Tag: weight loss

What are the Best Gluten Free Cookbooks & Recipe Websites?

Dear Professor Juliette,

A patient of my acupuncture practice believes she’s gluten intolerant or possibly allergic and she’s noticed her son is feeling a lot better now that he’s not eating gluten either. They are looking for the best gluten-free cookbooks and recipe website info and resources and I knew you’d be the one to ask  🙂


Picara, NYC


Dear Picara,

How lovely of you to research gluten-free resources for your patient! Gluten-free diets may seem daunting at first, but in a short amount of time it becomes easier and more fun to cook. Gluten-free diets lead to much healthier, happier lives for scores of children and adults. I’ve witnessed amazing health transformations in many of my patients, in myself and in my own son thanks to a gluten-free diet such as; improved digestion, healthy and rapid weight loss, clearer and more focused thinking, elimination of daytime fatigue, blood sugar regulation, reduced or eliminated moodiness and stress levels, improved behavior in children, improved fertility, reduced or eliminated seasonal allergies/rhinitis, eczema, reduced asthma symptoms, reduced symptoms of other inflammatory diseases, and more.

It is important to note that not all gluten-free foods, gluten-free cookbooks, products or recipes are healthy just because they are labeled “gluten-free”. We eaters must remain aware of our food choices. There are so many gluten-free cookbooks and recipes websites out there that a quick Google search will turn up pages of results, so encourage your patient to do more research on her own. Below you will see a short list of some of my favorite resources.

Eat Well,

“Professor” Juliette

It is important to first learn the foods to avoid when eating a gluten-free diet.

The Celiac Disease Foundation website offers exhaustive resources listing foods, drinks, alcoholic beverages, and condiments to avoid.

Celiac.com also offers this list of foods to avoid along with other support materials.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network created this handy PDF “How to Read A Label for a Wheat Free Diet“. This handout is a start because wheat, along with other foods, contains gluten. This only contains instructions for wheat free diets, so there are plenty of other gluten products to watch for.

Gluten Free Cook Books (just to name a few)

Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back To Health

Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide- Expanded and Revised Edition

For special treats: BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery

Gluten Free Magazines 

Living Without

Delight Gluten Free Magazine

Gluten Free Websites



http://glutenfreegirl.com/  (and be sure to visit her Links page for more resources)

Food Allergy Support

Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies 

One Of The Gang: Nurturing the Souls of Children with Food Allergies

AllergyMoms Website

Kids With Food Allergies Foundation



I Know Why Dave Chappelle Quit His Job

Dave quit his job to escape the stress. No amount of money is worth selling your soul for work nor is it worth not being allowed to manifest your soul’s work.

No. It was not because he was smoking crack as the media rumor mill tried to convince us. Did they think the only reason someone would walk away from a multi-million dollar job is because they were on crack? Or did they think that the only reason a black man would do that was because he was on crack? The media does a great job of manufacturing public thought especially when it is racist or sexist thought. And that is one of the reasons Dave quit- as you will read below.

Dave Chappelle joined the few who realize that putting up with certain pressures from work are not worth it. Stress is not worth the money, physical illness or emotional distress it can induce. It is not worth doing things which you consider unethical or uncreative.

Stressed? Try Acupucture, It Works!  Call 646-504-2251 for an appointment.

I watched Dave on Oprah and Inside the Actor’s Studio. He talked about the pressure his company placed on him to do certain things with the show that he completely disagreed with. He specifically mentioned a skit shown on the “Lost Episodes” which he believed only confirmed racial stereotypes rather than, in his usual style, mirroring them to us so we can stop using them. I saw the skit and I completely agree with him in spite of the audiences vote. Dave took the bold stance against popularity and financial gain. Dave stands for creative awareness and freedom, cultural awareness and freedom, and self-awareness and freedom.

Many of my patients are ill because of work related stress. They suffer fatigue, anxiety, headaches, frequent colds, insomnia, skin conditions , infertility, weight gain or loss and digestive problems such as IBS, and the list goes on. We

Stress from work or at home can compromise mental and physical health

all live in a society in which we must work to survive. So the very thought of quitting our jobs to find something more spiritually fulfilling can be scary. We worry about our bills, family responsibilities and financial freedom. But the truth is that we cannot have any of those things without our health in body and mind .

As I work with patients who are suffering from physical and emotional pain and illness we discuss lifestyle choices. Many of them decide to make the bold decision to change their lifestyle so that they can free themselves of this suffering. They make personal revelations about how daily choices effect their relationships with friends, family, co-workers, partners- or how choices block them from developing deep relationships because they are working 60 (or more) hours per week .

Lifestyle change is a branch treatment within Chinese medicine. For some people, lifestyle change does not need to be as  drastic as leaving a job. Maybe you can cut work to part-time or take breaks during the work day, stop eating lunch at the desk and go outside to eat, exercise, or use earned vacation time no matter how many pressing client jobs are on the plate. Your employers give you vacation time for a reason. If they get upset because you use the time you are entitled to, that is their problem, don’t make it yours. The government made labor laws for a reason. These laws protect our rights to breaks during the work day .

Are there ways you can reduce your stress, cultivate a sense that you are working toward the greater good for your self, your family or society? Take some time to think about this for yourself. Maybe even journal your thoughts and reflect on them. How much do you lose because of your job? And how much of that is worth the money? Do you know now why Dave Chappelle quit his job?

Stressed? Try Acupuncture, It Works!

Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615N
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

9 Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure Now!

You don’t always have to wait to quit your job or to lose weight before lowering your blood pressure. Use these natural techniques to re-gain your health and to reduce your stress.

    1. Reduce Intake of Processed Table Salt and Increase Potassium Intake.
      Reduce or eliminate colas from your diet. Use low or no sodium soy sauce or other seasonings products. Avoid pre-packaged, pre-made foods such as boxed frozen and canned foods which are high in processed sodium (20% or more of you daily value). When choosing salt, try unrefined sea salt which retain important minerals. Increase potassium rich foods such as bananas, avocados, cantaloupe, apricots, raisins, beans, figs, winter squash and tomato sauce. (Most tomato product brands are packed in B.P.A. lined cans so be sure to avoid those brands by choosing jarred sauces, making your own from farm fresh tomato. As of the writing of this article canned Glenn Muir do not use B.P.A. can liners. You can also try boxes of Pomi brand tomato product). Food is the best medicine, but you can also consider taking a potassium supplement daily.
    2. Exercise Daily. Studies show that cardio vascular exercise reduces blood pressure and relieves stress. Sometimes due to health reasons or time constraints we cannot work out often or engage in a vigorous cardiovascular program. That is okay. Start by walking for 5-15 minutes per day. Slowly increase your walking time and soon you may be able to go to the gym again. Also try hatha yoga, qi-gong or tai-chi.
    3. Use Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. Scientific research studies show that acupuncture reduces blood pressure by reducing stress hormones, such as cortisol and by releasing good hormones called endorphins. Chinese herbs are often used in combination with acupuncture to balance the root cause of energy disharmony which may contribute to high blood pressure.
    4. Take Breaks At Work. To reduce your stress, walk out of the office for a few minutes, breathe deeply and let go.

  1. Reduce Exposure to News Media. Cut down on T.V. news shows, newspaper and magazine reading and internet news media. News sources such as T.V. news, news magazine shows, Court TV, Cops, Unsolved Mysteries and other crime shows as well as glossy news magazines thrive on inducing fear and anxiety which causes blood pressure to rise as stress levels rise.
  2. Give Yourself Alone Time.Even five minutes a day of quiet time can help. Try any of the following; meditate, walk, sit in a garden, breathe, go for a drive or bike ride.
  3. Engage in Low Stress Activities You Enjoy. Knitting, golfing, gardening, playing with pets, fishing, dance, sing, play an instrument, walk in the park or meet a friend for tea.
  4. Breathe. Become aware of your breath. Do you stop breathing when you are stressed or do you sigh a lot? Do you take short breaths into the top of your chest? Or do breathe deeply filling down to the bottom of your belly? Take time to just breathe and relax. You don’t always have try some special breathing exercise because sometimes just sitting and feeling the sensation breath moving through your body can be enough. Inhale through the nose, feel the air move through, is it cool or warm? Can you feel it move through the throat? Notice your chest expand, your lungs fill and ribs expand. As you exhale notice your belly soften, ribs soften, chest relax and warm air move out of your mouth.
  5. Develop Mindful Awareness. Become mindful of your reactions to stressful situations. What raises the hair on the back of your neck? What causes you tense up your shoulders or jaw? What situations or people cause your blood to boil? As you become aware of your stress reactions to people, places and things, take a breath and consider this advice Tibetan monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes in his book Anger. Wisdom for Cooling the Flames:‘The first function of mindfulness is to recognize, not fight. “Breathing in, I know anger has manifested in me”. And breathing out, “I will take good care of you.” Once we have recognized our anger we embrace it. This is the second function of mindfulness, and it is a very pleasant practice. Instead of fighting we are taking good care of our emotion. If you know how to embrace your anger, something will change.’

Integrating just a few of these many tips into your daily life can help blood pressure control and reduce stress.

Sounds True, Inc.


Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square eAst, Suite 615 n
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

Runner’s Knee: How Acupuncture Can Help

One of the most common aliments for any athlete is knee pain, as I know all too well from personal experience. I played soccer as a child and teen as much as I could in all types of weather. I loved it. Indoors, outdoors, in snow, in hot humid weather – I was there. In soccer, the knees are utilized for running and for maneuvering the ball. There is a lot riding on healthy knees for soccer players to be successful. I began to get knee pain my junior year of high school from all the years of playing. All the MRIs and x-rays told the doctors nothing. They couldn’t find any tears or breaks in the bones, cartilage, tendons, or ligaments. “Runner’s knee” was the diagnosis. They prescribed physical therapy and rest, but I wanted to play. So, I played through the pain using my own adrenaline and desire. I used ibuprofen and ice after games as temporary stopgaps that only slightly touched the pain until I found acupuncture later in life. Now I can play pain free.

Acupuncture is a proven and safe therapy to help knee pain.

Why is it called Runner’s Knee?

The name is a bit of a misnomer because this type of knee pain can occur in anyone, but frequently occurs in runners and athletes (whose activities usually involve some running). Many types of athletic movement can particularly stress the knee due to the repetitive, high-impact action of the leg with the ground and the twists and turns that are taken at high speeds. Knee pain can also result from jobs that require a lot of walking, or from a person being overweight.

What is Runner’s Knee?
A very common form of knee pain is patellofemoral pain syndrome or “runner’s knee,” as it is more commonly known. The pain is usually in the front of the knee and it usually results from the patella (kneecap) rubbing against the femur (thighbone) causing pain, hence the name: patellofemoral pain syndrome. Commonly, there may also be some breakdown of the cartilage that is behind the kneecap causing more friction between the kneecap and the thighbone, or there could be some improper tracking of the kneecap over the femur causing increased friction and pain. These last two problems are common, but not always necessary to have patellofemoral pain syndrome.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of patellofemoral pain syndrome is knee pain, especially when sitting with bent knees, squatting, jumping, or climbing stairs. You may also experience occasional knee buckling, where the knee suddenly and unexpectedly gives way and does not support your body weight. A catching, popping, or grinding sensation when walking or with knee movement is also common1.

What are the treatments?

1. Biomedical treatment
Biomedical treatment of runner’s knee is usually as follows:

  • Avoid activities that aggravate the condition.
  • Ibuprofen might be advised by your doctor to kill the pain.
  • Rest and ice the area.
  • Physical therapy to balance the tendons, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the knee.
  • If all else fails… surgery.
Manage your knee pain drug free!
Call us at 646.504.2251 to set up an appointment.

This is a bit discouraging as it involves avoiding something in your life that could be giving you some sense of pleasure, such as sports, or just day to day walking, which is practically impossible to avoid. It involves taking pain medication that has an impact on your body. The physical therapy is the most promising of the treatments because it typically involves stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weak muscles that may be pulling the patella out of alignment causing the pain. Surgery should always be and usually is a last option unless there is something seriously wrong. Patients should always get a second opinion whenever surgery is advised.

2. TCM Treatment
There is a saying in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that “when there is stoppage, there is pain and when there is free flow, there is no pain” (bu tong ze tong tong ze bu tong). In this context, “stoppage” means the inhabitation of the free flow of qi/blood through the acupuncture channels resulting in pain2. The goal of acupuncture is to increase circulation of qi and blood in the channels in order to promote free flow and reduce pain.

Qi and blood stagnation and stoppage can come from many different factors in TCM. Some of these factors are due to the elements of the environment. Have you ever known someone whose knees become painful in the cold and rain and another person whose knees become painful in the heat and dryness? These mean something diagnostically in TCM, and a skilled practitioner can adjust treatments accordingly. Pain can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle circumstances or choices such as too much movement or not enough movement. For example: Does your pain feel better with rest or with movement? Either answer means something in TCM. There are many different diagnoses of pain in TCM, and a skilled practitioner will be able to diagnose your pain correctly and treat accordingly.

Acupuncture treatment for runner’s knee is a great option because it is drug free, kills pain, improves circulation, and releases tight muscles. The acupuncture needles are one of the only tools that can access the area between the patella and the femur, improving circulation to this area that does not have much blood flow. Chinese medicine also utilizes herbs internally and externally. Herbs can relieve pain and improve circulation to the area. The inclusion of herbs in treating knee pain can exponentially increase the recovery.

Research proves acupuncture is as effective as prescription pain killers for knee pain.
In a blinded study analyzing the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating patellofemoral pain syndrome, 75 patients were randomly selected to receive acupuncture treatment or to not receive acupuncture treatment3. Individualized acupuncture treatment was administered twice weekly for 4 weeks, and patients were followed for 1 year to evaluate how their pain progressed. After 1 year, the acupuncture group reported less pain overall than the group that did not receive acupuncture. This is also promising because it shows that acupuncture treatments have long-term effects.

In my practice, I treat a lot of athletes from the weekend warrior to the professional. There are many aches and pains that come up all over the body, but knee pain comes up more frequently. I have seen great results treating runner’s knee when acupuncture is used in conjunction with some strengthening exercises, stretching, and certain Chinese medical massage techniques.

Call for an Appointment.

Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615N
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

– – – – – – –

1 http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/patellofemoral-pain-syndrome-topic-overview
2 Riley, D. (2001). Treating Pain with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications.
3 Jensen R, Gothesen O, Liseth K, Baerheim A. Acupuncture treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome. J Altern Complement Med Dec 1999;5(6):521-7.

I’m in a Committed Relationship with Food

I’d like get one fact straight right away. I love food! I love eating food. I love preparing food. I love trying new foods. I love smelling it, talking about it, reading about it and writing about it. And if it weren’t for the fact that I live in New York City, I would grow my own food. I love food so much that if I wasn’t so drawn to a healthful lifestyle and career I would have been a professional food critic well on my way to congestive heart failure.

In my private practice, Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs, every patient I see receives Chinese therapeutic dietary counseling and I, myself, have used dietary therapy for many years. It is with great pleasure I can reach people outside of my office about how to make simple dietary adjustments that will reap great therapeutic value.

Fortunately, Chinese Dietary Therapy usually requires simple, natural changes as opposed to the extreme or hard to follow diets popular in America. My articles will explain how to balance food choices based on Taoist balancing principles called Yin/Yang energetics as well as using common nutritional sense. In certain cases, a patient may need to abstain temporarily from eating a particular food, but balance and moderation are the ultimate keys to a healthful diet.

This article is about our relationships to food which might be physical, cultural, emotional and political. And I will briefly touch on some basic recommendations to begin your journey in healthful eating.

Physically, we need to eat regularly in order for our body to create the energy it needs to function. Since different people have different dietary requirements, some need to eat several small meals a day; others need three large meals a day. Some need a vegan or vegetarian diet to feel well while others have to eat meat. Some need large amounts of protein while others are better off with a higher carbohydrate intake. Cravings often indicate the body’s need for the increase of a vitamin or mineral. According to Chinese Medicine, cravings may also indicate energetic imbalance. I need to drink lots of room temperature water while many of my patients prefer cool drinks. What are your food cravings? When do you experience those cravings? Are they tied to PMS, work schedules, weekends, celebrations, etc.?

Culturally, many of us enjoy the foods we grew up with. Since my family is Italian-American, I love to eat pasta, cheeses and breads. I had to learn how to balance these foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle. From the Chinese medical perspective, eating cheese daily can become detrimental to the spleen qi. Overeating cheese and other dairy products can cause “dampness and phlegm accumulation” which, in some cases, lead to obesity and ovarian, uterine or breast fibroids. When I was twenty years old, I was diagnosed with ovarian cysts. After the diagnosis, I talked with a friend about curing them naturally. She turned me on to the book Food and Healing by Anne Marie Colbin.

I read that amazing book and decided to stop eating cheese, antibiotic/hormone fed meats and chocolate. I had been eating cheese daily because I used it as a major protein source as it was part of my cultural eating habits. I also ate chocolate everyday because, well, I like chocolate. After my change in diet, my cysts did disappear.  Do I eat cheese, chocolate and antibiotic/hormone fed meat now? Yes, but in moderation, and I only eat non- antibiotic/hormone fed meat when I dine out. For home cooking, I buy organic antibiotic/hormone free meats and cheese.

In an Italian-American family, celebrations and gatherings always involve an abundance of food and family interaction. My memories of celebrations and foods we ate elicit warm feelings. I remember the smells, the laughter, and the conversations in the kitchen while preparing food. To accommodate everyone at my grandmother’s house, we put several tables together which filled the dining room and living room. The table became crowded with family, enormous bowls of pasta, meats, jugs of red wine, my grandmother’s cookies, fruits, nuts and boisterous conversation. As a very young child, one of my uncles sat next to me. He would inevitably distract me from my big plate of pasta and meatballs by pointing his arm in the opposite direction of my food and exclaim “Juliette look over there”. When I turned my head, he stole my grandmother’s famous meatball right off my plate and shoved it in his mouth! I fell for it every time, and I laugh at that memory to this day. What are your cultural relationships to food?

Emotional relationships with food can be complex and may lead to acute stomach aches or chronic issues such as anorexia, bulimia, or ulcers. We have all heard the expression “comfort food”. Occasionally eating comfort food can soothe our spirit but not if we binge eat or overeat. Conversely, as a teenager when I became overly anxious or worried, I lost my appetite or felt nauseous after eating. Chinese medicine advises not eating when we are upset because we cannot properly digest and assimilate the foods we eat. Such emotions can cause various qi imbalances. For instance, eating while upset, angry or worried can lead to “rebellious qi syndrome” such as acid reflux, belching, nausea or vomiting. In the meantime, think about your relationships between food and emotions.

The politics of food are varied and deserve a book or series of books of its own. “To meat or not to meat?” is a big question for many people today. A vegetarian diet can be very healthy and therapeutic. Yet, Taoist balancing principles teach that eating some meat and meat broths is healthy and necessary. As I stated earlier, regardless of your choice, the key to a healthy diet is moderation, energetic and nutritional balance. For some people a vegetarian lifestyle is simply a health choice while for others it is an ethical choice. We know that the more meat we eat the more animals will be raised just to be killed for food and sadly, much of the food raised in the United States goes to waste. Many people believe that animals are imbued with spirit just like you and me. As a dog owner, I agree that animals have spirit. We all know that animals feel pain. I also believe that plants are imbued with spirit and feel pain. Like the killing of an animal, harvesting a plant may well “take” its spirit. Ancient practitioners of Chinese medicine (as well as Shamans from other ancient cultures) recognized that qi and yin-yang energetics are present in humans, plants and herbs, minerals and animals. Everything in existence is made of this qi.

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

So when we eat foods or take herbs, we use those materials that help balance our qi and thrive on this qi. For some people who are qi and blood deficient eating small amounts of animal products will significantly improve their health. The Native American culture reconciles the use of live organisms with prayer and replenishment. As each plant is harvested or animal is hunted, they thank it for providing nourishment to the community. They also give something back to the plant or animal spirit in thanks. When we hold these philosophies in our hearts and mind, we eat with the correct intention or, as the Buddhists would say, “right thinking”.

Not only should we consider “right thinking” within our food politics but “right action” as well. The more we consume McDonald’s food (and other “fast foods”), the more they will farm animals in the decimated rainforests continually harming the environment creating detriment to all existence. This means that eating meat products from these places (as well as spending money, even on fries or a cookie) fund the destruction. Check out the books Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and the movie Food Inc. for more dialogue on this topic.

There are many other politics of food which are not within the scope of this column, such as genetically modified foods, fair distribution of food, and teaching sustainable growing practices vs. food drops in poor countries. I urge you to self educate and create an active position on these and other topics.

I leave you with some basic recommendations for healthful eating:

  • The typical Asian diet consists mainly of grains, vegetables, tofu, tempeh and/or small amounts of meat or seafood for overall balance. Try eating smaller portions of meat. American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world; whereas, Asian men have an extremely low rate of prostate cancer. A study which followed Japanese men who moved to America and adopted an American diet showed that they had the same rate of prostate cancer as their American born counterparts. So, it seems that an Asian style balanced diet is advisable. By the way, Asian women also have an extremely low rate of breast cancer and rarely experience menopausal symptoms.
  • Enjoy your food. Try to avoid eating when you are upset, angry, sad or overly worried; it may cause stomach aches, indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, ulcers or other digestive disorders.
  • Chew your food well. The first step to digestion takes place in the mouth where secretion of the enzyme amylase begins the breakdown of food. By properly chewing food you will avoid taxing the stomach and spleen which would otherwise work much harder to break down the food. Chewing is especially important when eating carbohydrates and tofu.
  • Since tofu is not a whole protein, lacking amino acids and some vitamins, make sure to eat tofu with whole grains and vegetables. I recommended eating whole, unrefined grains and five servings of fresh organic vegetables daily. If you cannot get fresh organics, frozen are O.K.
  • Do not overcook your vegetables. Overcooking kills vitamins and minerals. Lightly steam your veggies instead. Chinese bamboo steamers work great!
  • If you eat meat, buy organic. This way you can avoid consuming synthetic hormones and antibiotics that non-organic farms feed to livestock to increase production. You will also avoid ingesting toxic chemicals such as sodium nitrite and MSG.
  • Integrate beans into the diet slowly to avoid digestive difficulty. Cooking beans with ginger helps remove gaseous properties. Latin cultures add white vinegar to beans for the same purpose.
  • Avoid processed foods such as most boxed, frozen meals and canned foods which are high in sodium, artificial colors flavors and preservatives and low in nutritional value.
  • Read the labels on everything even if you shop at a health food store. A general rule of thumb to avoid harmful chemicals and additives is – if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.

Salute! (That’s Italian for “To Your Health!”)

Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615N
New York, NY 10003


Great Benefits from Green Tea

In my private practice, Aiyana Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs, in NYC I work with patients to resolve a wide variety of health conditions. I also make recommendations for lifestyle and dietary changes based on individuals’ concerns and wellness goals. One healthy and easy adjustment that benefits almost every health condition is drinking green tea daily. Green tea is one of the three main types of tea, along with Black and Oolong. All three come from the leaves of the camellia sinesis plant, but each type differs in the processing.



Green Tea for Beauty

Some say that beauty is only skin deep, but inner-body balance will always lead to a natural and radiant outer beauty that shines with health! Cosmetically, green tea can beautify the skin when taken both internally and applied topically to reduce puffiness. It evens out the complexion by reducing acne, smoothing the skin and tightening the pores.

Green Tea for Weight Loss

Also, green tea is an excellent part of an effective weight loss plan! Chinese Herbs and acupuncture for weight loss, along with green tea and other simple lifestyle changes, can be extremely instrumental in shedding those unwanted pounds.

A study from the December 1999 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition¹ shows that substances which are abundant in green tea extracts may promote weight loss. The study concluded, “green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se. The green tea extract may play a role in the control of body composition via sympathetic activation of thermogenesis, fat oxidation, or both.” Also, green tea may be useful as a glucose regulator, meaning it slows the rise in blood sugar following a meal. Green tea has also helped aid weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate, causing those who use it to experience greater calorie burn.

Green Tea for Serious Health Concerns

The Oriental Medicine newsletter published in the all of 2006 by Pacific College of Oriental Medicine has a terrific article on green tea and its multitude of health benefits. Highlights from the article are as follows:

Results from recent studies suggest that green tea may be useful for the following conditions:

Atherosclerosis – the antioxidant properties of green tea may help prevent atherosclerosis, particularly coronary artery disease.
High Cholesterol – green tea has demonstrated an ability to lower total cholesterol and raise HDL (“good” cholesterol) in both animals and people.
Cancer – research is showing that polyphenols in green tea help kill cancerous cells and stop progression.
Bladder Cancer – male bladder cancer patients in a study by the Saitama Cancer Research Institute who drank green tea had a substantially better five-year survival rate than those who did not.
Breast Cancer – polyphenols in green tea inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Studies have shown that women with early stages of the disease who drank at least five cups of tea every day before being diagnosed with cancer were less likely to suffer a relapse after completion of treatment.
Skin Cancer – scientific studies suggest that components in green tea have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties that may help prevent the onset and growth of skin tumors.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis can be helped by the anti-inflammatory agents in green tea. Also, if green tea proves to be helpful in preventing colon cancer, this would be an added benefit for patients suffering IBD, as they have a risk for colon cancer.
Diabetes – green tea has been used traditionally to control blood sugar in the body and help regulate glucose levels.
Liver Disease – green tea appears to protect the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances such as alcohol.

In addition to the illnesses mentioned above, green tea boasts the following benefits:

  1. preventing and hastening recovery from colds and flu
  2. aiding with the prevention and relief of type 2 diabetes
  3. blocking key receptors in producing allergic reactions
  4. aiding Parkinson’s disease sufferers
  5. slowing the HIV infection process
  6. maintaining healthy fluid balance
  7. relieving fatigue and stress
  8. boosting the immune function of skin cells
  9. relieving and preventing arthritis
  10. reducing the risk of stroke
  11. preventing osteoporosis
  12. reducing DNA damage in smokers
  13. delaying the signs of aging
  14. improving bone structure
  15. preventing dangerous blood-clotting
  16. boosting calorie-burning
Drink at least three cups per day of green tea–you’ll be taking the first step towards a healthier you!
By Jessica Silver, L.Ac. whose practices in New York City.


¹American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 6, 1040-1045, December 1999

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

New Year’s Diet Resolutions: How to Make Them and How to Keep Them

Throughout the holidays many people have over consumed rich, fatty, sugary foods more than they should have. To bring in the New Year, many people have resolved to go on another diet. New Year’s diet resolutions are easy to make, but not many people keep them. Are you one of those people?

Those extra holiday pounds added to the rest of the weight you want to lose makes dieting seem like an overwhelming task. Which diet will you chose: Atkins, Fit for Life, The Zone, Weight Watchers, Raw Foods, Juicing, Cabbage Soup?

It’s usually with an anguished moan that we declare we are going on a diet. But, weight loss doesn’t have to be a chore. We can make it much easier to lose weight and keep it off when we shift our perception about dieting. The most important shift is the realization that dieting doesn’t have to be about deprivation. You don’t have to live on bland salads, eating only soups or prepackaged diet plan meals, or go on controversial induction or crash diets to lose weight. Chinese Medicine (CM) advises quite the opposite. We advise balance, not deprivation, as the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body.

In fact, even Western nutritionists agree with the CM viewpoint. Dr. Dean Ornish, author of Eat More, Weigh Less comments on the unhealthiness of high protein diets, “You can lose weight from fen-phen, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.”

Katherine Tallmadge, nutritionist and author of Diet Simple, says, “I’ve found the biggest cause of overeating is under-eating. Most overeating is due to poor planning. It is amazing what a well stocked refrigerator full of delicious prepared foods does for preventing that stop to the fast food joint. Most of your cravings and uncontrolled overeating will be conquered when you feed your body what it needs regularly during the day and have the food at your fingertips when you need it. Studies show that you are most likely to eat whatever is in your environment. If you surround yourself with delicious, healthy, wholesome foods, that’s what you’ll end up eating.”

I can vouch for the wisdom of Katherine Tallmadge because I prepare several meals to have at my fingertips. Every Sunday, I teach a yoga class in the morning, then I go food shopping. I stop at the health food store, the grocery store and maybe even the local Italian market. Then I go home, put on really loud music that makes me move, sing and dance around the kitchen while I get cookin’. I cook several meals in large batches that last me the week offering myself a variety of foods and flavors. Then I freeze some servings and store servings in the refrigerator to eat over the next few days and take to my office. I plan the meals and shopping list ahead of time. Experimentation with new recipes from some of my favorite magazines like Food and Wine and Gourmet keep my discriminating palate satisfied. Believe it or not those magazines have many healthful recipes. I also find recipes in Vegetarian Times , Cook’s Illustrated,  and Eating Well, which also rates the degree of difficulty of the recipes as Easy, Moderate or Labor Intensive and gives you the caloric value, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, protein, fiber and sodium per serving.

What To Eat

Chinese medicine teaches us to eat whole cooked foods and avoid raw foods diets and juicing for every meal. Avoid overeating dairy products, many of which we westerners consider healthy diet foods like cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

The reason Chinese medicine does not advise eating raw foods and juices and dairy products is because they are classified as cold and damp. It is said in Chinese Medicine that “The Spleen hates cold, the Spleen hates dampness.” Cold and damp foods harm the Spleen qi. The Spleen is viewed as the vital organ for the digestion and assimilation of food. It’s job is to transform and transport food. It transforms the food into qi and transports the qi to other organs. When the other organs receive qi, they can properly perform their functions in preserving physiological balance and harmony. When organ systems do not receive enough qi it causes disharmony which can lead to disease. We also want to avoid fatty, greasy fried foods, and over consumption of alcohol, (anyone out there have a beer belly?), white flour products and sugar, all of which are classified as cold or damp foods.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Many of my patients skip breakfast and wait until late in the day to eat lunch or even miss it, blaming a busy day at work. Then when they finally eat they gorge on whatever is fastest. But what happens physiologically when we regularly deprive our bodies of food then finally binge? Our body goes into a state of emergency and thinks that it has to store the calories we ate for future use. So it stores these calories as fat, an efficient fuel because it is hard to burn. And what if we eat a quick sugary pick me up like a candy bar or Powerbar instead of a meal?

Sugar Facts

The American Heart Association’s Committee on Nutrition recently informed healthcare professionals that sugar consumption promotes obesity and raises triglycerides (blood fats). Sugar is a fuel that delivers calories with great efficiency, and any extra calories are converted into body fat for storage. Extra fat on the body usually produces extra fat in the blood along with added body weight (Eating Well, Fall 2002, p20). But if we eat regularly and avoid massive amounts of sugar consumption our bodies won’t need to store as much. The body will use or burn the most of the calories instead of storing them.

Sugar is hard to give up because we love and crave sweets. It is in so many products we want to eat, even in some brands of bread!

Our sugar cravings date back 2 million years when we would seek out sweet foods dense with energy, like ripe mangos hanging from the tree, berries clustered on the vine and honey seeping from the comb. Thousands of years later, in a land of overabundant processed foods and sedentary lifestyles, that primitive impulse works against easy weight control and healthy energy balance. (Eating Well Fall 2002, p19). Our sedentary lifestyle is one of the reasons why I advise my patients that they must combine an exercise program with the dietary change. There is just no getting away with evading exercise to lose and maintain weight loss.

Sugar addiction is a real and important issue. If you eat lots of sugar it is best to reduce your intake rather than go cold turkey. Sugar stimulates the brain to produce the opioid chemicals which in turn stimulates elevated dopamine levels. Elevated dopamine levels cause us to seek out more sweets, like a drug. This is same chemical process that a morphine or heroin addict’s brain experiences. Fortunately for sugar addicts it is not as hard to quit. Although I have a theory that it is harder for people who are in recovery from drugs or alcohol to quit sugar, it can still be done. Try to reduce your intake by half for a few weeks then by half again for a week then in half again (or lower).

When I decide to eat sweets I go all out to satisfy my craving by going to a local bakery, gourmet or specialty chocolate shop. This way instead of buying a whole pie or cake I can buy one slice, or just 2-3 chocolate raspberry truffles instead of a whole box of cheap chocolate from the drug store. The result is that I lower the potential sugar and caloric intake and the superior quality chocolate or baked delicacy substantially satisfies my craving more than low quality grocery store or quickie-mart junk food. So basically I don’t have to eat sweets as much or as often.

Be Kind

As you embark on a new way of eating, be kind to yourself if you slip into an old habit. Just acknowledge the awareness that you slipped and explore why. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead ask yourself questions like: Was it because I had no food in the house that I went to a fast food joint? How can I prepare my refrigerator to avoid fast food? Was I feeling emotionally vulnerable when I ate that entire box of cookies? What else can I do to feel better in the future?

Finally, I’d like to direct you my article, I’m in a Committed Relationship with Food, which offers many other important recommendations for dietary change.

Good luck, be well, and remember that moderation and balance are the keys to creating a sustainable, successful and healthful diet.


Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, Author, Creator of HealthyStuffU.com

Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
32 Union Square East, Suite 615 N
New York, NY 10003
(646) 504.2251

Call 646-504-2251 To Schedule

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Revive Exhausted Spleen Qi with Food & Diet

This article was originally printed in The Pulse of Oriental Medicine in 2002. It was been edited and revised in 2017.

Chicken soup.Before we discuss how to revive the Spleen with diet, it is important to understand the causes and effects of Spleen qi vacuity dampness. One function of the spleen is the assimilation of nutrients from food in the stomach to form qi, blood and body fluids. Therefore the spleen main function is its governance of transformation and transportation (referred to as T&T throughout this article) of grain and water into essence which is distributed to other organ systems in the form of Qi and Blood. Thus it is vital to keep the spleen healthy because it is the source for qi and blood production for your entire body.

An important saying in Chinese medicine states,

“The spleen hates cold and the spleen hates dampness.”

So we must do what we can to keep the spleen warm and free of dampness. Spleen vacuity occurs when the process of transformation and transportation malfunctions, thus causing dampness to gather and stagnate instead of transforming which further weakens T&T. Then a vicious cycle begins.

Since other organ systems depend on receiving qi and blood from the spleen, they will become weakened when a patient suffers from chronic or long term spleen qi vacuity.

Spleen qi may become vacuous due to one or a combination of the following factors:

  • Over work in general and/or working at a desk all day.

  • Fatigue

  • Too much worrying, stress, anxiety

  • Over-thinking and obsessive thought patterns

  • Unhealthy dietary habits

  • Lack of exercise

  • Childbirth, child rearing

Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.
Chinese Medicine & Healthy Weight Management An Evidence-based Integrated Approach, by Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac.

For example, students who work in addition to going to school or college, need to find time to study and may, quite naturally, worry about exams. In other cases, some patients have fatiguing chronic illness like cancer and fibromyalgia. Dancers and actors worry or even obsess about their weight despite the fact that many of them are underweight. Over weight patients worry and obsess about their weight for health or aesthetic reasons and feel a ridiculous amount societal and self-induced pressure to lose weight.

Many of my patients (over weight or not) are mentally obsessed with their weight and thus are constantly over-thinking about counting calories and sticking to hard to follow diets with point systems, blocks, deprivation diets or set meal plans of foods they don’t even enjoy eating.

And no matter who the person is that is dieting, whether skinny or overweight, many feel guilt instead of pleasure when indulging in a food they like but which isn’t in the meal plan. This feeling of guilt fits into the worry category.

Patients who do not exercise do not invigorate the Yang warming aspect of the body’s qi. Chinese medicine asserts that too much sitting or lying down creates qi vacuity. So for those who work at a desk all day, Spleen qi damage is imminent.

Many people damage the spleen qi by eating too many cold foods. Cold foods are literally cold from refrigeration or frozen, like ice, are foods that are cold in nature (see the list below) and include cold beverages and salad and last nights left over cold pizza (yeah, we’ve all been there).

Other detriments include our society’s over eating of wheat as our main source of grain, and too much beer drinking. Both are cool and dampness producing. Not to mention our over consumption of dairy. Imagine all the Spleen qi vacuity amongst college students between all that studying, beer and pizza!

Elevate-your-plateDietary Therapy

The treatment principle for spleen qi vacuity dampness is to fortify the spleen and disinhibit the dampness.

Yang tonics will help to warm the spleen and to motivate the energy for the T&T cycle. They maintain and improve our ability to generate warmth and stimulate our system.

Yang tonics include:

Basil Fenugreek Seed Rosemary
Chestnut Chive Garlic Sage
Seed Cinnamon Dried Ginger Savoy
Bark Lamb Shrimp
Clove Lobster Star Anise Thyme
Dill Seed Nutmeg Walnut
Fennel Seed Pistachio Raspberry

Qi circulation is stimulated by the sweet and pungent flavors. The spleen likes the sweet taste and pungent flavors circulate the qi.  

Qi circulating foods include:

Basil Dill Seed Radish
Caraway Garlic Star Anise
Cardamon Jasmine Tea Tangerine Peel
Carrot Marjoram Turmeric
Cayenne Mustard Leaf
Chive Orange Peel
Clove Coriander Peppermint Tea

Cold conditions are improved by warming foods. In chronic cases, warm and sweet/pungent foods are used to warm us steadily. In acute cases of pathogenic invasion, warm or hot foods are combined with stronger pungent flavors to drive out the Cold.

Warming foods include:

Anchovy Garlic Quinoa
Basil Ginger Rosemary
Bay leaf Kohlrabi Scallion
Black Pepper Lamb Shrimp
Coconut Lee Spelt
Cayenne Mussel Squash
Cherry Mustard Leaf Sweet Potato
Chestnut Mutton Sweet Rice
Chicken Nutmeg Trout
Coriander Oats Turnip Vinegar
Dill Seed Onion Walnut
Fennel Seed Peach Wine

Dampness results from the body’s failure to transform fluids.
Dampness is treated by avoiding dampening foods, strengthening the body, including bitter foods and foods which counteract Dampness.

Foods to reduce dampness include:

Aduki Bean Alfalfa Green Tea Parsley
Anchovy Horseradish Papaya
Aramanath Jasmine Tea Pumpkin
Barley Kidney Beans Radish
Buckwheat Kohlrabi Rice Bran
Celery Lemon Rye
Corn Mackerel Scallion
Cranberry Marjoram Turnip Umeboshi Plum
Daikon Mushroom (button)
Eel Mustard Leaf
Garlic Onion

Some foods will exacerbate the tendency towards Dampness and need to be reduced by people with damp conditions. Avoid or significantly reduce consumption of these foods:

  • Dairy Products, especially dampening are reduced fat and low fat dairy, as well as  (sheep and goat products are less dampening)

  • Wheat and highly refined Gluten-free flours

  • Yeast

  • Beer

  • Bananas

  • Sugar and sweeteners

  • Greasy, fried and oily foods

  • Iced or cooled beverages

  • Uncooked raw vegetables and salads, juices

  • Antibiotics, while not a food, are very damaging to the Spleen qi and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

Phlegm refers to a condition of dampness where moisture is retained as Phlegm or Mucus.

Phlegm-resolving foods include:

Almond Marjoram Radish
Apple Peel Mushroom (button) Seaweed
Clam Mustard Leaf Shiitake Mushroom
Daikon Mustard Seed Shrimp
Garlic Olive Tea
Grapefruit Onion Thyme
Lemon Peel Orange Peel Walnut
Licorice Pear Watercress

woman buying fruits and vegetablesTake these recommendations to your kitchen and cook some delicious meals for yourself to be well and stay healthy.

Chinese dietary therapy is a necessary component to healing this qi disharmony. I urge my readers to continue to take the herbs and acupuncture treatments that your practitioner recommends and incorporate the above information about diet into your therapy.




The Treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) with Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs

Together with changes in diet and exercise, acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbs are empowering women with PCOS to lead healthier and more satisfying lives.

For women trying to become pregnant, either naturally or through IUI/IVF treatments, treating PCOS will help with fertility and overall balance through harmonizing hormones and regulating the menstrual cycle.

While there is still no cure for PCOS, the good news is that Chinese medicine offers many effective ways to manage polycystic ovary syndrome.

All of Juliette Aiyana’s PCOS patients have restored their menstrual periods and many of them become pregnant naturally through natural treatments including Chinese herbs, dietary adjustments and acupuncture!

Overview of Healthy Ovarian Physiology

Thee ovaries are two organs on each side of the woman’s uterus which contain follicles, tiny fluid filled sacs (also called cysts), that hold the eggs. Each month approximately twenty eggs start to mature but usually only one egg fully matures; when the fully mature egg is ready, the follicle breaks open to release it. The fully mature egg then travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus for fertilization and implantation.

E-mail from a PCOS patient, “Just got my period!!!! Two weeks ago the cramps and moods meant I must have been ovulating! This explains why perhaps why I yelled a bit at my boss. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! And have a good weekend.”

Overview of Women with PCOS
In women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the ovary doesn’t make all of the hormones it needs for any of the eggs to fully mature. Follicles may start to grow and build up fluid but no one follicle becomes large enough. Instead, some follicles may remain as sacs/cysts. Since no follicle becomes large enough and no egg matures or is released, ovulation does not occur.

The distinctive appearance of PCOS is a thick, shiny, white coating overlying many rows of cysts on the surface of the ovary. These ovarian changes give PCOS its name (“poly” = many, “cystic” = cysts). PCOS is believed to be the most common hormonal abnormality in women of reproductive age and affects approximately 1 in 10 women (an estimated 5 to 7 million women in the United States).

Have you been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome?
Call Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs for treatment.
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What are the Causes of PCOS?

The cause(s) of PCOS is unknown at this time; research suggests that many women with this condition may have decreased sensitivity to insulin. When cells are resistant to insulin it means that the effect of insulin on sugar, and other functions, is deficient. More insulin than normal is required to be produced to ensure that the body cells absorb enough sugar. This leads to high insulin levels in the blood stream which, among other effects, make the ovaries overproduce male hormones, called androgens, leading to hormonal imbalances that lead to symptoms of PCOS.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of PCOS?
PCOS is considered a syndrome because it has a number of unrelated symptoms. For this reason, PCOS often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Symptoms include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle (infrequent menstrual periods, no menstrual periods, and/or irregular bleeding)
  • Infrequent or no ovulation
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Increased levels of male hormones, called androgens, which may lead to excessive hair growth on the face +/or body (especially the face, chest, abdomen, nipple area, or back)
  • History of diabetes, over-production of insulin, and inefficient use of insulin in the body
  • Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
  • Patches of thickened and dark brown or black skin on the neck, groin, underarms, or skin folds
  • Skin tags, or tiny excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area

Polycystic Ovarian SyndromeHow Does PCOS Contribute to Infertility?

In short, if you are not ovulating regularly every month, the chances of fertilizing the egg are reduced. Because the egg is not released, there is no egg ready for fertilization and implantation in the uterus. Because PCOS affects the quality of the follicle and the state of the endometrium, the result will be that menstrual cycles become more erratic and less predictable. Women with PCOS will often very long cycles and very heavy bleeding, amenorrhea (missed periods), or anovulation (no ovulation) with scanty bleeding. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs help to regulate the menstrual cycle and harmonize the hormonal cycles of the body.

How Do Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Help PCOS?

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs provide a safe, effective, drug-free and natural whole body approach.

This natural approach helps strengthen and (re)balance the hormonal systems of the body, encouraging conception and a healthy pregnancy.

“Years ago, I saw Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Herbalist, when I wanted to be come pregnant. A fertility specialist told me I needed IVF, but after 3 months of acupuncture, I was pregnant. Since then, she has helped me though morning sickness, colds, and allergies. Each time, I’ve found her comprehensive and effective. She takes time with her patients and you always feel as if you are being well cared for“. -N.C.


Etiology of PCOS in Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, the treatment of PCOS is seen as an excess condition, a deficient condition, or clinically PCOS is seen as mixed excess and deficiency syndrome.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Acupuncture & Chinese herbs are effective treatments for PCOSmore of a combination of both an excess and deficient condition*.

Excess conditions:

  • Phlegm dampness
  • Liver qi stasis
  • Blood stasis

Deficient conditions:

  • Kidney yang deficiency
  • Kidney yin deficiency
  • Spleen qi deficiency

*It is important to note that most women will have both excess and deficient conditions as their root cause of PCOS.


Polycystic Ovarian SyndromeSelf Care Tips:

  • Avoid processed foods and, when you can, eat organic foods. People who have PCOS already have a hormonal and/or chemical imbalance, and processed foods contain chemicals, additives and artificial colorings, which make conditions worse
  • Avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, soda, fruit juice and refined carbohydrates, which impact insulin resistance. Eat only complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat or grains, oatmeal, and brown rice
  • Avoid cold food and ice cold drinks. Cold food and drinks take longer to go through the digestive system and slow the body’s metabolism. People who have PCOS usually also have a low metabolism
  • Eat Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) help to regulate hormonal balance, this is very important when trying to conceive. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and dark green vegetables, which contain high amounts EFA
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol can lead to a disturbance of hormonal balance
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes or stop smoking. Smoking may affect the fertility in tubal pregnancies, cervical cancer, pelvic infection and early menopause

Quit Exercising To Lose Weight!

Tired of exercising to lose weight? Bored with your routine? Not motivated to move and stay moving?

Exercise Should Be Fun!

We all know that exercise can help us reach long-term goals like losing 10 pounds, or preventing heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis. Yet sometimes that is not enough to get us off our duffs and stay active. That is why I titled this article “Quit Exercising To Lose Weight.” Okay, okay, I don’t really mean, quit exercising. Rather, instead of always focusing on exercise, focus on fun. And instead of focusing on some long term goal like losing 25 pounds, which in the beginning may seem difficult to achieve, we could shift our focus inward into the here and now of exercise or sport. Focusing inward can actually become a powerful enough tool to help you climb out of your Lazy Boy and turn the drudgery of ordinary exercise into a fun and satisfying experience. Of course the long-term goal is a good idea to keep in mind. Author of The Courage to Start, John Bingham, talks about his experience as a runner, yet I believe it relates to all styles of exercise:

“For running {exercise} to become a part of your life for the rest of your life then there has to be a way of finding a reward in the activity itself that is both immediate and sustained. Running has got to feel good right now. It must allow you to feel good in the afterglow of the effort. And it’s got to do that on a regular basis… It may do all sorts of things for your heart and lungs but in the end it’s got to be fun.”

One of my acupuncture patients suffers from chronic back pain and depression. She finds immediate reward in her activity: “After about ten minutes on my elliptical trainer, my body goes euphoric. I turn on the music really loud, and I just go.

Both running and training on an elliptical trainer at home can be solitary events which may be boring for some. So instead, join a club. There are hiking, biking, running, walking clubs and more. The social aspect of your activity can be oodles of fun, and members keep each other motivated. You begin to feel a team spirit connection to the exercise. You could also try out local community classes such as yoga, kung fu, tai chi, belly dancing, hula-hoop, cardio sculpting, water aerobics, or join a baseball, softball or basketball league.In NYC some gyms and community centers offer free fitness classes for all levels and ages- including kids! For schedule and locations check out www.nyc.gov/parks or call 311. Outside of NYC, call the Parks and Recreation department in your community.

Some people lack the energy to exercise. To restore and build energy, get acupuncture, take Chinese herbs, and eat a nutritionally and energetically balanced diet. These treatments build and circulate the energy you need for fitness. For acupuncture, herbal and nutritional treatment sessions, call us for an appointment: 646-504-2251.

Working out in small classes or with a trainer can help transform your exercise routine from a mindless experience into a mindful experience. When an instructor notices a mistake you are making or a way to enhance an exercise that you already do well, it opens your eyes, deepens your experience and your connection to your body. That inner connection often reflects outward into other aspects of our lives. The more you work one-on-one with an instructor or trainer, the better, but for those with tight budgets even a few times a month can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your teacher in class.

Other ways of changing our mindless exercise into mindful exercise on our own is to turn off the T.V. Focus on your breathing. How does it feel before after and during the exercise? Does your sense of smell, touch or taste change? How does your body feel before during and after each exercise or your entire routine? Is one side of your body more stable then the other?

An additional way to take the stress out of exercise is stop comparing yourself to others around you, in the class or on the team. Just be the best you can in each moment. It is also helpful to avoid comparing your self to yourself. One day may be harder then the next or one exercise may be easier one day but more challenging the next. Just notice these changes and avoid labeling them as bad or good. This technique is also a good one to apply in other areas of life.

If you are still bored after you have taken the steps I have discussed, try a more challenging sport. Instead of running with members of a club, try training for marathon. Instead of hiking or biking basic trails, try mountain climbing or biking.

Are you sore from your new work-out routine? Get Acupuncture. It Works!