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Get in Shape With David



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Tai Chi Tuesday: Benefits for COPD Patients

Posted on 11 February, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (0)

Medical science continues to catch up with ancient Asian practices: preliminary medical studies in China recognize the value of Tai Chi for patents diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

At the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, 40 patients were divided into a Tai Chi group and a control group. Participants in the control group received only routine care, while participants in the Tai Chi group received routine care and completed a six-month Tai Chi exercise program.

After six months, patients in the Tai Chi group had significantly increased lung function and diaphragm strength. This is a preliminary study (The Effect of Tai Chi on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Pilot Randomised Study of Lung Function, Exercise Capacity and Diaphragm Strength, by R. Niu, R. He, B.L. Luo and C. Hu). Further studies are needed, of course — but such preliminary studies ring true for martial artist practitioners.

Click here to read the study abstract.

Tai Chi Tuesday: Brush The Wall

Posted on 28 January, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (0)

I love the movement Brush The Wall.  Whenever I need to gain focus or concentrate chi, it is my go-to movement.

Stand in a Wu Chi position. Knees slightly bent, hips tucked under slightly, tip of the toungue slightly touching the roof of the mouth, shoulders down and relaxed. 

Using dan tien breathing, breath in, straighten your knees just slightly so a bend remains, and raise your arms to shoulder height. As your arms reach shoulder height, exhale and bend your elbows so your arms get closer to your body. Continue to exhale and gently press your arms downward. 

After a few repetitions, concentrate on bringing the breath from the souls of your feet, and continue to perform your dan tien breathing. 

Repeat several tmes.

With practice, you should be able to feel the chi coursing through you.

This is also great for relaxation and helps focus the mind.

Why You Should Avoid Protein Shakes

Posted on 22 January, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (2)

Okay, enough with the F#!-$&* protein shakes.


I would love to know — and will conduct a survey shortly — if people know why they are including protein shakes in their fitness regime. I am willing to bet most people don't.


The answer I am expecting to hear from shakers is because they think it helps build muscle.


If you are one of the people who would give me that answer, you don't need to be taking a protein shake.


Here is the deal: some people can metabolize only 30-40 grams of protein daily (without aid, meaning "such as drinking gallons of water to flush the excess protein out of the kidneys"). Consuming more than that amount taxes the kidneys to an unhealthy level.


General RDA is 0.8mg per kilogram of ideal body weight per day. To figure this out, take your ideal body weight and divide by 2.2 then multiply by 0.8.


For example, my formula would be:


190 / 2.2 = 86

86 x 0.8= 69



For my ideal body weight, I should consume no more than 69 grams of protein per day.


Way back in the day (pre-protein shake availability), weightlifters were eating cottage cheese and beef to meet their protein needs.


Beef has all essential amino acids, plus nine essential vitamins and minerals. According to the May issue of Golf Digest, a recent study found that consuming four ounces of lean beef "can actually stimulate muscle protein synthesis by 50 percent in the young and elderly." Most cuts of beef have 7 grams of protein per ounce. So a quarter-pound lowfat patty has about 28 grams of protein — not too shabby.


Kevin Anderson, a well-known and respected trainer, agrees. Like me, he does not consume them and he does not recommend them for his clients. He points out that pre-digested, processed protein in these shakes do not digest the same as natural protein. Anderson adds that they're often just empty calories: our bodies don't recognize these shakes as food, so our body isn't satisfied and remains hungrier than it would if we ate, say, cottage cheese. Finally, our bodies are fine-tuned machines and work best on pure fuel, not chemical compounds.

Just remember: your body needs only a certain amount of protein, and there are natural, healthy ways to consume it — better than protein shakes with additives.

However, if you insist on consuming protein shakes, please read the labels carefully to see what else you are getting along with your protein.

Two Techniques Help Chi Cultivation

Posted on 21 January, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (0)

When we practice Tai Chi, one of the first things we learn is abdominal breathing. This allows the diapragm to be more active: not only are we breathing with our lungs, but as our diaphragm acts as a billow, our circulation of oxygen increases. We start to feel the tingle or warmth in our hands and fingers. This is the start of chi awareness.

How can we become more aware of this chi feelng throughout our bodies?

I always had the hardest time feeling chi energy in my legs and feet. Here are two techniques I used. 

First, practice your four-corner breathing in a recliner with your feet propped up. (If you are not familair with four-corner breathing or bone marrow washing, contact me.)  Concentrate your breathing through the souls of your feet. Althought this is not traditional, I have found it works pretty well. As you relax and breath through the souls of your feet ,you will feel the tingling in your feet as you do in your hands. 

As you get better at feeling energy flow through your bubbling well (the souls of your feet), then practice your standing meditations to really start the feeling of energy through the entire body.

Second, relax and root as you would practice your Tai Chi. Then lift your leg and step heavily, with your foot falling in its natural relaxed state. Repeat on each leg several times and you will feel the vibration in your legs. This is good for increasing circulation in the legs, allowing for better energy flow.

These are techniques for single practice. If you have a partner, push hands practice is a valuable tool for chi cultivation.  And a great way to practice moving relaxation. This will also aid in your form practice.

Have you found other useful techniques? Let me know.

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Posted on 16 January, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (1)

Sweet potatoes are standard fare for Thanksgiving. However, some of us may think about forgoing this classic dish to skip unwanted calories.

Would you consider an alternative recipe, such as grilling?

Here's a simple, tasty alternative from Smoked 'n Grilled to keeping these tubers soaked in marshmallows and plenty of brown sugar — not that there's anything wrong with it....


Grilled Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes


  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • cinnamon (to taste)



  1. Slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2″ thick slices and place in a pot of water.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  3. With a slotted spoon, move the potatoes to a bowl of cool water, and let them sit for 10 minutes to cool.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the cool water and pat them dry.
  5. Lightly coat the potatoes with olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle one side of each potato with the salt and cinnamon.
  7. Place them directly on your grill, spiced side down, over medium-high heat, and sprinkle spices on the second side.
  8. Cook until tender. It will only take a few minutes on each side.
  9. Remove them from the grill and enjoy.

Thanks to Smoked 'n Grilled for this recipe. Stop by that website to check out other tasty recipes!

Tai Chi: The New Yoga?

Posted on 14 January, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (1)

Americans are looking for a gentle, effective exercise that will give them benefit without pain or injury. What if that exercise could actually improved their bodies as well as their spirit? Look no further than tai chi.

A recent article by Huffington Post calls it the "new yoga." While both gentle arts are ancient and revered, tai chi is an excellent exercise for the aging American public.

According to the article "This Ancient Martial Art Can Fight Disease, Calm the Mind and Slow Aging," there are five benefits to tai chi.

  • It helps prevent and fight disease, and doctors are starting to prescribe it to their patients, particularly elderly patients, to improve balance and bone density.
  • It's good for the mind as well as the body, helping relieve stress and depression in practitioners of all ages.
  • Tai chi helps the body age gracefully by warding off osteoporisis, improving flexibility and preventing falls.
  • It teaches us how to slow down and let go by achieving inner peace and harmony with your inner nature.
  • It can be practiced by people of all ages and abilities.

Try a class and find out if it's for you. Chances are, you'll be glad you did.

Step Up to the Calorie Counter: Cauliflower "Mac" and Cheese

Posted on 9 January, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (1)

If you love mac 'n cheese, consider this alternative: replacing the macaroni with cauliflower.

Yep, that simple — and that tasty.

Mac-and-Cheese Style Cauliflower


  • 8 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 Tbs. butter or margarine
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets, and boil 5 to 7 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid, and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk, garlic, and reserved cooking liquid, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and egg yolks until cheese is melted. Fold in cauliflower.
  3. Coat 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower mixture in baking dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Spray breadcrumbs with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes, or until casserole is hot and bubbly and breadcrumbs are crisp and brown.


Nutritional Information

Serves 8

Amount Per 1-cup serving:

Calories 273

Protein 16g

Total fat 16g

Carbs 18g

Cholesterol 94mg

Sodium 314mg

Fiber 4g

Sugars 6g


Thanks to Yoga Journal for this recipe. Be sure to visit the Yoga Journal website for more recipes.

Tai Chi Tuesday: Tai Chi Breathing

Posted on 7 January, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (2)

Recently, I had a conversation with one of my students on the topic of breathing.  

I normally teach two different breathing styles, depending on application. For form purposes, I teach with an exhale on the end of the movement. There are schools who teach with an inhale on the end of the movement.

Here is my thought on this.

When we absorb energy, as in bone marrow washing or four-corner brreathing, we inhale longer than we exhale.

When we emit energy as in practicing self defense techniques or strikes, we exhale longer than we inhale.

Therefore, when we practice our form for health, with absorption and packing of chi, inhaling on the extension makes sense.

Practicing with an exhalation at the end of the movement is more practical for developing internal power because it pertains to strikes and other self-defense techniques.

What are your thought on this?

New Year's Resolution Time: Four Tips to Better Fitness

Posted on 6 January, 2014 at 0:00 Comments comments (1)

As we take a look back on the year, some of us are contemplating what we can do differently to guarantee success regarding our fitness goals.

Here are some ideas to inspire you:


  1. Sleep six hours each night at an absolute minimum. Shoot for seven or eight hours. Our body needs it for proper brain function, proper testosterone release and metabolic function.
  2. Be more active most days of the week. If you are doing cardio three days a week, add a day or two of weight training. If there is no time, add more intensity or a few extra minutes to your cardio sessions.
  3. Drink enough water. Water assures proper nutrient delivery to our working muscles as we become more active,
  4. This is the most important tip: do something every day. By doing at least one thing that helps us improve our fitness level, eventually we will have the body we want.


What are your New Year's resolutions?

Tai Chi Tuesday: The Paradox of Tai Chi Rooting and Movement

Posted on 3 December, 2013 at 0:25 Comments comments (1)




People who study tai chi are familiar with the term rooting, or to be in solid contact with the ground.

During a tai chi demonstration, viewers notice right away the fluid ease of movement.



However, this presents a paradox: how can we stay rooted and still remain fluid in our movement?



The answer is this: with each step, along with proper breathing and relaxation, we need to focus our body weight onto the soles of our feet. This gives us rooted, constant, solid contact with the ground — and yet we remain relaxed, and therefore can move with unencumbered freedom to maintain our fluidity.



One concept I try to instill in my students is to stay focused.  When practicing chi, if you hesitate anywhere within the form, stop right away. Take as many breaths as needed in order to recompose, then get back in contact with your chi. After a few meditative breaths, you then can continue your practice.



One uncorrected mistake can lead to many more mistakes, lack of relaxation and poor rooting.  Catch yourself when you lose your chi, and get yourself back on track.