Food Challenge: Exercise Your Way to Better Eating

Free Weights in the Office

Free Weights in the Office

In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of simple changes to your daily routine. Each week I will post powerful, simple and easy to implement ways to help you change the way you and your family eats…and thereby improve your health.  Yes they are simple, but taken together they can have a powerful impact on your health.

Why am I giving you one a week?  So you can start small, incorporate one change into your day and then add a new change next week.  If you skip a week, that’s ok, start where you are.  Some changes are better than none at all.

When I was younger (much younger, before graduate school, work, family) I used to do double splits and laugh at everyone who was doing less than I was.  Now I look at my father in law, who at 80 still goes to the gym 3 times a week.  He might not be pounding weights, but he is a fit, healthy 80 year old. I am a physician, husband and father of three and no longer have time for my double splits.  My father-in-laws daily habits have served him well through a lifetime!  The crazy, perfectionistic, routine I had in my youth only served me well for a short period of time.  As my daughter would say, “Habits, people!”

So for Challenge Number 1:

If you are not already exercising, take a 15 minutes every day and move. You can find 15 minutes, do it at lunch, after dinner, wake up 15 minutes earlier. How is exercise related to better eating?

Individuals who exercise tend to make better food choices, not wanting to waste their effort. Exercise is a keystone habit. If you are not familiar with this phrase, keystone habits are those that prompt more change. Hungry after a walk? You are more likely to make a healthy food choice.

Here is what I don’t want you to do:  don’t start researching gyms,  exercise videos, or rush out and by the latest and greatest exercise equipment.

Do this (choose one):

  • Talk a brisk walk after dinner
  • Pick up some free weight and do squats
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Do jumping jacks
  • Walk stairs
  • You get the idea

Whatever you do, make sure you keep your current health conditions in mind and exercise in a way that is safe for your body.  Very few health conditions prevent one from exercise, choose one that is safe and healthy for you.  Ask your physician, if you are not sure what will work for you.

Let me know what changes you make!



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You Are What You Eat!

Colorful Afternoon Snack

Colorful Afternoon Snack

The foods that we consume on a daily basis, form the basis of our health. It makes intuitive sense, that if we are not putting healthy food in, our bodies will weaker and not as effective at fighting disease as those bodies that are eating a diet filled with healthy food.

Americans are consumed by the idea that there is a superfood or a collection of nutrients that we should consume. We know that blueberries, recently called a superfood, are filled with anti oxidants. Common sense tells us we should not give up on strawberries or watermelon and only feed our families blueberries.

As a culture, we do precisely that–form a diet based upon the addition of a super ingredient. Walk down the grocery store aisles and see how many foods you find with added ingredients containing the latest superfood craze. Go to a trendy restaurant and you can purchase a martini with the latest superfood. Much as I like a good martini, you will not convince me that you are helping your body by drinking acai berry vodka. We know this.

I have had many patients (and family members) over the years who have told me that a particular product (take your pick: vitamin supplement, liquid vitamin, juicing, or diet such as the paleo diet, Atkins, etc) has helped them and that they feel significantly better. I believe them, I think they do feel better. I don’t think it is as much from the particular product or diet. Indeed, far from being hurtful, many of these often improve your daily nutritional profile. What improves most people’s health however is what happens when they begin their programs. It is not just what they have added to their diets, it is what has been removed. Often when we start on these programs and start eating better we feel better because we have reduced the amount of processed foods entering our systems.

The standard American diet is filled with highly processed, highly refined foods. These foods are almost always made with the lowest quality ingredients, they are lacking in nutritional value and leave us hungry after we finish eating. So what is one to do?

I know you are busy, you barely have time to sit down to dinner, much less make a healthy one from scratch daily. Yet there are many simple things you can do to improve the way you and your family eats. Over the next several weeks we will have many suggestions for changing your family’s eating habits. Please join me as we start this journey!

Each week, I will post one change and challenge you to make it with me. Slowly you will start feeling better, you will be stronger and come closer to achieving wellness!

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Warmer Weather and Sun Protection.

Another post by Dr. Samantha Weiss, who is clearly ready for the warmer weather of summer!

School is almost over and when that school bell rings for dismissal in mid-June children will start engaging in either sports or summer camp as well as numerous outdoor activities. We encourage children to engage in outdoor activities and sports, we tend to spend more time, money and energy finding that one sunscreen/block that works best. Adolescents are sometimes much more resistant to applying sunblock because the sun exposure during the day will usually result in the perfect golden brown tan. While being tan may increase one’s self-esteem or mood, constant exposure to the sun unprotected could be too big of a gamble. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin damage which in the long run can lead to cancer. Skin cancer is becoming far more common especially in adolescents.

One of the more effective ways to prevent skin damage or even skin cancer is to stay out of the sun entirely, however that is not practical. The bottom line is if you are going to enjoy outdoor activities you must wear sunscreen. Sunscreen acts by absorbing or reflecting the sun’s rays. There certain things one should look for in a sunscreen before purchasing it.
The most important component is the sun protection factor better know as SPF. This refers to the amount of protection the sunscreen will give you or how much longer one can spend exposed to the sun before you get sunburned compared to if you were not wearing sunscreen. For example, say you could stay exposed to sun for 30 minutes without burning. If you were to apply a sunscreen that had an SPF of 15 you would be able to stay exposed to the sun for 15 times longer – roughly seven and a half hours before burning. The SPF on a sunscreen bottle only relates to the UVB rays, there is currently no rating system for UVA protection. A sunscreen that has an SPF of 15 is said to block ninety-three percent of the UVB rays, an SPF of 30 blocks ninety-seven percent and an SPF of 50 blocks ninety-eight percent of the UVB rays. As one can see there is not a large percent of difference in the protection when you compare the SPF of 15 to the SPF of 30. Using an SPF of either 15 or 30 will give you roughly the same amount of protection, however the key is making sure you reapply at least every two hours. If your skin is more sensitive to sun exposure and you burn quickly, you should reapply more frequently.

Another key component to a decent sunscreen is one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate into the deepest layer of your skin, while the UVB rays do not penetrate as deep. Both rays are responsible for causing damage to the skin. Too much exposure to both the UVA and UVB rays can increase the likelihood of skin cancer. Make sure that labels of the sunscreen bottle states that it is broad-spectrum coverage. The sunscreen should also contain the combination of the following ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octyl salicytate, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
You should also look for sunscreens that are labeled “water resistant” or “sweat-resistant.” A water-resistant sunscreen should maintain its SPF for as long as 40 minutes underwater as long as it is not rubbed off. Water-proof sunscreens do not exist because if you submerge your body in water for a long enough period of time the sunscreen will wear off at some point.

There are many types of sunscreen:  lotions, creams, sticks and most recently sprays. Out of the above types pick the one that is easiest to use for you. Studies have shown that the least amount one can apply and be full protected is an ounce and that needs to be reapplied at least every two hours if not more. You also need to think of the activity that you or your children will be engaging in. Take swimming, for example, if you are constantly rubbing a towel on the skin in order to dry off you are also rubbing the sunscreen off making it less effective so reapplication maybe more frequent.

Knowing all this, it can still be confusing to go to the store and look at row after row of sunscreens. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done it’s homework and rated various brands based upon the safety and efficacy of the of ingredients used. Click here to go the the EWG’s report.

Hopefully the above facts will make finding the perfect sunscreen a little easier. Lip balm with SPF is also something that should be applied. Sunscreen should be applied even if it appears extremely cloudy out, the sun’s rays can pass through the clouds. If you have any further questions regarding this topic or any other health concerns that you would like to address, please visit our website at or call our office to set up an appointment with one of our doctors.

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Kinesio Tape – An Effective Drug Free Alternative to Healing Injury

Kinesio Tape

Kinesio Tape on Knee

      Kinesio Tape is an effective drug-free treatment for a wide variety of muscular ailments designed to reduce pain and speed healing.  Kinesio tape is a latex-free cotton fiber tape that may be stretched over an injured area.  When  musculature is damaged, the body often responds with swelling.  This swelling, while intended as a natural defense to protect an injured area also impedes certain normal bodily processes that promote healing. Kinesio tape, applied properly to an injured area,  creates a space between the skin and the muscle, effectively improving the flow of lymph fluid to speed healing.  In addition, this space improves nerve conduction in the injured area. Kinesio taping is also used to improve muscle contraction and reduce muscle fatigue in performance athletes.
      Kinesio taping has been made popular over the past several years due to its use by popular athletes such as David Beckham, Serena Williams, Lance Armstrong, olympic teams.
      The effectiveness of Kinesio tape lies in two areas:  the tape itself, different from athletic tape, lifts the skin creating space for fluid and nerve conduction between the skin and muscle; and in its application by a qualified health practitioner who understands biomechanics and kinesiology.  The tape by itself does not heal, proper application by someone trained in it use is essential.  Research on Kinesio tape is still in its early stages.  Used as a stand alone procedure, the tape does not show significant clinical results. When used as an adjunctive treatment with other rehabilitative therapies, kinesio taping is beginning to show promise in the research literature.
      My own experience as a clinician using kinesio tape on my patients (and occasionally myself) has been a very positive one.  I have used it for conditions such as tennis elbow, knee pain (pateller tendonitis), rotor cuff injuries, shin splints, back pain and foot and ankle injuries.  My experience has been about 85% of the patients report significant improvement in only 2 applications.  The tape works 24/7, you can shower with it on  and replace it every  2-4 days.  Many athletes will even compete with the tape on.


    González-Iglesias J ; Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C ; Cleland JA ; Huijbregts P ; Del Rosario Gutiérrez-Vega M (2009).  Short-term effects of cervical kinesio taping on pain and cervical range of motion in patients with acute whiplash injury: a randomized clinical trial.  The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy  39(7): 515-21.

Paoloni M ; Bernetti A ; Fratocchi G ; Mangone M ; Parrinello L ; Del Pilar Cooper M ; Sesto L ; Di Sante L ;  Santilli(2011).  Kinesio Taping applied to lumbar muscles influences clinical and electromyographic characteristics in chronic low back pain patients.European journal of physical and rehabilitation medicine 47(2): 237-44. Slupik A ; Dwornik M ; Bialoszewski D ;  Zych E (2007).   Effect of Kinesio Taping on bioelectrical activity of vastus medialis muscle. Preliminary report.  Ortopedia, traumatologia, rehabilitacja. 9(6): 644-51.

Yoshida A ; Kahanov L (2007).   The effect of kinesio taping on lower trunk range of motions.  Research in sports medicine . 15(2): 103-12.

Dr. Vijay Patel is a practicing chiropractic physician at  Advanced Physical Medicine & Therapy in Mt. Prospect.  This information is offered to educated readers on physical medicine as well as drug free, natural medical alternatives.  It is for informational purposes only and not intended to substitute for medical advice from a licensed medical professional.  Call today (847-222-9060) for an appointment.  If you live outside our treatment area, please contact the American Chiropractic Association  or your state association for a chiropractic referral.

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Best Homemade Bug Repellent

Today we have a guest post by my associate, Dr. Samantha Weiss.

Spring is finally here.  If  you and your family are anything like mine, you will start spending more time outside, especially during the evenings.  While it is great to enjoy the outdoors, it is not enjoyable to get eaten alive by mosquitoes.   Bug repellent is a must, especially in the summer months; however the bug repellent sold in stores smells horrible and can be more toxic to humans than bugs.  

I spent many summers getting bug bite after bug bite and smelling of insect repellent.   I decided that there had to be a natural way to repel mosquitoes.  I found a home remedy that is easy, cheap and effective at repelling mosquitoes.  The natural repellent is made of a mixer of essential oils and a carrier oil or alcohol.  

The essential oils that seem to work best are the following: cinnamon oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, citronella oil and castor oil.   The essential oil is then mixed with a carrier oil such as olive oil, sunflower oil, or other cooking oils,. Witch hazel or vodka can be used in place of a carrier oil.  From the above list, you take one of the carrier oils or alcohol and one or several of the essential oils and mix them together. I would recommend using  lemon, eucalyptus, lavender or citronella oil in your mix of essential oils.  When making large quantities of mosquito repellent it is best to mix one part essential oil with 10-20 parts carrier oil or alcohol.  

After mixing the essential oil(s) of your choice with the carrier oil or alcohol you can either spray or rub it on your skin and clothes, making sure to avoid areas such as your eyes and mouth.  Since the repellent is natural it needs to be re-applied after an hour or after swimming and/or exercise.  You can store your natural repellent in a dark bottle away from both heat and sunlight.

If you are pregnant or nursing make sure to consult with your physician prior to use.  One more bit of advice it is best to mix your repellent and test it out on a small area of skin first to see if an irritation develops. Remember essential oils are very potent so a little goes a long way.  On that note go out there and enjoy your summer protected from the bugs.


Dr. Samantha Weiss earned her chiropractic doctoral degree and Certification in Acupuncture from National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, Illinois. She also received her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

As a member of the American Chiropractic Association, Dr. Weiss is able to advocate for and promote the best care possible for her patients. Even though she enjoys all areas in the chiropractic field, Dr. Weiss has a particular interest in caring for both maternal and pediatric patients, and hopes to explore and develop treatment options for these patient populations.

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