Acupuncture for Weight Loss

I get a lot of questions about acupuncture for weight loss, and I figured it was time to say something about it here.

Weight Loss Isn’t Always About Eating Less and Exercising More

Acupuncture for weight loss!

Acupuncture for weight loss!

If you have an oral fixation, or if your hunger sensation seems to be “off,” there’s an acupuncture point for that.

If you stress eat, I have some terrific acupuncture-based anti-anxiety solutions for you.

If you are too sedentary because of chronic pain, my acupuncture and medical massage can relieve that and get you able to exercise.

If you have a Damp accumulation (a Chinese medicine concept), acupuncture is ideal.

If you are overeating because your digestion is poor, so your body is starving for nutrients, I can help with that. I take a two-pronged approach of improving your digestion through acupuncture, plus doing some nutrition analysis and getting you onto a more nourishing diet, with a better nutrient to calorie ratio.

If you’re packing on extra fat because of toxins (chemical exposure, dietary, etc.) being stored in adipose tissue, acupuncture is fantastic for detoxing.

If your metabolism is slow due to thyroid or other hormonal issues like PCOS, we can work with that, too, but acupuncture is not a magic bullet (keep reading for a metabolism reality check).

Maybe you’ve been following that laughably outdated “food pyramid,” or haven’t yet heard that the War on Fat was misguided and has created a nation of obese diabetics. In that case, I can help you with some nutritional guidance (hint: Good fats are needed to form membranes on cells, insulation for nerves, padding for organs, etc. When we don’t eat enough fat, the body stores it, thinking we are starving. Good fats: Seeds, nuts, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed beef, fish, etc. Bad fats are trans, fried, fake “foods” like margarine, canola oil, etc. There are lots of different types of healthy diets, but one thing they all agree on is eating lots of veggies!).

weight-loss-cartoon-the-invisible-man-and-wonder-womanOf course there’s always the possibility that you aren’t actually overweight, but have a body dysmorphia issue (Hint: Do your friends and family insist you look slim, and can’t believe you’re “dieting?”). Acupuncture and counseling can help with that, too.

In short, it’s good, but acupuncture for weight loss is not magical. Personally, I used to be a body-builder (my workouts were 1.5hrs, 6 days a week) and personal trainer. I was also a rock-climber and martial artist, and played paintball in the woods for fun. In other words, I was very fit. After a car accident left me unable to walk more than 10 minutes at a time, let alone work out, I was in pretty much constant agony. This was before I knew how to knit, so I just laid on the couch and watched movies, read books, and ate. I started packing on weight, but I figured it was no big deal. Once my back healed I’d just work it off, right?

Fast forward to ten years later. My back recovered (yay for acupuncture and Osteopathic medical massage!), but my metabolism had been wrecked. I was back in the gym and lifting. I was getting stronger, and building endurance and stability. I felt good, but sometimes my energy was low, and I hit a plateau where I just COULD NOT shed a pound. Muscle is heavier than fat, so I didn’t worry at first, but come on… as active as I was, my belly should have been retreating. It’s frankly embarrassing to be a health care provider who needs to lose weight.

Unfortunately, years of starving myself had gotten me to a point where I had tuned my cells to be far, far too efficient. If there wasn’t enough food coming in, they certainly weren’t going to use what they had stored… what if things got *worse*!?

By the way, I had no idea what my daily calorie count was at the time. It was only after I started tracking with MyFitnessPal about a year ago that I realized how low I was averaging… about 800-1000 per day. That is simply not enough. I boosted up to 1500-1800, but the counting & tracking made me crazy. Eventually I decided to quit counting and just eat whenever my body asked for fuel (what a concept!). After years of perpetual hunger, it was such a blessing to be allowed to nourish myself. I try to make good quality choices (sometimes I’m better at that than others) but I quit beating myself up for mistakes.

I still haven’t slimmed down past my initial 50 lb weight loss. It will take a while for my metabolism to correct, if it ever does. But I’m eating close to twice as much as I used to, and I haven’t *gained* an ounce. I’m working out three times a week, plus LARPing or hiking or whatever on weekends. My energy is better. I can lift more weight. :)

I am not thrilled with my physique right now. Honestly, it’s hard to look in the mirror and see this belly when I used to be so ripped. But I’m *okay* with it. What’s more important is that I feel better. I am working hard at staying active (SO important!) and making healthy, non-toxic food choices. That’s the best I can do right now for me.

mostly_water

 

As for you, come on in. Let’s talk about the various reasons you want to lose weight, and how I can help. I can’t promise you’ll drop 30 lbs in 30 days (in fact I guarantee you won’t – that’s dangerous as hell!), but I do promise to guide you in the right direction.

Yin Tang (emotional balancing, anxiety, sinus issues)

Yin Tang (pronounced “Yin Tong”) is located directly between the inner borders of your eyebrows. It’s useful for treating sinus problems and frontal headaches, but it’s most often called upon to calm the Shen (spirit). If you are anxious or dealing with stress, you’ll know why it’s also referred to as “The Valium Point.”

Yin TangOther cultures have recognized the importance of this point. It’s close to (below) the “Third Eye” and the 6th Chakra of Indian traditions. In the short-lived TV show Eli Stone, the title character experienced visions when his acupuncturist needled him on the forehead … a little too high, unfortunately (I’m sure I’m not the only acupuncturist who wrote to them – after a while they obscured the actual insertion location with the actor’s hands). Anyway, I wouldn’t expect to start seeing visions, but it will definitely help you find some inner peace.

To use Yin Tang, simply press with a fingertip for about 10 seconds. Take a deep breath, be grateful you’ve backed up your computer, and smile. Don’t you feel better already?

 

An ideal world

Do you know what you would do with your life, your career, your romantic situation in an ideal world? Do you have that mental list of things you’ll do when things get
better? Calm down? Settle? You know, life will be so much better when things get organized, when the student loans are paid, when the health scare passes, when the kids get just a little bit older.
It’s easy to think about what we would do “in an ideal world.” Unfortunately, such a world does not currently exist. That much is obvious, even to me. What’s less obvious, though, is that the ideal world will never actually exist.
We like to think about that because it gives us hope. Life as we know it is usually so crazy and stressful that we need hope to hold on to, if for no other reason than to believe that
life won’t always be like this. The trouble is, life will always be like this. If it’s not like this, then it will be like that – there’s always something! If things calm down in one area, they will un-calm themselves in another.
With that in mind, you have two choices. You can continue to stress yourself out, and postpone your happiness. Or you can choose to relish the good stuff you have right now. Focus on what really matters. I’m not saying you should blow off going to the office to eat marshmallows and smoke weed every day. I’m saying you should take a moment to enjoy time with your friends, the delicious food you are eating right now, the small achievements and successes in your day. Go for a walk. If something is making you crazy, ask yourself if it’ll matter in 5 years. Will anyone even remember this? If not… let it go, emotionally. By all means get to work and solve the problem, but don’t allow it to disturb your soul. Some problems are legitimate nightmares, of course. This is doubly true for them: You have to hang on to the positive or the negative will swallow you whole.
If you practice this, pretty soon you find you are living in something closely resembling that ideal world. Not a perfect one, but a happy one. :)

Shenmen (stress, depression, mental illness)

Shenmen (Spirit Gate)

There are about a hundred points on the ear, including this integral part of any stress or mental illness treatment. It reflects the seat of mental health and is terrific for treating any kind of anxiety, depression, grief, or just a rough day. Give your buddy (or yourself!) an ear massage as a sure-fire way to calm things down. This article discusses a study that shows acupuncture is highly effective for depression, and Shenmen is an essential part of that protocol.

 

Shenmen, a lovely way to calm someone down. Try a gentle massage when your driver is experiencing road rage.

 

 

Press firmly for 10-20 seconds with a healing intention.

PC-6 (digestive & emotional issues)

PC-6, Nei Guan (Inner Pass)

Nei Guan is one of my favorite acupressure points. It’s perfectly safe (no contraindications), easy to find (2 finger widths from your wrist crease), and easily available, even in public while dressed. It’s wonderful for pretty much ANY stomach complaint.

PC-6 is found on the palm side of your forearm, about two inches from the wrist, between the tendons. It’s often used to treat gastritis (stomach pain), seasickness, nausea and reflux, but Nei Guan settles more than just the digestion. It soothes and grounds the spirit, too, with a gentle calming effect. For this reason, it’s perfect to treat an upset stomach due to emotional upheaval. Press firmly (both sides!) for 10-20 seconds with a healing intention. You can also use an acupressure “sea band” bracelet – just position the hard plastic bead on top of PC-6. They can be found at travel stores, some drugstores, and of course I have them at the office.

PC-6, excellent for nausea, heartburn, gastritis, or emotional upheaval causing stomach distress.