Evolution Instead of Resolution in 2020

I’ve never found resolutions work, and I stopped setting them years ago.  Really, anytime is a great time to make changes in your life! This year instead of resolving to do something different, why not think about EVOLVING a little bit.

Here’s the thing, when you set a resolution and succeed with it, it’s great, but typically at some point you will slip into an old habit, or get discouraged, or you might even lose your resolve for the day/week/month. However, if you think about evolving with your choices it’s easier to give yourself some grace and keep moving forward. Any step forward with the intention to live a healthier life is going to be a positive one, so focus on taking consistent steps forward, even if they are small steps! Even if you take a few steps forward then one step back, you’re still gaining because those steps forward count!

An idea I do love though is the idea of setting an intention and choosing a word to set the tone for your year. I’ve been suggesting it within my practice and love hearing the words that people come up with and what they mean to them.  Maybe this year you might want to give it a try!

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word? I bet you can.

A great word can set the tone for your actions and keep you focused.  A word can also serve as a reminder of what’s important when everyday  ‘life stuff’ frustrates us. For example, when my sons were young and I wasn’t in practice, my word was “Nurture”.  It reminded me of my focus on raising my sons and looking after myself.  It allowed me to accept that my career aspirations would be fulfilled at a later date, and that the little boys in my kitchen were simply more important for the time being. In other years the words “Grow”, “Balance” and “Focus” have worked well for me.

A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places,  opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals.  A good friend recently shared her story of using theme words during the past few years. “Abundance” was her focus at one time and she grew her business substantially. “Love” was her focus another year, and she met the man she married.  Metaphysics aside, what you focus on tends to happen!  The simple act of awareness can powerfully  keep you oriented towards actions that support your goals, and make you more likely to attract success.

Your ‘word’ might come to mind easily.  You may already have one that has been running through your thoughts repetitively, especially if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself. If not, carve out some time in your week to think about it. Sit quietly and reflect.   Journal if it helps you sort out your thoughts, or, on a blank sheet of paper simply write down words that depict your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Something will pop out at you, or you may notice a pattern in the words you write down. Don’t over-think it!

Friends, colleagues, and people in my practice have shared their words with me for added support and accountability. Here’s some of their theme words to get you started:  Relate, Believe, Focus, Simplify, Build, Mindful, Refresh, Rejuvenate, and Fun.

Once you have your ‘word’ write it down where you can see it regularly. Use it as a password so you have to consciously think about it many times a day. Place post-it notes all over your home if you need to. Get creative and do what works for you – and share your ideas! I’ll tell you my word!

One word is easy to remember. Pick one for yourself and let it shape the months to come. Whether you feel you need to make some drastic changes, take a few small steps in a new direction, or simply get back into an established routine, commit to doing something  this month to live a better life. 

Set an intention for what you want 2020 to mean to you, choose a word to define it, make deliberate choices and take action! I’m here to help if you get stuck ?

~ Dr Melissa

5 Ways You Can Stay Healthy Through The Holidays

During the holiday season many people are overstimulatedover-committed, and that leads to being overwhelmed.  This can leave people feeling emotionally and mentally drained, and certainly getting a lot less sleep than they would like! In my experience, January is a common time for people to get sick…

There are lots of opportunities during the holiday season for indulgent foods and extra alcohol. With the busier pace many people find themselves moving less and workout routines can also slip away. However, this doesn’t have to be how you spend your December! You can celebrate, indulge and still feel good! 

Make a few adjustments in your social calendar and you will enjoy the holiday season and start 2020 in good health.

1. Set intention and stick to it!

See this blog post for more ideas.

2. Be mindful of your food choices.

Eat regularly & prepare for outings. This should be a consideration for all year round, but what happens in the holiday season is that the sheer volume of parties and events can add up to over-consumption. If you are going to  a party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation.  Doing so will  slow your metabolism, leave you ravenous and more likely to overeat later in the evening. Instead, eat small meals or snacks throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to overindulge when you are out. If you are planning on consuming alcohol remember there is sugar and calories in every drink, and if you consume too many your judgement will surely be off.  Be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects. Often we mistakenly believe that we are hungry when really what our bodies need is more fluid. Keep this in mind when you head for the table of food at your next event and try having a glass of water instead.To give your body time to digest and detoxify, consider 12 hour fast overnight. This is an easy habit and if done consistently can make a huge difference! Whatever time you eat your dinner, allow 12 hours before you eat your first meal the next day. (if you finish eating at 7pm, don’t eat breakfast until 7am or later the next day) If you have regularly been practicing intermittent fasting, keep it up!

3. Move your body.

Physical activity makes every system in your body work better. Instead of taking a break from your exercise routine during the holiday season, keep it up! Or consider getting started! You don’t have to wait until January to resolve to get in better shape.  The fact is, exercise is simply something most people have to build into their lives, work into their schedules. You will always find something better to do with your time!(Trust me, I make excuses and procrastinate sometimes too! Ask my trainer!) Exercise helps relieve stress and prevents weight gain.  Moving your body will always give you a boost, even just a some stretching or a brisk walk will rejuvenate your body and mind.

4. Get social, but with intention.

(Again, see the blog post on why this is an important step!) Be choosy about how you spend your social time. Be assertive and learn to say no to situations that will upset you. Decline invitations (if you can do so without grossly offending the invitee) that create unnecessary emotional stress, or will simply burden your schedule and shortchange you of sleep. At the other end of the social spectrum is loneliness. With changing family dynamics, different living arrangements, and simple geography for some people, many are left alone during the holidays. If you feel lonely or isolated consider getting involved in different activities, volunteering your time at seniors homes, food banks or other organizations geared towards helping others. Reach out to people who may find themselves alone during the holiday season and consider including them in your plans. The rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

5. Give your body added support.

During times of added physical demand or emotional stress, it can be helpful to give your body MORE attention. Although I will always remind you to address the cause of stress in your life and in your body, if there are times when it’s unavoidable then helping your body adapt better will help. Keep up your consistent Chiropractic care, consider using essential oils to support your body, take epsom salt baths to relieve muscle strain and help detoxify, meditate, consider supplementation – whatever healthy habits you have used and loved in the past – keep them up or add more of them to your routine for December!

Healthy habits are always a choice!

Healthy holidays ARE possible. If you make a few small adjustments to your habits you’ll feel good throughout the season.

You CAN think about how you want to feel and make choices that align your holidays with that intention so that you make the right choices for you.

What’s Wrong With Heels?

What’s wrong with heels? For starters, wearing high heels changes your body’s centre of gravity, and then your body compensates so that you maintain an upright stance. With the foot in a heeled shoe, you’ll put  increased pressure on the forefoot which then causes the rest of the body to adjust to maintain balance. With the lower part of the body leaning forward to compensate, the upper part of the body must lean back to keep you balanced. 

You may also notice (and let’s be honest this might be part of the allure of wearing heels) that in high heels your chest is pushed forward. This also causes the body to compensate by changing the curve in the lower back,  taking the hips out of proper alignment, and adding extra stress on the knees. Also, in order to maintain your balance the hip and back muscles become tense.

Overall, wearing high heels creates an unhealthy posture, and with repetitive wear overtime this can affect the health of your spine! 

Tips for Heels and Spinal Health

  1. Take your shoes off when you can. If you’re at your desk no one will see you without your shoes on! As soon as you get home, take them off.
  2. Avoid wearing heels for long periods of time, and change your footwear throughout the week to give your feet and posture a break. 
  3. Give your feet some love! Use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball and roll it under your feet to increase circulation and relieve muscle tension.

So, there’s no need to throw out your favouite pair of heels. Just keep in mind that your body needs a break every once in a while, and make sure you give your body the help it needs to heal from those heels!

Episode 19: Listen to Your Body

Your body is always talking to you; constantly sending you messages about how it’s performing or how it’s feeling. A lot of people relate symptoms to sickness but more often than not, once you deepen your ability to tune into your body’s messages, it will tell you about hidden sources of inflammation that have not yet begun to show up as symptoms. Your health is about so much more than how you feel, and on today’s episode, we go over how to team up with your body for better health.

For more on the benefits of listening to the body, check out this blog post.

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of the Rock Your Health Podcast episodes!
If you’re more of a reader than a listener, you may prefer checking out some blog posts!
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

Chiropractic & Concussion Management

As a chiropractor and parent I’m happy we now have more information about diagnosing, treating, and most importantly preventing concussions.  I’ve witnessed the effects of it when my oldest son suffered a mild concussion while playing hockey. During his evaluation with our family physician after his hit, when we discussed protocol for managing his recovery, the first thing our physician said was “I hope you’re planning to adjust him”. With both my son’s parents being Chiropractors, you can bet we were!

Why is spinal care important when there is a concussion?

If you watch any footage from sporting injuries, with any hit to the head there is often a twisting of the neck that also occurs. It’s impossible for the head to move any direction without any movement of the neck, try it! All the rotation and side to side bending we have in our necks comes from the upper spinal joints.

With any concussion the impact to head is what is of major concern, and rightly so! Your brain is the most important organ in your body, always responding to the needs of your body and coordinating many functions simultaneously.   However, the importance of assessing the vertebrae in the upper neck cannot be forgotten, and many experts like Dr. Ted Carrick (who I’ve been fortunate to do some training with) agree that including appropriate spinal care is a key to recovery.

After a hit to the head, many internal systems can be challenged, and in many cases the vestibular system (balance and coordination) can be affected. When your body’s position sense is disrupted, the brain will adapt by trying to keep things level, and in doing so there will be subtle shifts in the position of the neck and head as a biomechanical  consequence, which creates added strain on surrounding joints and all the associated muscles.

The body is a self regulating organism, and if the sense of position balance is disrupted, the nervous system will compensate for something being innately wrong by changing the head posture so that it feels like things are still level. This changes the alignment of the vertebrae in the neck and causes reduced movement of the spinal joints, which can then create secondary problems such as neck stiffness and pain. I see this all the time in people in my practice, whether they’ve had a concussion or a minor impact, or sometimes even just because of chronic postures, faulty ergonomics, sleeping positions, and high levels of stress.

If someone you care about suffers a concussion, consider adding chiropractic care to their recovery protocol. Addressing the movement of the spinal joints will reduce the effects of the brain injury on the surrounding tissues and muscles, minimize their symptoms, and promote full recovery. 

Need help? Get in touch!

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for brain injury or trauma.

New Parent Posture!

Are you dealing with ‘new parent posture’? Your new baby arrives in the world, and for the first few months you spend many hours feeding them, rocking them to sleep, and staring down at them lovingly while they are in your arms. Then, after a few weeks of this consistent posture, you find yourself with some pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders. Sound familiar?

I call this “momma posture” but I know many dads that also can relate to this!

Truth is, physically there isn’t much difference between staring down at your phone or laptop and staring down at the newest addition to your family!

The posture is the same, which results in a tremendous amount of strain on the muscles in your neck and the associated vertebra in both your cervical and thoracic spine.  Here are a few tips to help minimize this strain for you:

Switch arms when holding baby. This is good for you and good for them! Your arms will get a rest, and you’ll develop strength in both arms in this position. Your child will also benefit in that their vision, hearing and sense of body position (think brain development) will also get stimulation from both directions.   Carry your baby right from the beginning so that you easily develop strength to hold them as they progressively gain weight. *Read this blog post on why  babies should be in their car seats only when travelling.

Use a variety of slings and carriers. I’m a huge fan of baby-wearing because it’s good for a child’s physical and emotional development, but also because in my experience it can make life as a parent easier! With your child securely attached to you your hands are free to hold the hand of another child, pick up your groceries, fold laundry, work on your laptop, or do anything else! Using different types of carriers minimizes the repetitive strain on your spine and shoulders and will help prevent injuries. When choosing a carrier there is always 1 specific guideline I give all parents watch this video

Stretch your neck and shoulders! When not looking down at your child, think about reversing the position of your neck. Tilt your head forward and back, turn your head side to side, roll your shoulders in circles forward and back, and hold your hands behind your back and open up your chest for a really great stretch. Doing these moves will help break up the repetitive strain on the muscles in your neck, upper arms and shoulders to compensate for forward postures. .

Forget Resolutions, Why Not Set a WORD instead?

Anytime is a great time for making changes in your life, but there is something special about the start of a new year. Whether you feel you need to make some drastic changes, take a few small steps in a new direction, or simply get back into an established routine, commit to doing something  this month to live a better life. I’ve never found resolutions work, and I stopped setting them years ago. Instead, I love this concept and have been implementing consistently. Maybe this year you might want to give it a try!

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word? I bet you can.

A great word can set the tone for your actions and keep you focused.  A word can also serve as a reminder of what’s important when everyday  ‘life stuff’ frustrates us. For example, when my sons were young and I wasn’t in practice, my word was “Nurture”.  It reminded me of my focus on raising my sons and looking after myself.  It allowed me to accept that my career aspirations would be fulfilled at a later date, and that the little boys in my kitchen were simply more important for the time being. In other years the words “Grow”, “Balance” and “Focus” have worked well for me.

A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places,  opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals.  A good friend recently shared her story of using theme words during the past few years. “Abundance” was her focus at one time and she grew her business substantially. “Love” was her focus another year, and she met the man she married.  Metaphysics aside, what you focus on tends to happen!  The simple act of awareness can powerfully  keep you oriented towards actions that support your goals, and make you more likely to attract success.

Your ‘word’ might come to mind easily.  You may already have one that has been running through your thoughts repetitively, especially if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself. If not, carve out some time in your week to think about it. Sit quietly and reflect.   Journal if it helps you sort out your thoughts, or, on a blank sheet of paper simply write down words that depict your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Something will pop out at you, or you may notice a pattern in the words you write down. Don’t over-think it!

Friends, colleagues, and people in my practice have shared their words with me for added support and accountability. Here’s some of their theme words to get you started:  Relate, Believe, Focus, Simplify, Build, Mindful, Refresh, Rejuvenate, and Fun.

Once you have your ‘word’ write it down where you can see it regularly. Use it as a password so you have to consciously think about it many times a day. Place post-it notes all over your home if you need to. Get creative and do what works for you – and share your ideas! I’ll tell you my word!

One word is easy to remember. Pick one for yourself and let it shape the months to come.

Set an intention for what you want 2017 to mean to you, choose a word to define it, make deliberate choices and take action! I’m here to help if you get stuck 😉

~ Dr Melissa

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….

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!

ERM 005 Dr. Ali Miller: Being a Role Model for Girls, Peak Performance Strategies & Thriving in Chaos

aliDr. Ali Miller is a fifteen year chiropractic professional with a strong affinity for women’s and children’s health and family wellness. Dr. Ali leads a balanced chiropractic lifestyle incorporating exercise, clean eating and meditation. It is her mission to raise the level of health in her community and she thrives on sharing information and inspiring change. Dr. Ali and her rockstar husband Adam live in Bolton with their three well-adjusted daughters Riley, Bailey and Zoe. They are her everything.

On this episode we talked about how she balances her practice and the lives of her 3 girls, how she has kept her 22 year relationship with her husband strong, and the importance of taking care of herself and how workouts, connecting with friends,  are keys to making it all work.  She also shares some of her experience in dealing with her own fears as a woman, facing challenges within her family, and how she dealt with them and got through them stronger. I particularly loved how she grounds herself consistently in thinking about what kind of example she wants to set for her daughters, the kinds of experiences she wants to give them to know that they are capable as women and deserving of a great life.