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!

Advertisements

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.

Cheating on Day 2 of My New Lifestyle Plan

Yesterday, the TV died.  My enabler, my partner in crime, the Entertainer, my distractor from my goals… the time kill.  It died.  It just went poof.  It passed on. It was certainly its time, but it could not have come at a better time for me.

Couple that with falling asleep next to the boys at their bedtime of 8:30 pm, really, I’ve just bypassed the hardest time to resist the cold leftovers calling out to me from the fridge. So, Day 2 is done. Check!

But then my friend texts me this!

So tell me more about this new lifestyle plan of yours?  Diet and exercise? I’m finding the diet part real difficult.  Getting greedier as I age and harder to work off.  Often feeling unmotivated though I know it’s good for me.

Oh dear! How do I help someone find their motivation about diet and exercise when those very words are what I have been feeling guilty about for over 10 years?! This Kung Fu Mum journey is all about finding a lifestyle all of my own that fits me, my schedule, my interests and my (un)motivation. A peaceful and healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle that isn’t slowly killing me… So here’s how I explained my New Lifestyle Plan:

Step 1: Choose You

Just make a decision that you don’t want to be where you are now.  Just choose that.  Wallow in it.  For as long as you need.  Stop judging yourself for feeling [exhausted, without willpower, unmotivated, flabby, put your own this-is-as-low-as-I-go adjective].

Say, nope, I don’t want to be here.  I don’t like this.  This is not me.  It’s not good for me and I don’t like it.  I choose not to be here. But here I am. This is where I start. Just make the decision. Don’t rush into an answer or a plan or a panacea, just focus on this decision that you’ve made.

Step 2: Drop the Judgment

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a rebel in a weird way.  I don’t like being forced to do what I don’t want to do and so when I’m forcing myself to do things that I don’t want to do, I sabotage it like mad. Or I start noticing how everyone else keeps presenting me opportunities to not do what I’m supposed to do and then I just keep coming up with great excuses why I can’t do what I’m supposed to do.

No judgment. Just acknowledge that it is what it is. I’m here. This is where I am, this is where I start. I’ll be THERE in a year.  That’s where I’ll be. But not right this moment.

Step 3: Remove the Barriers

Kung Fu just presented itself as something I knew I would love to do.  I love that it’s part of my Chinese heritage. I LOVE that I would look badass if I did it right (c’mon… Bruce LeeJackie Chan)!

My Kung Fu class happens at the same time as my kids’ Kung Fu class. Which means that when I wake up Saturday mornings and I lay there in bed wondering what excuse to use so I can legitimately get out of going to class, really, I have none. Totally no excuses. I have to go. Then once I get there, my kids are watching. They watch me quit, they watch me try, they watch me hold my stances, they watch me sweat… They watch me. I have no choice but to do my best.

Step 4: Celebrate the Milestones

I know there’s a goal.  Just come back and see me in a year.  You won’t recognize me.  But right now, I’m just loving the journey. Instead of holding up my goal to judge my inadequate self (because that’s how I’m going to look at it), right now I’m just embracing where I am, I’m respecting my reality, my challenges, my weaknesses… my limitations.

The first change, and it totally snuck up on me (even though I had yet to FULLY COMPLETE a class), was when I walked up two flights of stairs without hyperventilating. So I celebrated that milestone.  Don’t get me wrong, lots of set backs too (still eating like there was no tomorrow), but I grabbed on to that little win. And it motivated me to do better.

Step 5: Slow and Steady Like a Mountain

Bad habits are funny.  They are habits for a reason. They got there because it was the easy thing to do.  Then they get difficult to budge because they get wedged into your lifestyle and other habits. I find that even if I manage to make a resolution like I mean it, those tough changes don’t last and they snap back with a vengeance, like Oh yeah? Thought you could get rid of my that easily? Here I am, back again, twice as bad! So after doing that for years and years, I’m learning from my Kung Fu instructor: “It took you years to get here, it’s not going to get fixed overnight. Slow and steady like a mountain.”

As I slowly build my strength, I will start doing my Ma Bu (horse stance) in a way that prevents anyone from budging me.

horse stance-00023

I cheated a little today… but I made it through Day 2!