A little over ten years ago, I found myself with a juicy prospect for a job. A national health magazine was looking for a senior editor and I managed to score an interview. I felt confident enough in my editorial skills, but there was a whole different element that was making me nervous. I was afraid these people would see right through me, that they’d know instantly that I wasn’t exactly the poster child for healthful living. Sure, I went to the gym on a regular basis and ate organic as much as possible. But I also had a deep love for wine and chocolate and a hatred of tofu. “If I get this job,” I thought, “I’m going to have to keep up appearances.” So imagine my surprise when I walked into the editor’s office and saw the remains of his lunch—a burger and fries—sitting on his desk.
“Wow, you eat red meat,” I said.
The editor laughed. “I suppose I don’t practice what I preach.”
Whew. I could actually relax now. As it turned out, I got the job. Some of the people I worked with really did lead a hard-core healthy lifestyle, but certainly not everyone. I was able to find a happy balance between touting the benefits of supplements and clean eating while still indulging in my favorite guilty pleasures. I even managed to write about the health benefits of chocolate and beer in my tenure there.
What made me think of this was my recent experience with acupuncture. I’ve known Marisa of Healing Point Therapeutics for—wow—almost 20 years now. I know her as a creative, impulsive, free spirit who always has a great story. So this kind of flew in the face of my preconceived notion of acupuncture practitioners. First of all, weren’t they supposed to be ancient, wrinkled Chinese men with long mustaches and secret powers? And didn’t they live a squeaky-clean lifestyle, eschewing the evils of alcohol and late-night partying? This didn’t fit with the Marisa I knew.
But then I had one of her acupuncture treatments. I watched as my dear, wild-hearted friend snapped into uber-professional mode and took control of the situation. She deftly inserted the needles, made sure I was relaxed and took plenty of notes on my symptoms. I felt like I was in good hands.
Let this be a message to those of you who may be afraid to try acupuncture. A good practitioner isn’t going to judge you. Your recent overindulgences shouldn’t phase your acupuncturist; she’s there to help, not to scold. Don’t worry about the stereotype, because no one fits neatly into a box. You can make all the predictions about people that you want, but there’s always going to be something about them that doesn’t fit. So you can expect a health writer to be a vegan, animal rights activist, marathon runner, but the truth of the matter may be that she spends Friday nights drinking box wine and eating M&M’s. Likewise, you can expect Dr. Fu Manchu to greet you from behind the curtain at the acupuncture clinic, but you just might find that you’re welcomed by a very fun and very funny (but extremely professional) woman who won’t judge you for not exercising or eating right.
-Patti Woods Lavoie