Throwing Myself into the Hot or Cold on Purpose? For my Health?

Why on earth are people choosing to suffer in sub freezing or 100+ degree temps? Again, my hormesis definition is “do something for a short period of time that makes you feel like you’re going to die to actually increase the length and quality of your life.” Outside of fasting, cold exposure is often the thing highest on the list that makes people feel like they’re dying. 

If you follow any health influencers or energy optimizing business coaches, then you have likely heard of a cold plunge, or Wim Hof and his method, or cryotherapy. Why? Immersing yourself in the cold for a short period of time spikes the feel good chemicals in your brain such as endorphins and dopamine.   Also, warming your body back up to its core temperature takes lots of energy, hence burning calories passively. On top of the weight reducing and mood enhancing benefits, cold also reduces inflammation and improves lymphatic drainage. For many folks, this means that their achy knees, hips, or spine feel better after a cold plunge or cryotherapy. 

On the other end of the temperature spectrum, many people see great benefits from using either a traditional or infrared sauna. Sitting in the hot space (anywhere from 180-220 in regular sauna, or 100-130 in an infrared sauna) elevates the heart rate to over 100-150 bpm. This  increases circulation and blood flow, and promotes sweating and detox through the skin. This is said to improve cardiovascular health, often helps reduce pain and tight muscles, and elevates the core temperature of the body. Heart rate may increase to 100-150 beats a minute while using a sauna. Many people feel relaxed and at ease after sauna use. Asthmatics, people with skin conditions, and people who have MTHFR and don’t detox very well benefit even more from saunas.

An infrared sauna, though less hot than a traditional one, has the benefit of the infrared heat wavelength targeting the sweat glands even more, creating an even greater detox effect. Though the temperature is lower, the other benefits still remain: skin, cardiovascular, decrease in pain and muscle stiffness, and easier breathing. Many people notice that they get sick less often when they frequent infrared saunas.

What’s your jam - hot or cold? For me, the benefits of both are undeniable. I hit up an infrared sauna for my workout a few days/week and take a 2-minute cold shower every morning! They are both something I've come to look forward to and help me feel great almost every day.



Can Fasting Help Me, and is it even RIGHT for me?

People interested in fasting, this is a LOOOONG post!  Like many other folks, I stayed in the "research stage" of fasting for quite a while before trying it myself. For many years, my friend and colleague Tonnie has been raving about fasting expert, Dr. Mindy Pelz. I had tried both eating healthy during temporary diets such as doing a Whole 30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox, had eaten both paleo & ketogenic diets long term, and had done lots of intermittent fasting (eat for 8 hours during the day, then fast 16 hours, mainly overnight and into the next day). I watched some videos of Dr. Mindy on YouTube and loved what she had to say about women and fasting, but still I wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge on longer fasting. Fasting has been a regular part of the human experience up until the last few hundred years, but it often gets a bad rap!

Until, after the second winter in a row with brutal allergies in DFW, when one day I recalled how eating very clean and doing some fasting helped me in the past with my chronic sinus issues. By then, I was on Dr. Mindy’s email list and saw that she was leading a 3-day fast just after New Years. Long story short, the timing worked out great and I took on the challenge.

What sets apart Dr. Mindy in the world of fasting is her application of scientific studies and knowledge of hormones. It turns out, there are times when cycling women shouldn’t fast. (DISCLAIMER: of course, many people should never fast: children, pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as anyone who is struggling/has struggled with eating disorders! Also, if you are a man or a post-menopausal woman, you can fast whenever it feels right). Turns out that the few days leading up to and including ovulation as well as the full week before our periods are days when we need lots of healthy food to help build the hormones our bodies are trying so hard to make! Dr. Mindy’s new book, Fast Like a Girl, comes packed full of information that helps us understand and work with our natural hormonal cycles better. She even gives us food ideas and tons of recipes for the different parts of our cycle to help our body optimize our hormones. 

So back to fasting, the best days for most cycling women to complete a longer fast (17+ hours) are days 6-9, and just after ovulation for several days. These are our “power days” when estrogen is high enough to give us energy and a mood boost to handle going without food for longer. When sticking to longer fasts on these days, women avoid some of the negative experiences of fasting such as losing hair, messing up cycles, getting frequent colds, etc.  Dr. Mindy’s book and YouTube videos really explain which beneficial hormones turn on at what point in our fast, and she even shares fasting protocols for many types of conditions, including infertility, thyroid conditions, autoimmune disorders, and the ever-popular weight loss.

The great part about fasting is that you really don’t require much if at all in order to start! Prepping for a long fast with intermittent fasting is always a great idea, and switching to a cleaner diet (nature’s carbs such as sweet potatoes and squashes, not cookies, bread, pasta, etc.) helps the transition also. Dr. Mindy also recommends monitoring blood sugar and ketones with the KetoMojo. I bought mine and checked in with these several times a day, and I was sure glad I did! 

The first full day of fasting, I didn’t experience too much in the way of symptoms. I had done plenty of 16-20 hour fasts in the prior 6 weeks, so my body could handle the early discomfort of switching from glucose for fuel to fat as fuel without headaches, too much fatigue, or anything else unpleasant. The second day, I definitely felt more fatigue and light-headedness. Around the 48-hour mark, I had a blood sugar reading that was pretty low, so I had a few olives and a half cup of bone broth to stay in ketosis but give my body a little something. That night was difficult to sleep - the hormones cranking up at that point include testosterone and growth hormones, so my heart was pounding and my body was surging with energy - it felt like it was telling me to go kill an animal for food! However, I woke up feeling much less uncomfortable, and my third day went much more smoothly. I felt more energized and even had what felt like more spiritual awareness. My body was deep into ketosis, burning fat for fuel, which is an abundant energy source. My sinus congestion cleared up, my skin glowed and looked 10 years younger, and I was amazed that it felt so great!

Many friends who aren’t afraid to ask the TMI questions questioned about my gut to see if I had diarrhea or was constipated. I wasn't! Dr. Pelz also has a plan to get out of fasting, which I followed to a T. First, a cup of bone broth, followed by some healthy probiotics such as sauerkraut or full fat yogurt 30 min later, then cooked vegetables for fiber 30 minutes after that, and lastly a full meal focusing on fat and protein. My choice was a grass fed beef burger over a salad with some avocado on the side. It was such an enjoyable meal!

Overall, I enjoyed my long fast. On top of my sinus issues clearing up, I felt lots of improvements in my gut health which have continued months later. Also, my hormones feel more balanced and my cycles have been the best I can remember. There were no negative health consequences for me outside of the fatigue I felt day 2 and the strange restlessness of my last night of fasting. Again, I had prepped my body with lots of medium length fasts and was ready for it. I continue to do 16-20 hour fasts several times a month, and a 24-hour fast about once monthly. I will probably do a 3-day fast about 1-2X/year. If you want more information, please feel free to email or reach out for a consult. Dr. Mindy Pelz’ book and YouTube channel were EXTREMELY helpful.



The Keto Diet: A Great Form of Stress!

Unless you’ve  been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard all about or known someone who has gone keto! The ketogenic diet is considered a form of hormesis, or GOOD stress to the body, because it is a way to train your body to focus on using its own fat for fuel.  The keto diet is used by people to have peak performance, to increase longevity, to lose weight, to optimize hormones, or to try to beat cravings or addictions. (Disclaimer: If you are a pregnant or breastfeeding mom, someone about to get her period, or have had eating disorders, keto is probably not for you!)

Most of us here in North America rely on energy from a glucose or carb rush that is created by most processed and/or starchy foods. While the fuel from carbs tastes great, it is a quicker energy source that is also broken down quickly, creating a spike in blood sugar, then insulin. Insulin is considered our AGING hormone: this spike makes us hungry again quickly, creating weight gain, adding inflammation to our systems, and contributing to metabolic syndrome such as diabetes and prediabetes. 

The ketogenic diet mimics the diet eaten in times of our ancient ancestors who didn’t cook much and ate mainly meats, foraged on nuts, some vegetables and a few fruits. It keeps our blood sugar stable so we may have increased periods of feeling satiated and avoid overeating. So what does the keto diet consist of? Lots of healthy fats (and with most of them, the oil or butter created from their source), such as avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, coconuts, lard or tallow, ghee and butter. Also, plenty of meat or other healthy protein such as eggs, tempeh, or cottage cheese. Veggies without too much starch (typically the vegetables that grow above ground)  are super important when eating keto to keep digestion moving: greens, celery, cruciferous vegetables,cucumber, peppers, etc. Starchier root vegetables such as potatoes, yams, turnips, beets, etc. should be eaten only in small quantities to avoid that blood sugar spike that those following keto avoid. Berries and lemon are also okay to eat on the keto diet. 

So what is the difference between ketogenic and ketobiotic? Dr. Mindy Pelz tweaked keto to ketobiotic, focusing on gut health. In her version of keto, lots of probiotic foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi are a focus to make sure the microbiome can handle the meat and fats well. She also recommends drinking a cup of bone broth regularly to focus on the gut lining and ensure the bacteria, viruses etc. in the gut stay balanced and supported. Personally, I have not tolerated keto well, but when trying ketobiotic it sits much better with my digestion. 

To start the keto diet, we have three major recommendations: 1. Start by adding lots of healthy fat and fiber. Fats and fiber both help us feel more full which can keep us off the blood sugar spike train. 2. Try to switch from man-made carbs such as bread, pasta, cakes, candy, etc. to nature’s carbs like fruit and starchy vegetables, which have the fiber and nutrients to make the carbs you eat more fulfilling. 3. Try to eat slightly less often. You can start by delaying your breakfast by 30 min or an hour, or pushing your meals just slightly longer apart, or skipping a snack. All these things will help train your blood sugar to stay more steady and need food less often.

Have you tried the keto diet? Do you want to try it? Reach out by email or schedule a consult to talk more!



Choose Your Stress Wisely

As the old adage goes, Life Is Hard. Though many circumstances are beyond our control, and in many ways only people of great privilege get this opportunity, some "gurus" claim that you can choose your hard. For example, choosing to work out with vigor daily or doing meal prep with lots of vegetables feels probably at least medium bad when you're doing it. But the benefits of fitness and a body filled with fiber and antioxidants enable us to achieve our goals, whether they be a healthy homebirth, picking up your kids or grandkids, or being able to hike the Grand Canyon. Meditation also feels annoying and difficult when you're trying to settle down your monkey mind, but the great night's sleep and equanimity it brings can also be worth it.

Science is now showing that putting your body under GREAT stress, also called HORMESIS shows even bigger benefits. My definition of hormesis: choosing to feel like you want to die in order to have a healther and possibly longer life.

Over the next few weeks, we will look at some examples of hormesis and how they have affected the lives of myself, patients, and other people I know. Some examples we will look at include: Fasting, High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, Powerlifting, Cold exposure, & Infrared sauna. <A caveat: before starting any such activity, it's great to check in with your health care providers. Also, it's great to start slowly and build up to a bigger strain on your body. Whether it's delaying breakfast by an hour to get used to fasting instead of trying a 36-hour fast cold turkey, or taking a 60-second cold shower instead of immersing yourself into a 40 degree F ice bath for 5 minutes, easy does it to start out.>

Do you believe you can choose your hard? Have you tried any hormetic activities? Let us know!


Expand Your Range of Resonance

Why can’t we handle it when things get toooo good? Our nervous systems calibrated to the level of stress and chaos that we were raised in (particularly until about age 7 or before our prefrontal cortex developed). Rather than feel something unfamiliar, our body and mind prefer the devil that we do know. Our bodymind, in order to keep ourselves safe, uses our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to subconsciously create the same types of circumstances that feel familiar.

What if we consciously decide that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are not in alignment with who we want to be? If we are too close to bursting our bubble of perceived safety/familiarity, our subconscious gives us some forms of resistance: distractions, headaches, tuning out or dissociation, anxiety, negative self talk, etc. We have to get below the surface of our conscious mind to make changes.

What sends 90% of the information to our subconscious brain? Our nervous system, our spinal cord. The tone, tension, or pressure in our spine likely reflects the same stress and pressure in our life.  The stresses or traumas that were too much for us to process get hidden away and protected. This can look like pain, defensive posture (like a mad cat!), tight muscles, easily going into fight or flight, stuck joints, trouble sleeping, or a disconnection from areas of our body.

To reset the thermostat of your bodymind’s tolerance for joy, peace, and presence, heal your nervous system! Network Spinal coupled together with Somato Respiratory Integration help bring the parasympathetic nervous system (which does relaxation, digestion, and healing) back online and help integrate ease back into our bodies and lives.

Expand your range of resonance! Feel comfortable with the joy and bliss that is our birthright. Alchemize the wounds into gifts that bring us wisdom. If you are ready for MORE, contact us for a free telephone consult.



SPD in pregnancy and postpartum - Why does my Pubic Bone Hurt so Much???

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, aka SPD or "It feels like someone kicked me in the crotch!" is one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy. Diagnosed only in 1/300 pregnancies, but believed to occur in up to 25% of pregnancies, SPD makes it so hard to walk, roll over in bed, clean, and generally do all the things that being a woman requires.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN? SPD includes misalignment and inflammation of the front of the front part of your pelvic bones, or ilia. Your pelvis is a bony ring. The extra weight and forward shift in your center of gravity in pregnancy, along with the hormone relaxin that allows your pelvis to open up for birth, all may put extra load on the front of your pelvic joint. In addition, the growth of the uterus stretches out the fascia that surrounds groups of muscles in the front of your abdomen, weakening your core. The extra weight of the baby and all the fluids also load the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments that attach to this area. 

WHAT CAN HELP IT? The Webster Technique is a chiropactic assessment and adjustment for faulty biomechanics in the sacrum and pelvic bones. The adjustment can gently restore normal motion and nerve function in this area, which can take pressure off the pubic bone. In addition, the Webster Technique addresses muscles and ligaments (namely the hip flexors and round ligaments) that attach in the pubic area that may be pulling unevenly causing the pain.  Pelvic floor physical therapy may also be very beneficial, as well as wearing a belly band (we recommend the Serola) while upright.

Your suffering can be improved! Contact us for an evaluation to see if misalignment in your sacrum and pelvis could be contributing to your SPD.


Improving your child's suck (LITERALLY!) can help them in all areas

The Tongue and its Connection to the Vagus nerve

Many professionals, from psychologists to physical therapists to craniosacral therapists, agree that having proper tone of the vagus nerve creates health in all areas of life, from growth and development (hitting milestones) to attachment. Babies with a vagus nerve that fires well have better digestion and absorption, deeper breathing, deeper sleep, a relaxed and playful attitude, and a strong bond with their parents. 

What does the vagus nerve have to do with the tongue? Well, the vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that exits near the top of the neck and ear and sends signal to muscles of the face (including the tongue) as well as to the heart, lungs, and digestive organs. When the vagus nerve sends the right signal to the tongue muscles, this creates a proper suck for good and deep feeding. We all know babies suck for comfort and regulation, and proper tongue alignment and function is critical for babies’ well being. 

How do we know when the vagus nerve isn’t sending a good signal to the tongue? Babies may look asymmetrical, with one side twisting or pulling. Babies will likely dislike tummy time. While asleep, baby may prefer an open mouth posture, indicating a related airway issue that can cause sleep apnea, snoring, or sinus and adenoid problems. Their suck will also likely be inefficient, painful or clicky or they may prefer bottle feeding. When looking at the infant’s face, you may notice that their jaw is not very prominent, or that their jaw opens more to one side than the other. 

How does a chiropractor improve vagal tone? We do a variety of interventions. First and foremost, we restore proper nerve function by providing the gentlest of adjustments in the upper spine. A trained and specialized pediatric chiropractor applies only the amount of force it takes to check ripeness of the tomato. Next, we do craniosacral therapy, which again very gently assists in finding the best alignment for all the small skull bones (if you notice ridges or gaps or flat spots on your infant’s head, this will be especially important). Lastly, we provide education and home care advice that may include stretches, recommendations for a pacifier that improves vagal tone, and teach you other ways to help your baby find their most calm and relaxed self.

Interested in learning more? Call 612-280-6596 for a free phone consult, or if you’re ready to help your baby come to our Viridian office for an exam.



Postpartum Care: Self Care for the Most Selfless!

You’ve given birth, now what happens in your body? Pregnancy and birth can be hard, and motherhood can be an even greater challenge, requiring the endurance of a marathon runner on almost no sleep. Chiropractic can provide great support as your body and your family are changing.

Pregnancy was a huge event for your body. Your pelvis and sacrum likely created their widest openings to make space for baby (especially in vaginal deliveries). Your abs potentially stretched apart with a diastasis recti. You may have torn or weakened your pelvic floor. And now, all the organs and joints are trying to go back in a very short period of time... a change that could feel more abrupt than pregnancy!

After pregnancy, the hormone relaxin stays present in your system for at least six weeks. This is the chemical that helped your pelvis open and prepare for childbirth; now it is there to ease the changes after the birth. Moms making milk experience more relaxin into their systems everytime there is a letdown, keeping things in flux for months or even years. This means there is more flexibility and less stability... thus your (gentle!) adjustments in the postpartum period can be the most effective and important ones. 

After your core and pelvic floor have been so stretched out, your body may feel less stable. Then add in frequent nursing and near-constant holding of baby which makes your muscles work so hard - it’s  like you’ve become a weight-lifter when your body is at its most vulnerable!   These  rapid changes can feel like a lot... whether your pelvis feels wonky or you have a case of “mom back” - sore shoulders and neck from staring at your little sweet one's face. Fill up your own cup, and care for yourself. Postpartum adjustments also include gentle postnatal stretches and exercises that won't take you away from your infant. 

Ready to take care of YOU and put a little more in your cup so you can keep being an amazing mom? Call us for a free consult or to schedule your exam.


Can Chiropractic Help you Develop your Sixth Sense?

Do you tune out from your body? Or are you hyper aware of everything happening all at once? Is awareness a blessing or a curse?

Chiropractic develops several “almost” senses that increase the awareness of our body and how it’s working. The three “near senses” I discuss most often with patients include the following: vestibular, proprioception, and interoception. Our vestibular system keeps us upright and balanced while sitting or standing. Proprioception is a sense that lets us know where all of our body parts are in space. Interoception tells us about what’s happening within the abdominal cavity so we can feel our organs… is our bladder full? Or is our stomach empty and growling? 

The vestibular system consists mainly of our inner ear and eyes. As you move or change positions, your inner ear sends signal to the neural structures that control how your eyes move. This is necessary to maintain our desired position in space. A disturbance of this can create dizziness, balance issues, etc. Chiropractically, we see challenges in this area frequently - children who fall often or have trouble riding a bike, and even older adults who are prone to balance problems. As we find proper posture and joint motion in the upper spine, this allows our vestibular system to send signals more clearly

Proprioception gets classified within our sense of touch.. It is very particular;  when your brain knows where all of your joints are in space, proprioception works properly. This awareness of the brain and joints helps us gain body awareness that allow for very precise movements. Proprioception allows us to avoid injury, improves sports performance, and helps us feel better. Why? Several reasons. First of all, proprioception helps drown out the signal of nociception, or pain. Also, when the brain can find the joints, everything can relax, decreasing the defensive posture that can put a lot of tension on our joints and muscles and create pressure or stress. Proprioceptors are located in all joints, with the largest amount in the upper neck, followed by the ankle, and the sacroiliac joints. 

The final “near” sense we will explore is called interoception. This helps us know what is happening within our body, especially in the abdominal cavity where most of our organs are located. It tells us when our bladder is full, when it’s time to have a bowel movement, or for those expecting moms it tells us exactly which organ baby’s parts are pressing on

The “almost” senses may not help you see any ghosts, but when they working properly they will help you heed your body signals with more ease and create better balance, improve joint motions, decrease pain, and help with sports &/or physical motion!  If you feel out of touch with your body, chiropractic may be just what you need.



My (Pregnant) Hips Don't Lie!

To have a comfortable pregnancy, and most importantly, a safe birth, your hips and sacrum must find the balance between mobility and stability.  The foundation of good alignment and proper motion will allow for your hips to feel and function at their best during this important time.

As we've discussed in our previous blogs, your body is absolutely designed to be pregnant!  However, the combination of extra weight, a change forward in your center of gravity, and the hormone relaxin (which makes everything loose prior to birth) has been a hard combination for many expecting mamas. Your sacrum, hips, pubic bone and all the surrounding tissues may be having their most difficult time ever. Sometimes the sacrum can get stuck in the wrong position.  Other times, it feels like it's popping and moving way too much! However, this doesn't mean that you are predestined to pain, sleeplessness, and a difficult birth.

The Webster Technique was designed to first analyze to find then remove nerve interference from the sacrum/sacroiliac joints. The goal of the adjustment is to reduce the effects of sacral subluxation/ SI joint dysfunction. In doing so, the pelvic and sacrum can move and function in the best possible way. If left uncorrected, sacral subluxation may contribute to difficult labor for the mother (i.e., dystocia), caused by inadequate uterine function, pelvic contraction, and baby mal-presentation. Correction the misalignment in the sacrum may have a positive effect on all of these causes of dystocia.

Outside of your pelvis balancing adjustments and round ligament work, we recommend many other things to promote both mobility and stability: ​

  • Spinning Babies exercises
  • Craniosacral therapy, which helps both with fascia and joint movement,
  • Doing regular squats (the goal is to work up to 200/day!) to keep the sacrum moving and strengthen your legs and glutes,
  • spending lots of time on your hands and knees, and lastly...
  • sitting forward on your seat to let your belly button point toward the floor.  To learn more about other soft tissue techniques that you can use at home with your spouse or partner, email us!