This is what some people refer to as a non-scale victory. The idea is that instead of weighing yourself every day and letting a number on the scale dictate if you have been successful or not, you track your progress by measuring other factors. These can include things like sleep quality, energy levels, menstrual cycles, PRs, bloodwork and other functional lab results, overall happiness, etc--Or if you are working with an NTP, improvement on your NAQ/symptom burden and functional evaluation.
When making a healthy lifestyle change, if you are trying to measure your progress, I would encourage you to focus more on quality of life factors like I listed above rather than weight. Not only because of the whole “muscle is more dense than fat” thing, but because true health is not defined by weight. There are plenty of skinny people with health issues.
I personally don't like to track anything and have never been one to care about numbers—my personal goal is just to be more present since my abstract mind is always in the clouds, and my perfectionist tendencies makes tracking of any sort an unhealthy, stressful endeavor. It's just not for me personally, as I prefer to go by how I feel day-to-day; but I realize that for a lot people, tracking measurable progress can be a healthy way to help you achieve your goals.
With that being said, I experienced an unexpected non-scale victory recently.
Let me explain how it happened:
For two full years, I was a dedicated yogi. I would attend hot vinyasa yoga 5-6 times per week. I loved it. During this time, I made tremendous strides in my strength and flexibility (not to mention mental, emotional, and spiritual health). But there was always one area that I never improved in, and that was my shoulder flexibility. I tried and tried and tried for two years to do Eagle Pose and other shoulder openers, but my upper back was so tight, it never budged. I couldn't even clasp my hands behind my back and always had to use a towel to modify when the pose called for hands behind the back or over the head. Unlike every other pose, I was never able to get past this modification.
Like we so often (incorrectly) do, I resigned my chronically tight shoulders to genetics.
After about two years, I took a break to deal with some adrenal issues, then I started my nutritional therapy training and opened my practice; before I knew it, a whole year had gone by without my attending a yoga class.
For the past year, I have been focusing on supporting my liver and gallbladder. This includes supplementing with Beta-TCP, a concentrated beet juice supplement that helps thin the bile. Bile is a "river of toxins" made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder; it's released from the gallbladder when trigger by proper digestion and the presence of healthy fats. Your body conveniently recycles and re-uses it to emulsify and digest fats (That's right! Fats don't magically clog your arteries. There's a whole mechanical and chemical digestive process that breaks them down into molecules that do really important things that build healthy cell membranes and make hormones,)
I also increased my beet consumption, but some days I love beets and some days I would rather literally eat anything else so I choose to supplement with Beta-TCP. I also use Livotrit Plus, which is has liver-supporting herbs. I LNTed well for both of these. Other ways I have been supporting liver health is by drinking more water with minerals, eating more leafy greens, and drinking my cholorphyll elixir.
After a little over a year, I went back to my first yoga class. We were instructed to put our hands behind our back. I got my towel ready, assuming I would need to modify, but to my surprise, I was able to clasp my hands together. Then we were instructed to put our hands in an Anjali Mudra, similar to a prayer gesture, behind our back.
I couldn’t believe it, but I was not only able to clasp my hands together, but even get my palms together behind my back.
Keep in mind I had not done yoga for over a year.
I was trying to think of some explanation for this new found flexibility in my shoulders. During my year off from yoga, I did some indoor cycling, but I doubt that would increase my shoulder flexibility this much. Yes, I go to the chiropractor regularly, but I was also going to the chiropractor when I was doing yoga before, so I ruled that out.
Then I remembered the connection between the liver/gallbladder and referred pain in the shoulder area. As I have explained before, structure determines function, but also function determines structure. This was a case of the latter. I have seen first hand chronic lower back and hip pain relieved with adrenal support, and I believe my shoulder issues have now resolved with liver and gallbladder support.
Ironically, when my clients tell me they experience pain between their shoulder blades, this is always a sign to me that we need to take a look at liver and gallbladder support. But for some reason, I never thought it apply this to myself, and never made the connection between this and my chronically tight shoulders at yoga.
Sometimes we think we are not making progress. But it’s important to look for it in the right places (and be open to receiving it).
As we approach a New Year and make goals and resolutions for ourselves, keep in mind that if you choose to track your progress, be sure to include non-scale victories. And always always always listen to your body. It will tell you if you are on the right track, sometimes when you least expect it.
P.S. If you are looking for a program that will help you make a healthy lifestyle change, and includes healthy ways to track your progress, sign up for the next EmFit challenge. It starts January 2 and is only $21. The program includes workouts, nutrition and lifestyle tips, meal plans, and an accountability system.
Sign up here: https://www.nutritionaltherapypgh.com/emfitchallenge
I realize it has been a minute since I last posted. I want to assure you that I have a backlog of recipes and informative posts that I just need to sit down and publish. My goal is to integrate this blog into my practice so that it is a resource for my clients.
But since my last post, I got caught up in studying for my Nutritional Therapy final exams (I passed and graduated!) and after that I really hit the ground running setting up my business so I could start providing affordable foundational and holistic nutrition services to my community. My specialty really is working one-on-one with clients; so setting up all the technical, business-y stuff is brand new to me and has consumed a lot my time (and I'm still working full time as a health sciences librarian). I promise that as things stabilize on the business end, I will begin providing regular content again.
With that being said, in addition to our website being up, we officially have an office location to see our local clients at: Nutritional Therapy of Pittsburgh will be working out of an office located inside Sports Performance + Spine! I am very excited to be working out of this space, alongside Dr. Mandy and her team.
Nutritional therapy and chiropractic care go hand-in-hand. I can personally attest to that and I have a few clients who can as well.
Nutritional therapy and chiropractic care both approach health from a holistic, functional perspective. The main difference is that nutritional therapy focuses on the body's function (physiology) and chiropractic care focuses on the body's structure (anatomy). Both are equally important and both can effect each other! Structure determines function, and function determines structure.
For example, if you don't hold manipulative treatment (i.e. it feels great immediately after an adjustment but later that night or over the next couple days your symptoms reappear) it may be due to an nutritional deficiency. In this situation, chiropractic care will help correct structural imbalances, but manipulation will not hold if the nutritional imbalances are not corrected as well. And vice-versa. Through our functional evaluation and lingual-neuro testing, we can help determine what those nutritional deficiencies are and how to bring your body back into sufficiency.
I've mentioned before that I personally experience low back pain on the left side of my body near my hip and pelvis when I am under a lot of stress. Structural care helps temporarily but the symptoms often reappear. I learned through nutritional therapy that your pelvic support muscles are neurologically connected to the adrenal glands. When I began supporting my stress levels with an adaptogenic herb and adrenal glandular supplement (that I lingual-neuro tested really well for), the pain would also temporarily disappear for a few hours. But it wasn't until I started receiving regular chiropractic care with Dr. Mandy at SP+S in addition to supporting my adrenal glands and stress levels nutritionally that the pain disappeared completely and I am able to discontinue use of the supplements after finishing the bottle.
I have also seen cases where a structural issue can cause functional symptoms. For example, some cases of heartburn or acid reflux can be due to a hiatal hernia. Anytime a client comes in with these symptoms, I always always always refer them to a chiropractor because if that is the cause, it needs to be corrected. However, at that point, the stomach has become so irritated and inflamed, and digestion has become so compromised due to antacid medications that nutritional therapy is also needed to help manage this condition.
As more and more research is being done into the gut-brain connection, we are also finding that concussions and traumatic brain injuries can cause leaky gut and other digestive issues (full disclosure: the article linked is a mouse study, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this; I would love to see more research into this as I have unfortunately experienced this first-hand as well--next time you see me, ask me about my concussion!).
I am now accepting nutritional therapy clients. If you are unsure if nutritional therapy is right for you, email me at email@example.com or call (833)-687-3663 for a free 15-minute consultation. In the meantime, get a head start on your healthcare needs and book an adjustment and massage at SP+S!
Be sure to follow both Nutritional Therapy of Pittsburgh and Sports Performance + Spine on Facebook.
Time for my first rant. I was going to wait a little while until I did one of these, but I just found out that the non-browning GMO fuji apple from Okanagan Specialty Fruits has been approved by the USDA.
First, let's just talk about the concept of a non-browning GMO apple. According to the Cornucopia Institute, Okanagan describes the apple as “cost-saving means for the fresh sliced apple business.” The fresh sliced apple business??? Is that even a thing? Am I that out of touch with conventional eating practices that I was unaware that there is a specific industry for sliced apples? Is the oxidation of an apple THAT much of an inconvenience for the consumer that we even need this? Who are all these people that are immediately cutting up their apples and then letting them sit out all day?
After googling, "fresh sliced apple business" and expecting to get no results, it turns out I AM that out of touch. Crunch Pak is "America's #1 sliced apple". I still do not understand why this needs to be a thing, other than the fact that we are that lazy that we cannot bite into or slice our own apples. And if that is the case we have much bigger problems as a society. I understand if you have kids it is much easier for them to eat sliced apples, so if you are sending them off to school with a homemade lunch it is more convenient in that case to include sliced apples. But a squirt of lemon juice will help, or just bake the apples or make your own apple sauce. I love Stupid Easy Paleo's Easy Baked Apples. Or maybe try a different fruit and leave the apples for an after school snack.
Surprisingly, the need for such a ridiculous concept is not what irritates me the most. According to The Cornucopia Institute, the non-browning GMO apple is created by inserting a gene that "allows transformed apple tissue to grow on a medium containing the antibiotic kanamycin" and that "every cell of every GMO apple tree, including the apple fruit, and the roots of the trees, will show resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin." Okanagan claims it does not. I prefer to err on the side of caution and I am always skeptical of someone who has financial interests at stake.
Before I continue, I must disclose one of my greatest fears for our future society: antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics have become the adult band-aid. Remember when you were a kid and you would fall and bump your knee or your elbow? You would cry and even though you weren't bleeding, you insisted on putting a bandage on the area. Your parents knew this was useless because you weren't bleeding but you wouldn't stop crying until they put the bandage on, so they obliged. Well, every time you go to the doctor with the flu or a sniffle, you are the child, the doctor is your parent, and the antibiotics you insist on receiving is the bandage. I really don't even understand why people want antibiotics so badly. Yes, they deplete all the bacteria in your body but that includes the GOOD bacteria, which keeps your gut healthy and your immune system strong, among other things. So unless the bacteria you are hosting is REALLY bad (which in some cases it is and that is when antibiotics actually are necessary), you don't need antibiotics. First of all, if you have the flu, then you are fighting a virus so taking something that kills bacteria is not going to make you feel better, it will just inhibit your immune system from fighting the virus. Hot take: Any doctor or health care professional that obliges your childish wish for antibiotics when you only have the flu should lose their license.
I just want to be clear that I am not against antibiotics. Though I eat primally, I don't want to be like our ancestors and die from an infectious disease or bacterial infection that could have easily been treated with antibiotics. But those of us who are begging for antibiotics for every little inconvenient sniffle and fart are creating an epidemic of antibiotic resistance. Viruses and bacteria evolve and are becoming more and more resistant to medication with every unnecessary prescribed dose. This year, the United States saw it's first case of bacteria resistant to a last resort antibiotic. As someone who does not use antibiotics unless necessary, that terrifies me because I would like it to be a possible treatment should the need arise; and less selfishly I would like future generations to have the option to use antibiotics. Otherwise, we are at risk of devolving as a society. Living in a world with antibiotic resistant bacteria will be EXACTLY like living in the same world our ancestors did, where every cut and scrape could mean death.
You know what else is pretty unnecessary? Putting antibiotics in apples! It's not unreasonable to think that by regularly eating an apple that has been genetically altered so that every cell of it's being will be resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin, you could also eventually develop a resistance to the drug as well. Kanamycin is listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines.
The last thing I will rant about today is how those of us who are skeptical of genetically modified food are often labeled as anti-science. That is obviously not the case. If I was anti-science, I would not have just ranted about how I want to save antibiotics from extinction. Often times, the argument for genetically modified food is that it will "feed the world". That is debatable, and certainly not the case here. Even IF these non-browning genetically engineered apples are safe and pose absolutely no threat to our digestive systems and antibiotic resistance, are they really necessary??? I suppose if your paycheck comes from Okanagan they are, but for the rest of us, we will probably be just fine eating apples the old-fashioned way. Sometimes just because you CAN do something, it does not mean you SHOULD.
Good thing the USDA has saved all the lazy people who can't slice their own apples! They no longer have to suffer through freshly biting into them and eating them at the peak of their nutrient density!