Eating. Sleeping. Pooping. These are, undoubtedly, the top three things that have the most effect on your wellbeing. If all of these three actions are working out well for you, you are on the right track.
Of course, there are many other options out there to enhance your health and well-being: Exercise, fresh air, meditation. . .the list continues. But if you’re getting the first three right, you’re creating a solid base of health to build on to with these other things. If you’re not eating, sleeping, and pooping well, adding all that exercise and meditation is like building on top of a crumbling foundation.
Eating the proper foods, and in the right quantities, is the first step in building the healthy qi that will carry you throughout your day. . .and life. The Chinese believe that food is medicine, and will often prescribe dietary changes before doing any other sort of work physically. All of us know that garlic builds up our immunity, preventing us from getting sick, but did you know that almost every other spice in your cupboard has medicinal properties, also?
You do not have to get a degree in herbal medicine to eat well, but you should educate yourself a bit on what you are putting into your body. Patients will come in and talk about how healthy and rigorous their diets are, and then discuss the pound of cheese they eat every night (“I only eat foods that are natural!”) Eating unprocessed foods is a fantastic idea, but that does not mean that everything natural is necessarily good for you. I’ve also had patients that are extremely weight-conscious brag about their low-carb diets. . .only to discover that they’re basically living off of bread and non-fat ice cream. Again, not the best choice. Thus, read a book. . . .or talk to your friendly neighborhood acupuncturist. The information is out there, you simply have to integrate it into your lifestyle.
After the eating comes the pooping. . .and if you are not doing it, or you’re doing too much of it, it’s a sign that the overall qi of the body may be suffering. Poop is pretty much the ultimate measure of what is going on internally. Bloodwork might tell you, but it’s not quite as convenient as getting this information in the comfort of your own bathroom. We acupuncturists can collect a world of knowledge about what is happening inside you by finding out about your bowel movements, but all of you regular people out there only have to know a few things. Your poop should arrive 1-3 times each day, be formed but not hard, and come without blood, pain, or an unusual level of effort. If all this applies to you, you’re in good shape. If not, a change in diet may be in order. We acupuncturists can also get things moving frequently, if need be. . .oh, lovely, lovely sleep. At least, that’s how I think of it now-I look ahead to drifting off into sweet dreams and can’t wait to go to bed at night. But I remember feeling very differently about my bed a couple of years ago, while I was suffering from a bout of insomnia. I was worried waking up, since I barely had enough energy to get through the day. I think of sleeplessness as a type of cancer of the soul, slowly eating away at every other aspect of your life and health. If you simply aren’t getting enough sleep due to a lack of effort on your part, make some adjustments that will allow you to get more. Trust me, your body will thank you. If you are a true insomniac, though, there are lots of alternatives out there to help. Working on this is an investment in your health. Pay a visit to a sleep therapist, an acupuncturist, an herbalist. We can all start you on the path to getting your sleep, and ultimately life, back.