Wednesday, October 9, 2013

We've Moved!


Thanks for reading Get in Shape With David. If you're looking for recent blogs, redirect your browser to our new site: Get In Shape With David at

Feel free to peruse the blog entries posted here, and I hope to see you on the new site.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sugar Content in 'Health' Foods

How much sugar is in your food?

If it's processed in any way, probably more than you realize. A recent Mother Jones article shared information from the Credit Suisse Research Institute on sugar consumption and health — then equated the amount of sugar in food to the amount in a Krispy Kreme donut.

There are a few surprises. 
2.2 teaspoons of sugar

5.4 teaspoons of sugar

One donut = 2 teaspoons of sugar, or 10 grams.

  • 6 teaspoons a day for women (100 calories)
  • 8 teaspoons a day for men (150 calories)
Read the labels. Know what you're eating — and decide for yourself if it's a "health food" after all.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Spending the Weekend With Richard Clear

Fairfax, Va. recently had a visitor from Maryville, Tenn.

Sigung Richard Clear gave Tai Chi Chuan workshops, including healing, chi energy and fighting the Tai Chi way.

Friday night was the healing workshop.

I have completed level 4 healing with Sigung Clear, and he demonstrated a few healing techniques I never saw before. (This is Sigung Clear's M.O.: just when you thought you have seen the best he has to offer, he goes a bit deeper into his bag of tricks.)

I was pretty impressed when he mimicked someone's posture in order to match the other person's energy to release the other person's tension.

Saturdays workshop was on borrowing energy — and 4 ounces moves 1,000 pounds.

This is probably the most sought-after skill for most Tai Chi practitioners. Within a couple of hours, all participants were comfortable applying this skill, and we were moving each other with little to no effort.

Sunday we practiced fighting skills (mostly evading and rolling). There were some great drills in evading punches and grabs.

If you have n opportunity to participate in one of Richard Clear's workshops, I highly recommend it. Check his website ( for workshops or request one for your kwoon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar: All That — and Natural, Too

image courtesy Health4Us
Open a bottle of apple cider vinegar for a plethora of health benefits.
Need a little help lowering your blood sugar? Pour two teaspoons into part of your meal; healthy diners will see a 20 percent drop in post-meal blood glucose.
Improve your skin health by taking a teaspoon or two a day, diluted — or apply it undiluted directly on your skin to relieve sunburn or heal blemishes.
Sinus problems? Indigestion? More relief is in the bottle, according to WebMD and IDEA Fitness Journal. A teaspoon or two in a glass of water could help settle a sour stomach, prevent indigestion (if taken before a meal) and drain sinuses.
Hair conditioner? Fever reducer? Cure for hiccups? Yep, yep and yep.
Have you tried any of these remedies? Or have you used apple cider vinegar for a different ailment?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Wu Chi Position, or How to Increase Chi Flow

If you have been practicing Tai Chi Chuan for a couple of years abut you do not not feel chi flow through your entire body, check your body positioning.

Get into your best wu chi position. Have someone take a picture of your positioning.

Now, ask yourself the following questions about your position:

  1. Back: slightly rounded?
  2. Crown of your head: pointed upward. (chin slightly and gently tucked downward).
  3. Hips: tucked underneath you?
  4. Knees: bent enough? (For most people, it's about two inches.)
  5. Chest: slightly rounded and hollow?
  6. Feet: about shoulder width apart?
  7. Sole of the foot: can you feel it? (Triangle made by the ball of the little toe, ball of the big toe and the heel).
  8. Shoulders: down and relaxed?

Make adjustments as necessary.

When you are ready, form a small ball with your hands in front of your body. (Your arms should be down and relaxed, hands relaxed with fingers slightly opened).

Breathe into your dan tien. After a minute or two, you should feel your tai chi ball.

Remember, the feeling is not the same for everyone: you could be heat, vibration, tingling or magnetic with opposing polarities.

When you do get a sensation, hold it for a couple of minutes, and repeat to be sure what you felt was real (though, in most cases, there is little doubt).

Be sure to practice often — and find a class, and a teacher, in your area to help you. Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions or need help finding a class.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Fried Oatmeal

What does one do with leftover oatmeal? Apparently, fry it. At least, that's the suggestion from Lucy's Morsels, and it sounds like a recipe to be tested with this oatmeal-loving family.

Choose healthy oils and fresh toppings and you'll have a tasty option for breakfast that will encourage even the most ardent of meal-skippers to make time for breakfast.

  1. Make a big batch of oatmeal. (Consider this healthy overnight slow-cooker recipe). 
  2. Pour the oatmeal into a pan a few inches thick. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate. (Cool it for at least 2-3 hours, or even a few days.) 
  4. Heat a pan over high heat, spray with nonstick spray or butter. 
  5. Cut oatmeal to the size of the desired serving. 
  6. Sear both sides of the oatmeal square - it takes a while because of all the liquid. 
  7. Choose your toppings and enjoy!
What other healthy foods can you cook differently to mix it up?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Benefits of After-Dinner Walk

Take to the streets — or treadmill/walking machine — for a short after-dinner walk, suggests Consumer Reports on Health.

According to Diabetes Care, taking a 15-minute walk after every meal has the same beneficial effects as a single daily 45-minute morning walk.

This short exercise also helped counter the natural blood sugar spike that occurs after meals, noted the study.

A short walk not only gives an opportunity for a little exercise and (hopefully) fresh air, but also socializing with friends, family and neighbors. Find a like-minded pa to join you for the stroll, or give all of your attention to your pet or family member.

When the weather doesn't cooperate, find an indoor location, such as a shopping mall, indoor track (at a local school) — and leave your electronic device at home, or at least not easily within reach.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Slacklining as Meditation

One of the key elements of Tai Chi is being mindful of what you are doing at that very moment. Mountain climbers have found a way to bring mindfulness into Tai Chi and meditation with a new practice called slacklining.

Slacklining involves stringing a webbed mountain climbing line between two posts or trees just a couple of feet off the ground.

The college students in the video below are doing it for a number of reasons (to impress a possible mate is one), and performers have done it for the thrill. Hardcore mountain climbers have created "highlining," which is stringing line between — you got it — two high points and walking across the crevass.

No matter the reason, however, practitioners all say the same thing: they value the focus, concentration and, yes, meditation required to achieve this skill.

Would you try slacklining for Tai Chi practice or meditation?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tai Chi Workshop with Richard Clear Set for September 20-22

Spend the weekend with Richard Clear and learn  chi gung, hua jin, chan zu jin and more in five workshops scheduled September 20-22 in Fairfax, Va.

Workshos will include:

  • Chi Gung Healing Workshop
  • Hua Jin / Borrowing Energy
  • Chan Zu Jin / Spiraling Energy
  • Internal Power through Push Hands
  • Freestyle Fighting the Tai Chi Way

Check out Sigung Clear's video on jin energy (below), or visit his YouTube channel.

Hope to see you in Fairfax this weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Cajun-Seasoned Vegetarian Gumbo

Here are two words few people put together: vegetarian gumbo.

Cajun-seasoned vegetarian gumbo, to be precise.

Better Homes and Gardens has a simple slow-cooker version — with only five ingredients! 

Makes: 6 servings
Prep 10 minsSlow Cook 6-8 hrs (low) or 3-4 hours (high)
  • 215 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 128 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 116 ounce package frozen sweet peppers and onion stir-fry vegetables
  • 2cups frozen cut okra
  • 2 - 3teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • Hot cooked white or brown rice (optional)
  • Chopped green onions (optional)

1.In a 3-1/2- to 4-1/2-quart slow cooker combine beans, tomatoes, frozen stir-fry vegetables, okra, and Cajun seasoning.
2.Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours. Serve gumbo in shallow bowls over hot cooked rice. If desired, sprinkle with green onions.
nutrition facts (Cajun-Seasoned Vegetarian Gumbo)
  • Servings Per Recipe 6,
  • cal. (kcal) 153,
  • carb. (g) 31,
  • fiber (g) 10,
  • sugar (g) 7,
  • pro. (g) 12,
  • vit. A (IU) 1555,
  • vit. C (mg) 37,
  • Thiamin (mg) 0,
  • Riboflavin (mg) 0,
  • Niacin (mg) 0,
  • Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0,
  • sodium (mg) 639,
  • Potassium (mg) 467,
  • calcium (mg) 121,
  • iron (mg) 5,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Richard Clear Comes to Fairfax September 20-22

Qi gong healing, hua jin/borrowing force and push hands are on the agenda at Richard Clear's Tai Chi seminar set for September 20-22 in Fairfax, Va.

Tai Chi students from around the country will gather at Green Acres Center for the three-day seminar with the internationally-recognized martial artist. Click here for video of the teacher in action.

Space is still available. For information, visit Clear's website, Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Thoughts on Push Hands by Ian Sinclair

How important is push hands? According to Ian Sinclair, who wrote the article How Important is Push Hands? for Tai Chi Central, very important. Here is what he has to say in a recent article:

How essential, really, is push hands? Can we not learn or advance in tai chi without it? Are we not doing real tai chi without knowledge of push hands?

Push hands is a defining characteristic of taijiquan. Along with qigong, forms and application practice, push hands contributes to the physical, mental, spiritual and psychological development of a taiji player. It is seen as a continuation of the practical development that begins with the solo routine and qigong. 

Few schools teach tuishou to beginners. 

Most schools have optional tuishou classes so that students who do not wish to engage in the practice are not required to do so. There is so much to be gained from the solo practice that most student of taijiquan do very little if any tuishou practice. Even among those who do, few approach the depth or intensity of practice that is possible.

If you are seeking high level martial skill in taiji, it is pretty safe to say that push hands is essential. But push hands is useful even if your purpose for learning taiji is more health and fitness related, or you practice as a means of achieving peace of mind.

Martial arts in general are often practised more for their benefits to mental and physical well-being than for pure combat skill. The reasons for this are deep and complex.

One thing that I tell my students is that push hands - like sanshou, suaijiao, and fencing - is an excellent form of biofeedback. If you want to know if your posture is correct, or to know if you mind is clear, or to know if you are in harmony with the universe then play push hands. If you lose your balance, use force, or get knocked over, then you will know that you have some work to do. push hands can teach you what your mistakes are and help you to correct them, especially if you have a patient training partner.

If you don't have the opportunity to practice tuishou very often, then occasional practice will inform your solo practice. You can take the lessons learned in push hands and use them to refine your understanding of the forms and your qigong practice.

My teacher once told me that he doubted there were many high level qigong masters who were not also martial artists. I think this may be because martial study is a very efficient way of exposing the delusions, illusions and misunderstandings of the ego.

Every thought carries an emotion, every emotion affects the physical body. Refining these things on our own is very difficult. It is like wearing a lamp on our foreheads and looking for our shadow. Solo practice just doesn't give us an objective point of view of ourselves the way push hands does.

There are many stages in push hands practice. And there are many ways to approach it. Beginners should practise in a co-operative and non competitive manner at least until they understand the basics of listening and following. Later it can be quite vigourous.

Having a good teacher, patience, and an open mind are most important. 

Do you agree with Ian? Visit Tai Chi Center, the Global Tai Chi Community, and let him know what you think!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Shape's Formula for the Best Smoothie

It looks easy, but it can be harder than it seems.

Making a healthy, delicious smoothie is an art form, and the folks at Shape Magazine have created the infographic you can clip and save.

Read and marvel at the ease of building the Best Smoothie.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Tai Chi Goes to the Movies

Tai Chi has a place in modern cinema: just ask Keanu Reeves.

The actor is making his directorial debut with a movie that centers on Tai Chi and its application in current Chinese sports culture. In this new cinematic fete, a young fighter of exceptional talent finds himself fighting for his life in the underground world of Chinese Fight Club.

In this movie, Keanu Reeves performs with a former colleague: Tiger Wu Chen, who worked as a stunt professional in two of the Matrix movies. Chen's credentials reach back to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, another popular Chinese movie that heated up American movie screens.

Do you think Tai Chi will be positively or accurately represented in this movie? And do you plan to see it when it's released November 1?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Avocado Toast

Breakfast may be hectic, but you can still make it healthy and tasty. Here's an 5-ingredient recipe from Lucy's Morsels that is quick, easy and tasty.

cheddar cheese, shredded
wheat bread
baby spinach
salt and pepper

  1. Cut open the avocado. 
  2. Set aside with shredded cheese. 
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. 
  4. Meanwhile, put your bread in the toaster. 
  5. Spray the pan with nonstick spray for easy removal. 
  6. Crack an egg into the pan. I like to do it toward the side of the pan and then tip it to prevent too much spreading of the egg white. If you want you egg over-hard (no runny yolk), like me, poke the yolk after about 30 seconds. You can see mine isn't too pretty, but it all seems to come together by the end. Flip the egg. 
  7. Mash avocado (however much you desire) onto the toast. 
  8. Season with salt and pepper. 
  9. Place spinach leaves on top of the avocado. 
  10. Place egg over spinach. 
  11. Sprinkle with cheese (if desired), salt, and pepper.
Visit Lucy's website for a few other tasty ideas — she has quite a few.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Breathing for Self-Defense

Here is a video by Sigung Richard Clear, who will be giving workshops in Fairfax, Va., on September 20-22. I have attended four events he has held — two Tai Chi Gala workshops, one semi-private healing workshop and a qi gong healing weekend workshop — and I have learned a lot and enjoyed myself immensely.

If you're interested in attending his upcoming Fairfax workshop, drop me a note via e-mail and I'll share the information with you.

Check out his YouTube channel for more videos.

Hope to see you in September.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Lemon Breakfast Parfait

Easy breakfast dish? Plenty of fruit, a little protein and a delightful presentation? Yes, please.

And, as Donkey is wont to say, "Who doesn't like a parfait?" 

This Lemon Breakfast Parfait recipe is courtesy of Master Forks and is perfect for diabetic diners.

  • 3/4 c  fat-free milk
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/3 c  quick-cooking couscous
  • 1/2 c  lemon low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 c  light dairy sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp  honey
  • 1/4 tsp  finely shredded lemon peel
  • 3 c  assorted fruit (such as sliced strawberries, nectarines, or star fruit; sliced peeled kiwifruit; blueberries; and/or raspberries)
1. In a medium saucepan combine milk and salt. Bring to boiling. Stir in couscous; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 minute. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Cool.
2. In a small bowl combine yogurt, sour cream, honey, and lemon peel; stir into couscous mixture.
3. To serve, spoon half of the fruit into 6 parfait glasses. Spoon couscous mixture over fruit; top with the remaining fruit. Makes 6 servings

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Seven Transformations of the Tai Chi Form

Tai Chi, like all other disciplines of study (including non-martial arts studies), evolve over time. It is important to understand the phases of Tai Chi so we don't get to hung up on any one phase in our practice. The key is to keep an open mind so we are open to a deeper learning.

Here is how I see the Tai Chi phases, or building blocks, work and evolve.

Each individual will spend a different amount time on different phases, depending on their understanding, their ability to learn new things and dedication to practice.

  1. The form. The form is the series of movements that make up our set. This is the beginning of your Tai Chi practice. how we move properly, weighted and balanced. (Better balance provides fall prevention)
  2. Good dan tien breathing. We breath through the dan tien to create relaxation and energy flow through the body. (This lets us de-stress and lowers blood pressure.)
  3. Combine dan tien breathing with the form. This allows us to learn to move in a relaxed and balanced state of mind, or calm mindfulness.
  4. Apply the movements to self-defense scenarios. This adds more flow to the movements when it's attached to context. At this point, many practitioners begin to make the form their own — and we learn how to defend ourselves).
  5. Chi development. Make sure chi development takes place all through the study. When the form starts to flow and feel relaxed, chi flow increases and the form evolves once again. Now the form takes on a living, breathing feel as we expand and contract the chi energy. (Other health benefits include healthy organs).
  6. Revisit the self-defense aspect. This happens once the chi energy becomes more part of the form. Instead of just moving with the dan tien leading. We perform the self-defense movements with the expanding and contracting of energy. (Learn to manipulate opponents energy: "Move 1,000 pounds with four ounces.")
  7. Put your mind and body in harmony. It is imperative if you wish to perform Tai Chi skillfully — total relaxation. Mind and body need to be in harmony. This relaxation of mind and body can be very spiritual for some people. Spirituality brings better understanding of self, which in turn brings better relationships with others.
Tai Chi Chuan is multi-faceted, as I have stated many times. Each practitioner needs to choose how far to take their practice to make it enjoyable and beneficial to their needs.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Not Your Processed Fruit "Roll-Up"

Want to carry fruit with you, but you don't want the mess?

How about wrapping it to go?

Yes, it really is that easy.

Peanut Butter and Fruit Roll-Up

Image courtesy of Pinterest

It really is that easy. 

  1. Choose your bread. Keep it thin so it rolls easily, such as a whole wheat tortilla, thin pita (split a pita pocket in half) or naan.
  2. Choose your fruit. Banana are the perfect fruit on the go, but strawberries, raspberries or other fruit that's not too juicy or fragile may be on the menu. This is your creation, so make it your way.
  3. Choose your peanut butter. Check the sugar and salt content in your favorite peanut butter or spread to make sure you're staying healthy. Even a little may be too much.

What will you put in your roll-up?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: The Science of Elastic Force

I have attended dozens of workshops, seminars, classes and symposiums in my life, but only three have changed my life. The Science of Elastic Force, with Sifu Mark Rasmus, is one of them.

There are always new techniques to learn and tricks of the trade, but Mark Rasmus does his best to increase the overall skill level of his students — and succeeds.

The Science of Elastic Force is the elastic properties, magnetic properties and electrical properties of the human body. Once this is examined, we can take these forces and manipulate them on an opponent. Creating tidal waves of force, supplied by ripples of force from our opponent.

Sifu Mark Rasmus not only has great skill, but he is able to teach this skill in a limited amount of time. Perfecting this skill normally takes years — but after this two-day seminar, I feel like I got a pretty good handle on it.

Check out some of Sifu Mark Rasmus' videos on YouTube.

I also would like to thank everyone who attended the seminar because I enjoyed practicing with them. I just wish I was able to work with every person in attendance.

I also learned an important tidbit: eight or nine hours of Tai Chi a day is about my limit.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Grilled Brussels Sprouts

As this Chefs Recipe Magazine recipe proves, you really can grill anything. 

1 pound of Brussels Sprouts
2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Equipment needed:
  • Bamboo skewers
  • BBQ or Grill pan

  1. Skewer the sprouts.
  2. Mix the mustard and olive oil and brush it on the Brussels sprouts. 
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Learn About the Science of Elastic Force in Maryland This Weekend

This weekend, I will be studying with Sifu Mark Rasmus in Frederick, Md. during his seminar, Science of Elastic Force.

The two-day seminar, with Mid Atlantic Movement Arts, will feature much interesting information and fascinating hands-on training from this Australian metaphysician and longtime devotee to Wing Chun and Tai Chi.

I featured one of Sifu Mark Rasmus' videos on Tai Chi Tuesday yesterday, which I hope you were able to view. If not, visit my blog to watch the video — it's great!

Click here to Sifu Rasmus' website, and here you will find his YouTube channel.

Check out another of his videos, Tai Chi open and close push hands Sifu Mark Rasmus Chiang Mai Thailand.

Hope to see you this weekend.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Previewing the Skills of Sifu Mark Rasmus

I will attend Sifu Mark Rasmus' seminar this weekend in Maryland. Here is a video from his YouTube channel.

I am looking forward to all of the things I will learn and practice with him. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Fruit Popsicle

Hot enough for you? Try this all-natural fruit popsicle, courtesy of DAMY Health.

Tropical Fruit Protein Popsicles

  • 5 large strawberries
  • 1 orange
  • 1 can of pineapple
  • 1 c blueberries
  • 1 c Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp sugar (or 6 packets of stevia)

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Fill popsicle molds and place in freezer.
  3. Freeze for 24 hours.
  4. Enjoy!
Makes at least six popsicles. (Use leftovers for smoothies.)

Protein Option: Add two scoops of vanilla to make this a high-protein summer snack.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Overnight Oatmeal

Mornings are hectic enough without having to make breakfast — so don't.

Make breakfast the night before.

Here's a recipe from Simple Sundays to make oatmeal overnight in your refrigerator.

Photo courtesy Simple Sundays

Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal

YIELD: 1 serving
PREP TIME: 3 minutes
COOK TIME: 5-8 hours
TOTAL TIME: 8 hours
What I love about this recipe is that there are no hard or fast rules. Don't like soy milk? Use skim milk. Or almond milk. Use fresh or dried fruit, or both. Drizzle some maple syrup. Make this a mid day snack with carob chips and nuts. The possibilities are endless.


1/4 cup oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon crushed walnuts
fresh fruit


In a 250 ml or 8 oz mason jar, combine the oats, chia seeds, vanilla soy milk, dried fruit and nuts. Cover with lid and shake until combined. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or ideally, overnight. Top with fresh fruit in the morning and enjoy!