The Leather Day

This writer of Having “Me” Time has been having some “me” time after a crazy few weeks in a crazy year.  After having just lost my beautiful leather name card holder that I’ve had for over 10 years and being fascinated by Midori notebooks, I thought to myself, why not just make it myself?

The leather name card holder would burn a hole in my wallet if I wanted to replace it with the exact same one. Walking around malls and searching online, I have not yet found one to my liking.  I am picky when it comes to functionality and colour combinations.

The Midori notebooks I love, but hey, it’s made in Thailand!  I’m in Thailand.  It looks like a square piece of leather with a hole in it for the elastic. What could be so hard right?

My journey to leather crafting began.

I searched online, watched youtube, and ordered tools online.  Having the right tools is essential.  I rediscovered the “leather neighbourhood” in Bangkok and made a plan to go. (I’ll review that in another post) It had me excited the entire few weeks. In between meetings or during rests, I would find my mind pondering the many leather projects.  I felt like a kid waiting for candy.

I looked forward to the day I would get to go buy leather.  I was as excited as if I was a kid being told I’d get to go to the zoo.  I’d talk about leather to poor old Alex who so grumpily put up with my ranting. His only wish was for me to make him leather golf club covers.  Of course.

I can’t quite put a name to it, but there’s something about working on leather, using your hands and just sitting quietly designing that relaxes and recharges the soul.  For hours, I didn’t miss the iPad, the iPhone or the wifi.  I didn’t care what was going on in the social media world.  I just focused on on my leather.  I wanted so badly to see the finished product.  Seeing your design come to life.  And when it does, I’m the kid with the ice cream with a big smile at the zoo. Ahhh, the little happiness of pursuing a hobby.

Amazing how little breaks are good for the soul. 🙂 Now I’m ready for Monday. What about you?What’s your hobby?

Myth 10: Do not eat after dinner time

I love this myth. This is a myth that says one should not eat after a certain time if one wants to lose weight because food eaten later will turn into fat.  I think at a certain time during my chubby days I too tried this and guess what? I stayed chubby.  I still ate a lot and did not exercise and so yes, I remained chubby no matter what time I ate.

Now the myth works for some people, because they end up eating less.  They tell themselves not to eat after a certain hour, and so mindless snacking is avoided.    Especially if you lived in an apartment like I did, the fridge was just convenient and easy access.  Watching TV, I could see the fridge and when you have nowhere to walk, (because the space is small)  you walk to the fridge.  You open the fridge and peek inside. A snack, a piece of cake, a chocolate catches your eyes and before you know it, it’s in your stomach!

Some say, however, that eating late results in more fat because your metabolism slows down at night and burn less fat.  You therefore end up storing more fat.  While your metabolism does indeed slow down when you are sleeping, it continues to burn and churn food in your stomach.  It might take longer, but it is still burning.    It therefore doesn’t really matter what time you eat. What matters is HOW MUCH you eat.

Now if you end up having a huge dinner, do not skip your next meal in an attempt to lose weight. Skipping a meal will make you go into “starvation mode” and your body will tell you to eat more at the next meal.  What happens is you end up eating more than you otherwise would have.  Even if you’ve had a big meal, have a lighter next meal, but do continue to eat.  Keep your blood sugar balanced!

So this Christmas season, don’t eat too much, don’t starve yourself and do allow yourself to eat late for parties galore! The only thing you have to becareful of is HOW MUCH you eat and how much you exercise off!  Happy Holidays!

Don’t Think, Just Run

I feel like I’ve somewhat passed a strenuous physical exam after recovering from a super strong strain of flu that had my brain dizzy, muscles sore and made me just collapse into a sleeping beauty every night.  My immune system is now super charged and ready to take on what come.  Now it’s time to get ready for the Bangkok Marathon in November.  This week, I’ve started doing extra long runs at the gym. (Not really that long for a professional runner, but long for me)

I usually run two sets of ten minutes in the mornings, but that is really not far at all.  It takes me only roughly a little over a kilometer.  To make 5km, I’m going to have to keep running and running and running. Running for around 40 minutes non-stop.

To do that, this week I’ve been doing running stretches of 20 minutes.  Knowing that my brain would want to give up after ten minutes, I eased myself into running 20 minutes by lowering the speed slightly, but keeping the incline at 1% (so that the treadmill will resemble the outdoor a bit more).

I also had to stop thinking.  Yes, don’t think when you run.

If I think, I always end up stopping.  So I had to keep telling my brain to just ignore the thought process for awhile and kill off the voices from the lazy me inside.  Every five minutes, my lazy me would go through the cycle of trying to talk itself into stopping.

“Five minutes is a nice round number, yes let’s stop here for a bit.”  At this point, my lazy me is smiling and making the stop seem so pleasant.

“No, I’d reply.  Another five minutes then we can stop”  Yes, I trick myself every five minutes to run another five minutes. (I say I’d stop, but actually I won’t, because I’d trick myself again later.)

This self tricking involves not looking at the timer on the treadmill when the seconds count down from 4.56 mins to 4.57mins  to 4.58mins then 4.59mins.  My heart gives a big thump.  I must not give in, no I won’t and so I ignore this awful timer and instead try to look around the room at the other people running and exercising. I look out the window, watch the flickering TV screen and note to myself that the grandpa on the other treadmill seems fitter than me.  By the time I look again it becomes 5.10mins and then I say to myself,

“Haha!! you passed the round number, might as well run to the next round number. You know you are going to feel like a better person for having finished the entire run than giving up on yourself halfway.”

When I finish the run, it is indeed a feeling of accomplishment.  Even though how little the accomplishment, I think it’s a great way to start the day.  You won over yourself and ran a full 20 minutes. You killed the lazy voices, put them in coma.  Next week it’s going to have to start being 25 minute runs.

Yes, lets all stop thinking and just run!  RUN for your health, run for yourself, run for a new life.

Fitness Tip: Wear Pants

If you are like me, somedays the discipline just goes on holiday and it takes awhile to get it back.  You start on a series of eating out with friends, then more and more reunions come your way, and before you know it, you keep wanting to eat more.    For the ladies out there, here’s a tip on how to make sure you don’t eat too much:  Wear Pants.  Wear Jeans.  or Wear Skirts with waists that do not expand.

I’m a big fan of skirts and dresses and I love the ones without any waists.  They just flow over and then you tie it up with a little belt or a bow to finish the look.  They’re comfortable, they’re convenient and they are perfect for Bangkok’s hot weather.  However, they can be quite dangerous if you eat out a lot when your discipline has gone on holiday.  You don’t feel your stomach expanding and you can keep on eating till your heart’s content.  As long as the mind isn’t full, there is more room to grow (your stomach that is).

So the past two weeks, I have put aside the soft dresses and opted instead for jeans. (Not the loose ones, wear ones that are form fitting)  They’re great. They help remind me that I’m full.  Sitting on my waist, whenever my stomach starts expanding too much, it will start getting tight.  You know then that you’ve eaten your fair amount of food.  (Ideally it shouldn’t get too tight)  You know then that this is all you should eat.  This is enough for this one sitting.  It gets uncomfortable.

Of course it doesn’t only have to be jeans, but I think that they are the most form fitting pants and since they are tightly woven, they won’t expand too much. (They work great for me :))  If you wear soft cotton pants, the effect will be much less and you might end up eating more than you should.    Of course nothing beats being aware of what you eat, but this is a tool that can help you when you forget 🙂    What do you think?  What are other ways you can remind yourself?

Peaceful Running

This morning I went off to run before work as normal.  I push my lazy self off my comfy bed and whilst driving to the fitness, I wonder if there will ever come a day when the “lazy me” is gone and dead.  It’s been almost two years since I’ve started running and every morning it’s a battle to ward off the “lazy me.”  Some days, it’s quiet and weak and I can easily push it away, some days it has strength and wants to take over the “active me.”  Nevertheless, as long as I keep my head, the “active me” remains in top place.  This battle, however, stops the minute I am in the car and once I start running it is as if I am transported into a different dimension. Another world.

This morning’s world was one of peace and tranquility.  I ran without my headphones.

Usually I’d spend my runs catching up on the morning news, watching Haslinda Amin recap on Bloomberg or perhaps the BBC news, but today I wanted to try running without the headphones.  I wanted to see what it would be like without having to always worry about my arms swinging and pulling the headphones away from my ears as I run on the treadmill.

I loved the feeling.

I felt a certain “peace” to be running on the treadmill with nothing but my shoes (and my clothes).  No phones, no headphones, no TV.  All I had to keep me company were my neighbours and reflections in the mirror.  My mind was focused and a certain “clarity” prevailed.

I concentrated on my breathing (which I’ve been working on the past few runs) and it flowed more with each breath.  I am no longer heaving or puffing like the big bad wolf about to blow down the little pig’s house.  I breathe rhythmically.  It’s a wonderful feeling. I pray I can keep it up.

I start to look around and notice people around me, the reflected room in the mirror and the wavering trees outside the window.  The hot blazing sun and the sounds of feet thumping on the treadmill belt.  I listen to the sounds my own feet are making and feel my arms pushing back and forth.  It’s meditative and relaxing.

My brain seems to extend time.  One minute seems so much longer and in that one minute, I feel I can do so much.  I have time to look around, be with my thoughts and analyze my running.  All the stresses dissipate and my brain feels energized.

I find myself starting to have a certain fondness for running.  I start to enjoy its meditative nature and the sense of peace and tranquility that comes with it.  I am slowing getting addicted to how rested and happy I feel upon completing a run.  I know this feeling will come and go, and on some days I will probably be lazy, but every time after a run, I find myself at peace.

At peace with the world. 

All is calm, no anger, no madness, just pure contentment.  Perhaps we should all do a little more running.  Run for clarity, run for peace and run for tranquility.  Happy Running!

Forgive, Forget, and Move On

The weekend is over and I’ve returned to busy Bangkok after a peaceful weekend in the mountains.  I have to say that when I’m there the days seem longer and the nights more relaxing.  There isn’t any traffic for us to get stuck in and when you wake up, you are greeted by temperatures of 18 degrees celsius.  It’s just sublime.   You feel light as a feather.  You also find yourself when you are there. 

So I found myself a little more this past weekend and a little more I realize who I am.  How can I NOT know myself?  Believe me, I don’t yet fully know “me.”  (By knowing, I mean you truly evaluate all your actions and your thoughts and you know EXACTLY where and why they are the way they are.  I don’t mean your name and your place in life.  That we all know.  I’m talking about a much deeper level of understanding “me.” )  It’s all about understanding the motives, reasoning, and emotions behind our actions.

Once we find and understand ourselves, we can make ourselves a better human being. 

Let’s put it in easy terms.  A reason why many of us gain weight.

For example, when I am stressed I find myself emotionally eating and I shop.  I shop everything.   I eat a lot more than I should and I spend more than I should.  It’s one way of relieving stress.  However, if I never look ‘within’ and discover what is driving me to eat a lot and shop a lot, I would not be able to relieve that stress.  I’d get even more stressed from the weight I gain and stressed from the bills waiting to be paid.  It’s a vicious cycle.

It could be a cycle that eventually blows out of proportions.  It goes like this:   I’m unhappy because I lack something.  I could be lonely.   I’m unhappy so I eat to forget.  Eating is equal to happiness.  Eating drowns out the unhappiness, so I start eating more and more.  My appetite increases. I gain weight.  I starting gaining lots of weight.  I see my weight gain and I get depressed. How can I lose all this weight?  It looks unachievable.  I eat more becaused I’m depressed I’ve gained weight and losing it seems impossible.  I tell myself it’s really nothing.  My weight shouldn’t be an issue.  People should see my “inner beauty.”  I get mad at people who don’t see my “inner beauty.”  I am a great person.  I’m awesome.  I eat more, I gain more weight.   My weight runs out of control.

I could go on and on, but I suppose you know by now where I’m heading.

This year, whether it be for physical or mental health, I ask you to seriously take time out and make some time to find yourself.  Forgive those who have hurt us and forgive yourself for having hurt others.  By doing so, you can move on with life and get a renewed sense of life and energy.  Lose that burden of weight and stress and embrace life. It’s so short.  Who knows what will happen tomorrow?

Have a blessed year ahead everyone.

Beige it is.

The other day I went shopping for clothes. It’s something I haven’t done too much of since I lost those 15 kgs, as there were still so many “small” clothes I had left in my closet waiting for me to “one” day be small enough to fit in.  It’s a good thing I never lost hope and just donate them all away.  Now that I am small enough, I have been busy wearing those “small” clothes.  New ones had to be bought though I never realized how much I was still the “chubby” me inside even though I have been shopping for almost a year.

I suddenly realized the other day when shopping and trying on clothes, that I kept unconsciously picking out clothes were subject to the old rules. Rules that had been part of my life for much too long.  An eternity it feels like.

The list goes like this:
No horizontal stripes.
No light coloured bottoms.
No large lines.
No large patterns.
No sleeveless.
No skinny or pencil skirts. A-line or pleats only.
No straight legged pants. Boot cuts were favoured.
No lightweight material.  Materials need some weight to hide those flabs.
No chiffon, no knit.

I couldn’t let this continue.  I had to try on something different.  I tried on sleeveless shirts, dresses with large patterns, horizontals and yes, the other day I actually bought myself a BEIGE coloured skirt. 

What’s so interesting about BEIGE?  Nothing… I love it.  I love it now that I can wear it. 

Beige skirts or bottoms were things that I previously steered from as far away as I could.  I ran away from them and dared not introduce them into my closet.  Beige was a BIG “No No”   A fashion faux-pas.

My skirts or pants were all in the “darker” and slimming tones of black, brown and navy blue.  It was like that for almost as long as I’ve been working (and that is a LONG time) .  Now I have some greys, and pink, but BEIGE is still a new thing for me.

For the first time in my life, there are no rules I have to live by for clothing.  I can wear anything. I can pick out a funky shirt, a pair of shorts or a weird dress and just wear it.  Gone forever are the rules.  Tear them up, throw them away and burn them to ash.  No more will they become part of my life.

Freedom. Freedom at long last.

If you are working on losing weight.  Remember this:  once you have reached your goal, no longer will you have to burden your brain with all these rules.  No longer will your closet be filled with only the darker shades on the colour wheel with bottoms in only black, brown and navy blue.  You will be free to wear (or not wear) anything you choose or want to.  You will be able to wear that pencil skirt, perhaps in beige, or perhaps even get yourself a nice beige suit for work.  Wear a beige or white coloured pair of pants for the summer together with a light top.

Imagine it all. Imagine yourself in beige. I love it.  I hope you do too.