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!

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?

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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’).

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.

Finally! I Started Qi Gong!

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My mother is one of those people who never stops learning, who never stops caring about self-improvement, and who always wants to share something she learned so that you can be a better you (healthier or happier).

Many years ago, when I was still in high school and living at home, my mother discovered Qi Gong.  She espoused how amazing it was and how much it helped improve her health.  She also wanted me to meditate or do Tai Chi, okay, she wanted me to pretty much do anything at all to work on strengthening my health.  Being young and fairly healthy, I sort of agreed with her but never felt a super strong desire to do it.  I took a class or two, sometimes I halfheartedly copied some movements from her and then would just nod off to sleep. My motivation level was low and therefore my attempts to do this ‘stuff’ was not the best.

Well, decades later, last year, when my blood tests came back with some results that made me realize, wait a minute, I’m not getting any younger and my body is not happy with me, I knew that it was time to start being more serious about focusing on my health.  I’m not 25 anymore and I can’t just eat whatever I want, sleep how little I want, or be sedentary without pretty bad repercussions.

A few years ago I did start up Kung Fu, which I still love, but am having problems staying motivated to keep learning… it helped with my health a lot, but it can’t help if I’m not doing it!  Yes, I took another hiatus, and that’s a story for another time.  But this time, I decided to start up Qi Gong and Gentle Kung Fu.  I know I can do this.  I love the flow of movement in these two art forms and I love how I feel after I’ve done it.  Loving this and have incorporated this into my daily routine by getting up earlier by an hour each day.

There are even studies now about the benefits of Qi Gong and specifically Shaolin’s Ba Duan Jing version that we are learning: like meta study or reducing neck pain.

Mom: after decades of you telling me to do this… I’m finally doing this!

That Was Then, This Is Now

Now halfway through my second term at Kung Fu class, I can look back over the past 6 months and say, ooh, I see some good changes!

Relationship with Food

Then: I used to literally be on a SEE FOOD diet.  I mean it.  I see food, I want it.  I see food, I eat it.  I see food, it calls to me.  By name.

Now: Since starting Kung Fu, I’ve managed to break my terrible habit of raiding the fridge around 10 pm for leftovers and eating surreptitiously with one ear listening for my husband’s footsteps coming down the stairs. My meal portions are still largish, but I am proud to say that I no longer eat after dinner.  It’s just ‘not something I do’.

Relationship with House

Then: My relationship with the disaster zone I call home has changed.  As soon as I saw the mess that faced me when I came home from work, I would roar at my husband and the kids: Why are there socks here? Why am I stepping on legos? Why is this pile of papers still here from 3 weeks ago? Why is there dust on this shelf? Why am I the only one who cares about cleanliness around here?!?!?

Now: After half a year of beginner kung fu and a little meditation, I can honestly say that my anger button has retreated slightly.  I still want to roar and on occasion I still do roar, but the thoughts that go through my head are more like: aw, dinner smells great, hey, the boys look so happy, ooh, the laundry is done! maybe I’ll do some organizing or cleaning this weekend.

Relationship with Saturday Morning

Then: Once upon a time, I dragged myself out of bed to get the boys to their Kung Fu class.  When I first started my class, I would wake up each Saturday wondering if I had a good enough excuse to skip class, but I really couldn’t because I had to get the boys to class and my commitment to their health was a priority.

Now: I eagerly look forward to the torture that our instructor wants to put us through. I do my best and I don’t compare myself to others in the class.  As a side note, we are getting new students every week, young, in shape and strong classmates.  They push me to be better.

Relationship with Class

Then: I was so embarrassed all the time, not being able to finish class without sitting out, not being as good as I knew I could be. The thoughts in my head were all about how badly I was holding back the class and how slow I was and how hard I was breathing when I should be in better shape…

Now?  My instructor called on me to lead one of the lines!  She reminds me that my stamina has improved. When she says “if you feel this is easy, push yourself” and I feel like I can, I lift higher, I jump higher, I hold longer, I go lower… And if I can’t, I just focus on getting myself through class in one piece!

Relationship with My Clothes

Then: Nothing looked good on me.  My 200+ pounds poked and rolled and flabbed no matter what I wore.  Even wearing all black couldn’t hide how out of shape I was.

Now: I have lost those first (last in first out?) 10 pounds over the past 6 months.  But more importantly, my clothes fit me better.  My goal is no longer about losing weight, but to feel good about walking into a room with a confident smile and whatever clothes I’m wearing.  I can wear shoes with higher heels without hurting at the end of the day. I can wear a skirt without feeling ashamed of my body. I can look forward to a time when I love the way I look.  Not there yet, but I’m on my journey there.

Relationship with Me

Then: I came last. Every. Single. Person. Came. Before. Me.

And now: I make sure I get my me time.  I make sure that I like myself.  I make sure that I speak to myself with a little kindness and respect.