Health hacks, yeah there are a bunch of really bad ones out there, however, over the course of the past 20+ years Dr. Tyler Hamel has found a few to be true—true for his patients, true for his family and true for all mankind. Remember a health hack is by no means a quick fix. These health hacks are things you can do for the rest of your life, and you’ll continue to reap the benefits. Dr. Hamel has been a practicing chiropractic doctor and nutritionist in Kingwood, Texas for over 20 years, and this is what he has seen work not only for him, but his patients as well. This is a numbered list, but they are all very important, which is why you will see #1 next to all of them. Dr. Hamel believes that people need to hear these, and ideally implement them into their daily lives. There are just too many people in poor health, and we need to do something.
6 Health Hacks To Improve Your Life And Energy
Due to the fact that we have so much postural stress, there is a need to balance that out with consistent exercises to improve your posture. With all of these health hacks you will notice the word “consistent” a lot, as it will become part of your daily life. Most folks working from home or in the office are on a computer 4-10 hours per day. The human body was never meant to adapt to that kind of postural stress.
So, what can we do to balance out this stress and compression? A lot of you out there with neck and back pain from sitting too much often describe the pain in the spine as feeling like it is compressed. The simplest way to think about it, by slouching forward, the pressure in your spine and muscle is increased 2, 3, even 4-fold from sitting up straight. Yikes, that sounds like a lot, but it’s true! When sitting up straight you have about 10-12 pounds of pressure on your neck, back and the surrounding muscles. When your head moves 3 inches forward you now have about 47 pounds of pressure on those same areas. So how long can the spine handle that much stress? For some it’s only a couple of months, for others it can be a few years, but eventually the person will get neck pain, back pain, headaches, Sciatica, or all of the above.
The key to posture exercises is to strengthen the midback muscles, which shut off with too much postural stress, and stretch out the neck flexors and pec muscles. It sounds simple, and it is, and this will help restore the curve in your neck and get you sitting up straight again. Due to the fact that we are on computers and slouching for 4-10 hours a day, Dr. Hamel recommends doing some simple postural exercises every hour. It only takes about 2.5 minutes, and that’s it. Remember that your posture doesn’t get bad overnight, so it does take some time to correct it. Invest 2.5 minutes to postural exercises every hour and your neck, back, muscles, nerves and discs will be forever grateful.
Why make this category any harder than it needs to be? If you Google diet right now there will be hundreds of results that come up—anything from paleo, keto, Atkins, vegan, Mediterranean, low fat, no fat, high fat, fodmap, gluten free and more. No need to even call it a diet. When you have the word die in there, people never really give it a chance. Dr. Hamel has experimented over the past 20 years to find the best nutritional plan, and a big key is to find something you can stick with; if it is too restrictive, there is no way you are going to stay committed. The facts are that over 90% of diets fail. Is it the diet, is it the person, is it too complicated or too difficult? It could be all of the above. Dr. Hamel says that a 10% success rate is pretty darn sad. This means people are spending billions of dollars every year and seeing no results.
Dr. Hamel uses the KISS principle, (keep it simple Sally or Stephen). Just eat real food and in moderate portions. Real food means protein from fish, meats, beans, quinoa, good fats from nuts, avocados, meats, fish, butter, and olive oil, and good carbs from sweet potatos, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. It’s important to stay away from processed foods and sugars because these are never good for you, ever. If you want something a little tougher to follow, then just eat less than 100 grams of carbs per day. Dr. Hamel insists that over 1/2 the chronic health problems would go away today if we could keep our blood sugar regulated at the right level. For all of you blood test followers, keep your triglycerides under 100, your glucose under 100, and your hemoglobin a1c below 5.8. If you are not eating too much sugar, fructose or any other form of sweets, your blood markers will probably be good. Whatever the food plan is, don’t make it too complicated or hard to follow because you are almost guaranteed to not sick with it.
The Foam Roller
When it comes to tight muscles, we all have them. Postural stress is the number one culprit, but you can also add in physical work, exercise, golf, tennis, cross-fit and more. These all cause significant stress and compression on your spine, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. The foam roller allows you to release a number of different muscle groups and joints such as the spine, the gluteals, IT Band, quads, hip flexors, rotator cuff muscles, hamstrings, calves and more. This is important because unless you can afford to go to a massage therapist every day you will want to have something you can access at home. Yes, it is supposed to hurt that bad, says Dr. Hamel, when you first start to roll out your muscle, (especially the IT Band), you are breaking down the muscle and improving blood and nerve flow. This is just plain uncomfortable and there is no way around it. Keep it up daily for a while and it will get easier, not only that, the extra pressure released from the muscles and joints will make you a lot more active and happier.
How often throughout the day do you get a chance to relax, breathe and just think about nothing? If you ask this question to the general population, they will say, what do you mean relax, who has time for that? We have a million things and thoughts running through our minds; it’s just the way life is right now. Everyone is trying to get as much done as they can, constantly answering texts and emails almost 24/7. For most Houstonians the quietness or stillness of the mind ends when they wake up and immediately check their phones. It sounds crazy but it is true with over 50% of people; the first thing they do when they wake up is check their phone—and the anxiety begins.
When you first start to meditate, Dr. Hamel says your mind will have a hard time with it. Many thoughts will come into the mind and try to distract you. Try starting with just 10 minutes a day; there are many different types of meditation, including guided and unguided, so just choose one that works for you. As someone who has now meditated for years, Dr. Hamel recommends meditating in the morning when not too much is going on. Most people can afford 10 minutes in the morning, but once the family gets up and gets moving it is almost impossible. When meditating you can purposely hold some kind of intention while doing it, whether that be kindness, be grateful, having a great day at work, connecting better with colleagues or friends—just keep it simple. Most people report having much better energy and clarity for the rest of the day after meditation.
Shocking the body is a good thing, as long as it is safe. Let’s talk about heat first, because most people can handle this one; increasing your body temperature, metabolism and sweating are all positive for the body. Sweating whether you are in a sauna, exercising outside in Houston, or even doing cardio in the gym, is one of the best forms of detox. Ice baths or even cold showers are another great way to shock the body. For your shower, turn the water colder and colder for the last 3 minutes; don’t worry you will get used to it. The benefits of cold water are many, including hormone reset, energy boost, metabolism boost, decreased inflammation and overall brain clarity. People have used ice baths and sweat lodges for hundreds if not thousands of years—why mess up a good thing?
Massage / Chiropractic /Acupuncture
A number of the above mentioned hacks can help reduce stress in the body. If you want to decompress or destress even more, you can choose massage, chiropractic or acupuncture. These therapies have been around for centuries, so there must be something to them. Massage deals with muscles, chiropractic helps balance the spine, posture and nervous system, and acupuncture helps remove energy blocks from the body. Pick what works for you and invest in something that is going to take care of your health. Destressing always
improves someone’s health.
These are all great health hacks that will improve your life and energy in 2021. Try one first and then slowly add the other hacks in as you get to the end of the year. Remember, a habit takes a good 30 days to form, so be patient, be disciplined, and do not be too hard on yourself.
These health hacks are not quick-fix health remedies. If you are in the camp of quick-fix, change your mindset to one of investing in your health over the long run. The longer you implement these health hacks to help improve your life and energy in 2021, the more results and wins you will see.