Building the Potential for Growth

Building the Potential for Change
By Hillary E. Catrow, MSOM, L.Ac.

Spring is here and if nature has anything to teach us about making changes in our lives it is this. Today
may be cold and gloomy but regardless of what’s happening on the surface under the soil great things are
brewing. Lush roots are stirring, and a force much greater than us is propelling the seasons forward. You
could try but there is no stopping the season’s potential to change and bloom.
Similarly change in our own lives can be hard, regardless of how badly we want change to eat better, be
more active, run a marathon, lose weight, be healthier, smarter or stronger. Having a few tools in our
toolbox can be helpful in making the process less daunting and more enjoyable.

1) First comes first, you are already enough and you are the best you right now. Period. There are
no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Celebrate how far you have come and your willingness to move
forward, write it down, take stock and relish in it. Repeat often. Change can be slow and the
journey itself deserves to be celebrated.

2) Start Small. As Lao Tzu says “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Break
down your big goal into smaller and smaller segments. What can you do today that will set you on
your path? Can you add veggies to every meal? Or choose to walk to the coffee shop that’s a
block farther than your go-to cafe. Add a few squats in while you’re waiting on hold with customer
service. Stay present and build on each day. Before you know it you’ll be 100 steps closer.

3) Have fun. You’re more likely to succeed if you enjoy the process. If you don’t like going to the
gym, maybe you prefer dancing or grab your pup and hit the trails. Make meal planning social by
inviting some partners in crime over for a cooking soiree. There are tons of phone apps that can
make meditation, food logging, working out more of a game than a choir. Be creative.

4) Change your language. How we talk to ourselves matters, especially when it comes to doing
things that are challenging. Replace phrases with “I can’t have this” or “I have to do that” with “I
choose to…” Create a self-love mantra like “I love myself enough to take the actions required for
my happiness and health”. Focus on what change is adding to your life, not what it might be
taking away.

5) Be prepared to fail and know it’s ok. Just like Spring, change will often move in like a lion and out
like a lamb. So what if you ate eight cookies today or you laid around all weekend watching The
Office. Success is just as much about the rest, recovery and reflection as it is about the hustle.
Revisit Step One of this list and remember how amazing you and how far you’ve come. Love yourself and move on. Tomorrow is a new day.

Spring Colds and Winter Flu Blues

Sarah BartleAh, Chicago weather. One day we are wearing parkas and are barely recognizable under hats, gloves and scarves. The next day is warm but wet and gray. The third day half the city is sniffling and wondering why their joints hurt. I will share some tried and true methods of Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) to keep you healthy during weather fluctuations.

  1. In TAM we view fluctuating weather as a potential “wind invasion”. A preventative technique is to keep the wind from blowing on your skin, specifically the back of your neck. Simply wearing a scarf is enough to keep your neck protected.
  2. Practice gua sha as soon as you feel cold symptoms. Gua sha is an ancient technique to release “wind” (Chinese concept of how we get colds/flus—from the time before there were microscopes and the concept of bacteria/viruses) that has invaded the neck area. Follow the instructions below and let us know if you need a gua sha tool or white flower oil.
  • Sprinkle a drop or two of White Flower Oil (or other lotion/oil) on the skin.
  • Smooth it around with your fingers or a cotton ball.
  • Use the GuaSha tool to scrape the skin until the skin turns pink and/or small red dots (petechiae) show up on the area around the C7 vertebral bone (sticks out the most on your neck when you bend your head forward). Stroke from base of head down the neck and across shoulders. Focus on the area close to the bone. If your sinuses are congested, include the area on the back of your head and upper neck near your hairline.
  • Ideally, scrape the skin in the same direction, usually from the area that is closest to the center of your body out to the outermost end (not circular).
  • Remember – do not cause pain when scraping the skin – apply just enough pressure to bring up the red dots but not so much that it hurts. Sometimes the skin will just turn pink without developing the dots – this is ok. If you do not have a gua sha tool, you can use a spoon with the rounded lip and gently scrap over fabric. Be careful not to rip the fabric or cut your skin!
  1. Foods to eat:
  • Eat “pungent” herbs to release “wind” pathogens. Garlic, ginger, onions etc. have a warming, pungent quality. These foods are good to incorporate in your meals when you feel under the weather. Add these ingredients for your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe.
  • Cold and Flu time tea + Licorice tea contain a unique formula of herbs to release “wind” pathogen. Add lemon and honey to soothe a sore throat.

Practicing these techniques will keep you in tip top shape during cold and flu season.

Elimination Diet – Whole 30

Sarah BartleOn November 1st I started a new career and a new diet. Health conscious people might call it a new lifestyle, but I don’t consider myself a health conscious person yet. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years completing my Masters degree in Oriental Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. During that time my life consisted of going to class, studying, interning and working multiple part-time jobs. The energy needed for so much focus left little else for self-care.

Despite studying a holistic field and knowing full well the importance of self-care, my exhaustion let it fall by the way side. In 3 1/2 years I gained 30 pounds. I was fully aware that I was gaining weight, but could not make it stop. There was simply not enough energy left in my reserves after my schoolwork was completed. This was my personal excuse, and anyone who struggles with weight issues knows what I mean by that. I may get further into the emotional component in a later post, but this blog is not going to get that deep. What a relief! This is about what I’m eating and what I’m not eating. (more…)