by Saima Anto, M.A., R.Ac, R.TCMP
As a new year begins, it’s common to take a look at your life, and think about making changes that will help you look and feel better. Two of the most common changes people want to make are losing weight, and quitting smoking. Acupuncture can help you make these changes — and more importantly, make them stick!
Are you sure you want to lose weight?
Or would you rather lose excess fat, gain lean muscle, improve digestion and nutrient absorption, cut cravings, regulate hormones and re-balance your metabolism?
Everyone knows losing weight is simple: Just eat less and exercise more, right?
Not so fast — restricting calorie intake causes a cascade of metabolic changes designed to conserve energy in the face of a limited food supply. These include a slower basal metabolic rate (which means lower energy and feeling cold more), as well as hormonal changes which make you not only want to eat more, but also store more of what you eat as fat.
Exercise is supposed to help build and maintain muscle mass — but the metabolic changes accompanying calorie restriction make it harder for your body to burn fat for fuel, so muscle tissue may be consumed instead of using up fat stores. And it’s harder to exercise when you feel tired and hungry and cold.
What’s so special about this weight control program?
As part of our weight control program, the Pacific Wellness Institute uses research-grade equipment to conduct reliable assessments of the balance of muscle and fat tissues in your body, and to track bio-markers which accurately reflect health status. Along with traditional assessment techniques like pulse and tongue diagnosis, these help us customize the program for your unique health needs, as well as track your progress. Using ear points which are proven to curb appetite and boost satiety (feeling full after eating) helps counteract the metabolic changes — eating more, storing more of what you eat as fat, and burning less fat for fuel — that normally undercut attempts to change eating habits for the better. We also provide a CD of guided breathing exercises which are proven to help re-regulate the autonomic nervous system.
Are there side effects?
Yes. Because traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine treat the whole person, and focus on re-balancing the body’s systems, you may find you have more energy, experience less stress and irritability, sleep better, and enjoy improved digestion, to give just a few common examples.
What if I want to stop smoking?
We know that cigarettes create physiologic dependence on nicotine, also known as addiction. That’s why people experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they try to quit smoking. Even people who have managed to quit smoking for several years can find the cravings return, and may start smoking again if they experience severe or prolonged stress.
We use acupoints located on the ear which are proven to cut cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms. Many people have been surprised to find how easy it is to stop smoking with acupuncture.
Is addiction the only thing that makes it hard to quit, and stay quit?
No. Smoking is not just an addiction — it’s also a habit. Research has shown that many smokers use cigarettes as a way to take a moment for themselves in the middle of their demanding lives. This is one reason why staying off cigarettes can be difficult, even in the absence of cravings. Fortunately, acupuncture is excellent at helping people manage the stress and anxiety that often help maintain this habit.
It takes three weeks to break down an old habit, or establish a new one. If you are serious about quitting, start thinking now about what healthful habits or practices you can use to replace the habit of smoking, and do something positive for yourself (instead of just focusing on NOT doing something). Acupuncture can wipe out cravings, and significantly reduce the stress and anxiety that can make you want to reach for a cigarette, but changing your habits is something only you can do.
Saima Anto, M.A., R.AC, R.TCMP is a Registered Acupuncturist and Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner at the Pacific Wellness Institute. She is available for acupuncture treatments on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Please call 416-929-6958 to inquire about the appointment.