As an acupuncturist, I'm always trying to help my patients create healthy choices and habits that support them feeling good in their bodies. Diet and lifestyle are important components of Chinese Medicine, and getting the most out of acupuncture treatment. Sometimes acupuncture is the first step in a patient's journey, and other times it might be step 3 or 4 on the path to decreasing pain, losing weight, reducing hot flashes, or whatever our end goal might be.
The reality? Making new habits is hard. Like an old dirt road, our habits get solidified into deep ruts. When you try to drive out of them, it's a struggle and you often get tugged back into those grooves. And that's okay! But if you keep driving out of them, over and over, those ruts wear down, and it gets easier and easier to drive on a new course. It takes time, patience, and endurance.
Had enough of the convoluted analogy? Here are more concrete tips to making change in your life!
Shift your mindset
Are you focusing on how hard it is? Or how much you miss your ["bad" habit]? Instead, try shifting your mindset. Instead of telling your, "this sucks," try focusing on the positive beauty of the fact that you're taking care of yourself! Think about the possibility of feeling good in your body, and the fact that you're loving and nurturing yourself.
Re-design your lifestyle
Make it harder to do the things you're avoiding, and easier to do the things you're adding. Trying to avoid processed foods? Keep them out of your house! I understand that this is easier said than done when you add partners, children, and other roommates to the mix. So if you can't keep it out of your house, make it harder to get to. Put those chips on the highest shelf, or the furthest depths of your pantry! Trying to spend less time scrolling social media? Of course the extreme solution is to delete your account, or the app from your phone. Looking for a less extreme hurdle? Keep those icons off your home screen- tuck facebook/instagram/twitter/etc. on your second or third screen. Even those extra couple of swipes makes you work a little harder for it, and make a more conscious decision.
Likewise, make it easy to do the positive things you're trying to add to your life. Leave your gym clothes out the night before a morning work out, keep your fridge stocked with fruits and veggies, and schedule exercise/acupuncture/massage/etc. into your life in advance, so that you don't have to find the time at the last minute.
Change *who* you are
Are you trying to cut back on sweets? Rather than identifying as someone with a sweet tooth, decide that you just don't eat sweets. Tell yourself daily that you're simply not the type of person who eats sweets. When making this kind of change there's a drastic difference between telling yourself that you "can't" eat sweets, versus telling yourself that you "don't" eat sweets. One disempowers you, while the other puts you in control!
Have you had a tough week and succumbed to your old ways? Don't beat yourself up! By dwelling in the negative and stressing over what's already been done, you're only confounding the repercussions and effects. Celebrate your wins, and move on quickly when you get off track. I'm sure you're aware that eating one salad won't magically make you healthy, right? Well for most people (extreme conditions excluded) it goes both ways - one brownie, week without exercise, or other relapse isn't enough to derail your progress and health unless you let it!
Need a helping hand to make changes, and create your healthy lifestyle? Schedule a consultation to see if acupuncture is a good fit for you!