All posts by Kit

Our thoughts lead us to everything we feel and do: “I think, therefore I am.”

I have been obsessed with thought-work of late. It’s fascinating to watch our own mind, and observe how we react or respond to what goes on in there.

I know this on an intellectual level (there are hundreds and thousands of books on this topic alone). I also know this professionally as I see it all the time as a healthcare practitioner. When it comes to pain or illness, for instance, how we think about what we are dealing with can either help us heal, or make the condition worse. I am reminded often of how powerful the mind can be.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to experience this thought work personally, and I wanted to share that with you.

A couple of months ago, I decided to finally get Lasik procedure for my eyes. Since I was 10 years old, I heavily relied on glasses and contact lenses to see anything at all: I was drastically near-sighted.

It may sounds silly, but the main reason I delayed Lasik was because you are obligated to wear glasses for 1-2 weeks, or more, ahead of time. And I hated wearing glasses.

Long story short, I took a plunge, and made an appointment for the procedure on August 3. I was ordered to wear glasses only for at least 7 days before the procedure.

My brain wanted to protest: it was mad at me. I wanted an exception from the doctor and bartered for fewer days. But no such luck.

Intellectually I knew it was not a big deal: so many people wear glasses daily and they are just fine! They are happy, even! They are functional and are able to do anything and everything with just glasses on.

But I did not want to do it. My brain believed that I would have trouble moving through the days with glasses on my face. What about exercising? What if it rained. Seriously, I was being so juvenile about all of it.

But the appointment was set. I was committed. It was now or never.

I was so committed and wanted to it go smoothly that I circled the first day of wearing glasses NINE days before the procedure date, instead of the mandatory SEVEN.

I watched my thoughts about it. The brain wanted to freak out, of course… two extra days of misery! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? YOU ARE INSANE. YOU WILL BE SO MISERABLE.

But the incentive was a big one: I wanted the procedure to go smoothly (apparently sometimes if the eyes are not ready for Lasik, they won’t do it), and I really wanted it to work. And I was not going to not have it done now.

The day on that calendar came. I longingly looked at my contact lenses in the morning as I got ready for the day. I started wearing glasses full time.

It was not comfortable, of course. I hated having them on my face all day long. My brain freaked out and wanted to go back to the contacts. I hated it when the glasses fogged up, or if I sweat and they want to fall off my face. I did not see as well wearing them, and felt nauseous on occasion. I could go on about the misery. I just wanted to take them off and put back on my contact lenses.

But I didn’t. I didn’t because my thoughts about the situation was different. Instead of resisting wearing glasses, I accepted wearing glasses.

I accepted despite the discomfort.

I accepted because I had a goal I wanted and needed to achieve.

I accepted and I showed up for myself.

For nine days, I did everything in my glasses: exercised, cooked, did yoga, drove, traveled across the globe, explored a new city, met new people… I lived in my glasses like I had never done in my life. I did not enjoy a moment of it, but I stayed committed because I had a strong incentive.

And today, I can say that it was all worth it. I said goodbye to the glasses that I did not enjoy and had the procedure without trouble (they even complimented me for wearing glasses for more days than necessary). I now enjoy a new vision without needing glasses, or contacts.

Shifting my thoughts about wearing glasses from a negative, resistant place to an accepting, neutral place made the nine days go by with much less drama. I experienced the discomfort, sure, but I also was rewarded by something pretty darn amazing on the other side.

So, Descarte’s famous phrase: “Cogito ergo sum, or I think therefore I am,” resonates now more than ever.

What about you?

What thoughts are keeping you from achieving your goals?

How can you reframe your thoughts to change your outcome?

It might be much easier than you think!

 

The Importance of Planning Ahead of Time

If I told you that you have to get on a direct flight that will last 15.5 hours, plus two other shorter flights before and after, how would you react?

If I were you, I would no doubt freak out. And if I could, I would politely excuse myself and do everything I can to not have to be on those planes!

 

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But what if that is the only way you can visit your family who you only see once a year, maybe, if you are lucky?

There is a valid reason why one would panic to think about such a torturous experience. I have lived through it enough times to tell you that there is nothing fun about it. The cramped, ever narrowing coach seat makes the long haul flights even worse regardless of the increased options of movies and entertainment in front of you (the food, as a side note, has not and will not improve).

I have a secret weapon to this insanity.

I tell my brain ahead of time that it will be okay. I will make it. I will survive. And it will all be worth it.

I plan on being uncomfortable.

Planning ahead works for everything that requires patience and discomfort, from these long flights, to getting a degree, to losing weight.

It boils down to how we manage our brain ahead of time. 

I will talk more about this in future posts as there is much to be discussed! For the time being, I will just mention that there are two very important parts of the brain that come into play during these times: the conscious and the subconscious. 

The subconscious brain is the more prevalent because it’s the part the brain that has to do with our survival. It is always ready to take charge in order to keep us alive.

If the subconscious brain feels uncomfortable (whether it’s the last 3 hours of the 15 hour flight, or if you are choosing to forego that brownie), it will react in unreasonable manners to keep us comfortable. But if we had planned ahead that we would be uncomfortable, and that it would be okay (this uses the conscious part of the brain), the likelihood of us responding (peacefully) instead of reacting negatively to the situation is so much greater.

 

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That’s what happened to me a few days ago while I journeyed half the way across the world to get back to Thailand to see my family: I planned ahead. I planned on what to read, what to write, what to listen to. I also planned to be really uncomfortable, and bored, and miserably achy.

As it turned out, the longest flight of all (15+ hours) went rather uneventfully. I may have even spent a moment (once it was all over) saying to myself: “Well, that was not all that bad!”

Using the brain to our advantage is a great way to use a tool that we already have.

Try it… plan on being uncomfortable for something in your near future.

It may just blow your mind!

 

 

 

Real food recipe: Arugula and Parsley Pesto

The garden is exploding right now, and I love it!

We have lots of greens growing: kale, chard, cilantro, parsley, arugula and basil. I just walk out the door to gather dinner ingredients these days which makes me super happy.

One of the things I make all the time with our greens is pesto. And it’s funny because I hardly ever make it the traditional way with basil. Sometimes I combine whatever I have together, like today. Arugula and parsley make a divine pesto combination.

 

 

My kids like their pesto over pasta (of course) while I just use it like dressing or sauce and pour it on just about anything.

Here’s the rough simple recipe (adjust as desired):

Ingredients:
  • A big bunch of fresh arugula and parsley leaves, washed and drained (about 2-3 cups)
  • Handful of nuts (we like tamari almonds, or walnuts)
  • One or two cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you like it)
  • A good amount of grated Parmesan Cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (2-3 tablespoons)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Water (enough to make it to the consistency you’d like)
I generally start with the nuts, cheese and garlic in the food processor, and mix that well.  Add olive oil and water so you get a consistency of a thick soup.  Add the green leaves next, then salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze in lemon juice at the end.
Taste as you go. You can tweak it with less or more of each ingredient, depending on your liking. Enjoy!

 

No Sugar Challenge: Help The Hunger Project help the Hungry

Earlier this year, my friend and colleague Annabel Boys and I created the Sweet Charity Sugar Challenge. It came out of a little conversation we had around the holidays when we wanted to challenge each other to a few months of eating healthier with no added or processed sugar.

We did it, we went three months in 2017 without sugar. We also managed to include several courageous souls to challenge themselves as well, while giving something to a good cause.

Sweet Charity Challenge was able to raise almost $10,000 to benefit United World Schools in three months time!

During that period, The Hunger Project reached out to us because they were intrigued at what we were doing. They thought it was such a good idea to challenge ourselves toward better health, while helping better the world.

 

 

With World Hunger Day approaching, they wanted us to help them launch a fundraising campaign.

So here we are, two days from the date, Annabel and I have teamed up with them to launch the No Sugar Challenge!

It’s quite simple to join: you pledge to give up sugar for one week while fundraising for The Hunger Project to help end world hunger.

It’s giving up something small (but so beneficial for you) while giving away something BIG.

I have set up an easy way for you to donate and join!

Why give up sugar, even for a week, you ask?

If you have not heard, sugar is a major culprit to all kinds of conditions. From obesity, to diabetes, to heart disease, to name a few. Sugar is as addictive as cocaine, so it’s no wonder we are consuming so much of it without even realizing.

The World Health Organization recommends that we have no more than 25g of sugar per day. In the US, an average adult consumes 4-5 times that amount, up to 100-130g of sugar a day!

Sugar is found in most processed and packaged foods. Sugar is found in most of our meals. It’s no wonder we are getting bigger, and sicker by the day.

You will find that with less sugar in your diet, you will feel lighter, have more energy, sleep better, and possibly lose those extra pounds that have been hanging around.

Annabel and I will be their consultants/ coaches throughout the No Sugar Challenge. We have set up a Facebook group to help support the community and will be there daily! Once you pledge, you will enter the community!

 

Won’t you join us in helping the Hunger Project realize their goals?

To learn more about The Hunger Project, you can check out their website here.

To learn more about the No Sugar Challenge or to join, please click here!

 

Question: Will Acupuncture Work If I Don’t Believe In It?

In my 15 years of practice, I have answered many questions about acupuncture:

How does it work?

When should I come back?

Will it hurt?

 

 

These are common and valid questions, especially from people who had not experienced it before.

The question that I get sometimes that I actually love to answer is this:

“If I don’t believe in it, will it still work for me?”

My short answer is: Maybe?

Here’s the thing: acupuncture is not for everyone, just like how pharmaceuticals or physical therapy, or any other medical interventions are not for everyone. Sometimes you have to spend time and energy to figure out what works best for you.

Acupuncture is a wonderful tool and an effective modality, for those who respond well to it. 

But do you have to BELIEVE in it for it to work?

No.

I have had a fair share of new patients who walk in (usually reluctantly) with a skeptical mind about the new experience they were about to have. I have had people who explicitly tell me that they don’t think it will work, but their wives or husbands or mothers encouraged them to try.

 

 

Because acupuncture accesses your own healing potential, it all depends on your body’s receptivity to this particular modality. I have had skeptics walking in with excruciating pain who walk out with none (and at that point, they are no longer skeptics). I have also had believers who want to feel better so badly, but they feel no change after several treatments.

Bottom line is this: it really depends on your body, and whether or not it’s ready to receive the treatment. When it is, there is almost nothing that will stop it from succeeding (not even your mind!).

The best thing to do is to give it a try, and watch what happens.

The Power of Knowing Our Tendency: How it has changed how I do things.

It was a life-changing moment after I took the personality quiz created by Gretchen Rubin.

For so long, I knew that I showed up so much better and more consistently if I had to show up for other people.I am more successful in a classroom or group situations; I show up on time to appointments and meetings; I work hard to ‘be there’ for others.

When it comes to showing up just for me, it was 50/50, or more like 80/20, which always frustrated me. Why can I not do what I want to do for myself? Why can I do it for others?

There are, of course, many reasons for this.

I was glad to have found one of the reasons, through Gretchen Rubin’s work: Better than Before.

According to Gretchen, there are four personality types when it comes to expectations: Upholders, Obligers, Questioners, and Rebels. (She’s actually coming out with a brand new book all about these tendencies.)

Most people fall in to the Obliger category : I am one of them.

An Obliger’s tendency is to meet outer expectations: other people’s expectation of you. We are more likely to show up for others, and we have a hard time meeting inner expectations. Bingo!

Having this knowledge, I now plan and strategize my life in a much more productive way.

If I have a goal to achieve or succeed in something (from exercising, to eating well, to daily mindful practices), I now seek outer accountability for better success.

For instance, I am now working with coaches to help with personal and professional goals. I work out with a trainer to help me get stronger. I sign up for a class when I want to learn about something new. I announce to friends and family (and the world), and get them involved, if I am doing some kind of challenge (oh, hello, Clean Eating Reset & Sweet Charity Sugar Challenge). I even have an accountability partner! It all works so much better because I know my tendency!

Doing it this way keeps me accountable and helps me succeed. I show up. I achieve my goals. It’s that simple!

What about you? Take the quiz and find out – it may change the way you go about life in the most positive ways!

 

Clean Eating Cooking Class: Kitchari recipe for digestion

Last weekend, my friend and colleague Betty Brown and I offered a Clean Eating Cooking class right here in Bexley. It was fun to cook and share healthy foods with several people who came!

Betty is studying to be an Ayurvedic practitioner. She brought to the class loads of information about how we can cook and eat according to the seasons, to benefit our health.

Among other things (vegetable wraps, sushi, Thai green curry) we made and tasted Kitchari, a gentle, cleansing soup with lots of grains, spices and greens. I thought I would share that recipe here for you all to try at home. It’s a great dish to have around especially when your body is feeling tense or overwhelmed. Eating this as your main meal for a few days will reset your digestion and metabolism.

If you want to participate in our next Clean Eating Cooking class, or have suggestions, please contact me directly!

kityoonlac@gmail.com

Enjoy!

 

 

Kitchari Recipe

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

¼ cup green or golden mung dal (alternatives: red lentils)

¼ cup brown basmati rice (alternatives: white basmati rice, brown medium grain rice, quinoa, millet )

1 tsp ghee – clarified butter (alternative: olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil)

Dry Spices:

½ tsp whole mustard seeds

              ½ tsp  whole cumin seeds

              ½ tsp turmeric powder

              ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

              ¼ tsp fennel seeds

              ¼ tsp coriander seed (or powder)

               1 bay leaf

4 cups filtered water or homemade vegetable stock

1 medium carrot diced

1 medium onion diced

[Chopped greens: arugula, asparagus, bok choy, collard greens, green beans, kale, parsley, dandelion leaves, beet greens, swiss chard, spinach]

              1 cup dandelion greens, chopped

              1 cup parsley, chopped

½ inch fresh ginger, minced or mashed (use grater, or mortar and pestle)

½ cup diced burdock root (optional)

Toppings (optional):

  • fresh minced cilantro
  • ground coriander spice
  • raw or toasted sunflower seeds
  • raw or toasted pumpkin seeds
  • raw hemp seeds
  • fresh ground ginger
  • fresh lime juice,
  • unsweetened shaved coconut meat.

Cooking Method:

  • Rinse dal and rice and drain well.  
  • In a large heavy pot, on medium temperature, heat ghee until it is hot.  Stir in mustard seeds, cover with a lid until they pop.  
  • Add remainder of dry spices and cook uncovered for about 20 seconds.  
  • Add rice and dal and cook for another 20-30 seconds.  
  • Add water and stir, then add carrots, onions, fresh ginger, burdock root and greens.  
  • Increase heat to medium high, bring to a boil, then cover pot with a lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until dal is soft.
  • Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro, salt, ground coriander, sunflower pumpkin or hemp seeds, and any of the other toppings.   

Spring time Eating According to TCM: A Cleansing Soup Recipe

I wrote an article for Edible Columbus recently about how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views Spring time, and what foods we should consume to optimize our health according to the seasons.

In it, I offered a Cleansing Spring Soup recipe that I will share with you here. I have made it a few times, and have enjoyed substituting a couple of regular potatoes with sweet potatoes. So I am giving you that recipe here.

 

 

 

CLEANSING SPRING SOUP

6 cups of water or vegetable/chicken broth

2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 cup leek, cleaned and chopped

1 cup celery, choppped

2-3 cups kale or other spring greens, chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Bring liquid to boil

Add potatoes, onion, celery and salt, cover.

Reduce heat, and simmer until tender

Add kale and garlic. Simmer until kale is tender and bright green.

Puree all ingredients together. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add olive oil before serving (optional).

 

Spring is a time of growth, rejuvenation and detoxification

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As temperature rises outside, birds are singing louder, buds are emerging from the ground, and tiny leaves pop and unfold from bare branches.  Life begins to appear around us again.

It’s my favorite time of the year!

Springtime in Chinese medicine represents growth, and rejuvenation.

It’s a time for new beginnings.

 

Five Elements in Chinese Medicine_ WOOD = SPRING

 

Five Element theory refers to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in Chinese Medicine paradigm. The Principle of the Five Elements describes the flow of Qi and the balance of yin and yang. Each element corresponds to internal organ systems with correlating colors, emotions, and other symbols.

Spring season corresponds to the Liver system and its paired organ, the Gallbladder.

Liver, in Chinese medicine, rules the flow of Qi or the energy within us. Liver can easily be suppressed and stagnant during stressful times which causes discomfort and malaise in our physical and emotional states.

Liver Qi normally flows downward when in balance, otherwise it may “rebel” upward and cause Liver Yang to rise. Symptoms of Liver Yang rising include irritability, headaches, and the propensity to lose one’s temper.

The Gallbladder assists the Liver, but on its own, it rules decision-making.

In the Spring, Liver and Gallbladder energetics are more surfaced and sensitive. Our energy is ready for renewal, and the Liver and Gallbladder are ready to maximize the flow of Qi, get unstuck, get decisive, and restore balance. 

So, Spring the ideal time to cleanse and detoxify our mind and body!

Bexley Acupuncture and Wellness-2

 

That’s why we will be starting a week of again Clean Eating Reset on the first day of Spring this year, March 20.

Join me and my community as we eat clean, restore energy and balance for one week in honor of the beginning of Spring!

 

 

Inspirations from down under: two families in a foreign land

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One of the most memorable experiences during our recent trip to Australia was not so much holding the koala bears, feeding the kangaroos, or walking on the pristine beaches. Of course those moments were amazing, and I already look forward to returning to Oz. But what I loved more was meeting and connecting with people down under, and hearing their stories.

It always comes back to human connection, doesn’t it?

We met two non-Australian families during our visit. One of which was a Swiss(not Robinson) family, with four teenage children. Geri is the father who hosted us for lunch one day in a mountain town north of Brisbane called Melaney.

Geri is a doctor who is writing a book on Sports Medicine. He decided to spend a sabbatical year in a different part of the world to focus on finishing up the book.

“We have some friends here, and I thought it would be a good experience for my family,” he reasoned.

They are renting a house off of the main street of town and the children go to the local high school. “We rented out our house, and just brought the necessities in suitcases. We are living simply this year,” explained Geri as he takes us on a ‘tour’ of their rental home where the rooms are bare with just mattresses on the floors, suitcases used as nightstands and desks.

Being with them, getting a glimpse of their current life, and hearing their stories, gave me a wonderful sense of adventure, and freedom.

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The other family we met moved to Australia from China. Bob Wong is a 6th generation acupuncturist. After finishing acupuncture degree in China, he and his wife just picked a place in the world where they wanted to start a life and family together. Yup, just like that… They looked at the world map, and picked a spot…and Brisbane, Australia it was (without ever having visited there).

Have you ever wanted to do that before? Well, they did it. And they are loving it, now with a little baby added to their team.

Of course both of these families have not avoided the challenges of living in a new country, navigating a new system, raising their children in a foreign land with no family help. But they have also mastered the art of simplifying their lives, and ‘going with the flow.’

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I have done this myself a few times, twice internationally, and multiple times within this vast country. I remember the fear of the unknown, but also the excitement of it all.

Of course we don’t have to pack our suitcases and move across the oceans to gain that space, that sense of adventure, and the new beginnings. We can do it each day in the comfort of our own home, sometimes even in the comfort of our own minds!

Fresh off the plane (and off of the jet lag cloud), I am inspired to do just that.

For me, it starts with simplifying my life (more in the next post) and getting grounded in the moment. How about you? What do you do to create more space in your life so that you can appreciate what is around you, and allow for adventures and freedom for you and your family?