It’s not me…it’s you

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Me with Claudia, (right) and Dorothy (left)

There’s a Chinese idiom that says “出淤泥而不染”, loosely translated, it means “The lotus remains pure and untainted growing out of the mud”, but we are human, not lotuses, we are as easily tainted as a drop of ink on a pure white blouse. (In my case, it’s more like a drop of chocolate sauce)

We are protective of our body, we don’t allow people harass us physically, what about our minds ? We should protect our mind just like how we protect our physical self. I always think about this passage from the book “The Monk who sold his Ferrari”, it says, “To live life to the fullest, you must stand guard at the gate of your garden and let only the very best information enter. You truly cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought – not even one.” If certain individuals elicits negative feelings and emotions in you, limit as much contacts as you can with these individuals.

It often surprises me whenever people tell me “I don’t like so-and-so…all so-and-so does is gossip or trigger me…” As you can imagine, there are many other scenarios…but the solution is often simple : Stop hanging out with so-and-so. It’s more complicated If it’s a family member that you simply cannot live without, then it’s best to have a sit down conversation with them, tell them what they say or do that trigger the negative emotions in you, as it will deplete you eventually.

It is a constant struggle for me. As a people pleaser, it’s hard for me to let people go and I invest extra effort and time to cultivate a relationship. As I age, I simply realize instead of trying to be nice and personable to everyone around me, I need to be selective with who I allow into my life.

You’re the average of the 5 people you hangout with.

I dislike myself, atleast not yet. I am a constant work in progress, but at the same time, I have no choice, as I need to be with myself. I seek to improve myself because I like to become the person I like to hang out with. They say you’re the average of the 5 people you hangout with, the people we connect with plays a part in shaping our characteristics, and this is why we need to be selective.

It’s not technology that’s scary, it’s what it does to human relations. – Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance 

Being a millennial, this means not only I have to be mindful of the type of individuals I choose to socialize with physically, it also includes online interactions, who I follow on social media, etc. Technology is valuable to me because my best friend, Dorothy, lives away from me and we rarely get to hang out physically, however, we send each other letter format texts (I know…we are ancient) and I’m very aware of keeping in touch with her because i feed off of her energy, she reminds me of the type of person I want to be become: empathetic, patient, kind….I can go on and on about her.

Cultivating a relationship takes time and effort, and you want to be selective with who you want to invest your time and energy in. As an emotional person who tends to follow her intuition all the time, I realize my intuition is often wrong, I realize I cannot be a dumpster, there’s a limit to my mental capacity and I cannot afford to keep investing time in people who are on a completely different orbit than mine. The more energy I invested in the wrong people, the less reserve I have for the right people.

And when you find someone worthwhile, someone who influences you to be a better person : go above and beyond to nurture the relationship..whether it’s a friend, a mentor, a colleague, a boss..whoever that maybe. Your investment (time and effort) will pay off eventually, it is an incredible blessing to have people who pushes you to become a better self.

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.

 

 

 

A digital minimalist wanabe

Some life updates before I dive into the topic of digital minimalism and social media (from the perspective of a former social media addict) I think it’s time for me to stick to a more rigid posting schedule here because if I wait for my “mood” to strike..I’ll never sit down and write.

But on a more positive note, I have been very consistent with working on my book project. I use all the strategy from the book “Deep Work”, I stick to the same writing schedule, the same writing location, I walk without distraction so I can “write in my head” . When I went back to KL for a short vacation last week, I brought my laptop with me so I can still fit in the hour long “Deep work”. The perks of being an early riser is that I have atleast a couple of hours to myself each morning, I wake up, make my bed,  I meditate, then I practice my posing. After that, I clean myself up, make myself a meal, eat, and proceed to write for about an hour long. I am not sure how it’s gonna go or when I’ll finish it, but I put in the work each day, everyday, without fail.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King”

So I thought alot about digital minimalism and being a former social media addict. When I visited my family in KL last week, the first thing my sister asked was, “Mimi, (a nickname given by my family), did anybody “interview” you?” I was dumbfounded, I did not get her joke. She then proceeded to tell me how most of my relatives are concerned with my well being (my cousins, my aunts, they’re all very active on Facebook and since I am all the way over here on the east coast, facebook is the only place where they can sort of keep up with me) . My cousin, who is a Generation-Z (people who are born after 1990s), was concerned that there is something wrong with me and my husband and that’s why I took my Facebook off. I hadn’t expected these sort of speculations because, well, I am obviously no celebrity.

“Where we want to be cautious . . . is when the sound of a voice or a cup of coffee with a friend is replaced with ‘likes’ on a post.” 

I didn’t think I needed to give anyone any explanation on why I took my personal social media off, perhaps I hadn’t consider how ingrained social media is in most of our lives, and my act has caused some genuine concern from my family. However, it’s funny if you think about it, I am still here, I am just a phone call away. I am still rather responsive on watsapp (however, I am currently strategising on how I can remove it without jeopardising my work) I keep in close contact with everyone that I know and care about and vice versa, they can easily reach me. This certainly makes me think alot about how people are more prompt to follow/likes/occasional comment, and less inclined to initiate phone call (or even a direct text message)

Although I value my time in solitary (this is crucial especially when my work involves  socialising with people), But I am by no means a cave man and I can be rather sociable too. I am not anti social, I am simply semi anti social media. (the semi does give away the level of commitment I have with anti social media lol) Ever since I limit my use of social media, I have more energy to interact with people that I genuinely want to connect with,  I go out of my way to schedule meet ups, video calls, phone calls, etc.

This is not to say I don’t see values in social media. I keep up with my work instagram, and I eventually went back to creating another account just to keep up with certain people/information that interests me, especially within the bodybuilding realm. After the detox, I no longer feel the pull it had towards me, and I am rather careful with how I use it now, to extract values which adds into my life, not the other way around.

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Quite frankly, I feel rather secluded since I live in a small town and I don’t have any friends who are into lifting near me, and I do miss some kind folks I’ve met through the lifting community. I have to thank my dear friend Dorothy (whom I’ve also met through instagram) for scheduling this mini meet up for me. I remember feeling so comforted that I have these people whom I can discuss food/dieting/training with, towards the end of the night, I remember telling them how great it was to sit across them and talk to them face to face.

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And then there was also this meet up with my high school friends from over 17 years ago…let’s just say we all aged pretty gracefully.

“Being less available over text, in other words, has a way of paradoxically strengthening your relationship even while making you (slightly) less available to those you care about. This point is crucial because many people fear that their relationships will suffer if they downgrade this form of lightweight connection. I want to reassure you that it will instead strengthen the relationships you care most about. You can be the one person in their life who actually talks to them on a regular basis, forming a deeper, more nuanced relationship than any number of exclamation points and bitmapped emojis can provide.”

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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Digital minimalism : Becoming the person I like

I’ve been enjoying going through all the blog posts about digital minimalism, I find it comforting knowing so many people are struggling like I do, and it’s inspiring that people are so self aware : Self awareness and self reflections are the antidote to the struggles we face.

Like most people, I have tried to take social media off in the past. My work is deeply intertwined with my personal life, people I meet from work often adds me on facebook or instagram, clients follow my personal account…and so on. For the longest time I didn’t know how to separate the both, I’d go on my personal instagram, then toggle to my work instagram, then I get on my facebook account, then manage my facebook page from there….I could list so many examples, but you get the idea.

Turning on the screen time was definitely a huge turning point for me, at the time, I was averaging at 3-4 hours a day…to say I was shocked is an understatement. From then on I started become more mindful of how much I use the phone..and still, it always comes up to about 2 hours daily. By this time I was researching on how I can be more efficient with social media for work, I started using planners, and only work from my browser. Once I developed a flow, I started working on my personal account…which was much harder than what I anticipated.

Most of the people I admire aren’t even on social media. I remember how agitated I feel whenever someone picks up their phone obsessively when I sit across them, sometimes I look around during red lights, and I swear, almost every driver I see are looking at their phones, if that is not an addiction, I don’t know what is. I self reflect alot, what am I doing? Do i want to become this person that I hate? Irritable, anxious, constantly looking for entertainment after entertainment, mindless scrolling and browsing, posting every food that I eat, I couldn’t concentrate on reading my book because I have this fucking urge to take a picture of the book and post it to instagram to show people that I am “well read”. I would take intermittent breaks, but I always go back. I’d justify my behavior by saying things like “I’m just going to use it for the information.” But who am I kidding? Out of all the posts that I see, perhaps 10-20% are actually useful to me…compared to the harm it causes me, it just makes no sense to keep using it.

In just a week, I’ve listened to more podcasts/audiobooks than I’ve had in the past few months combined. I read, I write, I invested time in my swim practice, I am much more focused and relaxed and I am actually pretty happy being bored. I only have to charge my phone every 2-3 days, and my screen time is reduced to under 30 mins a day…slowly, I am becoming the person I like, the person who is confident, productive, and not constantly comparing herself to others. I used to look at older folks and admire how they’re able to just sit and do nothing at parks (which is a rare sight these days), and slowly, I am becoming one of them. (Well…not as old, yet)

This is a learning process for me, and I am just getting started, I strive to do a little better everyday.

Prep Journal : Prep before the prep

Summary of the past 2-3 weeks of slowly easing into a deficit again, without tracking food.

I was hesitant to start prep without tracking food, if there is one mistake I’ve learnt from my previous prep, is that I didn’t give myself enough time and I was probably a little too relaxed in the beginning. Given that it was my first prep, I was clueless. I started my prep at 72kg, and I stepped on stage at 58kg, judging by how I looked, I easily had extra 5kg on me that needed to go. Nonetheless, I learnt alot about myself and it was still a great experience for me.

I soon learnt if I stick to the same eating pattern, rotating between the same meals, at this point, tracking is unnecessary. I do use weight and measurement as a guidance at this point, if weight loss stall, I will not waste time and start tracking again. The crazy thing is, I find that without tracking actively, I have to be even more aware of my intake. If I make more progress in the beginning, then I don’t have to play catch up in later stages of my prep.

Below is an entry I wrote in my notebook the other day :

“Pay attention to the appropriate level of hunger and desire for food, instead of giving into intuition completely.”

Contest prep fatloss is tricky, without actively tracking food, it doesn’t mean I am eating intuitively. I find that intuitive eating is mostly for people who wants to maintain weight, or maybe lose a little, without having a rigid deadline to meet. Quite frankly, if I were to give into my intuition completely, I wouldn’t be able put myself in a deficit state. Our body just doesn’t like it if we knock it out of homeostasis : hunger and cravings eventually occurs. Dieting will always feel unnatural, no matter how efficient you try to be.

I will keep this update short and sweet, ending this post with some data update and some food photos, just to make this less boring

Start of prep

April 1st, 2019 : AVG BW 63.2kg

April 15th, 2019 : AVG BW 62.2kg

Starting point 2019 :

 

This was me at the start of my prep last year…I know..I had guts definitely

There’s a ghost in our house

This post is dedicated to my lovely partner, Andrew

I have long suspected there’s a ghost in our house. As I do most of the cleaning and tidying up, I noticed things are still always being misplaced.

So one day…I told him

“I suspect there’s a ghost in our house…”

He looked at me shockingly, ghost is not a subject to be joked about with him, he is rather scared of ghosts…I can never convince him to watch a ghost movie.

“Why did you say that?”

“Well you know how I always put the comb back to where it’s supposed to be…but everyday when I wake up, it’s always either on the floor, or the couch, or the dining table…or the coffee table, if it isn’t ghost, I don’t know what is it.”

He laughed sheepishly.

He doesn’t do it with just things. He’d leave cupboard and wardrobe doors open, clothes and socks on the floor..etc.

Authoritatively, I always tell them to put things away.

“Anya, what do you put on a dining table?” I asked

“Hmm…food?”

“Correct…now why are there toys on our dining table?” I’d sneered at my husband.

The key thing to being organized is quite simple really, you simply need to put things back where they are, a trait my husband never learns. 15 years is a long long time…no matter how many times I’ve told him, he remains unchanged.

I remember once, I picked up a book at the airport by Dalai Lama. He mentions how if certain things bothers us, we need to change it ourselves. Simply put, if things are being misplaced and it bothers me, not him, I should be the one to put things back.

Now Dalai Lama, I respect you and I agree with you on many things…not this one.

Men are such a peculiar creature that I’ll never be able to figure out. I am certain the makeup of their brain is entirely different compared to women’s brain.

I did some diggings…purely for entertainment. This point resonate with me alot, I suspect he simply doesn’t hear me

The male ear is weaker than the female counterpart. That is why women can hear subtle intonations and men – not always. Also, in terms of tactile perception, men lose.