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Maybe you’ve been following that laughably outdated “food pyramid,” or haven’t yet heard that the War on Fat was misguided and has created a nation of obese diabetics.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.

Posture: It does a body good!

Posture does more than make you look good: It’s important for your health! Being bent over creates tremendous stress on our muscles, squishes our organs, and blocks blood flow. I also affects our mood and digestion. Besides pleasing Grandma, there are a lot of terrific reasons to pay attention to posture.

Modern-evolution

We all sit too much. And that tends to lead to slumping. At work, at home, in the car… it’s actually gotten worse as technology has gotten better. We’re not even staring at computer screens over a desk anymore – we’re looking down at laptops and phones, and as a result, our collective necks are becoming permanently bent!

Posture2

There’s a funny sort of cascade that happens when you are out of whack. A forward head posture, for example, is very common. In that position, the muscles that flex the neck forward are underworked. The muscles on the back of the neck are overstretched and cranky. The hips tend to shift to compensate, and you get a similar pattern at the pelvis.

 

 

Picture a string running from the base of your spine, up through the top of your head. Imagine yourself pulled up by that string. You will naturally straighten, and your shoulders will relax into their proper position. I like this much better than the rigid shoulders that can happen from just trying to “stand up straight.”

Note that her chin is not pointing up – lift the top of your head, not your face.

Of course in about 5 minutes you may find yourself back in the familiar slouch. Pull up on that string again! It takes practice, but like any habit, it gets easier the more you do it, and eventually it’ll be automatic. Yes, your postural muscles will be weak at first, but they’ll get stronger. Stick with it!

Top 8 reasons to use good posture:

Superman has excellent, confident posture!

1) Create confidence and elevate your mood. The link between mind and body goes both ways… you can literally lift your spirits by lifting your head! Did you know your self-talk is linked with your posture? You know how faking a smile can actually make you feel better?  It’s the same thing with your entire body. Career coaches recommend taking on the “Superman pose” (ideally in an empty elevator or bathroom) before an interview, to go in feeling confident.

2) Reduce pain in the neck and shoulders. Your trapezious muscles get pulled tight when you slump forward, which causes all sorts of inappropriate tension.  And as you can see, keeping your head aligned is the best way to distribute the weight of your skull. A forward neck posture creates leverage that works against your body. This graphic below shows the pounds of pressure at various positions.

Good posture helps avoid muscle strain.

3) The individual bones of your spine – both neck and back – will be able to move more freely. This means less chance of spinal injuries or pinched nerves, and can prevent fusion between bones as you age.

4) You’ll look slimmer! Most of those “before and after” weight loss poses can be achieved with nothing more than good posture and different lighting.

5) Increase the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid. If you’re a collapsed beanbag, various pathways can be cut off, preventing your body from working as it should. Even cortisol (stress hormone) levels decrease with better posture!

6) Give your digestive organs room to move. Remember, they have to push food around, from the stomach on down, to mix it with the different stages of digestive enzymes and extract nutrients and water.

7) Make a better impression on the people you meet.

8) Look up and see the beautiful world around you! The sidewalk isn’t nearly as attractive as the people, architecture, and nature around you.

Good posture is a HABIT that you need to build. Put up visual flags (sticky notes, or draw an arrow on your hand) to remind yourself to relax your shoulders and lift your head. Just keep doing it, and eventually it will become your new default!

 

Arnica for bruises, sprains, strains

I generally don’t use topical stuff or supplements. Even when I have a good remedy, I have a bad tendency to forget to use it. Arnica is my big exception. Arnica montana is an herb that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. It makes a terrific topical oil for bruises, sprains, and strains. It’s fantastic for reducing inflammation in the area and speeding up healing.

arnicaoilI have a source for organic, locally-grown, hand-picked, hand-processed Arnica oil. It also contains a little St. Johns Wort for antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, and olive oil so it soaks into the skin. I prefer topical application to the pills, because it puts the medication where you need it, rather than spreading it out over the entire body, and because in high doses, taken internally, it can be toxic.

In all my years of martial arts, personal training, and running an acupuncture clinic (not to mention my own boo-boos), this is easily the best preparation I have found. It’s far superior to the multitude of diluted oils, creams and homeopathic pills generally available (most contain only small amounts of arnica), and that’s why it’s the only product I carry. I have bottles for $15 – swing by and pick one up! Use on unbroken skin only, please, and of course discontinue if your skin is irritated.

 

Foot Pain, Foot Function, & Shoes

My personal health issues, combined with frustration with lack of results using the current common answers, continually take me to new and interesting places. In the past year most of what I know about metabolism, nutrition, and now feet (and foot pain) has shifted drastically. It all comes back to evolution.

I’ve had intermittent stabbing pain for about 7 years, focused at the 1st MP joint (where the big toe joins the foot). I walk a lot, and the more I walked, the more it hurt. It had been diagnosed as a stress fracture years ago, and and for years I would wear Danskos* (hard soles, so my feet didn’t flex) when the pain got bad. Basically the Danskos acted as a walking boot. I am heavy (180lbs, due to muscle and bone from my bodybuilding days, plus all the extra padding I’m currently carrying) and have small feet and a stompy gait… It just refused to heal.

The foot pain had been interfering with my workouts, but it was getting worse and now messing with my weekend fun, too … that’s no good! So I started investigating and it turns out the solution was simple. I didn’t have a stress fracture at all.

diabetes_foot_problems_s13_hammertoesWearing tight shoes, especially heels, can cause bunions (angled big toe), neuromas, and hammertoes (bent toes), too. Fortunately my problem was easier to fix than the poor feet in this stock photo!

I had to change my shoes.

That wasn’t all of it, of course – I also needed some fascial adhesions stripped out. Acupuncture reduced the pain and swelling, and the minimal shoes I transitioned into have had the cool side-effect of forcing me to soften my gait. I wear CorrectToes spacers when I remember. Still, changing the shoes was key . Shopping guide here.

Rolfer Karin Edwards-Wagner does a lot of work with feet, and she pointed me towards the brilliant Dr. Ray McClanahan. He’s got a bunch of videos and articles on his site, so rather than reinventing the wheel I’ll just let you look at his stuff.

Here’s the deal: See those bones on the top of your foot? Your toes should extend in a straight line from them. For centuries we have crammed our feet into shoes that gathered the toes together, creating a sleeker pointed look instead of the spread “duck-foot” that nature intended.

Available here in the office, Correct Toes spacers help separate and flatten your toes into a natural spread for better stability. Use them along with changing your shoes, and getting some acupuncture and medical massage to break up fascial adhesions and relax the muscles of your feet. Your knees, hips, and even lower back will be happier once your gait is correct!

ct-before-during-after__smCorrectToesLogo_small

 

Under your big toes are tiny floating bones called sesamoid bones, which provide leverage and assist in tracking as a tendon moves over bone. The knee cap is a sesamoid, too – in fact you can imagine a miniature knee cap under that joint in your foot. The bones have grooves that the sesamoids are supposed to follow. If the toe angles inwards, the bone is pulled off track. Ouch!

The funny thing here is that my feet look pretty “normal.” I don’t have bunions or any obvious deformation… just a few degrees was enough to cause that foot pain for me. I haven’t worn heels for years. Even so, I had a huge pile of shoes and boots (some of them practically new) that I had to sell, donate, or toss. The trick is finding shoes that:

1)   Have flexible soles across the ball of the foot and also longitudinally, for twisting.

2)   Have the heel at the same level as the toe. Now that I’m used to “zero-drop” shoes, even a half-inch heel feels weird.

3)   Fit well in the heel and instep, but have lots of room in the toebox. This is why regular “wide” shoes don’t work for me – the rest of my foot isn’t wide. See the pic below.

4)   Don’t have a lot of  “toe spring” – that’s when the toe of the shoe comes up off the ground. It pushes you into an unnatural position all the time.

When buying shoes, remember to check for fit with the shoe liner test. Take out the inserts and stand on them (with all of your weight). If your toes drip off the edge, they are too small. Standing  on the bottoms of the soles of shoes is another good way to assess how much room you’ll have. If your favorite shoes are just a smidge too tight in the toe box, you can remove the inserts, which gives you a few more millimeters of room to stretch out.  If they are lace-up shoes, skipping the first set of holes can also let the toe box open up.

No more foot pain! See how the medial (inside) edge has a square-ish corner, instead of being rounded? Wide at the ball of the foot isn't enough - that big toe needs to be able to move and spread outwards. These are my new favorites, Clark's "Faraway Field," available in other colors if you aren't into blue suede shoes. :)

No more foot pain! See how the medial (inside) edge has a square-ish corner, instead of being rounded? Wide at the ball of the foot isn’t enough – that big toe needs to be able to move and spread outwards. These are my new favorites, Clark’s “Faraway Field,” available in other colors if you aren’t into blue suede shoes. :)

The sad truth is that most of the anatomically correct footwear out there is hideous, but I have found some cute options! Shopping info here. My winter boot review is here.

In addition to going shoe shopping, I also got some socks! The regular “mitten” sock can encourage toes to gather together, especially if they get pulled tight as you slip into your shoe.  When I wear those, I stretch out the toe seam to give myself some room. Sock Dreams is a fun local company that carries a variety of toe socks, and they ship for free.

Can’t give up the heels due to work or your fashionista status? Check out this article on ways to mitigate the effects of high heels. 

So… the real question is, did it work? My emphatic answer is YES! A week after switching, for the first time I finished a LARPing weekend without being in agony. My foot and knee may have grumbled a few times (I run for miles during these weekends) but that searing pain was gone. At the end, instead of waiting miserably for Robert to be done cleaning, I was out doing extra trash sweeps, because I felt that good!  Plus, at my next workout, I had to ask Brandie to throw extra weights on for the leg extensions and squat press, because the weight we were doing before suddenly felt ridiculously easy. Correcting my foot function helped my knee normalize, too, which is a bonus I hadn’t expected. It makes sense, though. If the toes can spread out and do their job creating stability, it takes a lot of pressure off the knees.

The next adventure is the perfect intersection of SCA / LARP / craftiness, and healthcare: I’m going to try making my own shoes!

*Setting aside the issue of the heel height for the moment, it’s true that Danskos and other hard clogs make it easier on your feet. The trouble is, they make it too easy. It was obvious once I thought about it…

When a patient comes in with a brace (on the wrist, knee, back, whatever), we always have this discussion: “Immediately after an injury, a little support is very helpful. As you heal, though, you need to wean off the brace. It’s good to wear it for sports, or challenging events, but not all the time. If you baby the muscles, they won’t work and get stronger, which is what you really need to heal. Eventually you should be brace-free.”

I’d been over-bracing my feet. *headdesk*

Wearing softer, more flexible shoes that allow / force my feet to get to work makes them stronger. Here’s a cool exercise you can do to strengthen your arch. I still prefer some shock absorption when walking on man-made surfaces like concrete, but for dirt and carpet I like to go more minimal. More exercises! And even more!

What about arch support? Modern shoes actually give us TOO much support, so our foot and leg muscles don’t work, and get weak. Remember we evolved without shoes. Our feet are designed to support us, given the chance. By doing foot exercises and gradually transitioning to more minimal shoes, your arch will support itself. This is awesome because it means your feet take a lot of the load back from the ankles, knees, and hips in terms of balancing. The whole body works better when strong and supple.

Now that I have spent some time opening my feet up, I love the thin toe-separated shoes like Vibram 5 fingers. Just ease into them… minimal footwear takes some transition if your feet have been over-supported in regular shoes. I have a pair of Filas that are similar (just have shorter toes, so they fit me better) and I adore them! They are phenomenal for running around in the woods.

EDIT 7/1/13: Here’s an awesome article on another reason to wear good shoes – neurological challenge! Also – I get asked about foot pain due to Morton’s neuromas and plantar fasciitis (inflamed fascia) a lot. YES, I can treat them! The good news is that the treatment is immediately and highly effective. The bad news is that it’s the only treatment I do that hurts… Sorry. But only briefly, and it’s worth it, speaking personally!

Toenail Fungus: Prevention and Treatment

Mild case of toenail fungus.

Mild case of toenail fungus.

Severe case of toenail fungus.

Severe case of toenail fungus.

Thanks to the warm weather, more people are letting their feet breathe by wearing comfortable sandals and flip-flips. And with all these toes out for a walk, I’m seeing a lot of toenail fungus. Some sources claim as many as 12% of us are affected. You might have it, too! Are your nails thick? Yellowed? Crumbly? What starts as a mild case on one big toe can spread to all ten digits, and eventually deform your nails. I see it on hands, too, but not as frequently.

To prevent an infection of toenail fungus,

  1. Thoroughly wash and dry your feet daily.
  2. Use only clean cotton socks.
  3. Don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row (this lets the insides dry completely). Shoes worn every day are a major carrier for bacteria, too.
  4. In wet common-use areas like a sauna or gym shower, use shower shoes to prevent exposure. Definitely treat your feet to an extra scrub after your dip in a public pool or hot tub.
  5. If you go for professional pedicures, you should bring your own tools (running them in the dishwasher before and after to keep them clean) to prevent picking up an infection from another client. If you are prone to toenail fungus, you should forgo polish. Fungus actually lives on the dye of the polish, according to a podiatrist friend, so use a clear coat as a base.

If you are already infected, don’t worry. Just follow the above hygiene rules, and add in a twice-daily anti-fungal treatment. Lamisil is a popular over-the-counter topical product. Vicks Vap-O-Rub works well, too, because toenail fungus dislikes an acidic environment, and the vaseline base makes it stick to the area. Apply it morning and evening, after a thorough wash and dry, then cover with clean white socks. In 6-8 weeks you should see healthy nail growth.

People who prefer the “natural” route can use tea-tree oil or vinegar, but be aware that the treatment can take months. Severe cases should ask their doctor for prescription medication. And of course, acupuncture to help boost your immune system is a great idea, too. :)

Trusted Referrals & Healthy Shoe Shopping

Here’s a short list of professionals I recommend. Please let me know if you use one of these referrals – I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

Also – the second half is a guide to shopping for healthy shoes.

Medical Doctor:
Dr. Kathy Alvarez
Cedar Hills Office Park 
1815 SW Marlow Suite 206 
Portland, OR 97225
(503) 296-6144

EMDR Therapist:

Arin A. Wallington, MA, LPC, NCC
Arin Wallington Counseling, LLC
EMDR Certified Clinician/ Trauma Therapist
P: 503-404-EMDR(3637)
F: 503-974-0907

Naturopath:

Dr. Karma Denmark
Sachi Wellness
503-607-0018
2008 Willamette Falls Drive #200
West Linn, OR 97068

Chinese Herbal Medicine:
Root and Branch
7642 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, Oregon 97219
(971) 288-5939

Physical Therapy:
New Heights
Locations in Vancouver, SE Portland, and NW Portland

Hand Surgeon:
Dr. Charles Woolley
2311 NW Northrup St, Portland, OR 97210
(503) 274-4865

Podiatrist:
Dr. Ray McClanahan
Northwest Foot & Ankle
2701 NW Vaughn Street, Suite 424
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 243-2699

Personal Trainer:
Brandie Sylfae  (SE Portland)
(503) 422-0402

Rolfers:
Jenny Rock
(503) 345-7660
Body Balance Rolfing & Massage
10700 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway
Building 3, Suite 605  (2nd floor, there is an elevator)

Karin Edwards-Wagner
2732 SE 18th Ave Portland, OR 97202
(503) 230-0087

Caregiver Help Desk 1-855-227-3640. You can also chat with them on caregiveraction.org 

Buying bio-mechanically correct shoes:
First, read this article about foot function and how to assess a shoe. Then, look for brands like Born, Clark’s, Keen, Lems, Jambu & J-41 (sexy sandals!), Vivo, Altra, Jafe, Xero, TOPO, Vivobarefoot, and MerrellNaturalista, Naot and Reiker make wide-toebox shoes that are super cute but stiffer / more supportive in the sole, so they are appropriate for transitioning or if you are going to do major mileage on concrete. FiveFinger and Fila make minimal, separated toe shoes (personally, my short toes like the Filas much better – and they were a mere $30 at Big 5 sports!). Please note that I am NOT endorsing every model shoe the above brands make. For example, Keen has two footbeds, a rigid, narrow version (skip these!) and the wider, flexible one I like as a transition shoe.  In all brands, some models may be great, but others are too pointy-toed, too stiff, or have a heel. Shop carefully. When trying shoes on, you need to step on the liner and examine other factors discussed here. Try not to get carried away with something cute or a pair that feels “good enough” – your feet will get pickier as they adapt to having room to move! They will also spread out, so if you are between sizes, go up. REMEMBER: Most people gain a half to a full size as their toes spread out, and they build muscle in their feet.  It’s best not to buy too many until you know your new size. Winter boot guide here.

Here’s a guide to adapting to your new kicks. 

A happy surprise for the Pacific NW Fall weather - Bogs rainboots have no heel and give plenty of room for the front of the foot. I got my pair at Clogs & More on Hawthorne.

A happy surprise for the Pacific NW weather – Bogs rainboots have no heel and give plenty of room for the front of the foot. I got my pair at Clogs & More on Hawthorne. Update: 2017, and I just bought another shorter pair of waterproof, fabric pull-ons from Bogs. LOVE THEM!

Places to get biomechanically-correct footwear locally:

Pie Footwear in the Alberta district – they teach classes now, too!
Cobbler Bill’s near 82nd & Foster
Shoe Mill and The Walking Company at big malls (NOTE – most of the shoes in the mall stores are aimed at symptom relief instead of true health and are too stiff! Be careful!)
FleetFeet (formerly FitRightNW) off NW 23rd
Footwise on Broadway
Imelda’s on Hawthorne
REI (surely you know where REI is)
Switch at Multnomah Village. Israeli made. Not minimal but good transition shoes and boots.
Clogs N More – note – don’t buy clogs! :) Locations on Hawthorne and downtown Portland.

The Northwest Foot & Ankle Clinic has a small showroom with a variety of wider toebox shoes.

And don’t forget the toe socks (or tabi socks) so you can move freely inside your spiffy new shoes. Sock Dreams has a store in Sellwood, or you can order online. They carry unique, high quality stuff, including the elusive toesock with formed heels. I love that Sock Dreams thoroughly describe their stock on the website, including measurement info like calf size, and they ship for free.

Places to get biomechanically-correct footwear online:

Hot Chocolate Designs is making cute Mary Janes with a wide variety of prints! These aren’t quite minimal, but have pretty flexible soles.

Ahinsa Casual style, fabric shoes. Vegan materials.
Altra  Wide toebox running shoes, everyday shoes, and boots.

Aqua Socks: This is a category, not a brand! Very thin, light synthetic slippers with rubber soles so thin and flexible that I can feel the carpet at work, especially after I pull out the unnecessary insole. I LOVE these and they are my go-to at work now. Search Google or Amazon – they usually run $10-15!
Baer Shoes high-end European boots & shoes
Belleville Military & law enforcement-type boots.
The Drifter Leather Sleek, stylish shoes and boots.

Freet UK company with a sporty line
Glerups Wool felt clogs, shoes, boots
Hot Chocolate Designs Mary Janes with fun prints
JoeNimble athletic / running shoes
Leguano barefoot shoes
Lems ugly but comfortable

Magical Shoes In Poland. leather and vegan options, wider footbed available
Oesh Variety of women’s styles from professional to casual.
Shoes for Crews Steeltoes, work shoes & boots
Skidbusters Nursing, etc.

soft-star-products

Part of the Soft Star shoe line. You can custom order your color choices!

Soft Star Shoes Minimal, basically leather socks. Rubber soles available. Based in Corvallis
Tadeevo casual laceups
Topo Athletic runners
Tune Men’s penny loafers
Unshoes sandals, mocs, dress flats
Vibram FiveFingers and wrap shoes
Vivobarefoot Lightweight, minimal shoes and boots
Wildling Kids and adults (Re-Wild), based in Germany
Xero shoes and sandals, including DYI

Again, not everything these places sell will be good for your feet. Double check the shopping guide. I recommend wearing your new shoes inside for a while on a trial run (so they are returnable) before venturing out. Zappos is great for easy returns and free shipping both ways. 

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. :)

Suicide

Shared from a friend’s post, after we lost a mutual friend: If you are in pain and feeling stuck and hopeless, reach out, please. Reach out to the people around you, don’t get sucked into the quick sand feel that is depression. If you can’t talk to family or friends, call the suicide hotline. Some of your friends work there and some of your friends call there. There are counselors in the community who will work with you, who will work with you on price or help you locate other options. Here are the crisis line numbers. Multnomah County Crisis Line 503-988-4888. Clackamas County (503) 655-8585. Washington County (503) 291-9111. Clark County (360) 696-9560.

If the unthinkable has already happened (or been attempted) there are survivor support groups listed on http://www.suicide.org.

 

Ergonomic & Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress injuries happen when you perform the same movement over and over for an extended period of time. Ergonomic problems are when your position or movement is counter to what your body does naturally. Common examples include carpal tunnel syndrome from using a computer, or a swimmer’s bad shoulder. Sitting itself can cause problems if you do it too much. To avoid injury:

1) Break up the repetitive nature of your motions. Get up and do a lap around the office (or house) every hour or so. Change your routine: Instead of typing on Tuesdays and filing on Wednesdays, do a little of each both days, so you aren’t making the same precise movements for hours. Can you switch to the other side or hand? Even small changes can make a difference. For example, my knitting friends who have trouble will opt for a different size needle (which affects hand position and motion) or even type of project. The more variety the better.

2) Double check your ergonomic situation. It may be helpful to get someone to take a picture of you while you’re working at your desk so you can see your own posture. If you use the phone, try a headset. Sitting at your computer, you should be looking straight ahead at the top third of the screen. If you are looking up or down, adjust either your seat height or the monitor. Your elbows should be resting at 90 degrees, and your wrists should be straight. Having them bent down or cocked back for the keyboard increases strain. Your knees should be at hip height or just above. If your chair is too tall, use a footrest. If you have a penny-pinching boss, you should know that OSHA can send out an ergonomic expert (free!) to suggest cheap/free fixes in your office.

When playing sports or working out, consult a coach or professional trainer to be sure you’re using good form. Learn the anatomy relating to your activity. In addition to preventing injury, your performance will improve! I used to be a bodybuilder and certified trainer, so feel free to ask me if you have any questions.

3) Stop as soon as symptoms start. Give your body a chance to heal. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may be helpful here, as will an anti-inflammatory diet. Likewise, get care early. A new problem is always easier to chase away than an entrenched one. Myofascial release will free up adhesions. Osteopathic medical massage can retrain your tight muscles, and acupuncture will reduce inflammation.  Rest. Stretch gently, and do any physical therapy exercises your healthcare professional recommends. Try to avoid that activity for a while.

Frequently re-examine your routine and ergonomics to identify any areas that need improvement. By nipping problems in the bud, you can prevent a long-term aggravation.

Cosmetic acupuncture: Before and afters

I finally remembered to take a good set of pictures:

Before

After

Before on the left, after on the right. This beautiful woman is about to turn 55. She gained these impressive results after just 5 sessions. She tells me that she loves the way her face looks more relaxed.

 

 

Before

After cosmetic acupuncture. Her skin is softer, and the lines between her eyes are shallower, with smoother edges. A dramatic difference!

Cosmetic acupuncture works by increasing collagen production, improving muscle tone, and stimulating circulation of blood and lymph to the face. Body points are also used to treat the skin as a whole. Most people see subtle changes immediately, with a more powerful shift after a few sessions. If you are a smoker or sun-worshipper, you will need to make a longer commitment to achieve results.