How Willpower and Follow-Through Affect Your Overall Wellbeing

When one thinks of something, decides on it, and then acts on it, this is called willpower (zhi).”    - Zhang Jiebin

Winter is the time of year when many people lose their motivation. The days become shorter, the weather gets colder, and finding that extra motivation can be a challenge. 

Whether you’ve set a resolution and are beginning to waiver from it, or are looking for new motivation to complete lingering goals, take a few minutes to understand how follow-through and completion can impact your physical and emotional wellbeing.   

In Chinese medicine, we correlate organs with their respective seasons. Winter is the season related to the kidneys. The kidneys are the root of yin and yang, which are the essential forces necessary to maintain a balanced life. In a spiritual sense, the Kidneys also correspond to zhi, or willpower. Willpower determines whether or not you complete a task, and also carries a component of destiny. When your actions are aligned with your life's purpose, zhi comes easily. When you place yourself in situations that do not serve you, zhi presents obstacles to steer you back on track. The kidneys represent this guiding light, giving you the power you need to become your best self. By cultivating zhi and being true to your word, the kidneys become stronger as well.

I often explain to patients that the kidneys are like your savings account. It’s always best to leave what you have in your savings account and spend only from your checking.  Every time we make a conscious choice to invest in the things we love, our savings account grows. We do this by keeping our emotions in check, doing the necessary life work to eliminate our fears, eating kidney nourishing foods*, and setting obtainable goals. Set yourself up for success by completing small tasks; then stretch yourself out of your comfort zone one day at a time. Throughout the process, always remember to acknowledge your achievements and enjoy the journey. 

Every season brings different opportunities for growth. In the winter, we seek to nourish our kidney yin and yang, take extra time for self-care, and slow down from the hustle of life. By needling specific points, acupuncture can amplify the kidneys' power and therefore provide clarity around any life changes or goals. Through acupuncture, herbs, and dietary education, Chinese Medicine naturally supports the kidneys, provides balance to the overall yin and yang of the body, and cultivates essential zhi.

*Examples of foods that nourish the kidneys: cloves, ginger, cinnamon bark, quinoa, chicken, lamb, trout, salmon, millet, barley, most types of beans, & spirulina 

Goji Berries Goodness & How To Eat Them Properly

For the past few years goji berries have gained popularity as a superfood.  They can be found at nearly any grocery store now.

Most people use them as a topping - I don't know about you but the first time I had a dried goji berry I was unimpressed with the hardly chewable texture.  It was in my first term of grad school that a classmate passed around a jar of hard, dried goji berries. I tried one and wished I hadn't.  Shortly thereafter I learned how to prepare and eat them properly-- like an herbalist, and now I love them. 

Take a small handful- roughly ten berries and put them in a shallow pot of water, just enough to cover the berries.  Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Keep the liquid! To gain the full benefit of goji berries pour both the berries and the liquid into your oatmeal, smoothie, etc.  What are goji berries good for? Nourishing yin, and blood- helping with vision, nourishing a dry cough.  If you have a sensitive stomach consider eating goji in moderation as they can be hard to digest- 1-2 times a week at most.