Rachel Spahr

Rachel Spahr

Website URL:

The waiting is the hardest part - Tom Petty

I've been finding that lately a recurring theme in my life has to do with having to wait and needing to find patience. Specifically there are a few items testing my patience. First of all, after all this very concentrated treatment that I've had, I find that I have to wait about three months to know pretty much definitively if the cancer is gone. This waiting is trying my patience because I would like to know now if the past couple months have done the trick!

Also in the past week we've brought home a dog. As adorable as he is, he is also very much like a toddler - he wants things his way and when we want him to do something he doesn't want to, such as go outside and go potty, he will dig his heels in (literally and figuratively). I'm finding that training a dog (I've had cats most my adult life so this is new for me) is another thing that tries my patience.

The thing that tries my patience the most is how much my kung fu abilities have taken a hit since my hiatus. I had my first class back last Thursday and I was amazed at how hard everything was. Even things that were relatively easy in the past, really took a lot out of me.

I had started Kung Fu when I was 23. I'm not a natural athlete and actually I haven't been in great physical condition, save for a few times in my life. Generally I carry too much bodyweight for my frame, my cardio isn't fantastic, and I should stretch more. However, prior to being diagnosed I could at least get through a regular class without stopping, even if my stances were high and my kicks low.

But whether it was the inactivity, the actual treatments affecting my body or probably a combination of the two, I couldn't get through last Thursday's class without stopping and not doing all the exercises. I thought to myself as I was struggling, "even when was first starting to study Kung Fu, I at least could get through a class without stopping." But then I thought about it - I'm 16 years older and yes, I weigh more now then when I first started at 23. Oh and yeah, I just got done with cancer treatments. Those whom know me best know that I sometimes (ok a lot of times) tend to be hard on myself. So maybe this time I give myself a break. Maybe this time I become patient with myself. This does not mean I will be complacent. I will not accept this current state as "good enough" indefinitely. But maybe while I build myself back up I'll be patient with my lack of abilities. Each class I take I'll get a little better.

Actually that's what any martial artist should be striving for, whether they just started or are a high level student with an abundance of talent and well honed skill. Every class try to improve a little bit more. And be patient with yourself while you learn a new skill. Very few people have so much natural talent that they can watch something a few times and then replicate it exactly. Most of us have to practice - a lot - and need to be patient until the skill develops.

So I'll be back there tonight. Trying just a little harder. Improving just a little more. And trying to be patient with myself while my body returns (and hopefully surpasses) to what it used to be able to do.


With Chinese New Year almost upon us, it is Lion Dance season! I have started making it to some Lion Dance practices. I'm quite amazed at how much improvement I've seen in all facets of the dance. We seem so much more like a well-oiled machine this year!

On a personal note, although my weight loss has stalled somewhat (thanks to my love of sweets) I do feel like I'm in better shape this year overall than I was last year at this time. Lion dancing is never easy but my leg muscles and cardio capacity are more robust than last year. I credit my more frequent at-home practice and my Zumba class for that.

I do wish I've been able to make it to more Thursday classes. I have found life getting in the way - most of Rhianna's school based activities seem to be scheduled on a Thursday evening. And where that hasn't kept me near home, lack of gas money has. With my old vehicle I can count on 1/4 of a tank of gas for each trip into Madison and back. So I take each week as it comes. This Thursday I'll be there. Next Thursday I already know about a parent-teacher conference so Kung fu will have to take a back seat.

I'm hoping that if I sign up for enough Lion Dances the extra boost in exercise will translate to a few more pounds gone on the scale!

This weekend life through me for a little loop. I have to be honest and say I didn't deal with it well. Instead of channeling my feelings into practicing, or even practicing in order to distract myself from life, I pretty much threw a little bit of a pity party. It involved fattening goodness, sloth, crying on my husband's shoulder and allowing myself to get off track.

Now that my personal issues are resolved (at least partly, at least for now) I can refocus on my training and trying to fuel my body better.

I'm excited about the upcoming International Festival Lion Dance. It's this upcoming Sunday - the 27th, at the Overture Center. Come on down and participate or even just watch. I'm hoping this year will be even more impressive than in years past. I've attended a few Lion Dance practices - everyone is working so hard to improve our dancing and/or musicianship skills!

I found myself hitting some snags last week.

First of all I had been doing really well eating healthy and exercising - I lost 3 lbs. But then last weekend happened with all the eating out and Packer game beer enjoyment. Back up a pound and a 1/2. I also was reminded why I need to keep eating properly and getting proper hydration. Let's just call it "digestive distress" and leave it at that. Ugh.

Also I was so busy over the weekend my commitment to practicing my sets was tested. Saturday I pulled through. Sunday, not so much.

But Monday I've starting back again eating healthy and drinking water and regular practice of my Tao Lu. Already I feel a little better.

Moral of the story - you can go for what is pleasant now (eating tasty crap, enjoying some sloth) but you will pay for it later. Or keep your focus on the bigger prize (more kung fu knowledge, smaller waistline) and reap the benefits.

Something for me to remember next time I have a get together with my friends.

I have come upon my first brain-fart in my exercise of adding a set a day. Wow, that was fast!

However this is the point of my practicing sets at home - to discover which ones I've committed to memory completely and which require more practice to solidify them. Someday I may be called upon to teach these more Intermediate/Advanced sets to others - so I need to be sure that I know them completely.

So, you pesky Straight Sword, I will commit you to memory yet!

But for now I have to get back to my day job.

I'm deciding to use my blog space for something blatantly self-serving (sorry). You see, I have not only allowed myself to gain an embarrassingly large amount of weight, but my kung fu studies have also been really slacking as of late. I do also hope this will be something that may help a student or two out there either just get to know me better or understand my life philosophy that success doesn't mean never failing but to keep trying after failure. Or it may just be entertaining.

A little background: During my adult life I have lost weight two times, only to gain it back again. This is just counting the times I've gotten down to or close to my goal weight of around 120-125. Several other times I've tried and failed other "fitness plans."

So I've started anew. Or sort of anew - I got back into this after my wedding when I was at my all time high weight, which I won't disclose, but let's just say I need to lose about a 2nd grader (based on my step-daughters current weight). So far I've lost a large infant. It's a start!

Also for reasons that are also probably the reason for my weight gain, I have been slacking in my practice of Kung Fu. Sure I'm usually there on a Monday evening teaching beginners, but I haven't been practicing at home and I haven't been making it into town much to take class myself. Granted I did just get married, and anyone whom has ever done that knows how much planning is involved and how it can suck your time away. Also I live in Jefferson - about a 45 minute drive on a good day. Those are my excuses, and they are just that. Excuses.

So I am endeavoring to do the following to help change my life and become a better Rachel

1. I will keep a food journal to help me track my nutrition and caloric intake. You cannot out-train a poor diet - I know this to be true. I am not following any specific diet program however. Not that there aren't some things that work for some people, but for me simply eating a range of food, focusing on healthier fare and writing it all down so I'm accountable has worked for me. When I failed was when I stopped journaling and stopped being accountable. I have to acknowledge that I will have to do this for the rest of my life. Does it stink a little that I can't be like normal folks and just eat what I want when I feel like it? You bet, but being obese stinks a whole lot more.

2. I will continue with my Zumba class on Tuesday night. I gave it a try starting in October and I absolutely love it! I work out so hard, leave a pile of sweat and it's right here in Jefferson. Convenience for the win!

3. I will endeavor to practice Kung Fu on Thursdays. This will be starting next Thursday 1/10 as today (1/3) I have prior plans

4. I will start showing up to practice on Saturdays as well - starting this week

5. Challenges - I am now continuing with a squat challenge I started in December, doing a push up challenge this month and on our message board I started a tao lu challenge - in an effort to get myself used to practicing at home. Those sets I know well will soon be even better, those I know not so well will be relearned, brushed up, made more firm in my mind.

6. Blog semi-regularly to keep myself on track.

Other things may be added (I'm toying with a plan to eliminate soda, but I'll be honest, I'm just not ready yet)

Stay tuned for my updates of my progress and feel free to join in the Tao Lu challenge on the message board.


You are here: Rachel Spahr