Monday, December 28, 2015

Health Goals are Better Than Resolutions

This is the time of year when people are seeing the effects of their holiday indulgences and determining to do something about it.  With the New Year come resolutions to lose weight, join a gym, get fit, etc.  The intent is generally good, but the follow-through is generally lacking.  Gyms report the highest number of new enrollments in January, along with peak usage, which generally tapers off within a few short weeks.

Resolutions are generally grand ideas that we intend to power through on the force of our own resolve. They rarely are accompanied by a specific and realistic plan of action.  Setting goals properly allows us to have measurable, attainable steps along the way to the "big idea."
For example, if the resolution is to "get in shape," what does that mean?  Typically it means you join a gym, hit it hard, suffer through the pain of over-using muscles that have been inactive for too long, and often give up.  In contrast, one can begin by taking a stretching class, which is a gentle way to activate those muscles.  Click here to learn more about the stretch class being offered in our office throughout January.

Resistance can be added to the routine, using your own body weight with traditional exercises like pushups and squats, or in smaller amounts, with resistance bands or light weights.  As your body adjusts to the new demands, you can increase your exercise routine until you are able to handle a more demanding workout.  This mini-goal approach makes it less likely that you will get frustrated and give up, or even worse, injure yourself and be forced to give up.  AS you meet your small goals, you are encouraged to work toward the next one.

The same thing goes for diet and nutrition goals.  If your diet has consisted of bacon and sugar cookies for the past six weeks, you may be disgusted with yourself for your lack of self-control and what it has done to your body, but going on a liquid fast or other crash diet will probably result in gastro-intestinal upset and do nothing to teach you healthier habits for the long run.

Instead, you may wish to try a stepped approach, similar to what we've suggested for your exercise routine. Start by eliminating refined sugar from your diet.  In a week or two, your palate will reset to appreciate the natural sweetness of foods and the cravings will be gone. 

Look at the fats you consume.  Reducing fats from conventionally raised animal products is a good step, as is eliminating all hydrogenated fats.  But not all fats are your enemy.  Avocado, coconut and olives are high-fat foods containing oils that are beneficial to our bodies.  Free-range organic egg yolks do contain cholesterol, but are also one of the few natural sources of highly absorbable vitamin D, which is essential during the winter months when you might not be absorbing much sunlight, which enables your body to produce its own.

Eat more beans, including lentils and chick peas to get plenty of protein and fiber, allowing you to reduce your dependence on meat and dairy products.  If you like Mexican food, think about your favorite dishes that use lots of beans and avocados, with small amounts of meat and cheese for flavor, texture and protein.

Pay attention to your carbohydrate intake.  Reduce the amount of grains you consume (because they contribute to inflammation), and choose whole grains over processed.  Choose sweet potatoes over white potatoes, and if you do eat white potatoes, eat the skin too, for its fiber content.
Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits to add vitamins, minerals and fiber.  They will make you feel more full on fewer calories.  If you've gotten this far in the program and are still not losing weight, you need to consider your portion sizes.  How full is your plate, and do you habitually go for seconds?

Other ways to support your fitness goals include the use of appropriate herbs and nutritional supplements.  We can advise you on those which would be most useful to your unique health situation.  And regular chiropractic adjustments can help prevent injury as you begin your journey toward fitness.  Bon voyage, and a happy, healthy New Year!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Gift of Health for the Holidays

It's that holiday time of year when everyone's thoughts turn to family, entertaining, shopping, gifts, decorating and more.  As the holidays near, it becomes more and more difficult to find time to take care of yourself, so many people find themselves exhausted, achy, overweight and stressed by the time the new year rolls in.  It doesn't have to be that way.  The trick is to take time to do the little things that can make a big difference in your health.

You may be baking up a storm with holiday cookies and desserts for parties and family dinners, but make sure that's not the only thing around the house that can be eaten quickly.  While you're at the store buying the ingredients for your creations, make sure to stock up on some healthy quick eats too, like low-sugar yogurt, hummus and pre-cut carrots, pre-cooked hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, nuts and low-sugar/high protein energy bars.  That way, when you are rushed, stressed and hungry, there is something you can eat that takes no more time than stuffing holiday cookies in your mouth.

All of the standing, rushing and carrying of packages that is involved in shopping for holiday gifts and entertaining can take it's toll on your muscles and spine, causing pain and restricting your ability to enjoy the season.  Try to shop at less crowded times, lift and carry packages close to your body, and bend from the knees instead of the waist to minimize the stress these activities put on your body.  Small local retailers may be less crowded than the mega-stores, and you'll be helping the local economy by shopping there.

When decorating your home, you might be tempted to climb too high, lift too much. stretch too far or do too much at once.  Take the extra moment to get the right step stool or ladder, lift properly (as explained in the previous paragraph) and pace yourself.  If you make yourself so sore and tired that it takes three or more days to recover, did you really save any time?

When all of the cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping, card writing and decorating becomes a literal pain in the neck (or shoulders or back), take the time to get a chiropractic adjustment.  Better yet, do it before you're in pain to prevent its occurrence. We can generally get patients in and our of our office in around 15 minutes, and it could be your best investment of time this holiday season, resulting in less pain and exhaustion and more enjoyment.

Happy holidays to you and yours from everyone at Wantagh Woods Chiropractic and Wellness!