Monday, January 28, 2008

Trying to keep your weight in check?

The following article is reprinted here courtesy of Honora Lee Wolfe, Dipl. Ac. and editor at Blue Poppy Press. Below you'll find 8 time-tested tips to help you hold the line on weight gain, which is especially important when your health conditions are specifically related to overweight or at least worsened by excessive weight.

1) EAT breakfast. In fact, regular meals and even some minimal healthy snacking helps us all to prevent the “starve-then-feast” phenomenon that can sabotage dieters. Whole grain cooked cereals, poached or soft-boiled eggs, or fresh, room-temperature or cooked fruit are a great start to the day.

2) TAKE TIME when you eat all meals. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, so when we gulp down our food, we can eat more than we need without knowing that our body has had enough. Try chewing more slowly, put down your fork between bites, have a conversation, and savor the textures and smells of the food while you are eating them.

3) FEELING hungry between meals? Bite into a pickle or suck on a lemon slice. Neither one has any significant calories and the sour taste curbs appetite. If you don’t have either of these in the refrigerator, brush your teeth when you feel hungry and see if that short-circuits the urge!
4) POST a list of around-the-house or artistic projects on the refrigerator door (and a couple of other places around the house as well). When you need dieting-discipline tackle a project instead of eating. This helps you ride out the cravings.

5) START with a smaller amount than you think you can eat…and use smaller plates whenever you can. This fools your eyes into thinking less food is more.

6) PLAN your exercise in the morning if you can. After fasting overnight, more than half of the calories burned will come from stored fat, which is better for weight management than burning the carbs you ate for lunch when you work out at night. (Of course a walk before breakfast AND after dinner is not a bad idea either!!)

7) REMEMBER that a good aerobic workout will burn calories during the workout and for several hours afterward.

8) DRINK lots of water before and during a party where you will be drinking alcohol. It will fill you up, lessen your chance of a hangover, and make you feel full so that you eat fewer canap├ęs or cookies!

You may also want to check out Juliette Aiyana's book on Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management for more great tips!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

finding the right doctor

When was the last time you had to find a new doctor? Have you been with the same doctor for many years? Or have you had to switch doctors many times due to moving cities or switching health care coverage? In our day in age, less and less people are able to establish lasting and trusting relationships with their health care providers. Many people don't have a doctor to go to with questions regarding their health. Some because they can't afford health coverage. Others because they haven't, for some reason or another, sought out a doctor in years. That's not to say they feel great all the time. Rather, they are reluctant to take their problems to a stranger who they, frankly, are not quite sure will help or very much care.

In speaking with people, I have found that those who have been seeing the same doctor for a number of years are much more likely to go in for a consultation when something doesn't feel right. They've established a relationship of trust, and they feel they have someone they can turn to. Those who do not have an established physician, on the other hand, tend to hold off on seeking help, partly out of fear, partly because they don't know where to begin in their quest for a trustworthy provider.

Starting a new relationship is never easy. Be it with an associate or colleague, a new teacher, a step-parent, housekeeper, mechanic, or a physician. The initial stages are always awkward, until we learn to know and trust each other. For some relationships, we don't have a choice as to the people entering our lives. For others, we get to choose. If we don't like our mechanic, we find another. The same is true for our health care providers. I believe that finding the right health care provider is essential!

The best way to find a good doctor is to get referrals from people you trust. Sometimes, this isn't possible, say if you've just moved to a new area and don't know anyone there yet. Or maybe none of your friends have the same insurance coverage, or none of the doctors they've recommended are accepting new patients. If you have to pick someone randomly off a list of approved providers, you could call them and ask about their health philosophy. Find out a little bit about what kind of a person they are. Some physicians now have personal websites that allow you to find out a little bit about them before you commit to entrusting them with your health. As you are looking over doctors' names and bios, see if you can tap into your intuition. Does one name resonate with you more than another? What's the feeling in your gut when you consider one person over another? See if you can tune out your rational thoughts for a moment and connect with the subtle feeling deep inside of you. Are you feeling agitated and tense as you are focusing on the person's name? Or are you experiencing a sense of calm and ease? If it's the former, keep looking. If it's the latter, give that person and try.

Dr. Judith Orloff has written a wonderful book called
Intuitive Healing , in which, among other things, she gives suggestions on using your intuition to find the right healer for you. It doesn't have to be an MD. In fact, depending on your condition, you might benefit more from seeking the care of a holistic practitioner, such as a Naturopathic Doctor, a Chiropractor, or a Licensed Acupuncturist. Or you may require a team of health care providers, including an MD, and maybe a holistic counsellor, a Reiki practitioner, or a Licensed Hypnotherapist. Whatever provider you end up choosing, your intuition can help guide you to her or him.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Law of Attraction

Here's a bit of irony. After writing the latest blog post and telling various people about the benefits of acupuncture in quickly relieving a stiff neck, I woke up two days ago to a stiff neck of my own. Is it coincidence?

Most of us have heard about the Law of Attraction by now. In a nutshell, the Law of Attraction states that we draw into our lives what we focus our energy on. Then is it really coincidental that I should wake up with a stiff neck right after devoting a fair share of time and energy thinking and writing about it? In my mind, it was just another piece of evidence that Law of Attraction is as reliable as the Law of Gravity. Gravity doesn't work sometimes and not others. If you throw a ball up into the air, it will always - always - fall back down. So with the Law of Attraction. Whatever thoughts you dwell on and give energy to will always have an effect on what shows up in your life!

Sometimes not the desired effect, mind you, but that is where focused intention comes in. By intentionally directing our thoughts and aligning them with our desires, we can manifest just about anything we want into our lives! Now that's not to say you will wake up to a shiny new Ferrari tomorrow if you think about one today (though it's not impossible!). But practice makes perfect, and I highly encourage you to take inventory of your thoughts.

What kind of thoughts run through your mind on a daily basis? Are they negative? Critical? Self-defeating? If so, notice them, discard them, and replace them with positive thoughts. You'll be amazed at how quickly this can produce a turnaround in your mood and the way you feel! Spend more time thinking constructive, feel-good thoughts, and more good things will show up in your life!

As to my stiff neck, luckily I knew just what to do, and it vanished very quickly. More than a nuisance, I considered it a fun little reminder from the universe. A reminder of just how powerful our thoughts can be!

Monday, July 23, 2007

stiff neck?

Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck? You felt fine when you went to bed the night before, and you wake up and can't turn your head to one side. You're having a hard time pulling out of your driveway, because you can't turn to look over your shoulder. It hurts to brush your hair, and you're feeling generally quite miserable, not to mention cranky.

Have you been thinking for some time about trying acupuncture? If you haven't done so yet, this is the time! Did you know that acupuncture can help to drastically relieve a stiff neck and restore range of motion with just one visit?

There is a special point on your hand that your acupuncturist will needle, all the while having you gently turn your head and stretch your neck muscles. You will be surprised to find that, within minutes, you can turn your head much further than before the session started!

If you are unable to get to an acupuncturist, you can massage this point yourself while gently rotating your head left and right over your shoulders. The point is called Luo Zhen, which translates to "crink in the neck". You can locate it by forming a loose fist with your hand. Place the index finger of the opposite hand between the knuckles of the index and middle fingers, and then slide it about 1/2 an inch back, towards the wrist. Focus on the point on the same side as the affected area of your neck, but you can work the Luo Zhen point on both hands. When one side starts to get too sore, work the other side. Keep massaging the point and turning your neck, until you are able to rotate conisderably further. Then give it a rest and repeat later on.

If you can get to an acupuncturist, he or she will be able to stimulate the Luo Zhen point more strongly with the needle than you'd be able to do with pressure alone. He or she will also use additional needles - most likely in your neck and shoulder area - and maybe even do some
cupping in the affected area. Cupping helps to release the muscle spasm. Most patients describe the feeling as comparable to a deep tissue massage. It will leave some marks on your skin, and you may look like you've received a hug from a giant octopus, but you'll walk out feeling relaxed, relieved, and a lot less stiff than you walked in!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Allergies suck!

Well, the wind has been blowing and the sun is out here in San Jose. It is beautiful. Trees and flowers are in full bloom, and the air smells sweet with summer.

But you would think the plague has hit. Everyone is walking around clutching tissues with streaming eyes and runny noses. Why? Because the pollen is sending everyone's immune systems into hyper-drive.

How can acupuncture possibly help? Well, what the needles do is take the pressure off the nervous system so that it can recalibrate itself and start acting in a more appropriate way. When our bodies are responding to the allergens in the air, often our immune systems are over-responding to what it percieves as a threat. We help mellow-out the nervous system while at the same time strengthening the immune system. Using herbs we open up the sinuses and again work on strengthening that immune system. The result? a drug-free, non-drowsy answer to an annual or perennial problem.

Happy summer!

Friday, July 13, 2007

endless possibilities

After Anna had gone on vacation to Mexico at the end of May and I had taken over Lokahi Acupuncture in her absence, it was my turn to take a vacation at the end of June. It had been 6 months since my last vacation, and a little rest & relaxation was much needed.

I spent two weeks in various parts of New York State. I attended a retreat near Albany, New York with a group of 6 other women. The experience was life-altering, and I walked away from it with a tremendous amount of joy and feeling re-inspired to create the most fulfilling possible life for myself.

I spent some time with my in-laws, visited with old friends from the time I'd lived in New York many years ago, and took the train down to Manhattan to meet up with yet more friends.

The entire trip was very much about connecting and re-connecting with dear friends (especially fabulous women friends). I returned from my trip refreshed and uplifted, ready to dive head-first back into my life at home. Ok, ok, I will admit, there was a little bit of reluctance to end my vacation and get back to real life. But I was excited about it, as well. Excited about taking all the principles I'd learned at the retreat back into the real world with me and seeing how I could apply them to my life.

Coming back to work at Lokahi Acupuncture, I was struck by just how much it means to return to a work environment you enjoy. So many people dread going into the office. Dread the interactions with their bosses, their co-workers, and the often unpleasant surroundings they work in. I felt so blessed to return to such a wonderful work environment. I love my exchanges and interactions with Anna, love our patient community, and love the beautiful space that Anna has created in this office.

The other day, I decided to treat myself to an acupuncture session with my first regular acupuncturist. When I started seeing her, she was still an intern at my school, and I was in my first semester. She graduated at the end of my second semester and moved away, but she is now back and practicing in Santa Cruz. Since I had been missing the ocean dearly, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to drive down to Santa Cruz to be treated by her and breathe in a whiff of ocean air!

It was so lovely to see her again, and I always get so much spiritual healing from my sessions with her. That's the part about acupuncture I am truly passionate about. The part that goes more than skin-deep and goes far beyond treating any physical ailments.

While resting with the needles in, I found myself reflecting upon how an experience at our office differed from an experience at the school's clinic in Santa Cruz. Although it's a nice clinic, it doesn't have that same warm, intimate feel that Lokahi Acupuncture has to offer. There is something very special about our small, family-oriented environment, and our patients appreciate that when they come here. And I, most certainly, appreciate working in this kind of environment! What a difference it makes!

I am a firm believer in the Law of Attraction, and I am always amazed to see how what we set our intentions to will show up in our lives. My current work environment is exactly what I had visualized before I met Anna, and I still am in awe at how perfectly things can fall into place in our lives when we are clear about what we want.

If you are less than happy with your current work situation (or relationship, health, living space, or any other area of your life), I encourage you to start spending some time, every day, focusing on what an ideal situation would look like for you. Visualize it as if it were already real. Be as detailed as possible. Write down what it is you want. And allow yourself to believe that you CAN have that.

Here's to endless possibilities of living the lives of our dreams!

with love,


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Michael Moore's new movie

Last weekend, my husband Jim and I went out on a date. It had been many, many months since we'd last seen a movie at the theatre, and so, after a delicious Middle Eastern dinner, we finally went to check out the movie theatre in our new home town, which we have now been living in for 4 months already. I'd say it was about time!

Although I often prefer the cheerful, lighthearted movies, as I feel we are bombarded with enough negativity throughout our days as it is, I certainly appreciate a movie that makes you think and raises awareness. Michael Moore's movie Sicko does just that! In watching it, I went through moments of thinking, I'm calling my friend in Canada as soon as I get home to see if she'll rent us out a room in her apartment!, or I'm moving back to Europe!, where I am from.

The state of health insurance in the U.S. is quite frankly appalling. Whatever happened to the notion of health insurance existing for the purpose of helping people to afford the medical treatments they need? Isn't the idea that we all pay into a fund so that, whoever's in need, will be able to draw from that fund to cover their costs? Wouldn't we all hope to receive that kind of support ourselves if we were in need?

It seems the sole purpose of health insurance in the U.S. nowadays is for the insurance companies to make a profit. They have no regard for the consumer, and they try, in every thinkable way, to deny the insured the requested coverage whenever possible.

Some of the stories covered in Michael Moore's movie were heart-wrenching. To loose a child because your insurance tells you they won't cover treatment at the hospital she was taken to by the ambulance and, by the time, you get your baby to the 'proper' hospital, the doctors regret to tell you that she has 'expired.' To have to choose between having your middle or ring finger re-attached, because you can't afford to pay for both. To leave your cancer untreated because you are in your twenties and the insurance company dnies your claim, as you are supposedly 'too young to have cancer.' Where is the humanity in all this? Can people really be so heartless as to care more about the bottom line of their year-end fiscal reports than the lives and well-being of fellow human beings?

With the United States ranking 37th on the WHO list of health care systems, Michael Moore is infuriated, and I believe rightly so. We have more wealth and technology than any other country, and, nevertheless, 50 million of our citizens are without insurance, 9 million of them children.

Admittedly, Moore glorifies the other countries he contrasts with the U.S. in his documentary, and, most certainly, those countries have their own host of problems. However, I truly believe that proper health care should be a right every citizen is entitled to, and we shouldn't have to worry about whether we can afford to take our children to the doctors or have our fingers re-attached.

No wonder more and more U.S. citizen are taking their health care needs into their own hands and setting up funds and flex spending plans to cover their medical costs. That's not to mention how many of us are paying out-of-pocket for alternative treatments not covered by our insurance plans.

Though I fall far short of proposing a plan to run the health care system in this country, I would wish that the big insurance moguls take a look at their conscience and take a moment, every so often, to listen to their hearts and consider the possibility of doing their part in helping humankind, rather than capitalizing on the poor.