April Showers bring May Flowers

rain drops on a blue flowerHumane Society of Nashua LogoThis April Catalyst Chiropractic will be showering the Nashua area with service. To kick off the month we are starting with the Humane Society of Greater Nashua.

If your non-profit could use an extra set of hands, contact Alex and we’ll see if we can help out.

It’s the time of year for Spring Cleaning. While you’re cleaning out your closets and basements, take a moment to stop and think about the Humane Society of Greater Nashua. The Humane Society is always in need of blankets, sheets, and towels for their animals waiting for their forever homes. Feel free to drop them off at our office and we’ll take care of delivery.

The Humane Society of Greater Nashua was recently named Non Profit of the Year at the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce Eminence awards. Everyone knows that the HSFN provides temporary homes to pets who are looking for people just like you. Were you aware that they also offer low cost veterinary services to the community as well? Plus dog training!

Dog sticking head out of blanket

Catalyst Chiropractic is collecting your unwanted towels, blankets, and linens for the HSFN. Give a dog or cat a warm place to sleep while they search for their forever home. To you it’s just an unwanted beach towel from 1994, but to a future beloved pet it might mean the world.

Nominated for Small Business of the Year

Small Business Nomination Award Catalyst Chiropractic was nominated for Small Business of the Year in the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce 15th Annual Eminence Awards. While we didn’t win, it was an honor to be nominated and we’re glad to have shared the room with wonderful organizations such as, The Greater Nashua Humane Society, The Great American Downtown, and LaBelle Winery.


Congratulations to all the nominees and winners. We enjoyed the luncheon at Sky Meadow Country Club and learned quite about about the Farm to Table movement here in Nashua and Farmer’s Dinner. Check out Grow Nashua here in town and find out what they are doing to promote health with local fresh vegetables.
We were nominated for our unique expertise in the field, and for our dedication to our patients. Book a New Patient Appointment with us, and experience it for yourself.

YMCA Octagon Lunch Circuit Class: Review

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this review because I enjoy this class and it has a 10 person limit. On Mondays when you would think the gym would be starting to empty the class hit that limit and more. Wednesday’s class doesn’t get as full.

Octagon equipment at the YThe flip side of this is if the class is popular, then maybe it will be offered more often.

The class is 45 minutes long and consists of up to 10 stations per round. If the class is full, then it’s 3 rounds. On the day in which it was just the two of us, it was 9+ rounds. Each round start with a runner who runs 1 lap around the track (9 laps per mile), expect for a few of the faster runners, they do 2 laps and sometimes the runner walks a half lap (depending on their limitations). They act as the timer, during that time you do the exercise station you are at until the runner returns. Then everyone moves up a station, the next person runs, and the class continues until everyone has done each station.

This class works multiple region of the body, and alternates between exercises using resistance techniques, free weights, or your own body weight. Modification of an exercise is an option if there is a limitation, and there is no pressure to push yourself until injury. There is encouragement to try a little harder, to do 1 more rep, but encouragement is not pressure. We all started at a different level of fitness, a different levels of ability, and we all have our own goals.

Dr. Johanna’s Goals: My goals for this class are to cross train to enhance my running ability, and to increase my speed. I’m training to run Gate City marathon this year and cross training is often forgotten when trying to run 4 times a week. I’ll be honest I do not push myself as hard as I could at the class, but one day a week I am doing this class and running 3-4 miles. I prefer a slow gradual improvement with minimal risk on injury and I know patients would prefer I stay injury free as well. The strength work is hard but is getting better.  The stretching we do at the end is a good start, but honestly if you are taking this class plan to spend 5-10 mins after class stretching or foam rolling.

Alex’s Goals: My primary goal is to be healthier, to that end I’m exercising in this class to improve my stamina and lose some unwanted pounds.  Plus, I enjoy working out in groups.  I tend to get bored if I’m alone at the gym and work out less.  Having a class to attend, gives me accountability. Having an instructor picking the routines, also gets me doing exercises I wouldn’t normally do if the choice was up to me. 

Overall this is a good whole body workout class that works on strength and is small enough to get some personal attention when you need it for form or modification. After 4 weeks of the class, we have both learned new exercises we can do at home to continue the forward momentum.

You can learn more about class and other at the YMCA. If you have a gym or host an exercise class you would like us to review, please contact the office and we’ll do our best to accommodate.

Meal Planning and You

plated meal with vegetablesMeal planning made easy

I’m going to tell you about our families’ weekly meal plan, to make it easy for you to create your own. Our plan is not designed for weight loss, or for the treatment of disease, it’s a plan that works for us. We created this plan to help get ourselves off of the hamster wheel of “What do we make for dinner?” To automate a daily task and while leave room for creativity, save time and make shopping more efficient.

What do you need? If you copy what we do, you’ll want a good crock pot, a pan with metal grate or cooking cooling rack, a good frying pan(we love our cast iron pans), and freezer bags. Likely you’ll need more kitchen equipment, but unless this is your first time cooking at home, you’ll likely have most of the equipment.

Now you need to think for a moment, grab a notepad and jot down the 3-6 meals you always cook. The old standbys, the comfort items, and the ones you buy for every week even if you don’t have plans to make it. In our house those meals are: easy stir fry, tacos, rice beans and sausage, roasted chicken breasts, and crock pot pork roast.hand writing in journal

Next I want you to look at your weekly schedule, what are your busy days? Which days are you likely to get take-out food or delivery? Our two difficult days are Mondays and Tuesdays, we find in those evening when we get home we don’t want to cook and even the process of thinking about what to cook takes entirely too long.

Now to combine this information. Which of your regular meals cook quick with minimal prep? Crock pot meals are also low prep and tend to be ready and waiting for you when you walk in the door.

Here is our plan (consider it a sample) as you’ll need to make your own. You can use our example list to frame out your own family schedule and needs.

Monday: Rice, beans, and sausage. Minimal prep, and cooks quick.
Move a frozen crock pot meal from freezer to fridge.

Tuesday: Crock Pot Meal. In the morning, pour now thawed freezer meal into crock pot, set to hot/warm (your crockpot settings may vary), maybe add some fresh garlic or additional veggies. Done. At dinner time, possibly steam up some veggies, or serve with leftover rice. Depending on meal.
Move chicken if frozen from freezer to fridge to thaw. If already thawed consider marinating.

Wednesday: Cook the chicken meal, maybe steam some veggies, or perhaps cook it all up as a stir fry.
Move the ground beef from freezer to fridge.burrito

Thursday: Tacos!! Which in our house means spiced pan cooked ground beef served with taco fixings or just over salad. Always a favorite with our kids, most likely due to the lack of forks.

Friday: Leftovers. Everyone gets something different to use up all the leftovers in the fridge. We also evaluate what we have left and consider creating casseroles to freeze for later use.

Saturday and Sunday: Unplanned. This is when we roast whole chickens, grill steak and prepare the more time consuming meals.

Now for the hidden prep, let’s face it, many published meal plans, including ours, assume a level of prep has already happened, it just didn’t have to happen in the evening.

Meat Prep: We look for sales on cuts and types of meats that we like; and we buy more than we need for the night or the week. Then we package them up in freezer bags, with a complimenting marinade and freeze. If you don’t want to try to create your own marinade, there are plenty of products on the market that you can purchase. Due to food sensitives we look to avoid marinades that include high fructose corn syrup, yeast extract, dairy, and gluten. Our current “go to” choices are Kraft Italian Dressing, and Market Baskets organic Italian dressing. If you are trying for a low salt diet, be careful with buying pre-made marinades, check the sodium content.

Sausage: On Sunday we cook up a whole tray of sausage links in the oven on a grate with a cookie sheet. Often cookie sheets are sold with a cooling rack as a combination package. Our simple recipe is lay sausage links on grate on sheet, puncture the sausage with several small holes each so the fat can escape, and cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until they are done. Once cooked and slightly cooled they go into a bag in the fridge to be cut up or re-heated as needed for recipes throughout the week. As we eat lunch at home, these are easy to put into a lunch. This also means sausage for Monday’s meal is already cooked and most of the work is done.

There you have it, our family meal plan. If you’re looking to simplify your dinner habits, it’s a great basic frame work to get started. Of course your personal taste preferences can alter the plan as needed and desired. But once you get started, you’ll save a lot of time and effort that’s for sure.

Where Do We Go From Here

Welcome listeners of Where Do We Go From Here with Vera EhmannStack of flat rocks, balanced but tilted.

In the episode I ended with some exercises you can do to help improve your spinal health. As with any exercise routine, if this hurts contact your healthcare professional for evaluation and care.

PDF of Exercises

This blog contains many brief articles regarding health that you can benefit from without being a patient of the office.

Brain Health and Exercise

The Uncomfortable Reality of Quitting Smoking.

How to Rehab an ankle, “that always seems to sprain.”

Championship Baseball in Nashua

For the 2017 Season, Catalyst Chiropractic is a proud sponsor of the Nashua Silver Knights.  We’ve hit a few games already this season, and we’re looking forward to hitting more.  Have you seen historic Holman Stadium?  In 2016 our family became Silver Knights fans, we got to experience the park, meet members of the team and the management.  Plus, they won the championship, an exciting end to an exciting season. Great folks all around, winner of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award, and a great night out here in Downtown Nashua.

If you’ve not been to a Silver Knights game, here are some quick tips from us.

Parking is free, and only a short walk from the main gate.  I repeat, parking is free.  You did not imagine that, parking is free.  Lets see any other major sporting venue have that as a perk. I prefer to park near the tennis courts so that my exit time is quicker at the end of the game.  

Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office. If you decide at last minute to attend make sure you check what special event is going on at the park that day, because you might be able to get a discounted ticket.  Speaking of last minute, don’t worry about seats, you’ll have good seats, all the seats are good. There isn’t an overhanging roof or upper deck seats needing support columns that block your view.  This also allows for a lovely breeze on warm evenings. Every Sunday the Silver Knights accept canned goods for a local soup kitchen and you’ll get a reduced ticket price for your donation.  Monday and Wednesday night games, children get in free with a Sterling’s Kids Club card.

When you walk into the park, take a moment to read some of the many plaques about the parks history.  You may be surprised by some of the history that is here in downtown Nashua.

Have your kids check in with the Silver Knights Interns at the tent by the gate to the park, as they schedule on field games every inning on the first or third base lines.  Are You Smarter than a Silver Knight, Plinko for prizes, Shoe Toss, and even Simon Says.  The on field announcer, The Duffman, introduces the kids and gives commentary during the games.  He’s really great at getting the crowd excited and cheering the kids on.  Let’s face it, the games are fun but the real thrill for our kids is getting to walk onto the field and “be a part of the action”.

Pick up a color program at the merchandise stand as you walk in.  It is always interesting to see which college the players attend, and where they grew up.  The league has rules about what percentage of its players need to be from New England schools.  Plus its always fun to find out a kid from your home town is playing ball on the field. In the walkway heading towards the first base concessions stand, there is a plaque listing the names of Silver Knights who’ve been drafted into Major League Baseball.  15 Knights in total, 5 new ones this season alone.  That’s exciting news from a local team!

Do you like fireworks?  Well after every Friday night home game, there are fireworks.  Not a few pops that sparkle, but a full scale fireworks show.  What has more explosive excitement than fireworks?  Running the bases that’s what!  Kids get to run the bases at the end of every home game.  How cool is that?  Best way to prepare is when the Silver Knights are winning, go to the third base field entrance around the 1st out at the top of the ninth. Speaking of third base, the Knights have revamped their Third Base side Kids Area.  Tokens to play games or bounce in the bouncy houses are $1 each, or 12 for $10.  Get the kids to run off the pre game excitement so they’ll sit still for a few innings.

Cowbells!  There is a spectator in section 103 near section 104 at nearly every game.  They are selling cowbells for charity.  The cowbells are under $10 and fun to cheer on the team with.  Or in the case of small children great for teaching when to cheer and not to cheer during a baseball game (Note, not for the visiting team).  

It’s always a challenge taking two small kids to a public restroom, especially at a sporting event.  Holman Stadium has two clearly marked, accessible rest rooms right on the main concourse.  Clean, well lit, and not far from the field, so you don’t miss any of the game.

Many foul balls go out around the back of section 208 and 201.  Expect half way through the game a small collection of children will be there chasing after the balls.  Anyone who returns a foul ball to the home plate or first base concessions stand, gets either a free candy bar or a free box of popcorn.  Speaking of concessions, all of your ball park favorites are there. Fried dough, 603 Ale, sausage and pepper subs all available on the main concourse.  The Dragon Slayer Tavern does drink specials before the game, and during Thursday night home games they host “Meet the Brewer” with local breweries.  Check out the Silver Knights 2017 Mug Club offer for more exclusive deals.

Sports Stars benefit from Chiropractic Care, but care shouldn’t be just for them.  Catalyst Chiropractic sponsors the defending local champions!

You may not be trying to hit the ball over the outfield wall, but what about improving your golf swing?  Who wants to pull a muscle in the shoulder as they reel in that big bass? How about a fun day at the park with your grandkids without hesitation? Catalyst Chiropractic focuses on Neurostructural Integration. Find out if a neurostructural shift is getting in the way of enjoying fun summer activities. 

Join Our Email List and get a copy of Strengthening the Rotator Cuff.

Schedule as a New Patient.

Brain Health and Exercise

While reading The Runner’s Brain to help with my half marathon training, I discovered some fantastic advice for every non-runner out there.

Getting active helps your brain. A study (1) completed in 2013 of seniors in their 70’s and 80’s with mild cognitive impairment, compared memory changes after 6 months of practicing different exercise activities.

The brisk walkers/jogging group had improvements in spatial memory and memory recall along with various language improvements. The weight lifters improved with spatial memory; and the group that did light stretching and toning lost some cognitive ground.


Cardiovascular exercise improves memory by triggering a brain growth protein that improves the health of current neurons and encourages the brain to make more.

How much exercise do I need?people walking, running and biking on a path in a park

Conveniently another study (2) answered that question, you want a minimum of 3 hours a week of sustained cardiovascular activity. Considering the American Heart Association recommends 30 mins of moderate intensity activity 5 days a week, add in a 6th day and you hit the 3 hour mark for the week. Brain and Heart health in a single activity.

There are plenty of places here in Nashua to get in those 30 minutes. Mine Falls offers shaded trails to enjoy the outdoors when it’s hot outside. Not far away there are the trails at Beaver Brook. Indoor options include many of the area gyms, all you need is access to a treadmill. The Nashua Senior Center has a fitness room available to members.

If you find that aches and pains are getting in the way of exercise, you might have a neurostructural shift. Focusing on Neurostructural Integration, Catalyst Chiropractic can help determine if you have a shift and create a specific plan to help improve your function so you can exercise and enjoy more of life’s activities.
Where are your favorite places to take a walk?

1) Alison Chan, Jennifer C Davis, Lindsey S. Nagamatsu, et al., “Physical Activity Improves Verbal and Spatial Memory in Older Adults with Probable Mild Cognitive Impairment: A 6-Month Randomized Controlled Trail,” Journal of Aging Research 2013 (2013), doi:110.1155/2013/861893
2) F.H. Gage, T. Shubert, H. van Praag, and C. Zhao, “Exercise Enhances Learning and Hippocampal Neurogenesis in Aged Mice,” The Journal of Neuroscience 25, no. 38 (2005), 8680-8685

The Uncomfortable Reality of Quitting Smoking.

hand holing lit cigaretteThis isn’t going to be another article about why you should quit, or the health risks to continuing to smoke. If you have read this far, you likely already know all that. If you don’t, click here.

Let’s be honest, quitting smoking is hard, and it’s more than just the addiction to nicotine. I know, because I’ve been there. I jumped over that hurdle in 2002. 15 years ago, and I’m the first to admit that I’m still drawn to it, and when I am around smokers I need to make a conscious choice to not smoke.

The most uncomfortable part of smoking for non-smokers to understand is that smoking is pleasurable. There I said it, we all have thought it, and uncomfortably denied it. Or only told ourselves, but smoking is enjoyable. Smoking might be your quiet alone time where you can separate yourselves from the group and in an almost meditative fashion let your mind wander as you repetitively bring the cigarette to your lips to inhale and exhale. In a way it has been for decades a socially acceptable way, for adults to walk away from a bad situation. To take a time out, to reassess before walking back in. Smoking might also be a social activity, less now I suspect than it was in the past. A common connection with strangers, where you are all located in a designated area.

Why do you need to be reminded as to why you enjoy smoking? Because to quit means to give that enjoyment up. To quit means to acknowledge and find new ways to cope with a stressful situation, a social situation, or if you want a moment to yourself. Your reason, your joy from smoking might be entirely different than any I listed above. Trust me, ask yourself and be honest with yourself about why you enjoy smoking.

Here are somethings that might be helpful.

  • Pick up a hand craft: knitting, or crocheting to replace a meditative movement with your hands.
    Learn a simple yoga routine or meditative breathing exercises.
  • Start taking walks. Go outside as you would to smoke, but don’t stop at the designated smoking area, start walking instead. Take a 5-10 minute walk.
  • Pick up a hobby. You are going to discover you have 30-60 minutes or more a day, time you used to dedicate to smoking. Enjoy it!

Now for the other part of quitting smoking, the other uncomfortable truth that no one discusses. The first week to several months after you quit, you are likely going to feel sick. Once you are no longer damaging your body with smoke, the body will start the cleaning and healing process. For some it might be minor, for others they may feel like they have a horrible chest cold. You may be tired as your nervous system is used to responding to nicotine and needs to re-balance to not having that stimuli. Drinking water, green tea, taking your AM/PM vitamins and of course regular neurostructural adjustments will help manage the symptoms.

Non-smokers, if you read all this and think maybe smoking isn’t so bad. Trust me, this is not an experience you need to do. Refer to the link in the first paragraph.

Group Strength Class at YMCA Review

This time we are going to do something a little different, Alex and I will review the class as we took it together.  Alex regularly takes a strength training class with the Octagon equipment, and I regularly run on a treadmill.

Friday 10:15am Group Strength with Meredith at Nashua YMCA

cartoon holding barbellJohanna’s Comments: I avoid weights, I’m always nervous that I’ll hurt myself if I do it wrong and I’ve studied enough about musculature,  to know all the ways I could get hurt. I love running(very slowly), so I knew this class would be a challenge to me. I selected the lightest possible weights with the opinion, I can use heavier ones next time.  I made the right call, as we did 100+ reps of some of the exercises. No region of muscles was missed.

When we showed up I asked the instructor what equipment we needed, it was obvious to me, that many of the people there had done the class before.  We grabbed a step board, yoga mat, pair of dumb bells(lots of weights available, I chose 3lbs each), bar bell, bar weights(I chose 2.75 & 5.5) and clips. Setting up over by the mirror was great, since I could check out my squat form. Meredith did a great job of calling out the different exercises and since there were so many reps, I was never really behind if I had to figure out what to do. She also gave the right amount of time and warning when we needed to change the weight on our barbell or switch equipment. There is a chance I was the most clueless of everyone n the class and I certainly did the least amount of weight(far less than the seniors in the class). Never did I notice anyone looking at me like I shouldn’t be there and Meredith encouraged us to come back.

This class was a lot of fun, extremely challenging and something I will do any, possibly weekly until it becomes easy. According to a friend the workout style is called Body Pump and I should expect to cry over climbing up stairs tomorrow.

Alex’s Comments: I like lifting weights, I find it to be a fun way to exercise, but I don’t really enjoy doing it alone.  It’s more satisfying, to have someone with you, to cheer you on, to spur you into that one last set, but that might be because I’m competitive, stubborn, and sarcastic. I lift once a week (more often than not I’ll get in a session once or twice a week on my own), in a class at the Y around the equipment called “The Octagon”.  We’ve been focusing on, form, heavier lifting, in 3 sets of 12 repetitions.  Accompanied by some cardio, some stretching, and resistance against our own body weight.  This Group Class, was as different to my Octagon class as sprinting is to a marathon.  In one hour, we do 9 sets of different exercises designed to improve strength and stamina.

Entering the class, our instructor asked us to grab a bar, and some weights.  I almost dropped the bar when I picked it up, because it weighed next to nothing.  I was expecting a 45lbs bar, not a bar best measured in ounces.  I grabbed my usual weight amounts, assuming that with the lighter bar they would be enough for a simple class.  Was I ever wrong.  After my first set of reps started, I counted until I hit 12, then we kept going.  Easily did 100 repetitions for each exercise grouping.  Some of them involved holding a pose with your arms extended for 30 seconds, was I ever glad that the bar didn’t weigh 45lbs.  30 seconds is a long time, even if you’re only at a third of your usual weight amounts.  I debated swapping my weights out, to be more in line with the rest of the class.  But, I’m stubborn.  I enjoyed the class, it was more cardio vascular exercise, with weights attached to your hands, than it was weight lifting.  Which made it challenging.  I’ll be back, because it was a different form of workout, and I’m too stubborn to quit.  Even if I hate planking.

Safe Snow Removal

How are you faring with the blizzard outside?

Here are 5 simple things you can do to reduce injury while clearing snow.

1. Hydrate! Water or herbal tea. It’s cold and it’s windy, you likely won’t sweat or feel it if you sweat. Even mild dehydration mixed with heavy physical activity can increase fatigue, and increase perceived effort. Snow removal is hard enough, why make it feel even harder?
2. Warm Up Exercises: Would you do a high intensity workout without a warm up? Shoveling or Snow Blowing are high intensity exercise. Before heading outside do one round of the pointer exercise.

Pointer: Start with hands and knees on the ground. Slowly raise the right leg and left arm. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Slowly bring them back to the floor and raise your left leg and right arm and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.


3. Traction: Does your footwear have traction? If not, do you have microspikes to add to them? It might be too late for this storm, but if you live in New Hampshire, it might not be a bad investment in having a pair with your winter gear. Be careful. Falls can cause more structural injuries than just simple bruises. Pulled muscles, out of alignment hips, and rotator cuff sprains.
4. Small Chunks: Don’t forget to take breaks, come inside, warm up, drink water, eat a healthy snack. The goal is to finish but there is no medal at the end to compete for. Remember, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
5. Stretch & Soak: Don’t forget post activity care. Stretch out areas that tightened up while working, soak in a hot tub with 1-3 cups of Epson salts, then stretch your legs, back and shoulders.