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Happy new year, everybody! I’m wishing you a year of peace, health, and happiness. And will be blogging to promote you going to get it yourself!

What is your why? Are you over resolutions yet? Chances are, like resolving to make more money this year, if you don’t work at it, being happier, getting your house organized, getting to a more comfortable weight, etc. aren’t going to happen. What do you want/need to happen? How can you get there?

This year, my why is high cholesterol. No, I didn’t start working on it today, yes, I am renewing my commitment to healthier habits today. This is not my first go-round with high cholesterol. I had a high reading prepuberty, when in junior high we got to get lunch ala carte instead of standing in line for the tray. Once I stopped eating Doritos and milkshakes for lunch, it got a lot better. And since the late aughts, I was on a three year cycle. 1: Test high, diet like crazy 2: test well, diet less 3: test a little higher, stop dieting 1: test high, lather, rinse repeat. Except, after my 2016 test, my dad got diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. As you can imagine, I didn’t diet for shit that year, and 2017 gave me another very high test.

I really like dairy. I like cheese, ice cream, milkshakes, sour cream, Mexican crema, clotted cream, chocolate milk, really, all of it. I am eating yogurt every day, and the rest is a treat, maybe once a week or so. I’m really trying to get realistic identifying a snack versus a treat. I’m a good Texan, love a rare steak, but I am limiting my beef intake. I eat salmon once a week. I’m supplementing with fish oil and vitamin D (which I did test low). I’m a decade older than when this started, and my willpower for dieting isn’t what it used to be. So I knew I needed to exercise.

Which brings me to taking time for yourself. I know, not everyone has the privilege of time. I would guess at least 70% of my patients wouldn’t need to see me if they would slow the eff down. I know, we all have bills to pay. But in the same way financial planners say, “Pay yourself first!” I am saying, take care of yourself first. Put the mask on you before you put one on your kid, lest you fall unconscious, you know? So, four days a week, I am taking a mid day break. I work out, I eat lunch, I shower, if the timing works out and I have an extra hour, I do laundry, and then I come back to work, refreshed for the second half of the day. Tuesday through Thursday, this happens at lunch time. On Monday evenings, I stay late, so I take my break at tea time.

I get retested at the end of April, so stay tuned! What are you working on this year?

(Where I admit I can’t fix everything.)

When I first started my practice over a decade ago, devices weren’t that common, and people still used computers and mice. I saw an awful lot of carpal tunnel, and I was really good with it.

Times change. Most everybody now has a screen to carry around; people look down and scroll with their thumbs all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading on a screen. It’s easier to carry than a heavy book, and you don’t have the problem of the margins being too narrow when the book has too many pages. However, there were drafting tables and book stands when I was in college. My parents nagged me about my posture all the time when I was a kid.

Tech-neck is actually a thing. In our office, I think it is better served by chiropractic, though I have worked on it, too. Like with most things, prevention is valuable, so take breaks, hold/angle/prop-up your screens so you aren’t looking down all the time, and stretch your neck and back frequently.

Did your acupuncturist fix the pain at the base of your thumb? If so, I want to meet her! I myself am rocking the brace and/or a patch more often than not these days. Carpal tunnel is a LOT easier to work with. When you blow a joint, you have to stop using it so much. DO YOU KNOW HOW OFTEN WE USE OUR THUMBS? And we’re wasting the use of this precious joint on screens?!? I am a big believer of “make it worth it.” Blow your diet on something you’re not supposed to? Savor it. Make it the best cheeseburger you ever tasted in your life. Back felt great until a day of golf? I will tell you when you’re in my office again, I hope you had a great time! This one is stupid, and I can tell you because I have it. So get yourself a keyboard for your tablet, change up your typing fingers frequently instead of staying on your thumbs, and, this is crazy, but, maybe actually call someone once in a while.

Probably not, and while I sympathize, I’m not excited about scheduling an appointment with you. If it’s a C section you want to avoid, you may need help that I am unqualified to provide. And if it’s an induction, chances are very good that you’re going to go into labor anyway, forget to cancel, and then I could have actually helped someone in that hour I set aside for you. Tomorrow is too soon. If you want to try acupressure, Debra Betts’ website is a great resource. You can download a free booklet, order a DVD, or get an app with the points that might help.

 

I’ll see you if you’ve got close to a week, but the best time for acupuncture to influence/optimize labor is starting around week 36-37. Please bear in mind that the baby is going to do what it is going to do. We are not working on the baby. We are not turning the baby, we are not inducing the baby. We are working on Mom to provide the best environment, so, for example, if baby needs to turn, we are encouraging Mom’s body to make space for that to happen. When it’s approaching time for baby to come meet the world, we support Mom’s body in having the strength and circulation needed for that. Unfortunately, we can’t make baby do anything. (Get used to that, sorry!)

Ironically, you might think, I was talking snake oil with another practitioner, and we were working ourselves up over the myriad of things with which we’ve seen people harming themselves.

“Cups of undiluted acv! And they wonder why their stomachs hurt!”

“Who told this lady to take 1000 units of vitamin E when she was already on a blood thinner?!?”

“It was the detox tea that was making the liver enzymes go crazy!”

I’ve said many times that I’m sure not in this for the money. Marketing is very often about calling attention to imperfections, making the consumer feel bad about themselves and implying that this product is what will fix it. Tell you a secret, though, in general, most things are going to get better anyway eventually. Sometimes coming in to see me helps give a little boost, often enough that I’m still in business after eleven years.

I read a lot. I have been reading about wellness since before the internet was common. I continue to read about different conditions and how people can better take care of themselves. There isn’t a lot that seems new. Drink water. Eat more fruits and veg and less processed food. Get some exercise. Get some sleep. Breathe. Get some sun, but not too much. Actually, “get some ___, but not too much,” is pretty good general advice. There seems to be something new all the time, but it’s either a new product someone is trying to profit off of, or it’s the same old advice translated into clickbaitese. For example: putting lemons, herbs, cucumber, etc. in your water isn’t going to turn it into a magic fatburner/cancer fighter/anti ager, but it will make it taste more interesting, which will probably make you drink more of it, which is good for you in general.

Off the top of my head, plantar fasciitis and frozen shoulder are a couple of things that respond startlingly well to acupuncture. For a lot of stuff, though, what do you want? How can you get there? What have you been doing? Is it helping? What is it costing you in money or personal effort? There is a lot I don’t know, but sometimes a fresh set of eyes can see the connections you’re not. My license is in acupuncture. It’s not well explained, but it’s not magic or mystic, and needles might be the least important thing you get.

 


How’s your new year going? It took me a while to get back into my routines, such as they are, including cooking myself a decent lunch when I am home. A quinoa bowl is pretty easy. I like at least a green, but squash and/or fruit is nice, too. I had this last week with chunks of baked acorn squash, mixed nuts and raisins, and vinaigrette instead of miso, with chicken broth instead of water in the rice cooker. Most things I start by frying some onions and garlic, but today felt like bacon.

And sake. (Which is technically beer, rather than wine, despite its ABV and usual presentation. It is a grain brewed beverage that is not meant to be aged.) This dish isn’t perfectly virtuous, but it’s rather better than cheetos and a coke, or if it were literally the title. That’s life, y’all. Do good enough rather than be paralyzed by perfection, right?

So. The rice cooker gets a cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water. The wok gets a piece of bacon over medium heat. Start tearing a bunch of kale into it when the bacon is done. No stems. It will spatter a lot at first, but a bunch is a lot of kale. Mix it to wilt. Scooch it to the side so you can see the bottom. There’s a bunch of sort of burnt bacon funk stuck to the bottom of the pan, isn’t there. Pour a shot of sake on it and stir. Should lift right off. Turn off the heat, and mix in the quinoa when it’s done.

Taste. Ugh, bland. A big spoon of miso fixed that up for me. There is plenty of room in a wok to mix, and it’s less important than in soup to smooth the miso chunks out. Some hot sauce would be good, too. Now I have at least one meal. And while the huge, unwieldy wok is a pain to wash, the alcohol did most of the work. How often can you say that in a good way?

I am so three weeks ago, but I also haven’t updated since March. What is cupping and what does it do aside from give you hickeys in perfect circles? 

Basically, think of it like vacuum massage. I could talk about toxins or creating an energy racetrack in your body, but I really don’t like getting all woo woo. You know when you’re getting a massage or somebody is rubbing your shoulders and they hit a crunchy spot? I am 1) not a massage therapist and 2) way too lazy to work that out on my own power. I don’t use the glass and fire in the office so much; usually it’s a silicone suction cup that I squoosh onto your skin so it sticks well. Instead of me pressing, the vacuum is pulling, and the knot unties.

You have to pull the skin pretty hard to work at the muscle underneath, so it tends to leave a mark. For professional athletes, therapists are going to need more force than I usually use. To work out the average crunchy shoulders, if you aren’t someone who bruises when somebody slaps you on the back, you might be a bit purple for a few hours. If you are very pale or your muscles are very tight, the marks might fade out over a week. Most people feel enough relief they don’t care about the marks. But the world knows what it is now, so you don’t have to be embarrassed. Maybe warn me if you’re going to be a bridesmaid tomorrow so I make sure it doesn’t turn too dark.

If you are getting acupuncture and mention that your back or shoulders are tight, I almost always start by cupping anyway, but if you just wanted to try it, ask me about it at your next appointment.

I always tell people with allergies to wash bedding in hot, at least twice a month, and give yourself and any bed sharers (partners, kids, pets, whoever went outside! My cat doesn’t, so he gets a pass.) a good rinse. This way you’re not sleeping with as much pollen. However, not everyone can rock the short hair don’t care as well as I do, so here’s some help.

How to sleep on wet hair, from makeup.com
Some videos from bustle.com

Of course, you don’t want to encourage mold, so put a towel over your pillow or encase it in a membrane barrier.

the test, with a flippant title. Take an hour and try it. If you don’t have an hour in the next week, it is definitely time to examine that.

Here’s something similar in list form.

I was raised with neither religion nor custom, so I don’t know what either of those actually mean. Lent and lunar new year for me feel like time for contemplation, renewal, and spring. I don’t have the time or stamina to totally Konmari my life, but I have floor and desk surfaces that consistently are a lot tidier than they were a couple years ago. I haven’t gotten my comprehensive wellness program on line, but I’m trying to post a little more than a few times a year. I have run a brush over the cat every day this calendar year, and he is more genki a neko than he has been in months. Do a little at a time, but do it!

You know when is a great time to start something new? How about now? I meant to do holiday greetings in a timely manner, and it’s a great marketing tool. But I don’t want to be like the gym, with a rush of good intentions for the first six weeks of the year.

There is an app for everything, you know. Let me share a couple of my favorites.

Resolution to eat healthier, lose weight, get in shape, blah blah blah? That’s fine, but you need to break it down to actionable items. Habitica turns it into a game. You enter your dailies into lists, and it gives you points for ticking off your tasks. Like maybe, exercise. Eat some vegetables. Drink some water. And you can create a story, get as much into it as you want, but the key is, your avatar loses health points every day you don’t finish your list, and if you slack on it too much, your character dies. On the other hand, you can level up, which gets you to full health points, and gives you rewards to use in your story.

Ingress is a game the paranoid will say is about tracking your movements for Big Brother, and yeah, it’s not awesome if you’re really into privacy. But get real; we are spewing personal deets all the time. And playing this game, it’s easy to walk for miles without hardly noticing. You get out of the house, you might make a bunch of new friends (when people aren’t texting, but they are loitering at places, looking around to orient themselves, and looking at their phones, chances are they’re Ingressing.), and it’s actually really fun to virtually tag your town’s locales.

If you didn’t stop celebrating in time for Dryuary, that’s okay. If you slipped on your resolution and had a piece of cake, I hope it was really good cake! Don’t worry, but don’t give up!

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