In my quest for a stronger state of wellness, today I had my first acupuncture session. After a suggestion from a trusted counselor, I knew I needed to give it a shot. I didn’t know what to expect at all but I went into it open-minded.
Most of the initial appointment was just discussing with the acupuncturist my past and current state of health. Although I am new at this (obviously), I can already tell that one of the real keys of the entire acupuncture process is the relationship building process between the client and the acupuncturist. And I was so relieved to have an almost instant connection with my acupuncturist. I could tell she was very knowledgeable not only about the practice but about how to meet her clients where they are in life.
As far as the actual needles going into the body part, there is nothing to write home about. For me, it didn’t hurt and I barely knew they were there. Once they were all situated and I was laying in silence, I must admit that I did feel an energy flowing through my body. Nothing painful at all, but rather more like a heightened awareness of my body during the treatment. Could the energy I felt all have been in my head? Sure. It was just the first time so I’ll have to see how I feel post treatment and in the days to come.
Now if someone would have asked me even a year ago if I could imagine doing acupuncture, I would have said no. Not that I was too scared of the needles, but rather I just wasn’t in control of my health and wellness. And it wouldn’t have made sense to incorporate acupuncture into my life if I wasn’t eating right, drinking right or exercising. Honestly I wouldn’t have even found the energy to schedule my day to incorporate getting to the office.
But here I am after completing my first session. Another example of how this is a new and welcomed season in my life. I look forward to continuing on this acupuncture journey. I expect nothing but am open to whatever may come my way.
One of the things I have really embraced since my wellness journey began this year is going with the ebbs and flows of the process. Instead of getting frustrated that I fail to meet unrealistic expectations of doing everything and living perfectly healthy, I try to focus on doing a few things each day that I feel are important to me and giving myself grace on the rest.
In any given day I try to do a mix of the following:
Spending quality time with my husband in between our busy work and life schedules.
Eating vegetable and fruit based clean meals.
Drinking a kombucha, kefir drink or vegetable based juice daily.
Drinking lots of water to flush out toxins and chemicals that enter my body each day.
Cooking and eating meals I prepare (vs eating out).
Doing a workout (strength training for at least 45 min or cardio for at least 30 min).
Praying for at least a few minutes.
Reading or listening to podcasts for about an hour focused on personal and professional development.
Cleaning, picking-up or reorganizing an area of our home that is in need (because life happens and things can get messy).
Participating in an activity to support my mental and emotional health (such as going to a grief group).
Checking in with family and friends.
Writing a gratitude note to summarize all the things I am thankful for that occurred during the day.
Getting quality sleep (at least 7 hours each night).
I have really found this new system to be working well for me. I’ve been able to stay on track making positive decisions each day, while not worrying too much when I don’t get all the things done.
But I realized over this weekend, it’s so easy to get in an automatic routine in life doing the same things. I determined that I needed to regularly stop and look at the big picture with how I am doing in each area. Maybe I have not been eating as many vegetables as I would like or drinking enough water. Maybe I only did two workouts this week and my preferred is a minimum of 4 workout sessions each week. So I’ve instituted an end-of-week check in to review how I’ve done over the past week holistically. This allows me to review choices I’ve made, reflect on the total successes of the week and reset for the week ahead.
While over the past week I have done a great job taking in new information by listening to tons of podcasts and reorganizing some problem spots in my house, I have slacked in the areas of getting quality sleep and drinking lots of water each day. Those are just two of the areas that I will make a focus this upcoming week. In addition, I am anxious but very much looking forward to trying acupuncture for the first time this upcoming week.
I now have great joy about taking ownership my wellness journey. I just wrapped up my wellness check-in for the past week and I am ready for the week ahead.
This fact became crystal clear to me after the loss of my father and son. But if I’m being really honest, this state of unwellness didn’t happen overnight. This enormous snowball was years in the making for a variety of reasons (excuses). My lack of wellness went far beyond the foods I was or wasn’t eating and the number of times a week I was or wasn’t going to the gym. Although there were many indicators, the biggest for me was that I was lacking healthy coping mechanisms to quickly bounce back from life’s daily curveballs. So when the big disasters came, I crumbled.
In my period of mourning and self isolation, I realized that although there were many things I could not control, the one thing that I could control and would have the biggest impact on my circumstances was to seek wellness. So I immediately went in search of wellness. And the very first book I found has become a game changer, and quite frankly a life changer, for me.
“How to Be Well” by Dr. Frank Lipman is the best “wellness 101” guide I have found by far. Dr. Lipman highlights basic health principles in the most straight-to-the-point yet profound ways. His Good Medicine Philosophy takes a look at each person’s state of mind and body to determine fundamental weaknesses and imbalances before even thinking about what medicine could be utilized. His Good Medicine Mandala identifies six pillars of health that can be optimized: How to Eat, How to Sleep, How to Move, How to Protect, How to Unwind and How to Connect.
Dr. Lipman encourages readers to focus on actions within each pillar, small and large, that positively impact our microbiomes, our inflammatory responses, our rhythms and our balance. These areas are often where our body’s dysfunction is exposed. These areas speak directly to why the practices he suggests can lead to overall improved wellness.
As a pioneer and leader in holistic medicine, Dr. Lipman educates readers on how to use spice as medicine, why its important to learn our food sources, why its important to play like a child, how clearing our spaces can impact our wellness and why counting our blessings should be a part of our wellness practices. This easy read is perfectly designed as a quick go-to guide, allowing readers to go straight to the topic they need exactly when they need it.
I can say with certainty that this book has significantly impacted my wellness for the better in a matter of four months. I reference this book almost daily in my life now. Although it is packed with countless easy to implement practices, the top 5 practices that had the most immediate impact on my own wellness are:
1. Know Your (Food) Sources – pg 66 – Inspired my husband and I to join a local CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) Farm.
2. Microbiomes – pg 26 – This introduced me to my now favorite fermented drinks – kombucha and kefir. Keeping the microbiome functioning properly and balanced is critical to so many daily functions, such as stress response.
3. Boycott GMOs – pg 256 – A much needed reminder of why we must avoid genetically modified organisms in foods whenever possible.
4. Omg EMFS – pg 286 – Another reminder for me that the electromagnetic energy emitted by communication devices can and does impact our health.
5. Honor The Seasons – pg 417 – Obviously my love of the human connection to seasons shows, however Dr. Lipman wonderfully articulates this deep connection to the seasons and why we should pay more attention to this relationship.
Dr. Lipman encourages readers to start small with one practice and then add other practices in once ready. The interesting thing is when we start to make small positive changes in one area of our life, suddenly we realize that other areas of our life will experience positive changes as well. And this cycle leads to overall greater wellness.
I highly recommend “How to Be Well” to everyone and it will be my wellness reference guide for many years to come.