I do know when I struggle to relieve a client’s pain through body work alone, I find diet has been the missing link. When diet is addressed, body work is much more effective and longer lasting.
I have very strong beliefs in what type of diet is right for my body. I believe in a whole-foods plant based diet. In my experience it is the healthiest way to eat. This alone seriously reduces the occurrence of muscular aches and pains. I clearly and consistently see the difference diet makes in my practice.
What about the S.A.D (Standard American Diet)? I think our S.A.D. is killing us and severely reducing our quality of life. Many feel that any deviation from this “standard” is unhealthy. Society has become so programmed into the S.A.D way of thinking, that “natural, healthy eating” is often called extreme and reckless.
Our Society has become lazy, preferring quick fixes over long-term discipline and commitment to healthy living. We have become processed people. We pop prescription medications and view surgery as a viable first option to issues. It appears that having your chest cut open, your ribs pried apart and your heart removed from your body and operated on isn’t extreme but a plant based whole food diet is. This confuses and saddens me.
I am all about prevention. The old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure is very true. In my practice I have seen many surgical candidates get better with body work. I have also seen failed surgeries because the root issue was somewhere else. There are many people walking around with bulging discs and they have NO PAIN. I was not one of those people. I was in pain. A lot of pain. I have a bulging disc at L5-S1. When my diet is out of balance and I am not taking care of myself I feel it. I have low back pain and nerve pain that shoots down my legs. Why? INFLAMMATION!! Simply put, inflammation is the cause of pain in our body. I could choose surgery and have my disc fused and compromise the ones above. But through Cranial work, muscle work and diet, I do not have pain. With a bulging disc I will be doing the Augusta half Ironman and the Florida full Ironman.
By healthy balanced training, regular body work and most importantly, a whole food diet that promotes alkalinity and prevents inflammation in my body while promoting cellular regeneration.
Many if not most, physical issues are caused by stress.
So what is stress?
Stress is anything that causes strain. Whether mental or physical we are all affected in some way by stress. Stress can be positive (from balanced exercise) or negative (over training, poor diet, overwork, emotional issues, etc.). The problem with our society is we are being pushed to do more and more. It is how we have come to define success. Exercise alone cannot relieve our stress. Massage and body work alone cannot relieve our stress. While exercise with proper rest will make us stronger, exercise without adequate rest and nourishment will cause our bodies to become overwhelmed. We are designed to deal with stress through the “fight or flight” response. Our bodies produce Cortisol to give us that burst of energy needed to deal with the immediate stressors in our lives. When stress stays high and/or constant, our adrenal glands must work overtime to provide the Cortisol needed to deal with those stressors. Eventually, cortisol no longer helps us. When too much is demanded, it hurts our bodies by breaking down muscle tissue and causing fatigue. Too much cortisol (stress) lowers serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical that regulates processes like sleep and body temperature, and is directly linked to fatigue, concentration issues, weight gain and at extremely low levels severe depression and suicidal tendencies. We see this in action here at Echo as muscle cramping/spasms, general muscle tightness and referred pain.
When the body has lower cortisol levels (less stress) it will naturally produce more serotonin.
A highly refined food diet is destructive and stress producing. It creates the dangerously high cortisol levels and can lead to many of the health issues we see today in the United States. High blood pressure, diabetes, compromised immune systems, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia, to name a few, can be linked to a diet of highly refined foods and animal protein.
Nutritional stress accounts for 70% of negative stress in the United States. Nutritional Stress has been defined as “stress created by food because of its unhealthy properties”. Again, I find this to be the missing link when individuals find pain relief evading them.
So, why no meat for my training? Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. These 20 organic compounds are the building blocks of protein. Animal protein is a “complete protein”. Sounds good right? It only means that more work is required for the body to break it down before the amino acids (which is what the body needs from protein) can be utilized. Whole plant foods give us freely available amino acids. Less work, less stress. In addition, animal protein causes inflammation. There is a pro-inflammatory fatty acid found in varying concentrations in all meats called Arachidonic acid. Remember, inflammation equals pain in our body.
We have been led to believe that we cannot function efficiently without animal protein. Many athletes have strong beliefs about the need to have animal protein. I have had trainers tell me I must consume massive amounts of lean animal protein per day to support muscular repair and growth. This is just not true. In fact, it causes extensive stress on our bodies and more specifically our liver.
When we exercise, especially at the increased level of training for an event like Ironman, we are breaking down tissue/cells. What we need are nutrient dense anti-inflammatory foods. Fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and seeds contain high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids that promote rejuvenation and are essential for optimal healing. They are also high in antioxidant vitamins (like A and C) that further promote this healing process. These foods speed up post-work out/post-race recovery.
The upcoming training for Ironman will be the most strenuous activity my body has been put through. I will use the above information to increase muscular strength and endurance, prevent injury along the way and increase my overall health and wellness.
Our bodies are designed to effectively deal with stress. We must learn how to work with our bodies and not against them in order to achieve natural stress relief.
How is it working so far?
I have been swimming 3 days a week averaging 3,000 yards, ran a 5k New Years Eve, and am doing two spin classes. Starting next week, I will be increasing the workout to 4 days of swimming, three days of running, and two spin classes (no bike yet). I have a normal amount energy (not increased) and minimal post workout soreness. This morning I did not eat before swim practice and I felt weak but still managed to swim 3,400 yards (96 lengths) of combined distance/sprint work. I have had a mean case of plantar fasciitis (INFLAMMATION) since April with little relief since its onset. The 5k was something I did not think I would be able to do but I did with little pain. While still present, the intensity has decreased some. This will be my marker of how well the diet is working to create an alkaline state and decreased inflammation in my body. I am hopeful that I will soon be posting that I no longer have heel pain.