Tag Archives: health

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.

Real Reasons for Overweight

Too much choices

We all have challenges when it comes to keeping our weight in check. And usually when we fail to lose the weight, we tend to find excuses to rationalize our weight gain or we find reasons or someone to blame. For example, it is not uncommon for us to gain a few pounds after the holidays. And there are others who would blame their weight on heredity.

I’ve never been overweight. However, I have dealt with certain health issues that made me reassess what I did wrong. I dig further to find out what I could do better. As I consider some of the problems, I realized that weight gain usually fall into several categories. Hopefully after you reading them you could understand them and find tactical solutions to help you in losing weight.

Mindset

One of the major reasons that one is overweight is “Denial”. My family came from Malaysia and it is not common to have wellness check up. Most Malaysians (even today) would only visit doctors only when they are sick. Getting a wellness check up is unheard off. One reason is they don’t want to hear the bad news; they don’t want doctors to tell them they have high cholesterol or they have high blood pressure. They know that the bad news means they need to change their lifestyle.

That goes to show the same mindset is in this country as well. Most overweight people do not like to look in the mirror because they are afraid to see what they look like. Even if they “glanced” themselves in the mirror, they rationalize that they are either not too bad or they will lose weight starting tomorrow.

Solution: We just need to reconsider what is important in life. Is it food or our health? If it is health we need really sit down go over our diet, our lifestyle and our goals. Set SMART goals and go through one by one.

Lifestyle

We’ve heard this time and time again every time we visit our doctors – we need exercise. The more active we are the better we will be in losing our weight. Obviously this is easier to say than actually doing it. Believe it or not, eating a muffin will need an hour of exercise to burn it off. This is not easy task consider that there is very limited time in a day. A lot of us fail in losing weight because of this – how do we balance our lifestyle when there are so many other things in life require us to focus on?

Personally, I have the same problem. Working remotely for the past year seem like a luxury but the truth is I sometimes can’t separate work and personal life because there is no commuting. Taking the train to and from work is the indication that tells me when to start and stop working. Working life starts to bleed into my personal life that I rarely have time to workout.

Solution: Consider come up with a plan on how to put several hours of workout in a week. Gradually add more and more time to the plan. One option is to reduce the amount of time watching tv or using the smartphone.

Unhealthy food

Our lives revolve around food and with limited time available in a day we tend to resort to fast food. I’m guilty of that too. Besides fast food, we tend to buy convenient food that we can easily put in the microwave. Unfortunately these options to not go well when we need to lose weight. We tend to overeat and many consume food that is tasty but not healthy. Combining with lack of time to exercise, the end result is we add more weight instead of losing it.

Solution: It is unavoidable if we don’t have time to cook healthy food when there are other important priorities. One solution is to limit certain food (i.e. fast food) only once a week. Other solution is to select food that are low in sodium, saturated fat and chemicals. I find that this is hardest to maintain because there are so many options of convenience food at supermarket. Finding the right mix is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Surplus of food

We gain weight during the holidays because we tend to overcook. The more food we cook the more merrier the event is. Instead of cooking for 5, we would cook for 20. Why? Because when we take photos, the food on the background “make” a memorable moment. Also, we would stuff ourselves as much as possible because we can. What we don’t realize is we also make ourselves overweight. Usually when we are unable to finish the food, we either divvied up the food or we put them in the freezer as leftovers. None of the options are healthy.

Solution: We need to break from “tradition.” This tradition is man-made and never existed prior to early 20th century. There is no reason for us to cook so much when there is only so much space in our stomach. We need to consider small portions and avoid having any leftovers. Healthy food is something that we eat on the same day. As we stored the leftovers, the nutritional values of the food deteriorate.

Lazyness

The “tomorrow” excuse is used quite often. We feel like getting up and exercise every time we sit down and notice extra bulge on our waist. However, that rarely happens because we starts to rationalize that you will work on in tomorrow. Why is this separate from the lifestyle I listed above? Because this is something that we can tackle today. When we have this feeling that we feel overweight, get up and pick up a pair of sneakers and walk around the neighborhood.

Solution: Don’t procrastinate. Place a pair of sneakers next to your sofa to remind you what is important. Every time you feel “heavy” after a big meal, look down at your sneakers. Either they make you guilty or make you move.

The reasons I listed are not new. It’s just that we rarely think about them when we have other distractions. However, none of us can avoid the fact that we’ve outgrown our clothes or we look different in the mirror. If you are on a quest to a better you, rethink your priorities and come up with a plan to make the quest a reality.

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.

Getting Fit Journey (day 60 – 130)

It has been a while since I provided any updates on my journey to get fit. The current pandemic of corona virus (COVID-19) really has a profound effect on my plan. The unprecedented event is causing such a disruption on everyone’s life that the population of the entire world was brought down to their knees.

Thankfully my family remains healthy. No one from our immediate family were infected by the virus. We were fortunate enough take early precaution once we found out New York and New Jersey started to see spike in infections. We pray for those who were impacted by the family, especially those who lost their loved ones to this horrible virus.

Since early March I was fortunate enough to work from home. When the media began reporting the onset of early infection, the company that I work for initiated business continuity plan. Originally 2/3 of the employees would work remotely and the rest to work in the city. As the virus began to spread within 2 weeks, all 90% of the employees would be working remotely.

Early Plan

Originally I planed to continue with my diet plan and workout regime since going to the nearby gym was no longer possible. I thought that I would be working remotely and I will have enough time to continue with my workout plan. Unfortunately, that did not work out the way I wanted.

Staying indoors and avoid any outside contact are easy. However, there is the question of what to eat while staying at home 24/7. Not only that I have to feed myself, I have to constantly thinking of feeding the family of 5. My family would need to eat 3 meals a day for 7 days a week. From a week becomes a month. Now we are hitting the 3rd month. Most of my time was spent on thinking about grocery and food. I no longer have the luxury of thinking about my diet because it is no longer possible to keep 2 types of diets (one for family and one for myself) in these dire times.

What Changed

Staying indoors does not mean more time. I spend majority of my time working and thinking anout food. Since going to the gym is no longer possible continue with my workout plan was out of the question. I skipped doing strength training. Instead, I spend most of my time working on my abs and running on my treadmill.

My diet plan included removing all processed food, “white” ingredients such as rich and flour and red meat. Instead I started to consume these food in moderation. The positive side of eating at home is we are eating less of the processed food.

The Results

Thankfully I have not gained weight. I have lost 22 pound since I started my journey and my BMI has also dropped from 23 to 22 which is normal for my age. I was really surprised by the results because I reduced my workout and started consume the “forbidden” food. I believe this could be attributed to several habits that I continue to follow:

  • Eat at the same schedule – I do not starve myself but I continue to follow the same 3 meals a day and I eat them at the same time. Breakfast at 9 am, lunch at 1 pm and dinner at 6:30 pm. This will help my body to adapt and metabolize the food appropriately.
  • Eat in moderation – I continue to keep eating the same portion every meal. I do not “stuff” myself until I am full.
  • Eat smart – While I have started to some of the food that I swear I will never eat again, there are still some food that I do not eat. For example snacks such as chips which has no nutritional value or chicken wings which contain mostly fat.
  • Drink water and tea – I continue to drink tea in most of my meal. I rarely drink sugary drink such as juices. One a while I may drink tea with sugar but only on special occasion. Again, moderation is key.

I know the points I raised above work well for me and may not work for everyone. How do you keep healthy in this unprecedented time? What has worked or not worked for you? I’m eager to hear from you.

Thank you for reading and do come back as I provide further updates on my journey.

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 – 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.