Emily Heil NFPT CPT, B.S. Health Promotion and Wellness
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “An estimated 264 million people worldwide have an anxiety disorder…An estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience any anxiety disorder at some time in their lives… An estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults had any anxiety disorder in the past year.” Most people know the feeling of anxiety, the pressure that builds up in your chest, irritability, and the rapid heart rate. Everyone knows the feeling of stress – as if there is just too much to handle on your plate.
So what is the difference between anxiety and stress? Stress happens when our body undergoes a certain type of change. This could be anything from work pressures, to exercising, to your wedding day. But not all stress has to be bad. Some stress is good, and a certain amount of stress is healthy. You can manage stress by directing that energy either in a positive or negative path. If you direct it positively, you can successfully build up your stress tolerance. If you direct it negatively, it can set a whole different tone in your mood.
Some people who endure chronic stress may end up experiencing anxiety. This can interfere on many more levels of your life including your sleep, possible depression, GI problems, overwhelming feelings of doom, or even panic attacks. As you can see, anxiety and stress are basically siblings when it comes to their characteristics, but anxiety can take a much harder toll on your life. With all of the symptoms that anxiety brings, it can even put your relationships with your friends and family into jeopardy.
Now we know the difference between the two. Let’s chat about some ways to combat the anxiety and stress that you may have.
- Getting exercise- Whether this is 5 minutes or 50 minutes, exercise puts a good state of stress on the body that helps to release pleasurable hormones that influence your physiology. These hormones can last for hours and help you control the feelings that you might be having. A lot of people say that it is “a good outlet to reduce stress”.
- Cut the alcohol- Alcohol is a sedative, which means after the initial calming effect, your moods will return. I was taught in school that if you drink enough when you are angry or sad, prepare to have those emotions amplified. The impact that alcohol has on your body is astounding. Plus, if you get into this habit of using alcohol to cope, it can become an addictive substance.
- Spend time in meditation and prayer. Meditation and prayer are two very powerful habits for the body. You can even listen to positive and affirmative guided meditations. Doing these two things allows for you to tap into a deep part of your spirit, which can have a calming and rejuvenating effect. Focus on the positives and the aspects that you are grateful for in life and soon your brain will subconsciously focus on those and seek those things out during the day instead of the negatives.
- Two words: Essential. Oils. Aromatherapy can be very powerful. Have you ever peeled an orange and smelled that strong smell and felt your mood or your inner being shift? Even just a little bit? Did you know orange essential oil is an oil that is made to combat depression and help promote happiness? You are literally using plants in order to heal yourself. How cool?!
I don’t want to overwhelm you with all of the options that you could use to help your anxiety. So for now, if you haven’t tried these things then go ahead and try them. Worst case scenario, they are a bust and you end up wasting 5 minutes of your life. Best case scenario, you find something that helps you with your stress and anxiety and you are an overall happier person, and the people in your life grow closer to you because of it. And I don’t know about you, but to me, that would be worth it.
The summer is calling! It’s very easy to get excited about the summer with all of the campfires, grill outs, get-togethers and many other activities around the town. Along with that comes drinking and food. Sometimes these foods are not so healthy for you. We have come up with a few things that we thought you would love to hear on how to redirect those unhealthy choices to things that 1. Taste great. 2. Are healthy for you. And 3. Are so pretty your friends will be jealous. Before we get into the recipes, let’s talk about simple superfoods and drinks you can have that are not only great for overall health, but make you feel great!
I’ll discuss a few superfoods, and the first one that I want to talk about is Turmeric or curcumin. This little superfood has HUGE impact on the body, from its antioxidant and anti- inflammatory qualities, to the way that it can help with chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Turmeric is one of the best superfoods, and can be used in so many dishes, from Indian food, to chicken noodle soup, to turmeric lattes. This yummy spice can change your life. If you are purely looking for benefits of this spice and a high potency of the product there are turmeric capsules that you can buy and take as a natural substance to help your body and save your health.
The second superfood I would like to mention is Maca. Maca is an adaptogen. An adaptogen helps to regulate the communication system between your brain and your hormones. Hormones control your adrenals, thyroid, emotional status, and basically anything that you can think of. Maca gives your body a restorative substance that is all natural and will level out those hormones. Just make sure that when you buy it, it comes from a pure and natural source with no additives. You can typically find maca at a whole foods store or in a local health food store such as the Stevens Point CO-OP.
The last superfood that I would like to discuss is Elderberry and Elderberry syrup. This berry has been used to fight off viruses, and may even have benefits for people that have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer as well. They are very high in vitamin A, C, and E. Elderberries and elderberry syrup can be consumed in water, just under your tongue, in smoothies and drinks and various other ways. Speaking of drinks, I did promise you a recipe for a healthy mocktail, so let’s get to it!
With this Elderberry, Raspberry, and Mint Mocktail you will not miss your favorite alcoholic beverage. This was found on quericavida. Here are the following ingredients:
Elderberry, Raspberry, and Mint Mocktail
½ C Elderberry Syrup
2 Tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
36 oz of very cold soda
¼ C Mint leaves, lightly mashed
8 oz Raspberries
Instructions: Mix all ingredients in jar and serve immediately!
Emily Heil CPT, B.S. Health Promotion and Wellness
Sometimes it feels like we go round and round, trying to find a solution to the health goals that we have. It can feel like we take one step forward and three big steps back. But when you understand what you need to achieve your goals, it gives you power (knowledge = power). If you are trying to lose weight, gain weight, have a happy relationship with your food, have food freedom, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, feel happier, have more energy, or just trying to improve your overall quality of life… let me tell you: it is possible. So let me share with you some tips to achieve these health goals.
1 Believe in yourself.
I always tell my clients that if your mind isn’t right first, everything else in your life won’t be right either. So where is your mind today? Are you having thought distortions? AKA: telling yourself something that is not true, such as, “I can’t have more energy during the day when I have all of life’s stressors and the kids calling for my attention” … YES. YOU. CAN. Telling yourself these negative thoughts over and over will subject your subconscious brain to literally look for the negative in life and will in general make your outlook more negative. Why is that? You are training your brain that it is ‘acceptable’ and even ‘normal’ to have negative thoughts. It’s not; we are meant to live fulfilling lives that are productive, positive, and energetic. You can live a beautiful life and do not have to be subject to the negative thoughts that run rampant in your mind. I dare you to turn those “I cant’s” into “I MOST CERTAINLY CAN”. The first step to success in anything is believing that you can do it. Because whether you believe you can, or believe you can’t, you’re right. Bring about a new mindset to your life because you deserve it.
2 Find your “why”
What it means to find your “why”: Why do you want to achieve the goals that you are setting out to achieve? Let’s say you are trying to lose weight. You might say the reason behind that is to make life easier. Ok, now ask yourself, “why would this make life easier”. Because you can then chase your kids around and play with them. Okay, great. Now ask yourself, “why do I want to chase my kids around and play with them?” and your answer might be so that you can show your kids your love for them. That right there is your ultimate why. You want to lose weight so that you can show your kids love. Now, isn’t that more meaningful to you and internally motivating than just “oh life will be easier”?
3 Get in touch with the right resources for you
There are plenty of local and online resources for you to find. If you are having a hard time with always thinking about food and the psychology behind food and food addictions and behaviors, Noom is a great resource that gives you some very logical and science backed research as to why people behave the way they do and how to change your habits one by one and achieve a better mindset with food. This helps you to develop a much healthier relationship with your food choices. If you are looking for nutrition counseling, personal training, bootcamps, and a great supportive community to help you achieve fitness goals, Forever Fit is a fitness studio here in Plover, WI with some great things to offer. If you are looking to optimize your overall health and realign your spine, Infinity Wellness and Chiropractic offers the best chiropractic services in town (not that we are bias or anything). Kali Clark with Sweet spot nutrition is in our office as well. She is our close friend and nutrition coach that definitely would never steer you wrong. If you want to quit smoking, there are plenty of active coalitions in the Portage area as well. No matter what you are doing, there ARE resources for you – you just need to find what works for you. Keep trying because your health is worth it.
4 Find support and accountability
Finding support and accountability is one of the key factors to helping with achieving any type of goals. I know that when anyone (including myself) sets out to change a habit, it is uncomfortable. It sucks sometimes. And it is hard and not easy to change. When those hard times hit, and you slip up (because you will) you need to have someone who has your back. Someone that you can turn to. And someone who can tell you what you need to hear- whether it is tough love, or “it’s okay you’re trying your best and tomorrow is a new day”. Personally, I would take the latter of the two- but that is just me. You do what is best for YOU. Not what everyone thinks you should be doing. Whether this person is your mom, dad, significant other, or just a group you joined on Facebook. You are now being held accountable to them and they will be there to support you.
5 Have a plan
If you fail to plan, you can most certainly plan to fail . Don’t get caught up in the end that you can’t see the steps along the way. Make sure you believe in yourself all the way through, recite your “why” to yourself every day if you have to. Find a resource that can provide you with the support and plan that you need. And recruit your family and friends. They will most likely support your new healthy habits and be proud of you for making your life a little better one day at a time.
If you need help or resources or would just like to chat about achieving optimal health or fitness levels, please feel free to talk with Emily or Dr. Sara in the office. They would be happy to make conversation with you over the adjustment table or in any of the traction units. Plus- who doesn’t love free advice from a couple of professionals?
With higher temps and more sun in our hopeful near future, now is the time to stock up on better for you sunscreen options. I’m all about getting a safe amount of sun. We need sun exposure to help us have proper amounts of vitamin D, which is critical for many functions throughout our body. However, when you are planning on being outside for hours, have very fair skin, or want to prevent sunburn and premature aging of your skin, sunscreen is necessary.
Unfortunately, many of the sunscreen option on the market are loaded with questionable and harmful ingredients. The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) just released a new report on the best sunscreens for everyone from children to adults. According to the report, of the over 1300 sunscreen formulations tested: “about two-thirds still offer inferior sun protection or contain concerning ingredients, such as oxybenzone, a potentially hormone-disrupting chemical that is readily absorbed by the body”.
When looking for a sunscreen, not only do you want to avoid oxybenzone, you also want to make sure that is it “broad spectrum”. That means it is working against UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. When applying sunscreen, make sure that you are applying enough. For an average sized adult from head to toe, you need about an ounce of sunscreen. That is enough to almost fill a shot glass. Make sure you reapply often, as well. Check the label of the safer sunscreen you choose to find out the optimal amount of time between reapplying. For many sunscreens, you’ll want to reapply around every hour.
One brand that you can always count on to bring you high quality products with none of the fear of dangerous or potentially harmful ingredients is Beautycounter. Two of their products made the EWG’s 13th Annual Guide to Sunscreens. Beautycounter’s sunscreens are formulated with non-nano zinc oxide which is a physical, mineral sun protection technology that bounces the sun’s rays away from the skin. Their sunscreens are also “reef safe”, meaning they are better for the environment and will not contribute to the degradation of our planets coral reefs.
Try out a few of the different sunscreens on the ewg.org’s list. If you have questions or want to try the Beautycounter products, ask me. I’m more than happy to help. Find out what works best for you and your family and keep yourself happy and burn-free. Let’s go outside and enjoy the beauty of Wisconsin summers.
Many times I see older adults unable to walk stairs, or tell me that they have achy joints. They tell me that their range of motion (ROM) has decreased quite a bit since they have aged and they “just don’t feel as if they could start exercising”. But here is the thing, exercise may be difficult at first but it helps to reduce (if not eliminate) all of the problems that they seem to tell me that they have.
Exercise has many wonderful effects on the body. Osteoporosis is a very big concern for most older adults, but when you exercise, you are actually putting weight on your bones. When doing weight baring activities, your bones are ‘stressed’ which means your body will send a signal that it needs help or repair. This sends tiny cells called osteoblasts to your bones to help with increasing bone density. This is also a good case for those of you who don’t get the recommended dose of calcium to make it a priority to exercise.
Exercise really can look like anything from a walk, to yoga, to simple stretching or very high intensity workouts. There are so many things that you can do to move your body. When your body begins to move, something even more cool happens than that bones forming #sciencenerdslovefacts. Your body will begin to produce endorphins which are basically “happy hormones”. When we sit in our houses all day or don’t move much, a cloud of gloom will likely begin to form over our heads. But these endorphins work almost like drugs, or sugar, in the thought that they make us feel happy or feel a sense of less stress. Along with the increase in endorphins, science has shown that this decreases the speed and chances for memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Moving also increases our abilities to multitask and be creative, so get moving!
Let’s talk joints and range of motion. It may be hard to move at first, but with time and dedication, you will be able to increase your range of motion through movement, stretching (and chiropractic care, of course). Each time you move your joints, there is a lubrication mechanism in between your bones to help it move more smoothly, without pain, and help you feel effortlessly in control of your body. The more you move, the more lubrication is happening. So even if it hurts, try to stretch. And then try to stretch a little further the next time around. Try to make big circles with your arms, then maybe go a little bigger next time. Keep pushing yourself, and I promise you will see results.
As you age, if you keep your muscles strong, bones strong, and joints healthy, you will be able to walk up the stairs at age 80. You’ll be able to love on your grandchildren and great-grandchildren the way that you really want to. And you will be able to live your best life and find optimal health for what stage of life you are in. I said it before, but I will say it again. Yes, it will be hard. And yes, it will be worth it.
Everyone knows the saying, “sugar is bad for you”, but what are people really saying when they say that? Added sugars and refined sugars in your diet can do a lot of different things to your body, things that are not so good. This chemical substance is great at increasing inflammation, causing insulin spikes, adding excess calories, and so much more. Even with all these negative attributes, we still LOVE it.
Let’s talk sugar. What is it? Where does it come from? Why do we love it?
The sugar association describes sugar as “…sucrose is simply the chemical name for sugar, the simple carbohydrate we know and love that is produced naturally in all plants, including fruits, vegetables, and even nuts”. Sounds healthy, right? So why is it so bad for us? The answer is, sugar is extracted, purified, filtered, and crystalized into raw sugar that is then further refined to what we know as granulated sugars. One problem with these refined types of sugars is that it has all of the fiber extracted from it. Fiber keeps your insulin in check and prevents your insulin levels from spiking which we’ll get to later.
A second problem is that when refined sugar enters your body, it acts like a drug. It triggers the release of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine surges are addictive and make your brain want to come back for more and more sugar. I’m sorry to break it to you, but the food industry is definitely using chemicals, such as sugar, to lure you in and get your money to enhance their own business growth.
Inflammation… Did you know that a lot of the pain or problems that you have *spoiler alert* CAN BE CONTROLLED OR MANAGED WITHOUT MEDICATION! (As a side note, we in the chiropractic industry are not legally able to tell you to use or not use a medication. You need to talk to a medical doctor to find out how to safely get off any drug.) Let me tell a bit of my story in this section. I had problems with my hands where they were going numb in my fingers, pain in the palms of my hands and the inability of them to function without braces. My doctor told me I had carpal tunnel at the ripe old age of 22. They told me it was a life long problem. I would never get rid of it; they told me to buy braces and stop lifting weights. If you know me, I am a personal trainer and that wasn’t going to cut it. I went on the Whole 30 diet, a phenomenal food elimination diet protocol. I found out that both dairy, and (wait for it) REFINED SUGARS were causing my carpal tunnel to flare up! Let me repeat this: sugar causes inflammation. Since then, dairy and sugars haven’t really been a part of my diet and most of the time I forget that I have carpal tunnel and my hands are back to normal. (Unless of course I am eating ice cream, but those are very special occasions. During those occasions, I choose to eat it and know the consequences, aka symptoms will appear, because of it.)
Now I told you we would talk insulin spikes. Like I said earlier, fiber is taken from the sugar source. When that happens, the release of that sugar into the blood stream is MUCH quicker. It takes about 20 seconds for sugar to enter your bloodstream. If fiber was still a part of the equation, the release of the sugar would be a lot longer of a time period and a more steady release. This would give you a constant stream of energy. Think about a natural form of sugar like an apple compared instead to the cheap candy bar that you ate yesterday. The apple will be filling longer and the candy bar gives you energy for 20 minutes and then you get that energy crash right after. Sound familiar?
Finally, let’s talk excess calories. Sugar is added to so many things to enhance flavor, but along with that addictive flavor comes calories. Did you know that sugary drinks or sugar sweetened beverages account for 39% of our diets. That includes: soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, which together account for 39% of the added sugar in our diets. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Which means weight gain and excess calories and no fiber, so here is another case of that “crash and burn” problem that you had at 2pm yesterday when you ate that candy bar. Want a simple fix for this? Try filling your water bottle and drinking it instead. Water is so important – it keeps you alert and helps rid the sugars from your body that increase those aches and pains.
It’s easy to love sugar, of course! It’s addictive, and it’s supposed to be. I’m not saying get rid of all of the sugar in your life, because that’s not realistic and your sanity will be non-existent. Just be aware of what you are eating and what you are taking in. Be smart. Go enjoy your life!