Monday, June 20, 2011

P90X Exercise Program - is it for you?

It seems that every year, as the weather gets warmer and the days grow longer, we get inspired to exercise more.  More frequently, more intensely.  We create goals for ourselves: I want to lose 10 pounds; I want to walk to work; I want to run a marathon.  Whatever your goal and whatever your reason, you need to find a program that works for you.

After many years of trial and a lot of error, I have found what works best for me: I need to exercise at home, by myself, on my own schedule, every day.  I am not someone who benefits from a workout buddy, nor am I someone who can exercise several days per week.  I am a self-motivated, all-or-nothing person.  To this end, I find the P90X program is perfect for me.

For those unfamiliar with P90X, it is a series of 12 DVDS, each about 1 - 1 1/2 hrs in length that promises a full-body workout including training for strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness.  There are several reasons I like this program:
1. I can do it whenever I have the time; I do not have to worry about being late for a class
2. It works my entire body
3. I can decide how hard I want to work; how sore I want to be (or not)
4. It is designed to safely train you on a daily basis
5. It is inheirently easy to increase the challenge level as your fitness improves
6. It requires almost no equipment (my current "weights" are two cans of garbanzo beans)

That being said, there are several drawbacks that should be mentioned to anyone considering the program:
1. Each workout is at least 1 hour long, which can be difficult to work into your schedule
2. It works best when you do it daily, which can be hard for some people or even lead to injury
3. It is very challenging; someone without proper knowledge of biomechanics may injury themselves

The program has several variations; I do not want to be a body-builder, I just want to be healthy.  For that reason, I stick with the "lean" program; it has a good dose of strength training while focusing on cardiovascular fitness. 

Is P90X for you?  Consider the pros and cons seriously before deciding.  Either way, you need to be careful injury during any exercise.  The best way to do this is to make sure your joints and muscles are properly aligned, that you warm up and cool down, stay well-hydrated and always work within your limits.  My favorite solution to any aches and pains is to use my foam roller and get a chiropractic adjustment.  Fixes me up every time!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gluten-Free Feasting

Recently, Dr. Medel had house guests who were both gluten-sensitive and vegetarian. The issue of gluten sensitivity is one that is rising in the public's attention. As wheat farmers use more and more genetically modified grain and fewer and fewer species of wheat, many people are beginning to show signs of sensitivity to wheat and wheat gluten.

While living gluten-free can be daunting at first (it seems like it's everywhere!) Dr. Medel was able to come up with a bunch of crowd-pleasing recipes that satisfied her guests dietary restrictions. Below are some of her favorites:

Goat cheese marinated in pesto/roasted red pepper
Make pesto sauce or roasted red pepper sauce making sure the oil content is on the high side. Spoon some of each into separate freezer bags. Set the bags into a shallow dish (I used a brownie pan). Place a hunk of goat cheese into each bag. Spoon more of the sauce over the top of the cheese. Close the bags, making sure all the air is out and the cheese is completely covered in the sauce. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours prior to serving. Serve with gluten free crackers (Glutino brand, Sesamark brand).

Roasted red pepper hummus
In a blender, combine one can of garbanzo beans, 1 ½ teaspoons tahini, 1 tsp minced garlic, ¾ cup roast red peppers, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. I like to use the jars of minced garlic and the red peppers, but you can certainly make your own. I made my own tahini by grinding sesame seeds in a Magic bullet until they had a pasty consistency.

Spinach potato nutmeg soup - One of my favorite soups!
In a frying pan, brown one half a white onion, diced, with a small amount of canola oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a large stock pot, combine the onions with a vegetable broth. Bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add spoon-sized pieces of potato and several teaspoons of nutmeg. When the potatoes are done, keep the heat on medium and add several cups of fresh spinach. Heat the spinach through and serve immediately. (This soup accepts meatballs or pork sausage nicely, if you have meat-eaters at your table. Just cook the meat separately and add it when you add the spinach)

Green salad with broccoli stems and Italian dressing
In a large salad bowl, combine: chopped green leaf lettuce, chopped vine ripened tomatoes, chopped carrots, broccoli stems chopped into ¼” quarters, alfalfa sprouts. Serve with artichoke hearts in oil or an Italian dressing.

Green salad with beet greens and peaches
Recycle the left-overs of the salad above and add chopped beet greens and chopped yellow peaches. (I find that as long as you keep the oily ingredients like artichokes or cheese out of the main salad bowl, you can add new ingredients the next day to have a whole new taste without the greens wilting)

Spicy peach dressing
In a small bowl, whisk together ¾ cup canola oil, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 minced yellow peach, ½-1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp sugar, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp minced garlic. Serve with a small ladle so that you can grab the peach bits at the bottom.

Apple-a-day salad with candied walnuts and spicy balsamic vinaigrette
This is an adaptation of a salad from a favorite lunch spot in SF.

In a medium saucepan, place about 1 ½ cups white sugar. Melt over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Do not let the sugar burn! When the sugar has turned to liquid and reached a medium amber color, pour in about 2-3 cups of walnuts. Turn off the heat. Stir to coat the nuts in the sugar. You need to work fast, as the nuts will begin to stick together and to the spoon. Once coated, pour them out onto a parchment paper sheet or greased cookie sheet. Separate the nuts from each other to prevent them forming chunks. (I like to put on dish gloves and then butter the fingertips. This allows me to separate the nuts without getting stuck or sticky and prevents me from burning my fingers too badly)

Once the nuts are cooling, chop green leaf lettuce into a bowl. Add 2-3 chopped granny smith apples, 1 cup of dried cranberries and one cup of crumbled blue cheese. Add the nuts once they are cool and serve with a spicy, acidic dressing like Ken’s Steakhouse Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Quinoa with roasted veggies: beets, Brussels sprouts, onions, sweet potato

Prepare the quinoa as directed on the package. The idea here is to serve the quinoa and allow people to dress it with the various vegetables as they like.

Beets: Wash them well! They can taste like dirt if you are not careful. Chop beats into spoon-sized quarters. Place in a baking dish and pour olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper over the tops. Use a spoon to mix them all together, coating the beats. Re-season if desired. Cover and bake at 350 for about 1 hour.

Brussels sprouts: Cut each sprout in half, lengthwise. Place them in a baking dish with their cores facing up. Melt butter and drizzle it over the tops, adding salt and pepper to taste. Bake covered fro 30 min.

Onions: Chop half a while onion and half a red onion into spoon-sized pieces. Use your fingers to separate the layers if needed. Place the onions in a bowl. In a small saucepan on the stove, heat ½ cup honey and ½ cup balsamic vinegar and stir until combined. Pour over the onions. Stir and let sit for 20 minutes. Pour the onions onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, stirring once half way through. (These onions should be sweet and soft, but still have a little bit of texture when you bite into them)

Sweet potato: Wash your potatoes well. Chop them lengthwise into about 4 large pieces. Place the pieces in a baking dish with the flesh of the potatoes facing up. You can cram them in; don’t worry about leaving space in between. Bake covered at 350 for one hour or until they are fork-tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Using a small knife, cut into the side of the peel of each piece of potato, and remove the peel. Then chop the cooked potato into spoon-sized pieces. These are great on their own, but are also nice served with butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, maple syrup or brown sugar.

Chocolate chip banana bread
Follow any recipe you like, substituting all purpose wheat flour with all purpose gluten-free flour.  Add about 1 ½ tsp xanthum gum and keep the other rising ingredients at the same proportions.  My favorite is the recipe found in the Joy of Cooking for Banana Quick Bread.  I always add extra banana, and use about a cup of chocolate chips.  The result is moist and cakey.  Yum!

Peach plum pound cake with blackberry honey glaze and whipped cream
Replace wheat flour with gluten-free baking flour and add about 1 ½ tsp of xanthum gum.  I used a basic pound cake recipe, adding in cubed fresh peaches and cubed dried plums.  For the glaze, I melted honey on the stovetop, adding a bit of light corn syrup to give it a more liquid consistency, and then added fresh blackberries.  I cooked the blackberries for about 5-7 minutes; just enough to soften them without actually breaking them down.  I presented the cake and then poured the glaze over the top.  It was beautiful!  Everyone got a dollop of whipped cream on top (1 pint heavy whipping cream and 2 table spoons of sugar plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract).  Next time, I think I would also cook the peaches a bit before putting them in the cake.  Putting them on the stovetop on a frying pan with a little sugar to make them glaze up would have helped bring out the flavor.

Monday, May 2, 2011

We've Joined Facebook!

Come one, come all to the Chiro-Health Facebook page! We've added events, pictures and, of course, information on how to make an appointment.

Please take a moment to "Like" us so that you can be updated on all our latest changes. We will be posting information on upcoming Gait Analysis workshops, the progress we are making in finding a larger office space and special deals that we'll be offering for all our FB followers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Standing Workstations

We've all heard it before: Sitting for long periods is bad for you! Of course, most of us have jobs that require sitting at a desk for 8-9 hours every day. Sitting can cause increased pressure on lumbar inter-vertebral discs, low back sprains and strains, forward head posture, headaches and upper back pain. In an effort to decrease employee injuries and increase comfort, many modern offices are offering a new alternative: Standing Workstations.

A standing workstation is essentially a desk raised to a height at which the user can stand comfortably. This allows you to move more freely than sitting in a chair, which decreases the strain on your lower back. Because you are moving more, you also have more blood flow to your spinal muscles. This keeps the muscles functioning at a higher level and helps them to protect the spine from minor injuries. People who are standing generally have better posture than those who are seated, which also helps to decrease the strain on the neck and upper back.

Standing can have its own drawbacks, however. Many people who stand for hours at a time report hip pain, knee pain, foot pain and lower back pain as common. This is because of the pressure of the weight of your body on your pelvis and legs. Some of this strain can be alleviated by standing on a padded surface.

Perhaps the best solution is the convertible work station. These are a relatively new option that allow the employee to easily transition their desk from a seated to standing height, and back again. Many of my patients who have convertible work stations say they like to mix it up: start the day standing and then sit after lunch, or make Monday a standing day and Tuesday a sitting day, etc. The convertible option allows the desk user to make the desk really work for them. While it is still important to have an ergonomics evaluation of the convertible workstations, we feel they are a great long-term solution to the problem of spinal stress in the workplace.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Detox/Purification in Retrospect

I finished my 21 days this past weekend. I am very happy that I chose to do this detox program. I found it very rewarding and educational, not to mention the improvements I have seen in my health and well-being.

Here are the things I learned about my body on this program:

1. Refined carbohydrates are bad for me. I knew this before, in theory, but now I can FEEL that they are bad for me. When I eat them, I get bloated, tired and cranky the next day. I do not think I am specifically wheat or gluten intolerant, like many people, I just think my body doesn't do well with refined foods. As a doctor, I know this is true of all human beings. As a patient, I finally get it!

2. Water makes me feel good. Again, something I preech to patients all the time is the importance of adequate hydration. I have always been a person who was never thirsty, and that made it difficult for me to remember to drink water regularly. What I have found, however, is that by forcing myself to drink water regularly for so many weeks, I have actually DEVELOPED thirst! It's amazing! Now, I know when I haven't had enough water because I can feel the dryness in my mouth and in my lips. It's a great reminder from my body to supply what it needs.

3. Brown rice is not as gross as I thought it was. I know that as an adult my food choices should not be governed my childhood prejudices, but brown rice is one that slipped by me. I actually enjoy brown rice, now. I like the nutty flavor it brings, and I like that the grains are a little tougher, giving me something to chew on.

4. The key to weight loss is to eat a lot of really good things. This is particularly true for me, because I am someone who can skip meals when I am busy. This puts my body into a conservative mode because it is unsure when it will get food again. That makes weight loss impossible. Instead, it makes more sense to supply to body with lots of food, at regular intervals. You just have to make sure that food is healthy: mostly veggies, with some fruit, meat and fat in smaller portions. Remember that you don't have to eat a lot, because you'll just eat again soon. I find that I literally only need 2-3 bites of chicken with my salad, and then I just eat more later.

5. Health is more than just diet. Again, something I knew already but has become a personal truth. For the last 8 months, I have been working on weight loss. I have lost a total of 30 pounds, and feel much better about myself and my place in the world. Still, this detox proved to me that I NEED exercise to feel my best. During the last three weeks, my exercise was fairly minimal because I didn't want to send my body into that conservation mode I mentioned in #4. I have found that while I have lost weight, I have also lost muscle tone. I am wearing small pants, but my rear doesn't look as good in them! This proves to me that it is not just being thin, it is being toned that makes a person feel their best.

That's all for now. Dr. Dakoji is starting another round of the program for a new group of participants on Friday. I am looking forward to seeing how everyone else finds the program.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Today I took my first-ever Pilates class at the Sports Club LA near my office. I have been recommending Pilates to patients for years because I know that it helps to tone and strengthen the key muscle groups that are vital to our spinal health. I have never had the opportunity to take a class in which I knew the instructor would be able to provide individual attention, and so I had never actually taken a class myself. Individual attention is very important when leaning any new skill, but especially Pilates. This is because you can very easily appear to be doing Pilates exercises correctly, when, in fact, you are not! When any patient is interested in Pilates as a form of core stabilization exercise, I always encourage them, but I recommend they pay for a few one-one-one session prior to joining a class. This way, they can get the most out of the classes and prevent potential injuries from improper exercise.

I must admit that my class today was a mixed experience. On one hand, I really felt the individual muscles being worked and I could feel my core muscles engaging in ways that they are not normally asked to do. On the other, I did not sweat at all and my instructor seemed to be in a bit of a rush with all the exercises. Because I am a beginner, I had to go slower than the rest of the class in terms of repetitions just to make sure I had the proper form. My instructor's speedy changes from one exercise to another were a little frustrating at times.

All in all, I think it was a very valuable experience. However, if I were to incorporate Pilates into my regular exercise routine, I would have to make extra time for "sweaty exercise" so that I could feel my metabolism working.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Detox/Purification Day 12 of 21

Yay for meat! I apologize to the vegetarians and vegans out there, but I am happiest when I have a little meat in my diet. Adding it back in felt really good. I also thought the timing was perfect. I was just at the point in my detox where I was beginning to feel the energy wane I associate with a lack of protein; the very next day I was able to add meat back into my diet.

Of course, I am still doing my smoothies twice per day and taking the 5 capsules of SP Green Food twice per day. The addition of meat has made me feel much more full and satisfied after my meals. Portion control is important, and I find I need to be careful that I do not eat all of the meat first. If I do, I am too full to eat my vegetables.

All in all, things are going very well. I have maintained my weight since last week, which makes me happy. I do not like to lose a lot of weight quickly. I am also not following any of the weight-loss advice that the program provides. I am confident that if I wanted to lose another 6 pounds, I could have done it easily. My focus has been more on detoxifying my body and giving my liver and adrenal glands a little vacation.

Physical symptoms have also leveled out. I do find that I am sleepy at night, which is new. I would like to clarify that one can feel tired or even exhausted without feeling sleepy. Sleepy is great! Sleepy means I can actually sleep and get the rest my body needs. I have not felt tired since day 5 of the program. Literally not once!

Over half-way there, and feeling good.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Detox/Purification Day 10 of 21

I fell off the wagon this past weekend. I did well on Saturday, while I was working, but all that unstructured free time on Sunday was my undoing. I did not have any SP smoothies yesterday, and I ate some very off-plan foods, like chocolate cake, black tea and peanut butter.

Nevertheless, I am back on track today. I know we all have weaknesses, and I am trying to be forgiving of myself for my own.

The good news is that I am into a new phase of the detox. I am no longer taking 7 SP Cleanse capsules 3 times per day. Instead, I have graduated to 5 SP Green Food capsules only 2 times per day. My SP smoothies have remained the same.

Last week, at our meeting, Dr. Dakoji encouraged us to try an additional cleansing method this week. Some of the things she suggested were a castor oil compress, a colonic or enema, steam sauna or skin brushing. After doing some research about all of these, I determined that the skin brushing is realistically the only one that will work for my schedule. I have a soft brush with somewhat stiff bristles that I have been using when my skin is dry, after my shower. At fist, I noticed a lot of dry skin being removed. Now I see less of that and more of the glowing skin being revealed.

Some things I have found: 1) Prior to this program, I had been functioning at a lower energy level than I had ever imagined. Even my best days prior to the program pale in comparison to the amount of energy I have now. 2) When you start drinking more water, you crave even more of it. I don't feel thirsty or dehydrated, rather like having more water will be beneficial for my body. 3)Physical ailments like back pain or acne seem to respond to treatment much faster now than two weeks ago. 4) I am having a small amount of concern about losing too much weight all at once. I think this is the underlying reason I let myself fall off the wagon yesterday. I know rapid changes in weight are stressful on the body and I am beginning to swim in my clothes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Detox/Purification Day 7 of 21

Week 1 is almost over!

Things have been going well, so far. My energy level has remained high, I am sleeping better and I am not hungry.

I will admit that yesterday I ate some food that was not "on-plan". I was away from my house and my office, making it difficult for me to bring food with me. Still, I did my best to eat well: for lunch I had an organic green salad with balsamic vinaigrette (approved foods) and some walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese (not approved) and a side of brown rice (approved); for dinner I had a small bowl of soup with organic spinach and white potatoes (none of that is approved due to the length of cooking time) and three meatballs (not approved). All in all, I didn't do too terribly, but I feel bloated today, due to the extra salt.

That being said, a walnut has NEVER tasted so good! After having so little fat in my diet, I could really taste the wonderful fatty meatiness of the nuts. It was a VERY enjoyable lunch:)

Today we have our first progress meeting with Dr. Dakoji. I am looking forward to hearing how everyone else in the group fared with their first week.

Incidentally, for those interested in detoxing to jump-start their weight loss: I have lost 6 pounds since starting the program. My plan to recover from holiday excesses is working well!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Detox/Purification Day 5 of 21

Feeling MUCH better today! I have energy and my mood is much improved. The last two days were a little rough. I was tired, a little depressed and anxious, and I was craving bad foods like fast food chicken sandwiches. Today has been great! I haven't had any cravings and feel a lot more clear-headed.

Today's smoothie contains mixed frozen berries and cooked sweet potato, along with water and the supplements (SP Complete and Whole Food Fiber). I have been very good about taking the SP Cleanse capsules, and have even found that I can take them on an empty stomach. I have no burping or stomach discomfort, which can happen with other supplements I have taken in the past.

I also notice I am happily drinking much more water than I normally do. I am someone who does not get thirsty easily, so it is easy for me to under-hydrate. Today, it is about 1pm and I have already re-filled my water bottle at least 5 times. ( I estimate my bottle holds 16 oz.) I always make sure my water is room temperature or warmer (per my acupuncturist's instructions), and that also helps me drink more.

It's been a good day!

On another topic, we start our Hip Month at the YMCA tonight. We are offering hip evaluations to all the members for only $20. Hopefully we'll educate a bunch of people on their body's mechanics.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Detoxification/Purification Program Day 3 of 21

The first group of the detox/purification program began on Saturday, January 8, 2011. These first seven days, we are drinking smoothies made of fruits and vegetables, water and the Standard Process supplements: SP Complete and SP Whole Food Fiber. We are drinking these at least 2 times per day, but I personally have been drinking 3. In addition, we are taking 7 capsules of SP Cleanse 3 times per day.

I found that the SP Cleanse capsules can be opened and put directly into the smoothies, making it easier to avoid swallowing a lot of pills. I warn you, however, that these capsules contain some spicy ingredients. For some people, it may be easier to swallow them than to deal with the heat!

In addition to all these smoothies, we are drinking LOTS of filtered water (at least 8 cups/day) and eating as much as we want of fresh, organic fruits, veggies and either lentils or brown rice.

Here are a few things I've found out so far: 1) Smoothies taste better with veggies. My current favorite is frozen berries and cooked sweet potatoes. 2) My jaw gets tired of chewing if I don't lightly steam my cabbage. 3) brown rice tastes a lot better than I remember it tasting. 4) beets are EXCELLENT steamed. 5) The fat in salad dressing is important to help your digestive system completely extract the nutrients from vegetables, and to keep your nervous system healthy.

Symptoms: I feel a little tired/groggy in the mornings (probably missing my daily cup of tea) but otherwise pretty good. I'm cold, but it's also 37 degrees, so I think that's normal.

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well, as you all know it's been a while. We've had a lot of changes at the office since my last post. We have a new massage therapist named Janet and a new chiropractor, Sravanthi Dakoji, D.C.

The most exciting thing in our office right now is the new Detoxification Program Dr. Dakoji is introducing. There will be an informational meeting held here at the office on Friday, 1/7/11 at 11:30am to get things started. The program is being done with support from Standard Process. I am very excited about getting started on this detox! The month from Thanksgiving to Christmas was one of cookies and fudge and pie and stuffing and all sorts of other wonderful foods...I think we could all use a little cleansing.

Email for more information, and come join us as we start a healthy new year!