4 Things to do with Halloween Candy

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Did you and your kids end up with too much halloween candy???

Here are 4 ways that you can make good use of that candy and not eat it! 

 

  1. Make a ginger bread house!  
    Gingerbread houses are fun, but they require a fair amount of work.  They are good way to use up a lot of candy and express your creativity.
    For a great recipe from Heidi at Happiness is Homemade. Click Here

  2. Donate to the homeless population.
    Local homeless Shelters are always in need of supplies.  You might have to check and see if they are accepting candy.  Due to it's lack of nutritional value some shelter might turn candy away after a certain point. 

    1. Here are four local homeless shelters: Portland Rescue Mission on Burnside, and at the Harbor, Transition Projects Willamette center, Shepard's Door and Day Break Shelter.

  3. Donate the candy to the troops!  
    There are several organizations that accept candy donations and send them to troops deployed overseas. Operation gratitude, Soldier's Angels, Operation Shoebox, and Operation Stars and Stripes.

  4. Make Ornaments:
    Holiday ornaments can be a great way to turn hard candies into pretty decorations.  They can be placed in your windows, on your tree (if you do that), or given away as gifts. Here is a recipe. 
    1. You will need to have metal cookie cutters, hard candies such as lollypops and lifesavers, vegetable spray, aluminum foil, cookie sheet and ribbon or yard to hang them. 
    2. The instructions are easy. Preheat oven to 350°. Place the aluminum foil in the cookie sheet, place the cookie cutters on the foil. Then spray the cookie cutters and aluminum foil with vegetable cooking spray. Fill the cookie cutters with a single layer of candy using as many as will fit. Be sure to think about your color patterns! Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until candies are melted.

      Remove from oven and allow candy to cool about 2 minutes. While still in the cutter Make a hole in each with a chopstick or straw.  Thread the ribbon or yarn through for hanging then continue cooling until the cutters can be handled. Carefully pull cutters away from ornament.

Summer Watermelon Idea

Gazpacho and Mojitos!

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Watermelons are know as Xi Gua in Chinese.  In Chinese medicine they are eaten to protect against heat stroke and to maintain proper hydration and electrolyte balance during the hot summer months. 

Of course, watermelons can be enjoyed simply by slicing them into wedges and serving them chilled.  But there are many other fun ways to enjoy watermelons and benefit from their hydrating properties. 

Try this amazing Watermelon Gazpacho from Happy Kitchen Rocks. 

This easy recipe is created simply in a blender, saving you lots of dish washing time.  It's also a great way to use up the extra watermelon that won't fit nicely into the refrigerator.  

INGREDIENTS:

6 slices ciabatta bread
1 pound of tomatoes
1 red bell pepper seeds removed
1/2 peeled cucumber
1 1/2 lbs watermelon with the seeds removed.
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoon tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Roughly chop all the solid ingredients except 4 slices of ciabatta bread.  Place them into a food processor or blender.  Add the lime juice, white wine vinegar and the extra virgin olive oil.  Blend until smooth and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with basil leaves.

Grill or toast the ciabatta bread, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and serve.  

Thanks for the recipe Happykitchen.rocks!

Inner Gate Acupuncture is Excited to Welcome Sun Yun to Our Team!

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Sun is a graduate and teaching assistant at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM). He began his journey into the medical field by pursuing and obtaining a doctorate in pharmacy.  He practiced for 10 years as a pharmacist before shifting gears to pursue traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).  Burdened with multiple knee surgeries for sports-related injuries, he set out to explore less invasive options to the western medical paradigm of pharmaceutical and surgical interventions for pain relief and recovery.  With TCM, he discovered a path leading to a more natural, holistic, and balanced state of well-being and healing. He decided to forego practicing pharmacy to pursue his life’s calling. After graduating from OCOM, Sun spent two months volunteering in Nepal with the Acupuncture Relief Project, providing primary care and medical support to those with limited access to immediate and reliable healthcare. He has now joined our team of passionate and dedicated healers to address a wide array of ailments and conditions.  
 
Combining both his western and eastern medical knowledge, Sun incorporates the “best of both worlds” in his approach to healing and recovery.  He addresses all conditions and disease states and has a keen interest in physical assessment, orthopedics, and sports/work-related injuries, and musculoskeletal disorders.  He utilizes acupuncture, herbal medicine and a wide array of auxiliary healing modalities – Tuina massage, cupping, Gua Sha, moxibustion, and electro-stimulation – to effectively address the root cause of the condition.  

In his free time, Sun enjoys sports, exercise, martial arts, reading, and traveling to faraway destinations. 

Pinched Nerves

Pinched Nerves are also know as radiculopathy.  Radiculopathy refers to a condition where a nerve root is compressed by some other tissue, which leads to pain, abnormal sensations, weakness and/or loss of muscle control down the course of the nerve.
 
Radiculopathy refers to the impingement of a nerve root or Radix at or near the spinal cord. However, there are other conditions that can mimic radiculopathy.  These occur when a nerve root is entrapped further from the spine by a muscle, bony structure or another tissue.  Examples of these include piriformis syndrome in the hip, or carpal tunnel in the hands. 
 
There are many other factors that lead to radiculopathy, these include degenerative disc disease, facet joint arthropathy, and arthritis. 
 
A skilled clinician can diagnose a pinched nerve in the exam room and MRI's are used for confirmation.  Symptoms originating in the neck or cervical spine can often be uncovered using compression tests such as Spurling’s test.  In the low body clinicians use straight leg test and slump test to look for low back nerve impingement.  Radicular problems are less common in the middle portion of the spinal column. 
 
Acupuncture treatment reduces radicular pain by alleviating pressure on the nerve root.  Accurate diagnosis, pin-point acupuncture treatment, and home exercises cure many pinched nerve situations!
 
There are situations where the degeneration is too advanced, or a spinal disc is too damaged to be managed with acupuncture and clinicians are trained to make referrals to appropriate doctors for these situations.

NEW T-SHIRTS ARE HERE!

We are excited to announce we’ve produced a new t-shirt to sell in support of the Oregon Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s (OAAOM) legal fund. 
The OAAOM’s mission is to advance our profession and honor the tradition of acupuncture and oriental medicine in Oregon.  They work to keep acupuncture safe, legal and accessible in Oregon. 

The OAAOM is currently working to:

Guarantee that insurance companies don’t cut off access to care: Working directly with legislators and insurance companies to combat the new pre-authorization systems used by insurance companies to cut off patient benefits.

Protect patients from unsafe practitioners: Fighting hard to keep untrained chiropractors and physical therapists from practicing unsafe acupuncture

Insure that acupuncturists earn a fair wage: Making sure insurance companies can’t limit reimbursement and unfairly discriminate against acupuncturists.

Provide quality continuing education: Advancing knowledge, techniques and ethics through education. 

The shirts are preshrunk cotton and come in a sizes S to XL. 
The Shirts cost $17 and are available now at the front desk. 

 

Five Exercises that Won't Feel Like Work

You want to get fit, but going to a gym just isn’t your idea of fun, so you can’t find the motivation to actually workout. If this sounds familiar, then perhaps you need to change your idea of working out. If you find an activity that pushes your body out of it’s comfort zone and increases your heart rate, then it counts as exercise.

1. Fencing
The sport of fencing is nicknamed "physical chess with speed of light,” says PAFC - Western Sydney Fencing Club. You have to think smart, act fast, and be strong. Fencing gives you a full-body workout from your feet and legs up to your arms and neck. It’s great for cardio and helps improve strength, flexibility, endurance, and coordination. Fencing works your brain too, increasing focus and concentration by honing strategic thinking and decision-making skills. Challenge your friends to a fencing session or attend a class to meet new friends.

2. Kayaking
Although you may think kayaking only works your arms, Kayak Base notes that rowing utilizes the chest, shoulders, abs, and thighs. It’s particularly great for your abs because rowing involves a torso twisting movement. They also add that many people find kayaking a meditative and peaceful activity where they enjoy the beauty of nature, whether they’re alone or with family and friends.

3. Barre
A barre is the bar you see ballerinas using to warm up, but ballerinas aren’t the only ones using it. Barre-based exercises are rapidly gaining popularity across the country. Shape says most barre-based classes are a combination ballet, yoga, and Pilates. The barre is used as a prop to balance while doing exercises, and some classes incorporate dumbbells and mats into their routines. A barre workout strengthens your muscles, improves posture, promotes weight loss, increases flexibility, and reduces stress. Find a studio and attend with your friends or use a piece of furniture as a barre and workout at home.

4. Dog walking
If you own a dog, don’t just open your door and let him do his business; put him on a leash and take him for walk. It’s not just for his benefit – you benefit from walking your dog too. You’re obviously getting exercise from walking your dog, but a study shows there’s more to it. Participants who started consistently walking their dogs walked more often and for longer distances than those without dogs. If you don’t own a dog (or even if you do), become a (paid) dog walker or volunteer to walk the dogs at a local animal shelter.

5. Skateboarding
Although you’ll get a better workout if you add in some tricks, even just pushing around a skateboard on a flat surface for 30 minutes increases your heart rate and burn up to 360 calories, states Men’s Fitness. Skateboarding is a great cardio workout because it switches back and forth between pacing to more explosive efforts. It also strengthens your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and abs. Skate parks are located outdoors or indoors, and you can bring your own equipment or rent equipment there.

It’s easy to get fit while enjoying your workout if you rethink what exercise means. Head to your home gym for a self-paced workout, lace up your sneakers and take your dog for a walk, or learn a new skill like fencing. Just remember to have fun, and the rest will follow!

Great Prices on Fish Oils

Inner Gate Acupuncture carries Nordic Natural brand fish oils because of their great reputation, and third party testing.  The testing verifies purity, quality and establishes whether or not heavy metals are present.  

Inner Gate Acupuncture offers fish oils at prices lower than Whole Foods and New Seasons.  We carry the Pro line of products, which is the top line and is not available in retail stores.  Buy your high quality fish oils here for less.  We carry ProEFA, ProEPA and ProDHA oils.  

  • ProEPA:  Lowers cardiovascular risk, reduces inflammation, and manages healthy blood sugar levels. 
  • ProDHA: Benefits the brain and brain development, great for pregnant and breast feeding women. Benefits good cognition, clear thinking and memory.  
  • ProEFA: This formulation is great for joint health, lung & immune support.  

 

Fish Oils Have Many Great Benefits!

  • Prevent Risk of Heart Disease:   The Omega-3 oils contained in fish help counteract the inflammatory effect of Omega-6 oils found in many meats and cereals.  They also slightly thin the blood reducing the risk of clots associated with heart disease.  
  • Reduction of Asthma Symptoms: Asthma is associated with a narrowing of airways due to inflammation.  Asthma symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.  The anti-inflammatory effects of Omega-3 reduce asthma symptoms for some asthma sufferers.
  • Control Depression and Anxiety:  Early research suggests that some people who suffer from anxiety and depression have low levels of Omega-3 oils in their bodies.  The research suggests that for those people increasing Omega-3 oils reduces anxiety and depression symptoms.  
  • Reduce Arthritis Pain:  The anti-inflammatory effects of Omega-3 throughout the body are significant in both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.  While they won't reverse the process, they do control inflammation and therefore reduce pain.  
  • Improve Vision:  The tiny vessels in the eye and in the retina benefit greatly from the mild blood thinning and anti-inflammatory effects of fish oils.  The oils are associated with avoiding age related macular degeneration. 

Antibiotics Associated With Nerve and Tendon Damage

There are many health concerns surrounding the use, and overuse, of antibiotics.  We worry about the health of our digestive tracts, the development of antibiotic resistant super bugs and the health of our antibiotic-consuming livestock.

Some important side effects associated with the use of antibiotics are severe tendon and nerve damage.  In particular, fluoroquiolones have become associated with cases of permanent damage to tendons and nerves. The fluoroquiolones family of antibiotics includes the drugs Cipro and Levaquin.  

These are common drugs that are used to treat a wide variety of infections.  These medications are prescribed to treat everything from pneumonia to urinary tract infections.  Experts and medical institutions are encouraging doctors to avoid the overuse of these medications as the association with severe nerve and tendon damage is becoming more clear. 

No one completely understands how these drugs damage tendon and nerve tissue.  It is suspected that the drugs may limit blood flow to the these tissues, starving them of nutrition and causing an inability to recover from normal levels of activity.

These reactions are rare but severe!  When combined with all the other risks associated with antibiotics, it is worth first considering other options before starting a course of antibiotics.  Of course there are dangerous conditions that should always be treated with antibiotics such as pneumonia, ear infections, and strep throat.  But for other less dangerous conditions fortifying the immune system and treating infections with herbal remedies may be the best first line approach. 

Chinese herbal medicine has many formulas used to treat infections. Many berberine rich plants are used in these formulas.  Berberine is a yellow alkaloid that has natural antibacterial properties. These herbal formula are a potent tool for knocking out many infections and avoiding the use of prescription antibiotics.  Talk with your acupuncturist if you feel you are coming down with something and want to employ the herbal approach first.  

Infections treated well with herbal therapies:

  • Sinus infections

  • Cough with sputum

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Diverticulitis

Herbal therapies should be used under the guidance of a skilled practitioner who can monitor results with the understanding that if symptoms worsen antibiotics may be the correct course of treatment.  

Ice May Slow Injury Recovery

New research rejects the use of ice in injury recovery protocols.  Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined the acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) for injury care, reversed course and begun arguing that ice actually delays healing.  Dr. Mirkin is now advocating a much more limited role of ice in the recovery of injuries.
 
After an injury your immune system is imperative for a speedy recovery.  The same system that destroys viruses also heals injuries.  Your body sends immune cells to the damaged tissue to begin the healing process.  Macrophages, one of these immune cells, release chemical messages to the body that promote local inflammation. 
 
Inflammation is one of the first components of injury recoveries.  During the inflammatory phase of recovery macrophages release a hormone known as Insulin like Growth Factor (IGF-1).   IGF-1 then activates other human growth hormones that stimulate the recovery of the damaged tissue.  These growth hormones trigger other cells called fibroblasts to begin building new tissue. 
 
Ice directly delays macrophage activity therefore delaying the effects of IGF-1.  This slows the production of growth hormones and the activity of fibroblasts.  By reducing inflammation ice has a secondary effect of slowing recovery.  In fact, anything that delays the immune response will slow down injury recovery. 
 
 
Things That Slow Injury Recovery Include:

  • Steroids: Cortisone injections
  • All nsaid medications: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc.
  • Immune suppressants: Cancer medications and Rheumatoid arthritis medications, etc
  • Ice

 
It should be noted that ice is a pain killer and the application of ice in the short term helps reduce pain.  We recommend ONLY applying ice post injury for short periods of time (5-10 minutes) to reduce pain, and then allowing the tissue to warm back up for the next 20 minutes.  In this way you can use ice to reduce pain but you won’t significantly slow the healing process. 

Incorporate Alone Time into Your Health Journey

Whether you are single, in a relationship, a parent to a child or a four-legged companion, spending time alone touts several benefits, and can be incorporated into your fitness journey as you strive to get off the couch and get active. Perhaps you had a sedentary winter season, or maybe you just want to get moving. Whatever your reason for getting active, there is nothing wrong with going solo.

 

Alone Time Improves Mental Health

 

With the advent of technology and social media, we are never technically alone. We can reach out to friends and family with the click of a mouse. However, sometimes it is beneficial to disconnect from the world, and spend time alone with yourself. Solitude gives your brain a chance to rest, unwind, replenish, and reboot. When you remove all distractions, you can clear and focus your mind, and improve your concentration, which will be beneficial when you are tackling work, chores, and other daily activities. Spending time alone can also help you think deeply and work through problems more effectively. Your daily responsibilities and that ever-growing to-do list can make it seem like there is no end in sight, and when you are distracted by incoming information from other people and electronics, it can be impossible to think of effective solutions to your problems.

 

Finding time to both spend alone and engage in physical activity may sound easier said than done, but there are several ways to incorporate a little bit of alone time and movement into your day. Get up early and a jog around the neighborhood. Use your scheduled breaks productively. For example, if you typically eat lunch at your desk, try eating lunch outside and using the remaining time to fit in a brisk walk to clear your mind and prepare yourself for the rest of the day. If you are still struggling to get in that alone time, schedule solitude by literally marking it on your calendar. It could be something as simple as a 15-minute stretch, a walk around the mall parking lot, or a short bike ride.

 

Get Moving On Your Own

 

Just like distractions are detrimental to the benefits that can be reaped by spending time alone, it applies to getting active as well. When you work out with others, it is easy to get caught up talking or catching up on the latest news, distracting you from the task at hand, which is to work up a sweat. You may also find that by working out with others, you are distracted by the intensity at which others are going. It is important that you work at your own pace, and pushing yourself too hard, too fast could result in injury. Each person has their own unique fitness goals, so if you are finding it difficult to focus solely on yours alone, working out alone could be beneficial.

 

Going solo also means that you get to call the shots and be flexible with your workouts rather than being at the mercy of the busy life of someone else. If you want to fit in a quick boxing session late at night or go for a run before the sun comes up, you don’t have to worry about coinciding with others schedules. Getting active can help reduce stress and clear your mind, and sometimes it is easier to fit in quick bursts of activity when it is most convenient for you.

 

Getting active doesn’t have to mean sticking to the generic gym routine. Any form of movement is activity. Consider learning a new sport, community service, participating in an obstacle course race, learning a new dance, or walking to places you would typically drive. If being completely alone in your workouts feels too boring for you, bring your pooch along, or if you don’t have a dog, start up a dog walking service--it’s a great way to workout while making a few bucks at the same time!

 

You can also track your success and stay motivated by incorporating technology like a pedometer to track your steps and set goals each week, or follow along with an exercise video or a fitness video game. Find what you enjoy and turn it into a mental and physical health benefit.

6 Creative Ways to Get Fit

Getting fit is a commitment, but sometimes you just don’t have enough time to get to the gym. Fortunately, participating at the gym isn’t the only way to get fit! If you are pressed for time, or bored with your current routine, it’s time to shake it up! Exciting new ways to exercise are all around you. Here are some fun and creative ways to keep you in shape.

Ditch the Elevator

As convenient as the elevator is, taking the stairs is a great way to add exercise to your day. Walking up a flight of stairs burns calories and improves cardiovascular fitness. Stair climbing is considered a vigorous form of exercise because it engages your abs, legs and arms. Effort is required as you are pulling your body against gravity. If you have a staircase at home, make a cardio workout by repeatedly climbing in 10-minute increments. While you are out in public, opt for taking the stairs to sneak in a quick bout of exercise.

Walk the Dog

Every dog should be walked once a day, and you can benefit from this too! Walking with your dog is a great low-intensity cardio exercise that requires no equipment. A daily routine of 30 minutes can decrease your risk for high blood pressure, high blood sugar and eliminate excess fat around your waist. As for your dog, walking is a great way to burn off energy, which maintains good behavior. Creating a habit of walking at the same time each day will quickly become an activity you both will enjoy. As you build your stamina through walking, you can try running with your furry friend!

Play with Your Children

The high energy that children have seems to never cease! There’s no better way to get your heart-pumping than to join them for some fun. A playground is a great place to workout! Pushing your kids on the swing is an awesome arm-strengthening exercise. You can also do a few reps of pull-ups on the monkey bars. If you want to work on your core, hang upside down from the monkey bars, and curl your body up toward your legs.

Don’t have a playground nearby? No worries! Hide-and-seek and hopscotch are fun ways to get fit as well! Along with the opportunity to exercise, playing with your kids will create lasting memories!

Dive In

Maybe you’ve tried swimming before but found doing laps to be too monotonous. Well, don’t give up your time in the pool just yet. There are tons of fun ways to get fit in the water. From water basketball to pool yoga, exercising in the pool can be preferable to land workouts because it’s easier on the joints. So, see what options your local indoor pool offers and dive in when you have a chance.

Try Indoor Bouldering

Bouldering is similar to rock climbing, but it doesn’t require that you climb quite so high. Instead, “boulderers” work their brains and their bodies, as they solve problems to progress along their climbing route. If you’re up for trying something new and challenging, bouldering is a great choice.

Ride a Bike

Driving is convenient as it saves time, but there are no health benefits because you are idle. The next time you are on the way out, opt for your bike rather than the car keys (Don’t forget your helmet!). With biking, you will be able to take in scenery while giving your lower body a full workout. Your legs will become stronger, and your body fat levels will go down. Biking also improves your posture and coordination. As you ride your bike the risks of cancer, diabetes and other diseases decrease. As a beginner, start out with short routes, and as your endurance increases go for longer rides. Soon you will be a pro and biking will become your preferred method of transportation!

Getting fit goes beyond the walls of the gym and the latest fitness craze. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need much to lead an active lifestyle. Playing with your children, walking your dog, and biking are all effective methods of exercise that easily blend into your day. Incorporating creative ways to exercise presents an exciting feeling as you challenge yourself to come up with even more clever ways to stay fit. 

Article Written by Paige Johnson

Paige is a fitness nerd and shares her insights on LearnFit.Org

Golden Milk Recipe

INGREDIENTS

 

This recipe makes 2 cups

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, preferably coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 inch piece of turmeric, unpeeled, thinly sliced or crushed, or 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • 1/2-inch piece ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey (added after cooking)
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

PREPARATION

  1. Whisk together coconut milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, coconut oil, peppercorns, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan.  When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and serve in a mug.  
  2. The milk will store well if refrigerated for up to 5 days.  
  3. The drink can be modified in countless ways!  Try adding cardamom, or other spices, or increasing the ginger and turmeric. 
  4. The coconut oil and peppercorns are important ingredients as they aid in the digestion of turmeric.  
  5. Enjoy!!!

Golden Milk!!!

Despite hundreds of years of use in India, we at Inner Gate have only recently discovered golden milk and it's wonderful health benefits.  Golden milk is simply made from the combination of coconut milk, coconut oil, ginger and turmeric.  Many recipes include honey and black pepper for enhanced flavor and better absorption of the turmeric.  

The health benefits of golden milk come mainly from turmeric and the polyphenol curcumin that turmeric contains.  Known as the spice of life in India, Turmeric has potentially hundreds of benefits to our health. These include controlling many inflammatory processes.  This affects conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and gout.  Turmeric has been shown to control cholesterol levers, suppress the symptoms of diabetes and alzheimers, and inhibit tumor growth! 

Read more about turmeric HERE

Making Golden Milk is easy.  There are many recipes online which all seem to follow a similar format.  This recipe is one that we tried and really enjoy.  it includes a few other ingredients to make the drink more warming for these cold winter months. 

Year of the Fire Rooster

Twelve years ago I was in China for the first time.  My wife and I had just arrived as New Year celebrations were underway.  It was the year of the wood rooster. I remember fireworks, great noodles and large rooster effigies all around town.  This year January 28th marks the beginning of the Chinese New year 2017.  This time around it be the year of the fire rooster. Every year the animal changes and every two years the element changes.  The elements are water, wood, fire, earth and metal, in that order.  
 
The rooster is thought to be an opinionated fellow.  He is known for quick and decisive decisions.  It is said that the rooster will always boldly speak his mind.  However, his brash opinions are often presented without the benefit of tact.  The fire quality of this year’s rooster could amplify the bird’s impetuous nature. 
 
He also has the interesting combination of being a hard worker and a daydreamer. Unfortunately, he runs the risk of having too many dreams, the desire to achieve them and the frustration of not being able to achieve them all.  During the rooster year we should all work on setting reasonable and tangible goals.  These can give us a great sense of accomplishment.  
 
During the year of the rooster it's important to remember to not be overly opinionated, and if we just can’t control our opinions we should be careful to present them tactfully.  In this time of strong opinions we should take a moment to self-reflect on our words before we say them.  

The rooster can be a proud, loyal, and stalwart friend.  He is fierce defender of his community.  Let us all do our best to embody the positive aspects of the rooster in the coming year.  

Best of luck to you all in 2017!

Managing Stress: It's so Important!

Stress has profoundly detrimental effects on our bodies and our lives.  Many of us are under a greater amount of stress than we know.  Understanding the many effects that stress has on our bodies can help us more accurately assess how much stress we are under.

Effects of Stress:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety, panic attacks and depression
  • Increased risk for cardiovascular diseases
  • Stomachache, heartburn and digestive changes including diarrhea and constipation
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Low sex drive, erectile dysfunction
  • Poor immunity and susceptibility to infections
  • Irregular menstruation and infertility
  • Poor sleep, insomnia

Finding healthy ways to manage stress and making life choices that reduce stress is essential to living well.  There are many great ways to manage our stress, everything from mountain biking to meditation.  As the new year approaches and many of us make resolutions we should consider adding some resolutions that directly related to how we manage our stress levels. 

Ideas for Managing Stress:

  • Maintain a positive attitude. Accept the things you can't control and control your reaction to things that bother you. 
  • Voice your opinions and thoughts in a reasonable way.  Steer clear of passive aggressive patterns, like not saying what you feel when your upset but letting it affect your behavior. 
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Breathing exercises, meditation, qi gong, yoga, and tai chi are all great ideas.
  • Sustain a solid exercise routine.  Exercise gets us out of our heads, reduces stress hormones and improves how we sleep. 
  • Eat healthy foods. Avoid the trap of comfort foods.  These high sugar, high fat foods can lead to more problems and make us feel worse about ourselves. 
  • Think about how you manage time and try to use your time intelligently. 
  • Spend time doing hobbies that you enjoy.  Music, models, and art are great activities for reducing stress. 
  • Get sufficient sleep and rest.  
  • Spend quality time with your family, or don't if your family upsets you.
  • Be willing to say no to activities you know will disturb you. 
  • Try getting regular acupuncture or massage, these treatments have significant positive impacts on your health.  

Winter & The Water Element

In traditional Chinese thought the winter season is associated with the water element.  It is a time of reflection and introspection.

Winter is a great time for us to think about the past years achievements and shortfalls and think of ways to improve ourselves in the coming year.  

Many of us will sit and make resolutions for 2017.  When making resolutions it is best to make reasonable and measurable goals.  For instance, a goal like "I want to read more!" is a great goal but difficult to measure.  Instead, a goal of "I want to read one book per month!" is easy to measure.  

The water element is associated with willpower, perseverance and deep strength.  After all, it was water that cut through mountains to create the Grand Canyon.  It's important that all of us remember the power inherent within ourselves and nurture our roots this season for the coming year.  

The Benefits of Eccentric Exercise

What is Eccentric vs. Concentric Muscle Contraction?

Concentric Contraction: Concentric contraction occurs when a muscle is activated and begins to shorten against a load.  The raising of a weight during a biceps curl is a concentric contraction.

Eccentric Contraction: Eccentric contractions occur when the muscle is lengthening during contraction.  The lowering of the weight slowly during a biceps curl is an eccentric contraction.  Eccentric contractions occur constantly throughout the activities of daily living.  During movements such as walking the quad muscles stabilize and control the frame of the body while they are actively contracting and lengthening.

The Importance of Eccentric Contraction:
Sports Medicine research has shown that eccentric contracts are better at building muscle mass, strengthening and repairing connective tissue including tendons and ligaments.   There is evidence that eccentric contractions even help increase flexibility.  

For minor injuries and tendonitis conditions your practitioner may prescribe eccentric exercises as a home care therapy.  The practitioner will explain the exercise carefully in order to fully take advantage of the eccentric phase of contraction.  Moving very slowly and controlled during the contraction is essential to maximizing the benefit of the exercise.  Moving too quickly or using too heavy a weight can actually damage the tissue.