Thursday, October 30, 2008

Feeling Under The Weather

Last Sunday, I pull my back muscle while working out my shoulders. I can't remember what part it's called but the pain resonates from the upper left back muscle near the spine. I've pulled it before in the past and this time the pain is not as bad. I can still move well and the pain only hits when I try to bend up, down or sideways. Then, over a day, the pain travelled to the left side of my chest. Don't ask me how, I have no idea. I had developed a mild sore throat and had some phlegm deep down my throat.

However, I was still able to pull off a gruelling but good chest workout on Tuesday. But perhaps it was too taxing. On Wednesday, despite having my 8 hours, I still felt tired and weak. My throat was aching a lot more and I could feel that inflammation and swelling had set in. The mucous in my throat was building up and I was experiencing intermittent mild inner chest pain. I suspect that it was more related to throat infection or mucous build-up rather than the muscle tear. Went to see the doctor yesterday evening after work and he confirmed my suspicions about my throat. It was red and swollen. He just gave me meds for my throat and didn't give me anything for my phlegm.

This morning, I woke up coughing and felt congestion in my chest. I contemplated calling in sick but came to work anyways. At work this morning, chest pain and congestion got slightly worse and I was coughing out more, thick phelgm. SO, now I'm leaving work early to get some meds for THAT. It would've been much easier IF he had given me that when I complained of phelgm and sore chest yesterday. I would've already had felt better today. At least I'm lucky that it hadn't developed into a fever. This was usually the case for me whenever I developed a throat infection. Falling sick is such an inconvenience and I hate it. I feel weak and helpless, but I'll guess I have to deal with it.

PS: For those of you eating while reading this post, apologies for my frequent mention of phlegm and mucous.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Changing Up My Weight Training Routine!

For more than a year now, I've been lifting mostly on a full body routine, 3 times per week. My full body routine basically comprises of compound exercises that focuses on major or large muscle groups such as chest, shoulders, back and legs (hams and quads). I'd usually attack the smaller muscles such as triceps, biceps and calves at the end of the workout. Abs and cardio would be optional after all that is done. I've gotten some good gainsin terms of lean mass and strength, and lost some fat with this routine. These couple of months, I noticed that my gains were beginning to stagnate, workouts are more fatiguing and I've become more overtrained easily on certain weeks. I suspect that increasing the load (heavier lifts) during each exercise is beginning to take a toll on my body. The full body routine is great when you're just starting out and building initial lean muscle and strength. But as you progress and need to increase the load, intensity and volume, especially for each body part to further add strength and size, a full body routine can be very fatiguing and would stretch your workout session too long.

For this reason, beginning of last week, I've switched to a split routine that allows me to increase the load, intensity and volume, and focus on developing each body part further. The split routine that I've chosen is an isolated body part routine, 3-4 times per week focusing on different body parts.

My 4 day split routine:

Day 1: Chest & Forearms (optional).

Day 2: Shoulders & Triceps.

Day 3: Back & Biceps.

Day 4: Legs.

If 4 days is too tiring on certain weeks, I'd scale back to a 3 day split routine:

Day 1: Chest & Back.

Day 2: Shoulders & Triceps.

Day 3: Legs & Biceps.

(Abs and cardio would be optional at the end of each session, although I usually do my abs. On days when I don't lift, I'd either rest or do cardio).

I would include a major muscle group on each day and usually work those first with compound exercises, before working on smaller muscle groups. Compound lifts on large muscles require a lot more energy, so it's always best to put them at the beginning of the workout. Also, I would change up my split routine sometimes, either on muscle group combination or move them around to different days, depending on my schedule. However, I need to monitor my workout to make sure I don't over-train a muscle group and possibly injure myself. I have a tendency to challenge myself, which is always good but sometimes I could overdo it.

Isolated body part split routines are very commonly used by fitness competitors or bodybuilders and is usually meant for more advanced trainees. Beginners can use it as well but it's usually preferred for beginners to build a foundation of strength and some lean muscle with a full body routine first. Jumping into a split routine might cause some over-training on certain body parts and injury, due to lack of initial strength and conditioning of the muscle to support.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Low, Low, Low, Low...!

Nono...I ain't referring to Flo Rida ft T-Pain's Get Low. I'm referring to my financial status this year. Seriously, this year has been nothing but poop on my wallet. A series of unfortunate events (including my flat being on fire early this year), some lack of budgeting skills (okok, MY fault!) and certain impulsive investments has left my coffers running almost dry. I've spent waaay more than I can afford this year. Heck, I managed to save up a nice sum last year, this year it's mostly gone. Plus, my increment this year is rather crappy. I should count my lucky stars that there IS an increment, with the economy facing imminent meltdowns I presume.

Anyhow, this is NOT by any means a rant. After all, I still have my job which pays rather well. However, with the current state of deteriorating global economy, I'm keeping my fingers crossed hoping that no 'cost-saving' initiatives will suddenly pop-up, if you get my drift. If you don't, please by all means, read the news or watch more CNN.

I know that I can very well bounce back financially when all this CRAP STOPS HAPPENING! Hear that life? I know that my so-called predictions for those born in the year of the Monkey spells a bad financial year for me and even though I choose NOT to believe it, it's bloody October and my savings account balance needs more digits. So, perhaps it's somewhat...partially...kinda...teensy bit true after all. I guess I should patiently wait for the year to blow over, 2 more months to go.

With MORE money-spending activities and events coming up end of the year, I need to guard my spending more closely. I'm really needing the end of year bonus and profit sharing beginning next year. So my dear friends, won't you be a sweetheart and treat me for dinner more often until next year comes? *wink wink*

Monday, October 20, 2008

Has Life Been Good?

Warning: Another LONG post. Fingers were cramped during the construction of this post.

I'm turning 28 soon (getting bloody old already T.T), early next month to be exact. I got to thinking and reflecting on my life this morning on the way to work. Have I had a good life? How do we judge whether life has been good to us? Is it a matter to having everything we ever wanted, or everything we ever needed? In my opinion, needs are usually basic but most necessary, and we will find it very difficult to live without. Wants can be unnecessary, selfish and sometimes even superficial. We may want a lot of things, but they may no need be what we need. But needs are necessary without question, and are usually vital elements in life that we cannot do without.

So, has life been good to me? Let's see (there is no order of importance here):

1. I'm not destitute or stricken by poverty. I come from a financially average family. We've had many financial struggles in the past but we've never lived poorly. I've always have had enough cash to spend. I'm able to afford decent food, proper attire to wear, occasional leisurely activities and pay my bills. Sure, being able to earn millions, live in luxury, buy branded stuff all the time and travel around the world would be great, but these are just wants. If it happens, then great. If it doesn't, I'm still grateful that all my financial needs are met and should not let the missing luxuries get me down.

2. I have enough to eat and drink. I'm very grateful that I have enough good food to eat every day and don't have to worry about when my next meal will be, or if there will BE a next meal. In fact, I pray for thanks before I begin eating. I'm grateful that I don't have to beg for food, eat rotten food, suffer from starvation, malnutrition or thirst, or even have to eat dirt to survive. I'm lucky to be born in a place where there are no famines or droughts. God has been good to me, as food and water are always abundant. Sadly, a lot of people take this basic but most important need for granted.

3. I have a home and a roof over my head. Another thing worse than starving or being thirsty, is being homeless and having nowhere to lay your head at night. Sure, I don't live in a luxurious mansion, condo or bungalow, but at least I don't sleep in the streets like a homeless person. I only live in a flat. It belongs to me and it is my home, so I'm grateful for that.

4. I am not affected by natural disasters. I consider myself very lucky to reside in a country that is free from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters that can ruin lives. This isn't a need really, just something I'm thankful for.

5. I am healthy. With life being a rat race nowadays, more and more people are stressed (myself included), living unhealthy lifestyles and falling ill. I'm glad that I'm not stricken with any terminal illness or accidents and lying bedridden in the hospital. What's the use if you have everything in the world except your health to enjoy it?

6. I am not physically handicapped and don't have any physical defects. I'm glad that I have all my organs and limbs functioning normally, have a sound mind and don't have any physical defects that would hinder even the simplest tasks. I have both arms to do everything by myself. I have both legs to walk and run every day. I'm able to see the world through my eyes. I'm able to listen to the songs on my MP3 player. I'm able to speak fluently. I'm not physically paralysed in any way. I'm able to relieve myself in the toilet like a normal person. A lot of people compare themselves to others (myself included) who look better and seem perfect, but they forget how lucky they are physically.

7. I have a car to drive. I'm glad I don't have to walk, cycle or take the bus to work everyday. I'm glad I have a proper car to bring my family and friends around. I'm glad I don't have to endanger myself or endure the heat and rain on a bicycle or motorcycle daily. I may only drive a Proton Wira, but it's better than having NO Wira at all.

8. I have a good job. These are times with rising cost of living, increasing inflation levels and deteriotating global economy, which impacts everyone. Employees everywhere are being retrenched, unemployment is becoming more rampant and companies are shutting down or being bought off. I'm just glad that I've landed myself a good job and is able to stay for more than 2 years. God has been kind to me. I managed to get the engineering job at the company that I wanted only 2 months after I graduated, even only with very average grades.

9. I have true good friends. Some people boast of having many friends. Some boast of having famous or popular friends. I can boast of having true friends. Friends whom I can trust and confide in. I believe that friendship is a need, as crucial as the rest. We all need friends to provide companionship while we ride the waves of life, help and be there for each other during bad times, share our joys during good times and provide color to the canvas of our lives. I am truly blessed to have true good friends whom I love dearly that can be relied and trusted upon.

How do we know if we've had a good life to be contented and grateful? When we begin to see what we actually have, instead of focusing on what we don't have. When we keep comparing with people who are better off than us, it can make us feel inadequate and discontented. How often do we take a step back and compare with those are much less fortunate? It can be very humbling and make you see the things what you have if you're blinded by discontentment.

Don't get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with being competitive or wanting to improve ourselves and our current state in life by comparing with someone better . Just don't let it get to your head, blindside you and make you forget about the things that you already have in your life.

Try doing a list like I did, even for the smallest needs and things that you're thankful for and are important to you. You will see how much richer and luckier you really are. Go ahead and try it. It's made my day feel better and more positive =)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Dear Mother

Warning: Long and touching post ahead, at least for me.

Two days ago, my mum complained of feeling feverish when I went over in the evening to get something. She told me she felt that way only after having accidentally hit herself in the face while standing up after picking up something from under her desk. I could see that her face was slightly swollen.

It was then that I saw how age has slowly begun to ravage her. I saw a glimpse of how frail she was becoming. To me, she was always the workaholic. She would always be the woman who constantly busied herself all the chores after work. She always seemed somewhat unbreakable and determined in her struggles. She always seemed brimming with energy and busy with something.

But on that day, she looked gaunt. Some paleness showed on her face, subtle yet obvious enough to reveal the tiredness and discomfort that she felt. A hint of sadness escaped her eyes, as she nursed the painful, slightly swollen area of her face.

The whole picture of her, tugged heavily at my heartstrings. I felt such need to embrace her, to give her a hug that I felt she needed. But, I held back. We've grown somewhat distant as I grew out of my teens and ventured further into adulthood. We used to be so close. We used to do everything together.

I still love her very much, and that will never change. And I will not even question the depth of her devotion and love for my sister and I. After all, it remained as unconditional and relentless as the time when we first screamed out lungs out after exiting our biological chambers after 9 long months (or less in my case).

Everything she did was for us, as all mothers unquestioningly do for their children. The many needs and chores to fulfill. The selfish and sometimes unreasonable demands to put up with. The numerous tantrums to tame (or ignore). The countless times she became a climber, you know, when we drove her up the wall (I swear, that wall gets higher every time). The cries that she quiets when we were little. The sacrifices she makes fulfill our needs and wants as long as possible.

Although we have grown apart (which is my fault), when I saw her that day, it made me realize how much I loved my mother. Like I said, it never changed. I have to admit, I have not been very good at showing it lately and haven't been the perfect son to her. I had been impatient and quick to anger more often than I should. And I haven't been spending enough time with her, like in my younger days.

Seeing her like this, it really hit me that someday, it might be too late say how sorry I was for all the times I wronged her. It might be too late to tell her how much I loved her and appreciated all the things that she has done for me. I never want to wake up one day to realize and regret that she was gone, and I can only face the gravestone to say 'I'm so sorry for all the things I did' and 'I love you mum, very very much'.

I think one of the most painful things in life is when a loved one passes away without giving you a chance to say how sorry, grateful or how much you loved them.

PS: Yes, tears were shed while writing this post, especially at the last part.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

MUST WATCH Nutrition Videos!

Me: So, did you read my blog lately?

Joe: Yes, but not the fitness stuff, too long and too informative. I usually just skip them.

Me: .....

SO, as a favor to my best friend Joe and obviously all my readers out there who care about fitness and their health, I've decided to share what I recently dicovered in YouTube.

It is good source of information on nutrition and health from a nutritionist named Natalie. You can get her numerous videos from her YouTube playlist.

If you don't want to bother reading too much about good nutrition, then watch and listen about it! Basically, she talks really WELL about good nutrition, emphasizes how it can benefit and affect your general well-being. The information she delivers is EASY to understand and is incredibly useful for any average Joe OR fitness enthusiast. I've learned a lot from her and I can't help but share them with you.

PS: For straight guys out there, it also helps that she's cute and pretty =P

Understanding Food, part 1:

Understanding Food, part 2:

Nutrition and Your Mental Health:

Top 10 Motivation Tips (everyone could use some of this):

Healthy Weight Loss Tips:

Whole Foods, Health and Weight Loss (VERY recommended):

She has a lot more videos in her YouTube playlist, do take a look. I'm still reviewing them. Hope this helps =)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Whole Foods vs Processed Foods

I've talked about the merits on eating whole foods before. I noticed that a lot of people are still confused on what to eat and how to identify if something is wholesome and healthy for you. So I've made a list to identify what consists of healthy whole foods, and processed foods that are usually have less, if not devoid of nutrients.

Whole Foods
1. It should look like something that out naturally come from the ground or raw from an animal source. If it comes in a package or box, the only ingredient listed should only consist of the raw ingredient and no other additives. For example: oats, beans, raw nuts, eggs etc.
2. It takes work to prepare it before you eat. You usually need to clean, chop or cook it before eating it.
3. It usually has a short shelf life and best eaten as soon as possible. Isn't this true for fresh fruits and vegetables?
4. If you leave it out for a few days, it turns moldy, rotten and ridden with bacteria.
5. Usually, you won't find them in the MIDDLE of the department store, but at the SIDE, where fresh produce are kept. An exception of course are packaged whole foods like oats.

Processed foods
1. Usually comes in a package, bag or box, and is wrapped in plastic or foil. Looks nothing like something that came out from the ground or an animal source.
2. Very convenient and easy to eat. Just take it out of the package and you're ready to go.
3. Has a long shelf life and tastes the same even after a long time.
4. Ingredients list is usually longer than your monthly bills. Plus you can't even pronounce most of the chemical ingredients or additives, let alone know what they are.

There you have it, some simple tips to help you choose a better, healthier and more wholesome diet =)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Birthday Looms...

My birthday is edging's on 2nd Nov (MARK YOUR CALENDAR!). But I'm not even excited about it. After all, I'm gonna be turning 28 soon, another step closer to being 30. Shit...where did all the time go?

Well, the main reason I'm not excited is because I have no one special to celebrate it with. Although I should be used to it by now, it's still affecting me and even more so as I'm getting older. Come to think of it, most of my friends, gay or straight, are already attached. My heart just sinks thinking about it.

At my age, most of my friends have already been in relationships and had the chance to share special occasions with their loved me. Why is it that I'm different? Is there something so horrendously wrong with me, be it physically, emotionally or mentally? Am I being choosy or just plain unlucky? My good friends think that I have a glamorous social life coz I know a lot of people and go out often but the truth is, I'm still lonely. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate the friendship and companionship we share, but there still certain spaces that can't be filled by that alone.

My friends don't seem to understand most of the time, that being single can be tormenting. It can fill your head with all kinds of negative thoughts. It can make you feel unwanted, less significant and damage your self-esteem. I've been looking for a while, and every time I find someone I like, I get shot down. I've learned to handle rejections, but at the end of the day, it still hurts.

My best friend Joe told me a few times before, that I tend to choose the wrong timing when confessing my feelings. According to him, I also tend to be too hasty, although I think that being aggressive or pro-active sometimes can be good. So, I've not bothered approaching anyone for some time now. I'm scared, I'll admit it. I'm afraid that I'll get shot down again. I'm afraid that the timing will be wrong again. I'm afraid coz I don't know if I should be more passive or aggressive. I'm just getting more confused.

My friends have often told me to wait, coz apparently I'd make a good boyfriend and should wait for the right one to come by. But, wait until when? Wait until I'm 50 ah? Time waits for no man and is certainly slipping by me. At this rate, Valentine's will come and I'll still be alone again (which is why I've always HATED that dreadful lover's day!),

Help me...I'm doomed T.T

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Caesar Salad

Made this for brunch today. It looked good, so I had to take a pic. Here's what I put in it:

Chicken Caesar Salad
4-6oz grilled chicken breast, sliced into bite sizes.
1 cup baby romaine lettuce (add as much as you want).
3-4 raw white button mushrooms, chopped.
some red and yellow bell peppers, chopped.
some sliced zucchini.
6-8 raw almonds, chopped.
a pinch of raisins
1-2 tbsp Lady's Choice classic Caesar salad dressing.

1. Put the sliced lettuce, mushrooms, bell peppers and zucchini in a large salad plate/bowl.
2. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds and raisins.
3. Top with the sliced grilled chicken.
4. Drizzle on the salad dressing.

Watch it with the Caesar salad dressing, 1 tbsp has 45 calories. Normally I don't use creamy dressings much, but it's quite flavorful so a little bit goes a long way. Doesn't it look huge? It's loaded with vegetables, very high in fibre and incredibly healthy (again, watch the dressing). Now, how much do you think you'd have to pay for something like this in a restaurant? =P

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Recipe: Healthy Chocolate Shakes

During last weekend when I was in KL, I went to Celebrity Fitness with my buddies for a workout and since I didn't bring any protein with me, I had to purchase a protein shake from the drinks counter in there. The shake I got for post-workout was a chocolate protein shake made from 1/2 cup low fat milk, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein and 6 ice cubes. Sounds so simple, yet tastes as delicious as any chocolate milkshake you can get. However, that simple shake set me back RM 10. So, I thought to myself,"I can totally do this at home band make it even tastier, and not end up spending a bomb."

So, I got a blender a few days ago from Jusco. I've been wanting to get one for a long time to make protein shakes and healthy smoothies and this incident spurred me on. Just wanna shake a few recipes that I came up with =)

Absolute Chocolate Recovery Shake (great for post-workout)
2 scoops chocolate 100% whey protein powder.
2 tbsp dextrose powder.
1-2 tsp 100% pure unsweetened Van Houten cocoa powder (depends on how chocolatey you want it).
1/2 cup skim/low fat milk.
1/2 cup water.
6 ice cubes.
(you will need a really big glass for this one)

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake (I swear, this tastes like an awesome dessert!)
1 scoop chocolate 100% whey protein powder.
1-2 tsp 100% pure unsweetened Van Houten cocoa powder.
1-2 tbsp 100% natural peanut butter (no added sugar, salt, oil or preservatives).
1/2 cup skim/low fat milk.
1/2 cup water.
Substitute water for 4-6 ice cubes if you want it cold.

Low Fat Mocha Latte Shake (the perfect pick-me-up)
1 scoop chocolate 100% whey protein powder.
1 tsp instant coffee powder.
1-2 tsp 100% pure unsweetened Van Houten cocoa powder.
1 cup skim/low fat milk.
Add 4-6 ice cubes if you want it cold.
Add some peanut butter if you want it creamier and nutty.

As you can see, you can LOVE chocolate and make it very healthy too. I'd add some fruits like bananas or berries but I don't have any to experiment with right now (Also, berries cost a bomb in Malaysia). If you don't have whey protein, just leave it out and add a bit more milk for a protein boost. If you don't use milk due to the recent melanine scare, you can substitute with soy milk or get milk imported from Australia or New Zealand. Honestly, the variations are endless. As for natural peanut butter, I use the CED brand, which also produces a lot of organic products. Look out for it when you're in Jusco or Tesco.

I've been having a galore making really mouth-watering shakes that taste indulgent, yet very healthy and low in calories. I won't even bother going out for milkshakes or ice-blended drinks anymore. They're often over-priced but simple to make. You just need to gather the ingredients, chuck them in and blend away. I won't even mind the cleaning later, coz these taste SO GOOD!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The List...

...of things I need to get or do:

1. A good and value for money digital camera. Any good models to recommend?
2. A new travel bag pack.
3. Get my passport done.
4. A wardrobe upgrade (more jeans, bermuda shorts and collared shirts).
5. Spray paint the front hood of my car, some of it coming off.
6. Service my car's air conditioning system and get the inner circuits checked. My speedometer is conking out on me. Stupid engine wash screwed up the circuits.
7. A oven, either heater or microwave.
8. A cute boyfriend.

Damnit, why do things I need always involve money...I need to sell my body soon a side job lah! Any recommendations on how to make more money?