A holistic approach to looking after your body.

The health, fitness and diet businesses are multi-million pound industries. Health clubs promote healthy lifestyle packages, offering different types of exercise to obtain the perfect body. The diet and health food industry offers the latest diets to promote a fitter, leaner body, along with multi vitamin supplements to help you stay healthy. All the solutions are marketed and packaged in appealing, exciting and often expensive ways. The use of social media campaigns keeps them at the forefront of our minds. Their gadgets, apps and targets ignite the competitive ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ side of our subconscious and we are often torn in many ways with the added pressures from family and friends, and work and financial commitments. Realistically, how conducive is all this to good mental and physical health? Yes, these methods of exercise and diet may help to improve your fitness, but do they make you truly healthy? Does life really need to be that complicated? The answer to both of these questions if ‘no’, a fit body isn’t necessarily a healthy body and a happy, healthy lifestyle really doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated.

I wonder how many people know about the hidden secret diet, oh that’s not really its name but it could be. It is actually called the Chang Ming Diet and it has been around for a long time, it is part of the LFA Health Arts and was bought to England in the early nineteen thirties by Chan Kam Lee the last in line of the Lee Family. Chan Kam Lee taught, amongst many other aspects of the Lee Family arts, the art of Chang Ming. This three-thousand-year-old health diet was passed down from generation to generation and finally Chan Kam Lee brought it to England and translated it and converted it so people in the western world would benefit too.

At first glance it seems quite a harsh diet and admittedly when I first read about it my own reaction was, ‘I could do that but why would I want to?’ Funnily enough six months later, I was on the Chang Ming diet. That was in the nineteen eighties. Do I still follow the Chang Ming diet? The honest answer is most of the time. There are times when I break it, we are all only human. There have been times when I have broken my diet but for instance if I eat tropical fruit or if I eat a tomato the joints in my fingers start to hurt. To me the solution is simple, I cut out the tomato and the tropical fruit and the problem rights itself.

You may ask what I get out of it and why have I stuck to it for all these years and the simple answer is because it keeps me healthy. I look around me and see others of a similar age suffering from arthritis, low energy and other health debilitating conditions. They often shrug their shoulders and say it’s our age. I don’t accept that and prefer to direct my mind in a more productive way to maintaining my health. I have found over the years that as I am healthy I am also naturally fit and where my peers are looking to slow down as they age into retirement I look for the new opportunities that life continually offers.

In today’s society we are conditioned to take a pill, the quick fix so that we can continue to eat and drink what we like. Then we might need to take another pill because the first one produces a side effect. Not a problem we can easily swallow two pills instead of one. Problem solved, or is it? The answer to the problem is

simple but it involves us going back to the root of the cause, why do we choose to eat how we do and what makes us select one food over another? Advertising has a lot to do with it, along with budget, time constraints and the inability to control our urges.

Over-eating or eating the wrong things causes problems, by simply stopping over- eating or eating the wrong things the problems will be eliminated allowing your body to return to its natural healthy state. Like I said, the solution is simple, what I am not saying however, is that it is easy. It takes will-power and mind control to refuse that extra helping, to say no to that delicious chocolatey cake, or to avoid that fast food takeaway when you are tired and really don’t want to cook. But how many times have you gone with your craving only to regret it shortly after… You have eaten that extra portion only to reach for the indigestion remedy 20 minutes later, you have loved the chocolate effect or sugar rush when it made you feel better, only to discover the problem that caused you to the need the comfort food still exists when you come down from your sugar rush, and the quick fix takeaway food that instantly filled a gap but left you feeling hungry and wanting more only an hour after eating it.

I eat very well, I don’t have to be a vegan or a vegetarian to be on the Chang Ming diet, but I can be if I chose, the diet lends itself to both. The diet does require me to cook things from scratch but it doesn’t mean I have to spend hours in the kitchen every mealtime. I tend to batch cook and freeze, life is all about priorities and I have lots of other things I like to do with my time. The diet is all part of the LFA way of life that I follow. A way of life that blends gentle exercise with movement. Movement that scientific research has now verified that can produce the same cardio benefits as running. But the exercise side of T’ai Chi does much more than simply work the muscles of the body. All the exercises provide mindfulness, that is a meditation in motion. Exercises that strengthen and focus the mind as well as working the physical aspects of the body. You have a mind and a body. Every part of you needs to work for you to feel at the top of your game and have a zest for life. Your mind and the body as a whole needs to be worked, not for sweat and exertion but for pleasure and joy. Do you wake in the morning with that good to be alive feeling? If the answer is ‘no’ ask yourself ‘why?’ and more importantly ‘what are you going to do about it?’

When I say that I teach T’ai Chi some people roll their eyes, some eyes glaze over and some people want to run as fast as they can from the conversation. Most people have no idea what T’ai Chi is remarking that it’s that self-defence thing or the old people waving their arms about and calling it exercise.

If you think T’ai Chi is the soft option, then think again. You can try something once or twice for an hour a week and think you know T’ai Chi but the knowing comes with many years of practice and even then some people never progress further than the physical movements. T’ai Chi is different from other types of exercise. We ask you to be independent in your practise and think for yourselves, it is not a case of just copying your instructor, and although you will gain from the movements by

copying, that method does not help to strengthen your focus and develop your mind.

LFA T’ai Chi is not just a physical exercise, it is not just meditation, it is a holistic approach to good health and longevity. Just as your heart cannot work without your lungs and your lungs cannot work without the air that your breath, the practice of T’ai Chi brings each aspect of life together ensuring that each part of you is functioning properly. Therefore, when outside forces, such as the pressures of life or viruses and infections threaten, you have the best weapons at your disposal to withstand them.