Sticking to Your Fitness Goals

January, a glorious month filled with resolutions, renewed commitments, a million different diets, and good intentions pertaining to health and wellness. It is also the time when the triathlon and endurance community begins to set its sights on the 2017 race season ahead.

For both endurance athletes and fitness minded (or intended) individuals, January marks a new year of promise.

At your local gym/health club, you will experience the usual January debacles of limited parking, waiting for your favorite machines, and a lack of proper “gym etiquette.” I won’t get into locker room faux pas. Newcomers and “resolutioners” will jam up parking lots, locker rooms, gym floors and partake in a wide array of “what are they doing now” moments as they show off their fitness prowess in an attempt to prove to their counterparts they belong. The unfortunate truth is that statistically, nearly 80% of these folks will be nowhere to be seen in March as their resolutions and fitness dreams are dashed by any number of reasons.

The above is a picture by which we can set our watch (or calendars) by every year. The road of good intentions. Kudos to these folks. They mean well and often the inability to maintain their path on the fitness trail is quite valid, indeed. Viruses, accidents, illness, family matters, that pesky job thing, and more all come into play—often in a manner we just can’t plan for. Welcome to “real” life. Such is the same for my triathletes. Or, any age group endurance athlete, for that matter.

This is another reason why working 1:1 with a coach or trainer can be invaluable. It’s flexibility—not in a biomechanical sense. The ability to meet you on the terms that your life dictates and designing a plan that is not only flexible, but one you can take with you and doesn’t expire.

Triathletes, ultra-runners, cyclists, swimmers, and the like, understand the value of having a coach for these same reasons. They form a relationship with their coach. One that extends beyond the gym floor. It’s an invaluable one, really.  Someone who will be honest; push them when they need to pushed and pull them up if they stumble. Someone who will hold them accountable, be objectionable, and supporting. One who understands the demands of “real” life, and how training and/or fitness goals and plans need to be tailored to be effective and sustainable.

As a coach, my role is to provide such a plan. As a psychologist…my role is to motivate by reducing mental/psychological barriers and keep you on track to help ensure you will still be on your fitness quest in March, April, May and beyond.

Tri-Active Endurance is currently offering special introductory pricing on coaching, personal training, and group class memberships through January, 2017. Contact us for a cost-free assessment and introductory first group class.

Get Motivated!

Here we are again—a New Year and a new start for goals, aspirations and dreams. Actually, every day of our lives is an opportunity for a fresh start, but most of us tend to use January as the starting line for change. The New Year is a time to start a weight loss plan or fitness/work out plan to get healthier and look better.

As I get older I find that it’s becoming harder and harder to motivate myself to do the same things that I used to even though I know what is good for me to do. For example, I’ve always been athletic and not only interested in exercise, but I use it as a mental escape and a way to relieve stress, and last but not least, to look good in my clothes and feel attractive.

I frequently counsel patients on the importance of staying active despite growing older, but I realize from personal experience that this is much easier said than done. One important realization that I’ve made, however, is that it’s not easy for anyone. Some people are just more motivated than others or they work harder to find their motivation to exercise and stay as healthy as possible. I heard a quote from a professional body builder who said that it’s never convenient for him to work out, but he made a commitment to himself to do it in order to reach his goals and be successful. One can extrapolate this mantra to any goal in life and it was somehow particularly soothing to hear someone else verbalize that it’s not easy for them to work out—even when that’s what they do for a living.

I remember my sister saying years ago, “Leslie, you take good care of yourself”. Ironically, my motivation for exercising and staying in shape had never included being healthier or taking care of myself, but as she recognized, that’s exactly what I was doing. I believe we should look at exercise in this way first and foremost because that’s what it does for us. Exercise keeps the heart healthy, lowers blood pressure, prevents and reduces depression, lowers stress and keeps us looking and feeling younger, to name a few benefits.

Another reason to exercise and get fit is to save money. It’s expensive to be unhealthy. Many people who don’t exercise or eat right have hypertension, diabetes, joint disease, chronic pain, insomnia and anxiety. I’ve heard too many patients worry about how they’re going to pay for their medications and because of the expense they don’t have money for enjoyable activities. Taking care of yourself is another way to gain control of your finances, health and your life. Let’s not be so complacent that we’d rather spend money on a pill for a preventable malady than work to keep ourselves healthy. We are responsible for our own health just as we are responsible for paying taxes and taking out the trash.

For many, getting healthier is a major change in a way of life. Therefore, it’s best to have patience and take it one step and one day at a time. The most important part of being and staying healthy is about what you eat. Start with a good meal plan and lose weight the healthy way. Losing weight has a positive feedback effect of losing more weight because of having increased energy and that subsequently encourages increasing activity. Most fitness professionals will tell you that your diet is 75% of the work of being in shape. This January, make the first step to eat right and the rest will follow.

 

Question Drugs for Depression

Quite often, patients are referred to me that are already taking prescriptions for pain, headaches and the depression that goes along with these chronic conditions. Those of you who follow my articles know I feel that most drugs treat symptoms, not patients, and in some cases they may also be delaying diagnosis of a serious underlying condition.

When asked, none of the patients taking antidepressants have been given tests that evaluate nutritional levels, yet lack of some nutrients can cause many problems, including depression.  The following are just a few nutrients, the lack of which, can cause depression: Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Vitamin B complex, Foliate, Amino acids, Iron,  Zinc, Iodine and Selenium. 

Needless to say, these deficiencies can and do have other, sometimes serious, consequences. Thus, in many cases, in the doctor’s rush to get you out the door with a prescription rather than attempt to improve your all over health and even prevent a stroke or heart problems, an opportunity has been missed. To make matters worse, some of the TCI’s (tricyclic anti depressants), like Nortriptyline and Dexepin, actually have the side effect of a serious heart condition called tachycardia. For example, I have a patient on two TCI’s who recently spent several days in the hospital to treat tachycardia and was sent home with another prescription for a drug to treat tachycardia.  

The other family of antidepressants is SSRI’s, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibiters (Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft and more). All of these have potentially serious side effects, especially when the patient is pregnant. To make the situation even worse, the presence of drugs in the patient can actually cause some of the symptoms and interfere with my ability to effectively control them. 

My ultimate goal is to move the patient toward optimal health through diet, lifestyle changes, and supplementation. An example of the need for supplementation is the lack of minerals in our food. The farms rarely, if ever, replace them.

In spite of the resistance and pressure from the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA, new fields of medicine are developing, some redeveloping after 100 years, such as Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine and Anti Aging Medicine that treat patients, not symptoms. Though I am fully licensed to, I have not written a prescription in years. As a result, today my patients improve faster than when I did. 

As I stated in previous articles, this method of holistic treatment has very serious side effects: a seriously improved all over health and a vitality that can last far beyond what present society thinks is possible.

Relieving Chronic Pain Naturally

Since Align Healing Center first opened our doors in 1999 we have seen a progressive increase in chronic pain and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), now called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in our community.  RSD/CRPS is a chronic, painful, and progressive neurological condition that affects the skin, muscles, joints, and bones. The syndrome usually develops in an injured limb, such as a broken leg, or following surgery. However, many cases of RSD involve only a minor injury, such as a sprain. And in rare cases, no precipitating event can be identified.

RSD/CRPS is characterized by various degrees of burning pain, swelling, and sensitivity to heat, cold or touch. Pain may begin in one area or limb and then spread to other limbs. In some cases, symptoms of RSD/CRPS diminish for a period of time and then reappear with a new injury.

Causes and Risk Factors for RSD/CRPS

An exact understanding of RSD/CRPS is not complete.  It appears to involve a complex interaction among the sensory, motor and sympathetic nervous system as well as involvement of the immune system. Currently Western Medicine is not sure what causes RSD/CRPS.  It is believed that in most cases the sympathetic nervous system plays an important role in sustaining the pain.  Another theory is that CRPS is caused by a triggering of the immune response, which leads to the characteristic inflammatory symptoms of redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected area.

Treatment Options for RSD Patients

Medical treatments for the management of RSD/CRPS include analgesics, anti-depressants, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nerve blocks, and multiple other drug therapies.

The Natural Approach for Chronic Pain and RSD/CRPS

Holistic, non-invasive treatments for RSD/CRPS offernew possibilities patients may consider for pain and symptom management. As with traditional treatments, holistic treatments may need to be combined for optimal results.Natural Medicine (vitamins, herbs, natural compounds, etc.) has proven to be effective and long-term in helping calm the sympathetic nervous system and reduce systemic inflammation.

At Align Healing Center we are currently seeing beneficial results in the treatment of chronic pain and RSD/CRPS. The combination of Laser Therapy combined with Natural Medicine is yielding hopeful results.

Laser therapy is the application of low levels of laser light to areas of the body that have been injured or damaged. Contrasted with high-powered lasers used in health care that cut tissue, such as surgical or hair-removal lasers, therapy lasers produce beneficial chemical and biological interactions that can help relieve pain and repair injured / damaged tissue. Just as photosynthesis creates energy for plants, the absorption of the laser light by your cells causes increased production of cellular energy. In areas of injury or damage, this means there is more energy available to improve the rate and quality of healing. Studies on tissue cultures have revealed a wide range of beneficial physiological effects, including increased levels of endorphins, reduced levels of inflammatory compounds and an increased rate and quality of tissue healing. We often have patients notice improvement after the very first treatment session; whereas with chronic pain or RSD/CRPS it is realistic that it may take a few treatments. The effect of laser therapy is cumulative, meaning that each successive treatment builds on previous ones. 

The results that we are experiencing with our patients are nothing short of remarkable.  Class IV Laser Therapy has exceeded our expectations of the healing potential that it ignites in the body and it is our mission to share it with anyone who is seeking freedom from their pain.

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC is the owner and founder of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA. She has been active in our natural health & wellness community since 1999. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit www.alignhealingcenter.com.

 

 

 

 

Being a Parent

Have you ever applied for a job that you had no education or training in? You probably wouldn’t even consider it, right? But almost all of us do it every day. In fact, we sign up for a lifelong job, requiring a nearly 24-hour-round-the-clock commitment, with little-to-no back-up support, nor any formal schooling, internships, or experience. Kind of sounds ridiculous when it’s put in those terms, but that is often what parenting feels like.

Parenting relies on something that we all have within us, at varying levels, regardless of training or experience, and that is love. Hopefully you know that feeling I’m talking about – when you hold your baby in your arms for the very first time and there is an overwhelmingly strong emotional feeling that is like nothing else you’ve experienced. But that love isn’t the only tool needed in your parenting toolbox.

I remember taking classes when I was pregnant teaching me “what to expect since I was expecting.” But I always thought it was a bit funny that there were endless pregnancy and birthing classes, but hardly any parenting classes. I found this ironic because regardless of my pregnancy plan, there was one certain fact: the baby was inside, and then it’d come out. Women have been having babies for thousands of years without birthing plans, however the offerings for classes of what to do beyond swaddling, sleep training and potty training were far less prevalent. I did have my intuition. And I did have my mom, a great role model, to rely on. But what if you aren’t born with natural instincts? Or what if the children you have are different than you and your siblings, so your parent’s style may not help in this situation. Or possibly you didn’t like your parent’s style and didn’t want to emulate it. Then how do you really learn about effective parenting?

Sure, we have friends to talk to, self-help books, pediatricians and of course our intense love we have for our child. But in an era of pressure to succeed at everything, those resources may not always see us through the difficult moments of parenting (especially the ones we are too embarrassed to share) that catch us by surprise, frustrate us (and our kids!) or help us to cope with the countless uncertainties that can arise. Nor can we be fully prepared for challenging discipline situations, unforeseen circumstances such as special needs or disability, or simply how to manage the day-to-day, in-and-out routine of making lunches, carpooling, homework struggles, after-school activities, bedtime routines, puberty, peer-influence, and prepping for life after they graduate high school.

And so, if we found ourselves in a job that we weren’t feeling confident in, despite loving it and going through trial-and-error, we might choose to reach out for some additional support and training.

As a full-time stay-at-home mom for the first full eight years of my daughters’ lives, I took to my role with great passion. And while I had already had a Master’s in Counseling Psychology, which provided me with an educational framework of understanding child development, emotional awareness and increased communication skills, my love of parenting and love of my children didn’t always make me as qualified as I would have liked. So, I began to dig deeper into tools that would help make me the best mother to my children.

I discovered mindfulness and soon thereafter discovered mindful parenting. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment, and living your life with greater awareness, attention, and intention. Mindful parenting is then extending greater awareness to responding, not reacting, parenting to the child you actually have and not the one you thought or wished you had, how to recognize how to role model the very behaviors you wish to see in your child, and much, much more. Once I started practicing mindful parenting, the whole culture shifted in my home. This isn’t to say I no longer got annoyed or frustrated, or that my kids all of a sudden never acted out; it simply meant I was more aware of my words, thoughts and emotions and was more skillful in how I communicated with my girls, including giving effective discipline. It was a process of honoring their sovereignty and recognizing that I don’t “own” them; I am simply here to guide them. Easier said than done, but that’s why it’s called a practice.

If any of this resonates with you and you’d like an opportunity to fine-tune those parenting skills and practice how to parent with greater awareness, presence, and compassion, then you’re in luck! I’m offering a mindful parenting workshop on Sunday January 29, from 1-5 at The Bay Area Mindfulness and Therapy Center. Contact me at joree@comcast.net or check out my website for more info: www.mindfulnessandtherapycenter.com. Space is limited and pre-registration is required.