Five EASY Tips to a Healthier You

Hey there!  We are well into September, almost into October in fact.  This time of year always makes me happy.  I love the cooler nights.  I love the leaves changing colour.  I love anything that smells of apples and cinnamon baking together.  Speaking of apples and cinnamon baking together have you seen THIS?  See, with just one quick link to a YouTube video I made your life instantly better today.  I personally can’t wait to blow my family’s minds when I make this for them this week {with one minor tweak…I’ll use coconut flour in lieu of wheat flour}.  Of course, I’ll have to trial run it a couple of times before…

Anyhow, to get to the point of my post, I want to connect in with people today who are struggling already with their health this fall.  As we get further into fall and then into winter {stay with me…I know it’s painful to accept winter is coming but stay with me….}, people tend to get sick more often.  Let’s clear something up though.  It’s not because there are an abundance of extra germs out there that suddenly decide to come out and play.  There are a number of causes to this phenomenon.  Let’s start first by stating the obvious.  I live in Canada, about an hour north of Toronto.  And it’s freakin’ cold here in winter.  It was so cold last year that we didn’t even get that much snow. With that massive shift in temperatures, I notice a few things amongst the general population of people I get to work with daily in my practice.

  • people are more sedentary and do not exercise as much in the colder months
  • people get less exposure to sunlight thus less vitamin D {for two reasons…firstly, there literally IS less daylight hours and secondly, reminding you that I live in Canada in the winter, it’s freakin’ cold so people do not venture outside nearly as much as they do in the summer}
  • people eat more crap – processed foods, comfort foods, carb laden foods – and less fresh foods

There are a few other things here and there but I would say that those are the top three reasons that individuals tend to be more likely to get sick in the colder months.  Combine that with other unhealthy habits and it’s a recipe for colds, flu, and XYZ infection.

But I am here to help YOU keep and stay healthy this year.  I am going to give you five easy tips that you can follow.  These will significantly increase your chances of staying healthier over the next six months.  Ready?

  1.  Get adjusted by a Chiropractor.  Wait, what?  Hold the phone.  What does a Chiropractor have to do with keeping me healthy.  In a nutshell: Chiropractors ensure your nervous system is working properly.  Your nervous system controls every single part of your body including your immune system.  Your immune system is what keeps you from getting sick.  rethink_chiropractic_infographic-600x464
  2. Improve your gut health.  Did you know that your gut has 10x more bacteria than your entire body has cells?  Think about that for a moment – you are more bacterial than you are cellular.  Your gut comprises over 75% of your immune system so if you don’t eat a healthy diet, you’re directly impacting how well your immune system works.  I can tell you to stop eating processed foods but you already know this.  I am definitely going to tell you to cut the wheat and other inflammatory grains out of your diet. If you really want to get some amazing actionable steps on how to improve your gut health, go to http://www.chriskresser.com and download his Gut Health ebook.  He talks about the benefits of fermented foods and he’s really REALLY smart when it comes to this stuff.
  3. Use Essential Oils.  Exceptional quality ones (email me at drandrearyan@gmail.com for info on the essential oils I choose and ONLY use for my family’s health).  There are so many different essential oils out there that can support your immunity and give you that extra boost when you need it.  I diffuse them into the rooms we frequent and I massage them topically into my skin {and my kids’ skin too!} so that we’ve got an all-natural, non-toxic and EFFECTIVE way to keep our bodies protected. essential_oils2-530x350
  4. Get active.  I can hear the excuses rumbling already….”I don’t have the time.” It can take as little as twenty minutes a day.  Everyone has twenty minutes a day.   “I don’t like exercise.” Too bad.  Suck it up.  You’re an adult and adults have to exercise.  Period.   “It’s too expensive to join a gym.”  You know what’s expensive?  Taking a day or a week off work or away from your family because you can hardly get out of bed.  But here’s the best part….you don’t need a gym!  You can get a workout in your own home.  You can walk around your neighbourhood.  I used to put a lot more emphasis on the type of activity people got.  I believe strongly that more emphasis should be put on building strength than on cardio {and I still believe that 100%}.  But here’s the thing…any activity is good activity if you’re not doing anything right now.  Just get up and get moving.
  5. Get Rest.  Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep a night.  Some people do well on 7 hours, some people do well on 9.  The point though is to make sure you get rest.  Your body heals when you sleep.  Think about it…when you’re sick, your body naturally wants to sleep more.  It innately knows that it needs to rest and so you do just that.  Why would you think when you’re healthy that you don’t need sleep?  Shut off your computer.  Turn off the TV.  Put down the book.

So, there you go.  Five easy tips that anyone can implement into their life today.  And while tips are great, they are nothing without action.  Just knowing them isn’t enough.  You actually have to implement these into your life.  🙂  Here’s to a healthier YOU this winter.

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Why Being Selfish is Good

I think we’ve likely all been there.  The feeling of suddenly realizing its February 12th when if someone had told you it was only February 5th, you would have believed them.  I feel like the last week has been an absolute blur.  Or maybe it’s that each day feels like the one before lately and so I’m losing sense of what day is what.

My oldest daughter has been home for two weeks from school because of a nasty cough that at one point had escalated into fever, vomiting and ear pain.  For most of these two weeks though, it’s been alternating between a dry hacking cough and a wet congestive cough.  She has great energy.  She is eating well.  She sleeps through the night.  She’s happy.  But she spends half of her day sounding like she’s about to cough up a lung.

So we’ve been laying low.  And by laying low it means that we’ve been cooped up inside the house for basically two weeks.  When the other two are home from daycare and school, life gets a little batty.  The three altogether in the same house become like caged wild animals.   It’s been extremely cold outside so playing out in the snow hasn’t been a priority.  And even kids get tired of board games, books, movies & hide and seek.  Tension levels rise, including mine.

We need to get out.  And I am craving a little freedom.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.  Not just as a mom, but as a human being.  I need to respect and put a priority on my values and feelings.  When my life is feeling a little like it’s overloaded, I need to get back to the basics of what makes me tick.

*my morning power hour is crucial.  Even if that morning power hour is 5 minutes long.

*my workouts at the gym.  I set some pretty substantial goals for myself at the gym at the beginning of the year.  I’m a few more workouts away from being able to do my first pull up.  I’m looking forward to posting that video for you.

*quiet time.  I am an introvert at heart.  I feel much happier if I have been able to carve out just ten minutes of quiet time each day.

*chiropractic adjustments.  I’ve been checked more often in the last two weeks for numerous reasons.  I know that I adapt to stress much better when my nervous system is clear and with zero interference.

*essential oils.  There is something so beautiful about diffusing serenity, balance, onGuard and Breathe at different times throughout the day.  Add in some Elevation, Citrus Bliss, eucalyptus, Wild Orange, and Lavender and I’m pretty much covering all of my bases between supporting my immune system, adapting to stress at a better level, and making my soul happy.

Making my soul happy.  Deliciously happy.

And making my soul deliciously happy is at least a step in the right direction towards freedom.  I may not be hopping a plane to paradise anytime soon (although knowing that our temperature is dipping to -31C with the wind chill this afternoon is making me second guess our choice of a ski trip this weekend instead of sitting on a beach somewhere) but creating inner freedom is good too.

The more intention I choose to place on my happiness and state of peace, I feel like the perceived monotony of life right now is more tolerable.  I make no excuses for being selfish with my personal time.  Caleigh may have had a cough but taking her to the gym with me on Tuesday morning meant that I could still get my own health and well-being taken care of.  Waking up an extra 30 minutes early in the morning, even though I could easily use some more sleep, means that I get to breathe a little deeper and plan my day before it begins.

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Before applying the oxygen mask to the people who depend on you, attach your own oxygen mask first.  Sound advice.  And advice that I choose to follow in times where people are needing me to take care of them more than usual.  I’m choosing to also take care of myself.

Re-Inspired to Do What I Love to Do

This post will be short and sweet.  Mainly because I have 50+ page of notes to go through from my weekend at the ICPA Freedom for Family Wellness Summit.  I can honestly say I have never been to a seminar that has made this much of a profound impact on me.  The speakers were tremendous.  The information shared was brilliant.  I walked away with a new-found sense of enthusiasm for practicing Chiropractic.

One speaker, in particular, who inspired me was Dr. Andrew Wakefield.  Dr. Wakefield has a story that regardless of what side of it you are on, is going to move you to action.  I had the opportunity this weekend to listen to him twice, as he told his personal story and then shared what he sees as the future of the vaccine industry and the purpose of Whistleblowers..  Without getting into the politics of vaccines, I can say that I was awed by his determination to not set the record straight on his past but instead to continue to fight for what he believes is right.  It wasn’t about him, it was about the message.

It reminded me of the many Chiropractors that had once been jailed for practicing Chiropractic (or as their jailers would say “practicing medicine without a license).  They believed so strongly in the purpose of what they did, that they refused to pay fines (thus admitting guilt) and instead chose jail.  Dr. DD Palmer, the founder of our profession, was interviewed once saying “After I went to jail, several parties phoned to my home and others called offering to lend me money with which to pay my fine. I am not in cell for lack of principle but for an abundance of principle.”  Dr. Herbert Ross Reaver was arrested twelve times and jailed four times for practicing medicine without a license.  In the following video, he was asked what inspired him to continue to fight for his purpose, despite all of the time spent in jail.  Simply put he was “hungry to teach that next patient the value of Chiropractic and the value of innate intelligence to cure us…that’s it.”

It hit me that I’ve been playing too small in Chiropractic.  I haven’t been as fully engaged in practice or in my community as I could be.   As I watched speaker after speaker get up on the stage and share their story, their struggles, their passion, and their drive…I made a conscious choice to step up in practice.  I have an incredible super power called “the Adjustment” that helps unleash the potential in each individual I have the honour of working with.  I arrived back in Barrie on Sunday night literally tingling with excitement to be connecting with people in the office and adjusting this week.

And as if the Universe had been waiting for me to make that choice, my office this week has been flooded with people who are coming out of the woodwork, who are new to the office, and who (despite the epic snowfalls we’ve had in the last 24 hours) are – as one mom state this morning – in for their scheduled adjustment times but are coming, fighting tooth and nail through the snow to make sure they get to our office to get adjusted.

I’m so grateful to do what I do.  And I’m so grateful for each and every person I have the opportunity to work with.  I’m grateful to each mom who brings me their newborns (two little ones had their power turned on for the first time in their lives this week), asking to have them checked after coming into the world.  I’m grateful for the teachers and mentors that have guided me along the way to today.  And I’m grateful for you, for reading this blog post.  Looking forward to connecting again soon.

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My Six Step Punch to Knock Out Colds

Hi there!  I feel like I’m coming out of this hole that I’ve been living in for the last two weeks.  There’s been a lot of excitement with my nephew being born  and getting back to routine in September.  Sandwiched in-between those two events was this nagging sense of not getting things done, being disconnected from the world due to lack of internet at home, and this after-summer cold that my family has been hanging onto for a few weeks now.  It went from one person to the next and seems to be working its way out of our home (finally)!

I was sharing our story of this persistent cold/”viral thing”/”congestive annoyance” with another family in our office and they asked one of the most common questions I get in practice.  “What do you do for your family to beat infections?”

This is a topic that I’m very passionate about.  I’m a Mom (first and foremost) and I’m also a Chiropractor, who has a special interest in taking care of myself and my family as naturally and holistically as possible.  And I like to share what I have learned with others because over the years I have connected with so many amazing families, headed by mamas who are doing everything they can to support their family’s health with as little medical intervention as possible.

So, before I answer the question “What do I do for my family to beat infections?”, let me share some of my beliefs so that you understand why it is what I do.

1.  Your body (and those of your children) is intelligent.  The human body will always pick the perfect response to stress that it encounters.  For example, if your 3 year old daughter gets a virus then her body will do whatever it has to do in order to kill the virus.  It will raise its internal body temperature (read: get a fever) in order to destroy the virus as it tries to multiply.  Viruses love normal body temperature, they do not like higher than normal body temperature and will die off as a fever is produced.  Also, it will create an increase in mucous in order to rid the body of the virus.  Hence the gunk that is coughed out of lungs and the stuffy, runny noses that are draining.  Pretty smart of her body, right?

2.  Infections are a Normal and Healthy Part of Being Human  When we “get sick”, it’s not always a bad thing.  I have to look at a few things to determine whether or not this is my own fault out of conscious (or subconscious) thought and action OR if simply, this is my body (or my children’s bodies) growing a better defence system.  What do I mean?  I mean that if I’m burning the candle at both ends – not sleeping well, not exercising, not eating whole foods, not getting adjusted as often as my body needs, etc. – then I’m likely setting my body up for an infection.  It’s energy stores are depleted. I can’t possibly expect for my body to ward off a cold or flu if I haven’t been properly taking care of it.

The second part of this is that getting sick can simply be a way for my child’s immune system to expand and get stronger.  Childhood infections of any kind are a great way to test, grow, and support the immune system.  If we never got sick, then we wouldn’t have a heightened immune system to protect us against future infections.  When we take medication or give our kids medication, it doesn’t allow for their bodies to properly and completely internalize the infection, build an immune response against it, and heal from it.  As a result, when future infections hit, the body is less prepared and more likely to get knocked down even harder.  Interesting concept, yes?

This all being said, when I or my husband or my kids are sick, it sucks.  None of us enjoy being sick.  It affects the whole family too.  It impacts our ability to do what we want.  It impacts our ability to work.  It impacts our ability to play.  I respect the whole process that the body has to go through when it’s healing from a sickness, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t sideline our lives.  Prevention is key but let’s be honest, even with the most organized plan to stay well, we still get sick.  So, let me share with you what it is we do once “something” sets in.

My Six Step Punch to Knock Out Infections

1.  Get adjusted!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Regular Chiropractic care is crucial to supporting a imageshealthy nervous system AND immune system.  The nervous system is the master control system of your body and directly affects how your immune system functions.  If there is interference to your nervous system then there will be interference in your immune system (read: your immunity is working at less than 100%).  Get adjusted.  Regularly for preventative reasons and to stay well…and then yes, when you feel like your immune system has been compromised, get checked immediately!

2.  Essential Oils  A relatively new addition to our family’s toolbox but one that I can’t believe we lived without up until the beginning of this summer.  I use DoTERRA oils and I’ve been amazed at how well they work.  Their purpose is not to “treat” your infection, but support your body through it.  That being said, I was shocked the other night when I used a couple of drops of OnGuard and immediately my sinuses cleared after hours of being congested. Find out how to order them for your own family.

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  • OnGuard – An incredible immune support oil.  It’s Wild Orange combined with clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  I put a couple of drops under my tongue (very spicy, like oregano oil but wow, does it work!), put a drop on each of the soles of my feet, and dilute 3-4 drops in a tablespoon of coconut oil and massage it into the areas that need support (bridge of nose if nasal congestion, chest if coughing, across throat if sore, behind ears if sore, etc.)
  • Lemon – I add 1-2 drops in each glass of water I drink.  Another great oil for immune support.
  • Helichrysum – Helps to support healing.  I take 1-2 drops (with or without a carrier oil, depending on level of sensitivity…I use a carrier oil for my kids) and place it on the soles of feet and into areas that need extra support (see above with OnGuard).
  • Breathe – great to use if congested and having trouble breathing (also great support for allergies, asthma, and other breathing challenges!)
  • Peppermint & Lavender– We often don’t get fevers but when we do, they hit hard!  Fever has its place but it makes it very difficult to sleep, especially for young ones.  I will take 2 drops of peppermint & 2 drops of lavender & mix it in 1 tsp of carrier oil.  Rub onto soles of feet, back of neck, and down their spine.  It creates a cooling sensation that isn’t meant to kill the fever, just make it more manageable to live with.

3. Drink Liquids  So great to stay hydrated!  Water, water with lemon and warm tea (or even warm water) are images-1all easy ways to get fluids in.  Bone broth works by bringing oxygen to the cells that need it.  I make homemade bone broth once a month and then freeze it in small portions (1/4 cup sizes…or use an ice cube tray to make individual portions).  Simmer different bones (oxtails, bones of fish,  chickens, cows, etc. – just make sure they are organic!) in water for days (I stick it all in a slow cooker for up to 72 hours).  Breast milk for those who are still breastfeeding is exceptional for immune system support.

4.  Tone It Down  Hardest part especially for the “go go go” types like myself.  But it’s crucial to get into a quiet place.  Stay home.  Snuggle up on the couch or in bed.  Watch a movie.  Play quietly.  Read books.  Draw.  Our lives are so busy usually that for us, we really need to focus on just being as still as possible.

5.  Avoid Sugar and Dairy  Sugar is a feast for viruses and bacteria.  Eliminate it asap (it’s not good for us anyhow!).  Dairy is a congestant.  It will create more mucous than what is necessary.  So getting rid of all dairy products is a second nutritional change that has to be made the moment we are fighting something.

6.  The 24 Hour Rule   Did you go to bed with a fever and wake up feeling great?  Well, you’re likely not out of the woods yet.  The rule in our home is 24 hours without fever before heading back out into life.  It’s too easy for infections to rear their ugly heads again.  Your body is still processing!  I know that life is there and needs your attention – but I promise you it will still be there tomorrow.  Work from home, if you can.  Putter around the house.  Go for an easy walk outside.  But lay low for an extra day to avoid delaying proper healing.

So there you go!  That’s what we do to beat infections in our home.  Hopefully this helps you discover what works best for your family.

Happy 7th Birthday Caleigh

Yes, the second birthday in as many days in our home!  Caleigh turns seven today.  SEVEN.

Seven years ago today, I woke up in labour at five in the morning.  At 9:45 that evening Caleigh came into the world.  It was a bit of a crazy welcome.  I won’t bore you with all of the details but in short, her health was less than good when she was born.  Her APGAR scores were low.  She wasn’t breathing well.  And she spent the next ten days in the NICU for a number of health challenges.  There were times when she would stop breathing.  She would have seizures.  The doctors performed a multitude of tests – EKGs, nerve conductions tests, various scans, etc. – to determine what was going on.  So many tests with no answers coming back.  There never came an answer….her symptoms simply disappeared over time and she regained complete function of her body.  Her heart is on the right side of her chest and her aorta attaches differently than it should, but she is a healthy, thriving, fantastic little girl who is about to turn seven.  SEVEN.

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I look back on those first ten days and it still catches my breath.  I remember songs on the radio that would play.  I remember the smell of the NICU.  I can hear the beep of the machines that monitored her breathing, heart rate, and pulse.  It really does feel like just yesterday although we’ve obviously had seven amazing years since.

There were two massive lessons I learned in those ten days.

1.  The power that made the body has the ability to heal the body.  Caleigh didn’t know what was going on, she was just a newborn.  Yet she fought every step of the way to get healthy.  Her body just knew what it needed to do in order to heal.  Yes, it took time.  And in the beginning, it was very much an uphill battle.  But she won.  She’s healthy.  Tom and I adjusted her daily, if not multiple times a day when needed.  Her body had massive interference to the crucial brain-body connection and an adjustment each time allowed her to heal faster and more efficiently.  I’m so grateful for our knowledge and expertise in chiropractic.

2.  Trust.  I had to have 100% trust in the team of professionals that was taking care of our baby girl.  Many times, there wasn’t even a moment to ask questions.  She wasn’t breathing?  Do what needs to be done to get her to breathe again.  She’s having seizures regularly?  Do what needs to get done to calm those down.  Heart not responding properly?   Do the test to find out what is wrong.  The doctors kept us informed and up to date with each new step but in reality it was out of our hands.  Letting go and not having control of your child’s health – and life – is both easy and hard.  Easy in the sense of you want what is best for your child.  Hard in the sense that you feel helpless.  Where we felt in connection with her health and life is when we could adjust her.  Clear the subluxation, clear the interference, and let the body do what it needs to do to heal.

And here we are, seven years later.  Caleigh, you are just fantastic.  So kind, so thoughtful, so smart.  You make me so proud in all that you do.  You love your family and you have a small but tight circle of friends, all of whom you truly care about.  Your heart is so big and you reach out to those who need help, need a smile, or need a hug.  You love to be on your own and be able to retreat into a book or craft.  I envision such great things for you.  As you grow, my two greatest wishes are that you are healthy and happy.  Follow your heart.  Do what you love.  We’re here to watch you take on the world in whatever way you choose.

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Baby adjustments

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  There is no greater honour in my chiropractic world than to be handed over a newborn baby and be asked to check them. There is something so perfect about providing a first adjustment to such a little being.

Little ones who, when they have a clear brain to body connection, function better.  They perceive their world more clearly.  They adapt more easily.  They are healthier.  Could a parent ask for much more?

Our own three children have been adjusted from the start.  Tom had the incredible experience to check them immediately after birth.  The birth process is hard on babies.  They go from being in a fluid, dark, warm, internal environment to the outside where there are colours, lights, smells, sounds, and touches they aren’t used to.  Never mind the journey they take to get here.  It’s a lot to process!

Why do they need to get checked by a chiropractor?  The answer is easy – they have a nervous system.   The nervous system is the most vital system of the body.  It is the master communicator and co-ordinator for the body.  We perceive our outside world through our nervous system.  The stress of birth and life in general can put stress on a baby’s nervous system causing an interference in the communication from the brain to the rest of the body and consequently impact how well they are able to perceive the environment around them.   Wouldn’t they function and adapt more easily if their nervous system was clear of any interference?  Wouldn’t they be healthier?

Absolutely.

It’s why we still check our kids on a weekly basis.  Whether or not they are experiencing challenges with their health.  Whether or not they had a fall or an injury.  Whether or not they are feverish.  Our kids can be busting at the seams with energy and expressing health and we’ll check them.  We check them because they have a nervous system.  And if there is any interference with their body’s ability to send messages from their brain to the rest of their body, we adjust.  We correct that interference, the subluxation.

It’s why I love what we do.  As chiropractors, we have the incredible ability to work with people, healthy or lacking health, and help them function better.  We can help them express greater health.  From the newly born to their great grandparents and everyone in between.  I don’t take it for granted for even a second.  And I’m so grateful to each person I have the opportunity to work with.

Especially the littlest ones, who hold within them the promise of something great.

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Please affix your own oxygen mask first

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There’s a reason that they ask you on a plane to affix your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.  It’s because you need to take care of yourself before being able to help the ones you love.

I find so often with moms (and dads too but moms especially) is that they will put everyone else ahead of them before they carve out time to take care of themselves.  They will eat last (if at all) to make sure their children are fed.  They run all over town to their kid’s activities and lessons but cancel out on their gym classes.  They make sure their kids get adjusted by a chiropractor but hold off on their’s until “there is more time.”

Hold the phone!  There is not one person more important in the world than yourself.  This is such a critical concept to understand.  Many parents will say “My kids are the most important things in the world” and as a mom I get where they are coming from however firstly, there has to be recognition that YOU are the most important person in the world.  If that is hard to accept, let me put it this way.

If you weren’t able to get out of bed, how well would your home run today?  Who would feed your kids?  Who would get them dressed and out the door to school or activities?  Who would take the dog outside?  Who would go to work and make money?  Who would  do the grocery shopping?

Now that’s one day.  But imagine this goes on for a week.  Or a month.  Or a year.  Or forever.

If, as parents, we have to make ourselves a priority.  We have to make sure we are eating healthy foods, getting rest, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, and yes – getting checked by a chiropractor regularly to ensure your brian-body connection is clear.

You can’t take care of your family (and friends, and co-workers, and employees, and everyone else in the world who depends on you) unless you take care of yourself first.