Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Acupuncture and Weight Loss III

Today's blog is the 3rd in the series Acupuncture and Weight Loss. If you've just started reading catch up by first taking a look at Acupuncture and Weight Loss to understand how Chinese Medicine works. Look over Acupuncture and Weight Loss II to get a grasp on eating smarter.

Today's focus is, What is the emotional component of your extra weight?

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.

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.

Your "Chinese" emotions play a role in your weight loss goals.

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.

>> 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.

>> 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.

>> 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.

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.

>> Try positive affirmations like, "I love myself just the way I am." Say it as many times as you can through out the day.

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.

>> 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 and grains.

>> 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.

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.

Sarah Zender LAc

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Acupuncture and Weight Loss II

This blog will piggyback on a previous blog post about weight loss and acupuncture.

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 on splenda 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 Stevia, Agave nectar, 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. Its ok to indulge. When I really want a hot fudge sundae I eat it. The difference now is that I don't want one every day or even every week acupuncture and herbs really helped me get over that hump. In fact now I am more in tune to what my body needs. I'll crave real food more then I will the sweet stuff. I don't count calories or mark off how many times I've exercised this week. I eat foods I enjoy eating that taste good and are good for me and I move my body in ways I enjoy doing rather then worrying about sweating enough at the gym.

Sarah Zender LAc

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Watermelon, a Chinese Herb

Did you know that watermelon is a Chinese herb?

Watermelon or xi gua is a sweet and cold herb and like anything grown in the summer resolves summerheat.

Summerheat is induced by excessively high temperatures, overexposure to the blazing sun especially while working or staying too long in poorly ventilated areas.

Summerheat manifests with:

>> High fever
>> Restlessness
>> Thirst
>> Profuse sweating
>> Dizziness
>> Blured vision
>> Sunstroke
>> Sudden collapse
>> Nausea
>> Poor appetite
>> Loose stools

Watermelon enters the lung and stomach channels thus cools the lungs and stomach, relieving irritability, quenching thirst, and facilitating urination. Because it can do all of this it is sometimes referred to as the natural White Tiger Decoction. The easiest way to take this herb is simply to eat watermelon or drink 100-300ml of its juice. Make sure to eat some of the white part too.

Essentials of Materia Medica states that xi gua "restores sobriety" after over-consumption of alcohol. It has also been said that xi gua aids in weight loss.

Many people get dehydrated in the summer months due to the heat. Eating watermelon is one way to fight against this. Your body doesn't differentiate hunger from thirst a lot of the time. If you find yourself feeling insatiable check to make sure you are drinking enough water before having 2nds or 3rds at meal time.

Watermelon peel or xi gua pi is more of a diuretic than it is cooling and is especially good for edema caused by summerheat.

Both the flesh and peel of watermelon can be used for jaundice.

Who would have thought Chinese herbs could taste so good.

Sarah Zender LAc

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove IL 847.357.3929

Lower a Fever with Acupressure

Children and Acupuncture

Kids are so resilient. If you've had success with acupuncture as an adult think about how much quicker your child-size body would have responded and how many years of discomfort and dis-harmony you could have eliminated. Luckily, acupuncture benefits all ages and we can start wherever we are.

With children in mind, I'd like to share a simple acupressure technique for lowering fevers. This is very helpful when babies are teething or if a fever is getting higher than you might feel comfortable with.

ZhongChong or PC9, is located on the tip of the middle fingers. Not only can it help with fevers for children it also can be used for night time crying. This point is also used to restore consciousness.

Firmly squeeze or massage PC 9 (tips of the middle fingers) for 1-3 minutes on each hand. Depending on the size of the finger I might even massage the entire finger and "nip" the tip of the middle finger. Nipping is done by placing the finger in between your index and middle finger squeezing gently and pulling off. You'll know your doing it right if you hear a little pop as you nip. This point can also be bled in order to clear heat.

What are your natural remedies for lowering fevers?

Sarah Zender LAc

Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove IL 847.357.3929