Category Archives: Diet

5 Travel Tips For Wellness

Every year we leave our homes numerous times to visit family and friends and we check our health at the departure gate, not just our bags. This Thanksgiving bring your health and your eating regime with you so that you return from the holiday actually feeling rested.

1. Keep Drinking

Just because you are not in your office cubicle with your special office water bottle does not mean that you need to stop drinking all together.  Think of every long conversation or road trip as an opportunity to keep a glass of water or a water bottle near by. You don’t need to drink coffee or tea whenever you sit down, replace your extra holiday beverages with water and fight the bloated, fatigued, headachy feeling that comes from dehydration.

2. Stay Regular

The best test for wellness while traveling is definitely the bowels. They are an incredibly sensitive system in the body. If you have a tendency towards constipation drink one or two glass of warm or room temperature water immediately upon waking and then follow it with a hot beverage like herbal tea or hot water with a little lemon juice and honey. Hydrating first thing in the morning will replenish the inevitable dehydration that comes from sleeping and keep bowels moving. Avocados, prunes, beets, sweet potatoes, and walnuts are much safer and tastier than traveling with a laxative.  If you know you have a tendency towards loose stools avoid overly spicy foods, greasy foods and cold raw foods.  Those are too much for a travel weary stomach.

3. Sip and Savor

If you set your self up to avoid all the tasty treats of the season you will fail, be miserable or do both. Instead think about high quality ingredients. Instead of sitting yourself in front of a bowl of cheap candy, bring expensive organic chocolate with caramel and sea salt to share. It will make you slow down and savor it and everyone will love you. Look for the desserts that you know will taste best and if it doesn’t taste as good as you thought it would don’t finish it to be polite. If anyone says anything remind people you are on a diet and look for tastier calories elsewhere. In terms of alcohol, stay away from the cheap stuff. The taste won’t satisfy you and you’ll end up drinking too much. Also be careful of drinking alcohol because you are thirsty. Be well hydrated before drinking time begins and then you will be able to control your desire for taste, not hydration. Limit beverages to one or two in a long night and that way you will enjoy every allotted sip.

4. Be Gentle on the Road

Let’s face it on Wednesday most of us will hit the road to visit those we call most dear. Everyone will be worrying about all the work they didn’t finish at the office and stressing about their unreasonable holiday diet. We are all in the same boat. So when someone cuts you off on the New Jersey Turnpike instead of throwing out some age old phrase or mannerism you could remind yourself that the other driver is very excited about going to their home away from home. You both are full of love for your loved ones and even though you were scared for a moment you are both safe. The best place to practice mindfulness is on the road. Try to think loving thoughts of all the other drivers when you get gridlocked on the Mass Pike this year and then find something good on the radio.

5. Remember to Rest

We all set excellent expectations of long cat naps and late sleepy mornings on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, but by the time Thursday rolls around we are up at 5am to baste the turkey and up until 3am Friday morning reminiscing. Even though you are around the ones you love stay mindful of sleep cues. If you get overtired and grouchy you might start a fight you regret or end up convincing yourself you can’t stand your family. If you are going to stay up late, make sure it isn’t drastically different than your usual schedule and plan to nap the next day because the body likes to rise at the usual hour regardless of bedtime.

 

PMS: G-Y-N Post #1

PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome is just that, a syndrome. A compilation of ailments joined together because of similar circumstances. We all know the list:

  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Weight Gain/Fluid Retention/Bloating
  • Emotional Disturbances/Irritability/Weepiness/Anger
  • Low Back Ache
  • Cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nightsweats

What does it all mean and should we be having it at all?

What is normal?

Elimination: The body is ridding itself of blood and tissue. This is a significant drain on the body. It is normal for the body to start showing signs the day or two before. Drier stools or softer stools the day of or the day before may happen. These are still both signs that the body is a little warn down and can’t handle bleeding effortlessly, but they are a vast improvement over days of constipation or numerous bouts of diarrhea which lots of women experience.

Emotions: The night before bleeding weepiness or feelings of vulnerability are understandable and I believe evolutionary. We shouldn’t be lifting heavy objects, staying up all night studying or running marathons right before or during bleeding. All activity (mental or physical) should be gentle and allow for periods of rest. Listen and appreciate the body’s wisdom and take some quiet time or ask for more affection from a partner if necessary. These are little things that go a long way.

Sleep: Night hours, or yin time, is quieted by ample fluids within the body. When you bleed there are less fluids available and the sleep can be affected. Slightly lighter sleep or more dreams is understandable, full blown insomnia or disturbing nightmares are suggestive of a deficiency of fluids and would benefit from treatment.

Important PMS Questions

When does it start? PMS that starts hours before the cycle is significantly better than the PMS that starts at ovulation. Mood swings, weight gain or pain that begins anytime before the day before the cycle is not only treatable it is not worth the strain on your life. Western Medicine utilizes the birth control pill as the exclusive means for altering PMS, but the pill doesn’t solve the problems it masks the problems until you are ready to come off the pill. PMS that begins early in the month is a suggestion of stagnant blood in the uterus or stagnant qi within the reproductive organs. This could be caused by internal cold, internal heat, strong emotions not being properly released or simply stress.

What is the intensity? Again if someone is home sick from work before the period starts, we have an issue. Migraines, flash anger or brutal cramping before the blood is a serious sign that the body is out of balance. These are remarkably easy things to treat with Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture. Sometimes I think we should be marketing to bosses, partners or family members asking for sponsors for a woman’s treatment. Would you like to see her as an active member of the world more days of the month? There is actually research out there now suggesting that Sylvia Plath’s emotional disturbances may have been related to very painful periods and extreme emotional changes due to her cycle. This is not a part of a woman’s health that deserves covering up. High intensity PMS that even slightly affects your life (regardless of your ironwoman pain threshold) is dangerous. Start talking about it and start seeing it as a problem.

Does it immediately end when you start bleeding? This is the telltale sign practitioners are looking for as a marker of how easy a gyn issue is to treat. If it goes away as soon as the blood comes it is probably due to stagnant qi in the body and is the easiest scenario to treat. If this is you, come in for a couple of months of treatment and get on with your life. If things stay dicey after the bleeding starts there is a deeper level of stagnation and though it may take longer to heal, will still show steady improvements from month to month in overall intensity.

PMS Warning Signs

  • Your friends know all your PMS symptoms
  • PMS starts with ovulation or soon after
  • Your personality changes, not just your mood
  • You are in pain that requires more than one regular dose of NSAIDS at any point during the month

Charting Your Cycle

I started charting my cycle this spring and I’m loving it. Charting allows you to see where in the month you have less energy, when headaches begin or if you have a nightmare on the 27th day of the month. Things you wouldn’t be able to remember from month to month. Charting is also very helpful to see how you can affect the cycle. One thing I’ve noticed for me personally is if I get run down my basal temperatures drop and stay down until I take a day or rest. Now when I see the movement downward I know I have to be proactive about rest to help my cycle stay healthy. Charting is also a way to actually see how many days of the month you are miserable and act as a motivator to make change in the body.

In Chinese Medicine there is a 3 month rule. Most GYN issues are significantly improved or completely fixed in three cycles. Can you imagine having easier cycles for the rest of your menstruating life?

Image credit: tashatuvango / 123RF Stock Photo

Balance: Juggling Business, Life, and Sanity

Everyone knows the perks of owning your own business, but the downsides are less obvious. I love Window of Heaven Acupuncture & Yoga. It is the most exciting and wonderful job I could possibly imagine, but I think I need to remember it is a job from time to time.

When I am passionate about something my work ethic goes slightly haywire. The month of October has been a crash course in how much my mind can sustain.

Grad school is nothing compared to the hours I’ve been putting in behind my computer writing blog posts, planning marketing schemes, seeing patients, scheduling appointments and keeping up correspondence with long lost friends who have swept back into my life through the start of this business. Whew. It’s been great and it’s been full.

It isn’t sustainable, even if it is tons of fun. Bosses don’t require employees to show up for work before they shower or brush their teeth. I should be drawing the boundaries within the business in a more precise fashion.

I decided to make and publish new employment rules for Window of Heaven employees. Right now they only pertain to me, but I will respect them more if I contemplate having future employees.

  1. No work before 8am or after 9pm (small steps)
  2. Show up clean, fed and dressed to the office every morning
  3. Weekend work is capped at 5 hours per weekend
  4. Employees are required to attend one yoga class per week in addition to personal practice for inspiration purposes
  5. Lunch is to be eaten before 12:00pm every day
  6. Employees must drink 6+ glasses of water every day during work
  7. Vacations and days off are fully unplugged (no email, no facebook, no phone)

I am the owner of Window of Heaven Acupuncture & Yoga, but I’m also a yogini, teacher, fiction writer, poet, avid reader, wife, sister, daughter, friend, dancer, bread baker, church member, walker, biker, movie watcher, gardener, cleaner, organizer and napper.

Running a heart-centered business requires that I am in balance in my life. Balance, like chaos, is contagious. Which would I prefer my patients catch? The answer is obvious.

This post will go live, I hope at least, on Friday morning at 9am.  When it goes live I plan to be sitting having my hair done in a fancy salon in preparation for my sister’s wedding. Most of this week I won’t be working or thinking about work. I’ll be playing the role of sister (and Matron of Honor) full time. See you again Monday the 29th.