Starting an Exercise Regime in 2017

by Heidi Toy, NTP

If exercise has so many health rewards, why do so many people find it so hard to do? Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University, has some theories about that. First, most of the health payoffs that make people want to exercise are not experienced instantly. Many of those payoffs take weeks or months to manifest. Losing the belly fat, or having your lipids normalize, is just not going to happen overnight.

Starting out too hard in a new exercise program may be another reason. When you exercise above your respiratory threshold, that is, above the point when it gets hard to talk, you postpone exercise’s immediate mood boost by about thirty minutes, per Dr. Otto. If you’re a novice, that delay might keep you from returning to the gym.
Many people set their fitness goals around the scale, which can be a recipe for failure. Weight loss may be your goal, but you can sabotage it with an unhealthy fixation on a number.

You will probably feel better quickly, so that’s a better short-term goal. For some, the hardest part of the workout is getting dressed for it—or getting to the gym. So start simply by walking around the neighborhood for twenty minutes. Much research now tells us that the first twenty minutes of moving around provide most of the health benefits.

Excessive physical activity may be as harmful to your health as being too sedentary. If this is you, then your goal is to find the middle ground and know when enough is enough.

Remember, when it comes to evaluating your fitness success, you are only competing with yourself.
Exercise should be balanced with strength training, proper stretching, core strengthening, stress reduction, restorative sleep, and good nutrition.


1. Stand up every fifteen minutes. Compelling research now tells us that prolonged sitting can have a tremendously detrimental impact on your health, even if you exercise regularly. Whenever you have a chance to move your body, do so.

2. Include interval (anaerobic) training. Interval training involves alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods. This is called a PACE or Peak Fitness routine, originally put forth by Dr. Al Sears. Check out this website:

3. Don’t forget strength training. Rounding out your exercise program with a one-set strength training routine will work different muscle groups and keep them in shape. It is especially important that women who are concerned about osteoporosis lift weights to keep their bones healthy.

4. Include core exercises. Our bodies have twenty-nine core muscles located mostly in the back, abdomen, and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout the body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury, and improve your balance and stability. Enlightened chiropractors work with physical therapists who can teach the movements and how to use a ball, a balance board, etc., to work out and stretch the muscles that support the fascia.

5. Stretch. It is as important as weight lifting or any other part of an exercise routine. It becomes more important the older we get. It allows the body to repair itself and prepare for daily activity.

Heidi Toy is a Functional Nutritional Therapist, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on digestion, weight loss, depression, female hormone issues, and fatigue. 

Real Food Is Healthy

By Heidi Toy, NTP 

When you think of traditional foods, what pictures come to mind? Little children running around a homestead pulling eggs from under chickens as in Little House on the Prairie? Grandma skillfully rolling out pie crusts made with lard? Or perhaps the booths at the local farmers market bursting with the colors of the spring harvest?

Simply put, traditional foods are those in their most natural state, unadulterated, unrefined, and grown in nutrient-dense soil. It is these real, whole, nourishing foods enjoyed for generation upon generation that provide the cells of our bodies with the necessary fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients needed for vibrant health. This state of well-being is characterized by a quiet and strong digestive system, blissful sleep, sturdy bones, a calm and clear mind, and an immune function that prevents infection.

A number of factors influence ones vitality: sleep quality, rest, companionship, physical activity, chemical exposure, and more. Yet food remains the key player for nourishing the body’s every cell. We now know that epigenetics is more important than genetics, that 75 percent of our health is dependent on whether we encourage good genes to express and bad genes not to express. The body’s genes are constantly communicating with the nutrients we take in through food. In other words, food either feeds or poisons a cell. And this is a powerful concept when one considers that cells make tissues, tissues make organs, and organs make us—our brains, our bones, our reproductive organs, our joints.

Health is a choice: we can say we “don’t have time to cook a meal.” But remember the old wisdom: pay the farmer today or pay the doctor later.

A study published in 2001 of organic versus conventional produce found that the organic versions contained 27 percent more vitamin C, 29 percent more magnesium, 86 percent more chromium, and 375 percent more selenium. The chemical-free foods were also lower in cancer-causing nitrates and toxic heavy metals.

Another study published in 2003 of the levels of pesticide metabolites in the urine found that children eating organic had 6 to 9 times lower levels than children eating conventionally grown food. Bear in mind, pesticides are up to 10 times more toxic to children than adults, due to their smaller body size and developing organ systems, so it is especially important to minimize their exposure.

The meat of cows roaming on pasture, munching away on their natural diet of fresh grass, have more omega-3s and more vitamins A and E than their commercial grain-fed, feedlot cousins. Hormone residues in meat and dairy products can disrupt our body’s natural hormone balance; many experts suspect that consumption of hormone-treated beef and dairy products may contribute to girls reaching puberty earlier. Chickens allowed to forage for bugs and grass and to soak up sunshine in the great outdoors produce eggs with greater amounts of vitamins E and A than their commercial, cooped up, pellet-fed counterparts. Eggs from pastured hens also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the beneficial ratio of approximately 1:1, unlike commercial eggs, which average an unhealthy 1:19.

In my practice and with my clients, it is my job to help them understand that purchasing organic doesn’t have to be all or none; pick and choose, evaluate your budget, the price of items, and re-organize your meals to include more seasonable organic choices. We are fortunate to be living in an area where there are many affordable options when it comes to purchasing organic and pastured animal products.

Heidi Toy is a Functional Nutritional Therapist, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on digestion, weight loss, depression, female hormone issues, and fatigue. 

Should You Be Concerned About GMOs?

By Heidi Toy

What Is a GMO?

GMOs, or “genetically modified oganisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology. This is also called genetic engineering (GE) and genetic modification (GM)

This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Nearly all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide (these are called Roundup Ready crops) or to produce their own systemic insecticide (Bt corn and Bt cotton).

In the grocery store, approximately 80 percent of the items are made with GMOs: corn chips, corn cereal, corn starch, soy milk, tofu, high fructose corn syrup, sodas, non-dairy creamers, salad dressings, baby formulas, candy bars, waffles, seasoning packets, frozen meals, soups, sauces, snack foods. Then there are the individual product ingredients: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin C, citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, maltodextrin, molasses, monosodium glutamate, sucrose, textured vegetable protein, xanthan gum. In other words, GMOs are in most processed foods.

The following crops are being genetically engineered for human consumption:

▪ 95 percent of sugar beets
▪ 94 percent of soybeans
▪ 90 percent of canola
▪ 90 percent of cottonseed (cottonseed oil is a common ingredient in vegetable oils and margarine)
▪ 88 percent of corn
▪ Hawaiian papaya
▪ small amounts of zucchini and yellow squash

Recently, genetically modified alfalfa won U.S. government approval and is being grown for animal feed. Also, in the summer of 2012, GMO sweet corn (corn on the cob, frozen corn, and canned corn) appeared on grocery store shelves and roadside produce stands.

In addition to GMO alfalfa, GMO corn and GMO soy are fed to livestock. If you are not consuming GMOs directly, say by eating What Are the Health Risks Associated with GMOs?

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a ban on GMOs and urges physicians to advise all patients to avoid GMOs and indicates that several animal studies indicate serious health risks, including:

▪ infertility
▪ immune problems including allergies
▪ accelerated aging
▪ faulty insulin regulation
▪ gastrointestinal disease
▪ DNA damage
▪ cancer

The British Medical Society, in 1999, called for a ban on the introduction of GE crops.

As long ago as 1997, scientists warned that genetically engineered food may result in new pathogenic bacteria because GMOs have crossed species lines.

Additionally, the use of GMO crops has increased the use of pesticides that are carcinogenic. Exposure to pesticides is linked to all manner of chronic illnesses including increased risk of reproductive abnormalities, birth defects, neurological problems, allergies, and cancer.

Industry points to the lack of a “smoking gun.” Deniability of health problems is easy when they come on slowly as opposed to a pandemic. Remember it took twenty-plus years for the U.S. government to admit that smoking causes cancer, for example. Meanwhile, we saw a lot of industry-sponsored studies that smoking was not harmful. There were a lot of industry lobbyists behind the scenes working to keep cigarettes on the market. Today, we see the soda industry in a similar battle as more and more experts, including CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, lay considerable blame for the obesity epidemic on the soda manufacturers’ products. Bottom line: human problems may be hidden for years, and may be masked by well-financed public relations campaigns, industry sponsored studies, and lobbying.

Heidi Toy is a Functional Nutritional Therapist, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on digestion, weight loss, depression, female hormone issues, and fatigue. 

We are All Toxic and Depleted

By Heidi Toy

We know the earth is toxic. That’s why on the very first Earth Day in 1970, 20 million people gathered in the streets of America to protest the Industrial Revolution.

As a result, an environmental movement was born, and even though globally we keep trying to give back to the earth, we will never be able to put back into the soil the vital nutrients that humans need in order to detox, fight disease, and thrive. In short, our soil and our water are void of minerals that make a body hum and boost the immune system. They are gone.

Although most people believe that they might be getting an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals from various foods, it has become apparent that even with a “normal” well-balanced diet it is impossible to get all the necessary micronutrients required for optimal body functions because:

• Extensive farming and the use of pest-control chemicals lead to mineral depletion in soil.
• Processed foods lack most vitamins and minerals.
• Absorption of nutrients decreases with age.
• Un-ripened fruits and vegetables (such as they are usually transported to supermarkets) as well as hybrid crops lack certain nutrients and natural flavors.

From this realization come two facts:
1. Everyone is mineral deficient. This includes new-born babies, and the reason why is because their mothers are nutritionally depleted and toxic and they pass the condition on to their children, and
2. The entire population, including babies, are extremely toxic, because without minerals we are not able to detox from the harmful chemicals that have polluted the earth. These are facts that are obvious to anyone who uses hair testing for toxic metals and knows how to remove the heavy metals.

Minerals are the “sparkplugs” of the body and crucial to our health. They are needed for millions of enzymes as co-factors, facilitators, inhibitors, and as part of enzymes themselves.

Minerals have direct correlation to our health and can be analyzed to determine imbalances in the body. A skilled practitioner analyzing a soft tissue (hair is a soft tissue) mineral biopsy, can find hundreds of common and physical health conditions that can be corrected.

One example that I see repeatedly in my practice is women who have an inability to lose weight. They present with classic hypothyroid symptoms yet when they go to the medical doctor to have a blood serum test done, their lab values come back normal.

Minerals are needed to make thyroid hormones; they are also needed to convert the thyroid hormone T4 to T3 (T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone). Mercury (tested for in a hair mineral analysis) can sequester the minerals needed to make this conversion happen. Most people are mercury toxic, specifically if they’ve ever had amalgam fillings. Minerals are needed to detox the mercury.

Thyroid hormone is unable to do its job if the cells’ mineral status is off. Hair mineral testing to determine the cells’ mineral status is the only way to determine the cellular responsiveness to thyroid hormone. Blood testing of minerals is not an accurate way to test, as minerals are not stored in the blood, they are stored in the tissue. This is just one example of how our toxic earth impacts our health.

For the months of March and April my office is offering $100 off the price of hair mineral testing and interpretation to A Second Opinion readers. (This is not redeemable for cash value or with any other service).

Heidi Toy is a Functional Nutritional Therapist, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on digestion, weight loss, depression, female hormone issues, and fatigue.

Circadian Rhythms and Your Health

On Sunday March 8, 2015, at 2:00 a.m., we will set our clocks ahead one hour. Most of us will wake the following morning and many mornings after feeling drowsy or like we are “off” and in need of more sleep. This feeling of drowsiness will continue until our biological clock reprograms and adjusts to the new time setting. This happens because there’s been a disruption of our natural circadian rhythms, and your internal clock is still saying that it is one hour earlier than what the actual time on the alarm clock reads.

Because of the earth’s rotation, almost all organisms function under 24-hour day–night cycles, called the circadian rhythm. However, it should be noted that this daily rhythm is not a simple response to alternating changes of day and night. It arises from an innate and genetically operated timekeeping system referred to as a “biological clock.”  This biological clock prepares us for changes that occur in our physical environments and enables our cells and body systems to behave appropriately at the right time of day.

In mammals there is an area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior hypothalamus, and it functions as the master circadian pacemaker of the circadian rhythm, controlling when we sleep and rest, and when we are awake and active. Circadian rhythms also regulate body temperature, heart activity, hormone secretion, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, metabolism, and many other functions.

It is widely accepted that an adrenal steroid hormone called glucocorticoid (cortisol) has a daily variation in its circulating levels and is directly under the control of the circadian timing. In a normal circadian rhythm, cortisol peaks in the morning around 6:00 a.m. and cascades throughout the day and is at its lowest between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and midnight. This is key here, as this hormone called cortisol also plays a crucial role in our adaptive response to various types of stress.Melatonin-and-Cortisol

Stress can be anything from getting in an argument with your spouse to commuting in rush hour traffic to beingexposed to a chemical such as mercury or lead. It can be due to a wide variety of issues. There are three major types of stress that we experience: emotional stress, dietary stress, and pain and hidden inflammation/infection.

When we think about the main source of stress, it is usually emotional. This can be the death of a loved one, working with or for someone that is unpleasant, financialchanges, divorce, or moving to a new location. It can also be sitting in rush hour traffic as mentioned above.

Dietary stress (glycemic dysregulation) can be from diets that restrict calories for too long, overeating processed carbohydrates, alcoholism, and skipping meals. It can also come from foods that trigger an immune or allergic response like gluten, dairy, corn, or peanuts for example.

Pain and hidden inflammation/infection can be from known sources, such as physical trauma like motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and surgeries or diseases such as arthritis or bursitis (anything with an “itis” as an ending means inflammation).  It can also befrom things that are not known, such as liver toxicity due to heavy metal exposure, infections that have gone undetected like parasites, and poor gut bacteria.

We as humans were not designed to endure chronic stressors as these listed here. We have not evolved to handle our modern day stresses. We have a system that was designed to run away from a charging animal or to throw spears once in awhile. To get up and run and climb away to safety and to survive. In fact all of our body mechanisms are designed to ensure our survival. That is why the stress response is called “fight or flight.

We were not designed nor are we equipped to sit in rush hour traffic daily or to actually sit all day at a desk staring at a computer screen. So when we are locked in these chronic stressors, we cannot deal with it, and we have a revved up system that is not able to act.

Cortisol levels then go up and stay up, and consequently we suppress our immune system and we cause blood sugar handling dysregulation. We’re no longer able to handle mental emotional stress as we should because we are stuck in this over-reactive mode. Any one or all three of these variables will cause cortisol dysregulation and adrenal burnout, and many of people that I work with in my clinic have all three of these variables.

When we constantly overstimulate the adrenals they become burned out, and the amount of cortisol available throughout the day and throughout our circadian rhythm cycle becomes altered. This is where the chronic health conditions come into play. Symptoms such as excessive fatigue, neck/back pain, inability to hold a chiropractic adjustment, hair loss, irritability, poor immune response, insomnia, cravings, female hormone imbalance, digestive issues such as diarrhea or constipation, inability to lose weight, headaches, depression, indigestion, light headedness, lack of concentration, anxiety, food allergies, environmental allergies, dry skin, and poor memory can all be linked to adrenal burnout and an inefficient circadian rhythm.1-s2.0-S0925443911000329-gr1

I see this daily in my practice, and it is at that time that we run a lab-based saliva panel that actually tests the cortisol level several times throughout the day to determine what the rhythm is exactly and when it is deficient. There is a logical treatment option that does not treat symptoms but rather the underlining causes. This is functional medicine. People have chronic health issues that are not being addressed by mainstream medicine. These health issues require a lifestyle change. They also require changing the diet and healing the adrenal glands. If you are looking for answers to health issues for what modern society and its dependents have done to our bodies and to our health, look to finding out the health of your adrenal glands and addressingthe imbalances of them.

Heidi Toy is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and the owner of “Educated Nutrition”, located in Altoona, WI. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on autoimmune