Archives for posts with tag: healthy-living

To a certain degree, I would consider personal trainers allied health care professionals. I believe a good personal trainer helps his/her clients go beyond exercise. It’s pretty standard for a trainer to ask a new client about their nutrition; however I like to take it a few steps further and dig into sleep habits, water intake, stress levels, energy levels, and just life in general. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, but I would be so bold as to guess that I have a much closer relationship with my clients than they do with their doctors. I need to get the whole picture to improve my client’s lives. Who am I if I’m not helping others?

Today I wanted to share with you a little bit about a personal health journey.

A fellow trainer wrote a blog post once about how he ate an unusually unhealthy dinner one night, proceeded to get terrible sleep, and felt like crap the entire next day. Then it occurred to him that that’s some people’s normal.  And we just accept it as ‘it is what it is.’

For the past few years I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that I have a mild case of hypothyroidism. I have a list of mild yet annoying symptoms that until recently I didn’t really put much thought into piecing them together. Obviously when I was younger, I just accepted these things as ‘it is what is it’ and that’s just how I am. When I started to think about it.. I wondered if all these things were connected in some way. Here’s what I came up with:

1. I’ve always had very dry skin. Even in the summer time I can’t go a day without putting lotion on or else my skin resembles the Sahara.

2. I bruise like a peach. Like… a super old peach. The littlest whack to the shin can cause a gigantic deep purple contusion.

3. My overall energy is not bad, but could be better. When I was in college (and clearly had too much time on my hands) I would take 2-3 hour naps DAILY. Obviously I don’t have anywhere near that amount of free time now, and I find myself barely being able to keep my eyes open on the T ride home.

4. My eyes get puffy and sensitive to unnatural light (especially fluorescent).

5. Most noticeably, my hair has gotten very brittle, and breaks very easily.

6. I have poor temperature control. I’m either sweating or freezing.

7. I’ve always been in a healthy body fat range, thanks mostly to good exercise habits (re: lifting) and a good diet. However, it takes a pretty significant effort for me to get in the teen range (usually entails two-a-days and VERY strict diet). Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, or difficulty losing weight.

About a year ago I had my doctor check all my hormone levels. According to her all my levels were ‘normal,’ and I had nothing to worry about. Yeah… thanks for nothing doc. An analogy I read while doing my research talked about the RDA for vitamin D. Basically, it’s just enough to not get rickets. But many people question if it’s enough for optimal health.

“Health is not simply the absence of sickness.”  ~Hannah Green

But.. I figured doctors know best and it just… is what it is.

So a year goes by. One morning about 3 weeks ago I found my lab report for my  thyroid levels. I was on the low end of normal. I decided to type all my symptoms into Google just to see what popped up. Not surprisingly, every single result said hypothyroidism. I also have it in my family; my grandmother takes a thyroid pill every day of her life. But I thought… there has to be a better way. I wanted to get to the root of the problem.

So I did some more research. What are the underlying causes of hypothyroidism? Does it just get out of whack for no reason or can something be done to fix it? And then I found it.

Iodine Deficiency. 

Iodine is an essential dietary element because it aids in producing thyroid hormones. According to the WHO, a deficiency in iodine can cause hypothyroid-like symptoms,  miscarriages in pregnant women, or even mental retardation and brain damage.

Iodine deficiency is actually pretty rare for the standard American diet because we eat so much processed, high sodium foods. (Most of the salt we consume is fortified with iodine). However, if you eat a better-than-average diet with minimally processed food and lots of fruits and veggies, you can actually be missing iodine! My diet significantly improved after college, when my symptoms got more noticeable, so I put 2 and 2 together.

Now, supplements are good but real food is better. So the next step in my research was to find foods naturally rich in iodine. Big shocker: seaweed. Ahh, the light bulb turns on. So obvious. Needless to say, I got pretty pumped about where my research had taken me so I went out that afternoon and got me some ever-so-delicious kombu.

Seaweed soup anybody?

 

Luckily, I live in an area with a large Asian population and we have a gigantic Asian food market down the street. The seaweed was easy to find and pretty cheap. I’ve tried to consume some at least every other day for the past few weeks, and I can honestly say I already feel a difference. My eyes have been less puffy, my energy is better, and my skin is (slightly) less dry. All of the other things will probably take some more time to really see changes, and I will surely keep you updated.

Admittedly, I put ‘fat loss’ in the title to get your attention. Although everything about iodine, thyroid, and weight loss is true, the intention of this article is not to get you to think seaweed is the magical key to weight loss and you should go eat a crap ton and you’ll lose ten pounds by next week.  (Yes grammar freaks I realize that’s a run-on sentence. Cuff me.)

The intention of this article is to get you to take a second look at your health. Can things you just accept as normal be improved? I encourage you to dig a little deeper and solve your issues from the root instead of just putting a band-aide on them. Ask questions. Do research. Think critically. Everybody deserves to feel good every day.

“To insure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.”  ~William Londen

In Best Health,

-L

References:

1. http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/idd/en/

2. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/iodine-deficiency/#axzz29f3jQqOp

3. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/a-visual-guide-to-sea-vegetables/#axzz29f3jQqOp

4. http://www.livestrong.com/article/336014-nutritional-therapy-for-hypothyroid/

5.http://jonnybowdenblog.com/thyroid-fish-oil/

6. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/kombu-egg-soup/#axzz29f3jQqOp

7. http://www.wellfedhomestead.com/what-to-do-if-you-are-low-in-iodine

8. http://freetheanimal.com/2010/01/the-hidden-benefit-of-the-sad-iodine.html

9. http://www.womentowomen.com/hypothyroidism/foods-naturalthyroidhealth.aspx

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If you’ve been following along for the past couple weeks, you know that I’ve recently experienced debilitating back pain for the first time in my life.  It’s still bothering me and I’m on a quest to find out what’s wrong.  Here’s what I know I do right:

1. I workout consistently

2. I train my core (crunches not included)

3. I train my posterior (dare I say almost exclusively.) This in includes deadlifts, hip thrusts, squats, pullups, rows ect.

4. I practice mobility and stability drills daily.

5. I pay attention to my posture and position when I’m sitting, standing,  and sleeping. I even make sure I carry my bag on my right side on the way to work, and the left side on the way back!

6. My breathing mechanics are optimal. (diaphragmatic breathing as opposed to chest breathing)

7. I drink lots of water, eat well, sleep well, and practice stress management.

What the heck!

These are all the things I educate my clients about on a daily basis. So what’s wrong with me? I thought: I must have some structural or muscular imbalance that lifting has exacerbated. So, off to Perfect Postures I went. PP is a facility run by Aaron Brooks in Newton, Ma. They do great work with postural assessments and corrective exercise.

Sure enough, I had a pretty significant left hip elevation. So for the past 6-8 weeks I’ve been doing my corrective exercises diligently, staying away from lifting, and maintaining all my health points.

So here we are, 8 weeks out, and my back is still sensitive.

And I can’t deal with not training any more. So today, I checked my ego, and did a very basic rehab-ish training session:

Warm up included corrective exercises and mobility and stability work

1a) Side lying clams 3×10/side

1b) Lateral band walks 3×10/direction

1c) Shoulders elevated BW hip thrusts 3×10

2a) Hands elevated push ups 3×8

2b) Plank 3x30s

2c) Side plank 3x10s/side

2d) Pallof Press 3×8/side (with 15lbs)

Yes, I know. It looks similar to 85 year old’s program. But what can I say? Sometimes you have to break yourself down to build yourself up.

Work it G-pa

So what’s my next plan of action?

After talking to my colleague and coworker Steve Bergeron, we’ve decided that it probably isn’t a postural issue, a movement pattern issue, a mobility issue or stability issue and that I should probably see a doctor. Although I’m not a huge fan of doctors, I think that has to be my next step to make sure my spine is okay. I’m also going to continue with my correctives and my mild strength training routine.

Well- I’m off to do some research. If you guys have any suggestions on a good ortho/back specialist/chiro please let me know!

Thanks for reading,

-L