Why would a Physical Therapist care about gluten consumption?

I’m a PT through and through. My dad is an orthopedic surgeon. I grew up playing with skeletons and looking at anatomy books, and coloring books with pictures of muscles.
I’ve practiced as a PT for 20 years, I became board certified in orthopedics, and I’ve logged 1000’s of hours of continuing education on muscles, bones, and movement.


So why do I ask if my patients consume gluten, dairy, and grains?


Many of my patients get better with manual treatment and exercises. BUT there is a population that doesn’t heal as fast or to the level they want.
It comes down to inflammation and repair.

With injury the normal process is inflammation that signals the body to repair. Often time the inflammation process goes haywire. The repair process is diminished, and the pain and dysfunction continue.
I was getting most of my patients better, the ones I couldn’t nagged me.  Several years back, I had an injury that tore the disks in my neck, and for years after, I would wake up in the morning, and moving my neck felt like shards of glass grinding together.

I eventually changed my diet for multiple reasons. One of the unexpected outcomes is my neck pain is gone.

I went on to study functional medicine and holistic nutrition. There are many studies linking gluten to muscle, joint and nerve pain.









Furthermore, there are studies with growing evidence that gluten can promote more inflammation throughout the body.

Think of inflammation as a wild fire. If I am working on a chronic (long term) swelling at a shoulder tendon (small fire) and the rest of the body is fighting big fires in the gut and the brain, then the body does not have enough resources to put out the fire at the shoulder. No matter how many exercises and hands on work is done at the shoulder, the body will continue to be inflamed.

By providing the body with anti-inflammatory nutrition, and decreasing the inflammatory foods, the internal fires can be fought, and repair can begin.

Tips to change inflammation

  1. Remove gluten containing grains https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/sources-of-gluten/
  2. Focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free: clean proteins (fish, organic free-range poultry, pasture raised grass-fed beef, bison, venison, pork)
  3. Add lots and lots of veggies dark leafy greens, onion, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes/yams, squashes
  4. Experiment with spices and herbs: basil, garlic, Himalayan salt, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, sage, thyme




Here are a few of my favorite online resources for recipes and ideas to get you going.





Wearing Depends is Not a Rite of Passage!

Shhhhhh don’t tell anyone. Just hide it. It’s normal. I REALLY hope I don’t have to do Double unders today”

I work with women who have babies, teens, and grandchildren. Women who cross-fit, Ironman athletes, soccer moms and grandparents who just want to play with their grandchildren.

We talk about almost everything but no one talks about leaking. Leaking when they laugh or cough, leaking when they jump, run, or pick up a toddler.

IT IS NOT NORMAL, although sadly it is common.

I would love to open the door and discuss a topic that is so important but shied away from in conversation. So let’s understand the problem first in Part I and then later learn some basic tips in Part II

Part I – The Problem

I have friends and patients who go to the bathroom twice before they lift, jump or run. Some who wear the biggest pads they can buy when they have a cold, and others who are super dehydrated because they do not want to fill their bladder just in case.

I quote, “I thought that [Leaking] is just what happens after you have kids”, or, “It’s fine. It’s only when I exercise, or have a bad cough”.

Having children, old back injuries, sitting all day, lifting incorrectly, training incorrectly, can all put strain on the body. While our bodies are amazing in how they get us from point A to Point B pretty much no matter what, it may not be very efficient. People will compensate, then that compensation

creates bad movement habits. Over a period of time can result in injury, or dysfunction. A mirad of dysfunctions can occur but the one I want to address today is leaking when you lift, run, jump, cough, or laugh. This dysfunction is very common, but in no way normal.

My patient said to me the other day,” I didn’t know there was anything you could do about it”. YES! There are ways to address the problem and change it but first let’s understand this dysfunction.

Leaking urine is a muscular dysfunction. Imagine this; A beautiful ballet at the theatre where the prima-ballerina leaps gracefully in to the air and her partner (probably a very handsome prince ?), bounds over to catch her, but he is a millisecond too late… He doesn’t stick the landing without a bobble and a step back to catch her. So, while she doesn’t fall to the ground, it is not the graceful catch you’d expect. If the muscles in the body are coordinated in timing and sequence, he sticks the landing and the catch is flawless. If the timing is not there, it’s a stumble and regaining your balance to perform. That is essentially dysfunction and compensation.


From ballet to the muscular dysfunction in our body. Our body likes stability. Our stability system allows us to move our bodies into the position to be able to control our muscular balance. I am not just talking about balance that keeps your butt off the floor, but the balance of all the muscles moving supporting our skeletal structure, and keeping our bodily functions in control.

We have all heard about “the core”, but what really is “the core”? Most people think of it as the abdominals, a six pack. What I am referring to today is the deep core, a TEAM of muscles that must work together, the starting line-up. This line-up is composed of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse abdominals, and lumbar multifidus. These muscles work synchronously, meaning they are team that are meant to fire in a specific sequence so the body can do what it is supposed to, like run, jump, lift your kids and hold in your pee all at the same time.

Julie Weibe ( www.julieweibe.com) explains this system by the visualization of gears. The gears must all move in a sequence to create force and stability. In the past few decades fitness and healthcare professionals have been teaching people to “hold the core” (navel to spine), or isometrically contract pelvic floor, called a Kegel, to strengthen the pelvic floor to help with incontinence. The problem with this is we are asking the muscles to just to “hold”, when really the goal is to move, (like in a kickboxing class or to chase a toddler). One example Julie Weibe gives is that would be like asking someone to hold the quad tight (lock out the knee) and still run.

This technique is in the same vein as “tighten” the abdominals and brace for a lift. New research has shown that static isolated bracing puts increased pressure on the pelvic floor, decreasing its ability to keep the urine in. The other big new discovery is that while for years people have been told to bring the navel to the spine, this “hollow” or “flat back” position puts the pelvic floor muscles in a poor mechanical position to fire. When these muscles are inefficient, dysfunction happens, and as I said before – this can result in many various symptoms that include not only incontinence, but also back, hip, shoulder, rib, and cervical pain, as well as decreased athletic performance.

So now what? The biggest point I want you to get from this article is don’t hide, talk about it. I will include links to find a pelvic floor Physical therapist or sports medicine PT who is educated in this area (not all are) to help you get awareness to re-coordinate your patterns, this is crucial. It will not get better with denial.

The anatomy: The “gears” that work in a sequence,

a. the anticipatory musculature is the pelvic floor (PF), the sling of muscles from front to back of pelvis. This is what is engaged in a Kegal exercise. It should be contracted dynamically not a static hold.

b. On to the diaphragm. Seriously, who thinks about strengthening the diaphragm, no matter how much I work that one it never gets ripped ?, but breath holding is one of the biggest contributors to leaking, and lowering athletic performance with regard to decreased speed and strength. As thediaphragm engages it dips down into the abdominal cavity to pull the air into the lungs. When the breath is held in, breathing with the chest vs the ribcage more pressure is pushing in to the poor pelvic floor. It’s just like stepping on a water balloon, just pushing the urine out. If we hold our breath the gears stop, it’s not dynamic movement.






c. The Transverse Abdominis: very low, low abdominals. Often when trying to contract this muscle people will bring the belly button to spine or flatten the back, that’s not quite right, instead it’s the muscle that engages with a cough or laugh. As I said before we (the fitness industry) have taught a generation to isometrically hold that muscle in the wrong position for effective stability.








d. Multifidus: Deep spinal musculature in between each vertebral segment this is the deep muscle that is so important for stabilization and correct positioning of the spinal segments.






2. The actions:

  • The beautiful coordinated ballet goes like this: the Pelvic Floor is the anchor, it sets itself up for all movements before they happen. You go to reach for a door your PF is ready, you go to kick a soccer ball your PF is engaged.
  • The Diaphragm: In the right alignment, you take a proper breath, the diaphragm should move down and out. A deep breath should feel like you are opening an umbrella upside-down in the bottom of your ribcage. As this happens the PF should descend into the pelvis and the TA (the belly) should be pushed out a bit. This action sets those muscles up for a recoil response. For example, think of a broad jump or a box jump. Squat down first (loading the muscles of the legs) to get a great burst of strength to jump. Same thing with the pelvic floor and TA we must first load them with breath then they recoil to hold the spine, pelvis and leg in a safe stable position to move.

3. Where the most common problems occur with poor posture or alignment:

Tucked in: Posture is slouchy, tush tucked under









Extended military: Chest is out and forward in front of hips









Lordosis: A huge curve in the low back tush pushed out.







When the alignment is off then the muscles are not in a good position to work effectively or efficiently. The muscles that control the stability system aren’t loaded or engaged correctly, leading to the compensation we spoke of at the very beginning of the article.

The Fix

First find your neutral spine.

1. Ribs stacked on/over your pelvis

2. pelvis in neutral. Tailbone not tucked under nor tailbone reaching for the stars. A good thing to check is boobs should point forward not down or up.

In neutral spine, take a deep breath feel your lungs expand, belly pop out and then chest rise. IF your ribs are forward over the pelvis your chest will rise before your belly. Play with the breathing in various postures: feel the diaphragm push down then as you exhale the recoil of the abdomen and the pelvic floor.

IF you can’t feel your pelvic floor, the ski jump position is a great trick Julie Weibe uses to put the body in a place to automatically engage lower abdominals and pelvic floor. Stand in facing a wall or a desk, lean forward from your ankles keeping the trunk stable as you begin to lean forward from your ankles this will make your brain engage the pelvic floor and TA to stop you from falling over (stand in front of a wall so you don’t feel as if you are going to fall) just feel the muscles in the front of you pelvis turn on then lean back to center. See if you can find that muscle again.

Here’s a video to help

If leaking is an issue for you then this is just the beginning… I want to shine a light on this topic, but to make changes there is a lot of work to do. I would like to direct you to a few great videos to help find the issues. Now you can train to be stronger than yesterday!


Resources for further understanding and investigation




Use this link to find a women health or pelvic floor specialist near you.


Youth Sports Injuries, Just Growing Pains?

When is it More than Just Growing Pains?

As a physical therapist specializing in sports medicine for 20 years, I have discovered a plethora of misinformation pertaining to the pain our youth are experiencing as a result of their athletic endeavors. In my practice, I have witnessed an increase in the numbers of kids, ages 5-18, who play one sport 4-6 days per week, year-round. Many of these kids have struggled with the same injury on and off for years before they come in for treatment. I frequently encounter upset parents because they were instructed to have their child “rest, it will just go away.” Rest can help to diminish the injury temporarily, but if it isn’t healed properly, that same injury will return to haunt and hinder every sports season.

Another myth I often hear is, “it’s just growing pains; they’re kids, they will just heal.” The problem is it doesn’t always just heal. Remember, pain is a signal to our bodies that something is wrong. Also, when someone has pain, compensatory patterns can develop. Think of a limp, it becomes a habit and even when the pain is gone, the limp may still be there. We have the opportunity to correct these problems BEFORE they become an issue. The beauty of the youth athlete is they are still growing and changing. This is the prime window of opportunity to guide their movement and strength progressions while they are developing, before it becomes a chronic injury.
Next, I want to highlight overuse injuries in the youth athlete. Over 70% of youth injuries are from overuse. Kids have common patterns of overuse that are very different from the adult athlete. Children are not small adults. There are variations we must consider in their athletic training.

1. Growth spurts, the pattern in which they grow, will change how they move. During a growth spurt, the brain does not know yet where the body is in space, therefore the child may be clumsy (think of the puppy with big paws that falls every time it runs). That in and of itself, will predispose the young athlete to injury.
2. Energy expenditure associated with growth may cause fatigue, and thereby increase risk of injury.
3. Year-round training in one sport has been shown to increase overuse injuries significantly in our youth athletes.

The common overuse injuries we’ll address today are fractures, growth plate injuries, soft tissue strains and chronic sprains.
A stress fracture is an overuse injury in a young athlete due to the increased porosity of the immature bone. When the muscles are tired, there is inevitably more impact and stress on the bones. With the increased volume of training sessions, the cells of the bones are unable to repair fast enough to keep up with demand. This often occurs more frequently in the lower legs. Stress on the shins (shin splints) is very common for runners and sports that involve high levels of running like: track, soccer, basketball, volleyball. Vertebral (low back) injuries are high among gymnasts, divers and skiers. It is very common to see the onset of pain early to mid-season, in concert with the increased volume of training because the body is not yet trained to keep up.

Growth Plate injuries are very common in children. The growth plates are the space on the ends of the long bones that have not hardened yet. Because the plate is sandwiched between the hard bone, it is more vulnerable to shear and compressive forces.

“Approximately 15% to 30% of all childhood fractures are growth plate fractures. Because the growth plate helps determine the future length and shape of the mature bone, this type of fracture requires prompt attention. If not treated properly, it could result in a limb that is crooked or unequal in length when compared to its opposite limb. Fortunately, serious problems are rare. With proper treatment, most growth plate fractures heal without complications.”

Common injuries that happen with trauma and overuse are Severs (heel pain), Osgood Schlatter disease (tibia: large painful bump just below the knee cap), little league elbow and gymnast wrist. These injuries can be overlooked and regarded as “just a sprain.” When these injuries are not identified, significant problems can arise that may affect the child well into their adult years.

Soft tissue injuries are something I see very frequently in my athletes. https://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2213798/ These are commonly known as Tendonitis and chronic muscle strains. Shoulder pain is frequent throughout the season in our pitchers and swimmers. The ache just below the knee cap for our soccer players and volleyball players. The chronic hip flexor strain for all my track athletes, and don’t forget the “pulled hammy” that just won’t stop hurting with all my sprinting and cutting sports.

The soft-tissue injuries occur when the muscles around a joint are not balanced. The muscles are pulley systems. Image a huge round stone with a bunch of guidewires, we have 10 people pulling these wires to roll the stone in a straight path. If everyone pulls evenly in the right sequence the stone will roll straight. If one side pulls harder or at the wrong time, the stone moves in that direction. If the hamstrings pulls before the gluteus muscle, that muscle gets the brunt of the force. The outcome is an overtaxed and painful hamstring. The same goes for the quadriceps and hip-flexors. These are prime examples of the common compensation patterns I referred to at the beginning of the article.

Rest and ice are imperative to stop the symptoms of the injury. The way to address the root cause is to evaluate the movement patterns. A skilled physical therapist will evaluate the poor patterns and re-train for appropriate balanced muscle. This is needed to abolish the poor pattern that caused the stress. A good physical therapy program will include a strong focus on the neuromuscular education, teaching the nerves and muscles to move in a pain free efficient manner. The gains in strength and speed will be exponential!

The common ages that children experience growing pains are 3-5 and 8-12. To help ease that pain, I recommend a massage or gentle rubbing, Epsom salt baths, and gentle movement.
What can we do to help our kids?

1. Listen to them. If they hurt let them rest. They may still desire to play in the pool or goof-off in the backyard. This can be active recovery from a tough week of drills at practice.
2. There is a growing body of evidence that shows sports specialization before high school can lead to greater risks of overuse injury and burnout. They may do better with an entire season off. Let them play a recreational sport, one that is different from what they are doing competitively. The majority of professional athletes played more than one sport allowing the body to actively recover between seasons.
3. Find a physical therapist or trainer who will work with your child to teach effective patterned movements. Regardless of the injury or the cause, there will be imbalances in the injured region, in addition to, the joint above and below. The time of healing is the perfect time for a professional movement specialist to retrain the muscles and joints to move with the best efficient pattern. You will see huge gains when your child can move effectively without pain!

The list of potential injuries and treatments could fill a text book. Should you desire more information on specific injuries, I provided links to a few helpful articles. Remember, pain is a message to our bodies that something is wrong. Finding a trained practitioner to help your athlete move through their childhood with less pain will reap the rewards twenty fold.








Julie Granger Young Female Athlete, Prism Wellness 2016.

Jazz Fest Gastronomic Adventure

Jazz fest New Orleans. This was my 8th or 9th time to the festival, truly can’t remember but that is how NO visits go. ?

New Orleans is known for drinks, butter, cream, fried everything. That is the culture, and it’s GOOD! So how does a girl on an AIP diet survive there?

I was so anxious about my return to the city I loved to eat in. My memories of the fest always included crawfish monica (pasta and cream sauce) crawfish bread, bread pudding and sweet potato pie. It was a gastronomic adventure with my friends, and the goal was to taste it all! I always felt horrible for days after my trips.

This trip I prepped in advance, frozen broth to take on the plane, homemade sausages, zucchini apple muffins, sauerkraut, homemade beef jerky.  Crossing my fingers, I got on the plane.

I found a new gastronomic adventure.

We started with raw oysters on a half shell, fresh grated horseradish.  We found amazing quality restaurants. We met the wait staff and the chefs. I told the staff at each restaurant my plight, what I could and could not eat. The southern hospitality was amazing. Often the waiters would spend 5-10 minutes with me to make sure I was getting a meal that was prepared correctly. I would apologize for being difficult. Most of the time they would tell me it was not a problem, they were happy to accommodate me.

One restaurant, I met chef Frank he spent 15 min with me going through the menu to make sure “Miss Danielle has a good lunch” I felt so fortunate! The Duck confit was amazing something I would have never tried in my SAD days.

Anna was a hostess who had organically grown muslin (a vegetable I had never heard of) She spoke to the chef for me and they were able to specially sautée the veggies in avocado oil which paired perfectly with baked oysters.

At the festival, my favorites were off limits so I found crawfish, cracklin’ and sweet potato chips.

Dinner with my husband at an Italian restaurant we had duck liver pate with cucumber slices and pickled fennel OMG! AMAZING, again, something I would have never tried when I ate the standard American diet.  My fears continued to disappear with each incredible meal. I had a new adventure, and this process gave me a new understanding of Louisiana cooking and an appreciation of the kind service oriented people that cared for me while in their establishments.

I am grateful for the opportunity to meet the wonderful servers and chefs I would have never met. On top of it all, I spent 5 days on vacation where I was unable to cook for myself and I felt great! No flare-ups no icky tummy and great energy for the entire vacation.

It showed me that I can travel, I can be away from the kitchen, and I can have an amazing trip with my family and friends. Being AIP is tough but it will not stop me from living my life to the fullest!

Movement- Yoga Pose

Movement Makes Us Smarter

We were built to move. Over time our society has become more sedentary. Our kids start sitting for 6 hours a day at the age of 5. Looking back over the course of history this is the first time a being has been expected to learn in a stationary environment. Our ancestors learned by moving and interacting with the world around them. Babies learn by movement, using all our sensory systems together. Pick up a block, lick it, taste it, shake it, bang it on the new glass table, now the baby knows what a block is AND how her body interacts with that block. When climbing a tree, we learn about physics: gravity, biology: bugs, worms, tree textures, visual spatial perspective: the view from the ground vs up high in the tree. Core strength is developed along with balance and hand eye coordination. Psychological implications: I have completed a difficult task and am proud of myself…and its fun!

There are numerous studies done on the interaction of movement (motor development) and cognitive function. Children who are more physically active perform better at tasks involving memory than sedentary children. With each new experience the muscles form a movement pattern. These movement patterns create new synapses in the brain enabling us to perform this movement again without having to re-invent the pattern.  The more patterns we create and practice the more adept we are at navigating our bodies through the world.

We know the brain needs oxygen; by moving we increase oxygen flow to the brain, allowing the brain to function at an improved rate.

Athletic ability or higher than average coordination skills give many kids a great advantage in general fitness. People tend to pursue task/activities that they have been successful at. Children who are less skilled in motor tasks tend to shy away from sports, unfortunately leaving them with no outlet for fitness.

Fitness is often linked with athletic ability. When it comes to kid’s health we need to rethink this notion. Fitness should be a life-long pursuit of movement and interaction with the environment that makes your mind, body and spirit happy.

As a physical therapist, I believe that children should be involved with and exposed to in many different activities, cross training per se. I hate to see a high school athlete in my clinic with an injury that prevents them from “their” sport, I frequently see those kids stopping sports all together.

This results in so many negative side effects including loss of social circle, obesity, feelings of failure, loss of confidence.  Whereas a child who has participated in many activities can participate in something else and continue to be active. For example, a high school soccer player with knee pain can switch to swimming until knee pain is resolved.

The more a child explores movement the more successful they will become at the movement patterns.

Effective movement strategies set the stage to develop proper muscular strength and fitness levels. These kids and eventually adults will be less likely to get injured, lose balance skills, and even more impressive less likely to have problems with dementia and brain degeneration as they age.

Movnat is a program for people to increase fitness and wellness by restoring basic movement patterns. Today, many of us have forgotten or lost the ability to perform basic developmental mobility and movement patterns. MovNatting can be a way to restore the ability to move and increase whole body wellness with movement.

Free to Play is a free program for everyone to become successful in multiple movement patterns.

This program developed by the Grey Institute with the intent that “Everyone is an Athlete”. This program will teach movement patterns that can benefit everyone from high level athletes to the child that trips over air. It a great way to start moving, take a break from studying and clear your mind.

Kids can go to f2pacademy.com and sign up for a locker. Once they have a locker they can view all the movement patterns. Each child can earn a star for each pattern they participate in and another star for each pattern taught to someone. It is a great program to build functional movement patterns, increase coordination and feelings of success.

School, studying and working are all important, but we must remember to take care of our bodies, give our muscles and brains a breather, incorporate movement so we can continue to perform mentally and physically at our best.

butter nut squash

Healthy Butternut Squash Soup for a Healing and Immunity

As wintery storms continue to blow through the Sierra Nevada, warm, comforting foods are becoming more and more appealing. In the winter months it can be tempting to reach for rich or heavy foods. However, these may not always be the healthiest options.

For cold days, here’s one of my favorite recipes taken from  The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, which is a great cookbook for people managing illnesses that stem from the gut.

This recipe includes many healthy ingredients like Bone Broth which has collagen and amino acids which helps healing and immunity. Butternut squash has great healthy clean yummy carbs and the leeks are good for natural anti-viral and anti-bacterial support.

Healthy Butternut Squash Soup for Healing and Immunity

Butter Nut Squash Soup

2 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons animal fat, coconut oil, or ghee
3 leeks, sliced in half, and sliced again into half-moons (or 2 onions, chopped)
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 boquet gardni
Sea salt to taste

Optional Garnishes:
Homemade Yogurt or organic cultured cream
Chopped fresh herbs
Soaked and sprouted pumpkin seeds

Cooking Instructions:
First, add the stock and fat to a pot. Next, add the vegetables and bring the entire pot to a boil. Once you reduce the heat to a simmer, add the bouquet garni and cook covered for 30 mins. Let it cook until the vegetables become soft and the squash is palatable. Once cooked, take out the bouquet garni and remove the soup from the stove. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Add salt and garnishes to taste. Serve and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this soup on a cold winter day. For busier schedules, batch cooking is one of my favorite things to do. Making a big pot of soup for dinner can also make great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Happy Cooking!

Family Photo

The Myth of it Being Easy and Having It All

17 extraordinarily simple tips for families on the go, that you have never heard of, your kids will love and make your family healthier than ever before!

Read all the way to the end to get my gift!!!

A unicorn that will also scrub your toilets.

The Myth of it Being Easy and Having It All: by Danielle Litoff, a MOM

Battle Born Health Family Photo

At the beginning of the year my business partner, our social media expert advisor, and I were planning our upcoming blogs for the next few months.

You know – starting the year healthy, new year’s resolution…blah blah blah. My non-mom partners (no offense meant, they are amazing!!!) said, “Danielle how about a blog listing simple tricks on how to be healthy for your family on the go. I said, in my people pleasing way, “Of course I can do that!”

I then proceeded to sit on that for a few weeks. I wrote down ways I try to keep my crazy busy family healthy, active and eating well, despite school, homework, sports, choir, social events and both parents working full time. Sure, this is a piece of cake – everyone can do this… I call BS!! I just couldn’t write the piece as we had discussed because it isn’t easy, and those “simple tips” aren’t so simple.

A few days later I was lamenting to my Mom friends who are all successful, amazing, health care professionals. I told them my dilemma and they all laughed and said, “You mean the “myth of doing it all, dressed to the 9’s with a F’in sexy smile???”

Family Photo

With that preface, here is what I do to tip the scales towards keeping my family healthy on the go in this insane world of 2017.

Set YOUR priorities… are they to work out? Are they to eat home cooked paleo meals? Are they to have your dishes done before bed? Be realistic- no one can do it all. My priorities revolve around food and exercise… my bed is not made and my dishes are done when they get done.

  1. Plan ahead… there is no way around this one. In a pinch, you will have to make due and that often ends up being fast food. You can do better than that.
    1. Take 4 hours of a day and prep for the week. Or two different days – one to shop and one to prep. Buy the veggies, fruit, healthy meats.
    2. Have an idea of your week’s schedule… i.e. soccer from 5:30-7 pm on Tues and Thursday, piano on Wed from 3-4:30.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. “Can I come home and cook or do I need to stay during the practice?”
  2. Is the practice near the store that could be my designated shopping time?
  3. Should I cook on Sunday so I can just reheat on those days?
  4. Can I carpool, that way I can skip one direction and take that time to cook or prep?
  1. USE A CROCK POT!!!! After late night practices, you will have hot food ready at home instead of going to McDonalds or QDoba?
    Weeknight Pot Roast Recipe 
  2. Find some simple recipes that your family likes. Memorize them so you can easily throw them together as you do something else. I will frequently on Sunday (Sundays just seem to be my freest day – you find yours) cook 3-4 staples so we have it all week.
    Rosemary and Roasted Chicken 
    Crock Pot Chili Recipe 
    Stacys Soups 
  3. Pack a picnic everywhere you go. Have a great lunch box cooler, put snacks in there before you go (avocado, thermos of soup, epic bars) have a knife, fork and spoon in the box.
    Thermos Stainless Folding Spoon
    Aluminum Insulated  Lunch Box 

I pack my own oil with me so I don’t have to use the yucky pre-made salad dressings at the store.

  1. Easy store grabs: box of lettuce, avocado, lemon, wild caught cooked shrimp meat (from the fish section), olive oil and or coconut aminos. All into the box of the lettuce and voilà – shrimp salad in the car. (Remember your knife fork and spoon are already in your new cool lunchbox in your car.) Instead of shrimp, you could use Applegate turkey or ham.
  2. Find a good natural grocery store in town or a Whole Foods with a food bar for the days you don’t have it together (because it is impossible to have it all together all the time). Persuade your amazing little monkeys to get some roasted chicken and veggies vs the pizza or mac-n-cheese.
  3. Buy a roasted chicken from Whole Foods. YES, it’s pricier, but it is so much better for you, that it’s worth the extra. And for a family of 4 its cheaper than a meal at Chilies or Mexican or Chinese takeout.

Volleyball Photo

Think nutrient density- not just calories… pasta, potatoes, rice chips, pb&j. That is substance, not nutrients. You want all your calories to count towards improving your heath. A calorie is just a unit of energy. We are fortunate in that we don’t need calories but you and your kids need nutrition. You want not the calorie but the nutritional value of what you are eating. Don’t just get the kids or yourself something -get something that will do good for your body (veggies, clean meats, fruits, good fats see blog on nutritional density).

Let me reiterate… this is not simple and this will not save you time, but this will save your family’s health. I hope some of this can help you or at least make you stop and think of ways you can make changes very intentionally, not simply, that will benefit the health of your family.

Lake Tahoe Ski

5 Ways to Recover from Ski Injuries this Season

How to know if it’s a tweak or something more serious:

The Reno-Tahoe area is buzzing with excitement over the recent record snowfall in January that has coated the Sierra Nevada in pure white powder.  I’m hoping everyone has had a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful winter in their own way. Whether you’re a snowshoer or a downhill shredder, the snow and terrain challenges our bodies in ways we don’t normally encounter most days. Occasionally, this leads to falls, tweaks, twists and discomfort that leaves you wondering if the injury is serious or will just work its way out with time.

Our knees and spine are particularly vulnerable to injury during outdoor adventures, especially in deep snow, which can be unpredictable.  Aside from pain, be on the lookout for swelling, redness, warmth and decreased range of motion in the affected area. Obviously, these suggestions apply to injuries that aren’t immediately thought to be serious (i.e. broken bones, head injury) but if you twisted your knee funny on a turn, or have aching in your back after a fall, then these 5 tips can help you recover as quickly as possible, and get back to enjoying the snow:

Tahoe Ski Photo

1. Know the warning signs and when to consult a professional 

Some symptoms are considered more significant than others and should lead you to a professional immediately. These include: suspected head injury, dizziness, loss of consciousness, bleeding, suspected dislocation of a joint, pronounced numbness or tingling in a limb or changes in bowel or bladder control. These signs indicate a more severe type of injury and are worthy of immediate medical attention. If you made it off the mountain and back home and haven’t exhibited any of the above symptoms, then try the following tips. Keep in mind that every situation is different and when in doubt, contact a physician or urgent care.

2. Rest a full 24 hours 

This one seems like a no-brainer but sometimes it’s tough to know when to stay off an injury or keep it moving. Give yourself a full 24 hours of rest including keeping the part elevated above the level of the heart, icing it for 20 minutes at a time every hour and avoiding activities that increase pain. Also, protect the area using a gently wrapped compression bandage

3. Move in non-painful ways

Muscles will begin atrophy (decline in strength) in only a matter of days when they go unused, so to prevent atrophy and additional loss of motion, find exercises or activities that don’t increase pain. This could include taking an easy walk, pedaling a stationary bike with light resistance, rising up on your toes while holding on to a counter for safety. Also, maintaining the range of motion in the other joints surrounding the injury (i.e. if the knee is hurt, make sure you continue to move the hip and ankle) helps minimize the impact of the injury on the rest of the body. These are just a few ideas and other options will depend on your personal situation, however the key is to only do movements that do not increase the pain or create new symptoms.

4. Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep is crucial for healing so find a position where the injury is supported and can rest. Try sleeping on your side with a large body pillow or king pillow between the knees and hug a pillow to your chest. This position helps maintain the proper alignment of the spine decreasing strain. The second position is on your back with a large pillow under your knees and thighs, this position takes the strain off the lower back and hamstrings. When the body can rest with support often times the inflammatory process is mitigated and you can heal quicker.

5. Know who to consult

If you have a physical therapist that you trust, contact them to discuss the symptoms and determine the next step. If you don’t already have one, read our article on finding the right Physical Therapist. A Physical Therapist can help guide you on the path of efficient recovery and can help address other issues that may have arisen because of the injury such as changes in the way you walk or move.

If you have made it through a week of recovery time, and are feeling stronger and less sore, then continue moving in non-painful ways and gradually add more challenging activities. Check out the Battle Born Health YouTube channel for exercise basics and progressions to get you feeling stronger and moving again.

Here are a few recommended videos that focus on the core, hips and legs which will keep you safe in the snow: 

How to do a proper lunge:

How to do a proper squat: 

The basics of core stabilization: 

About the author: Jessica DeVore holds a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from UT Southwestern Medical Center. She lives in the Tahoe area, where she enjoys rock-climbing, backpacking, skiing, and mountain biking. As a Physical Therapist at Battle Born Health, she loves helping people restore their bodies in order to live a full and active life.

Patient's Corner: Finding Right Physical Therapist for Chronic Pain

For anyone who suffers from chronic pain, the journey to finding proper treatment and relief can feel hopeless at some points. With a modern medical system set up for “quick-fixes” and medication to numb pain, it can be difficult to find the right doctors and physical therapists to work with.

Like millions of Americans with disabilities, I have suffered from chronic pain for more than half of my life.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually realized how much the pain affected my life and started seeking more comprehensive treatments that could restore mobility in my back.

Since being diagnosed with severe scoliosis at the age of 13, I thought life was always going to be this way—painful, uncomfortable, and full of ups and downs.

Due to my abnormal curvature, the left side of my back felt permanently bruised and my shoulders ached on a daily basis. I visited doctor after doctor, and none of them had a reason for my pain. Medical bills started to add up, and I became complacent with ever making improvements. I would smile on the outside, and be in so much pain, that I would collapse at the end of the day.

After years of suffering like this, I started to believe that it would never get better.

One day, as I sat at my desk in pain and almost in tears, my co-worker suggested visiting Battle Born Health. As a former patient of them, she explained that their treatments could really help me.

At first, I was hesitant to have a new doctor look at my back. Usually, I would leave these appointments feeling in more pain and worse off than when I started. Because I spent a huge amount of my life “hiding” my curve, it also made me self-conscious to have someone look at my back and see all of the abnormal curvatures.

Working with Battle Born Health, I instantly felt comfortable with their approach to physical therapy. Everything they did was in moderation, so that I didn’t leave my sessions feeling in more pain from the treatment.

Here’s some questions you can ask when looking for a physical therapist:

  1. What’s their philosophy on treatments?
  2. Do you feel comfortable with them?
  3. Do they provide exercises to do at home?
  4. Are you able to communicate with them and ask questions?

When looking for a physical therapist, make sure you feel comfortable and ask important questions during the consultation. This can help you find the right fit and put you on the journey to living a pain-free life.

This post was written by Allyson Lambert, a patient at Battle Born Health. All statements and reviews are from her own opinions and experience. 

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


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!