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Holistic Wellness

Motherhood and the Daily Fight for Self-Care—Part 2

Self-Care

I’m super eager to find out how the self-care tips from Part 1 worked out for everyone! Were you able to implement any of them? Which ones? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post and let us know.

If you missed out on Motherhood and the Daily Fight for Self-Care—Part 1, I highly recommend hopping over and checking that one out first. It’s brimming with practical ideas and a brilliant self-care list; a perfect guide for self-care for beginners if it’s not something you currently practice. In Part 1 we covered: why self care is essential, warning signs that you may be lacking in the loving on yourself department, benefits of self-care, how to take baby steps into doing better with self-care, and simple chemical and physical modifications you can make.

Today we delve into Part 2 with mental and emotional modifications. And girl, you NEED to read this. Afterall, mindset is everything: we create our lives with our thoughts; your thoughts quite literally become your reality.

 

Simple Mental and Emotional Modifications

Simple self-care can improve how you feel about yourself and your ability to manage your emotions and deal with daily challenges. This means swapping old ways of thinking and old coping strategies for healthy, positive thoughts and coping tools.

 

Gratitude and Reflection.

Meditating on your daily wins–big and small–throughout the day is the simplest thing you can do for your mental self-care.

A grateful heart has a better, clearer perspective on every situation life may throw at you.

  • Get on Pinterest or Google and print some inspirational quotes or verses. Tape them up around the house where you can see them and be encouraged throughout the day.

 

Allow yourself to process each stage of motherhood.

  • Write a blog or post to process life that’s happening. Even if it is just for yourself.
  • Cry it out.
    • Find an emotional chick-flick (my go-to is Raising Helen) and have a good cry.
  • Call a friend to verbally process your situation.
  • Journal.
  • Meet with a professional counselor that specializes in women’s mental health.  (https://www.facebook.com/SageTreeTherapy/)

 

Rest and refresh.

Sleep is important, but so is guarding your time to rest and refresh—whatever that looks like for you.

  • Implement a Sabbath concept, adding one day of rest to your week (or start with one night a week).

For me that looks like not touching dishes on Saturdays. We also try to not leave the house as a family on Saturdays (since my husband commutes to work through the week, he is also refreshed by a day without driving).

We have to fight to protect our rest and quality family-time. It’s not easy, but totally worth it!

  • Try a technological fast. Remove that social media app from your phone and don’t open your computer for a few days. (Speaking from personal experience, I guarantee you will feel more in-tune with yourself and your surroundings after just one day.)
  • Set healthy boundaries.

That may look like saying “no” to some of those relationships, parties, extra-curricular activities or even family gatherings…yes, I went there. What works “best” for most may be breaking you and preventing you from being the best mom you can be. Take some time to reflect on all your commitments and relationships—are they serving you or breaking you? Often times “no” or “not in this season” brings more freedom than guilt.

Let it go, girl!

Rediscover what refreshes you.

I recently had a conversation with an old  friend who was rediscovering herself as a new mother. I had given her a book for Hanukkah, because I remembered how much she loved to read when we were growing up. She read it, loved it, read it again and rediscovered that she is a “reader” and loves to get lost in a good book.  

Sometimes, becoming a mother changes how we are best refreshed. Where you used to enjoy going to the cinema or golfing, now you may rather walk the dog alone or (please, God) soak in an Epsom salt bath without interruption.

Do you enjoy reading? Writing? Crafts? Painting? Singing? Dancing? Playing an instrument? Animals? Cooking? Time with friends? Playing or watching sports?

The way you receive love may also change once becoming a mother. Take this quiz to learn how you receive love. I was shocked how much my love language changed after my son came into the picture. After completing the quiz, sit down and talk to your spouse and support system about how they can love you the way you can receive it best.  

 

 

Communicate your needs.

Sleep-deprivation and nutrition-deficiency can prevent us from even recognizing our needs. This is why sleep and proper nutrition are essential to self-care, but it is also our responsibility to communicate our needs with those that love us.

They can’t read our mind.

  • Find yourself a trustworthy babysitter and schedule a regular girls’ night and/or date night. Write down your needs, if it will help you remember and communicate your needs to your spouse or friends.
  • If you are in a season where a sitter is not an option, there is always after bedtime, video chats and phone calls.

Ask for help and be willing to receive help. They cannot read your mind.

 

In Conclusion

It is a daily fight for self-care, but you can plan ahead and successfully take action toward implementing more one day at a time! The benefits of self-care are totally worth it, and so are you.

Regardless of the chaos you are facing, self-care is your responsibility.

All of us at 1st Step Family Wellness in St. Louis are proud of you for taking the time to read this article and all of the big and small actionable steps you are taking to be the best you. We are here to support your wellness journey, and that definitely includes your self-care.  

Self-love directly affects your ability to love those around you.

We want to know how we can help you reach your self-care goals. Contact us today.

Motherhood and the Daily Fight for Self-Care: Part 1

Why Taking Care of Yourself is so Important

Self-care during every stage of life is a fight, but navigating the unknown twists and turns of keeping your children alive increases your daily stress to new levels. Self-care is vital to stress management and key to being your best and the best mother to your children.

Your time is precious, so let’s cut to the chase.

One of the most difficult things about motherhood–postpartum and beyond–is how often mothers stop caring for themselves.

If I am catching you prior to having or adopting your first child (or next child), this is for you.

If I am catching you in the throws of piles of laundry (maybe you remember if they are clean or not), wiping little noses with a Disney rerun entertaining your toddler, this is for you, too.

We strive to love others as we love ourselves. But how well can we really love those around us, if we aren’t loving ourselves well?

There is no excuse good enough to ignore your self-care.

We get it—a new life always affects the budget and the amount of available time for self-care. So let’s take some extra steps in preparing the budget and schedule to include meeting mom’s physical, emotional and mental self-care needs.

Benefits of Self-Care

Like myself, you probably don’t even realize you’re running on fumes until you get more sleep or sneak out for a night with the girls. We know we are better humans when we prioritize self-care, so why do we always put ourselves on the back burner?

A few motivations to convince yourself to prioritize your regular self-care:

  • Improved health–less sickness, less aches and pains.
  • More energy–be the best fun-mom you can be and sign up for that kick-boxing class.
  • Improved cognition–have you had enough of mom-brain?
  • Improved critical thinking–be able to strategize the best solutions for your growing family.
  • More intimacy–just schedule that belated anniversary date night or girls’ night out; conversations with other adults that love you will remind you that you are still in there somewhere.  
  • Improved self-esteem–stepping away from the hustle improves our perspective of our roles in life and increases gratefulness for our current season.  

Are you lacking self-care?

Our body, mood, actions and inactions can tell us if we are not managing our stress well. Physical, emotional and chemical stressors all play a part in our stress load.

Warning Signs:

  •         Fatigue, exhaustion, low energy
  •         Repeated illness, pain, injury
  •         Overwhelmed
  •         Angry, frustrated or irritated most of the time (short fuse)
  •         Lacking passion for life, work or hobbies
  •         Lacking desire to be with friends
  •         Trouble adapting to change
  •         Low self-esteem
  •         Procrastination
  •         Emotional (crying easily, short fuse)
  •         Critical of yourself, spouse, other family members or co-workers
  •         Cynical, lacking perspective of temporary situation(s)

Self-Care Routine: Baby Steps

During this season of chasing littles or night nursing, self-care may not look like getting to the gym on the regular or a spa day, but self-care can be in the little daily things we are already doing while trying to keep your children alive.

Simple modifications or additions to our daily routine might be all the time you have for self-care in your current season—and that is okay! It’s a start!

This list and the the other steps that follow are not meant to overwhelm you or bring any more guilt into your life. These are simply suggestions to improve your quality-of-life (self-care for beginners if you will) and to inspire you to be more intentional with your self-care, because you are worth it.

  • Pick up a few special treats just for you while you are at the grocery store or throw them in your Amazon Cart
    • Calming tea (Chamomile, Valerian)
    • Grab-and-go protein bars [we love RX and Larabars]
    • Mommy’s special dark chocolate
    • Physician-grade highly absorbable magnesium—magnesium is a natural way to calm your mind before bed, fight depression, anti-inflammatory, reduces PMS symptoms, etc.
  • Consider a grocery delivery service.
  • Eat your dessert first (this is my husband’s favorite)
  • Hide a jar of almond butter to pair with an apple for your sugar-fix.
  • Wash your face.
  • Make a list of your support system–people that can drive to your house or will at least answer your call in a pinch. Put the list where you can see it on the rough days.
  • Schedule yourself a chiropractic adjustment along with your children’s appointments.
  • Use your earbuds more. While driving put one side in and listen to your music or a book.
  • Be more intentional about making decisions and stop asking the kids where they want to eat–where do you want to go?

Once you’ve taken baby steps to include simple daily self-care, you are ready to consider more significant life changes, in order to be the best you for yourself and your family.

Again, these are meant to be suggestions. Please, do not get more overwhelmed. This is about you taking care of yourself.

Simple Chemical Modifications for Self-Care

Drink more water.

Especially if you are still nursing, your water intake should equal at least half your body weight in ounces per day.

Drinking more water throughout the day is the simplest way to increase your energy and improve detoxification from daily chemicals we are all exposed to in our environment and food.

  • Buy yourself a reusable water bottle—preferably glass or stainless—to make it easier to track your water intake while you are on the go.

Need more reasons to increase your water intake?

Find a Coffee Alternative and limit caffeine consumption.

Your adrenals are already in overdrive—give them a break.

Caffeine causes you to be in fight or flight mode which causes your digestion to be off and a whole host of other issues— adrenals. Drinking coffee causes your body to make HCL. HCL should only be made when the body is about to digest a meal. You can only make so much HCL this leads to a lack of digestion, especially protein digestion. What do we need protein for?

Coffee also causes stress to your kidneys thus causing your minerals to be thrown off— think zinc and magnesium. We need those!

Don’t just go switching to green tea–it blocks folate receptors in the brain.

I personally love Dandy Root and therapeutic teas as a coffee alternative.

Reduce your sugar and alcohol intake.

It is easy to lean on quick fixes like sugar and alcohol when we are overwhelmed or stressed out. Instead…

  • Communicate how you are feeling with your support system or journal about your feelings, before these unhealthy coping mechs creep out of control.
  • Swap out that sugar with fresh fruit. Keep a bowl of organic apples on the counter.
  • Revisit the baby steps list and try adding in a handful of simple self-cares daily.
  • Review your current eating habits. Have you slunk into a bad eating habit that could be adding to your stress or worsened your fatigue? (Think: too many simple carbs and sugars—bread, pasta, white potatoes, pastries, etc.—or not enough protein or water?)

Choose more living foods and buy organic and clean meats whenever possible.

Remember–food is fuel.

Your body will function its best when you fill it with the right fuel like living foods and clean protein.

Protein is the most versatile and valuable fuel you can give your body. Ideally, your body needs 100 grams of protein every day to function properly.

  • Clean meat labels should include ALL of the following:
    • Beef and Pork: grass-fed and organic
    • Chicken & Eggs: free-range and organic
    • Fish: wild-caught

Reducing exposure to pesticides and other chemicals found in boxed foods starts with you—the family grocery shopper.

  • Try to always buy organic for the Dirty Dozen:
    • Strawberries
    • Spinach
    • Nectarines
    • Apples
    • Grapes
    • Peaches
    • Cherries
    • Pears
    • Tomatoes
    • Celery
    • Potatoes
    • Sweet Bell Peppers and Hot Peppers

Adding more living foods into your diet will also improve the health of the entire family; which means less sickness, less behavioral challenges and better sleep!

Simple Physical Modifications for Self-Care

Get at least 8 hours of sleep.

Consistent sleep can be impossible at certain stages of motherhood, but making sleep a priority is essential to self-care and being your best.

  • Girl, put down that phone before bed. Give your brain a break and put all your screens away at least 5 minutes before bed. Let your mind rest and day dream for a minute. This is a great time for prayer, mediation, reading or adding a gratitude journal to your routine.
  • If you are blessed with a spouse or support system, strategize with them quarterly about how you can get more sleep in your current stage with littles. Each growth-spurt and developmental-leap may require you to look at your sleep situation with fresh eyes, so pick a time to talk with your support system when you are thinking the clearest and work out a game-plan for you to get more sleep.
  • If you’re still nursing, consider co-sleeping (a.k.a. room sharing) with your nursling. There are endless benefits to co-sleeping.
  • Try adding chamomile tea, or a physician-grade highly absorbable magnesium, before going to bed.

Adding a magnesium supplement was a game changer for me while I was night nursing; it allowed me to fall back to sleep and not feel drowsy or cognitively delayed in the morning, like OTC sleep-aids. I still take it, after night weaning, to calm my mom-list that runs through my head before bed. Magnesium before bed and prayer have also helped me through some rough patches of depression and anxiety during motherhood.

Get movin.

Contrary to my own convictions, chasing a toddler from room to room is not enough exercise. As moms, we need to be more intentional about our exercise and daily activity.

Exercise is essential for eliminating stress, increasing endorphins (the happy brain chemicals) and grounding yourself (fresh eyes, fresh perspective on your situation caused by increased oxygenation in your brain).

  • Spend more time outside. Go for an evening walk or a hike through a trail park.
  • If you are a runner (not me), invest in a jogging stroller. Take full advantage of that nap time.
  • I know several bigger families that have used birthdays or holidays to acquire a collection of bikes for the whole family. These families have a blast together outside.
  • Invest in a swimming pool, Y membership or start being nice to your neighbors with a pool.
  • Find a yoga class near you. We host weekly prenatal, mom and baby and family yoga classes at our office in Kirkwood, Missouri. If life does not permit you to attend a class, buy a yoga DVD or look up yoga on YouTube. Get the kids involved. There are several family-friendly classes and exercise videos out there.

Get regular adjustments and check-ups.

We see it all the time—pregnant mom comes in for bi-weekly adjustments religiously throughout pregnancy, she gives birth to her beautiful bundle of joy, she brings her bundle in for their newborn exam and adjustment, but then we rarely see moms continue chiropractic care for themselves past that initial, postpartum visit.

  • Adjust the budget to include your adjustment and your other medical check-ups.

If your body is not performing at its best, how are you supposed to care for those littles that are depending on you?

Nursing moms especially–twisting and contorting in ways you didn’t think possible to calm your baby–need to be adjusted at least bi-weekly to maintain the best possible breastfeeding relationship.

Women amid child-bearing years, need to be seen regularly by a family wellness chiropractor to maintain balance in hormones, including reproductivity.  

Moms with bigger kiddos need to be careful when lifting and carrying our kids.  

  • Pain is the body’s warning light signaling that something is wrong. Don’t ignore pain. Don’t cover up your pain with OTC pain-relievers. Call your chiropractor and schedule yourself an appointment, girl!

If you don’t have a family chiropractor and you live in the St. Louis area, our doctors at 1st Step Family Wellness are always taking new patients. If you live out of the area, you can find a family wellness chiropractor here: International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.

Self-care is essential. Not only for your well-being, but for the well-being of your entire family. It may sound cliche, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. In order to love and care for others to the fullest, we must first love and care for ourselves, or we have nothing left to give. I hope you can implement some of these small changes from Part 1 of: Motherhood and the Daily Fight for Self-Care into your routine to start to work towards taking care of YOU; because you my love, are worth caring for.

Check back for Part 2 where we will cover some simple mental and emotional modifications you can make to implement better self-care. Plus, Part 2 has some awesome author recommendations to keep you inspired and thriving!

Holistic Wellness — 5 Baby Steps to Resolution Success

Resolution Success

Resolution success: from a holistic point of view, one that understands your mind/body/spirit are interconnected and regulated by innate intelligence, you can pick any place to start changing your life for the better at any moment and that action will impact your whole being. You don’t have to wait for the new year or a milestone to start transforming your lifestyle with baby steps toward healthier living.

Here at 1st Step Family Wellness in St. Louis, Missouri, we are here to help you successfully accomplish your resolutions and healthy lifestyle goals from a holistic point of view one step at a time.

Your ultimate resolution or goal is probably improved wellness. Wellness is a true expression of health in every area of your life: mental, physical and emotional. Consider these five simple steps to wellness the first step toward a better, healthier you.

#1 Increase Your Water Intake

Water makes up about 60% of the human body.

We NEED water to function properly. I think that people undervalue the necessity of water for their bodies, because as Americans we take our constant access to clean water for granted, and most people don’t truly understand that their bodies rely on water to survive. If I were to ask someone if they wanted their body to be able to regulate their body temperature, digest food, and carry oxygen to their cells, I guarantee the answer would be yes! These are all important and necessary functions of the human body for survival.

Did you also know, that the human body can go weeks without food, but can’t go for more than three days without water? Crazy, right?!

That is how vital water is to our health and well-being, and to our resolution success.

In my practice in St. Louis, I often find that people do not drink enough water. When I tell them the amount that they should be drinking daily, I get a jaw dropping response from most people. It is actually really rare for me to find that someone consumes the recommended daily amount of water needed. The amount of water needed is a simple calculation. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces. As an example, a person that weighs 150 lbs should be drinking 75 ounces of pure water daily.

Signs that your body needs more water:

  • Headaches
  • Achy joints
  • Dry skin
  • Slow digestion  
  • Brain Fog
  • Sluggishness
  • Muscle cramps

Many of our patients, that follow the above recommendations for water, come back into our St. Louis office, and report that they have more energy, less pain, better looking skin, and better digestion.

Baby steps. Track how much water you are drinking normally and slowing increase it daily. Get yourself a stainless steel or glass water bottle to make it easier to track your ounces.

It is not too late to join our January Water Challenge! Just follow us on our Facebook page for daily inspiration and accountability to increase your water intake!

#2 Refreshing Sleep

Research has shown that eight hours of sleep is vital to your mental, physical and emotional wellness. This can be affected by not going to bed early enough, insomnia, or not getting restful sleep once you’re in bed. The first step to making a change in this area will be to determine which of these problems you face.

Going to bed earlier is just a matter of telling yourself that you’re going to make the change; if you’re staying up until 11 then start going to bed at 10:45, and a few weeks later go to bed at 10:30, and so on. Insomnia can have several possible causes such as drinking caffeine or eating too close to bedtime, as well as stress. If you do not sleep restfully consider your mattress, diet or physical activity.

One of the biggest enemies of our refreshing sleep is screen time–tv, computers and our phones. The average person spends 4 hours a day looking at a screen. In our busy lives with the demands of family and work it is easier to check-out to a screen, but screen time is actually stealing our valuable peace and our rest.

The problem with busy lifestyles is that we don’t allow ourselves any time to shut down or decompress, and watching television or playing on the computer doesn’t count. Down time is several minutes spent letting go of the stresses of the day, and the best time to implement this is right before bed.

Baby steps. Put the screens away and begin with just five minutes of being quiet before bed.

If you meditate or pray then do so, but even just sitting and trying to empty your mind of racing thoughts will help to calm you before bed.  A  quiet stroll up and down your street or standing in your backyard contemplating the stars can be equally peaceful. The goal is to let go of the stresses of the day and allow your mind and body to shut down and fully rest. Proper rest will help you ensure resolution success.

#3 Purge the Pantry

Anything sitting on those shelves in your pantry is most likely filled with chemicals and preservatives. They definitely are not serving your wellness goals. That goes for those “health foods” as well.

In his book, The Plant Paradox, Steven Gundry, M.D. discusses the hidden dangers of “healthy foods” that cause disease and weight gain. Clearly, sugar is a hidden danger and he addresses this in his book. Providing six alternatives to sugar, he suggests stevia extract, monk fruit, yacón syrup, chicory root, erythritol and fructo- oligosaccharides. For those struggling with their health, dietary options and overall eating related health issues, this book is highly recommended. Having adequate knowledge and planning is an integral part of resolution success.

Baby steps. Purge that pantry and start adding in more living, whole foods.

Seems logical, right? A living seed placed in the soil has all of the nutrients and life force to grow generations of plants for years to come. But take that same seed and slather it in pesticides and herbicides, jam some foreign animal DNA into its gene make-up, irradiate it, ship it an average of 1500 miles to the grocery store where it will sit on a shelf before being shoved in a nutrient killing microwave… well, you get the idea. Most of our food supply, while “edible” and filling to our stomachs, is dead on arrival.

What are living, whole foods? Food that is in its natural state, preferably organic, local, and seasonal. Most of these foods are found around the perimeter of your grocery store.

“Many people feel that if they can’t eat their favorite junk foods, they are being deprived. In reality, the sooner you switch your eating habits, the sooner you’ll enjoy increased energy, normalized weight, a better mood and improved health overall. Knowing this, many initially succeed at implementing an improved diet, but then fall back into old habits… and therefore, the ‘old’ body,” says Joseph Mercola, M.D. “To avoid  this, I recommend you make the changes to your diet gradually, starting with making one meal a day raw, then increasing
from there.”

#4 Reduce Simple Carbs

Food is the body’s fuel.

The body can burn two types of fuel, carbohydrates or fat. Our ancestors used fat as a primary fuel source but today’s Western diet leans more heavily on carbohydrates (sugar). Because of this fact, fatigue may be related to post-meal hypoglycemia.

The obvious “cure” for post-meal fatigue is to train the body to burn fat instead of sugar, which should eliminate such drops in energy level.

Baby steps. Reduce the simple carbohydrates included in our meals and add more foods rich in proteins and vegetables.

Carbohydrates are often broken down into two categories–simple and complex carbs, or bad and good carbs. How our bodies digest the food carbohydrate is how it is categorized.

Simple carbs (often considered bad carbs) are digested faster and turned into sugar; which gives our body a quick burst of energy, but not sustainable energy. Simple Carbs include:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Trehalose
  • Sucrose
  • Honey

Complex carbohydrates take a longer time for the body to digest and use as fuel, however they are still sugar and should be eaten in moderation. Complex Carbs include:

  • Whole grains–brown rice, quinoa, barley
  • Legumes–black beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Starchy vegetables–potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash

Other benefits to reducing simple carbs include but are not limited to:

  • Having accessible energy on hand, as the body effectively burns stored fat for energy
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Burning dietary fat for energy effectively leading to less fat being stored
  • Being able to readily depend upon fat for energy during exertion

The Paleo Lifestyle or a Mediterranean Diet are eating plans that will be easy to follow with the least amount of sugar and simple carb consumption. Nutrition is vital to succeeding with your wellness New Year’s resolutions. There are websites that will help explain these healthier dietary choices and encouragement available through online forums. We love Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain cookbooks and website.

#5 Get Movin’

The tagline that describes society’s pandemic of inactivity was introduced in early 2013 when the Harvard Business Review published “Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation,” by Nilofer Merchant.

The parallel between sitting and smoking isn’t metaphoric –  it’s real. According to a November  2012 Lancet study, “On the basis of a meta-analysis of published studies, derive an estimate of 5.3 million deaths worldwide attributable to physical inactivity, and contrast this estimate with the 4.8 million deaths attributable to smoking in 2000.”

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide. This is defined as a lack of regular, routine physical activity for a sustained minimum of 20 minutes more than 3 days a week. It’s not just being physically active that is required, but being in continuous physical activity for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Baby steps. Pick two days a week and walk out for ten minutes, then walk home.

If you miss one day then go the next day, but don’t give up on your resolution. After two weeks add a day and begin walking three times a week. Then on the sixth week walk out for fifteen minutes, then walk home (30 minutes total). The ultimate goal is to be walking 45 minutes at a time four or five days a week.

American lifestyle – of working at a desk all day – is mostly to blame for Americans finding themselves lethally sedentary. But so is the American past time of television watching.  In 2012, an Australian study found that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11 percent, according to The New York Times.

And it’s not just the adults. There is no bigger distraction for today’s youth than the screen–whether it is a video, TV, tablet, computer or cell phone it’s a challenge much larger than you or I faced in our youth. Screen time is not only stealing our peace and sleep, but it is stealing our physical endurance and quality time with our families.

Baby steps. Unplug! Choose one day a week where you and your family eliminate screen time and replace it with family time outside or during the winter months find an activity you can all enjoy together inside.

Here are a few ideas to get you moving more with your family:

  • Explore your town and find a new park or walking trail.
  • Get involved with your community. Sign up for a walk-a-thon, family-5k or neighborhood clean-up.
  • Consider an art project. Take the children to a local art museum or gallery for inspiration.
  • Plant a garden in the backyard. Nothing big, just a few vegetables and plants can be bought as seedlings so your success rate is almost guaranteed.
  • Go window shopping at the mall. Most malls have a coffee shop and an indoor play area for the kids.
  • Visit the Zoo. Most of us don’t think about visiting the Zoo in the winter months, but this is when most of the animals are more interactive with people. Plus, there are plenty of indoor exhibits to get inside and warm up.
  • Other local family-friendly St. Louis attractions for the winter months include: The Magic House in Kirkwood, the City Museum, the Science Center, the St. Louis Art Museum, and there is always your local mall.

So let’s recap. Baby steps to a better you wholisticaly in 2019, or any time of year:

  1. Increase your water intake. Goal: Half your body weight in ounces daily.
  2. Screens away before bed for more restful sleep. Goal: 8 hours of sleep per day. Eliminate screen time before bed.
  3. Purge your pantry and eat more living foods. Goal: More living foods in your daily diet. Minimal box foods.
  4. Reduce simple cards and eat more protein. Goal: Increase energy by avoiding simple, sugary carbs and leaning more on sustainable energy like proteins, vegetables and complex proteins.
  5. Get movin’ more regularly. Goal: Walking 45 minutes at a time, four or five days a week.

The doctors and staff at 1st Step Family Wellness in St.Louis are here to support you–physically, emotionally and mentally–along your wellness journey. Feel free to reach out to us!

Happy New Year!

Food on the Brain: How What You Eat Affects Your Mood

As Phillip Day of Food Matters once said, “What we need to be able to do is to persuade the public that you are what you eat, food can change your mood, and the choices you make directly affect the outcome of your life.”

In other words, you may not be able to control everything in your life, but you can control everything that you consume. Having a natural health mindset can ensure that you not only achieve physical wellness, but that you are also unconsciously happy and content with the life you lead.

While achieving a consistent, positive set of emotions may seem difficult to achieve to some, the reality is that once you understand why you are more prone to a negative mindset and how to avoid those reasons, the easier it will be to make better nutritional choices each day that will have a direct impact on your mood. (more…)

Skin Wellness: A Closer Look at Chemical Stressors

How well do you know your skin?

Do you think about your skin when choosing products from the store? Do you read the labels to see what added chemicals are getting up close and personal with your skin? Do you pay attention to how the products you choose are affecting your skin’s appearance and touch?

If your answer is “No” to these questions, it’s time you start getting to know your skin a bit better and treating it with more love. Why, you ask? Because your skin is more complex and important than you may think… (more…)

The Dirty Little Secret of PMS: What Every Woman Should Know

Ladies, we all have this one friend that we both love and hate. She’s always cranky, slow and almost unbearable at times, but you continue to make the best of all the pain she may cause from month to month with chocolate and ice cream, heartfelt romance movies while snuggled in odd positions on the couch, and long hot bubble baths. You know exactly which frenemy I’m talking about – the saboteur of your baby box – your Aunt Flow, queen of the crimson wave.

Well, despite the awkwardness you might be feeling right now, there is something you might not know. Something very important, that could change your whole relationship with your period. (more…)

Crazy Weather and Budding Trees Have Allergies Flaring: How to Handle it Without Hitting up the Pharmacy.

seasonal allergy relief

Ah, spring is in the air! Well, maybe not this past week, but it has been and will be back shortly. It’s beautiful and refreshing. Birds are chirping in the morning, trees and flowers are budding and even blooming, but oye…those allergies. Since we had a mild winter we can anticipate spring allergies to be even worse. We’ve already heard people complaining of allergy symptoms, and if you’ve been into an M.D. lately they’ve probably advised you to “get ahead” of your symptoms with your handy Claritin and Mucinex. But should you?

 

You see, like many other facets to your health, allergies can invade your world due to more than one cause. The cause is what we should be interested in, not the symptoms. Sure we need to rid our body of the symptoms because they can make a beautiful day unproductive and miserable. Finding the source, or cause, of those symptoms and eliminating that is the long-term solution though; eliminating the source will eliminate the symptoms. (more…)

Holiday Stress and How to Cope

For most households, the turkey has been carved and served, and it’s time to plan for the next holiday. Be it planning for a party, searching for that perfect gift or prepping for the next family meal, the holidays tend to put pressure on a person. The stress we feel during this time of year can stem from a couple of different places.  One example is when we try to meet or exceed our own or others’ expectations. Those expectations can be created from what we see on TV and social media, from warm memories of a previous holiday, or from our faith community. A poll by the American Psychological Association has shown that during the holiday season, 69% of people are stressed by lack of time and money.  The other 51% are stressed from the pressure of giving and getting gifts.  For a time that is supposed to be “Merry”, there is a lot of stress associated with it.

The Dangers of Stress

Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, or that neck and back pain you just can’t rid yourself of. But stress may actually be the culprit.  Stress can negatively affect your spine, it causes the muscles in the back and neck to tense, which can cause the vertebrae in the spine to shift.  This shift can potentially cause subluxation or nerve interference.  The symptoms are those of common illnesses, such as a stuffed up or runny nose, or difficulties with digestion.

Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high cortisol levels leading to weight gain, sleep interference, metabolic disorders, gastrointestinal distress, heart disease, and many more.  With the average person having a modest amount of stress on any other day of the year, try not to add to it this holiday season.

Using Technology to Create A Stress Free Holiday

 

 Most people these days use Facebook, take advantage of the “Events” option on Facebook.  You can easily create your holiday event and invite those who are on Facebook, this will limit the time needed to reach out to everyone individually.  Using a Facebook Event, you will be able to see all who has accepted your invitation and not frantically scrounging around looking for the random names you have wrote down throughout the house trying to get an accurate head count.

 A second option using Facebook, is the fan page or create a group.  This allows the invited guest to post onto the page regarding their attendance, what they will be bringing, or if they will bring a guest with them.  With creating a page, you are able to post image or document with the menu items and a list of what is needed for the event or other areas you need assistance with.

Using your smartphone or other forms of technology, create a shopping list.  51% of people are stressed from giving and getting gifts, ease your stress by first creating your budget.  Figure out what you can afford and what you want to spend this holiday season and stick with it.  Then find an app that you like the best and create your shopping list.  There are many apps out there such as: Santa’s Bag, Gift List, Gift Plan, and more found at iTunes.  Available for Androids are Gift List Manager, Christmas Gift List, and more.  Check out which one is best for you and start your holiday season off with as little stress as possible.

How Technology Can Create Stress During the Holiday

 Technology can be very useful during your holiday season, but don’t let it become a stress factor.   Overstimulation can become stressful; time spent in front of Facebook or on your phone is time that can be more productive elsewhere.  Having your smart phone at all times can become stressful when you are making yourself available to be contacted at all times of the day and night.  Set time limits on your phone, it may be hard, but stress is harder.  Try to pick a specific time when you turn your phone off for the evening and focus on the more valuable aspects of life.  If you find yourself constantly scrolling on Facebook, maybe just send your holiday greetings and see you next years instead.  If social media is adding stress, take a break from it. It will be there when you get back.

Family Time

The shadow side of this period of light and hope, is darkness and despair. Many people fall into darkness at this time of year.  Adam Anderson, Ph. D., associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has hypothesized, the effect media has taken on those during the holiday season.  With the joy and cheer flaunted throughout the commercials and shows, this can trigger those who are lonely throughout the season.  A Canadian study of patients that had received emergency psychiatric care during the holidays, found that the most common stressor was the feeling of being alone or not having family.   The feeling of melancholy during this time is not uncommon.  Below are a few causes of holiday depression.

Family-Related Issues: Some people rarely see their families outside of the holidays, which may make this particular season a little more difficult to deal with than others. Spending time with parents, siblings and other relatives can cause tension in some families, and the anxiety of these get-togethers can also be a trigger for depression.

Loneliness: While some are experiencing family issues, other people have trouble during the holidays for the opposite reason. Not being able to spend time with loved ones due to financial constraints, distance, or other reasons can cause severe loneliness during the holidays. Also, those who have family members or friends who have passed away may miss them even more during special times like the holidays.

Unrealistic Expectations: Some people get overly excited about the holidays, but when the reality of the events set in, they may find themselves disappointed with the actual outcome. Whether it’s holiday parties not being as much fun as hoped for, loved ones not getting as excited about their gifts as you’d hoped or other bad experiences, the sadness of a holiday season sometimes doesn’t match up with an individual’s idea of what a picture-perfect holiday season should be like.

How To Use Meditation as an Outlet

holiday meditationThink of a pressure cooker when thinking about stress.  Your feelings are building up with the pressure of the holiday and you need to release steam before the whole thing blows up.  The best step to de-stressing is to recognize when you need to take a breather and step away for a moment.

 Try stepping away for 5 minutes, make a list of three things you’re grateful for and focus your energy on those three things and why they are important, how they came to be in your life and what makes them so special to you.  Researchers have found that gratitude has both physical and mental health benefits.
 Use these helpful tips to make this holiday season stress free and enjoy what the holidays are about.  This is the time to be joyous and merry!

Posture: What is it, and what really affects it?

Posture. It’s something our mothers ragged on us about from the time we were small children. How many of your moms told you, “If you don’t stop slouching you’ll grow up to be a hunchback”? Being told continuously we need sit up straight, or to stop hunching our shoulders, seems to almost be a right of passage from childhood to adulthood.

So is there really something to this whole posture thing? Is it really that bad for you? Or is somewhat of an old wives’ tale?

posture analysis

What is Posture?

Posture is defined as: the position of the body or the position of several parts of the body with respect to each other for a particular purpose. Posture is not, regardless of what we have been led to believe, simply a matter of sitting or standing up straight. Instead, it is the actual and proper alignment of the parts of the body in relation to the spine, and the proper use of the body at all times.

 

 While slouching over at your computer, or your kids being hunched over a tablet screen, is not doing either of you any favors, it is not the primary contributor to your posture. Rather, ensuring your body is in correct alignment is the essential factor to this. At 1st Step Family Wellness,  in Kirkwood, we try to drill this education point in. Sitting up straight is not going to correct your posture. Remembering to get routine chiropractic care to ensure your body is in proper alignment will!

 

Posture and Your Little Tikes

 It’s often oversighted that even very young children can have misalignment issues. It is believed that as soon as a child is weight bearing, that improper posture can be detected, and show signs of misalignments.  You might be thinking, “Yeah, it’s not like we were in an accident, or like my kiddo is doing heavy lifting. There’s no way she has any misalignments. Her posture has to be fine.” While that seems like a logical assumption, it is an incorrect assumption.
 How many times did your little tike fall on her bottom abruptly, obviously jarring her body upon landing? How was your birth? Well, even if all went smoothly, just the natural process of childbirth can wreak havoc on a baby’s body. Think of how they are born! There is quite a bit of twisting and contorting just to make it into this world.

 

 Posture and Your Older Kiddos

This age group starts to endure more injuries, even if minor, due to their activities. If your child is active in sports it is anticipated these injuries, or minor traumas to the spine will occur. Accidentally colliding into another soccer player while running full gusto is not only going to sting a bit, but it is also going to cause some misalignments without a doubt!

  Although I mentioned above that slouching isn’t the main cause of poor posture, it certainly doesn’t help. This age group tends to have more than their fair share of screen time too. Inevitably, we naturally sit or lie in positions that aren’t conducive to posture. Children also tend to lie on their stomachs when using electronics as well; which can be bad for your spine.

To adjust to these habits, the body will typically begin to adapt to the improper alignment and cause postural deviations that you can see. These can include a tilting of the head, which may reflect a misalignment in the neck. A shoulder tilt might indicate a mid-back issue, and a tilted hip can mean a misalignment of the hip, sacrum or lower back. If a child’s foot is turned  out or in, this can indicate a problem in the pelvic area.

The scary part of this, is that often times these misalignments that form, do not cause pain. Not that we want them to be in pain, but because there is no pain it typically leads to problems compounding before any detection without regular chiropractic care.

 Pre-Teens, Teens, and Posture

The same issues that occur with your older children also occur in this age group. Except now, they have been continuing with bad habits and injuries for a few years, and  now the compounding effects can become visible to the eye. They may even cause pain at this point.

Often times, their backpacks have become the demise of their spine as well. Aside from the actual weight, they tend to wear their backpacks improperly; which only multiplies the harm being caused to their spines.

Be sure to listen to your pre-teens and teens closely about discomfort and know they could be developing a problem that will only become worse and cause more problems over time. Pain may appear in the form of headaches, shoulder tension, or menstruation issues in girls.

 Don’t Forget About You!

You think childhood issues have ventured into real-time problems for your teen? Just think about the compounding effect on you since childhood! Chances are you do feel at least occasional discomfort and shrug it off. However, your future (senior) self will thank you in multitude for correcting any deviations now. You don’t want to be the next, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial, do you?!

  So how can you tell if you have spinal deviations?

Surprisingly, if you’re looking for the right clues, it is fairly evident. Here’s two easy tests to check out your status:

Test One-Four Steps to Performing a Postural Exam

Step one – look at bottom of ears; if one is higher than the other, this is head tilt and a sign of a possible neck misalignment.

  Step two – look at the shoulders; they should be level, if they are not, shoulder tilt is a sign of a possible mid-back issue.

Step three – place your hands on the wing bones or scapula; if one is moved toward you more than the other, this could be the sign of mid back issue.

Step four – place your hands on your child’s hips; if one hand is higher than the other, this is hip tilt and can be an indicator of a misalignment of the hip, sacrum or lower back.

Test Two-Side View Analysis

When looking at a side view there are two signs of possible postural deviations or spinal misalignments. The first sign is the earlobes; are they directly over the shoulder or slightly forward? The second sign of a potential problem are shoulders hunched or rolled forward. If you see either of these signs it is wise to contact your current chiropractor, or 1st Step Family Wellness  for an appointment.

Concerns about your kiddos or teens? We specialize in pediatric chiropractic!

 

 

 

 

21 Day Detox

The fall hump. You know that time in between not reaching your summer weight loss goals, and still wanting to shed the pounds before your winter hibernation mode kicks in. You know what you need? No, the answer is not some “metabolism booster” from a big box supplement store. A detox. That’s what you need. It doesn’t have to be spring or summer to take control of your health. In fact, utilizing a detox that focuses on a lifestyle change, and not just a quick weight loss fix, is strongly recommended anytime of the year.

 

21 Day Detox

Today I want to share with you the success my wife (Dr. Jeanne) and I had with our 21 day detox. I want to enlighten you on how our bodies detox normally, and how they detox abnormally; most people’s bodies are detoxing abnormally. I’ll also cover why you should detox, the detox process, and a couple tips and tricks for doing a 21 Day Detox. You won’t believe what food can do for your body!

 

Why detox?

You definitely need to understand WHY you need to detox in the first place. So let me ask you a few questions:

Do you have trouble losing weight?

Do you get headaches?

How about digestive issues?

Do you eat fast food?

I could continue on to ask you more questions, but these are four quick ones that would lead you to answer yes to needing to detox. We need to detox in order to remove the toxins that end up stored in our bodies.

 

Feeling tipsy?

I often explain toxins in the body, by comparing it to being drunk. When we consume more alcohol than our bodies can process in that specific amount of time, alcohol goes into our bloodstream because it cannot be processed at that time. This is how that blood-alcohol level creeps up on you, making you unable to drive a vehicle!

 

You’re like a machine.

You could also compare it to your body being a piece of machinery. To keep a machine running smoothly, and efficiently, you need clean it, right? If you don’t goop gets caught up in it, it starts to slow down, be less efficient, and over time will start to break down on you and stop working altogether! So much like machinery, sometimes we need to clean ourselves out, and give ourselves a system restart. As toxins become too much for your body to process, they store themselves in fat and nervous system tissue.

 

Detox Process

Alright, so we covered the “why” you need to detox. Now let’s bring you back to your high school science class, and give you a little pop quiz (ok so not really a quiz because I’m going to give you the answers.)

Q: How does your body detox when it’s functioning normally?

A: Most toxins are eliminated through fecal matter. Gut flora, the good bacteria in your intestines, helps break down toxins for elimination. It’s commonly thought that the liver does most of this work. The liver is important, but is actually the secondary system for removing toxins. The liver helps with overflow of toxins. The liver actually utilizes antioxidant materials to change toxins to water-soluble substances. From there the toxins are transferred in their new form to the kidneys, where they are excreted through urination (now you know why the bathroom stall becomes your new best friend at the bar!).

Q:How does your body detox when it’s functionally abnormally?

A: Well, the short answer is it doesn’t. I mean it puts up a real good fight, and absolutely is smart enough to take measures to protect your health.

With abnormal detoxing our bodies develop “leaky gut”. This is when the lining of the small intestines become permeable (develops small gaps), where toxins can leak out into the bloodstream.

 

So what happens then…

Then because there are already too many toxins in the body, the liver doesn’t pick them up for processing. So where do they go? At first, they sit in your bloodstream; which obviously isn’t healthy and cannot be a long term solution. No worries though, your body is highly intelligent, and proceeds to move them for storage in your fat and nervous system tissue.

This may sound like your body has it all figured out, and you can keep piling the junk food in, but not so fast. You know those headaches, and inability to lose weight, and digestive issues? Well, you can thank your abnormal detox process for that.

This means it’s a good possibility the reason why you just spent three days a week at the gym for the last month, and only lost a single pound, is due to the fact that there are toxins stored in your fat. Once there are toxins stored in the fat, the body tends to want to hold on to the fat as means of protecting your body from the toxins. This is why you need to detox. I would recommend a cleanse that is a whole body cleanse, and not just liver cleanse. I recommend this because of what I explained above. While our liver is an instrumental component to our detox, it is NOT the primary. So you need a whole body cleanse.

 

The “1st Step”

Cut out all the crap food! No sugars, no artificial sweeteners, no junk food, and yes, sorry to say you will have ditch the pumpkin spice lattes for now too!

Tips & Tricks

#1 Be prepared-You’re going to need to go all Boy Scout on this. Always be prepared. How are you always prepared when on a detox? You plan ahead. We make all sorts of plans in life: business plans, weekend plans, financial plans, but seem to leave out food plans. You need to strategize your plan of attack (with food).

 

#2 Meal/snack prep- Yup. More preparation. You may feel like you’ve earned some sort of scout badge by the time your done, but you’ll be happy you did it, and the results will mirror your hard work.

So here’s what we did for our cleanse…

Days 1-7:  Ate fruits, veggies, fish, and plant-based protein shakes (avoid whey).

 

Days 8-10: Removed fruit for 3 days.

 

Day 11: Added in organic chicken and eggs.

 

Days 15-21:  Added nuts, seeds, and grass fed beef back into diet.

 

*We consumed at least 80 ounces of purified water each day.

 

*We also used a few support products (if interested, these can be purchased through our office):

 

1-Digestive Enzyme (Loomis)

2-Probiotic (Metagenics)

3-Essential Fatty Acids (Biotics)

4-Detox Powder (Metagenics)

5-Detox Capsule (Metagenics)

If you have more questions please feel free to reach out to us!