Learning my why: Answers, Questions, and Truths

Hi Folks,

Kristins post about part of her story (stay tuned for the rest!) inspired me to think about my own story, and why I’m here, doing what I do.  Here is what I’ve come up with (though I reserve the right to update this as time passes, haha).

Why do I do it?

To be a source of trustworthy knowledge and actionable steps that people need so that they can improve their lives exactly how they want to and maybe even more.

  • I’ve always wanted to be the person people went to for help.
  • I’ve seen how valuable being that person can be, and being able to provide that to someone fills my soul up.

That was the TLDR version.  Read on for how I got there.  Starting with story time…

When I was young, I was being foolish around a pool table and ended up hitting my face on the side of it, cutting up my gums pretty good/bad.  It was during a family function and one of my uncles, a firefighter, was there to help.  At the moment I was afraid and worried that I had done something that would, a: be a problem permanently (in an aesthetic/health respect), and b: get me in trouble with my parents (I told you I was young, though I think that fear never goes away haha).  Immediately, my uncle took calm control of the situation and helped make a plan that assessed where I was between serious injury, and a bump/bruise (it ended up just being a gnarly flap of skin that tore off my gums with a lot of blood that made it look bad) while he also made it all seem like a team effort to help save me and the evening.  It was inspiring to say the least (and I was fine… just being a wimp).  Onto the next story…

Both times I injured my shoulders (one, a clavicular fracture while snowboarding, the other a dislocated shoulder while playing football.  Different shoulders, years apart), I went to the walk-in clinic/hospital and saw a doctor.  While I didn’t enjoy the wait time (none of us does, but it’s a necessary part of having a non-life threatening injury), I appreciated the focus and methodical approach the doctors that ultimately saw me had, as well as their conclusions and reassurance that in time, I’d be just fine.  

I’ve always wanted to be like those people.  I’ve always wanted to be the person that people felt comfortable asking for answers (at least the ones related to health/wellness).  I always wanted to be able to provide measured, calm answers to questions that innately inspire a certain level of fear in people.  Taking away fear, I think, is a pretty valuable skill.  

So, my goal from a young age was to be involved in healthcare.  I originally thought I would go “be a doctor”, but as I got into my third and fourth years of university, I learned that for me, being a medical doctor wasn’t going to provide me with the tools I needed to answer the questions I wanted to answer.  So I explored other options (Physiotherapy, Speech and Language pathology, Audiology, Population and Community Ecology, Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Naturopathy) for school, and even looked into applying to the fire department (they wouldn’t hire colour-blind folks back then).  It eventually took me to Chiropractic college, where I enrolled in their doctor of chiropractic program, as well as their masters of science in applied clinical nutrition programs.  I attended a lot of lectures and labs, and read and studied a LOT.  I learned a lot.  It was such a great thing to think that if I just read and learned as much as I could – if I read all the literature about all the things within my scope of practice (where I could help people), I would finally have all the answers.

Throughout my quest to learn the answers, I learned some hard truths:

First, the textbooks, and some of the information from lectures, labs and skill work would that I was learning, would be obsolete by the time I was allowed to use it.  Not surprising and somewhat easy to mitigate by always working to continue learning.  

Lesson Learned:  You never get to stop learning if you want to be the one providing the answers.

Second, the scientific literature (what I always thought was like gospel, untouchable and un-taintable) was/is biased, unpredictable, and in some cases purposely falsified to serve the needs of those who might benefit from it (sometimes, honestly, as the author wants to see their hypothesis come true, and sometimes in more sinister ways).

Lesson learned:  Scrutinize what you read.  Does it make sense?  Does it fit with everything else we know?  If it doesn’t, WHY?  

Third, most people that DO come to you with questions, will have a somewhat unique and different question than everyone else that has, which makes their answers also unique and different.  It will be very rare that a person presents like they do in the textbooks/classes/exams.  

Lesson Learned:  Providing solutions isn’t, and will never be a “recipe book” or “menu”.  You can’t just file people into tidy and neat categories and each and every case needs to be addressed individually, which requires a lot of patience, willpower, and open-mindedness.

So.  Learning that having the answers to the questions people were asking was going to be very difficult, and in most cases, fairly disappointing, has been hard to accept.  But, as difficult as it is to accept it, it’s the truth.  And one of the most important things I’ve learned is that there is something more important than being the person with the answers; and that is working tirelessly to be someone who provides the truth – even if it means revealing that those we would expect to have solid answers on, still don’t.  

So why do this?  Why put in thousands upon thousands of hours reading, attending seminars, and learning about manual therapy, modalities, food production, different diets, food allergies, intolerances, dyskinesias, program design, rehabilitative exercises, barbell strength, weightlifting, gymnastics, energy systems, fueling systems, fasting, ketogenic dieting, sleep and recovery, stress relief, belief systems, habit building, time management, and a list of other things, some known and some unknown, that will NEVER end?


To be a source of trustworthy knowledge and actionable steps that people want and/or need so that they can improve their lives exactly how they want to and maybe even more.


Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for providing me with the opportunity to do so.  

Your friend,


Treat the Cause… of the Solution?

Hey Folks!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here but sometimes it takes the right influence to inspire some writing.  This idea most likely isn’t new (as at this point there can’t be TOO many new ideas), but I haven’t heard it so it must just be uncommon.  The idea is this…

“Treat the cause!”

I know what you’re thinking… that isn’t new at all.  AND, you’re right.  BUT, “treat the cause” and “evidence based/informed” is the new buzz-word surrounding health care and most health related fields.  It isn’t a bad thing at all but I do find there is one short-coming to this paradigm.  It requires a problem.  When most of us speak about “treating the cause” we’re referring to some sort of problem that has a root cause.  Don’t bother with the symptoms (unless they’re really inconvenient) and address the actual issue, then the problem will go away for good!

Since when was Chiropractic all about getting people from injured/sick/poor movers to satisfactory?  I don’t know about you,  but I don’t live life to be out of pain; I live life to continuously improve and achieve my fullest potential.  THAT is the other side of Chiropractic is all about.  So now we can also use “treat the cause”, but we’re speaking in reference to the solution!

Rich Froning is the fittest man on earth, there must be a cause for his fitness.  Federer or Nadal are dominant tennis players, there is a cause for that.  What are they doing that causes their dominance of their sport?

I’m “lucky” to be one of those people who doesn’t seem to get sick.  Colds, flus, bronchitis, etc. doesn’t seem to stick to me regardless of how often or how intimately I’m exposed to it.  I know I’m not alone in this situation and I’m not trying to boast, but there must be a cause.  Why would some people be more resilient or resistant to illness than others?  What are they doing that causes their exuberant health?  It isn’t genetics – we all have the gene to create a white blood cell, and there are WAY too many articles in the literature to the contrary.  So what is the difference?

They’re addressing all the aspects of their life that affect their environment.  Everything from their thoughts, to their food.  Their relationships to their choice of beverage.  Their sleep and their exercise.  It’s all cumulative.  So whether it’s James Chestnut telling us to “Eat Well, Move Well and Think Well”, Robert Rakowski touting the magnificent 7 (Eat Right, Drink Right, Think Right, Move Right, Sleep Right, Poop Right, Talk Right), or Og Mandino providing wisdom from his 10 scrolls, this being one of my favourite quotes from one:

“And most of all I will love myself. For when I do I will zealously inspect all things which enter my body, my mind, my soul and my heart.”

So being consistent in the gym, getting lots of sleep, but otherwise being stressed out with work and family life means you’re only addressing part of the equation.  Having an amazing home life but not exercising or eating well is the same thing.  We want to aim for perfection, but with the knowledge that even when we fall short, we’re still doing really well.  THESE are the causes of wellness, fitness and elite performance in life, fitness, sport and everything else.

This isn’t about ignoring pain and saying if you have some aches and pains you’re missing out.  But when we consider all these things above, are there any that would be bad for someone looking to heal an ACL reconstruction?  How about someone with a tendonitis in their elbow or shoulder?  Exactly.  Making healthy choices is always a good decision, and it’s uncommon for us to be doing all those things, and when we don’t we’re selling ourselves short.

On the other side of the coin, what is the effect of not doing all those things?  Stress and inflammation.  And would stress and inflammation help or hinder someones healing process?  So when that knee pain is lingering, let’s keep in mind, “what else could I be doing to set myself up for healing and health?”  Fish oil, rest, stretches, exercises, stress relief, regular, healthy use of the joint, etc.  Then once you’ve addressed everything, BAM that 1-2 out of 10 on the pain scale goes down to zero and eventually, you forget what it felt like to constantly have an issue there.

So, all in all, let’s try our best to elucidate the cause of or issues and pains, and address them as best we can.  Let’s solve the problem, for sure, BUT… Let’s make sure we’re addressing the solution too.  Let’s find the cause of the end result we’re looking to achieve, because the champions in whatever sport you want to look into didn’t get to where they are by stressing out mentally, eating poorly, avoiding sleep and not exercising.  And they most definitely didn’t get to where they are by avoiding pain and only seeking out help or coaching to “treat the cause” of their “problems”.  They chase greatness and they address every square inch of their environment that they can.

Be great.

Stay Healthy Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

p.s. If you’d like to book an appointment to speak about what the requirements for health are, or you know someone who could benefit from Chiropractic or Wellness Lifestyle care, Feel free to contact me through the info at the bottom left of the page

Opinion Friday – on reading research…

Hey Folks!

No research today… I read some articles yesterday but lacked the patience to write about them yesterday. Life got a little busier than usual this past week. I think I’ll be reserving Fridays for some commentary on what I’ve read, which I’m sure will include the articles you’ve seen me review as well as others that didn’t deserve a post.

So here’s the deal – most people don’t read research. I mean really read it. So, to make things a little more realistic and give a small idea as to how I do it (which isn’t the “right” way, it’s just what I do to save time and to get to the truth as quickly as I can), I’ll explain my process.

Step 1 – pubmed or PLoS search for articles based on key words I’m interested in that day… simplicity is nice. “Gluten”, “Autoimmunity”, “Insulin sensitivity”, and so on.

Step 2 – Choose a sexy title to read about

Step 3 – Skim the Abstract for something interesting

Step 4 – Find the full text. Skip the abstract and intro.

Step 5 – Read the methods. They’re boring but they let you know what the researchers ACTUALLY DID… If we’re being smart, and it’s an RCT or other experiment – then we know the authors should ONLY be commenting on what the results of their study present.

Step 6 – Read the results. See what happened with their experiment.

Step 7 – Make your own conclusions. Skip the discussion and conclusion. This is where most get lazy. This is where most check the discussion, or probably more realistically, just the conclusion. They usually contain bias and give away the authors hopes and biases. “While our study did not support our hypothesis, the current literature suggests that blah blah is still suggested. Greater sample sizes and longer follow up is suggested to come to more accurate conclusions.” Or some other BS. Don’t read it – it’s there to trick you. Read the methods and results and make your own conclusions.

Step 8 – Hope that it was a good experiment. Use logic and intelligence to put the conclusions into context.

Step 9 – Find a new article to read after that.

If authors are abandoning their conclusions and bringing up poor references (Youdo check their references right?), then their word isn’t to be trusted, but you CAN still take the information their experiment created as it was usually designed with the hopes of supporting their hypothesis.

Anyway, I suppose I’m a little frustrated with the run-around you get when reading studies. It would be nice if all the published were the methods and results, but they don’t. Oh well… I suppose it’s the nature of humans.

Stay healthy, Friends!
Dr. Adam Ball

Daily ROD (Research of the Day) – It’s not about how many calories you burn…

In an endeavour to keep myself up to date and always learning I’m going to try to take something out of James Chestnuts Book and read one journal article every day – Although we’ll see how frequently I get to it as I’ve made this promise to myself multiple times.

I will post brief thoughts and a summary/synopsis based on those articles. They’ll all be interesting to me (hopefully) and useful for you (in one way or another).

Todays Article:

Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity


They measured the energy expenditure (amount of calories burned throughout the entire day) of Hunter-Gatherers (the ones that still exist today) as well as matched controls in the western world.

What they found:

  • Hadza (hunter-gatherers/Foragers) and their western counterparts had the same total energy expenditure per day

So what?

  • As many hear, the obesity epidemic is due to “eating too much” and “moving too little” – not so according to this study as we burn the same TOTAL NUMBER of calories per day as those who have better chronic health markers
  • So how do we take this info? It means that what we’re putting in our mouths is very important. Hunter-Gatherers aren’t gathering wheat or beans. They gather tubers, roots, berries, and freshly killed animals (who happen to be the highest quality meat you could possibly find)
  • Energy expenditure was the same BUT, and it’s a huge BUT, the Hadza aren’t expending their calories the same way. They walk large distances, and occasionally sprint and lift heavy things (dang, I sound like Mark Sisson) – but overall, they also spend a lot of time relaxing.

Take what you will from this info (it IS only one study) but my takeaways are:

  1. If you don’t consider what’s going in your mouth, you’re losing precious ground that you shouldn’t be when it comes to health and performance
  2. Be intelligent with how you expend your energy – Sprint, lift heavy things, move slowly on a regular basis (Notice the lack of chronic 45 minute AMRAPs or 30-60 minute runs?)

Stay healthy, Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

Gluten-free pizza…

Meatza Party!

Image by joshbousel via Flickr

Hey Everyone,

I recently enjoyed a gluten free pizza from a popular repetitious pizza store and thought I’d talk about something that crossed my mind while eating it.

“Does gluten really add THAT much to pizza?”

Apparently, yes. Gluten is the part of the equation in making bread that causes it to rise. It rises into pretty, bubbly, airy pockets in a thick crust pizza. So yeah, texture matters.  But what about the flavour?  For some reason I can’t imagine gluten itself tastes like much of anything (aside from sadness). This causes me to wonder why my “healthy” gluten free pizza tasted unimpressive in comparison to pizzas I’ve had in the past.

Then I began to think about pizza in general, especially the crust. Why is the crust so crucial? I think it’s because it holds all the good stuff. It falls into the category with the rest of the starchy carbs (in my opinion) that are solely a vessel for the parts of the meal that actually make it taste good.  Add in the lack of flavour to the fact that gluten is known to destroy people’s digestive tracts and you’ve got a pretty heft RISK portion of the risk:benefit ratio.  So what do I propose to solve this problem?

MEATZA.  It’s like a pizza, except the crust is made out of…. you guessed it, meat.  Delicious, nutritious, hunger satiating meat.  Thank god (or who/whatever you believe in) that animals are made out of meat, because if they were made out of rice cakes…. well then I’d have to be a vegetarian.  And I’d probably cry a lot more.  Not that those two things are related at all.

Anyway, if it entices you, and you think you’ll enjoy it, AND you promise to eat a gigantic salad at some point too, then I say dig in and enjoy some meat flavoured meat.

Remember when exercise was called “playing”?

Hello again everyone!

Today’s topic comes from an afternoon I spent with my pseudo-nephew and niece and their friends.  It was Mateo’s sixth birthday this past weekend and I can think of no better birthday to spend at a park where there were fountains, a water park, a small rock climbing wall, ladders, monkey bars, slides, tunnels and lots of room to roam and play.

Play is an interesting thing.  I had the chance to step back and think about it as I’m not a parent (and therefore not keeping an eagle eye on my kin) but unfortunately, also not a child, so bursting into an all out sprint while gleefully screaming and smiling isn’t exactly appropriate, at my age.  While observing, I couldn’t help but notice how nice it is to be around the calm joy of children at play.  When I turned to focus on the parents of the children attending the party, and even some of THEIR parents and friends I noticed a shared appreciation that you would probably recognize as the “ahh, I remember when I used to play and have fun like that”, and “isn’t it great, how much fun they’re having?”

What happened?  Why do WE stop playing and having fun?  When did that all out sprint to see who can get to the third tall tree (not the second one though, because I just changed the rules, seeing how you beat me to the second tree) turn into trudging for 30 minutes on the side of the road while listening to Meatloaf tell you about all the things he’d do for love?

There’s no way to tell the exact moment it happens.  I think it might be somewhere between when you wear tighty whitey underwear with the looney tunes on them versus the new “cool” Joe boxers with the ubiquitous yellow happy faces on them.  I think that might be when the transition starts at least.  I think it also starts when you find out you aren’t great at something too.  Being picked last because you didn’t know that you’re supposed to stand off to the side of the home plate in baseball as opposed to directly on top of it, isn’t a good feeling.  But it’s only after that barrier has been passed that it becomes a bad feeling.  This transition, where the fun of playing slowly melted away should not be welcomed as something that accompanies aging.  Remember when teams were made up on the fly?

“ok…. you guys are the cops and me, you and her are the robbers…. you have to give us 10 seconds to run away first and then we’re gonna go get…. the treasure…. this will be the treasure (grabbing random, previously meaningless item off the ground)… ok?… ok, this is the treasure… and we get to have it first and then we’ll hide it.. but first you have to give us 10 seconds… but don’t start counting until you can’t see us ok?… and then you have to catch us, errrr.. the treasure too… you have to find the treasure AND us… and then we’ll switch… ok-GO!”

Please tell me you remember that, or some variation thereof.  Right after that “GO!” the three of you took off like a bolt of lightning to hide something and then hide yourselves.  Then of course, the “cops” would count to seven or eight and take off the same way, while counting out the remaining seconds.

But it all changed.  Now, it’s “ok……..go” and you ‘take off’ by walking back to your desk, or work station and instead of firing up the sympathetic nervous system with a sprint, you fire it up with stress about how you need to get this work done.  And then the play DOES occur, the long, very confusing, on the fly play session, that seemed to be fabricated in no time out of thin air is now a list of phone calls, and rallying the troops to head over to the local community centre to play floor hockey, or to the gym for basketball, or the baseball diamond for some slo-pitch.

Few of us actually work as hard as we did back then when we play these days, but there ARE those moments of clarity where we realize how much we’re enjoying ourselves.  It could be a great run, a perfect lay-up, hitting a triple down the right field line, or threading the needle for the game winning goal.  Sometimes it’s while you’re sucking wind on the sidelines, cursing the double baconator you had earlier (more on this in a future post) but chomping at the bit to get back out there.  This “play” isn’t dead.  It will always be there.  I’ve heard about it time and again… “Hey doc…. yup… so I was at a family get together and all the kids were playing soccer…. they NEEDED another person to make the teams even… I’m pretty banged up and sore today.”  Of course you’re banged up and sore, but you had a blast, and maybe you’ll “even” out the teams next week, too.

Welcome to Real Life Health

Hello All!

This is the beginning post for this blog/website.  I hope to contribute as frequently as I can and help people learn about, and experience REAL wellness.

Thanks for stopping by!