Tag Archives: health and fitness

Tai Chi and Chinese Medicine

When I was in TCM school, they often said, ‘If you don’t practice Tai Chi, you won’t be able to practice TCM’.  What does that mean?  Well, if you only have a didactic, theoretical knowledge of Chinese Medicine, you won’t be able to help anyone.  And if you practice acupuncture, herbs, or massage without exercising in the right way yourself, your treatments won’t be that effective, and you won’t last long in this career.

That is one reason why Tai Chi was taught side by side with the other aspects of Chinese Medicine.  Back then I was like others not seeing the value of slow motion solitary martial art.  But now that I am older, I see how Tai Chi is more important than giving a treatment itself.  If you don’t know how to stand, walk, move, breath, and control your balance, you won’t last very long as a wholistic health practitioner.

Not only the practitioner should be a practitioner of the physical arts, but so should everyone else if they knew what was good for them.  Physical Arts like Tai Chi, Yoga, and Qi Gong will keep you fit and able bodied your entire life.  Most of these crippling diseases in the west are the end product of a disease process that started in the person’s youth.

So whether you want to be a wholistic medicine practitioner, or simply want a long, disability free lifespan, do more than dieting and learn a Physical Art.

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How Important Exercise Is

When it comes to the whole fitness debacle, one must realize that a perfect diet is not everything and not even feasible or practical.  If you lead an active lifestyle, eat mostly vegetables, and don’t spend too much money on food, you will be fine most of your life.

When you exercise rigorously, you will find several changes in your life.  First of all, you wont have so much time to prepare food yourself unless you cook in batches on the weekend for the week ahead.  Also, if you exercise regularly, your appetite will increase, especially for starch.  Higher levels of activity and fitness require higher complex carbohydrates in the diet.

When you exercise a lot, your body warms up and a lot of toxins are purged through the sweat, heat, and breath.  What I am trying to say is, even if you are health conscious, exercising more and worrying less about diet will help you.

Usually, when people are busy, exercise is the first thing to be neglected. Exercise, especially strength training, increases your metabolism by building the size and density of your muscles.

So if you really want to get and stay healthy, don’t over obsess about diet and do some regular exercise.  Maybe find a sport you both enjoy and is age appropriate for you.

At the end of the day, the old saying, ‘less is more’ is the answer.  Intense, regular exercise can burn away excess sugars and other toxins so you wont have to be perfectionist in diet.

 

Another View on Diet

In the end, your bodyweight is largely determined by the amount of calories you consume.  Ask any bodybuilder, and they will say ‘calories in, calories out’.

However, there are multiple methods of eating less calories.  One way is the low carb high protein approach which is effective in the short run.  Another is being vegan, which by nature is low calorie since plant foods are lower in calories.  But I find that the real solution to curing obesity and maintaining a normal weight is to control how much you eat and how often.

You could theoretically eat a diet of fish and chips and be slim just as long as you keep your calorie intake below your calorie expenditure.  This is the best way.  ‘To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.

The problem with atkins is that you have to eventually add the carbs back to your diet and then you regain all the lost weight.  Low Carb, High Fat has some merit in identifying which foods are good, quality food and which are just empty calories.

But the easy way is to eat smaller meals with nothing in between meals.  Some people say, skip breakfast, dont eat in between meals, and dont eat after dinner.  In this way, you don’t even have to eat ‘health food’ because all food is good.  You can eat food you really really like and still not be fat if you understand the concept of ‘calories in, calories out.’

 

One More Year

I decided to renew my subscription to WordPress for another year.  This blog is too good for it to go to waste.

I also have concluded that a high carb low fat dietary regimen is not the best or the most natural.  Regardless of who takes credit for it, the sugar restricted diet is the only real way to lose weight and stay normal bodyweight.

I’ve read a lot of books by or about Hindu people in my study of yoga, and what is good for the goose is sometimes not good for the gander.  Veganism is simply not my style.

Also, diet isn’t everything.  The more you exercise and are fit, the less you need to worry about fancy, expensive food.  Shopping at Whole Foods is not necessary, since eating well is essentially about quantity not quality.  If you reduce calories below what you are currently consuming, you will be in good shape.

I write this blog with the same advice you would get from a wholistic medicine practitioner, because I feel health education should be free of charge to everyone.  That to me seems like basic human civility.  Doctors work on basically the same principles as mechanics.  If the patient knows nothing and the Doctor knows everything,  you’ll be taken for everything you got.  Mechanics rip people off because of their client’s ignorance and so do Doctors.

So my solution is to educate people about health and let them make their own decisions.

 

Every End is a New Beginning

While it might be sad news for some, the fact that this blog domain name is expiring soon should not be bad for everyone.  Since I don’t really monetize this blog, I can’t afford to keep it going.

But as this blog name fades away within days, I plan on changing my approach to helping people and helping myself.  First of all, I will stop working for free.  The knowledge contained in this blog is enough to write a good book, and it’s all quality information.

Also, I’d like to get out more and teach students in a face to face type encounter.  Being sedentary and sitting infront of a computer (even for a short time) is not healthy or fun.

I hope those we enjoy my work should keep following my career in writing, art, and music.  Taoism encourages the creative arts, diet and exercise, and the practice of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Kung fu.  Taoist medicine is about empirical observation and the stored knowledge of hundreds of generations of Chinese people.

I’m sure anyone can benefit from my teachings, in whatever form it takes.  I am simply trying to make some good out of my education and experience.  Thanks.

On the come-back trail…

I haven’t posted in a couple of months or so because I kind of ran out of things to say and new things to offer.  But now that I am back in the game, I might as well share what insights I have attained.

First of all, it is not so important to be strict with your diet.  Ultimately, it’s about calories in and calories out.  The easiest way to reduce calories is to reduce sugar.

I noticed over this passed time that perfect diet is not really necessary.  As long as you are watching portion size and timing of meals, it’s not really necessary to bother people with your dietary restrictions.

The only two really heinous food groups are dairy and grain, and yet, there are exceptions.  People literally could live off of bread and cheese, and in some countries around the world, they actually do.  But a real healthy diet includes a lot of protein and a lot of fiber and is low in sugar.

Also, I’ve noticed that it’s not easy to eat protein foods all day and never eat anything sweet or starchy.  Carbs should be part of your diet, it’s just choosing the best carbs is the trick.

Vegetables is man’s primary foodstuff, and on a low carb diet, it’s easy to neglect them.  Also, high quality cooking fats are important.  Olive oil and butter come to mind.

So as I continue my health and recovery journey, I will try to strike a balance between exercise and a doable version of the low carb (or Bi-Gu) diet.  Grain really is the first junk food, and health increases when you stop eating starchy grains.

Back to Basics

As I incorporate more exercise into my daily regimen, I notice that food takes a back seat to most things.  If you exercise regularly, eating a perfect diet seems undoable and even unnecessary.

I simply dont have time to prepare my own food and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.  The basic thing with trying to lose weight is to count carbs and calories.  This is essentially the Atkins diet.  There are variants of the low carb approach like ketogenic and paleo, but they make you go out of your way to eat certain foods and not eat other types of food.

If you exercise a lot and really understand sugar restriction, you don’t need much more knowledge.  All food is atkins food, it’s just on a low carb diet you emphasize some food groups and diminish others.  You don’t need to buy all your groceries at Whole Foods or eat at special needs restaurants.  Atkins food is real food.

So as I continue getting better with age, I will emphasize exercising regularly and not be so picky about food.  Just remember, Protein and Fiber are the two most important nutrients, and starch and hydrogenated fat are the worst nutrients.

That means you should emphasize the protein in any meal, eat a lot of vegetables of all different colors for fiber, and use a high quality cooking fat to make it interesting.  Some carbs are better than others, and it is impossible to live without some form of sugar and starch on a regular basis.  I find that adding some rice to a meal, or eating an apple as a snack is a good way to incorporate some good carbs in your diet.

Without some good carbs in your diet, and being overly strict with counting carbs, one might feel depleted and tired, and sugar cravings may arise.

When you are a young child, you can eat anything and not get fat from it.  Kids have faster metabolisms and have more energy in them, so they move around a lot.  As you age, your metabolism slows down, and you are too preoccupied with responsibilities like work, school, and taking care of your own children.

So dont obsess about the perfect diet or be orthorexic.  Incorporate some light exercise into your daily routine and don’t overthink nutrition.

Comparing Different Proteins

Protein is of primary importance.  While no one who eats regularly is really deficient in protein, the more you eat protein, the stronger and more energetic you feel.  In this essay, I will try to give my view on the best protein.

Beans, peas, and lentils, and other legumes like peanut, are actually really good.  They’re vegan, so no one was injured in their production, they’re cheap, and they’re easy to store.  The downsides are the gasiness one might get from eating too much of them, and the general boredom from getting all your protein from them.

Seeds are a good source of vegetarian protein, but it’s not wise to eat more than a small amount per day, since they’re loaded with fat and calories too.

Quinoa is a pseudo-grain that is actually a flower seed but cooked and eaten like rice.  Quinoa is the best plant protein, containing an optimal balance of all 8 essential amino acids.  The problem is it doesn’t taste like anything.

Then you have the mighty chicken egg.  This is the optimal protein, the best one for human nutrition.  Even vegans sometimes don’t mind compromising their standards and eating an egg or two.  They’re that good.

Then you have dairy, like milk, cheese, and yogurt.  I find that these aren’t the best proteins in the world for a slew of reasons.  For starters, cheese is loaded with salt and fat.  Milk has lactose in it, a sugar that causes digestive discomfort and diarrhea.  Yogurt is good protein, can be found in low fat versions, and has less sugar in it because the fermenting bacteria have eaten away most of the lactose.  But i’ve come to the conclusion that the egg is superior to the dairy product in most respects.  There’s no downside to eating eggs, besides animal rights you might say, but there are tremendous downsides to eating milk/cheese/yogurt.  Some science indicates cheese has opiate effects and is therefore addictive.  Other scientists say that the protein in milk is inflammatory and can lead to autoimmune disease.

The fish is the best animal to eat.  I’ve never seen an old fish.  The reason why fish never get fat, old, and wrinkly, is because they are constantly swimming, eat a sea vegetable and smaller fish diet, and the fat underneath their skin is fluid, not solid like lard.  That makes for a healthy animal and a healthy dinner.

Then you have meat, and it doesn’t matter if it’s chicken, duck, cow, pig, sheep, or goat, or anything else.  Meat can be really good or really bad depending on how the animal lived and how strong and healthy it was.

So really, there’s no point in writing this essay, it’s all common information.  My suggestion is to always go lower down on the food chain rather than higher up.  This is better for everyone, you included.  Animals are above birds, birds are above fish, fish are above unfertilized eggs, eggs are above beans and seeds and quinoa and so on.  The lower down it is, the less toxic it is.  The most toxic animal is the human being, because we are the apex predator.

Human beings in the western world often have a choice about what they’re eating.  With a proper education, one can live quite well.

Don’t Neglect the External

This may seem like obvious advice for someone living in America and talking to a primarily American audience.  But for a long time, I’ve been eating a good diet, meditating, breathing properly, and yet, not exercising enough.  That is not balanced and not good.

Internal exercise includes meditation, breathing exercises, qi gong, and yoga.  External exercise runs the whole gamut from running, swimming, and weightlifting to sports like boxing, tennis, and soccer.  As you live and work and foster children, don’t neglect the external.

It seems like exercise is the first thing to go when people are short on time, or are just plain lazy.  The Taoist sages are all hunchbacks, not because being a hunchback gives you more wisdom and leadership ability, but because wise men tend to neglect the physical in preference for the spirit.

As a human being, it is wise to make time for exercise every day.  Don’t neglect it.  People these days work infront of a computer all day, then go home and eat starch and take their kids to their extracurricular activities.  And that’s if they’re lucky and from a middle class family.  This lifestyle isn’t natural, and it just leaves you a worn out wreck in the end.

The real way to live is to do what you enjoy for work, take care of your responsibilities and offspring with grace and ease, and grow old gracefully.  Not many people are truly rich.  Tao teaches you to have a balanced view and a balanced practice of life, and the first thing people neglect is physical exercise.

Don’t neglect the External.

The Easy Way to Be Fit

Better than weight training and a low carb diet, which just inflates your muscles and doesn’t build functional strength and doesn’t last as soon as you go off this regimen, is something much better.

And that would be intermittent fasting.  In the end, it’s not so much about what you eat or whether it is organic, free range, or all that nonsense.  It’s about how much you eat and how often.

Most people in America don’t go more than 4 hours without eating, and some ‘graze’ all day or eat a meal every two hours.  This is not good for your digestive organs, hormonal balance, insulin levels, teeth, and a whole slew of other things.

There are many ways to break up the day into periods of eating and not eating.  But the theory is, when the body has a chance to rest from food, insulin levels drop and the organs of digestion get to rest.  The best is to skip breakfast, eat your first meal at 10am, then wait four hours, eat again, wait another four hours, and eat your last meal of the day.  You can snack a little before 8pm, and that’s it.  Nothing fancy.

Fasting before and after sleep is a powerful tonic.  The body gets to rest from digesting food all the time and nourish the brain and organs instead.  It might be necessary to drink black coffee when you wake up to help you get going, but I suggest skipping breakfast and not snacking after dinner.  In addition, don’t graze or snack in between meals.  This is the easiest way to stay fit.

If you do intermittent fasting, the quality of the food you eat is less important.  You can eat meat, sugar, bread, milk, anything in moderation as long as you are not eating too much or too often.  That’s why I call it the easy way to get fit, it’s a no brainer.

Of course, it takes discipline and restraint from snacking all day.  I suggest eating protein with every meal and replacing some of the carbs with fat.  Good fats are good foods.

In general, one should eat to live not live to eat.  Don’t see food as a reward for good behavior.  You’re not a kid anymore.  See food as fuel for your body and lifestyle.  Eat what you need to eat, not what is most tasty and exciting.

Intermittent fasting plus ketogenic diet is the real caveman diet.  Cavemen didn’t graze on sugar and starch all day because they couldn’t afford to.  They went through periods of feast and famine, and were lucky to eat one piece of fruit per summer.  Wheat and all starchy grains were an invention of the agriculturist later on in human development, which doesn’t make them inherently bad, just unnatural.  Brown rice is the most harmless and energetic grain, the starchy fruit of a grass species.

The less often you eat, the more hunger you have for the food and the better it tastes.  This is the original way to live, enjoying the bare minimum with zeal, not sitting around the TV munching on cheetos and soda.