Two-and-a-half years ago, Ontario business owner Emily Kategiannis was struggling with her health.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Ontario business owner Emily Kategiannis was struggling with her health. Since she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2000, her health and well-being have been on a roller-coaster ride – going through treatments, medications and numerous visits to the doctor.
|Brothers and DCs Jamie (right) and Joel Richards (left) run Cafe of Life Chiropractic, birthplace of the Life By Design movement. Photos: Life By Design.
Then she met with Dr. Joel Richards, a chiropractor in London, Ont., who introduced her to a whole new level of chiropractic care than what she had been used to.
“His approach was very different,” says Kategiannis. “It wasn’t just injury-specific type of chiropractic treatment. It was more part of a well-being lifestyle.” She learned to view chiropractic adjustments as just one part of a more holistic approach to wellness that includes the way she eats, the way she moves and the way she thinks.
For years, Kategiannis has lived with lymph nodes popping up in various places in her body following her cancer treatments. A group of these lymph nodes have appeared in her neck and her doctors have been monitoring them for years, given her history of thyroid cancer.
“(The lymph nodes) have been there for probably two years and within three months (of being) under chiropractic care, they were gone,” Kategiannis recalls. “My head and neck surgeon asked me what I had done differently – I had these for two years and all of a sudden, three months later, they were gone.”
So she told the surgeon she had been under chiropractic care and has made some changes to her lifestyle. “(My doctor) didn’t dismiss it, but she didn’t think that that was probably the reason why (the lymph nodes) weren’t there.”
Regardless of what her surgeon thought, Kategiannis knew the changes she was making – learned through a new health movement called Life By Design – were having a positive impact on her physical and mental health.
Founded by London, Ont.-based chiropractors Dr. Jamie Richards and his brother Joel, Life By Design promotes health and wellness as a way of life through a regimen of eating, moving and cognitive activities, with chiropractic at the centre.
The goal, according to Dr. Jamie Richards, is to teach patients what the chiropractic philosophy and the chiropractic lifestyle are really about.
“One of the pitfalls we face (as chiropractors) is we have negative brand equity,” explains Richards. “People think they know what chiropractic is and they think it’s a treatment for back pain or treatment for headaches.
“Many people who value health understand about exercise or about fuel and movement,” Richards says. “So, my whole premise is this: why don’t we teach people how our philosophy applies to these areas?”
Designing a movement
Richards is a graduate of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and has been practising chiropractic for 10 years. Three years ago, he created Life By Design, a chiropractic movement that teaches people the way to live a healthy lifestyle.
|Dr. Jamie Richards talks about the principles of Life By Design and chiropractic care through public seminars and information sessions.
Life By Design has subcomponents – Move By Design, Eat By Design and Think By Design.
“We are bringing chiropractic into the centrepiece of a lifestyle movement called Life By Design,” says Richards. “It’s really built around this idea of reframing what chiropractic is in the public’s mind – away from something that is used as a therapy to treat a specific symptom or condition, towards something that is done as part of a lifestyle to maintain the integrity of the spine and the nervous system.”
The Richards brothers run a chiropractic practice called Café of Life in London, Ont. They focus on subluxation analysis and corrections, and they treat a variety of clientele.
For some of Richards’ chiropractic patients – called “practice members” – their introduction to Life By Design came from the health and wellness education they get when they go in for treatments. Others get introduced to chiropractic later after getting to know the Life By Design principles.
“We do a full neurological spinal analysis, give people care programs that are built around monitoring the nervous system overtime,” explains Richards. “So, basically teaching them about how to move, how to eat and how to think.
“My objective is the see improvement in the nervous system and the spine, and there’s evidence to support that chiropractic care can improve the function of the nervous system and the spine,” he says.
Richards says he does not really prescribe a particular diet or exercise program, but educates practice members on how the human body has been designed to eat and move for optimal function.
Eating by design, for example, means filling the body with the basic sustenance it needs, regardless of where the person is with his health or in his life.
“What it comes down to is, what are the best food sources that meet the requirements of the human body? And these are fat, protein and micronutrients,” explains Richards. “No matter where you fall in the health spectrum, your body has the same requirements. So when we teach people what to eat, it’s not based on what symptoms or condition they have, it’s built on what the requirements are for the body to be healthy.”
In addition to the chiropractic practice, the Richards brothers also own West London CrossFit gym located in the same community. The gym offers Strength and Conditioning (SC) program, which encompasses the Move By Design principles of Life By Design.
“Move By Design is different from your typical gym,” says Brent Tiesma, a gym manager and also a Life By Design practice member. “It’s a little different in the fact that it’s run by a coach. People sign up for a class and so the people are led through programming by the coach.”
Before becoming the gym manager, Tiesma was a Life By Design practice member first. He was introduced to the program by his sister when he returned to Canada after working oversees. He became a member of the gym and started learning about the principles of Move By Design.
“With that you are exposed to the other Life By Design areas and so I have gone to Eat By Design,” says Tiesma. “I got my whole family involved. I have three boys and they are practice members. They go for chiropractic treatment.”
SC coaches include chiropractors and crossfit-certified training coaches, who educate and train members on the fundamentals of the Move By Design philosophy, which centres on the movements the human body requires.
“Every human being has some basic fundamental (movements) that they require and we split them into four categories.” Richards explains. He says Move By Design teaches the four basic movements that the body requires: mobility, strength, conditioning (moving at an accelerated rate for short periods of time) and enjoyable movement (i.e., walking, biking, playing with kids).
Spreading the word
Richards’ goal is to spread the Life By Design movement and reach one million families worldwide “living Life By Design.” He also wants to achieve 1,000 Life By Design-certified practitioners–other chiropractors who share the same values, living and teaching the Life By Design principles.
To become certified, chiropractors go through an application process and a certification program. There are now about 21 chiropractors worldwide who are certified as Life By Design practitioners, including three in Australia and one in New Zealand.
One of them is Toronto-based chiropractor Amy Robinson, who met Richards as a student at the CMCC. She became certified with Life By Design more than two years ago.
“I wanted to bring more value to the people in my practice, supporting them and creating extraordinary health for them and their families,” Robinson says. “The structure that Jamie had created at that point and the science behind it just made so much sense
After completing the Life By Design training, Robinson immediately put the principles into practice and launched a mini-event at her clinic to introduce her patients to Life By Design.
Robinson has always had a wellness-oriented chiropractic practice, and having a structure in place to promote the health and wellness aspect of chiropractic brought “deeper value” to her practice.
“The people that really embraced it in my practice have seen huge changes in both their health and their happiness and, quite honestly, I can feel it.”
Some patients or practice members have also started to help spread the word about the movement, sharing their experiences and helping promote the principles of Life By Design.
Jennifer Ayres, a high school teacher who is a regular practice member at Café of Life chiropractic clinic maintains a blog called My Year By Design, which chronicles her journey to living life by design.
“I originally sought out chiropractic care because I have migraines and getting adjusted helps decrease their frequency,” Ayres says. “However, I keep going because Life By Design has helped me become stronger, leaner, more relaxed and happier.”
Today, with Life By Design now part of her regular routine, Ayres is going for chiropractic adjustment once a week and training at the West London CrossFit gym three times a week.
“I try to eat and think by design as much as I can, but it’s a process. Living by Design is a permanent change and it takes time,” she says.
Richards says promoting Life By Design is also his way of connecting with and bringing the chiropractic principles to his community. Through the movement, he hopes to help break down some of the preconceived ideas people may have had about chiropractic.
“At the core, it’s about helping the body be extraordinary, specifically through correcting subluxation, but also learning the principles that we are built on,” he says. “People now can learn about Life By Design without having to know about chiropractic first, then if it makes sense, they realize that this stuff about the brain-body connection is totally logical and chiropractic is the only way to actually address that.”
Mari-Len De Guzman is the editor of Canadian Chiropractor and Massage Therapy Canada magazines. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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