The Truth behind Chronic Exhaustion

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Have you ever woken up in the morning feeling like a champ and ready for the best day of your life? I know, it’s hard to remember, but I believe you did once.

Did you know that’s how our lives are supposed to be?! Day in and day out, always…every day…the best day ever!!!

I know this can sound ridiculous, but I will be honest with you here…it is the truth, and I believe it can be possible. And I want to talk a little bit about it today.

Okay, let’s start from beginning, hello everyone, my name is Renata Silveira, I’m an acupuncturist and herbalist, I have a private practice here in Denver, CO called Rise Acupuncture and Holistic Medicine, where I specialize in treating people who have sleeping problems and women who are having troubles with hormones, anxiety, digestion or pain. My approach to medicine is a 100% natural, without side-effects, utilizing the amazing intelligence of our own cells to rectify things and bring about balance and well-being.

I know it sounds childish, but seriously, think how sad it is to look back at your life and try to remember the last time you really had a great night sleep and woke up refreshed and recharged? I will tell you, chronic exhaustion is no joke, over 60% of the work force in this country suffers from fatigue, stress, anxiety and related sleeping problems.

The other problem is that the mainstream, over the counter and prescription quick fix pills for insomnia don’t work for everyone, and if they do, they work temporarily. They don’t resolve the problem, and they offer a very low outcome for all the additional problems it can create in your life and overall health.

So, how can I sleep better and have energy for my day , you say? Great question, I will get to it in a little bit.

If you think a bit about the health and wellness movement of the last decade, including fitness, mindful practices and alternative medicine, you will find one common principle that is similar to all of these practices: optimal health is a reflection of physical, emotional and spiritual health.

So, from this premise, I’d like to expand on about the 5 pillars of good health:

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And what is Good Health anyway? To clarify, my understanding and belief is that good health is a state of perceived, relative balance with our physical, mental and emotional bodies.

We are a collection of energy particles, just like Einstein explained the universe, but in a more compact fashion. We are trillions of energy particles in constant movement, colliding and repulsing, in an eternal quest for balance. Therefore, for us, balance is more of a dynamic, relative state, and in this search to achieve quality of life and health, our job is to identify and make changes to adapt to our ever-changing point of balance.

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This all sounds a bit chaotic, and it is indeed. And this realization helped me change the way I perceive the art of living well. I started to strive for a more liberating way of living, by changing my thoughts around my attachment to perfection and control, which by the way, are the main sources of stress, anxiety and disease.

 I decided to think that perfection is boring, it is an unattainable illusion. And that learning how to live in chaos is actually what we are naturally designed for, and that is the most kick ass skill I can master, and is the ultimate way to achieve relative balance, happiness and health in my life.

Alright, now to the 5 Tenets of Health:

1.       Nutrition;

2.       Exercise;

3.       Rest;

4.       Stress;

5.       Genetics.

I recently listened to an interview with Dr Chopra, who said that science has found that 5% of chronic illnesses are predictable. Gene mutation, triggered by lifestyle, toxicity, epigenetics, neuroplasticity equals to what conventional medicine has been mostly calling as auto-immune diseases. But the best part of this recent findings is that we have influence in over 95% of our well-being. This is huge!

So, expanding on the 5 pillars, my words for nutrition are, eating true foods, in a balanced fashion, getting in tune with your body, and learning what it needs nutritionally in each phase of your life and season of the year. And I will leave it here, this simple and complex perspective.

For exercise, I lean towards it being a very personal choice, meaning, you being in tune with your body and learning what benefits you the most. Not everybody is capable of all types of exercises and physical challenges. It’s about your desires, your vision of how your body should look like, and ultimately what brings you the best benefits in creating your happiness.

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I ran a marathon once, it was the day after I turned 40. A marathon was for many years a symbol of transcending my body’s perceived limitations and I really wanted to have that feeling for once. I trained for it and I finished the Disney marathon in 2015. I can only tell you that it was deeply satisfying, humbling and it was a day that I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, and it was an amazing life experience.

But I’m not a runner, and after that experience, I decided I would not run more than 3 miles at a time, and I decided to search deeply inside me for the exercises that mostly bring me pleasure, but even more important, for what suits my physicality, so I increase my chances of being successful, prevent injuries and find happiness in the experience. That’s what I think exercising is about.

Now I want to expand a bit about sleep, I mean sleeping well, without sleeping aids. Modern life, technology and a very expanding number of really exciting TV series have made us overlook the importance of a well-rested night of sleep. But maybe you’ve been noticing that you are no longer that invincible twenty-some-year old, and fatigue is becoming more of a frequent inconvenient friend in your life.

There’s no way to achieve optimal health without sleeping well. And by the increasing number of sleeping aid users, this is definitely a challenging time for many people. There are many causes for sleeping difficulties, the biggest one being stress and inability to shut off your brain at will, having kids, malnutrition coming from having a diet that doesn’t support your body needs, etc. This is actually one of my expertise’s in my practice, and I’m so glad that acupuncture and herbal medicine can provide an alternative solution to resolve sleeping problems without side-effects. Because as easy as it is to pop a pill and sleep like a baby, the quick fix pill has shown to mess really badly with other aspects of your life, and that is definitely something we don’t wish for, life is complicated on its own already.

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In the same line of thought, stress is another big challenge of modern life. Stress management is a common term we use, but I’m not sure it’s the best approach to it. Stress should not be managed but balanced to what it should be optimally acceptable in your life. This is again, another personal measure, and a life journey in its own.

Many people find balance through meditation now a days. I’m one of them, but others find it in releasing the excess energy by punching bags, or adventuring in extreme sports, or weight lifting, and so on, or it can be by just reconnecting with mother nature in a walk by your favorite park at dusk. However, for the moments where you think you’ve been past the point you can make a turn on your own, acupuncture and herbal medicine have shown to be a great next step. But don’t take me wrong, I’m not against mood controlling drugs, there’s need and place for that too, but I’m a believer that you should only get in a drug regimen when all the other options failed you.

In fact, stress is a very important component of life, we should not wish for a stress-free life. In my practice, I strive to help my patients identify their stress imbalances and respond to them in a healthier way. I had to work through a lot of that in my personal life too, and during my journey to become who I am today, one of the many gifts of this process, was the outlook in life, the power to see through challenges, and therefore, the ability to address stress in a much healthier way, which makes me a much healthier and happier person than I was before my journey.

And finally, what to say about having good genes? Well, we don’t choose the good genes, but I will tell you, that doesn’t mean your genetic composition is a life sentence of struggle, we are all hearing more and more about neuroplasticity, epigenetics and before I bore you with scientific terminology, I will just finish this blog by saying that we have the power to set order in our bodies, to bring about optimal health and lastly, our human bodies are a work of art, a beautiful dance of trillions of well calculated moves and extreme wisdom, if you just take a second and absorb these words.

We have the power to reclaim optimal health, age gracefully and take charge on our own life experience and happiness. And this is what I wish for all of you beautiful people!

A quick, nutritious and yummy vegetarian risotto

It was a night I was particularly craving an overload of veggie nutrition. I'm not sure I'm the only one who gets these kind of cravings, but occasionally I do feel the need to eat a full of colors vegetarian meals. In any case, this risotto is delicious for adult and children taste buds, full of nutrition and super quick to make. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Cauliflower Rice Risotto

Ingredients

1 tbs of avocado or grapeseed oil

1/2 medium onion chopped small

2 cloves of garlic minced

2 cups of cubed butternut squash

1 cup of green peas 

1.5 cups of white mushroom chopped

2.5 cups of cauliflower rice

1-1.5 cups of vegetable (or chicken) broth

1 hand full of parsley

Salt and pepper

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat oil and add onions and garlic. Let it cook for a few minutes until onion becomes transparent. 

Add mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes. 

Add butternut squash, peas, cauliflower rice and saute for a couple more minutes.

Salt and pepper to your taste.

Pour 1 cup of the broth and let it simmer covered for about 10 minutes.

Add more broth if needed to a risotto consistency (this will not be creamy as a real risotto, but the skillet should be wet at the end of the preparation. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until butternut squash becomes soft.

I'm not a cook, and my family really loves soft veggies, so mine might seem a bit overcooked to you. 

Enjoy it hot off the stove, with fresh parsley sprinkled over it!