Friday, 31 January 2014

Chinese New Year Celebrations

We decided to take the family and check out the Chinese New Year Celebrations at the Chung Tian Temple on Brisbane's southside. Ive been before many years ago and thought it would be good to get out of the house for a bit of a different experience. I knew the Shaolin Kung Fu Guan demo team were going to be there for the Lion Dance and Kung Fu demo, and knew Suki (our Daughter) would get a kick out of seeing the Lions jump around.

Thursday night so there wasn't as many people as I was expecting from previous years which was nice. Not long after we entered the main grounds, we decided to have a look around and at that moment we were approached by one of the temple information guys and asked if we would like to take a private tour.
I don't know why he approached us and not all the others around, maybe we looked lost, ha ha.

This was an amazing experience. He took us around the entire site and explained what everything meant and all the symbolism etc. From the basics of Chinese writing and how it was formed,  to what all the figures meant on the roof edges. It was also very interesting to hear the true story behind Buddha. I grew up in a Christian family and heard a lot of propaganda and false information about other beliefs, so to hear some real history was refreshing. For instance Buddha was not a Deity, he was and always has been just a man, and all the statues do not represent images of a god but of different aspects of ones self. Buddha himself said that there shall not be any statues made of him, and it wasn't until 500 years later that other crusaders built statues in his image, as he sounded like a god to them. That's a very brief account of the whole story. Also interesting to learn the difference between a lot of other Chinese beliefs and Buddhism, as people tend to get confused and mix them all up as one thing, which is also how I've been taught in the past.
photo I took at the Chung Tian Temple for Chinese New Year 2007

After the tour it was on to drink tea and sample some of the food. We watched some of the dances and music performances while we waited for the lion dances. I wanted to stay until the Kung fu Demos had finished however for Suki, after seeing the lions was enough and was getting restless, so we headed home.

So why have family outings in a health and wellness blog ?
Because wellness isn't just about diet and exercise. Just as your body needs food to stimulate and grow, your brain, and your family relationship needs stimulation to. We knew it was going to be a later night than usual for us and our daughter, and we could have just stayed at home and watched a movie, or just nothing at all. However the experience was so well worth it, and Suki had not seen anything like it before. Plus as Shaolin Kung Fu is derived and formed around Zen Buddhism, the information we learnt tonight was very useful to help understand a bit more about how it came to be.
Knowledge is understanding, and one should not make assumptions about someone, a race of people or their beliefs but learn the true story about them.
This evening was, I dare say, an enlightening experience.

Weigh in - Progress

Time for the weekly weigh in to see how much difference ive made.

1.5kg and 1% body fat.

Not bad for the first week. (see chart above)
All I did was drink less beer and consciously remove all sugars from my diet whilst eating slightly better meals. I also increased saturated fats and protein, as Im a Protein Type  .
Started drinking more tea ie. Yerba Mate and some liver detox tea in the mornings before breakfast.
Ive cut down the coffee to one a day, and usually around mid morning.
Still tons of room for improvement though.

Exercise plan is still just one evening a week of Shaolin Kung Fu, and daily Intuflow Beginner Program, although ive been a bit slack this first week.

Also in the chart above Ive started to track my progress in horse stance. Low with arms out, like this Photo of Jackie Chan from the movie Drunken Master, however arms out to the side as opposed to the front.
I test the times with a stop watch after going through Intuflow program and basic Shaolin warm up so im not doing it on cold muscles.

This is all for my own benefit, you can track anything you want really. But tracking on graphs such as above helps to keep motivated and stay focused. Plus its proof that what you are doing is actually doing something positive.

I need to focus on..
- Improving my diet plan, (Way less beer. )
- more exercise between Shaolin classes ie. walking, running, sprinting, jumping, plyometrics for jump height and anaerobic interval training for lung capacity and power..

Till next time.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Shaolin Day 2

Expecting to be drilled hard again, I was far more prepared.
Timed my meals for the day so I was well digested for the session and kept hydrated throughout the day.
For the session I prepared a diluted mix of about 200ml of electrolyte style premix (gatorade) with about 1 Litre of clean filtered rain water. I almost passed out last week and lost a lot of fluid so wasn't about to let that happen again.

Ive also been working on breathing exercises to increase lung capacity throughout the week .

But then the Training session was very different this week. The warm ups and drills were the same however just when I thought we were about to get to the hard stuff we stopped, formed a circle and and had a series of techniques explained to us. Some history, reasons why we use these techniques and different levels of application. ie. disable an attacker so one can escape to breaking the arm of a weapon wielding assailant.
And then we split up with partners to practice.

I like this place even more now. The teaching style so calm and although I found it difficult to get my head around some of the techniques at first , I remember everything that as taught. I even dreamt about it that night.

Looking forward to next week. Give it another week or 2 to get my lung capacity and stamina back up, and Ill start training 2 days a week.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Back to the basics

Time to start all over again. Re-tweaking my diet is first on the agenda.
I don't have any 'belief' systems when it comes to food, I just eat according to what makes me feel amazing.

To start, I re took the Metabolic typing test. Every ones body is very different and requires different diets to function properly, and metabolic typing tests are one of the best ways to find out how your body functions.

Its not a diet as such, and the word 'diet' its self is misused these days. A diet simply means what you eat. You don't go ON a diet as that leads to coming OFF a diet. and since most 'Diets' are designed treating everyone the same, they don't work for most people.

As usual , my result leaned heavily to the protein type. I've known this for years though.
When I first changed my diet to focus on protein and remove sugar of all types, I did it over 6 months and constant consultation
with my doctor and monthly blood tests. In the end both me and my doctor were very impressed with the results. As my doctor said at the time "your last blood test came back perfect"

Main thing I need to focus on.
- cutting down on Beer and Alcohol intake.
- being more conscious of removing sugar from my diet.
- removing more starchy and 'empty' carbs from my diet.

Here's what my Protein chart will look like From Dr Mercola's website . Remember this is just a guide and if you need to tweak your diet more, start a diet diary so you start to take notice of how you feel on certain foods. ie. if you have a meal and fall asleep, you are probably eating the wrong thing.

If you want to know more about metabolic typing try this book. Metabolic Typing diet which has the typing test in it,  and there is a free Typing test on Dr Mercolas Website . Or if you are not confident in learning this your self, please consult an experienced Nutritionist.

Friday, 24 January 2014

The first Weigh in

Sill hurting from Tuesdays training session, I thought Id better get a weigh in and find my fat % as a starting reference. All you need is standard scales and body measuring calipers to do this.
Back when I used to train I managed to get myself to around 72kg and 8% body fat, in the end mostly through diet as my back injury meant I was only able to do light exercise such as intermediate Intuflow .
I tracked everything using a spreadsheet and graphs, see image above.
The caliper charts I use put you in a general area of % which is why it drops in chunks.

Todays weigh in .

85kg     16.8% body fat. 

Not a bad start considering the amount of beer Ive been drinking.
that's almost back where I was at the start of 2007.

My first goal from this is to loss the body fat and some over all weight, then working building muscle.
As these processes are completely opposite, its impossible to do both at once. "Fat loss requires a Calorie deficit and muscle gain requires a Higher calorie intake.
The main thing to focus on with food is high nutritional value. so you are still getting all the nutrients while eating smaller meals.
Another trick ill be using is calorie tapering. Largest meal for breakfast , medium for lunch and small for dinner."

17-02-2014 UPDATE: I now know this to be completely untrue. You do not need less calories to loose fat but quite the opposite . The part about nutritional value is correct. high nutrients and and more frequent meals . This raises and supports your metabolism which in turn burns more calories. Calorie tapering isn't necessarily true either however one should still work towards correct timing of meals. I strongly recommend downloading and reading Scott Sonnons FREE nutritional guide as its loaded with information to help you understand your own body both mentally and physically.

- Ideally this process should burn fat, and maintain lean mass as much as possible. Without measuring Body fat percentage, theres no way of telling if you are burning fat or loosing muscle.
- Weigh and caliper yourself first thing in the morning , after going to the toilet and before eating or drinking anything. This is the most neutral time to do so as it eliminates any outside weight such as liquids or food.
- Only weigh your self once a week, even though the morning is most neutral, there is still fluctuation day to day. Weighing weekly is all that is needed and stops you from worrying when you notice a kg difference here and there , it maybe down to a large meal, lots of water or dehydration .

PS. my legs hurt so bad I can hardly walk for the past 2 days.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Shaolin day 1

I tried as hard as I could to come up with an excuse to not do this. One of the hottest days this summer but I still had to go through with it. After a full days work in the heat I headed on over to the facility at Mt Gravatt.
I was early so looped the block a few times to sus out the place and talked my self into going through with it.
I was nervous yes, new school, new people, new style and after all its been 7 years of beer drinking since I last exerted myself.

But that all changed the second I walked through the door. Greeted with a welcoming smile from Sifu Ramesh Patel I instantly felt good about the whole thing. I like this place. Calm Chinese music quietly piping through the air, im suddenly looking forward to it.

After the initial class greeting its onto basic jogging warm up. I remember this, but I forgot what happens after. A few more warm up exercises, not to unlike what I had done in the past, then It was onto the drills.
DAMN. I really DID forget about this bit.

Straight in the deep end. Kicks, jumps up and down the hall, over and over, new techniques which were this time quite different than my past training, yet far more efficient, I found the style impressive. I was initially reverting back to old habits however these were swiftly corrected . I learnt a lot from this first day.

If that makes it sound easy, it was NOT!
I was exhausted almost instantly,  Barely got through the first 20 mins, severe loss of breath, dizzy and felt like throwing up, I had definitely lost all my stamina, and in the end, I didnt manage to complete the first session.

After walking it off, getting the blood flowing again, and regain my breath, we finished the class with some basic style demos and practice.
After , I was advised to take a hot shower and rub in tiger balm especially the quads.
and after that I attempted to walk to my car.
Both eye opening and exhausting, this first day was well worth it, and thus begins my obsession with Shaolin Kung Fu.

Key points I need to work on.

- Lung capacity.
- General stamina

Next session Tuesday 28th Jan. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

In the Beginning...

2008. I was rehabilitating from injuries and training to be a CST instructor (see story here - , when a series of life events sent me down a very different path.  Work redundancy,  a divorce,  more friends dying and a week at Woodford folk festival changed the way I thought about living.  From married, a full time stable job,  and a house mortgage to single and living in a bus, with a new plan to travel the country from festival to festival.  That WAS the plan anyhow.  But not how the story goes.

Now,  married again and with a 2 year old daughter,  after going through bouts of depression and back on the booze to deal with it,  or not deal with it as it were.  Playing in bands again which led to becoming a full time vision and lighting tech or 'VJ' ( for a while, meant spending a lot of time on the club scene and lots of sleepless nights and lots of alcohol.

But it's not all bad.  I love working in the music scene again and it was a line by Aussie hip hop artist Dialectrix that woke me up and pulled me out of the depression.  "I had to go and figure it quick,  lickidy split, getting rid of the negative activity shit.  The instant you do you soon recognise there's a change to ya mood and ya soul and ya mind... " ( track: what's important,  from the album audio projectile) yes music can do that!
Also thanks to the music scene,  recently in 2013 on a tour with Resin Dogs, The flight back from Melbourne, their Mc 'DNO' was watching me play Skyrim on my laptop and asked how much time I spend playing this. I said '180 hours so far' and with that he replied... "Imagine what you could have achieved in that 180 hours?" . And that was the last time I ever played Skyrim...

Now,  2014,  a tour in New Zealand over new years working as a VJ,  I met a friend who got me onto this liver detox tea by Artemis,  which tastes more bitter the worse your liver is.  And damn it tasted bitter. But after a few days it began to taste quite pleasant,  and I felt a lot better. And so it got me thinking about how good I used to feel every day.  Also on the same tour some new friends were talking about going back and training in martial arts after a long break and that got me thinking even more.  Should I go back to Taekwondo and Hapkido after a 7 year break.?
After all, my injuries are well recovered thanks to the help of a very experienced sports physiotherapist.  And I now know how to avoid such injuries.

So as of last week.  January 14th 2014 I decided to get back to it.  Im so out of practice id pretty much have to start over again, so instead of previous martial arts I've decided to switch styles and school to Brisbane's own Shaolin Kung Fu Guan. I've always been intrigued by the skills of the Shaolin monks, and these guys are the official representative of the temple here in Australia.

This blog is a diary of my daily practice and progress as I start back on a path to mastery.  Shaolin Kung Fu training with integrated CST and an attempt to get back to wellness and finish my CST instructor cert. And maybe even onto CST coach.
The Daily practice diary is part of the CST certification so hopefully by making it public,  I may be able to inspire some others to get back to it as well,  or make a start for themselves.
Besides, I've done this all before, how hard can it be???. ha ha ha.