It Changed My Life

2014-10-11 042I was studying Kinesiology at McMaster University when I experienced a shoulder injury. As it worsened and I developed numbness and tingling in my hand, my mother suggested I see a Chiropractor. While sitting with my Chiropractor during the consultation, she joked with me that with my extensive knowledge in anatomy and physiology, I should consider studying at the Chiropractic College in Toronto. It was a moment that defined the rest of my life. I don’t know what prompted my reply, but for some reason I responded with “Sure I’ll apply!”  Something inside me said ‘this makes sense’.

With chiropractic care my shoulder injury healed quickly, but the effects on the rest of my body were profound. I stopped getting sick!

Although I was intensely involved in health and fitness, my life experiences had led me to believe that illness and living with aches and pains was just part of life. The routine use of antibiotics or medications to respond to health challenges was to be expected, and simply the way our health was managed. I believed the body was meant to break down, and the combination of genetics and luck were the determinants to the level of health we experienced.

Fortunately, Chiropractic care changed not only my entire health, but more importantly, it changed my entire perspective on health. My studies led me to understand the human body in a completely different way, and discover that the human body is in fact a brilliant machine that just needs the right environment to function properly. Giving our bodies what it needs physically and emotionally shapes our internal ‘environment’, and when we do so, we can heal.

I now enjoy an exceptional level of health. I have not taken a medication in over 15 years, have had 2 beautiful pregnancies and natural deliveries, and continue to feel and function well. This doesn’t mean that my health has not been challenged at times, or that I am superhuman! I need to take care of myself the same ways I encourage others to, and during times of transition or stress I too can get overburdened and worn down. The difference lies in my recovery, the choices I make to support myself, and the fact that I have a great team of health professionals to support me along the way.

I see my Chiropractor for spinal checkups weekly, every other week, or sometimes multiple times per week, depending on the level of mental and physical demands on my body.

My experience with chiropractic continues to dramatically shape how I support my own body, my children’s, and what I am able to recommend to others. It’s a philosophy that just makes sense to me. More than just a ‘treatment’, Chiropractic represents a distinct philosophy and approach to health: Health comes from within the body, not from things outside the body. Look to the cause of health challenges rather than just patch them up, and support the body to work the way it was designed to.

Coughs, Colds & Congestion

69443tegi1jeqhsMany times when people in the practice are dealing with colds, coughs, sore throats, or congestion they want to stay home, but you’ll often hear me encourage them to come get adjusted and stress the importance of it during illness.

If germs were the only factor that made us sick…we would all be in serious trouble, but a healthy body is dealing with germs everyday and does not become ill. Sure some bacteria or viruses are more threatening than others, but in general when we become ill it’s because our body’s ability to cope with the demand on our immune system has failed.

Congestion, coughing, sneezing, fevers, and a runny nose are all signs the body is effectively creating an immune response to help the body eradicate the bacteria or virus causing the infection. This is a good thing and not to be suppressed! Medications to make you feel better offer temporary relief, but often create other imbalances in the body that can affect your long-term health.

As per any ailment, my recommendations are always to support the body as best as you can and strategize to boost the immune system, and Chiropractic care is a huge contributor to a healthy immune system!

Chiropractic works: A study by a neurologist found that 92% of children with chronic tonsillitis had upper cervical misalignments, and after studying 76 children with chronic tonsillitis it was concluded that “tonsillitis goes hand in hand with movement restriction in the cranio-cervical skull and neck junction”

If you’re sick and suffering make a spinal check-up high on your priority list. In addition to increasing fluids, sleep, and nutritional support, your body will likely recover without any other intervention and give your body better health moving forward.

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for cough, colds or congestion.

Poor Posture = Poor Health

ID-10083067People often note their posture is better when they start to get adjusted….of course it is!

Posture is the window to spinal health, as chiropractors we can easily evaluate it, but so can many of you! Find a friend and do this quick check:

Looking at them from behind, the head should be level (with both ears at the same height) shoulders should be level, and your hips should be level. Looking from the side, we want to see straight line from the ear through the shoulder, hip, knee and down to the ankle. This is how the body was designed for maximum function, to be most efficient, and for every joint to work the way it was designed to.

Any changes to healthy alignment compromises the body in every possible way. Structure dictates function. Vertebrae protect the spinal cord, which means changes in the alignment of  vertebrae affects the healthy function of your spinal cord, which then affects every cell in your body.

Poor posture = Poor health = Poor quality of life

Good posture is not something you are either blessed with at birth, or not…in fact, you’re not even born with it at all! Infants develop the curve in their neck when they start to hold their head up, and the curve in the back develops when they start to sit (yes, this is one of the reasons all infants benefit from a Chiropractor monitoring their health). As life goes on, we experience slips and falls, sports injuries, car accidents, repetitive strains that cause the vertebrae in your spine to shift out of alignment (subluxation). When left uncorrected, spinal subluxations lead to changes in posture as the spine starts to compensate.

Chiropractors adjust the spinal subluxations to restore proper motion into the joints, and proper neurological function to every other cell and organ.  Posture naturally improves as healthy movement is restored to the body. You don’t need to consciously think about it or hold your body differently, your posture gets better on its own! How great is this? As your spine is restored to its natural state, the muscles develop new movement patterns and your brain develops a new awareness about where to hold you. With healthy posture you will have more flexibility and joint movement and less pain. You’ll breathe easier, think more clearly, sleep more soundly, and recover from illness faster. Your overall health will improve in many profound ways.

Sit up straight, pull your shoulders back…and book your chiropractic spinal check-up!

Opposition From Others?

portraitsSadly, sometimes people share with me that as they become healthier, feel better, maybe even get more fit or lose weight, they are met with unwelcome comments and even criticism from others.

I get it.

Even with the growing awareness, research and success with Chiropractic care, there are still people who challenge our effectiveness and value. In my 12 years of practice this attitude hasn’t really changed, but it affects me less because what continues to grow is my own certainty about what we do, and the impact Chiropractors make on people’s lives because of the healing I get to witness every single day.

“Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds.” ~ Albert Einstein

Changing your level of health creates a huge positive impact in your life. It’s inevitable that a few obstacles may present themselves along the way, and these obstacles may come in the form of other people’s attitudes.

Competitors or others who may be jealous will try and bring you down. Family or friends around you will try to discourage you. You’ll hear comments that may make you question your own beliefs.

As your commitment to yourself and your health grows, it might change relationships with friends, partners, and even your family members.

Those who are the most frightened of change, holding on tightly to old habits, may become the loudest critics. Some may become jealous of your new levels of energy, your accomplishments, your appearance, and your physical abilities.

Criticism is often a coping mechanism of individuals afraid to grow, a defensive reaction that scared people use to protect themselves against change.

My advice? Be great anyway.

Honor yourself and your commitment to improvement. Fill yourself up with sense of fulfillment and happiness, choosing to spend your time, money and energy towards bettering yourself, and lead by example. The only thing you can take responsibility for is your own health and your own attitude, so focus your intentions on building a better you and let everyone else watch, and learn!

Gratitude & Your Health

ID-100204763With Canadian Thanksgiving and the fall harvest,  we are reminded to offer thanks for the ‘bounty’ in our lives; to reflect on the many blessings, and plant seeds for future abundance. Symbolic and beautiful….but let’s remember that this holiday is not the only time we should be practicing gratitude! Rather, it’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle!

Research shows the feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, love and caring enhance health. When you find one thing, however small, to be thankful for and hold that feeling for as little as 15-20 seconds, many subtle and beneficial physiological changes take place inside you:

~ Levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin decrease, supporting many organ systems and boosting your immune system

~ Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to your heart. Heart rhythms become more harmonious, affecting other organs and lifting your mood

~ Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues

People who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.

“A Man becomes what he thinks about all day long.”~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

What you dwell upon expands. If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude and a greater sense of self-worth.

Make gratitude part of your life by adopting more thankful thoughts or making the time to write them down. A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life.

Regardless of your current level of health, finances, or relationships, and what you may perceive as limitations to them…thinking, moping or complaining about them is not going to change anything! Find some small things to be happy about, and chances are your list will continue. Changing your thoughts will change your experiences, and this will change your life…

Before you exit this post, right now, take a couple deep breaths and think of 5 things you are grateful for…I’ll bet you can’t stop at 5!

Stress-Free School Lunches? Yes, It’s Possible

Most parents I know (myself included at times!) find making school lunches a frustrating endeavor. Trying to combine healthy choices with the preferences of your child, and potentially the influence of other children, can be a challenge.

My suggestion? Get your children involved, and RELAX about it.

I recommend everyone choose 100% high-quality, nutritious food 100% of the time; but that’s not realistic for most people, so instead I promote my 80/20 rule:  make 80% good choices and leave 20% for items that “have no nutritional value but taste good”.

Applying  this simple rule to your kids lunches might help ease the whole process.
My boys lunches include a fruit, vegetable, sandwich/main of some type (these days we have fallen in love with a great invention – the thermos!). They also often include some kind of packaged, processed item that their grandmother buys for them!

My sons understand the importance of good food, but by focusing on feeding them a solid breakfast and dinner, I can loosened up about that middle meal.

Consider your child’s overall food intake.  If you focus on the quality of their other meals during the day, and over the whole week, you can safely oblige their tastes for school lunches and still feel you are providing them with the solid nutrition for growing minds and bodies.

Chiropractic For Life?

I always love it when people in my practice tell me how great they continually feel, that the benefits of regular chiropractic care continue and that their body’s are always improving. It’s not because they are “addicted to getting adjusted” or because we have created some type of dependency within their body by working together.  It’s quite simply because the body as a whole works better when the brain and spinal cord can direct all internal functions without interference.

A body that is neurologically and structurally balanced will always adapt to physical and mental stress better than one that is not. 

Consider this research: In 2005, a landmark study found evidence that chiropractic care can reduce oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress plays a role in a whole host of diseases and disorders: Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and many others. Thiols are compounds in the body that act as antioxidants, reacting with free radicals to neutralize them. Serum levels of thiols reflect DNA’s capacity to repair itself, and can be used to measure aging and disease status. The study participants who received chiropractic care for 2 or more years had higher serum thiol levels in their body. Some of the chiropractic patients even had serum thiol levels higher than what is associated with normal health and wellness!

Based on these findings and consistent with all other health habits, chiropractic as a preventative or wellness strategy just makes sense.

Many people choose to make chiropractic part of their life because they notice such profound changes in their level of health, and how they are able to think, move and live with greater ease. They aren’t addicted to chiropractic, they are addicted to feeling well!they have become “addicted” to feeling well!

Teens Need Chiropractic Too!

ID-100103394Research studies on adolescents show neck and upper limb pain are more common in the fall-spring, and speculate it is because of the added schedule demands and academic stresses at that time, combined with playing musical instruments, jobs, sports involvement, studying, and long hours sitting.

Other findings to note:

– Early degenerative changes have been found in 14 yr. olds. often rapidly following the adolescent growth spurt It’s also been found that the frequency of disc degeneration was increased in those that had low back pain as teenagers.

– Another study examined 15 yr. olds with and without back pain and found that subjects who initially had low back pain had a lower frequency of physical activity (bad!) and decreased spinal function; at follow up time the degenerative disc disease had increased significantly in the group with low back pain.

– 13% of adolescents studies had evidence of spinal degeneration without any pain or symptoms

I love working with teenagers for many reasons. Similar to children, their spines have been in a subluxated state for less time, and there is less progression of spinal damage. Translation: they heal faster, in less time and it costs less.

Everyone can benefit from a spine that is moving well, adapting to stress, and performing the way it was designed to.

Structure dictates function. Spinal subluxations affect your joint mobility, but more importantly they affect the ability of your brain and spinal cord to coordinate all the internal functions that regulate how you think, feel, digest, breathe, and heal.

If your teenager has not been checked by a Chiropractor, make it a priority! Or share this information with your niece, nephew, grandchild, cousin, neighbour…any teenager that you care about!

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for degenerative disc disease in children.

5 Little Things

I often have several books I am reading and currently “The Leader Without a Title” by Robin Sharma is in the mix. It’s not uncommon for me to find some correlation to health from most of the material I read, and in this particular case Sharma’s particular point had me thinking about health goals for people…what if you just tried to do 5 daily things to improve your health? Imagine doing 5 little, yet important, intentional acts everyday to get you closer to your most important health goal: feeling and functioning well….

I’m not talking about massive, major changes to your health that require a dramatic lifestyle change, but small daily things that ultimately create a bigger impact because you are actually doing them.

“Success in anything is created through the performance of a few small daily disciplines that stack up over time to create stunning results” – Robin Sharma

It’s much easier to build on small steps and gradually add more, than to attempt a massive change. It’s likely that you’re already doing some great things to support your health, but perhaps they have already become so routine for you that you’ve even forgotten they are good for you!

Focusing on the good things you are already doing, and all the good things your body is capable of doing is also a powerful gratitude reminder and can motivate other small changes. Can you think of 5 things that you do on any given day to support good health? This month I challenge you to take a minute and think about what consistent simple habits you are doing, even post them on the wall in the office.

Need some ideas? Here’s some to get you thinking

reduce your caffeine or alcohol

drink more water

go for a walk/run/swim/bike/hike

visit a friend

eat some fruit

go to bed a little earlier

play with your children

read a book

put that donut or cookie down

take a yoga class

breathe (with awareness! consciously relaxing, with full deep breaths)

do something you love

learn something that can help you live healthier

get adjusted!

Expanding Your Potential

Lately there have been many conversations from people in the practice about how surprised they are that they are able to do ‘so much’ without physically harming themselves, how they feel they are able to deal with stress more effectively or ‘handle more’ before feeling overwhelmed.

A little reminder: The body is amazing!

Every minute of the day your body is coordinating a multitude of activities…your heart is beating and sending blood and oxygen to all your cells; your lungs are expanding and contracting to exchange oxygen with the environment; your digestive track makes use of the food you take in to give you energy and will remove wastes; your immune system is constantly fighting microorganisms that try to inhabit your body…I could go on and on.

Your body can do all these things simultaneously, every second of the day, because your brain is coordinating it all.

Spinal subluxations are caused by stress (physical, mental, emotional & chemical) but they also create stress within the body.

Chiropractic adjustments work because they remove stress from your nervous system and maximize your brain’s ability to coordinate all internal activities, and yes, your joints will move better too!

Healthy joint function allows you to move freely, without pain, and push yourself more to become stronger, fitter and more flexible if you choose to.

You are designed in perfection to be who you are, to express every gift inside you, and to perform! It’s up to you to use those skills, to pursue your interests, and to take responsibility for your health and ensure your body performs the way it was designed to. Forget limitations, the goal of your care in this practice is to help your body thrive in every possible way by removing stress from your nervous system, and then guiding and supporting you in developing other health habits.

Chiropractic helps your ability to work, play, and live with a full range of physical abilities and emotional awareness, and ultimately to expand your potential.