Prep Journal : 10weeks out : Empathy

I think about empathy alot lately. Having empathy is being able to understand and share the feelings of the other, regardless of whether you share the same experience or not. The more I think about it, the more I feel skeptical, can we truly feel empathetic for someone without having to deal with similar circumstances ? Likely not.

Empathy is a virtue, but it’s existence is as rare as unicorn. I often think of myself as a empathetic person, but I think I am just a hypocrite.

The other day, my husband and I had a discussion on empathy, I was telling him it doesn’t really matter whether he understand the difficulty I am going through, but I need his empathy. Anya overheard our conversation, obviously, she doesn’t understand the meaning of “empathy”, but she chimed in and said : ” Yea dad, why you gotta be so rude? ”  (cue : The song RUDE by Magic) I got a good laugh out of it, she often has a way to soften the tension between us, and I am very grateful for that.

By requesting him to be more understanding, I am already being unreasonable, where is my empathy for him? Having a partner who has a peculiar hobby sure isn’t easy to deal with, and he didn’t sign up for this. I should be more empathetic towards him, instead of the other way around.

Phew ! I got the heavy stuffs out of the sack..let’s move on to the brighter side of things.

My prep started off rather slow, untill I started tracking food, then it finally picked up it’s pace. I am just a little over 10weeks out now, what I want to achieve with this prep is to do better than my previous prep. I definitely feel more mentally prepared this time around, I have much less anxiety, and I’ve built up a really good routine to mitigate all my other stressors, the only stressor I have now, is the deficit itself.

April VS June

Starting weight : 63kg

Current weight : 59.3kg

Pardon the different lighting, I eventually had to move posing practice as part of my morning routine because I get way too exhausted and demotivated to do it after a long day. Had to get it out of the way first thing in the morning (after meditation) (before the sun even rises)

I look forward to building up my upper body after this prep, given that I barely had time to recuperate after my last prep, as I really wanted to bag another prep and stage experience before I take time off. I’ll have time, as with natural bodybuilding, time will be your ally.

 

 

 

Prep Journal : 12 Weeks out : Prep brain

I may have experienced my multiple episodes of “prep brain” today. I usually let my thoughts ruminate for a few days, but today I felt compelled to sit down and pen down my thoughts.

I am currently at about 12 weeks out of #WNBF Singapore , up untill last week, I was still feeling alright. As things weren’t moving at the rate that we liked, we dropped 200kcals last week. Stress and fatigue accumulates, and it didn’t hit me untill today, I was thinking to myself, what a difference a day made, because up untill yesterday, I was still feeling alright. (not best, but today is just absolute poop)

Incident No 1

As I reversed my car out of my house for grocery earlier, I knocked my car into our neighbour’s car, as they were just turning in at the same time. Both of our cars are scratched and dented, and it was hard to pin point whose fault it was (they were coming in too fast, and I was going out too fast). We were both nice and civil about it, thou. I told them to get it fixed and send me the bill (truth to be told, I was too exhausted and I wanted to avoid conflict). I was shocked to learn from my husband that it might cost about 800-1000 to fix the car, I guess I will need to input that into my “bikini comp budget”

Incident No 2 

I actually mistaken another car as my car, and I stood there trying to get the car opened for a long time, I was thinking the key lock of my car must have ran out of battery. It was only after a few minutes, that I realize, that’s not my car, my car is all the way on the other side.

Incident No 3

My body is absolutely fried today but I still decided to take a dive at the pool for my swim practice. The public pool is 5 minutes walk from my house, and Andrew and Anya went there first by motorbike, and I follow suit by walking there later. I left earlier as Anya wanted to stay longer, I took my husband’s motorbike’s key and proceeded to walk home, as I thought I took our house key. Anya didn’t even have her slippers on and she walked all the way home, needless to say, I felt very bad. (She was awfully nice about it, kept saying how it was only a mistake and she was fine with walking home barefeet)

I understand things will get harder as I get closer to comp date, and drawing experience from my previous prep, the deficit seems to be effecting my cognitive thinking, as well as my emotional intelligence. It is precisely because of this reason that I’ve made many arrangements in relation to the competition well in advance, such as sorting out my flights/accommodation, as I remembered I made some booking mistakes my last prep (messing up the dates)

I have been extremely aware of how I carry myself and how I treat others, esp towards my husband this prep. It isn’t fair that he has to be the punching bag, as I chose to do this myself willingly. He has been supportive even thou he don’t understand the sport. And I need to be cautious of not taking him for granted.

It’s been a long day, and I am grateful to have this space for some self reflection as always. I cannot describe the relief I feel upon typing out these words, I often feel calmer and more collected when I reflect upon myself this way.

 

 

Week 1 : Coffee Abstinence

IMG_3215

 

So I visit this coffee shop every morning, by coffee shop, I really mean Malaysian’s style “kopitiam”, where the lady boss uses cheap local coffee powder to make the coffee, with condensed milk. I like the ratio of the coffee with the condensed milk she makes, it’s slightly bitter (due to the acidity of the cheap coffee powder) but sweetened with the condensed milk. I am addicted to my morning cup of coffee, made by her specifically.

As if Universe wanted to help me kick off the addiction, this lady boss told me she was going for a week-long vacation, I  was disgruntled, I remember telling her :”How am I going to survive my week without your coffee ?”

I decided perhaps it’s time for me to take a sabbatical from my coffee consumption.

I’ve toyed with the idea of coffee abstinence in the past, but it has never worked out. Most days I do 2 cups, somedays I try to do one cup. The main reason I wanted to try it was to see how it’s going to improve my sleep, I do notice my sleep hasn’t been optimal since my deficit has started, and at this phase, I can’t afford to use more calories to support my sleep (which should be, ideally) , and I just wanted to see how it’s going to effect me in terms of energy level, too.

The past week has been interesting :

Day 01 : So I usually have my first cup of coffee (with my meal) between 6.30am-7am) and I started having migraine around this time, and it went on for the whole day. I can count on the number of times I have migraine…which is rarely. It effected my mood and productivity level greatly, I had a hard time concentrating throughout the whole day. My mood was foul.

I started googling…whatever they say about “coffee withdrawal symptoms” I clearly had it. I grind through the first day

Day 02 : I started using some tea…in limited amounts. Ice lemon tea (yes..sweetened as always), and it kind of curb the craving of sipping something in the morning for me. Migraine and bad mood persists, I was starting to think maybe I can do one cup…but I grind it out.

Day 03 : Migraine still in full swing. I gave in and took 2 aspirin in the afternoon. It brought relief, I felt better that day.

Day 04 : Migraine is gone. The withdrawal symptoms seems to have subsided. I feel good today.

Day 05 : No more withdrawal symptoms. I also notice energy level is more constant, instead of the highs and lows I experience throughout the day.

Day 06 : My sleep got better. Thou i still battle with nocturnal urination (something I continuously work on) .I was able to sleep. I woke up feeling very refreshed and energised.

Day 07 : Not going back to using coffee, atleast for now.

I have alot of internal dialogues with myself, obviously. I would say things like :”You can work on your coffee addiction later, when you’re done with the prep, not now, this can be a powerful substance to help you through these few months of deficit.”

Or

“Why add another stressor when you’re already stressed?”

The problem is it’s all correlated in some way, I need to prime my sleep for more efficient fat loss. And when my sleep is good, everything feels good. Perhaps if you’re metabolically robust, coffee would be a good “supplement”, unfortunately, not for me currently.

I do miss coffee thou, either a good cup of latte, or a cheap kopitiam kopi peng.

 

 

 

Master the art of showing up

“Be silent and listen_ have you recognized your madness and do you admit it_ Have you noticed that all your foundations are completely mired in madness_ Do you not want to recognize your madness and welcome it in a f

The novelty of my swim practice has wore off, I’m on my 7th lessons, still trying to learnt the basics of freestyle. I am starting to feel the deficit and I am feeling pretty beat up on most days, and these days, I look forward to my rest days more than anything.

Despite not “feeling like it”, I still make myself go regardless of how I feel. As I understand the importance of showing up, regardless of the quality of the effort I put in. I will show up, practice and go home, and this is usually after a training session, 3-4 times weekly. I am also currently weaning off my coffee consumption, and I definitely feel the coffee withdrawal symptoms : migraine, low energy level, bad mood..it’s crazy how when you use it everyday, you don’t notice any effect it had on you. It’s only after I took it off completely, then I notice such significant difference.

The beginning is always the hardest, and I am mastering the art of showing up. I replaced my morning coffee with half cup of orange juice, salted with gelatin, and I do have some tea as replacement (but I’m also very aware of not abusing it) . Regardless of how tired I feel, I dragged my feet to the public pool and let Connie make me swim laps. I still enjoy it, as problems fade away as I dip my head under water.

I shall report back on my coffee abstinence…’till next update.

 

Prep Journal : 13 weeks out : Me and my canned tunas

img_1116.jpg

I have put off with writing my prep journal as I’ve been on a “struggle” bus lately. After a brief communication with Twain (my coach) this morning, it was decided that I need to start tracking food right away.

I want this journal to be a very honest account on my journey, by writing down my thoughts and struggles, I am able to self reflect and it brings a sense of mental clarity to me.

I am certainly no stranger to tracking food, with a macro based approach, I relied heavily on tracking to lose weight repetitively in the past. Since it has worked so well, why was I against using it this time around? I assumed I had enough experience to not use it this time around, turns out, it’s harder than I thought.

Fat loss is stressful, mentally and physically. Initially, I thought of tracking as an additional stressor, and the novelty of it, not tracking and still being able to lose weight, that’ll be a great achievement. Kind of idiotic if you think about it, what I hadn’t take into factor is the deadlines of a competition. As days goes by and weight is not moving on the trajectory that we had in mind (0.5kg per week, currently, it’s at 0.3) , it was causing me even more anxiety and stress.

So today’s the day, and I need to pick up my pace.

Aside from that, things have been pretty stagnant, I try to take it meal by meal, day by day, then reflect back on my week. If I have a particularly good day, I try to replicate it the next day. Days are harder during menstruation, thou taking progesterone has eased some of my PMS symptoms ; mood, appetite and cravings seems to fluctuate alot in the days leading up to my cycle. I have instructions to take a “deload” on those days, trainings remains the same with less weight to mitigate some of the fatigue I feel during the period, still, I’ve had some sub-optimal training session.

The other day, I was having a discussion with my husband, we were talking about how others always want to discuss nutrition with me, most of the time, I feel there is simply no way to simplify the topic. My husband then said to me :”You should tell them you bring canned tuna and squid with you when you travel, that’ll amuse them.”

Perhaps I took it the wrong way, maybe he didn’t mean what he said, but I took it as a mockery. I refrained from saying anything, because I knew it would blow up into a huge fight, which often leads to me dragging other topics into the “discussion”.  I let it slip, but my feelings were hurt.

I cannot expect him to understand since he isn’t in the realm of bodybuilding, I cannot take it personally, but I did take a mental note on my heightened sensitivity level, I noted that I am usually not this easily provoked.

I had this written in my notebook, dated 6th of May, 2019

If you are pained by an external thing, It is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it, and it is your power to wipe out this judgement now.

If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Which is why it is essential that we do not respond impulsively to impression ; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it easier to maintain control. 

To end my blog post,  I do admit I am a protein snob and I don’t agree with most forms of protein powders, in true meathead fashion, I personally prefer to bring canned tuna and canned squid with me, as I find it easier to hit my protein macros with them, and not to mention, they’re cheap and more satiating than powders.

I know meatheads would agree with me.

 

 

Prep Journal : 16 weeks out : Patience is a virtue

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished – Lao Tzu

I thought alot about patience on my morning walk this morning.

Too many times I’ve been tempted to change things in my prep, whether it’s dropping food, upping training, adding cardio, although I do have a coach who provides a objective feedback, I still can’t help but feeling anxious and rushed at times.

Ironically, nothing teaches me patience more than a contest prep does. Aside from hard work and discipline, patience and consistency, the two qualities that will keep my sanity in check and carry me through this entire prep. Despite knowing the importance of patience and consistency, I still find myself having to remind myself almost daily, mostly in my morning walks. Without any forms of distraction, it was a good time for self reflection and reaffirmation.

In the context of this bikini prep, the decision to take social media off has proved to be beneficial. In the past, It was easy to get distracted by other people and their progress, I was constantly comparing myself with others, social media toyed with my emotions relentlessly. My relationship with social media is much better now, I follow great contents and updates, I use it to for business purpose, I limit my usage to a rigid timeframe, I am no longer addicted to it.

I do miss certain aspects of it, such as connecting with other people who shares the same interests. But after weighing out the pros and cons, it’s not worth it for me. Needless to say, most bodybuilders I personally admire aren’t on social media, and I can understand why.

Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.

This is definitely not a pursuit of pleasure, but I want to savour the learning experience of each prep I put myself through, since I don’t intend to compete again in atleast 2 year’s time. In the realm of a contest prep, I get to detach myself from my body, and access it from a more objective point of view. I get to experience how caloric deficit correlates with fat loss, sensitivity to food and fatigue level heightened, and I get to see how libido/mood/general well being fluctuates along with fat loss. I do understand how health deteriorates without a surplus environment, but quite frankly, it’s hard to quantify the mental strides I’ve made in my previous prep, which applies to other areas of my life. That is the particular reason I am drawn to a bodybuilding contest. I do genuinely enjoy training and eating well in my bodybuilding journey, whether it’s surplus/deficit, or just maintenance. Infact, I didn’t toy with the idea of competing untill few years into my journey (where I was way too flexible and relax with my nutrition)

When it comes to any pursuit in our lives, it’s very important to ask yourself why not, instead of why. 

My goal is to bring a better physique on stage, at the same time, exert as much grace and patience as I can with this prep.

I realised my documentation of my previous prep was scattered…well needless to say, instagram is not a place for proper journaling purpose. Here I want to share a few photos from my previous competition trip to Singapore, (The Show of Strength 2018) which brings me good memories. It was a great experience for me.

I am coached by Twain Teo from https://atp.sg/

 

IMG_1756IMG_1763

For this meal I had, usual suspect of Coffee with condensed milk (mixed in gelatin powder), fruits (cantaloupe) beef liver and raw carrat salad. (#raypeat)

IMG_1399IMG_1968IMG_1970IMG_1971

I especially looking forward to see more details in my lower body. Appreciate the great quality photos provided by the show organiser. (Showofstrengthlive.com)

 

Prep Journal : Reset your mind and change your mood

Some personal observation and experiment in regards to changing my state of being.

I am about a month into my contest prep, most of my musings tend to revolve around dieting, it’s definitely difficult to not be food focus while you’re in a dieting phase, for me, it is a requirement. However, most of these strategy are effective and can be apply to many aspects of our lives.

As I am still not tracking food at this point, when it comes to dealing with hunger issues, I have to rely heavily on internal cues. There is also a difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. I have realized I deal with physical hunger much better than emotional hunger. Currently, the cue that I give myself is, “If you still feel like you want more food after your meal, then you’re in the right place, stop right now.” At a surplus or a maintenance phase,  I simply just add more food, there was definitely more flexibility.

Change your environment

Walking away from more food doesn’t come naturally for me. The strategy I use currently is immediately clean up after my meal, (make dish washing/cleaning up part of my eating routine.) And I would often walk right after my morning and evening meals. I am rather inspired by Stan Efferding when it comes to implementing walks or activity around meal times, as it improves digestion and insulin sensitivity. As soon as I move away from my dining table, clean up, then proceed to my neighbourhood stroll, my urge of wanting more food is greatly reduced. Switching up the environment definitely helps.

Use music

Sometimes when I’m feeling abit down, I listen to happy, upbeat music. I find that music is quite powerful when it comes to picking me up, this is why I tend to avoid moody music (especially love songs about heart breaks) I appreciate sad music definitely, but I find that it does nothing for my mental well being. So most of the time, I gravitate towards happier tunes.

Change your physical state 

Our physical being has alot to do with our mental well being, as soon as I get up and move, I feel my mood is instantly lifted. This ties in with walking, as soon as I pick up my feet and starts walking outside, I can feel my entire being switch. Movement is medicine.

When distraction doesn’t work

I hear people say the best thing we can do when we’re trying to change our mental state is get distracted, this has never worked well for me. With distraction, I find that the underlying problem will persists and haunt me whenever I have down time. I realized sometimes I just need to face my problem head-on, a form of mental training almost, to “grind through it”. Whether it’s hunger, or certain habits that you try to eradicate, you just have to “get used to it”, putting in the reps, until you’re not as effected by it anymore. This is a learning curve for me definitely.

Nature is your best friend

I am fortunate to be in the tropics, where weather is good for daily walks and activities. I used to be a hermit, my days were mostly screen-filled, indoors. I now enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities, on most days I start and end my day with a walk, and whenever we travel, I try to include an outdoor activity which we both can enjoy. Being outside alone, helps tremendously with mood and depression. It is not a coincidence that more people are diagnosed with depression these days : people are less inclined to go outside due to technology. Sunlight and nature is incredibly healing.

I work hard on making these habits sticks, putting in the reps day in and day out, untill this comes naturally for me.

#17weeksout