TAI CHI FOR WEIGHT LOSS: PREPARING FOR YOUR JOURNEY WITH WEIGHT (Issue 18)
Think, for a minute about baking a cake without first mixing the flour and water in the bowl. The cake would end up to be a clumpy, texture-poor mess. Or imagine joining a fighting championship without every having watched or studied fighting. Or what if the doctor we entrusted our surgery to had no medical training and had never done an operation before?
All these situations lack necessary preparation. We would prepare ourselves before running off the cliff with our hang gliders, right? We practice penmanship so that other people can read what we write. We practice in the mirror before we read our essay in school. The same holds true for taking on a weight loss program that could totally empower our lives.
One of the greatest tools to put us in a state of readiness is tai chi. What is it, exactly? It’s a method of exercise that teaches us to be patient, prepared, precise and powerful at all times. It’s a mind/body program that gives us a place to begin. We build a foundation of understanding how to be stable on our journey, and time reinforces the lessons as long as we do a little movement.
We as mothers very much crave to understand what makes our daughters choose to crave foods that put weight on them. Most of us are a little concerned in what ways, if any, our parenting skills have contributed to this behavior in our daughters, out of guilt (rather a waste of time), out of wanting to be able to teach better behaviors and, most often, just to make our daughters feel happier. We would give up all our analytical curiosity and even our own brow beating in a heartbeat if we could snap our fingers and see our daughters instantly be joyous in their bodies, beaming from ear to ear.
In this article, we will pinpoint several skills that tai chi is famous for. Doing it to any extent will decrease appetite almost immediately in most people. This phenomenon has to do with focusing the attention on the tai chi work, alone, with no time to defocus the attention. This is, of course, a general consensus and can fluctuate by individual.
Tai chi teaches patience. The movements are so much slower than almost any other physical system which means that, in order to learn it, we have to direct our bodies to slow down. Many systems, such as kung fu, baseball, tennis, require elements of speed.
Tai chi requires us to slow down and move like a wave in a giant ocean of water. If we imagine the lines in a profile of the ocean, we can see each line rolling into the next. This is analogous to each body system moving harmoniously with the other. Here is a graphic representation of this concept.
So, let’s take that first step. In tai chi, it’s easy, because we don’t have to do much preparing. We begin by standing still. We continue by doing circular motions. Both these activities make us feel good. In doing so, we become patient with the way we feel, act, think, look, are. What’s so cool about the tai chi is that it produces its own endorphin rush every time we do it as we are learning the slow and simple movements. As we become smoother and more flowing with the movements, we teach our body and mind to be more powerful, abundant and patient. The tai chi almost engulfs us in positive energy.
Doing tai chi is a perfect complement to the journey to weight loss because it is a physical tool that shapes, tones and chisels the body as it mentally establishes the patience we need to achieve our weight goals.
One of the lessons in most physical movement activities is the art of balance. Tai chi is no different and is known for elevating balance in the body and mind at the same time.
The tai chi approach starts with stilling the mind and body. The lack of demand for rapid movement is what makes tai chi a great partner for the struggles with weight. Although we don’t have to overexert ourselves to do tai chi, the system is adjustable so that we can increase our effort as we see fit. It is a surprisingly full workout, no matter how much effort we give it.
The balance work in tai chi achieves three things:
1) It gets us to establish a balance base line so we can see where we are to see where we want to go,
2) It gets us moving our bodies so that we can succeed right away,
3) It calms our mind and alleviates stress.
An example of a balancing exercise we do in tai chi is this:
The trick is to stand with a straight back, with the shoulders over the hips. No matter what else we do with the body, we need to make sure we keep the back straight. What happens to most people in most disciplines is that they are not aware when they are tipping backwards or forwards. So, once we have gone through this exercise, it might be a great idea to do it looking in the mirror to make sure the back is straight.
BIG TIP ONE: Make an effort not to judge whether you are or are not able to keep balanced during this exercise. If you are stronger and more balanced tomorrow than you are today, you have a success story.
BIG TIP TWO: If you compare yourself to yourself, you will be better able to concentrate on yourself and get caught in fewer traps.
This is a less than one minute balance exercise.
1) Stand straight with legs as close together as possible.
2) Stand with heels together, toes apart, or as close to this as possible.
3) Raise the arms in front of the center of the chest as if holding a big tree trunk or pillar.
4) The palms should be facing the center of the chest.
5) There should be a small space between the L and R hands.
6) Relax the shoulders.
7) Bend the knees a tiny bit.
8) Keeping the back straight, slowly lift the R knee as you point the toe down.
9) Hold this position for the count of 1, 1000, 2, 2000, 3, 3000.
10) Slowly lower the knee so that the feet are in the 2) position.
11) Keep the 3), 4), 5) position without dropping the arms.
12) Repeat 7), 8), 9), 10) with the L knee.
13) Slowly place the arms at the sides and let them hang with relaxed shoulders.
If you like the exercise, please do it daily for two weeks and let us know that you did so that we can send you a special bonus gift for your efforts.
Probably the biggest advantage tai chi gives to people on a weight loss path is mindset. As mentioned above, we have to prepare ourselves for the road ahead. I guess it’s akin to getting antibiotic shots when we are going to travel abroad. I was just reading about a retreat in Costa Rica where I am considering taking a group. Without the right shots, our bodies would be vulnerable to certain conditions in the area.
Similarly, if our mind is not ready, we have much less of a chance to succeed at our goal. If we don’t peel the old paint off, we don’t get a smooth new layer.
Tai chi creates a new layer, a new outlook on everything. It’s not magic; it’s effective use of our body parts. Instead of zooming through exercise, tai chi movement allows for deliberate use of every body part. That way, we don’t work out the core one day, the legs one day, the upper body one day. We work everything together with every movement. Not to say it’s the greatest discovery for womankind, but tai chi is pretty powerful because its inventors utilized movement that integrated all the body systems at once.
(Interesting note: While taking a 5-minute break after writing the last paragraph, I read an article by one of the most successful abs marketers. One of his fitness people lists 3 things I just wrote about: not isolating muscle groups on workout, not using different muscles on different days and not comparing ourselves to others. Important concepts.)
Tai chi is a miraculous invention for weight loss. There is no rush; there is no competition; the system easily allows complete adjustment on a per-person and on an ongoing basis. It works every part of us in a way that impacts the health of our mind and body without requiring our bodies to go on a roller coaster ride of endowment and deprivation as many programs do.
Tai chi is based upon ancient principles of ebb and flow. It is one of the easiest ways to relax and the easiest exercises to begin doing. It builds the foundation necessary to start an endeavor with the clear and patient mind. The physical balance it teaches translates to the emotional balance needed for a successful weight loss program. It gets the body in shape by building long, lean muscle and strengthens the joints and tendons. For further tai chi information, email me at 1 [at] warriorsofweight [dot) com. For a special discount, just mention coupon code PATIENCE & WEIGHT LOSS.
Please leave your comments below or on Twitter @warriorsoweight.
DIANE GOLD, AUTHOR
Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Moms For Healthy Daughters, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music and stress expert and a dedicated mom. She believes that tai chi is important for the world. She says, “Five minutes of tai chi a day will make us powerful, compassionate, creative and healthy. Do it, at least, one time.”
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