For the boy scouts, the first rule of hiking with a group is that “the group is only as fast as it's slowest member.” A friend had mentioned this to my husband and I a few years ago when we were hiking with two families. This seems counterproductive. If the slowest member is leading the group then the whole group goes slower as compared to just a few. And yet, the success of the group is only as good as the success of the slowest member of the team.
Salt, like fat, has gotten a bad wrap over the years. We have all heard that salt causes hypertension or high blood pressure which can lead to atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and early death. So much fear is associated with this, that we have attempted to remove all salt from our diets. Our salt shakers stay tucked away. When a recipe calls for “salt to taste” we assume it means it’s actually unnecessary.
What I aim to do here is bring the light onto salt to understand how it actually is essential to life and avoiding it at all costs can have a negative impact on your health and function. This blog is not a treatment for heart disease, rather an acknowledgement of the importance of essential electrolytes that we cannot survive without. (In case you were wondering, people sensitive to salt do in fact result in a hypertensive response, BUT this is a small portion of the population and those with renal disease are the most salt sensitive.)
To my readers,
I have recently entered a new blog topic called “Viewpoints.” This is for my opinions and my writing which explores more than the science of health and well-being. Please understand that the clinician in me prefers to stick to the science as that helps me understand the ‘why’ of things. However, in experiences of love, grief, loss and death (things that have encompassed my life recently) the science does little to soothe my heart. Rob Bell (In the Beginning) says, “The Bible is mostly written in mythos language. . . . Good religion traffics in mythos. . . . Mythos language is for that which is more than literally true. . . . Evolutionary science does an excellent job of explaining why I don’t have a tail. It just doesn’t do so well explaining why I find that interesting!” I suppose what I am saying is that at times, I personally need something more than science to express the “more-than-factual meaning” of my current life experiences. I hope not to offend any readers nor lose my credibility, but mostly that you may remain open to the concept that there is something bigger albeit unknown involved in your life to give you hope, whatever that looks like to you.
Dr. Carolyn Dolan, DPT
hope: (noun) 1) a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; 2) a feeling of trust
hopelessness: (noun) 1) a feeling or state of despair; lack of hope
I am not sure you, the only reader of the SOAR blog, have noticed, but it’s been quite a while since my last blog or podcast or really anything…but thank you for hanging in there. This past fall and winter have been and continues to be in a word….challenging. I am not asking for a pitty party or even really go into much detail at this point as I appreciate that every single one of us has challenges even if we eat our fruits and vegetables. Healthy eating can only go so far.
As many of you already know, my husband is an orthopeadic sports medicine surgeon. He is a gem and that isn't because I am biased...well maybe a little. As we have transitioned our family and made adjustments in our careers to reflect health and wellness not only for ourselves but also our community, Chris has continued to be consistent in using his gift to offer alternatives to patients fitting for his/her diagnosis and lifestyle. His ability to contintue to do that in a surgical specialty in today's health care climate is nothing short of miraculous. Miracles aside, it is truly his commitment to what he calls the Four Responsibilities that allows him to continue to be a SOARing surgeon, husband and father. This guest blog is a gift to me, but really to all of us. Learn more about the other Dr. Dolan MD here. Enjoy.
I believe I have four responsibilities as an individual. These responsibilities are a commitment to self, family, community and profession. It is important to note that these responsibilities and commitments are in order of importance.
Patience (n) : the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
Oh boy. Don't we all need a little more of this...patience.
A few weeks ago, I was rushing to pick up a friend for a much needed mommy date long over due to celebrate mutual birthdays that had long since passed. In my rush, I pulled out of the garage and hit my passenger side rear bumper into my mother-in-law’s car. This was her reward for helping me watch the kids of course... because no good deed goes unpunished. I jest here.
As my oldest has shifted to middle school with an earlier school start time I have had sleep on my mind. Selfishly because I want to sleep past 6AM, but also because I worry about what potential sleep deprivation will have on the young developing brain for learning and happiness.
Fortunately for us, my son goes to bed by 8PM and wakes naturally by 6 AM so it hasn’t been much of a problem for us….yet.
However, when I look at the other struggles parents have with the early morning start times I see worrisome trends. The rates of childhood obesity are rising especially in the middle school aged children, kids are glued to their phones at the bus stop – kids don’t look or listen to their environment to be sure they aren’t in harm’s way, not to mention the struggles with learning.
Yes, one solution may be to change the school start times, but what if the solution may be to actually change our sleep habits in the home? What if we continued to hold the same regulations on sleep through the teenage years as we did for infants? I remember RELIGIOUSLY dictating my young infants sleep routine because if my baby didn’t sleep, I didn’t sleep? What if?
Maybe these few studies will help stimulate you to oblige the SLEEP SCHEDULE a bit longer.
There have been many recent events that I felt conflicted over as far as deciding whether or not to quit. For me, with my athletic history, I have felt that somehow, quitting meant failure. I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy as I admit something isn't working. Like maybe I wasn't committed enough, or available enough or smart enough....the list goes on.
As I have explored more about quitting, I discovered that it may not only be an appropriate action but necessary to achieve success, or more importantly, growth either mentally or physically or financially. Admitting something isn't working and learning how to quit is critical if you want to SOAR in life.
To be clear, you can't win without struggle along the way, but you can't win if your struggle doesn't get you anywhere.
Yet, how do you decide something is worth struggling through or when is it actually best to quit?
Should you wear a seatbelt while driving your car?
The answer seems obvious, right?
First, it’s the law and it’s an expensive fine if you don’t.
Second, you enjoy living, and seat belts save lives.
Honestly, do you know a person who would answer this question by saying seat belts don’t work no matter their education level nor economic status?
Well, here is my argument that you shouldn’t wear a seat belt, use a helmet, use a life jacket, use a parachute nor have health insurance….or at least pretend it’s not available.
The word “SOAR” started for me as an acronym to Spine Orthopedic Active Rehab when I ventured into my own private business. As I moved into a blend of health coaching and physical therapy, the meaning of the word soar became one of the four principles to health and wellness.
Soar means to fly or rise high above the usual level. There is something both majestic and effortless about watching a bird soar thru the air even though it must return to earth to feed and rest.
I don't write much about Crossfit. Mostly because the eye roll people give me gets a little old after I tell them I don't eat gluten. Sometimes though, I just have to pause and appreciate what my body is able to do. Every single time I go to Crossfit Initiative I get something unexpected.
Not pain....not injury...not tired (well, maybe sometimes)...not stronger....but...I get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Why is that good you ask?
It's good because it makes me a better parent. It makes me more comfortable doing the job that makes me the most uncomfortable.
That might not make sense to you, but maybe this explanation will help.
As you all know, I have been doing a lot of reading and research related to nutrition and health. Although I find the science enlightening, I also find the science of human behavior, psychology and neuroscience even more fascinating. Although it seems like I am hopping all over the place and one might question my "expertise" in anything outside of my traditional degree of physical therapy and now to include holistic nutrition, I'd argue that no one is an expert in anything. In fact, those you find you might respect their advice the most have a curiosity in ALL areas related to LIFE.
Really, the key point I want to make is that I am an "expert" on me which has made me a much better parent (improving as I learn and experience life). As I understand myself better, the more well equipped I am to help my kids understand how to be good at being who they are. I am not an "expert" on you either, only you can be that. I am not an "expert" parent either, but I try to do my best, E.V.E.R.Y day. Mostly, I am open to new information that may help me on this journey. I write to share with you in hopes it may help you too.
This list of books are some of the most pivotal for me personally in understanding myself better so I can translate that to better parenting. These are not the typical "parenting" books. They focus on principles related to stress, nutrition, psychology and even life skills.
I didn't read them all in one week. Some I have listened to on CD or audible. So please don't pressure yourself to get it all in quickly as each book has a very specific purpose. Spending time focusing on transitioning the principles in these books to life will have a powerful impact on your parenting and family life.
This is a repost from 4/20/2016. I recently just re-listened to Mistakes Were Made(But Not By Me). This book is so fascinating. As I look back at my own family transition and the struggles of current families, this book is entirely relevant. It is not uncommon for parents to have conflict with each other related to making lifestyle changes to how they raise their children. It is easier to stick with comfort than it is to make change, especially when change requires admitting mistakes were made. Although my husband and I are comfortable with our current lifestyle choices, that doesn't mean we didn't have struggle. In fact, I think the act of both of us reading and listening to this book allowed for some pretty dramatic changes in our relationship that continues to support us today in doing difficult work in communicating with each other in a productive manner. I went back to this blog to re-read and see if I feel any differently or have anything to add. The main thing is that this may become a book that I recommend all parents and couples read together as they embark on making lifestyle changes. We are all human and it is important to understand when working towards change and betterment of your self and family. Much of this blog is still pertinent and consistent with where I continue to be in my life personally and professionally, so I really haven't changed much. Cheers to all and I hope this book brings you some guidance in how to proceed in making lifestyle changes even in the face of what appears to be resistance from your partner or children. The more you understand yourself personally the better off everyone is around you.
Let me begin by saying, this isn’t going to be a blog where I give you a resolution to your problem. I am still working it out for myself. It is also a bit longer than normal but I hope you stay awake long enough to read it. I believe this may be my most important blog yet…..
This is a story that I hesitate to share only because I can see lots and lots of JUDGEMENT. Not just judgement of me personally, but of all those involved. I urge you to keep criticism to yourself, as all parties involved were attempting to help. Yet, if you know our family, you know that we live a life that is often “stranger than fiction.”
Keep in mind, this story has a happy ending.
One of our cats climbed a tree last week. Not just a little bit, but a lot. He climbed 40 feet up. My son heard him meowing for help after being gone for 24 hours over night. It’s likely climbing the tree was the escape from a coyote looking for dinner.
In case you are wondering, we do NOT own a ladder that goes that high…and they don’t make them actually. Because of safety and things….check this out here.
Oh dear...the DIET bashing....AGAIN....
I have something I need to say about diets. Here me out. A diet as defined by the Webster dictionary is "a special or limited selection of food and drink, chosen or prescribed for health or to gain or lose weight."
Many folks, whom may or may not understand the true purpose of a diet, are shaming very useful diet strategies because they are "difficult" to do and then discredit them. Check out the US News report. I think there is a misunderstanding about a diet versus lifestyle. An effective diet is NOT designed to be a lifestyle, but a TOOL to gain health. The "diet" is the tool designed to help you design your life, specifically related to what you put into your mouth, so that it can be a sustainable lifestyle. Many of the easiest and most popular diets are not healthy because they do not give you information about your body. Let me speak (write) clearly....
A diet is a TOOL to gain INFORMATION about yourself so that you can MODIFY your LIFESTYLE to fit your PERSONAL health needs.
DIET = TOOL
TOOL = INFORMATION
INFORMATION => PERSONAL HEALTH
Pain : (noun)
1. Physical discomfort caused by illness or injury
2. Careful effort, great care or trouble
I am on the top of Copper Mountain ski resort above the tree line at 12,000 ft.
It's 1 o C with a wind-chill factor of -6 o C.
I take my gloves off to capture a panoramic view with my phone. In moments, my hand begins to hurt from the cold. The pain is severe.
What would you do in that situation?
If you have followed my blog the past few years and even read my book, you may have wondered what I do. My identity was blurred for a bit as folks tried to encourage me to leave the field of physical therapy and focus on health coaching. Although I understood why they suggested I do that, for ease and money, I simply couldn't do it.
See, even as I have expanded my knowledge base into nutrition, it hasn't changed the fact that in the world of pain, there are many causative factors. Optimizing nutrition alone may or may not reduce someone's pain if there is a mechanical component. Optimizing movement alone may or may not reduce someone's pain if they are in a physiological inflammatory state from lifestyle issues related to nutrition, sleep or stress.
This past week I attended our national combined sections meeting of the APTA. It was like a knowledge, passion, creativity, compassion and innovation explosion. My introverted nature struggled at times with 13,000 physical therapists there, but I now would like to reclaim my title of physical therapist and explain what physical therapy is in case you didn't know.
Anxiety (noun): a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome (wikipedia.org)
I have shared how I lost my anxiety with our lifestyle changes, starting with eating paleo-inspired naturally gluten free. As time has gone on, I realize that the statement isn’t the whole truth. What actually occurred, is I lost the brain fog in order to see what actually caused me anxiety so I could address it. It is no longer endless and meaningless or debilitating as it was before. Anxiety for me now is a signal that something amazing is about to happen. I don’t ignore it. I don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. I jump into it and explore what it is. It isn’t easy, of course and requires a lot of my attention and time. It also forces me to grow personally and often strengthens my foundation with family members and those close to me. I look at anxiety much like stress (as I have described in Soar Into Health), too much is unhealthy, but my life is much brighter with it in my life.
This blog is following appropriately after my discussion about Why Are Mother's a Good Target Market?. This book came timely as a grappled with sharing that blog 4 months after it was written. I worried about offending people. I worried about expectations. I worried about my accountability to myself and others. I wrote this after reading a book which helped me understand why.
Have you ever tried to start a healthy habit but struggled? Do you make New Year's Resolution only to fail? I certainly have in the past. The reasons for my failure however are likely different than yours.
I recently took a quiz to determine my personal tendency. This quiz was designed by New York Times Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin. No, this isn't some validated personality measure as per a randomized controlled double blind study. Yet, if you read her book Better Than Before, you realize that it is based on published research, personal experience, interviews and well..... a lot of thoughtful analysis.
This book was a Lightning Bolt for me. Gretchen describes the Lightning Bolt as something that transforms habits by the power of knowldege, beliefs, and ideas. It is something that happens to us, you aren't able to plan it on purpose. Yet, when they happen, habit changes often occur spontaneously.
Although I love this quote from Micael Pollan, I have struggled with this image with the croissant because of my relationship with gluten. Yet, somehow it seemed an appropriate image for this blog on cheat meals.
I have written before about how trying to be perfect is both an illusion and unrealistic. Yet, sometimes I have clients or patients say things like, “I can’t be perfect like you.” Or “We are almost perfect paleo like you.”
It always strikes me as interesting because although my life is “perfectly imperfect” I certainly don’t strive for perfection in any aspects of my life. In fact, I actually practice allowing for imperfection in my life. You know…like letting the kids do their version of fold the laundry or cleaning up and being ok with whatever they actually do and assist only when necessary.
When we transitioned to whole foods-paleo inspired 4 years ago, I didn’t expect to lose something and find that I would miss it.
Yes, I lost a few things that I don’t miss:
40 lbs of unwanted weight
Sugar and soda habit
…to name a few
Let me start off by clearly answering the question…..YES, if not necessary to have health.
The resistance to homework seems to be at the forefront for those of us in public school systems. Facebook posts are floating around about the parental struggles with their children getting homework done.
I am a mother of 3 kids. All of which have homework every night. I am also a student that has regular homework assignments. Although I hate testing for many reasons from a developmental and confidence issue, as a clinician I say, “How do you evaluate change if you don’t measure something?” I do not “practice” the test with my patients, but I do give them homework that is designed to improve the outcome of the test. In physical therapy we use functional outcomes.
In our family’s past, we initially tried Montessori school. From a rehabilitation standpoint, I loved the tactile learning, the free flow thinking and the practical activity learning (clean up, make food, tie your shoes etc). I also loved the “no homework” rule.
Let’s start by asking, “Do you believe in God?”
We could be discussing God or higher power or nature or heaven or hell or the solar system or health. A few years ago, my family and I went to church on a Sunday. No, we don’t go every Sunday. Yes, we do actually believe in God. But that isn’t the point. On this fated Sunday, the pastor discussed the question about “Do you believe in God?”
Of course, we were in church, so the answer was, “Yes.”
“How do you know God exists?” he asked.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog related to cognitive dissonance and human nature. It was primarily focused on the reasons why the paleo diet is bad for you and why you won’t try it. Read more here.
At the conclusion of the blog I wrote, “We are all human; fallible yet capable of change.” This is important. Why? Because being human means, if not requires, that you make mistakes, even despite efforts to do your best.
I recently read an article in an Integrative Medicine journal written by an Emergency Physician. He cited an article published in the British Medical Journal.
Let me describe the dark side and bright side for a moment. The bright side is where all the people are. Everyone appears to be smiling and belonging here, at least on the outside. Then the dark side is behind the curtain. The bright side doesn’t look behind the curtain, because it is well…..dark and unknown. It is scary. And so it remains dark, forgotten, and unexplored. But why?
Our family left the bright side of popularity over to the dark side (whole foods naturally gluten free paleo inspired) about 3 years ago in order to find our family’s health. And it turns out, the dark side is actually where the light shines the brightest. This is where true health and wellness lives inside and out. It is only behind the curtain and dark, because the bright side pulled the curtain closed.
Sloths are mammals characterized by moving only when necessary. Even when they move, they move slowly. They generally live their life hanging about in trees. They eat, sleep (an average 10 hrs/day) and birth their children simply “hanging around.” They also only go to the ground to urinate or defecate about once a week. (Wikipedia.org).
Recent popularity of the sloth can be credited to Dash from the movie Zootopia. His slow delivery of jokes makes him even funnier. You already know that I only watch animated movies because…you know…the small kids and all. Watch Dash trailer here, he is actually funny.
So what do we have to learn from sloths? How is it that learning to do more of seemingly “nothing” or just “hanging around” be healthy?
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.