Tag Archives: fitness

Stressed? Here are 5 ways to De-Stress…

My masterpiece – a scale model for stress relief

When my second son was born, both my wife and I had difficult time taking care of him. Although he wasn’t colicky but he was definitely gave us a hard time particularly during feeding. At some point I questioned why did we put ourselves through it. But being parents it was something that we both have to learn how to be patient. I can tell you that I was so stressed that I felt hopeless and angry most of the time.

My son just turned 17th and he just passed his driving test. Looking back while he was growing up I can tell you he is a joy in our family because he is always happy and has tons of “fun” energy. He is a blessing to us and I wouldn’t change a thing if I can turn go back in time.

Now you may asked how I was able to go through such hardship (if you want to call parenting hard) and come out victorious. I think it has to do with how I see myself and how I deal with the stress. Some stress is healthy but if you are burdened with stress then it could become suicidal.

Today I’m going to list 5 ways to deal with stress that I find useful. There are other ways as well but I’m not going to list everyone of them as it may take more than one post.

Enjoy Something that Takes Time to Complete

Invest time in doing something you really enjoy. I’m not talking about something that can be completed in an hour. I’m referring to a project that can take hours or days to complete, and it has to be something that you enjoy. For example, you can try putting a 1,000 pieces of jigsaw or maybe try building the dog house. For me, it is spending hours building the perfect scale model. As my kids are all grown up I have been spending more and more time in this hobby. It takes a lot of patience and at times frustrating if I don’t get certain parts correct. However, I can tell you that it is the best way for me to de-stress.

Start a Work-out Regime

This is an easy thing to start and complete. However, it requires commitment. If you set a SMART goal, getting into the groove can help de-stress. Imagine have a workout regime with the goal to run 5 miles within a month time. Having a goal not only helps you focus, but it also helps you de-stress. It would be even better if you can join a group of friends with the same goal in mind. This will put you in the competitive mode and further help in keeping the stress level down.

Reading a Book, Listen to Music or Write a Blog

Before I started working on my hobby, I would go to the local library and borrow the new books which only have 2 weeks lending period. It helps me de-stress as I had a separate deadline to complete. I find that if I enjoy the book time flies and I would not even notice the 2 weeks deadline. Nowadays I would have a music playing while I’m working. It helps me focus more and reduce the stress with the multitude deadlines that I have. At the end of the day (like right now) or end of the week writing a blog also helps refocus my thoughts.

Take a Walk

I still remember vividly when I started working for HSBC. The deadlines and the workload was unbearable that I always went home angry after work. It was definitely not healthy to my family and myself. One day during work I decided to drop everything and step away from my desk. I took a two hours walk around my office coming refreshed. Since then I learned to remove myself from my laptop when I feel stressed.

Spending Time with Family

If you read my earlier post, my daughter is having difficulty with her anxiety. I have begun to spend more time with her and talk to her more often. I find that not only it helps me understand my daughter more I also felt more relaxed. Having someone to talk to is important, especially with someone you care. If you feel overwhelmed do not feel bad or ashamed that you need to talk.

Do not less stress get the better of you. Some stress is healthy but if it becomes overwhelming, it can cause more than just losing sleep. It is extremely important that you take care of yourself by knowing yourself. Learning to de-stress is different for everyone. You need to search within yourself to see what works for you. As long as you can do something you enjoy, you are one step closer from being burnt out.

Dieting? Don’t skip breakfast!

Recently my wife received an advice from a friend on Facebook that she will start a dieting regime she learned from some “experts”. The first thing to do in the morning is to drink two full cups of water and skip breakfast altogether. The belief is that by filling your stomach with fluid instead of food, our body will start burning fat and calorie thus better chance of losing weight.

While I’m not a nutritional expert I can tell you that common sense says this is all wrong. There are multiple articles published on this subject showing the pros and cons. One article that debunked this idea was from Time that states it may not help with dieting but could potential cause more harm.

Everything we read on the internet should be read with caution. Not everyone of them can be cited or supported with studies, including what I am writing now. What I intend to do today is to give a few common sense arguments and hope you can make proper decision if skipping breakfast helps with dieting.

One of the most important things I learned while taking biology course in college is that human body is a well oiled machine. It learns to adapt to its environment and adjust its metabolism accordingly. Prior to the turn of the century before the invention of electricity, the world was dark and the citizens of those era had different meal cycle. Because of lack of lights, eating dinner at 6 or 7 PM was rarely practiced and eating breakfast was not something that is being done consistently. Fast forward to today, a lot of our habits were shaped by commercials we seen on the TV. “As part of the healthy breakfast” selling point could be heard on TV even today. The point I am trying to make is we can skip breakfast and be healthy but at present times our body has already adapted to current habit and changing it could take time and may not work for everyone.

Breakfast is a word coined in the 15th century which refers to first meal after rising from a night’s sleep. Essentially it means that we were fasting after yesterday meal and we break the fasting cycle by eating the first meal when we wake up. During the sleep cycle (between 8 to 10 hours depends on your age), our body went through a rest with minimal activity. The first meal is supposed to fill our body with enough nutrients that will help our body getting the energy to start the day.

Skipping breakfast means we exhaust our body the necessary energy. Our body is smart enough that it stores what we ate before in other cells in our body as energy cells (as fat cells). However, it takes time for our body to convert those energy into usable source of power. By not feeding our body with the essential fuel we could cause harm. Let’s take a car as an example. Could your car start if you pour water in the fuel tank in a cold winter morning?

Once our body is awake it would constantly need to have enough fuel to continue its activities. The same fuel is needed for the brain cells to function properly. Without the necessary nutrients, our brain becomes lethargic and becomes sleepy. If you are attending school you will have difficult time in concentrating. If you are driving to work it could have a disastrous consequences when your brain starts to feel drowsy.

Skipping breakfast does not necessary help with losing weight. I noted earlier that our body can adapt to the environment. That includes how much we eat. If we starve our body in the morning, it will automatically adjust itself to ingest the necessary nutrients to supplement the energy it lost. One of the ways for our body to do that is our brain will instruct our appetite to increase. Instead of feeling satisfied during lunch or dinner, one may feel the need to eat things that are sweet (sugar is the main source of energy).

One of the best ways to successfully diet is to light breakfast or eat small portion. Instead of skipping breakfast, I recommend that you eat something that has protein (an egg) is starchy (such as oatmeal) and sweet (such as a banana). These are the several ingredients that our body can metabolize easily and be turned into energy that is essential for our body to function.

Breakfast is sometimes considered the most important meal of the day. It can either make or “break” what lies ahead. If you want to diet successful, skipping breakfast is the last thing that you want to do.

Is Obesity a Heredity Problem?

Obesity is a major problem in the USA and trends suggest that this is not going away. Numerous studies were done and multiple programs to tackle obesity were undertaken by federal, state and city governments. However, most of them seem to be futile. As more and more people are aware of this problem, many seem to suggest that this could be a heredity problem. Or is it?

According to Wikipedia, Obesity is defined as a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to an extent that it may have a negative effect on health.  People are generally considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height. And according to CDC guideline, anyone who is 30% and above are considered obese.

Obesity carries a tremendous cost and risk. Not only the cost of healthcare to treat obesity has skyrocketed, it also creates cost when one could not work because of obesity. Obesity is linked to over 60 chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. The Covid-19 also impacts people with underlying conditions more severe than healthy individuals.

According to one of the publication that states that as of July 2020, one-third of Americans are obese. And one in six of children are obese. And according to CDC, obesity rate for adults is on the rise. One of the most interesting fact of obesity, it appears to be more prevalent in the mid and Southern states where greasy and sweet food seems to be common diet.

One of the common arguments, particularly point out that obesity is mostly heredity. I’ve never been obese so I can’t say that is it true. However, I believe it is a problem of being responsible for oneself instead of blaming on heredity.

You are What You Eat

Food is the major contributor to the obesity crisis. The abundance of fast food, convenient food and processed food help create the the 30% plus obese Americans. If you go back to the 1970s obesity was not in the vocabulary. However, with renewed interest in the food and explosion of food industry there were more unhealthy and processed foods created. Nowadays you see fast food restaurant almost at every street corners of American cities. If you have the opportunity to travel to Asian countries you will notice that majority of the population are not overweight. However, current trends suggest that obesity is on the rise as more and more Asian countries begin to adopt American lifestyle.

One of the most interesting fact of the map that CDC put together clearly shows that states that have higher rate of obesity tend to concentrate on the Southern and Mid states where greasy food, such as “fried chicken” and BBQ, are normal diet. Another common diet is the amount of sweet desserts after meal.

Unhealthy Lifestyle

Smartphones, social network and media streaming have been a blessing and a curse. They provide us all types of entertainment and we feel content by just sitting on the sofa all day. Many would rather going through each post on Facebook or every videos that YouTube. On the flip side we are becoming less active. Getting the required exercise is no longer on the to-do list. To be able to successfully lose weight we need to exercise often and be consistent. Laziness is not a heredity trait.

I agree that losing weight takes a lot of effort and it is not easy. Blaming it on heredity is just and easy way out to avoid responsibility. It takes less than 5 minutes to eat a burger but takes 2 hours to burn off the calorie. If you have been following Rebel Wilson, you would know that nothing is impossible. Changing of diet and lifestyle is the only way to achieve your ideal body weight. And it has nothing to do with heredity.

Tools for Getting Fit

One of the greatest thing that we have in today modern world to get fit is there are tons of resources available for free. You can use YouTube and learn some fitness routine or you can search online for fitness plan. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for obesity in America.

I could understand that many of us hesitate to pay or subscribe to services that we may never use. But if the best tools are available for free, why don’t we use them to their fullest. What we need to be successful is to have the drive and motivation to meet the challenges.

I have the same challenges when it comes to getting fit. There are a number of priorities that would take most of my time so getting the required exercise is probably not the most important thing I want to focus on. I remembered several years ago sitting in my manager’s office to go over my annual performance results. She asked me if I took any training. I told her that I did not take all the required training because I did not have the time. Her response was “you find the time”. She made me realized that I have been using “never have the time” as an excuse for things that I had never achieved.

Today’s blog is focused on a tool that I have started using and it is called “Six Pack in 30 days” app. This app is free with ads. The ads are not intrusive and they do not get in the way of me following the program. In fact most of the time I hardly aware there are ads. Please note that this blog is not paid by developer of the app. I’m posting this for the benefits of anyone who is interested in getting fit. Also like all exercise, you may want to consult with your doctors. If that is not possible, remember to limit yourself to what you are capable of. Finally, exercise alone is not enough; a controlled diet is extremely important.

I have been obsessed in getting the abs that I always dreamed of. I tried dieting and looked up YouTube for abs exercise. While I noticed some results but I could never get the chiseled abs that I always wanted. I’m aware of two weaknesses in my approach:

  • I was not disciplined enough to work on my abs.
  • I did not follow a plan to ensure I worked every part of my abs.

The app answers my weaknesses by instilling discipline on my routine. Additionally, it has a simple to follow plan that anyone can follow. When you first opened the app, you will need to select a plan from fat burning to advance. In my case I selected Rock Hard Abs plan.

In the plan that I use, there are usually around 20 routines or exercises and each one last about 30 seconds to a minute. There is a 30 second break in between. I find that the exercise easy to follow and not too difficult. However, as I progress throughout the plan some of the exercise will add more time and repetitions.

There is an animation showing how the exercise is done. You don’t need to watch a video and that is one of the reason why the app is so small in terms of size. I would use the voice prompt to assist in my workout.

The app will continue to track the progress and show me the results of my hard work. This answers one of my weaknesses by being discipline.

I have used the app almost a month now and I will have to agree with the name that you will get your six pack in 30 days. I didn’t expect to get a chiseled abs in 30 days but the results speak for itself. This is probably first time in my 30 years that I could clearly see my six pack. I will continue to use this app until I can see all my six pack well defined.

Six pack anyone?

If you are up for the challenge and want to stay fit, I suggest that you give this app a try. The exercise is easy to follow and the app is not intrusive. The best thing of all is the app is free. There is nothing to lose except the fat around your mid-section.

Getting Fit Journey 2020 (day 11 -25)

My journey started on the right track and I was happy the first 2 weeks when I realized that I lost 9 lbs. I continued to do what I did and hope that I would continue to lose more weight and build more muscles. However, I am a pessimist person and I understand that there is no miracle when it comes to diet and losing weight.

What are the results since the last update? I’ve actually gained about 3 lbs since then. While it seems a lot, but I think it is acceptable as long as I continue to keep my diet in check and I continue to go to gym. There are a few measurements that I use to make sure I’m on the right track. One of the best thing that everyone should invest in is smart bathroom weight scale, which connects to your phone. Most of them are priced around $50 and it is definitely a must. There are 3 important measurements that I look at very closely, weight, BMI and body fat. Another measurement that I track very closely is muscle mass. My current body fat is around 13 – 14%, and my goal is to bring it down to less than 8% by end of the year.

My son who has less body fat than I do…

There is a BIG misconception that if one goes to gym and exercise, the pounds will start dropping. I’ve seen times and times again that many failed and they give up. For example, the gym that I go to is ran by my town and for the last month I’ve seen a big increase in attendance. And I can guarantee that the attendance will drop by half in the next two months. And by June, it will just trickle down to just a few. To successful lose weight, exercise is important but having proper diet is more important.

I’ve reduced the portion that I usually eat by a third and I was worried that I may go hungry most of the time. I thought that I would feel weak and would continue to look for food. Surprisingly I was able to adapt without any problems. Instead of stuffing myself to feel comfortable and full, now I feel satisfied. I don’t feel any craving and able to keep pace with my daily struggles. I don’t feel any less energy and I’m able to sleep without feeling hungry.

I’ve gained some weight the last two weeks is a fact. The question is why… In reviewing my diet and my habits, there are a few things that I may need to change. I noticed that I inadvertently increase my portion during breakfast and lunch. While I’ve removed processed food from my diet, particularly anything “white”, there are a few food items that I couldn’t resist such as Youtiao, Chinese fried crullers.

Removing everything from my diet may sometime has unexpected consequences. Luckily, I had not had any complications in my health. One option that I will employ is to track what I eat for the next several months. Gradually I will remove certain food items from my diet to see if there are any changes in my health and weight. I’m not a big proponent of calorie counting because everyone is different. The guidance that everyone should limit to a number of calorie is very misleading. One can take in less calorie but may continue to have health problems. For example, everyone knows that sugary drinks such as sodas are very bad. Substituting these drinks with no calorie sodas does not mean they are not any better. Most of these drinks substitute sugar with saccharin, which is known to cause health problems. There is a study that it may be an agent of cancer.

I still have a long way to go before I achieve my ideal weight and health. While at times I feel giving up because work and life may take over my day to day priorities. I continue to be driven and have never given up going to gym and eat healthier. I will document my journey to a better me and hope that you will follow along.

Getting Fit Journey 2020 (day 1-10)

Every year our family goes to our doctor for our physical and blood work. Probably like everyone we all dread that moment: the moment the doctors tell us that something is wrong.

Every year I hate that moment. I feel great but just like a book and a cover, we can’t tell what is inside. Sadly, my blood work came back not as ideal as I would like. Instead of improving my overall health my internals have actually gotten worse. I thought that if I go to gym 4 days a week would help and apparently I was wrong.

So I took inventory of what I’ve done and found several shortcomings and that I intend to correct the wrongs. This blog would be considered my journal entries as I demonstrate what works and what doesn’t. Obviously this is only my view and the results are mine alone – it may not work for everyone. Before joining any exercise regime, it is best knowing your limit and consult with the doctors.

The questions that I have to answer myself is what I’ve done wrong, so wrong that instead of improving I went the other way. The real answer is age and there are several factors that contribute the problem. I noticed that my age (I’ll be 50) is stopping me from progressing. Like all machinery, my body starts to break down and can longer compete with younger generation. And that means that I will need to work 10 times harder than my son who is 30 days younger than I am.

The answer to all of this requires personal commitment. To achieve the goals it needs a lot of commitment and a lot of sacrifice and I’m setting my sights to do just that. After considering my personal lifestyle there are several things I need to change.

Maintaining My Diet

Breakfast for the mind and soul

I was always carefree when it comes to eating. I felt that I was relatively healthy that I can eat what I want. However, I realized that I was wrong because my blood results show that I’m pre-diabetic and high fat content in my blood. The first thing that I changed was removing all animal fat and eat only high fiber food. Besides that I eat more nuts and fruit. Another thing that I changed drastically is removing dietary supplement (i.e. protein, BCAA and any pre-workout powder). For the last 2 weeks, my diet is consist of the following:

  • Breakfast – oatmeat with nut and dried fruit, coffee
  • Lunch – garden salad with grilled chicken or fish
  • Snack – tea and nuts
  • Dinner – baked salmon with vegetable or steamed chicken and broccoli

Exercise More

I always hated running and focused mostly on increasing muscle mass. Additionally, I took in dietary supplement. It resulted in increased weight gain. So I made a commitment to exercise more and spend more time running. For the past two weeks I spend half of my time using elliptical machine and running.

The Results

After over 10 days changing my lifestyle, I’m happy to announce that I see differences in my body. While I don’t feel relatively stronger or more energy, I have lost over 9 lbs. I can run more than 30 minutes non-stop.

Follow along with my journey to be a better me. I would like to hear from you too to know what works well and what doesn’t. It would also be great that you subscribe to my blog as this will help me tremendously that I know I am doing something right to help others.

Getting Fit by Staying Motivated

Are you one of the many who set a new year resolution to get fit and healthy? The next question is do you failed the same amount of times in completing the resolution? Do you pay for gym memberships but never been to the gym even once? If you answer “yes” to these questions, then you need to read on to understand how to push yourself to go to gym.

We’ve seen many photos of fit people in magazines or Instagram. Everyone of us admire those fit bodies and just want to be like them. However, no longer how hard we “tried” to get exercise, we just can’t achieve our dream bodies. The answer actually lies in self-motivation.

Sure we can argue that many of those “influencers” have tons of time honing their bodies in the gym. In fact, many of them have full time jobs just to be fit. Unlike us who have full-time jobs there is hardly any time in a day to even spend an hour in the gym. The truth is we don’t have to aspire to be these fitness model. We just need to be able to find enough time in a day to workout and get fit.

The question is how do you get motivated to actually move your ass off the couch and into the gym. If I say it is as easy as eating a cake, I will be lying. I have the same challenges everyday in trying to get some exercise in my busy day. I always seem to find some excuse not to drive my car to the gym. Glad to say that I’ve overcame my “laziness” for the past 4 years and have been going to the gym at least 4 times a week. I find that there are several things motivate me to move.

Do it for your loved ones

Everyone of us has someone we care about. Be it your spouse, kids or your parents. Getting fit for yourself is important but we always find reasons out of nowhere to convince ourselves not to act. I find that I stay more motivated when I think about my kids, particularly my daughter. Every time I go to gym I think of one day I will be there when she gets married and and when she has children of her own. I promised myself that I will be the best grandfather to her kids. But in order to do that I need to eat healthy and get fit as age starts to catching up on me.

Do it for your own

This is easier to say than actually doing it. It is very easy for us to dismiss the idea that we will die early if we don’t exercise more. In the 2015-2016 CDC numbers 39.8% of adult in US were obese. In a study that I read last week, it is believe the numbers will jump to 75% in the next decade. Obesity is one of the number 1 killers in the US. So the question is do you want to be the number in the 75%? If not, then getting fit is no longer a hurdle.

Look at the mirror everyday

There is a saying that the mirror does not lie. I know that some people who are fat refuse to look at the mirror because they don’t like what they see. They feel ashamed and depressed every time they look at the mirror. Everyone should use the mirror to get motivated. Instead of seeing the problems, think of the possibility an exercise could do. Every morning when I wake up the first thing I look at not if I’ve shaved but if my six-pack abs is showing. Sad to say that abs are not where I want them to be right now, but that didn’t stop me from going to gym. In fact, it fuels my drive to go to gym more.

Limit your goals

No one is a master of all trades. This is no different in the fitness world. Sure some fitness models look 100% perfect in every parts of their bodies, but they have years of training. When you start going to gym, try to limit what you hope to achieve. If you set your goals to high, the chances of achieving them are unlikely. When this happens, you will lose the drive and motivation to continue. I’m driven to build muscles so I spend more time in the weight room toning my muscles. I’ve no intention to run a marathon yet but as I feel more confident I may place more attention on my running.

It takes time

At the beginning of every year I usually see many new members joining my local gym. I would see new faces in the first few weeks and then they all “fell of the wagon”. Many of them believe that they’ve done their best in going to gym but probably felt that they are not seeing results on their weight loss or muscle gain. So they gave up. What they don’t realize that going to gym is a long term commitment. There is no miracle when it comes to getting fit. Don’t expect that by doing sit-ups for 2 sessions will create the six-pack abs. Many fitness models spend up to 4 hours a day for the last 10 years to get to where they are today. Next time when you go to a gym just think that you will get your dream body one day, but just not today.

Driving to the gym is easy but getting the motivation to climb in your car and drive is the most difficult part. Use the several pointers above and think how to change your life for the better. Feeling down or defeated? Think of your love ones. Don’t be a defeatist.

Let me know what are your motivations to get fit.

Getting Fit – Let’s Get Started

I was born skinny and all my life I hardly gained any weight. In fact, I did not get much weight until I’m in my 30’s after getting married. Looking at some of the photos after my kids were born, I didn’t see any changes on my body until late in the 30’s when I noticed that I have a belly and my waist starting to expand.

Because of this reason, I never had any reason to believe that I’m not healthy. I had always believed that health is a consequences of weight. And I was so wrong!

My family is quite religious when it comes to annual health checkup. We have been going to see our family doctors since my wife and I were married so we are well aware of our health conditions. After my second son was born my doctor started to advise me to exercise more because he saw irregularities in blood. Particularly concerning was increase in glucose level in my blood. This could be onset of diabetes. This was the wake up call I needed – since then (4 years ago) I’ve been going to gym regularly.

Getting the exercise and getting fit are two very different things. It is one thing to move around to get the exercise; it is a very different matter when you try to lose weight and build muscles. I learned a few things over they few years and I intend to share my findings in this blow.

Doing the right thing

As I noted above getting fit is very different. How do you know you are doing the right thing. Some people are more receptive of light exercise while some are more effective with High-intensive Interval Training (HITT). Then there are those who want to have muscles in one are and not the other – what is the right intensity?

It is more difficult with age

Getting fit for someone in his 20’s is easier than someone in his 40’s. I noticed that my son who is 30 years younger than me gained more muscle in a shorter amount of time than me.

How do you get motivated

Not everyone has the motivation to go to gym day in and day out. There are too many distractions that prevent us to continue with this routine. I found number of ways to do it and some of them are easy and some are quite demanding. Follow along as I will list them in my next blogs.

Be realistic on what can be achieved

It is so easy seeing someone ran a 10K marathon. However, I will never see myself doing it not because I can’t do it but because I know that I’m not at the form where I can compete. Similarly I don’t think I will ever be like the Rock even if I tried to go to gym 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

You are what you eat

Food and diet are extremely important to get fit. Don’t be fool to believe that by exercising alone will help loose weight. Food and exercise go hand in hand and they are very essential to be healthy.

My ultimate goal is to be healthy and at the same time gained some muscles. I was never fat nor sick that I need to rely on medicine. However, don’t judge a book by its cover – while I may look healthy on the front, my blood tells a different story. Follow along as I will share my knowledge and my journey to be a healthy me.

Please subscribe to my blog and any comments will be welcomed.