Couple’s Therapy

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I love Casey Neistat, who doesn’t, right? He has a podcast with his wife Candice called Couple’s Therapy, I am hooked on the podcasts. Although Candice is often being criticized as not being “friendly” on camera, that she’s a spoiled brat with a rich father and a rich husband. (Casey’s net worth is at $12 million as of 2019) Personally, I find her “IDGAF” attitude super attractive and alluring.

Her personality really shines through in their podcasts. It surprises me how honest and open they are with each other on the podcast. I want to talk about this particular episode because it highlights the constant battle between men and women, and I can definitely relate to Candice in this episode.

Candice wanted to start a YouTube channel for her jewellery brand, Billy. Since Casey is the youtube star, it was only natural for Candice to request her husband to create the channel for her, makes sense, right?

Casey has a different plan thou, he thinks she should go through the whole process of learning from scratch, and the videos will be more authentic if she makes the vlogs herself. No one understands her better than herself, and the skill she learnt will become part of her capital.

From Casey’s perspective, it’s definitely a more pragmatic and rational approach. But he forgot women are anything but rational. Candice was put off by her husband unwillingness to help, she was mad.

I can definitely relate to Candice because I thought about a million similar episodes between my husband and myself. I am anything but a weak woman that wants to rely on her husband to do things for her. I don’t need to, but it’s nice to be taken care of occasionally, and men don’t understand that.We definitely struggle a lot in this area, my husband once expressed that he likes me because of how independent I am. He is put off by “needy” women, he’d say. What he fail to realize is that wanting him to do certain things for me doesn’t take my identity away, I am still an independent woman, strip away our biological differences, as regular human beings, it feels nice to do nice things for each other once in a while.

These days society demands women to fit into a certain frame : we must be capable of doing everything for ourselves. As a woman, we may find ourselves constantly battling our natural instinct to be nurtured (like a delicate daisy 😂) , or to take charge and “wear the pants” in the family. I think we can find a balance and be both instead of choosing one or the other. If only our male counterparts can understand that.

Candice later proposed that Casey find someone for her, which is a reasonable request. But Casey insisted she ought to learn it herself 😂 A perfect solution would be, Casey hire someone to teach Candice film making and editing, problem solved !

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.

Developing a rigid reading habit

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I was never a reader. I used to be one of those people who buys tons of book, start, but never able to finish them. I couldn’t even finish a book in a year, now, I am on a somewhat rigid schedule of reading at least a book a week.

I didn’t want to commit to a rigid reading schedule, but now I feel like I am ready. We all have commitment issues, we don’t want to commit to a habit because when we fail to we feel bad about ourselves. I am definitely a realistic person, I didn’t want to immediately jump into it, so I ease myself into the habits of reading. English is not my native language, so I started with short reads, self helps books in particular, is rather easy to digest and understand, so I read tons of self help books. Alot of the topics in self help books are repetitive, but through them, I am able to understand the importance of being discipline, which really helps with my reading. Then, I also started following alot of readers, gathering tips on how to read more strategically (as I hardly know anyone who reads in my circle, social media has become a go-to source for my inspirations to read more definitely)

Day by day, my reading habit proliferates, even thou my speed is slow, I am able to dedicate between 1-2 hours daily to my reading, so my time make up for my speed. I love to read in the mornings vs evenings as I find that I am able to concentrate better. I prolong my morning walks just to squeeze in extra reading time, I bring my kindle with me everywhere I go.

I found these tips from Books Of Titan (by Erik Rostad) incredibly helpful :

  1. Pre-select a reading list
  2. Use a ramdomizer to help generate the order of your reading list instead of picking them by yourself (random dot org)
  3. Devise a daily reading schedule according to the pages (for my case, since I read from my kindle, I estimate the time required for each book base on the time prediction feature on kindle

Besides these reads for pleasure, I also have to do quite abit of reading for MNU study. I have prepared some study related books on the side as a “buffer”, but the rule I set for myself is I have to stick to the schedule and finish the book I’ve set for the week.

I am implementing what I’ve learnt from Books of Titan and came up with my reading list for NOV (generated by random dot org)

(I am currently reading Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman)

  1. The joy of half a cookie – Dr. Jean Kristeller
  2. Bad Science – Ben Goldacre
  3. A little history of philosophy – Nigel Warburton 
  4. Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style -Benjamin Dryer (thanks to Phil Rosen’s reading reviews/recommendation)

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As you can see I didn’t set the order based on my preference, and even thou some books are quite difficult for me, and some of them are not the usual kind of books I’d read, but I always believe they can provide values.

Most mornings and nights, the moment I most look forward to is to retrieve to my room and read. As the end of the year approaches, I will pre-select 52 books in advance for the whole of next year, do you have any books recommendation for me?

 

Habits : Making things hard on ourselves

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Lately, there seems to be a trend on youtube, people mocking people who practices morning rituals which consist of the following : meditation, reading, or journaling. (may I add sheepishly..these are all the rituals which I currently enjoy). It seems to me that these days, people feel indifferent to making poor lifestyle choices, because it has become the new norm.

I hadn’t always be this way, waking up early, meditate, starting my day with a walk, cutting out alcohol…even thou I’ve been pretty consistent with these habits, but still, they don’t feel “natural” to me. A friend recently complimented me of the progress I’ve made, stating how difficult it is for her to change her habits. I wish I could explain, building habits is a lifelong journey, certain habits still takes tremendous cognitive effort for me to perform daily.

For example, even thou I have gotten used to the habit of sleeping and waking up early, there are days that I wish I can grab my kindle and indulge in my reading instead of getting the 30mins meditation in. (Both are good habits, nonetheless) While I generally gravitate towards healthy lifestyle choices, I still have a million other issues I’m trying to fix (particularly on my obsessive behaviours around food)

When life doesn’t challenge you, it’s very important that you challenge yourself. Challenges can come in many forms, I remember an interview I heard from Danny Lennon’s Sigma Nutrition podcast, featuring Nicholas Gant, the director of the Exercise Neurometabolism Laboratory. He mentioned how the simple ritual of meditation can be a good challenge for our brain to improve our cognitive function, and let me tell you, sitting still for 30 minutes does not come naturally for me.

Our day to day life can be rather monotonous, we perform our tasks intuitively without much effort. This is why I think imposing rules on ourselves, doing things we don’t feel like doing, can drive personal growth.

People often say it gets easier over time, that’s not the case for me, there are definitely impulses that I have to intentionally suppress on day to day basis, when I’m able to resists and reinforce good habits, it feels extremely rewarding for me. I want to end this post with a great passage from Ryan Holiday’s book, “Ego is the new enemy” which I really relate to :

“My friend the philosopher and martial artist Daniele Bolelli once gave me a helpful metaphor. He explained that training was like sweeping the floor. Just because we’ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must sweep.”

Unplugged : Daily walk without distraction

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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

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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)

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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.

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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

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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.