T’ai chi Report

Woman practicing T’ai ChiI’ve only been to the gym once this week but I’ve managed to get exercise in every day. This is progress. Monday was the gym with 40 minutes of cardio (bike, elliptical, treadmill). Yesterday I did some walking but mostly that was getting myself to my T’ai Chi class, which is downtown in the adult ed center, housed in an old Back Bay mansion. We had class in the recently renovated ballroom, which was pretty awesome.

Jen asked what I thought about T’ai Chi and I’ve been pondering. I can’t say I was blown away or suddenly found the path to enlightenment or that my knee was magically healed or that we stood there and did those smooth, slow poses that people on TV commercials do when they are using T’ai Chi to sell arthritis medicine. But I did feel lighter and more in tune with my body because, unlike my usual gym stuff, we pretty much stayed within a relatively small space and paid attention to what was happening inside our bodies and how they responded.

There were warm up exercises that concentrated, not on stretching muscles but on moving the joints. This was different and it was awkward – our instructor was very smooth but we were lurching around. But I could feel things I hadn’t noticed before, in my hips and my shoulders and feet, and that was good. We learned how to walk and how to do this rocking balancing thing. And practiced meditation and got in touch with our chi. It was all pretty new agey. But I liked it.

There are apparently different flavors of T’ai Chi and we are learning one of the smaller, less well known ones – Hwa-Yu T’ai Chi. The movements are basically less expansive than what I had expected, and we’ll only learn one of the animal … positions? poses? I forget the right word. There are twelve animals but learning one well takes a couple of weeks and this session is only 7 weeks long. So we will learn the Tiger, which is all about spine things. That sounds good to me, my spine liked what we did yesterday.

I’m not totally sure that my knee is going to like doing this. Standing up for the whole hour, and doing some of the bendy things, I could feel it getting less and less happy with me even while my spine was feeling good. The instructor gave us some tips on how to practice the exercises if we have a bad leg; I wasn’t the only one. So I’ll give it a shot and take it a little at a time. I’m glad I arranged to have a car nearby so I could just get home to my bag of frozen peas quickly; that helped.

Today I did some of my little T’ai Chi homework exercises here and there where I could, to practice. And I also hiked down to another doctor’s appointment and back again, about 2 miles or so total. I hadn’t planned to do that and was wearing clogs and not good walking shoes, and it was cold and my nose was running. But I did it and it felt good to be outside – and I also knew I could count that as my activity for the day.

Tomorrow I think I need to do some arm things. My legs have done a lot already.

Small victory

Victorious womanI am very pleased with myself. My afternoon schedule yesterday was out of whack because I had an eye doctor’s appointment that threw me out of my routine. After work I was off to my first T’ai Chi class and I’d expected to just go from work and not have time to dilly dally around. But going from the clinic instead, I had not enough time to go home but too much time to go right to the center.

Free time = time to find something to eat.

I wasn’t really all that hungry, having had a big salad at lunch with all kinds of interesting flavors and textures. And I’d already calculated out what I was going to have for dinner when I got home and I had no extra points available for the day, though were some left in the weekly flex allowance. Since I ate so many of those on one box of WW treats on Sunday, though, I am trying to just stay within my daily points to compensate.

However, Starbucks was on the corner. I was cold, they have hot things. With nibbles to go with them. I was comfortable getting a tall non-fat chai latte, having done that before and figuring out how I could adjust food so I could account for it. My eye then fell on the little packets of chocolate covered cookies right at the register. Clearly they are there so people like me can impulse-buy them, snarf them down, and then hit themselves in the head and say, “what possessed me?”

I bought one package of two milk-chocolate covered graham crackers and promptly bit into one. It was divine. Chocolatey, rich tasting, yummy. But I was getting nervous about the idea of eating two. “I’ll save the second one until after class,” I said to myself virtuously. Ha ha ha. That was not a likely story. Then I had the presence of mind to pull out the package and look at the label. I know, it’s a novel concept.

The serving size was not the whole package of two crackers, it was ONE cracker at 140 calories and 7 gms of fat each. Even on the fly I could calculate that as at least 3 points, and as much as I liked one of them, I could not justify eating two. It wouldn’t taste any better and would just suck me into a pit of “oh well, what’s the difference now?” So I threw that perfectly good yummy milk chocolate covered graham cracker away and walked purposefully to T’ai Chi. Yayyyy me!

In the scheme of things, this was a small small food decision. But it was surprisingly hard to make. Eat a whole pizza? nope, not gonna do it. Eat a big serving of brownies a la mode? nope, not gonna do it. Eat two chocolate covered cookies? That is a lot harder. If I hadn’t looked at the package and verified the serving size and the nutritional value, I might have just mindlessly eaten it, nibble by nibble, and probably have forgotten to record it. Instead, I tossed the cookie, kept the wrapper, and recorded it in my journal when I got home. I ate cereal for dinner to compensate but I was okay with it – I stayed within my points 🙂