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.

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Toronto Night’s Full Moon and Jupiter

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This is the first time in a very long time I have had enough headspace to do anything other work, what is absolutely urgent, putting my kids to bed or veg in front of the TV at night.  Working full time, trying to be an active and attached parent, and dealing with a number of illnesses had really taken a toll on my physical and mental health.  Tonight after I put the kids to bed, I did my 8-brocade in the house and then went outside, where the weather was amazing.  I did my Gentle Kung Fu routine (well, the first half, as that’s all I’ve learned so far!) and saw people taking pictures of Jupiter.  So after completing my exercise, I grabbed my camera to capture Jupiter and the Full Moon!  This is such a great place to be after the past few months.  This is a huge victory for me… 

In the fall, my normally perfect blood pressure had shot through the roof, I was waking up in the middle of the night from panic attacks and I could not control my emotions, which flipped flopped between range and helplessness.  The condition I had was causing so much pain that was no longer being contained by the prescription painkillers… I was not well, I could feel it, but only ever did things that made it worse.  I was trying all the time to think about exercise or eating healthier… but I had zero willpower and very little headspace to make the right things happen.  I was going in a downward spiral.  Desperate, I knew I had to make changes, so I went vegetarian, I started waking up earlier to do meditation, I joined an inspirational coaching group on Facebook, I started taking Qigong.  For the first month, I felt great… I was making changes and I was feeling more zen about things.

Then… as things started to slide… the cracks in my mental health started to show.  At first, it was a bit subtle and was mostly just negative self-talk that emphasized the loserness of everything I did, thought, tried, and failed.  Every situation, any thing at all turned into a self-bashing session that left me struggling to breathe.  I second guessed every single thing I did… then it got worse.  My work suffered, my confidence was shattered… I no longer liked people at all. I could not function anymore as a mother, wife, colleague.  My whole body and brain shut down.  Even on days when I wasn’t struggling with pain, I no longer could done what needed to get done.

To have it happen once is one thing (3 years ago)… I thought that I had fixed things by changing jobs, but what I now realize is that I did not deal with the many fundamental issues that continued to plague me and was slowly destroying my health.

Health, I have come to discover, is a very complex and yet simple thing.  It’s all inter-related, there are so many things going on and so many things influence so many others. Over the past month and a half, I have been taking a shotgun approach to figuring how to fix my problems.  I’ve been reading books, searching forums, seeking various types of health providers, trying out stuff from the health food stores… and it all boils down to: Eat, Move, Sleep, Think, Feel, Believe, Do.

Eat to provide nutrition.  Anything else starves the body and causes it to crave bad stuff.  Humans have to move in order to maintain physical and mental health, sitting is the big evil thing now.  That and sugar.  Sleep enough or the body cannot rest and heal.  Think in a way that is constructive.  Feel good… feel love… feel positive… Believe in what can be and then do it.  Just do it. (Not withstanding that some of what we deal with are genetic inclinations… so, we may have to work harder to overcome them…)

This most recent part of my journey has been TOUGH, but it’s brought me so many amazing things:

  1. I’ve found songs again!  The theme songs for me right now are: Meant to Be by Bebe Rexha feat. Florida Georgia Line and Like I’m Going to Love You by Meghan Trainor feat. John Legend.
  2. I’ve rekindled unconditional love for my kids… I am very committed to ensuring I have headspace to be with them and enjoy them.  They are amazing human beings.
  3. I’ve found people who are wise to hang out with!  My amazing Qigong/Taichi Shifu trains at the park 365 days of the year with a number of his amazing/wise students.  And what I’m learning from them is life changing.
  4. There are healthcare practitioners who are patient-centred and holistic!  While many have been great, I have to say Naturopathy I think is the way to go…
  5. There have been amazing friends who have reached out to support me in a way that I never felt like I deserved, each person reminding me about and reconnecting me with parts of me I had neglected.
  6. Old, old friends from long time past who are also going through their own challenges, who have reminded me of who I once was and can be again.
  7. My amazing parents and mother-in-law who work so hard to take good care of themselves and always want to help us.
  8. My sisters who are just plain amazing people.
  9. The organization where I work is amazing, given me the opportunity and time to focus on my health and heal.
  10. My husband who is my partner, best friend, cheerleader and backup to everything.  So creative, honest, funny, solid, always accepting me for who I am, what I do, and will to do whatever it takes.

So grateful!  Now the next part of this journey is going to be figuring out how to fit in all the things I need to do to improve and maintain my health in a sustainable way (I will need to priority and cull!).  This is not a choice, it is the way.  Health is way too important.  It’s right up there as #1 priority along with Family.

Wishing you peace and health, happiness and love.

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!