Unplugged : Daily walk without distraction

IMG_0389

So I am an avid walker, I am not even sure if that’s a thing. People who walks eventually turns into joggers or runners, I just kept on walking. I can’t even remember when I’ve started the ritual, these days, If I don’t get my walk, I feel antsy and uncomfortable. Like how most people need their cup of jo to start their day, my daily walk help me orient my day.

After I read the book, Deep work, by Dr. Cal Newport , I’ve started walking without any stimulation. I used to listen to alot of podcasts on my walks, I read alot, too, I took pride in my ability to multi-task on my walks. After learning how I can use my walk to unplug, and use it as a time for self reflection, solve problems, or even writing (infact, most of the blog posts on this blog are drafted in my head as I walk, including this one) I have come to enjoy my walks even more and it has become a non-negotiable daily routine for me.

Sometimes, I’d have some reading material with me, especially those revision study from MNU, but I always make sure to get a minimum of 30 minutes of uninterrupted, stimuli-free walk, before I read. I am not gonna lie, I was so used to distracting myself and in the beginning, it felt very unnatural to me, but there is just something about walking and thinking. As Nietzsche said: “It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth”

If you find sitting still challenging (meditation), maybe walking without distraction is worth a try. I have also come to appreciate having the music or podcasts completely turn off while I drive, being constantly bombarded with information and advertisement can feel overwhelming at times, and unplugging once in a while can be invigorating.

Teach yourself not to rely on stimuli once in a while, learn to be with yourself wholly, a.k.a : learn to be bored 

 

A millennial’s approach to Digital Minimalism

Untitled design

It was back in March that I read Dr.Cal Newport’s book, “Digital Minimalism”, and my first blog entry, chronicling my digital minimalism journey, was dated back in April. Ironically, it is the hashtag #digitalminimalism that has linked me to alot of people who adopted the lifestyle, and graciously share their experiences in the digital world. It is definitely a catch-22 phenom, because without the internet, I wouldn’t be able to discover Digital Minimalism.

I have drawn alot of values not only from the book, but from people who manage to integrate digital minimalism into their lives, yet maintain their social presence and stay connected. I want to focus solely on using social media with this post, because as a millennial, who have alot of friends who are also millennials who are glued to their phones (I say this lovingly as a former addict), I want to share some practical tips on how you can adopt the Digital Minimalism philosophy to better your life (without feeling deprived)

Limit your time on social media

Set aside a designated time for social media, whether it’s posting, or browsing. While it’s completely up to your preference, I personally advice against logging in too early in the morning. Your phone shouldn’t be the first thing you grab when you wake up in the morning. I find that it is simply too distracting and if you come across a negative post, it has the potential to disintegrate the rest of your day.

Be selective with who, and what information you keep up with

I want to focus on instagram here, because it’s the primary social media platform I now use. (My personal facebook account has been deactivated since March) I believe to truly extrapolate values from social media, we have to be intentional with who and what information we follow. One tip I have is to think of your brain as a garden you are trying to nurture : you only want the best information to enter it, so you can nourish it.

Be picky with your following list, and use the mute function generously. That way, you don’t feel overwhelmed with the constant information overload, with topics you have no interest in. Still, if you want to keep up with your friends and their babies, you can still go to their profile. Or even better, like Dr. Cal Newport has mentioned in his book, make a conscious effort of meeting them for a coffee and interact with them in real life.

Schedule a designated time for emails/watsapp etc

I have to be honest, while I am fine with not using social media, I am less frugal with my time spent on emails/watsapp. I still have a tendency to repeatedly log into my emails and reply my watsapp messages on the go. But I am definitely more aware of my behaviour. Chances are, if people need to reach you urgently, they will call you. I find that if I batch reply my emails and messages, I am much more patient with my replies and I string better sentences. (Great way to practice writing)

IMG_4247

Limit distraction on your phone

Nathaniel Drew has a great video on Digital Minimalism, on minimizing distracting apps on your phone. For instagram, I uninstall and reinstall it only when I want to use it. (The inconvenience alone is enough to withhold my impulses of constantly checking it) And I’ve removed all social media apps (emails/watsapp etc) from the first page on my phone.

A 6 months follow up since integrating Digital Minimalism into my life 

Even thou the lists above may seem short, but even just incorporating them into my life, I have feel significant improvement in my pursuit of bettering myself. My prep was better because I wasn’t constantly comparing myself to others on social media, (nutrition and bodybuilding has always been my interest, and I have been fortunate to feed my “garden” with the best evidence based information only) I never have a deadline and my productivity with work has increased significantly. I no longer feel overwhelmed that I have to “keep up” with postings on my photography social media, I put in more thoughts and I curated a feed that I actually like. I became more conscious with my postings on social media, because like how I’ve drawn values from other’s sharing, I want my posts to bring values to others too. I have since enrolled in Mac Nutrition Uni, and I am working towards my goal of being a Mac Uni certified nutrition coach.

IMG_7505

Privately, I am much more present with my family. I no longer have the impulsive thoughts of constantly reaching for my phone, documenting every fucking thing. One of my favourite moment that I look forward to everyday, is to visit this neighbourhood park near my house, and my husband and I would sit side by side and talk to teach other, without the distraction of our phones, while watching Anya plays.

I hope I have convinced you to start your path on Digital Minimalism, start with the book, and check out how other people have integrate it seamlessly into their lives. (I personally highly recommend both Nathaniel Drew and Matt D’avella’s videos on digital minimalism) There’s also an app called Forest (you plant a tree and whenever you touch your phone, the tree will wilt, it’s an great app when you try to focus on a task, the reward mechanism helps cement the habit)

End of Prep : WNBF Singapore 2019

A vlog to sum up my bikini prep for WNBF Singapore 2019.

It felt like a long an arduous process, especially in the last stages of prep, those days can feel like eternity. Now that it’s a wrap, my feeling is completely different, time really flew by so quickly, and I’ve savoured both the good and hard times of the prep.

PREP BEFORE AFTER

Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 7.19.21 PM

1

2

3

4

2011-05Whenever people look at me and assume this lifestyle comes natural to me…it isn’t. I still take it as a day to day process, making the foundation stronger by laying brick by brick upon it. 

I will never be able to pen down my thoughts on why I have subjected myself to such a seemingly challenging process.  Besides my genuine love and respect for the sport, the learning process is very alluring to me. On the geeky side of things, I have collected very valuable datas of myself when it comes to caloric intake, fat loss rates, measurement…and how it all correlates with my well being (mood, energy, sleep, cognitive thinking) so on and so forth. Then there’s the challenge of fighting my impulses and restraining myself in our world where food is in abundance. Restraint, a word so foreign in my dictionary, I have to admit, I have been repeatedly humble by the experience.

I did not do the best I could, yet, I wouldn’t change anything If I was given a chance to go back. You truly learn from your mistakes, that’s how you grow.

This is a relatively short post as a summary of my prep, but I want to touch specifically on post-show food related issues. It has been about a week now, and my hunger signal is still very high despite pushing my calories back up to maintenance level. At this point, I still have to exert a certain level of effort to keep intake at bay. While I try to do my best to relax and give myself time, I decided with this prep, I will keep tracking and keep weight gain within a reasonable rate. Now that prep is over, I am also really looking forward to experimenting with certain eating protocol, such as Time restricted feeding and chrononutrition. I have also started using Renaissance Periodization ‘s female physique training template, and I shall report back soon.

Aside of that, I look forward to starting my nutrition course with Mac Nutrition University I am especially grateful for Alan Aragon who recommended it to me (I decided to try my luck to reach out and I was so surprised to receive his DM back, I definitely had a fan girl moment right there and then.) Our official lecture has not even started yet, and yet, I am already getting so much out of the mentoring lab, it’s mind boggling to me how much resources they offer to their students aside of the official course.

Blogging has been slow, I have to be honest dieting has effected my ability to string together sentences, and I look forward to more consistent writing here.

 

 

Distracted

lenus-170531-comer-sin-distracciones

Image by Lenus.me

Being constantly pulled into multiple directions seems like all we do these days, stimuli often fill in the gaps : whether it’s eating with our screens, listening to podcasts/music when we drive, juggling between a million browsers as we work on our computers…I can go on and on.

On our flight back to Kuching, there was a solo female traveler seated next to us, with a thick book sitting on her lap. Once the seatbelt sign is off, she put the book down, took out a sandwich from her bag, ate her sandwich, cleaned up, and continue reading again. I jokingly mentioned to my husband how the simple ritual of eating differs between this western girl vs us, the Asians, if you go into restaurants and cafes, you will notice alot of Asians tends to eat with the screens infront of them. Either that, or they’d take a million photos of the food untill they become cold and soggy.

Couple of months ago, I forced myself to eat without distraction. Force is a strong word, but that’s how difficult it felt to me. I held on to it for a long time. However, the deeper I got into my prep, the harder it was for me to stick to the ritual, even now, I am still taken aback by how much dieting has impacted my ability to concentrate and stick to my habits, especially towards the last few weeks of my prep. I do thrive on routines and months of habits tracking has built a pretty solid foundation for me, still, I have succumbed to the temptations a few times.

I think setting rules and boundaries for ourselves is so important, even thou these habits may seems frivolous to most, but they can train your discipline and they will add up over time. There are some non-negotiable rules I set for myself daily, such as no screens before 7am (since I wake up at around 5am daily), daily meditation is a must, and I must include a daily 30 minutes, stimuli-free walk outdoor (no podcasts and no music) daily. These small accomplishments serves as daily affirmations for me.

“A lack of self awareness is poison, reflection and review is the antidote.”

“By constant self discipline and self control, you can develop greatness of character.”

“The most powerful control we can ever attain, is to be in control of ourselves.”

Being a motherless Mother

It was just a regular day, I always make sure I get a good meal in me before I pick her up from nursery (which is her teacher’s house), I’d put on a podcast and enjoy the 15 minutes ride (perks of living in Sibu, 20 minutes drive is considered a long drive for us local folks)

Her teacher is chatty, even thou most days I am exhausted and running low on patience, I try to linger and talk to her, mostly about Anya. Obviously, she can tell I am one of those parents that spoil their children (an obvious sign would be carrying her bags for her). Her teacher has been telling me it will be a difficult transition for her as she move on to primary school, she will need to be more independent and learn to take care of herself instead of me babying her all the time.

WhatsApp Image 2019-08-27 at 9.54.28 AM

Just the other day, my husband sent me a photo of parents waiting outside of a primary school, fetching lunch boxes over the school fence during their lunch break. I joked and told him that pretty soon I’ll join their ranks, too, just waiting outside with her lunch box, probably dapau from somewhere since she never likes the meals I prepare for her.

I understand alot of my behaviour stems from not having a mother growing up, it’s almost like I am trying to compensate because I was so deprived of the nurturing from a mother when I was a child myself. I go out of my way to take care of her and babying her, even thou I know the consequences it may causes. Unlike her, I had to learn to grow up very quickly. Now that I’m well into my adulthood, I came to appreciate how it has shaped my character, having to fend for myself from young age, I know she’s not going to have the same experience, being in a protected environment all the time.

When I was in primary school, (that was over 20 years ago) I remember I had a classmate, his mom always visits him during recess with a lunch box, day after day without fail. The image of them sitting side by side in the cafeteria, enjoying their meal together, is still very vivid in my mind. Although we used to joke about him being a “mommy’s boy” , but I was envious of him. Every Mother’s Day was painful for me, we were often instructed to make a special craft for our mothers, and I didn’t have a mother. I can still feel the sadness even after all these years, they never go away.

Being a mother has been very healing for me, it is through motherhood that I understand, a mother’s love never really go away. I know now even thou she’s not physically with me, her love is always here. I can feel it when I’m with her, the love I have for her, reminds me of the love my mother has for me.

All I need to do is to find a balance, because I don’t want her to be an annoying little spoiled brat.

969778_10151493755592714_615879790_n

 

An update on Meditation practice

A compilation of my meditation practice back in 2017

When I first started this blog, I wanted to document all things personal development related, at the time, I was in a transition of building new habits, I was inspired after reading the book Digital Minimalism by Dr. Cal Newport, and James Clear’s Atomic Habits.

There were a couple of habits that I wanted to work on, social media addiction is one thing (there will be another update soon), but I want to write about meditation, for I find that it is the backbone of how we can be more aware of our behaviours, thus bettering ourselves in all aspects of our lives.

I am not a stranger to meditation. Back in 2017, I’ve hired an online coach Olivier Goetgeluck. He has prescribed daily meditation practice as part of the training program for me. I believe the Universe knew what I needed then, that’s why I was connected to Olivier. At the time, I had no problem adhering to all the physical training he has prescribed for me, but I struggled with the meditation practice.

I remember how anxious I felt each time I had to start meditating, thoughts were constantly running through my head, it felt as if I was having an anxiety attack, I remember I could barely sit for 3 minutes in the first 1-2 weeks.

I’ve made great progress overtime, I’d meditate for 20-30 minutes atleast 3/4 times a week, sometimes I even took my practice outdoor. I felt so proud of myself, it was even more satisfying that any fitness achievement.

After 6 months with Olivier, I eventually moved back into powerlifting/physique training, I tried to keep up with the practice, but I relapsed. I was doing it very sparingly, until I stopped doing it completely.

Fast forward to March this year, after reading Atomic Habits, meditation was the first habit that I wanted to cement. There are so many helpful tips from the book, but the three main points that has helped me the most was :

Master the art of showing up

Repetitions

Habits Tracking

To summarize the three points as listed above : I only have to show up, duration didn’t matter as much, with that, I’ve gained enough repetitions, which then help the habit stick. I’ve also used bullet journaling to help me stay accountable.

Referring to my blog posts on meditation, I’ve started back in early April, I’ve probably only missed 3-5 days since then. I prefer to do it first thing in the morning, before I even brush my teeth, for 20-30 minutes a day. On days that I have to go out early for work, I simply move it to the end of the day.

It is the single, most powerful tool you can use anywhere, anytime to improve your mental well being, better than any supplementation or medication intervention.

What are the benefits ? I didn’t really care about all the scientific research on meditation, although they may help further convince you to start. What I’ve noticed with myself is that, I am much more aware of my behaviour. Take driving for example, I used to be very hot headed on the road, other drivers used to piss me off easily, not anymore. I use to look for distraction (browsing on the phone…horrible, I know) with every brief stop in between traffic lights, I’ve stopped doing that either…there are many many other examples, but you get the idea.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated and angry. I do, more often than I like. It’s definitely much more easier for me to catch myself thinking certain thoughts, if I feel angry, I would be giving myself a pep talk, :”Why are you angry? It’s not going to help the situation.” By then, I would have already calm down. This has been incredible in terms of managing my emotional intelligence…thou I have to admit, I am forever a work in progress.

That’s the whole point, when we aim to become a better human being, there is no final destination, it’s a constant work in progress.

I will be going for a meditation retreat, probably not as hardcore as 10 days silent retreat, (I just can’t do that to Anya) but a weekend away just to learn to skill would be very beneficial for me. I feel I am finally ready.

And I hope I’ve convinced you to start.

 

 

Ego, social media, and bodybuilding

quote-without-struggle-there-is-no-progress-there-has-to-be-struggle-in-your-life-you-have-mike-tyson-123-3-0367

I am just a little under #4weeksout of WNBF Singapore, after battling bouts of high and low days, I am feeling better this week, I am feeling excited that the show is just around the corner.

I have planned everything that I needed to plan at the moment, there is some other details that I need from the show organizer, but at this moment, I feel prepared.

Everyday, I’d open up my journal to this page that reads “I am absolutely capable of fullfilling anything that is asked of me ; I have all the knowledge that I need to do this already inside me ; I am fully resourceful and able to rise to this challenge.”

What do I do without quotes…

I have just came back from KK (Sabah), and before I write about my thoughts on Ego and bodybuilding, I have to admit this blog post is inspired after being at a powerlifting event. I have flown there from Sibu to be with my best friend Dorothy (a Sabah native, but currently working and living in KL) as her entourage. There is a similarity with both powerlifting and bodybuilding, powerlifters and bodybuilders often don’t see eye to eye, bodybuilders tend to see powerlifters as being egotistic, and powerlifters just think bodybuilders are a bunch of narcissistic vainpots.  If only we could see how similar we all are,  infact, this similarity is consistent amongst all the different pursuit of sports.

Something Mike Tyson said on Joe Rogan’s podcast a while ago has stuck with me, about how he doesn’t lift weight anymore because he finds that it inflate his ego. A light bulb went off in my head, I then thought about my ego, my addiction with social media, narcissism, my constant craving for attention through either bodybuilding or powerlifting, I question my motive, when it comes to the hobbies I pursue, are they in control of me, or am I in control of them? Am I really doing it for self growth, or simply feeding my ego?

I will always be a great fan of both sports, and there’s a beauty in both the pursuit of strength and physique that captivate me. But with the rise of social media, so much of this has become about social approval. By focus my attention on pursuing it for self growth, I have gained a much deeper insight in the process. What was I looking for by posting my “progress” anyway ? Does it help me, or more importantly, others? I was clueless, I was simply a sheep in a herd, following what everyone else is doing.

I have battle with myself more times than I can count this prep. I have found great satisfaction in acknowledging my shortcomings and overcoming my challenges, all without posting or complaining on the social media. I do admit sometimes I slip, and let me emotions drive my actions, with that, I realize I need to safe guard my behaviour and never let my attention slip, because it is too easy to fall back into the rabbit hole.

There are many elements that makes a human being thrive : bodybuilding, powerlifting, or just lifting in general,  it is only a very small part of my self development journey. With bodybuilding, I understand it’s imperative that I use it to improve myself, let it build my character instead of the other way around. Bodybuilders aren’t egotistic, but physique and strength sports tends to attract egotistic people, keep ego in check, and it will nourish you.