How Do You Know When You Are Ready For More?

How Do You Know When You Are Ready For More?

If you are a high performance athlete there is a delicate balance between highly trained and overtrained, which leads to being ill.  One tool athletes have used for 30 years is Heart Rate Variability.

High Heart Rate Variability is a measure of Nervous System flexibility and adaptability. When it’s high you can train harder, run longer or faster and because your body is in a healthier state it will respond to the stress of training positively.

When your Heart Rate Variability is low, light training or even taking a day off is recommended as your body is struggling with the demands placed upon it, and it is having difficulty getting to the state of Rest, Repair and Rejuvenate.

This recent study looks at the benefits gained by those who trained less, but listened to their body, and had greater gains than those who followed a pre-outlined training plan.

http://www.220triathlon.com/training/injuries/using-heart-rate-variability-to-optimise-triathlon-training/11673.html

Can Everyone Benefit from This Tool?
You don’t need to be an athlete to learn to listen to your body. Heart Rate Variability is something you can check on your own, with your smartphone and a $40-$60 Heart Rate Monitor.  In addition to exercise, life stresses can lower your ability to Rest and Rejuvenate.  If you know where you are, in relation to your Normal, you can take proactive steps to keep yourself healthy, or know you can take on an extra project, or walk an extra mile with a friend.

Dr. Brian

PS – I will be on Spring Break next week (March 27-31), my office will reopen Apr. 3rd.

Chiropractic Care Shown To Reduce Need for Opioids

Chiropractic Care Shown To Reduce Need for Opioids

A recent review of 33,000 cases of Back Pain in New Hampshire, those that utilized chiropractic care used 56% less opioids than those seeking other treatment options.

Video from WMUR – New Hampshire

The last time I was prescribed, or took, any pain medication was 1994 after a biking injury.  I took one dose the first night so I could get some sleep. The next day I had my spine adjusted, this alleviated some of the pain and I was able to sleep without any medication from there onward.

If someone you know is in pain, let them know there are options like Chirpractic or Accupuncture. Spinal Adjustments shift the state of the body from “flight or fight” to “Rest, Rejuvenate & Recover”, allowing you to recover from injury and chronic conditions.

Dr. Brian

The Healing Effects of Your Tribe

The Healing Effects of Your Tribe

This week I listened to an amazing book by Sebastian Junger called “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging“.  (TED talk.)

Although not mentioned in the book, it reminded me of the story of the Pennsylvania town of Roseto. Although the members of the community had similar demographics to neighboring towns, they demonstrated lower disease rates.  The researchers noted a stark difference in the structure of the community.

“‘The community,’ Wolf says, ‘was very cohesive. There was no keeping up with the Joneses. Houses were very close together, and everyone lived more or less alike.'” Elders were revered and incorporated into community life,”

I mentioned some other interesting and useful items I learned from the book in this Facebook Live Video – https://youtu.be/KPC8JkqiIVY

Most of us have moved away from our birth families, which gives us the opportunity to choose our Tribe. Finding people who have had similar life experiences offers health benefits on many levels, seek your Tribe and enjoy the benefits.

Dr. Brian

Get Back to Normal or Get Better Than You Ever Were?

The Illness-Wellness Continuum

This image comes from Dr. Jack Travis: http://www.wellpeople.com/What_Is_Wellness.aspx

Getting back to neutral, or where you were before is exactly where you want to go when you have pain or discomfort. Once you are back to normal, are there steps you can take to optimize? This is the question that comes from seeking high-level wellness.

I recorded a video about it:

Dr. Brian

The 5 Responses to Stress

The 5 Responses to Stress

When you read about stress, we often hear of the “fight or flight” response to stress. It is the natural instinct for self-protection, we either hold our ground and fight or flee an attack. Human beings have at least 3 other responses when faced with a challenge.

Freeze

This mechanism is used by the Opossum in response to physical danger. It goes limp, and will appear to be dead.  In Humans, this strategy is recommended if you are attacked by a bear.

Submit

This strategy is mostly seen animals that display dominance or a pecking order. the less strong will submit, it allows them to live, and gain strength until they become the elder of the tribe.

Flow

The flow state was brought into modern lexicon by the author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. In this state, there is a stress, a threat, or an increased demand on your body or mind. Instead of narrowing the focus inward, or protecting, there is an expansion of energy with a continued “flow” to the higher centers of the brain.  People in “flow” report a slowing down of perceived time. This state can be also be associated with enhanced creativity and peak performance.

How can we get into a flow state?

Through training we can learn to be in the flow state. Picture yourself in second grade, standing in front of the class, giving a short presentation in science class. Everyone is looking at you, you start sweating, your words aren’t coming out of your mouth like they would in normal conversation. These are classic signs of your body unconsciously trying to protect yourself from a different or strange situation which can be perceived as a threat. This happens even if the situation isn’t dangerous.

Now fast forward 30 years, you have done countless presentations in high school and college, you have been on job interviews, pitched business ideas to potential partners, and have become skilled in public presentations.  You are asked to give a speech about something that is very important and you are passionate about it. The outcome of the talk will affect many people. Even with this challenge, you rise to the occasion, maintain a sense of calm, focused power through the presentation.

This can only happen by learning to acknowledge the subtle signals of your body, and acting in a way that leads to flow. It will feel very odd at first, as we are acting against natural instincts. We can train our body/mind to do something different, when instinct is telling us to stick our head in the sand and just wait for the threat to pass. Flow doesn’t usually just happen, this state must be cultivated.

With Network Spinal Analysis Care, this state is cultivated around 3-6 months into care, as your body doesn’t go into protection anymore when challenged, you begin to set new standards for yourself in regards to your energy state, your attitudes and actions.

Dr. Brian

Do You Want Abundant Health? Copy Nature

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Taken Feb 18, 2017

It’s the middle of February in central Virginia.  Our winter has been unusually warm, spring bulbs are blooming, cherry trees are blooming and as I was walking home for lunch today I noticed a Maple Tree dripping sap on the sidewalk.  Compared to an “Average” winter, these signs of spring are 4-6 weeks early.  Can Nature Be Confused?

Are the plants wrong in flowering now?

We understand plants, trees and flowers respond to their environment, they sense temperature, amount of daylight, mineral content, moisture levels, and more.  When the conditions are favorable for growth, they grow, when the conditions favor dormancy, they go dormant. As far as we know, they cannot read a calendar. Plants, flowers and trees cannot delay a natural impulse when all the conditions are met.

How does this relate to your body? We have inborn drives to grow, heal, think, create, digest, breathe, and more. Every action, thought, behavior can be supported to the point where it bursts through and cannot be stopped.

Nature isn’t confused at all, it is currently being supported to grow and bloom. What are the actions, thoughts and behaviors that support your health to bloom? If you supply your body and your environment with everything that supports health and wellness, your body will respond in the only way it can…it will be unstoppable.

What Does It Need?

  • Clean Air and Water
  • A Healthy Spine and Nervous System
  • Nutrient Rich Foods
  • Movement to Stimulate Body & Mind
  • Connection to Others
  • Intellectual Challenges

Dr. Brian

Dr. Brian’s Favorite BodyMind Podcasts

Dr. Brian’s Favorite BodyMind Podcasts

Do you listen to podcasts?

I enjoy listening to podcasts on a variety of subjects. My current favorite is Finding Mastery with Michael Gervais. I enjoy the depth of his questions, and the variety of the guests. I also enjoy podcasts on Running, Business, Psychology, Mystery, Physiology, Movement & The Human Body, and more.

You can listen through your computer, or on your phone/tablet.  There are various apps for your phone that allow you to make a listening list or download episodes in advance. Some examples are Stitcher, PlayerFM, or Soundcloud.  Many podcasts are also available on iTunes.

My Current Favorite BodyMind Podcasts

I hope you enjoy some of my Favorite BodyMind Podcasts
Dr. Brian

Choose Your Words Carefully

Can Choosing a Different Word Affect Your Outlook?

In Robert Cialidni’s book called Pre-Suasion, he tells a story about being invited to speak to a group. This was no ordinary group, they had received many excellence awards over the years, a top-notch organization on all levels. Before the presentation, Mr. Cialdini went over his presentation with six different employees, so he could get a wide range of feedback. One of the feedback items was the use of “Bullet Points”. It wasn’t that he couldn’t use bullet points in his presentation, calling them bullet points wasn’t acceptable.  The healthcare group had a conscious policy not to use words that are associated with violence.  He was told he could use “Information Points”.  Other words they consciously choose are:

  • Instead of “Attacking” a problem, they “Approach” it
  • Instead of business “Targets” they have “Goals”
  • Instead of “Beating” the competition, they “Outdistance” themselves from the competition

Robert Cialdini’s first book was called Influence, which discusses things that go on beneath our conscious awareness that ultimately influence our decisions. Of all the things he researched over the years, he didn’t put much thought into word choice.  At first he thought, “Geez, this is silly” when asked to use the alternative words, but now he calls himself a convert, especially after looking at the research on the subject.

As a healthcare organization, this group decided they weren’t going to let anything get in the way of a healing environment for their employees or patients. Can you make that same commitment?  Can you make the commitment to yourself? Be mindful of your self-talk, find words that support achievement like attain, succeed, master. Making this slight change can make a big difference, try it with me, and let me know how it works.

Dr. Brian

Become A Health Advocate

From Patient to Practice Member
In the 1980’s, Dr. Donald Epstein realized some of his patients had gone beyond the model of the typical patient. They weren’t looking for a cure or a fix anymore, they were taking action in many areas of their health and well-being. They started new diets, left unsupportive relationships, and started exercising, just to name a few changes.
The term Practice Member was born out of this realization that something was different when people started taking a more active role in their health and well-being.

Become An Advocate For Your Own Health
The concept of “Patient Activation” was studied by a UK health management consultant. They found in people with the highest levels of involvement in their health, called “Advocates”, had 9-20% lower healthcare costs per year.  That is astounding!

In the report, the authors see distinct levels of engagement and understanding of their health, going from “Believing Health is Largely Out of Their Control” to “Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle as a Key Focus”.

If you are still in the place where you believe health is largely out of your control, consider a different perspective. We can control many things, and all of these can lead to greater health. Our DNA is just a blueprint, and we control the finished product by what we eat, what we think, how clean our air and water are, and much more.

The choices you make can lead you to becoming your own Health Advocate.

Dr. Brian

Expanding Possibilities

An Old Dog Can Learn New Tricks

When I was young, it seemed like I learned something new each day.  Sometimes we stop learning, and we fall into familiar patterns of behaving, thinking and feeling.  I could see how this way of being would lead neuroscientists from an earlier time to think the brain couldn’t change after a certain age. This was the common thought in the field of neuroscience through the 1990’s.

Modern Neuroscience has a different perspective on how we can continue to learn well into our last decades of life.  Last week I listened to a fascinating interview with Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist from South Africa.  If you would like to listen, here is the link: http://findingmastery.net/caroline-leaf/

Dr. Leaf mentioned a very special teacher who encouraged her to go beyond what she knew. Holding the space as a teacher for your student to go beyond what you know is an incredibly powerful concept.

It was also interesting to hear her perspectives on changing patterns.  Maybe you have heard the phrase that it takes 21 days to establish a new pattern, or eliminate a non-productive pattern?  Dr. Leaf said this was true, and also when you continue the new behavior for 2 more cycles of 21 days, then you have built a new pattern that is strong.

If you tried to change a pattern for the New Year, how is it going?  Did you notice any resistance around day 4?  Dr. Leaf discussed that Day 4 was often the hardest when you are trying to change a pattern.

I personally got a lot out of this interview, and I hope you do also.

Dr. Brian

P.S. Thank you to my practice member who suggested I look up Dr. Leaf after a conversation about one of my previous newsletters.

Willis River 35k/50k Race Report 2017

A Joke:

How do you make God laugh?

Tell her your plans.

I set out on the Willis River 50k today, hoping to run faster than my 6:30 time from last year. I felt well trained and rested going into the day.  I checked my phone about 7 miles in, and I was on pace, feeling great, and enjoying myself on the trail.

The weather was perfect for running, 44 and cloudy. I was chatting with a few people around me and then…I rolled my ankle on a root. I heard some crunching. I had pain, I had nausea. I walked for a minute, and then…I ran again.  Slowly at first, I looked ahead and wasn’t losing any ground on the guy I said to “go ahead, I’m fine” when it happened.

I quickly settled back into a rhythm and I felt okay, but not 100% stable, but confident and comfortable.

At the 10 mile turnaround, I met another runner named Hunter and we ran for about 4 miles together at the same pace.  We had a slight uphill leading to a road and an aid station, and when the ground leveled my ankle started hurting.

Maybe the endorphins wore off, I’m not sure, but all I could do was walk.  I made it back to the 35k checkpoint on my own power, walking for the last hour, and waited for my ride to check in.  I let him know I was done and he decided to cut his run short and head home. I was very thankful to go home, although I had a book to read in case he wanted to run the entire 50k course.

What did I learn from this experience? I was glad I wore more layers than usual because when I was only walking instead of running I cooled off quickly. I had also decided to have a mantra during my run today, which I got from a book, called “Love Yourself As If Your Life Depended On It“.  The strange part is, I never got upset or unhappy that things didn’t turn out as I planned.  I was able to be present and listened to what my body needed me to do in the moment.  I ran when it felt okay, and walked when that was all I could do.

I didn’t need to set a PR, I didn’t need to prove myself to anyone.  I only needed to honor what my body needed in the moment, and that made me happy.

It was a great day in the woods, what else could be better?

 

How can we dream a better tomorrow?

This weekend we honor Dr. Martin Luther King.  When you hear his “I have a dream” speech, do you ever wonder how human beings have the capacity to visualize something that has not yet happened?

Another word for being able to visualize the future is called consciousness, and the study of what makes one conscious has vexed scientists for years.

Recently I read this article that puts a few more pieces of the puzzle together. http://bigthink.com/philip-perry/harvard-researchers-have-found-the-source-of-human-consciousness I hope you find it as fascinating as I did.

How can we dream a better tomorrow?  According to the latest research, it starts with connecting the brainstem to the prefrontal cortex via a neural network. Neural networks are built through our life, and strengthened with use.

Michio Kaku calls the human brain a prediction machine. Based on previous experiences, we can predict what might happen, and we can also see things better than they are in the moment, and then start working toward that goal.

Dr. Brian

Emotional “After Effects” – How to Use Them For Your Advantage

Emotional “After Effects” – How to Use Them For Your Advantage

Researchers at NYU have discovered that “How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience, but is also strongly influenced by our internal states–and these internal states can persist and color future experiences.” Furthermore, “These findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time.”

Said in another way, how we experience events is partially based on our current state.  Or, how we remember the past, is based on our present energy state.

Researchers also discovered these elevated states of high emotion prime the brain, and those effects improve your cognition of non-emotional events. Knowing this, you can use this to your advantage.  If you want to remember something or be more engaged, put yourself into a higher emotional state before you learn. You can prime your system with images of beautiful things or loved ones.  You can play or sing inspiring music. For instance, Tony Robbins starts each day “Priming” his physiology with high energy appreciations.

We cannot change the external world, “events” happen, but we can choose the type of thoughts, and emotions we have.  We can choose the type of people in which we surround ourselves, we can choose the type of media we engage with. Each of those choices either puts us in a high emotional state of happiness and appreciation, or an emotional state of depression and withdrawal. Which will you choose?

Dr. Brian

Resolve on New Year’s, Take Action Today

res·o·lu·tion
ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/

noun

  1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.
    “she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more”

When you make a resolution, you decide. You draw a line in the sand, setting a boundary for what is possible and what you expect. Without action steps, it stays in the realm of your mind.

We often decide to change the things that are big, and really need to change, but are those the types of changes that last?

For instance, committing to 30 days without Sugar is a great goal, but how will that affect your daily sugar intake next October?  What if you allowed yourself 2 days a week where you ate desserts?  This smaller goal is more reachable and more likely to change your long term habits.

I recently read an interview with Cheade-Meng Tan, who started the mindfulness based stress reduction program at Google. When it comes to adding mindfulness to your life, he recommends starting with one mindful breath – not 10 or 20 minutes.  Can you commit, right now, in your next breath, to pay attention to your inhalation and exhalation?  That’s a start, and getting started is the next step after the resolution.

Celebrate the small changes, for these bring you closer to your goals. The small changes give you momentum, and that momentum can be used to keep making incremental changes, and less likely to fall back into old patterns.

Dr. Brian

P.S. – This is just one of the concepts I will be discussing during my free class, January 3rd from 6-7PM at Integrated Life, titled “2017 – Your Best Year Ever”.  All are welcome – RSVP by Texting 434-227-7149

5 Things I Learned From My First 3 Day Fast

Last weekend, from Thursday Night until Sunday Night, I did not eat any solid food, on purpose. I first learned of the benefits Intermittent Fasting in 2012 from the blog of Mark Sisson. The short list is anti-aging, slowing or preventing cancer, athletic improvements, cognitive improvement, hormone balancing, and more.

Since 2012, I have completed 2 dozen or more 24 hour fasts, usually following the format of having breakfast and not eating until breakfast the next day. The goal of the fast is to keep your body in a state of ketosis, where your body is running on the energy of ketone bodies or fatty acids, this happens when your body taps into stored fat to use as fuel. Even the fittest person, with 10% bodyfat, has enough energy stores to last for 2+ weeks without food.

There are many types of fasts, these were the parameters I chose:  I drank water & tea only. I added coconut oil to my tea. Each day I had some Amino Acid supplements (BCAA’s) in capsule form, and at 48 hours I had some bone broth.

What Did I Learn?
1. 3 days wasn’t 3x more difficult than a 1 day fast – I was pleasantly surprised by this, I think the first 24 are most difficult because of habits.
2. Drinking Plenty of Water is a Great Idea – Shifting your physiology causes you to eliminate byproducts of sugar burning, increased water helps you flush these byproducts.  You may feel some “activity” in your kidneys from the extra work they are doing.
3. The Mental Clarity was Amazing – I felt mentally and physically energized throughout the entire process.
4. Walking is a Good Thing – Going back to #3, your body will be shedding a bit of stuff (technical term), keeping your body in motion keeps things moving through the system.
5. An Appreciation of Food – My experience of going back to solid food has been one of greater appreciation and mindfulness of what I’m eating and how much. When you feel amazing without food, you make sure you stay that way by only putting into your body what will continue to make you feel good.

I first heard of Intermittent Fasting 20+ years ago, and I didn’t fully understand the benefits or I would have tried it sooner.  There are plenty of resources on the how or why in addition to the link above.  I hope that in sharing my experiences it will give you the curiosity to look into adding this to your overall wellness repertoire.

Dr. Brian

P.S. – I will be hosting a free class, January 3rd from 6-7PM at Integrated Life, titled “2017 – Your Best Year Ever”.  All are welcome – RSVP by Texting 434-227-7149

How To Change Your Brain

When you change your actions/behaviors, you change the biochemistry of your brain. Neurotransmitters start firing in new areas, changing the function of your brain. Changing the function over time will change the structure of your brain, new pathways are formed. This is how you change your brain.

Your Brain is changed every time you learn something new.

Listen to Brain Researcher Dr. Lara Boyd from University of British Columbia in a TEDx talk titled “After watching this, your brain will not be the same.”  In addition to describing the process of how to change your brain, she also talks about the common misconceptions about the brain, and how different people learn differently.

Enjoy,
Dr. Brian

How Can I Help?

How Can My Newsletter Help You?
Each week I listen to podcasts, watch TED talks, read published journal articles in the areas of health, personal growth, diet and nutrition, psychology, and more.

What would you like to know more about in the next year?

What will make the biggest impact in your life?

Please follow this link to a short survey.
https://goo.gl/forms/gaUAjkhOTscQPNEx2

Thank you for taking the time to respond.
Brian Dickert
434-227-7149
briandickert.com

Treating Muscles Via Your Mouth?

It’s the middle of the night, as you roll over in bed you stretch out your feet a little bit and, your calf is in spasm, a muscle cramp as taken over and you just want it to stop.

It can be very painful, and it’s not a normal function of the body for muscle groups to be in spasm, so what is going on? Often a spasm will occur when the muscle is overworked, but not all overworked muscles go into spasm. Pressing, rubbing or massaging the muscle doesn’t seem to affect the spasm while it’s occurring. There is another process occurring. This process begins in the spinal cord. Motor neurons control muscle activity. In order for the muscle to continuously fire, the signal has to come from the spine, muscles do not work on their own.

Knowing this information, the question of “What if there is a way to break the pattern by stimulating the brain?” came to a researcher after a long distance kayaking trip where he and his fellow traveller were both struggling from spasms. His specific niche of research was imaging ion channels in the tongue, esophagus and stomach. He theorized that a stimulus to the brain via these channels could shut down the pattern of firing in the muscle group.

His solution; A liquid tonic with spices like ginger and capsaicin, which in his research had a positive effect on muscle cramping, both in preventing them and helping alleviate them once they had begun.

After hearing about this for the first time this week, it reminded me of the Russian researcher A.D. Speransky, who was a student of Pavlov. In the 1920’s Speransky was also able to demonstrate that pathological states could be interrupted and health returned not fighting the irritant but by changing the state.

Not fighting the irritant, and stimulating the nervous system to return to a healthy state is a core concept of how I analyze the spine and nervous system. Instead of forcing an area that is tight, stuck or not flexible, the system can be coaxed to self-asses it’s own patterns and develop strategies to release the tension and return to a more sustainable pattern.

“’Don’t curse the darkness – light a candle.” – Chinese Proverb

Dr. Brian