4 reasons to stop counting calories + 4 things you should be doing, instead!

We are constantly bombarded with a “calorie in – calorie out” mentality, when it comes to weight loss. The only problem is, all calories are NOT created equal, and health is not a simple math equation. There are so many more variables influencing our weight, which you may have not even realized play a role! (i.e. gut microbiome, hormonal imbalances, and water intake!) Plus, calorie counting isn’t a long-term solution for your goals. Ultimately, better health is what you are striving for, and losing those extra pounds is an added bonus!calculator-solar-calculator-count-how-to-calculate-67599

Stop Counting Calories. Seriously, you’re bad at it.

1)Counting calories may be making your body is work against you. 

Be honest. You don’t like doing it. Portioning out the ingredients, adding up all the totals, subtracting it from your limit, feeling guilty over that extra chip you slipped in… Even if you use one of those “easy” tracking apps on your phone, seeing that number hit (*insert arbitrary amount of calories here*) before dinner can be overwhelming. This is raising your cortisol levels, and we’ve all seen the commercials. Cortisol is the STRESS hormone, and its making you hold on to those love handles. During times of stress, which usually meant there was nothing to eat, our ancestors bodies’ knew storing fat, and slowing the metabolism, would help them survive. The more primitive portion of our brain, that controls this reaction, hasn’t caught up with the times. Today, stress takes many different forms, but (fortunately for most of us) rarely involves lack of food. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels go up, and your body is fighting against your goal. The truth is, even if you love math, even if keeping up with your calories makes you feel totally in control, and even if you just bought a shiny new kitchen scale….you’re still stressed out BECAUSE you’re dieting.

2)Most people are really bad at keeping track of their portion size.

Like, REALLY bad, and that probably includes you. Chances are, if you even remembered to read to label, the amount of peanut butter on that insulin spiking PB&J is well over a tablespoon. Do you know what 4oz of chicken breast actually looks like? Or, just how big is a medium sized apple? It is also easy to forget about sauces and other condiments. They can pack a lot of hidden calories, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and other additives you’ll want to avoid while trying slim down.fruits-grocery-bananas-market

3)You’re focusing on the wrong thing.

Whether your goal is to lose weight, or clean up your lifestyle, counting calories won’t get you there and keep you there. With all the preservatives, chemicals, and artificial sweeteners available today, consumers never have to step foot in the produce section of their supermarket. Human beings need REAL FOOD not food-like products. When eating real food, the average person would rarely, if ever, need to consider the amount calories they are consuming. Why? There aren’t that many calories to begin with. Real food contains the real nutrients our bodies need to function, meaning you don’t have to eat as much to satisfy biological needs. Plus, you aren’t putting as many foreign and toxic chemicals and preservatives into your body, which only slows its function and ends up being stored in our organs and adipose tissue. Buying low calorie ice cream bars, made with aspartame, isn’t going to change your eating habits. It is only going to perpetuate your addiction (yes, it is an addiction) to sugar and artificial food-like products.bread-food-restaurant-people

4)Labels can legally LIE to you.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), companies are allowed to label their product as CALORIE FREE if a serving size is less than 5 calories. That’s a serving, not a package, which could potentially contain 20 or more servings. Are you mad? I’m mad! The FDA claims this is dietarily insignificant, and is therefore not required to be labeled. Hmmm…I wonder what other information they’ve decided is “insignificant” for you to know? For companies with products above 5 calories per serving, there is a nifty rounding rule that can be applied. Also, don’t believe everything you read on a restaurant menu. If you didn’t prepare the food, or at least closely monitor what went into it, you have no idea if it meets the same calorie specifications. Extra sugar, oil, galatose, diatase, or who knows what could be lurking in that combo #5, just waiting ruin your hard work. Follow this link to the FDA’s regulation guidelines, and check it out for yourself. Comment below if you find, or know of, any other questionable “guidelines”.

Now, here are a few things you can do! Of course, you may need to consult your physician before making any lifestyle changes, as everyone’s health needs are different.

1)Start by adding to your diet, instead of focusing on taking away.

Yes, you read that right. The term diet actually refers to the types of foods a person or animal eats. When we look at it as a restrictive process, it adds unnecessary stress to our situation, and that can be overwhelming to someone just starting their health journey. If something you love suddenly becomes off-limits, it will be only thing you think about. This is definitely going to dietary changes so much harder. Start by incorporating at least one vegetable, fruit, and/or serving of leafy greens per day. If you’re out at a restaurant, order a side salad, and eat it first. You’ll have less room for fried food or dessert. Don’t tell yourself you can’t have the greasy burger for lunch. Tell yourself you have to eat a bag of baby carrots first. If you are making a complete lifestyle change, this technique will help ease you into the process. pexels-photo-87383.jpg

2)Carry a water bottle with you everywhere.

Most of us aren’t drinking enough water, and no, coffee and sodas don’t count. Set a goal for yourself to drink a certain amount by lunch! It will calm cravings, and decrease your likelihood of reaching for a sugary soft-drink. Plus, water is great for your skin, digestion, and necessary for most physiological functions in your body. It is truly the elixir of life and the fountain of youth. If you aren’t a water person already, I’m not kidding, clearer and healthier skin awaits you. Infuse it with lemon, fruit, or cucumber to change up the taste. The going rate is 64oz (about 8 juice glasses) of water per day, so drink up!

3)Eat more REAL food.

If there is something you aren’t quite sure how to pronounce in the ingredient list, chances are, it is considered a chemical or preservative. Shop the parameter of your grocery store for fresh vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, proteins, nuts, and dairy (if you can tolerate it). Maybe you aren’t a vegetable person, yet. That’s okay! No one should expect you to start running 5Ks, teaching yoga, and eating a strict organic-fair-trade-vegan diet over night….or maybe ever!? If you have to smother asparagus in cheese, and it means you choose a plant over pizza, so be it! Eventually, you can start upping your vegetable game, but right now, you’re taking baby steps. That is still a win! We are all starting out at different points in our journey for better health. I don’t like kale. There, I said it! I don’t like kale chips. I don’t like kale salad. I hide it in banana-peanut butter smoothies. Just get creative! Trust me, recipes are out there (read #pinterest), waiting for you to find them.pexels-photo-57042.jpg

4)Eat when you’re hungry.

Keep healthy snacks at an easy reach, so when those mid-day cravings hit, you don’t run to the closest vending machine for a candy bar or bag of air chips. Unless you have an allergy or diverticulitis, nuts are a great option, because….they store well, have lots of good-for-you oils and nutrients, and nuts can satisfy that “crunchy-salty” addiction. It’s okay if you need a pick-me-up throughout the day. Seriously, I’m giving you permission to snack smart. If you aren’t ravenous by dinner time, you’re less likely to over eat, and more likely to choose healthier options. Plus, happy looks better on you than hangry.

Is the bathroom controlling your life? Here are 2 things you can start doing now to ease digestive problems.

bread-food-restaurant-peopleGoing out to restaurant, visiting a friend, or even a walk through the park is a challenge millions of Americans face daily, for reasons you might not think. As a culture, we avoid sharing bathroom habits with friends, family, and even healthcare professionals, as it is often seen as private and embarrassing. The reality is, at least 40 million Americans are living with debilitating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and may be receiving no help or counsel to combat the condition. What makes matters worse is that 326,474,013 Americans poop (that’s all of us, as of 2017).

We have to start talking about what happens in the bathroom, and stop acting like it is a big secret. Often, help is just around the corner. A reasonable healthcare professional should be able to evaluate each individual situation, and make recommendations accordingly.


Patient Testimonial:
For half my life, stomach pains and hospital visits were my “normal” routine. At the age of 14, I was diagnosed as having food sensitivities and was medically told to stay away from “white” foods, like white pasta, breads, etc. Unfortunately, that lasted for a few weeks as my family was unable to afford special dietary foods on top of an already tight budget. This meant the pains never went away, they just became inevitable daily moments.
Through the years, my abdominal pains would gain intensity and started becoming associated with new issues, such as a change in bowel habits, mood changes, and social anxiety problems. I was on a high processed foods intake, and felt like there was no hope. I was in and out of doctors’ offices and specialist’s offices getting tested for a range of issues from ulcers and obstructions, to more severe cases like Chron’s and Ulcerative Colitis. I even went as far as to undergo a Colonoscopy to find out once and for all just what was causing my stomach issues. All tests came back negative, and I remained with a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS for short.
Over time, the pain and inconsistent bowel habits, created an anxiety so great in me, that my symptoms overtook my life, literally. I began skipping meals before I would have to be somewhere like going to school, out with a friend, or to an appointment. I would not eat on long car rides in fear my stomach would get messed up. I refused to stay the night at sleep over’s. It did not matter what it was, I always put my stomach before anything else in my life. My fear and anxiety controlled me.
As I reached a point in life where I could afford to buy my own groceries and started learning how to cook for myself, I noticed a difference. It was minimal at first, but that was because I had to adjust my taste buds. Although I knew the processed foods were bad, I had been eating them for so long, that those were the foods my body craved. I started making small swaps, reducing the amount of processed foods and increasing my intake of vegetables and fruits. I also cut back on the amount of red meat I was eating, and replaced it with salmon and grilled chicken. My body began feeling energized, less bloated, and able to reduce the amount of abdominal pain.
My chiropractor suggested keeping a food diary, which helped me to learn what foods would irritate my stomach and what foods my body could tolerate. She was also able to make suggestions about foods I should be eating, and how to decipher labels. Reading nutritional labels on groceries helped me to make a better-informed decision on the products I was buying, especially meats. I have noticed that switching to organic and antibiotic free foods have helped alleviate my stomach issues almost completely.
Going out to eat used to be a complete headache. There were very few restaurants I could sit down in and eat an entire meal without immediate pain. It was then that I realized it wasn’t just food you had to track, it was how it was prepared. Oils played a huge role in my food sensitivities. So, if you’re like me, ask a restaurant what they use to cook their foods in. Nowadays, many places are accommodating to dietary restrictions/sensitivities.
Since I have gained a knowledge and understanding of what causes my stomach issues, I can control my diet and my pain is no longer a daily routine. Now, I just need to let my mind catch up to my body and understand that I no longer need to make an excuse or worry about having an embarrassing moment. I have control again, and can enjoy all life has to offer, without limitations holding me back.
-H. D.

The Standard American Diet (S.A.D) is suspected to be one of the leading causes of inflammatory diseases in this country. The consumer is all too often mislead, and even lied to by companies selling food-like-products on the shelves of grocery stores. The amount of chemicals and preservatives in most packaged goods is astounding, and it is robbing American’s of their health and their lives.

Here are 2 of the BIGGEST and simplest things you can start doing now, to improve your health, spend less time in the bathroom, and get your life back!

1)  Did it come from the earth or have a mother?

This is an easy question you can ask yourself, to help weed out foods that might not be the best choice for you.

Example: A box of Cheez-It crackers. Imagine how these crackers looked right before they were placed in a box. Can you imagine a field of golden crackers, blowing in the wind, while farmers pluck the delicate salted squares. No. Cheez-It crackers did not come from the earth, even if one of their many ingredients did.

Example: Fresh guacamole. It typically comes in a package, with more than one ingredient, so this one you might have to think about. What is in it? Avocado: grew on a tree. Cilantro: yep, that’s a plant. Lime: citrus is good. Maybe some chunks of onion or tomato: yes, those came from the earth. 

Example: Dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.  In order for this to come out shaped like a fried dinosaur, it had to be pulverized, pumped with preservatives, coated in breading, and dipped into a vat of hot oil. This did not have a mother before it landed on your plate.

Example: Free-range chicken breast. This had a mother.

 

2)  Drink more water.

Seriously, water is essential, and sodas, tea, and coffee don’t count. Water accounts for a majority of how your body functions, how your joints feel, how your brain works, and whether you live or die. Infuse it with fruit, down it before a meal, drink it hot on cold days. However you get it in is fine, just drink it.pexels-photo-87383

Spiru-what-a?

Spirulina has been buzzing around the health world for years, and has recently broken into the mainstream market. Here, we’ll tackle some frequently asked questions…

What is Spirulina? What’s in it? How do I take it?

A blue-green algae.

One of the most notable features, aside from health benefits, is the strikingly rich color. In powder form, the superfood parades a likeness to the deeply toned pillars of dye I’ve seen used for Indian Holi Festivals. It is slightly darker, though, and unmistakably painted by Earth, herself. Perhaps the color speaks to the nutritional density this superfood offers.

Spirulina is a cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae which uses photosynthesis to generate energy. Under a microscope, the bacteria appear blue, although the algae is very green to the human eye.

 

Nutrient dense.

Spirulina touts an impressive array of benefits. Considered a complete protein, this plant-based food actually contains all nine essential amino acids. The essential AAs are unable to be synthesized by the body, and must be obtained through diet. This is super important for many vegans and vegetarians, as these AAs are more difficult to come by when not consuming animal products, and are required for proper organ and system function. That’s a big deal! But, that’s not all…

  • Seriously loaded with Potassium (K)   Necessary for several bodily functions, including, blood clotting.
  • High source of Iron (Fe)   Necessary for those with anemia, and recommended during pregnancy.
  • Magnesium (Mg)   Magnesium aids in proper digestion (specifically, evacuation!), sleep, and several other bodily functions! It is even necessary part of converting calcium to bone! Very underappreciated, in my humble opinion.
  • Great source of Vitamin A   Healthy vision! Fun fact: Polar bear liver contains enormous amounts of Vitamin A…enough to kill a human, if ingested.
  • B Vitamins   B vitamins give us energy and help to make new blood cells, among other benefits!

 

How to consume it.

Spirulina is a popular addition to shakes and smoothies, as a powder. Be warned, however. This stuff isn’t for the faint of heart nose. It smells, and tastes, like a fish tank. The good news? It can be EASILY masked, with a piece of fruit or other additive, and you only need a pinch per serving. The supplement also comes in pill form, which most say is easier to swallow. 😉


USDA Nutritional Database

Essential Amino Acids

Double Blind Study Shows Chiropractic May Help to Lower Blood Pressure

“I don’t have back pain, why should I try chiropractic therapy?”

Anatomy 101 answer: Your brain controls every muscle, organ, and cell in your body. Your nervous system is an extension of your brain, acting like billions of telephone lines, sending and receiving information every second of your life. Our nerves travel through our spinal column, and sometimes these bones, and surrounding tissue, get in the way.

Does your Chiropractor want you to feel better? Of course! Our biggest goal for you, though, is to get your body FUNCTIONING and HEALING better! With increased function, comes increased health, which translates to less pain and illness.

So, here’s the down and dirty, super-summarized version of how this works. If you’re really interested in the physiology, check out some of these textbooks at your local library: Clinically Oriented Anatomy, Moore; Textbook of Medical Physiology, Guyton; Atlas of Human Anatomy, Netter.

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Skull, Cervical Spine, Nerves, Blood Vessels

Research demonstrates substantial evidence that specific Chiropractic care could help to lower elevated blood pressure, in certain individuals. Regulation of arterial pressure occurs in an area of the brainstem known as the medulla. Special receptors in your aorta and carotid arteries communicate pressure readings, via nerve impulses, back to the medulla (Guyton, 8th Edition).The brain uses this information to decide if pressure should be higher, lower, or stay the same. Once a decision is made, more nerve impulses are sent, as instructions, to other systems in the body.

The medulla meets the spinal cord at the upper boarder of Atlas, the first cervical bone in the spinal column (Gray, 15th Edition). Misalignment of this bone has been correlated with hypertension, in previous studies, and can potentially interfere with brainstem neural pathways.

 “We concluded that restoration of Atlas alignment is associated with marked and sustained reductions in BP similar to the use of two-drug combination therapy.” (Journal of Human Hypertension, 2007)BP

In summary, participants were screened for hypertension and atlas misalignment. Once selected, they agreed to voluntarily suspend all hypertensive medication for the duration of the 8-week study. Imaging allowed researchers to measure the degree of atlas misalignment, and periodic blood pressure readings were recorded. On average, treatment group experienced improvements comparable to that of being on 2 hypertensive medications. The participants achieved these remarkable results naturally, with the help of chiropractic care!

  • Systolic BP dropped 17.2 mm Hg
  • Diastolic BP dropped 10.3 mm Hg
  • Drug Free!

According to these results, a person with a BP of 142/92 could potentially see their BP lowered to 129/82, a reading that is not considered hypertensive.

The study met the same criteria, required by the Food and Drug Administration, prior to approving anti-hypertensive pharmaceuticals.

  • Blinded design
  • Placebo-subtracted reduction in diastolic BP of 5mm Hg, or more.
  • Free of serious side effects

Some additional measures were required of participants, to reduce variability and ensure safety, such as; Participants must be 21 – 75 years of age, exhibit evidence of Atlas misalignment in preliminary screening, have a documented history of Stage-1 Hypertension, and sign an informed consent. Patients were excluded if they had a life threatening medical condition, were unwilling to come off of medication for study, were pregnant, or had a BMI over 39 (morbid obesity).

*Legal note: The purpose of this post is not to claim that chiropractic will cure Hypertension. It is a presentation of informative and exciting data, regarding the subject. Do come off any medication, without first consulting your doctor.


Bakris, G., Dickholtz, M., Meyer, P. M., Kravitz, G., Avery, E., Miller, M., . . . Bell, B. (2007). Atlas vertebra realignment and achievement of arterial pressure goal in hypertensive patients: A pilot study. J Hum Hypertens Journal of Human Hypertension. doi:10.1038/sj.jhh.1002133

Gray, H., & Carter, H. V. (2011). Gray’s anatomy. New York: Barnes & Noble.

Guyton, A. C. (1991). Textbook of medical physiology. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Humble Beginnings

*Short bio on why I became a Chiropractor, and how I got here.

Once upon a time, I lived in the land of Chicken McNugget wishes and Ramen Noodles dreams. I was convinced diet soda would help me lose weight, and organic food was for idiots. Preservatives and pesticides are totally safe, or the FDA wouldn’t allow them in our food, right!?  *palm to forehead*

For years, I struggled with my weight, skin, self-esteem, and overall health. Getting here wasn’t easy, but it was so SO worth it! I’m not perfect, by any means, but I am leaps and bounds from where my health journey began. I’m still evolving my life to be healthier and happier every day. I do not pretend to have all the answers, or to like Kale chips, but  I do have knowledge about human physiology, and a drive to learn and share what makes us thrive! 

Health is a journey… Let’s take it, together!

Becoming a chiropractor saved my life.

Why don’t we follow our childhood dreams? Most of us spend our teens and twenties trying to figure out who we want to be when we grow up. Maybe it’s hard, because we focus too much on what society wants us to be. That’s another blog post, though. Looking back, I always knew where my heart was.

At 18, I graduated from high school, and like many, college was the next step. Also, like many, I did some soul searching and changed majors…twice. After finishing my Bachelor’s degree at Clemson University, I managed to land at a local desk job, working for a small business. It was your typical 8-5, spending my days cozied up to a computer and a land line, looking forward to nothing but the weekend. I was thankful to be working, but I felt like something was missing. I wasn’t happy, and the who I was supposed to be, just didn’t feel right for me.

As a child, I remember wanting to be a scientist. I used to pretend I was growing cultures in petri dishes and saving lives. (From monsters, yes, but still the victor!). I remember memorizing all the bones of the body in elementary school, and how excited I got talking to my mom about omega-3 fatty acids in the fish we ate for dinner. Maybe that’s not the kind of thing most kids get a kick out of, but I did. So, when I started another quest to discover my purpose, I decided to give science and healthcare a chance.

My biggest hesitancy with the American medical system was that it seemed to rely so heavily on drugs, and that didn’t align with my ideals. Don’t get me wrong; there is obviously a time, place, and necessity for pharmaceuticals. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I struggled with not wanting to be part of a system that seemed to encourage muscle relaxers and surgery over hands-on care and lifestyle modification. (Side note: I am aware many medical professionals are choosing not to approach their practice this way. I appreciate you. Truly.) My partner suggested I might consider Chiropractic, and was surprised to hear the response, “I don’t believe in that crap”. (I may have used a slightly different phrase to express my distaste, but lets keep things PG). This unfortunate view was, at the time, a product of my own ignorance combined with the lingering effects of a certain American Association’s attempts to oppress the profession (a court ruling found the group guilty of “long-term attempt to destroy a licensed profession,” in 1987). Chiropractic is not a religion or medieval alchemy, but rather a science based on our own physiology. No matter how smart I thought I was, my lack of understanding led to a lot of assumption, and we all know what happens why you ass.u.me something.

I had to eat that initial response, once I was schooled on the science, art, and philosophy Chiros practice. This profession was and is changing lives, by doing the most natural thing possible, removing the source of the problem. I soon came to realize that these were truly doctors of HEALTH care. They were masters of the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, biomechanical function of the body, and practitioners of the pure, natural healing I had been searching for. I was in love, and I couldn’t stop day dreaming about being a part of something so extraordinary. Chiropractic is more than just back or neck pain. It’s a culture and lifestyle of innate, proactive health. It is optimizing your potential, both physically and emotionally, by improving the brain-body connection. It is so much more than I can write in a paragraph, and this is where I desperately wanted to be! …But, “I can’t quit my job and take on more student loans,” would always creep back in.

The universe has a funny way of nudging you to the edge of the nest, like a mother bird, and telling you when it’s time to fly. Listen to the universe. It will not hesitate to shove you out of said nest. Like any other week day, I walked into work, put my things by my desk, and poured some company coffee into a white, Styrofoam cup, to get myself going. “The partners want to sell the company,” said a co-worker. Later, I would come to realize that these were seven of the most important words of my life, but at the time, they were devastating. Corporate America was coming in and my job was going out. Someone sitting in a cubicle, 500 miles away, would walk into work, put their things by their desk, and pour some company coffee to get themselves going. Meanwhile, I would be left with nothing but a stapler and an overpriced apartment.

What was there to lose, now? I spread my wings and applied to Chiropractic school. Everything was in motion, and I was finally following my dream. Ironically, a few months later, the partners backed out of the sale. My job was still there, but my heart wasn’t. The universe had made sure of that.

I became a Chiropractor, because natural health care is where my heart is. I find purpose in caring for people, delivering an organic pathway to health and healing for my community, mastering the science and unity of human physiology, loving my patients, and guiding them toward a more robust life….and the kid in me always knew that.