Managing Toxic Body Burden Part 1: Sources of Contamination

When I began this post, I intended it to only be one blog post. However, the more I wrote and the more research I did, the more I realized this isn't even a 2-parter... it's an entire series!!

This post is specifically about sources of toxins that have the potential to damage our health and lead us further towards disease, not towards vitality. In Part 2, I'll share how to protect yourself from these sources. A third addition to this series will be more specific on how these contaminates contribute towards disease. As this series continues, it will get more and more specific. I'm excited to keep writing about it! 

Let's dig in.

Do you experience...?

Do you get headaches, migraines, or maybe random nausea? Do you ever get lethargic or tired even after a good night sleep? Frequent allergic reactions, or frequent infections, or bad breath? Difficulty losing weight, chronic water retention, joint pain? Source. Any of these symptoms can indicate many things, including toxic body burden. (Always be sure to check with your doctor).

What is Toxic Body Burden?

Defined by Marriam-Webster, a toxin is "a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation." 

This definition of a toxin covers venom and poison created in all living things. Another item included here is the metabolic waste our bodies make on a daily basis. On it's own, our bodies can excrete these with no problem.

However, post industrial revolution, take into account the amount of environmental toxins (chemicals, pollutants, heavy metals, etc.) we take in daily. This is an overwhelming amount. These toxins often accumulate faster than the body can process and excrete. Over time, the liver, kidneys, and lymph system that works to metabolize and excrete all waste from our bodies, become overburdened and this toxic waste builds up and is stored in our adipose tissue, joints... anywhere the body deems safe enough.

The level at which our body is experiencing this toxicity and the extent it's affecting normal functioning is toxic body burden, or simply body burden, or toxic load.

Therefore, it's instrumental to know WHERE contaminates are coming from so you can protect yourself and your family. 

Things you put in your mouth

Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are not meant to be eaten yet they're all over our food and water supply (from run off and the hydrologic cycle). Hormones, antibiotics, GMO's, heavy metals from fish, and the thousands of additives in our food that many aren't required to even be labeled- our food supply is tainted- to put it nicely. 

Things you put on your skin, hair, and nails 

Beauty and personal hygiene can be major sources of toxicity unless you take specific steps to protect yourself. From the aluminum in conventional antiperspirant/deodorant to parabens and plastics in lotions; fragrance in hair care and body care; butane, ether, & polymers in hair spray; formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene in nail polish; and the many chemicals in hair dye that has been deemed “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.” by the NPT (National Toxicology Program).

Our water

This includes drinking water, water we cook with, and the water we bathe in. Water is the universal solvent; it collects and hold everything it touches. When water is treated, most nasty things we don't want do- thankfully- get purified out.

However, with the use of chlorine to sanitize it (which also kills our gut flora), the addition of fluoride, and the many things that are NOT filtered out- such as drugs our neighbors take. You yourself may not be taking these drugs, but you are when you don't filter or purify your water. Medications such as birth control and other hormones, antibiotics, statins, NSAIDS, and even chemotherapy drugs- among many other types of contaminates- are lurking in our water supply.

Our home

The off-gassing from carpeting, flame retardants on our furniture, and foam in furniture pollute our indoor air. Our laundry (if you're using conventional chemical filled stuff and not natural detergent) and our kitchen cooking tools such as aluminum, non-stick coated cookware and anything plastic (even when it's BPA free). BPA has been found to prevent chromosomes from aligning, repairing, and separating properly- permanent damage to DNA! 

Anything scented with fragrance are unnecessary chemicals adding to polluted indoor air; also insecticide spray, either in the home or in lawn care. Lastly, possible mold contamination from leaking water or damp areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.

What We Breathe

We can choose what we eat, drink, put on our bodies and in our homes, but we have far less control over what we're breathing. Outdoor air is contaminated, the severity depending proximity to busy roads, urban vs suburban areas, and even near farmland that sprays. Motor vehicle emissions alone contribute nitric acid, VOC'c, carbon monoxide, hazardous air pollutants like benzene (which damages bone marrow and depresses the immune system), and particulate matter (contributes to asthma and lung cancer). Source

What can be done

You may say that the aluminum in deodorant isn't so bad... or a little mercury in fish won't hurt me... the fragrance in my shampoo can't be that harmful... but you can go on and on defending how this or that isn't so bad. And you would be right if that was the only toxic element you were exposed to even just once a week.

However, as the above demonstrates, there are innumerable toxins we consume and surround ourselves with every single day. This adds up and contributes to toxic body burden. 

There are many steps you can take to protect you, your family, and your home from contributing to toxic body burden. Read on to find out!

Part II: Managing Toxic Body Burden: How to Protect Yourself (article will be linked once it's published).

 

To your health and healing,

Mandi

 
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Methods of Natural and Alternative Medicine I Love! (Part 2)

As we heal, we benefit most from a team of experts that specialize in one field of practice. Receiving various treatments (like Part 1 talked about) like seeing a Naturopathic Doctor, and a Health Coach, and an Acupuncturist, and a Massage Therapist- will have a greater impact on your overall results.

It takes a village... to find healing. It is almost never just one type of modality or one type of practitioner that gives the results you need. As much as all practitioners do heal and help their patients, we all know that it does indeed take multiple modalities for the patient or client to get better. The smart and humble ones know this.

Here are 4 more modalities I love! See if any of them resonate with you.

Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), Tapping, & The Emotion Code

Our emotions have a physiological effect that can be stored in the body and can be triggered in times of emotional stress. The goal of these emotional energy practices are to identify the neuro-emotional complex (NEC) and essentially destroy that particular NEC so that it never causes the same issue in the body again. It's great for anxiety, general stress, headaches, physical pain, and even organ dysfunction.

"NET is a mind-body technique that uses a methodology of finding and removing neurological imbalances related to the physiology of unresolved stress." (from NETmindbody.com

To understand NET further, I love the description from the pro's on this website, Innovative Medicine.

I've only personally received NET from a professional, but I know many friends and clients whom have had success with Tapping and The Emotion Code. They all get similar results, but have unique ways of arriving at those results. 

Chiropractic

Although somewhat of a controversial profession, it's helped me, my husband, friends, and countless clients. 

I had a teenage personal training client back when we ran our gym. This client was an athlete that I had worked with for years, so when she complained of severe knee pain that prevented her from training and from playing her beloved sport, I was extremely concerned for her well being- especially when treating her myself with corrective exercise and massage therapy did not help.

After 3 months of this constant pain, she saw the chiropractor I referred her to and what do you know, her tibia was out of alignment, he adjusted it, and her pain was gone. The pain also never returned.

This is also a great example how one treatment (massage therapy) was not enough for this client and another modality was needed for her to heal.

If you're afraid of the "snap, crackle, and pop" of conventional chiropractic and want the amazing benefits, there are many chiropractors that use Applied Kinesiology (see below) as a more gentle method.

Massage Therapy

Massage Therapists have tried very hard to not be seen as or called a "masseuse." I was a Licensed Massage Therapist for 8 years and I cringed every time someone used that word. Why? Not only is this word outdated, but also because I wasn't working in a spa with the intention to relax my client into a blissful state. My aim was to ease pain, discomfort, and correct physical imbalances. 

There are many types of massage therapy- myofascial release, trigger point therapy, lymphatic drainage, the Trager approach, orthobionomy, Thai massage, reflexology, and more. 

Massage isn't usually something people need convincing to try because it usually feels amazing (this is because it puts you into the parasympathetic mode which is both relaxing and healing). However, people DO need convincing to try it because it is often seen as a luxury or unnecessary expense. 

Massage is a type of therapy. It's therapeutic! It relieves pain, allows the muscular skeletal system to find balance, and moves the lymph. 

Applied Kinesiology, a.k.a. Muscle Testing

Muscle Testing is a tool used by a variety of practitioners such as Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, MD's, ND's, Psychologists, Clinical Nutritionists and more. Both NET and The Emotion Code use muscle testing to find answers given by the body's subconscious. 

Muscle Testing works by testing a muscle for "strength" or "weakness" under a particular stimulus of the body such as a reflex point associated with an organ, gland, or meridian (specifically the meridians of Chinese Medicine). 

Although this is a controversial tool for diagnosis and treatment, it's widely used and has multiple applications. I find it a truly fascinating tool into the body's own wisdom, where the subconscious communicates with our conscious mind.

Read Part 1 of Methods of Natural and Alternative Medicine I love

To learn more about how myself as a Health Coach can make a great addition to your healing team, click here.

To your health and healing,

Mandi

 
 

Methods of Natural and Alternative Medicine I Love! (Part 1)

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When it comes to chronic illness, Natural, Alternative, and Holistic Medicine beat Conventional Medicine every time. These methods have been around hundreds and sometimes thousands of years and continue to thrive even in our modern society.

Although there are a laundry list of natural and holistic methods, this post is about the one's that I've tried and had wonderful, healing, and eye opening results from. 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is probably the most widely known form of Chinese Medicine in the west. I've been receiving acupuncture regularly for 8 or 9 years and there is nothing that has brought more balance to my body than acupuncture. When meditating, giqong, and emotional releases have done all they can with either a migraine, anxiety, or a whirlwind of feelings, the only thing that can bring me back to my grounded, regular self is acupuncture. 

Acupuncture works by stimulating points on the energy meridians that reside just under the skin, but above the musculature. There are 12 primary meridians associated with the organ systems and one of the 5 elements (fire, earth, metal, water, wood) and 8 extraordinary meridians which run deeper into the DNA. An acupuncturist uses a series of these points in a session to stimulate specific points and circulate qi (pronounced 'chee'). Most practitioners will leave them in and let you relax for 20 minutes, while others will stimulate the point and it's done. If you're weary of the needles, stay tuned to Applied Kinesiology and Muscle Testing that will be in Part 2.

Qigong

Another form of Chinese Medicine, (namely Medical Qigong) is another one of my favorites. Qigong is an ancient system of gentle exercises or movements that gathers, circulates, mobilizes, and transforms qi around the body. Just like acupuncture, it works to clear energy blockages around the body to generate internal energy and vitality. Qigong is the foundation of tai chi and is much more gentle and easier to learn.

Qigong is amazingly versatile and pairs well with any condition because it works to restore balance to the body. It also switches you into the parasympathetic nervous system function which is where healing happens.

I've been practicing Qigong now for about 5 years (I'd like to say daily, but I'm not perfect!). Back when I worked long, hard hours at the gym, Qigong was my savior at the end of my day, relaxing me and grounding me. It was instrumental to my healing and resilience to stress. Read more about Qigong here.

Far Infared Sauna

Detoxification is ESSENTIAL in this modern world. We face an immense amount of toxic burden daily such as fossil fuel emissions (especially if you live next to a busy road!), pesticides/herbicides/fungicides are EVERYWHERE especially if you frequent parks, golf courses, or if you have new furniture and even NEW CLOTHES (yes, fungicides are on your clothes). Once our bodies have a heavy toxic load, it may even begin to prevent us from properly eliminating our own cellular and metabolic waste. 

So, what can we do about it? We can try to prevent as much of this as possible by filtering our water, filtering the air in our home, eating organic and detoxing. One of the easiest, simplest ways to detox is by sweating. Exercise to work up a sweat. Do some gardening or yard work in the summertime and sweat. However, in a far infared sauna, the sweat is deeper and detoxification occurs on a cellular level. It also increases blood flow and oxygenation to all your wonderful cells who work so hard for you.

Find a holistic healing center near you that has one of these bad boys or you can purchase your very own! When conducting this search, be sure to find one with low EMF's. 

Colon Hydrotherapy

Say whaaat?! Stick what where? As strange as this comes off, it's flippin' glorifying! 

Colon hydrotherapy, colonic irrigation, or simply, colonics is the treatment of having water gently flow into the colon and wash out the poo and anything else that may be lingering around. It's great for detoxification, constipation, and extremely hydrating. 

There are two methods: The open system and closed system. Basically, in both scenarios there is a tiny tube (no bigger than your pinky finger) that slides up your business. In an open system, the water flows in and after a few seconds or a minute, you naturally release into an open basin. You are lying down and comfortable the whole time. In this method, once you're set up, you have complete privacy. This is the method I've done.

In a closed system, the same tube enters, BUT there is a second, larger tube used for the elimination vs a basin. From what I've read, there is a technician present during the process that controls the water flow in and out (when you're ready) and may also assist in massaging the abdomen during. I can't speak for this particular method, simply because I haven't tried it. 

I received this treatment on and off for about 6 years and it was especially helpful during the years when my digestion was shit (good one, huh?). I loved the clean feeling afterward. And if you're wondering- which I'm sure many of you are- no doctor, holistic or not, ever found my bowls to be lacking in any gut flora. However, I have taken pro-biotics since college and was sure to take extra when I received the colonics. 

Be on the lookout for Part 2 of Methods of Natural and Alternative Medicine I Love!

Click here to learn more about Insight Health Coaching and Chronic Illness

To your health and healing,

Mandi Palmer, FMCHCC

 
 

Renounce your 'diet' label and just eat more fruits and vegetables!

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Vegetarian. Paleo. Standard American. Low-carb, high fat. Vegan. Bulletproof! Ketogenic. And Pegan (I'm not sure if this one will catch on like wild fire yet). 

There are numerous labels we put on the food choices we make daily. We decide to be paleo and everything we eat is paleo- paleo pancakes, paleo pizza, paleo burgers. We decide to be whole-food and plant based, but cheat with a craving of boxed mac' and cheese.

Or, we do a 'challenge' and deprive ourselves of multiple things simultaneously, lose weight temporarily, then go right back to our bad habits.

These 'challenges' are the new 'diets' or the new way of dieting, by the way, but that's a blog post for the future. They certainly don't teach us long term habits!

The bottom line is this: when we stray off our chosen food plan, it creates stress. 

Here in lies the problem. We feel like we failed because we ate quinoa on our paleo diet or low carb diet. We feel like we failed when we eat potatoes on our ketogenic diet. We failed when we gave in to a juicy burger on our vegetarian diet.

If we go off of our strict plan in ANY way, the feelings of failure lead us to eating behaviors and negative thought patterns that further take us off the plan.

Now, my entire point surrounding these labels is to reduce stress and increase compliance with your version of healthy eating. For those of you that are settled in your 10 year long stent of, say eating raw-vegan, I salute you!

However, there are many of us that will never be able to commit to one thing for that long. 

Many of these plans simply restrict foods- which can be great for our health- but they don't teach us healthy habits that last forever. Often times we're too consumed by all the restriction that we can't wait to have our favorite food again.

One reason we fall off the wagon because we choose to jump on a food trend that may have never been the right thing for us in the first place. There is absolutely no single RIGHT way for all of us to eat. There are so many plans out there touting to be the best, to be the one that finally gets you results.

We are all different and there is never a one-size fits all when it comes to food! Honor what feels right to you, at this particular time in your life, and not be so persuaded by fad diets. 

These food fads come and go and many of them focus on what you can't eat.

There is one very simple solution.

Just eat more fruits and vegetables. 

Eliminate what you think might be aggravating your symptoms (like eliminating wheat if you have joint pain) and add more vegetables. Add more fruit. 

I know fruit is getting a bad wrap these days because of it's natural sugar. Processed sugar (and processed food in general) should be avoided! It doesn't do any of us any good. But, fruit? I don't think that something so natural, so delicious right off of the tree should be avoided. 

Just make adding fruits and vegetables- especially leafy greens- your mission. The more you add, the more you won't be focused on what you're not eating. 

Renounce the label. Let go of the stress of eating. Chow down on a big bowl of leafy greens with your favorite fixings. 

Next week, we'll talk about Easy Ways to Add More Fruits and Vegetables. 

My Secret Weapon Against Stress

I survived my twenties without ever knowing how to relax.

This decade began with a toxic relationship I was in with a drug and alcohol addict (who often stole money from me) while simultaneously working and finishing up college. I entered into adulthood while attending massage school, continuing my job at Starbucks (with my only source of income), and starting a CrossFit gym with my now hubby (who is the complete opposite of the last guy), getting married, working LONG hours growing and sustaining a business... it's no wonder that my health got worse in my late twenties. 

How many of us have a similar story at any age? Busy lives plus migraines... busy lives plus digestive distress... busy lives plus pain. 

Among seeing acupuncturists, getting regular massages and chiropractic, seeing naturopaths, these healers DID lower the stress load on my body and I'm quite confident they are why I'm not worse off today.

But... it was me who really did the most work. 

Certain people enter your lives when you need to learn what they know. This is when I was introduced to Qigong.

Qigong (more specifically, medical qigong) is my secret weapon against stress. It's not a martial art though, so it's not a secret weapon like that

Here is my attempt to define something complex in a simple way: Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of gentle exercises and spontaneous movement that enhance health and vitality through moving qi, or lifeforce energy, around the body and organs via the energy meridian system.

I never knew how to completely relax and enter into parasympathetic (rest & digest) mode that wasn't massage induced until I did Qigong regularly.

In a world where we keep ourselves busy and live every hour in sympathetic (fight or flight) mode we are not allowing our bodies to perform the maintenance it needs to recover from being "on" all of the time. 

It's no surprise that once I knew how to relax and instantly change the state of my nervous system when I wanted to, that my life changed. This is the concept that the Law of Attraction, being in the present moment (like Eckhart Tolle writes about), and living in spirit (like Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote about). 

So not only did I relax during my 5-30 minute Qigong sessions, I began to relax during the day, and ultimately, I aligned myself with a more relaxed life.

We sold our business, moved to the mountains, and we have a completely different lifestyle now that no longer requires me to be "on" constantly. I am more grounded and aligned with my true self than ever before. 

Qigong did that for me, but I did the sessions everyday and I never gave up on it. I give a lot of credit to the art itself and to my teacher, but also to myself for creating the space, the time, and for doing the work.

Now, my 30's are not something to survive, I hope to thrive thanks to my secret weapon. 

 

Wishing you all of the healing I've had and more,

Mandi

If you're in the Asheville area and would like to learn my secret weapon, please contact me here (I'm a certified Flowing Zen instructor). 

Interested in a FREE course and want to beat fatigue? I recommend this course: Beating Fatigue and Exhaustion with Qigong. Or if you're interested in learning qigong online that includes 12 months of step-by-step training, downloadable meditations, group energy and a private facebook group all in the privacy of your own home check out Qigong 101: The Art of Healing for Busy People. 

Disclaimer: I only endorse what I have tried myself and completely believe in and therefore I may receive compensation for sending good things your way. 

Why Replacing Busyness and Stress with Mindfulness will Make you Healthier

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Americans in this day and age have a love affair with being busy which has led to chronic stress. This stress inside of us creates the perfect environment for disease to thrive.

Our culture values busyness. Ever enter into a casual conversation with someone you're running into? It's likely that one of you will boast about 'how busy you've been' or 'how crazy life has been'. So many of us are busy and stressed out that it's become the social norm.

What would it be like to answer the question 'how have you been?' differently? You run into an acquaintance or old friend and instead of answering how busy you've been, being able to say, "I've been at peace and relaxed. I've spent a lot of my free time journaling and getting my workouts in. I honestly feel great."

It is possible to have a completely different answer to this question. Will your friend give you a strange look? It's very possible. But having inner peace and your health is more valuable than their opinion of you. And if they're a kindred-spirit-kind-of-friend, they'll love you anyway.  

Do you live your life in a constant state of fight or flight? Is it difficult to find serenity and peace during the day? Are you a victim of allowing situations to control your emotional state of being? 

Being in this overworked, constant state of being 'on' all of the time is the American norm. Rest isn't valued and the result is our health and well being take a backseat. The nervous system is recurrently in the sympathetic state drowning in cortisol, always ready to attack or run, never resting and healing.

If we never give ourselves the space to enter into "rest and digest" mode of the parasympathetic nervous system, we won't have any resilience to stress.

Mindfulness and Stress Resilience

There are a lot of buzz words surrounding this topic. Mindfulness. Being Grounded. Awareness. Meditation. For some, these words calm, but in others create resistance because they often have stigmas attached to them. Mindfulness is more than a buzzword, it's a movement because not only do people find it extremely effective for stress reduction and improving many diseases and conditions, but there many studies recording such results. 

The reason it’s so effective is because it activates the healing parasympathetic state of our nervous system, which is the only state healing can happen. Mindfulness is a state of mind of simply being aware or becoming the observer of your body, thoughts, and feelings in the present moment. That’s it. The result of mindfulness is an increased resilience to stress.

Resistance to the present moment, not accepting the situation, and/or not removing yourself from a situation creates stress. I'm paraphrasing Eckhart Tolle here, which I've found to be an utterly true and amazingly life changing concept.

Activities that promote mindfulness: mindful walking, yoga, qigong, breathing techniques, ANY type of meditation, spending time in nature, mindfully washing the dishes, being in flow in a creative or playful activity.

Do this and you'll be able to change your answer of "I've been so busy" to "I have more energy and feel more present for my family."

How do you add mindfulness to your life? 

 

To your health and healing,

Mandi Palmer, Health and Wellness Coach

 

4 Tips to Support Your Body This Spring

Spring is the season for planting seeds, growth and cleansing. In Chinese Medicine, it is the season associated with the Wood Element which corresponds to the liver and gallbladder. In restful winter, we tend to eat a more heavily for warmth and comfort. The liver and gallbladder have done some work digesting fats and sugars and now it's time to help them rest and rejuvenate. 

Here are 4 tips to support your wood element this spring.

1. One of the best things we can do for our wood organs is to cut back on some fat come spring time. This usually happens naturally. Instead of pot roast, we're having fish with asparagus. Opting out of baked comfort foods, choosing more fruit. Less hearty, more greens and salads. 

2. Speaking of greens, that's next thing you can do to support your liver and gallbladder. Eat GREENS! The dark ones like kale, collards, chard, spinach; and the light greens such as romaine and butter lettuce. Raw is even better. So instead of cooking the kale or collards, try a kale salad or collard wrap. 

3. One of the most helpful foods for the wood organs is lemon water. Not just a slice, but half of a lemon in a big glass of water. Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. This helps flush the liver from the cleansing it did overnight from 1-3am (the time of the liver) and get rid of "ick" in your first bowel movement of the day. Continue adding a little lemon or lime during the day to keep the cleansing going. 

4. Get moving! Exercise, especially, of the cardio variety, will help flush the body and support the wood organs. The more this is done outdoors around trees and nature and in the sunshine, the better. This can be ANY activity you ENJOY that gets your heart rate up and a sweat to break. 

To learn more about how I can help you as a health coach, visit this page.

6 Reasons a Health Coach May be Just What the Doctor Ordered

More physicians are practicing "Functional Medicine" or "Integrative Medicine" and providing not only an alternative to drug and surgical therapies, but supplementing their practices with Health Coaching. Functional Medicine and Integrative Physicians see the value of coaching, mostly because their patients are getting better results when their support system is broadened. 

A health coach serves as an educator, a supporter, a motivator, and a friend. Here are 7 reasons a Health Coach will make a difference in your life.

1. Your Doc gives you the what; Coaches give you the how. 

We can collaborate with your physician and provide the face time education on lifestyle change that your wonderful doc just doesn't have the time for.

Many coaching relationships begin because of a physician referral. The doc knows that if only this person could get more restful sleep and lower their stress levels, this patient would see an improvement in their condition. However, this wonderful physician just does not have the time to sit down with them and evaluate where the stress coming from. What possible ways can this stress be managed? How can we increase your resilience to stress? Your coach will help you create a plan that works with YOUR LIFE to meet these goals.

2. We're knowledgable in various imbalances that cause disease

For instance, my program's focus is FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE health coaching. We're educated on functional nutrition, the IFM (Institute for Functional Medicine) food plans, gut health, inflammation, hormone balance, autoimmunity, energy resiliency, and detoxification. We're not experts and do not diagnose, treat, or cure, but we understand your condition and we can educate you on what the latest studies are saying. We can share with you what has worked for other patients in your shoes. Furthermore, physicians trust that we understand their patient. 

3. This probably isn't our first career straight out of college. We are seasoned professionals or even experts in a related health field.

I'm sure there's a handful that are straight out of college because there's always exceptions in life. However, most of my encounters and from my observations in my training programs and online research, this is our second or supplementary career. I've seen doctors switching from the expert hat to the coaching hat. I've seen counselors adding coaching to their skill set. I see yoga teachers. And me, I was a personal trainer and massage therapist. Having a coach that's knowledgable in other health modalities will only benefits you more. 

4. We've done our Research... because we're kind of nerds when it comes to this sort of thing.

We know our stuff when it comes to health and we are ALWAYS researching the latest or most consistent scientific research to support, say, the ketogenic diet your doctor wants you to try. We'll share with you the scientific support for the benefits of such a diet and information to implement it into your life. We've got a lot on our tool belt in many facets of health and lifestyle because it's interesting and we enjoy learning about how we can further help our clients. 

5. We Give a Damn, ma'am.

The hippie part of me wants to describe the supportive, healing space we create which energetically, the client can feel. While this is true, the bottom line is that we know you might have never had someone truly listen to your complaints, or the suffering you endure, and offer support in return. We want to see you succeed and just plain feel better. We'll work hard with you. 

6. We've been there!

Health Coaches, for the most part, are not going to be the perfectly fit, most energetic, never-eaten-a-bad-thing-in-their-life, annoyingly perfect health nut. Speaking for myself, and based on stories I've heard from my peers, we have our struggles. The same struggles you have and we relate what you're going through on an emotional level. 

If you'd like a free consult to see how Health Coaching can help you, click here!

Where Many Fitness Programs Fall Short (and How to Spot the Ones That Don't)

With the desire for a healthier and more fit 2017, many are exploring local fitness programs and various gyms to see what might finally be the magic bullet to get rid of their holiday belly and booty. Gyms are counting on the January influx of memberships as it's the busiest time of year for signing up new members. 

With so many new faces, I want you to ensure that you actually get the best service from a new fitness program and your new gym doesn't take advantage of you because you're there at a time when they expect you to be there. 

First, I'll share with you where many programs fail their new members. Second, I'll explain what you'll get from an experienced-money-well-spent-program. 

Four Ways Many Fitness Programs Fall Short

1. By Failing to Evaluate you. 

They don't evaluate your flexibility or range of motion. They don't identify and create a plan to fix a weak or dysfunctional CORE or movement pattern. 

2. By throwing you to the dogs.

If the very first thing they do is throw you into a group class with little-to-no experience, and want to see how you well you do, get out of there immediately. 

3. By failing to give you exercises based on your current fitness level. 

Sit-ups, for example, you think would be a simple enough exercise almost anyone can accomplish. However, the person with a weak Transverse Abdominis (the natural girdle muscle) will gain no benefit in a sit-up and cause more dysfunction. A poor sit-up will have the belly popping out during the movement. The TVA should be drawing in. There are COUNTLESS examples of this type of thing going on, especially in group fitness programs. 

4. By failing to teach proper mechanics PRIOR to adding weight to the exercise.

Oh yeah, this is a big one. Very prevalent. Adding weight to a squat (such as a back squat) without having all the right mechanics and flexibility of a squat first. THIS. WILL. CAUSE. KNEE. INJURIES. Work on perfecting your squat first by performing the squat with just you, no added weight. Find the restriction, find the weakness, and address it with accessory exercises (like a physical therapist might give) and with soft tissue and joint mobilizations. 

Four Essentials of a Great Fitness Program

1. They Evaluate your flexibility, your limitations, and they start your plan here. 

This may or may not come with a package, but it is essential because everyone's body is unique. The results of this evaluation will be a starting place for your plan. Identifying dysfunction- such as chronically tight pecs and taking care of it with proper lengthening and strengthening- will prevent shoulder pain and possible injury down the road. If this person performs a lot of push-ups before addressing this issue, shoulder pain WILL be the end result. 

2. They care about where you want to go with your goals.

Want to lift twice your body weight? Or lose weight? Or maybe you just want to be able to carry your damn groceries from the car to the kitchen without getting so winded. Don't let them tell you what you want or what your goals should be. Whatever your goals are, they'll create a way to help you track it. How many bags of groceries? What's your heart rate when you put them down? Photos, measurements, and performance in a desired activity are great ways to track your progress. If you're uncomfortable with anything they want you to do, you have the power to say, "No."

3. They'll scale movements appropriately.

Like we talked about above, they'll begin by teaching the proper mechanics of a movement. A strong plank is needed for a good push-up. Glute activation and aligned knee tracking is necessary for a good lunge (or knee will dive in). If a more difficult, dynamic movement can't be accomplished well they should give you a substitute that not only can you accomplish well, but will address the issue at hand (i.g. a step-up will strengthen and prepare the glutes for a proper lunge).

4. They offer other services or have specialists other than just fitness training. 

They have a nutritionist for you to work with; or they have an in-house massage therapist; or a specialist for your particular age group; or a specialist for your particular fitness level (i.g. post heart attack, pregnant, or even elite athlete). If you are recovering from shoulder surgery and you've JUST completed your physical therapy, maybe don't join a hard core gym. Find the happy medium that won't program handstand push-ups for you. 

If you are in the Asheville area, Mandi is accepting new clients for in-home personal fitness and health coaching. To schedule a free consult, please click here for more info. http://insighthealthcoach.com/contact/