This post is for my inner metrosexual, and my inner cheapskate, and my inner health nut. I spent a large part of my weekend reading this book, Slow Death By Rubber Duck. The book is about two environmentalists who used their bodys as experiments to see how toxic every day things are. They would do things like live extremely natural for a couple of days, take their blood, then start washing their hair and using regular commercial cleaning products, then take their blood again to see changes in levels of certain chemicals. The results were nothing sort of scary. (All the men out there, just look up what a class of chemicals called "phthalates" do to your testicles and you'll know exactly what I mean.) Needless to say, we are exposed to a myriad of new chemicals every year, and we probably don't know what many of them do to our physiology, and a few of them we damage our body... for sure.
My personal experience with this started with my wife, who had recently started using stuff like coconut oil for her moisturizer. I'm balding like a 30 year old, but almost everything else about me is teenager-ish. For example, when my wife and I were on our honeymoon, the cruiseliner wouldn't let us off the boat without written permission from our parents. That's how "old" I look. The downside of this is I still occasionally breakout with acne. Yeah, it's awesome.
Well my wife recommended I try washing my face with baking soda. My first question: Umm... how? Luckily I'm OK-smart and figured that out fairly quickly. What followed was a cleaner looking face than I could remember. This was a really, really cool find for a couple of reasons. The first being cost. Facial cleansers are crazy expensive when compared to baking soda and water (baking soda = 50¢ for a box!), the second being that baking soda most likely has a less toxic burden. Baking soda was a doubly whammy in the awesome scale! That made me ask, Are there any other household beauty products that I could simplify for my health and wallet?
So, for the next few posts I want to share a few tricks that I learned. Don't worry, I'm a clean guy. In other words, I don't want to ever, ever, ever smell hippy-ish (no offense meant). My job forces my to be dangerously up and close with my patients, and there's nothing worse than a chiropractor who smells of B.O. and garlic. If it doesn't pass this first, basic test, it won't get in my post. I hope you enjoy!
This post is for me. Read on if you want, but I did the research for myself. Every spring, I go off sneezing like a tommy gun for about two weeks. It's uber annoying to me and all those around me, and my patients. Who likes getting sneezed on when they're getting their neck worked on? Me! Meeee!
For some reason Farmington gets hit worse than others. Maybe it's a combo of all the energy production chemical waste in the air, and the fact that we're pretty windy and dry; but we get hit with the dirt and pollen like those test dummies in Alamogordo get dropped with nukes. It's wild. If in about 12 years you want to make a lot of money, start going to graduate school with the intent of getting your MD and then specializing in allergies with a target on setting up shop in Farmington. You'll have customers lined out the door.
If you don't want to be one of those customers, try these things:
1) Order a RAST test. See if there's anything you're eating that's tipping off your allergic reactions as well. Eliminating wheat or dairy may prove to help your hay fever during the spring. The technical name for this food allergy and hay fever connection is oral allergy syndrome.
2) Change your house's filter. Check the air filter in your house, buying a $6 filter may be the difference in circulating all those air borne allergens and cutting them down dramatically. Try it. Worse case scenario is that you wasted $6, but have cleaner air in the house.
3) Consider buying some indoor plants. This is related to number two. The principle is to keep your house's air cleaner, thereby reducing the load to your body whenever you're at home. I.E. control the variables you can control. You probably can't afford to go around and burn every pinon tree down to the ground in hopes that you'll stop sneezing (that would be bad for the environment as well), but you can have a small impact on the air that circulates in your home. NASA did some research (here and here) on which plants are the best at cleaning air. Due to various energy producing industries around here, I've been told that we have more problems with the famed BTEX compounds than other areas. As such, Farmingtonians may want a plant that is good at getting rid of xylene. May I suggest a "Red-Edged Dracaena" (dracaena marginata)? This plant is fantastic at dealing with the harmful organic compounds floating around out there, the only downside is that it requires a lot of light, so you can't put it in places that may need it that don't have a lot of windows.
4) If dealing with a plant isn't your thing, and you have disposable income that needs disposing off, you could consider an air filter. Consumer reports has already done most of the research here, you can read what they have to say about the products available here.
There's three simple tips to help you ward off the nasty onset of allergies that seems to hit a lot of us this time of year. Keep healthy, keep sneeze-less my friends!
We have a sick kid.
Our poor little sick kid, he won't be able to . . .
You don't know what it's like to have a sick kid, you must have to . . .
If I went to the store and was shopping in the milk aisle, if there was a large red and black sticker with a skull and crossbones, I would do a double-take on that. You can be sure as hell I wouldn't buy that particular carton of milk. Such is the power of a label. That label told me, even without directly telling me, that there was something wrong about that milk, as a result, I treated it differently.
Labels extend far beyond the poison control into our health destinies. Does this sound familiar? ADHD. OCD. Dumb. Slow. Dyslexic. Short. Weak. And the one I hate the most: sick.
We've become a culture that labels sickness as a part of who we are instead of recognizing it as a state in a dynamic system. My boy had a food allergy that we were unaware for some time, on top of that he contracted a virus (hand, foot and mouth) that made him flare up and develop extremely sensitive skin. Luckily, he had a great allergist who gave him medication to get him over his extremely inflammatory slump, and -- I'm going to toot his parents' horn here -- then he had a couple of parents who understood health enough to provide his body with the raw materials it needed to be able to be healthy.
But, a label has stuck.
I've heard this more than once, and it drives me bonkers. How's your sick kid?
Let me tell you the ways that question is wrong. First off, the wording. I am always careful to say Your child is fighting a sickness, not Your child is sick. It's a subtle change that can have big effects. Calling a young, developing mind a "sick kid" over and over again, and that label becomes a part of them instead of accurately describing a passing phase. That label can even come so much a part of a young mind that he/she begins defending that label of sickness because they have come to identify themselves with it. You've met those people that are in this phase, those people that gladly own their sickness and wear it like a merit badge; these are also the same people that -- despite seeing the most expensive doctors around the country -- can't find "help" for their "illness", because deep down inside they don't want to be cured. Being cured would mean losing a part of them that they believe makes them unique and special from everyone else, and everyone needs to feel unique and special -- but holding on to a disabling label isn't the healthiest way to do this.
On the flip side, you can witness the exact opposite in those stalwart soles who have an honest-to-goodness challenge in their life that can't be worked away with healthy lifestyles, and you see these people thriving because they refuse to accept their "label". People like this guy.
Truth be told, my "sick" boy is far from sick. Many occasions I think he's too healthy, and I wish he'd back off a little bit on the vibrant life energy. Sheesh. He has more energy than a caffeinated chihuahua, picks up more words than should (What did you just say?!), and can operate an iPad. The foods he are allergic to are mostly foods that you shouldn't be eating. Period. Imagine a child that only ate fresh fruit and vegetables, and wild, organic meats? Umm, that's my boy. His sensitivities to dairy, peanuts, and soy have only forced our family to eat healthier. Our boy is a blessing.
Oh that poor soul, he can't eat that diabetes-inducing ice cream like all other healthy children?
Yeah, you nailed it. Watch those labels.
First off, don't take that line as a write-off to do exercises in general. Lately I've been turned on to the research of James Levine, from the Mayo clinic. He's an expert in obesity, and the past few years he's looked at the effect of being a couch potato who exercises. This is that person who wakes up, goes for a 30 minute run in the morning, then sits at a desk for the rest of the day. There may even be some psychological okay that says, "Oh, don't worry, you can take it easy, you exercised today."
This is very, very wrong.
According to Levine, strong bouts of exercise aren't enough to overcome the devastating health consequences from a sedentary lifestyle. If humans are to be healthy and strong, their overall life activities must increase as well. Taken in the light of evolutionary biology, this makes sense. Human beings were constantly moving, climbing, hunting, foraging, with a few bouts of intense physical activity mixed in. The research shows that we should mimick this.
How, do you ask?
MY QUICK-FIX LIST TO INCREASE OVERALL ENERGY PRODUCTION
1) Buy a pedometer. Here's a nice german one that is Prime Eligible (free two day shipping!). That which we measure, we improve. Watch how many more times you take the stairs instead of the elevator when you have one of those things in your pocket. It's like a mini-coach, silently whispering in your ear that you can do more, move more. If you want a Rolls Royce of pedometers, check out the FitBit -- it adds in sleep tracking and a social component as well, and has a sexy, Nike-esque look to it as well.
2) Consider a standing desk. I'm writing at a desk right now. Thanks Microsoft, I'll blame my arteriosclerosis on you. We can't avoid the pitfalls of extreme comfort. We still have to use computers, but there's ways we can make those sedentary activities less sedentary. Standing is the number one, easiest way to do it. This doesn't have to cost a dime: pile some books on top of each other to raise your laptop or place your laptop on the kitchen counter.
3) Have an activity timer. Get an egg timer, set it for an hour, when an hour goes off, do ten pushups, or 20 standing squats, or 15 burpees if you're a masochist. How long did that take? 30 seconds? How's your energy levels? Heart rate? Do that throughout the day and you'll be a new person.
I get this question almost every day. When studying, I find it important to understand principles, then the details seem to fall right in line. Although tailored, specific exercises prescriptions work wonders, there is no "one size fits all" program for, let's say, tension headaches. The best thing one can do is learn the principles behind how exercise works to alleviate pain and muscle knots.
Exercise Principle For The Day: Motion is medicine for your brain. The brain craves bodily movement and the barrage of electrical firing that comes with it. A cool side effect of moving your body is that is helps to regulate pain levels of all sorts because it helps create a healthier brain that will probably be more apt to not express pain. (I spoke on the subject that pain is a brain output not an input last post.) Therefore, it's more important that you move than how you move. Let's take the person with a tight neck from working at the computer for all hours. If this person does a google search for "stretches for tight neck" she'll find a ton of cool youtube videos. These may or may not help. Instead of looking for the absolutely perfect stretch for that one muscle at the top of your shoulder blade, try setting a timer on your phone or watch for 30 minutes. Every time this timer goes off, stand up from you desk, and move you head around gently (not spasmodically... please) in all different ways: looking far to the right and left, looking up and down, and giving a good yawn (relaxing the front neck muscles). Then, go back to your desk and reset the timer.
Just moving around and avoiding the stagnant postures we frequently subject our body to day in and day out will work wonders for your pain levels. Worry less about the miracle exercise and/or stretch, and focus more on making sure you give your brain enough movement.
There... you have one of my secrets.
Pain is amazingly complex, and I must first give the disclaimer is that there is much we are still learning about pain. This post isn't about what we do know, it's about what we know and probably know, and how this conflicts with a popular mis-understandings about pain.
Myth: Damage In Your Body = Pain
Few things are clearer than this, pain does not come from nerves, or pain pathways; bain is a brain output, not an input. I repeat (because this is absolutely vitally important, if you get nothing else from this post, get this): pain is a brain output, not a brain input. Yes, there are neurological pathways that get activated when the body gets an ache, a sprain, a cut, but activation of these neurological pathways causes pain in some subjects, and no pain in others. This explains why one person is out of work for the afternoon with a papercut and the next may be coming into work with a broken leg. Pain is a vary individualized brain expression dependant on more factors than just the activation of some neurons.
A pioneer in these field is a man by the name of Melzack, and his research paper regarding what goes into expressing pain can be downloaded and read in full from HERE. His theories are summed up in the graphic below:
What's hopeful about more accurate description of pain is that is provides hope for those dealing with nasty, chronic pain that can't be pin pointed with any x-ray, MRI, or labwork. People who suffer with chronic pain hear this all the time, and it makes me furious: "Umm, you're MRI must be fine. It's probably all in your head."
This makes me want to slap someone. Of course it's all in your head! Everything is all in your head! The misconception is that because pain is sometimes expressed in the absence of anything visibly messed up on imaging or lab work (i.e. no tumor pushing on stuff, or no pinched nerve in the spine), that we can't do anything about it. WRONG. Look at the image above, how many other variables can we can we manipulate that feed into the nervous system, other than just rx'ing ibuprofen for inflammation? I'll give you a hint: try to label all the variables that are targeted with pharmaceuticals. OK, good. Now, how many variables does that leave untouched if we stop there. Answer: a lot.
The good news is that this myth is slowly being overturn by the masses of healthcare providers, but we still have a long way to go. I'll leave you with two great resources to delve into the subject of pain even further:
1) The guys who are basically at the forefront of this research have a website, go to that website here. Abso-friggin'-lutely jam packed with amazing research... for free.
2) An amazing book that is worth its weight in gold. Literally, reading and understanding pain may prove to be one of the most effective therapies in treating pain in the long run. Here is the book, if you struggle with chronic pain, dish out the cash and give it a read.
Here's to kickin' pain in the face.
Your heart. What more ironic and appropriate than to talk a little bit about the organ of your existence. Sadly, much of what you know about it is false. It does not look like the silhouette of buttocks with pointy, arrowhead underside. I have no idea where this symbol came from.
It's a hard worker. Approximately 42 BILLION beats per year, give or take a million. It never sleeps. Its going when you're not going.
And, statistically, its failing is the reason you, as an American, will die. Way to be a bummer for Valentines, Josh! I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, only trying to illuminate the possibility that your heart may need some extra love.
So I leave you with a thought and a book: 1.) That soda pop is probably more dangerous to your heart than the hamburger. 2.) The Cure For Heart Disease.
I hope you have a great rest of the day, that you eat some chocolate sugary goodness today (even if it isn't the best for you), and that you take better care of your heart in the year to come.
Last weekend we hosted our No BS WEIGHT-LOSS class. It was buckets of fun with a good turn-out, and it made me reflect on one point.
If you're still in the middle of the grind, you're winning. You should pat yourself on the back for that. Tony Robbins' group did some research and found that January 14th was the official date when most people messed up on their resolutions. That is to say, January 14th is when, statistically, you stopped going to the gym, or you ate waaaay too much chocolate, or you had a drink of alcohol, or a fight with your spouse. January 14th is when you screwed up. Many times the guilt is so high and the depression so deep that many throw in the towel. I know I've been there. Oh, eff sticks. If I can't make it two weeks without screwing up, I'll never make it a year. Might as well stop right now.
This thinking is false. You need to punch those thoughts in the face. The fact that a room full of people showed up on a Saturday morning to learn what they could do to get healthier is fantastic. It demonstrates the winning spirit.
So if you've screwed up in your New Year's resolution, you're not alone. So what. Dust yourself off, get up off the ground, and get back at it. We're all rooting for you. The world needs your contribution.
You have a car, and you have car insurance, but you still pay for oil changes, new tires, and alignments.
"Health" insurance is more like car insurance than you may think, and yet many of us gawk that we have to pay out-of-pocket for things that make us healthy. The truth is, "health" insurance usually functions more like "emergency accident" insurance than as a means to creating health. In fact, if we only did the bear minimum with our car insurance, telling the mechanic that we'll skip on the oil change because it's not covered by our insurance, we'd have a ruined car in no time. Many of us have ruined bodies because we function on the incorrect belief that if a service isn't covered by our "health" insurance, it must not be a requirement for health. It's not true. Your health insurance pays for the flu shot, but won't put a salad on your dinner table, it doesn't mean that the salad is any less important, or the flu shot any more vital.
My strong words of advice from someone in the trenches of this "health" insurance mess: don't let your insurance policy dictate what procedures or services you invest in for your health. Sadly, chances are that more and more of the services that actually help you live a vibrant, full, healthy life will not be covered by your plan, but be labelled as extras. Treat "health" insurance as emergency insurance, invest in a high deductible, high capping plan to cover those tragedies that can bankrupt a family, and begin looking at options like health savings accounts to help cover medical services that actually contribute to your health (gym memberships, anyone?).
Joshua VanBuskirk, DC
PS: If you'd like more information on this topic, I agree with and support Mr. Ramsey's philosophies on health insurance. His website is here.
This time of year is a fantastic time of the year. It's one of new beginnings, new goals, and the world is literally white all around us, as if the board has been erased and we can start off fresh. What are your goals this year? More money? More happiness? A new relationship? A rekindling of the present relationship? More time with children? A thinner waist line? A larger bicep?
In the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, Charles Duhigg discusses what are known as "keystone habits". Keystone habits are certain habits that when acquired, naturally have a profound impact on a variety of other factors. Take exercise, for example. When one obtains the habit of exercise, he or she not only gets a better lung capacity, one gets improved circulation, better metabolism, protection from diabetes and depression, changes in diet. All this comes from one powerful, keystone habit.
This goes in line with the pareto principle, which is popularized as the 20-80 rule. Meaning, 20 percent of something reaps 80 percent of something else. For example, if you're in the sales business it may be 20 percent of our clients that are responsible for 80 percent of our income.
So for this post, I'm posting five of the most powerful changes or things you can buy to start off 2013 with a bang.
1.) Buy Sexy Yoga Pants
This may not make sense, but it will. Go out, buy some sexy yoga pants (or if you're a guy, maybe a new pair of exercise shoes), and put them on. What happens? Don't you just want to exercise in those bad boys, right there and then?! Costumes matter! That's why we dress up to an interview, or dress like a slob when we're depressed, etc. Use that power for good, and buy yourself a costume that makes you want to start an exercise habit.
2.) Buy A Blender
You probably could eat better. I'll stay off the crazy diet questions and stick with something no one can refute: You could probably use more fresh fruit and veggies in your diet. "But I don't have time!" you say. Buy a blender (especially this one), and -- BOOM! -- problem solved. This blender is pricey, but ask me, or my wife, or anyone else who has bought one, they are worth it. Get this blender and you'll start making smoothies. They'll taste good, and they'll make you feel good, and before you know it you're addicted to the fresh fruit and veggies you're consuming. Literally addicted. That's my second habit for you, to get you addicted to fresh fruit and veggies.
3.) Install f.lux On Your Computer
Go to this website, install this program on your computer, and then relax and let it do its magic. What f.lux does it automatically adjust the temperature of the colors and lights on your computer according to the time of the day, so that the unnaturally bright lights of your computer don't mess up your sleep schedule. This is for me. I'm a horribly nocturnal animal who is constantly having to convince myself of the importance and priority of sleep. Sleeping at night, after all the kids are down and the house it quiet, has always been a problem for me. This is when I come awake. This is my time. I play a video game. I write. I dream. I scheme. It's exactly the opposite sensation of winding down, I wind up. If you're at all like me, f.lux may help you. Better yet, it's a free program, so what do you have to lose?
4.) Take Vitamin D
Have you seen the research? Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cancer, to depression, to osteoporosis, and the list goes on and on. Basically vitamin D is liquid daylight. Human beings are meant to be outside in the sun every... single... day. For hours and hours at a time. Recently, the skin cancer scare has scared people too far into the opposite direction, in my humble opinion. Now, in the wee hours that you do get outside, you're lathered in sunblock so thick that the daylight can't get to your skin to do its job. This is unnatural, and more and more studies are showing this is linked with a myriad of diseases. This doesn't have to be you. Vitamin D is cheap! The vitamin D we sell and recommend in our office is$27 (cheaper than you can get it online) for 500,000 IU's, and most importantly, it's third party tested so you know what the bottle says is in it is in it; plus, it's suspended in certified organic olive oil and derived from natural lanolin, not concocted synthetically. Make sure you're taking a vitamin D, it's one of the three supplements my children get religiously, EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's that important.
5.) Start A Journal
"A life worth living is a life worth recording." -Tony Robbins
How great is your 2013 going to be? More importantly, how much do you really believe that this year is going to be great? Honestly, if you really, really thought this year was going to be the greatest adventure in your life... wouldn't you be writing it down? In my church, we serve a mission for two years, sometimes in exotic locations, and we're told it will be an adventure. We're also told to keep a journal every single day. Ask any mormon that you know of that has served a "mission" whether or not he or she kept a journal, and they'll probably tell you "yes". They may even tell you how powerful those journals are to them up to this day. Then we come home from that adventure, and oftentimes become complacent with the life we have here at home. Isn't this life an adventure? Isn't today an adventure we'll never, ever relive again? It is. Or, it could be, if we treated and respected it as such. Keeping a journal is a part of that process of respecting and valuing our time. For 2013, try doing this. It may take less than 5 mins a day to jot down a quick note about your triumphs, struggles, defeats and/or victories for the day, but it will change your outlook.
That's my top five KEYSTONE things that I think will have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing. Try at least one for a week, and write me back if it doesn't make you a better person... I'll buy you a hot chocolate if one of these don't work as compensation. What's on your list for 2013? Will this year be your best year yet? Will you be healthier today than you were yesterday? The team here at INFINITE HEALTH CHIROPRACTIC hope so.
Here's to 2013!