Photo by Shin Yu Pai
Evelyn Lim teaching students cooking basics in her foundations of optimal health course series.

Healing art: Tapping into wellness with Ki Bodyworks

By Shin Yu Pai

I walk by the non-descript office tucked upstairs from the Ballard Health Club (BHC) countless times before discovering it’s home to Ki Bodyworks, a vibrant massage therapy and nutrition practice run by Ballard business owner Evelyn Lim.

I began working out at BHC late last year to get back in shape, following the arrival of my son. Pre-pregnancy, I’m a regular at the Olympic Athletic Club, but since Tomo’s birth, even short 15-minute workouts on the elliptical left me feeling exhausted. When I developed acute back and joint pain related to attachment parenting a squirmy 15-pound infant, I looked around for a massage therapist close to home. A Yelp search turned up dozens of practitioners in downtown Ballard. Evelyn has just one review, but the five-star write-up brims with praise.

Evelyn warmly greets me with an Australian accent, acquired from over a decade spent living and working in Melbourne. Though she grew up in Borneo as the oldest daughter of Malaysian-Chinese parents, her speech is punctuated with colorful phrases. “Bob’s your Uncle!” Evelyn laughs. Translation: Life is good. Under her care, my pain subsides after two visits. When she suggests that I add bone broth into my diet to aid the healing of my wrist joints, I pick up a quart of gelatinous goop from Seabreeze Farm at the Sunday Market.

My condition improves, but my post-partum recovery causes other mystery ailments, ranging from kidney stones and inflammation to leaky gut symptoms. I give up spinach, chocolate, strawberries, kale – oxalate-rich foods – that turn to poison inside my body. My naturopath takes me off iron, calcium, and other supplements, while subjecting me to a battery of blood tests. My weight plummets from 128 to 112 pounds. I’m starving all the time, even though I follow my lactation consultant’s advice – to eat whatever I want, as often as possible. But I can’t keep up with the demands of nursing a newborn. On top of it all, Tomo suffers from reflux and bad gas. With my own relationship to eating wildly out of balance, I reflect on what it means to introduce foods to an infant.

I express my frustration out loud to Evelyn during a bodywork session, vaguely aware of her background as a nutritional therapist. “You might have food allergies or sensitivities,” she comments. Evelyn shares her own journey of moving from a “Sad American Diet” centered on the low-fat high-carb trend to eating traditional nutrient-dense foods based on more animal fats and vegetables, with minimal grains. When Evelyn gives up rice, her mother asks, “How can you be Asian?” We chatter for five minutes about a mutual love for red bean paste cake and other Chinese delicacies. What it means to share food in relationship to others. At the end of my visit, she hands me a tub of sprouted nuts and seeds with dried coconut.

As a nutritionist, Evelyn engages me in a deeper dialogue about my relationship to eating, challenging me to think more mindfully about food. I begin keeping a food diary which we evaluate together. I learn that I’m hypoglycemic and have been consuming for years almost triple the amount of the recommended daily intake for carbs and sugars. “You need to reduce your rice intake,” she tells me. I begrudgingly agree, but abandon the project less than 24 hours later, during a blood-sugar crash brought on by a vegetarian meal. We add in vitamins with lengthy names, take gluten and dairy out of the equation. In support of my austerity measures, my husband gives up bread and ice cream. At my next blood draw, my white blood cell count finally registers as normal.

I regain my faith in the body’s ability to heal, but the unending regimen of dietary supplements combined with elimination of familiar comfort foods takes its toll. Not only do I need to take things out, I need to find substitutions. My husband’s stash of gluten-free cookies won’t fill the hunger alone. On a Tuesday night after work, Evelyn shows up at my apartment to teach me how to sprout nuts, slow cook homemade bone broth, braise beef short ribs. We even make chicken liver pate.

I have enough home-cooked meals for a week. But more than that, I am full.
To learn more about nutritional consultations and bodywork through Ki Bodyworks and Evelyn Lim, visit http://www.kibodyworks.massagetherapy.com.

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