Monday, December 28, 2009

Making A New Year's Resolution That Sticks

It’s that time of the year again, when festivities are in the air and everyone is out partying and having a feast. Nothing wrong with that, I have been a complete glutton over the past 2 weeks as well and this weekend, I will be in Penang – Food Paradise of Malaysia.

It is also the time when people start making new years resolutions which usually don’t last. Last year, before we welcomed 2009, I gave some tips on how to make a proper new years resolution to be fitter and healthier. I hope those who did follow those tips stuck with the program. For those who tried and failed, perhaps this posting will be of some use to you.

Why do so many people make a New Year’s Resolution and never stick with it? The reason is, people don’t have a concrete reason for doing it. A lot of times, people just make a resolution, because:-
a) it is year end and that’s what they’ve been doing for the past umpteen years. So why not do it again.
b) people make a resolution because they feel guilty from all the year end festivities, be it eating too much, drinking too much or smoking too much. So to comfort themselves with this total loss of control, they tell themselves – It’s OK, starting next year I will cut down or quit blah blah blah.

Though these are reasons, they are not powerful enough to make a lasting change. What you need is a real reason which is impactful and will move you.

For the moment, I am going to be referring to making resolutions on a being fit, losing weight and becoming healthier. But with some small tweaks to this, you can easily use this technique for other things.

So how do you find this reason? Simple. Answer the questions below truthfully and honestly. If you lie and write something which you think is the correct answer, you are only cheating yourself. Take some time to think about your answers, and your answers should be nice long ones. 2 to 3 sentences at least. Be very descriptive with your answers. It’s best to sit in a quiet place when doing this and set aside 20 to 30 minutes of undisturbed “me time” for this session.

1) Why do you want to make this change. (what is the driving force for this change)
2) What is your goal. (be specific, if it’s weight loss, have a specific number of Kgs you want to lose)
3) How would you feel once you achieve your this goal. (your emotions, the praises)
4) What is it that you truly want to do in life, but you can’t right now because you are overweight, unfit and not healthy
5) What would happen if you conitnue your unhealthy lifestyle (include how you would feel if you continued)

Once you answer these 5 questions in writing, keep it with you and make a point to read these answers at least once a week. If you must, read it every morning when you wake up. By answering these questions properly and honestly, you will discover a deep reason for wanting to make the change and hopefully make you decide on wanting to embrace this change. If you find it extremely difficult to find the answers and still don’t feel moved, it means that subconsciously you are not ready to make the change yet, hence why your mind is rejecting the idea and finding it difficult to come to an answer. In short, if you have truly made a decision to change, nothing will stop you, and if you are not ready to make the change, then you will be stopping yourself.

So go ahead, take some time and answer these questions, and you will surely succeed. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments and I would like to wish Happy New Year to everyone.

PS: Can you read what's written on the women's bottoms? :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Virtual Trainer - Part 1

As promised in my last posting, I will share with all of you, the meal plan and exercise plan for the Biggest Loser Allianz. This posting is called the Virtual Trainer, because all of you can read and follow the exercise routine and meal plan and lose weight easily. When it is time to change the exercise or increase the intensity, I will post it up here, so you will know when its time to make those changes. Also, if you have any questions, leave a comment and I will get back to you. So in short, its like having a Personal Trainer, but in a virtual setting and its absolutely free of charge. I hope everyone who reads this blog on a regulare basis will take the opprtunity to try this out.

So here is the plan.

Meal Plan
Once I received all the food diaries from the participants, I noticed a few common traits. Perhaps some of you may be doing the same, if you are, its time to break those habits.

Bad Habits
1) Sweet Drinks – On Average, these participants were consuming between 5 to 7 sweet drinks a day. I am not saying no sweet drinks at all, but sweet drinks are what I like to call empty calories. Does not fill you up, but high in calories and these are calories you can do without
2) Snacking – all the participants have similar traits. They constantly snack on unhealthy things between their meals. From Goreng pisang, to keropok to karipap. Again, these are unnecessary calories.
3) Unhealthy Choice of Food – One of the biggest problems I noticed is, that all the participants had poor choice of food. The normal breakfast is either nasi lemak, mee goreng or some kind of cheese bun.

Not wanting to make it too drastic, I decided to make 3 simple changes to their diet plan. So here is what they are doing now.
1) Breakfast has to be healthy. The choices they have are:-
a) cereal with low fat milk and a green apple. Cereal here refers to oat bran kind of cereal like Nestle Fitness. No Koko Crunch, Honey Stars and Fruit Loops as these are mainly sugar based.
b) 2 half boiled eggs and 2 slices of wholemeal toast
c) Wholemeal Sandwich – egg sandwich, chilli tuna sandwich (no Mayo) or ham sandwich
d) Thosai or Iddly

2) No Snacking in between. Keep your meals to Brakfast, Lunch and Dinner only. No Snacking in between be it a drink or food. This way, they truly appreciate their food now
3) Keeping sweet drinks to just 4 glasses a day. So now that these partcipants have a quota each day, they really got to consciously think about every drink that they have. May target is to reduce this to 2 drinks per day.

Exercise Routine
When coming up with the exercise routine, I had 2 main challenges. 1) the lack of equipment –so I had to get creative with what I had. 2) that these participants have never worked out before and you can’t push them too much or they will get injured.

With those 2 things in mind, here is the exercise routine I designed for them.

Chair Squats
10 reps, 3 sets with 1 minute rest between sets. The reason for going with chair squats instead of normal squats, because I am not sure if these participants can handle it. Its basically sitting down and getting up from the chair, but you are not allowed to use your hands to assist.

Wall Push Ups
10 reps, 3 sets with 1 minute rest between sets. Wall push ups are a great way to build up your push up strength. If you are not able to do push ups, you can start of with wall push ups first until you become stronger. To do this, stand about 2 feet away from the wall, put your arms straight and rest against the wall. As you get stronger, you will move your feet further and further away from the wall.

Box lift
10 reps, 3 sets with 1 minute rest between sets. I filled up a box with about 1kg of paper. Then I had them bendover, and lift it up above their heads. As they improve, I will keep increasing the weight.

Knee ups
10 reps each leg, 3 sets with 1 minute rest between sets. To finish up, I made them do a march on the spot. They needed to raise their knees as high as they could, put it down, and then raise the other knee.

This routine needs to be performed 4 times a week and for best results, they should finish up with a 20 minute walk. So do the routine above first, and then finish up with a 20 minute walk. But since this is their first time, I just got them to do this and skipped the walking bit. But this week, I am planning on doing this and adding in the walking bit. I hope all of you will give this workout routine and meal plan and a try and enjoy the results.

Before I sign off, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone and look forward to reading your comments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Biggest Loser Allianz

Recently, one of my office colleagues was admitted to hospital because of a heart condition. He is a 40 plus male and weighs 129.5kg… yup… he is way way overweight. After being discharged, we (HR) approached him and told him that he really needs to be serious about losing weight as he is walking on a thin line. He has been admitted to hospital before for other health problems because of his obesity, so we thought he needs to do something soon before it becomes more serious. At the same time, there have been some other colleagues who were also interested in losing weight, but of course, just never got down to it. They have asked me for advice before, and I have told them what to do and what not to do, but I guess they tried it for a couple of days and just gave up after that. Lack of staying power is one of the biggest reasons for people not seeing results.

With the hype of the Biggest Loser Asia which is running on TV right now, we thought it would be timely for us to run what we call – the Biggest Loser Allianz. So we called some of the other overweight people in our office and we are happy to announce that we now have 3 participants. These are people who want to lose weight, but breaking their habits and core values is going to be a tough job. Because there are 3 of them, we hope that this will help to keep them on the path for a longer time than just a couple of days. Below is a quick look at their bio. I am using the participants innitials as i want to protect their identity for the moment. So there will be no pictures as well.

So what is the program all about? I was nominated to be the fitness instructors for these people. I started out by asking them to do a food diary for one week. A food diary is basically a way for you to keep track of what you are eating. So everything that goes into their mouth be it a drink or even a sweet, needs to be jotted down. From there, I will review this and come up with a personalized meal plan for them. The meal plan can’t be too drastic, or I will have people dropping off the program in 2 weeks. So it has to be gradual (from their current eating pattenrs & habits) into a much healthier plan.

I am doing my best to monitor their eating but there is only so much I can do. I guess it really comes down to the participants making a conscious decision that they are fed up with the way they look and want to make the change. But that is something they have to do themselves… like the saying goes, you can take a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. So I hope there is some competitive spirit among the 3 which will drive them to stick with the changes I prescribe.

I have also planned an exercise routine for all of them. Participant RA is the one that worries me the most. Due to his heart condition and body size, I can’t push him as much. For now, all I have precribed for him is walking for 20 minutes. I will gradually increase this until we can start doing something more vigorous. But so far, just giving the participants the plan isn’t good enough as only RN has been diligently doing it. The rest have not done anything and I hear heaps of excuses from no time to not feeling well. So I realize I have to take a more personal approach and actually force them to meet me after work where we do the regime together. So we are starting tomorrow.

The program will run for 6 months and my job is to motivate them to the best of my abilities. We are also seeking sponsorship from some of our vendors, where the person with the highest percentage of weight loss will walk away with the grand prize… in essence, a carrot for these people to achieve their weight loss goals. Of course we cannot see drastic results like the real show, but that is done in a controlled environment and all the participants do is eat proper meals, work out about 4 to 5 hours a day and rest. But I still have faith that we will see some significant weight loss in 6 months. Will keep you guys updated as we progress along the 6 months, so keep checking back.

For those who are interested in losing weight and don’t know how, here is your golden opprtunity. I will keep posting some updates on their workout routine and meal plan, so that you can follow it as well, for FREE. In essence, you have your own personal Virtual Trainer. Just check out our blog and follow the plan. How simple is that?

So good luck to the participants and those at home. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts.

Monday, December 7, 2009

2 years and still no results?

I was having a chat with some friends the other day about the previous posting and the interesting topic on personal training in the gym came up. We were sharing some stories and I told my friends about some personal trainers who have been training some clients for over 2 years now, and they look the same today as they did 2 years back. I am not kidding.

One of my friends was shocked by this and said it’s impossible, as long as you are doing some amount of a workout, you are bound to see some results, so it is unbelievable that this is happening. He probably did see some results, but not enough for it to be noticeable. They are not extremely obese, but a little bit on the chubby side and have a pretty obvious belly problem.

I agree that after 2 years of training and no results, something is wrong somewhere. So, I have listed down several reasons as to why people don’t see results even though they have been with a personal trainer for 2 years.

1) No Progress – Lots of people start a routine and forget that they have to keep challenging themselves. For some reason, the personal trainer I am talking about has stopped increasing the resistance and making it more challenging. Maybe the client has some injury which prevents him from doing more, I can only guess at this moment
2) You are what you eat – This old saying is so true when it comes to fitness. Yes, the trainer has 1 full hour to train this person, but then for the next 23 hours, the trainer has no control. This is one of the limitations of personal training. It is missing that very important nutrition part. If you eat a lot of unhealthy food, 1 hour of training 3 times a week will only be a scratch in terms of impact. This guy could be drinking 4 to 5 times a week for all I know, hence the training has little or no effect
3) Burn Out – Burn out is very real and not just something in the mind. If you keep doing the same exercises everyday, eventually your body adapts and you will stop seeing results. This is why it is important to mix and match from time to time to confuse the body and keep seeing results.
4) The Personal Trainer really does not know what they are doing. Now I hate to say that, but you must admit, this is another posibility. Sometimes I see personal trainers doing stupid exercises and I wonder where they even got this idea from. Oh well.

So why do these clients stick with the Personal trainers if they are not seeing results? One person told me that sometimes these clients just want some one to talk to as they feel lonely. If you ask me, at about RM 100 per hour, that’s a very expensive price to pay just to have someone to talk to. I don’t know.

So what do you guys think. Please share your thoughts and look forward to hearing your comments.

PS: Please take a moment to answer the poll on the right. Since we are on the topic of personal trainers, I want to know, what is the most important quality that a personal trainer should have. So share your thoughts there too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Kiasu Gym

Last Saturday I visited Celebrity Fitness in Subang Parade and I was truly taken a back by one of the comments the staff made to me. You see, a friend of mine was interested in turbulence training but was not quite sure how to go about it. So I downloaded one of the turbulence training workouts from the net and printed it out. We met up in the gym so I could show her and her cousin how everything works. Just as an FYI, all 3 of us have a membership with Celebrity Fitness.

Anyway, while I was showing this friend of mine the exercises, I noticed one of the PTs giving me “the look”. I just ignored and continued showing my friend the exercises. Shortly after that, the front counter staff came up to me and said:

Counter Staff: Sir, I am sorry but you are not allowed to give personal training sessions in our gyms. We do not allow external trainers to use our facilities for personal training.
Rajan: But I am not giving personal training sessions. I am just showing my friends here how to do some exercises. We are all members.
Counter Staff: Yes, but my manager said you are giving personal training sessions and you have to stop.
Rajan: Is it wrong for one member to show another member how to exercise?
Counter Staff: No, but you have a progress sheet over there which is what personal trainers use. I saw you writing down notes on it and my manage says you can’t do that. You have to stop.
Rajan: I printed this from the internet and just jotted down some notes for my friends. If you don’t believe me, you can google it yourself and see.
Counter Staff: Yes, that’s exactly my point. You are not allowed to print out and use it in here.
Rajan: So you are telling me that I am not allowed to surf the internet, print out a routine and then perform it in your gym.
Friend #1: Are you saying that it is wrong for me to read a magazine and follow the tips your gym.
Friend #2: So you are basically telling us that we are not allowed to read up on information about fitness, and even if we do, we can’t use that information in your gym.
Counter Staff: But you are not allowed to perform personal training sessions here. You are not allowed to write notes and train people.
Rajan: I told you once, and I will tell you again. We are all members here and we are friends. We downloaded this from the internet and we are just sharing this information with each other. Is it wrong to do that? Are we not allowed to talk to each other in your gym? Are not allowed to look for informtion on fitness?
Counter Staff: What is it exactly that you printed out. It looks like you designed the program.
Rajan: No I did not design this program, I told you I downloaded it. But even if I did, is it wrong to show a friend something I know. Are we not allowed to share our knowledge on fitness with each other.
Counter Staff: But you are not allowed to give personal training sessions and it really looks like you are giving personal training sessions.
Rajan: But I am not, I am just showing a friend this workout which we downloaded from the net. I think we have explained this enough.
Counter Staff: Let me show my manager your print out and let her decide if its OK or not.

So this guy took our print out and went to see his Manager. While he was gone, we were discussing with each other how stupid the guys comments were. In my head, I was wondering what to say if he came back and told me that it was not allowed.

Finally after a couple of minutes, he came back and apologized and told us we can proceed.

Now, I totally understand him suspecting me of giving personal training sessions, but the conversation should have ended when I told him I downloaded it from the net. His comment on we are not allowed to print it out and use it was just wrong. I also totally understand that gyms are out there to make money. After all it is a business and yes, they deserve to earn profits. But don’t-lah be so kiasu. My guess is, it was the PT who was giving me the look when we started that complained to someone.

Just for your info, the gyms charge members RM 130 per Personal Training session (which is 1 hour) and the Personal Trainer themselves only walks away with RM 35 and the gym makes RM 90… almost 3 times the amount. That is just a riddiculous amount of profit that the gym makes. And lots of PTs don’t even have a basic salary, which means they are not a liability to the gym. Truly a case of the pimp and the prostitute, where the pimp makes far more money for doing nothing.

Anyway, please do share your thoughts on the dialogue above and look forward to hearing your comments.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hot Wing Recipe

I have always been a big fan of Hot Wings, but as you can only get it in places like TGIF (which is too expensive to enjoy), I decided to experiment until I finally found the best recipe for hot wings. Now this recipe will not taste exactly like the hot wings in TGIF, but I think it tastes better than that. So give it a try.

Here is what you will need:-
· Chicken wings and Chicken drummets - I recommend throwing away the skin as the sauce doesn’t stick too well to the skin. Plus it’s healthier to throw away all that excess fat and skin.
· Hot Sauce – This is not chilli sauce, but the one similar to Tobasco sauce, but of course this is the milder version. I do not recommend using tobasco sauce.
· Tomato Ketchup – Just a bit for that extra taste.
· Chilli Pwder – Not necessary, but for those hardcore people who love spicy food, go ahead. Knock yourself out.
· Brown Sugar – It is better than white in terms of calories (less calories than white sugar) as well a better for grilling as it doesn’t get burnt as easily.
· Salt, Pepper & Garlic powder for taste.
· Lime

Clean your chicken wings and dry them out by dabbing it with a paper towel. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. If you are using chilli powder, this is where you will want to dust the chicken with your chilli powder.

Next, make the hot sauce marinade. Mix 1 part hot sauce, to 1 part ketchup to 1 part brown sugar. Mix up these ingredients well. You may want to put the mixture into the microwave oven for a few seconds to heat up so it helps with the sugar melting. Have a quick taste. You might want to add more hot sauce or sugar or ketchup depending on your own taste.

Put the wings and drummets into a bowl and pour this marinade over. Make sure you make enough to completely cover everything. Alternatively, you can also put everything in a zip-lock bag. Let everything marinate for at least 2 hours. For those with a busy schedule, you can marinate it overnight. So prepare the sauce on Day 1, leave it in the fridge overnight and roast it on Day 2. That’s what I usually do.

Pour everything into an oven dish. Again ensure there is enough marinade to cover the chicken pieces. Set the temprature at 230Celcius. Put the oven dish into the oven and let it roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the whole dish. Remove the chicken pieces and place it on the grill so it dries out. Ensure you have another pan or something at the bottom to collect all the drippings so it doesn’t mess up your oven. If you are doing a BBQ, then this is when you want to put it onto your charcoal grill. Do not throw away the remianing marinade. Use a brush and brush on some more marinade onto the chicken while it cooks and dries out. I usually give it a good paint every 10 minutes.

After another 30 minutes, the chicken will be done and ready to be served. Squeeze some lime onto the chicken and voila, your scrumptious hot wings are ready.

Try it out and see. This recipe is easy to do, tastes great and best of all, it is healthy. I usually eat loads of chicken wings with some toasted bread or strip the meat and make a sandwich. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments and if you have suggestions to make this taste better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Biggest Loser Asia

Now I am sure everyone has heard of the reality TV show called The Biggest Loser which airs on Hallmark. If you are not familiar, it is basically a reality TV show where participants compete with each other to lose weight. The 2 participants with the lowest weight loss will be up for elimination. Due to the success of the original show, they are now launching a local version, called The Biggest Loser Asia. Last Thursday, I was invited to attend the Biggest Loser Asia’s launch in Ascort Hotel and I had the opportunity to meet the trainers Dave Nuku and Kristy Curtis and ask them few questions.

To be honest, when I first found out who the trainers were for the Asian version of the show, I was a little disappointed. Reason being you call the show Biggest Loser Asia, but both the trainers are Australians. I am sure we have many Asian fitness talents that could fill up these shoes easily. But after meeting the trainers and speaking to them personally, I must say that I am impressed with them as trainers and the values that they hold. Still a bit disappointed that they are not of Asian origin, but nonetheless, I truly like them and respect them as trainers and people. If its any consolation, Dave Nuku has been in working and living in Malaysia for the past 6 years and is very familiar with Malaysian culture, foods and of course out eating habits.

Here are some of the questions I asked and the Dave and Kristy’s response. I have kinda summarized the contents but you will get a jist of what they are saying

Do you guys have any bad habits which is contrary to the fitness image?
Dave: I love to eat and though I maintain a healthy diet most of the times, every once in awhile I have to indulge into things like Nasi Lemak and Roti Canai. Its important for people to recognize that there is everyday food, food which you eat 90% of the time and sometime foods, foods which is only consumed once in awhile. As long as the unhealthy indulgences don’t become everyday food, you are OK.
Kristy: I can’t say no to chocolates and ice cream. Ben and Jerries is my favourite.

Of course as trainers, you are expected to look your best all the time. Is there any part of your physique which you wish you could change?
Dave: For me, fitness is more than just looking good. I am into fitness because I love the energy that I get. I like it that I have energy to run around and play with my children and not run out of breath. I love that I have the energy and flexibility to do all the things I can do.
Kristy: Of course when you are younger, you may have goals to look your best, but now as you get older, the importance of fitness is to maintain your health and energy. Like Dave said I just want the enrgy to do all the things I do. I cannot imagine not being able to be energetic and fit.

What are you doing to ensure that the participants don’t put back all that weight once they leave the competition?
Dave: Instead of just churning out tough work out routines for the contestants, I am a firm believers of breaking bad habits and re-programing the contestants. These eating habits which they have learnt and kept for the past 30 or 40 years, so we have to systematically break it down and once they see it working and see the results, they automatically have more motivation to do it themselves.
Kristy: On top of that, we also make it a point to get the contestants engaged with preparing the food… so its not just eating healthy because someone gave it to you. If we did that, once someone stops giving them the food, they will revert to their old habits. This is why we get them engaged with the whole process from A to Z so they understand what goes on in helping them lose the weight.

This is just a snippet of the interview I had with them. The whole interview will be appearing in “The Critique”, a new lifestyle magazine which I am free lancing for. Sorry don't mind sharing, but if i put everything here, this post will be way too long. So do check it out when you get the chance. Look forward to hearing your comments on this show and what you think you can expect for the Asian version. I am truly looking forward to it now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Poll Results

It’s time once again to review our poll results. Really interesting results if you ask me and I am surprised with the results. The question that was asked this time around was: “Would it bother you if your personal trainer was over weight / out of shape.” I really thought the results would be similar to the previous poll which asked “Would it botther your trainer was a smoker” but the results were quite different. Surprise Surprise.

A whopping 76% of people said “Yes” it would bother them if their trainer was overweight and out of shape. I was one of them who voted here as well and reason being that if you are in the industry of helping people look fit, then you have to look fit as well. Another point to add is, it is a legal matter as well. What do I mean? I heard about this Industrial Court case where an employee was fired from her Company because she put on weight. Being appalled by this, the employee goes to the Industrial Relations Office to make a complaint. The issue goes up to court and in court, the judge ruled in the favour of the employer, meaning that the employer had full legal right to terminate the employee for putting on weight. Reason being, the the employee was working as a consultant for a slimming center. How is she going to consult people about weight loss, if she herself looks like she needs to lose weight? So because of this reason, I voted for this.

5% said “it’s OK as long as their trainer knows their stuff”. Again, these people felt that as long as their trainer can help them shed their unwated weight, then who cares what their trainer looks like themselves. Or some may have the fantasy of knowing that the student has surpassed the teacher – too many olden day kung fu movies.

2% said its OK if they are older. OK, here is where I am a bit more compassionate, because I know some people who used to be fit when they were younger, look a little out of shape now that they are much older. But you can still see some semblence that the person was fit at one time. Like a lot of ex body builders out there. Of course their body is not at it’s peak, but at the same time, one look at their body and you know they used to be fit at one point. Of course one may argue that there still are old people out there who look fit, so what’s the excuse for these people? No excuse, but they could have an injury or illness which we don’t know about - which prevents them from being fit today, but since they have years of experience and knowledge, why can’t they be a personal trainer today? I guess for me is, how unfit do they look today.

Lastly, there were about 14% of people who said they don’t really care what their trainer looks like. I am guessing that some people feel more comfortable around a trainer who is a little overweight compared to a super ripped trainer. People who are overweight can feel a little self conscious with someone who is super ripped and toned. Also, trainers who are overweight are more likely to understand the obstacles you face as another overweight person and will be more compassionate about it. I am not sure about these points, but I am just guessing. Perhaps some of the people who voted for this answer can share why they chose this asnwer.
So what was your vote and what was your reason. Do share and as usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Monday, November 2, 2009

You can eat healthily anywhere - Crappy Cafeteria Food

OK, as I keep hearing people complain that if your only access to food is a cafeteria, then it is impossible to stay healthy. Hence, I took it upon myself to check it out and see how crappy, can crappy be. I admit, options are not much, but you still can eat relatively healthy if you want. Which “crappy cafeteria” did I visit or choose? Well I think all of you will agree that nothing gets worse than Government Hospitals Cafeteria, so I visited one recently and had a look at all the stalls that were available. Yes, lots of unhealthy stuff out there, but you still have options to stay decently healthy even if you eat there everyday.

Here are the stalls I saw:-

1) Nasi Campur
2) Goreng Goreng outlet
3) Kuih Muih
4) Western
5) Drink & fruits

OK let me give a brief overview of each stall.

Nasi Campur is going to be one of your best bets here. If you remember from the previous post, keep your rice portion small(roughly the size of your clenched fist). You want to take as much vegetables as you can. The leafy ones which are just stir fried are the best ones to choose. You can also take “telur rebus”, but avoid the small “telur puyuh” as that is high in Cholestrol. Fish is a good option, but most of the time, the fish is fried. Finding the fish in a curry or sambal is much healthier, but if there are no options, then you have no choice but to go for the fried fish. Chicken in curry or sambal is great, but please avoid ayam masak merah if you can. Most of them deep fry the chicken, and then roll it around in Tomatoo puree and other spices till it becomes ayam masak merah. The more watery the curry is, the healthier it is. So use that as a guide when choosing. Sometimes you can even find tempeh mixed with taufu. If you do see this, fill your plate with this as this is as healthy as it gets. High protein with little fat – sure is a bargain. Some shops even like to serve sardine curry, another great choice. So as you can see, there are many possible choices out there as long as you make the right choices.

Goreng Goreng Outlet – Please stay away from this shop as far as possible. All they serve is variations of nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng, Kuay Teow Goreng and such. It may be cheap, but it sure as hell ain’t healthy. Won’t bother finding a healthy option here, coz there really isn’t any way this can be healthy.

Kuih Muih – Of course these shops do well in the morning and evening, but just because your best buddy goes there in the mornings and evenings, it doesn’t mean you have to follow. The food items here range from Curry Puffs to Kuih Lapis to Kuih Seri Muka to Kuih Sri Ayu. Now I am not saying don’t ever eat any of these kuih’s, but if you are serious about weight loss, then you need to stay away from these as much as you can.

Western – this is not a stall that is available in all “crappy cafeterias” but if you do find it, whether or not it is healthy depends on what they serve. The one I saw only served deep fried chicken, deep fried fish, deep fried sausages, deep fried fries. So it wasn’t anywhere near healthy coz everything was just deep fried. Even the bun they serve on the side was deep fried. They also serve burgers, but unfortunately it was your Ramly burger which was loaded with Mayo. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ramly burgers and indulge in one every once in awhile, but again, if you are serious about losing weight, then you have to sacrifice this as well. When do you know if a western food outlet is healthy? When they have grilled meat and grilled fish. If they do, then this is what you need to get.

Drinks and fruits – OK, here is where you can really make a big difference. Take less of the rice and curry as mentioned above, fill up on some fruits and drink water. If you can do this, I guarantee you will see weight loss. The fruits here range from papaya’s, jambu, pineapples etc. All good for you and best of all, it fills you up. You can eat half your normal portion of normal food (like rice & curry), and fill up on fruits for the rest of the way. It’s a great tip to eat healthily without starving yourself.

So there you have it. Even the crappy cafeteria food isn’t as bad as it is made to seem by many. I admit, the options are very limited, and isn’t the best of choices out there, but like I always say, try to cut back wherever you can. It’s better to be vigilant this way than to just go all out without caring about anything.

Is there a cafeteria worse than the one I described above? If there is, please share what morbid dishes are being churned out by their kitchen. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Simple Eating Plan to Help You Lose Weight

Due to requests from many friends, I have decided to post up a healthy food plan for everyone to follow. Lot of people tell me that the exercises I prescribe are exellent, but it would be much better if I tied it up with a great eating plan as well. People want to know what they should eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to see weight loss without having to starve themselves. So due to popular request, here is a simple eating plan for all. This plan is designed to help you lose weight. If you want to gain weight, then that is a whole different story… maybe I will cover that some time later. But here it is.

Before getting into the basics of the eating plan, just want to lay down a few ground rules.

1) Stick to the 3 meals prescribed below and only eat that. Don’t stray from it and munch anything in between. Yes, I am aware that dieticians are screaming for people to eat 6 small meals instead of 3 big meals. But I noticed, most people tend to overeat (meaning 6 big portions) when allowed to eat 6 times a day. So first master 3 meals a day, and then we will progress to the 6 meal plan later.
2) With that being said, it doesn’t pay to skip meals either. Stick to your 3 meals no matter what.
3) Keep your sweet drinks to a minimum. Biggest problem I notice among most Malaysians – “I don’t eat rice, I don’t eat roti canai… how come still fat?” Then I find out 1 cup of coffee in the morning, 1 cup of Milo during meeting, 1 cup of teh ais during lunch, 1 teh tarik in the evening, 1 sirap bandung for dinner. If you add up all the calories there, it's nearly 1000 Kcal. Not saying no sweet drinks, just try to keep it to 2 if you can.
4) Snacking – This is one of the biggest culprits for people gaining weight. Whatever you do, please do not snack between meals. The worst thing to snack on is potato chips and sorts, which does not fill you up but super high in calories. If you must snack, snack on healthy things like fruits, whole meal crackers etc.
5) If you must indulge in anything that isn't healthy, do it right after your workout. This way you get to minimize the damage to your waist line.
6) Never binge eat. Some people who go for lunch or dinner late, tend to binge eat because they are extra hungry. Stay focused on how much you would normally eat and stick to it. Never over eat.
7) Progressively try to reduce your food intake as you move along. A good benchmark is to cut down every month. Cut down your food quantity by about 5% to 10% every month until you finally reach your goal. So cut it down, maintain that new portion size for one month and the cut it down again.

OK now that I got the ground rules out of the way, here is what you should be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The size of the portion will depend on you. So start off by eating the quantity you would normally eat, and then try to reduce it slowly every month.

1) Sandwich using whole meal bread. Load up on the vege’s that go on sandwiches such as tomatoes, onions and salad. Cut back on condiments especially margarine & mayonaise and avoid fried fillings and of course, stay away from cheese if you can. Examples of good sandwich fillings – ham, tuna, egg, de-boned tandoori chicken (left over from dinner the previous day)
2) Cereal – The more grains it has, the better. One of the worst cereal to eat is corn flakes and those other kid cereals like Koko Crunch, Fruit Loops and Honey Star.
3) Half boiled eggs – just add a dash of kicap and pepper for taste.

1) Mixed rice – whether it is Malay, Chinese or Indian mixed rice, your rice portion should only be as big as your clenched fist. Load up on vege as much as you can. Avoid deep fried dishes
2) Chapati with curry of your choice
3) Subway Sandwich
4) Roasted meats – Eg, Ayamas Roaster, Kenny Rogers
5) Thosai (some places have thosai telur and thosai sardin. These are fine too)
6) Grilled Fish / Chicken or Steaks
7) Chicken Rice – The trick here is to eat less of the rice and more of the chicken. Remember, the rice portion should be the size of your clenched fist.
8) Simple rule – Avoid all goreng-goreng foods. From poori to fried chicken to fried rice to french fires. If it’s fried, you should avoid it.

1) Salad – you can either make your own, or if you go out, order a salad for dinner. If you are eating out, always always get them to serve the dressing separately.
2) Fruits – Cut up some of you favourite fruits and fill up on these healthy food. Avoid Durian and watermelons. You can even make a fruit rojak if you like. Just buy the sauce, but use it sparingly.
3) Thosai
4) Tandoori Chicken
5) Sandwiches – same as the breakfast menu
6) Home Made Pasta – I will feature a recipe for you to try soon
7) Home Made burgers
8) Home made Roast meat
9) Taufu Bakar

The foods above are just a guide on what kinds of food you should be eating. Feel free to mix and match. If you can avoid all variety of fried foods and food heavy on simple carbohydrates you will be about 70% safe already, which is a lot already. Pair this up with a good work out routine, and you will be able to see the fat just melt away. Try it out and see. Of course there are loads of other healthy options out there, so please share if you think of any. Look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions for other healthy eating options.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trip to Sabah 2

Being enchanted with our first trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah earlier this year, when my sister and brother in law recommended a family trip to Sabah, I was all for it. This time it wasn’t just me and wifey. It was me, wifey, my mom, sister & her husband, her husband’s mom and of course my 2 nieces. Never been on a holiday with so many people, so the change was refreshing and of course, I enjoyed my time with my nieces as well.

We stayed at Le Meridien in KK, which is a newer hotel… hence needless to stay, it was still in mint condition and it really was worth every ringgit we paid. I know this hotel is a bit pricey and when my sister first recommended it, I wasn’t sure if I could comfortably manage it. But then I managed to get a discounted rate from the hotel’s website itself – pay for 2 nights, and the 3rd night is free. The room per night is RM 375 per night, but with the offer, I paid RM 750 for 3 nights… quite a bargain if you ask me. Forgot to take some pictures of the lobby, but I did manage to snap some pics of the room. The one thing I absolutely loved about the room and wished more hotels would follow – a DVD player in the room. So you are not solely stuck to ASTRO’s sucky collection of movies which are repeated 700 times a day. We actually went down to a shopping complex to buy some DVDs so that we can watch them at night.

The waterfront bar and restaurants were just a stone’s throw away from our hotel… so that was really great. Only thing I missed was a 7-11. If it had that, it would have made it perfect. So most nights we had dinner at the water front restaurants and some drinks after, all at the water front. It was really cool.

The main reason we chose KK was because my brother-in-law wanted to participate in 10km run which was taking place in KK. I spent most of my time swimming, watching TV and just lazing around. We did do an island hop on our second last day and we visited Pulau Manukan and Mamutik. We only went to 2 this time, as we were going with my nieces and we didn’t want it to be too taxing. Turns out, my nieces are absolute water bums just like me. Won’t talk much about the water in the islands, as I mentioned in my earlier posting it was crystal clear and probably cleaner than your tap water.
One of the other activities which we did want to do was visit the Orang Utan sanctuary, but the Taxi ride was RM 80 one way and the admission was RM 65 per person… pretty steep if you ask me. So we skipped that activity totally. Oh which reminds me. Another one thing I don’t like about KK is the taxi service. It’s a flat rate of RM 10 anyway in the city area, RM 30 to the airport and RM 80 for anywhere beyond that distance. Its really pricey and I think our tourism ministry or transportation ministry should look into this. Sabah is a great place to visit but the one thing that will drive tourists away… is this.

If anyone is planning a trip to KK anytime soon, let me know. Will save you a lot of time of researching where to go and what to do. But I highly recommend this holiday destination to anyone who loves the sea. Look forward to hearing your comments on this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Salsa Dip - A Healthy Snack

My office had a pot luck lunch yesterday and we all made different dishes to bring in. I made what I like to call Nacho El Grande (a pile of Nacho chips covered in Salsa sauce, chicken and cheese and baked till the cheese melts). Everyone in the office loved it. OK not the healthiest thing in the world to be eating, but every once in while, its OK.

What I want to share with everyone is my recipe for Salsa – main reason being that is actually an extremely healthy dip for chips. Its almost all vegetables… hence its even good for you. Surprising no one promotes this as a health food item. The Nacho chips itself may be high in calorie but you can switch it to healthy alternatives like Papadam which also goes great with the Salsa. You can microwave the papadam (about 30 to 40 seconds on high) till it becomes crispy. It will be very dry, but it will be healthier than deep frying it. Another healthy option is to use tortilla bread and just toast them in your convection owen till it becomes hard. Then just break it up and you have tortilla chips. The Nacho chips you buy in the packet has 500 calories per 100g and 29 g of fat per 100g as well… so not the best of options if you want to go healthy. Safer to go with the suggestions above.

If you are going to use a dip, this is the healthiest dip out there and it tastes great. You can also use this salsa for your cooking to add that Mexican zing to any dish. So the possibilities are endless.

So here’s how you make it.

Salsa Ingredients:
1. Red Onion
2. Capsicum (green)
3. Garlic
4. Tomato
5. Tomato Puree
6. Tomato Ketchup (little bit)
7. Jalapeno
8. Chilli powder / chili flakes
9. Salt
10. White Pepper
11. Lime

Finely chop up items 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7. For item 7, you only need the the Jalapeno slices. Use a fork to dig it out of the jar so you don’t take any vinegar. You don’t need the vinegar for this. The portions should be 1 portion Jalapeno and garlic, 2 portions of Onion & capsicum and 4 portions of tomatoes. Do note blend these items as it will taste different. I was lazy once and tried blending it and it tasted horrid.
Put all this chopped items in a bowl. Pour a little bit of ketchup and double the amount of tomato puree. So if you put in one table spoon of ketchup, add in 2 table spoons of tomato puree. Mix everything up till it’s evenly mixed. Add in some salt and pepper to taste as well as some chilli powder to give it a little bite.
Give it a quick taste. You should be able to taste the combination of all the chopped ingredients. If any of the ingredients taste overpowering, throw in little more chopped tomatoes to dull it. If you feel you would like a certain taste to be more prominent, throw in more of those ingredients.
Finally, squeeze in a bit of lime juice at the end for that tang which just makes it taste like salsa. I normally only use about half a lime or less, so don’t go overboard or all you will tastes is lime.

So there you have it. It’s really simple, tastes great and sure beats the heck of buying imported salsa which costs about RM 10 or more for one small bottle. Kimball or Maggi has salsa which is cheaper, but that is just sweet and does not taste like authentic salsa.

Give this recipe a try and see. If anyone has any other secret salsa recipes or other suggestions of what you can replace the chips with, please do share. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Simple Diet Plan Anyone Can Follow

Me and a colleague started out this simple diet plan about 3 weeks ago. It may sound extreme to some, but honestly, I thought it was OK and we have both been doing it religiously and the results speak for themselves. OK not to worry, I am not going to share the cabbage soup diet here, coz I personally think that is crap. You'd be better of doing the tree diet (I will share this diet with all of you some other time)

So here is what we did.

For breakfast (Mon – Fri) we only eat sandwiches. You can choose… be it an egg sandwich or tuna sandwich or peanut butter sandwich…. Its up to you. Just bear in mind that you need to stay away from Mayo, jam and cheese. Besides that, I think anything you normally put on a sandwich is good stuff.

Lunch – Here is where many may feel is a bit extreme, but again, I beg to differ. Since our office is in Brickfields and we have an abundant amount of Indian restaurants, we decided to try this. Eat chapatti and Taufu sambal for lunch…. Everyday. With the chappati, you will normally get a free curry which is a vegetarian curry. My favourite is this dhal curry they make… high in protein, fat free and tastes good. Other days its vegetarian kurma, potato curry, cauliflower curry. Good thing is, the curry varies everyday… only the taufu sambal is a constant with both of us. Due to my rigorous lifting routine, I do my best to pack in as much protein as I can. So I eat 2 chappati’s and 2 plates of taufu sambal along with whatever vegetarian curry they serve for that day. If it's potato, I do my best not to eat too much potato… since its unwanted carbs. If its vege, well I just eat as much as I want.

Dinner – I try to stay sensibly healthy with this but not overly healthy. Usually it’s a tortilla wrap kind thing, roast meat sandwich, home made burgers, pasta or on lazy days – Chicken Cornish from Secret Recipe. No pizza or fast food. That’s the only rule I have. Besides that, just about anything goes. If its going to be very unhealthy, then i try to keep the portions small.

Now since we started this diet 3 weeks ago, I have lost 4kg. I just weighed myself this morning in the gym. My abdominals looks a lot trimmer now and even my arms and chest have more definition…. All in all, it’s great. Is the diet boring? Honestly I don’t feel that way and neither does my colleague. The vegetarian curry in the restaurant (which varies everyday) is really nice so we really look forward to it. Of course if I did continue this for another 2 or 3 months, I probably would get sick of it, but hey, if I can keep it up for that long, I figure that’s pretty good already. Down side is, I feel like my strength in the gym has gone down a little – maybe by about 10%. I can lift the same weights, but just not the same number of reps as i used to. So if you are a weightlifter, this diet will take a small toll on your strength. If you just want to lose weight, then it will work miracles. In short, i guess i need to balance this diet out with some meat occasionally so i keep the additional fat off, while maintaining my strength.

Weekends – as mentioned before, I am not a big eater over the weekends… so I am safe there. Usually have a tiny breakfast, small lunch and if I do indulge, its only for dinner… but even then, its not all the time and only happens if I meet friends in TGIF or something. Otherwise, dinner is also kept pretty small. If you are one who likes to eat a lot during the weekend, you might want to watch that to ensure you see results as well. Cut down slowly and cut down where you can.

Why did we choose taufu? Simple, it’s a good source of protein, its cheap and fat free. Chicken and other animal based protein does contain some amount of fat, hence why we chose taufu. Chappati, because its made out of whole wheat flour which is complex carbs.

What’s next? Surprisingly our silly stunt has drawn some attention, and now more and more people want to follow us for lunch to try it out. Now we have about 4 people who follow us daily for lunch. Who would have guessed. I eat 2 chapattis and 2 plates of taufu because of my workout routine…of course you may vary this depending on your own nutritional needs. If you are a small eater, reduce it. If you are into gaining size, increase it.

So the plan is simple… healthy breakfast, healthy lunch and a reasonably healthy dinner 5 times a week and try your best to keep your weekend food intake to a moderate level… and your clothes will start feeling a lot looser and you will love checking yourself out more often in the mirror. Try it out and see. As usual, I look forward to hearing your comments and any other suggestions you may have.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting Back in the Groove

For those who celebrate Hari Raya, let me take this opprtunity to wish Selamat Hari Raya to you and your family. Hope you had a wonderful celebration. To the rest who don’t celebrate, well I know you enjoyed the long break nonetheless… I know I did.

Anyway, after a long break, good food and just relaxing, getting back into your exercise routine can seem like a daunting task. Just the idea of going back to the gym will make you feel like you have ball chained to your legs. It’s important to remember that whenever you have a break from the gym and your workout, its vital that you start slow. Meaning you can’t just jump back into it and push yourself like you did before you took your break. Before you took your break, you were performing at your peak… but now that you have taken a break, you will have to ease back into that until you reach the peak again.

Normally what I like to do is to give myself 3 weeks before i get back to my peak. That way, I ensure that I have a steady and uniform progression from now until I reach my peak. Eg. If you can bench press 160 pounds, divide it up by 4 (you will be performing at your peak on the 4th week). Hence start out with 40 pounds for the first week, 80 pounds for the 2nd week and so on. By the time you reach your 4th week you will be back to where you left off. Of course you can reduce the time you take to swing back to normal, but personally for me, the best results I have achieved is when I spread it over 4 weeks. This helps to prevent injury and also prepares your body slowly before its thrown back into its peak. Also, since you are doing lighter weights, i make it a point to do more reps... i usually do as many as i can. This way the work out still feels like a workout and not just a waste of time.

For cardio, you want to start out at a lower intensity and lower speed and then work your way up again. Again... allow about 3 weeks and then on the 4th week you can push yourself as usual. If you like to run and usually run for about 1 hour, start by doing 15 minutes and then working your way up. What I like to do for running is to do 15 minutes of running and then walking for 5 minutes, then doing 15 minutes agaain and then walk again and keep the overall time to 1 hour. As time goes by, increase the 15 minutes gradually until eventually on the 4th week, you are back to running for 1 hour.

The other important reason for starting slow is, everytime you feel like you don’t want to go to the gym, just tell yourself “hey, its going to be a light and easy work out”. By telling yourself this, you will be convincing yourself that the work out isn’t going to be that torturous… hence making it easier to go back to the gym. The reason why most of us feel heavy hearted to go back to the gym, is because our last memory of gym and working out was when we were at our peak. However all the days of not working out makes us realize it is difficult to push that hard. Hence listen to your body and start slow. By the time you go through one week, you will be looking forward to the next week and soon you will be looking forward to reaching your peak again. That’s the result you want… where you look forward to going to the gym again.

So starting slow is the correct way to go about re-starting your routine since it helps to prevent injury and also prepares your psychologically to get back into the groove. This technique can be applied any time you take a break, be it festival time or just when you go on a holiday. It really helps to make a big difference. So try it out and see. As usual, I look forward to hearing your comments on this and any suggestions you may have on how you deal with post holiday work outs.

Monday, September 14, 2009

You can eat healthily anywhere - Pizza Hut

Let’s continue with the challenge that was put forth to me, stating that you can’t eat healthily outside. As you know, I am of the opinion that you can eat healthily anywhere, and so let’s continue our journey of other “so-called” unhealthy places and see how we can work around and make it healthy.

Again, my usual disclaimer before I proceed with showing you how to eat healthily here.“If you only eat in this place once in awhile, then I say go ahead and enjoy. But if your visit this place regularly, then you might want to follow these tips carefully to ensure your gym workouts don’t go to complete waste.”

So this week I decided to talk about Pizza Hut. Any Pizza parlour in Malaysia is probably considered one of the worst places to have a meal if you are trying to maintain a fit figure. So how do we go about eating there and still try to keep our hard earned body? Here are some tips.

1) Pizza Hut and most other pizza parlours have a salad bar or salad on the menu. If you can have an order of this and ensure you eat this first before indulging into the pizza. This way you feel yourself about half way with healthy crisp vegetables and then just indulge into a few slices of pizza. No point eating the pizza first, coz chances are you will eat too much and by then be to sick to even the vegetables. So vege’s first, pizza later.

2) For those body builders who are looking for protein, Pizza Hut and other pizza parlours also have Chicken Wings. It may be a little pricey to eat only this, but I guess the decision is in your hand. Spend a little more, get lots of protein or spend less and eat unhealthily. The bottom line is, there are options out there if you want to take them. My usual trick… eat the chicken wings first and then the pizza. Same concept as the veges.

3) If its possible, try to stick to plain old H2O for your drink. That will shave off a good 300 calories… and when you are eating pizza, every calorie you can save from something makes a big difference.

4) Avoid the breadsticks and garlic breads are far as possible. I know Pizza Hut has the set lunch deal where you can get breadsticks and soup. Bad idea. Bread sticks are nothing but carbs topped with some parmesan cheese for taste. Double whammy. The soup is also another killer. Any time you have a soup which is creamy, you know its high in calories as well as fat. That’s how they make it nice and creamy. There is no way that low fat milk will ever make anything that creamy. So if you can, avoid this Lunch Set at all costs. Go for some proper food.

5) When you order their Personal Pan pizza, the actual ingredients / toppings like meat comes in a patheticly small portions. Reason is, they are trying to keep the cost down to make it attractive to you, the user. Because it is so small, most people don’t mind it and think you get so little ingredients because it is small. So eating the Personal Pan is like eating bread, tomato puree, and cheese. Almost 0 nutrition value. You are honestly better of getting a Large Pizza shared by 2 or 3 people. It’s harder for them to cheat on ingredients when the pizza is large.

So there you have it. Some simple tips for you eat healthily at Pizza Hut. This way you can still join your colleagues during lunch and eat there (and not become a social outcast) while maintaining that body which cost you a lot of sweat. Most of the times we end up in these places because everyone wants to go there. With these tips, you don’t have to be left out. Try it out and see. It really isn’t that hard and anyone can eat just about anywhere and still be healthy.

As usual, look forward to hearing your comments and if you have any other healthier suggestions. Also, if you think of a place which you feel is impossible to eat healthily, let me know and I will show you how to go about it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Having Big thighs could save your life?

For those of you who have big thighs, this posting may be of some interest to you. I read this interesting article on Star last Saturday which was talking about a new research which was done in Denmark, and funded by the Danish Medical Research Council. This research found that people with thinner-than-average thighs may have a higher risk of heart problems or an earlier death. So all you women who hate looking at your big thighs, it may actually turn out to be a life saver after all.

This study has looked at around 3,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 65, to see whether the circumference of their thighs, measured just below the bottom, was linked to their risk of getting heart problems or dying in the next 10 or 12 years. Contrary to what you might expect, thinner thighs were linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The average measurement around people's thighs was 55 centimetres (22 inches). Thinner thighs than this were linked to a higher risk of getting heart problems or dying during the study. Having thighs larger than 60cm made no difference to people's risk. People were most at risk if they had a thigh measurement of less than 46.5 centimetres (18 inches). This group had roughly double the chances of getting heart and circulation problems or dying during the study.

How is this possible? Well the simplest possible explanation I can think of is people with smaller thighs might have less muscle mass. This means they may not be able to deal with insulin properly, which could put them at risk of diabetes and therefore heart disease. Or less muscle might be a sign that someone does less exercise. Unfortunately, the researchers didn't measure whether people's thighs were composed of fat or muscle, so we've no way of knowing. However, I am guessing that what they mean is those who have more muscle in their thighs which results in the circumference being above 60cm have a lower chance of heart failure and an early death.

This study also did not take into account other factors such as waist measurement, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and whether or not you smoke. Once they take all this information into account along with the thigh circumference, only then will they be able to substantially state if this really makes a difference.

So what can you do now knowing this information? Well, assuming that the researchers are on to something when they suggest that lack of muscle might be the problem, you could try to build up your thigh muscles with exercise. After all, as we know, any form of exercise is good for the heart, so you know for sure that it won’t be bad for you. Best form of exercise for strengthening and growing the size of your thighs… doing heavy squats at least once a week. Alternatively, you could do some endurance based training such as running – it still works out your legs and your heart as well.

Do you need another reason to work out? As usual, look forward to hearing your comments on this.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trip to Chiang Mai

I am staying away from our fitness topic for this week and want to talk about my recent trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand. All in all it was a pretty good trip, and probably one of the few non-beach holidays I have done. To be honest, I had more fun than I thought I would.

I stayed in Holiday Inn, which was next to the river… from the description I read on line, it said the hotel offered various river / water activities, which was the reason why I chose that hotel. Problem was the description was very false. Yes, its next to a river, but the river was extremely calm and murky like kopi susu. There was no activity at all around on the river and it was just still water. The other whammy about this hotel, it’s a little far from everything… meaning no restaurants or shops nearby. So we had to depend on the shuttle to shuttle us to and from town.
The hotel itself was very nice… after all it is the Holiday Inn, but just the location could have been better.

What is there to do in Chiang Mai? Well there actually are quite a few things to do. One main thing, is shopping… and traveling with my mom, one of her friends and my wife… you can bet we did a whole lot of shopping. But even then, I still managed to do a few fun things besides just shopping which made the whole trip worth it.

Chiang Mai is the 2nd biggest city in Thailand after Bangkok. It is on higher ground, but unfortunately, it did not feel any much cooler than KL.
Some of the activities you can do there are:-
a) shopping – Famous spots include the Daily Night Bazaar, Sunday Market & the Shopping Complex
b) visiting temples – there 4 to 5 big temples in Chiang Mai. The crown jewel of these temples is on which is located on a hill
c) Factories – Silk Factories, cloth factories, rare stones etc.
d) Animal Shows – Tiger shows (I mean the animal and not the other Tiger show, please see below), Snake, Monkey
e) Waterfall – I think there are 2 huge waterfalls, but as it was raining everyday, even the water of the waterfalls became like coffee
f) Shooting range – I shall talk about this shortly
g) River Cruise – Have dinner on a boat as it cruises down the river
h) Bars – from your standard Irish bar to the Go Go kind, you can find it all here.

There are probably other attractions as well, but these were the main activies.

Anyway after waiting for so long, I finally got my chance to shoot a hand gun. It was a little pricey. RM 170 for 30 bullets, but since you can’t do it here in Malaysia, I thought what the heck. I asked them if I could split the bullets over 2 guns – meaning 15 bullets for the revolver and 15 bullets for the Glock 9mm. It was extremely fun, but shooting is not as easy as your TV shows make it out to be. What you aim at, ain’t necessarily what you will hit once you pull the trigger – due to the kick back. The Glock 9mm was a little easier to shoot, but the revolver had very powerful kick back so my shots flew everywhere. Out of 15 rounds, 12 rounds hit the target (not bullseye unfortunately) while 3 was a miss. Not bad for first time shooting. With the revolver I only managed 6 hits out of 15 rounds. Although I workout heavily, my shoulders still felt sore the next day… so it does take a toll on your arms and shoulders. Like I told everyone…. Feeling the force of the gun, I cannot imagine the pain of actually being on the receiving end of the gun.

We did check out one waterfall and we hiked for about 1km up… but the water was too murky to swim in. So me and wifey just dipped our legs in the water, took some pics and hiked down. It was a pretty good hike as we had to climb over rocks and other obstacles to proceed forward. Check out the pic below… as I was hiking down, I saw this and it looked like a perfect spot to meditate.

We also did the river cruise dinner… food was so so but it was an experience by itself. You have dinner on this wide boat, which tavels at a ridiculous speed of 1 km per hour while the sun sets. Its something different all right, but if i do go back to Chiang Mai again, I might skip this altogether.

We visited the night bazaar almost daily. Just like Petaling Street, there are loads of things to look at and buy in these stalls and yes you can bargain for a cheaper price. I bought a few cool items for myself and it was actually fun to walk around and see what each store had. Cool.

So, all in all, it was a good holiday…but I do miss the beach. So the next holiday I do, has to be a beach one again. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

PS: OK time for a new poll. Similar to the previous one, but this time its about whether its OK for your PT to be overweight / looks out of shape. Cast in your votes and make them count.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Poll Results

Alright… I know this has been long delayed, so lets review the survey results of our recent survey. Sorry for the late posting. Just got back from Chiang Mai, Thailand yesterday. Will post some pics about that trip in my next posting.

Anyway, back to business. In this survey, I asked if people would be bothered if they knew their Personal Trainer was a smoker and the results are as expected.

More than half of respondents said - Yes. They would be bothered with this fact. Interestingly, I interviewed about 20 full time Personal Trainers and almost half of them are smokers while some others said they were casual smokers and only smoked when they went out clubbing with friends. Interesting stats… it seems to match with the demographics of their clients. I asked these trainers if any of them have been turned down by customers because of their smoking habit. Some said they tried their best to hide their smoking habit from their clients, while others said they couldn’t care. For them, they said there are lots of customers out there and there is bound to be mismatches – so if they don’t want me to be their personal trainer, there are loads of others out there who wouldn’t mind.

29% of the respondents said, they don’t mind they trainer being a smoker as long as they knew their stuff and was able to impart that knowledge to them. I am guessing the logic behind this is who cares what the trainer does to themselves, I am paying them for their knowledge and nothing else.

I also asked if its OK as long as their trainers looked fit and 6% said that is more important to them than anything else. This was kind of a trick question / answer. When Brad Pitt was bulking up for his role as Achilles for the movie Troy, he was still smoking as usual. Did he look fit? Absolutely. Would you have wanted him to be your Personal Trainer. I am sure all the women are wishing they could change their answer now.

And finally, 12% of respondents said the didn’t care at all. For them, personal training is just a job like everything else. Just like you have doctors who smoke and people working in McDonalds who eat in KFC, there is nothing wrong with that. I actually put in my answer as this, as I feel what a PT does outside his/her job is their own business. But at the same time, I do understand if some clients feel uncomfortable with this… so it is a matter of personal preference.

So what was your asnwer and your reasons for choosing the answer. Do share and as usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New addition to the family

I wanted to write on the results of our survey, but then I finally got my car yesterday evening…which I have been waiting for for the longest time, so I thought… why not. So this week, I decided let’s break away from all the fitness talk, and let’s just talk about cars.

For those who are unfamiliar with what this car is, it is a Mazda 6 2.0. To be honest, this is the first time I am buying a car that I truly wanted and not just buying it coz that’s all I can afford… so I hope you guys can bear with the excitement.

I got loads of questions asked about this car, so I thought I would paste them here to tell you a little about the car and why I chose it among all the other cars out there.

Why didn’t you go for the 2.5 model?
Firstly, 2.5 model is a little over my budget. Not to mention it comes with 18 inch wheels (expensive to replace), and a lot of eletronic gadgets which I honestly don’t care about. Like auto wipers, auto headlights, push button seat adjuestment. Also, I think too many eletronic gadgets also mean, more things to go wrong in the car. The only 3 features I wish my car had which is available on the 2.5 and not on mine is… the bigger engine (more power), Sun roof and HID headlights. Besides that, I thought the rest of the features were just gimmicks.

Why didn’t buy Honda Civic or something… cheaper and more features.
1) Personally, I think this car looks better than the Civic – no offense to Civic owners
2) Yes its expensive, but it’s a CBU… mean it comes fully assembled from Japan.
3) It's rare…. Have you noticed how hard it is to find a Mazda 6 on the road? That alone was the main selling point to me. Not much of a "crowd follower" I guess.

How does the car feel?
It’s big… so I am still getting used to it. And also, don’t want to really push the car till I go for my 1000KM service. But it feels like it has enough power… so I am not complaining. Plus, it has trip-tronic auto gear, so when you really need to rev, you have that option… but using the trip-tronic takes some getting used to.

Let me know what you guys think. I am just truly excited with this car as it really makes driving a joy.

PS: I know the pictures aren’t very clear, but it was taken last night and it was raining… so hence a bit blury. Once I get more pics I will post it up for all of you. Or you can come to meet me and see it for yourself.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beer Drinking Experience

This week, I decided to take a break from the challenge of eating healthily anywhere as I wanted to share some findings with all of you. We will continue the challenge once again next week. Also, this break will ensure that everybody doesn’t get too bored with reading the same thing again and again.

Anyway, I went for a party last weekend, and drank a total of 6 beers. Ok I know that is a small amount by some people’e standard, but since I rarely drink these days, believe me, 6 beers was enough to tip me over. Now if you are wondering why I am posting this in my blog, I believe I have found the reason for why alcohol makes you put on weight. What’s better, now that I know the reasons, I believe I am quite close to finding a definite cure for the beer belly…. Meaning how to drink beer and avoid that beer belly. That will be in another post. But for this post, I just want to share with everyone, the reason why drinking alcohol makes you put on weight.

By the end of the night, after I had consumed my 6 beers, I was extremely hungry. I honeslty felt like I hadn’t eaten all day. So what did I do…. You guessed it, I visited a Mamak nearby to fill this hunger which felt like it was burning a hole in my stomach. I also noticed that at that point, I had this bad craving for Roti Canai or other simple starches. So instead of eating 2 Roti Canai’s I decided to make it into a Roti Telur and had plain ice water.

The next morning when I woke up, yet again I felt extremely hungry. Of course this was partly due to the fact that my stomach was emptying itself at a rapid rate the next morning… also better known as the “beer shits” to some. Usually, when I don’t drink, I don’t really feel hungry in the morning. I just force myself to eat a slice of toast. But this time… it felt like the night before… like I had been fasting for a whole 24 hours. Again, there was this craving for simple carbohydrates. I ate 2 slices of toast (whole meal bread) and an hour later, I was hungry again. Since I only woke up at 10am, I decided to have an early lunch and see how things proceed.

So I ate my lunch (I think it was Wantan mee) and I ate the usual portion I would normaly eat. 2 hours after lunch, I felt hungry again. OK I think you can see where this is going. I literally felt hungry all day. I couldn’t believe how quickly my stomach kept begging me for more food. It was riddiculous.

So based on this observation, I figured out 2 things:-

1) Yes, alcohol itself has high calorie content. So if you are going to drink, you need to cut out that additional calories somewhere else. If you drink once a week, you need to find out how much you drink on average, and start minusing out those calories through out the week by eating smaller meals and so on. So when you do drink, you have created enough deficit, where the total for the whole week is still the same.
2) These hunger pangs are probably the main culprit for you putting on weight. I drank on a Friday night and I think the on Saturday (recovery day) I ended up eating almost twice as much as my usual. That’s quite a bit.

I checked with some friends who drink all the time and still stay thin and here is what they said. Most of them don’t feel hungry the next day. Which means, whenever they drink, they actually lose their appetite the next day and it slowly comes back to normal the day after that. On top of that, most of these guys are very active. They play lots of football (maybe 3 times a week) so there are additional calories burnt there as well. So when you combine these 2 factors, it all balances out which results in no weight gained.

I got the active part covered, now it just comes down to the eating. Maybe I need to feed my hunger with high fiber foods which take longer to break down, and also less fattening and this should equate the entire formula. I am still doing a little bit more research on how alcohol consumption affects muscle tissue (since I train for muscle mass)… so once I have that sorted out, I might actually try it out on myself and see what happens. Maybe drink every weekend for 2 months while cutting down on food and see if I do gain any weight. If I don’t I would have successfully discovered the formula on How to drink beer and not have a beer belly.

As usual, look forward to hearing your comments on this issue.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You can eat healthily anywhere - McDonalds

Following my previous post and continuing with the challenge that you can eat healthily anywhere, for this post, I decided to cover McDonalds.

Who doesn’t love McDonalds and even their tagline says “I’m Lovin’ it”.

Again, my usual disclaimer before I proceed with showing you how to eat healthily there.

“If you only eat in this place once in awhile, then I say go ahead and enjoy. But if your visit this place regularly, then you might want to follow these tips carefully to ensure your gym workouts don’t go to complete waste.”

OK… so how do you eat healthily in McDonalds? Simple. Follow the tips below and you will be surprised at just how healthily you can eat.

1) Change your drink to Coke Light. This will instantly shave off a good 200 plus calories from your meal. Avoid the Milo and Ribena at all cost if possible. I can’t tell the difference between Coke Light and normal Coke, but I know some die hard Coke fans call Coke Light an insult to the Coke brand.
2) Stay away from the fries – Fries is a whopping 300 to 400 calories and poor fill up factor. Fill up factor is how full you feel after eating a certain food. So if you had to choose 2 different kinds of food which both have 400 calories, you want to choose something that is more filling – ie higher fill up factor.
3) If you are hungry, instead of whacking fries to fill yourself up, it is better to eat a burger (or maybe half). Burgers in McDonalds is around 400 to 500 calories (almost the same as fries, but higher fill up factor). Being a glutton myself, I usually eat 2 burgers at McDonalds, as 1 burger just ain’t enough. But since I rarely eat McDonalds, I guess its OK to enjoy properly every once in a while
4) I have friends who will buy 2 Fillet-O-Fish burgers, throw away the buns for one of the burger, and the other burger becomes a double patty burger. Good protein, less carbs. Good technique, I tried it once, and didn’t quite like it. But if you are one who lifts heavy and going for size, this is a good way to get in your protein intake at McDonalds, while reducing the carbohydrate content.
5) Generally, the food in McDonalds isn’t all that bad as people say. What makes it bad are the Fries, drinks (Ribena, Milo & Coke) and the portions are small, which causes us to overeat. So be weary of this and order wisely. If you can slip in a healthy snack before you hit McD’s, you will be partially full and less likely to indulge full on. This way, just one burger might be enough and you won’t have to whack your fries or chow down that second burger.

How often should you eat McDonalds where you can just eat and enjoy? Well it really depends on your total activity per day (exercise and any other activity like walking etc) as well as your age and body make up. If you workout regularly, then its ok to indulge in this every week and not see any difference to your waistline. If you are just a couch potato who drives to work, sits on the office chair for 8 hours, drives home and sits on the couch to watch TV, then once a week will make your waistline grow. Of course we also have some people who may be couch potatoes but have high metabolic rate, so even eating it everyday won’t make a difference.

My advice – Eat whenever you want to and try to be healthy like mentioned above. If you feel your waistline growing, then you know you need to cut down somewhere or do more exercise. It all comes down to balancing everything. A good benchemark to start with is once a week. If you feel once a week doesn’t make a difference, then maybe you want to try twice a week and see what happens.

So now you can eat healthily even in McDonalds. Of course its not the healthiest choice for eating, even when you eat carefully like suggested above, but its still better than just eating eating away without knowing some tricks and facts. Also, we all need to enjoy every once in awhile… so enjoy and as usual, I look forward to your comments.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

You can eat healthily anywhere - Mamak

In my last post, I got some very interesting feedback on how its impossible to eat healthily outside and why the ratio 90/10 philosophy won’t work. I believe the term “crappy cafeteria food” was one of the comments I received for the previous posting. In addition to that, I have received many comments from people who say “when you eat out, it’s impossible to stay fit” or “only way to eat healthily and stay fit is to eat food that tastes like cardboard”. I also hear other comments like “healthy food is too expensive” and “I have no time to make food and take from home”.

Well I hear you guys loud and clear and I understand that it is indeed difficult stay fit and healthy when we have to eat out most of the times. But the fact is, you can eat healthily virtually anywhere and I take this as a personal challenge to show you how to eat healthily anywhere. So if you think of a place that is impossible to eat healthily, please let me know and I will show you how to eat healthily there. So please send in your requests and I will publish them here.

Before I start, just a quick disclaimer so I don’t get slammed for sucking the fun out of everything tasty in life. If you only eat in this place once in awhile, then I say go ahead and enjoy. But if your visit this place regularly, then you might want to follow these tips carefully to ensure your gym workouts don’t go to complete waste.

So to kick of these series of “how to eat healthily anywhere”, my first choice is every Malaysian’s favourite joint – The Mamak.

I know most of you probably visit a Mamak at least 3 to 4 times a week, and if you do, follow these tips and you will be eating healthier than most other people. So here’s how to eat healthily at the mamak.

Healthy Foods
Tandoori Chicken – Lean Protein which is baked so the fat drips off in clay oven.
Chapati – Each chapati is roughly 150 calories depending on size. The good thing is, its made out of whole wheat flour which is absorbed slower into your blood compared to polished white flour.
Thosai – Each Thosai has about 100 to 120 calories. It’s light and filling. Some Mamak’s have Thosai Telur – add in an egg to the thosai to increase it’s protein content. I normally get full on 2 rava thosai’s
Telur Separuh Masak – If you lift heavy and need extra amounts of protein, this is good meal to add to your normal meal. 2 eggs are pretty filling and each egg only has about 70 to 80 calories. Not to mention, swallowing 2 of these will make you half full, hence you only need a smaller portion of other foods to fill you up.
Nasi Campur – If you have to take mixed rice, make sure you load up more vege on your plate. Instead of fried chicken or fish, try curried chicken or Fish. It’s slightly healthier than the fried kind. I would recommend to try the items above more often than rice. But when you eat rice, be careful with what goes on your plate. Remember, more vege & Tauhu, less rice, less starchy dishes like potatoes etc.

Foods that you must Avoid
Roti Canai
– This goes without saying. It is nothing but solidified oil
Goreng Goreng – Where possible, please avoid your Maggi Goreng, Nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng and all the other goreng goreng stuff. It’s just bad stuff
Nasi Lemak – The names says it all (Fat Rice)

Cutting out sweet drinks from your meals will automatically shave off 200 to 300 calaories. Quite a big saving. Besides “Ais Kosong”, you can go for Diet Cola’s as an alternative. But I make it a point to drink plain ice water whenever I can. It costs less and is better on my waist line too. If you must have a sweeter drink, avoid those with milk like Milo, Bandung etc…. milk increases the calories in drinks significantly.

Pop quiz: If you had to choose between Sirap Bandung and Limau Ais, which one would you choose?

So, as you can see, even if you visit the Mamak 3 to 4 times a day, you can eat a different healthy meal everyday. So you don’t have get bored of eating the same thing. So go ahead, make some small changes and you will be surprised with the results. As I mentioned, if you do have a place which you feel is impossible to eat healthily, let me know and you will be surprised at how you can turn it around with a few simple changes in the choices you make.

Look forward to hearing your comments on this as well as your suggestion for “crappy cafeteria food”.