The Limitations of Mobility

iStock_foamrollersmallAmong CrossFitters and athletes, “mobility” has become all the rage.

The general idea is to systematically and specifically mobilize, or loosen areas of restriction with an attempt to find the root cause of movement dysfunction. Mobility combines stretching with tools like foam rollers, lacrosse balls and large rubber bands for purported improvements in functional movement.

I’m actually a fan, when properly applied. But this post is about where the usefulness of mobility ends, and what to do when we get there. Because “just mobilize it” has its limitations. In fact, I will argue that mobility is only one part of root cause analysis when it comes to identifying and fixing movement faults. (Just as I did when I positively reviewed Becoming A Supple Leopard!)

From the outset, I want to point out that this piece will be read by a diverse group of people. From exercise enthusiasts with no scientific training or background what-so-ever, to the most seasoned and trained chiropractors, physical therapists and coaches. Satisfying both groups with an article of this kind is next to impossible. If I go too heavy on the science, I lose the first group, and if I skirt sound principles and verbiage altogether, I make a fool of myself in front of the latter.

So I ask kindly that you bear with me as I navigate those tricky waters.

There’s no such thing as a “tight” muscle
Muscle tone is controlled by a complex combination of feedback and communication between the body and the central nervous system (CNS). There are proprioceptors, mechanoreceptors and other devices that sense your body’s environment and send that (sensory) information back to the CNS. Then there is the efferent (motor control) information from the CNS to the muscle. Thus, the tone of any given muscle at any given time is automatically determined by the ebb and flow of this feedback loop.

For more on proprioception, please check my post “Your Shoes Are Starving Your Brain.”

So when someone has “tight” hamstrings, the appropriate response should not be “just mobilize it.” Anyone who’s had this issue for a long time will tell you, they stretch and stretch and it rarely gets any better. The appropriate question is; “why is the body up-regulating tone to these muscles, causing them to shorten and feel tight?”

Instead of “tight”, think of muscle as being facilitated. Facilitation means the body is automatically increasing tone (also shortened muscle length) for a purpose. We could also call this presentation hypertonicity. Many times the body is initially responding to an environment that requires stability and rigidity. However, this hypertonicity becomes problematic when it becomes chronic.

Secondarily, this chronic muscle facilitation is made worse by our physiologically incongruent environmental input. To be plain – we sit too damn much. From the age of 5 we start school and don’t stand up or squat fully for another 16 years. I doubt I need to get on my “sitting is the new smoking” soapbox. But it’s true.

There’s no such thing as a “weak” muscle (sort of)
Too many patients have blamed injuries and movement faults on just needing to strengthen a certain muscle group.

The flip side of the facilitation coin is inhibition. If a muscle is neurologically inhibited (or shut off), then no matter how strong an athlete is, the biomechanics will be unsound and prone to injury. These inhibitions are caused from a number of different things. Past injuries, repetitive motion, biomechanical faults, and inactivity – just to name a few.

Ever sprained an ankle? Had a concussion? Fell down stairs as a kid? The list is endless. All of which can leave us with neurologic imbalances, compensatory problems and improper force absorption.

Take IT-Band (ITB) tendonitis for example. The ITB feels tight. And it is hypertonic. But it is secondary to the real problem which is often a neurologically inhibited gluteal muscle group. You can foam roll the hell out that ITB, but until your get your hip muscles firing properly, you’re probably just causing yourself unnecessary pain.

What to do?
First recognize that you can stretch and mobilize forever, but if the CNS is facilitating or inhibiting muscle tone, it’s not going to be very effective.

What I find most effective is to address the neuro-motor control element in conjunction with condition specific mobilizations. To reiterate – many times the thing that feels like it needs to be mobilized isn’t the problem at all.

I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with that have frustratingly stretched a known movement limitation, only to get nowhere. “I stretch and roll out my hamstrings and low back everyday, but they’re still tight!”

There’s that word again.

One more example
In CrossFit, and Olympic lifting, the most common problem I see is shoulder pain, immobility and/or fixation in overhead squat/snatch position.

There is no way I can get into every detail of this complex problem in a mere blog post. But to be clear – it is much more complex than a generalized band & lacrosse ball mobility protocol will solve. The one problem I want to highlight is the role of the subscapularis muscle in this position. In addition to being a powerful internal rotator of the arm, the subscapularis, when properly firing, also has the task of stabilizing the gleno-humeral joint (shoulder ball & socket) in overhead position. In fact, it has the unenviable task of keeping the ball from migrating to far superior (up) and impinging on the socket in overhead reaching. (See diagram of Rotator Cuff Muscles).Rotator Cuff

We used to call this swimmer’s shoulder. Many swimmers and triathletes present with pain on the top of the shoulder. It presents as a classic impingement of the supraspinatus tendon due to a neurologically inhibited subscapularis. And this is exactly what I’ve seen in CrossFitters galore. Like whoa!

So the question follows: Will mobilizing the shoulder fix the pain and impingement?


You must FIRST get the body to recognize that the subscapularis is not firing properly, and fix that motor control problem.


You come see me, or one of the many wonderful providers out there that also understand these principles.


I’m sure you were hoping for some easy self care take home point. But there are some things I just can’t teach you to do yourself. I can’t teach you how to do a specific neurological check, render the appropriate treatment and evaluate the efficacy of that treatment.

That’s what I’ve spent 15 years learning (and continuing to learn) how to do. In my office I assess, detect and correct the neurological imbalances that are causing improper muscle tone and faulty movement patterns.

Then and only then will I prescribe the appropriate mobility exercises for any residual restrictions.

In my opinion, anything else is putting the cart before the horse, chasing the wind and throwing mobility darts.

Feedback: Do you have a long standing movement fault that hasn’t responded well to mobility/stretching?

Yours in health signature

Recipe: Piña Colada Triple Threat Protein Shake

pina col 3I cook. I swear. I actually enjoy working in the kitchen. And if you follow me on Instagram, you can see I can hold my own.

But ironically, this is my first recipe post ever and it’s a shake! Before I spell it all out I want to address the topic of real food vs. shakes and other items. From a paleo perspective, the ideal is to achieve nutrient sufficiency from real, unprocessed foods that are congruent with our physiology and genetics. But in our modern world, ideal and real often converge into a “do the best you can” mentality. Which I think is totally appropriate.

The goal then is to feed ourselves the best we can and fill in the gaps where appropriate, using supportive and non-harmful products.

Enter something like a shake. You’ve just crushed a workout, or maybe you’re in a pinch for time in the morning before work and cooking a full blown meal isn’t going to happen. Now what? Now, you do your best. You hopefully have stocked your pantry with some items like 100% grass fed whey protein powder, fruit, gelatin, coconut milk, MCT oil, etc and you can make a quick, healthy choice.

NOTE: I’m going to reference the excellent supplemental products from Calton Nutrition – please go read a full review in my last post before proceeding! The “Triple Threat” is using all three of their products in one shake. Also note, Nutreince is not supposed to be mixed with food, as it can hinder their patented anti-competition technology. For this recipe, I make a small exception in order to get that classic & epic taste :)

Recipe: “Triple Threat Piña Colada”
–> 1 scoop In.Power Whey Protein powder
–> 1 Tsp SkinnyFat MCT oil
–> 1 packet Citrus Splash Nutreince am
–> 5 Chunks frozen pineapple
–> Splash of Coconut milk
–> 6-8 oz water
–> Crushed Ice
–> Blend it to your desired consistency (I use a magic bullet)

Yours in health signature

Supplementation Series: Calton Nutrition


To Supplement, or Not to Supplement: That is the Question

As a practicing Chiropractor, one of the most common questions I am asked about is supplementation. I’m inherently skeptical, and as such I vet any product I recommend substantially. I want to know that the product is well sourced, that it’s clean and that its efficacy claims are based in science.

This ultimately leads to me not carrying or recommending many products. Because most are crap. Most are not well absorbed, poorly sourced and inadequately studied. If you listen to headlines, supplementation is a big waste of money. And if you’re using cheap, over the counter products, I totally agree.

However, there is a problem. Our modern diet, depleted soil, and stressful lives create micronutrient deficiency. I don’t care how well you eat, you’re missing something.

In this “Supplementation Series,” I’ll be exploring and reviewing a few products I love and recommend. I’m starting with a line from my friends Dr. Jason & Mira Calton of Calton Nutrition. I had the good fortune of spending a lot of time with them while on the Low Carb Cruise this year.

They are the best selling authors of Naked Calories and Rich Food, Poor Food. In the healthy food community, they’re best known for being micronutrient experts. If you want to learn more about micronutrient sufficiency I’d highly recommend starting  with their Naked Calories book. If you’re more interested in learning how to shop better, check out Rich Food, Poor Food which acts as a aisle by aisle grocery guide toward better food choices.

But beyond writing, they’ve been hard at work creating some of the best supplemental products I’ve come across. Their first offering was Nutreince – a ground breaking micronutrient supplement.

What sets Nutreince apart? In my opinion, it’s 3 fold.
1. Absorption – a powdered form that you mix with water for maximum absorption. Did you know that the majority of capsules and tablets pass right through our digestive system without being adequately absorbed?
2. Anti-Competition – there is no other product that I know of that separates micronutrients to remove competition. Most people don’t realize that vitamins and minerals often compete for binding sites, and thus when brands lump all of them together, they are not as well absorbed. Nutreince is separated into AM / PM doses.
3. Source – The Caltons have painstakingly sought out 100% organic real food sources for their supplement.

Nutreince comes in a couple different versions. They have multiple flavors and some sweetened with stevia as well as a natural, unsweetened version. I personally don’t care for stevia. I can tolerate the natural in a quick drink with no problem. One of the things Diane and I have tried successfully is mixing one natural AM packet with one flavored/sweetened AM packet. It cuts the sweetness down for me, but masks the vitamin taste many people find off putting.

(If you’re wondering how your product stacks up – check out this comparison chart!)

skinnyfat bottles_background_2The Caltons next addressed the vast potential and health benefits of MCT oil with their Skinny Fat products. There is a MCT/Coconut oil blend and a MCT/Olive oil blend. They’re great for adding in some clean fat calories, making salad dressings, adding to shakes, cooking, etc. They come in beautiful 750 ml blue bottles to protect the integrity of the oil for about $20 / bottle.



milkeshake_inpowerLastly, their newest offering is their 100% grass fed, organic, non-GMO whey protein called In.Power. I freaking love this stuff. It’s SUPER clean, which you probably know is really hard to find in protein powder land. At about $30 / lbs., you can’t get any better.

Right now, my favorite way to take all of these at once is:

Triple Threat Breakfast Recipe
-1 scoop In.Power
-1 TSP Skinny Fat (coconut)
-1 Nutreince (chocolate flavored)
-Splash of Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee
-Crushed ice and water
Directions: Mix them all in a blender or magic bullet and go crush life!

What I love about the Caltons is that they are so passionate and obsessive about quality. To ensure their In Power is 100% organic, non-GMO and grass-fed, they secured sourcing from a local farm supplier. Same goes for components of the Nutreince.

For me personally, as an athlete with active job and lifestyle, I’ve found that adding these products to my routine has improved my energy, mood, skin, hair and nail health and most importantly – quality of sleep! I wake up feeling amazing instead of groggy.

I’m not a huge supplement pusher. But when I find something I like that is this high in quality, backed in science, and priced right – I get on board!

How about you?

Yours in Health,
Dr. Scott

As a way to say thank you to the Caltons and my fans, I’m giving away a bag of In.Power! Enter using the Rafflecopter link/form.
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Affiliate reminder: As an affiliate member of this product, I make a small percentage of any purchase through the links contained on this site.

Food and The Problem With Labels

Are your Paleo? Primal? WAPF? Pescetarian? Vegetarian? Vegan?
Are you pro-dairy? Or do you avoid it?
Are you gluten-free? Grain-free?

Personal Paleo CodeI’ve never cared much for labels, to be honest. They never tell the whole story. And they certainly don’t encapsulate all of the beautiful mess we call the individual. But it seems the overwhelming majority of humans have an underlying need to put things in one camp or the other. We’re much more comfortable knowing exactly where someone stands on an issue, putting them in that box and moving on to the next one. Maybe it is how our brains work – data storage according to label in order to keep it organized. But I digress…

I say all of this to raise a question. When it comes to deciding what to eat, is this binary thinking helpful?

Binary Thinking:
Placing absolute categorical labels like “good/bad”, “right/wrong”, or ‘yes/no” on things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the “Everything in Moderation Myth.” Because there is no such thing as moderation for a person who is celiac, sensitive or intolerant to gluten, for example.

I identify myself as Paleo. And I teach Paleo as an appropriate, healthy starting template for almost everyone. I do this mostly because the audience that I engage with knows that term and I know that eating real food will help the vast majority of humans.

However, I don’t eat the strict definition of Paleo. And I don’t think everyone needs to.

Let me explain. If someone comes to me with a health problem (which is highly likely given my profession), I can say with some level of certainty that their overall health (and thus current complaint) would be greatly improved with a Paleo approach to eating. Think about this logically: if someone simply eats real whole food, ditches processed junk, sugar and associated chemicals – they will be healthier. No question. Now take the percentage of folks who are also sensitive to gluten (or the % that don’t tolerate soy, dairy, etc) and remove that insult. That group of folks will feel amazing on Paleo. Just go read the reviews of Practical Paleo at Amazon. They sound like miracles. And for them, Paleo is miraculous!

You can see how this template, that increases micronutrient sufficiency and removes common causes of inflammation, auto-immunity and blood sugar dysregulation would help a lot of people.

But do we really thrive on a structured list of Yes/No foods alone?

Here’s the deal. I love corn tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa, not to mention a really good fish taco. I eat rice a few times per month, usually with Thai food or sushi. I like goat cheese on…well just about anything. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the main issue with the corn tortillas is the seed oils used to cook them. Oxidized, industrial seed oils are something I mostly avoid and teach others to do the same. So am I a hypocrite? (Hey – another label!)

Strictly speaking, yes.

But this is where I am at in my own health journey. I’m also always on the lookout for better alternatives like the plantain chips cooked in coconut oil we found in Whole Foods recently. So good! Anyway – my point is that if we get so hung up on labeling ourselves something like ‘strict paleo’, it can really stress us out. So which is healthier: ‘Strict-Paleo-Stressed-Out Guy’ or ‘Occasional-Corn-Chip-Mostly-Whole-Foods-Happy Guy?’

I know for many people just starting out, sticking to “the rules” is important. It’s true that some corn here and a little rice there could really trip someone up mentally and physically. This is especially true if they are trying to overcome serious health issues. But for me, I tolerate these non-paleo foods quite well. I don’t view them as cheats, treats, or slip-ups. I just know my body really well. I also know that I eat a lot more carbs and calories than most people. Why? Because I have a very physical job and a workout load that requires a lot of fuel.

Laura of Ancestralize Me recently posted on FB about her own food intake that includes sprouted and fermented grains and lentils. Kudos to her for braving the potential onslaught of people who want to label eating habits and blindly cling to dogma.



Actually, many people supported her honesty. And that brings me to my point. Instead of worrying about putting people and food into categories, I’d much rather we devote that time and energy into figuring out what works best for each individual.

Thankfully, Chris Kresser’s book Your Personal Paleo Code is a wonderful new resource to do just that. I’m not going to do an exhaustive review of the book here. There are plenty of good ones already out there. I will say that having the pleasure to hang out with Chris a little over the last year that he’s a great guy, a passionate educator and gifted clinical mind. So when his book came out, it was on my insta-must read list.

He didn’t disappoint. And I believe his take home point is to take this healthy eating template called Paleo, and start personalizing it. There is not one universal diet for all people. You may here me talk about rice and feel bloated just at its mention. Or maybe you have gluten cross reactivity to rice? But on a day when I’ve adjusted 20 people and spent my lunch hour at the gym, a little extra hit of carbs is just what I (the doctor) ordered!

So let’s ease up on the binary thinking – placing everything in an absolute category is not the end goal. The goal is to get you to a place where you know your own internal physician so well that you don’t need a label.

To help you on your journey – I’m giving away a copy of Your Personal Paleo Code. Just use the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Scott


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The Gift of Loss: What We Learn When We Lose

Staying posiitive in today's economyWhen you survive a painful loss, you suddenly realize that that the answer to “what’s the worst that could happen?” is usually not as bad as you had imagined. You don’t come out of something like that unscathed, rather you see that your worst realized fears won’t kill you. The process indeed can make you stronger. My story, regardless of the details is the same as many other people’s. Whether it’s losing a relationship, a loved one, or the security of a job, loss is never easy. In my case, surviving the pain of the process broke my fear of change.

It destroyed my need for stability and comfort.

What a gift!

We all naturally get roped into seeking an unchanging, comfortable life that ironically and predictably never comes. Because life is dynamic, always moving and always changing. Why do we fear that so much? Why can’t we accept change as part of the normal human experience?

We end up exchanging our time earning money to pay for insurance policies against every conceivable change. Fire, auto, flood, disability, medical, property, life. Does anyone else find irony in the fact that we pay for policies that reward bad luck? (I’m not suggesting we ditch them all, it’s just an observation.)

The path to realizing that loss and pain can create an otherwise unattainable gift isn’t easy. It takes time and a spirit of resilience. Especially in the case of of being wronged by the universe or someone, because the allure of self-pity is strong. There’s something desperately powerful and indulgent about being the victim. We subconsciously feed off of the feeling that someone owes us…something.  But if we can release the hidden strangulating power of the victim mentality, it frees us to see possibilities and opportunities.

In my case it took forgiveness. I finally got to the point where I no longer wanted the adrenaline hit of hate. It was stifling my growth and I wanted and needed to let it go. So I chose to forgive. And it immediately changed the course of my life for the better.

Interacting with patients one-on-one is an interesting process. As a doctor who tries to listen intently, I’ve started picking up on certain underlying signals when people describe their problems. Recently I had a woman mention her ex-husband four times during her five-minute case history review. It wasn’t that he had physically hurt her. But that experience had left an indelible imprint on her life. It became part of her identity and actually, holding those negative emotions was likely contributing to her pain.

I want to be very clear: I don’t bring this up to prove that I recovered ‘right’ and my patient did it ‘wrong.’ I don’t judge her. I have no idea the painful depths of that experience. And each person is on their own part of the journey.

However, I think this raises a lot of questions for your consideration.

What painful struggle or sudden change have you encountered? Did it stunt your growth or create an environment to cultivate new opportunities? Does change scare you or do you thrive in the shifting landscape of life?  Are you holding anger, guilt, shame, doubt, blame, or other negative emotions that repress growth?

I’d encourage you to examine your life and talk with a trusted advisor.

Is there a painful part of your experience that you could repurpose into a gift?

Yours in health,

Dr. Scott

How Expectation Improves Our Vision

iStock_expectationI was listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer awhile back, and he was telling a story about being in California on a trip. (It’s been a while, and I can’t find the audio, but this is my paraphrase). He was out walking the coast and some folks recognized him and asked him what he thought about the area and the people out there. He said that they were wonderful, friendly and very hospitable and they reminded him a lot like the people where he had just been. The folks agreed and went about their day. A little while later a different couple approached him and during the conversation they said they moved from an eastern city to California because the people where they were from were so horrible. Dr. Dyer asked the couple what he thought of the folks in California and they said, “It’s the same thing out here! Everyone treats us poorly and we don’t like them much either!”

The moral of the story, of course is that no matter where you are, you will see the world and its people with the light and perspective that you bring. So if you expect people to be terrible, you will find plenty of evidence to support your viewpoint. Conversely, and much healthier I might add, is the expectation to find beauty, love, whimsy, and wonder in the world and its inhabitants.

I’ve written previously about the power of perspective. And while I don’t claim to understand why some people insist on seeing the world in a negative light, I can choose my own thoughts. It’s a daily grind sometimes, to be sure. Shutting out the negative and shining positivity can often feel draining. But there is no advantage to expecting and focusing on the worst this world has to offer. It really does us no good at all.

However, a truly remarkable thing happens when you approach the world with a purposeful expectation of good. You notice that positive things are illuminated and brought your way. It’s like when you buy a new car, and you start noticing how many other people have your same vehicle! Look – it’s even the same color! Cool!

The synergy is already there. Now you can see it clearer. 

Sidenote: I can hear an objection hanging out there in the pessimistic wind. Something like: “But Dr. Scott, the world is full of evil. Isn’t this burying your head in the sand?” It cannot be denied that there is indeed plenty to be concerned about. I’m not advocating that we pretend it’s all rainbows and unicorns out there. However, if you approach the world with an intent to see positivity, you might just find amazing ways to use your talents to ease the injustices.

In addition to checking and choosing your thoughts, you can also choose (for the most part) the people you surround yourself with. Are they like-minded in their positive expectations? Or are they constantly complaining? Do they focus on the injustice in their own lives and how everyone else is attacking them? Or do they seek ways to improve, share, love and give to others? Are they naysayers or overcomers?

Here’s the cheat sheet for us short attention span millennials:

-Expect to see positivity, beauty and blessing.
-Choose your thoughts and actions.
-Check and choose your surroundings for that which uplifts.

That’s the short, but sweet message today. I hope it helps.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Scott

Thank You & A Giveaway – Signed Copy of ‘Make it Paleo’

Make-It-Paleo-Final-Cover-WEBIt’s been a little over a year since I launched this blog. I’ve been really thankful for all of the feedback and interactions that it has created. As a way to say thanks – I’m going to give away one of my favorite Paleo resources!

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan and grateful friend of Bill & Hayley from The Primal Palate. Not only do they provide amazing resources to the Paleo community, but they also introduced me and Diane! (Hmm, maybe they should launch a real food matchmaker service? ;) )

Anyway, I was going through my bookshelves and realized I had an extra SIGNED copy of their epic first offering – Make it Paleo.

So who’s feeling lucky?  Just use the rafflecopter form below for a chance to win! I’d really encourage you to sign up for my e-mail list. As you may have noticed, Facebook is limiting organic reach for businesses. The best way to know when I’m launching a new post, giveaway or other content is to get on my e-mail list. No spam…I promise! Plus – I made it worth 2 entries!

Ok – well best of luck and thanks again for your support of this blog and the holistic health movement.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Scott

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FAQ: “How Can I Afford The High Cost of Healthy Food?”

iStockSmallAppleDollarThis one might hurt a little.

My goal is to educate and help, but turning toward the mirror and examining ourselves, our motivations, and our priorities can often be uncomfortable.

So take a deep breath. Because the goal is to equip and edify, but part of the message might sting.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is: “How can I afford the high cost of healthier food?”

Let’s not beat around the bush. There are increased up-front costs associated with eating well. It costs more money to eat real food, because it typically isn’t subsidized like cereal grain crops. It also costs more in time to shop frequently, seek out whole food vendors, and prepare food.

I’m going to touch on some sensitive subjects. And lest I run the risk of being labeled an elitist who “wouldn’t understand,” please realize that just because I have a website and some initials in front of my name doesn’t mean that I haven’t been there. You know – trying to decide between paying the electric bill or getting the coconut oil? I have been there and I’ll explain as I go.

But first I want to address the cultural beliefs surrounding money. Most of the world lives on less than $10 / day. So if you have more than that, if you have cable TV, a smartphone and a car (even a clunker), you are relatively rich!

We live in one of the most affluent societies in history. Unfortunately, we also live in a very materialistic culture. This often means we get sucked into working jobs we don’t love to buy things we can’t afford to impress people we don’t like.

But it’s not just things that can trip us up. It’s long ingrained belief systems. So the question “How can I afford to eat Paleo?” is a loaded one. It’s loaded with a belief system that supports paying $300-$500 per month in sick care insurance so that we aren’t obligated to take care of ourselves. It’s this underlying belief system that often discourages up front, proactive expenses in favor of deferring costs down the road in the form of reactive sick care, lost time at work, and lowered productivity. (Ouch).

An important question becomes “What are our priorities?”

Herein lies the answer to the first question. If we can establish health as a priority, then we can figure out better ways to pay for them.

Because once upon a time, I was living month to month.

I opened a new business on the heels of one of the worst economies in recent history. I was shackled by massive student loan debt on top of new business debt. I was working long hours to launch my dream. And nothing was going to stop me. But one day I woke up and realized I was putting in jeopardy the very thing I was instructing others to take care of – health.

So I sat down and prioritized. If I was going to help anyone, I needed to take care of myself. Side note: Self-care is not selfish! Hey moms – I’m looking at you! You can’t be your best for others if you’re chronically ill.

I knew I needed to eat better and join a gym. Where was I going to find the extra dollars that weren’t in the current budget? I needed a new budget!

  • I cancelled my cable and used the extra time to find healthier food at lower costs (I’ll tell you where below).
  • I used the money to pay for a gym membership and went on my lunch breaks. I made my own protein-laden salads and homemade dressing everyday.
  • I cancelled my expensive sick care insurance ($220/month) and signed up for catastrophic coverage ($75/month).
  • I put some of the premium savings into an Health Savings Account in case I needed care (which I haven’t).
  • I then took the rest and put it toward the healthiest food I could afford.

I also simplified my life. I made a list of all my possessions and marked off whether I had used them in the past year. Almost all of the ones that had a “no” went bye, bye. I sold, gave or threw away at least one thing per week for about 3 months. It was seriously liberating. Try it. Please. Now I do an abbreviated version of this every 6 months or so.

The decision to simplify ‘bought’ me more free time, more money and less distraction. This meant I was more productive at work and more successful. Then I could afford healthy food and basic cable :)

So back to the question of priorities. What are yours? Health, or keeping up with the Joneses? Health, or the newest gadget? Health, or 200+ TV channels? Using vacation time or deferring rest and recovery till retirement for a couple of extra bucks?

Money is probably one of the toughest subjects to tackle, because everyone’s situation is different. I fully realize that my situation (at the time) as a single 30+ year old professional with no dependents isn’t the reality for many of the folks reading this. I realize that my example above may have nothing to do with your situation. There are a lot people experiencing legitimate hardships and I’m not here to minimize that. But for many of us, the issue of healthier choices that cost more is an opportunity to check our priorities.

Practical Application
So, we’ve determined that a lot of us need to (re)establish healthy priorities, but also address the legitimate concern of making healthy food more affordable. Here are my top 5 tips for lowering food related expenses:

  1. Cow and Pig Shares – This year I connected with a small local farmer who raises 100% grass-fed beef. I ended up paying an average of $4.77 / pound and filled my freezer with a quarter cow worth of steaks, ground beef, bones (to make broth), and organ meat. As the demand for ethically, sustainably raised animals increases there are more and more farmers offering options like this. In most cases the cost is substantially less than a similar product at the grocery store. Not only that, but eating healthy animals improves your chances of less health expenses in the long run. Find local suppliers at
  2. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) – Similar to the animal shares, these contracts with local farmers provide weekly shares of seasonal produce. For about $15/week I went to a local farm and picked up 100% organic produce through the growing season. More info at
  3. Buy in Bulk – For non-perishable Paleo pantry items like coconut oil, almond flour, or coconut milk, watch for sales and free shipping and stock up. You can also setup an Amazon “subscribe & save” to save up to 15% on regularly shipped items.
  4. Plant a Garden – While not feasible for those without space, and certainly a time commitment, a garden can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of your healthy food transition. You can also turn this into a community or family effort. You can compost your organic kitchen waste to fertilize the garden and then sell, can or give away extra produce (who needs 3 dozen zukes?). Don’t discount this option if you’re in an urban setting either – urban communal gardens are becoming more popular and even growing your own herbs can help pinch pennies.
  5. Cook More, Dine Out Less – Sometimes I forget what it was like to be scared of the kitchen and feel like I had such limited options. Eventually, this fifth and final tip simply develops into a rhythm and habit. You learn how to make new, fun, and delicious recipes. Utilizing the plethora of books and online resources available, you get creative so you don’t feel like dining out is such a treat anymore. For many, less dining out means a substantial boost to the budget. I also encourage people to plan out meals in advance which eases the strain of constantly figuring out everything on the fly. Plan ahead. Crock-pot it. Make double portions and freeze for later. You get the idea.

Your situation is probably different than mine…how have you made it work financially? I’d love to hear reader tips on this one, because my hunch is that for many of you I’m preaching to the choir about priorities. You’ve already made healthy food a priority…how have you made it affordable?

Yours in Health,

Dr. Scott

FAQ: “I’m New to Paleo – Where Do I Start?”

iStock_start SmallI’m woking through trying to answer some of the most frequently asked questions I receive from people about eating a Paleo or Primal diet. Up next is for those who are just starting to shift their eating habits. I’m often asked “What are the easiest and most important changes I can make?”

AKA “I’m a newbie, where do I start?

Switch Fats – One of the easiest changes you can make is switching from unhealthy oils and ‘frakenfats’ to healthy, real food fats. Without going into too much detail, ditch vegetable, man made overly processed oils and switch to stable fats like ghee, coconut oil and olive oil. Diane over at Balanced Bites has an awesome free guide for this very purpose. She also breaks down which are best to cook with.

Easy Swaps – It can be really tough for those who feel attached to bread & pasta or rice and beans (or both) to eliminate grains & legumes. One of the ways we can get headed in the right direction at the beginning is to look for simple swaps to lessen the burden. We call these lateral shifts as they seem to be easier for us to make. For an extended version and great reference – I recommend 3 Phase Paleo by the Paleo Parents. Their first phase is swap!

A few simple examples to get you thinking:

Your get the idea…

Shop(right) – You can’t eat junk if it doesn’t end up in your cart. Healthy eating starts with buying real food. Changing shopping habits is vital to a big change in eating habits. Start by looking for better choices in the places you already shop. Then start looking for other ways to acquire healthy food. Utilize farmer’s markets, community supported agriculture, co-ops, cow/pig shares and grow a garden if you have the space.

Food Quality & Cost – One of the toughest parts of switching to whole foods based eating is the expense of eating well. It’s a shock to our wallet and there is no sense in pretending it doesn’t cost more to eat well. I’ve briefly addressed the underlying cultural implications of this concept, but basically we need to pay more for healthy habits. It hurts at first, but as our priorities change, we find ways to cover the expense. One of my favorite graphics in Practical Paleo is Diane’s food quality choice breakdown. Using the standard of “Good, Better, Best” – figure out what you can afford and shop accordingly. Prioritize based on what the most healthy version of your shopping list would be. We’re looking to maximize nutrients per dollar spent. You can also use the dirty dozen and clean 15 chart as a quick reference that can help you figure out which foods would be better to buy organic based on pesticide contamination.

Resources – A lot of people who are just starting Paleo get lost in the pandora’s box of internet resources and information swirling everywhere. I think it’s important to have variety in our information intake, but I’m a big fan of picking a few trusted go-to sources to minimize my wasted time. Here’s a subjective, yet effective list of my favorite Paleo resources.


  • Practical Paleo – If you have to pick just one book, make it the best selling, best reviewed Paleo book to date. This has the background science in an easy to read format. It contains condition specific meal plans and a bunch of great recipes. Sidebar – I recommended it to my patients before I was engaged to the author ;)
  • Against All Grain – I’ve reviewed this book in detail, and it’s still one of my favorites for grain free recipes.
  • Make it Paleo and The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking – One of the first and biggest Paleo recipe books out there was Make it Paleo and it consistently ranks as a newbie favorite because of the sheer volume of recipes. Bill and Hayley of Primal Palate crushed it right from the start. They also saw a need for a beginner’s guide, which is where The 30 Day Guide fits in. Both are great options to jumpstart a Paleo eating plan.


  • Balanced Bites – It’s probably how you found me! Tons of FAQs, forums, great blogs, free 1 page guides that go with Practical Paleo, and much more.
  • Mark’s Daily Apple – One of the first, and certainly most trafficked paleo/primal sites, Mark Sisson’s team has done a great job bringing together science, practical application, forums and more into the Paleosphere. It’s a great place to get clarity.
  • Chris Kresser – For the folks who really want research based info, Chris does a great job of tackling some of the toughest topics with ease. He’s a functional medicine practitioner and has an awesome clinical perspective.
  • Primal Palate – I adore Bill and Hayley, it’s no secret. I use their website on a weekly basis. It has been recently updated and I love their meal planner, recipes and app which help guide my shopping and cooking.


  • Robb Wolf – The Paleo Solution – Robb’s knowledge, wit and attitude make for a true hit.
  • Balanced Bites – I know, I know…I’m super biased on this one. Set aside the fact that I recorded the music and voiceover for the intro, because this podcast is seriously awesome! Diane and Liz (of Cave Girl Eats) have a style that is funny, informative and current. They answer TONS of listener’s questions and interview the best in the field.

Well, I’d say that’s about as much as we should tackle for this FAQ. I hope that gets you started off on the right foot. Feel free to chime in on the comments if you have helpful suggestions!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Scott

A Life Without Risk

iStock_man jumpingSmallI’m hearing a lot of backlash on CrossFit and Olympic lifting these days, especially after the horrible Kevin Ogar injury.

Hyperbole like “no one should ever snatch.” Broad sweeping condemnation like “CrossFit is dangerous.”

It’s the same thing when a long distance runner dies at the age of 38. “No one should ever run a marathon.” Even the guy that ran the first recorded marathon in history died immediately after completing his mission!

The logic goes something like this: If we avoid risky behavior, we’ll all be just fine and live a longer, better life.

Unfortunately, it’s a lie. Is Kevin’s story a horrible tragedy? Of course. Are there lessons to be learned? Yes. But that’s not what this post is about. (I’d suggest this article for more.)

By this logic of risk avoidance, no one should ever drive a car. Or get on a plane to explore the world. Or age. All of which increase our risk of death. Heck, you could die in your sleep!

We are all going to die! If you want to build a bubble and avoid risk at the expense of experiencing life – go for it. I have no intention of living in fear. I did that for a a few months and it made me wish for death.

My coach likes to say that how you do anything is how you do everything and that how you handle a bar is how you handle life.
Are you going to leave the bar racked for someone else? Or get on that thing and learn and progress and explore and fail and get up and try again?

After my divorce, I swore I’d never let anyone in that close again. It hurt too much. Life and love were too painful. Had I stuck to that fatalistic oath, I would never have met Diane. And that would have been the biggest mistake of all.

There’s no way to live a risk-free life. Life is inherently dangerous and at the same time an amazing blessing.

While I spend most of my time helping others learn how to live healthier lives (and thus decreasing risk of disease), the ultimate goal is to be healthy enough to live a full life. Healthy enough to engage in the activities you love for as long as you are blessed to wake up each day.

In my opinion, a life without risk is no life at all.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Scott

PS: For those who are bold enough to embrace the struggle and are unfortunate enough to fall…please consider helping them out. In Kevin’s case, he is going to require funds for his recovery. Please check out this link and his story and see how you can help.