Thinking about the 90% Rule

This last week was very hot. That meant eating out a lot more. Even as it cooled off, I found myself craving some ice cream, which meant eating something else I try and avoid. I was thinking about my 90% rule. I certainly wasn’t 90% this last week. I’m not sure how much closer I’ll be this week either, although I hope it’s at 90% or more.

However, there have been weeks when I’ve been able to stick to my food convictions 95% of the time rather than 90% of the time. I have to remind myself not to go around nit picking everything. Yes, I probably ate within my diet guidelines 40% of the time this time. I have this sense that I want to go and check up for the next few weeks until I work off that “drop” in my compliance. I am forcing myself not to think too much about it.

90% needs to be most of the time–for life. Not just today or this week or this month. It means that there will be weeks like this for me that I am not able to be so compliant. I am sure other weeks will challenge me as well. I need to understand that I should work at being as compliant as I can be as often as I can be and be content with being compliant, most of the time.

Undervalued Rest

As a society, we really undervalue rest. Everyone must always be busy. This doesn’t matter if you are sick or well. This doesn’t matter who you are, you must always have something to do. Resting, really resting and just taking a break isn’t considered productive.

From a health care provider’s perspective, rest is one of the most important things you can do. Rest allows your body to heal after the assaults of a busy day or busy week. Rest can help heal stress. Rest is important. After a good diet, rest can be the most important and loving thing you can do for your body.

Find time to just do nothing for awhile. Read a book you’ve been thinking you wanted to read. Watch the birds. Enjoy.

No Time

One of the big issues as an acupuncturist is seeing a patient who is living a life that is contributing to their lack of well being. Discussing this issue with patients, they are often overwhelmed at the thought of making a change. A big change most patients could make is to eat better quality foods. However, most patients will tell me that they don’t have time to eat better or to eat at home more often than not.

There have been several posts around the blogosphere that discuss a study that shows that convenience foods save an average of ten minutes a day. For myself and for a number of my patients the bigger difficulty is not in finding those ten minutes a day, it’s in planning for cooking and eating.

The vast majority of people find that they are reacting to circumstances rather than planning for things. They constantly feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and planning ahead for eating or for exercise is just one more item. Additionally going out often feels like a treat because then you don’t even have to clean up the kitchen.

I would love to see more people out there who can help these same people with their planning skills. They can plan to exercise (and make note of those things that interfere with their plans or not). They can plan to eat at home and make sure they purchase their foods on other days. Making one larger meal with left overs is a great way to cook once and eat it twice.

While learning to cook may also be an issue for some people, learning planning may be a more important skill. Such a skill crosses over from the kitchen to daily life in a way that can create places for rest and relaxation that are sadly lacking for so many people.

I have recently been trying to eat all food cooked or baked in my own kitchen. I have a few exceptions and I haven’t quite gotten to making my own condiments (too many in the kitchen to just toss out). I find that I am constantly obsessed with food–planning when I can make this or that or thinking about what I have so that I can plan a good lunch or dinner for myself and my husband. I know on Saturday by the time I get back from the Farmer’s Market what I am going to be eating that week. We have a small kitchen garden that supplements vegetables to the items I purchase at the Market. I can also easily run to PCC (a large food cooperative in the Seattle area) or if I don’t want to go quite so far, Whole Foods.

All of these trips require planning in a way I never bothered with before, but I find that my health is better. I also find that there are far worse things to obsess about than what am I going to do with all those leftovers?

The Soul of Food

As I have gone in search of the what health means to many people I have come across many different ways of thinking. I was reintroduced to the Westin A Price Foundation and the concepts of eating locally.

Recently, I saw a post on Real Food is Soul Food over at a new favorite blog of mine. I was caught by this opening:

Real Food is old and traditional. It’s sustainably grown, organic, and local. And it nourishes the soul as well as the body.

That’s because finding, cooking, and eating Real Food is a craft. I once heard that cooking was the only art form that uses all five senses. It engages the whole person…

It’s beautifully said and I think there are some wonderful ideas put forth in this post. I urge everyone to go over and read and think about it. If you don’t eat real food, consider why. Also if the idea that cooking real food is a craft, consider why you don’t think you are able to do it. What stops you?

More Thoughts on Weight Loss

I loss my elderly cat the other night. In this process I have posted old photos of her on my cat blog. She was a bit plump for much of her life. The vet I took her to for a geriatric evaluation a few years ago commented on it. However she said not to worry too much for with an old cat, a sign that she could be fat was a sign of health.

In the past months, as her kidneys began to fail in earnest I noticed that she was loosing weight. This week, the week she died, I could feel every little bony knob that existed. There was almost no fat left on her at all. She was wasting away before she died. She was beyond thin. She was emaciated. While at the end she would have looked much like an anorexic, it has been over a year since she was at all plump.

I consider that I look back at those photos and think how much more beautiful and healthy she looked when she was plump. I have to ask myself why do I spend so much time and effort trying to look emaciated, thinking it is beautiful? If the ability to keep weight on is a sign of health in our pets, then why is it horrible if we keep an extra ten pounds? I am not advocating gross obesity, but perhaps we can consider being a weight that feels good on our frame without the reference to the fashion statements.

The Moving Leaf

One of my favorite acupuncture teachers talks about the fact that acupuncture and traditional Western Medicine are not so different. It’s one reason his lessons are so fascinating. There are two ways to look at a problem

If there is a leaf moving in the wind, we can see the leaf moving. We wonder what does it. We know it’s the wind, even if we can’t see the wind or touch the wind. Still, we know it is the wind.

This is like disease. We can treat it like we would treat the leaf that we can see and touch. This is what we do in Western medicine. We look. We take images. We test blood.

In acupuncture, we check the energetics. We know the wind must move the leaf and there is a problem. So we work with the wind. We listen to the symptoms and to the pluses. We look at our patient. We see the whole picture and we start working with it.

Both medicines are one medicine. Both can help the patient. There should be no competition or misunderstanding between practitioners of each medicine. We each do our part to help the patient heal.

Rest

Many times if we start getting sick, we just push through because there’s so much to be done. Did you know, if you take the time to rest before you are really sick, you can increase your chances of either fighting off the bug or at least minimizing it’s impact?

At the first sign of illness in addition to adding in any supplements you may take, allow yourself some extra time to rest and maybe take a nap. Your body can use it.

Exercise

We all struggle with exercise. I think the optimal amount is about 4 or 5 hours a week. I’ve been doing yoga which I love. I also walk regularly and I ski. It’s taken me awhile to get to the place where I can fit exercise in regularly. I’ve done this by making a regular commitment to it. Moving to North Bend where I have a commute, has made sticking to my commitment harder.

I bring a yoga mat to work so that I can do some stretches in my office between patients. I also try to walk at least around the block when I have a break. This keeps the energy moving and flowing. I don’t count those short walks as exercise, but every little bit helps. Remember, movement is good. We don’t move our bodies enough. Even a short walk at a break can help. Who knows? You might enjoy it and then find you have more time to start moving.