Intention setting in the new year

It’s that time of year again: the time when many of us engage in the practice of setting a new year’s resolution.

It seems, though, that hand-in-hand with new year’s resolutions is the prediction of inevitable failure. That as soon as you pick a resolution, you won’t actually make it through the whole year sticking with the new behavior, or that by the third week of January the resolution will be out of sight, out of mind. So, I wanted to offer some tips on how to join in the tradition in a way that might foster more success, by incorporating some wisdom from traditional Chinese medicine. continue reading »

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Five Facts You Might Not Know About Acupuncture

Acupuncture is just one facet of a more inclusive medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This medical system has been around for about 3,000 years and it has helped thousands of people live long, happy, healthy lives. Acupuncture uses tiny, solid, stainless steel needles that are inserted into the body, which stimulates the nervous and immune systems, bringing balance back to the body.

According to the National Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, it is estimated that only 10 percent of Americans have tried acupuncture. But according to a survey by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, those numbers are too high. They estimate only four percent of Americans have actually tried or used acupuncture. For those who have used acupuncture, the rates of success are at 75 percent or better. And many who have received acupuncture are impressed by the amount of attention to detail most acupuncturists give when treating their patients. Acupuncture treats the body holistically, looking at mind, body and emotions in order to give the best treatment possible and cover all bases of the person’s ailment.

Many people are hesitant to try acupuncture, because it can feel foreign and hard to wrap your head around. And with so few people actually using acupuncture, it is no surprise there are a lot of things people don’t know. Here’s a list of five things most people are surprised to find out when it comes to the practice of acupuncture.

Acupuncture does NOT hurt

Licensed acupuncturists hear it all the time, “I don’t like needles.” Well, realistically, who does? But the needles used by acupuncturists are the width of a human hair, very flexible and most people don’t even feel them. In fact, quite a few people who receive acupuncture regularly, actually fall asleep and take a nap once the needles are placed.

Acupuncturists are highly educated

To receive a degree in acupuncture, you are required to attend postgraduate school. This means most acupuncturists already have a bachelor’s degree before they even begin acupuncture school. The acupuncture license is a three to four year master’s degree that includes over 3,200 academic hours. That’s almost as much as most medical doctors.

There are free bonuses to getting acupuncture

Many people seek out acupuncture for a specific ailment. But the glory of this ancient medicine is you will also receive some free bonuses, like improved sleep, better concentration and improved mental attitude. Your whole being gets treated through acupuncture!

Acupuncture helps with almost everything

Most people think of acupuncture for pain relief, but the truth is it can treat so much more. Acupuncture can help with anxiety, depression, addiction, weight issues, insomnia, digestive issues and of course any kind of pain.

Not all acupuncture is the same

There are multiple styles of acupuncture: five element, TCM, Tan, Tung, auricular, abdominal, scalp, Korean, etc. No two are exactly alike, but they all have one common thread, helping people get and stay healthy.

So now that you know a little more about acupuncture, what are you waiting for? There’s no better time than the present to get going when it comes to your health. And there’s nothing stopping you except you.

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Family Exercise in the Winter

You’re not imagining it. As the days grow shorter and the air cooler, the kids are getting restless and you may be too. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), kids need at least 1 hour of physical activity…every day. Adults should be partaking in either 2.5 hours of exercise at a moderate level OR 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise per week, minimum. Don’t let this cold season give you an excuse to skip the physical exercise and crawl back under your cozy covers. Here are some fun ways to incorporate movement and physical activity through the winter months for the whole family.

INDOOR EXERCISE

-Resistance Training- Bodyweight exercises are a great way to improve balance, flexibility, and strength without any bulky equipment. With a simple Google search, you can EASILY uncover a variety of exercises using the resistance of body weight alone.

-Boxing- Get your heart pumping with a simple boxing routine. Boxing provides a full-body workout, ducking, blocking, and throwing punches. Focus on your footwork for a cardio heavy conditioning workout that’ll get you sweating.

-Play Games- Purchase your family some soft nerf balls and start a game of indoor dodgeball. Try setting up an indoor basketball hoop for fun way to start laundry day. Consider dance parties in the kitchen while putting away dishes. Use commercial breaks to challenge each other to dance contests or during study breaks from online schooling. Try making a hopscotch or obstacle course with painters tape. Get creative and have fun with it!Get creative and have fun with it!

-Family Mindfulness- Competitive activities teach children to master their bodies, and often this can lean hard into focusing on their weaknesses. And while activity and goal setting are imperative to growth, we need to remember to teach our children to be content with themselves in a noncompetitive and appreciative way as well. Activities like Tai Chi, Yoga, or Meditation can help children feel at one with their bodies, teaching them to respect their physical and emotional selves.

SEEK OUT RECREATIONAL FACILITIES

Ready to get out of the house but not into the cold? No worries, we have exercises for you too.

-Swimming- It’s never the wrong time to go swimming. Swimming is a phenomenal physical activity for so many reasons. Firstly, swimming is an age-friendly activity. Being immersed in water provides low-impact therapy for injury rehabilitation or physically limiting conditions. Because swimming involves endurance it is also a great way to keep muscles toned, including those supporting the heart and lungs. Swimming is a full-body workout that is known to improve flexibility, coordination, balance, and posture all the while alleviating stress. Need we say more?

-Rock Climbing- The benefits of climbing are vast as well. Climbing combines mental stimulation and physical power beautifully to burn over 600 calories per hour. Not only does climbing involve the arm muscles used for gripping and pulling, but this sport will also activate legs, back, and shoulder muscles as well. The balance and finesse of this sport work the core to stabilize movements, leading to a stronger and less injury-prone body. Finding an indoor rock wall could be the winter workout you have been looking for.

-Bowling / Trampoline Park- Even with these quarantine guidelines in place and the pandemic following us into the winter, bowling alleys and trampoline parks are beginning to open back up with new safety guidelines in place. On top of the muscle-building motion of the arms and legs with these activities, they also require attention to detail for successful performance. Both of these activities are great for building hand-eye coordination.

OUTDOOR EXERCISE

Moving around outside can get your heart rate up and keep you warm, but if that isn’t enough consider a warm-up exercise routine for inside before you brave the cold. Remember to dress in long layers, wear boots instead of gym shoes, wear a hat, gloves, and don’t forget warm socks.

Try encouraging your kids to get outside. Consider a walk with the dog, visiting a new park, playing basketball, soccer, or even a good old game of frisbee. Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are great, but obviously only if you have the snow, equipment, and knowledge. Consider seeking out a local ice rink. Ice skating isn’t just for kids. In fact at a moderate pace simply skating laps can burn up to 500 calories per hour while toning your legs, butt, and similar core stabilizing muscles as rock climbing for fine movements and balance. If ice skating sounds too cold for you, consider bundling up and going for a bike ride. Because of its cardio-heavy nature and use of the quadricep muscles biking will warm your body quickly.

Scheduling the proper time for these activities for you and your family is crucial. Often kids have a lot of energy just after they have just finished school for the day, this is an optimal time to introduce rousing new adventures. Also keep in mind that positive reinforcement is the best way to form new healthy habits, both for you and your kids. Keep the dialogue light and encouraging as you discover these exciting wintertime activities together. While picking up new activities can seem like a large undertaking, you are potentially investing in new lifelong passions. And who knows, you might even end up with a workout you’ll want to do all year long.

Start small and remember to reach out to me if you need any advice.

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Immune System Health and TCM

Viruses, germs and bacteria are everywhere. They are in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. According to Chinese medicine, they do not cause disease. When a certain organ system is already weak and unable to resist outside invasion, it is therefore prone to attack by germs, such as viruses and bacteria. Illness and disease can only result when our body provides a hospitable environment.

For example, let’s say you inhaled influenza virus. Just because these germs are present, does not mean you will get the flu. There are several factors involved such as the health of your lungs, the vitality of your immune system, and your overall health.

Germs gather and thrive only in weakened parts of the body. When there is an imbalance of Qi, the normal functions of your body will ultimately be affected. This can change the normal immune system response and lead to illness.

A disease requires both a pathogen and a host. These nasty critters can only survive and flourish if circumstances are ripe. When the germs are strong, but the environment of the host (you) is stronger, the disease will be resisted. If the host is weak, however, then your environment can become a hospitable refuge for viruses, germs, bacteria and other microbes to set up shop.

Your Meridian channels control the flow of healing energy throughout your entire body, including your organs. The function (health) of your lungs, and the strength of your immune system all depend upon the quality, quantity and balance of Qi which flows within your meridian channels. The “true cure” of disease is simply NOT to kill germs, but to reestablish and build up the body’s amount of healing Qi. This will ultimately provide the adequate amount of Qi in order to restore the integrity of your meridian and organ system.

KISS SICK GOODBYE

Along with frequent acupuncture treatments, here is another way to boost your immunity in order to stay well through spring.

You can begin by taking astragalus throughout the winter. This is an herb that is revered for its first-class immune support. It is also useful if you feel tired, weak, or apathetic.

Modern research suggests that astragalus is a “biological response modifier,” increasing the function of the adrenal cortex, helping us adapt to stress easier, and increase the production of white blood cells.

If you have been around folks who are sneezing and coughing, try using maitake. This little mushroom can also help to stimulate the immune response. You can use this regularly, after being exposed to some nasty bug.

If you have already caught a cold, you can try echinacea. This herb can help to shorten the duration of a cold. Start using it as soon as you feel under the weather and then stop use as soon as you feel well again.

Herbs are a powerful medicine. It is helpful to consult with an herbalist to make sure you are getting the right type of herbs.

If you or someone you know are looking for immune-supportive remedies, schedule an appointment with me today. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have so much to offer.

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Winter and your Kidneys

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, health is achieved by living in balance with nature and the seasons. Winter, the season of the Water Element, is the season for slowing down, reflecting, and conserving our resources. We all feel this tendency, but we don’t always listen to our bodies.  In Western culture, being active is rewarded and expected. We feel compelled to keep up the hectic pace that is typical in our daily lives.

This season is associated with the kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands and the time of year when these organs are most active, accessible, and even vulnerable. They are more receptive to being restored, nurtured, and energized. At the same time, it is also when they can become easily depleted. continue reading »

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