Paying Attention to Your Body
Most people walk around with their head disconnected from their body; not aware of what’s going on until their symptoms are so prominent that they can no longer be ignored. The trick is to pay attention to what your body is saying and take action before symptoms are out of control. Building awareness takes practice! Sometimes we train ourselves to not pay attention to pain occurring in the body. This includes those who are athletic, or those who are recovering from any type of trauma. It is common for athletes and others to “push through the pain” until all current and future symptoms are ignored. Chronic symptoms can actually teach us a lot about our bodies and that we need to change our behaviors.
Most behavior changes are simple! Such as going to bed earlier or saying no to a request that has a potential to drain your energy. It can also take the form of monitoring your diet for food sensitivities. Chronic problems may never disappear completely, so acceptance is the key to changing your perspective on how you approach the relationship with your body.
Noticing how our bodies respond to different situations can be useful to determine if that is a healthy situation or behavior. For instance, if you notice stomach upset or constipation after eating dairy products, that is a clue that dairy products are not compatible with your body! Or, if you notice your anxiety spiking after staying up late the evening before it is definitely your body’s way of telling you to go to bed earlier. Paying attention to clues such as these can help you avoid major health problems down the road.
Sometimes getting to the root of the symptom is difficult. There may not be a noticeable link between an emotional origin and a physical symptom, but that may be why you are experiencing one. It is worth talking to someone and getting outside perspective to see if a physical symptom has an emotional origin. For example, if several symptoms started suddenly three months ago, think about what was going on in your life at the time for clues. The clues may be obvious to someone else, but it can be difficult to figure out on your own.
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Losing weight is a personal health goal. You can be healthy at any size. While a healthy body weight is important it is not the whole story. Research shows a person's level of activity is more important than their body weight. A skinny person who is sedentary may be less healthy than someone who exercises regularly but has a few extra pounds. Shaming and talking down to yourself that you need to lose weight or else does not help- it can in fact make things worse. And certainly blaming every health problem or ache or pain you have on your body weight doesn't help either- even skinny people and athletic people can suffer from chronic health problems!
A lot of people need to feel better before they can tackle the lifestyle change and dedication necessary to achieve lasting weight loss. And that's ok. Acupuncture can help you get there if weight loss is your goal, and if its not- that's ok too. How does acupuncture help with weight loss? Acupuncture helps to balance hormones, improve digestion, increase motivation, reduce sugar cravings, improve sleep and relieve the stress that results in emotional eating. Every patient is different but what we find is that for most patients we are working on a several different areas to help them achieve their goals.
Meaghan Massella, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM) is an acupuncturist, business owner and mother of 2.