As women, we are pressured to keep slim figures, a desire encouraged by society and the world around us. And yet, we watch our bodies change — most of which is beyond our control.Â Midlife hormonal changes force us to adopt new eating and exercise habits — or weather the consequences of sticking to old ways. Mind and body are in conflict and there is no sense of balance between the two.
For 10 years I have worked in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine.Â TCM looks at our body (and our world) from a viewpoint of balance. It is the goal of TCM to support our health by returning our bodies to balance.Â Balance does not mean perfection.Â Television and media condition us to think of the perfect body as our ideal goal — but that’s not balance!Â In TCM, balance means a harmonious way of feeling, being and thinking.Â Everybody (and every body) has their own natural state of balance. In my early days of acupuncture school, I remember senior students telling me that, after learning about TCM, they would “never look at my body the same way.” It’s a different way of looking at ourselves, and for me, a welcome one.
There is a concept in TCM called the eight perimeters. They are perimeters for us to understand our bodies and where we might be out of balance.Â When our body is in a state of balance, we feel good. By observing how we feel and making comparisons, we determine areas in our body that we may need to strengthen as well as areas where we can make changes, eliminate and “let some steam out”.
To understand this further, let’s look at symptoms of menopause.Â Many women have extreme heat signs. They may experience hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness.Â They may also have other heat signs in their body — irritability, short fused, constipation and acid reflux.Â These patterns of heat that express themselves in different parts of the body are considered an imbalance.Â If these women eat spicy hot as well as hot in temperature, they would most likely experience an increase in their heat symptoms.
However, if these individuals ate more cooling foods and considered Chinese herbs to cool out their system, they would begin to feel cooler and more balance. There are many comparisons that can be made to show where our body is out of balance and the eight perimeters is a great tool to do just this. Stayed in touch for part 2!