Well, here we are. It is almost the beginning of a New Year, and with that comes our lists of resolutions for the New Year. One of the most common resolutions that folks make at the beginning of the year is to lose weight and get in better shape. Although the statistics point out that almost 80% of people give up one their resolutions within 4 weeks, I am going to share with you some simple ways that you CAN achieve your weight loss goals for this year! Sound good?
So here is the basic breakdown of what it will take to lose weight. There is nothing complicated about the process, but it does require some planning, disciple, and more than anything, consistency. The ONLY way we can lose body fat is to consume less calories than we burn, or vice versa. Your best means of achieving this is to scale back on the calories you consume each day, while at the same time increasing your activity level (aka exercising). By doing so, you increase your ability to lose body fat, without having to cut calories so much that you feel like you’re starving all day long. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the feeling of being hungry all day long.
So, in order to lose 1 pound of body fat, you need to burn about 3,500 calories. Now obviously we aren’t going to try doing this in a single day, but if we break this down over an entire week, it becomes VERY doable. Basically, if you will cut back between 500 and 1000 calories per day, you will lose between 1 and 2 pounds roughly in a given week. Losing no more than 2 pounds per week seems to be the magic number in terms of being successful at keeping the weight off for good. Lose much more than 2 pounds per week and you greatly increase the risk of rapid weight gain once you return to more normal, less restrictive eating. The basic reasoning behind this is because if you cut calories too much, too quickly, the metabolism slows down. You will begin to burn fewer calories during the day because your body is in starvation mode.
First let’s cover some very basic dietary changes that you can easily implement. Remember, we are looking to cut calories here, so naturally, choosing foods that are lower in caloric content seems sensible, right? Exactly! This way, you can eat enough food to feel satisfied to a degree, while at the same time targeting your weight loss goal. The very first thing you should do is clear out your fridge and pantry. Throw out any processed, sugary, or high-caloric foods like trail mixes and granola. After you’ve taken care of this, the next step is going shopping to replace those foods with more nutritious and lower calorie foods. If you stick with vegetables and fruits, not only are you looking at foods that are typically low in calories, but they are also high in fiber which helps you stay fuller longer. With the addition of added fiber in the diet, you also help to improve digestion. Studies show that eating a diet high in fiber helps you to lose weight.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here on diet, but if you so desire, grab a copy of my first book, Simply Wellness: Learning to Live a Wellness Based Lifestyle One Day at a Time on Amazon or at our office. In that book, I go over nutrition in much more detail regarding appropriate proportions of carbs, fats, and proteins, as well as vitamins, minerals, hydration and even a few simple recipes you can throw together. But for now, just focus on eating more whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean protein sources, and limit bread-based carbohydrates and processed varieties. Also make certain to drink plenty of water.
When you go shopping at the grocery store, focus on the outside parameter of the store. If you look at the way most grocery stores are set up, you’ll notice that all the whole foods from produce, meats, and dairy products are along the outer parameter of the store. Spend the majority of your shopping time here and you will be much more likely to grab nutritious foods that the body can actually recognize and utilize to fuel the added exercise and physical activity you’re about to engage in. This takes us to our next subject…exercise!
Now before you freak out thinking that working out has to be this time consuming, all-or-nothing burden in your life, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this at all. In fact, for our Practice Members at PRANA Chiropractic and Wellness Center, I have them start with a simple walking program. To get started, commit to walking at a brisk pace, 3 times per week for 20 minutes. After 2 weeks of walking 3 times for 20 minutes, you simply add a day. So for the next 2 weeks, you’ll walk at a brisk pace for 20 minutes, 4 days a week. You choose the 4 days during the week to walk based on your schedule. You can spread them out and take a rest day between, or you can walk 4 days in a row and be done with it. The choice is yours! Now after spending 2 weeks walking at the 4 days and 20 minute mark, you’ll bump the duration of your walks up from 20 minutes to 30. And there you have it! You incrementally work your way up to walking 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week. Research shows that walking at a 4 mile per hour pace burns about 100 calories in the average adult. So each of your walking workouts will help you burn an additional 150-200 calories per day. If you add in some slight hills, carry a couple 1 pound dumbbells or ankle weights while you walk, you’ll scorch even more calories.
Now that you know your exercise routine doesn’t have to entail a 5 year contract to the local fitness club, I’m going to share with you a list of list of things that you can also do that will burn an additional 100 calories per activity.
If you are looking for more information, tips, or support, reach out to us at www.pranachiro.com There you can find links to my books, access addition health and fitness related blog posts, sign up for our newsletter, and e-mail any questions that you might have. At PRANA Chiropractic and Wellness Center, we offer a 6 Week, doctor-supervised, weight loss program that helps you lose between 20 and 35 pounds. We also offer personal training, individual yoga sessions, and lots of love and support regardless of your health goals. So reach out and let’s reach new heights together in terms of your health and wellness!
In Wellness and Love,
We see a lot of new Practice Members that come into PRANA taking all sorts of over-the-counter and prescribed sleep aids. While we definitely need sleep, these synthetically produced sleep aids certainly don’t add to our overall health. One thing that I explain to our Practice Members is that for every positive benefit provided by a medication, there is an equal or greater negative side effect(s) that it also causes. Now don’t get me wrong, I will never encourage a patient to get off of any medications that their Medical Doctor has prescribed. Pharmacology isn’t my area of specialization, and in many cases prescribed medications have saved lives, but I will say this, there are many people that take prescription medications for “conditions” in which they could control themselves through diet, exercise, and natural healthcare options such as Chiropractic and Applied Kinesiology. So I have compiled an easy list of steps that you and your family can take in order to improve sleep habits, without the potential side effects from over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids.
I hope these simple and natural sleep-improving tips help you get a better night’s sleep, which equals a much more productive day afterwards. Sleep is one of the most important steps we can take to living a Wellness Based Lifestyle. Learn more about the health services that we provide by visiting us at www.pranachiro.com
In Wellness and Love,
An area of debate in the health and wellness community is that over whether taking a multivitamin is beneficial to a person’s health. It is my position that the best source of nutrients that we need in order to thrive is from good quality food sources, but one of the dietary supplements I do use is a quality multivitamin. My view on using a multivitamin is the same as Integrative Medicine’s rock star, Dr. Andrew Weil, MD. Dr. Weil states that the best possible source of micronutrients is food, yet because we are not realistically able to eat optimally each day, multivitamins are an “insurance against gaps” in the diet. A quality multivitamin provides essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need in order to function properly.
Another important health benefit that multivitamins provide is improved cognitive functioning. A study detailed in the Nutrition Journal reports that consuming a multivitamin on a daily basis improved cognitive functioning in test subjects.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recommends that all adults take a daily multivitamin in conjunction with a healthy diet. Their findings are that up to 80% of Americans do not get the vitamins and minerals that are needed through their diet, and by supplementing with a quality multivitamin, people can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
* If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, always check with your trusted healthcare professional before adding dietary supplements to your daily nutritional intake!
In Wellness and Love,
‘Tis the season to be sicky…. I think that’s a pretty appropriate spin on a Holiday classic this time of year. One of the questions that I see come up often in terms of being sick and fitness, is whether or not a person should workout when they’re sick. Well there really isn’t one simple answer to this. I think more than anything, a person has to use a bit of common sense when deciding whether or not to rest up and recover, or get out and do some training.
Start by looking at what the illness is. A cold is one thing, but having a full blown flu illness is something entirely different. I certainly suggest that someone with anything more serious than the common cold not go to the gym or workout around others. That being said, if you do have a cold and are going to hit the gym, please use simple precautions to help reduce the likelihood of spreading the illness such as washing your hands often, using antibacterial hand-gels after each machine, and if the gym has anti-bac towels or spray remember to use it on each machine when you finish up.
There are certainly some benefits of working out when you are ill in terms of upping your mood. Sitting around or lying in bed can cause those of us that live active lifestyles to feel depressed and getting out for a quick run or even a walk can do a lot to make us feel better. Exercise can also help circulation and loosen up some of the crud that can build up in our lungs and sinuses. I personally train through most sicknesses I experience during the winter months and I can attest to the fact that the exercise and movement helps me feel better (if doing nothing more than getting my mind off of the sickness for a bit).
I suggest that you lessen the load, so-to-speak, when working out with a sickness. Obviously if you have a cold, the flu or any other type of common winter-time illness, I don’t suggest trying to set a PR 5K time or hammering out some tough interval circuits. Again just shoot for getting the body moving and the blood flowing. Illness alone can cause an increased heart rate, so keep this in mind too as you don’t want to elevate the heart rate too much while under the weather. Sweating can also have a cleansing effect on us and actually help to rid the body of illness. I always try to "sweat it out" a bit when ill, just to help my body rid itself of the potential toxins.
Just remember, working out at a low intensity can be a nice way to boost your mood when experiencing a common low-grade illness, but it is so important to use good judgment and common sense when it comes to it as well. Be certain not to overdo it and always be aware of the possibility of spreading the illness to others. Your body needs time to recover and heal itself from the illness, so you have to be willing for this to take place! It’s tough for us fitness buffs to take it easy when we’re sick, but sometimes we just have to be willing to do so. If you’re going to workout, make certain to keep it light and to increase your water intake before, during and after the exercise session.
In Wellness and Love,
Folic acid is the synthetic supplement form of Folate, one of the B vitamins, which is needed for body function. Folate is especially important to pregnant women, yet folate presents many health benefits to both men and women. Folate is not produced by the body, so it is necessary that we obtain adequate amounts from the foods that we consume or through supplements.
Folate plays an important role in cell maintenance and production. In terms of pregnancy, a growing fetus is constantly requiring the production of new cells. Pregnant and nursing women are recommended to consume 800 micrograms of folic acid per day.
Folate plays a vital role in the body’s ability to produce both white and red blood cells. Scientific research has linked folate to helping to reduce the risk of anemia. Anemia is a condition that occurs when the body lacks the ability to get an adequate amount of oxygen to the organs. Red blood cell health is important as red blood cells carry oxygen.
There is a link between folate and a potential reduction in depression. Studies conclude that up to 35% of people suffering from depression have low folic acid levels. Some research has determined that folic acid can aid antidepressant medications in their effectiveness. Folic acid can also assist in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Research shows up to a 55% decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Folic acid also assists the body in eliminating an amino acid in the blood called homocysteine, which is a byproduct of animal protein synthesis and breakdown. Elevated homocysteine levels are linked to an increased risk of heart attack.
Folate is equally important for men, as it can help with infertility and low sperm count. Folic acid helps to increase both sperm count and quality. Folic acid deficiency can also cause damage to the DNA carried by the sperm. This damage to the DNA can lead to chromosomal damage in the fetus.
Foods that are rich in folate include dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, peanuts, avocado, citrus fruits, rice and sunflower seeds. Current USDA recommendations for non-pregnant and nursing women is 400 mcg per day and due to the current American diet trend of consuming primarily animal products, most people in the US do not come close to this recommendation. This being the case, consider including some of the foods mentioned above or taking a quality multi-vitamin on a daily basis.
In Wellness and Love,
Folic acid deficiencies are wide spread: here’s why nearly everyone needs more folate. Black, Alexis. www.naturalnews.com/z016208_prenatal_nutrition_folic_acid.html
What Does Folic Acid Do For Men? www.livestrong.com/article/468798-what-does-folic-acid-do-for-me/
Folic Acid for Men. Nicks, J. www.buzzle.com/articles/folic-acid-for-men.html
It is perhaps no secret that our brain is a vitally important organ that oversees the function of our entire body. The brain allows us to learn new things, and gives us the ability to think and therefore makes us into who we are. As your Chiropractor, my main role is to make certain that the brain is fully able to communicate with every cell, muscle, tissue, and organ in your body, without interference. I do so by removing vertebral subluxations, which are misalignments of the spinal bones that are placing a pressure on a nerve and blocking this vital communication.
So what exactly is the brain, other than an organ? It is a collection of over one hundred billion neurons (nerve cells) that are linked to one another. These interconnected cells that comprise the brain, share information with one another, and pass-on information 24/7.
Nerve impulses, which are messages, are arriving non-stop in your brain from all parts of the body. These impulses are actually electrical signals. Your brain then has to process these messages, and then send instructions back out to the body and organs telling them what to do in order to maintain life. So, as you can imagine, it is extremely important that the messages arrive without interference to the brain, and that the body then receives instructions from the brain clearly, and without interference.
So, what fun would learning about the brain be if I didn’t include some fun facts, right? So here you go:
In Wellness and Love,
This is one of my favorite nutritional aids that I have used for a number of years to increase my own Wellness Based Lifestyle. More and more people are utilizing this easily accessible health elixir, and here are just a few of the many benefits that apple cider vinegar offers. These are the benefits that I have witnessed myself through my own use, and also those that have more scientific backing than many of the claims found on the internet. I recommend that all my Practice Members take a shot (1.5 oz) of ACV each day. It can be added to warm water, along with a tablespoon of honey to make it much more palatable. I usually just take a shot of it from a shot glass, and then chase it down with a glass of water. One Practice Member adds it organic grape juice and swears it tastes like red wine!
In Wellness and Love,
A research study conducted at David Grant Medical Center in California recently discovered that aloe vera, when taken orally, can reduce fasting blood glucose levels.
Researchers also found reduced HbA1c levels, which are also screened when testing for diabetes. The HbA1c is glycated hemoglobin, which gives doctors a look at the average glucose levels over a three month period. Keep in mind that this test is done for Type-II, Adult-Onset Diabetes.
During this research study, 89 diabetic patients were analyzed. The findings from this study are suggestive that patients with glucose levels of over 200 experienced the greatest reduction with the use of oral aloe vera.
So check your local natural food stores for quality, pure aloe vera juice or simply make your own by juicing the stems of an aloe vera plant. Beware of the aloe vera juices found in many supermarkets or gas stations, as they contain high amounts of sugar. This of course would negate the positive effects.
In Wellness and Love,
In the age of fitness gimmicks and equipment that promise to produce staggering results in 2 minutes or less of use per day, most of us “more” informed people have become weary of the fitness equipment industry. Yet one simple piece of equipment that has literally stood the test of time and is generally accepted by all health and fitness professionals as being effective, is the stability ball. The stability ball is also called a yoga, Thera-, exercise, fitness, or Swiss ball and regardless of the name given, it is an air-filled heavy-duty plastic ball that comes is a variety of sizes to better fit individual users. The stability ball is an inexpensive piece of equipment and because of the fitness benefits that they offer it is a must for all exercises to have in the home and office.
Although many people think of the stability ball as a relatively recent invention, they have been around since the early 1900’s. Originally they were developed for use in rehabilitation by physical therapist and continued being used in physical therapy and sports medicine fields today. Stability balls are very durable and generally have a weight rating of 600-700 pounds, so there is little reason to worry about them popping during regular use.
Among the health benefits offered by the stability ball, the fact that they assist in stretching and flexibility gains is paramount. Many people that suffer from chronic back pain have found that they are able to stretch the muscles in the back using the stability ball because of the back support it offers. Stretching while standing or lying on the floor offers little to no back support, and therefore make it impossible for back pain suffers to effectively stretch those muscles to improve mobility. The stability ball supports the entire length of the spine when you lie over the ball on your back. Even for those of us that do not suffer from back pain, because of the support of the stability ball, we are able to stretch much more deeply, and can increase range of motion and mobility.
Fitness trainers began using stability balls in their training programs as a result of the core strengthening benefits they offer. Even just sitting on a stability ball requires that we engage the core muscles (the muscles in the abdominals and lower back) in order to maintain balance. Abdominal exercises on the stability ball are more effective in that exercisers must constantly engage the core while on the ball. Also, any weight training exercises that you perform on a bench can be performed with dumbbells on the stability ball. Again because of the need to maintain balance on the stability ball, users increase the strength of stabilizing muscles that would not otherwise be worked by the same exercises, if performed on a traditional weight training bench.
Stability balls can help users to improve their posture. Using a stability ball helps to improve alignment of the natural curve of the spine. Having a stronger core also improves posture. Using a stability ball in place of a desk chair at work is an easy way to improve posture, while also burning additional calories throughout the day resulting from maintaining balance and keeping the core tight. Stability balls also introduce an element of fun for users, so if you are using one in place of a chair, you are much more likely to rock back and forth and bounce around during the day which burns calories. If using a stability ball in place of a chair, it is important that you use the correct size ball. Find a ball that allows your thighs to be parallel to the floor when seated. We here at PRANA Chiropractic and Wellness Center also use yoga balls when helping folks recover from disc bulges and conditions.
To learn more about the benefits of stability balls and exercise in general, contact us to set up a FREE consultation.
In Wellness and Love,
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man, dating back to 2,700 BC according to both Chinese and Egyptian texts. Cinnamon is a small tree grown in Asia and South America, and is produced by taking the bark from the tree and drying it. It is then typically ground into powder for consumption. There are 4 different varieties of cinnamon, but the most common type found in grocery stores is Cassia cinnamon.
Cinnamon offers a good deal of health benefits including regulation of blood sugar, relieving pain associated with arthritis, improved memory and brain functioning, anti-clotting and blood thinning effects, helping with cold symptoms including a stuffy nose, reducing flatulence and nausea ,and can help with painful menstrual cramping. Cinnamon also contains important nutrients including manganese, iron, calcium and fiber. The combination of calcium and fiber is particularly important in that it has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. Both calcium and fiber bind to bile salts and bile salt has been scientifically linked to colon cancer. Cinnamon has also been demonstrated to reduce both cholesterol and blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition confirms that cinnamon reduces blood pressure.
A 2003 study published in the medical journal Diabetes Care reported that after 40 days of cinnamon consumption, test subjects presented a 18 to 29% reduction in fasting blood glucose levels and a reduction in total cholesterol by 12 to 26%. Before using cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels, consult with your doctor, especially if taking medications for diabetes.
Cinnamon has an anti-microbial effect and therefore has been shown to help treat yeast infections. Cinnamon stops the growth of harmful bacteria in the stomach and intestines.
Cinnamon is also high in antioxidants (see my earlier blog on antioxidants). Antioxidants help to reduce free radicals in the body, which are damaging to cells.
In Wellness and Love,
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.