Dr Anjali Agrawal of Back In Balance: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

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Practice gratitude daily. Pick your top 3–5 things that you are most grateful for in this moment. If you can’t think of something, start with gratitude for the basic essentials- air, food, water, shelter, and clothing. Like other muscles that need to be exercised, the more you express gratitude, the more you will find to be grateful for.

As a part of our series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Anjali Agrawal.

Dr. Anjali Agrawal is a non-cracking, non-popping chiropractor who helps families navigate their journey from conception to adulthood, holistically. She uses gentle chiropractic adjustments, functional nutrition, ergonomics, and unique diagnostic testing to identify the root cause of one’s symptoms rather than simply covering them up. Dr. Anjali is the founder and owner of Back In Balance.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Of course, and thank you for having me!

Since childhood, I had decided that I wanted to become a doctor. However, after volunteering in various departments at a world renowned hospital throughout high school, I began to feel like there was a disconnect. I still entered undergrad with a pre-med focus, but I was really looking for something more natural and holistic. I was ultimately introduced to the chiropractic profession while in undergrad, and after that, I knew that I had found my path.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Well it may not be the most interesting, but it certainly remains a story that has stuck with me all these years: After graduating from chiropractic college, I had joined some colleagues in Mexico for a clinic trip. We were working with hundreds of people a day, and we had translators to help us understand what the issue was, as well as to then explain the basics of what we were doing. So on day 4 of our trip, a lady comes in to the area where I was working and hands me a cake. My translator helped explain that this lady is a professional baker, but for years, she had experienced low back pain every time she went to open or close the oven door. However, since her first chiropractic adjustment two days prior, she was finally able to move freely, without any pain! She was so happy that she wanted to bring me a cake! I had certainly seen some awesome changes for people prior to that day, but this brief encounter helped remind me of the body’s amazing potential to heal if we can simply provide a nudge in the right direction!

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

While I was an intern in the outpatient clinic at my chiropractic college, a man came in complaining of left shoulder pain. I did my evaluation and I started adjusting the right side of his neck. When I started doing some soft tissue work to help relax the muscle tightness on his right side, he stopped me to remind me that his pain was actually in his left shoulder, not on the right side of his neck. It was a valuable reminder to me to communicate with people as I am working on them that just because we have pain or symptoms in a particular location, it doesn’t mean that the root cause is coming from that same area. The humorous part was that when I met my husband years later, he mentioned that he was having some low back pain. When at first I mentioned that he may also want to have his neck checked out, he thought I misheard him. That made me smile, because even though he wasn’t my patient, I was reminded once again of the importance of educating the general public about what chiropractors do. =)

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

This will sound biased, but I truly believe that chiropractors are already unique in the field of wellness. While there are a number of amazing ways to work on the body’s musculature, chiropractors are uniquely trained to correct the alignment of the spine and other bones in the body, thereby directly impacting the nervous system.

However, there are four main aspects which make my personal contribution unique:

First of all, I personally adjust people using low force techniques, which means no popping, cracking, or sudden movements, allowing the adjustments to hold for a longer period of time. Many people are often very nervous about having their neck adjusted, so I find the low force techniques are very effective at getting past the already tight muscles. Second, I work primarily with women throughout their prenatal/postpartum journey along with working with children starting from the newborn stage. While many women are aware of prenatal massages, many don’t realize that chiropractic adjustment have been shown to be extremely effective with optimizing fetal positioning, helping with sciatica, and even addressing issues such as growing pains for kids. I truly appreciate the opportunity to help families create a strong foundation from the start, so that we can raise a new generation of kids who can start shifting the needle away from the current trend of health challenges. Third, I integrate functional nutrition to optimize the communication pathway along with optimizing the function of the organs in the body. Lastly, I have spent over a decade going to various companies to perform ergonomic assessments. What we do the bulk of our time will have the greatest impact on our body. Just as we cannot out-train a bad diet, we similarly cannot undo eight hours of daily static poor posture with one hour of exercise. Helping people understand how to optimize their movements and posture throughout the day helps set the stage for success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have so many people to be grateful for, but I’ll go back to the beginning of my professional journey and express gratitude to my Dad. The majority of my childhood was spent with me declaring that I wanted to become a doctor, and we all (myself included) assumed that I meant medical doctor. When I was later introduced to chiropractic, I told my parents that I wanted to switch gears a bit, and instead of having M.D. behind my name, it would be D.C.. This pivot made my Dad really skeptical as we didn’t actually know any chiropractors, so this led to a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not I was joining a legitimate profession and ultimately, whether or not I would have financial stability. He asked me to explore various arenas of medicine and to talk with a variety of practitioners to help make a more informed decision. After doing so, I knew definitively that I wanted to pursue chiropractic instead of medicine.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

  1. I think we often strive for perfection, trying to incorporate too many changes too quickly which is ultimately overwhelming. I often tell people that there’s ideal, and then there’s reality. Let’s try to make reality more ideal one step at a time. Even if it’s a small step, that’s progress. If we can stay consistent with a small goal, we can celebrate that and that motivates us to keep going. But you have to stay the course and trust the process.
  2. We have self-created limiting beliefs, like “it will be too difficult”, or “it probably won’t work”, or “it’s normal to have more symptoms as we get older.” So we have already convinced our brain that what we are about to do isn’t going to work anyway and then we become destined to fail.
  3. Following a cookie-cutter approach. We’re all amazingly unique individuals, so while there are general concepts which are more universal (such as the things you’ve mentioned in the question), we have to look at what is working and right for us. I had a new practice member come in years back, and she was frustrated because she had been making great efforts to start eating very healthy six months prior but wasn’t losing weight. So we looked at what she had been eating before her change of diet, and did some evaluations to ultimately determine that while her diet was now good, her digestive and endocrine system needed a lot more support. Within two weeks of working together, she was very excited to see the changes in her body.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

  1. Chew your food. Ideally if you can break the food down in your mouth until it liquifies, then the enzymes in our saliva can start working on digesting our food right away rather than leaving the burden of the work on our stomach and the rest of the digestive system. Trying to count the number of chews (ideally approximately 32 times for most foods) will allow you to slow down and give your brain a break from work as well.
  2. Get to sleep before 11pm. Your liver needs to start detoxing from the daytime activities, so getting to sleep before 11pm sets the stage for optimal rest and repair.
  3. Take a 2 minute water & stretch break every hour. I’m a firm believer that micro breaks throughout the day help break up and retrain our muscle memory patterns much more effectively than focusing on a 30 or 60 minute workout once a day. The micro breaks also then allow for us to have movement and get hydrated in regular intervals. Ideally if you’ve been sitting, I would suggest standing up, drinking water and doing a stretch while standing. If you have a couple of minutes to march in place or walk, great! But if not, that’s ok too! If you’ve been standing, sit down, drink some water and do some stretches while sitting. You can rotate through various stretches throughout the day or even just repeat the same one or two stretches, whatever feels better for you! My husband still sets an hourly alarm on his phone to help remind him to drink some water and stretch. Even if he misses an alarm here or there, he has still gotten in the bulk of his water intake for the day rather than trying to catch up right before going to sleep.
  4. Practice gratitude daily. Pick your top 3–5 things that you are most grateful for in this moment. If you can’t think of something, start with gratitude for the basic essentials- air, food, water, shelter, and clothing. Like other muscles that need to be exercised, the more you express gratitude, the more you will find to be grateful for.
  5. Visit your chiropractor! Chiropractors work to help your nervous system function more optimally by correcting structural misalignments, typically in your spine. Since your nervous system literally controls every aspect of your body, wouldn’t it be great if you could have an optimally functioning nervous system?

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

  1. Use it, or lose it! People often ask me if arthritis or degeneration in their joints is just a normal part of aging. The short answer is that, no, we are not destined to have arthritis simply because of age. Actually what happens is that if we have too much mobility in a joint (like if you try to “crack” your own neck or back), or if you are a pro athlete and using that joint in fairly full capacity often, your body perceives that as an area that needs to be stabilized, and ultimately starts to create extra bone growth to limit the movement in said joints. Conversely, if you have static postures all day and don’t move much, your brain interprets that to mean that you don’t really need to move those joints after all and again starts to create extra bone growth to stabilize the area. For muscles, let’s say that you are in a cast for several weeks. When the cast is removed, most likely the muscles will have atrophied a bit from lack of use during that time. If you take effort to correct that, you can certainly build muscle again. However the longer the period of lack of use, the more time it takes to build the muscles back up.
  2. Better sleep — I love the feeling of being physically tired and falling asleep with ease! Sleep is when our cells can rest and repair. With so many people having challenges with falling and/or staying asleep, wouldn’t it be great if you could assist the process by getting a little more movement in your day?
  3. Improved mood — Besides the endorphin release and the chemical reactions which take place, I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve completed my workout. Regardless of the length or the specific activity, I feel like we should take time to recognize and appreciate these wins!

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

I believe that the best exercise is one which you can be consistent with. So while that might look different for each person, here would be a couple of concepts which I would suggest to keep in mind:

  1. Cross body movements, i.e. walking without holding anything (or holding equal weights in your hands) where your right arm can move forward along with your left leg and vice versa. This allows our brain to reintegrate the connection with the rest of our body. However, if you hold a water bottle in one hand, for example, the bottle will limit the movement in which your arm can move so the reintegration on that side becomes limited. In that situation, I would suggest switching your bottle to the other hand halfway through your exercise.
  2. Push Up — against the wall, on the ground, on your knees, single-handed, etc. — pick whatever position feels right for your body and gives you a bit of challenge. It’s a great whole body workout that can be done anywhere!
  3. Stretching — Many people often think of strength training or cardiovascular workouts when it comes to exercise, but often overlook the importance of stretching, particularly after a workout. I’ve taken many different exercise classes over the years, and even in the various sporting events in school, the emphasis of stretching was always placed at the beginning of the class. While you want to make sure to warm up your muscles, I think it is extremely important to stretch the contracted muscle after exercise so that you can regain your muscle length after strengthening. As I mentioned earlier, even if you can take a micro break and stretch for one minute every hour throughout the day, that will make a significant difference in your circulation, flexibility and overall musculoskeletal system.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

There are so many amazing books to pick from, but I’ll actually share two of my favorites, if that’s okay: The Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton, PhD, and The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. Dr. Lipton was a pioneer in showing the scientific connection between the mind, body and spirit and the cellular impact of our thoughts. Regarding The Secret, while many people have talked about the law of attraction, I really appreciated the examples which Ms. Byrne shared — it made it much easier for me to start implementing those concepts into my life.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Oh wow! My dream is to redefine “health”care by creating wellness centers providing integrative, (w)holistic care for families focusing on preventative, long-term wellness physically, mentally, and financially.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“The body achieves what the mind believes.” I feel like this quote accurately sums up the essence of the two books that I shared above. Whatever the topic is, be it health, wealth, love, etc., I feel that if we can stay out of our own head (in terms of overthinking, overanalyzing, etc.), that there really are no boundaries to what we are capable of! I haven’t shared this story much, but when I was 17, I was preparing to perform my solo South Indian classical debut dance performance. The night before the performance during the rehearsal, I started experiencing some ankle pain out of the blue! In all my years of dancing, I had never experienced anything like that. We all decided that we would carry forward with the show and my teacher told me to just go home and visualize the entire performance in my head, exactly as I had been practicing it, going through each piece mentally. The next day was the big performance and besides the standard performance nerves, everything was going smoothly until my final piece where the bandage I had wrapped on my foot started to unravel. I could feel something was odd, but otherwise felt fine. Since in my head I felt that I was okay, I continued dancing and it was only upon completion that I was able to see the bandage had started unraveling. I am grateful that in that moment, my mind stayed calm, allowing my body to complete my performance, albeit with a little dramatic flair for the audience. =)

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

I’ve always admired Deepak Chopra’s work. I think he has done a phenomenal job to bring spiritual wellness into the foreground.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

The best way is to follow me is on LinkedIn (Dr. Anjali Agrawal) or via my website BackInBalanceHealth.com.

Thank you so much for this opportunity!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.