Saturday, December 31, 2011

Badass

reposted from thewayofit.com 

"There's actually very little secret to success: just put in the work." 
Junyong Pak, Winner of World's Toughest Mudder 2011


Awareness

Recently I started keeping tabs on how much I spend, how much food I eat, and how much I workout. The most important part of this log is that it helps me to be aware. Developing awareness is the foundation for fitness, and it is the first step to behavioral change.

Many times, we become aware when it's too late. To be aware, you need to be intentional. You cannot be lazy and have to take the time to form this habit. Over time, your decisions will be influenced by this awareness:

"Do I have the disposable income to spend on coffee / eating out / new toy?"
"Can I still feel great if I eat this?"
"Given my other priorities, do I have time to watch another movie?"

Be aware. Be fully present. Be engaged.

FOD 2011.12.31

Late post from New Year's Eve. The FOD posts won't be as regular as I hoped. I need to find an easier way to transcribe everything. It gets a bit depressing having to log everything, since I eat quite often. But maybe that's the point - awareness. And increased awareness influences behavior. While my ultimate decisions may not always be optimal, my decisions are becoming more informed and less naive. Progress :)


10:45
- 2 Crackers (pre-workout :P)

12:45
- Vega Protein Shake + Recovery Accelerator (post-workout)
- 1500mg Omega 3 (NutraSea)
- Multivitamin

13:45
- 1 Chicken thigh
- 3 eggs (2 egg yolk) + salsa
- 1 cup of French Vanilla yogurt :)
(this was definitely too much ... I could have done without either the chicken or the eggs)

17:00
- Pickles (2)
- Banana
(random snack)

17:45
- Coffee (Tall Pike)

19:45
- Family dinner (lettuce wrap + meat :D)
(feel quite full - tendency to overeat with tasty foods, especially if they contain sodium)

WOD 2011.12.31

11:00 @ CrossFit Markham

30 mins of Dodgeball :)

- Then -

20:12 min AMRAP
- 20 KB Cleans (L) (55#)
- 12 KB Swings (55#)
- 20 KB Cleans (R) (55#)
- 12 Push-ups
- 20 Toes to Bar
- 12 Burpees
(Completed 2 Rounds + 12 KB Swings)

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

WOD 2011.12.28

Notes:
1. late post - Wednesday's WOD, workout of the day
2. new design inspired by: crazy people


09:00
Front squats
- 185 lbs x 5
- 185 lbs x 5
- 185 lbs x 5
For Time:
- 100 Power Cleans (95 lbs - could not do RX weight - 135 lbs)
- 4 burpees EMOM (every minute on the minute)
(took ~20 mins. left wrist still injured)


12:00
Snowboarding @ Dagmar :)
(lesson: waterproof gloves / gear is key - especially with temperatures around -15 C)


18:00
Run (4 x 1 mile)
- Each mile was around 8-9 minutes, on snow-covered sidewalks / roads
- Distance is approximate
- Started the run every 10 minutes

Heart's Desire: The Courage to Lead

FOD 2011.12.30

11:00
- 2 eggs
- rice noodles + fish balls + sodium infused soup base :P

13:00
- dad's famous noodles :)

14:30
- Coffee (Starbucks, Tall Pike - black ... as always)

20:00
- 1 chicken thigh
- napa
- multivitamin (Progressive)
- 1500mg Omega 3 (NutraSea)

23:45 @ Timmy's
- 1/2 bagel (Cinnamon French Toast) with butter
- medium coffee (black)

*FOD: Food of the Day

Friday, December 16, 2011

RandomThoughts12.16.2011

The snatch requires incredible intensity and focus. While running helps calm me over the course of an hour or so, the snatch clears my mind in an instant! Too bad my wrist is currently out of commission :(

My morning commute took about 1/2 hour, much less than my typical 1-1.5 hour commute. Toronto's congestion is unbelievable! Waking up early though is awesome :)

Finding time for reading the Bible has been tough. A friend suggested doing it during lunch break (I usually take my lunch and eat at my desk). A stroke of genius!

While I still have a wrist injury (I think I overdid it earlier this week on my snatches), I still had a pretty good workout today at CrossFit Markham. My workout looked something like this:
2 Rounds
27 Box Jumps (24")
27 Front Squats (35#) - instead of the wall ball shots
- Then -
10 min rest <-- My favorite part of the workout :)
- Then -
10 min AMRAP
3 Deadlifts at 80% 1 RM = 225 lbs (okay, I'm weak, I get it...)
7 Ring Pull-Ups - instead of ring dips
(Apparently, my dad - a physio - told me not to do any movements that would aggravate my wrist, especially any pushing ... pulling was okay. Foolishly, I did handstand push-ups, "heavy" cleans, and more snatches. The next day, I wished I took the advice.)
- Part way through the AMRAP (i.e. after the first round) -
Quit / bail (Pain from deadlifts! Should have listened to my dad)
Continued with 5-7 Kipping Ring Pull-Ups every minute on the minute for about 10 mins
- Then -
2x10 GHD Sit-ups
2x10 Reverse Hype
- Then -
2k row (attempt) <-- bailed around 700m
500m of just rowing
While this looks like a lot of text, it really is just a lot of bailing :P Nevertheless, it's here for the record. Over time, I hope to quit less. To have greater staying power and to persevere, nevertheless.

Warrior Poets



"In the year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland, starving and outnumbered, charged the fields of Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets. They fought like Scotsmen and won their freedom. Forever."
- William Wallace (Braveheart)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Waffles and Spaghetti


I heard Bill and Pam Farrel talk this morning on Focus on the Family about the differences between men and women. The introduction began with something along the lines of:
Bill: Some women can't believe men think about nothing. They would ask, "Hunny, what are you thinking about?" "Nothing." "You have to be thinking about something." And then we would be forced to lie! All the men here know that it is possible to be thinking about absolutely ... nothing! [chuckles]
Their analogy was that men are like waffles and women are like spaghetti. First, I will make the disclaimer that they did. This is an oversimplification, and much of how we think and interact depend not only on our "hardwiring", but also on our upbringing, personality, and maturity.

Now back to waffles and spaghetti.

Men are like waffles. Our lives are broken up into all these tiny boxes. We have a "work" box, "watching TV" box, "working out" box, "relationship / listening" box, and so on.

Women are like spaghetti. All of their seemingly unrelated thought are connected somehow. Like the spaghetti, multiple dimensions of their lives are emotionally connected.

Here's a link to Part 1 of the broadcast (click here).

I found this analogy helpful in learning how to relate to my future wife and women in general. The most helpful thing for me was learning that I shouldn't be in a "work" (or "workout") box, when a woman needs me to be in a "relationship / listening" box - when I should just listen, and not try to solve a situation.

Generalizing, in pursuit of relational fitness (a subset of emotional fitness), we need to understand each other's unique personalities and how we communicate. Our "natural" instincts and responses are not always the wisest.

What are your thoughts on men and women?

How do you relate to others (men or women) with different ways of thinking?

How does this apply in your current context? (home, work, friends, relationships)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rediscovering smiles: Finding joy inexpressible


A lot has happened recently. Relational stress, demands from work, and uncertainty were among the "excitement" in life that dulled my smile.

Situations that bring difficulty. Trials. The "storms of life". We can face them and let God use them to help us become more like Him. Or we can run away. I ran away.

It's important to know when you should fight and when you should run. Whether a situation is challenging, or toxic. You usually realize after the fact whether your decision to fight / run was the right one.

For me, my situation was toxic and I had to run. Looking back, I can't help but smile :) While it was a hard decision at the time, I've been more at peace. I've been able to focus more on work, invest in my family, serve at church, and connect more freely with others. Most importantly, I've been smiling more freely.

I find the smile that flows from an inner peace comes from a man or woman living according to their conviction. Living honestly is sometimes painful, but it's good. I know life won't be always full of smiles, nor do I think we must always smile and be happy. Rather, I pursue an inexpressible joy that even expresses itself through tears (Wait ... then it wouldn't be inexpressible, would it?! Whatever, you get the point!)


"and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" 1 Peter 1:8

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mending a broken heart


My Vibrams had a small little cut, which grew larger over time. Today, I decided to sew it up (even in the low-res image, you can see where the cut is because of my amateur sewing skills). I don't usually sew - at most once a year. And I realized how tough sewing can be.

Sewing requires patience. And even after patching it up, it is still a patch job - it is not the original.

The human heart is similar. We can try fixing what was once broken. But even then, there will be scars, remnants of the pain.

To heal a broken heart, you may need something more than just patch jobs. You need a new heart. Well, I suppose it is your mind and not your heart that feels all this. So more correctly, you need to "renew your mind" (Romans 12:2).

I have found my human efforts only take me so far. True renewal. True change. Treating the root causes, and not just the symptoms. Perhaps these require something supernatural. A divine intervention, if you will.

Fitness is the ability to do what you want to do (or what you were made to do). Perhaps the pursuit of fitness begins with the pursuit of God, or something deeper than going to the gym, hitting the books, or listening to motivational speakers.

Indeed, what we do flows from who we are.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Poor nutrition

:(
  • Drank coffee today ... 2 cups in the morning, 1 cup in the afternoon, and a short double long Americano in the evening
  • Need to stop stress-eating at work (I'm talking to you, Chocolate Chip Muffin!)
  • Gave in to Popeye's Friday special: Popcorn Shrimp, only to realize that it is mostly batter. Palette experienced instant gratification, body paying the interest on the "cash advance"
  • Injured wrist / forearm - probably from lifting without warming up
:)
  • Oh well, I'll just use the weekend to get off coffee. I need to get continue waking up early and find a way to get some exercise in the morning - perhaps a light run in the crisp air.
  • Had Vega for breakfast and as an afternoon snack :) I can feel the difference quality nutrition makes
  • Went to CrossFit today and had so much fun, even though I came in feeling drained
  • My smile is returning =)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Serenity

On my way home from work, I usually listen to the radio. For the first 1/2 hour back home, I left it off, listening to the traffic, city life, and my own thoughts. I feel drawn to the silence. No noise. No phone calls. No nothing. Just me. My thoughts. And God.

The whole day wasn't like this though. Serenity was the last thing that came to mind. Stress continued to escalate throughout the day, along with the coffee consumption (btw, I'm going to stop drinking coffee). I felt the stress and the caffeine during my workout after work. While I did get a decent workout, it was short and a bit slower than usual. Nevertheless, it was fun :)

I'm in McDonald's right now, eating a Filet O Fish Meal - yea that's right! Vegan all day until now :) And no regrets :) In the midst of everything going on, I have found a bit of calm, peace, and joy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Work-Life Balance


I recently started a new job. My morning commute ranges from 1-1.5 hours (30-40 mins if I leave super early in the morning). With the long commute (and the associated stress from traffic) and the daily demands from work, I find it hard to stay sane. Especially the past few weeks, I found myself more irritable, losing my patience, frustrated, ...., and ultimately, just plain selfish.

This stress has affected every area of my life, including family, relationships, and my spiritual life. I thought I would be immune to it all and could smile my way through life. Turns out that the pursuit of happiness is not immune to life's harsh realities.

I cannot change my current work situation, but I am starting to discover (and rediscover) how I can change my mind (renewing my mind, Romans 12:1-2). Physical health plays a key role in my mental and emotional well-being. To illustrate, here's a reflection from today.
I was tired and stressed from work and relationships. I've been coming home the past few days, caring for no one else other than myself. I was selfish and grumpy. Today was no exception. Before heading to my company's Christmas party that evening, I decided to head to the gym. I didn't have much time so I figured I would do Fran. While I had a slow time (12:21), I was working so hard during the workout that I didn't have the mental space to think about my work or relational stress. I took a refreshing shower and sat meditatively in the steam room. My thoughts were clearing and the storms in my heart were passing. I arrived at the party excited and full of energy. Even though I knew working out would help, I didn't really know. 4-Dimensional Fitness is much more important than I had imagined. I have been spending so much time on one area of fitness and neglected the other dimensions of my life. Each area of my life is just as important. Body. Mind. Heart. Spirit. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Keller on Marriage

The Christian view of marriage, presented by Tim Keller @ Google. My favorite quote: "The purpose of marriage is deep character change through deep friendship." I still have much to learn.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lessons on Taking Hold - A Tight Grip


It was just this past year (2010-2011) that I served CCF. During that year, we looked at what taking hold of the cross really means.

As I reflect on these lessons, I am reminded that there are things I need to hold loosely, and things I need to hold tightly. Often I hold too tightly the things I need to hold loosely, and hold too loosely the thing I need to hold tightly.

I heard something on the radio this morning that struck me. The late Corrie Ten Boom told Chuck Swindoll,
"Chuck, I've learned that we must hold everything loosely, because when I grip it tightly, it hurts when the Father pries my fingers loose and takes it from me!"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Calling 911 - Dealing with Fear


A Quick Tangent

First, to follow-up from my previous post, Moving On, here's a picture of what looks like a cup of coffee. This is actually a cup of 24 herb tea that my mom got me from Market Village in Markham. It's supposed to be a tea of awesome :) ... helping with immunity, health and stuff. In fact, I'm going to pour myself another cup!

This was after my morning Starbucks. Yes, I know. I'm supposed to be getting off from coffee by moving away from said drink and moving towards to bigger and better things. I'm working on it :) I had a Tall Bold today, instead of a Tall Pike (Mild). The websites show similar caffeine content, but I'm led to believe that the Bold has less caffeine - so I don't feel so bad!

Calling 911

Okay, back to the main topic - calling 911! This topic was inspired by a radio show en route to work (Pastor Jack Graham, PowerPoint Ministries).

In the program, Pastor Graham talked about how to deal with fear. And to do that, he references the 911 passage (i.e. Psalm 91:1).

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
The subsequent verses talk about how we do not need to fear because God is our protector. The Christian response to fear is to run into the presence of God.

I find this interesting because I have fears too! And seldom do I run to seek comfort from God. Often, I end up running away ("No fear!"), running to get help ("Mommy!"), or running towards my fears ("GeronimoooO!"). Either way, I always end up running. It never really occurred to me that I could run to God - that I would find refuge in His presence.

As our awe for God grows, our fears diminish. Now that is truly awesome!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moving on

How do you move on? How do you move away from something or someone? This could be a relationship, a bad habit, destructive behaviour, or temptations.

Case Study: Quitting Coffee


As a case study, I'll look at how to move on from the temptation of coffee, even though I practically survived on that drink today!

To move on from coffee, I need to avoid it - or gradually reduce my intake levels. But moving away is not enough to move on. To move on, you also need to move towards something greater. You need to be driven by a vision greater than yourself.

By quitting coffee, what is the point? What kind of lifestyle am I pursuing? Where will I get my source of energy? What will fill the void that coffee once filled?

Battling Anxiety

When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Psalm 94:19

Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33


Life gets stressful. Stress can sometimes energize you. A healthy amount of it inspires creativity and productivity. However, stress can also be unhealthy, especially stress that is rooted in anxiety.

I find that when I am anxious, I become less fit. I am less capable of ...
... loving 
... working at my job
... running
... etc
to my fullest potential.

The Bible tells us that God is our ultimate comfort, no matter what anxious thoughts we have (Psalm 94:19). I heard someone say that Psalm 37:4 is the "Matthew 6:33" of the Old Testament. 

We are sometimes anxious / stressed because we do not get what we desire. The Bible encourages us to turn to God for our deepest longings. What do you desire right now?
... A relationship? Intimacy?
... High marks?
... Social acceptance?
... A new PR? (PR: Personal Record - fitness goal)
... More money?

You do not automatically get these desires fulfilled by seeking God first. However, what you do get is a rewiring of your own desires.... desires that align with his awesome plans for you ... desires with a promise of being fulfilled.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Desperation

Too often I think of how I can save myself. I stress, worry, and try to fix things on my own - often making things worse. In the storm, sometimes the best prayer is the simplest.

"Lord, save me" --Peter (Matthew 14:30)


Two kinds of love

At the Sunday service this morning, Jason talked about a "functional faith" (mp3 link). Yes, we have certainty of our salvation because we are with Him .. but who cares? What does this mean for our lives?

In his message, Jason made reference to Hosea 6 and talked about two kinds of love. The question for us was whether our love was a verse 4 or a verse 6 kind of love.

Verse 4
What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
Verse 6
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God and not burnt offerings.
I think about my fleeting "love". My weak commitments. How my love is too often like the morning dew ... gone in a few hours. In my heart of hearts, I desire a love that is steadfast. I want to be fit to love, truly.

Fit to Play

Last night I had the opportunity to play with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra in Markham Theatre. I had a lot of fun playing some exciting repertoire. Another part of me comes alive when I play music :)


Playing music is fun. There is something invigorating about creating something - even if it's "just" music. The camaraderie is incredible. Music has this strange power to unite a variety of individuals. Passion seems to be a common universal.

Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy it. I definitely enjoyed playing again. I am definitely out of shape but hope to get back into shape again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

100 Burpees for Time


A fun benchmark challenge - Goal: Sub 8:00
(I'll get you later 100 burpees!)

Note: While I did get sub 8 mins, I can still make significant improvements to this. I also did 20+ warm-up chest-to-ground burpees :)

Standard: The challenge was 100 hit-the-deck burpees in sub 8 mins. While I believe this is to standard, I'm awaiting approval :) If it's no good, I'll just give it another try! (Update: Approved :D)

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

"Choose this day whom you will serve."
Joshua 24:15

Our daily choices matter. Our choices today shape our future. Joshua, from the Bible, had incredible vision and held unswervingly to His faith in God. He is the man of conviction I desire to be. I aspire to have the same courage to press on in a long obedience in the same direction.

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
1 Corinthians 1:18

A man of courage. Daring to embrace the word of the cross and being saved by the power of God. Despite this being folly to onlookers.

I care a lot about what people think about me. And to a certain degree, this is not a bad thing. But too often, I dilute the power of God so that the word of the cross is acceptable, and no longer "foolish" in appearance.

Legacy

I think about the legacy I would leave and the legacy that I would like to leave. I know with certainty that I do not want to be weak in conviction. I want to know what it means to fight and love like Jesus Christ

Business trip fitness

I am in North Bay this week for work. One of the most challenging aspects of staying fit is eating well. I have been working on this by bringing my own food. There is still areas for improvement though :)

The other aspect is physical conditioning. The gym isn't really much. What follows is a general log of my daily activity to-date:

Tuesday (Nov 1)
No workout, but standing for the entire shift has got to count for something!

Wednesday (Nov 2)
100 Burpees (chest to ground) - 7:57 (pretty much the same as last time, except I have a video this time!)
~50 yard shuttle runs in safety boots throughout my shift :)

...to be continued

Looking ahead:

I am in beautiful North Bay and hope to go for a run :)

How do you stay fit when you're busy, on-the-run, or away on trips?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The "fit" employee: Attitude

What does it mean to be a fit employee?

Quite simply, it is to have the mental and physical faculties to be able to do your job well. While the definition may not be precise, the point is that I am still discovering what it means to be truly fit. Since I spend most of the day at work, my work is an area I cannot ignore in my pursuit of 4-D Fitness.

One of the more difficult things to do is to have the proper attitude over the long haul. This does not mean always smiling - something I like doing :) But rather, having the right motivation and heart at work. I find that attitude fuels fitness at work. The wrong kind of attitude is like eating deep fried goodness (e.g. bad fuel) to prepare for a marathon.

Paul wrote something to the Ephesians a while back that really hit home for me:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
-- Ephesians 6:5-8

Attitude is important. And I always knew that. I never thought about treating my employers with reverence, as if God was my employer.

Striking a chord



I enjoy music. Growing up classically trained, I have developed an appreciation for classical music. One of my favorites is Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony, especially the 4th movement. It's one of those songs that strikes a chord with me.

When your life is being sucked dry ...

... drink up!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dialing in my nutrition

Nutrition is a funny thing. I can stare it right in the face and know what to do. But when "un-nutrition" appears, its allure is virtually irresistible! For example, today I had "all-you-can-eat" sushi. The end.

More seriously, I am dialing in my nutrition. I still have a lot of work to do, including cooking my meals more  frequently and eating more wholesome foods. However, I made a previous post of some supplements I picked up. I'm not sure what is helping (probably the vitamins and the greens), but I am feeling better. I feel I have more natural energy and less dependence on coffee!

To follow-up on the most recent post, I did not end up doing my long run this morning. My body told me to rest and recover for the long week ahead. While the sleep helped, I need to be careful of resting too much. I need wisdom to discern which fights to fight, and courage to fight.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Base Fitness

It's been a while since I worked out. My physical fitness definitely needs work. And I learned the hard way that I need to dial in my nutrition (not fun when you have to go for a GD when you're out for a run in the country).

100 Burpees for Time 


A friend of mine has this competition / fitness program called Game Changers. To qualify, I need to submit a video of 100 chest-to-ground burpees in under 8 mins. Curious to see where I was at, I did the 100 when I came back from Parry Sound. I was pleased to finish it in 7:50.

There were many times I wanted to quit. My lungs were burning. I was sick. Tired and exhausted from work. I almost quit several times. But hey, I'm a fighter!

As a fighter (okay, I'm not a "fighter" fighter ... it's more metaphorical), I continue to learn that how you fight is just as important as which fights you choose. Sometimes you need to back down. Other times, you need to never back down, fighting with a fierce tenacity.

CrossFit


It's been almost 2 months since my last CrossFit WOD. I went to CrossFit today with Carol and got totally destroyed. I definitely enjoyed the workout, yet I continue to realize I weak I am.

Running


As you can probably surmise from my previous post, if I want to run / pace any more marathons, I need to start training! And first thing for me to do is to be consistent with my long runs. Okay, for those who subscribe to the heavy lifting / speed work, I agree too! But right now, my base fitness needs work.

I need long runs for endurance. Speed work and hill training will be gradually added. But first, I need a regimen. I'll start with trying to join the Running Room people tomorrow morning before church.

Fireproof


Around a year ago, I tried watching this movie. I almost died of boredom (it's about "fireproofing" marriage .. how cheesy is that!). I tried watching it again today and was about to die from boredom again. But I resolved to stick it out. As the minutes passed, I became more intrigued and eventually finished the whole movie! I may blog about this later, but for now, all I can say is "Wow..." (in a good way)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Morning Commute

A tricky photo to take this morning :)

Left to Right: Boston Cream, Large Coffee - Black
Ahead: Traffic :)

Excited for the start of a new week! Smiling from the inside out :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Trip to Pop Eye's

(Left to Right: Omega 3, Accelerade Sports Drink, Multivitamin, and Green supplement)

After church, I was looking for a supplements store in hopes of replenishing my supply of Vega - especially the Whole Food Health Optimizer. Healthy Planet was closed at the time so I decided to drop into Pop Eye's.

Pop Eye's


When I first entered, I was quite unimpressed. Protein this, protein that. Super stack, explode your muscles, and be "awesome"! For those who do not yet know me, I want to keep my supplements as natural as possible, and as minimal as possible - getting most of my foods from whole foods.

I ended up walking out with 4 supplements. I'll give a brief description as to why I picked them up. I'd be interested in hearing your opinion too.
Omega 3's
Apparently they're essential for your body, maintaining good health and support cardiovascular health, and brain function, and blah blah blah. Anyways, I also heard they're good for recovery and joint health, so I'm hoping this will help me with my endurance training. 
Accelerade
Endorsed by Dean Karnazes himself (not sure if he still endorses it), this drink has a bit of protein to help with recovery. The price was reasonable and I just took it for a test jog and felt pretty good. 
Multivitamins 
If I could get it all from food, I would. But I have been feeling more tired lately and have been borrowing "energy credit" from coffee. I'm hoping this and the Green Supplement (below) will help me break from my dependence on coffee. 
Green stuff
In addition to helping me get natural energy, it has fiber to help with .... flow :) And helps keep my body alkaline -- which apparently is a good thing.
Excited!


So I am ready for a new day! Looking forward to redeem my energy :) I'm not set on quitting coffee just yet. At present, I would just like to hold coffee and smile (recently, I have been holding coffee, drinking it in desperation just to get through the day).

And of course, nothing beats the real deal :) Lunch below courtesy of my awesome mom :) And ... I believe this is paleo =)


Kudos to my friends at CrossFit Markham doing the Paleo Challenge!

Unashamed

(Australian artists jayesslee singing Unashamed by Starfield)

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9

Today I went to Harvest Bible Chapel. The pastor preached from 1 John 1:5-10. Verse 9 really stood out to me. 

I had difficulty holding back tears, overwhelmed by God's amazing grace. My smile today shone with new liberation :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 21, 2011 ...

... was yesterday. Today is October 22!

Yesterday ...
... completed the 100 chest-to-ground under-the-desk push-ups
Today ...
... sore :)

Yesterday ...
... went with Carol to a cooking show (free dinner) and managed to slip away without forking out $$$
Today ...
... cooked my own food :)

Yesterday ...
... listened to Blessed by Your Name
Today ...
... blessing His Name as I delightfully drink a warm cup of smile-inducing coffee

Yesterday ...
... "was a wrinkle on your forehead"
Today ...
... how will you live your life?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Staying fit at work

It is almost lunchtime and I am starting to get hungry. The cafeteria is cooking some awesome food and I have an amazing lunch packed.

I have also been eating more and working out less. In an effort to maintain an active lifestyle, I came up with a "brilliant" idea.

100 chest-to-ground under-the-desk push-ups before I eat anything.

40 down. 60 more to go. I definitely got weaker.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think there's something under my desk ;)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Motivational movie for my next endurance event :)

Mark of a Man - Integrity

Standing in the breach


"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none."
Ezekiel 22:30

Will you stand in the breach?
 

Untitled


Blurry lights. Hues of the morning sunrise. What do you see?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Keeping pace

(Photos courtesy of Carol's dad) 

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a pacer for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I was the 4:40 marathon run/walk pacer (10 min run, 1 min walk). My job was to keep a steady pace throughout the entire race so that runners who want to finish in 4:40 can follow me.

An hour into the run, I could feel the bottom of my feet aching. (Uh oh ... this feeling is 2 hours early!) But I had to keep going. I couldn't stop. People were depending on me. The weight of responsibility drew out strength I never knew I had.

And that's when I saw the crowd from Team in Training. I trained for my first marathon (Rome) with them and was ecstatic to see their smiles and cheers. Most memorable was Hart's "Josh! Josh! Josh!..." I sported my purple Team in Training shirt under my pacer shirt :)

About an hour and a half later, my legs were really starting to cramp and the pain in my feet got worse with each step. (I should have trained ... or at least worked out. It was a mistake to take the marathon lightly)

And just when I was losing consciousness, I found myself in the Beaches. As I was running, I spotted Anna and Bruce and their kids. Their cheers invigorated me with renewed energy. As I was leaving, Bruce gave me some encouragements and I saw Jonathan too! I was heading back downtown - this was the home stretch!

As I was pulling away from the crowd and excitement, the pain started to come back. I tried to avoid drinking too much water, but felt my body needing water pretty desperately. I started the run feeling a bit sick and tired. With the effect of the morning's coffee wearing off, I felt everything starting to slowly shut down. My body was hurting a lot and my whole body felt weak. Nevertheless, I kept faking it, encouraging my group to stay on pace and keep running the race.

I finally broke around the 35-37km mark. I had to use the washroom and lost my pace group. When I tried to resume running, I broke into a hobble. Not good.

Throughout the race, especially after the half marathon point, I contemplated running off the course and just finding another way back. I wasn't sure if I could continue to keep the pace. I was tempted to "accidentally" trip, so I could just lie down and pass out for a few days.

As I was entering the last few kilometres, I could not run. I had to walk. It was pretty humiliating. I wanted to tear those bunny ears off. Then I heard some familiar voices: "Josh! Josh! Josh!" (Oh no ... it's the TNT crew ... I lost my pace crew and I can't even respond to their cheers with a run) They tried to get me running, but upon realizing how broken I was, they got one of the coaches to pace me to the finish line - another coach took over closer to the finish line.

As I rounded the corner, I started to run. I decided to keep the bunny ears on. And the 4:40 signs on my front and back. The time would show a huge discrepancy. I would be a failure. But I would still press on.

I made a big mistake in underestimating the marathon. And I paid the price. I will learn for next time, but right now, I need to cross that finish line. I started as a pacer, and I will finish as a pacer.

I ran a good race and did my best, given the circumstances. I felt bad for not keeping pace to the end, but I knew I had to finish my race, and get up and try again.

As I recover, every part of my body that once screamed in pain now itches to run.

Awakening


My years of slumber are over. It is time to wake up.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quenching Thirst

(Photo credit: 2k Photography, Flickr)

I'm thirsty.
... so I drink water. My thirst is quenched. When I do not drink, eventually the thirst subsides. But my body still needs water. 

I think about how fortunate I am to quench my thirst. There are many who do not have this choice. Yet with this choice, I often fail to quench my own thirst.

Physical dehydration is not my only problem. I also "thirst" to run. However, many times, I would sleep in and skip my run, later regretting it when watching the beautiful sunrise and smelling the fresh air. I would tell myself I would run tomorrow. This would happen over and over again.


I also "thirst" to pray. To spend time talking to God. And praying for my friends. And for the brokenness in this world. And so I tell myself that I will pray ... later. 

And as I continue to ignore these cravings, my thirst gradually subsides. I still need to pray. I still need to run. I still need water.

Yet not all cravings are meant to be satisfied. This goes without saying.

It is time to stop ignoring these cravings. It is time to quench my thirst. More water. Get to the gym. Wake up earlier. Get on your knees before plopping on your bed. Less talk, more action.

Running again


It's that time of the year again! Pace bunny time! This Sunday I will be the 4:40 pace rabbit for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

I'm a bit nervous since there is some pressure on the pace rabbit to maintain a steady pace. Also, I have not been running nor working out in a while. Work has been all-consuming. While I am adjusting to this new stage of life, it has been difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

On the bright side, I just went for my first run today in Markham's Toogood Pond. I did not worry about a pace or time. I just ran. It has been a while since I just ran for the sake of running.

I am rediscovering my love for running.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In the Stillness

(Photo: Rest stop, en route to Thunder Bay from Rainy River)

Calm in the Storm

"In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there." --Mark 1:35

"After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray." --Mark 6:46

"When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them." --Luke 4:42

"But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray." --Luke 5:16

The Cure to Running on Empty

Often we are hardpressed by competing demands. We fight to hold a smile. Reach out. Do good. Be kind. To put others above ourselves.

But sometimes, we reach a limit and enough is enough!

I wrote earlier about running on empty. About pouring myself out and feeling drained, having nothing to fill me. We each have different ways of dealing with stress. Some flip out. Some vent. Some hold it in. These are usually ways of expressing frustration after it is too late.

Stephen Covey talks about sharpening the saw (7 Habits for Highly Effective People). There is a need for renewal. Refreshing. To be poured in and strengthend, so that we can be poured out for others.

Jesus would often pray. To get away. To find strength and spend time with His Father.

What better person to fill you than the Giver of Life Himself?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The True Meaning of 4-Dimensional Fitness


(Photo: Lake Superior, outside Quebec Lodge in Red Rock, where I stayed for work in Northern Ontario)

What does it mean to be 4-dimensionally fit, being fit in body, mind, heart, and soul?

Many of these concepts start off as ideals, and either solidify or crumble when put through fire. Our understanding of the world is often coloured by our own life experiences. For example, does unconditional love exist? Whether or not this is true, if we have only experienced conditional love, it will be hard to believe in the existence of a greater love, especially if we have been deeply hurt in the past.

The idea of 4-dimensional fitness sounded great! I was in school and definitely had my share of challenges and difficulties. However, 4-D fitness made sense. The balance in the chaos made sense. I was not always balanced, but I could see what it looks like and how I could get there.

Learning through adversity

I recently started working. I really enjoy my work and find the projects interesting. However, working is not without its challenges.
  • Unlike graduate school, I had to be at work for relatively fixed portions of the day.
  • The commute was long and strenuous. I could not find time to workout and enjoy the activities I once did when in schol. I found myself beginning to be consumed by work.
  • While the job is enjoyable and the people fun, the demands of the job are sometimes difficult to adapt to. Different personalities, competing priorities, and pressing deadlines all contribute to a vibrant work environment. I found my emotional energy (and sometimes mental capacity) often being drained without being refreshed.
I was running on empty.

4-D Fitness for this Crazy World

I have a concept of 4-D fitness, but I still do not understand it yet. There are still many challenges and complexities in life. One cannot simply live naively.

Ultimately, I want to answer the question: How do I be fit (i.e. having the capacity to perform my utmost for His utmost)?

How do I be a fit employee, doing my work wholeheartedly and with excellence?
How do I be a fit boyfriend, leading in tenderness and listening with heart?
How do I be a fit ... ?

Many times we are not fit. We are not able to do what we are called to do. If running is a problem for you, to be a fit runner, you would have to train, rest, nourish your body, ... consistently. The same is true for every other area of your life.

There is a balance that must be had. There is wisdom to be attained, learning when to say no and when to pursue relentlessly.

I have not discovered the true meaning of 4-D fitness, but I do know that the meaning is much deeper than I once understood. This marks an important milestone of my life journey. I am excited for what lies ahead and in joining with others interested in sharing their life journeys.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting Stronger...

Yes, I am getting stronger, but the title above refers to the Rocky theme song :)



Strength is a big weakness of mine. My metabolic conditioning needs work too, but right now, strength is a limiting factor for me. I have many problem areas:
  • Weak squats (need to lift heavier)
  • Weak push-ups (working on high reps with perfect form)
  • Muscle-up (need to develop more explosive pull and strengthen false grip)
  • Weak lifts and o-lifts (need to focus on technique)
At CrossFit today, I did the following:

3 sets, 5 reps, Back Squat
185-205-205 (in lbs)

- Then -

5 Rounds for Time
15 Deadlifts (185 lbs)
15 Toes-to-Bar
(Time: 14:40)

Ouch ...

This morning I did yesterday's WOD.
5 Rounds for Time:
40 Double-Unders
30 Box Jumps (24")
20 Kettlebell Swings (55lbs)
A few rounds of this wasn't so bad. Five rounds though ... was a bit painful. I did a mile run to cool down after, which helped loosen me up a bit.

I attempted the partial muscle-ups again after the workout, but no luck ... I guess I can only do it when I'm fresh. Need to get stronger.

Finally, I learned that nutrition is important. I had a Tim Horton's breakfast sandwich (greasy sausage and egg in a greasy homestyle biscuit) prior to the workout. While this was supposed to gas my lungs, I ended up feeling only a fraction of the pain I was supposed to feel, since I was going a lot slower due to a queasy stomach.

The Weight of Being a Man

Continuing from my previous post, the second lesson I learned on my drive to Michigan was the weight of being a man. (As a note, there is "weight" in being anything involving responsibility and is not necessarily gender specific.)

Preamble

A few weeks before the drive the Michigan, I drove to Montreal for one of our dragonboat races. Despite my fatigue, I managed to power through with the help of friends singing, playing random games, laughing, and lots of ice and coffee =)

What startled me was that I could barely drive much during the Michigan trip. My dad drove the majority of the trip. I would go at spurts of an hour, barely holding on. Eventually my dad told me to just relax and he'll take over.

The mystery of being a man

How were both these cases different? It wasn't that much farther to Michigan. Mind you, we were driving to Michigan in the late evening, whereas the Montreal trip was around noon. Nevertheless, in both cases, you noticed that there is a certain edge that comes from being a man (or being the defending champion, etc).

When I drove to Montreal, and when my dad drove with me, both my dad and I bore a greater responsibility for those we were driving. Even if we were tired, we had to drive. And because we had to, we did.

The Weight of Responsibility

You may have heard of swordsmen who have weight behind their strike. In one instance, a samurai said that the extra weight comes from his heart - because he is fighting for a higher cause with strong belief. He has to defend his family. His homeland. His friends. His pride.

You can think of countless other analogies. I have to pick up this weight (barbell) or it will crush me. I have to finish this race since others are depending on me as a pace rabbit. I have to keep driving since my friends (or son) is in this car.

Too often, we live our lives with little weight or urgency. We move through life slothfully, settling for much less that we are capable.

The handful of men and women who assume responsibility, the few who give their word and keep it, these are the leaders of tomorrow. And these people are not leaders by birth, but by choice. By making consistent choices, step-by-step, that shape who they are.

After all, we are a product of our choices. And even if you have a history of bad choices, you can make small choices in the opposite direction.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lessons on the drive to Michigan

Last week I drove with my dad to Michigan. It was definitely an adventure staying awake and a good time to catch up with my dad. There were two things that made an impression on me:

1. GD (Giant Dump)

A term coined by my younger brother and used by my dad to describe the incredible feeling of "letting go". Okay, definitely not the best analogy and a bit crude, but I thought about how wonderful it is to let go of things you're not meant to hold on to.

What's worth clinging to? When is it time to let go? Often, these questions become apparent over time, as our body gives us plenty of signals! Not just our physiological responses though, but also our emotional, mental, and spiritual responses. The more challenging aspect about letting go is not knowing what to let go of, but to have the courage to let go. Often we become constipated in our own strength, pride, or confidence.

Of course, the converse can be said about the importance about clinging to the right things. Holding on for dear life. Letting go of the things you should be clinging to (e.g. vital organs, values, identity) is also not so good.

In life, we need a balance of wisdom and courage.

2. The Weight of a Being a Man

... coming soon!

Muscle-Up somewhat completed

Monday (Aug 22), 8pm class.

Completed my first "muscle-up" on the rings. These were partial muscle-ups (starting with arms bent instead of from full extension) and using a kip.

Next steps:
- Work on false grip
- Kip with full extension
- Kip without false grip
- Strict

Anyways, needless to say, I was pretty happy when I finally did my first muscle-up! My body benefited from all that training and the rest I gave it last week.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Types of Running


Running is awesome.

The picture shown above was taken along one of my runs in Hong Kong. I love the view. In fact, often I would run to places just to catch a glimpse of breathtaking scenery (e.g. the stillness of the lake, the sunrise over a sleeping urban setting, the rushing waterfall).

As I was reflecting on my life journey as a runner, I was reminded of two kinds of running:
  1. Running to
  2. Running from
Running to ...
... the finish line
... school
... the gym
... get fit
... push my body to its limits

Running from ...
... a scary monster
... a coach chasing after you during interval runs :)
... responsibilities
... relationships
... situations requiring tough decisions

There are times when it is good to run away. And there are most definitely times when you should not run towards things (e.g. please do not run into the wall or a pole ... not fun!).

However, more often than not, we run away when we need to run to, and we run to when we should run away. What should you run to? What should you run from? I will leave that to your common sense and wisdom (though I would love to hear your thoughts!).

Given you know what you should be running from and running to, do you have the courage to follow-up? Are you fit enough to do "what-you-got-to-do"?

I'd love to hear from you. Post up, message me, or talk :) I would be delighted to discover more of your life journey.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Muscle-Up Attempt Failure(s)

Not fail, a verb that I typically use as a noun.

Muscle-Ups by Tuesday (3 days ago)

I was supposed to get my muscle-ups by Tuesday and I still cannot get it. I have been going to CrossFit a lot just to work on this basic gymnastic movement. Yet it seems the harder I try, the less I improve, and the more I rip (see image above).

Less is More

I am taking the next two days off and will allow my body to recover. While it seemed that I made little progress this week, I did put in a lot of work. I believe that all this hard work, the coaching from the CF trainers, and the encouragement from my fellow athletes will all come to fruition in due time.

For now, I need to rest, trust in the training, in the trainers, and never give up.

4-D Failures

There were multiple times this week when I should have rested. I was a bit too desperate to get the muscle-up by Tuesday (or as soon as possible). Rather, like Jesus' Parable of the Sower, I need to just keep sowing the seeds in good soil. Putting in good quality workouts and ensuring adequate rest. And be patient for the fruit to come.

I find this relevant to other areas of my life. Be it being fruitlessly busy on academic work (mind), trying to find God in my own strength (soul), or trying too hard to make a relationship a certain way (heart). Whatever dimension of my life, the same general principle seems to apply:
Rather than pursuing a very specific outcome, ensure that your desired outcome is flexible and aligns with your personal values. Then, with all your might, pursue very specific processes.
For the muscle-up, I need to rush less and focus on the progressions. For my academics, I need to put in the time and ensure that I am not writing mindlessly. For my spiritual life, I need to daily rely on God for strength and wisdom, submitting my will to His will. For my relationships, I need to focus on developing my character and live by my principles and not on impulse nor emotion.

There is a fine line, drawn by Wisdom, between resting and laziness. You know yourself best and know whether you are emotional reacting to situations, or whether you are living a principled life. For me, this past week was an example of my emotional impulse to workout with no regard to my health (i.e. disregarding my sleep). This kind of behaviour can lead to a myriad of consequences, including visible skin tears on the wrists and invisible tears to the shoulders.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

4-Dimensional Laziness

Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
--Ephesians 5:15-16

I recently started reading the book Making Life Work, by Bill Hybels. The book gives practical advice to everyday situations based on the teachings from the book of Proverbs. As a snapshot, here are some sample questions from the back cover:
What factors are critical to achieving life's goals?
How can I get a friendship back on track?
Why is it so hard to trust God in certain situations?
How can I make a difference in the marketplace?
How should I respond to someone who is angry with me?
What is the surprising result of helping others?
How can I establish a solid financial foundation?
In the second chapter of the book, Bill Hybels talks about the value of taking initiative and the importance of not being a sluggard. He makes the case that most of us struggle with some kind laziness. In other words, that most of us are selectively lazy, lazy in at least one area of our lives.

Personal Example

As a personal example, I find that I have been fairly industrious with my academic work. I work hard (generally) and enjoy the work. I am also a fitness enthusiast, working out regularly and part of the coaching team for Iron Dragons (dragonboat). With this snapshot (and from what my friends may observe), laziness is not a problem for me.

Assuming that I am indeed industrious in my academics and fitness (which is not always true), I have still been selectively lazy. Only recently have I been taking more care of my finances and the cleanliness of my living environment. More importantly, I am currently working on being more industrious with relationships.

Laziness applies to relationships too. A lot of emotions can be left unsaid. Small problems can be left to fester, accumulating over time. Like final academic projects or larger-than-life fitness goals, relationships take work. Making relationships (and life) work involves making wise decisions day by day, especially when no one is there to watch you. But many times, I am lazy - not wanting to deal with my own issues, or relational problems, because it is [insert lame excuse here].

Bringing it all together

My life pursuit is total fitness (1D-, 4D-, 1000D-, N-Dimensional Fitness). The value of N does not matter, but rather, it is about being fit in every area of your life - however you choose to separate your life. To be fit is to have the ability and courage to live the life that you want, with this "want" being based on desire, principles, values, etc.

Laziness is intrinsic to the human condition. We often want to put things off, be it school projects, relational conflicts, financial problems, and so on. However, laziness - in any area of your life - will keep you from living life the way you were meant to live.

Ephesians 5 talks about "making the most of your time" (NASB) or "redeeming the time" (KJV) because the days are evil. We need to live wisely, consistently making wise choices (e.g. tracking finances, communicating, not procrastinating ...).

Much of my life has been lived as unwise. I need to redeem the time, by making wise choices on a daily basis.

Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.
--Ephesians 5:14

It is time to wake up. [*cue motivational music :)]

Monday, August 1, 2011

Welcome to CrossFit

Today I brought a friend (James) to try out CrossFit for the first time. What better introduction than by starting with one of the most difficult CrossFit workouts. Of course, as expected, he did fairly well for his first time. Here's what we did:
"Murph"
1 mile run
100 Pull-Ups
200 Push-Ups
300 Squats
1 mile run
*Note: The exercises in the middle were broken down into 20 sets of Cindy (5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats).

(Time: Josh - 59:16, James - 53:15, Jireh - 72:58)
I have ONE MORE DAY left before my first muscle-up is due! I made a few attempts after Murph today, but was pretty tired. The best I can do is to rest up and do my best tomorrow! And that is what I plan to do :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Certifiably Sore

Today's Workout @ CrossFit Markham
Accumulate 3 min of L-sits on rings

-Then-

20 min AMRAP
20 Box Jumps
100 ft Overhead Barbell Walk (135 lbs - Rx)
20 KB Swings (72 lbs - Rx: 55 lbs)
Walk back (with barbell overhead)
(Rounds: 2 ... kinda - 20 min ended right after my KB swings)
  • Very low score - would normally choose lighter weights, however, strength is a weakness of mine.
  • In much pain from ... everything (Angie, Muscle-Up attempts, etc.)
  • Going to enjoy my rest day tomorrow =) Lots of stretching and protein :D
  • 3 more days to my first muscle-up!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Muscle-Up: 4 More Days!

If you look carefully, you can see the remnants of my first skin tear from muscle-up attempts. The area was quite sensitive, but it is healing well.

My friend (Ben) gets back this Tuesday. Tuesday's 9am CrossFit class is my deadline for executing the muscle-up (on rings - I'll work on the bar muscle-up later).

As another friend (Satwick) used to say: LetzGo!

Angie

Today's Workout @ CrossFit Markham
"Angie"
100 Pull-Ups
100 Push-Ups
100 Sit-Ups
100 Squats
(Time: 39:50)
  • Super slow on pull-ups and push-ups. Need to work on upper body strength
  • Arms are jellylike. Body is guaranteed to be in pain.
  • Took ice shower and protein (Vega Sport) to help with recovery

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Own'd by Today's Workout

Today's Workout
1 Round for Time:
50 Box Jumps (24")
50 Jumping Pull-Ups
50 KB Swings (35 lbs)
50 Walking Lunges (25 each leg)
50 Knees to Elbows
50 Push Press (45 lbs)
50 Sit Ups
50 Wall Ball Shots (10 ft target, 20 lbs ball)
50 Burpees
50 Double Unders
(Time: 43:37 ... way past the 40 min cut-off, but I was told I had to finish -_-)

Muscle-Up by this Tuesday!

Recently, at CrossFit Markham ...

Muscle-Up attempts! I made a challenge to a friend yesterday to get a muscle-up by this Tuesday (since he was going to be away on a camping trip). To my amazement, he responded by executing his first muscle-up. I still have a long way to go, but I have been working hard at it - earning my first skin tear on my wrist! Here is a good tutorial from Iron Tribe Fitness on how to do a muscle-up:


A Tribe of CrossFit Athletes

(Taken from ITF's POD - Picture of the Day)
What is a tribe?

First definition from Google:
A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.
... having common goals, common dreams, and common values. In short, a tribe is a family.

Iron Tribe Fitness

I recently came across a CrossFit Gym that stood out to me (Iron Tribe Fitness). What struck me about this gym is their emphasis on helping those who cannot help themselves, together. Partnering together to pursue a vision much bigger than themselves. Their website says it best: "Our mission is to teach and support healthy lifestyles, be a leader in results-based fitness, and encourage fellowship within our global community."

This resonates with my own life mission in pursuing 4-D fitness and helping others do the same. How that looks like remains a mystery to me. However, I get excited when I see my vision (or parts of it) lived out in our community. In the meantime, I need to become much more fit - to have the ability to do what I want to do. Empowering fitness in the lives of others will be a parallel journey for me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rediscovering Relationship: Reconnecting with the Father


Recently, I started attending a Mandarin church. For those who do not know me, my Chinese is quite poor. My reasons for learning Chinese are quite simple, but hard to put into words.
Simply put, I have this inexplicable urge to connect with my origin and in (re)discovering who I am. This may sounds weird, but I feel another part of me comes alive when I listen to or speak in Chinese.
As a Christian (and as an individual), my life journey has been a bit rough to say the least. Sometimes I want nothing to do with Christianity or God and have feelings of bitterness, anger, frustration and sorrow. Other times, I simply don't care. But deep down, there is a strong desire to reconnect with my Heavenly Father.

This is why I cannot ignore God as a figment of imagination or cultural conditioning. It is this relationship - and desire for relationship - that prevents me from abandoning my Christian faith, and ultimately, everything I once held dear. And yes, these desires and emotions could be byproducts of chemical reactions and social influences ... or, they could be very real and provide a glimpse of the human condition.

In any event, I cannot dismiss God's existence just as I cannot dismiss the existence of another person. Whether these people are real or not is a subject for the philosophers. To me, I cannot distinguish the emotions I have with "real" people and the emotions I have with God.

Where am I going with this?

In rediscovering relationship with God, I have found deeper intimacy with God in communicating in Chinese (in this case, Mandarin). My approach to learning Chinese has been to learn how to pray / sing in Chinese, read from the Chinese Bible and listen to Chinese sermons.

And as I learn to talk to God in Chinese, I will naturally learn to talk to others in Chinese. Likewise, as I rediscover and renew my relationship with God, I will relearn how to relate to others. In short, I am rediscovering love.

To close, here is a Chinese song, entitled "The Path of Grace", that I have been listening to recently. It has been a tremendous blessing to me. I hope it will serve to encourage you too :)


Lyrics:
Lord, You are my guide, the shepherd of my life
Through the hills and valleys, You're always by my side
Calling me by name, You've chosen me with love
Blessing me abundantly, Your promise will never change
Every step we take, You lead us with Your grace
Your love, Your hand will hold us close to you and will guide us through the path of grace

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Learning from the Snatch


The Snatch: an Olympic lifting movement involving bringing weight from a dead hang position to overhead in one swift motion. Above: Liao Hui capturing a gold medal for China, lifting a total of 348 kg (158 kg Snatch, 190 kg Clean and Jerk).

Total Focus

You cannot perform this movement without focus. You cannot muscle your way through this explosive movement. You either have it or you don't. All or nothing.

Some of my own stats

I was working on some lifts this morning before dragonboat practice. The weights I will post are not heavy, but they are recorded to chart my improvement for the future. This morning, I worked up to:
- 95 lbs Push Press
- 115 lbs Front Squat
- 75 lbs Snatch
The emphasis was on perfecting technique and avoiding injury. I would like to get my Snatch to 135 lbs by the end of summer. I am going to work to 95 lbs by the end of this month.

The Snatch Attitude

The Snatch happens in an instant, requiring complete focus. In life, some activities require this kind of focus, and many of these activities last more than an instant. Life is sometimes a marathon, and at other times, a series of sprints. A diverse set of mental faculties is required to take on the various challenges in life.

An Example

In my own life -- in fact, right now -- my "Snatch" is my research thesis. To be efficient, effective, and productive I need to give my full attention to the task at hand (in this case, writing code to simulate individual shopping location choices). Right now, I also have a multitude of windows open (e-mail, Facebook, the Economist, med school / MCAT info). From time to time, my mind (and attention) drift to these and other topics.

When performing the Snatch, your mind cannot wander. Yes, it is only a few seconds of complete concentration, but during those few seconds, I cannot be thinking about medical school, e-mail, friends, relationships, and so on. In the same way, I need to lay aside every weight that hinders, in this case, closing all those windows and just write the code.

I will conclude with one of my favorite verses from the Bible. In this example, the apostle Paul's "Snatch" is eternal life.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance ..." (The opening of the 12th Chapter of the book of Hebrews)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lessons from the 1 Rep Max

"Hey mommy, look at me!" (photo credit)

I went to CrossFit for the 1st time in a while. Part of today's workout involved 1 rep max attempts for the push press. I managed a personal best of 155lbs today so I was quite pleased :)

The Feeling of "Bleh"

I was not planning on going to CrossFit today. Actually, I planned on going, but then I ate 4 cups of instant noodles and tried sleeping. I have been feeling "bleh" recently. The source of the "bleh" is hard to pinpoint. It seems to be a combination of physical exhaustion, emotional burden, mental fatigue, and spiritual depravity. Nevertheless, the point is that my entire being (mind, body, soul, heart) was not ready for a 1-rep max.

Rising to the Challenge

A little after 6pm, I walked into the gym, moping around - not my usual self. I made halfhearted attempts at the exercises. Then it came for 1 rep max attempts. Apathetically, I walked up to the bar and tried to do 95lbs, a weight I can usually do easily. To my surprise I had no energy. It wasn't just physical exhaustion ... but everything exhaustion (probably also likely due to the fact that I left my lab at 6am this morning).

I quickly realized that 1 rep max attempts were one of those exercises that need my full attention... "concentrated power of will". My worries melted (...it had to), my fears overcome, my focus sharpened, and my entire being ... fully present.

Presence was lacking the past few days, yet was also essential if I wanted to lift beyond what I normally lift. At times, we are faced with insurmountable challenges. For me, outside of weightlifting, my challenge is my graduate research thesis. With many uncertainties that lie ahead, many thoughts cloud my head and my thinking.

Stress helps, but too much and you can quickly lack focus and presence. Working out provided one avenue of stress relief, leading to a clearer mind. Time with Carol tonight also helped ... a lot! Her smile brightened my day today.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Forging Elite Fitness


Boarding in 1 hour :)

I am sitting in Toronto Pearson Airport waiting for my flight to Calgary. I am attending a conference in Lake Louise and staying at the Fairmont! I am the above image emblazoned in my memory. I am looking forward to the nice hotel, the breathtaking scenery, and the opportunity to .... run :)

What happened to the workout posts?

No, I did not stop working out! I still go to CrossFit regularly and have been keeping an active lifestyle. I did yesterday's workout in 16:26 (4 Rounds for Time: 10 SDHP, 15 Ring Dips, 20 Burpees) and worked on my overhead squat this morning in Hart House before leaving for the airport. If you find it helpful for me to post my workouts, I would be delighted to keep doing so. Many of my workouts are taken from CrossFit Markham.

Forging Elite Fitness

Forging Elite Fitness is CrossFit's slogan and captures the heart of CrossFit rather well. As you know, I have been on a journey "forge elite fitness", working to increase my endurance, strength, speed, stamina, etc. However, my journey is not limited to physical fitness alone - my pursuit is in forging 4-D fitness.

Mental Fitness

Fitness can refer to many things. I like to divide it into 4 areas: body (physical), mind (mental), heart (emotional), spirit (spiritual). What matters is not the categories themselves, but rather, the idea that fitness is not limited to just one area (i.e. physical) and each dimension connects with the other dimensions.

Recently I picked up a fun mental workout. I had a childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor - whether this dream is ever realized is still to be determined. Regardless, I started studying for the MCATs, spending a small, but consistent amount of time each day devoted to this test. I have found the material exciting and challenging (like CrossFit workouts!) and find they help keep my mental faculties sharp for other activities (i.e. research).

How about you?

What kind of "workouts" do you do (or would like to do)? This can be for any dimension of fitness :)