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Tai chi class sparks life changes for one local woman

Written By: Melissa McDonald, UT Physicians | Updated: March 21, 2019
tai chi

One moment, but forever changed

“Ivy saved my life,” says Frances Trahan, matter-of-factly. “The small kindness she gave to me—I will not forget. I was killing myself by taking no action.”

Ivy Weng is a community health education specialist with the UT Physicians Multispecialty clinic in the International District. She met Trahan in October 2018 when she came into the clinic for pain in her shoulder and elbow.

“I was given a questionnaire about my general well-being,” Trahan explains. “I guess my score was low enough for a further inquiry into my overall health.”

When Weng tried to speak with her, Trahan recalls becoming emotional and bursting into tears. “I was giving pieces of myself away—with no deposits. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was being pulled in too many directions with my daily schedule to participate in any form of exercise.”

Trahan was invited to a tai chi class, one of several wellness events hosted in the community room at the clinic. Other classes include gardening and yoga.

Time for a change

“At first I had no intention of going,” says Trahan. “I showed up a little late due to traffic, but the master greeted me with such kindness and patience. This little spark started in me. It was a domino effect that has impacted my entire life. I call it a cosmic shift for me.”

Trahan says from that one experience, she began making little changes in her daily routine. “I no longer made my daily pilgrimage to the office candy machine. I started bringing fresh fruit and vegetables for snacks.”

Along with eliminating high calorie and fat snacks, Trahan began bringing her own lunch to work, opting for healthier food and eliminating the stress of hectic lunchtime traffic. She added exercise by taking the stairs one step at a time instead of the elevator.

With steady attendance at the tai chi classes at the clinic, Trahan also added in Zumba classes and listening to audiobooks while she worked out on gym equipment.

“At Frances’s most recent visit, she had a calmness that wasn’t there before,” says Amy Laude, MD, a family medicine physician at the clinic. “When she first came to me she seemed drained. Making a change can be difficult, and I am so proud of how she took this opportunity to invest in herself. By making a small change and showing up for our tai chi class, she set off a cascade of positive actions. For anyone looking to change their life, try to start with something small but consistent. Pick something simple such as a daily walk around the block, writing down five things you are grateful for daily or adding cucumber slices and baby carrots to your lunch. Forming one positive habit can give you the confidence to tackle another, and another. As Frances did, you can build yourself a path to a healthier life.”

“I have been given something very special,” Trahan says. “Something I haven’t had in a very long time—hope—and something to look forward to.”

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.