Posted in Articles, Feelings, Fitness, Life, Travel

Reflection: A Moment of Silence in the Sky

Moment to myself to reflect!

There is something very emotional or at least thought provoking as you watch the last ray of sunlight gradually gives way to darkness. From the comfort of my seat approximately thousands feet above ground, I watch the beautiful shades of red and orange slowly fade into darkness, as the day comes to an end. Sometimes I wonder if it is a blessing or a curse being disconnected from the rest of the world when I am on a plane. It is a curse for someone like me who spend most of my time glued to my MacBook, iPad or iPhone with Internet connectivity where information is endless and social media notifications keep me occupied. It is a blessing in a disguise, in some way, it gives me the moment to reflect upon life in general and perhaps an opportunity for some technology detox. My work surrounds digital marketing and social media where Internet is parts and parcel of my life. My life depends greatly on the Internet. The Internet to me in some way is like water to fish.

Flight from Brisbane to Perth takes approximately over five hours. It could be torture for someone like me. After a whirlwind trip with The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to attend a conference in Brisbane, I pack not only my luggage with me but also a wide range of emotions to process. Perhaps this five-hour flight is just the thing that I need – to unpack and process these emotions before I am ready to start my Monday after an eventful weekend.

It has been my third conference with the Institution but with every conference I walk away with bags of emotions. This conference has fuelled me with enthusiasm and motivation. Having seated in a room filled with like-minded driven individuals for two days, it has given me the motivation to march forward. Like-minded passionate individuals have always been able to give me an adrenaline rush to get back home and share with others what I learn. I am beyond eager to share with my mates all the great things that are happening across the Australia New Zealand region. I feel so happy to be in these conferences, having reunited with familiar faces. One of the highlights of all these travels is to reconnect with familiar faces and to forge new bond. I am forever grateful of the opportunity the IET has provided me with. It broadens my network and social circle. Having friends from all around this region is such a cool thing, don’t you reckon? It is always great to catch up with old mates and to see what everyone is up to.

Brisbane is a city where I have not been before. I live for the quote “Make an effort to travel to a place that you have never been before once a year.” Across social medias, we see people showing off their travel snaps and stories. It is only human nature to feel slightly jealous and the urge to hop on the popular culture bandwagon to fit in the norm. However, are we that desperate to hop onto that bandwagon that we lose our rationale? This could be another topic of discussion some other day. What I wanted to say is that I feel extremely privileged to be flown to places I have never been before and the deal becomes sweeter when it is an all-expenses paid trip. Of course I have done a lot of work prior to this conference but I still feel extremely privileged. I reflect upon all the opportunities that I have. Firstly I am forever indebted to my parents who worked hard, saved every single penny to move our family to Australia. Australians take pride in the value of fair go for all regardless of who you are. If you ask me 10 years ago, do I see myself as a migrant in a Western country who adapts well and functions in the country, and has all these wonderful travel opportunities? I will call that out as a joke. Without my parents’ support I will never get to where I am today. My parents have first given me the good head start and the rest undeniably is through diligent work and perseverance. This ties back to what my dear grandmother has taught me growing up. Hard work and perseverance bring you far. My grandmother was the most hardworking individual I have ever known. She saw through hardships and odds such as World War 2, economy destabilisation and much more. In many ways that has shaped me to put in effort and above all, to be grateful of everything that I have today.

Today as I take the last glimpse of the breathtaking Brisbane city skyline, emerging skyscrapers along Brisbane river, I feel sad to leave this beautiful city. On the first day of arrival, I leisurely strolled along South Bank and in many ways it does have a vibe similar to that of Perth. People jogging along the river foreshore, tourists with their cameras or iPhones snapping the picturesque views and cool breeze with warm sunshine, these ingredients make the perfect love potion for people to fall in love with the city. I took my time to take in all the views and snapped photos for my Instagram. I had not explore the city in great depth as I believe Brisbane still have a lot to offer. However I know I am here for work so I am contented that I have the chance to walk around the central business district and South Bank area. Brisbane has definitely its own charm and it is a city I would visit over and over again.

They say travel can change one’s perspective. I could not agree more. This business trip has not only given me the privilege to visit a place I have never been before, it taught me a lot of things which makes me feel that in many way I am very lucky and sheltered. It gives me the urge to step up and grow. It has also let me grow closer to these people whom I feel extremely lucky to call friends. The experience which we share together is forever irreplaceable and it would not be something easily forgotten. It is a shame that my trip to Brisbane is such a short one but I decided against the idea to extend my stay in Brisbane. I recalled the last time in Sydney, having to return to the same hotel where we had eventful days and nights together, suddenly the hotel seemed so empty after everyone left. I loathe the feeling of emptiness from within. This time I decided to avoid the feeling by heading home the same time as most people. Whilst it is always sad when a trip comes to an end, I would much rather be home soon in the comfort of my own bed. Home, it is forever irreplaceable and now as an adult, I finally understand the saying home is where the heart is. I gladly say that I cannot wait to be home.

As I lift my head and look outside the window, darkness has completely engulfed the light. Whilst to many this is just another flight transporting passengers safely from one city to another it signifies more to me. For one, I am filled with sense of gratefulness. I feel so motivated and recharged, ready for new challenges ahead. Another thing is I realised that I am flying home – yes even though it has been nearly a decade, sometimes it is still surreal to think about that I have called Perth my home.

Posted in Fitness

Workout Wednesday: Running on Treadmill

Maximise your workout

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A lot of people think that running on treadmill is a waste of time. The truth is running outdoor is definitely more challenging than running on the treadmill. However, treadmill runs or workouts are absolutely not a waste of time. In fact, they offer a very effective training alternative for a variety of reasons, especially when running on the road is not an option.

Here’s how to use the treadmill to your advantage:

1. Simply add a one to two per cent incline. This slight incline will better mimic the energy demands necessary for an outdoor run. For a hill run, add more incline.

2. Since the treadmill belt assists with leg turnover, use this to help you increase your turnover by setting a faster pace on the treadmill. By speeding up for small increments of time, you can do speed workouts and develop faster leg turnover.

3. With run paces on the treadmill and the road not being equal, run by perceived exertion. If you need an easy run, go by feel, and keep it simple regardless of what the pace or mile per hour on the treadmill may say. Likewise, if you need a hard workout, go by feel rather than pace.

And here is one of my favourite treadmill workouts:

  • Begin with a 5 to 10 minute warmup and put a one per cent incline on the treadmill.
  • Start with an easy effort for 5 minutes.
  • Bump up to a medium effort for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Increase to a hard effort for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Repeat this sequence as often as desired for time or mileage.
Posted in Fitness

Fitness Friday: Running and Knees

The popular belief may not be true

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Adapted from WAToday.

Knee injuries are common across runners. In fact 79% of runners are injured in a given year. This leads to a popular belief that running is bad for our knees. However, a new study suggests otherwise. Running reduces inflammation markers and keeps the joints lubricated.

Here are what researchers and experts have to say about running and knees:

Bringham University Research

Regular exercise protects against degenerative joint disorders, yet the mechanisms that underlie these benefits are poorly understood.

Prof. Robert Hyldahl

A moderate amount of running is “not likely to harm healthy knees and probably offer protection”.

Dr Dominic Thewlis, University of South Australia

Based upon some of the other research [as well as this study] it shows running is not going to cause the damage as we may have once thought.

I believe the key message here is that run in moderation. Do not go full on running like a 10km every day. When there are days you need to literally take a step back, do so and give your body the chance to rest and recover.

Posted in Fitness

Workout Wednesday: 5 Not To Do Before Running

Avoid these before you run!

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#1: Avoid static stretching. Static stretching before a run lead to slower starts and a greater perceived effort. A dynamic warmup refers to moving your muscles through a wide range of motion that simulates the running movement.

#2: Avoid a big meal before run. The digestive process slows down while we run and is unable to operate as usual because the normal blood flow to our gastro-intestinal (GI) system is diverted during exercise.

#3: Avoid over or under-hydrating. Sipping water throughout the day is best to stay hydrated without overdoing it. Avoiding caffeinated or energy drinks may be in your best interest, too, because caffeine can give you an elevated heart rate. Drinks containing too much sugar can spike blood sugar levels, which may give you a temporary surge of energy that is followed by a big crash when levels plummet.

#4: Not using the bathroom. This is quite a trivial one but you don’t want emergency to interrupt your run. Stop drinking fluids about 30 minutes before your run and always make one last bathroom stop before heading out.

#5: Not listening to your body. Learn to listen to your body. If you are feeling achy or tired, take a day off.

Posted in Fitness

Fitness Friday: Beating the Heat

This article is adapted from Runners World Australia and New Zealand.

Conquering dehydration, fatigue & sunburn

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In a truly Aussie fashion, many parts of the country could reach soaring temperatures of beyond 40 degree Celsius. With hot days ahead of us for the next four weeks, how can we continue to train outdoors while beating the heat?

#1: Keep run shorts. For example, if you usually run 10km a week, why not break it down into shorter run, say 2-3km each run instead of one 10km run? By reducing the distance, you do not have to carry a water bottle around. Just make sure you have chilled coconut water waiting for you in the fridge!

#2: Cold showers. Take a cold shower after each run. Cold shower will help to cool your body down quickly and help you get ready for work minus the smelly sweat.

#3: Lightweight clothing. Put on lightweight clothing when you go for run. If you wear cotton t-shirt, chances is that after a few kilometres the cotton will absorb all your sweat and it will slow you down as you will be carrying the extra weight.

Posted in Fitness

Workout Wednesday: Workout at Home

With holiday season well over, it is time to start working out again. Sometimes I prefer to workout from home simply because it saves me time to drive back and forth from the gym. Whenever I work out at home, I always make sure I have the following items with me. Shop my favourite home workout essentials:

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Adidas Running T-Shirt ($35)

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K-Mart Yoga Floor Mat ($6)

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Bonds Running Shorts ($50)

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Apple iPod touch 16GB ($279)

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Apple Earpods. ($45)

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Cocobella Coconut Water 1L ($5)

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Adidas Breeze 101 Running Shoes ($90)

Posted in Fitness, Food

Boosting Vitamin D

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Vitamin D is essential to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Insufficient Vitamin D could lead to breast cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gains and other negative health impacts. Ultimately the best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. However, in the midst of summer here in Australia, we need to be careful of going underneath the sun for prolonged hours. Experts advise to go underneath the sun for 10 to 20 minutes between 11 am to 4 pm.

These food are also rich in Vitamin D which can help you to make up for your daily Vitamin D intake:

Fatty Fish. Salmon, tuna and herring are good sources of Vitamin D. These fish are rich in good fats which help to absorb fat-soluble Vitamin D.

Fortified Foods. Vitamin D is often added to food such as milk, bread and cereal. Since I am gluten free, I will check the nutrient labels to make sure if Vitamin D has been added to it or not.

Eggs. Egg yolk contains 7% of the Vitamin D that you need. It also contains fats to help absorb Vitamin D.

Supplement. If you are constantly on the go, grab a bottle of Vitamin D3 supplement from your local chemist.

Posted in Fitness

Workout Wednesday: Finding Your Spark

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We are all talking about making resolutions this week since it is the new year. Thanks to Runner’s World, here are some suggested goals for different people to set for 2017:

You Love Going Long

Goal: To race further. Even this means running 8km instead of the usual 5km, this requires training your stamina. I usually run 4 to 5km and this year I definitely want to try to go up to 6 to 7km.

You Love The Burn of Tempo Race

Goal: To run a fast 10km. Tempo run means including at least 20 minutes of running at a comfortably hard pace and it is definitely appealing to people who loves to push themselves. Tempo workouts raise your fatigue threshold – letting you run faster, over longer distances, without tiring.

You Love To Climb

Goal: A trail run. It is a no-brainer that running on steep slope will push you to work harder. Perth in particular has a lot of hilly trails so if you want to challenge yourself, get onto it this year. I have been to Hobart and I must say Hobart is very hilly and a good spot for anyone who loves to climb.

You Love To Run (And Hike, And Bike And…)

Goal: An obstacle race or triathlon. When runners challenge their bodies in different ways, they unlock heaps of childlike fun – and build total body strength.

You Love Running With Other People

Goal: A full datebook. Join your local run club each week is the way to start. Chatty runs are helpful to develop base aerobic fitness. This is something worth trying because since Sarah moved to Melbourne, I need to find someone whom I can train running and chatting. It isn’t an easy task.

You Love Just Running

Goal: To run healthy. Aim for at least 90 minutes per week of running at your happy pace. To stay injury-free, do two weekly 15-minute strength-training sessions. Target core muscles such as core, lower leg and glute.

Posted in Fitness

Fitness Friday: Tips for Holiday

This article is originally published by Runtastic.

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#1: Keep moving as much as possible. Don’t sit at your desk for longer than one hour before getting up and grabbing a glass of water or doing some quick stretches.

#2: Quick workouts. Grab a quick workout for 15-20 minutes. This is better than doing nothing at all.

#3: Stay hydrated. Sometimes we feel hungry when really our body is just thirsty. Just when you think you want to reach for that extra snack, have a glass of water instead.

#4: Go for intense training before big feast. After an intense session at the gym, the consolation of all the extra calories is that they are actually going towards a good cause: muscle repair and recovery.

#5: Satisfy your sweet tooth with healthy treat. For example you can try some of these gluten free, dairy free and vegan coconut bites or these coconut bars which are gluten free, dairy free and vegan as well.

Posted in Fitness

Workout Wednesday: Challenge Yourself

I was driving to the gym the other day and I knew I was going in at prime time where many machines will be used by other gym goers. As I was driving to the gym I came out with this workout plan and boy it was a challenge! I had sore muscles the next day. The pain means a good workout so I thought it is something worth sharing with everyone. It works your entire body muscle, from chest to legs. The best part of this challenge is that you can do it anywhere, at the backyard, at the local park etc. All you need is perhaps a yoga mat and kettle bell with a weight you are comfortable with. I did this challenge with a 12 kg kettle bell.

The challenge is to finish the following exercises in the shortest amount of time. You can break some of the exercises into multi parts, like I split push ups in two sets of twenty instead of doing forty reps in one go.

Let me know after you have completed the workout challenge and what do you think?