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Wild animals are healthy animals

 

Over/through a small stream, climbing up rocks, and I'm the tiny speck in the bottom right area. Milford Sound, New Zealand.

Humans are animals.  You know I’ve spoken about this before.  But I think we need to revisit this idea on a regular basis.

John Durant of Hunter-Gatherer.com, made a recent post with a news story about two gorillas living in a zoo in Cleveland.  According to the news story, the leading cause of death of gorillas living in zoos, is heart disease.  (Side Bar:  It would be interesting to see the cause of death of every species that lives in a zoo and is “fed” according to what we think they should eat).  Does this blast anyone else’s mind?  How many wild gorillas are dying of heart disease?  I’m willing to bet, that much like wild humans, the number of wild gorillas dying of heart disease is zero.  Why is this happening?

Even more surprising about the news story, is that someone was around to say, “Hey, why don’t we try feeding the gorillas the types of food they’d actually eat?”  Looks like the world hasn’t gone completely mad yet.  Thank goodness.  So, what did they find when the gorillas transitioned to eating genetically congruent foods?  The apes got healthier.  Their markers for heart disease decreased.  But that’s not all!  What else happened?  They stopped acting weird.  The behaviors that are typical of captive gorillas (vomiting foods back up and eating them again, pulling out their hair and eating it) started to disappear (wild gorillas apparently do not do this stuff… could this be gorilla indigestion?) and they started acting like wild gorillas again.  Amazing.

So to sum things up, when gorillas eat a diet they’re supposed to eat, they not only get healthier in regards to their heart health, but mental health improves, they achieve a healthier body composition and, I assume, they’re much happier.

Can we please step back and see ourselves as the animals that we are right now?  Take a look at a phylogenetic tree.  Homo sapiens are not too far away from chimpanzees, orangutangs, and even gorillas.  So why are we NOT asking the same questions about human health?  Humans are dying all day everyday for the exact same reason (heart disease, among many other chronic diseases).  We’re eating foods we are not designed to eat, we’re moving in ways we are not supposed to move, and our social interactions are moving further and further away from normal (remember life before the internet?).

Erwan Le Corre of Movnat.com  is building a legacy.  I hope that in the future, he wins the Nobel Prize.  If we can learn from him, build on the principles of MovNat and shape our communities and societies around those principles, we will regain the health we’re designed for.  We can return to being the species that deserves to be at the top of the food chain.  Right now, we are the sickest species on the planet.  We need to figure out how normal humans live, and we need to get back to that as much as we can.  We need to emulate it.  I’m not asking you to stop using a toilet, or to throw away your computer and all your cherished belongings.  There are advantages to having permanent dwellings, electricity and many other benefits of modern living.  What I AM asking you to do is think about how you eat, move and think.

Eat a human diet:

  • What would you eat if you were thrown out into the wild?
  • Would you avoid killing and eating even the small creatures you could find, because it’s immoral and “bad for you”?
  • Would you try to find the fields of wild grains, so that you can pick hundreds of thousands of tiny seeds, find some stones to grind them one, and some water to hold the powder together and then create a fire so that you can somehoe fry the mush that is created from all your efforts?
  • Would you look for fruits and veggies that look, smell and taste edible?
  • Would you kill and eat every possibly edible part of an animal, or would you throw away the organs because they’re “gross” and go hungry?

Move like humans are meant to move:

  • I’m not going to write a lot here, but MovNat would be ideal
  • Crossfit is a close second, when done properly – This is a good example of using modern tools to achieve/supplement natural movement patterns

Think like humans are meant to think:

  • Isn’t it weird that instead of speaking with each other there is more online communication than ever before?  IMs, texts, emails, blogs (yes, I realize I’m criticizing myself), etc.
  • We have more depression, ADD, ADHD, autism, anxiety and just about every other mental disorder there is than any other time in history.
  • There are a lot of venues where negative is funny.  This I have a particular peeve with.
  • Feeling love, trust and respect is dying it seems – let’s not let that happen.

I feel like we’re making changes slowly.  MovNat is becoming more popular, as well as many other similar pursuits from other like-minded people.  People are becoming fed up with conventional wisdoms’ ideas about health and what the next new superfood/exercise program will save us from ourselves.  There is nothing new we need learn to take action.  We just need to look at healthy people and see what they’re doing.  I’ll end this post with a quote you’ve probably seen before, “Nothing in Biology makes sense except in light of evolution.” – Theodosius Dobzhansky

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Why the USDA hasn’t told you the answer… yet.

USDA food pyramid - puuuure evil

Hey Folks!

So, I believe the USDA has come up with new recommendations sometime recently, which others have already covered, but that I’m not exactly sure when they came out, because I rarely watch/read the news.  Oh well.  Having studied nutrition, and nutritional advice from many many people over the last few years, I’ve come up with a hypothesis about what the big guys (USDA, Health Canada, etc.) are doing.

Ok.  So way back in the day, Ancel Keys fooled everyone with his irresponsible science, and convinced those in charge that saturated fat was the devil because it raised cholesterol.  I’ll save WHY this advice is completely wrong for another time, for now, just trust me that he was wrong but that it was too late and the powers that be decided to run with the “fat is the devil” paradigm.

With influences from all the wrong places, the USDA decided to create their food pyramid and tell the general public what to eat if they wanted to avoid disease and be healthy.  Tonnes of grains, lots of low fat dairy, beans, monounsaturated vegetable oils, and try your best to eat lots of vegetables and fruits.  Eat some meat, but don’t go crazy, and only have chicken and fish.

Well over the many years since that advice the general public has gotten fatter, and less healthy (600% more obesity since the 1960’s).  Oops.  So, if you put yourself in the USDA’s shoes for a moment let’s think about what you (or I) would do, or be advised to do.  You just made everyone fat and unhealthy with your recommendations, and you have a pretty good idea what you did wrong.  You more or less told everyone what they SHOULDN’T do, and told them NOT to do, what they should.  At this point, you know you SHOULD have told them the opposite (more or less), and everyone is sick and dying because of what you said.  Would you be able to just come out and say “Hey guys?  Yeeeeeeah, so… my bad, can you guys eat the fats your supposed to eat, forget about the whole grains, dairy (for some) and legumes thing, and also never have vegetable oils, and more or less go back to the way you were eating before we figured out how to tell you how to eat?  Thanks!” and NOT be tarred and feathered by the 50%+ of the population whose lives you’ve ruined?  I didn’t think so.

So what ARE they doing.  I think that they’re taking baby steps.  They have to backpedal lightly.  So now instead of telling you to eat 9-12 servings of grains, they say “have some whole grains”.  They’re REALLY trying to push fruits and veggies.  They are still very fat-phobic, except for omega 3 fats.  My point being that it appears as though they are trying to correct their mistakes, without admitting guilt, and redirect our energy in a better direction.  It’ll be really interesting to see where it goes in another couple decades.  In the meantime, I’ll be eating the diet humans evolved to eat, and I’ll be enjoying it too.

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

When the pain isn’t because of the pain…

But it doesn’t make sense – How could the pain you’re feeling NOT be due to the pain?  Well… it’s because you can’t feel movement.

I’d always learned and read this in school, but sometimes a “refresher” is nice.  I recently read a journal article that did that for me (Changes in Aβ non-nociceptive primary sensory neurons in a rat model of osteoarthritis pain [Molecular Pain 2010, 6:37]).  Unfortunately, journal articles can be a pain to read.  You need to look through the authors opinions, crappy statistical analysis, misreporting, etc.  Anyway, that’s not what today’s post is about…

So what was the article about?

  • The authors had mice that were either “normal” (not surgically injured) and those who were given osteoarthritis (surgical removal of medial meniscus and partial removal of the ACL in the knee)
  • Time was passed and osteoarthritis developed in those rats with the surgical injuries (poor little guys)
  • The authors then tested the rats neural pathways for nociception (pain) and mechanoreception (proprioception – range of motion/body sense/knowing where you are in space)

So what did they find?  (all results are in comparison to the healthy, happy rats)

  • The injured rats were much more quick to react to stimuli that would not normally perceived as pain (they were very sensitive to stimuli that could eventually be painful – think poking the back of your hand lightly with a toothpick versus pushing it into your skin)
  • The resting potential of nerves responsible for the perception of pain were closer to depolarizing than control rats (this means less stimuli is required for these rats to experience pain)
  • Conversely, the mechanoreceptors were further from depolarizing in the injured rats (this means they weren’t just not moving as much, their movement wasn’t being recognized by the brain as much

Why does this matter to you?

Like I’ve said before, movement and pain are competitive inhibitors, meaning they cancel each other out.  This is often responsible for the good feeling you have after exercising (outside of the hormonal response) and chiropractic.  Chiropractic being the donor of full, accessible, pain-inhibiting range of motion signals to your brain.

But those mice have arthritis and I don’t!

Maybe.  Not to be a debbie downer, but most people have knee/elbow/shoulder/wrist/low back pain that isn’t really pain per se, but is inconvenient or annoying.  That’s the very early stages of osteoarthritis, unless the reason you’re having that recurring problem (posture, movement patterns, etc.) is remedied.  Besides, wouldn’t you want your brain and joints to benefit from a full range of motion?

So, as per usual my recommendations are:  See a chiropractor, exercise intelligently with regularity, eat real foods that were designed for you, and de-stress in a regular basis.

All the best folks!

Dr. Ball

p.s. If you’re in the Oakville or Mississauga areas, come in and see me!  I’m located at Element Crossfit and I’m there Monday through Friday.  Cheers!  Click here to book an appointment with me or give me a call at (647) 268-4703.

Barbells, Donations & New Hours!

Hi Everyone,

Today’s post is a mish-mash of happenings as of late.  First and foremost…

I was able to donate $100.00 to Upopolis & Kids Health Links due to your desire for health!  Thanks so much everyone that came in to see me, I’m glad I could get your spine moving and it gave me the opportunity to make a small donation to such a great cause.  Let’s shoot for $1000 next year!

No, not Santa, Dr. Adam Ball

If you’re a member at Element Crossfit, you can expect to see more of THIS guy at the gym.  I’ll be available full time at the gym to move spines, fix hurt muscles and generally make you healthier.  Let me know if you’d like to book an appointment, or if you have any questions about health, chiropractic or nutrition.

My hours will be:

Mornings            Monday-Thursday:  6:30am – 11:30am

Evenings             Tuesday-Thursday:  3:00pm – 8:00pm

And                        Friday: 2:00pm – 7:00pm

That’s sort of an awkward way to list my hours, but just assume that if you go to the gym, I’ll be there (except for Monday night, when I’m at Crossfit Mississauga).  I love the atmosphere at both the gyms (ECF and CFM) and want to make a  difference by making people healthier at these two locations.  If you know anyone who could benefit from greater health, I would be honoured if you would refer them to me.

In other news, I’m pseudo-famous!  You may or may not be familiar with Robb Wolf and his website/podcast.  Robb Wolf is a coach/owner of Norcal Strength & Conditioning as well as the author of the New York Times Best seller, “The Paleo Solution” (this book is awesome by the way, and I definitely recommend purchasing).   Robb’s website recently started a forum, and since I was frequently providing help in the comments of his podcasts, I volunteered to help with moderating the forum.

Scroll down a bit and there I am!

Thanks for all the support so far and I look forward to spending more time with you all and getting to know you even better.  Maybe we’ll even lift some of these together:

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Why Chiropractic? Part 3, or, The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Ok, here we are with our final (maybe) input to the “I still don’t completely get it but I feel better when I go” Chiropractic Trilogy.  Today we’re going to talk about why having the effects of chronic stressors on your body is a bad thing, and how you can minimize/eliminate them.  Read on for some therapeutic wisdom, mobile friends!

Hiking to a waterfall - "Exercise" and stress relief in one!

So the stress response is bad.  But it’s also appropriate in the right situation.  It’s the chronic stress response that is bad, or more accurately the many lifestyle choices that lead to it.  Your body’s response to stress is NOT pathogenic (disease-causing), the environment causing the stress is.  There is neuroplasticity (your brain actually changes) to being chronically exposed to the stress response (like the pain sensitization I mentioned in an earlier post).  To restore your bodies (and its’ joints) ability to move and inhibit that stress response, you need chiropractic care (and a solid exercise program).  Being adjusted regularly is an integral part of maintaining a healthy spine and it will actually create neuroplasticity in the other direction (possibly why young Autistic, ADD, or ADHD patients report improvements in their conditions – less stress means less stress hormones means more concentration).  The ultimate goal for care in my office is to remove the stress of joint motion restriction on your body.  With your spine moving properly we can move on to addressing the other sources of stress in your life, like poor diet, physical inactivity, and mental/emotional stress.

When we look at the literature, it’s the removal of all these stressors that result in the largest range in disease resolution.  Chiropractors report patients not just getting better from neck and back pain, but improving their headaches, digestion (colic, IBS, indigestion), breathing (asthma, COPD, emphysema), allergies, sleep, sexual function, mental stress levels, etc.  The same goes when you research fish oil, stress relief techniques, the removal of gluten from the diet, and exercise.  This is because these interventions are good for EVERYONE.  If someone doesn’t exercise, and then they start exercising, do they get healthier?  How about making the choice to eat higher quality foods?  De-stress from work/whatever else stresses you out?  We get better from a wide range of illnesses with these interventions because they’re either providing a required “nutrient” to express health (like proper movement in the spine), or removing a “toxin” that is preventing health (like gluten).  If you had a sick moose (that didn’t want to trample you to death) in your care, would you feed it some “cutting edge” diet based on the “latest research” or would you just research what wild, healthy moose eat and feed it that?  Would you design an exercise program for the moose to isolate muscular inefficiencies, or would you encourage the moose to move and act like healthy, wild moose do?

For the most part many of us know what we’re doing wrong.  We know the intense stress levels of work aren’t healthy for us.  We know eating 5 Tim Hortons chocolate chip cookies (or 5 fries) is a bad idea.  We know avoiding exercise and living with poor posture/movement patterns is a bad thing.  We do need to be reminded to make these changes though.  To write it out in numbered fashion, so that you can jot it down and put it on your fridge:

  1. Eat foods that we were designed to eat:  Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds (and a variety of spices/seasonings) – Mix it up and find meals you love.
  2. Follow an intelligent exercise program.  I recommend Element Crossfit but there are a good number of other programs and gyms that provide excellent coaching as well.
  3. Sleep well (a cool/cold, pitch black room for 8-9 hours per night) and reduce stress levels (at work and at home – simplify your life)
  4. See a Chiropractor and other movement specialists (physiotherapy, athletic therapy, acupuncturists, massage therapy, etc.) and get adjusted/worked on with some regularity (for most this will be between once a week and once a month)

If you’re a patient of mine at the gym, then Alex and Rachael already have you on the right track as far as exercising (and probably eating) properly goes.  Keep up the good work, get adjusted, work out hard/smart, eat well and you’ll achieve greater levels of health every day.

Dr. Adam Ball

p.s. Please share my website with friends and family and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.  If you’re in the Mississauga/Oakville/Surrounding areas, come check out the gym and let’s get you healthier!

Why Chiropractic? – Part 2, or I’m Freaking out Man!

Hey Folks!  We’re back with Part Deux of the “How Chiropractic will change your life” Saga.  The last post ended with quite the cliffhanger – What are the far reaching effects of stress and how is Chiro involved with it?

Relaxing on the water

A good defence for the stress response - relaxing at the cottage

You may remember in a previous post I mentioned that movement and pain are competitive inhibitors, meaning one cancels the other out.  The slightly more complicated version of this idea is that painful things (repetitive motions/poor posture) are always sent to the brain, but only some are ultimately perceived as pain (like face-planting off a BMX).  What DOES happen before the realization of pain is the stress response, which you may know as the fight/flight response.  So while sitting in a chair writing a blog post will fire up some nociception (pain) from my spine, the “pain” isn’t a conscious event.  Without chiropractic adjustments, subluxations continue to reduce the movement signal being sent to the brain and increase the painful/stress signal being sent.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except that all these stressors and the chronic stress response they set up in your body is a cumulative thing.  So eventually you end up feeling pain from trivial stimuli that normally wouldn’t be perceived as painful (some researchers/scientists believe this may be involved in the development of fibromyalgia).

The stress response affects the nervous input to your brain and the effect is the brain then doesn’t know how to optimally respond to its’ environment.  This results in changes in your bodies many balancing acts (blood pressure/cardiac output, hormone production, everything, etc.), emotions (ever feel more relaxed or more energized after an adjustment?), visceral function (better breathing, digestion, etc.) as well as the more obvious changes in movement, muscle tone and posture (notice good posture is less work after an adjustment?).

You may have heard the stress response being explained with this analogy:

You’re out in the wild, and you’ve been there 100 times before and you’re going down to the stream to get some water, you check out your surroundings and everything is great.  You dip your hands into the water but hear something and quickly turn around and there is a tiger about 15 feet away from you in full sprint/attack mode.  You don’t take the time to consider whether or not it’s actually planning on running past you because it’s just REALLY thirsty.  Your body reacts and you either try to fight it (and get mauled to death) or you run for your life (and probably, you get mauled to death – tigers are fast).  But what happens inside of you during all of this?  The stress response.

If you’re like me in 2nd year Biology, that’s just about all you remember about it.  So now let’s talk about what actually happens during the stress response.  Every process that will increase the available energy to your muscles (catabolic processes) happens (blood flow to your organs slows [vasoconstriction], blood flow to your muscles increases [vasodilation], heart rate increases) and everything your body does that you don’t necessarily NEED at this very moment (anabolic processes) is decreased (Sex glands, sex drive, digestion, growth/repair, immunity).  This is intelligent as we probably aren’t worried about our sex performance when being mauled to death is imminent.  The other thing that happens is that our awareness is increased (so we can see where to run away to, any possible weapons nearby, etc.) at the expense of concentration (sounds like ADHD, doesn’t it? – maybe these kids are stressed out!).  We don’t need to learn the stress response while fleeing, so we don’t.

So, as you can imagine, people who are chronically stressed (be it from subluxation, poor diet or mental stress) may be the same people suffering from:  High blood pressure, decreased fertility, decreased libido, IBS, indigestion, colds/flu/chronic bronchitis, poor recovery from sickness OR workouts, poor concentration.  Your body creates the stress response so that you can change your environment.  As modern humans our problem is that many of us expose ourselves to this environment EVERYDAY.

Now then, you now have a pretty good idea (probably better than many healthcare professionals) about why the stress response is bad.  You’ve got a good idea about its’ far reaching effects (no sex drive?  No thank you!) and later this week, you’ll get a good idea about how to reduce it/resolve these problems (although you’ve probably got a good idea what I’m going to hint at!)

Cheers Folks!

Dr. Adam Ball

Why Chiropractic? or Where did these demons in my spine come from?

Why Chiropractic?

Hey Folks, time for another awesome blog post about the best thing since sliced back bacon… Chiropractic!

A common question I receive from the non-chiropractor-seeing population (and sometimes from the chiropractor-visiting population as well) is “Why do I need to see a chiropractor?”

Have a seat, (with good posture, of course) this may take a while…

This guy can exorcise the demons in your spine.

Chiropractic operates under a different paradigm than medicine.  This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the only health care model that most of us are exposed to from birth onwards is the medical model.  Many folks never see a chiropractor in their lifetime (a single tear rolls down my cheek for those people).  Even then, some who DO see a chiro never learn about our paradigm as sometimes it’s just easier to try and fit chiropractic into the medical model.  To really understand WHY you should visit a chiropractor, we need to delve deeper into the chiropractic wellness paradigm.

Here’s the gist of our model:  Aside from some (very few) exceptions, we all share the same genetics that are designed to express health.  Unless you believe that absolutely everything you do is preordained, you have to believe that the choices you make in life have an impact on it.  I’m here to tell you that provided the right environment (created by your choices), your body (and its’ genetics) have no choice but to make you healthy, happy and wealthy (ok, maybe not wealthy).  So when we think about our health in this light, it’s our choices that determine how healthy we are.  There are no tricks, no hacks and no shortcuts (Sorry, Tim Ferriss).

“Life is hard!”

I’m not a fan of that saying at all.  Life isn’t hard, life is awesome.  Life can however, lead to misalignment/motion restrictions/problems with your spine and its’ joints.  Some chiropractors like to call these problems, “subluxations”.  I personally don’t care what you want to call them, I just want your spine moving better.  Like avoiding exercise and eating junk, having these adaptations (subluxations) in your spine is a bad thing.  Subluxations can be caused by traumas in the large sense, like being born, being hit by a car/linebacker or falling off a ladder.  They can also be caused from small incremental things, like poor posture, sitting too much and repetitive motions.  Toxins like gluten, heavy metals, allergenic substances (depending on your allergies) can cause them as well as things as simple as stress (just think about your posture in a stressful situation… not good).  As you can imagine, this means living life can frequently lead to these problems in your spine.

“But then I would have them ALL the time!”

False.  We’re humans.  Anyone who’s ever dropped a baby knows that we’re designed to be resilient.  A baby can recover from a small drop but if the baby falls from a decent height or you start dribbling the baby like a basketball there might be some problems.  A simple and effective way to think about these causes of subluxation, is as stressors.  Stress is a stressor (D’uh?), but so is gluten, too much sitting and taking a line drive to the solar plexus (I’ve always wanted to use that in a sentence).  Pain is also a stressor.  The effects of these stressors are FAR reaching and reducing/eliminating them is responsible for the far reaching effects of chiropractic.  I will get into this in more detail next post, as your attention span is most likely fried by now.

Cheers!

Dr. Adam Ball

P.s. I’m on Twitter and Facebook these days.  Now you can comment here, send me a message or heckle me on my wall.  Either way, I love hearing from you guys!

Small Changes and Big Differences

Hey Folks!

I apologize for not posting sooner, between switching to the more complicated version of WordPress and hoping to get my last post a bit more exposure, I ended up putting this off too long.  Today’s post is going to (hopefully) be short and sweet.  It’s also dedicated to those that want to make smaller, incremental changes versus big, and sometimes difficult changes.

I want to mention some things that should be easy to implement, and can make a big difference in your health.  These suggestions are going to follow a pattern in that one is designed to help you eat better, one is designed to help you move better, and one is designed to help you think better (reduce stress).

Change can be stressful, and along with work/home/everything, stress can add up and have a profound effect on your health.  We work too much (too many hours), think too much and are just generally stimulated sympathetically (the fight/flight mechanism) all day every day.  Take a couple minutes, a few times a day and practice this exercise.  Breathe in through your nose as deep as you possibly can, hold it for 4 or 5 seconds (you shouldn’t be overly uncomfortable) and then breathe it out slowly and as completely as possible.  Repeat 3-4 times.  I like to sit tall and think positively during this exercise.  I tend to do it during my commute to and from work (could there be a better time for stress relief?)

Concentrating on a serene landscape helps with relaxation.

The amount of air you’ll be able to breathe in and out will increase with time if you can implement this practice with some consistency.  That volume of air you can breathe can be limited by systemic inflammation in your body.  Systemic inflammation is generally only present during sepsis, or when you introduce something into your body that isn’t meant to be there.  This “something” can be lead (from paint, or food contamination), mercury (in tooth fillings, vaccines, contaminated food) and many other heavy metals.  Avoiding food contamination is like trying to avoid wind, you can stay locked indoors, but if you want to live you’ve got to get outside!  A increasingly present toxin that isn’t a heavy metal, that we’re being told to ingest in outrageous quantities is gluten.  Gluten causes an immune reaction in our body that causes it to attack essentially all of our tissues.  This is why those who eliminate gluten from their diet often see improvements in joint pain, headaches, digestion, osteoporosis, the list goes on.  A sure-fire way to reduce inflammation and increase your health, is to eliminate gluten from your diet.  This can be difficult to do for many people due to habit and addiction; So how about we just change breakfast?  Instead of having the typical lactose and gluten for breakfast (milk and cereal), let’s try eggs and bacon, or some cold cuts and a bowl of cut up fruit/berries.  If we stay away from bread and cereals we’re good to go in just about any direction we want.  Today for me was a large cup of coffee with some heavy cream, a couple swigs of orange juice, an apple and a handful of nitrate-free turkey cold cuts.  It doesn’t have to be complicated just concentrate on fruit/veggies and meat.

There is a time and place for inflammation though, and it’s called exercise.  The local (limited to skeletal muscle) inflammation caused by exercise is responsible for the adaptation that causes us to improve.  Unfortunately exercising for the sake of exercising doesn’t often work out in the long term.  To combat this problem I want you to create a goal.  Pick something you can do whenever you like, wherever you like.  Wanting to be better at gymnastics movements is a much better goal than wanting a six-pack, and conveniently, being better at gymnastics movements will get you closer to having a six-pack.  A simple exercise you can practice is called the hollow rock.  Here is a good video explaining the hollow rock:

Hollow rock with Jeff Tucker

To hold the hollow position you’re contracting your quads, everything in your core (abs, obliques, etc.), your toes are pointed and your hands are above your head.  What this does is flattens your low back against the ground as opposed to it curving away from the ground.  Then you’ll just rock back and forth by shifting your weight.  The hollow rock won’t work if you can’t stay hollow though, so stay tight!  This doesn’t appear to be difficult, but it is.  Try and accumulate a few minutes each day doing this exercise.  The time doesn’t have to be all in a row and there is no “set point” you need to reach (although 3 minutes straight is a really good metric).  It takes a little time to get used to the position, but once you’re there, have some fun with it.  You’ll continue doing it if you enjoy it.

So there we have it, spend some time doing the hollow rock before relaxing to do the breathing technique followed by a meal of meat and vegetables.  Try one of the things, or all of them but do it with a positive mindset.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Dr. Ball

You’re an Animal

Jones runs and plays like a free dog would.

Not in the wild, beast-like manner that you may be thinking, but you are most definitely an animal.  And you are meant to live like a human being.

Ok. So now you may be thinking, “Adam is being weird, why do I even read this blog”.   But my point is, we aren’t really free.  If you take into consideration how we live, it’s very similar to animals in captivity.  We spend most of our lives inside a box, whether it be a house, a cubicle, or even a car. This is not a good set up.

Let’s consider any animal in captivity. They get frustrated, they act out of the ordinary for their species, they don’t even want to mate with each other. When they do it actually makes headlines, “_________ animal has cute baby!”. Kind of ridiculous, however, does it remind you of anyone you know?

“I can’t seem to get to sleep at night anymore!

“My libido isn’t what it used to be”

“We’ve been trying to have children for a year now”

“I keep gaining weight despite eating ‘well'”

I could continue forever. These complaints are usually accompanied with stuff like

“I’ve been working hard, putting in a lot of hours at the office”

“Man, I’m so stressed out about _______”

“Did you see the late, late show last night???”

These people aren’t being the human they were designed to be.  Think about those animals again.  When they are taken out of captivity and allowed to go back to their native environment, (excluding those who have been raised by captive animals with copious human intervention), they thrive!  While my first sentence in this paragraph sounds almost philosophical, it is meant to be read more seriously.  We need to move, eat, and think like we are designed to.  We’re captive.  No wonder we suffer from these common problems (infertility, obesity, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression).  Your genetics are responsible for your problems just as much as they are for your successes.  Live in a way that your genetics are designed to react optimally to.

We’ll dive into the “how”s and “why”s of this subject more at a later date. For now I want you to start thinking about the parallels between the problems that animals in captivity live with, and the common complaints you hear from people.  After that, consider the ways in which you are being held “captive” and what you’d do different if you were “free”.

All the best everyone!  Have a great Thanksgiving.

Organic doesn’t equal healthy

Carrot cake

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Folks!

First off, I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Danielle, who is running the scotiabank marathon in Toronto today while I sit in a starbucks sipping a coffee with some heavy whipping cream and cinnamon.  Strong work Dee, you’re awesome.

Now onto todays topic, organic foods.  I checked out the Whole Foods in Oakville yesterday.   It’s a pretty awesome spot, but like most “health” related situations it sparked my curious side.  As an aside they’ve got some seriously awesome stuff at this place and if you’re mindful of what you buy, you can get some really quality food without breaking the bank.  The problem I have with places like Whole Foods is that I think they trick people into making the same dietary mistakes, but with organic or exotic ingredients.

Organic, gluten free carrot cake tastes amazing, but it’s STILL cake. People seem to forget that.

There is a huge benefit to buying local, buying grass-fed/pastured and buying organic.  But buying organic pasta to put organic spaghetti sauce and organic parmasan cheese on top of it is just gives you an expensive plate of sugar.  It isn’t the lack of organic ingredients that is making you fat/inflammed/in pain, it’s the types of ingredients you’re eating in the first place.

Goji berries, while having a cool name, and packing some nutrients, are no better than blueberries. And we don’t have to go to Nepal to get wild, locally grown blueberries (that seems redundant doesn’t it?). If you’re shopping at health food stores to help the environment, purchasing exotic foods from across the world is not helping.  Things like goji berries, acai berries or the like, involve someone picking them lots of miles away, and shipping them around the world so that you can feel cool eating a “superfood”.  Don’t be that guy.  Eat the berries, fruits and vegetables local to our area, that are picked fresh, and allowed to ripen properly.  Concentrate on locally grown fruits and veggies. Kohlrabi, apples, figs, plums, peaches, beets, turnips, kale, brussel sprouts, the list goes on, are all good, locally grown, nutrient dense foods. Try to lean towards veggies, but fruit will satisfy a sweet tooth.

Organic cookies are still off limits people. Whole grain is not “ok”. Anything that resembles or seems like a grain is not ok. Get off the grains. these foods are still mostly sugar with some lectins, phytates and other wonderful ingredients mixed in. If you’re buying organic foods to be more “healthy”, you’re undermining yourself by eating these foods.

If you’re shopping at a health foods store to be cool, well, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, and those of us who are doing it properly hope you enjoy your zumba/insanity/ab rocket workout and hope that it works out well.

Aside from the above recommendations, here are some more:

  • Try to find a CSA (community sustained agriculture) in your area and support it, it’s worth it.  You receive a good number of fruit and veggies.  Get ready to eat some mystery vegetables.
  • Look into contacting a farm for pastured meat.   Many times you can request your cow be grass finished (I.e. It never gets fattened up with grain).   You’ll pay more, but it’s worth it.  Also, ask for the fat rendered from the beef, most people don’t, but you’re paying for it and it’s great for cooking.  And, since you chose the grass finished beef, the fat profile is amazingly good FOR you.
  • Go to a farmers market in your area.   It’s the market of local stuff (fruit, veggies, meat, etc.).   Prices will be a bit higher than the previous two options, but you’re paying for the convenience.

That’s all for now! If you have any ideas or suggestions I missed, post ’em to comments!