Many times, clients ask me what they can do on their own to make their bodies feel better and to supplement the effects of acupuncture. Whether you’re coming in for sports medicine or other well-being treatment, bar none, here are my Top 4 Ways to keep your body healthy and happy as we start 2016.
Sleep is arguably the winning ticket when it comes to making sure you maintain good health. Chronic lack of sleep definitely contributes to issues with the immune system, metabolic functions, cardiovascular health, and the brain and nervous systems. A good rule of thumb: get 7-8 hours of sleep per night for an adult. Some tips I often give to increase the zzz’s: drink green tea instead of coffee in the afternoon; avoid drinking cold water at night; avoid over-stimulating food (spicy, caffeine or alcohol); and try meditation, especially to normalize relaxed breathing patterns. Biggest tip of all: do not charge your cell phone on the nightstand! Get that thing away from your bed!
Water is all around us… and it pretty much is us. It makes up about 2/3 of who we are, and it is needed for every miraculous process that keeps us alive. Water hydrates the skin, helps maintain muscle health, helps maintain body temperature and normal bowel function, and it aids in the health of your kidneys and liver. One of the most common responses I get is that “water tastes boring.” Add carbonation to it, or slice up some cucumber and mint, or even sprinkle a few lemon wedges into the water! These all add a fresh taste and make it more flavorful. Aim to drink about half of your body weight, in ounces, per day. I am a BIG fan of Klean Kanteen. They have stainless steel bottles in all sizes; you’re doing the earth a favor too by not buying bottled water!
A balanced diet is different for everyone. A big component of health in Chinese Medicine is the kind of diet a person maintains. I encourage my clients to eat cooked, warm foods – they are much easier for the GI tract to absorb nutrients from, and for the colon to process. Of the three main meals a day (yes, you need to eat breakfast), aim for two of the three to have vegetables. Protein is also very important – remember that oftentimes there is a larger serving of protein in leafy greens or superfoods like quinoa than there is in animal protein (meat). Just remember to balance the different types of proteins and vitamins from your food sources. Also, cut down on the dairy. If you love milk and yoghurt, try switching to goat or sheep. Lastly, ease up on those juice cleanses! Juice fasting is not a balanced diet!
Stretching & Exercise
No, I’m not talking about the Soul Cycle type of exercise. Dust off your foam roller, find your bosu ball and get out your resistance band. The stretches that myself or your physical therapist give you are very helpful to increase stability in your body. Over time, they will help your body’s biomechanics and aide you in decreasing your pain. They are meant to supplement your other workouts. Aim to do cardiovascular exercise (target heart rate) three times a week, for at least 40 minutes. Then, supplement that with stretching, yoga, or resistance band/ weight training 1-2 times a week. The biggest tip: do not overdo it. Start off slow, and give yourself realistic increments. Always stretch after warming up the body so your muscles are warm. And include stretching and foam rolling post-workout. Check the website soon for some simple stretches for neck, shoulder and back pain!