What is Mindfulness?

“The awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, nonjudgmentally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness stems from Buddhist meditation practices, but it is a little different. In meditation, we focus on our breathing as a way of clearing the mind and being free from other thoughts. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Focusing on breathing can be a way to do that, but mindfulness isn’t about clearing the mind. Thoughts and feelings that arise are okay, as long as they are met without judgment and we aren’t letting our minds wander too much. Mindfulness can also be practiced walking, where one focuses on the body’s movement, step by step. Or while eating, focusing on the texture and taste of food. The main goal is to focus on and be in the present moment as much as possible.

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Image: artslant.com

There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness. In today’s world, a huge benefit of being mindful is to relieve stress. Stress not only causes anxiety, but can cause many physical problems in our bodies, too. Jon Kabat-Zinn created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program in 1979 and it has become widely used. MBSR has been used to help treat many medical problems from anxiety to gastrointestinal problems.

As we mentioned before, there are many ways to practice mindfulness, but a few key things you need to do are:

  • Set aside some time. You can practice mindfulness anywhere, but make sure you have some uninterrupted time to practice.
  • Observe the present moment. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and aware of our thoughts, feelings, surroundings, etc. So, allow yourself to be fully in the moment.
  • Let judgments pass. The other part of being mindful is being nonjudgmental. Let any judgments that may arise pass.
  • Return to the present moment. It is very easy for our minds to wander. If you notice your mind wandering during mindfulness practice, calmly bring yourself back to the present moment.

3 Ways to Change Your Workouts to Improve TODAY

There are so many of us out there that have been working out the same way for years, or even decades! We’re comfortable doing it this way, we may or may not be seeing results, but at least we’re doing SOMETHING! Why change it now? Because our bodies are bored! If your body adapts to the way you’ve been doing things, then you stop improving or gaining the desired results. This is why programs such as P90X have been successful—every 30 days, right before your body plateaus, the workout regimen completely changes so your body continues to learn and grow.

Image: fitday.com

Image: fitday.com

Eventually, we all plateau. Our body changes because of the stress it is under. In terms of working out, this means we change based on the frequency, duration, or intensity of our workouts. If we don’t work out enough, or intensely enough, we see negative results in our bodies, and vice versa for seeing positive results. However, our bodies are incredible at adapting and becoming more efficient at movements it recognizes over time. Once our bodies adapt to certain movements or exercises, they do not become as stressed anymore and stop improving like when we first started—we have plateaued.

 

We also depend on mental stimulation to work out, or enjoy said exercise. If we are doing mindless hours of cardio or going to an exercise class that we are not excited about, then we lose motivation and begin making excuses to avoid the workouts. How many of you out there are going on long walks, or putting that exercise DVD on in the morning, and merely exercising because you know you must do something? There are so many different options out there to get your exercise in. It’s time you find something that you enjoy! If your mind doesn’t support what you’re doing, then eventually you will quit.

Image: airfitnow.com

Image: airfitnow.com

Our advice for getting over the plateau:

  1. Switch up the type, intensity, frequency, or duration of your workout. If you always wake up in the morning and take a spin class, try going to a high intensity interval training (HIIT) class instead. You are going to begin using muscles that may have been dormant during your spin classes and will immediately start to see incredible results in both your strength and stamina.
  2. Not sure which new workout to try? If you’re in Atlanta, try joining Class Pass (https://classpass.com). This gives you the ability to try almost 50 different studios/classes each month to find what really speaks to you. Have you been hesitant about trying a yoga or pilates class? How about a weight training session? This could be the perfect opportunity to switch things up!
  3. Talk to a friend! Find out what workouts he or she is doing and join them at their gym or class and have them come to yours as well! Working out and exercising is always better with a friend and helps you both stay accountable as well. Who knows, you may end up loving their routine more and switching up your style altogether!

 

The bottom line is don’t just work out to work out. Do it because you enjoy what you’re doing! We have too many options to get bored or stagnant with your exercise routine. Use our 3 tips above to switch things up this week and enjoy reaping the benefits of your body growing and improving like it did when you first started exercising.

Do you have other tips and tricks you use to keep your body guessing? Comment below or let us know so we can start incorporating them as well!

Interview with Dan FitzSimons from BodyFitz Personal Training

We just had the opportunity to interview the owner and lead personal trainer at BodyFitz Personal Training, Mr. Dan FitzSimons. Dan and I jumped into some great topics and controversies surrounding weight training and the importance of using a certified personal trainer.

One of the best features that BodyFitz incorporates into every one of their training sessions is the individualized nature of each workout. This is not a cookie-cutter workout where every age or body type is doing the same thing. At BodyFitz, it’s about your personal goals and the strength and health goals you want to achieve. Whether it’s based around you being able to play tennis better or being able to lift your groceries with ease, the trainer will create a program that is perfect for you:

 

Personal training, and weight training in general, has been around for decades, but not everyone has tried it. A common misconception with weight training or lifting weights is that it’s a young person’s game–the thought that once you’re over a certain age, weight lifting is more harmful than beneficial. This notion or idea could not be more inaccurate. As Dan explains in the next clip, weight training is an incredible way to improve your health and function at any age:

 

A major component of structural chiropractic care here at Excel revolves around proper posture and ergonomics, both in and outside of our office. We are all constantly in a slumped forward position, whether we’re checking text messages, typing at the computer, or lounging on the couch watching television, our posture is suffering. Here, Dan explains the importance of posture and how important it is to train the posterior chain (your back, glutes, hamstrings, etc.) as opposed to only focussing on the anterior (your biceps and chest, or pectoral, muscles):

 

Finally, Dan goes over an aspect of training that should be incorporated into not only every workout, but every activity or movement in our lives. Here, we go over the Spinal Bracing Sequence and how important it is to use proper breathing and stabilization before attempting to work out or lift anything in our daily lives:

 

I hope you all enjoyed this interview with Dan FitzSimons from BodyFitz Personal Training here in Sandy Springs. Please remember, you are never too old to start incorporating weight training into your regimen. At BodyFitz, it’s about improving your functional movements so you can perform every activity in your life safely and more efficiently.

Please check out the full interview below to catch even more incredible bits of knowledge that Dan and I discuss about health and weight training!

Why Mobility Training Should be Part of Every Workout!

Working on your mobility and flexibility is a crucial component to proper function and performance, be it in the gym or lifting your children and the groceries properly. When we get stuck in the same position for a long period, such as at the work desk, sitting in traffic, or sleeping improperly, we develop muscular adhesions around our joints. These adhesions restrict normal movement. Mobility training targets these joints, breaks down the adhesions, and restores proper structure and function.

 

Mobility can be incorporated into your warm-up, cool-down, or can be your entire workout for the day! Although structural misalignments can be a major cause of pain and discomfort, a lack of mobility can also cause issues and prevent you from living a healthy, well-functioning life.

I had the pleasure of working with Jenna Minecci, a trainer and mobility specialist at BodyFitz in Sandy Springs, and we targeted some problem areas that have bothered me in the past. Amazingly, we increased the mobility in my shoulders, hips, and low back in just one session!

Hip Mobility:

jenna-hip-stretch

In this mobility exercise, Jenna is using a tight resistance band to open up her left hip joint. In this position, not only can Jenna work on her hip flexors, but can also incorporate internal and external hip rotation mobility.

 

Shoulder and Upper Back Mobility:

jenna-shoulder-stretch

In this exercise, Jenna is using a lacrosse ball to help break up muscular adhesions in her shoulder blades and upper back. As you can see, she is leaning back onto the lacrosse ball and using her body weight and arm movement to help increase movement and flexibility. This is a great exercise for all athletes and can also be very beneficial for frozen shoulder patients.

 

If you are looking to increase your health, mobility, strength, and overall fitness, I highly recommend you call BodyFitz at 404-255-4008 and ask for Jenna!

Post-Injury, Low-Impact Workout Tips

Most of our patients here at Excel Chiropractic sought out chiropractic care after an acute injury, such as throwing your back out while trying to pick up the laundry, or a chronic injury, like being stuck at a desk behind a computer for 10-20 years. Whatever the reason may be, it is our goal to help you do the things in life that the pain is holding you back from.

When first starting care after an injury or accident, it is important to, if medically cleared, keep movement and exercise a priority. Here are some of our best tips for incorporating low-impact workouts into your rehabilitation:

 

Change your cardio routine

rans_lightning_recumbent_century_ride-med

Although you may enjoy walking or jogging, the impact of each step can be painful after a fresh injury. Instead, try using the recumbent bicycle or walking/jogging in a shallow end of the pool at either your house or a local gym with a designated shallow end. The recumbent bicycle is an excellent way to stimulate blood circulation, burn calories, and avoid straining your back in the process. By walking or jogging in the pool, you decrease the force and impact of each step. Also, with the resistance from the water, you get a more complete, full-body workout!

 

Increase and improve your mobility

Mixed race woman practicing yoga in park

Did you ever want to try yoga, Pilates, or tai chi? This could be the perfect chance. All 3 of these workouts help increase your cardiovascular health while also decreasing impact from traditional exercises. Not only will you increase your range of motion while your body heals, but you will build muscle and strength as well.

 

Go play in the sand

corgi-on-the-beach

Looking for a quick way to increase the difficulty of your workout? Try the same workout in the sand! Don’t live on a beach? Look up the closest sand volleyball courts and go when they’re not being used. One of the best workouts and rehab techniques for foot and ankle injuries is to walk barefoot in the sand. You use intrinsic muscles in your feet and ankles in the sand that are usually immobile when wearing tennis shoes. Also, the soft sand decreases the impact force on your joints and is a great way to transition back into normal hard surface workouts post-injury.

 

By incorporating working out and exercise back into your post-injury rehab, you help minimize the negative effects of scar tissue. The sooner you start working on your range of motion after an injury, the less time it takes to get you back to normal function. Use or share these low-impact workout tips if you, a friend, or family member has recently hurt themselves and are feeling discouraged. Good luck and be sure to let us know any other tips and tricks you’ve used!

Interview with Lori Harber of perFORM Pilates

We had the pleasure of speaking with Lori Harber, owner of perFORM Pilates in Sandy Springs. She gives us some great information about what pilates is, how it came about, and the difference between pilates and yoga. Then, she and Dr. Cohen show us some great pilates exercises that can be done at home!

 

What is the difference between yoga and pilates?

Pilates comes from yoga, gymnastics, and boxing. It is a sequence of exercises put together in a natural progression of horizontal to vertical and then back down to horizontal which imitates more the movement of our body. From lying down sleeping at night to rising in the morning, standing, moving, and then working our way back down to horizontal. So it really is just a sequence of exercises, not poses (which is more yoga), but actual physical exercises that initiate most body parts at the same time, but starting with your core.

 

Pilates seems to be more of a women’s exercise. Where does this misconception come from and should more men be doing pilates?

Pilates comes from a man, Joseph Pilates, who was a big, German boxer. He was really sick as a child and as he got older he started developing these exercises to make himself stronger. When he moved to New York after the war all of these dancers started coming to him because they heard there is this new guy with this new exercise workout that doesn’t bulk you up. There is a big misconception, obviously if you are a small person, even if you weight trained all day long you aren’t going to get that bulky. It’s more about your diet and nutrition. But what pilates does is creates long, lean muscles, so when you are doing spring loaded strength training you don’t create this bulk, this heaviness in your body. You get long, nice limbs, beautiful posture, your shoulders are back, so honestly, more men should be doing pilates.

 

For more information, watch the full interview above! To get in touch with Lori to schedule a pilates session, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pilateslori/

 

Weekend Activity: Farmers Market

Farmers markets are great places to buy fresh produce and other fresh food. They are usually locally-sourced, meaning that the food is grown or produced locally and many times the people selling the food are actually the producers, too. Farmers markets are one of the best options for high-quality, local, fresh food. Buying locally sourced products is great for many reasons. It is good for the environment because the food hasn’t been shipped hundreds or thousands of miles, which uses a lot of fuel. It also means your food is much fresher. Many of the farmers own small farms and grow a few things which means you are getting a higher quality product. A lot of them farm organically, too, which is even better!

In Atlanta, we are very lucky because there are so many farmers markets here! We have traditional farmers markets that set up once a week and only open part of the year and we have year-round, permanent farmers markets. These are, sometimes, not strictly locally-sourced, but do tend to sell fresh, quality products. Some are also known as “world markets” and sell specialty, international products, too.

 

Some of our favorite Atlanta farmer’s markets are:

 

Your Dekalb Farmers Market

37542_your_dekalb_farmers_market_magnum

This market is a permanent, indoor market. It is more like a big grocery store. There is a large produce section, a baked goods section, and a meat department. They also have a huge variety of products. They have more fruits and vegetables than a typical grocery store and their meat selection is also varied. They are considered a world market and have a great selection of international goods!

 

Morningside Farmers Market

morningside-fm

This market is a traditional farmers market where different, local vendors set up and sell their goods. However, it is open year-round! Morningside vendors also must be organic and local to sell at the market. Vendors include local produce farmers, bread makers, and coffee roasters!

 

Buford Highway Farmers Market

Harold Shinn is the president of the Buford Highway Farmer's Market in Doraville, Georgia.

This market is also a permanent, indoor market and sells a large selection of international goods. Their products aren’t always locally sourced, but they are high quality. This market also offers cooking classes with several classes being offered every week!

 

Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market

heritage-ss-fm

Our neighborhood farmers market is open every Saturday morning from April through October. Vendors offer a variety of local produce, eggs, cheese, and other prepared food. They also have several local artists who sell other goods like jewelry, handbags, and pet supplies!

 

Peachtree Road Farmers Market

peachtree-road-fm

Peachtree Farmers Market is a seasonal market and is open from April to December. It is the largest producer-only farmers market in the state. This means everything sold in the market is produced by the vendors, ensuring fair prices for buyer and seller. In addition to local produce and goods, they offer chef demonstrations and farm to table meals!

 

There are many other farmers markets around town, so find one in your neighborhood and add it to your weekly shopping routine to enjoy fresh, local produce!

Steps to Getting Your Nutrition on Track

There are many ways to make meaningful changes that will positively impact your diet and health. Focusing on certain areas of life and making simple changes can make a big difference. Here is what we recommend:

  1. At work: Make changes in your work routine that benefit your diet. Taking your lunch to work, keeping a water bottle at your desk, and avoiding the donuts in the breakroom are all great ways to start and keep up a good nutrition regimen.
  2. Social life: This might be the hardest part of life to make changes to, but if you can make better choices when you are out with friends, you will definitely see an improvement in your health! Choose simple, low calorie drinks when you are at the bar, have a date at home and cook a healthy meal instead of eating out, or eat a healthy meal at home before going out to keep you on track.
  3. Think ahead: This is huge in keeping your diet on track in every aspect of life. Whether it is meal prepping, looking at a menu before you head to the restaurant, or just packing some healthy snacks and a water bottle the night before, thinking ahead is vital!

This is definitely not the final word! When it comes to nutrition, the options are endless. There are so many good things you can do with your diet that will have positive effects on your health!

Veggie Egg Muffins

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! That’s what we’ve been told at least. And while there is an ongoing debate on the importance of breakfast, we think starting your day with a healthy meal is a good idea. It gives you energy to begin your day, gets your metabolism going, and can keep you from crashing mid-morning. WHAT we are eating for breakfast makes all of the difference, though. It is important to get a good amount of protein and healthy fats in the morning. This will help keep you full until lunch and even helps regulate your blood sugar throughout the day.

These veggie egg muffins are an excellent way to get a lot of protein in the morning and even a serving of vegetables! They are easy to make and can be reheated in the microwave for a quick breakfast on busy mornings. You can also make them using whatever veggies you have on hand!

 

What you need:

– 5 whole eggs

– 5 egg whites

– 1 red bell pepper, chopped

– 1 yellow onion, chopped

– 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 tablespoon olive, coconut, or avocado oil

– salt and pepper to taste

 

What you do:

  1. Whisk eggs together in a large bowl or measuring cup (the spout on a measuring cup will make pouring easier).
  2. Sauté bell pepper and onion in oil until tender (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add spinach and sauté 2 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and sauté an additional minute.
  5. Add veggies to eggs and combine.
  6. Pour mixture, evenly, into a greased, 12 cup muffin tin.
  7. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately or refrigerate and enjoy later!

 

Are You a Good Egg?

I’m not sure about you, but I used to get “analysis paralysis” when trying to choose the right eggs at the supermarket. I could not decipher the difference between cage-free, organic, free-range, etc. There were so many different labels that I didn’t know where to start. It was only after I did some research that I realized just how misleading those labels were. Maybe you’re facing the same problems I did, or maybe you don’t even know you’re not eating healthy eggs, but we’re here to help! Here are some of the biggest misnomers when choosing your eggs and ways to find the best quality, nutritious eggs on the market.

Misleading labels:

As I stated before, there can be a lot of misleading labels, so let’s start with the first one: cage-free. Most of us have seen the video clips of mistreated animals, especially chickens being jammed into cages. So, when we hear cage-free, we immediately think they must be having the time of their lives! Unfortunately, that’s not the case. To be labeled “cage-free,” the chicken is indeed out of the cage, but not necessarily outdoors. Most cage-free chickens never even see a day of sunshine.

The next most misleading label is free-range. To be labeled “free-range,” the chicken must have “access” to the outdoors. This does not mean they will always see the outdoors, as the flock of hens and chickens can be so large that only a portion can see sunshine. In addition, having access to the outdoors does not mean24-hour access—some hens only have 5 minutes of access to the true outdoors!

Finally, the last misleading label is organic. The good thing about being organic is that the hen or chicken was fed organic, antibiotic-free feed, or food. However, this does not have to do with their living arrangement or access to the outside.

Image courtesy of the Humane Society of America

Image courtesy of the Humane Society of America

What you should buy:

After reading all of this, you may be thinking of throwing in the towel when it comes to purchasing eggs. But, don’t give up yet! There are healthy alternatives out there. The best option is organic, pastured (or pasture-raised) eggs. Pastured eggs mean that the hens could roam around outside in the pasture without being crammed into cages. They were exposed to sunlight and natural forms of food. As stated above, having the distinction of being “organic” means you don’t have to worry that the hens were fed feed with antibiotics while roaming the pastures.

If you do your homework and take your time when at the supermarket, you’ll be able to find the natural, healthy eggs. However, if you can stop by a local farmer’s market, make it a point to pick up organic, pastured eggs from a local farmer. If you’re skeptical, ask the farmer questions based on this article so you know you’re only getting the best ingredients.

Why bother eating organic, pastured eggs instead of eggs coming from chickens confined in factory farms? Check out these details below.

Eggs from pastured hens usually contain:

  • 1⁄3 less cholesterol
  • 1⁄4 less saturated fat
  • 2⁄3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 4 to 6 times more vitamin D