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! 

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.

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.

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! 

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Cardiovascular health is important throughout our lives.

Your heart pumps blood to all parts of your body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to every single cell through the arteries. Once the cells have received the oxygen, the blood is returned to the heart through the veins. The systematic, rhythmic relationship between your lungs and your heart is what refuels the blood with oxygen so that this cycle can continue endlessly. With every beat of your heart, blood is moving through the chambers of your heart and then being pumped through your body. Its truly an amazing system!

Heart disease results when the heart has to beat faster than the normal healthy rate to perform its job. When the arteries are clogged blood needs to be pumped through them at a faster rate with greater force (“high blood pressure”). The sad news is that far too many times the first symptom of heart disease is a serious heart attack! We can’t see the heart gradually losing it’s ability to function properly, which is why waiting for symptoms to start isn’t the wisest approach.

Most people can quickly think of all the known risk factors for heart disease smoking, high cholesterol, alcoholism, obesity, lack of physical activity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a poor diet. It’s estimated 9/10 Canadians have at least one of these risk factors, and 4/10 have 3 or more.

There is another risk factor: Did you know spinal misalignments can contribute to heart health too? When the vertebrae in the spine are not moving properly they impinge both the nerves and the arteries. Once corrected with spinal adjustments, proper nerve and circulatory flow returns. Research has shown that chiropractic spinal adjustments can lower both blood pressure and heart rate, allowing your cardiovascular system to function the way it was designed to.

Although heart disease remains one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide, the great news is that the majority of risk factors are lifestyle choices! Change your habits and you change your risk.

Make choices to keep your heart working properly by considering the following:

Stress Less: High stress levels cause blood pressure to rise, heart rate to increase, and disturbances in heart rhythm. Evaluate the stressors in your life and make changes! Learn how to cope with stress effectively, and find professional support as needed.

Eat Well: Choose a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Avoid packaged and processed foods which contain extra fats, sugars, preservatives, and sodium. Avoid high consumption of fried, fatty foods.

Quit Smoking! Just do it. There is nothing health promoting about this habit whatsoever!

Get Moving: Move your body everyday for at least 10 minutes. Exercise helps relieve stress, and supports every system in your body including your cardiovascular system.

Get Adjusted! To support nerve function, heart function, and for a healthier body overall!

Have questions or need more direction? Let me know how I can help.

Barefoot is Best!

ID-10033840 2It’s that time of year again…when I’m kicking off my shoes and adjusting barefoot as much as possible! Many health experts agree that bare is the healthiest state for your feet to be in, because most shoes have no relation at all to the natural shape of the human foot.  

What are the benefits of being barefoot?

– natural shaped feet, including straighter toes free of corns, hammer toes, bunions and callouses in the wrong places

– well shaped legs resulting from a natural and balanced gait.

– a more natural gait, free of weight brought on by shoes

– prevention of blisters, ingrown toenails, and plantar warts

– better posture & spinal health!

It’s also been argued that most adult foot trouble would not exist if properly shaped shoes, or better yet, no shoes at all had been used during childhood.

Children who are encouraged to walk barefoot typically have:

– fewer instances of deformed toes

– greater foot flexibility

– greater ability to spread the toes

– denser muscles on the bottom of the feet

– greater agility than those who had never gone barefoot

– better hip rotation and more flexibility of leg muscles

– greater balance

– better posture, spinal balance and overall nerve system function

Less Stress & Improved Brain Function

People who are barefoot tend to be less stressed and authoritative, leading to a more relaxed environment at both home and work. Many cultures believe that the positive energy of the earth, known as chi/prana, is absorbed through the soles of the feet. When you are walking barefoot your body is absorbing this positive energy, allowing you to think more clearly.

In addition, there is also evidence that the natural motion of being barefoot positively affects brain function!

Other than the spine, the foot is the region of the body which contains the most proprioceptive sensory receptors. These are the distinctive nerve circuits that help your brain know where your body is in relation to the space around you.   The natural unrestricted movement of the feet stimulates all these receptors, and is vital for overall neurological health!

So don’t be alarmed if you see me walking around barefoot. I love shoes, but barefoot is best!

Balanced?

Recently I was sitting at my local café, reading, planning my day. When it was time to get started on the responsibilities I had, I joked with an acquaintance how reluctant I was to leave, that it was so lovely sitting there, his comment was brilliant: 

“Give yourself a break. Enjoy the day. Whatever you have to do will all work out in the end, and if it hasn’t worked out yet – it’s not the end!”

I encourage you to balance time in your life for movement, healthy eating, nurturing relationships, getting enough rest, and playing.  You need all of these things in your life because you are a whole person, and because being healthy requires attention to all these areas.

Are the different facets of your life balanced?

Sure, there are times when some of our responsibilities dominate, when we must focus specifically on doing the best we can to manage everything.

Some days, weeks, months are more balanced than others. I think it’s important to look at the larger picture of our lives when reflecting on this topic.  When raising young children, juggling work or changes in career, helping aging parents, moving or renovating a property, life can become a little overwhelming, and sometimes very unbalanced. I can say this from personal experience, and from working with people for so many years.

Even during these stressful times we can always become aware, and try to make small changes if that’s all we can make. Do the best you can – a little will always be better than none at all.

Take a minute to consider the different parts of your life: social life, physical health, relationships, personal time, work/career happiness… and assess yourself. How much time are you giving to all these areas? 

If things are unbalanced, is it temporary given the stage of life you are in, or a constant challenge?

What can you do differently?

Do you need to shift your priorities?

How can you make a change, and what do you need to get started?

Where can you create more time in your life to support these other wishes you have?

We all have work responsibilities, family obligations and personal objectives. The key to healthy living is in balancing all of them every week, sometimes every day, and giving ourselves permission to do so. 

Allergy Relief!

69443tegi1jeqhs“I cannot believe the difference in how much less I am sneezing since I started getting adjusted!”

“For the past 2 seasons I have had virtually no allergy symptoms! Love it! And all because I came to you for a sore shoulder!”

“Thank you. My sinus congestion is dramatically better, my breathing is easier, and I am sleeping again.”

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. Spinal subluxations affect your spinal cord and impair healthy neurological function, and when corrected with Chiropractic adjustments, proper joint movement is restored, muscle tension is balanced, and your overall health improves in many ways!

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?

An initial consultation and assessment will help us determine if Chiropractic can help you, and whether our approach is right for you.  Following your evaluation we’ll create an action plan to get you functioning and feeling better. We’ll monitor your symptoms and changes over time, and continue to evaluate your care as your body heals. Many of our patients note dramatic reductions in their allergy symptoms and improvements in their overall wellbeing when they add Chiropractic care to their life.

Time to try something different this year? Call us or let us help you find a Chiropractor near you!

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

Indulge…and Still Feel Good In January

ID-10065594So many families in the practice talk about how ‘insane’ this time of year gets. Yes, the schedules can get more full, there can be more late nights, more consumption of indulgent foods and beverages, and less sleep…none of which are good for your health. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are choices involved with all those behaviours!  You don’t have to succumb to the “overs” this holiday season…being overstimulated, overspending, overindulging, and being overwhelmed! Take a few minutes to consider the following points and make good choices for yourself this holiday season:

Socialize Wisely – We all need social connections but during the holiday season many people are ‘overstimulated’, ‘over-committed’, and ‘overwhelmed’ with too many events. 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.

Reach Out – 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. The rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

Exercise – Quite simply, physical activity makes every system in your body work better. Instead of taking a break from your exercise routine, keep it up! Or consider getting started! It doesn’t have to wait until January and your resolution of getting in shape or losing weight. 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! 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.

Eat Regularly & Prepare for Outings – 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 over-indulge when you are out. If you are planning on consuming alcohol be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects.

Take a Breather – It IS the season for family, friends, and being on ‘holiday’ so don’t forget to take the time to relax and indulge in activities you enjoy! Make time for yourself too, often time alone is what is easily neglected with busy social schedules or family commitments. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you and change your perspective if you are having a frantic day. Do something that clears your mind, slows your breathing and restores inner calm. Journal, listen to music, take a brisk walk and look at the lights, read a book, whatever interests YOU and gets you in a quiet place for a small bit of time.

Rethink Gifting – There are many ways to show affection and pamper the ones you love without purchasing ‘things’. Consider giving gifts of ‘experiences’ – trips to the spa, movies, sporting or cultural events, gift certificates to restaurants etc. Time together is more valuable with the ones we love than any object, and you’ll get the benefit too! Take the stress away from shopping and get creative giving gifts of the heart in other ways.

The holidays don’t mean you should take a holiday from taking care of yourself. Make good choices for you and your family and you will enjoy the holiday season and start the new year in good health. You CAN indulge, celebrate, and still feel good in January!