A Wall Of Gratitude

img_2842We’ll celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and are reminded to offer thanks for the ‘bounty’ in our lives; to reflect on the many blessings, and plant seeds for future prosperity.  Every year I encourage people in the practice to share something they are grateful for on our ‘wall of gratitude’ and it’s such a beautiful thing. It becomes so much more than just the act of writing the gratitude note, because when others read all the notes on the wall, they laugh, share a sentiment, and leave with a smile on their face.

Let’s remember that this holiday is not the only time we should be practicing gratitude.  It’s good for your health and something to be done on a daily basis!

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.  My sons and I do this at dinner every night. They aren’t always so eager to comply, but I won’t let them eat until they each share at least 3 things they are grateful for so that usually gets the conversation started!

Before you exit this post, right now, take a couple deep breaths and think of 5 things you are grateful for. Once you start thinking about it, a funny thing happens, often you won’t stop at just 5….

Get In Your Garden!

Finally the weather is warming up and many people are getting ready to get their hands in the dirt to plant some seedlings, flowers and have some fun in their garden! Working outdoors in your garden and yard is a great form of physical activity, even better if it’s something you are passionate about. However every year people come into the practice because they have inevitably irritated their body or  strained a muscle somehow! To protect your body and avoid injury, consider some of these tips when stepping out to get your garden started this season:

  1. While mowing the lawn, keep your head up and stand directly behind the mower so you can keep your hips and shoulders in line with your spine. Push the mower uphill rather than pulling. Always use both hands rather pushing  or twisting with one.
  2. When working in the dirt, crouch down, sit on a stool, or squat instead of bending at the waist which can strain the joints in the low back.
  3. Bend your knees when lifting anything so that you can use the strength of your legs.
  4. Keep yard waste bags close to your body while lifting them. 
  5. Hold a rake with one hand at shoulder height, one hand at waist level and walk or drag the pile.

Most importantly, vary your tasks and take breaks when necessary.  Avoid staying in prolonged postures involving the lower back and neck.

Your best bet for protecting your back? Consider regular Chiropractic care! Waiting until symptoms appear before taking care of your body often can make the problems worse, ultimately causing them to take longer to heal. Chiropractors assess your posture and spinal joints to ensure they are moving properly and that your body is physically balanced. The results people experience from regular spinal care are profound, and the increases in their quality of life measurable….which allows you to keep playing in your garden or in any other hobby you enjoy! 

What Do Chiropractors Do When Our Children Are Sick?

It’s highly unlikely we’ll give them any medication or rush them to a walk-in clinic. Instead, we honour the innate wisdom of the body and it’s power to heal from the inside-out.

Each illness a child experiences helps to strengthen and enhance their natural immunity. Rather than suppress their symptoms we encourage the immune system to process the bacteria or virus as effectively as possible by supporting cellular function.

My sons are 12 and 8 years old, and have never had any medication whatsoever. Do they get sick sometimes? Of course they do, but at a much lower frequency than many of their peers. They eat really well, get plenty of rest, are active, happy, and get adjusted regularly!

When they get a cough, cold or some congestion, this is what I do:

– Adjustments to correct spinal subluxations to remove nerve interference (daily).

– Encourage added sleep and rest.

– Keep them home from school until they have no fever and their energy is back.

– Supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin D, and a high quality multi vitamin.

– Eliminate all refined sugars and dairy products from their diet, keep foods simple and nourishing.

– Offer increased fluids, nutrient-dense smoothies, and warm herbal teas.

– Mix some olive oil with a few drops of the essential oils of tea tree and eucalyptus, rub into their chest and under their collar bones to encourage drainage of the lymph glands in those regions.

– Offer natural raw honey to soothe the throat.

– Have them gargle with salt water (1/4 tsp sea salt with 1/2 cup water) to flush bacteria out of the mouth and to ease discomfort in the throat.

– Offer lots of love, comfort, and reassurance!

I’ve also found that illness is always a great teaching moment with them. Helping them understand how their bodies work, what is happening when they have a fever, and are coughing/sneezing, and what their body needs to feel and function well is a lesson that everyone needs!

This approach has never failed us, and I am confident that their developing brains and bodies are stronger for it.  Next time your children are ill, consider supporting their body naturally, and working with health professionals who can help you along the way.

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

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.

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!

Clear it Out!

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Many parents tell me that often one of the first things that happens when they bring their children home from an adjustment is that they head to the bathroom!

I’ve adjusted many people who suffer with a variety of digestive or bowel troubles, many of which resolve with Chiropractic care.

Here’s why:

Spinal Subluxations interfere with all body functions and lower your resistance to disease. Every organ in your digestive system – mouth, tongue, throat, esophagus, pyloric valve, stomach, intestines, glands, pancreas and others – needs a healthy nerve supply from your spine.

Subluxations can cause stomach, esophageal, and intestinal disorders. Of 100 people with stomach and duodenal ulcers, 86 had spinal abnormalities in the area that supplied the stomach with nerve fibres. Another study on adolescents found that 87% who were suffering with ulcers had pelvic distortions and blockages in the spine.

Chiropractic works! Correction of spinal problems relieves stomach ulcers, gastritis, colitis, and spastic constipation according to researchers, and I have certainly seen this clinically in my practice.

If the nerves are impinged upon by a subluxation, no amount of drugs will relieve the pressure. A chiropractic spinal adjustment releases pressure on your nervous system to promote body harmony, enhanced ability to cope with stress and improved resistance to disease.

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for constipation or digestive issues in children.

Play!

IMG_5424Life is for living. Making chiropractic adjustments part of your life is a step towards ensuring you will be able to play without being stopped by problems in your body! When was the last time you did something spontaneous and fun? Do your hobbies make your heart smile? I love being on my mountain bike because I feel like a 10-year old every time – even more so when my friends and I put backpacks on and head to the beach!

Recently a patient noticed all the silly faces the children in my practice made for their photos on the wall, and she commented that adults seem to lose some of that ability, that so many of us lose our sense of fun because we care too much what others will think. Or perhaps because we get weighed down with responsibilities and lack the time. The good news is we can always reroute and make some changes in support of more balance in our lives.

Recreation is defined in the dictionary as “refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through activity that amuses or stimulates play; activity that refreshes and recreates, or activity that renews your health and spirits by enjoyment and relaxation.” We all need time to re-energize and refocus.

Time for recreation and play is time worth spent to make the rest of your life more productive, and all your relationships better, including the one you have with yourself.

The joints in your body must move easily to constantly nourish and cleanse themselves, and exercise is what is needed! All physical activity supports the body, but recreational activities are the perfect way to combine fitness with fun.

This month I challenge you to get out and PLAY more. If aches and pains are stopping you, let me know and let’s figure out what’s causing the problem. If someone you care about is limited in their ability to pursue hobbies, sports or leisure activities, tell them about chiropractic and let’s get them feeling better!  We have a huge network of great Chiropractors we work with and can easily refer them somewhere suitable.

Rib and Chest Pain Relief!

ID-10014148Many times people come into my practice with shortness of breath, pain around their ribcage, sharp pain when they inhale, and restricted movement in their mid-back. Understandably they are often a little stressed and scared  because they worry they could be suffering with  heart trouble.

Yes, the symptoms of rib subluxations can be similar those experienced during a heart attack or other cardio-respiratory concerns, and it’s important to clinically rule those possibilities out before proceeding with Chiropractic care. However, more often than not, what has happened is the joints between the ribs and the thoracic spine have become misaligned, causing pain and irritation to the surrounding tissues.

How Does Chiropractic Work?

Spinal misalignments called vertebral subluxations cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, and early degeneration. Since the spinal joint surround the spinal cord, spinal subluxations also impair healthy neurological function in the body. Spinal subluxations weaken all organ systems, leading to sickness, pain, and a lesser quality of life.  Doctors of Chiropractic correct spinal subluxations to restore proper mechanical and neurological function within the body.

Many people are find relief from rib and chest pain, often almost instantly, when healthy joint movement and function is restored with chiropractic spinal adjustments.

Every part of your body works better with a spine that is moving properly. Instead of relying on medications (with side effects!) help your body heal from the inside-out.

If you are suffering with pain in your rib cage, shortness of breath or restricted movement in your mid back, consider Chiropractic first!

Live With a Happy Heart!

ID-10010020Emotional and mental stress create tension in your body and affect all body systems. It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, assess your emotional health, and make changes if needed. Consider the following ideas to develop a happy heart. Take some time to reflect on them, then make the choice to move your life forward so you can live with greater peace. 

Let Go. You always have a choice in how you handle any situation and how you let it affect you. Holding negative feelings toward someone doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you! Who are you holding anger towards? What do you need to let go of?

Focus on the Good. 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. When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change.

Be Thankful. The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have. 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. You will be pleasantly surprised how it will shift your mental state.

What’s Your Purpose? A big question I know, but one that you need to make the time to think about. Are you living your life with purpose, plans and passion? If you could do anything you wanted to, what would it be? It’s never too late to re-design your life and pursue any dream you have. What steps can you take to start moving in that direction? Baby steps still take you forward

Laugh. Laughter is “the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug”. It suppresses the secretion of stress hormones, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation. Let’s face it – there is nothing like the feeling of a deep belly laugh! Are you laughing enough? Connect with others and share some fun.

Get Adjusted. Structure dictates function. A healthy spine means a body that can function the way it was designed to. Every function improves. Studies have shown people struggling with depression, anxiety, mood swings, and addictions are supported with chiropractic care and symptoms dramatically change. I see it all the time. People routinely remark how they feel calmer, they have more clarity of thought, and their moods are more stable. They feel happier, more in control of their health, better able to develop other positive habits, and more comfortable getting help from other professionals.

“Happiness is not a destination. It is the attitude with which you choose to travel.”

~ Arit Desal, Yogi & Philosopher