The Up (Weight) and Down (Weight) Cycle

If you’ve been through weightless and moved towards a healthier life, one of the questions is how do you sustain it? I don’t think there’s a simple answer to that question, and you have to find a model that fits you. For me, it’s been five years since I lost half of me and I am still working on it. I am still exercising and watching what I eat, but there are cycles that results in weight gain. The Up (Weight) and Down (Weight) Cycle.

The Up Cycle starts when there’s a lot of work, you’re tired, and you find reasons to work out less. When I was at my most healthy, I’d work out four to five days a week. After awhile, I grew comfortable with my health, and the workouts gradually decreased to three times then two times per week. No matter how much I ate, the weight barely moved on the scale. I was in a cycle of happiness. Sustained health (or so I thought.) I was good, I told myself. I could still run well. No problem.

Then age started playing a role coupled with my love of eating. Age, because I think my metabolism slowed down. It seems to slow down every five years and now that I’m nearing my forties, it seems to have moved a notch lower. I have to work out more to get the same gains.

My love of eating, over two months from Thanksgiving dinners, celebrations with friends, to New Years, trying out bread recipes, having pastries and eating it all, my weight went up. Of course, if you eat that much and still just work out two days a week it’s going to go up. Finally, my body caved and my weight went up 6 kgs (13 pounds) in a matter of one week. It’s like a technical barrier had been broken and you weren’t quite sure where it was going to stop. ‘Stop, stop’ I’d tell the weigh scale, but it didn’t listen.

The only way to stop it was to ‘reboot’ myself.

The Down (Weight) Cycle starts when I got back to running four times a week, getting to the gym earlier, working out a little bit longer, and even going on weekends. I started cooking, not just for dinners, but also for lunches. I brought my own lunches to work which consisted of various recipes with vegetables as the main dish coupled with some pork or chicken. It just required a bit more advanced planning, but you are assured a healthy meal. I cut out on my favourite baked goodies and processed foods. I have now lost 5kg (11 pounds) now and feel reenergised. I’ve still got a few more to lose but as the technical barrier broke on the way up, it breaks on the way down too.

So how do I sustain a healthy lifestyle? I realise now that for me I have to constantly remind myself, that no matter how much you have going on in your life, there’s never a reason to reduce the amount of exercise you do.  Do not cave into the ‘Lazy Me’ which comes in many forms.  She’s a tricky gal with a million reasons.

For me, I have to keep it up exercising three times per week and as I age, I find that I probably have to up the intensity as well. Also, make sure that your fridge is stocked full of veggies and good wholesome foods. Don’t fall into the trap of commercial food industry!  I make my own hummus now. 🙂

What works for you? How do you sustain it?

Life is life, Death is death

It has been awhile since I’ve last written.  It’s been a long while.  I don’t even remember the date or the last time I sat at my laptop typing away.  It’s been that long. I’ve missed it.  Life as it is, has decided that this year would be the year to teach us about life and death.  This is a year of teaching what it is like to lose loved ones and be near death as it sits on the porch waiting to come in.

Even though the moment we are brought into this world, the one certainty in life is that one day we will all die, it is still a concept that is hard for us to embrace.  We spend our entire lives trying to avoid ‘death’ in one way or another.   We take care of our health, do yearly health checks, drive safely, watch for cars while crossing the road and are constantly aware of things that will hurt us or bring us closer to ‘death.’  We have rules and regulations to minimise deaths.

Yet, the fact remains that one day we will all be gone.

One lesson I’ve learnt from deaths this year is this.  “Enjoy life as much as you can, whilst you can.”  Don’t spend your life trying to be “perfect” or cow away from experiences.   You never know what will happen, what life has planned for you, so just do what you want to do in life and enjoy the experience.  Don’t wait until it is too late.

If there is something you always wanted to do in life, don’t think to yourself that you’ll do it when you are old and retired or at a later date.   Who knows, you might never reach that later date.  Life may decide to leave us without notice.

If here is something you want to do with someone, likewise, don’t wait.  Who knows if you’ll ever get the chance again.  Life may decide to leave them.

Don’t waste time pondering why death decides to choose one and not the other.  There is no logical explanation.  It is all just a part of life.  Just live your life the best you can and make it a happy one.  Walk out and smell the roses, feel the wind in your hair and listen to the birds chirp.  Play ball with your dog and spend time with your children before they are grown. This is life.

Have a great day everyone and remember to enjoy life! You only get one chance at it! 🙂

Move to the Beat

What do you think of when you think of New Years?  For most people, and I included, think of holiday festivities, family and good times with friends and loved ones.   It’s also a time when many people without family or friends feel the pinching pain of solitude.  These are the two overriding theme one often thinks about during the New Years.  Life, work revolves around this notion of “New Years” and the calendar.  We work and aim to finish all before year end so that we may enjoy the changing of the calendar.   This New Years, however, I realised that one’s health moves in altogether different timeline.  It cares not what day of the calendar it is nor what month it is.

This New Years, an uncle-in-law of mine spent his in a hospital room, lying in bed and missing a limb.

Just a month or so before New Years, uncle had gone to the hospital for a seemingly normal doctor’s visit complaining of leg pain.  He had thought it would be some muscle pain that could be cured with a simple prescription from the doctor.

Life would not be so easy.

The leg pain was caused by a tumour.  It had spread to his leg and he had two options: 1. continue to let the tumour take it’s course  or 2. slow its spread by having his leg amputated.

My uncle-in-law decided to have the tumour removed, the procedure resulting in the removal of his leg.

I cannot imagine, nor will even try to say I understand how it feels to have to make that decision.   It’s not easy and a decision that has no right or wrong.  Whatever you decide, anything could happen.  There is no guarantee that having the tumour removed will prevent its reoccurrence.

What inspires me though is the upbeat spirit of my uncle-in-law who despite having his tumour removed, did not let it put him down.  Knowing that his life will never be the same, knowing that he will forever be a changed man, he is still getting up each morning and making the best of each day.

Roughly two weeks after his operation he was hobbing around the house and even took the car out for a short round by his house.   He is a fighter.   He isn’t letting an obstacle stop him from living his life, and that is an inspiration.

So if you are feeling down, feeling depressed, get off your butt and just simply move to the beat of life.

A Christmas Carol Blessing

It’s ten days until Christmas and I’m counting down even though I’m a buddhist.  I like the Christmas season because it brings with it joy, happiness and brings out all the good things in people.  It makes us think of others and not only of ourselves.  I suppose I also like it because I grew up in Europe where we had Christmas trees decorated along entire roads, Father Christmas roaming around giving out presents and of course we had the Christmas market at the Old town square.  Christmas songs played everywhere and television showed Christmas movies.  A favorite of mine is always “A Christmas Carol” for I think the lessons it teaches us are ones to remind us of what we have.  Thank you Charles Dickens.

The story teaches us to not only think of ourselves but to also think of others.

At the beginning, Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old man who disregards Christmas and is so stingy he lives in a cold room with but a few coals on the fire.  Although previously engaged,  Belle had left Scrooge because his love for money rendered him unable to love another.  He had since continued on through life alone, miserly and an unhappy old man.  He gets a shock when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be reveals to him his lonely and uneventful death.  People are happy rather than sad at the lost of this creditor who cared not for anyone else.   Scrooge learns his lesson well and redeems himself with the Christmas spirit.  He gives to the poor and celebrates Christmas with all his heart for the rest of his years.

Christmas is a time for celebration. It’s also a time for self reflection. No one is perfect, but if one tries to be a better a person, more giving, more loving and to think more of others than of oneself, then I think that in itself is already an accomplishment.   So this Christmas, lets look to those around us and have a little Christmas Spirit!

Share the Christmas joy and spread the happiness far and wide!  Merry Christmas!

A Teacher and A Student

For some things in life you only discover a love, a passion for it later on in life. I suppose it’s better late than never as the old saying goes.   With this blog, I rediscovered my love of writing and with teaching I discovered my love of teaching. Nothing gives more satisfaction than the sight of someone’s eyes sparkle in delight and understanding when something previously unknown is finally understood.   I had been teaching younger kids and have recently moved onto teaching older students getting ready for college entrance exams.

You may wonder what is so good about teaching?  You keep saying what you know to students again and again?  For me it’s more than that. It’s fun and exhilirating.  Teaching for me is not just about going to a classroom and lecturing so that students can jot down notes and memorize.  Teaching is understanding and realizing the potential in each student.  Teaching involves understanding how each and everyone learns and customizing lessons to suit their styles.

Everyone I believe learns differently.  We have different trigger points, different ways of understanding things.  Some like pictures, music and diagrams.  Some prefer numbers, text and plain old reading and writing.  Understanding how one prefers to learn is important for if one learns the way one enjoys, then one will learn more and understand more.  Some are so bright, if taught too slowly, they will fall asleep.  It’s not that they are unmotivated, it’s just too slow sometimes.

I witnessed the importance of teaching with understanding with my first senior level student.  Upon the first encounter, I could see that she did not like English.  It was a mumble jumble of squiggles on a page that looked like a big headache.  (I can relate to the feeling, because that is what I felt like when I first started learning Thai and saw an entire page of squiggly letters.)  It was something she did not want to touch for just reading each word was a painful experience.   She barely touched the exam I had given her.

Since our first encounter, together we have spent a good number of hours going through exams, dissecting texts, learning grammar and vocabularly.  What I love most is the sparkle in her eyes when I explain something and the squiggles suddenly start to make sense.   English starts being fun.  I start getting more questions as her curiousity increases.  What is the difference between this word and that?  When can we use these sentences or phrases?  The lesson continues after hours.  With technology, mini lessons continue.  Readings and sentences are sent online. I love the interaction.

All these questions and the sparkles that light up her face make me smile and my heart feel literally full.  I am happy and content with my life.  I understand now why some choose to be teachers and professors.  The satisfaction of giving knowledge and seeing students learn, understand and enjoy is truly indeed a satisfying feeling.  It’s fulfilling.  It’s good for the soul.

Thank you for letting me teach dear student.

Future Not Past

I can hardly believe the year is almost over already.  In just a few days it will be December and along comes with it Christmas, parties and New Years…Today I write about a quote that has been stuck in my head for weeks and believe it or not, it comes from Kung Fu Panda 2. (I know it’s an animation, but I have to say I think the creators did a lovely job of not only graphics, but the plot and content is also quite thought provoking. )

“It does not matter what your past is, but what you will do with your future.”

Master Shifu said something like this (I don’t remember the exact wording) to Panda when teaching him about “inner peace.”  Despite Panda’s success as a Dragon warrior Master Shifu says one needs to achieve “Inner Peace.” Inner peace is essential for without it, in the face of danger one can lose one’s grounding and fall flat on one’s face.   Inner peace stablizes us and lets us stand ready for whatever happens next, whatever comes to us.

What’s important though is not to let the past hold us down.

Many people and myself included sometimes get caught in the past. This is the way things were, this is how they should be.  We get obsessed with our own pasts, other people’s past and go about getting all flustered about it. We think our past defines who we are.  We believe that we are a product of the past. We think that we cannot change.

However, we are not.  The past does not define who we are.

What is more important is what we make of our future and who we are today.

What is important is what you learn from your past, your experiences and the path you choose for your future.

A robber doesn’t forever have to be a robber. If he realizes this is not the way he wants to live life, he can reinvent himself and find another career that is more honest.  We give them second chances.  In other ways, we can also give ourselves a new life.  Just because a certain event or certain experiences made us feel down and sad, it does not mean that our life will forever have to be that way. It is what Master Shifu says, “What you will do with your future.”

Your future is in your hands. Make it what you want.

It’s all about the “L” word: Learning

The other day I wrote about how important it was to fail before you can  succeed.  I realized I did not quite emphasize enough how important it is to actually LEARN from your mistakes.  Learning is key. It is what you must do before you can succeed, for if you keep failing over and over and never learn from your mistakes, then that is a failure. That would not result in success.

As Einstein said something along the lines of ” If you keep running into a wall and expect the same result, then it is the same.  However, if you keep running into a wall and expect different results, then it is a miracle.”   Only a miracle can alter the outcome.  No matter how many times you drop the egg to the ground without any protection, it will break.  There will not be a moment that the egg will float on air.  If you keep trying to solve a puzzle, and always use the same techniques to an unwanted outcome, it will not work.

The same happens in life.  If you keep trying to talk to approach someone and it does not work, then reevaluate it. Perhaps other techniques will work. Learn from your past experiences.

If you keep getting your heartbroken because of A and B, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your likes and dislikes.  Perhaps certain kinds of behaviour are not what you want in your other half.  Learn what caused the heartache.  Learn about what effects it had on you.  Learn what caused the disagreement.  Learn how they can be avoided.  Learn what needs to change.

It can be applied to everything in life even on simple things.  Today I fell down flat on my face onto the pavement, wallet, phone, shoes flying in the air.  Yes, I am bruised and scratched. What did I learn from it?  To be more alert when I am in a rush.  To slow down. Rushing causes me to not be aware of my surroundings as much. My mind is elsewhere.  I also learnt to be careful when rounding corners and to watch out for potential threats like a sudden move backwards by someone and a potential hazard of feet
gone awry.

Simply LEARN from the experience, the mistake.  That is the greatest lesson of all.