A Rebecca By Any Other Name...
This is my family and we are super. My son Ashur is 5 now (gasp!) and completes Lego's for kids 2x his age, my daughter Boudi is 3 and wants to be Superman, and my super husband is just too awesome as he continues to grow and increase his certifications in advanced manual therapy techniques (yes, lots of extra letters after the PT at the end of his title now!).
This year is a landmark for us - 10 years in practice (November), 10 years of marriage (September) and a new home (May!). Its truly been something else.
As I have traversed this confluence of events in 2016, I realized that for our anniversary there was one last very significant thing that I could give to my husband and I decided it was the perfect time. What is it you might ask? Aside from this awesome rendering of my super family (I know, there's DC + Marvel in there but everyone had to have their favorites) - my name.
I took a page out of my Aunt Marci's book shifting my last name to my middle name and am now officially Rebecca M H Kitzerow.
I am still the same old me, can't really change that, but my name is now anew. My license and records with insurance companies will be changing over the next month and by September, all should be switched over.
So if you see Kitzerow on your claims from your insurance company, don't fret - its still me! I will be keeping the Hurwood in materials for marketing for quite some time to transition my name fully over.
New cards are available in the office and the information on my website will be changing forthwith. Thank you all for your understanding and patience as this takes place. I hope to see you in the office soon!
Yours in Health,
Back to Remodeled Office!!
Oh my gosh, it finally happened!! As of today we have moved back into our original office location on site at South Park Square and it is beautifully new and improved.
Our office is in the same place, but our front door has moved as part of the remodel - our new front door is across from the McMenamins door off the central courtyard. DO NOT try to enter through our old door.
Our old door is still there and is now an emergency exit out of Jen's (new and improved!!) Facial and Waxing room.
In addition to a facelift for our space we have 2 very exciting additions to our layout:
Once we finish settling in we will have an open house and will be sure to let all our patients know about it. For now, know that we are excited to welcome you into our new space and that you are welcome to stop by for a cup of tea any time!
Look forward to seeing you soon and wishing you the very best in the New Year,
~Rebecca Hurwood, LAc
Its the first day of the new year, a time when many of us take a moment to review the past, take stock of the present and make plans for the future. New Year Resolutions about health and fitness are the most common resolutions made in the New Year, so I thought today I’d offer some Chinese Medicine based advice.
This year, resolve to look at your wellness differently by taking a preventative approach. Think beyond what you can do get well - resolve to achieve wellness and stay there. With over 3,000 years of data on achieving and maintaining wellness, Chinese Medicine is the perfect method to help you reach your health and wellness goals in the New Year.
East and West - Different Perspectives on Wellness
You have to realize that paradigm of Chinese Medicine is quite different from Western Medicine. Traditionally thousands of years ago, the neighborhood Chinese doctor got paid on a retainer to keep you well. If you got sick you actually stopped paying the doctor until you were well again! Can you imagine if medicine still worked this way?
When most people think of Chinese Medicine compared to Western Medicine, the first thing they think of is needles and Qi; that Chinese Medicine is an energetic medicine while Western Medicine is a scientific medicine. I believe this long standing focus on preventative medicine and wellness, however, is actually the most fundamental difference between the two.
These differences actually make Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine work very well together. Even though Chinese Medicine developed thousands of years ago to be very complete - I can actually treat everything from acute injury and infection to colds, back pain, headaches and more - Western Medicine is much better at treating acute problems. I really don’t want someone to show up broken and bleeding in my office because I’m just not going to be able to patch them up as efficiently or effectively as an ER doctor.
If you have chronic back pain, knee pain, headache, menstrual issues, or you’re just looking for help maintaining health and wellness - I’ll most likely be able to help you more effectively and naturally than your average allopathic doctor. In this way, East and West make a fantastic team and I always love the chance to work with my patient’s physicians.
Wellness in the New Year
Chinese Medicine has very subtle diagnostics for assessing health. The color and coat of your tongue, the quality of the pulse in different positions, the health of your digestion and the quality of your sleep. All this and more ads up to create a physical and energetic picture that gives clues to your constitutional strengths and weaknesses. Chinese medicine works to keep everything in balance together to get you well and keep you there.
If you’re making resolutions about your health in the new year, consider adding Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine into your plan to help you achieve and maintain optimal wellness. Whether you are dealing with chronic pain, recovery from an acute illness or surgery, or just trying to stay at peak performance for your sport, I’ve got a plan that will work.
The frequency and duration of treatment are unique for every person, but an average course of treatment is once a week for 4-6 weeks to start and then we reassess. For general health maintenance I always recommend treatment once a month along with considering herbs and supplements for health and wellness, such as those in my All Ways Wellness program.
Free consultations are always available. Book online 24/7!
Wishing you Health and Wellness in the New Year!
For those of you that don't know what Diastasis is you're lucky, and probably represent a majority. If you DO know what Diastasis is I am happy to report a viable, successful and research proven approach to recovery that I can now say I have experience with myself! Its called the Tupler Technique and I'll tell you a little bit about it and the acupuncture and supplements I am combining it with to aid in recovery. Before I get to that, however, let me explain what diastasis is and why I am dealing with it.
What is Diastasis?
Diastasis is separation of the abdominal muscles, the Rectus Abdominis specifically. It happens most commonly in women post partum though it can happen to anyone male or female for a variety of reasons.
The linea alba (as in the picture at left) is the connective tissue that holds the rectus abdominis together and everyone has a gap of about 1 finger width between those muscles. If you lay down and lift your head off the bed/floor with your fingers on your midline you will feel your rectus abdominis lift on either side of your finger and you can measure that gap yourself.
If you have more than two finger-widths between your muscles at any given point from the ribcage down to the pubic bone, you've got a diastisis or a larger than normal gap that may need repair. Very large diastasis' can be healed surgically, but it is always recommended to start with a rehab program before you pursue a surgical option.
I developed a small diastasis during my first pregnancy, and having a C-Section delivery after 36 hours of labor only made it worse. Luckily for me, it was small and healed on its own with little to no intervention on my part.
Fast forward two years later to another labor and deliver (successful VBAC, woohoo!) leading to another diastasis. While recovering from a vaginal birth is much easier and quite preferable to C-Section recovery, I had a 2 year old son at home who was 35 pounds and wasn't going to stand for not being carried around by mama. I did my best with posture and position, but I lifted my son daily and often and he was FAR beyond the 10 lb weight limit my midwife attempted to impose on my postpartum.
With a belly still stretched from pregnancy, this gave my abdomen no chance to heal and the result was a diastasis almost 5 finger widths across at my belly button a year later that was not going to heal on its own.
So here is a picture of my diastasis belly before I started the Tupler Technique program:
(Yes, I'm in my pajamas, wasn't really thinking about sharing the photos when I took the picture…)
As you can see, the top of my belly button kind of protrudes a little bit. I used to have a true "innie" before, and above my belly button is this strange pouch that I assure you I didn't used to have. This is me comfortably back to pre-pregnancy weight, fyi. The crazy thing is that when I would tense my stomach muscles or try to suck them in, I would still have that strange upper belly bulge. After I ate it would stick out even more like my stomach was physically protruding, and I was experiencing some regular back pain from the abdominal weakness. Not fun, folks, not fun.
I waited until the weather got a little colder here in Portland because the Tupler Technique involves exercises, movement modifications (sitting, standing correctly etc) and wearing a specialized splint (read "girdle") to physically hold the separated halves of the muscle closer together so the connective tissue in between has a chance to shorten up without being overstretched again and again. The splint is thick and heavy and warm and I knew I couldn't wear it in the summer months.
Okay, so now I am 3 weeks into the process and here is what my abdomen looks like:
I haven't weighed myself but I think I have gained some weight - the program involves NO EXERCISE aside from brisk walking until you get farther along so you don't risk stretching your tenderly healing connective tissue, and since I live on spinning and aerobics this is affecting me quickly. Still, I know the wait will be worth the reward and that I can lose what little I might gain in a few more weeks with focused effort.
You can see the splint marks there on my abdomen, but I am very impressed with the results thus far and feel very confident that my tummy will go back to its previous diastasis-free state once I am done. I've already had to order a second splint in the smaller size this week because my abdomen has come together so much that the arms of the splint wrap all the way around to my back, where they used to wrap only to my hips just a few weeks ago. To make it to 6 weeks and beyond I will therefore need a smaller one.
I know my success is also due to the added alternative medicine steps I am taking to give my body the best chance possible to heal.
The full Tupler program is actually 18 weeks if you stick with it religiously. It takes a minimum of 6 weeks for your transverse abdominis muscle (your internal muscular girdle if you will) to strengthen enough to start supporting you appropriately and for the connective tissue to heal enough to hold well, so depending on the severity of your diastasis you may be able to shorten the term of the splinting, but it is recommended to go a full 18 weeks if you want the best results from the program.
Rebecca's Diastasis Rehab Program
Three weeks in and 9-15 to go depending on my perseverance, and here is what I am doing to heal my diastasis on all fronts:
The Tupler Technique program also called "Lose Your Mummy Tummy" can be ordered on Julie Tupler's website - she is the RN who developed and did the research to prove its effectiveness.
If you have a severe diastasis it is highly recommended to work with a certified professional to get sized right for your splint and have help with the exercises. You can find a list of licensed therapists on Julie's website. Here in the Portland area, the "Tummy Team" is the best known group who specialize in diastasis though I don't know that they are actually Tupler certified.
I freely admit that I ordered the kit and have been pursuing it on my own. My body awareness is fair and I have a physical therapist husband at home to assist me, so I feel confident in my ability to follow the directions of the program without going to the Tummy Team myself.
Next, on my program above is Acupuncture focused on the Dai Mai along with Chinese Herbs appropriate to my pattern, and I'll tell you a little more about that.
According to TCM theory, connective tissue weakness is related to blood deficiency and weak Liver function. Indeed, Blood and Yin are deeply depleted in pregnancy and birth due to the needs of the fetus and the challenge and vigor of labor. I always recommend women eat chinese herbal soup or congee post partum to help rebuild their Qi and Blood post partum in addition to getting regular Acupuncture.
For Diastasis specifically, it is important to focus Acupuncture treatment not only on the Liver and Spleen to help tonify and build blood to strengthen the connective tissue, but also on the Dai Mai a.k.a. the Belt or Girdle channel (as seen at left).
This is an extraordinary meridian that encircles the waist exactly where the worst of a diastasis is found, and the presence of a diastasis means a weakening or disruption of proper Qi flow in this meridian. Like the Transverse Abdominus muscle - the only muscle that encircles the waist, the Dai Mai is the only channel that travels horizontally across the body instead of vertically. This means it has a very difficult job to do and it must do this job alone - just like the transverse abdomens!
Chinese Medicine is also hallmarked by what is called "syndrome differentiation" which translates as individual treatment for individual needs. I have an energetic baseline of Spleen and Heart Qi deficiency with Dampness so I am taking herbal tonics specific to this pattern and I believe treating my constitution this way is further helping me to recover and rebuild well.
The western nutritional supplements I am taking are a basic protocol I recommend for everyone - multi vitamin and fish oil/EFA in particular, B vitamins, green food - with the Ligaplex which is a whole food supplement specifically for ligament and connective tissue rebuilding and repair. Standard Process supplements are very tried a true - a company from the 1920's with a strong track record of success. I have taken the Ligaplex before for heart palpitations related to leaky (weak connective tissue) heart valves and found it helpful. Indeed, my regular heart palpitations related to a congenital murmur have actually decreased over the past 3 weeks as well.
The result so far is what you see in the pictures above - at only 3 weeks in my abdomen is drastically changed, and my back pain is also gone. How much the back pain is gone because I am effectively wearing a brace 24/7 and how much it is gone due to strengthening is yet to be seen, but I can tell that my transverse abdominus is noticeably stronger, so I am hopeful that the weak-ab related back pain is going to go away as well as my "mummy tummy" as part of this process.
I hope I will make the full 18 weeks of splint-wearing but I am not sure. It already feels tedious to wear it and dress around it, and my abdomen is healing rapidly, so my goal at this point is to make it to 12 weeks and then reassess. Even if I don't wear the splint 24/7 anymore I will definitely continue with the increasing transverse abdominus exercises for the full 18 weeks.
Julie Tupler has a saying that "every belly should be checked" and as I move ahead with this process, I think she is right. Even if you don't have a diastasis, learning to do these kinds of transverse abdominus exercises and learning to engage that muscle consciously during all strenuous activity is very valuable - I can already tell that my back is much safer for learning to use my abdomen this way. I feel very confident recommending her program and I will definitely be educating more of my pregnant and postpartum patients about it as time goes on, because even a mild diastasis deserves care and attention. After all, all mom's want to be able to lift and carry their children safely without compromising their backs and essentially, that is what this program will allow you to do - for as long as your children let you pick up and cuddle them!
As I continue with this journey I will post about it more, and if you have any questions or know someone who might have a diastasis or is struggling to heal a diastasis, please send them my way. I would be overjoyed to help other people heal from this uncomfortable weakness and learn how to "lose their mummy tummies!"
Until next time,
September is National America On the Move Month, hooray! So its time to get off your duff and get moving while the Fall weather still provides some fair weather days to do so. America On the Move, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Americans lead healthier lifestyles, is the unofficial sponsor of this event and while their website isn't perfectly user friendly, it does allow you to track your activity, set goals, participate in social media community and browse a list of articles to help you learn more about eating well, staying active and making positive lasting lifestyle change.
They have a great list of 100 ways to add 2000 steps to your day HERE and its surprising how little it can take. Did you realize that an extra 2000 steps will burn at least 100 additional calories? That might not sound like much when your average restaurant meal in the US is 1,000 calories, but hey - that's half a nonfat latte and every little bit really does count.
An extra trip encircling the grocery store as you shop for dinner, using the bathroom on the far side of the building at your office (if there's more than one) taking the stairs - everything adds steps, burns calories and keeps you moving leading to healthier you.
Lifestyle Change - its a journey
I personally find that lifestyle change towards lasting wellness is a journey. Sometimes you are motivated to change your diet, your exercise habits, the way you mentally process stressful situations, and sometimes you feel like you are struggling and slogging along. As someone who has battled an eating disorder and weight issues, I know it isn't easy and depending on the month and the day, I still struggle myself.
I remember my mom always used to get mad at me as a kid (or teen...) if I used the word "just." She could never agree with the Nike slogan, because to her saying "just do X" or "lets just have..." was grossly inadequate for all the steps and stages of any given activity. As a kid, this lead to many mother daughter arguments, but as an adult I see her perspective. Even fixing a simple one pot dinner involves shopping, cutting, chopping, measuring - with two kids hanging on my coat tails, my mom to care for and my solopreneur Acupuncture practice - I often agree with my mom that there is no "just" anymore.
At the same time I recognize that the Nike-ism "Just Do It" is a state of mind as much as a call to action. When stress and overwhelm get the best of me I feel like everything - even taking a 10 minute walk - is impossible, but when I can take a deep breath and *be* in the moment, I see that everything that needs doing is just another step, and I can only physically do one thing at time anyway. Every step brings me one step closer to whatever my goal is - be it dinner or exercise or bill paying or anything else - and that is all I need; to keep making measured progress and to recognize it as such.
I think the hardest part of any lifestyle change journey is managing those times when you find yourself in the valley, when stress and overwhelm make it feel impossible to "just do" anything. Those are the most important times to have your best wellness tools handy - to keep that (acupuncture!) appointment for self care, to decide the dishes can wait in favor of a walk or some meditation or a few yoga sun salutations.
Make Your Self Care Tools More Readily Available
If you have a hard time accessing your tools - the self care interventions you know you should do and could do easily if you *just* stopped and did them - make them a little more readily available. You can do this by programming a daily reminder in your phone during the most stressful time of day that tells you to BREATHE or reminds you to schedule self care time. You can keep a white board or bulletin board in a prominent place in your house where you post cards or pictures of 10-15 minute self care activities to remind you of things that are easy to do, or find an app for that!
My favorite app is GPS For the Soul by the Heart Math Institute. It uses the camera to track heart rate and gives you a check in with your stress level, and then you can chose any number of short guided meditations and timed breathing exercises to help you calm down and refocus in the moment. Its a simple thing, but sometimes simple works best.
In fact, I am going to make sure to use that app myself today just to check in because you can never do too much to keep yourself on track with decreasing stress and maintaining wellness.
Until next time,
Watch Eat, Fast and Live Longer with Michael Mosley - Preview on PBS. See more from Michael Mosley.
So I wasn't intending to watch Michael Mosley's documentary about fasting for health and wellness on OPB Wednesday night, but I found myself zonked out on the couch at just the right time. Despite my intention to catch up on So You Think You Can Dance (I'm mildly addicted, just mildly...) I was mesmerized and just had to check it out.
Let me start by saying that fasting is not a traditional part of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. It is a relatively common naturopathic technique, and can be part of an elimination diet, however, beyond being something gaining popularity for general health. It is not something to be undertaken without supervision if you have chronic health concerns, especially if you are diabetic, and is not appropriate while pregnant or nursing.
That said, theoretically being overly hungry is a bad thing from an energetic perspective. Hunger is a sign that your Spleen and Stomach Qi are waning and if they wane too far, your body pulls energy from the Kidney - your foundation and energetic reserve - to continue normal (energetic) body processes. Intermittent fasting involves shorter fasting times at more regular intervals, and I believe that this is more in line with Traditional Chinese Medicine theory since you don't go for such long periods of intense hunger.
When it comes to longevity, modern research is also clearly showing that calorie restricted diets can contribute to long life. Even more interesting is the recent research - which this documentary reviews and explores - about intermittent fasting for helping to regulate insulin levels (in non-diabetics), decrease cholesterol, control weight and improve health.
To clarify again, intermittent fasting is short term regular fasting - meaning not eating for 6-8 hours anywhere from two to four days a week on an alternating pattern i.e. "feed" one day and "fast" another. Seemingly, this has a similar effect as semi regular long-term fasting (meaning a 4 day fast every few months) and has comparable health effects to a daily calorie restricted diet.
If you think about it from a hunter-gatherer past perspective, it kind of makes sense that intermittent fasting would be somewhat natural to our bodies. If you follow the seasons and the herds, you are constantly going between periods of feast and famine - indeed, our body stores fat to prepare for leaner times - but in modern life, the average American with a home and job doesn't have times so lean that they are forced to go without, even for a 6-8 hour period, unless they are just too busy to eat. Fast food and the carb+meat+dairy heavy modern American diet is also very calorically dense - again not lending itself to "famine" like conditions even for a short while, without making a conscious effort to achieve them.
One of the statistics in this documentary that really caught me by surprise was about lifespan during the Great Depression. Did you know that life expectancy during the Great Depression increased by 6.2 years? Yeah, leaner times, longer lives. Who knew?
Another proponent of intermittent fasting is Walter Willett, MD, the Harvard Researcher and author of "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" which has long been one of my favorite books about general healthy eating. This book advocates for a diet of 1600 calories a day on average, but if you have a hard time maintaining that he recommends fasting one day a week to keep your weekly calories to a minimum. Not a bad plan, and definitely in line with this recent research.
All this said, however, the benefits of intermittent fasting do not mean that if you fast intermittently you can eat whatever you want and not exercise - this method is a technique to help you reach and maintain your health goals, not a way to avoid eating right, supplementing right and exercising. Indeed, regular fasting means your nutritional needs become that much more focused on the days that you do eat full meals, and make supplementation for health that much more important to help you ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need for a long and healthy life.
What I like best about the idea of intermittent fasting is that it feels moderate to me. You aren't doing anything extreme for any prolonged period of time - you're just taking a break from eating for a short duration - so there's a focused time delimited period of cravings that I think most anyone can overcome. Again, it doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want on "feed" days, but it does help balance out an extra piece of cake here and there, so that you don't feel like you have to maintain a "perfect" diet every day to be well; you just have to do the best you can do and indulge consciously.
For me? Intermittent fasting is the newest addition to my personal repertoire of activities for good health. Exercise is tough at the moment as a mom of two little ones, but I get just enough not to feel insane. Supplementation is a given and I participate in the same All Ways Wellness program I promote for my patients taking regular multivitamin, fish oil, green food, B vitamins and probiotic supplements and get acupuncture regularly to stay on track. Considering that ALL my grandparents who died of natural causes died of heart attack or stroke, to say heart disease is risk factor for me is an understatement. With a congenital heart murmur to boot, I can't afford to mess around with my heart health if I want to be here to see my children grow up some day, so if intermittent fasting can help give me a leg up on keeping my cholesterol down I'm all in.
My plan is to start with once a week for the next 4-6 weeks with a goal to increase to twice a week after that. More than twice a week would be difficult for me between the kids and work (my son won't eat if I'm not sitting at the table eating myself at this stage...), but evidence suggests that even two days a week can have a significant impact on your long term health, so here goes!
I'll check in here about my progress around the 6 week mark, so if you're interested be on the lookout for a "Rebecca Fasting Experiment Update" to come. Yesterday was my first day - I figured fasting at work when I'm busy would be easier than fasting at home - and it went great. Plenty of tea and water later, I felt like I sailed through the day and was almost hyper-productive. Wish me luck for next week folks!
Until next time,
Welcome! Blog Moved On-site!
Okay, I'm finally doing what should have been done long ago and moving my blog to my website. My blog goes back to 2008 in its original Blogspot home which you can find HERE:
Blog Spot Archive
But from now on my Blog has a happy new home here! On my website! Its novel, right?
Announcements for July 2013
All Ways Wellness Program LaunchFind Your Well
I am very excited to launch my new All Ways Wellness Program this month. Easily the best way to maintain your health, decrease stress and inflammation, and keep you feeling your best by putting the preventative power of Chinese Medicine to work just for you.
I firmly believe that Chinese Medicine including regular herbs and acupuncture, combined with a basic supplement regime, is THE WAY to Find Your Well(ness) and keep it - that's my plan and it has worked for years. Did you know that before I had children - and was exposed to the especially lethal concoction of germs that is daycare - I hadn't had a cold for close to a decade? And my father (who keeps up a similar plan) at 80 years of age often gets mistaken for someone in his mid 60's. In his mid-70's a friend of mind actually demanded his ID at a gathering because he was so unconvinced of my father's advanced years.
I am truly convinced that good diet, good supplementation and regular Chinese Medicine are the key to decreasing and managing stress, decreasing inflammation, anti-aging and longevity.
Therefore, I developed my All Ways Wellness Program to make it a little easier. Essentially, if you book a recurring monthly appointment I have put together a customizable basic supplement regime for $66 additional per month to help you stay on top of the basics and Find Your Well. This includes a monthly:
Price Increase - first in a long long time
Unfortunately, inflation has caught up with me and it is time for me to increase my rates. Considering that I haven't done this since 2007, I think you'll agree that its high time.
Prices are going up approximately 10% starting July 1st, which equates to about $5 per service on average. Some of the higher priced services (such as Facial or Cosmetic Acupuncture) will go up a little more.
All of the prices listed on my website reflect an average 20% payment at time of service discount, meaning that if your treatment is billed to insurance full fees apply.
For a full list of fees and changes click HERE. If you have questions you can email me using THIS link or call (503)445-8888 x1 and I will be happy to answer your questions.
If your treatments are currently billed to insurance your copayment may increase slightly, but most likely the difference will be $2-3 or, if you have a flat copayment, there will be no difference at all.
Insurance reimbursement rates and calculations are kind of all over the place right now as we wait for the Health Care Act to come into fuller effect next year - Blue Cross Blue Shield dropped their acupuncture reimbursement rates by 13% this year (out of fear, I can almost guarantee) and Kaiser (through CHP) and ODS dropped rates as well. I do not know what will happen next year, we'll just have to see, but rest assured I will keep you informed if your individual out of pocket costs change.
That's all for now! Have a wonderful Friday and great remainder to your weekend!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.