Monthly Archives: January 2014

cold

Natural Remedy for Shoulder Tension

This cold weather may be making you tense your shoulders without you realizing it half the time. In Chinese Medicine the back of the neck is extremely sensitive to wind. If that wind gets into the body it can wreck all sorts of havoc. Its a pretty instincutal thing to hunch your shoulder when the slap of cold hits you. Here is something you can do to release some of that built up tension. (it works for regular old tension too from sitting at a computer too long, driving, stress etc)

 

Sit or stand up nice and tall. Take a deep breath and lift your shoulders to your ears. Now take your shoulders back (while keeping your chest in the same place) and slide your inner shoulder blades down. Ahh doesn’t that feel good?

The mom in me is going to remind you not to forget your scarf when you go outside too! Stay warm :)

What is this polar vortex all about?

The winter time according to Chinese Medicine relates to the Kidney/Urinary Bladder system and is associated with cold, fear, black, the lower back and knees and opens to the ears. The energy of the body is condensed and held deep in the body. It is a time of inner reflection and listening.

As I was driving into work today. I came across this.

It got me thinking. It’s been really cold this year. Seems like mother nature is forcing us all into a little extra hibernation. If you get really quiet and take a deep breath what do you hear? What is your body telling you? I think its telling me to lay close to a sunny window like a cat and take a nap. :)

Hope you are enjoying the polar vortex! :) Enjoy some stillness.

Natural Remedy to Stay Hydrated and Happy When its Cold Out

I don’t know about you but this winter has already been cold and long for me. I just can’t seem to stay hydrated. Just the thought of drinking some (room temp) water makes me feel cold! I know many people have been complaining of headaches lately and I’m sure lack of hydration plays a part in this. My lips are in constant need of chapstick too.

This is a quick and easy way to stay hydrated and uplift your spirits.

Drinking too much coffee and tea can have a dehydrating effect on your system. Here’s what I’ve been doing.

I’ve been drinking mug fulls of warm to hot water with a drop of citrus fresh.

The warm water feels good inside and out and the citrus fresh has an uplifting scent if this weather has you feeling down. Citrus fresh contains lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, manderin, and spearmint. This blend tastes good and help you crave extra hydration especially if you find it harder to get water in during the winter months.

This is what the Essential Oils Desk Reference also has to say about citrus fresh.

“Stimulates the right brain to amplify creativity and well-being as well as eradicate anxiety and works well as an air purifier. University researchers in Japan found that diffusing a citrus fragrence in an office environment improve mental accuracy and concentration by 54%.”

Citrus oils are high in limonene that help to prevent damage to DNA and can also help with swelling and dampness in the body if you are retaining water.

You could also simply put fresh slices of oranges or lemons into your water. What I love about using essential oils instead is that they are super portable so you can bring them with you wherever you go, concentrated and they don’t go bad like fruit does. You can order oils here.   If you need help ordering oils just let me know!

Meditation for Toddlers

Sometimes toddlers get over tired, over stimulated or just have trouble winding down for nap time. Just like adults, sometimes toddlers need a little help relaxing. This video was inspired for a little girl who plays hard and has trouble sleeping. Its great for parents and caregivers to watch and model with their toddler for 5 minutes of quiet time for everyone. 😉

 

New Years Resolutions: Acupuncture for Weight Loss part 3

Today’s blog is the 3rd in the series Acupuncture and Weight Loss.
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Today’s focus is, What is the emotional component of your extra weight?
affirmation
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Acupuncture can help build new pathways in your body to maintain harmony. Its important to remember that acupuncture is subtle and it can be easy for your mind to override your new found health.
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Sometimes weight troubles can be linked back to a personal experience. Or you might feel, even subconsciously that if you stay heavier that you’re off the radar and people won’t expect much from you.
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Your “Chinese” emotions play a role in your weight loss goals.
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Anger: bottling up anger or resentment causes the liver qi to stagnate. The longer this stagnation continues the more phlegm can build up in the body. Excess weight in Chinese Medicine is considered dampness or damp-phlegm. Its important to remember that each emotion is necessary, its the expression that counts. If you find yourself easily irritated try exercises to let your anger go. Here are three of my favorite.
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>> The wood chopper: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance with a soft knees. Clasp your hands together. Take a deep inhale through your nose and raise your clasped hands over your head. Exhale powerfully out through your mouth and “chop the wood” bringing your clasped hands through your legs. (Keeping a soft bend in your knees as you do this will protect your back) Do this yoga posture mindfully letting your breathe move you slowly. Try 5-10 reps and then slowly stand for a moment and notice how you feel.
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>> Try yelling at the top of your lungs. No, not at someone. If you’ve had a stressful day take a minute when you’re in your car and let out a good scream. (make sure no one is around you) Think about the last time you screamed out loud, it might not has been since childhood. Let it go.
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>> Go for a skip or a gallop. Its hard to stay angry and skip at the same time. Not only that but movement increases the circulation which will keep liver qi stagnation at bay.
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Fear: If fear is a part of your excess weight (fear of acceptance, rejection, not being good enough) this can tax your kidneys. The kidneys regulate the water passage ways in your body and control your low back and libido. If you hold onto fear you may also hold on to extra weight for a false sense of security. Acupuncture can help release these fears and boost your confidence.
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>> Try positive affirmations like, “I love myself just the way I am.” Say it as many times as you can through out the day.
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Worry/Overthinking: If you’re always concerned with what other people think of you or are an incessant worrier this can cause your spleen to work overtime and your body to produce dampness in the body which will in turn increase your sweet tooth and decrease your digestive function. Focus on getting healthy for you and only you.
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>> A spleen diet is one full of simple foods that are not overly seasoned. Quinoa, barley, and rice help to nourish the digestive system and drain dampness out of the body. Look for full sweet flavored foods to combat your sweet tooth with foods like sweet potatoes and other yellow root vegetables.
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>> Remember the phrase, “clean house, clean mind.” If your thoughts are on overdrive take a look around your living or work space. If its full of clutter take some time to clean it up and get rid of things that are broken or you are no longer using. Donate items that might be beneficial to others. You might just notice feeling lighter or cleaner in your body or mind after your environment goes through a cleaning transformation.
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Ultimately you have to love yourself where you are at in this present moment. If you aren’t happy with who you are right now losing weight won’t change that. There will always be 5 more pounds to go or a firmer this or that. You don’t love the people in your life less or more based on their weight or appearance. Use the same compassion for yourself as you would for those you love.

New Years Resolutions: Acupuncture for Weight Loss part 2

When doing acupuncture for weight loss it is important to remember that this is a process. Your chance of lasting success depends on a slower transition. In this way your new habits will become second nature, rather than an overnight deprivation of everything you are used to. In Chinese Medicine we would call this bringing the body into harmony, rather than creating an imbalance in the opposite direction.
In this blog we will talk about food as medicine and your role in your health.
When I was at The Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine their research of acupuncture for weight loss showed that for some people weight loss happened right away and for others first their body had to get healthier and then the weight loss happened. In a world full of processed and artificial foods and stress I would argue that the latter is more true for most Americans who want to achieve lasting weight loss results.
In the 8 branches of Chinese Medicine food is seen as the first medicine and every tool after this should be seen as a supplement. Please don’t be fooled. Acupuncture can help you lose weight but if you are not willing to make changes in the lifestyle that allowed you to gain weight don’t expect optimal results.
If you are using Splenda or any other artificial sweetener please stop now. This could be part of what is keeping your weight on. First off, did you know splenda was a pesticide before it was a no cal sweetener? Or how about that it turns to formaldehyde when its heated to your body temperature? You can get more information onsplenda and sugar substitutes here. When you use artificial foods your body doesn’t feel satisfied and this will cause you to overeat and contribute to more sugar cravings. Also, splenda is toxic to your body and when your body doesn’t know how to process something, especially something toxic it stores it in your body’s fat. The more toxic foods you eat the more your body will hold onto fat so it has somewhere to store all that junk.
Ditch the Splenda and try local honey, or natural cane sugar instead. These alternatives are natural and are super sweet so you’ll use less and feel more satisfied. Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods will have any of these. More and more regular grocery stores are carrying them now too.
The best way to stop eating junk food is to stop buying it! When you do have a craving for something sweet or salty go out and buy a one portion size of whatever it is that you have a hankering for. Don’t be swayed by the buy one get one free cartons of ice cream. Its not a deal when you think of how much money you’ll ultimately spend in trying to loose the weight you gained from the ice cream. An occasional treat should be just that, a treat. So when you indulge ENJOY it. Savor every bite so that you’re satisfied instead of wanting more and under no circumstances feel bad about it.
Fat free and low fat is as big an enemy as Splenda for the same reasons mentioned above. You might not be aware that your body needs fat in order to lose weight. If you deprive your body of fats, especially healthy fats it will hold on to whatever fat it has even harder. Avocados, coconuts, olive oil, and fish are all great sources of healthy fats.
Find a balance between eating for energy and eating for enjoyment. You can have both but you might have to re-frame what kinds of foods you enjoy. For example, if every time you eat ice cream you have diarrhea maybe that’s not bringing much enjoyment to your life. Again we refer back to all of this as a process. You might not enjoy so called “healthy” foods at first as you get all that toxic crap out of your system. The beginning of this transition might be a challenge and that’s ok. Find enjoyment even in this part of the process. If this feels like punishment it will never be something you stick to.
I do google searches for recipes each week. Sometimes I look for ideas to try something I’ve never eaten before (i love all sorts of ethnic dishes), other times its because the picture looks yummy. One thing that all the recipes I look for that have in common is that they do not contain dairy or fake foods like splenda and they are full of veggies and yes, meat but in moderation. (if you think you don’t like veggies start first with veggies you do like and go from there, over time this will change) I only shop for what I need for each of my recipes and whatever is cooked for dinner is the next day’s lunch. What I’ve found is that the food I make at home tastes more delicious than eating out and I actually spend way less on food and throw away less rotten food that was lost in the fridge. Its completely taken away the question “what’s for dinner” that usually comes up when I’m starving and don’t feel like cooking. And cooking something at home that you have all the ingredients for is just as fast as pulling through a drive-thru window.
And yes, its ok to still eat out every once in a while. Find your middle path. The better you feel the more you will want to continue to feel that way and the less your old vices will have a hold on you.
Try as much as you can to eat in season. Eat produce that is growing locally. In the fall and winter months eat a little more meat, cooked veggies, soups, and stews. In the spring and supper its ok to add more raw veggies, fruits, and fish. Check on Mondays for a new recipe each week as well.

New Years Resolutions: Acupuncture for Weight Loss part 1

The function of the spleen and stomach system in Chinese Medical theory is to transform and transport the food that we eat. The spleen specifically can become imbalanced from dampness either from the environment (rain, snow) or the foods that we eat (processed food, excess sugar, dairy products, greasy foods etc). Dampness is a pathogen that weighs the body down literally through extra weight and energetically through fatigue. Chinese Medicine sees excess weight as an imbalance in the body.

 

Think about it, if your body is overweight you have a higher chance of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and so on. From this point of view the goal of acupuncture is not necessarily weight loss, it is harmony. When the body is in balance it knows how to process the foods that are consumed properly so that instead of storing food that is not needed it is eliminated. According to research from the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine acupuncture is particularly useful for weight loss especially when the weight is carried around the abdomen and organs in middle aged people. Commonly people who are overweight have other imbalances such as hypertension, fatty liver, high cholesterol, menstrual or menopausal problems, stomach inflammation, constipation, or depression. Often times these other issues that may or may not seem related are actually the root cause of the weight gain. As we look at the body as a complete system the goal is to harmonize all organ systems so that the body can function most optimally. In this way the body naturally lets go of the excess weight it does not need and the effects of treatment positively impact the entire body. It is important to remember that balance is a process and being committed and consistent are key to lasting success. Weight gain does not happen over night and it is not reasonable to expect it to be lost over night either.

What you can do:
Eat breakfast and make it your largest meal of the day. The energy of the large intestine, spleen and stomach are most active in the morning. When you eat breakfast you stoke the fire of your metabolism so that your body has energy to get through the day.

Limit your intake of dairy and sweets. Dairy and empty sweet foods contribute to dampness and phlegm in the body. When the spleen is out of balance it will crave empty sweets like candy and ice cream (sweet and damp and just about the worst thing for your spleen). Yellow foods like squash as well as full sweet foods such as sweet potatoes nourish the spleen.

Don’t eat after 8:00pm. Your stomach should be finished with digestion when you go to sleep at night. In this way your body can use this time of rest to repair and rejuvenate instead of multitasking. Also, your stomach will be empty in the morning and ready for breakfast, making it easier to wake up.

Move your body everyday. For many people exercise is a dirty word, so change your language! Move your body a little bit every day in whatever way gives you joy. Talk a walk or a yoga class, dance while you’re cooking dinner, skip from your parking spot to the entrance of the grocery store, hula hoop. The more you move your body the more your body will want to move. Find a partner to keep it fun and accountable. I am doing the plank challenge right now with my sister. We have to text by 8pm everyday to say we’ve finished. We also added as many squats as seconds we are holding plank each day. Every time I get her text if I haven’t planked yet, I drop what I’m doing and get it done. If I would have done this by myself I would have already stopped by now.

Testimony:

“Just to let you know, I had acupuncture for six weeks for knee pain and low thyroid and noticed when I stepped on the scale I had lost 5 pounds without even trying or realizing it! That was an awesome benefit especially since I watch what I eat and workout 3 times a week and go to yoga 2 times a week and can never seem to tip the scale in my favor. I see acupuncture helping so many people. Thank you for the work you are doing to help people live a healthier life.” Joyce H

sleepy

What is Your “Best”?

When the holidays started I was invited to take part in a health challenge. A maintain, don’t gain approach to being more mindful during the easiest part of the year to statistically gain weight. There were various opportunities to work out with fellow participants and support to keep you motivated. I consider myself to eat fairly well and try to take the middle approach as much as I can. (I do have a famous sweet tooth :))

I don’t know if it was the awareness of the challenge that I was paying more attention or not. I was doing fairly well, doing yoga almost nightly, getting to the gym on a regular basis etc. That was sometime in between Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas chaos. I was at one point down a few pounds which probably led me to enjoy the holidays with a little extra reckless abandonment. :) I don’t know why it was shocking when somewhere between Christmas and New Years I had added an extra 5 pounds to the scale, but there it was.

Sometimes seeing the scale not tipping in favor isn’t motivation for me, sometimes its the exact opposite which can be a very slippery slope. My husband and I hit the gym around that same time and it was the first time I was doing extensive cardio in quite awhile. At one point in my life I was a cardio junkie and something has changed slowly over the years and that love affair has died or rather its been so long maybe I forgot about that love. My husband and I were side by side and agreed to go for 30 minutes. He suggested I up my speed. I could have, I could have had a certain expectation to keep a pace my pre-baby self would have expected. I told him no. I wanted to listen to my body. 30 minutes seemed like a super long time to “get through in that moment.” I did my best and when it was over it didn’t seem so bad. A few days later we were back at it and this time I felt comfortable with a higher speed and the time seemed to go faster. I was finding a groove. I landed back in the pool to swim some laps and felt stronger and was able to push myself. The next visit to the gym I was pumped to see where I could push myself on that day except a funny thing happened. I wasn’t able to do “more” laps or reps or whatever then my previous session. That’s when it hit me that my best today was just going to look different from my best did the last time. When I became ok with that the rest of my session was enjoyable.

We live in a society that is really easy to beat yourself up for every little imperfection you have. Its mindless hobby for many of us, myself included. The internet, Facebook, pinterest etc can really make one feel like everyone else really have their “sh!t together”. I wanted to share this as a reminder to look at what your best looks like in this moment and not to compare it to the last moment or the next one. And please ignore what anyone else’s best looks like for Pete’s sake!

Because post New Year’s is a time where many of us feel like it’s a good time to finally lose some weight or “get healthy” I will be sharing 3 posts over the next few days (because in this moment I have my “sh!t together and I’m seizing the moment :)) on weight loss and how it can be viewed physically, emotionally and environmentally. I wanted to share this experience first for some perspective and also to say that most people who want to know if Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can help with weight loss really don’t need to lose anything. Feeling good about yourself is as much of a mindset as what a scale or the size on your jeans says.

My best today is slightly lesser because I was attending to a toddler for an hour at 3am this morning. I’m acknowledging that and being kind to myself. Will you join me in honoring your best today?

chicken

Italian Baked Chicken with Green Lentil Mash

I was going to try out a new recipe that ended up pretty much nothing like how it started out. This was super easy, delicious and if you are trying to avoid carbs it was also super filling and didn’t feel like being deprived of anything.

What you need:

Chicken breasts

Red pepper

Italian dressing

Olive oil

Himalayan pink salt

Black pepper

Favorite seasonings or chicken stock (which ever you have available)

1 cup green lentils

8 cloves of garlic

5 baby zucchini

1 carrot

1 orange pepper

onion, diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450F Place chicken breasts in lightly greased (with olive oil) baking dish and soak in Italian dressing.

Bake for 40 minute or until cooked

Place chopped onion in sauce pan and cook until tender add the rest of veggies and garlic cloves, salt and spices and cook until veggies soften add water and spices or chicken stock and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover until all water has been cooked out stirring occasionally if you light.

Transfer veggie and lentils to a blender and blend until smooth.

Steam broccoli as a side and enjoy!

Stomach Flu Natural Medicine Cabinet Essentials

The stomach flu has been circling around us for over a month. So far we have remained unscathed even with direct contact a few times. Here is what we have been doing to stay healthy at my house besides the usual.

When I hear of another family member or friend we’ve seen recently with a stomach bug I make sure to have 3 things on hand: Di-Gize essential oil blend, Vitamin D, and Probiotics.

Di-Gize is an amazing blend of essential oils for digestion. I recently read a story from my friend Jen who used Di-Gize and Peppermint essential oil during a trip to Ecuador to get over a nasty stomach bug. Until this story I never thought to use Di Gize internally, I had always just put it on my belly. It gives me almost immediate relief from indigestion and can also be used for heartburn, gas, bloating, and candida according to the Essential Oils Desk Reference.

What’s in Di Gize? Just about every herb/oil you would think of for tummy troubles: Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Fennel, Lemongrass Anise and Patchouli. It actually doesn’t taste bad to me but if the scent makes you even more queasy add an extra drop of peppermint.

If you are using it for the stomach bug you can take a drop or two in your water preventively. If the stomach bug has landed in your home you can take it to get the pukes started. Sometimes it can have an immediate effect so if you’re feeling queasy drink your di gize spiked water in the bathroom just in case (I like to do 3 drops). Keep taking it until you can hold liquids down. It can get all the yukes out of your system quick.

According to the Innate Choice brochure research indicates that daily supplementation with Vitamin D can significantly reduce the burden of both chronic and infectious diseases. Vitamin D supplementation can enhance immunity to bacterial and viral infections. Especially in the winter when we get less sun time and spend less time outdoors Vitamin D is good to have on hand for prevention. Get your levels checked to see if you are deficient. You want to make sure the Vitamin D3 you are using in mixed or taken with fat as it is a fat soluble vitamin and fat is needed for proper absorption. I like Innate Choice because its mixed with olive oil and lasts forever. Dr Scott at VanderWeit Chiropractic carries it in the office if you need some ASAP

Probiotics build up the healthy flora in your gut whereas antibiotics kill the bad guys and the good guys in your gut. WebMD says probiotics can help with diarrhea.  Life 5 is my favorite probiotic from Young Living. You can also get probiotics from fermented foods like kombucha, yogurt, apple cider vinegar etc too.

You can order both Di Gize and Life 5 here. If you need help setting up an account let me know. I would be happy to help!

Stay healthy and warm! :)