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Taking Time to Recharge

Posted 1/03/20 (Fri)

Melanie Carvell, PT

It’s the new year, and millions of people will make resolutions hoping to spark a positive change in their well-being. Along with managing our self-care, we are often consulted to educate and guide our patients towards healthier habits. Whether it is a morning meditation with that first cup of coffee, healthier food choices, or intentionally taking the stairs at work, mini self-care routines can be one of the best ways to squeeze wellness into busy days. Having adequate resources to fuel our most cherished roles in work and life depend on the conservation and renewal of our own energy supply. When we don’t invest in ourselves, we are not a very good investment for others. Taking time to recharge is not self-centered, but rather a strategy that can power us through our days with more strength and energy to share with others. Self-care is really an act of service to those we live with and work with.

What self-care routines are working well for you right now? What routines might you create to help restore your energy and renew your spirit?

Improved Nutrition

After indulging over the holidays many of us are ready to get back on track with better nutrition. But what is the best way to tackle improving our nutrition without going on a “diet” that we are not likely to stick with for the long term? Some of the most popular diets right now include the ketogenic diet, or other high protein/high fat diets. Researching the pros and cons of these diets can help us provide the best advice for our patients.


  • Less sugar. People are becoming more educated about the many health risks of too much refined sugar, and learning to say ‘no’ to simple sugars like candy, sodas, and deserts is a helpful component of the keto diet.
  • More fruit and vegetables. Many keto dieters eat more vegetables, berries, and melon than they did before, but it is still far less than what’s recommended because vegetables and fruits remain limited in order to maintain ketosis.
  • Natural appetite suppressant. Burning ketones as fuel naturally helps you to eat less.
  • Easy to grasp rules. The keto diet provides black and white guidelines that guarantee a low-calorie diet for weight loss. “Moderation” is a difficult achievement for many, so this extreme diet with its well-defined rules seems easier to follow and effective.


  • Nutritionally deficient. Because not a single whole grain is allowed and fruits and vegetables are limited, up to 17 nutritional deficiencies have been noted with the keto diet.
  • Detrimental to the gut microbiome. Within the first 24 hours of starting the keto diet the gut microbiome decreases notably. Healthy gut bacteria thrive on carbohydrates and fiber, both of which are greatly decreased with this diet.
  • Risky to the heart and prostate. The keto theory is that saturated fats are only atherosclerotic in the presence of carbohydrates, but since limiting carbohydrates is tough, people tend to cycle on and off their carbohydrate intake. Many studies have shown that saturated fats can fuel several types of cancer including prostate.
  • Harmful for those with diabetes. The keto diet appears to lower blood sugar so many wrongly believe it can cure diabetes. The high fat diet can actually make carbohydrate intolerance worse.

  • Flagrant use of processed meat is a serious risk to the colon. The World Health Organization has declared that diets with an increased intake of processed meats and a decrease in fiber as “carcinogenic to humans.”
  • Hair loss. This is a common complaint of keto dieters, most likely due to compromised micronutrients.
  • Too restrictive for most. People diet alone, but eat as a family. Highly restrictive diets are not very sustainable, and unfortunately rebound weight gain is very common.

Take the best of these diets by limiting your simple carbohydrates, but aim for 30 grams of fiber a day by increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, nuts, seeds and beans.

More Movement

Any length of workout, even just a walk around the block, can counteract stress hormones and set off a cascade of benefits for body and mind. Exercise sessions do not need to be heroic. Taking short walks throughout your day is one of the best ways to keep your energy, creativity, and problem-solving ability flowing. Early morning workouts start your day with a victory lap that can give you the forward momentum to take on the challenges of the day more thoughtfully and productively. Our human bodies were designed to move – not to sit and type all day!

Digital Detox:

We know that the statistics are alarming regarding the use of our digital devices, with the average person checking their smartphone more than 200 times a day. It is a difficult habit to break, because technology lures us with the same unpredictable pattern of rewards as a slot machine. Multi-tasking and constantly being interrupted by devices take its toll on our productivity and only trains our minds to be more scatter-brained. It’s impossible to unplug, but can we consider how we might minimize the temptation to constantly check our phones? It might be deleting our Twitter account or simply limiting our social media accounts to one device. Leaving our cell phone in our purse or briefcase in the back seat while driving can minimize distractions and keep us aware of our surroundings. Establishing device-free times in our day can help us and our loved ones be less stressed, distracted, and most importantly, freer to truly connect in meaningful ways.

More peace, less stress:

Never underestimate the power of a few deep breaths as you move through your day. Deep breathing can reset our nervous system to one that is calm and more focused. Meditation can be done anywhere: on your commute, for five minutes at your desk, or while waiting at a stop light. Trouble sleeping? Meditation is a proven tool to help us fall asleep or return to sleep.

Paving the way with daily positive routines and rituals can help us invest in the heart of our own health, allowing us the ability to balance our self-care with thoughtful care for others.

Happy (and healthy) New Year!


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