Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lifestyle Changes

Everyone goes through lifestyle changes. Usually several times in their lifetime. The changes could be the result of getting married (the new spouse might have habits worth adopting), having a baby (my mom quit smoking when she was pregnant with my brother), being done having babies (I joined Weight Watchers and lost 18 pounds and totally changed my eating habits), maybe moving to a new place, or just getting older and creakier.

Four or five years ago I joined Jazzercise and learned how to dance my way to fitness and lift weights. A few years after that I hit menopause and was too worn out and achy to jazz all the time, so I started yoga. 18 months ago I stopped eating meat. Two months ago I decided to add wild-caught fish back into my diet. A month ago I stopped drinking coffee in the morning. I thought I was stopping it altogether, and, truth be told, I haven't had any at all since I stopped, but I realize I may have some in the afternoons. The plan was to just stop turning my guts inside-out with coffee on an empty stomach. Three weeks ago I stopped drinking white wine in the evenings. It made me sleepy and then kept me awake in the middle of night. And the odd bottle would give me a raging, 3-day migraine. It turns out I like sipping cool herbal tea out my wine glasses just as much. I'm sure I won't stop drinking red in the winter, though. It's warming and good for the digestive system.

But I think probably the one change I made that has made the biggest difference in my life has been acupuncture. In March I went whining to an acupuncturist because of persistent problems with my left sciatic nerve and also bursitis in my left shoulder. She had me complete a three page questionnaire about pretty every system in my body and start whittling away at each item that was out of whack.

The first thing that went was the hip and shoulder pain. Then I began to warm up. I mean, like, my feet and hands were no longer cold. I even had a few hot flashes! Then my digestive system calmed down. Finally, my depression and anxiety began to dissipate. And now my migraines are much fewer and shorter. When I started with her in March I was taking a sleep medication, anti-depressant, anti-seizure (for persistent muscle tension), migraine medication and a statin drug for high cholesterol. Today I take the statin drug only. All in five months. I have the migraine prescription but don't use it very often. I have more energy, no anxiety, very few depression symptoms at all and my digestive system is perking along just fine. I'm back to jazzercise three times a week and yoga in-between.

I know acupuncture isn't for everyone. But for me? It's really been great. And I plan to keep it up.

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