Monday, May 31, 2010

Trip to Krabi

I just came back from Krabi, Thailand about a week ago and this is definitely one holiday destination i intend to visit again in the near future. Krabi is pretty similar to Phuket except for one major difference... its not as commercialized as Phuket. The benefit of that is, people are nicer and you don't have to pay money to breathe air... ok i am exagerating, but when i went to phuket some years back, everything was about money.

We stayed in Aonang Villa Resort which is really all the shops & Restaurants. Just walk out of the hotel's compound and you are greeted with loads of stalls selling everything from souvenirs to clothes to food. There was even a 7-11 just outside our hotel, which was great just in case we needed to catch a mid-night snack.... hey its a holiday. all diet plans go out the window.

During our stay we visited Phi Phi island... where a boat takes you out for deep water snorkeling in about 2 different locations, 2 beaches (one of which was Maya beach, where the famed "The Beach" movie with Leornardo DeCaprio was shot) and lunch. Its a whole day event and the boat ride took about 40 minutes just to get to those places. Whole day of water activity and swimming sure burns you out... by the time we reached the last beach i felt totally drained and couldn't wait to get back to the much for me being a beach bum... must be losing it. Below is a picture of some islands we passed during our 40 minute boat ride.

The place where we had lunch was this island called Phi Phi Don (i hope i got the name right) and just walking down the streets, it felt like you are in Hawaii or something. the music, the shops, the restaurants, the people... for a second, i forgot i was in Thailand. We decided that next time, we have to stay on that island, though i heard the rooms there are pretty pricey.

The following day we hired a taxi and went to this place called the Emerald Pool. Now when i first heard it, i was wondering what a weird name for a pool... when i got there, i realized why its called that. The water is literally green. Check out picture of wifey in the pool.

Why is the pool green? My guess is there some kind of algae growing at the bottom of the pool (you can feel it when your feet touches the bottom of the pond) which is really green and the water is crisp clear, hence you get a green pool. As we were heading out, we saw a sign that said Blue Pool... so we thought what the heck... lets check it out. So we hiked for about 1 km through the forest...

and voila, we came across the blue pool... the water is really blue. not your usual sea blue, but bright blue. Check out the picture. Creepy eh? No one is allowed to swim in it, and believe me, looking at it, for some some eerie reason, i didn't want to swim in it either.

On the way back i had a nasty slip and fell into the stream... and the damn camera which was with me and went for a plunge too. I quickly jumped out, but the camera was soaked. Luckily i had the sense not to turn it on, took it back to the hotel, opened it up, removed the batteries and let it dry over night... the next morning when i turned it on... it worked... just like it never got wet. So here is a tip... if you drop anything electronic into water... don't turn it on till its fully dry... if its on when it drops in (like your phone), then it may be sayunara...but otherwise, this tip will help you save your beloved electronic device.

Anyway after the emerald pool, we went to the hot water springs... where the water was about 45 to 50 degrees celcius... it felt hot enough to cook a packet of maggi. Boiled "nuts" anyone. hehehehehee. Anyway, no pics since at that point my camera was still wet, and i didn't dare to on it. We spent some time there and then we headed back.

The next day we were leaving, so we just lazed around in the hotel room till it was time to check out and head home. All in all, it was a great trip and like i said... definitely worth a visit again for sure. Anyone else visited Krabi before and care to share their tale? As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Poll Results - What is the biggest obstacle you face when it comes to working out

OK, its time once again to review our poll results and this time the question asked was “What is the biggest obstacle you face when it comes to working out”. There were a myriad of options to choose from, and I hope I managed to cover the most common answers people were looking for. I really couldn’t think of any others when I did this, so I hope the answer you were looking for was available.
So lets do a quick review of each answer.

1) No time, too busy
Now I honestly thought this answer would win hands down but I was wrong. After all, I keep hearing this all the time how people never have time for anything in their lives. Well only 20% of the respondents felt that way. To me, time management comes down to prioritizing whats important to you. If something is important to you, believe me, you will find time to do it. Taking a shower is important, so no matter how late you finish work or how busy you are, I am sure you would still take a shower before heading to bed right? Well the same thing goes for working out as well. If you place enough importance on it, then you will find a way to do it.

2) No money for gym membership
About 14% of respondents chose this. I understand that gym memberships can be expensive, but there are always options like Gym Rakyat which is a government sponsored gym. I am not sure how much they charge now, but when I first started working out, I paid RM 2 per entry. If you just want to stay healthy, you can always do running outside or just do calisthenic exercises – which are exercises that use your body weight as resistance. Eg. Push ups, Chin ups, dips etc.

3) I don’t have a clue on where to start
OK, not many people chose this. Only 5 %. The thing is, we live in the information age and its so easy to get information. Just search the web and voila, you should be able to easily get a full workout for yourself. Try it, and if you don’t like it, look for something else. You can also make friends with other fitness buffs and share tips and ideas with each other. There are just so many ways to get information easily these days, so if you felt this was a real obstacle, here is how you can overcome it.

4) None of my friends are into fitness
1 person chose this and I know this can sometimes be the biggest obstacle. Here is what you can do. Be the motivator and motivate your friends to become fitness buffs as well. Don’t wait for others to change before you approach them or worse still, wait for people to approach you. In fact, its always more fun doing stuff when you have friends who are doing it with you. Alternatively, again, you can look for some new friends who are into fitness and then work out with them. So, don’t let this be an obstacle for you.

5) I can’t be that consistent all the time
And the number 1 winner with over 55% of people choosing it is - being consistent. Unfortunately, being consistent is also one of the most important factors to have when workign out, so it does count a lot. When you are not consistent, you won’t see your desired results. When you don’t see your desired results, you get fed up of working out and you will drag your feet every time you have to workout, which probably is also another reason why it becomes more and more inconsistent. Like I mentioned earlier, if you place enough importance on it, then you will find away to be consistent. Do you go in to work everyday consistently? Because its important to you, you make it a point to be consistent… so again, why not do the same for your workouts? Its just a matter of how much importance you choose to place on it.

I’m too old & I hate dealing with post workout pain received no votes at all. So I will not get into that as its obviously not a concern for most people. What was your vote and your reason for choosing it. I hope I gave you some suggestions on how to overcome it and hopefully, this won’t be an obstacle anymore for you. Me? Actually this time I stayed away from the votes as none of the answers seemed to suit me properly, so I thought I better stay out and see what happens. As usual, look forward to hearing your conmments on this.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jogging 101

Hi guys, firstly, let me apologize for not having a post last week. I was caught up with some things last week and didn’t get a chance to sit down and write anything. But I am back, and I intend to stick with to our weekly posts routine.

OK, now that the apologies are out of the way, let’s get down to business. This week I want to talk about jogging and a few discoveries that I made. For the record, I really hate running, jogging and other endurance related activities, which is probably the reason why I was never into sports when I was in school. Since I hate it so much, I have not done much to become better at these activities. I just do the bare minimum to achieve my goals and that’s about it. The rest of my time is spent on strength training.

However, off late, I have been trying hard to reduce my body fat %, so I changed my workout routine around and also started doing a lot more cardio than my usual. I do the treadmill during my normal gym days, but once a week, I head out to the park in Bukit Jalil with wifey and we both spend a good 40 minutes on cardio. We usually do the stairs for about 20 minutes and then do some jogging.

But when I first started, I could barely jog for 3 minutes before I ran out of breath and had to stop. It was pathetic and embarassing. So I would jog for 3 minutes, run out of breath and then walk for 3 to 5 minutes and then jog again. I would repeat this routine of jogging and walking until my full 20 or 30 minutes was up. After doing this for awhile, I realized I was not getting any better at all. I mean 4 weeks and I still can’t jog for more than 3 minutes.

So then I asked myself if maybe my technique of jogging was wrong. Of course when I first started jogging, I never thought about technique. After all its just jogging right– one foot in front of the other and repeat. How hard could that be? Then I noticed what all the other joggers in the park were doing and then I realized that there is a technique to jogging. So I adopted it and now I can jog non stop for about 30 minutes and the improvement was almost immediate. From 3 minutes to 30 minutes – big difference right?

So what is this technique? Well here it is.

Keep your feet light
Originally when I jogged, you could hear me a mile away. My feet were heavy and I would slam it into the ground really hard. Then I realized, other people jogging, and you could barely hear their footsteps. So think light and only lift your leg up slightly and put it down slowly. You don’t have to thump your feet into the pavement with every step. Think light all the way and your feet will follow as well.

Take small steps
The other mistake I made was, taking huge strides. When you take huge strides, your legs tend to move faster which makes you go faster and faster until its in between a slow jog and a sprint. No wonder I couldn’t jog for more than 3 minutes… its almost like I was running and not jogging. So make your steps small and that will automatically slow down your speed as well. If you keep your steps small, you will almost automatically keep your feet light as well. So it’s a 2 in 1 deal.

Breathing properly is extremely important during your jog. As I was constantly running out of breath all the time, I asked for advice from many people who jog regularly and they all had different answers to give me. Some say take 2 breaths in, and 1 breath out. Others say breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. Tried it all, but for me personally, the one that works the best is slow and heavy breaths. So I would take a slow but deep breath and then exhale slowly as well. Problem is, this breathing technique causes you to feel the stitch in your abdomen area. I don’t feel it while running, but if I stop jogging for awhile and then start jogging again, the stitch comes on almost immediately. So I am still trying to figure that part out.

So yeah, here are some tips I picked up to take you from a pathetic 3 minutes of jogging to a fantastic 30 minutes. Pretty impressive right? Honestly, I am more than happy with my 30 minute record although to my friends in endurance racing, 30 minutes jogging is peanuts. But yeah, I hope these tips helps everyone especially beginners or others who are just as pathetic as I “used” to be. Also, please note that running 30 minutes on the treadmill doesn’t mean you can do 30 minutes on the road as easily as well. It’s a world of difference – trust me. Anyway, as usual, look forward to hearing your comments on this.