Thursday, June 27, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Prevention Magazine: Eggs v. Egg Whites, Mano a Mano!

How many of us think we're doing ourselves a favor by eschewing a yolk or two?  Let Prevention give each a fair fight. May the better food win.

Find the article in Prevention Magazine

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: The Thirteen Postures

    All the thirteen postures of Tai Chi Ch’uan must not be treated lightly. The meaning of life originates at the waist.
    The thirteen postures of Tai Chi Chuan are the foundation base to this art. It is important that students be shown and trained in them. Yang Cheng-fu tells us in his Ten Important Points "that the waist is the commander and that all movement must pass through the waist." The waist is also where we must turn to generate Chi and storing it at the Tan Tien.
    When moving from substantial to insubstantial, one must take care that the Chi is circulated throughout the entire body with out the slightest hindrance.
    When moving the body through the movements, it is important that you are aware of your changes from insubstantial to the substantial and that the Chi is still being transported to various part of the body. To do this you must be very relaxed and your mind clear so as Chi can flow easily without any hindrance. When this happens you have health. When it stagnates ill health will follow.
    Find the movement in the stillness, even stillness in movement. Even when you respond to the opponent’s movement, show the marvel of the technics and fill him with wonder.
    Tai Chi is referred to as moving meditation. The mind should be as still as if you are in sitting meditation, but you should still be able to actively circulate your Chi. You should look centered and calm from the out side, but with in is like a raging sea. When you are attacked you should still be calm and aware. When you have learned this you are able to respond in a calm and natural way to an opponents moves. Tai Chi is change and you should follow and respond naturally to the opponents every subtle move and situation.
    Pay attention to every posture and study its purpose. That way you will gain the art without wasting your time and energy.
    Study wide and deep and with determination and seriousness and that will determine your degree of success. To understand each posture you must study and research its nature and purpose then to acquire your goal is easy.
    In every movement you must pay attention so as the heart (mind) stay on the waist, then completely relax the abdomen, and your Chi will rise up.
    When you commence your Tai Chi form, allow your mind to sink to your waist and focus on Tan Tien (Yi Sou Tan Tien). When your abdomen is relaxed and your mind clear, the Chi will rise up and permeate your whole body.
    Your Tail Bone should be centered and upright so as your spirit (Shen) rises to the top of the head. The top of the head is suspended and the entire body is relaxed and light.
    Your tailbone should be straight, but do not exert force to acquire this, it should be natural for to force this will cause the tailbone to push forward. The back is straight with an insubstantial energy lifting up through the top of the head.
    Carefully study and pay attention when doing research, extension and contraction, opening and closing follow their freedom.
    This point relates to pushing hands. Contract to neutralise the opponent’s power, and at the same time close to store your Jin (chin) then extend and open to emit your Jin. To do this your technic must be natural and free flowing to follow you opponent’s intention. This allows you to stick and follow and to defeat your opponent. If you don’t research these technics you will never gain the key to Tai Chi Ch’uan.
    To enter the door and to be led along the way, you need to have oral instruction; practice without ceasing, and the technic is achieved by self-study.
    It is important that you understand that a teacher is needed to learn the art. There are to many subtleties and it is easy to miss what is being emphasized in a movement. If you make a slight error at the beginning, by the time you have reached the end you will have missed by a thousand miles. In the early times there where two types of students, those of the outer school and those of the inner. Outer school students where taught the basic form and only a little of the principles. The inner school students where those chosen as worthy and of right quality that were shown the inner secrets of the styles. To day most students have the opportunity to study wider and deeper than those only in the outer school. It is amazing to day to hear the number of students who put them selves in the outer school when they say "I have finished the form, now I know Tai Chi"! All they have is form. It is when you have the form together that the real learning begins. You need a good teacher who can impart the knowledge to you and once you have been shown the way, then it is up to you to practice unceasingly and continue researching yourself.
    When asked about the standard, function and application of the thirteen postures, the answer should be the Yi (mind) and Chi are the master, and the bones and muscles are the chancellor.
    When looking at the correctness of movement the criteria is, are the mind and Chi directing the movement. All the movements are done with Jin supported by the Chi and directed by the Yi (mind). If the movements are done with the bones and muscles, this is your Li (strength) and is considered incorrect.
    Carefully investigate what the ultimate meaning is: to increase and extend our health and age, and maintain a youthful body.
    This is what most people learning Tai Chi to day are looking for. The important thing here is to practice many time and often, then the prize will be won.
    The song consists of one hundred and forty characters, every character is true and its meaning is complete. If you do not approach and study in this manner, then you will waste your time and energy, and sigh in regret.
    It does not matter for what reason you study the art, whether for health or martial art, you must study the meaning of the Song of Thirteen Postures or you are just wasting your time and energy and your effort will amount to nothing.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal

Save money. Eat exactly the food you enjoy.Reduce over-processed food from your diet.
These are just a few ways homemade instant oatmeal is a good idea. Check out this great recipe from Kate Morin at Greatist.

Makes about 16 single servings
What You'll Need:
  • 6 cups quick cooking oats
  • ½ tsp salt

Flavoring Ingredients:
  • The Classic: ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Raisin Spice: 1 cup raisins, 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • Chocolate mix: 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Tropical Mix: ¼ cup dried apricots, ¼ cup crushed macadamia or hazelnuts, ¼ cup powdered creamer (like CoffeeMate)
  • Get Nutty: ½ cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans or slivered almonds work well)
  • Blender or food processor (if you want to cut down the recipe and make a much smaller batch, a Magic Bullet works wonders, here)
  • 16 plastic baggies, OR a large jar for storage (I often keep my mix in a large jar, and scoop out one serving into a single-serve Tupperware container when I want it on-the-go)
  • Large spoon ( for mixing, duh)
  • Large bowl
What to Do:
  1. Place 2 cups oatmeal into blender/food processor until it turns to powder.
  2. Mix powdered oats in large bowl with remaining 4 cups whole oats. Add salt and whatever extras you want. Stir until evenly combined.
  3. Place mixture in airtight container or divide into single-serve portions in baggies. Usually, it’s a heaping ½ cup. (If you think that’s too big a serving for you, you can cut it down and just have more single servings.
  4. To eat: Mix the oats with ¾ cup boiling water. Stir to combine, and let sit for 3 minutes.  As with any oatmeal, you can use milk instead of water if you so desire!
Recipe and photo courtesy Greatist

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Novel Tai Chi

For most people, practicing tai chi is a choice. For Tao, however, it's a new life — and for Roan, it's a total surprise.

Wesley Chu features tai chi in his new science fiction novel, The Lives of Tao, which prominently features martial arts and fitness as a way of life — no, the only way to live — in this world and every other.

Reviewers call funny and fast-paced. Are you going to read it? I think I will. I'll let you know what I think.

Have you found other fiction in which tai chi is featured? Or is it a tough practice to convey into words? Let me know in the messages below, or drop me a line.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Calorie Counter: Cayenne Quiche

Spice up your breakfast with this tasty protein-rich breakfast that reheats well.

Cayenne Quiche

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 cup bell peppers, sliced
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 Tbsp scallions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Oil a skillet and pour in egg mixture.
  4. Cook in oven until lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes, then serve.
The Numbers: 581 Calories; 31g Protein; 30g Carb; 41g Fat; 7g Fiber.
Total Time: 37 minutes.

Recipe and photo courtesy Men's Ftness.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tai Chi Gala: An Event You Don't Want to Miss

The annual Tai Chi Gala in Albany this year celebrated the Year of the Water Snake — and it was an intense weekend of study, learning, reflection and great opportunities to study with some of the most learned and well-known shifus and healers  in the nation.

If you are not familiar with the gala, it is a gathering of great Tai Chi instructors enjoying a chance to share their wealth of knowledge. This year's instructors such as Dr John Painter, Shifu William C. Phillips, Master Ken Lo, Master Donald Wong, Sigung Richard Clear and Shifu Shariff Bey — and others.

Credit for this great event rests on the shoulders of Shifu Loretta Wollering and her tireless efforts in organizing the Tai Chi Gala. workshops included Qi awareness, flat sword principles, push hands, Tai Chi ruler, freestyle Tai Chi fighting and Hung Ga tendon training. At the end of the weekend there is even a  Ba Gua week with Dr. John Painter.

These are just samples of activities from which participants could choose.

The festivities started Friday night with registration, dinner, and kung fu movies played on a big screen.

Saturday begins early with a stretching class or Qi Gong class to get you prepared for the day.

Participants choose from a large selection of classes: there are four time slots, and each offers as many as four different classes.

After dinner, the instructors give demonstrations of their prowess. This is always popular. It starts with a lion dance then proceeds to forms, sword forms — and this year there was even  a push hands demonstration.

The Best Western of Albany provided the venue and the menu. The hotel staff was amazing, totally professional and eager to serve. All meals were available at the hotel; unfortunately, the food this year did not match the quality of years past, but we hope it will be back on track next year.

If you want to take a Tai Chi vacation next June, keep an eye on the Tai Chi Gala website for details.

I almost forgot: if you do go, check out the tea ceremony with Master Ken Lo. It's incredible.

Hope to see you there next year.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Aiding Those Experiencing Parkinson Disease

image courtesy Alexander Barron via Pinterest:
Grandmaster Cheng Man Ching

Tai chi has yet another therapeutic application: for those who experience Parkinson Disease.

A study by Madeleine E. Hackney and Gammon M. Earhart published in Gait & Postures Journal in 2008  shows that tai chi can be helpful for balance and dexterity for those experiencing mild to mild-moderately severe Parkinson Disease.

According to the study's abstract, 33 people with the disease were randomly assigned to two groups. The Tai Chi group participated in 20 one-hour training sessions completed within 10–13 weeks; the control group had two testing sessions between 10 and 13 weeks apart without interposed training. 

The tai chi group improved more than the control group on six indicators of balance, gait and mobility — and all tai chi participants reported satisfaction with the program and improvements in well-being. Read about the study here.

Tai chi appears to be an appropriate, safe and effective form of exercise for some individuals with mild-moderately severe form of the disease.

Check back tomorrow for a tai chi bonus about the annual Tai Chi Gala in Albany.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Banana-Stuffed Strawberries

Sate your sweet tooth with bananas and strawberries. Make it even healthier with some Greek yogurt.

Who knew you could get so much taste at less than 150 calories a serving?

Banana Stuffed Strawberries

8 strawberries
2 oz. vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 small banana
1 tablespoon sliced almonds

  1. Mash the banana in a bowl with a fork. Mix in the yogurt.
  2. Using a knife, carve out the middle of each strawberry.
  3. Fill the center of each strawberry with the banana-yogurt mixture and top with sliced almonds.

Now, the best part: the nutritional facts:

Recipe and images courtesy of Fit Sugar — check out more delicious ideas there!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tai Chi Tuesday: Therapeutic Benefits of Tai Chi

You know tai chi is good for you. Now you can list the reasons to encourage your friends and cohorts to join you at your Tai Chi class. Kansas City's Golden Guide offers a handy list of how tai chi benefits your health.

I've already highlighted a few of the benefits, including:

Here's another:

  • Tai Chi appears to be associated with improvements in psychological well-being — including reduced stress, anxiety, depression and mood disturbance, and increased self-esteem. A Tufts University study U.S. National Library of Medicine reviewed data on eight U.S. databases and three Chinese databases. Read the study to find out more.

Find a tai chi class near you — and invite a friend to join you. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Protein Shake vs. Chocolate Milk: Which Rules for Post-Workout Protein?

There are plenty of opinions about protein shakes versus chocolate milk for a post-workout protein injection. The question is: which is best for you?

One of the things I pay attention to is the ingredient list.

Chocolate milk consists of lowfat milk and chocolate powder or syrup (chocolate and sweetener).

If you look at the ingredient list on most protein shakes, you likely will find sodium and cholesterol. This is not conducive to a lean diet, so check your labels carefully: protein shakes may not be the best choice for you.

Also, remember: the human body can't digest more than 25-30 grams of protein at one sitting. Any more than that and the body secretes it.

Another advantage to chocolate milk is that it aids in regulating blood sugar levels and has the proper carb-to-protein ratio.

So, if you have a choice and want to get the best bang for your buck on a post-workout supplement, try lowfat chocolate milk.