by yourself). Give the guy a break for the first couple weeks will ya?
Ladies, I didn’t forget about you either so don’t think you are immune to the critique! I recall a certain situation where a group of ladies who usually spend their morning on the stairmaster while they talk (rather loudly) about anything from making fun all of their “friends” to cheating on their husbands only to become disgusted when they found someone new had taken “their” stairmasters. You would think someone had stolen their birthright a la Jacob and Esau! How about the woman who is at the back of the class who is trying to lose a few pounds of baby weight and can’t keep up with the boot camp instructor at the front of the room? Believe me, she knows she isn't doing great (yet) and is already completely self conscious about her body just being in public wearing workout clothes but is your judgement really necessary? We are all capable of casting judgement on those who are new to the game but instead why don't we offer a hand up to these people instead of looking down on them?
These are some real albeit extreme examples of avid gym goers and their general intolerance for the busiest time of the season when people flock into their fortress of solitude and disrupt the normal harmony of lifting, sweating, routines and familiarity.
Q: I want to be a good member of my gym, community and this Earth but what can I do?
Me: I’m glad you asked that question ambiguous audience member! :)
You are seasoned and they are new. They will be slower, will not recognize the etiquette ques, and might even throw off your workout a little bit. Simply bracing for this fact will help you when it comes time to alter your plans ever so slightly. My tip? Go in earlier or a later in the day because the newbies haven’t established a habit (addiction) yet and won’t open the gym up or shut it down like those of us who simple HAVE TO GET A WORKOUT IN.
2. Train them like a new puppy.
As someone really wise once said “Forgive them, they know not what they do”. I’m not sure if that was in reference to someone Bogarting their bench in the middle of a superset but I’m pretty sure it still applies. Plain and simple, they don’t know what to do but they WANT to know what to do. Show them how to work in with others on a machine, how to re-rack their plates when their done and how it’s not cool to text and lift. Assimilation.
3. Pump the brakes.
If we are honest with ourselves, we like to think we are elitists. We shake our heads at all of our friends who have become out of shape, who don’t take of themselves and the skinny as a rail nerds who’s arms are widest at the wrist. Every year we have access to that same group of people that we should be encouraging and yet we don’t because we are threatened. Yes, threatened. We are scared that the average Joe is going to swoop in and steal our thunder, claim to work out “just like you” and suddenly ruin your street cred. You might laugh but if you’re being honest with yourself, its kind of true. Let me help quell those fears by saying this; fitness is not a commodity. We could all have 6 packs abs, toned arms and butts you could bounce a quarter off of and it would still be cool. It’s called Sweden and they aren’t getting sick of it over there. Second, you already know how hard it is to stay/get in shape so if they magically get a Victoria Secret body in 3 weeks, just assume their on steroids and move on.
4. Be the change you wish to see (in the gym.)
You can spearhead the charge when it comes to introducing the new crop of exercise enthusiasts and all you have to do is be friendly and offer help. Take it upon yourself to spend an extra 30 seconds introducing yourself to the 90 pound wuss that you saw struggling to find his rhythm the last couple days. You will be like a Muscle Mentor or a Bicep Big Brother to the new girl/guy and that act alone will help put a human face on the other side of the equation. You are the authority at the gym, use it to act as liaison and not a dictator.
Follow these easy steps and you should be able to maintain a normal blood pressure for the next 6 weeks when we will probably (but hopefully not!) see the annual drop off of people who couldn’t maintain their lifestyle and fitness goals.
Oh and don’t bother lifting chest on Mondays. It’s never going to happen.
Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year!
Dr. Zach and the Foundation Chiropractic team