Life

Yellow M&M’s and Trainers (3)

Why do you do what you do? (e.g: your job, your hobby, your commitment, etc.) What is the reason that keeps you going?

It’s something that we muggles never ask ourselves enough of, or that we somehow forget the ‘why’ in the first place. It’s something on my mind since last Thursday, and one that’s made me think. What makes successful people successful? What makes them get out of bed every morning, motivated to do what they do? In contrast, the average muggle wakes up to a slightly different version of their Monday mornings, made slightly more colorful by the prospect of the salvation of a w e e k e n d?

We’ll start at the beginning.

You know that feeling. You want to do something, or are inspired by someone on a social media platform, and suddenly get dragged into this temporary euphoria where you feel like all the possibilities in the world are open to you. You experience wonder, joy, gratitude, and think to yourself, this is what life is meant to be. This feeling is fleeting, but you’re motivated, and determined to do whatever it takes to achieve it, and somehow you’ve found a purpose, a reason to live.

We all have experienced it at some point in our lives, and somehow many of us still struggle with our daily lives. That fire, that spark, where’d it go?

Like a candle in the darkness, this little flame, a beacon of hope and joy burns on despite the dark and all-too-harsh reality of our existence. The fire alight, its existence melting away, and so too the light inevitably dims. Before you realize, it goes out, a tiny ember all that is left of the wick, and you can’t see. You never nurtured the fire, protected the light, and now you’ve paid the price.

Many muggles wander their daily lives like this, just only existing. They walk among us, smiling and going about their daily business in an infernal society that wears them down on the inside. They only stop to eat, to be entertained, and barely have enough time to sleep, let alone think of anything else, slaves to a system that has shackled them by their throats and never being able to break free. Even if they try to break free, the reality of live whittles them down quicker than you can say “STUPEFY!”, and what was once a spark of life is once again doused by the darkness. The cycle repeats, and time passes. Eventually, they run out of energy, time, and money, and are only rewarded with regret, then they die an insignificant speck, never having made anything out of themselves. They can be anyone; your significant other, your parents, your friends, your family, your co-workers, you could even be one of them. These people have lost their fire, paid the price for it with their souls. The worst part about this is that every single one of them was once an innocent, happy child with hopes and dreams to make something out of themselves. 

That is reality. Psychologically, our human brains are predisposed towards negativity (thanks for nothing, homo-sapien-muggle ancestors). But what if there was something that you could do to remind yourself to live again?

Take anything that you like doing proactively. ANYTHING.

Ask yourself these few questions:


1. What is it about what you do that you like?

Example: What do I like about working out? I love the energy flowing through me as I pump iron, the full, intense, immersion, and the satisfaction that I gain from the results.

2. Why do you like it (it being the what that you answered in the first question)?

Example: I like being powerful, strong, lean, healthy, and the feeling of being alive in the gym.

3. Repeat question 2 further, and dive deeper with each iteration, as if you were explaining this to a 5 year-old child.

Example: I like that I can try my hardest to craft and strengthen my ideal physical self, and actually see tangible results that I can be proud and grateful for.

Why? Because every time I try harder, it puts me closer to the best version of me that I can be.

Why? Because putting effort into something that I love doing, having fun with it, and being rewarded for it afterwards makes me feel good.

Why? Because I’m doing something that brings me joy.


Notice that the questions all point to something deeper within ourselves, and the more we ask, the more tied to emotion it becomes. This is because we are slowly reaching past the screen placed in front of our eyes and question the things we do, which in one way or another have a reason for affecting us the way it does. Keeping that in mind, many of the things in life start to seem different. Maybe that non-mandatory overtime doesn’t mean as much to us as spending time with our partner, or in my case, going to the gym. Maybe that extra dessert/round at the bar was just something to numb the pain and hurt from all the sadness at work/heatbreak/(insert life problem here). Maybe we procrastinate because we’re afraid to put ourselves out there and do work, or maybe that people will judge us for what we do. Maybe we play it cool around that beautiful colleague because we’re afraid of rejection or judgement. Maybe we help others because we genuinely want to spread happiness.

What truly separates muggles from wizards in life is the ability to look past all of these things and prioritize true joy above all else. It’s the answers from the questions that we ask ourselves that ultimately become the reasons that give us purpose in life. Everything else inevitably falls into place once this fundamental purpose is realized and acted upon.  These answers have always been within us, and they drive us in whatever we do whether we realize it or not. What you choose to do with it is up to you, and even if you lose your way; look within yourself again, it may have changed, it may yet remain the same, but always be mindful of it and let it guide you.

That being said, some call it purpose. I call it hope. I guess some call it magic~

[Insert Coldplay reference here.]

Like the article? Drop a comment below about what inspires you to do what you do, and the reason for it. I bid you a great day, and don’t forget: anyone can become a wizard. 

Life

Yellow M&M’s and Trainers (2)

My breath, hot and humid, stings the back my throat. My tongue doesn’t fare too well either, probably the biological equivalent of 40-grit sandpaper. My lungs cry out for air, burning with accumulated carbon dioxide as they struggled to replace them with fresh air.

My shirt feels like a two-ton tunic (kudos if you get the reference), saturated with so much sweat that even my shorts are starting to damp. I literally look like I just took a dip in the pool with my clothes on before running. Doesn’t help with that damned belly fat swinging around like some grotesque jello on my abdomen, my feet already hurting from that weight that was thrust repeatedly on it. My clothes stuck to me like glue on my arms, chest, and stomach, adding resistance to every single motion that my body performed. 

Just 10 meters left.

Fuck’s sake!

5 meters.

I cough hard, almost choking on my own saliva as I inhaled with a frequency of 10 kHz.

2 meters.

My victory was non-existent as I reached the 800 meter mark. I collapsed to the ground faster than an origami swan with a 1 kg weight stuck on top of it. I expected to feel like I had accomplished something, but it was naught, only a teeth chattering chill as a breeze passed by. That amount of sweat in my shirt doesn’t help, and instantly my two-ton tunic turns into the world’s most efficient natural freezer.

It was month 3, and I was going nowhere. 


If any of you have had the ‘privilege’ of experiencing the above, then you know what I mean. You know, slaving away at cardiovascular exercises, then literally dying the moment it was over. It doesn’t get better when you finally piece all the figures together, a smile forms on your face as you count the barely net negative calorie values, only to be inverted as the calorie count is vice-versa-ed back into the positives after a single M&M.

So what do we do about it?

I’ll put it this way. Your body has a basal metabolic rate, characterized by the amount of energy that it uses for well, being alive. With that being said, you can think of your body as an engine, and the more complex/powerful the engine, the more fuel it requires to keep it running (let’s exclude efficiency for the time being, which we will cover later).

Let’s use an analogy we’re all familiar with.

Think of exercise as a job, the money you earn the amount of calories you burn. Taking cardiovascular training versus strength training into this context, you get a better understanding of how this all comes together. Cardio would be the equivalent of a part-time job where your income is proportionate to the duration and amount of work you put in. Strength training would then be the equivalent of running a business, where your income is determined by the assets (muscles) that you build, with an increased risk of injury. Both require you to invest time into, but one gives you passive returns in the form of an increased basal metabolic rate, while the other increases your toughness and endurance to perform exercises for a longer time, ultimately both burning more fat as a result.

The above analogy is an extremely simplified way of visualizing exercise. There are many exercise programs out there, many of them a hybrid of strength training and cardio. You could do a 80-20 split between cardio and strength training. You could try the inverse, and see different results. The ultimate question then becomes: what are your fitness goals? Do you want to look lean and fit? Or do you want to be a beast, a.k.a the next Mr/Mrs. Olympia? Or is your goal somewhere in between? Do you want to do enough to keep yourself healthy, or push yourself to your absolute limits and see how far you can take yourself?

Knowing that cardio doesn’t work for me, I have chosen to spend an 20-80 split between cardio and strength training, and today I’m well on my way to a 4-pack. What works for me might not work for you, therefore deciding on your fitness goals is imperative to getting you to where you want to be. Spend time looking up a suitable training regimen that fits you and your schedule, then stick to it.

Your body is one of the few things that you’re stuck with throughout your entire life (till the day we all become cyborgs). Until then, you owe it to yourself to keep it running smoothly.

Extras

Calculate your basal metabolic rate here. (Note that it’s an estimate at best, the actual number could be slightly higher or lower)

Here’s a list of exercise programs you could consider. None of them are mutually exclusive, so feel free to tailor one that suits you, but remember, all of them must challenge you in some way.

CrossFit, Yoga, Zumba, P90X, Dancing, Martial Arts


Liked the analogy? Leave a comment and your most memorable experience with exercise in the comments!! As always, have a nice day and remember to smile 😀

Food, Life

Yellow M&M’s and Trainers (1)

Hey guys, it’s been a while, and I apologize for the missing post last week. I am glad to say that I’m still alive and kicking. While this post isn’t a travel/food post, nor the misadventures of Dr. Heimler, it’s one regarding something that’s close to my heart: exercise.

I used to weigh 82 kilos when I was fifteen, waistline of 37 inches. In short, I was the fat kid, bottom five in PE, a walking black hole for all manner of junk food, and abhorred physical activity in general. This all changed when I was sixteen, when I had my second crush 🙂

Firing hormones initiated a maniacal mental struggle that ultimately compelled the fat f*ckr in the mirror to do some stupid shit.

Here’s how it went down:

  1. Make a commitment to attain a Bruce Lee physique in three months.
  2. Wake up at 5 in the morning and run two miles before heading off to school.
  3. Beg your uncle for his spare set of 6 kg dumbbells.
  4. Have no idea what to do with said dumbbells aside from bicep curls (which you don’t even have the strength to perform lmao).
  5. Attempt basic lifts with dumbbells and injure yourself.
  6. Make no dietary changes.
  7. Feel like a dumbass.

I lost two kilos in three months, could finally curl 6 kilos, and could probably recite the entirety of Eminiem’s Recovery album in my sleep. I thought I’d end up like Bruce Lee after all that work, I became a slightly skinnier Asian James Corden instead. The worst part was that I got placed in the dreaded F R I E N D Z O N E.

Seven years down the line, thinking about it makes me chuckle on the inside, like watching at a kid fall in a sand pit trying to do his first handstand. So I got curious and decided to do an experiment, which I urge you, the reader, to try out for yourself. 


What you’ll need:

  1. A dose of I N T E R N E T, available wherever your smart phone is. Alternatively, a pack of M&Ms will suffice, available in your local stores until the day the sun turns into a red giant.
  2. A pair of trainers/sports shoes.
  3. A sports app to track the amount of calories burnt. I recommend MyFitnessPal for its versatility. Alternatively, a treadmill with a calorie counter works too, but the results won’t be as accurate.

Steps:

  1. Spare some time in your day, get your bum off that couch.
  2. Turn on that running app/ calorie meter before you begin your 5 km run. This is the most crucial step.
  3. Now run like hell. If you are not used to it, you’ll curse me for this, but Just Do It.
  4. Go to wherever the M&M’s are, and read up the nutrition label. Pay close attention to the calories incurred per 100 g serving, and the amount of sugar in those sweet little bastards.
  5. Compare how many calories you burnt versus how many calories are in a pack of M&M’s.

Results

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Add  incline at your own risk. I chose 15 degrees all the way through for maximum burn.
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More than half a pack of these is pure sugar. That’s akin to 5-6 teaspoons of the stuff.

Conclusion: 3 M&M’S = 1 LONG WORKOUT (estimate). I came to this, which is the takeaway for this post:

YOU’LL NEVER OUT-TRAIN A BAD DIET.

While I do still enjoy M&M’s, I never looked at them the same way again.


The author does not advocate any drastic action taken on the spur of a moment, but highly recommends that the reader rethink their dietary choices upon a full analysis. To get a better overview of one’s metabolic and caloric state, the author recommends checking out the individual basal metabolic rate (BMR) for a more complete picture before taking any action.

 

Food, Life

My first Malay Wedding

So just last week days ago my family was invited to one of our neighbor’s daughter’s wedding.

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HEADER – Wedding Party; BODY (after the hosts’ names) – With gratitude and the grace of Allah SWT, we invite (Tan-Sri/Dato’/Dr/Sir/Madam) MR ALLY NG & FAMILY to the wedding of our Beloved Princess Aiza Azwin Binti Dato Aj Othman and her husband Mohammad Syafiq Mauta Abdul Rasad; FOOTER – on Saturday, 25th August 2018, concurrent on the 13th Zulhijjah 1439H, held at the Perdana Felda Hall, Jalan Maktab, Off Jalan Semarak, 54000 Kuala Lumpur. 

Being the first Malay* wedding that I attended, I figured I’d write a short post about it.

Before I get to the event itself, I’d like to clarify one thing: A Malay wedding has a few unique practices/rituals that take place before the actual ceremony itself, which only family and the closest of friends may take part in. I did some reading about the traditions involved**, which can be found here (it’s a short, sweet read, a more detailed source can be found here.)

Back in the old days, a Malay wedding would be held at either the bride or the groom’s house, but this one was different, as their families wanted it to be quite the grand occasion. Our lady and man of the day, Aiza and Syafiq, chose a massive hall to celebrate their tenure as Raja Sehari (which means King/Queen/Ruler for a day).

The reception began at 11 in the morning, with the bride and groom turning up at half past 12 afterwards. The double doors were thrown open, and as Aiza and Syafiq  stood by the entrance, a calming Muslim prayer rang out for all present, and all stood still as we embraced a moment of silence.

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Bliss. 

‘Heart beats fast, colors and promises..’

As Christina Perri’s love melody rang out over the theater,  Aiza and Syafiq stepped forward, walking slowly up to the podium in white to take their place as Queen and King for the day.

Being Malaysian, of course any form of celebration would not be complete without good food. Pandan cakes and fruits, Santan Vegetables with crisps, Malay Char-Kuay Teow, Chicken Curry, and Beef Rendang (not crispy) fit the bill just right for all present.

The rest of the event was spent with everyone interacting with each other, and guests getting to take photos with the King and Queen on their stage.

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From left: Dad, Syafiq, my brother, Aiza, and I. To Aiza and Syafiq, thanks for inviting us over and have a great life ahead!!

The main ceremony itself was nice and simple, and maybe some of you guys can draw parallels to  your own wedding cultures. Are they similar? Comment below and have a great day!!


*In Malaysia, the main local ethnicity is well, Malay, comprising of ~70% of the population. Other races such as Chinese and Indian make up the majority of the remaining 30%.

**Note: In the past, marriages were arranged, hence the tradition of merisik, which was the process of ‘scouting’ around for potential life partners. Nowadays, some of these traditions have changed to keep up with the modern times, and now merisik is a time for the couple to get to know their future in-laws better.

Sources: Wedding.com.my and Malaysia Culture and Lifestyle

Art, Life

Of insecurities and dreams

Looking through old doodles, I understand my past self better. I think I drew this during the last semester of college, when everything was bittersweet as the days were becoming numbered. I had a best friend I thought the world of, maybe more than that. I remembered pushing myself outside my comfort zone during this time in an effort to make the best memories possible.

Q
Can you spot the 3 easter eggs? (A crumbling mask, a guy silhouette with earphones, and an OHANA word)

The main feature here is the girl with the Queen of Hearts card backdrop, it’s clear that Eleanor* meant a lot to me. She was my best friend a geek could ever ask for, and we always supported each other in every way, from midnight Skype karaoke sessions to frequent deep meaningful conversations (dmcs). Even so, I was blinded by her simple brilliance, I secretly wished for more, even though I knew it was never going to work out (she didn’t want to be tied down, I didn’t want to be single). I took the bold step and asked her to be my girlfriend despite all of that, but in the end we sat down and cleared up everything about our relationship. Painful, but necessary, and I’m glad that our friendship came out stronger for the wear.

Towards the top left corner the design becomes more music-y. It reflects my time spent in the college AV team where we helped at a lot of events, and also cheeky music-mixing whenever possible. I’d say it was more of a fun thing that we did, and we got paid for it 😀

On another note, the top left corner has an inverted guy silhoutte with a crumbling mask (spotted it yet?). Sometimes, you get the feeling that you could be so much more if only  you spoke up more, if only you were braver, stronger, smarter etc. If that person was/is you, I can relate. We’ve been there, wishing for so much more, and that was my wish in the form of a drawing, where you could finally put down that mask and be yourself with the world. For me, the practical solution was to stop dreaming the life I wanted, and to start living my dream. Love parkour? Joined the parkour club. Like Latin dancing? Go for classes. Like organizing camps and learning new skills? Sign up. And this was the way I got over my insecurities, and when you do, you realize that everybody is looks at themselves far harder than they do at you.

Even right now, as I’m writing this post, I’ve changed a lot, but I’m still learning to put down that mask permanently. It’s as the inverted excerpt at the top right says:

“We always have a choice. Don’t dream the life. LIVE THE DREAM.”

Looking back, this was one doodle that doesn’t look much at first, but has great sentimental value. What is your relationship with yourself, and how did you get over your fears/insecurities? Also, should I make a colored version of this doodle? Let me know in the comments below, and I hereby give you permission to make today the best day of your life.

 

*Name changed for privacy reasons. You know who you are, and wherever you go, I wish you only happiness.

Food, Life

Snippets of Fiji (3)

Bavu is a small village, located in the Nadronga Navosa district in Fiji. Living there for a month, I got to experience Fijian hospitality at it’s best.

A typical Fijian family has 4 people, although some families can be quite large (up to 7 family members). Regardless of that, the people in Bavu treat each other like a large extended family, where everyone knows and treats each other like family.

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To my Fijian foster family, thank you for making me feel at home for 1 month. I love you guys and I’ll miss you. Clockwise from top left: Molly (daughter), Semi (Molly’s nephew), Sitiveni (father), and Tailewa (mother).

To say that the villagers genuinely love people is the simplest way I can put it. If you’re walking down the road, chances are you’ll hear “BULA!!” (the Fijian hello) coming from anyone in the area. If you happen to be outside their front door, they’ll invite you in for a chat, and even offer you snacks to boot. Their curiosity about the world beyond their own is a deep, one not easily satiated even with them living in the paradise that is Fiji.

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His name is Caleb, also happens to be one of our neighbors. Plucking and eating coconuts from trees during teatime with this man, good times :DD

The children are a source of wonder and joy to be with.  They love to play with you, and literally anything can turn into a game with them. Frisbee? No problem. Rugby ball? Touch rugby. A ball? Soccer, hot potatoes, or anything you can name. Nothing on hand? Tag, or any kind of running, the possibilities are endless with them.

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My mates Sahirah and Rhianna swamped with kids. It happens all the time 😀

 

Speaking of food (to me, a good meal is a good bribe), Fijian cuisine is very simple and carb-heavy. Their staple food consists of cassava (or tapioca depending where you’re from), and a side dish of some sort. My personal favourite is Fijian spinach mixed with tuna, cooked in coconut milk and onions. Other side dishes include Irish stew (yes, it’s identical), Indian style dhal and roti, or even the occasional curry flavored instant noodle.

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Taken from our farewell feast, food is being laid out for the children. Coconut and onion Fijian spinach and roti can be seen in the right, lovo style chicken, cassava and stew on the left. Simple but delicious.

 

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Some strange variant of scone that Tailewa made for us one evening. They taste pretty good with butter and tea :d

However, for special occasions, Fijians use a lovo, an earth oven made by heating rocks to high temperatures, then burying the food (chicken or fish marinated with soy sauce, garlic and onions, and cassava) under a pile of banana leaves for about an hour or so. The result of the lovo  style of cooking is meat that is both tender, juicy, and flavorful, and even the normal cassava becomes that much more delicious, reminiscent of baked potatoes, albeit with a slight earthly twist to it.

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My man Semi preparing his first lovo. Note the chicken and cassava sitting on top of the coals.

 

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That’s Kini and Sulu (Semi’s uncle and aunt) covering up the lovo. The cooking time on one of these earth ovens is about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The preparation of a lovo is seen as a rite of passage among the males of my foster clan, where a feast with the clan elders and honored guests afterwards seals the deal. This rite ensures that the man is not only capable of providing for his family through hard work, but also through shouldering his wife’s burden in the kitchen.

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An hour later, the lovo is opened and the food taken out. Note that the cassava takes on a browned appearance. With a texture like baked potato, an amazing yet simple earthly taste, props to you, Semi!!

Now that I think about it, in all my travels, some of the friendliest and family-vibey people all live in Bavu. I envy them being able to enjoy the simplest things in life, like good fun and food. This being a hybrid article, I ask if any of you have been to places with similar folk or similar food? Let me know in the comments and have a wonderful day!!