East of Dawlish Brook
17th April 2012
(Updated 6th August 2013)
(Updated 24th July 2014)
(updated 8th August 2016)
Back in 2007 there was discussion, in the school I was with, about using a Qigong exercise known as ‘Drawing The Moon’ as the basis for a Qigong weight loss program.
The idea was that by the time you could perform ten, 30 second rotations in each direction, you’d have to change your wardrobe because you’d lose so much weight from around your waist.
Personally, the problem I had with this specific Qigong exercise was that no matter what I did, it caused me so much lower back pain I had to stop practicing it.
Back pain aside, there was something else that bothered me about ‘Drawing The Moon’ as a Qigong solution to weight loss.
You see in 1996 I qualified as a personal fitness trainer with the YMCA and I discovered something that doesn’t appear to be common knowledge.
Want to know what it was?
What does this mean?
It means that whilst sit ups, crunches and Drawing The Moon could help you to develop fantastic abdominals (though if you want to avoid back pain and still build strong abs I recommend leg raises instead), none of them will help you to lose belly fat. You might be able to build some epic abs, but nobody will ever see them if they’re hidden under a layer of fat.
First let’s clear something up. It’s an important distinction that will help you further down the road.
I’m betting you don’t actually want to lose weight, what you want to lose is fat.
Am I correct?
Thought so, okay, let’s continue then with this distinction in mind because my research has convinced me that losing fat is simple.
The ‘equation’ is this:
Use more calories each day than eat and over a period of time you will lose fat.
I guarantee it.
But there’s a catch: I said it was simple, not easy.
And if you’ve ever tried to lose fat before then I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it isn’t easy.
If you are carrying more fat than you would like, chances are the extra fat didn’t arrive over night. It came gradually over many months and years. So, realistically what do you think your chances are of losing fat, safely and healthily in a short period of time?
You’re right, slim to none.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I hit 40 something changed for me. I won’t call it a mid-life crisis, that’s a bit dramatic. But I certainly felt an ‘itch’ that couldn’t be scratched. Along the lines of:
“Is this it? Is this all I’ve achieved with my life?”
I joke with my friends that I couldn’t afford a Porsche, so I decided to do that other stereotypical thing 40 year old men do… I decided to get into the best shape of my life.
8 months later, I was glad I didn’t get the Porsche.
Take a look at the picture below, that’s my personal before and after using the techniques I’ll share with you in the rest of this Qigong blog post.
I’ve added to this picture each year so you can see another – more important result – of following the advice in this post. And what is this important lesson? The fact that this fat loss has been sustained. Like I’ve already said, losing fat is simple, maintaining that fat loss for years requires a good plan, one which you’ll find in this post.
Using the techniques I discovered back in August, it took me about three months to lose 14 pounds (6.35kg) of belly fat.
You’ll notice that I certainly wasn’t fat all over in my August 2011 ‘Before’ shot. I just looked like I was six months pregnant. A scenario I discovered was very common amongst men of my age and referred to by the amusing oxymoron as: ‘Skinny Fat‘.
The real ‘Wowee!’ though is that I’ve easily (and I use that word deliberately) kept this belly fat off.
And yes, I really do have the same shorts =)
If you want to lose your excess fat, if you want to be happier, if you want to get into the best shape of your life, if you want to feel stronger than ever before and you want to achieve all of this (or even just some of it) safely, sustainably, naturally and simply. Then you’ll find the answers in the rest of this blog post.
A few weeks after my 40th birthday I began a quest to find the tools that would enable me to get into the best physical, emotional, mental and spiritual shape in my life.
Now I knew that my Qigong practice ticked some of the boxes, but clearly I needed something extra. Something that would allow me to lose my ‘6 months pregnant’ belly fat look.
Here’s the formula I discovered:
Use it and you can experience your ‘Best You Ever’ too.
Now let’s look at each component of this formula in more depth.
I believe that Qigong on its own will only help you to lose fat if you’re an emotional eater. So if you over-eat when you are stressed or under emotional pressure, then Qigong is an excellent tool that will bring you great results. The relaxation, breathing, meditation and Energy Flow skills will help you to overcome the root cause of your unhelpful eating habits.
And I strongly believe that when it comes to ANY problem with an emotional cause at its root (and that’s more common than you may think) Qigong is the ultimate tool you can use to heal it.
Qigong ticks the emotional, mental and spiritual ‘Best You Ever’ boxes. But it fails when it comes to developing your physical ‘Best You Ever’. I’ll share the solution to this in a moment. Because I want to make it clear that the major draw back when it comes to relying solely on Qigong for losing weight, is this:
If you don’t have an emotional problem with food, Qigong on it’s own won’t help you to lose fat.
Okay, now let’s look at the second part of our ‘Best You Ever’ fat loss formula…
Okay, I’m an expert on Qigong, but I am not an expert on nutrition, however I’m very good at research.
I started looking for sensible, believable advice on nutrition.
Eventually after years of dead ends, false information and over-hyped books and products I’ve found a simple, tried and tested way to lose fat. I mentioned it earlier, but let me remind you with this quote:
“If you look at the very highest quality studies available they consistently suggest that as far as we know that calorie value of food is the only food property that has ever been demonstrated convincingly to impact body fat mass. There’s no other property that’s been demonstrated to impact body fat mass.”
What this means is, if you want to lose fat you need to eat fewer calories.
Now how you do it is up to you.
But I suggest you follow tried, tested and repeatable approaches.
Luckily for you I found it in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).
Let me explain…
The NWCR was set up in 1994 and is made up of over 10,000 folk who all have one thing in common. In order to be accepted for registration they have to have lost at least 30lb’s (13.61kg) of weight and kept it off for a least one year or more.
Success leaves clues right?
I paid attention to what these folk were doing and here are the big ideas:
- 98 percent of registry participants report they modified their food intake in some way to lose fat
- 94 percent increased their physical activity
- NWCR participants weigh themselves regularly
- They watch calories
- There are a variety of diets used by NWCR members to lose fat and keep it off. This is vitally important. How come? Because it means there is no perfect diet despite what any person or celebrity may tell you.
Whilst we’re on this subject, let me answer the question you might have at this point:
I can answer this: The best diet is the one you can stick to long term.
Because the truth is all diets work – by reducing calorie intake – but not all diets can be followed for a lifetime.
And if you want to be a healthy weight you need a way of eating that you can follow for a lifetime.
So make sure you avoid anything extreme.
Adding the third part of our formula will not only support your fat loss, it will also give you many measurable health benefits, let’s look at…
“Just as a door, which is not frequently used, will rot, a person who does not exercise regularly will be sick.”
Hua Tuo Famous 2nd Century Chinese Physician
Here are 7 reasons you want to add exercise to your repertoire of activities, but only if you’re interested in living a longer, healthier and more independent life =)
- Longevity – 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week can reduce risk of mortality by 19%.
- Brain – Exercise activates the release of proteins that can help to protect existing brain cells and promote the growth of new ones.
- Anti-ageing – Regular exercise helps you to age well because it provides you with a wide range of physical and psychological benefits.
From strengthening bones to improving your brain, from reducing cancer risk to boosting self-esteem, or simply to help you look good naked.
- Reduce Risks – Exercise can reduce the risk factors associated with cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Stress – Moderate, regular exercise improves stress management.
- Stroke – Statistics show that those who are moderately active have a 20% lower risk of stroke.
- Diabetes – Regular exercise offers a strong protective role in the prevention of non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
Again, how you get your physical exercise is up to you.
There are many routes you can follow and it doesn’t have to involve joining a gym.
But because you’re smart you’ll want to avoid the ‘no pain, no gain’ and ‘feel the burn’ methods of physical exercise.
Personally, if you haven’t exercised for a while, practicing Qigong forms can be a good place to start.
So can taking a 10 minute walk three times a week and building up from there.
Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi Quan practiced as martial arts can also be very good forms of exercise, especially if combined with Qigong.
However my personal physical exercise of choice and one I highly recommend for those not interested in martial arts is good old fashioned, calisthenics.
Yes, I’m talking about:
- Push ups
- Press ups
- Leg raises
The word ‘callisthenics’ comes from the Greek kallos meaning ‘beauty’ and sthenos meaning ‘strength’. And that’s a very good description: Beauty and strength.
This type of physical exercise is also known as: Bodyweight training.
One of the many attributes of Qigong that I love is that you don’t require ANY extra equipment to practice it. A safe, clean place and enough room to stretch your arms out and that’s about it. No matter where you go or where you travel you can practice Qigong.
And the same applies to callisthenics.
With callisthenics you don’t need a gym. You ARE the gym. You don’t need any weights, you use your own body weight.
After months of extensive research and trial and error I found the very best source for a complete, safe, progressive, step-by-step program of callisthenics. No matter where you may be starting from physically this program will help you to develop a beautiful and strong body. All you need to do is follow the instructions, put in the effort and be disciplined.
Something Qigong practitioners like you and I are good at.
See the resources section at the end of this post for full details.
I’ve been practicing callisthenics since August 2011 and have noticed significant increases in strength. I’m also much happier with the way my body looks.
Finally, I’d like to share: The Golden Rule of Exercise…
Don’t get injured.
Whilst the benefits of regular exercise are well documented, be careful to avoid over doing it.
16 years of practicing Qigong having spent the last 5 years interested in fat loss has reached me to the conclusion that:
Now if you’re a hardcore Qigong fan like me then this message may be hard to hear.
But if you’re still reading this, then I’m guessing you’re open minded enough to accept there’s more than one way to live and age well.
Listen, I love Qigong.
Consider the following evidence:
- 16 years of daily Qigong practice
- 13 years of Qigong teaching experience
- Over £18,000 invested in my Qigong education
- Authored 4 books on Qigong
- Created the most comprehensive online Qigong home study course available
- Shared over 800 blog posts on this website alone.
- I’ve been writing a Qigong newsletter in one form or another since March 2005
So make sure you hear me when I say: I still believe Qigong is the most brilliant tool available for overcoming: mild to moderate depression, anxiety, worry and fear.
I think it’s without equal for improving a persons ability to thrive in spite of the stresses and strains of 21st Century living.
And when it comes to enhancing mental ability and promoting spiritual cultivation I believe Qigong, as a tool, is unbeatable.
But unless your weight is linked to emotional eating – Qigong on its own is not an effective way to lose fat.
That’s the bad news…
The good news is that when you combine Qigong with Exercise and Nutrition it becomes even more powerful and effective.
You see I’d always mistakenly believed that it was taboo to combine Qigong with anything, especially with physical exercise.
I also believed Qigong was a cure for all ills.
I’ll admit. I was wrong.
I no longer believe that Qigong on its own, is an effective tool for losing fat.
- Qigong on its own is not fast, effective, or efficient enough to use as a fat loss tool. Though if your weight is linked to emotional eating then Qigong can help.
- In case it didn’t come through loud and clear… Fat loss is all about calories. Eat fewer of them than you need to maintain weight and you will lose weight. Eat more of them than you need to maintain weight and you will gain weight. How you eat less calories is up to you, remember there is no perfect diet.
- June 2011 I celebrated my 40th birthday. It marked a significant milestone in my life. I could no longer deny I was unhappy about how I looked and felt. After 3 months of exhaustive research into what I was missing I began my: ‘Best You Ever’ experiment. Five years later, through much trial and error, I can honestly say that I feel stronger, healthier and more physically attractive than I did in my 20’s.
- You too can experience quality of life enhancing – sustainable – change if you follow my ‘Best You Ever’ formula: Qigong + Nutrition + Physical Exercise = Best You Ever
If you’d like to lose fat and discover your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual ‘Best You Ever’, here are the tools I use and recommend:
Resources [Updated 8th August 2016)
22 week Qigong Secrets Home Study Course. The most comprehensive Qigong home study course available. You can get take a two week $4.95 test drive: Here
You can view other Qigong options I have available here Qigong15 shop.
The National Weight Control Registry is a wealth of valuable information on this subject and you can trust them because they have no diet, pills or supplements to sell you.
The Renegade Diet. Personally I’ve been practicing Intermittent Fasting daily for 5 years and this is the source I got my original information from. If you want to improve your nutrition, overcome many dietary problems and lose weight then this is for you. But a word of warning: The author comes from a muscle building and strength background, so the focus of the website is on people who want to lose weight and build muscle. Don’t let this put you off, because the content of the ebook is the best I’ve discovered.
Convict Conditioning: $39.95. Available in Hard-copy and Digital-copy. Please don’t let the name put you off.
Like most arts of value, calisthenics has also suffered from being diluted and degraded by the propaganda of fitness manufacturers who want you to believe that the only effective way to train physically is in a gym or with expensive weights or new fad ‘gizmos’. Up until it’s recent revival callisthenics was most commenly found in prisons. Hence the title. But if you can get past this you’ll discover the best resource I’ve found on the subject. I liked it so much I travelled to Sweden in 2013 to become a certified instructor of it!
Again, don’t let the focus of its message put you off. Whilst you’re probably not their target market, you can definitely benefit from this resource.
I’m very familiar with the two resources I’ve listed above. So if you have any questions and you’re a client of mine please feel free to write and ask.
Please note, I am required by the FTC to advise you that if you click on the links in the resources section above, and you subsequently choose to purchase the product I recommend then I will receive a commission. Hope that’s transparent enough.
**Update – 8th August 2016**
Since writing this Qigong Daily post, I’ve created what I call The ZEN+ Journal.
Each month, I share my research on tools, tips and techniques you can use to live a healthier, happier and longer life.
It focuses on all the subjects covered in this post and much more.
Enjoy your practice!
Marcus James Santer