Herbal medicine Martial Arts

Hints of autumn, and my one-year taekwondo anniversary

My health journey has been a marathon. I’d call it an ultra-marathon.  And often add a colorful, quite possibly four-letter word before “ultra”. No fast, miraculous shifts, just lots of hard work. A year ago, if you’d told me I would work out as hard as I have for a whole year and only lose a size and a half, I’m not sure that would have helped my enthusiasm.


I had summer goals I mentioned in previous blogs, the main one being Figure 8 workouts. We just competed in a tournament this past weekend, and with the shift from summer to autumn, I feel it’s a good time to stop and reevaluate what has happened and what I need to do to keep improving and losing inches. All the losses I have eeked out aren’t adding up quickly.


Over the summer, Figure 8 has been a solid complement to my taekwondo classes. I’ve lost a few inches (just a few) with the first 8 weeks and it does a fantastic job building strength in the legs and core while being a cardio workout.  I wasn’t sure if I’d find Jaana inspiring or annoying. When you do workouts over and over, what is at first cute can be not so endearing after a few dozen repeats.  But Jaana continues to come across as enthusiastic, high energy, encouraging and genuinely interested in her students having fun and getting healthy. And she is a phenomenal dancer–man, can she move!


Figure 8 is helping my balance and my kicks. For some taekwondo kicks you need to pivot (turn your standing foot/leg and body around) all the while holding up the leg that will be kicking, then kick, then un-pivoting back down into the stance where you started. That takes major amounts of balance and strength, and I’ve found as my core strength and awareness improve, I can pivot better.


After 10 weeks of Figure 8, hadn’t seen the results I hoped for, however, it got me off the plateau where I was flailing like an overturned bug. I just purchased the Figure 8 Ultimate workout package that has more challenging workouts using HIIT training principles.


For the autumn I’m trying two new things. I’m not trying to be flaky with constant changes, but I want to lose more weight and I’m exploring best ways to do so. I would compare losing weight over the last year to the paleontology volunteers at the Morrisson Natural History Museum, who can spend years hunched over boulders holding fossils with tiny dremel-like tools chiseling dinosaur bones out of that rock. There’s a thinner me in here somewhere but darn if it isn’t like using sandpaper on granite. So what IS the best tool to shift granite? That’s what I’m looking for. And one of my two programs is, I think, the golden key. I’ll talk about it last.


The first new thing is kickboxing. A kickboxing studio here has a groupon for 5 classes for $29.99. It’s supposed to be a tough, fun HIIT workout. And after my sparring performance in the tournament, I need a boost and maybe kickboxing can help. I don’t expect it to transfer to taekwondo directly–the sparring styles are different– but five hard workouts can’t hurt, and maybe it could be a long-term addition. We’ll see. I have until February before I spar again in a tournament, and I cannot go in like I am now. I have to do better. The competition is just too good, and I’m barely holding my own. My biggest challenge in sparring is quick, accurate kicking, and points from a kick are worth double a punch. And in my division, we have a phenomenal kicker who has other martial arts training. If I’m going to do better in sparring, I’ve got to get faster and better at kicking. And hell, lose thirty pounds, but it’s not like THAT’S not been on my radar since I started. Really, since I was twelve, but hey, don’t we all have a horribly mean grandmother who nicknamed us Chubs at that age? (In my twenties, getting perspective through a serious, consistent yoga practice, I stopped talking to her, which horribly upset my mother but who needs toxic people, even if they’re relatives?) Long term goal: go into that February tournament and get 2nd place.


Okay, so…drum roll… the program that I feel may be my golden key to finally figuring out how to accelerate my weight loss: The Gabriel Method.


I bought the book a month or so ago, read it, and immediately started with the basic visualizations. This program addresses my number one need: changing my eating with something besides willpower. Jon Gabriel says you can be slow out of the gate with this program because it’s not a “lose weight quick” scheme. It’s starting at the foundations to change, improve, shore them up and fix any cracks or imbalances, and then rebuilding the house from there. I’ve done a lot of work in the past on these issues, through yoga therapy and such, but childhood events do stick with us. And all the foundational work can be happening without a lot of external, visible shifts.


Two basic tenets of the Gabriel Method are

  1. you can’t muscle and willpower your way into eating less long-term and
  2. stress is a major factor in obesity.


When someone is overweight, with imbalanced hormones and blood sugar and perhaps an overwhelming toxic load (that gets stored in fat cells) then telling them to eat less is like telling them to breathe less oxygen. You can do it a little while but then your body is going to force you into going back to breathing more, eating more.


I’m a student and practitioner of Asian Medicine and Ayurveda with training in yoga therapy. As part of these systems of medicine, you learn Qi Gong and Tai Chi and all about energy, prana or qi. What the Gabriel Method is doing is making sure your qi and energy are being used to help you improve, not keep you where you are. And dealing with stress makes a HUGE difference in any unhealthy condition or imbalance.


You can technically learn the Gabriel Method for free.  He has an e-book as a free download, but I opted to purchase the visualizations recorded by him.


I feel like I’m in learning sponge mode with these. I do multiple visualization each day. My schedules change by the day so I cannot evenly space them each day, but I do one earlier in the day and then some in the afternoon. Its become a post-lunch habit to do one to three of the visualizations to get me recharged for the afternoon.


They are relaxing but at the same time some of them can also energize from a place of less stress. They are, to me, what rebuilds the shaky, stressed foundation to get a healthier structure.


The last few days my hunger, blood sugar fluctuations and snacking have all shifted significantly. I estimate I’m eating 300 calories fewer, just not wanting or needing to snack. After the tournament, I was so hungry and thirsty, I could have gone anywhere to eat, but I ended up with a smoothie bowl from Jamba Juice.  I skipped the witching hour snacks, the after 8 pm and I’m hungry but am I really hungry but I feel hungry no I shouldn’t eat snacks.


I’m promising myself to continue this for at least another six weeks, to give it a fair shake. That’s through to Diwali and Halloween. Only one time in my life have I ever been truly balanced with blood sugar and eating, able to skip a meal and not DIE, able to crave healthy food and just not want the crap food. And I am almost feeling like that again.


If I can truly do this, reprogram myself, balance my blood sugar, naturally stop wanting between meal snacks, convince myself to work in my best interests…


The Gabriel Method could be the golden key. Its alignment with the principles in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong fits easily and neatly into my model of health. I’ve actually heard some similar concepts to the Gabriel Method from a Qi Gong teacher, albeit in much simpler form and without structure to show me HOW to incorporate the concepts.


Yesterday I began sprouting broccoli sprouts with my son as a science project.  In a couple of weeks we’ll try wheat grass. I’ve got three vegan Instapot recipes to make this week, and last night I made a low-sugar, gluten-free, healthy-as-possible zucchini bread (heavy on the zucchini, and the extra moisture works well with high altitude baking.) It’s 11 am and I haven’t needed that mid-morning snack.


Here’s to little improvements every day.


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