Well.  I’m finally at home.  I did both qi gong sets, and eight iterations of the tai chi form.  I just realized that I forgot to do the twenty push-ups. Let me go rectify that.  OK.  Now, I’ve done the ‘full set’ of eight tai chi forms, two qi gong forms, and twenty push-ups.  This is the first time I’ve done a complete set in a couple of weeks, and I feel pretty good about that.

Let me back up.  All through July, I’d been working hard on losing weight. My doctor and I agreed that it would be a good idea for me to gradually lose about 30 pounds.  This was at the beginning of the summer, shortly after school ended. The reason? My cholesterol is up substantially from last year, and there are other conditions that put me at risk of some serious issues later down the road. Ergo, the goal is to reduce cholesterol, and improve overall health.

So I worked really hard at that. REALLY HARD. A lot of it was diet: more fresh vegetables, less meat, almost no bread or pasta. And a lot of it was exercise; long-time readers will recall that I was doing a lot of complete sets in June and July, almost every day. The results showed.  Over two months, I lost nearly fifteen pounds, from 300 to 285.

Then came August.  In the month of August, I’ve had a general loss of self-control, a general loss of autonomy about what and where and when I could eat, and a tremendous amount of difficulty finding both privacy and motivation for my tai chi practice.  This past week was fairly typical, really.  I came home from a family reunion on Sunday night (what was eaten in New Hampshire, stays in New Hampshire).  There was no food in the house, so eating out was the best option.  Monday was supposed to be a shopping day, but things came up, and I had unexpected guests.  Tuesday was spent running around doing errands, no shopping.  Wednesday was a travel day — hard to eat right during a 10-hour car ride.  Thursday was in Pennsylvania, more errands.  Friday was the travel-home day, 10 more hours in the car with inadequate exercise.  And this morning, I’m … 300 pounds again.  Argh!

What’s that line about “failure to plan is planning to fail?”  It was really important to me that my travel companions last week had a good time and a positive experience. But I paid a great deal of attention to what they needed, and not nearly so much to what I needed.  The place in Pennsylvania where we traveled is a food desert — not much good produce available, only basic-quality restaurants (pizza, pasta, and meat seem to be the core options, with bread as a side dish everywhere) where every salad is iceberg lettuce, and so on.

So when I say that I’m pleased that I did a complete set of tai chi, I’m not kidding.  Let me leave aside the bad eating habits of the past two weeks for a moment (and you can critique that in the comments, but I don’t guarantee I’ll respond).  The risk was always that I was going to come back to tai chi after two weeks of lousy eating and find that I was unable to do a complete set of the work; that I’d have lost muscle mass or capacity to do this work. Instead, I find that the minimum maintenance I did over the last two weeks has helped me keep my hand in, so to speak.  I’m capable of doing this work and having a healthy diet at the same time.

So when I’ve spent the last two weeks noting how much I wanted to get back to a routine, I wasn’t kidding. Here’s to the beginning of the new routine.