Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013! And my 2012 health/fitness journey

I'm so psyched for 2013... like I have been for 2012, 2011...

 2013 is the year I plan to rev up my health. I guess people who knows me, especially my family, has already seen it coming looong ago. I've always been the health nut in the family, although more often than not I succumbed to my mom's awesome but not exactly healthy dishes. And I love rice, too much. I love oily fried rice too, and I am a huge MILO fan... you get the idea?

3 years ago, I was gifted with the diagnosis of hitting the Pre-Diabetic line. I considered it a gift because it made me 'revolutionize' my eating habit. It came just at the right time; I was not a kid being fed what mom cooked, not a starving and poor university student settling for maggi mee, but getting married, getting paid, and living on my own. I began eliminating fast food. Out went all the mcdonalds, and KFC and Burger King (the only fast food I eat anyways), and reduced my maggi intake so much, that when I had it I felt guilty. I reduced MILO, severely. I cut back on desserts (which wasn't hard alhamdulillah because I don't really have a sweet tooth).

I didn't see any changes. But I felt good, knowing I took control of the food I eat. 2 years ago when I got married and moved in with harris, we cooked, and that's when I tried to cultivate a taste for healthy lifestyle. But it WAS NOT EASY when you have a normal Malay husband who grew up with mamak, gerai, fast food and junk food. I fought tooth and nail to had us only eat brown rice. After nearly 2 years, he is accustomed to it. I had us take a good supplement. Every carb had to be brown, not white. We allow fallbacks and swerving in this journey, once in a while you can see me walloping Nasi Lemak - my key goal is to cultivate not FORCE.

;Last year, I amped up my fitness again but in a different less competitive way. I did yoga religiously, I run and cycle 2 times a week. I began to include green smoothies daily in my diet. I stocked my fridge with fruits and 'malay male' friendly greens and prepared them so it's easy for him to just grab and munch. For his junk food, I invested in expensive but 'healthier' potato chips, less sodium etc etc. It's the least I can do for him. I made up interesting sweet treats to reduce his ice-cream intake - like banana peanut butter ice cream, etc. I went organic as much as I could. Financially it was tough on the budget but I reduced other aspects on my life - clothes, movie outings - and invested in good ingredients instead. I became crazy reading up on nutrition. I read foodie blogs.

I also will try to squeeze in a second workout after work (I workout before work after subuh which gives me a great energy boost) which is crossfit based, and honestly, that improved my overall fitness tremendously! Went cycling and we did a crossfit style loop and I wasn't really tired, in fact I could keep up. I am beating my dad again on uphills (seriously, my dad has improved to the point he is awesome for his age). Wall squat holds for 3 minutes x 6 times is heaven sent for cycling. Always complement it by stretching your hip flexors though!

 Anyway, well, 2013 is already looking good. My 2013 plans? To take up bodywork study seriously. I've always been interested in massages, trigger point theraphy, accupuncture, myofascial system, anatomy, ever since I herniated my cervical disc and also injured my ankle (still not recovering, aaargh!). This is one aspect that I am lacking in knowledge and will see to it that I will improve.

See ya!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ride with Dad: 60km

Last weekend I rode with my dad.

We had a plan: ride to my cousin's house for breakfast and ride back. They live in Bandar Baru Bangi, and we will start from dad's house at Nilai Impian. I've never rode the route before but dad has - alone, I might add - and he says it's pretty cool.

The first part of the ride took us through Kg Batang Benar. It is my favorite part of the ride. It was shady, veryyy scenic and peaceful. No cars passed by, only motorcycles. No dogs. It was cool and shady, even though we started late (750 am). It was a mostly flat route, no major climbs. In fact, there were no major uphill along the whole route, only 2-3 little rollers that might make your heart beat race a little bit. Nothing major. It was really cool riding with dad. This is my 6th time I think with him and he has improved sooo much. He used to be a really bad roadie. Utter disregard for traffic and cars, not even bother to look back at me and see if I was safe - his own daughter! Even then I still had to remind him to keep to the shoulder of the road as he tended to veer towards the middle of the road.

My dad is an improved cyclist. When we first started he was slow and only fast on flats. That too, would be only for a while. Forget about hills. It was almost shameful to watch him hustle and bustle. I've been too used over him gloating that this old man can beat his own daughter that seeing him choking on my dust seemed... barbaric. But he cycles continuously, during the weekdays he would do a 'sprint repeat' or intervals, just riding at full speed until he tires. He attacks hilly routes sometimes. But those helped. He is now a better cyclist than me - who rides once in a while now. I am proud of him. He's what - 60 years old and still well, roughly fit.

The ride to Bandar Baru Bangi was hot and dusty. Traffic wasn't all bad, none of the cars paid any attention to us. We arrived at my cousin's house more or less on the time we had estimated. She has prepared a sumptuous feast of Nasi Lemak and chicken fritters and iced drinks. What awesomeness.

The way back was even better. It was really hot, and I was dying. We went the shorter way via Bukit Mahkota and there was this one long stretch of an uphill. My dad climbed smoothly while I was too drained to 'fight'. I could see my dad slowly gloating over the fact that he beat his own daughter.

We arrived at 1130 am. And then slept.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Semangat Lari Balik... and I talk about yoga.

Actually, I have always been semangat.

 Actually, tak.

To be honest, ever since I discovered ashtanga yoga, I am lazy to do anything that involves me to go out of the house wearing clothes... erk, not that I practice naked. Cuma less baju to wash. Dengan tudung nyer lagi etc etc.

Why do I like ashtanga so much? Because it is a good replacement. It physically, mentally and emotionally challenges me just the same. The practice usually takes me about 90 minutes or 120 minutes to complete, depending, and it requires you to focus.

When I came to yoga it was because the doctors said, "Kau lari lagi kau kayuh lagi aku patahkan lutut hang!" (Badan lembik perasan baguih) Ntah2 dier tambah dalam hati. So I went. I came to yoga entirely for a physical practice.

Then somehow it changed. Ashtanga is hard. Period. It has about 5? series - one series have probably about 30 or so poses - and they keep getting harder. Most people will only do first series, maybe two. A few get to do third and beyond. I have been doing first - or primary - series for literally a year now.

The major difference about ashtanga and my 'tri' training is the spiritual aspect of it. Whereas multisport os a world where you need to kinda exude confidence, ashtanga needs you to be really humble. If your balance is off that day - check, did you unintentionally hurt someone? It's a grounding practice, one that goes with my faith.

But let's talk about the physical aspect. Here are a few of my favorite primary poses:

This is called bhujapidasana. The full pose requires you to lower your head slightly to the floor, and lifting back up. This develops your arm strength tremendously. My swimming has never felt better. One of my favorites.

Lolasana. I have not yet gained that strength in the hip flexors to lift my feet up.

Kukutasana - Christy Turlington, a dedicated yogi, nailing it. I love this one too.

Here are the poses in second series:

Pincha Mayurasana - I totally love this pose. Took me a while to develop that upper body strength to kick up. Can only do it supported, with my toes against a wall.

I could share more but here's one that I am currently practicing:

Eka Pada Koundiyasana - I could only get to balance for a split second before my arm strength failed me. Love the work I am putting for this, a third series pose.

Anyway, the stronger I get with my practice the more I yearn to start a regular running practice back. I do run, usually once a week, or twice on a good week, and cycle once a week, but it's not satisfying enough. Now that the first series is getting a tad easier, I feel like I want to incorporate running as a cross training... how funny is that? Would be good for my legs to develop some strength that could help me with some hard balancing poses!

 Onto my running practice... twice a week, first. Baby steps!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Barefoot and New Shoes

Two days ago I went for a run for the first time in the past 4 years with an old pair of my running shoes. Because my trusty vibram has retired, torn at the toes. I lasted only 1km when I entertained to this crazy idea of chucking off my shoes and running barefoot, on the road. Without thinking much, I took them off, set them aside (no one stole the shoes) and ran.

 Running completely barefoot was an experience for me. I've been running in vibram for 4+ years and have no problems with the lack of shock absorption but my soles have been mollycoddled with a layer of hard plastic all the while. Running without nothing on covering them, was a whole new feeling. After 2km the pavement began to burn my feet. At 4km I had moved from absolutely burning to just an all around tender feeling. I had to keep running and ran faster to eliminate the sensation. If I went any slower the burn came. I stopped at 5km, my usual tune-up mileage, and limped to get my shoes. Told myself to get a new pair of vibrams.

 Still I was glad I did it. Well, at least if somebody stole my shoes or they tore I know I could last probably 5km running. That run was literally a whole 32 minutes 45 seconds of being absolutely alive. It reminded me of this poem I love:

 I promise to make you more alive than you've ever been.
For the first time you'll see your pores opening
like the gills of fish and you'll hear
the noise of blood in galleries
and feel light gliding on your corneas
like the dragging of a dress across the floor.
For the first time, you'll note gravity's prick
like a thorn in your heel,
and your shoulder blades will hurt from the imperative of wings.
I promise to make you so alive that
the fall of dust on furniture will deafen you,
and you'll feel your eyebrows like two wounds forming
and your memories will seem to begin
with the creation of the world.

Anyway, bought a new pair of vibram last night and cannot wait to start running in them.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Week 3 of Ramadhan.

 My workout has been consistent, except for some modifications to suit my ramadhan schedule. As usual, I feel that my perform better when I am thirsty, hungry, weak and undernourished, which is crazy, but it's true. I hardly needed pushing to run a few kms longer, or faster. I even did a harder set for my strength training workout, which made my whole body sore the next two days. But it was a good sore, it was a healthy, post workout sore.

Me and harris have been on a workout bends lately. He's been busy with his muay thai and football and I my running and cycling and strength sets. We shovel in banana like there's no tomorrow. Our electricity bills have increased due to the constant washing of our workout clothes. Yesterday night we finally sat down and watched the olympic rerun of swimming, and enjoyed it tremendously. The only difference between us is that he has a higher metabolism, which means he could eat like a pig and still stay slender.

Speaking of food, I've been sort of attuned to meatless dining. I have no idea when this started, but all I know is that I don't get as excited about eating chicken and lamb or beef anymore. I still eat them - when mom cooks or when a dish looks delicious, but for the most part I find myself gravitating towards fish and veggies. I find that my body moves better and I don't feel bloated or sluggish as much. I also feel less guilty about eating animals that probably weren't properly slaughtered :(

 This month marks the fourth month I've been using cruelty free products. I've never felt better. This isn't a phase or something I will regret. I will never ever ever touch a product that I know is tested on animals. It is harder to source for certain things (for example toothpaste and deodorants) but with proper research I am able to look for ethical companies that produces these products. Finally I can sleep at night. Of course, harris  calls me orang asli for using the sugi stick (when I couldn't find an organic toothpaste) and using essential oil soap bars. But at least I can put my guilty conscience that Ive been carrying since I was a teenager to rest.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You Know You're Addicted When...

I'm now going through a grueling 6 day strength and endurance workshop... just because.

 I was reading a blog post titled, "You know you're a martial arts student when..." and it got me thinking. Here's mine:

 You Know You're a Workout Junkie When:

1) You own more stretchy pants than jeans.
2) You own different pairs of running shoes for LSD, race days, treadmills, lazy runs
3) You sleep in the running vests you get during registrations.
4) You have countless amount of workout bras, for different sports: longer length for cycling, more support for running, etc
4a) You have countless supplies of anything, in my case 3 yoga mats, 2 helmets, 2 gloves, 2 swimming suits, 2 goggles, etc... the list is endless. Consumer whore!
5) Your bathroom constantly have goggles, swim cap and swimming suits hanging to dry
6) Your car is a mobile sports store room with shoes, pairs of socks, bottled water, etc
7) You smell of muscle rubs most of the time.
8) You understand and can talk about V02 max, intervals, and pyramids with such excitement.
9) You mentally map out your run or cycle route whenever you're passing a pretty hilly road or beautiful landscape
10) Your vacation is a running event, or a yoga workshop
11) You don't hesitate.. EVER to plunk out more than RM200 for your beloved sports
12) Your kitchen is fully stocked with bananas and chocolate milk
13) You and your spouse go to massages, reflexology, and cupping more often than the movies.
14) You won't swim in a pool that is not 50m
15) You know what Nuu, Urdhva Dhanurasana, bento bag, pulling means
16) The word Drill gives you a Thrill
17) You actually know where your serratus anterior, rotator cuff and plantar fasciitis are. And what they mean.

I actually have a lot more but I am at work at I can't really get to excited. Of all the activities I listed, I've been missing the swim. Ever since I rented out my condo to a friend the pool benefit goes away too. That was the suckiest part for me. I love my condo's pool because it is 50m, has practically no one, and although not deep, nice enough for me to tread water and do whatever I wanted to do.

 My cycling is now only on Sundays, at the same route and area. I just like the hills. It's an easy workout, without wasting time and driving far. The last time I went, I honestly thought I would suffer, but I was actually pretty great even my riding buddy complimented on me. HE NEVER DOES THAT. Of course, it wasn't really a compliment, more like, "Well, at least you weren't huffing and puffing." hahah trust me, I take it as a compliment, because it surely means he didn't think I was a hopeless case.

I went running Saturday with a friend. We did hills (of course). Since she was just starting out and hates running I turned it inot some sort of a game: run uphill and brisk walk the rest. We had fun, especially at the top of the hills.

 My body is sooo sore! And I feel tired! I can't wait to run. What? did I just say that. Maybe I'm delusional.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I actually signed up for a couple of races I know I won't be around for.

 I have began my relocation to Turkmenistan. Although it is not official, but I'm often there more than here. I still workout extensively, sometimes obsessively. It's just all those extra time.

Tomorrow's schedule: running. an easy 5k, just like I always do. Either that or a very very simple spin off the neighborhood. Quite hard when you're wearing cleats.