ERM 007 Lia Sonnenburg: Creating Boundaries, Building Confidence & Taking Care of Basic Needs

HeadShot_IMG_0238Dr. Lia Sonnenburg is a Naturopathic Doctor who has practiced in Collingwood for 6 years.  She’s a mother of two active, healthy and hilarious young boys under the age of 5.  She’s passionate about helping people reach their health goals using the ‘physiology prevails over pathology approach’.  By finding the root cause of the problem, the body can then do what it’s supposed to – naturally and faithfully.  Her specialties include pediatrics, oncology, digestion, women’s health and fertility but she ends up running a fairly busy general practice as well.

On this episode she talks about how motherhood has shaped her confidence as a woman, given her tremendous joy, how she juggles running a business with two young children, keeping her marriage healthy, and taking care of herself.  We also discussed some of the tips she gives her female patients, the importance of taking care of our basic needs, and how to create boundaries in your life for people’s opinions about how you raise your family.

Lia is a warm woman with lots of wisdom, you’ll hear it in her voice. Check out this episode!

I Love Purses But…

ID-100327306Some of you know I have a fondness for beautiful purses and handbags!

However, similar to carrying a heavy backpack, a heavy shoulder bag or purse can injure your back, neck and shoulders. Hand and shoulder bags also create poor posture by encouraging the carrier to lean to one side. This affects posture, balance and movement. 

Here are my 10 helpful tips to protect your spine and muscles from a heavy handbag:

  1. Choose a handbag that is proportionate to your body size and no larger than what is needed. Your handbag should not weigh more than 10 per cent of your body weight up to a maximum of 15 pounds.
  2. The shoulder straps should be wide and adjustable. Ensure that the straps do not cut into your shoulder. Shoulder straps that dig into the muscles, put pressure on the nerves.
  3. If possible, select a strap that is long enough to place over your head so as to rest on the shoulder opposite the handbag. This will help distribute the weight of the bag more evenly.
  4. Choose a handbag that has several individual pockets instead of one large compartment. This will help to distribute the weight of the contents more evenly and keep them from shifting.
  5. Resist the urge to carry everything with you all day. Consider leaving less commonly used items behind. Keep that heavy laptop out of your bag!
  6. Change the size and weight of your wallet once in a while. You may also consider one wallet for your work and a different one for when you go out, as you may need different objects for both.
  7. Ensure the weight is evenly distributed in the purse by using all the pockets.
  8. Instead of always carrying your handbag on the same shoulder, switch sides often so each shoulder gets a rest.
  9. Square your shoulders – many women have a habit of lifting the shoulder on which the purse is carried to keep the straps from slipping.
  10. Try to maintain good posture. When standing, your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should line-up, one comfortably above the other. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder-width apart or more.

If you can walk to lunch or a meeting, lock your purse in your desk or locker and carry only your cash and/or credit cards in a pocket. Remember that exercise is good for many reasons but it can also help prevent injury! Specific strengthening exercises for the back and abdominal or core area will help promote good posture, which will further help to condition muscles and prevent injury.

Dr. Melissa

Reduce Inflammation & Prevent Arthritis

ID-10092149Arthritis is a term used very loosely in a broad range of circumstances, and many people are not exactly clear as to what arthritis actually is.  The word “Arthritis” means inflammation of the joints. The cartilage surface that lines either side of a joint begins to breakdown, causing the joint space to narrow. The increased friction and stress on the joint surfaces causes an inflammatory response consisting of swelling, pain and loss of function.

Quite simply, the joints begin to wear out prematurely.

However, random genetic mutations aside, the human body was not made to break down. So what causes arthritis? Improper alignment and faulty mechanics.

Proper alignment and function of joints is essential to maintaining healthy joints. When a joint is out of alignment, proper mechanics are altered and muscle imbalances occur. Whether it’s your spine, hips, knees, feet, shoulders, elbow, or wrists, every joint needs to be moving the way it was designed to in order to function well.

Proper joint function cannot be maintained if the joints are not properly aligned. Just like mal-alignment of your automobile causes the tires to wear out faster, spinal subluxations create the same problem in your spinal joints.  With greater stabilization within the spine, the other joints can heal too. Only a trained, licensed Chiropractor can locate subluxations, correct them, and restore structural balance to your body.

With the correction of spinal subluxations, the joints heal.  I see it all the time in my practice with dramatic changes in symptoms, but also objectively with improvements in measurable diagnostic tests such as X-rays, as well as with neurological and orthopedic testing.  Not only within the spine, but also with knees, shoulders, elbows, finger, and feet.

The body is self-healing, but all healing takes time.  The longer the joint breakdown process has been occurring, the longer it will take to fully heal. For some people, the only challenge with the Chiropractic approach is just that…time.

By the time joint degeneration has reached the point of chronic pain, the process has often been developing for years.  Every spinal adjustment retrains your brain and muscles towards healthy mechanics, building momentum and greater stability along the way.

The good news is that although it doesn’t take years to correct the damage, it does take a consistent and holistic approach to restoring proper motion in your body to heal fully.  The body’s ability to heal is so profound, it doesn’t take years to restore function to the body and feel better. It does take time though, and is not the “quick fix” that many are looking for.

The question I often ask people is this: do you want to patch things up or fully heal? I am honoured to help people with a wide variety of goals and health challenges, and I respect everyone’s ability to choose the level of chiropractic care that suits them, but my recommendations are always the same. 

Based on my years of experience (in both practice and life!), fixing something properly generally works the best! Not only does it ultimately save time and investment in the long term, more importantly it gives people the opportunity to start LIVING sooner.

ERM 003 Michele Rich: New Directions, The Power of Meditation & Being A Student of Motherhood

3770LinkedMichele is a mother to a teen-aged daughter, married to a great guy, and a Registered Psychotherapist with an independent practice.  Michele is also the Executive Director of a non-profit organization called The Environment Network, and she teaches at Georgian College. Her goal is to empower people by helping them to understand themselves and guide them into a healthy, joyful life.  Michele dedicates her time and energy to all of these endeavours because she believes, deep in her heart, that this is the way to heal the world.  Making sure that she maintains a healthy, joyful life herself can sometimes be tricky, but it is definitely possible.

On today’s episode Michele she shares her ideas about what motherhood has taught her , the impact of some of the challenges she has faced, why she decided to go back to school, and how she manages to make her family life and career work. She talks about the parenting choices she wishes she could have reversed, the ongoing joys of motherhood, and how she finds time to stay connected with her growing daughter.

She also discusses her secret weapon for giving her focus, preparing her for challenges, calming her in times of chaos, and why it’s one of the top tips she recommends to all her clients.

Michele can be reached at 705.444.3372 or mrich@environmentnetwork.org.

Breathe Easier With Allergy Relief

69443tegi1jeqhsIt’s that time of year again (at least the calendar is suggesting so even if the weather is not!) when springtime seasonal allergies trouble people. People come into the office sneezing, with their eyes watering and itching, but they always feel better when they leave.

What’s the Chiropractic connection? 

Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to an allergen (dust, pollen, pet dander, foods) and produces too many histamines to counteract this process. Histamines are chemicals the body creates to neutralize the effects of the item offending the respiratory or visual system, a way the body’s innate wisdom attempts to correct the problem.  Histamines cause you to produce mucous, sneeze, will make your eyes watery, and even give you rash sometimes, all ways the body tries to expel the offending allergen. Most allergy medications attempt to treat the symptoms your body instigates to get rid of the allergen.  Antihistamines dry up the mucous membranes, and minimize the sneezing, itching and congestion. They can provide relief, but the underlying problem remains.

What if there was another way to help your body with Allergies?

The Chiropractic approach focuses on restoring proper function to your body, so that you can better adapt to the ‘stressors’ in your environment, including those of seasonal allergies.

Spinal misalignments (termed subluxations) are caused by physical stress, emotional stress, and chemical stress. These misalignments in your spine cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, pain, and weakness. What is more important though, spinal subluxations affect your spinal cord and impair healthy neurological function.

Chiropractic adjustments correct misalignments in your spine, restoring proper joint movement, balancing your muscles, and improving your overall health! 

Specific to allergies, the correction of spinal subluxations helps your body respond more appropriately to the pollens, dander and other airborne items you inhale because they help restore balance to your immune system.  There is a direct correlation between your spine and immune system.  It’s simple: A nervous system that is working more effectively permits the immune system to function more effectively – something all allergy sufferers need!

How can you get started finding relief?

If you’ve been suffering with allergies – there is another option! Call or email for more information. An initial consultation and assessment will determine if Chiropractic can help you, and whether my approach is right for you.  Following your evaluation we’ll create an action plan to get you functioning and feeling better.  Many people in my practice note dramatic reductions in their allergy symptoms and improvements in their overall wellbeing when they add Chiropractic care to their life.

What Is Holistic Care?

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Spinal misalignments called vertebral subluxations cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, and early degeneration. Spinal subluxations alter the healthy mechanical and neurological functions in the body. Subluxations weaken all organ systems, leading to sickness, pain,  and a lesser quality of life. As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I correct spinal subluxations to restore proper motion and function within the body. What causes spinal subluxations?  STRESS! – physical, chemical and mental/emotional.

Adjusting the spine removes the effects of the stress in your body, but I’ve always believed it’s important to look at what is creating it. If we only address the spinal subluxations with adjustments, we might not be addressing the real cause of the problems with your health. 

The lifestyle choices you make (exercise, nutrition, sleep, good relationships, positive thinking, hydration etc.) have a huge impact of the results you will obtain with chiropractic.

The goal of your care in this practice is to help you THRIVE in all aspects of your health, and life.

In addition to clinical care, there is an extensive lending library, workshops, an interactive web community, and weekly articles to take with you.  I produce a television show with Rogers TV, Good Living, Good Health that covers a wide range of topics that pertain to healthy living (watch it on channel 53 or ask to borrow a copy). I also have  an extensive network of other health professionals and resources within our community with whom I can connect you with to make other changes in your health.  

In my experience, when lifestyle changes are combined with chiropractic care, the transformations are profound.  

Entering my 14th year of practice, I continued to be inspired by the healing that I witness, and the increased quality of people’s lives as a result.

Consider learning more, and making other changes to your health to support your chiropractic care.

Ask me when you’re ready, and I’ll help you get started.

The Importance of Play – For Grown Ups!

ID-10042767Recreation 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.

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 in the warm months 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! My young sons also keep ‘play’ in my life because much of our time together is spent doing so! They are a great reminder for me to make time for fun, and to keep my life balanced.

Recently a patient noticed all the silly faces the children in my practice on the wall, and she commented that adults seem to lose some of that ability to be silly, and that so many people lose their sense of fun because they care too much what others will think. Perhaps it’s because as adults 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. We can choose to prioritize time for fun knowing it’s a step in the direction of better health. Enjoying an activity, time to yourself or connecting with friends, moving your body…are all important parts of a healthy lifestyle.

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. Often busy parents prioritize everyone else in their home, and make time for themselves ‘only if you they have time’. I challenge you to rethink this. Taking care of yourself is a gift for everyone in your life! When you feel depleted, tired, unmotivated it’s difficult to take care of your children or give your best at work. Small windows of time to yourself, time to breathe, to focus on something that brings you peace, joy, and reconnects you to YOU is not a luxury, but a proven strategy for improving performance in all facets of our life.

If aches, pains, or other health challenges are stopping you from doing the things you love to do, 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! I have a huge network of doctors and can easily find a suitable referral for them if they don’t live close by.

“The people who live long are those who long to live” ~ Anonymous

Playtime is important! We all need time to re-energize and refocus. Make time for leisure and fun as an active step to improved health and wellbeing. 

“I Feel Fine”

ID-10083065Many people don’t think they need to see a Chiropractor because they ‘feel fine’.

Many people hold the belief that if we have symptoms we are sick, and if are without symptoms then we are healthy. Much of modern health care relies on this approach, ridding people of their symptoms.  Many people come into my practice to get rid of their symptoms, seeking relief from the physical ailments they are experiencing.  But there are limitations with this belief.

Some of the sickest people in this country are symptom free. Similarly, a person who is experiencing symptoms is not necessarily SICK. Many of the symptoms people experience are actually signs that the body is healing, and stopping those symptoms can inhibit the healing process.

Think about some of these examples:

fevers – the body raises the internal temperature to kill bacterias or viruses

sneezing/coughing/vomiting/diarrhea – the body is trying to expel something foreign to it!

joint pain – the body tells us to be careful, to avoid using the joint and doing further damage

swelling – the body creates a natural splint to protect the joint

inflammation – the body increases the circulation to repair the injured tissue

bloating & indigestion – the body tells us something we ate was not right for us!

Symptoms are not bad, they just tell us to pay more attention! Every symptom is our body lovingly giving us a message.  When symptoms occur, our body is trying its best to communicate with us. Do you listen and act? Or just try to stop it? It’s up to you.

Life is a process, not an event, and so is healing. Sometimes symptoms are simply part of the healing response, part of your body adapting to a new healthier internal state and a way it clears things out.

Health is not defined as an absence of symptoms; and sickness and dis-ease in the the body don’t only occur in the presence of symptoms. Health is a condition of wholeness in which all your muscles and organs are functioning 100%. Spinal subluxations disturb this process, and will cause symptoms as your body tries to communicate something is wrong.

I care about your symptoms, but I care more about your whole body and the longer-term effects of neurological and structural damage going on inside you!

After a chiropractic adjustment your body will always function at a higher level, regardless of how you feel. I know the power of a chiropractic adjustment. I have witnessed it for almost 15 years clinically, and I have seen it personally with myself and my family.

Symptoms might be the reason many people come into my practice, but it’s not what gets them excited to stay once they are feeling better! If you are living with spinal subluxations you are simply not functioning at your peak. Chiropractic will cause your symptoms to resolve, but most importantly it ensures your body is functioning as a whole so that you can move, think and feel your best.

Thinking Clearly

351619rcnfp65dpChiropractic strengthens your body in so many ways, but could there be anything more powerful than being able to strengthen your brain?

In a recent study, 30 subjects received 4 weeks of chiropractic adjustments compared to 10 control subjects. The brain activity was measured by a computer generated and scored test called Microcog. This program tested attention control, memory, calculation, and general brain functioning.

All 30 subjects demonstrated significant improvements in all areas of brain function while the control group displayed no changes.

Restoring healthy joint function does more than relieve your back pain, neck pain, headaches, joint pain, or whatever symptom brings people initially into the practice. It’s the same reason people consistently tell me how once getting adjusted their digestion is better, their breathing improves, they are sleeping better, and feeling calmer.

Consistent chiropractic care supports your health because it restores the connection between the vital intelligence that runs your entire body – the one between your brain and the rest of your body!

When this internal power is turned on your body will function and feel the way it was designed to. It’s that simple.

Chiropractic is the largest and most established profession within the new wellness industry. Not just for the sick, wounded and stressed, Chiropractic care can help you thrive physically and mentally.

If you still haven’t had a spinal assessment, perhaps it’s time. If you have tried Chiropractic but haven’t found a Doctor who is right for you, keep looking.

If you’d like more information about my approach, read the success stories, get in touch, and book a “Meet the Doctor” visit or an Intensive Health Assessment. Together we will make a plan so that you  can regain your health and transform your body.

Strengthen Your Brain

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Your brain is the most amazing and important muscle in your body and has the same requirements to stay strong and healthy – to keep building it you need to challenge it!

More and more neurological research is pointing to the brain’s plasticity, this means that your brain has the ability to constantly grow and change. It can grow new neurons, make new connections, and even learn to inhibit dysfunctional pathways that don’t serve you (such as cravings, addictions, negative thought patterns, hyperactivity, poor memory or concentration, etc.) It’s a huge topic, but for now let’s just focus on ways to boost it with challenge and activity.

Giving your brain new experiences helps it form new nerve pathways necessary for that activity, particularly if its something you have not done before. Trying new activities is powerful for your brain because doing so stimulates brain centres that have been dormant, or helps create entirely new pathways to complete the task at hand. Your brain is an amazing machine that can adapt to new processes and challenges, you just need to give it the experiences to do so! If you have children in your life, they are some of the best companions with their eagerness and love of adult attention.

Consider trying some of these activities on a regular basis:

Learn a new language

Do mind games (sudoko, word scrambles, brain teasers)

Try a new sport (builds coordination, precise muscle control, memory, strategy, plus increases blood flow to your brain!)

Read a book

Pursue something creative (painting, photography, sculpture etc.)

Try a new instrument (or play one you know), sing, dance

Learn to build models

Play board games or work on a puzzle

There are unlimited ideas, these are just a few. Like moving your body, it doesn’t matter what you do, just do something that will engage or challenge your brain. Choosing something you find intriguing or joyful will strengthen your resolve to keep doing it…but remember you might not know you enjoy a new activity until you try it!

If you are having trouble concentrating, with your memory, are feeling foggy or unbalanced – consider having your spine checked! Misalignments in the upper neck and cranium can disrupt nerve pathways and interfere with circulation to the brain. Chiropractic can help!