Chiropractor & Acupuncturist, Allison Heffron, DC, L.Ac., debunks some of the most popular exercise and nutrition myths still followed by many people today. This article serves as an excerpt from our Exercise as Medicine Workshop, which featured Integrative Medicine Specialist, Dr. Robert Graham, Clinical Nutritionist, Michelle Miller, MSACN, Pilates Studio Director, Lynda Salerno Gehrman, and Orangetheory Head Trainer, Garner Pilat.
We have all been told what is and what is not the correct way to exercise, eat, talk, work, or just in general, how to live.
With so much information out there, we are overloaded with opinions, views, and so many arguments that contradict what someone else said was right or wrong.
What actually is the best way to do anything?
Well, that’s an interesting question and it’s also a trick question.
There is no BEST way to do anything, but there are definitely wrong ways to do things.
What exercise is best? Cardio or resistance training? Well, you might as well be asking, “What do you prefer? Apples or oranges?”
Weirdly, it’s the same question. Both are fruits. Both are sweet. Both can be incorporated into your diet. Having the option of two is always good for variety, and they each offer different things, like a higher dose of fiber versus vitamin C, relatively.
So even though they both have their own positives, we only choose one, but to add variety and balance we still have the other now and then.
Cardio, or aerobic training, is a great way to increase the volume of blood your heart can hold.
Sounds great! However, only doing steady-state cardio will lead to problems like thinning out the walls of the heart too much so the structure is weak and can’t pump out all of that blood to the body.
Resistance training, or anaerobic training, is a great way to strengthen the walls of the heart. Sounds wonderful!
However, only doing resistance training can lead to thickened walls of the heart with very little room for blood to sit.
Combining the two training types into your routine is how you can get the best of both worlds, but what kind of exercise do you do for either? Whatever you want! If you hate the idea of lifting weights next to the huge muscle-head in a tiny tank top then maybe rock climbing is more your thing.
The treadmill can be pretty uneventful, so maybe a dance class is more your speed. There really is an option for everyone and it doesn’t have to be so intimidating.
The main idea is that you move and learn to move well! We can all be sedentary when we’re dead.
Here, at Physio Logic, we strive to analyze and educate our patients on their movement and how to improve it to reduce risk of injury or re-injury. This will only set you up for success in your daily life whether it’s filled with walking, picking up children, or intense exercise.
Crushing Nutrition Myths
Should I eat a high fat/low carb diet? A low carb/high fat diet? Intermittent fasting? Should I count my food’s calories? Eat dirt from the woods?
Hopefully your research hasn’t led you to that last question.
There is a lot of research out there that can lead you to believe that one diet is the best for everyone. This just isn’t so.
When you look at someone your own age, weight, height, unless you’re looking in a mirror, you’re looking at a completely different individual who requires a completely different diet than you.
You may not be able to see it, but they may function better on more fat and you may function better on fasting throughout the day.
I happen to do a lot of self-experimentation to see what works best for me. I tried intermittent fasting while I was in graduate school. Since I was sitting for about 8 hours every day stuffing my brain with information, my mind would eventually wander and it would inevitably be to food. It was consuming for me, so I couldn’t continue that lifestyle.
I tried Paleo and my sweet cravings had never been higher because I was overdosing on baking since “honey is better than processed sugar”, but in reality it was still sugar and I was just feeding a never-ending candida beast that craved more sugar.
In a conversation filled with vague answers it is for certain that counting calories is a very outdated method that should not be utilized anymore, however, counting macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates, protein) is extremely helpful.
The reasoning why “a calorie is just a calorie” is a very poor argument is because of this hard information:
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
The question should really be, “what does my body need more of and when?”
The “when” is very important here because depending on your activity level and when you do said activity should determine when and what you eat (i.e. carbs before and after workout, little fat before and after workout, etc).
It is important to fuel your body for its activities regardless of what they may be. In order to know what your body requires or cannot tolerate is best done with food sensitivity testing or elimination diets.
Luckily, our clinic offers services from a great clinical nutritionist and integrative medicine doctor who can help you achieve the the best diet for you in a safe and monitored way.
Which exercise is best?
Should I do yoga? Foam rolling? Stretching? How should you become more mobile?
Yoga is a great option as long as you understand the “why” behind it. If you are doing it to become more flexible it is very important to understand how flexibility is actually defined.
Flexibility is not attained through static stretching. If you have tried stretching your calves for 10 minutes for 365 days you would still have tight calves.
The key is to inhibit overactive muscles and facilitate underactive muscles.
In yoga, the goal is to gain the core strength in order to move in such a way that is controlled rather than stretching to become loose and unstable.
Foam rolling is another thing that you can waste a half hour on every day and not see any long-term changes in the soft tissues you are trying to target.
From a neurological standpoint foam-rolling can be helpful in bringing your brain’s awareness to an area, which is helpful when trying to activate certain muscles prior to working out.
However, from a perspective of trying to decrease trigger points, or knots, it is just not something I would ever recommend.
Having said that, if you truly feel as though foam-rolling helps you, mentally, then by all means continue. In order to understand how your body is overcompensating and what exactly needs to be facilitated and/or inhibited, i.e. soft tissue re-education, you should be examined and analyzed by a professional.
When you are bombarded by tons of information on the internet and you just want guidance, we have your back, literally. Our chiropractors and physical therapists specialize in movement and sports medicine. Our team can help educate you and your muscles on how to move more functionally.
Nutritional guidance is key to living a more healthy lifestyle too. You can’t really workout and eat poorly, or eat well and be sedentary and expect to live a high quality of life.
Chinese medicine (in this case acupuncture and topical herbs) is a great addition to breaking up knotted up tissue so that blood can flow more easily and therefore the tissues can heal and function, optimally.
Eastern medicine is also extremely beneficial to help balance out your body. With all of these tools at your fingertips, it’s almost a no-brainer to take advantage of them, stop wasting time on things that aren’t meant for you, and start living a better life.