Note To Self: Consistent Effort

22 06 2012


Trying a Wholistic Approach to Weight Loss

9 06 2012

For years I’ve thought about using acupuncture or some other healing art to assist me in losing weight. Now after losing nearly 70 pounds, I finally feel more ready to begin exploring forces outside of my own control. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not a fan of going to a doctor’s office but I realize that this battle with weight often feels bigger than me and getting a bit of help might not be the worst thing to do at this point.

Because I’m a bit neurotic, the search for an acupuncturist becomes a complicated process. Sure there are tons of qualified people out there, but I wanted someone who had extensive experience. I wanted someone who is preferably Chinese. I wanted the Chinese medicines, herbs and teas. I wanted someone with a broken English accent. I know this is faulty thinking. Maybe I’ve watched the Karate Kid too many times but my criteria made the choice seem like a more authentic one for me.

Upon the recommendation of a colleague, I found and called a practitioner who was able to see me that same day. I had called several other practitioners before this but was not getting any warm fuzzies. The fact that this gentleman could see me the same day made it more difficult for me to be able to allow my nerves to get the best of me and back out.

For me, going to a “doctor’s office” is an anxiety producing event. When I walked toward the door of the office I read a posted sign with several rules. I was to take off my shoes and turn off my cell phone. The act of becoming untethered to my cell phone for any length of time is also quite anxiety producing. It’s the era that we live in. I always need to feel connected. The reality though is that smart phones leave us unconnected from each other a great deal of the time.

Before I knew it, I had been ushered into the space where I would receive the treatment. I spoke with the practitioner about some chronic but generally dull pain I had been experiencing for years in my left ankle as well as a new pain that had been developing over the last few months in my right shoulder. We also spoke about my weight loss journey so far and how he might be able to assist me in moving forward.

Before I knew it, it was time to disrobe and get on the table. This is also anxiety producing. At over 300lbs, this body is not ready for prime time yet.

The practitioner began working on my right foot as a way to ease my shoulder pain. I offered that the pain was likely the result of the way I sleep as I tend to sleep on my shoulder with my arm curled under my pillow and wedged up against the headboard. He remained quiet and I felt that maybe he was not accepting my hypothesis. I have since come to learn that in some Asian healing arts practices, shoulder pain is most often an indicator of a major stress build up.

With needles inserted and electrical stimulus pulse applied, the practitioner turned off the lights and left the room for a period of time. I was left alone with the sounds of the ocean mixed with a separate recording of American Indian flute. I wondered if my American Indian tattoos had inspired him to play this for me or if it was just by chance. Either way the sounds and the needles seemed to lull me off to an extremely relaxed state in no time which is really impressive given how anxious I had been feeling. I was not tired or sleepy but my mind did produce some interesting peaceful images. It reminded me of a very lucid dream. Every once in awhile I would come back to reality when my right hand unexplainably moved on it’s own, most likely the result of being a human pin cushion.

Before I knew it, the practitioner had returned and it was time to work on my ankle. I advised that my podiatrist had told me that because of the repeated sprains and strains to my ankle since the age of 18, a very large bone spur had developed and my entire ankle would need to be scoped so that the tendons could finally snap back into place and heal. I advised that I had also been told that my ankle had aged to about that of a 65 year old despite my only being 35 at the time. My practitioner laughed at this assertion and seemed to indicate with his facial expressions (although he said nothing) that surgery would probably not be necessary. Maybe that was wishful thinking on my part. I’m not completely sure.

The practitioner pushed on the exact spot on my ankle that often gives me pain. When strong pressure is applied it really hurts and I had all I could do to not sit upright and scream. Then he inserted one needle on the top of my foot near my toes and said “pain gone now” and pressed again. And it was! For the first time in 19 years my ankle was completely pain free. It felt absolutely normal. Tears began to well up. I couldn’t believe the instant difference.

The practitioner then began to add needles in a large circle around my stomach. I felt the tapping on the tops of the needles but never any actual pain (it’s very different than getting a needle at the doctor’s office). He also put needles in my arms and legs. One needle in my right leg definitely gave me an unpleasant sensation and sent a wave of something not nice down my leg for just a second and again briefly when it was finally removed later.

I also received very tiny needles in my right ear. some of these were painful but not for too long. They were covered with medical tape and I was told that I would keep them in until my next visit. These too would help with stress relief, pain relief, metabolism boosting and food craving control when massaged at least five times a day for 30 seconds each. Again the lights went out and my relaxed state returned.

At the conclusion of my visit I was told that acupuncture is not a panacea for weight loss. It will only assist in it. The hard work still belongs to me if I want to see results.

I was then given a “diet” plan for a three day caloric restriction type fast (essentially eating 1/3 of what I typically eat). This begins today. It will be difficult because I’m already eating considerably less than I had been before going plant based. After the three days, I would return to a diet not unlike what I have been doing already. No dairy, no grease, no excessive oils, low carbs and no processed foods. I also was given Chinese root tea and other herbal supplements to help with metabolism and fat absorption.

It was a very interesting experience and I’ll be going back twice this coming week. My only hope is that my insurance will get onboard and start picking up most of the tab as it is not at all cheap. I do fear that the treatments will become too cost prohibitive and I will need to stop before I’ve received enough of them to truly make an impact.

For now though I am feeling good. The shoulder and ankle were a bit sore a few hours after the session and the pain comes and goes still. Unless I become overly tired it generally remains duller and shorter in duration than it had. I expect that these issues will need more time to resolve. I’m skeptical about acupuncture’s ability to fix my ankle pain in a lasting way. This isn’t western mind. I’m definitely willing to give it a try though. I certainly cannot argue with the pain free moments in the office. That experience still amazes me.

The ear needles are neat. For some reason they make the whole right side of my face feel like it’s open (as if a piece of my skull is missing). It’s hard to find the words to explain it any other way. It’s a neat sensation. And yes my cravings have generally been in check although I’ve had my moments. We’ll see how it goes. One of the needles hurts when i massage it. The thought of having needles just stuck in my ear for days is not particularly comforting but its not stopping me from giving it a shot either.

This is an exciting new phase in my adventure. I’m interested to see where this road will lead. I definitely believe that western medicine can be beneficial but if we limit ourselves only to that, I think we miss an awful lot.

If you’ve used alternative methods to gain relief from pain and/or assist in weight loss and would like to share your experiences post a comment or email me:

There is NO Substitute for Determination

12 03 2012

And so begins week 12 of my plant based lifestyle change.  I’m hesitant to use the term “diet” anymore because diets are something that people try frequently but often don’t have long term success with.  There is a new one every 6 months and the people who develop them cash in.  I’m not saying they won’t work, I’m just saying that they are hard to sustain in the long run.

Although I may modify what I eat a bit here and there in the future, I will continue to eat mostly plant based foods.  There are too many benefits to ever return to the processed garbage I had ben eating in the past.  The increased energy alone has made me a believer.

I lost an additional 3 pounds this week which bring my total weight loss to 53 pounds.  That is a little more than my 7 year old daughter weighs.  When I think about that, it really puts this journey into focus and stuns me at the same time.

People have been asking me “how are you doing it?”.  Unfortunately there is no magic bullet that will bring you long lasting success.  There is no diet, pill, surgery or gym that will work without constant determination.  And frankly, I’ve had little of that up until this point.  I was fortunate enough to get very sick and realize I needed to change.  I knew long before I got sick that my weight was out of control but sometimes a problem seems too big to even know where to start to address it.  That must seem like a copout but that is truly how I felt.  And so getting sick was a huge blessing.  It didn’t feel like it at the time, but isn’t that the way it is with a lot of life’s challenges?  We get past them and see the trials in our rearview mirror and realize they have made us who we are.

For me it was a flick of the switch in my mind.  I just decided one day that I was done with living this way.  And while food was and is one of my biggest joys it was not going to steal away the other parts of my life that I should be enjoying.  I wanted to be active.  I wanted to be able to do things that “normal” sized people could do.  I was never going to go back.  When you get there in your mind, you will know that you have found the very things you need to get you over whatever obstacles you face – willpower and determination.  Once you have found them you will then be well on your way.

Maybe you are not there today and that is okay.  I know what that is like.  Don’t let it stop you from beginning though.  You can start today.  Set a goal to lose one pound.  Just one pound.   Stop eating processed foods.  Incorporate many more plant based foods.  Begin exercising.  You can totally do this. When you get there, go for another pound.  And keep going until you’re getting to where you want to be.  And it is hard, but don’t wait until your body starts to fail you to make the change.  Do it while you can.  Do it now.  I have a long, long way to go.  I have to set mini goals of 5 and 10 pounds otherwise it would seem too great a challenge to face.  Remember anything is possible with enough determination.  When you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it done.  There is no other substitute for your determination.

Time Weights For No One

16 02 2012

Picked up the phone tonight and ordered a pair of Bowflex adjustable dumbbells.  It’s been 15 long years since I’ve seriously lifted weights but I’ve been wanting to begin again for some time now. I used to be really into weight lifting.  In my freshman year of college, I was able to bench press over 600 pounds (one time and only one time).  In high school, I leg pressed over 1000 pounds 31 times consecutively which was a record there.  There was a plaque on the wall in the school gym commemorating it. When I returned 7 years later, the record was still mine. The stupid things we do for glory. I didn’t walk right for days after that.

From 8th grade through sophomore year of college, I was constantly in the gym and I saw fantastic results come from my hard work.  But as college progressed, lifting was eventually replaced by partying and hanging out and I just lost the drive to drag my ass to the gym 5 days a week. A body at rest really does tend to stay at rest and so it has been.

I’m excited to get back to lifting. I don’t want to hulk up as much as I want to get cut. Cardio is boring me to tears and although I know it is very important, this will be a nice change. In a few months, I might take up swimming again as that is something I’m good at and enjoy doing. But for now, I’m going to really get an intense lifting regiment going. ‘

A friend sent me this next video and it really inspired me.  It really is the recipe for success.  In other facets of my life where I have seen success I recognize that this formula works. No matter if it is lifting weights, training for a race, excelling in a professional career or just being your very best self – the formula for making huge strides really is maximizing your performance in the limited time you have.  Time can be our greatest enemy if we don’t take advantage of it. If we use it wisely and recognize that time is fleeting, it can be our most powerful alley.  I hope this video inspires others the way it did me.  

What is your dream?  What is holding you back? Despite tons of excuses, I was the one holding myself back. I let a lot of time just slip away. That is going to change now.

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