Life Doesn’t Happen to You, it Happens For You
In view of the fact that I have been practicing acupuncture and herbal medicine for almost thirty years, it is inevitable that I can go several years without seeing the same patient.
In my experience, there are two distinct types of patients seeking support with acupuncture. The first are the patients who view their wellness as an ongoing journey, chipping away day-to-day, ever mindful about their health and well-being. The second are the patients who only pay attention when faced with an illness or injury.
Such was the case with Jeremy. He came to see me over ten years ago with a lower back sciatica injury. At the time, Jeremy was in his mid-thirties and his pain was easily relieved with acupuncture. He next came to see me five years later, again with back pain. However, this time he had gained close to ten pounds. I put him on a lifestyle stretching and dietary program. Jeremy was able to lose the weight quite easily and after four acupuncture treatments, he was back on track.
Jeremy’s job as a furniture craftsman demands heavy lifting, bending, and nonstop movement. It was another five years before he called again. This time, he was bent over and limped into the clinic. While walking with his girlfriend and new puppy, he stepped into a gopher hole. He had gained back the ten pounds slowly over the last few years, and has been drinking a beer every night. The information tumbled out of him as he was on my table getting his treatment. Jeremy was experiencing more back pain than ever before. He wondered if being out of shape, along with his alcohol consumption, was contributing to his discomfort. Although his MRI showed some arthritis, the good news was he did not have a herniated disk. Jeremy knew intuitively the time had come to manage his health and start taking better care of his body. Pain is a great leveler, and at age forty-six he is not getting any younger.
Jeremy’s injury created an opportunity for him to find a new way forward. His puppy was a good reason to get moving and keep moving. So, rather than come home and lay on the sofa with a bottle of beer, he now came home to take a long walk with the dog. Together, we devised a healthier eating plan involving less mindless take-out and more mindful, healthy eat-in.
We talked about dividing his plate into pie-like slices of four: two slices were to be filled with greens (steamed and/or fresh), one slice would be protein-based as he is not a vegetarian, and the fourth slice would be legume-based rather than bread-based. Jeremy is a big man, so I knew that in order to keep him satisfied he would need to eat more often than three times a day. We created a list of healthy snacks for his two light nibbles between meals.
I appreciated Jeremy’s insights and honesty and for his willingness to turn a new corner. We made a deal that he would take it day-by-day, one healthy meal at a time, so he would not feel overwhelmed with his new plan of action.
Today, Jeremy is feeling so much better, is proud of the changes he is making, is losing weight, and is remaining committed to a healthier, more rounded lifestyle.
As a new year is upon us, what are some things you can do to invest in your own wellness? Is it to become healthier—mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually? No matter where you are on the health continuum, begin now, today, to make positive changes. Take it one day at a time. If you make an unhealthy choice, get right back on the train and realize that you can make another, healthier choice the very next time.
As you continue to walk yourself forward into heath and enlightenment, remember to ask yourself, “Am I enjoying my life, living fully in joy, happiness, gratitude, and authenticity?”
There is no time like the present to begin anew.