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/

 

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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)

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

 

Mara : Feeding your demon

Illustrations by Carole Hénaff.

I’ve began to take more walks without my phone these days, just me and my thoughts, no distraction. And I thought alot about my struggles with my inner Mara on my morning walk this morning.

What is Mara?

Mara is the demon that tempted Prince Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara’s daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara is associated with death, rebirth and desire. Nyanaponika Thera has described Mara as “the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment.” 

“the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment.” 

We all have them, Mara, morph into different forms, trying to distract us from what we want to accomplish. I have been working on fighting one particular Mara that is draining my mental energy, my efforts seem futile, there are times I thought I’ve made good progress, then I relapsed, then I feel so guilty and bad about myself. The more frequent my determination is threatened by the Mara, the weaker I become to resist the temptation.

I feel sick.

Then I came across this article, and I thought, perhaps I’ve got it all wrong.

Feeding our demons rather than fighting them contradicts the conventional approach of fighting against whatever assails us. But it turns out to be a remarkably effective path to inner integration.

Demons (maras in Sanskrit) are not bloodthirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark corners. Demons are within us. They are energies we experience every day, such as fear, illness, depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship difficulties, and addiction.

Anything that drains our energy and blocks us from being completely awake is a demon. The approach of giving form to these inner forces and feeding them, rather than struggling against them, was originally articulated by an eleventh-century female Tibetan Buddhist teacher named Machig Labdrön (1055–1145). The spiritual practice she developed was called Chöd, and it generated such amazing results that it became very popular, spreading widely throughout Tibet and beyond.

The article entails methods to use meditation to “feed our demons” instead of fighting them. Which I found highly enlightening. Since I practice meditation every morning, I will give this a go and see how it goes.

Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. Bruce Lee

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

 

Saul Leiter : In no great hurry

I have not spent my life feeling important

I might not care for the way I look these days

I think I look better when I was younger

But maybe I am being unfair to the way I look now, who knows?

You know it’s like you’re walking down the street

You’re looking in the mirror, seeing this old guy walking with you

And then you realised that’s you

I’ve said some things that I shouldn’t have said

The real world has more to do with what is hidden

 

Prep journal : Training without the phone

No music, no videos, no selfies 

I have started enjoy going to the gym without the phone more and more these days

I used to be the gym chick (I feel good calling myself a chick) who has her headphones on  all the time, I train with very loud and angry music, often contains very colourful language, which explains why I curse alot. But I am reformed now, I try to restraint myself these days.

David Goggins says training with music is cheating. I didn’t understand it at first, but once I took my headphones off, I immediately understand why. I was able to focus better, I was able to listen to my own cues, I was able to motivate myself instead of relying on music. The quality of my session improved tremendously.

There was also the selfies and the videos…obviously I had a rather severe attention deficit symptom, with all the half naked selfies and workout videos posted to my instagram (which I’ve just deleted) The only way I could describe it, is that I felt like a cocaine addict, refraining from taking gym selfies was honestly a challenge for me, I do admit by saying that I am aware that I live a very good life. I am honestly ashamed of my pathetic addiction, and it’s not completely eradicated yet, but I am definitely on the right track.

Each time I whip out my phone and about to take another selfie, I’d think to myself :”Really, Simmy, do you need another selfie? ” No more reasons for selfies since instagram is gone now, problem solved. To completely minimize the distraction, I leave my phone at home.

There are some videos here and there, especially with the main lifts just for the sake of form checks. I used to joke that I didn’t really care about my form, all I cared about was how good I look in the videos. I wasn’t really joking. Was there natty lighting ? Did the angle make my butt look bigger? If I didn’t look good in the video, I wouldn’t post it no matter how good my form looks.

One step at a time, one day at a time

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Bullet Journaling : Building good habits

When I look at what people do with their journals…with all the fancy drawings, different types of pens, etc…I feel intimidated. This is why I often start and fail my journaling project, even thou I work in the creative field, I can barely write recognisable letters. Kind of like doctor’s handwritings, maybe even worse.

I got the idea of bullet journaling through James Clear’s book  “Atomic Habits”. The idea seem simple enough, you list a list of things you want to work on, you just cross them off daily, no fancy drawings needed. Then I went online and saw what people do with their bullet journals..and again, I was flabbergasted at first. There are some fancy people out there, doing very fancy things with their journals, but I realise I don’t have to be fancy, as long as it serves its purpose. After some browsing, I settled on making my list on a google spreadsheet. Printed and taped on my bedroom’s wall.

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It is the first thing I see when I wake up, and the last thing I see when I get into bed. A daily reminder or some sort. After a few weeks of experimenting, I can finally share some thoughts about my experience.

Does it work ? It’s a complicated question for me. I have listed 14 habits I want to build on my spreadsheet, and I rarely ever get the perfect score. Some examples on the list included : daily walks, daily meditation, reading, no spending, limited screen time, no junk food, no eating out…just to name a few. My average score is mostly between 11-12. Do I see it as a failure? Not really.

Perfection was never my goal, I wanted to be aware of my habits, and I want to put in conscious effort daily to build the habits I want to acquire. A life not examined is not a life worth living, here I am, examining my life and try to make improvements daily.

I am definitely so much more aware of my habits once I started doing this, and just before I wrote this blog post, I’ve just renewed my list, seeing how certain habits are now cemented (meditation, screen time, daily walks, reading), and I want to hone in on certain habits I have yet to build.

 

 

Digital Minimalism : More brain, less google

I try to do this very discreetly, but once or twice a week, I go into the bookshop, pick up the same book, read a chapter or two, put it back and walk away. I’m about 50% into finishing the book. I don’t want to deprive myself the joy of buying books, but seeing how I still have pile of books to go through at home, I just have to dial back at the moment.

There was a line that I came across, written in Chinese “勇气就是优雅的面对压力“。 A translation from Hemingway’s “Courage is grace under pressure.” How I love that quote in Chinese. Instinctively, I wanted to grab my phone, and snap a photo of that page, so I can write it into my notebook later. And then I stopped myself…wait, you can memorise that line, can’t you? So I closed my eyes and read that line in my head for a few times, I wanted to exercise my brain.

Later that day, I took out my notebook to write that quote, I was pretty proud of myself for remembering that quote at that point. Midway through writing the sentence, I suddenly forgot how to write the word “优“ (part of grace, in Chinese) . Again, the impulse to refer to my phone was strong…one tap, and I’d know how to write that word. I refrained again, I was thinking to myself…it’s in there somewhere, you just have to think really hard. I thought and I thought and I just couldn’t remember it at the time, so I wrote the sentence, with a small blank spot in the middle of it, so I can come back to it later.

As I was drifting to sleep that same night…suddenly, the word appeared. Sucker. I filled in the blank spot the next morning.

This is no small feat to me personally…and I really need to practice more handwriting in Chinese.

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