Playing the Long Game 


Playing the Long Game : Notes from the Formulator

By Marco Chung-Shu Lam, L.Ac., MSOM  

In the ancient traditions of Chinese medicine, much thought and practice has gone into the cultivation of longevity.  Longevity is the ultimate long game. This article will support you in moving smoothly and maintaining your health as we do what we love.

Regardless of our athletic pursuit or martial practice, as we age, we become more and more aware that the fluidity of our joints are of paramount importance to continue to perform at high levels.  Old injuries, inflammatory diets and garden variety stress will take its toll on our joints if we don’t take preventative action. The bumps, falls and over-use in the first third of our life catch up to us in the second third and we become aware of them.  Awareness is the first step in the journey to repair and rejuvenation. If we can use our awareness to be present to what needs attention, we can use three secrets to win the long game of longevity with strength and flexibility. If we don’t, we cripple ourselves with injury and lose our range of motion and power over time.

The first secret is not that much of a secret.  It is that the pattern of our movement dictates the form of our body.  If we end up sitting too much or working out in relatively limited planes of motion, then we restrict our body to greater degrees over time.  Regular movement, expanded range of movements and proper alignment are the foundations of good joint health and mobility. Think about how you can stretch, align and expand in the everyday parts of your life.  One out of the box experiment to try is working for a few minutes in a full squat next time you are at home on your laptop. Get off the couch or chair, put the computer on the chair and squat on the floor in front of the computer.  A second experiment is when you are driving, move off the back support and use your core to maintain a straight, relaxed spine. Simple movement cues done regularly can go a long way to restoring strength and motion.

The second secret is that food is our medicine.  What we eat matters. A simple precept told to me by one of my mentors is “not in a box, not in a can”.  Eat fresh food, mostly vegetables. Regardless of your diet, cutting back the inflammatory burden of processed foods will benefit you.  Soda, sugar and white flour products reduce your capacity over time when used as significant portions of your caloric intake.

The third secret is that proper supplementation makes a big difference.    The stack I’ve formulated for joint longevity is a mixture of turmeric, black pepper, siberian ginseng, american ginseng and a low dose of full spectrum hemp CBD.   Research has shown that the polyphenol, curcumin, in turmeric has powerful anti inflammatory benefits for joint health. It targets multiple signaling molecules at the cellular level and has been proven to  improve systemic markers of oxidative stress(1).   The challenge with curcumin is it has low bioavailability but this is solved by the addition of black pepper.   Piperine is the major active component of black pepper and, when combined in a complex with curcumin, has been shown to increase bioavailability by 2000%.(2)  Inflammation is only one part of the puzzle however and when combined with the powerful adaptogen duo of siberian and american ginseng, the adaptogens allow our system to adapt to both our daily exertions and maximize the effects of the other herbs.  The inclusion of 20mg of CBD activates the endocannabinoid system which supports our entire neural network, homeostasis, immune balance and stress recovery. In short, it is not just the individual components of supplementation but how they are blended with each other to create additive effect.  Think a symphony rather than a solo, a team rather than a star player.


(1)Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials.

Gupta SC, Patchva S, Aggarwal BB

AAPS J. 2013 Jan; 15(1):195-218.

(2)  Shoba G., Joy D., Joseph T., Majeed M., Rajendran R., Srinivas P.S. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998;64:353–356. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-957450.




The more we spend time on our journey pushing to do more, to do different, to take on a challenge, the more the opportunity that something will get in the way and prevent us from completing our original plan.  When that moment comes we have a choice of how we react to that potential “change in plans”.  Our best path forward is found when we can stay objective, evaluate the options and then pick the best approach regardless of the initial plans. This is where plan B comes in.  We need to find something that can adequately replace what we were setting out to do, to allow for an outlet for the energy that was stored up to get the initial challenge done and to make us feel that we are indeed doing the right thing.  Plan B is so important that we each need to build an approach that can give us that alternative that we need to make the journey a success.  So, plan B….right?  


20161015_125251 (2).jpg


On the continuum from being interested in something to becoming an expert, we go through a lot of phases and stages of being.  We might be committed, or passionate, or even devoted to getting it done but when we look at what emotion or feeling it is that makes the biggest difference it might be when we are resolved to do something.  Resolve, “to decide firmly on a course of action”.  Yes, that does feel different for sure.  It is active, it has emphasis, and it has a conclusive nature to it.  We know intrinsically that when we are resolved to do something it feels different.  There is little uncertainty or thinking, it is as we would like it to be – “done”.  So, for those important steps, decisions or moments on our journey let’s get resolve and get it done, we will be happier and satisfied for having done so

Through the Eyes of Others



For as much as we want to experience and see and feel on our journey, there are some places and sights that we will most likely just not be able to get to.  And yet we should not leave it there.  Regardless of limited resources, time, or lack of opportunity we should find ways to experience that which we want to but in different ways.  We have the benefit of video and audio that is portable and powerful and covers just about every topic and location we would care to experience. There are countless people, whom we know and don’t know who would be thrilled to share their first-hand experiences – we just have to ask.  And of course, there are countless books that relay, in a different way, that which we can see in our imagination.  So, let’s commit to experiencing more of the world and of life than we can through primary methods.  It will enrich us and reward us in ways not fully known or understood but for sure appreciated. 

Recovery is Not Passive


Recovery is Not Passive

We are all quite familiar with putting in big efforts in our active lives to keep us on top of our game.  There are some, but not enough of us, who put the same effort into Recovery.  It makes sense after all that we should put a proportional amount of effort into the being active as we would to recovering.  There are more and more well-researched programs that show us how important it is to be thoughtful and purposeful about how we approach recovering.  It can span from our community, to internet research, to YouTube, to the people who are experts and role models.  The amount of resources that we leverage is up to is, what we know for sure is that the more we put in, the more we get back out.  Let’s make sure that we are taking the right steps and make recovery a day to day experience – improving at each and every step along the journey.  

We Come Fearless



Indeed, it is true that we come fearless to this world.  From the first moments of our journey, we had simple views, limited emotions, a lack of complexity and most of all little fear about what could or should or might be.  It deserves some thinking time, why, by the time we get ready for the big journey do we carry so many fears, worries, issues, stresses?  Is it our situation or just how we think?  Is it possible to overcome and maybe even go back to that intuitively natural fearless state?  Not reckless, rather, just not slowed by our fears, instead inspired by curiosity and a belief in ourselves that what we are capable of is far greater than any fear could ever block.  So, here is to becoming fearless again and loving life because if it!

An Important Reminder



When we go on our journey, we need to do it with our head up – not looking down at the ground but rather looking forward with attention, curiosity, and care.  It is from this intent that we give ourselves the opportunity to overcome, what has been written by Dr. Ian McCallum, as the greatest challenge we face -  the enemies within ourselves.  There are four he writes, “human ignorance, human indifference, human entitlement and the saddest of all, the cynical language of human defeatism”. Words like this should make us pause and reflect, to stop for a moment and do a gut check, are we doing enough to win the battle, are we helping each other find the better path, are we living to the beauty that is inside us and do we realize that there is no other solution to our challenges other than us, each of us, working together to make the world a place that we are proud of.  Let’s keep the battle alive, let’s make the journey worth it, let’s do it for the good in all of us and the amazing lives that we have when we overcome that which is in the way….

One and the Same



On our journey, we can be inspired by so many different things.  People, actions, nature, art, ideas, and more.  It sort of doesn’t matter what ignites the inspired feeling, nor does it matter what it moves us to do.  What matters is that we find catalysts all around us that make us feel different, better, bigger, loved, inspired to do something.  We know the feeling – it flows through us – all energy – all good.  And then we act and do, or think and plan, or share and ignite.   At every level we are not that different and yet very different but all connected and loving it that way.  Here’s to the storytellers who inspire us and remind us that indeed we are one and the same and that is a good thing.

Be Better

Power- Celebration- Focus- Performance.jpg


Yes, the journey is the journey, that is, it is what we make of it.  We can go as far as we want but to get there, we have to put more into it.  The focus required to take it to the next level is as important as the resolve we have to be better.  It takes a willingness to go harder, to get uncomfortable, to go beyond what we have been doing.  We need to look inside, is it what we really want, do we want to be better?  Only we know the answer.  Ask the question – what is your better?  Then act on it.  Yes, it is that simple…..Be better.

Write Our Own Story



We know that as we pass along on our journey, even with a motivated sense of what is possible, that there are some limitations in our experience or in our heads that influence what we think is possible.  We might even be finding that we have a set view of what we are willing to take on – not because we know empirically that we can or cannot get it done – rather just because that is what we have led ourselves to believe.  The good news is this does not need to be the end or a limitation.  What we need to do is to start reframing the narrative in our heads.  To start we would write the story that we want to live.  Who is it that we want to be and what are some of the experiences that we want to have?  Then we set out to start to make it happen.  The journey then gets redefined and under our control, not limited by some old views of who we were.  It really is up to us to write our own story and to be the best we can be.  Let’s go do that – our life is waiting for us….Indeed, it is. 

It Matters



So much of what we do on our journey is for ourselves, executed and done mostly invisible to those around us.  We like it this way as our lifestyle is a choice for how we want to live and if others want to follow this path then they need to come to their own decision to do so.  And what we will find, though, is that the choices that we each make, will have an impact on others around us.  When we hold ourselves to a higher standard, it is noticed by others, whether they outwardly acknowledge that or not.  It sort of matters none whether we know if someone is watching, what matters is that we always hold ourselves to the standards and ideas related to our higher purpose.  When we do this happens others will notice and will take care to adopt the best of what we do into their life and how they live it.  Yes, indeed

What's in the Way


What’s in the Way

We make commitments, we make plans, they are architected to fit into our schedules and to put us on the path to achieving our goals.  We do this with good intention but for us to be truly successful we have to build our plans with a good understanding of what might get in the way of our success and how to work contingencies and alternatives and accommodations into what we do so that we will not be completely taken off track when the “unexpected” happens.  We all know better that we cannot avoid this circumstance and therefore the challenge that we need to accept is how to build a “real” plan, one that fits “our” lives, with the constraints that are who we are and how we live.  So, let’s take a minute to accept who we are, plan for what will come, and work like mad to avoid any excuse that we could come up with.  We know deep down there are no excuses, just reasons that we did not want to work on.  No more of that – it is time for us to master the process and what we need to get through it.  It will work when we do this – that we know. 

The Wake Up Call

The Wake Up Call

While we all know that there are 168 hours in a week it often feels like we are short of time.  Sort of makes sense when we think about how much we take on while on our journey.  Yet, when we are honest with ourselves, we realize that maybe we are not that effective with our time management.  A little slop time here and there, a few too many pushes of the snooze button and we have less time than expected.  And unless we are ready to accept less than we can do we need to be purposeful in how our day evolves and it all starts with our wake-up call.  Is it early enough? Do we consistently get up when we set our alarm? Do we look forward to the alarm going off?  It really is a simple way of thinking – life starts each day when our alarm goes off and what a wonderful thing it is.  So, let’s set the clock a bit earlier tomorrow and get going and be ready for all that life has to offer especially when we are getting even more done! 

Going Greener


It seems that a core attribute of our journey is being “green” – taking care of the planet, being mindful of the way that we live, and how we use resources.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are for sure words that we live by. And when life is in order it is easy to follow these mantras. And yet we need to challenge ourselves to not only do this when it is easy, we need to be kind to the earth all of the time.  For those of us who travel there are many times when we have an opportunity to be deliberate about the choices, we make to be green. It might take a bit of effort to recycle or use less, we can walk more around town when possible, and soon with the Green Mode announcement that the ride-hailing company Lyft made we will soon be able to choose an electric vehicle over a fossil-fuel powered car. Options like this are very exciting and show us that we can all make efforts to stem the tide of global warming, to create less waste, to protect habitats, to just use fewer resources. When we all make efforts like this we can see and feel how we can take care of the earth for generations to come.  So, each day we should ask ourselves, what is the one thing (at least one) that we did to go greener? Imagine the impact that this one decision can make when we all do it together…

Be Present


Be Present

If there is anything that we know for sure it is that we keep a busy life while on our journey.  We take on more even when we are full.  We say yes when maybe we should say no.  We offer help when we don’t even have to do so.  It is a good life and it is one we choose.  We run the risk, though, of being distracted when we should be engaged.  As we push harder “being present” is ever more important.  We need to do it for ourselves and for those with whom we are spending time.  Focusing on the moment, being present, staying engaged, they are all ways to get the most out of our journey.  When we follow this theme life just feels better, the noises quiet and the engagement increases and improves.  Simple and effective.

Invest in Yourself



We make a lot of decisions as we go through life.  Where to go, who to go with, what to do and how to build a good plan.  There is more, however, that we need to consider if we are to make this journey into our own high performance life.  We have to do more than just invest in good gear. We have to think about what investments we are going to make in ourselves.  We need to give ourselves enough time to improve.  We need to leverage a coach or others who can help us.  We need to get enough rest and we have to plan for practice.  Maybe most importantly, we have to push ourselves to listen to what is going on around us, listen to the input that others provide and listen to how we are feeling. With all of these investments, we can and will improve and turn our journey into something even more remarkable.

Emotional Strength


Emotional Strength

We know that life is more than just physical or structural strength.  What we find as we journey forward towards improvements in performance and personal fulfillment is that to get to our maximum potential requires that we have depth in emotional strength as well.  It is through our emotional strength that we find what our potential really is.  The body and brain are ready to perform but to tap them requires control of our mind (aka emotional strength). The most successful people are not successful just because they have a high IQ or good genes.  Rather they are the people who have off-the-chart emotional strength. They learn to understand and control their emotions so that when things get tough they don’t lose control. Instead, they smile and keep moving. Building emotional strength, then, would be as important or even more important than a visit to the gym or library.  Work it and keep working it and we will see remarkable leverage in all that we do, and we can then rise to levels previously unexpected. 

The Best Version of Me

Photo by  Fab Lentz  on  Unsplash

Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash

The Best Version of Me 

As we step into 2019 and we feel energized and motivated to make 2019 better than 2018 it is important for us to not only make commitments to what it is we want to do, it is actually more important to think about how to stay true to those commitments and get them done.  And it all starts with a simple acknowledgment to create a better version of ourselves.  An explicit statement to ourselves that we are not going to let ourselves down.  We are going to care more about our follow through and step into what is possible when we do this.  When we make this as a sincere commitment with an understanding of the implications that it brings then we can deliver on self-improvement, new challenges, what others can expect from us and so much more.  So, here’s to creating that best version of ourselves – no better way to start the year!

Everything in moderation? Nah...

Photo by  Samuel Zeller  on  Unsplash


It is not uncommon, while we go through life that someone will tell us, in response to how intense we pursue our goals “everything in moderation”.  Hmmmm… It is something that is worthy of consideration.  Should we indeed do things in moderation?  What is the rationale for doing less, or doing the “average”?  Seems that it is just not connected to becoming better at something or doing what we love.  Doing more is better in so many instances and it really is a choice for us to make.  Moderation is an option; but if we want to be the best we can be we cannot stop at moderation, rather we need to go to a level where more is better.  More is better, yes, that is it!  Here’s to having fun with no ceiling or limits to what we want to do.  Yea baby!


Photo by  asoggetti  on  Unsplash

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash


Do not stop, do not hesitate, just go.  Seems to be a good mantra on our life's journey.  Go -- to move, to take action.  It has the right feeling.  When someone tells us Go – we know what to do.  We are instantly propelled forward.  Such a simple word, and such a powerful result.  All we have to do is feel it in our heart and live it in our lives.  We are made to move, not to be still, so Go is indeed core to who we are.  Ready, set, go…...