I can't believe it's the end of December already! Christmas is around the corner, which means that the New Year is going to sneak up on us too!
I don't exactly make New Year's Resolutions - but I do like goal setting and plotting out my intentions for the year.
I make health related goals, business goals and personal goals for the upcoming year - and then take a look each month to see where I'm at, if I need to re-evaluate my goal, if I've met it or if I should just scrap it and focus on a new one that motivates me. Don't feel bad about yourself if you don't reach a goal. Look at what you've done to make it part way. Reflect on that and then decide if you need to take a different action. Rethink the "why" behind your goal. If your "why" isn't strong enough, you may not have the motivation or desire to reach it.
Reaching Your Goals vs. Enjoying the Journey
Many people make health and fitness goals for the New Year. Maybe your goal is getting to the gym 3 or 4 days a week, or running a 5k or a half-marathon. Maybe it's as simple as adding one or two more servings of fruit and veggies to your diet every day. As you work on reaching your goal, be aware of the steps you are taking to get there, and be proud of what you're doing for yourself. Every step you take toward better health adds up.
Maybe for some reason you don't get to run your 5k - but you did get out and walk, then build up to running. And you got exercise more than you had in a long time, strengthened your heart, and maybe even lost a few pounds while training. Recognize and celebrate those positive gains you make along the way. Find a new goal, or choose to continue working on the same one if you still have the motivation and desire. Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds by summer time. Don't look at the big number and get stressed or overwhelmed thinking how hard it might be. Instead focus on making a small change to your diet and exercise routine each week. Breaking down big goals makes it easier to reach them, and you get some "wins" along the way.
As you make new goals, think about the steps you might take in order to get there. It's common to want everything to happen quickly and easily. It's also common to stumble a bit or get off track. But it's also important to be mindful of the process, cheer yourself on as you hit those little wins along the way, and congratulate yourself for your effort and the positive changes you make.
The winter months are the time of year that people stay indoors, exercise less, and sometimes over indulge at holiday time. These seasonal changes may also leave you vulnerable to illness and a lowered immune system so it's important to get a handle on stress and focus on healthy nutrition to stay well this season.
Here are some tips I offer to my patients to support their immune system naturally this winter - and all year long!
1. Focus on fresh foods.
The glorious days of the farmers markets and summer backyard gardens are past us now. You can still eat seasonal, fresh food such as turnips, pumpkins, parsnips, yams, winter squash, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. There is nothing I love more in the winter than a pot of home made soup, stew or chilli, and I love squash and roasted vegetables. Winter is full of comfort food!
2. Keep exercising!
Seasonal changes and early sunsets can have an impact on your mood, which can affect your workouts and your ability to get regular exercise. People who participate in daily exercise are 25 percent less likely to develop symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and depression. Lack of sunshine can also cause your Vitamin D levels to become depleted, which can also lead to a lowered immune system and possibly depression.
Wind, cold and snow certainly make it harder to get outdoors to exercise, but bundling up to get out for a walk is still a great way to get some exercise, lower stress and get in touch with nature.
3. Practice Self-Care
Are you getting enough sleep? Seven to nine hours of sleep will not only help you have more energy and focus during the day, but it is the one thing that can make or break your health! Lack of sleep has also been linked to increased cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and weight gain.
People with chronic stress tend to have weaker immune systems and are more prone to anxiety, depression, and insomnia, which can also lead to other health issues . Lower levels of stress mean a healthier immune system.
Self care can be anything from getting a massage or an acupuncture treatment - to something as simple as taking a warm bath with epsom salts or spending 20 minutes doing yoga or meditating. Anything that helps you slow down and feels like "me time" is great!
4. Be Mindful and Grateful.
Winter holidays are a time we often reflect on the good things in our lives: family, friends, and even the little things like a sunny winter day or a cup of great coffee. It can also be a time to reflect on the things that no longer serve you or bring happiness to your life. Meditation and self-reflection are helpful to us because we allow ourselves the space to make changes for more good things to come.
Plenty of researcher has shown that mindfulness meditation affects the regions of the brain that control immune function and increase levels of circulating antibodies that attack invading bacteria and viruses. Sitting in stillness will not only encourage a greater sense of well-being, but it will help support immune function through the fall and winter months.
5. Use Herbs and Supplements.
As previously mentioned, Vitamin D is very important for a healthy immune system. I recommend between 2,000-5,000 IU per day for adults. If you haven't had your Vitamin D levels checked in a while, this is a good time to do so.
I also recommend a variety of herbs and supplements to boost the immune system or to help you get over a cold faster. Herbal tinctures made from echinacea, elderberry, and astragalus are good examples of herbs that are thought to help shorten the duration of the infection, and elderberry can be taken daily along with garlic or oil of oregano (both garlic & oregano can be found in capsule form) to keep your immune system strong.
By taking these simple steps you will be much more likely to stay healthy all winter!
Headaches can really interfere with work as well as family time and other activities.
One of the first things you should do if you suffer from headaches is start to keep a headache diary. This is a very important tool for both you and your health care team. It will help you track triggers as well as frequency and intensity of your headache pain. A diary can also help you keep track of what therapies (both prescription and natural) you are using and how helpful they are for you - or if they're not helping very much.
There are many natural headache remedies that are helpful for both tension type headaches as well as migraine headaches. Chiropractic and acupuncture are helpful for many patients. Other times making dietary changes is a big help in decreasing frequency and intensity of pain. Sometimes taking herbs or other supplements can be helpful too, but you need to coordinate this with your MD if you are taking prescription medications. Herbs can be very helpful, but some of them do interact with prescription medications. I always tell patients to speak with whoever the prescribing doctor is so he or she knows if you are looking to reduce or eliminate your medications. It's best to do this under the supervision of your medical doctor, especially if you are taking a daily preventive medication.
It's National Chiropractic Health Month - and I'm not just writing about Chiropractic this month, but I'm also writing about the opioid crisis that we are facing in this country.
Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in the ER for misusing prescription opioids.
Further, deaths involving opioids have quadrupled since 1999; in 2014 alone, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving the drugs. That same year, another 2 million people abused or were dependent on opioids.
Beyond the risks of addiction and overdose, prescription drugs that numb pain may convince a patient that a musculoskeletal condition is less severe than it is or that it has healed. This misunderstanding can lead to overexertion and a delay in the healing process…or even permanent injury. In addition to this, approximately 15,000 people DIE every year due to over use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. I've even had several of my own patients be hospitalized due to gastric bleeding from long term use of these over the counter medications. In addition, to stomach irritation and possible GI bleeding, heavy or long term use can cause chronic kidney disease.
Of course, short term use of medications like this for post-surgical pain or for someone experiencing chronic pain from cancer , these medications are needed. Almost 80% of all opiate prescriptions in the world are consumed by Americans - yet we represent only 5% of the global population.
If you have a friend or family member with a pain condition that hasn't resolved within a few days to a week, encourage them to seek alternative natural care like chiropractic or acupuncture, instead of risking long term use of opiates or even over the counter NSAIDs.
If you're looking for some more information about acupuncture, check out our new website http://www.oswegoacupuncture.com Here you can learn more about how acupuncture works, and find answers to common questions.
You are also always welcome to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Accardo to have any questions answered or to find out if acupuncture is right for you.
No matter where you are, there are three simple steps you can take right now to start living a healthier life today!
1) Change the way you think. That's right. Health is more than just the physical. Your attitude - positive or negative - can make a huge difference in the way you approach life. Stop your negative self-talk. Don't tell yourself you "can't", you "don't have time", you're "too old", too _____ fill in the blank with whatever excuse or reason you might have. You can make changes. Change is hard and scary sometimes, but making baby steps, and giving yourself recognition for each little victory is rewarding. You can do it! Changing the way you think can also effect your physical health. Stress, as we know can take a toll on the body. Taking a few moments to meditate, pray, write in your journal or whatever else you do for quiet reflection can also be a positive for your mental and physical health. We need mental and spiritual health, not just physical health.
2) Change the way you eat. I'm not just talking about dietary changes to lose weight. That might be part of it for you - but everyone needs to eat as "cleanly" as possible. This means reducing or eliminating processed food. It might mean starting with just making one healthier food choice or substitution a day. Some people find that an easy way to make changes. Other people do better with a complete overhaul all at once. Some foods increase inflammation in the body, so reducing those can help with joint pain, heart disease and some foods even help keep our brains healthy and slow mental aging! Changing the way you eat may also mean adding a supplement or two for overall health like Fish Oil, or Vitamin D - or maybe taking a supplement to help naturally address some other condition you might have.
3) Change the way you move. This can mean something as simple as taking breaks and getting up to stretch after working at your desk for a while or getting a standing desk for your office. It might mean adding some stretching to your exercise routine at the gym. It might even mean just beginning to walk around the block if you haven't done any exercise in a long time. Changing the way you move also means getting your spine checked by your chiropractor. Finding fixations in your spine (or other joints like knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, wrists & elbows) and restoring proper motion to them will improve your mobility and prevent wear and tear over time. Improving your mobility will help you do your daily activities easier, with less pain.
Are you making any of these steps toward better health? Do you need help making changes? Please feel free to call the office and set up time to talk if you need help. I have taken over 100 hours and was certified as a Health & Wellness Coach through the American College of Sports Medicine. I can help you create simple, realistic and reachable goals to make healthy changes - and help you get to some of the reasons why you may not be making those changes. Changing your perspective perhaps, or doing some introspection on how to make healthier living a priority. One on one accountability can help.
Be well -
Are you curious to learn more about acupuncture and if it might help you? Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out if you're a good candidate for acupuncture treatment.
When snow, ice and frigid winds blast into town, watch out. If your body is not in condition, the common winter chore of snow shoveling can present the potential for spasms, strains, sprains and other health problems, warns the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).
Bending and twisting when tossing a shovel of heavy snow can aggravate lower back discs, according to ACA. In addition, the overall physical exertion required for snow shoveling, without proper conditioning, often results in painful injuries.
ACA advises you to be prepared and follow these tips for exercise of the snow shoveling variety:
•If you must shovel snow, be careful. Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise early and have time to shovel before work.
•Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
•Shoveling can strain "de-conditioned" muscles between your shoulders, in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs. So, do some warm-up stretching before you grab that shovel.
•When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don't try to throw it. Walk it to the snow bank. Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.
•Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
•Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.
•Stop if you feel chest pain, or get really tired or have shortness of breath. You may need emergency medical assistance.
•After any of these activities, if you are sore, apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours. Repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.
If you continue to feel soreness, pain or strain after following these tips, it may be time for a chiropractic evaluation. Give us a call. We can determine if you would benefit from chiropractic care.
Not everyone makes New Year's resolutions (I don't!) but many people still like to think about ways to get healthier when the New Year rolls around. If you're looking at making changes, think about making goals that are SMART. Small, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Based. If you have a big goal, that might seem difficult, break it down into smaller pieces with a few short term goals to get you to the big one so you get a quicker "win" and are less likely to give up on it.
Lots of patients ask for advice on how to eat better, how to add in new types of exercise and how to lose weight. Here are a few tips and resources I want to share with you. Feel free to pass them along!
Looking to try yoga or Pilates? I like to refer my patients to these local studios.Sense of Samadhi in Yorkville has lots of yoga and meditation classes for all levels. Allegro in Oswego offers mat Pilates and yoga, as well as dance lessons. More Than Core Pilates in Oswego offers Pilates with equipment and mat classes. All of these studios offer excellent classes with individualized instruction - and more attention than you would receive at a big gym, so you don't need to worry about injury or pre-existing back problems. If you're familiar with yoga and/ or Pilates but don't always have time to get to the studio, I recommend Gaiam TV. For just $9.95/ month you can stream unlimited yoga & Pilates videos at home. I generally don't recommend this for someone who is new to these types of exercises- taking classes with an instructor who can make sure you have proper form or show you modifications is best when you're a beginner.
Many of you know that I advocate an "Anti-Inflammatory Diet" - especially for those of you with arthritis, auto-immune disorders, headaches and other chronic conditions. This type of diet is also good for everyone and can help prevent problems in the future. Some good resources are:
Dr. Mark Hyman - An MD at the Cleveland Clinic who has written several books about Functional Medicine and how to detox and eat an anti-inflammatory Diet. Another great resource is Deflame.com
If you have more detailed questions, please feel free to call the office, or schedule a nutritional consultation so we can discuss your case in more depth.
Wishing you all a wonderful New Year filled with health, happiness & prosperity.
Stay Healthy & Stress Free This Winter!
The holiday season is here and it's easy to get overwhelmed and feel stressed by all the activities going on. Stress can effect your body and mind in many ways. Some people get headaches, digestive problems, changes in sleep patterns and even lowered immune response which can lead to increased chance of illness. Here are a few simple ways you can help manage stress this winter so you stay healthy this season:
* Stay in touch with people who can provide emotional and other support such as friends, family,community or religious organizations to reduce stress due to work or family issues.
* Recognize signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased blood pressure, more frequent headaches or muscle aches.
* Learn to say "No". It can be hard to decide what must get done and what can wait. Invitations to holiday parties, extra shopping, cooking and kids' activities make this time of year extra busy. Make a list of things that need to be done every day to help manage your time.
* Exercise. It's easy to get out of a routine in the winter when it's dark & cold. 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost mood and reduce stress. Schedule regular times for healthy and relaxing activities.
*Try meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other mindfulness based practices to help keep stress levels down. There are many great yoga studios in the area and other resources that Dr.Accardo can recommend to you.
Chiropractic and acupuncture can help your body adapt to external stressors and can help with not just pain, but can help boost your immune system and help you get over a cold quicker! Call the office for a holiday tune up if needed.
If you have trouble handling holiday stress on your own, seek help from a qualified mental health professional who can guide you, or ask Dr. Accardo for a referral.