- Calorie Counter Pro - This app cost four bucks and is really worth it. It helps you keep up with the amount of calories you are eating everyday. It is easy to enter and find the foods you eat. It can track your exercise, too and will sync with your FitBit. In particular, I like that I can track the carbs I'm eating. Although I don't regularly eat bread and sweets anymore, I will endulge sometimes and this will tell me where I'm at so I can keep tabs on myself.
- The Weight Watcher's App - WW has been around for a long time and is a trustworthy organization, so I felt comfortable trying their app. There is group support (if you want that), syncing with your other fitness devices, thousands of recipes and food comps, and a barcode scanner. They even have restaurant browsing to help you stay on track.
- My Diet Coach - This app is definitely a woman's app. The reminders and graphics are fun (I think) and the goal setting is really useful. It keeps you honest and real about your weight loss. I appreciated being able to load a picture of myself from an earlier time when I was a lot healthier and slimmer. It kept me motivated. The TIPS section has categories to choose from, such as, Emotional Eating, Food Temptation and Exercise Laziness. Frankly, I used the app more for the support it gave me mentally than for the calorie tracking.
My iPhone is an essential tool in my quest to lose weight and get healthier. Here are some of my favorite apps.
I've been asked numerous times how I found my acupuncturist.
I was extremely lucky. About the time I was looking for an acupuncturist, Dr. Cho had just moved back to the area and was actively seeking new patients. A friend of mine attended an open house at a local health food store where Dr. Cho was giving pulse readings. She was really impressed and knew I was seeking support for my weight loss program, so she told me about her.
So, this is the first way to go about it: ask your friends and family. You never know who they might know or who they may have heard about.
Next, search your area for acupuncture schools. You will be surprised at how common they are. Check out their website and make sure they are an accredited school. Sometimes these schools offer clinics where you can recieve treatment from a third year student (under supervision) at a substantially reduced cost. They will usually have referrals for graduates of their school who practice in the same area.
Then, carefully check out the credentials of each practitioner. There are two basic levels of credentialling and it's important to know what the letters behind the person's name mean.
CAc = a physicial, dentist or chiropractor who practices medical acupuncture.
This is a medical professional who attends 100-300 hours of training but who is not required to pass a national exam or even to have had practice before treating a patient. I think most medical personnel who offer this do so mostly to help those in pain.
LAc = a licensed clinical acupuncturist who has graduated from a master's level college program and who has passed national board exams.
An LAc has an average of 2500 hours of training in a nationally accredited school and has treated aroud 250 people under supervision before becoming fully certified to practice. This person will also have had to pass the national certification exam in acupuncuture to earn their NCCAOM certification.
They must also complete ongoing training to keep their license in good standing.
My acupuncturist, Eunha Cho, has the LAc credential. She completed her schooling in Gainesville (where there are two acupuncture schools). She's also trained as an herbalist (I'll write more about the herbs another time) which is an important part of her practice as she believes the two go hand in hand. I think what's also cool about her is that her grandfather was an acupuncturist and she grew up watching him practice. It seems to be in her DNA to be a healer. I call her Dr. Cho but that is more out of respect and habit because she isn't an MD or Phd. But she is an LAc as well as a master herbalist. She recently told me she is working with laser acupuncture now, too. I've not had any experience with that as she mostly performs auricular acupuncture on me. She also prescribes concocts herbal formulas for me that are specific to the issues we are addressing.
I think, most of all, it is important that you feel confident and comfortable with the treatment you are getting. And believe that you will get results. Acupuncture is helping me to achieve so many of the goals I set out for myself. I wanted to feel better, be clearer and lose weight. Acupunture is helping me do all of these things.
Here's a common scenario: you're trying a new food plan and it's going well. Then you turn on an episode of the Barefoot Contessa and she's cooking with butter and all sorts of good things and suddenly, you begin to experience cravings. It happens to almost everybody. And, your acupuncturist can help you overcome them. How does she/he do this? Auricular herbal beads.
Here is a good, short video that shows beads being applied to a patient's ear. The practitioner does a good job of explaining what she is doing and you can clearly see what she is doing. You will also see that it involves NO needles. (I know many people do not want needles!)
One thing this practictioner points out is that your acupuncturist may place the beads abit differently depending on what issues she is treating in you overall. In Chinese medicine, you are treated for the underlying cause of illness or imbalance, not just the symptoms.
In my own case, my acupuncpurist is treating some neck, back and hip pain issues, as well as, hormonal imbalance. My ear beads--right now I'm wearing two on one ear, and six on the other--are placed in spots all over the front, inside and even, the back of my ears. Like the patient in the video, I too have beads on the front small portion of the ear designated for hormonal support. My practictioner told me this would help with cravings. I especially found this helpful to rub this particular bead when I was on a cleanse diet. Limiting my food choices for three weeks made for some pretty long days. Dr. Cho really helped me to make it through the cleanse by supporting me with needle acupuncture and aricular therapy.
I regularly apply pressure and massage the points on my ears throughout the day. I do this especially when I'm watching TV at night.
My acupunturist has started to treat me for allergies. I am hopeful. I mean, you have to be to go through this sort of therapy. Whereas, the regular acupuncture experience can vary greatly from person to person (as far as pain and discomfort, electrical tingles and relaxation), auricular needling is painful. I will not mislead you about this: pins getting poked into various spots on your ears hurts. For me, the pain is very sharp when Dr. Cho inserts them, but it gradually fades over the next 5-10 seconds. I've learned it's very important to take deeps breaths. She also works very quickly; it's better just to get through it fast and then relax and breathe while the needles do their magic.
My friend, Jen, came with me to my treatment one day and was horrified by it. But I have to say, she has seen the results in my life, so I think I some point she will try acupuncture herself. Fortunately for Jen and other needle-phobes like her, there is something new in the field: laser acupuncure. I've not had it myself, but I've heard it is highly effective. Treatments usually cost a bit more but don't need to be done quite as often.
Back to allergies. I've had allergies all my life: dust mites, dust, pollen, dust, dogs, dust, cats, dust...you get the picture. As a teenager, I endured years of once weekly allergy shots which worked for a couple of years but wore off as I entered adulthood. It's been limiting. I can't go over to the residences of family and friends who have pets. I can't have my own dog (a source of grief for me). Barns and animal shelters are a nightmare for me. I start sneezing and my eyes swell up within minutes of entering. It's limiting for sure. I guess if I were a hot-house flower sort of person I wouldn't mind. But I'm not. I like the outdoors. I like animals. I'd love to cuddle up with a doggie on the couch and pet his fur. I think that must be so soothing and I can't have that. Well, maybe someday, if Dr. Cho has anything to do about it.
Back to auricular acupuncture. Here's the mojo behind it: the needles are inserted into very specific spots on the outside of the ear that correspond to areas of the body, both internally and externally. It's believed the needles do two things: they help the body make endorphins, which lessen pain and they cause the body to release all sorts of chemicals that bolster the immune systems and shut down the allergic response. The American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy has published articles about research currently being carried out and the research is showing amazing proof of the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving allergies. I don't quite understand how it all works. I just know that it's working for me.
This is how. When I'm around a dog, I can pet it a few times, but then I must immediately wash my hands. I've very careful to wipe off my arms and clothes with a damp paper towel after I've been around an animal for long. After two treatments for allergies by Dr. Cho, I visiting my friend Jen and her dog, Wigby, at her house. I sat on the couch with Wigby and petted him for an hour. I took him for a short walk. I still took the precaution of washing my hands and wiping off my clothes. But in the two hours I was there, I sneezed four times. Yes, that's right...only FOUR TIMES.
If I'd tried to do this before acupuncture, I would have had to take a shower, wash my hair, use my inhaler and take antihistamine. I would have sneezed for an hour and my eyes would have swelled shut. Jen and I were amazed.
This short Ted Talks video will inspire you to take that first step and change something.
Mindy, you say you use Chinese medicine. What does that mean?
Chinese medicine covers many types of treatment. My acupuncturist uses two types of acupuncture on me, as well as, herbal treatments and dietary adjustments. For example, she concocts a fresh herbal tonic for me every two weeks based on how I'm feeling and she alternates treating me with regular acupuncture and auricular therapy (ear needles that stay in for a week at a time). She also has me put herbs in my bath several times a week.
Have you had to change your diet?
I no longer drink any beverages with ice in them. I have significantly cut my caffeine and alcohol use. I eat barely any white, refined flour or sugar products.
How much weight have you lost?
The odd thing about this is that I don't even know exactly what I weighed when I first started this process. I was focused entirely on getting rid of pain. Yes, I was overweight.
The pounds that have come off are a result of my pursuit of health and not from being obsessed with how much I'm losing or have lost. To really answer your question, though, I think I've probably lost around 20 pounds. I also have more muscle now and less fat on my body.