Why We Get Fat

As an overweight person I just want to thank Gary Taubes for his stunning little book Why We Get Fat and What to do About It.   I enjoyed his other book, Good Calories, Bad Calories but it was long and ponderous in its information.  This little book says something that is very important and looking at the Amazon reviews seems to be something many people don’t get.   I am not fat because I eat too much.   If you looked at my life long caloric intake pound per pound it is probably less than someone of my weight but perhaps greater height who didn’t worry about being fat.    According to studies Taubes” cites, the could be why I have so much fatigue.  I eat too much because I tend to be fat.

I do feel better eating a protein heavy diet.   I was fascinated that in the back of the book one diet he recommends (although not the only diet) he talks about adding in broth!  As a traditional foods person I was ecstatic! Now there is yet another reason to drink my broth!

I recommend reading the book even if you tend to think in terms of a vegetarian diet for yourself that you read this book. No one diet works for everyone.   My Spleen qi deficient, yang deficient, damp body prefers a diet heavy in proteins (grass-fed beef and pastured chickens and eggs).   I have friends who tend towards heat and yin deficiency and they do far better on a vegetarian and mostly vegetarian diet.   Food is about energy which balances what goes on in our body.   I suspect has I eaten differently throughout my life I would have different food needs and a different diet might be most appropriate.

One of the most important thing in the book from my point of view was the pronouncement that fat people are not fat because they lack will power or there is something wrong with them psychologically.   What Taubes says is that being fat is a symptom of something else and doctors need to look at that.

Maciocia on Joy as a Cause of Disease

Giovanni Maciocia has an interesting article on Joy as a cause of disease.   One issue that I think he makes well into the article, is that we often define joy as a state of contentment or peace.  I suspect as I was reading his article, that the way joy was defined was more of that hyper happiness that one sees in small children when they are over stimulated or over excited about company coming.    It keeps one from sleeping and keeps one from thinking clearly about the present.   Joy, in the way that I have come to define it is more a peaceful contentment.

I find the article fascinating and any commentary I have really underscores the need for cultural understanding when translating from one language to the next.   Language may be the words we use, but the meaning is influenced by the culture.    In order to communicate effectively, it is important to be certain to use words that as they are used within the culture.

Frustrations With The Pain Chronicles.

I’m frustrated. I read a lot. I read a lot of books about health. As someone interested in chronic conditions, not only as a practitioner but as a friend to someone who deals with a chronic condition, I read a lot of those books. Chronic pain is a big one. I saw The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering advertised and started to read it but it fails in a couple of ways that many books on chronic pain or chronic illness fail.

The author writes about how hard and difficult it is to be so afflicted. Yes, it is hard. This part is true. The frustrating part is they learn nothing. Nothing changes. It is as difficult on the last page as on the first. I may have, in this book, learned a bit about the western science behind pain. I have learned nothing in terms of helping my patients cope. I have learned nothing that gives me any more empathy than looking someone in the face who struggles daily. I have nothing new to offer them.

The downfall I see in so many of these personal journeys is that the author continues to hold out hope for their old self. Nothing will heal them except to get their old self back, no matter how many years pass. Acupuncture is never mentioned in this book except to say it didn’t work. We hear nothing of the practitioner. Although given that she says she doesn’t believe in alternative medicine, I shouldn’t be surprised. For the author any emotional stuff that goes on is FROM the pain, not concurrent with it. As an acupuncturist, of course we know that certain types of imbalances create certain emotional predispositions. Certainly as that imbalance gets worse the emotional part also worsens. However, is it BECAUSE of the pain or concurrent as part of the general imbalance?

The author and others like her continue to write as if there is no question but that they must suffer. Telling them otherwise is to keep them from listening. While I appreciate that pain and sickness seem to require suffering, both may be uncomfortable but it is our reaction to it, the refusal to give up that old self, that causes suffering.

That’s what is so hard. To really heal from whatever our wounds we often must give up that cherished self. For some people it may mean healing from a physical illness. For others from an unhappy life. Each of us has our wounds that require we grow and change. It is only by trying to remain the same that we suffer. That’s what I find sad about these books. When the author doesn’t get that they need to change–and yes those kinds of changes are a struggle. They are hard. They are momentous but only through those changes can we realize that maybe we don’t have to suffer.

I want to say that I am not saying anyone who has a chronic illness or pain must do this. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. No wonder people write books like this. However, if you do write a book and it is personal, please learn something first. Make your suffering different towards the end. Offer others who suffer what you suffered some hope. Give me a reason to read your book when I can hear your suffering

The books quite honestly fail when authors can’t make that leap. If you want to write about the Western thoughts on chronic pain, do so. Don’t add in your own search when you find nothing.

New Web Resource

The National Institutes of Health announced the launch of a new web resource on Tuesday.   It is designed to give healthcare providers evidence-based information on complementary and alternative medicine.

According to the press release, “The portal on the NCCAM Web site at nccam.nih.gov is tailored to fit the needs of all health care providers, including physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and CAM providers. It includes information on the safety and efficacy of a range of common health practices that lie outside of mainstream medicine—natural products, such as dietary supplements, herbs, and probiotics, as well as mind-body practices such as meditation, chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage.”

This could be a useful resource when talking with people skeptical of acupuncture services.  With any luck it will be a user-friendly way to find statistics for treatments not just in general but by disease type.

Your Moody Gut

The gut may have more impact on our thoughts than we have previously considered according to an article in Scientific American.   This is not news to acupuncturists who understand that gut health affects the entire body.  In fact, when patients come in complaining of issues with poor thinking, over thinking, depression and anxiety, checking the energetic makeup of the digestive system is of paramount importance.

Now, even the west is catching on.

Sometimes the Boring Things Are Important

Standing out in the rain holding a sign on a street corner with 30 other liked minded folks for an hour last night was pretty boring.  We were being politically active and supporting a cause we all believed in.   We talked.  We chatted but it wasn’t very exciting.

It occurs to me that many of the most important things we do are not very exciting.   In the realm of wellness, we all hope that when we get sick that one day we are just miraculously well. Sometimes this happens. Usually when we have the flu, although that’s not always true even then.   In chronic illness the more typical “getting better” phase is slow and ponderous with as many steps back as forward.  We do those things that should be good for us and keep doing them, wondering if they will help.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell unless we really look closely.  Was I able to get up and shower with more ease more times this week than last?  Is that a trend or a fluke?

It’s boring to have to monitor life so closely.  However, as I stood out in the rain, it occurs to me that some of the most important things we do are kind of boring.  We don’t live on aha moments.   We live in moments that are just things getting done.   We can feel proud of those moments because that is living too.  If we treasure each moment, nothing is really boring.   I know that I made a small contribution to the whole.   I talked to people that I would never have met otherwise.   It feels good even if it isn’t the most exciting thing in life.

Sometimes boring is good.

Self Compassion

“Is it selfish to have compassion for yourself?” asks Randy Taran over at Huffington Post.

I think it’s a great article. I don’t agree that this is in any way “rethinking” the golden rule.  The rule I learned was to love your neighbor AS yourself not instead of yourself.  We do tend to forget that self part.    Great food for thought for those who seem to forget themselves when it comes to love and compassion.


I have a friend who has recently had some health challenges.   Some of them have been very serious and I have worried about her.   An interesting thing is that she keeps talking about, well I have lived with a number of different things lately, I guess I can live with this.   It’s not about over coming it.  It’s about overcoming her resistance to it.   She put a lot of thought into her choices and for her, it is a choice.  I appreciate her fearlessness as she goes through this difficult time.

I do not claim to know where it will end. Neither does she.  I’m not sure she cares.  Her goal is currently to live her live with as much grace (and when there is lack, she goes with that too!) as she can.   Her grace comes from her honesty in facing something that so many of us don’t want to.

It is not always what we choose but what chooses us.   We can only keep moving on and realize that it is not so much the what but how we deal with it.

Coming Together

Sometimes when something comes together it really comes together.  I’ve been feeling stuck about my acupuncture practice for awhile.   I had this sudden realization that because I want to work with people one on one I have been preventing myself from treating the people I really want to treat. I want to treat people who really need acupuncture. I want to treat people who have a need but don’t think they can access the treatment.

There is something called Working Class Acupuncture and which allows practitioners to charge less for their treatments.  I’ve resisted this because it requires treating so many people at once.   I realized that the people I really want to be working with are those who don’t have a lot of money.   I want to offer a service to those who are under served.   I realized this and noticed that as I move into web design and artwork I struggle with what I am worth and what is affordable.

Superficially this may be about self esteem.  Believe me, there’s reason enough to consider that one.    I think it goes deeper than that. I want to make a difference not just on an individual level with their health but on a social level. I want to work towards a new way of living, one that promotes great community.   It’s what I am talking about. It’s one that I keep thinking about and thinking something needs to be done but I don’t know how to do it.

I still don’t know where the journey will take me but the insight is exciting.   I can see possibilities that were closed off before.   I look forward to the next big step in what is it I really want.

The Middle Way

Lately I have been in several situations where I am torn in two different directions.   It seems I am torn apart in different directions between two things that I feel strongly about and have to walk a very narrow path to keep from being pulled off towards one influence or the other.

I’m not sure what the lesson is or what is going on with this.  It does seem trying to be true to who I am requires a great deal of balance right now.    How often to we realize what a balancing act it is for us to hold two conflicting ideas or have different opinions in different situations?  How often do we get to see the beauty and the ugliness of any situation we are in with equal clarity?

It is tiring to have to stand between to equally strong pulls.   I can’t wait until it ends. I don’t know exactly what the lesson it, but at this time I am trying to observe how things keep coming together and what I notice as I see things in clarity.