January 26th, 2011


Tai Chi for the win

After my last post I became even more tired.  It got to the point where all I could do was get to work and come home again, with just enough energy for occasional social activities.  Anything requiring concentration just defeated me.  I stayed with my sister over Christmas which, although I enjoyed myself, only helped in the sense I was doing so little that small amounts of concentration weren't a problem.  I also found the coach journeys relaxing, as well as cheap.  Back in my own space afterwards, I made somewhat of a recovery, enough to enjoy a new year meal and drink*, but by the time I was back at work I had only touched the surface of my to-do list.  And that was with no other commitments.

It's been ridiculously hard to identify what the problem is.  I'm sure part of it is fitness (as always), and I'm also sure that I've succumbed to my fair share of winter bugs.  My osteopath is delighting my family by saying that a lot of my problems would ease if I went to bed at a sensible hour.  However, my feeling is that my acupuncturist nailed the distinct factor about this time:  damp weather.  There was a point a few years ago when damp didn't give me that many problems (although humidity did), but since then my weakness to it has gradually returned.  Even then I might have had problems with the two months of damp we've had, starting with cold and snow.  So that's it, it's the weather.

There is, of course, a deeper problem.  When I worked for the council I went dancing once a week (at least for quite a while).  Nine years ago, when I joined the university, I went swimming (at least once a week if possible).  The pool is marginally off olympic length, and I went from 10-13 lengths to barely managing five or six.  It was at that point I was so demoralised I shifted to using the gym.  It got off to a good start, but it wasn't long before I found the act of getting to the changing rooms and changing was tiring in itself.  Since then I've largely relied on walking to work.  It's very helpful, and mostly reliable (there's normally at least one day when it's good), but I think it's fair to say it doesn't do everything I need it to.

Part of the trouble is that both my work and hobbies are largely sedate.  Singing, while good for my lungs, doesn't really improve my overall health.   Then the more unfit I get, and the more tired I get, the harder it is to get down to exercise.

This is where the Tai Chi comes in.  It's pretty gentle (lots of people were just wearing jeans and t-shirt), but gently pushes your body in the right direction.  I certainly enjoyed the first session and it's easy to get to.  The class I'm taking seems a bit more martial than I was recommended, but as far as I can tell beginner classes are intended to be progressive and you need to start at the beginning, so I feel quite lucky that one started at a convenient time in a convenient location.

In all fairness, I started feeling better.  After my last acupuncture session, I started taking mixtures of no. 14 (heat) and no.21 (damp), gradually reducing how much 14 I take each time.  Between that and something anonymous shifting (the weather?) I've been clearing my lungs and getting more energy.  On Saturday, I fixed half a dozen problems for my family and myself (six more than I had felt up to the previous weekend.)  Between Saturday and Monday, I couldn't shut down my computer because of all the bits I had half started, but by Monday I had not only cleared the most urgent but also moved on to other emails.  Yesterday, I got Photoshop working again and updated the graphics for westburyparkfestival, and I'll do the annual refresh that it needs hopefully later this week.

It's really nice having energy again.  I'm definitely not up to full steam yet, but as it returns I can feel my self-discipline returning and I'll try and listen to it this time.  I'll even try to get to sleep before midnight.