Shutting Down Kung Fu Mama!

After pondering this for a few weeks, I have decided that it is time to shut it down!  The Kung Fu Mama blog has been a labour of love and a documentation of my journey between my first breakdown and my second one.  It was a reflection of the me that was trying to bridge Tiger Mom to find an approach that could bring me the balance of health and happiness that I was seeking for me and my family, especially for the kids.

It’s not that the Kung Fu Mama approach didn’t work… it’s that… it… wasn’t… quite… me.  I am not a Kung Fu Mama.  Not yet anyway.  I haven’t earned the title and I don’t want to commit cultural appropriation for something I have so much respect for.  My amazing Kung Fu school is still going to be a big part of my life, but the next stage of the journey begins with a new profile: Healthy Joyous Mama.  This is the me I can be when I’ve achieved balance, when I’m confident, when I’m comfortable.

It’s simple: there is no magic bullet, no panacea for our problems, no one way.  Only daily habits, baby steps, moving forward, learning from our mistakes, growing, developing, loving, figuring.  We just set our goals and make our way there.  And my goals are health and joy.  It’s pretty simple.

It’s complex: it’s all inter-related, everything affects everything else, no one REALLY knows, do they?  We can only plan when we can, hope for the best, prepare for the worst and GO FOR IT!  My health goals are physical, mental and spiritual.  My joy goals are for me, my family, my friends and my work.  None of this can truly be compartmentalized, they all kind of ebb and flow into each other. It’s pretty complex.  It’s so hard to balance.

It’s about balance: We have THIS MUCH time and energy.  We THAT MUCH to do in order to get what we want (even if it is for as small a goal as getting through the day).  We need to INVEST in what can help us and REDUCE what can harm us. Pain and suffering tell us that something is not in balance.  Shutting out or avoiding that discomfort means that we aren’t learning the lesson… and it will keep coming back.  So… the simple answer is: when in imbalance or feeling pain, figure it out.  And the complex answer is: there are many moving parts, figure it out.

Peace and love to you all.

(If you are so inclined, please feel free to visit healthyjoyousmama.wordpress.com.)

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Extra! Extra! Read All about It! I’ve Discovered the Panacea to Good Health!

Gotcha.

There is no panacea, magic pill, secret sauce, or one thing that can fix our health. Our bodies are made up of various systems that operate symbiotically at different levels, interrelated in complicated ways. So much that science tells us and yet so much that researchers still do not truly understand. So many ancient remedies that seem like old wives’ tales, and yet… at least anecdotally, a lot of them seem to work. So many people peddling their one secret Way. Just buy their book, take their master course, or sign up to be coached by them. And under the comments section, one can read just as many “thank you, this helped me so much” boxes as “this is a hoax and a waste of your money”.

What does that mean for those of us trying to find our way?

It means each of us has our own individual path, we must do our own research, we have to experiment on ourselves and try out different things, we need to rely on our own common sense and intuition to discover what can work for us. We need to develop persistence in doing routines that are good for us and resilience not to slide into bad habits that are detrimental to us.

We can only share our own experience and successes and not necessarily give advice to encourage others to take our paths. Our personalized, customized-for/us, and through-trial-and-error ways.

If I were to write a book after I reach my ultimate level of health and wellness because people want to know how I did it, it would be called “No, There is NO Magic Pill: Baby Steps to Physical and Mental Wellness”

Chapter 1: There is No Panacea

Chapter 2: Food, Exercise, Sleep, Thought, Feeling, Relationship

Chapter 3: Try What You Can Afford Versus Advice from Chinese Parents

Chapter 4: It’s All Related; Do Your Research

Chapter 5: You Start Where You Start

Chapter 6: Break the Vicious Cycle Somewhere

Chapter 7: Find Your Tribe; Do What You Love

Chapter 8: Reframe Your Perspective: Helpful or Harmful?

Chapter 9: Decide What You Want and Just Do It

Chapter 10: You Don’t Fail Until You Quit

I am incredibly proud of myself. Over the past few months, I have changed my relationship with food, established that an average of 10,000 steps daily is doable, and fit into some of my all time favourite clothing that I have not been able to wear in a long time (many years). One concrete measurement is weight… and I’m happy to say that I’m down 20 lbs from my high of 200+ lbs.

I will write that book once I’ve hit 150 lbs, can run a 10k, and am the picture of health both physically and mentally. Stay tuned!

I LOVE It When They Fight!

gloves

When siblings are aged 11 and 9… in between angelic offers to help with dishes and intellectual conversations about the motivation of Rolf in the Sound of Music, they, well, argue… and fight… and beat up each other… and yell… and scream… and bicker… and find ways to really, REALLY get on each others’ nerves.  And mine.

Traditionally, I try to be patient for a while until they hit my tiger mom maximum level of tolerance and then I roar at them to stop, or else.  Lately, we’ve all been debating the idea of or else and what that could be, because really, once they reach an age where they realize, no, we don’t really have that much control over them, it’s all over for the authoritarian parenting style.  I could yell at them, but they can yell back.  I can punish them, but what punishment is really meaningful if the goal is for changed behaviour from using anger when they are frustrated?  I could take away their entertainment, but again, would that change their behaviour, truly?  They are at an age where if they wanted to run away, they could.  They could really go in a direction that I really wouldn’t want them to go if I’m not careful.  They remind me that they watch videos or play games that I really know nothing about.  They are coming into their own… as human beings… as autonomous people.

Now that I have to be more careful about my health and stress level, I’m very conscientious about when I start getting agitated.  To be fair, they are sensitive to it too.  So today, while I was taking them to school and they were bickering in the street car, I shushed them and said, guys, you are being too loud.  Other people would like to transit in peace and quiet.  They joked that mommy was getting stressed and that I was about to yell at them.  As we got off the street car, I turned to them and they braced themselves for my usual admonishment about how they should behave better and how stressed they are making me and how I expect much more from them.

Instead I decided to pilot a new initiative: “I LOVE when the two of you fight.”

Bewildered looks were exchanged. They smiled a little and then furrowed their brows… there was a pause as we walked in silence for a few moments.

Then the older one snickered and sarcastically said “Yeah, sure you do.”

I explained, “I LOVE when the two of you fight because it means that you are both here, I can hear you, you are safe, you are intelligent enough to interact and you have each other.  It means that I’m around you and we are still together.”

Now the younger one looked at me, wrinkled his little nose, and added “And you just love it when we scream at each other…”  They were no longer arguing with each other, telling on each other, tripping each other.  Instead, they were trying to figure me out. Their little brains were like “Huh? Is Mommy being serious or sarcastic? Is she going to get mad at us?”

I nodded earnestly now and continued, “I LOVE when you scream at each other.  It means that you have brains to think and have feelings. It means that you have been communicating with each other.  It means that you care enough about something to fight about it. I LOVE it when there are toys all over the house because it means that you have a house, toys to play with, and it means that you still live with me in our house.  I love knowing that you had a good time with your toys.  I REALLY love it when there are a pile of dishes to do, because it means we had dinner together at home and we had a healthy meal in our own home.”

They were both relaxed now and they walked on either side of me, holding my hand, “At least until we move out of the house! You have to put up with a messy house until we move out of the house.”

“Yep.  Until you move out of the house.  Right now, I get to be with you.  I get to love you and I get to know that you are okay.  What more could I ask for?”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”

Shut Up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

gloves

Oh my.

I yelled ‘SHUT UP’ at the kids this morning.  I don’t normally.  It’s not something I like to do and it’s certainly not something I plan on doing often, but they were in an emotional, not to mention LOUD, gridlock over a situation that neither could let go of.  They bickered so angrily and loudly… it was going nowhere.  A1 was resolute that he was right and that only his logic made sense, while A2 was progressively getting more and more frustrated, his fists were poised to beat his older brother, his tears were spilling out of his eyes and he was shaking with anger.

It was not pretty.

It would not stop.

It was so incredibly loud.

I yelled “shut up!!!!!!!!!!” which did shut them up, but of course my children reminded me that my yelling shut up at them was sort of not the best way to handle things, which I acknowledged.  It took all my energy and headspace to have them agree to hug it out and declare a truce until they returned from school.

I did piece together the situation: A1 had asked A2 to go in with him on a game.  $20 each.  A2 said okay, but then over time realized that the game was attached to A1’s account so all the earned V bucks (I’m saying this, but I don’t really know what it means) goes to A1’s account.  A1 feels like this was the deal and the deal was that A2 would get to play whenever he wanted.  And that he would have never purchased the game all on his own.  But A2 felt like he paid half but wasn’t really getting half, so he wanted his $20 back.  They could not and would not see each other’s point of view and just kept going round and round in circles.

So let me ask you, my dear readers (all 2 of you), what would be a good resolution?

——————————————

Coincidentally, another mother was describing almost the same morning with her two boys and she had to take away their screen time privileges.  I shared their story with them and hinted that I could potentially solve this problem…  neither of them liked the idea that I might be able to solve their fight with a very simple idea involving getting rid of what they were arguing over…

P. S. We finally did reach one, whew, but it was not easy. It involved a lot of ‘trying to understand the other person’s perspective’ type of side discussions… a lot of humour… some analogies (‘so, if you guys bought a condo building together, each paying $20 million, does that mean A2 doesn’t get the rental income from the tenants?’ ‘yeah, but I would give him the rental income until he gets his investment back’)… walking through and testing out their logic (‘so in real life if you make a deal and realize you don’t like it afterwards, you can just get out of the deal?’ ‘yeah, but this is not real life’).

Wait… I’m Turning into My Father!

Heroify

A week ago, I signed up me and the boys to attend an anti-bullying, hero training program called Heroify Your Life.  (I was invited by good friend and amazing hero Scott Dietrich.  The speakers were amazing and the topics should be taught in every school every year for all kids.)  Initially, the boys were a little bummed by the idea of being talked at all day long on a Saturday.  But then… on the day, they behaved so well and were so engaged for the entire day. I was a very proud Mama.  At the end of the day as we walked through the mall to find dinner, I offered to reward them with a present!

My younger son said: “You probably shouldn’t do that. If you connect behaving well with a present, I’ll be disappointed next time if you don’t buy me a present.”  What a wise 9-year old.  I had to backtrack and reframe it… that I wanted them to be happy, that it was separate from my being pleased with their behaviour.  He nodded approvingly and happily accepted the gift with the understanding that it isn’t necessarily going to happen again.  The older one declined the present I offered but counter-offered with something else that he felt was more age appropriate.  Everyone was happy.

Fast forward to a week later. My father was so pleased that I took his health advice seriously, he offered to buy me a big present if I could sustain these habits for 3 months. I was like, my present was the advice, my present will be improved health, I don’t need a present… wait a minute… this all sounds familiar!

The apple does not fall from the tree.  I guess parents are not beyond rewarding and bribing our kids… regardless of how old we all are.

Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Oh My! Diets, Weight Loss and Picking Your Thang!

Are you as confused by the plethora of diets as I am? It seems as though there is an article refuting the scientific research-based findings of a miracle method as soon as you learn about it!

Furthermore, our bodies are so complicated and unique, what works for that beautiful, thin, and energetic motivational speaker may not work for me.

At the end of the day, the only thing we can truly stick to is this: food is the physical building block of our bodies. What we eat is what is used to grow and heal our bodies. So the question is: would you rather ingest something that helps or harms your body?

Lucky for us, there is now an annual ranking system for all the popular diets by Health Magazine. They have systemically and methodically evaluated all the famous (and some I’ve never heard of) diets. One of the criteria is… how easy it is to stick to! Who would’ve thunk! After all these years of yo-yo dieting, fighting cravings, and falling off the bandwagon… finally the experts are taking into account the KISS approach to keep it simple sweetie!

What’s interesting is that when you hear advice from our traditionally wise people (like my Qigong Shifu, my Kung Fu Shifu, and my parents… all Chinese by the way), they would say, don’t restrict so much what you eat or remove things entirely from your diet, just eat less of everything and less of what’s proven to be bad for you (fats, salt, sugar, junk food, etc.). My Qigong Shifu says “Cut 25%!” My Kung Fu Shifu says “Work it off through exercise!” My parents say “Eat until you are 60% full!”

The other biggie is: It’s not a sprint. Don’t expect overnight results. They don’t last. It’s a lifetime journey, a lifestyle approach. Every single choice is another brick to layer into your foundation of health and happiness. And yet, one less-than-perfect decision is not going to undermine everything, so move on quickly and definitively from a single poor choice or one moment in time. Figure out why the slide and try to set yourself up to avoid that in the future.

For those of us who need to lose weight, that means 1 pound per week is healthier, more sustainable and less reversible. Because one pound per week over 15 weeks indicates an overall shift in choices, a more permanent outlook and set up, as well as a focus on health rather than just weight. Plus if I can do 1 pound per week for 15 weeks, I can do 1 pound per week for a year.

This is a very personal and unique journey. Each person needs to get to know their own body and, more importantly, their own mind. Better health and weight loss is not just a physical, calorie-counting, daily exercise thing, okay, well, yes, it sort of is, but if you are mentally resisting every leafy green salad or are dying to snack on chips (just waiting to rebel and cheat), whatever great plan you are on, have paid for, or has worked for other people… just is not going to work! So it’s gotta be something bigger than just some diet you are on. It has to be part of a bigger goal to be healthy, for all the right reasons. And healthy not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. Healthy as a family, healthy with your friends, healthy at work…

Kung Fu Mama’s Thoughts:

1. Want good health badly enough.

2. Know why you want it.

3. Keep it simple.

4. Make health holistic: mind, body and spirit.

5. Track everything to measure what you need to change (blood pressure, heart rate, exercise, sleep, weight, inches, water, calories, etc.)

6. Find your tribe and enjoy the process.

7. Fail and figure.

8. Reward right, not with cheating.

9. No, it’s not easy, nothing good is easy, but you can find ways to make it easier.

10. Keep going.

And:

1. Fix mental state and fundamental illnesses first, then eating habits and lastly exercise.

2. Trust your body, especially as you age, don’t push yourself so hard that you end up quitting.

3. Life is short. If you hate it, stop it. Or change your frame of mind.

4. Cultivate love.

5. Find and enjoy the humour in everything.

6. Relax, relax, relax.

7. Identify the good. Fix the bad.

8. Be grateful.

9. Share what you’ve got.

10. Never give up.

Don’t Forget about Us~~~!!

A1: Hey Mommy, Daddy and I bought tickets to go see the Blue Jays on August 8.

Me: Well, did you check in with A2 if he wanted to join you?

A1: I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to.

Me: Yeah, but you guys can’t just go off and buy tickets to something without checking with us first!  That’s not nice!

A1: Oh, I’m so sorry, it’s just that I didn’t think that A2 would want to go.

Me: And what about me?

A1: Oh Mommy, I’m so sorry, did you want to go?

Me: Well, it’s a little late, don’t you think?  You guys already bought the tickets!  Humph.

We go downstairs where Daddy and A2 are.

Me (to Daddy): Hey, that wasn’t so nice of you guys to go off and buy Jay’s tickets without checking in with us to see if we wanted to go too.

Daddy: Oh, sorry.  I got so focused on getting good tickets at a good price.  I guess we should have checked in to see if the two of you wanted to go.

Me: A2, did you want to go?

A2: Nope.

Me: Yeah, me neither.

Daddy and A1: !!