Wednesday, November 9, 2016

30 Day Morning Miracle Challenge

Our cool team from Fight Fitness recently started a challenge to conquer the morning.

Here's the challenge:

Conquer your mornings to conquer your days to conquer your life!

The #30daymiraclemorningchallenge starts tomorrow! 

Rules are simple, wake up 5-30 min earlier than you normally do and complete one or more of your S.A.V.E.R.S., post your win here with the hashtag #miraclemorningday .... let's see how many mornings you can do it in a row.

Ex. #miraclemorningday1 I completed 5 min of silent reflection and meditation!

Here's the cheat sheet for S.A.V.E.R.S.

1. Silence
2. Affirmations
3. Visualization
4. Exercise
5. Read
6. Scribe

Since the start of the challenge, I've been waking up at 5 a.m. and including some combination of hot/cold shower, coffee, high-protein breakfast, and movement.

Our team posts each day in our Facebook group. Mine are cross posted below. If you're in for the challenge, simply jump in :)

Shout out to Cynthia for inspiring me to blog again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Putu's Pumpkin Pancakes

A couple weeks ago, I spent a little over a week in Bali as part of Agatsu's Masters of Movement. We were already in paradise. At Bali Floating Leaf Eco-Resort, we were surrounded by rice fields, walking distance from a beach, and could see mountains and volcanoes in the distance (photos). However, it was the food that transported us to another dimension (food).

Each day, we were served delicious food, made with organic ingredients. The meals were served with love and massive smiles, nourishing the mind, body and soul.

One of my favorite dishes we had at Floating Leaf was the Pumpkin Pancakes, topped with pecans, drizzled with maple syrup, and served with a dollop of coconut yogurt. We recently made this dish for some friends at Precision Nutrition's Annual Potluck of Meaning. By popular request, here is the recipe we got from Putu, along with my adaptations (given our lack of fresh young coconuts):

Ingredients for Pumpkin Pancakes:

1 cup pumpkin, cooked and mashed 

- We used canned pumpkin
Pinch turmeric
1 3⁄4 cups almond milk or filtered water 

- We used coconut almond milk
1⁄4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs

- While we used eggs, there are other vegan options, e.g. apple sauce, banana, ground flax seed, etc.)
1 1⁄2 cups quinoa flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
**(from Putu, Floating Leaf) We can substitute quinoa flour with spelt flour or regular flour for better consistency.

- We used the quinoa flour and it turned out beautifully!

To prep the batter:

1. Cut and peel a medium size pumpkin and chop it roughly.
Put it in a large saucepan with water to cover. Add the turmeric and cook until soft.

2. Drain the pieces of pumpkin. Mash the pumpkin and measure out enough for 1 cup. 

- First two steps were skipped since we used canned pumpkin. Can't wait to try this again when pumpkins are in season!

3. Add the pumpkin, almond milk or water, maple syrup, eggs, quinoa flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt into a blender and blend until smooth.

To cook:

1. Grease a skillet or griddle with a tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium heat.

2. Pour 1⁄4 cup portions of the batter into the skillet, 2 at a time. Flip them over when bubbles begin to rise to the surface of the pancake and the underside is golden brown. Cook for 20 to 30 seconds on the second side,or until the center springs back when pressed.

3. Continue in this manner until all the batter has been used.

4. Serve a stack of pancakes for each person. Put a portion of the pecans in the center of the top pancake and spoon some of the maple syrup over them. Top with a dollop of the coconut yogurt.

How to make raw Coconut yogurt:

1. Soaked ½ cup of raw cashew minimum 2 hours

2. Add young coconut flesh (or if you don’t have it maybe coconut cream)

- We used coconut milk, but we'll definitely try young coconut next time if we can find some

3. Add a pinch of vanilla essence and salt

4. Two table spoon of honey

5. Add ¼ cup of coconut water or regular water (measure to achieve your desire consistency)

- The coconut milk already had the desired consistency, so we skipped this step.

6. Blend in a blender.

To serve:

1. Serve a stack of pancakes (I go for 3 pancakes ... to start!)

2. Add some pecans on top of the stack of pancakes

3. Drizzle some maple syrup (1-3 tablespoons ... as desired)

4. Add a dollop (or two!) of coconut yogurt


Best breakfast ever! First time trying pumpkin pancakes with fresh coconut yogurt.

Our attempt to recreate some of the magic!

My beautiful fiance making pumpkin pancakes!

A stack of pumpkin pancakes, topped with pecans, drizzled with maple syrup, and served with a dollop of coconut yogurt. Simply heavenly!

Our pumpkin pancakes (bottom right), served along other amazing dishes at Precision Nutrition's annual Potluck of Meaning, where we share our favorite foods along with the stories behind them! Notice the massive pancake we made at the end to use up the remaining batter :)
A beautiful shot of Bali Floating Leaf Eco-Resort! My go-to for a home away from home in paradise. Check them out:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kitchen Makeover

As part of my nutrition coaching course, I had to help someone do a kitchen makeover. I could do it on my own kitchen or help a client makeover their kitchen. 

For my assignment, I taught my fiancĂ© (Carmelina) the principles, and worked through my family's kitchen cabinets. 

Kitchen Cabinet - Before

This kitchen cabinet has a whole array of items, including a coffee bean grinder, food processor, different types of sugars, dried goods, and more.

While I want to throw out all processed and sugary items, it was not that simple. My parents use some of these items to make Chinese dishes. I know I would have to negotiate with them.

  • What can we get rid of for sure? Expired / old food items, processed / sugary items that no one uses anymore, etc.
  • Which items may have to stay? In addition to healthy foods, I should also keep foods that my mom & dad cook, especially ingredients that came from China, as they hold more sentimental value (and some health benefit, I think?).

There are also other items, such as a coffee grinder and food processor. These have been hidden in the kitchen cabinet, and rarely used. I moved these items to more prominent areas in our kitchen (i.e. counter) to remind me to cook more.

Kitchen Shelf - Before

This shelf is a conglomeration of old baking ingredients, supplements, and miscellaneous items. Many of the supplements here have expired, or have been finished but taking up precious real estate.

Kitchen Makeover!

Here we are, partway into the kitchen makeover. We are sorting through all the items that need to be thrown away. Carmelina handed me the rock sugar, since it's processed and sugary. Knowing that this is a common ingredient in Chinese desserts, I decided to keep the one unopened pack and throw the rest away. We decided to store this on the bottom shelf, so it is not accessible, but available if needed.

And if you didn't get a good look, here's the empty shelves in the cabinet! Both Carmelina and I felt a tremendous relief from cleaning out the cabinet. As weird as it sounds, we felt energized to start afresh.

Kitchen Makeover - The Purge!

We lined up a lot of ingredients for "death row". These are items that are expired, processed and forgotten, or items high in sugar that we can do without.

Items to check with Mom

Now, many of these items were a mystery to both Carmelina and I. Many of these items are used in Chinese dishes, even though they are processed and/or include preservatives. Before throwing them all away, I had to check with my Mom, since mothers know all.

We ended up throwing out ~20% of the items you see below. The rest of the items are either items she wanted to keep, or secret ingredients from China that have purported health benefits.

Apparently, the can below contained special potato starch from China! This can, among other items I had planned to throw away, ended up back in the cabinet.

Kitchen Cabinet - After

Ta-da! While it isn't perfect, it's better. We placed the items we wanted to use more on the top, and the less-used items on the bottom. The brown, white, yellow and rock sugars are on the bottom shelf in a plastic box. Available when needed, but not too accessible.

Kitchen Shelf - After

This kitchen shelf has transformed. What remains are supplements that are not expired, a plastic container to hold the good baking ingredients (e.g. coconut flour, cocoa powder, chia seeds, etc.), and the tea and coffee.

The tea is on the middle shelf on the tray, since I'm trying to drink more tea and less coffee. The green bag holds my coffee grinds, grinder, and my Aeropress--which, in my mind, makes the best coffee on the planet!

All in all, this exercise helped me shape the path to make better eating decisions through
- getting rid of the clutter, and junk food
- hiding the unhealthy foods we still need to keep
- bringing healthier food items to the forefront

Now, to the fridge!

I'll keep this short. We used the same principles for the fridge. However, instead of restocking, we decided to see what kind of awesome foods were already in the fray. Here's the before / after for our fridge.

Fridge - Before

Fridge - After

Moving forward ...

This kitchen makeover was incredibly useful. It helped me identify the stuff that needed to go and the foods that needed to be more accessible. 

Shaping the path in the kitchen simplifies healthy eating at home. Over the next few days, I noticed I started preparing my meals more often, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and choosing tea over coffee (sometimes). The food we ate as a family was more balanced and included healthy leftovers for lunch and snacking.

Moving forward, a regular inventory of the fridge and kitchen will help ensure the kitchen environment keeps improving, instead of gradually collecting clutter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Being okay with "hunger"

Daily Practice

... missed out on the chin-ups and burpees, and need to get back on track.

But! I did wake up feeling awesome and delayed my coffee intake to later today.

Being okay with first world "hunger"

When I feel hungry, I often have the urge to satisfy that hunger, instantly. I don't know what it means to be truly hungry. To not have food for survival.

For me, today, it's okay to feel hungry. It's okay to not instantly gratify my cravings.

I'm learning to be more mindful of my physical and emotional cues. And choosing the response, instead of reacting from a primal instinct.

Sweating the small stuff

Daily Practice

3x5 Chin-ups
3x10 Burpees

10 min oil pulling

Sweating the small stuff

"Don't sweat the small stuff." Agreed.

Yet, sometimes it's useful to sweat the small stuff. To pay particular attention to details. Michelin Star restaurants have the details nailed down. My fiance appreciates when I put thought and care into the small and trivial. How I approach my work, start / end my day, interact with others ... caring makes all the difference.

Sometimes people care too much. Sometimes people care too little. But you know when you found that sweet spot, energizing your very being, and those around you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A breath of fresh air

Daily Practice

Back at it!

3x10 burpees
3x5 chin-ups
10 min oil pulling

A breath of fresh air

Today I stepped outside to run an errand. Then I continued to walk, basking in the sun. The crisp afternoon air and clear skies brought a smile to me.

Too often I find myself running aimlessly. Taking time to stop, reflect, and be in the moment can breathe life back into the mundane.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Still some fight left

Daily Practice

I took a break from the chin-ups and oil pulling. However, I did get a chance this morning to contemplate life over a cup of tea before running a 6 a.m. bootcamp class :)

Still some fight left

Sometimes I feel I have no more energy left. I'm tired of fighting. And I forget why.

Then, I remember why. Then, I remember I fight with God's strength, not my own.

One more round. Let's go.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Live Longer

Daily Practice 

3x5 Chin-ups
3x10 Burpees
10 min oil pulling

Live Longer

An interesting link by Mark Sisson on predictors of longevity. Check it out:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Getting Less Bad at Stuff

Daily Practice

3x5 Chin-ups
3x10 Burpees
10 min oil pulling

Getting Less Bad At Stuff

Embrace Fear.

Make Foolproof Goals.

Persist in your Practice.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mediocre Workouts

Daily Practice

3x10 burpees
3x5 chin-ups
10 min oil pulling

Mediocre Workouts

Mediocre workouts are generally better than no workouts.

Earlier today, I had the intention of hitting a heavy set of squats. Instead, I worked up to a comfortable but tough set of 5 and moved on.

I entered the gym with the intention to hit my "ideal" workout. Instead, I hit the workout that was right for me today.

I could have done those heavy squats, pushed harder on the bench, and squeezed in a set of deadlifts. But why?

Training is a practice, not a performance. Train with purpose.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Busyness: Curse or Blessing?

Morning Practice

Burpees 3x10
Chin-ups 3x5
10 min oil pulling

Busyness: Curse or Blessing?

Many times I find myself overwhelmed with busyness. Busy with things that don't matter.

Yet busyness can be a blessing. You have something to do and relish the feeling of a job well done.

The key I find is choice. Busyness becomes a curse when you can't choose what to be busy with.

Sometimes, we don't have a choice. Our boss tells us to do this or that.

Other times, we do have a choice. We can choose to align our work with our identity, values, and priorities.

This kind of choice takes courage. Courage to say "no" so you can say "yes" to the things that matter most to you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Adults and Children

Morning Practice

Burpees 3x10
Chin-ups 3x5
10 min oil pulling

Adults and Children

As a child, I was immature and reckless. Seizing the day. Living in the moment.

More responsibility comes with maturity.

I used to shy away from responsibility. Yet responsibility marks the grown man (or woman).

Yet sometimes, we can be too mature.

Analyzing all the options. When we forget to see the "colours of the wind".

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Beauty of Toastmasters

Morning Practice

Burpees 3x10
Chin-ups 3x5
10 min oil pulling

The Beauty of Toastmasters

I participate in a corporate Toastmasters club. We spend 1 hour a week to work on our communication and leadership skills.

The beauty of Toastmasters is the constant practice we get at public speaking and the immediate feedback.

Practicing and reflecting on your practice will help in any endeavour.

Monday, March 14, 2016

E-mails and FOMO

Daily Practice

Burpees 3x10
Chin-ups 3x5
10 min oil pulling

E-mails and FOMO

Sometimes I feel I spend much of my time putting our fires. Responding to e-mails. And getting nothing meaningful done by the end of the day.

FOMO = fear of missing out.

If I don't respond right away, life will still go on.

If I don't check Facebook every 2 seconds, my friends will still like me.

If I don't go out to lunch with coworkers, I still get to work with them on meaningful projects.

By saying "no" to many things, I get to say "yes" to things that matter most.

I get to choose where to spend my time and money.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Failure IS an option

Daily Practice

Burpees 3x10
Chin-ups 3x5
10 min oil pulling

Failure IS an option

... and often the better option than not trying.

Failed attempts come from ... attempts.

Consistent practice will surely lead to progress.

It's okay to fail.

Failure is your friend and teacher on the road to your dreams.

Don't be afraid to fail. Embrace it.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Am I really hungry?

Daily Practice

Burpees 3x10
Chin-ups 3x5
10 min oil pulling

Am I really hungry?

My stomach growls. I'm hungry. Again.

I want to eat. Now.

Instant gratification. When I give in, I'm rarely satisfied.

What if I wait? What if it's okay to feel hungry? To live in this tension?

I grab a glass of water. I wait.

Clarity and focus replace mental fog.

I savour every bite of my meal with gratitude.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Purpose of Strength

Morning Practice

... Personal reflection ... :)

The Purpose of Strength

You train tirelessly.

You clean up your diet.

You get stronger. In body, mind, heart and spirit.

Then what?

Strength is not the goal. Not even mastery of the mind.

What will you do with your new-found strength?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reflections on Strength

Morning Practice

Burpees 3x10
Chin-ups 3x5
10 min oil pulling

Reflections on Strength

At times I feel emotionally spent.

All the self-help in the world seems meaningless.

Building physical strength helps me build emotional strength.

Strong body. Strong mind.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lessons from Seth

Morning Practice

3 x 10 burpees
5 chin-ups
breakfast (3 eggs) / brew coffee / shower


  • On raising kids
    • You'll raise different kinds of children if you spend ~2 hr/day invested in their lives, present / uninterrupted / cell phone off, sharing stories, going for walks, cooking together, ... than if you did not.
    • Public school has a lot of benefits, but after 3 p.m.... that's homeschooling. Teach kids how to lead and solve interesting problems.
    • Instead of wondering how they scored on their spelling test, be interested more in if they have something to say with the vocabulary they learned
  • Roasting your own beans is the most important part of coffee making process - garbage in, garbage out ... also a metaphor for other aspects of life.
  • The cure for writer's block--if you can't think of anything good to write--is to write poorly ... and to keep writing poorly ... until it becomes less bad. Successes come from many failures (e.g. attempts). Have the courage to try. Don't be afraid to fail.
  • It's important to know the difference between a freelancer vs. entrepreneur. A freelancer creates good work and gets paid for it. An entrepreneur creates systems and businesses to solve problems bigger than themselves.