A view of the Empire State Building from a lavender field in Long Island City, New York.

Summer Wellness: Embracing Change and Maintaining Progress

July 8, 2024

As summer approaches and then kicks into high gear, acupuncturists receive many questions from patients about maintaining their progress as they take time off and their schedules change. We also get new patients looking to take advantage of these changes and the additional flexibility that often comes with these warmer months. In both cases, there is a lot you can do to make the most of this dynamic time of the year. 

Starting New Habits

Summer is indeed a great time to take charge of your health and wellness. As the adage goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is today,” but beyond the evergreen wisdom of “start today,” the more active energy of the warmer months can help jump-start your intentions into action. So, if you feel even a tinge motivated, try leaning into the fire energy of this season. 

How that manifests for each of us is different. Exercise, diet, meditation, and more time with friends, family, or yourself are all beautiful examples. But don’t discount the perhaps more mundane things, like finally seeing that doctor or specialist you’ve put off or finding a therapist who is a good match for you. 

Using a new environment or schedule to start healthy activities can be a successful strategy. Habit-stacking activities into your new schedule can make them an automatic part of your day or week. For example, if your kids are out of town and your regular morning routine has changed, you now stack a quick meditation, tai chi, or yoga session before work. Or if Summer Fridays are now in effect at your office, you stack a regular appointment or class in those free afternoons. 

If you are lucky enough to take some time off, you can use the same strategy to add healthy activities to your new environment. A run along the beach at sunset or daily meditation before breakfast might be easier to incorporate during vacation, with more time in a new space where your daily rhythm is still open. The key is to be intentional and plan where you can stack those activities into your regular routine and maintain those positive changes once you are back in town or your schedule returns to “normal.”  

Maintaining Progress

Maintaining healthy habits when away from established routines can be challenging. Vacation is often associated with eating and drinking more than we might otherwise, alarm clocks can become a distant memory, and gyms can be hard to come by. Keeping up with any part of your routine while away will go a long way toward reimplementing healthy habits when you return. 

It might seem obvious, but do what you can while on break so as not to exacerbate any symptoms or chronic conditions. This is especially true if you are less engaged with maintenance activities than usual. Anything you can do to not aggravate an injury can help. For example, reducing your mileage could help you enjoy your time away with less pain if you are a runner. It could also be the perfect time to start on that strengthening routine that your PT or trainer recommended. It might also be smart to take the time to relax and give the body a period of rest. 

As far as Chinese medicine and acupuncture go, many conditions respond well to herbal medicine. For those not taking herbs, if you are interested in learning more about how they could be included in your summer plans, please let us know. Similarly, if you are taking herbs and are going away or otherwise deviating from your regular acupuncture treatment schedule, we might want to adjust your dosage.

All this said, one of the best suggestions we’ve seen is to plan for your return now with appointments, tasks, or reminders. This will help ensure you don’t get sidetracked upon your return, with many things competing for your attention.

A Summer Treat

With no end to this summer’s heat in sight, I thought I would follow up on the cooling mung bean tea recipe from last month’s post with a recipe for kanten, another ingredient frequently seen in Japan during the summer. I have fond memories of the kanten parfait at Angelica’s Kitchen and my mother’s version, which she would whip up with fruits and juices from the refrigerator.

Derived from seaweed, Kanten is commonly called agar-agar. As a product of the sea, it is cooling in nature and pairs well with other cooling foods, including most fruits, such as pears, apples, or berries. It is remarkably easy to make, turning into translucent or more opaque jellies that are stable at room temperature, similar to Jello. It also has the added benefit of being a healthy source of fiber with a low-calorie count. 

Kanten comes in a few forms, but kanten powder is easy to find in Japanese grocers and online. Preparation is also similar to Jello in that you dissolve the powder in liquid and then allow it to cool and set in the refrigerator. You can use small silicon molds for individual servings or a baking pan or bowl to make a larger amount that can then be cut to serve.

Kanten, a Refreshing & Nutritious Dessert

  1. Add 4 cups of apple juice to a saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add 8 g of kanten powder
  3. Add sweetener of your choice to taste, approximately 3 tablespoons
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for a couple of minutes
  5. Pour into mold, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

If you are using fruit, as seen in these beauties, add it to your mold before you pour the liquid in. Besides apple juice, apple cider and nectars like peach or pear would be lovely. You can also use milk–dairy or non-dairy. Just know that the end product will be opaque, so any fruit added will not be as visible as in the link above. Kanten is a fun, nutritious, and versatile summer dessert that is easy to make. 


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