New Year, New You

Local wellness providers offer practical resolutions to help you feel, look and be your best self in 2018

Jyl Straub, owner and stylist at The Wild Hair salon in downtown Camas, finishes client Becky Perman's "just in time for the holidays" haircut on Dec. 22.

Stephanie Meinhold, owner and practitioner at Camas Acupuncture and Nutrition, places an acupuncture needle in her hand to show how tiny acupuncture needles really are. The ancient Chinese practice can help prevent illness and lead to a less stressful, healthier lifestyle.

It’s closing time for 2017, and with that come the new year’s resolutions for 2018.

Camas and Washougal are rich with health and wellness providers, so we asked a few of them about those “new year, new you” plans we all make Jan. 1 — and then break by March.

So if you’re looking for resolutions that will help you feel, look and be the best version of yourself in the new year, read on.

Resolve to prevent illness:

Acupuncture originated in ancient China and has grown popular worldwide.

Stephanie Meinhold, owner and practitioner at Camas Acupuncture and Nutrition, says that the practice is good for so many different things, such as reducing carb cravings, speeding up metabolism and releasing endorphins.

Many people come in once a month to do preventative care for their immune system, Meinhold says, while others might come in more often if they have back or neck pain.

Acupuncture is more a preventative type of medicine, Meinhold explains — in China, traditional doctors would get paid as long as their patients were healthy, and then they stopped getting paid when the patient was sick, so they had more incentive to prevent illness.

Meinhold says she thinks that acupuncture is important because most of us are so busy that we don’t take care of ourselves on a regular basis and acupuncture lets people zone out and not think about anything else.

Acupuncture is really good for relieving stress, Meinhold says. Many people say that it takes the edge off of whatever is going on for them, and causes them to have better reactions and reach a level of calm that they didn’t have before.

“They don’t have to be checking their phone, they don’t have to be answering emails, they don’t have to be looking around their house and thinking about everything that they have to do,” she says. “It’s a nice time-out from people’s busy lives, and I don’t think we take care of ourselves enough in that perspective. We do crisis management in our lives, and that’s about it.”

Acupuncture is more of a maintenance routine, she says.

The acupuncturist understands this all too well — in 1995, Meinhold became sick with severe joint pain, headaches, fatigue, cough and a fever. Her doctors said it was lupus, and the only treatment offered was steroids.

Instead, Meinhold went to acupuncture sessions twice a week for two months, made changes in her diet and took Chinese herbal formulas. The result? Her symptoms disappeared. Meinhold later found that she didn’t have lupus, but lyme disease.

She says that this experience altered her perception of what “health” was, and inspired her to become a practitioner of acupuncture.

About 80 percent of the people Meinhold treats have insurance that covers acupuncture. But many people don’t realize they even have “alternative medicine” benefits with copays instead of out-of-pocket costs.

Resolve to look your absolute best:

There’s no reason to let the winter weather cast a rain shadow on your style. In fact, changing your look during these dark, rainy winter months can give you a simple boost of confidence.

Owner Jyl Straub has been working at The Wild Hair, in Camas, for 27 years. She says that the shop likes to be really positive and empowering to women. They do a lot of edgy cuts and colors that don’t fit into cookie-cutter types of hair.

Rachael Gunderson, a hair stylist, cosmetologist and Straub’s daughter, says a lot of people change their hair with the seasons. As stylists, Straub and Gunderson’s job is to find a look that flatters their client’s face shape, get to know their clients’ inner beauty and help bring those inner attributes to the surface.

Straub says they love it when people walk out of their salon smiling and feeling better about themselves.

“Because feeling beautiful makes you confident,” Gunderson says. “When you feel confident in your beauty, you feel confident in your life.”

Resolve to breathe away stress:

Angie Cherry, owner of Body Bliss Yoga in Washougal, says that a yoga practice offers ways to build strength and flexibility in your physical being and also offers breathing exercises to help get rid of life’s daily stressors.

It’s important to handle the stress in your day-to-day life, she says, and yoga can help people get out of the anxiety-causing flight or fight mode and, instead, enter a place of mental and emotional rest and relaxation.

“I think having a yoga practice makes people more connected to their body and aware of what it needs,” Cherry says.

Yoga can often lead people to make better food choices and practice more self-care, which leads to more wellness in people’s lives, Cherry adds.

In fact, yoga has been a life-changing element in Cherry’s own life. Since practicing the physical postures and breathing exercises, the yoga studio owners says she no longer has to take the four medications she was on for her asthma, can more easily handle her arthritis, makes better choices, has learned to be a more focused parent and can concentrate on the important things in life instead of stressing out about the small things.

Cherry has one piece of advice for yoga newbies: just go.

“People are so worried about if they’re flexible enough, or strong, or if they look goofy. I welcome every shape, size and age,” she says. “The people who teach yoga have been through something, and our motive is just to share the practice with others. There’s no judgement and we all just want people to practice.”