Spring energy and exercise according to Chinese Medicine

Spring energy and exercise according to Chinese Medicine

According to the ancient writings on Chinese Medicine we should adjust our lifestyle and live in harmony with the seasons in order to stay healthy… One of the oldest texts, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine has this to say about Spring.flower-1814_640

“The three months of the spring season bring about the revitalization of all things in nature. It is the time of birth. This is when heaven and earth are reborn. During this season it is advisable to retire early. Arise early also and go walking in order to absorb the fresh, invigorating energy. Since this is the season in which the universal energy begins anew and rejuvenates.”

“On the physical level it is good to exercise more frequently and wear loose-fitting clothing. This is the time to do stretching exercises to loosen up the tendons and muscles.’

This is the time to be more active, the Spring energy is energizing so it’s time to get out and move !

Spring is also the time to plant seeds. Literally but also figuratively – What do you want to accomplish this year? How can you plant the seeds of a successful year? Now is the time to focus on what you want and begin taking steps to get there.



In the spirit of Spring, Susannah is taking part in a 24 hour team exercise class at the Barn Fitness Centre in Cholsey on Saturday 29th April. The event is in aid of My Cancer My Choices, a local charity that provides complementary health care for cancer patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and Bracknell Health Space. The charity is fundraising to be able to extend their offer to West Berkshire as well. This is one of the charities that we support at the Theale Wellbeing Centre and more information is available in our reception. If you would like to support Susannah and the team you can do so by click on this link .

Mindfulness Meditation and Stress

mindfulness meditationDoes Mindfulness Meditation really help reduce stress?

“Yes!” says Amanda who was signed off work with stress last year, and has transformed her approach to stress through treatment from her Doctor alongside regular mindfulness workshops and a 5-week mindfulness meditation course at Theale Wellbeing Centre, near Reading.

She talks about the changes.  “ At first the sessions finally helped me to relax, but with time and practice they have really helped me shift my mindset towards work and pressures at home, to find better ways to not just manage my stress but take action to stop it building to such unhealthy levels in the first place.”

Mindfulness meditation is frequently under the spot light with research from Harvard University showing powerful links between meditation and reduced stress and anxiety. Much like physical exercise and its impact on our health – it’s not a quick fix – i.e. you can’t run once a year and have a perfect physique.  But those who practice regular mindfulness meditation are calmer and able to manage pressures in life with less stress and anxiety.  Research from Dr Sara Lazar shows how mindfulness meditation makes this possible by physically changing our brains so we experience less anxiety and fear.

Current research has found that no medicines yet actually address the hormone that is the root cause of stress…cortisol.  While you can take a plethora of medicines to reduce the symptoms stress hormones have on our bodies – like betablockers for lowering blood pressure and insulin for diabetes. Tackling the root cause of stress requires a different approach.

From massage and reflexology to sooth body and mind, to the calming experience of mindfulness meditation, to more in depth therapies such as counselling and hypnotherapy – is it time you explored ways to have a positive impact on your wellbeing and reduce your stress levels?

Today our blog showcases mindfulness meditation for reducing stress – not just through the science but with short stories on how Theale Wellbeing Centre clients have been enjoying the stress relieving impacts of Mindfulness Meditation with our Meditation Teacher Judy Claughton from BalanceTime.

Peter attended the Two Hour Holiday meditation workshop to help tackle his stress and anxiety at work and comments:

“I attended the 2 hour holiday as a complete mindfulness and meditation novice, I was a bit nervous and I’ll admit quite sceptical about whether it could help me with my anxiety. Judy put me completely at ease, explained everything really well and the meditations really helped me ‘get away’. With help from the regular workshops BalanceTime run at Theale Wellbeing Centre I now use the techniques I have learnt daily and as a result I am sleeping a lot better, am far less anxious (as I now have some tools to calm me down) and find time to really appreciate smells, sights and sounds in everyday life!”

Elizabeth had used meditation and mindfulness in her past but recently found with pressures at work and looking after her family that she couldn’t find time for it.  She came along to a series of workshops to help her find some time for herself and to balance her stress levels. “By learning new techniques and reminding myself of others, plus discovering easy ways to practice these lovely exercises daily, has reminded me the importance of mindfulness in my life.  I have been able to reduce my blood pressure tablets – I still need to take them – but my dose has halved – I am certain these mindfulness exercises are a big part of the reason why. Thanks Judy for helping remind me how to make mindfulness meditation a part of my day”.

Claudia has been attending Judy’s mindfulness workshops throughout the last six months and adds “I’ve learnt some techniques that really help me with stress and managing pain from an injury.  But I do love dropping into the sessions for a wonderful way to refocus on me and enjoy a calm-inducing hour or two – and be left with a feeling of rest and rejuvenation to last me all week.”

The next stress busting mindfulness meditation workshop is on Tuesday 21st March when participants can enjoy a Two Hour Holiday to help them to unwind and relax. Suitable for both beginners and those with some mindfulness meditation experience looking for a small group practice.   The small group workshop is a playful blend of relaxation exercises with a few tastes of holiday.  Although a group workshop – the meditative practice is your own. The next five week course on mindfulness meditation starts on 2nd May – contact Theale Wellbeing Centre or BalanceTime to find out more/or to book.

Note – to protect our clients identities names have been changed.  You can see more referrals at www.facebook.com/timeforbalance.

Judy Claughton, Mindfulness Meditation Trainer



Transformation from a Few Tiny Acupuncture Needles


 Even the first session of acupuncture can be relaxing

When people come for acupuncture for the first time, they are often surprised at how relaxed they feel when they are having treatment.

“I feel like that feeling that you get when you have been on holiday for a few days, you know that really settled feeling..” was one of the comments that I had after the person had got off the couch.

Spacey is the word that gets frequently used, I say to people in advance that you might feel a little spacey after treatment and they should take it gently just afterwards.

It is surprising how just a few tiny needles can transform someone who has raced into the treatment room after meetings, school drop offs or a commute from London and then a few minutes after the needles are in I can hear their breathing change and sometimes the sounds of a gentle snore.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, we all rush around trying to cram as much as possible into our day. Often oblivious to the fact that our bodies might benefit from a bit of a recharge. One of the benefits of the first acupuncture consultation is the opportunity to discuss and reflect on lifestyle habits that may be contributing to the problem. Chinese Medicine looks at patterns and takes into consideration the whole person.  Acupuncture is one part of the treatment, but dietary and lifestyle advice are also included in the consultation.

Susannah Fone, Acupuncturist


What is Stress?


Becoming Stressed

When we become stressed or under pressure the brain sends out a signal to your adrenal gland to produce adrenalin and cortisol.

Adrenalin is secreted into the blood stream to trigger your heart rate and lung capacity to increase and to work in harmony to pump extra blood and oxygen to your legs and arms which is preparing your body for the “fight or flight” response – its there to protect you from danger so your muscles are more responsive to do just that, fight or fly (run).

Cortisol is released at the same time, which fuels your body with extra energy that’s stored away for just such a situation. Cortisol will regulate the blood sugar levels and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory just in case the body is harmed.

The brain does not know if you will be harmed or not but as we are just animals by nature the only things that would cause us harm, back when we were just cave people, would be a predator.

As we have moved through the ages and evolved, we now have more things that will trigger stress.

Because of this extra energy that’s created in our bodies, you may feel like you’re full of energy or shaking perhaps? Hot or cold? This is because your body is preparing to run or fight.

What happens to our bodies when we are stressed?

If this is happening to you several times a day then you are going to lose concentration, feel tired, experience a loss of appetite – your body doesn’t require food when preparing to run or fight so appetite and digestion is decreased and this is why you may feel sick or want to go to the toilet, sometimes the body will want to evacuate what is in the stomach to make its job easier.

The brain is not required to be intellectual in an uncomfortable situation so you may feel that you can’t think straight.

What causes stress?

Every day activities brings stress, targets at work, driving/traffic, your child becoming ill, unexpected bill, exams etc. etc…. your brain and central nervous system doesn’t know the difference between real physical harm or a mental or emotional threat to your self, and its how you as an individual cope with that response that is critical to understanding how to make improvements and changes.

You are an individual and so it’s how you interpret that which will tell your body how to respond.

Ed Francis, Clinical Hypnotherapist

Make this one your last one – Stop Smoking

National No Smoking Day 8th March


Make this one your last one

Wednesday 8th March 2017 is National No Smoking Day – is this a target for you?

How many times have you said you want to stop smoking?

  • “I can stop when I want to”
  • “I’ll stop tomorrow”
  • “I will stop next week”
  • “I will stop in the new year”

Do these sound familiar? If so then I’m guessing you haven’t yet stopped smoking, because “tomorrow” never comes and the best time to do anything is RIGHT NOW.

There are 3 areas that need to be addressed to successfully stop smoking;

  • Nicotine addiction
  • Psychological addiction
  • Obsessive behaviours

This means that if you use anything with nicotine (Vaping, patches, gum etc.) you are still topping up the addictive substance and are less likely to stop smoking completely (this isn’t true in every case). If you are really finding it hard to quit and are 100% dedicated to putting those cigarettes down for good, then get in touch.

You will…

  • Save money (from £1000 a year, that’s could be an extra months wage)
  • Become healthier
  • Breathe easier
  • Improve fertility
  • Increase sexual performance (I know right, its true)
  • Have younger looking skin
  • Have whiter teeth
  • Have a longer Life
  • Smell better
  • Have less stress
  • Have more energy
  • Have healthier loved ones

(Your children are less likely to smoke if you don’t)

You may think that smoking relaxes you when in fact it increases stress, people often get stressed because they haven’t had a smoke, do you really want to “relax” by killing off your lungs when you can relax in a much safer and more beneficial and healthier way?

There are many disadvantages to being a smoker and no advantages. You experience a greatly reduced sense of smell and taste, your teeth, gums and tongue often become stained and your breath – well you must know it doesn’t smell nice. In fact your hair and clothing also smell of cigarettes which, yes, non smokers can smell. On top of that are the dangers to your health that we hear about all the time. And don’t forget it is often less appealing to a potential partner.

I personally have first hand experience about smoking and knowing how hard it is to give up, I completely understand what you will be going through, so don’t worry, I’ll be helping you along the way. So if you would like to become a non smoker and make a change in your life, contact me today and start your journey to a healthier you.

Ed Francis, Clinical Hypnotherapist


**NEW** Toe nail cutting and basic foot health check

When you just need your toe nails cutting

Toe nail

Our experience at the Theale Wellbeing Centre has shown that some patients do not require a full chiropody or podiatry service but simply need their toe nails cut.

In response to this demand we have introduced a NEW toe nail cutting service available both at the clinic and in our patients home.

For people living in the Theale area this service is available in your own home and would work for those who would struggle to get into the clinic and have difficulties cutting their nails.

As well as thinning and cutting the toe nails this new service will also involve a health check of the feet which includes assessing the circulation and sensation. There will also be an opportunity to discuss foot health with the patient, relative or, where appropriate, carer.

At Theale Wellbeing Centre we treat people as patients, not customers, and strive constantly for the best outcomes. We do this by applying proven, evidence-based treatments that are administered by fully qualified, regulated therapists at the top of their respective professions.

Theale Wellbeing Centre is located on High Street, Theale and serves Reading, Newbury, Calcot, Tilehurst, Pangbourne and other surrounding villages. As well as Podiatry/Chiropody we offer osteopathy, massage, counselling, acupuncture and other wellbeing therapies click here to learn more

Are your knees going to stand up to your skiing holiday?

Help to avoid ski injuries to the knees

Most skiing injuries are to the lower extremities and the bulk of those involve damage to the knees. A lot of knee injuries occur through falling or when landing a jump. Whilst it may not be possible to prevent all of these injuries from occurring, many of them are avoidable.

Don’t forget skiing is a strenuous exercise that your body needs to prepare for.

Here at Theale Wellbeing Centre, near Reading, we use cutting-edge ViMove technology to assess the factors which determine how prone you might be to suffering a knee injury and, from that data, we can advise you on how you can minimise the risk and prescribe exercises to improve the strength, stability and control of the knee joints.

Each appointment takes 30 minutes and this includes the assessment; interpretation and explanation of the results; advice on injury prevention and the prescription of exercises where necessary. You will be given a copy of your report and the exercises are emailed to you. ViMove assessments are performed by our team of osteopaths and sports massage therapists and cost just £40. Call us on 0118 930 3535 to book your appointment today.

MPMichael Palfrey, Principal Osteopath / Director

Final updates from India and the future

Home and Plans for the future

Ali and Marian are home from India and after a very busy couple of weeks has returned full of ideas for future help at the unit.

There has been a flurry of updates over the past few days so here are links to them so you can catch up with the latest news.

Word spread and the clinic started to get really busy

An extra long update – celebrations, Jaipur, kites and medics of the future

Last two days, the future and our last farewells

We are still raising funds to cover the wish list that is include in the last post.  If you would like to donate please follow this link

Final celebrations and the future

Does belly fat matter – yes it does!

National Obesity Week 9 – 13th January

So far I still have seen/heard nothing on TV/newspaper/radio to tell me about obesity awareness week!

But I am blogging on it.

So – why is obesity such a problem?

We all know the health effects – but why does a bit of extra fat cause so many problems?

The quick answer is that too much body fat takes on a bit of a life of its own with all sorts of knock on effects, including type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease (CVD), which have been the target of much scientific research to try and nail down exactly why.

So here are some of the questions and current thinking…

Does body shape matter?


You may have heard of apple (android) shape being more of a risk than pear (gynoid) shape. These terms refer to whether excess body fat is stored around your middle (android/apple) or on your bottom (gynoid/pear) – and some of this is due to your genes – so hard to change – blame your ancestors!

The fat on your bottom (gynoid – pear shaped) is mostly as a layer under your skin (subcutaneous) and therefore spread out over a wide area.

The fat around your middle is under your skin as well but is also packed in large blobs around internal organs such as the intestines, kidneys, heart etc. On the outside, it becomes ‘the beer belly’ and can be seen escaping over the top of trousers, hanging over belt buckles in extreme cases and popping buttons. Women can be apple or pear shapes – men are usually apple shaped.

This apple/android shape with its central / abdominal / tummy fat deposits is associated with increased risk of CVD, T2D and some cancers.

So why should this android shape be such a problem?

The fat deposits can be quite large and fat cells are pretty lazy – if you look at them under a microscope they are cells that look like a big  globule of fat. Like most other cells they have a nucleus and a few other cell organelles for general maintenance. But they are metabolically relatively inactive – on ‘tick over’ – when compared with very busy muscle cells (lean tissue) which need a lot more energy to survive.

The blood supply to fatty tissue is nowhere near as extensive as that to lean tissue – doesn’t need to be as fat cells need less in the way of oxygen and nutrients for their sluggish lives compared to lean, mean muscle cells which might suddenly be called upon to perform at top speed.

And now some information about inflammation…

Chronic, long term disease such as CVD or T2D are associated with what we call a state of  ‘chronic low grade inflammation’.

‘Chronic’ means long-term, ‘low grade’ means mild and ‘inflammation’ is the natural protective defence our bodies normally use to protect us against attack from invaders or injury. The inflammatory response occurs when our body cells start sending out ‘help’ messages to their cell friends which in turn recruit help from all those specialised response systems geared up to protect us when needed. But this protective response should be a short term helpful response which ends once the foe is vanquished and the body is repaired.

What does this mean for fat deposits?

There is some thinking that the large fat deposits in abdominal cavities may suffer from lack of oxygen due to the relatively minimal blood supply in the centre of such big deposits. Cells need oxygen – and when deprived they start complaining and sending out help messages – ‘we’re suffocating in here’ – which provoke an inflammatory response and the release of chemicals from other cells keen to help repair damage. We know this because blood samples show higher levels specific chemicals (called ‘markers’) known to be involved in inflammation.

The problem is that the foe is those fat deposits and cannot be vanquished and therefore keeps sending out more and more help messages – the normally helpful chemicals continue to circulate in our blood but end staying for far too long as continually topped up – causing damage because of their long term and continual presence.

There are many other complex processes involved and many theories offering further explanation. But in the end it is clear that a chronic low grade inflammatory response is undesirable and counterproductive to health.

It can eventually result in disease states such as T2D and CVD.

And what happens if we reduce those fat deposits?

Reducing the size of fat deposits by losing weight, or even liposuction, means the oxygen and nutrient supply problem is reduced or even resolved. Blood samples have shown that the levels of inflammatory markers – those chemicals in the blood described earlier – reduce, can even revert to normal, indicating that the chronic low-grade inflammatory state has been ‘turned off’.

And all of the above can help explain why reducing fat deposits can reduce the levels of inflammatory markers which in turn has a beneficial impact on those chronic diseases.

If those large masses of fat with their bevy of complaining cells no longer exist – there can be no help messages being sent out and therefore no response forthcoming.


Sue Force, Mission4Nutrition


Five reasons to make Mindfulness Meditation part of your 2017 resolutions

Mindfulness is a form of meditation

Mindfulness is a form of meditation and both are often in the media for their link to stress reduction, increased focus and improved happiness – but did you know they could help you lose weight and meet your wider 2017 resolutions and goals?

Meditation Teacher Judy Claughton from www.BalanceTime.co.uk runs regular classes at Theale Wellbeing Centre and shares five of the top reasons to make mindfulness meditation part of your new year.

  1. Stress Reduction – Mindfulness and meditation exercises are scientifically proven to help your body to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline – so you can physically and mentally feel more rested. You can try mindful breathing by just pausing for a few moments to notice your breath, observing the speed, temperature and position in the body – then try to count and extend your breath in and out.
  2. Sleep better – not only will meditation help you to feel calmer it can help with specific problems such as insomnia. There are specific techniques that are particularly useful – such as the ‘body scan’ where you start to deliberately pay attention to each part of your body in turn, moving in your mind slowly from head to toe, in order to bring a feeling of relaxation into each part of your body.
  3. Increased happiness – Research from as early as the 1960s has proven a range of health benefits through meditation as well as the fact that meditation increases dopamine (the happy hormone) in our brain. Dr Benson of Harvard Medical School’s early studies found that meditation helped to reduce obsessive thinking, depression and hostility, and help us to be happier.  It also reduces the ‘fear centre’ in our brain so we receive less negative messages from our brains and more happier ones! Benson also found you can even change the ‘set point’ for happiness when affected by challenging life circumstances, by using a daily meditation practice, in as little as six weeks. More recent studies confirm how the part of our brain responsible for our happiness actually grows when we practise meditation.
  4. Weight loss – There is a growing understanding of the link between over eating and our emotions, alongside the role of calorie counting and exercise. Meditation helps us to understand and monitor our emotional wellbeing and better tune in to our bodies. It can help us to stop reaching for unhealthy comfort food in times of stress and sadness. It can also help give us more focus to stick with our fitness and diet plans! You can try Mindful eating with the first bite of your next meal and start to notice the difference. Take a moment to really pay attention, pausing to look at your food, listening to any sound it makes as you cook it, open it, cut into it etc. Observe the smell and then really experience the taste and texture and take note of how your body reacts to each mouthful.
  5. Sticking to our Goals for 2017 – meditation can help increase focus by making changes to our brain. It works like a form of ‘brain training’ growing parts of our brain and helping to build neural connections that help memory, concentration and focus.

If you are curious and would like to give it a try – come and discover the range of drop in workshops and classes on offer at Theale Wellbeing Centre.

Mindfulness and meditation classes at Theale Wellbeing Centre include Judy’s BalanceTime workshop the Two Hour Holiday on Tuesday 17th January – a relaxation evening packed with ideas to help you reduce stress and help you feel as if you have been away, or Mind Your Body Confidence on Tuesday 24th January to discover mindfulness and meditation exercises to help you to set and stick to your goals for life, health and fitness in the year ahead.

Theale Wellbeing Centre’s weekly one hour meditation group then starts on Tuesday 31st January.

Call us on 01189 303535 or contact Judy from BalanceTime direct on 07789 713 876 email: hellobalancetime@outlook.com

Judy Claughton


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