Make this Year’s Resolutions Stick…for Good

We’ve all said it before, “Starting January 1st I’m going to get healthy!” or “I’m going to drop 20 pounds by March!” Unsurprisingly, the top New Year’s resolution is some variation on getting fit or losing weight, what’s notable is how much doesn’t stick.

  • Fewer than 8% of resolutions are kept past March
  • Thousands of pounds are lost, yet 90-95% gain the weight back plus some
  • People spend upwards of $60 billion annually trying to lose weight through diet and gyms

So, how are you going to make this year different?

First, look at the big picture of health – weight loss should be viewed as a positive side effect of a healthier life. You don’t need to lose weight to get healthy, once you are healthy you will lose weight. This means lifestyle changes must happen to achieve overall health and I’m not talking about drastic, overnight changes. In my 25 years of experience with fitness injury, every January is exactly the same. People are pumped up and start like a bat outta hell. They take on huge diet restrictions (no fat or sugar and fewer than 1500 calories a day) and add intense exercise all while maintaining family and life responsibilities on 6 hours of sleep.

This is a recipe for disaster on so many levels because the changes are unsustainable. I know this because my office is quiet in January and February, but by March there’s a waiting list full of tendonitis’s and back injuries.

First it’s imperative to understand the physiology of the body parts you aim to change: for strength it’s muscle, for weight loss it’s metabolism, for energy it’s cardiovascular fitness. Also understand that all of these systems work together. Metabolism, is an especially tricky system that is different for everyone and finding the unique balance will lead to success.

We must consider what makes your body work? Where is your tipping point? What’s the quality of the food you eat? Are you sleeping well or enough? Are you exposed to excessive environmental toxins? Are you not exercising enough to stimulate change, or are you exercising too much?

Imagine a wheel. The image on the left has the some of the big factors we need to focus on for a successful fitness program. The wheel on the right shows the imbalance of the pieces in the wheel. Rate your wheel in this manner are all the pieces balanced? Will your wheel roll or is it more like a stone, edges all jagged?

Health Wheel Health Wheel

When all the factors of the wheel are out the balance, wheel (or in this case the body) doesn’t roll right.
We need to factor all the systems together to find what fits for our own individual bodies (not your spouse or your neighbor or the MD on Dr. OZ)

Cortisol is the hormone that regulates stress. Cortisol is what stimulates the Biochemical processes for us to run from a tiger (Flight or fight). Starting or changing an exercise program will increase cortisol production. When this system is stimulated appropriately weight will fall off, we will sleep well, we eat normally, cravings will disappear, need for caffeine and sugar decreases.
If we over-stress (which 80% of Americans do) the stress modulating system becomes over taxed and the body will spike cortisol levels for a certain amount of time. Unfortunately, the body can’t keep up the production of cortisol resulting in a sharp decrease in the production of cortisol, or a crash.

Symptoms of this crash can include: reduced immune system (colds sinus infections) fatigue, food cravings, joint pain, muscle pain, weight loss plataue/ weight gain( rebound) mood imbalances, anxiety, depression, and brain fog to name a few.
The challenge is to balance enough stress to grow without so much stress we break down. This is the fine line we need to walk when starting a new fitness program.
Hormonal balance depends on:

  • Cortisol regulation: Normal production is based on circadian rhythm and stress response
  • Small stressors are healthy (quick run/exercise burst, learning something new/problem solving, occasional intermittent fasting)
  • Chronic stress this is what does us in (daily 90min commute in traffic, physical pain, fighting with spouse, unhealthy eating patterns, not enough sleep, over exercise)

Calorie restriction is a huge factor in metabolism. You need to be aware of how much you are consuming, but excessive restriction will make matters so much worse. Looking at the nutrient value of what you are eating will continue to fuel your body for the new activities you are asking it to do.

Excessive caloric restriction combined with exercise is a disaster in the long run. Your body will find the nutrients somewhere in the system. Catabolic (breakdown) processes will begin, your body will breakdown muscle tissue and bone to get fuel. Therefore, destroying the results from your workouts.
Realistically you may see weight loss quickly. Unfortunately, continual deficits in nutrient intake is impossible to keep up and the rebound effect of weight gain will be greater than the loss.

Components of a well-rounded fitness program

  • STRENGTH
  • CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE
  • FLEXIBLITY/MOBILITY
  • BALANCE

My least favorite question what is the best exercise? It ranks up with what is the one best food… There isn’t one best. We need a combination of it all. You must be muscularly strong to tolerate the stress of the activity you want to do. You need to be flexible to move safely in to certain positions. You need to be balanced on each side of the joint (biceps to triceps, pectorals to rhomboids) to avoid uneven strain and inflammation.

To be fit the answer is NOT ”Eat less and work out more”.

Benefits of appropriate exercise:

  • Psychological benefits
  • Increased endorphins (only if you like what you do)
  • Increased social interaction
  • Mental clarity
  • Physiological benefits
  • Vanity benefits slim, muscles,
  • Better performance
  • More resistant to injury

Symptoms associated with over training:

  • Fatigue
  • Chronic reoccurring Tendon and muscular injury
  • Weight gain or weight loss resistance
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased susceptibility to infection (more frequent colds, respiratory infections and “flu-like” illness
  • Increased food cravings or disordered eating patterns

A balance program needs to incorporate strength training, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance training.
The body respond to variance vs consistency. Meaning that you should start an exercise program but switch it up frequently. Once our bodies learn how to do something the effort is diminished and so are the returns.

Ways to optimize your workouts:

  • Change the intensity,
  • Change the movement,
  • Change the resistance,
  • Change the speed.

Some options are:

  • Strength training, body weight or Olympic lifting, make sure your form is correct!
  • Injury happens when the weight and speed are too much causing form break down.
  • Interval training, such as Tabatas, or HIIT training, this can be as simple as running lines on the basketball court
  • Yoga for mind and body, strength and flexibility

Here are the big do’s and don’ts I have found to help start and stick with healthy lifestyle changes.

DO                                                                                                              DON’T

Eat real food: veggies, organic meats, fruits Rely on Frankenfoods: weight loss shakes and frozen dinners
Eat healthy fats: coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, smaltz, tallow, ghee. Eat fake sugars, diet foods, and vegetable oils
Sleep at least 8 hours every night Forgo sleep for extra workouts
Take recovery days:  exercise 2-3 days in a row then take 1-2 days off Workout every day at maximum capacity
Feel good after exercise, feel invigorated Push to exhaustion, feel drained all day after training session
Vary the type of workouts throughout the week: Cardio, strength training, yoga, balance Do the same activity at the same intensity every day.  Your body will react and adjust to change, but doing the same workout will lead to a plateau.
Choose activities you enjoy Exercise you hate will never make you thin and happy
Create realistic short and long term goals for each quarter of the year. Haphazardly begin a program with no structured focus.
Exercise inside and outside. Smell the trees, feel the sun, get dirty – it’s all good for you! Exercise through pain. Muscle burn is ok, but pain is a sign of something wrong

Change is good, and resolutions can be a great way to initiate change. Be mindful of why you want to change and have a plan for executing it in a realistic manner. Make 2017 the first year of your new healthy life!

Check out our blog for recipes and ways to get stronger than yesterday!

Healthy New Years Resolutions

2017 Guide for Making Healthy New Year's Resolutions

We’ve all said it before, “Starting January 1st I’m going to get healthy!” or “I’m going to drop 20 pounds by March!” Unsurprisingly, the top New Year’s resolution is some variation on getting fit or losing weight, what’s notable is how much doesn’t stick.

  • Fewer than 8% of resolutions are kept past March
  • Thousands of pounds are lost, yet 90-95% gain the weight back plus some
  • People spend upwards of $60 billion annually trying to lose weight through diet and gyms

So, how are you going to make this year different?

First, look at the big picture of health – weight loss should be viewed as a positive side effect of a healthier life. You don’t need to lose weight to get healthy, once you are healthy you will lose weight. This means lifestyle changes must happen to achieve overall health and I’m not talking about drastic, overnight changes. In my 25 years of experience with fitness injury, every January is exactly the same. People are pumped up and start like a bat outta hell. They take on huge diet restrictions (no fat or sugar and fewer than 1500 calories a day) and add intense exercise all while maintaining family and life responsibilities on 6 hours of sleep.

This is a recipe for disaster on so many levels because the changes are unsustainable.  I know this because my office is quiet in January and February, but by March there’s a waiting list full of tendinitises and back injuries.

Here are the big do’s and don’ts I have found to help start and stick with healthy lifestyle changes.

DO                                                                                                                     DON’T

Eat real food: veggies, organic meats, fruits Rely on Frankenfoods: weight loss shakes and frozen dinners
Eat healthy fats: coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil Eat fake sugars, diet foods, and vegetable oils
Sleep at least 8 hours every night Forgo sleep for extra workouts
Take recovery days:  exercise 2-3 days in a row then take 1-2 days off Workout every day at maximum capacity
Vary the type of workouts throughout the week: Cardio, strength training, yoga, balance Do the same activity at the same intensity every day.  Your body will react and adjust to change, but doing the same workout will lead to a plateau.
Choose activities you enjoy Exercise you hate will never make you thin and happy
Exercise inside and outside. Smell the trees, feel the sun, get dirty – it’s all good for you! Exercise through pain. Muscle burn is ok, but pain is a sign of something wrong

 Change is good, and resolutions can be a great way to initiate change. Be mindful of why you want to change and have a plan for executing it in a realistic manner.  Make 2017 the first year of your new healthy life!

Check out our blog for recipes and ways to get stronger than yesterday!  http://battlebornhealth.com/blog/

My Journey Living with Severe Scoliosis

Over two years ago, I sat at my desk crying. My back hurt so badly that I couldn’t bear the pain. Waking up became increasingly difficult. Long commutes were a nightmare, and the thought of sitting for long periods made me cringe. It was painful to wear certain clothing and even more excruciating to maintain a normal work schedule. At 23 years old, I never pictured myself living with chronic pain. How did I get here?

Allyson Blog Image
While I’ve been lucky to appear “normal,” I have lived over half of my life with severe scoliosis, which often remains invisible and misunderstood by the public.

My whole life I have been an overachiever, pushing myself past my limits, partly because I love a challenge, and partly because I wanted to hide the fact that I have a severe scoliosis. I just finished my finance degree. I can run marathons. I act in theater and on camera. There’s absolutely nothing wrong, I told myself. Except at one point, the pain was too much to ignore anymore. 

Cross Country Images
My whole life, I’ve been a long-distance runner despite my scoliosis. In college I ran cross country, and over a year ago, I completed the San Fransisco Half Marathon.
Allyson Acting Image
The performing arts are a huge part of my life. I’ve always loved theater and acting, and I never let my disability get in the way.

Although on the outside I appear to live a normal life, my x-rays reveal something different. With a 50-degree lateral curve in my spine, I’m part of the 2-3% of the population that suffers from scoliosis.  While the spinal deformity affects about seven million people world-wide, most people live with a curvature of 15-degrees or smaller. However, I’m part of the .1% living with a curve of my severity. Because a lot of people with severe curves get surgery, I found myself struggling to manage pain and find proper treatment for my condition.

scoliosis-xray
This is the actual x-ray of my spine. Although I appear normal in photos, my x-ray reveals a 50-degree lateral curve, known as idiopathic scoliosis. There is no known cause or cure for my condition.

While some doctors poked and prodded at me like I was some kind of science experiment, others simply brushed off my “curve in the spine” telling me it didn’t hurt. Behind closed doors, I silently suffered without the courage to speak up about my pain, even to friends and family. At that point in my life, it became obvious that scoliosis is largely invisible and misunderstood by both the medical community and public.

The symptoms go far beyond a simple spinal curve. Scoliosis is a complex disorder that is categorized as a disability of the spine. Patients offer suffer from chronic pain, chronic fatigue, headaches, muscle spasms, anxiety, and depression. The spinal deformity can also contribute to low self-esteem and body-image issues due to uneven shoulders, hips, and abnormal back curvatures.

With Scoliosis, each day is different. You have days when you feel completely great, and other days when you cannot get out of bed. It takes a lot of work and lifestyle changes to live a functional life with my degree of scoliosis.

How it Began: My Diagnosis and Early Scoliosis Treatment

When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with scoliosis soon after my doctor discovered that my sister had an acute curve of 15 degrees. After that, it became a slew of x-rays and bracing until I was 18 years old. I wore a plastic back-brace under my clothes l for 18 hours a day, only taking it off for sports and activities.

outdoors photo
This photo was taken around the same time I was diagnosed with scoliosis (7th grade). I worked very hard to maintain a normal social life and activities, even though I wore a back-brace 18 hours a day.

While the bracing sounds like it would have been a miserable experience at school, it rarely bothered me. Most of the time, it wasn’t noticeable under my clothes. My friends and I actually had fun decorating it with stickers and taking turns trying it on, which seems kind of odd to me in retrospect. But hey, maybe it was just in style then (LOL).

Fast-forward to my college years, and I starting seeing a chiropractor for increased pain and chronic headaches. I ran cross-country and stayed very active on campus, which helped keep pain levels down most of the time. However, long hours studying would irritate my back and cause muscle spasms and headaches that lasted for days, and sometimes even weeks at a time.

After college, I began a career in corporate finance that required long hours sitting and traveling cross-country. This is when my pain levels increased and my health really began to suffer. My once active lifestyle turned into a sedentary one that only allowed one workout a day. I began researching alternative treatments to surgery and seeing chiropractors on a regular basis.

There’s Help: You Don’t Have to Live with Chronic Pain

Now, almost three years later, I’m happy to say that I’m functional again and enjoying life, my energy has improved and the muscle spasms have decreased.

Through the support of my doctors and physical therapists, I have learned how to communicate to others about my scoliosis and my limitations. I have learned that I do not have to suffer with chronic pain that limits my quality of life.

battleborn-health2
After 13 years of being diagnosed with my condition, I’m finally learning to live pain free with scoliosis.

When an instructor in a yoga class or workout class singles me out for my posture, I feel comfortable letting them know I have scoliosis. There’s no shame in my disorder. My body cannot do everything perfectly, and that’s okay.

Finding the right doctors have been crucial on my journey. After years of trial and error, I’m thrilled to be working with Danielle and Jessica of Battle Born Health, who specialize in one-on-one total body restoration, undictated by insurance company mandates. This has allowed for a personalized experience that is tailored to the needs of my curve. After just a few weeks of treatment, I’ve noticed many improvements in mobility, posture, and overall functionality. I’m excited to continue treatment and see what improvements are made to my health.

battleborn-health1
Living with scoliosis isn’t easy, but it has made me a stronger person, inside and out.

These days, life has become less about being perfect, and more about learning to do what’s best for my body.

My spine may never be straight, and I may never be able to do a perfect push-up. But, I have so much more than that. I have gained the strength and confidence to live my best life—curves and all.

I hope you’ll follow me on my journey as I share my story and progress of living a full and active life with scoliosis.

Battle Born Health

Freedom from Muscle Pain: It’s Not a Christmas Miracle, It’s Mechanics

Patients often come into the clinic because they are in pain, let’s say their shoulder hurts. When we ask what happened, we often hear answers like “I don’t know, I just woke up with this.” Left untreated, the muscle pain won’t go away and may worsen over time.    

First, the physical therapist will perform an evaluation to determine the issue. We ask a lot of questions, ask you to move in various directions, and build a 3D picture of what is happening inside your body.    

The Mechanics of Muscle Pain in the Body

To understand what we’re looking for, picture the construction of a skyscraper. Cranes move huge beams at all different heights and angles to construct the structure, or skeletal system of the building. This is accomplished by strong cables and pulleys manipulating the beams and structure, similar to the way muscles and tendons act on bones and joints. 

Now, picture one of the beams getting snagged or hung up on something as it’s being moved – the cables will continue to lift and pull, but the stuck area will prevent movement, placing extra strain on the pulleys and cables. In the body, when the tendons or muscles are strained, an inflammatory process begins. This process rushes cell-rich blood to the area resulting in a warm, red and sore joint. Rest is beneficial so that the biological response can perform its functions, but it can’t fix the root cause of the irritation – the mechanical hang-up within the body’s bone and joint structure.    

Physical Therapy Can Restore Joint Mobility

A physical therapist is able to perform manual techniques to get the joints moving, which may feel like an aggressive massage. These techniques allow the physical therapist to unstick the metaphorical beam and restore normal mobility of the joint. After treatment, or a series of treatments, the patient discovers that they’re finally able to move their shoulder without muscle pain, they’ll patient exclaim “it’s a miracle!”  NOPE it’s mechanics! Now the beams and cables are moving freely, no strain and no pain.   

That’s just part one of the solution.   

Part two involves re-educating muscles to move in the correct patterns so the joints don’t get stuck again.  When the joint has improper mobility for an extended period of time, the muscles will find a way to compensate, producing bad habits. Without correcting those bad habits, the hang-ups are likely to just recur, which is why your PT will work with you to help train your muscles to activate and move in the correct sequence to keep the joints healthy and moving properly. 

Neuromuscular Reeducation Creates Lasting Improvements

Physical therapists are specifically trained in neuromuscular re-education. Neuromuscular reeducation is the process of identifying bad movement habits, then training and the appropriate, coordinated patterns of movement.  Exercise with good form will promote strength, speed and pain free range of movement. This is not a quick fix, and requires dedicated work on the part of both the physical therapist and from the patient, but it is the best and only way to create real and lasting improvement toward the goal of becoming pain free. 

If you have a recurring injury, or aches and pains that refuse to go away despite plenty of resting and careful exercise, your body mechanics are likely off.  The physical therapists at Battle Born Health are ready and excited to offer you the one-on-one time and attention that’s needed to properly identify the problem and its root causes, create a personalized plan for recovery and prevention, and get you through your injury with a full and lasting recovery.  Every session puts you in their capable hands, one-on-one, with the goal of reducing your overall muscle pain. 

With Battle Born Health, there’s no techs, no time in another room with another patient while you do exercise. It’s just you and a Doctor of Physical Therapy.   

Call today to schedule a complimentary consultation, and let us show you how we can help you meet your goals.

Christmas tree

Living with Scoliosis: Staying Healthy for the Holidays

It’s that time a year again. Between traveling, late nights, events, and sugary sweets, holidays can take a toll on our bodies. While most people enjoy more relaxed schedules during Christmas and Thanksgiving, any change in routine can affect back-pain and energy levels of people living with scoliosis.

For me, any little change, from a chair to a different bed, can make my muscle pain flare up.  Knowing that I would have to make some sacrifices, I worked with Jessica from Battle Born Health to come up with a holiday plan to limit back pain while traveling to visit family this season.

Traveling for the Holidays with Scoliosis

Here’s how I plan ahead for a trip to stay healthy and productive:

Add extra activity into your schedule

I always feel my best when I’m more active. Sitting for long periods has always been my struggle with scoliosis, so I make sure to add in extra activity when I’m visiting family and friends. Each year, my family does a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning and it’s a great way to get active on the holiday.

Eat regular meals and moderate sugar

Good nutrition is important for keeping up energy when you have scoliosis. While holidays may be full of richer foods, it’s important to not skip meals and eat at regular times. I try to limit sugar and have only a “few bites” of dessert if I’m in the mood for it.

Make the best of your sleep situation

Sleeping in a firm bed is best for my back. Couches and other sleep arrangements aren’t great for my back. However, if it’s just for a few days I’ll try to bring my own pillows or try to make the arrangement as comfortable as possible.   

Do physical therapy exercises and stretches

Before my trip, Jessica worked with me to review the exercises I could do while out of town. We prepared my workout schedule and exercises before the trip and I made sure I’d have the right equipment handy.

Stay positive and breath through anxiety

Dealing with pain and fatigue during the holidays never creates good memories. As much as I try to stay healthy, certain points of the trip are always harder than others. During these times, I try to breath and focus on ways I can relax my muscles or get extra rest during the trip.

While no holiday is perfect, these tips keep me feeling my best throughout the season so that I can enjoy all of the festive activities with my friends and family.

_______________

*Disclaimer: My writing is from personal experience and meant for educational purposes only. Please consult a professional for medical advice concerning scoliosis. Battle Born Health is happy to answer any questions regarding back pain and treatment options.