Fruit Salads are Great!

Happy Friday! It’s a long Labour Day weekend here in Bangkok as well as in other countries so its time to get out and relax! ūüôā I’d like to borrow a quote from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which I just saw for the first time and found hilarious. During the wedding reception, the father of the bride gives a speech in which he says,

” We are all different, but in the end we are all fruits.”

I loved it. He was talking about how his family’s last name meant orange as in “oranges,” while the groom’s family last name meant “apple.” One family was a traditional US family which was somewhat “dry as toast” (as the father of the bride described them) while the bride’s family was very Greek and very large. There were relatives everywhere and everyone was in everybody’s way.

They were opposites, coming from different cultures,values, and beliefs. It reminded me of us here in Bangkok with our “fruity war.” If you recall my post on “Very Red Tomatoes” I talked about how we had different fruit names for each side. We had durians, watermelons, mangoes, and tomatoes.

In the end, no matter what, we are all fruits. And fruits should love each other, because when mixed together, they make a great fruit salad! ūüôā A great dessert for this very very very hot summer! ūüôā

See me not my shirt

Today I unintentionally did a very stupid thing.   I wore a shirt that I believed to be orange in colour, whilst others told me it was more red than orange.  (No, I do not sympathize with the reds.)  It proved to be a very interesting experience, but one I hope not to repeat anytime soon. 

Here’s my story. ¬†This morning, I woke up at 5.30am so that I would be able to get to the fitness early, do my morning run and get to work in time. ¬† I was sleepy and the room was dark. ¬† I picked a skirt, grabbed a shirt, and a cardigan. ¬†I looked at the ensemble quickly, and my mind went..”What colour is that? ¬†Oh, its orange…okay, orange is fine. ¬†Now you are running late, traffic might be bad, go and run!”
I did my run, showered, and changed. ¬†As I looked in the mirror, a terrifying thought flashed across my mind, “Oh my god! I’m wearing a bright red shirt!” ¬†My cardigan was fitted and didn’t cover my entire shirt. ¬†I had nothing else to change into except my running clothes. ¬†
So, I had to put on a brave face and walk around the changing room in my bright orange (or is it red?) shirt. ¬†I noticed looks and strange facial expressions in the dressing room, but tried to ignore it. ¬†(My fitness is predominately “yellow.”) However, I felt so self conscious I asked the lady looking after the room, what colour she thought my shirt was. ¬†She didn’t reply, but told me to just wear anything I liked because we weren’t involved in politics. ¬†
She was just trying to make me feel better.
I arrived at work, all was fine. ¬†My colleagues are lovely people. ¬†I asked them what colour they thought my shirt was, and they honestly told me “I think its more red than orange.” ¬† I covered myself up in my shawl and ¬†spent the day telling people that my shirt is “orange.” ¬†I never felt so self conscious.
Lunch was interesting, I hopped on a taxi and went for lunch. ¬†However, as people walked pass me, I would notice sudden turns of the heads and a looks that weren’t all so friendly. ¬†Of course, strangers didn’t and wouldn’t say anything, but you could sense their eyes of disapproval and perhaps of disgust. ¬†I told myself that perhaps I was just “imagining” things and “overreacting.” I wasn’t. ¬† I think I now understand what arabs might have felt like immediately after 9/11.¬†
Then I met someone I knew in the bathroom and she gave me a quick glance and her eyes changed. I told her..”it’s orange, not red.” She smiled and told me her honest opinion. ¬† She said she was wondering about my shirt, and why I dared to wear the colour “red.” ¬†She also told me that if I really was a “red shirt” she wouldn’t talk to me. ¬†Such were the extent of her emotions.
I had to reassure her that “No, I am not a red shirt. ¬†I am not a Thaksin-sympathizer.” ¬†I was colour-blind and grabbed a shirt too quick. ¬†(I was dumb and not thinking) ¬†¬†
Her comments were a reflection though of what was going on in people’s mind. ¬† Politics has divided my country into yellow and red. ¬†People now go around judging people by the colour of their shirt. ¬†We see people in red shirts and instinctively we categorize them. We “label” them and forever change our perception of them without really knowing them. ¬†It stirs up emotions of anger, hatred and annoyance. ¬†¬†
I too am guilty of that. ¬†I do it whenever I see someone in a red shirt nowadays. ¬†The other day, I wondered why there were so many on a street corner and was getting emotional at them. ¬† As I watched and observed, I realized they worked for “Coca-cola” and were delivering drinks to¬†
7-11 stores!! ¬† I had let my emotions “blind” me for who this group of “red shirts” really were. ¬† They were “Coca-cola” employees and had nothing to do with politics.
Now I think I understand racial discrimination a bit more. ¬†Its pretty much the same thing, except that its not the colour of our skin, but the colour of the shirt we wear. ¬†Bangkokians are lucky, its easy to change the colour of your shirt, but you can’t change the colour of your skin.
A few years ago, I would never have imagined that my country of a thousand smiles, my country where people are so carefree, would become so divided.  
How long would it be before we can go back to our carefree days, when we were all so loving and smiles greeted you wherever you went? ¬†Days when people didn’t ask you “What colour shirt are you? ” when they first meet you. ¬†When people didn’t categorize and label you without first knowing or finding out who you really are. ¬†¬†
I miss my old Thailand.  I love my country and my King.
Take a break from our emotions, stop and pause a little before we judge someone. As they used to say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” ¬†Have less emotions, less anger, ¬†and less hatred, so that we can solve our differences and move on with our lives. ¬†

Too much of "Me"

Here’s a sad but true reality: ¬† if constantly exposed to violence we grow accustomed to it. ¬† News that previously shocked us no longer have the same impact. ¬†It makes me wonder, are we humans really that insensitive? or is it a reflection of ourselves? ¬†Perhaps we don’t care enough about things and events outside of our lives? ¬†Perhaps some of us are just too self-absorbed to care.

This past afternoon, there was once again a clash between the authorities and the red shirts.  We watched the news on TV amidst an already hectic workday.  Interestingly, today most of us just stood and watched for a few minutes and as the news changed, we each went back to our seats and meetings and continued on working as if nothing happened.  As if all was fine.    Is that all the attention that was deserved for such an event?  I think not.
Some of us, me included, have lessened the amount of time we spend listening to the news to reduce our stress levels. ¬† I am too absorbed in politics, I can’t help but keep talking about it. How will this end for Thailand? ¬†How will we solve this income inequality? ¬†
Economic prosperity has benefitted those in the city, but the rural poor have seen little difference.  For them, each morning they wake up and wonder where their next meal is coming from.  
As all this is going on, some say that they watch the news to see how it affects their route home. Their immediate concern is about ‘me,’ ¬†about ‘myself.’ ¬†¬†
Some complain and say that more should be done, but they themselves do nothing. ¬†They complain that others who come out to protest and show support for the government are causing traffic jams and making their lives miserable. ¬†That these people are just a ‘nuisance.’ That they are no better than the anti-government protestors.
It shocks and surprises me.  
Are we all just so concerned about “me” about “my life” about “what I want” that we neglect and ignore the problems that are slowly coming to boil? ¬†What about the bigger picture? ¬†
I agree that we should take time out to have some “me” time and take care of ourselves, take care of our health, so that we may achieve all that we want to, but I think that we should also sometimes leave that “me” behind and think of the bigger picture. ¬† Perhaps we would become better human beings.
If we don’t solve all these problems facing our society, then our lives and the future of our country will be forever changed. ¬†I am willing to spend a couple of hours stuck in traffic if it will help make this world a better place to live. ¬†
I also understand that if I choose not to go out, take part, and express my opinion, then I have no right to complain about the outcome. ¬†I have to accept the outcome whether I like it or not. Don’t be a hypocrite and say things you don’t do.
Words without actions are but words.

Very Red Tomatoes

We are having a very “fruity” war in Bangkok with durians, watermelons and tomatoes. ¬†For those of you who wonder what I’m talking about, here’s a bit of background. ¬† The anti-government protestors in Bangkok are “Red Shirts” as they all wore red to protest. ¬†The soldiers are green on the outside but we have some who internally take sides, hence the “watermelon.” They are those who sympathize with the reds. ¬†

The “durians” are those who sympathize with the yellow shirts. ¬† The “yellow shirts” are protestors who came out against Thaksin (Red Shirt Leader) a few years ago and closed our Bangkok airport. ¬†(What a disaster that was)

Finally, we have the “Tomatoes.” (Yes, they are a fruit, and not a vegetable.) ¬†“Tomatoes” are those who are completely red, both inside and outside! ¬†Juicy red tomatoes.
Isn’t it so funny to be describing peoples’ political views by fruits? ¬†I wonder if this would happen elsewhere. ¬†We Thais do like to adopt code names and symbols.¬†
Anyways, to get to point, I wanted to talk about “Tomatoes” today and why you should eat them! ¬† ¬†The benefits? ¬†According to nutritiondata.com ¬†1 cup of Cherry Tomatoes (which I love to eat as a snack) ¬†are only 27 calories with only 2 calories from fat. ¬† It is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Potassium and Manganese. ¬†It also is a good source of Vitamin E, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Copper. ¬†It is a VERY good source of dietary Fiber.¬†¬†It is low in Sodium and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. ¬†
In addition, I have also read that tomatoes are high in Lycopene which is responsible for the red pigment in fruits and vegetables. ¬†Lycopene supposedly is an anti-oxidant that can help fight against cancerous cells in our body and free radicals. ¬† Our bodies does not produce Lycopene naturally (not an “essential nutrient”) so we have to eat them in. ¬†They have been attributed to lower risks of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and even male infertility. ¬†
Although most research conducted have not proved conclusive, from my own experience, I think they are a great fruit and a great snack to have especially when you are on a weight-loss diet.   When I was in college, I remember being addicted to them.  I would buy those grape-vine cherry tomatoes at the supermarket and snack on them while studying.  I ate so much of them that after a month or so I remember friends commenting on my skin.  It seemed to make my skin and complexion brighter!
Then, 2 years ago a good friend of mine told me about a documentary she watched on TV about tomatoes. ¬† ¬†They conducted an experiment where they had a group of people eat a spoon or two of tomato paste everyday for a few months. ¬†After that, to prove that it helped prevent sunburn, they would actually put out cigarettes out on their arm! ¬†(Now, DON’T take my word for it and try it on your own.. VERY dangerous) ¬† I don’t dare try it myself. ¬† ¬†
My good friend and I experimented ¬†by drinking 100% tomato juice for a few weeks before we went on a beach holiday and “think” that it helped prevent us from getting sunburn. ¬† I “think” because I am not sure if it was the benefit of my sunblock or if it was just all psychological.¬†
I have to mention, that in my search for concrete scientific evidence, there is currently no conclusive evidence as to the health benefits of tomatoes. ¬†The US FDA says that the health claims does not meet “significant scientific agreement.”¬†¬† Perhaps there are other compounds in tomatoes that are yet to be discovered. ūüôā Who knows?
Anyways, ¬†if you believe they are beneficial for you, eat them whole and digest them ūüôā Finish up all the tomatoes you have as they are very beneficial for your health and do not deserve to be left lying around to take up space. ¬† Make sure you get your friends to eat them too! ¬†We don’t want all those tomatoes going to waste! ¬†
(Am I showing some political preference? Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat tomatoes but not the human ones. ¬†I think the human ones will have a bitter aftertaste. ¬†Just looking at them will make you ill. ¬†I am currently suffering from tomato overdose in Bangkok and think I must soon find an escape. )¬†

Pictures….Past and Present

In case you are wondering why I have two posts today, I have to admit that yesterday’s one was due to a technical error on my part. ¬†Got it fixed now ūüôā¬†
Anyways, I thought I’d post up some pictures for you¬†to see me during my “peak” days.
This is a picture of me with my beloved dog Dyzio during high school. He’s now in doggie heaven and I miss¬†him very much.¬†
See how small my eyes are?  Chubby cheeks.
The one on the right is from when I lived in Poland. I loved the potato dumplings there and ate

so many of them I think I look like a potato¬†myself! ¬†Notice the arms and the way I had to stand to hide my tummy…ugh… poor me. ūüė¶

Having cold weather for most of the year didn’t help either. I remember it would go to -20 degrees celsius in winter and we would be living under sweaters and coats. It got dark at 3pm and you spent most of your life indoors. ¬† Its a very easy way to gain¬†weight! ¬†Went ice-skating outdoors, but I guess that wasn’t enough!

I wasn’t always big! yeah! I grew up,¬†and lost weight in college having to walk several blocks to attend class. ¬†Having a fitness nearby and active friends helped. ¬†I remember going out for midnight rounds of tennis. ¬†Loved it. ¬†I guess I lost¬†weight without much thought to it. ¬†I was young. ¬† How I miss the good old days!
This picture of me was after I had graduated and started out my career.  I would work 10 hours a day, sit at my desk in front of a computer.  I finished and went home to a big dinner.  My weight blossomed.  I never even realized I was so big!  I was so focused on work.
I continued to be big for ten years.  My hair got longer, and I guess I handled the weight better (in terms of hiding it under my clothes)  This picture is me around 1.5 years ago with Alex. We both enjoyed eating and would go try out different restaurants.
This last picture is of us last weekend hanging.  Alex lost 17 kgs and I lost 14 kgs.  Together we lost 31 kgs (65lbs)!!   If you think about it, its equivalent to a 10 year old child, or a very large dog, a baby panda, or enough rice to feed a family of 4 for months.
¬†Can you imagine all that fat we used to carry around everywhere? ¬†I’m glad to be able to say “Good bye” to it and say “Hello” to a fitter lifestyle ūüôā

It Ain’t About Inner Beauty

I was looking over some old photos today of Alex and I last year at a¬†restaurant and was shocked at how big we were. ¬† Even when I was “big”¬†and knew that I was chubby, I wasn’t really aware of HOW big I was. ¬†Now I know..I was BIG! ¬†(I’ll post up some more pictures tomorrow when¬†I have a computer)

It used to annoy me to no end when people commented on my weight. ¬†Some people, I thought, were so rude to comment on my “chubbiness” in¬†the first few minutes of our encounter. ¬† Overtime I learnt it was a¬†“Thai” thing. Thais were worried about our welfare in terms of food,
“have you eaten yet?” and also about appearances. ¬†It was important to¬†look good. ¬†First impressions are everything.

I used to think …”people should like me for who I am, it’s inner¬†beauty that counts not how I look outside.” ¬†I still believe it, but I¬†realize now that the way I thought about it before was my way of¬†giving myself an excuse to stay big.

I told myself, “I will not become a barbie doll or those people who¬†are so well groomed they look so “perfect” everyday. ¬†I have my own¬†character….and so I remained big, got bigger, and gave myself more¬†reasons why I didn’t need to lose weight. ¬†I was in denial. ¬†Everyone
else was just so “superficial.” ¬†I wasn’t really THAT big. ¬†I was just¬†chubby! ¬†So I like eating, so what? I wasn’t harming anyone. ¬†(except¬†myself)

Health never came up. ¬†I believed and told myself that I was “chubby,”¬†that I hadn’t outgrown my baby fat. Now I know that wasn’t so. ūüôā ¬†Its¬†funny to look back now and see through all the excuses I gave myself¬†with my eyes wide open. ¬† It’s now crystal clear that health ain’t got¬†nothing to do with my inner beauty!

As a teacher of mine liked to say all the time, “excuses excuses are¬†but ¬†confessions of failure.” ¬†It’s so true! Thank you.

Disconnected

Have you ever got the feeling that sometimes your mind and your body don’t really connect? That sometimes they feel like two entities rather than a unique one? ¬†

Strange but true, the most problem I’ve been experiencing since my weight loss is not about how to control my eating habits or to how to keep exercising, but it actually involves having my brain “catch up” with my new body. ¬†
Isn’t that a delight to hear? ¬†Food isn’t the problem anymore!
I never thought that “catching up” or “feeling whole” with my new body would be a problem for me. ¬† I thought I’d just embrace my new body right away and enjoy all the perks that come with it.
I suppose I had been oversized for too long. ¬† When people comment on my “slim” body, I feel weird, as if something is wrong, as if the sentence is misplaced and out of context. ¬† As if there must be a mistake.¬†
When I run, my brain wants to stop, but my body feels like it can just keep going. ¬† The run isn’t tiring anymore once you’ve got the pace right. ¬†You just run.
When I go out shopping, I ¬†have no problem choosing the clothes I like. ¬†¬†The problem is when I choose my outfit for the day. ¬†I instinctively reach out for clothes that are meant to “hide” the big thigh or the flabby tummy. ¬†¬†
My body still feels ‘big.’
Inside, I feel like the same chubby girl I was before I lost weight.  I still feel, act, and like the same things.  
At times, it feels like my mind is just inhabiting my body and that before they can be fully synchronized, some wires have to be connected.
So is the mind (or is it the soul) and the body separate? ¬†Is my mind really a separate entity that will go on to have a life of its own after this body is gone? ¬† I don’t know. ¬† ¬†That is an age-old question. ¬†Only death will enlighten us.
All I know is that at times I feel “disconnected”, as if I am indeed composed of ¬†two separate entities trying to live together. ¬† But don’t get me wrong, it is a “disconnect” I happily welcome. ūüôā I’d rather be a big girl living in a small girl than vice a versa! ¬†It will only be a matter of time before I am fully synchronized and connected. ¬†yeah!

Actions not Words

As I’m writing this blog post, I’m watching the news on TV. ¬†This past hour, innocent people in the heart of the business district in BKK were injured by M79 bombs. ¬†A succession of 5 bombs were fired on the skytrain that is used for the daily commute to work and into the crowd of pro-government protestors. ¬†One lady has already been reported dead. ¬†I hope she isn’t someone I know.

Red shirt protestors (anti-government) say they are “Peaceful” and say that they will utilize “NON-Violent” means to achieving their goal. ¬†Their demand is for the parliament to be dissolved but they won’t accept a compromise. ¬† ¬†
I find it hard to believe that they really mean what they say. ¬†If you don’t practice what you preach, how can you have any credibility? ¬†If you say you are peaceful, then why do you need to prepare weapons? ¬†Why do you have all these bombs? Why injure those who disagree with you?
People have a right to their own opinion.  
On April 10, the anti-government protestors used guns and bombs to injure and kill soldiers. ¬†They disclaim this and say that anything violent is not of their doing. ¬†There must be “Other” people coming in “disguised” as them. ¬† How can I believe this?¬†
If you really don’t want the other side to be injured and harmed and really want “peaceful” solutions then why are they cheering that the pro-government protestors are injured? ¬†Why are you deciding to call the pro-government protestors yellow shirts and saying that they really aren’t businessmen/businesswomen and telling yourself that business people really love you.¬†¬†
Its funny how people can force themselves to believe things they want to believe and actually feed themselves lies in order to feel better about it.   Like change history and say that something never happened.   The Holocaust never happened.  The red shirts never used forced. 
They just hired other people to do their dirty work.
Well, don’t lie to yourself, no matter what it is about. ¬†Even small lies can be the catalyst that eventually fuel bigger lies. ¬†Open you eyes, ¬†if someone is bad, has been treating you bad and lying, don’t fool yourself and say that he is a “good” person. ¬†If he has no morals, no values, then see it as that.¬†
Don’t try to be an angel. ¬†See the truth for what it is. ¬†Some people can’t be changed.
Its actions that matter, not words.  Peace.

Emotions…

The weather is hot in Bangkok, and emotions are even hotter. ¬†It has been over a month since the anti-government Red Shirts have been protesting in BKK and people’s patience are running low. ¬†The main shopping and entertainment district where Bangkokians go to relieve their stress has been closed for weeks. ¬† Stress levels are going up.

This past week, pro-government protests have started popping up all over bangkok. ¬†Its no longer time to just sit and watch. ¬†If we want what’s right four our country we can’t just be sitting in front of the TV screen hoping others will do the dirty work for us. ¬†
Anyways, something I’ve noticed with myself and others is a lot of “Emotions.” ¬†When discussing politics we hear people who¬†normally¬†wouldn’t hurt a fly ¬†say, ¬†“Just use force and end this situation! “, ¬†“Who do they think they are? ¬†Why are they running around Bangkok without regard of the law?” ¬† ¬†
Even I, ¬†catch myself shouting and sending remarks off to the TV screen when I see images of anti-government red shirts digging up public pavement stones and smashing them into sizes appropriate for throwing at authorities. ¬†Images of them preparing acid in bottles and sharpening sticks make me furious. ¬†I mean, no matter what colored shirt we wear, we are all Thais and we are all people. ¬† People of the same country, the same world for that sake, shouldn’t be harming one another.
When people from the opposing side are killed in driving accidents we start to feel some sort of pleasure and think they deserve it.  We want the other side to suffer and lose.
What is all this ¬†“emotion” we are feeling? ¬†What sort of person are we becoming? ¬†How have we become all so cruel? ¬†Is this the person we truly are? ¬†What happened to the land of a thousand smiles?¬†
I think what we have to realize is that these “emotions” really are just “emotions.” ¬†People get mad, people get angry, ¬†and then……we say things we don’t really mean. ¬†¬†
When we say we want force used to disperse people, we don’t really want them to be killed. When we say we “hate” them we don’t really. ¬†We are just expressing our distress, our annoyance, our frustration. ¬†
Much like when we get into a fight. ¬†We often say things we don’t really mean. ¬†We are talking with our “emotions” rather than with our heads. ¬†If only we all used our heads a little more, then there wouldn’t be so many fights and arguments. ¬†We wouldn’t be wasting so much time of our short lives.
I know its lame, but I do really want “World Peace.” ¬†¬†
Peace for Thailand. 

It’s all in your Mind

For everything we want to achieve in life, I think the most important factor to its successful achievement depends on our ability to control how we think and keep ourself motivated.

When I first started out running, I was so unfit I could hardly run for 1 minute.  I gasped for breath and my face would turn completely red.  My stomach and chest would feel a pain and a little voice inside my head would start telling me to stop running and just walk!  
The little voice would get louder and LOUDER the longer I ran. ¬†It would tell me all sorts of things, such as “You’ve done enough running, you’ve done a great job, just stop and walk.” ¬†¬†
Sometimes it would say “Your chest hurts and your stomach is having stitches, something must be wrong.. therefore STOP!” ¬†
On other occasions it would tell me the time and say “You are running late today, cut your workout short. ¬†You have a long day ahead, save your energy.”
At times, it would tell me, “I hate this running, I hate being on the treadmill, what the hell are you doing to yourself? Why must you force yourself to do such a thing?”
My mind had all sorts of reasons to tell me why I should not be running and exercising.  The reasons all sounded good and they were all really tempting to me.  At times I succumbed to them and did cut my workout short, only to learn that I was just giving myself excuses to stop. 
I had failed myself.  
The little voices were little demons which wanted me to remain big and unhealthy.
So I had to start pushing them out of my mind with reinforcing phrases instead. ¬†While I was running, I would have to keep telling myself, “Come on, its only 1 more minute. You can do it. ¬†Get it over with and you will have accomplished your goal. ¬†Don’t succumb.”
Sometimes I would go “Ah, you little demons, you aren’t going to stop me from reaching my goal….I’m going to keep running!”
Even now, 9 months after I first started running, I still have little demons telling me to stop. ¬†This morning it kept telling me that I was already fit and that I didn’t need to exercise or run anymore. ¬† I had to tell it “NO, if you stop exercising you will revert back to being that BIG girl. ¬†Is that what you want??”
For me, I realized that one of the most important key to being healthy is in the mind. ¬†If you can control your mind, motivate yourself, then you will succeed. ¬†You just have to win over those demons which don’t like change and exercise and tell them who is boss ūüėÄ
Use motivating phrases!   YOU ARE IN CONTROL!