Friday, September 28, 2007

Workout Progress - Sept '07

September was a challenge as the fasting month started in the middle of it. Unlike most people, I tend to gain weight during the fasting month. I would like to think it was due to the lowered metabolism my body goes through during this period but to be truthful, it is possibly due to the amount of rich food that is more easily available during this period. This year, for a change, I’ve set a target to loose weight during the fasting month and much to my satisfaction I seemed to be on the right track of doing exactly that. I had to stick to a reduced calorie intake diet plan in order to achieve the continued weight loss even with the fasting that I had to do during the day.

I also have my workout sessions at the gym to thank for the weight loss during this fasting month. Once I got used to it, working out at the gym after breaking fast in the evenings were not that daunting. I did have to modify my workout routines to accommodate the reduced hours I was able to work out and had to cut out my Sunday workout sessions out altogether since the gym only opened till 10pm on Sundays. At first I had to take it slow and watch out for the moments when I felt a bit light headed but that passed quickly after the first few times working out after breaking fast.

I have just past my 1 month mark as an official gym card carrying member. I’m still in a gung-ho mode when it comes to going to the gym for my workout sessions and have not run into much problems with my current workout schedule. I guess the novelty might wear off later so I need to be mindful of that in the near future. Hopefully by then, the gym workouts sessions would already be entrenched into my daily activities that I don’t need things like the novelty factor to motivate me to go. I’m in for the long run and I have to keep myself motivated as well for the long run.

Diet plan in Sept (fasting month – non fasting days earlier in the month followed Aug plan) :

Break fast/Iftar (Sun down)
- 3 – 5 pieces of dried dates
- 3 – 6 pieces of kuih (usually more savory kuihs rather than sweet ones)
- 1 mug chilled Complan mix (about 250 calories per serving)

Post workout meal (12 am)
- 1 serving of plan fried noodles with a meat side dish
- 1 banana
- EAS Myoplex Deluxe Protein Shake

Sahur (4 am)
- 1 serving of chillled sweet black pulut rice or green bean porridge
- 1 banana
- 1 mug chilled Complan mix

Workout Days (M/W/Thurs/F: 8 – 10 pm)
Pre workout
- EAS Creatine Powder – 10mg
- 1 Banana

Post workout
- EAS Myoplex Deluxe Protein Shake
- something roughly less than 300kcal

Supplements :
EAS Creatine Powder – 10mg per day
EAS Myoplex Deluxe Protein Shake – ½ serving post workout
21st Century’s HerbalLipo Tea – 1 serving per week day
GNC MegaMen Dietary Supplement – 1 tablet per day

I’ve added carbo in the form of the fried noodles for the fasting month considering that I would be on an even reduced food intake than I was before the fasting month. I’m lucky to have found a place where I can buy the fried noodles cooked with less oil than most other places so I don’t have to worry so much about the it being fried. I’ve also dropped Balance Liquid L-Carnitine from my list of supplements as I’m already getting what I needed from the EAS Creatine Powder. The body would only process the excess creatine as waste if I continued to used both products. On the same note, I also dropped GNC L-Lysine from the list as I’m already getting it as part of the MegaMen supplement.

I’m looking forward to start working out with a personal trainer in October. They finally called me up this week to assign one to me after about a month of me starting at their gym. Good thing that they were willing to extend the personal training deadline to a later date so I don’t have to rush through the sessions. At the moment the plan is for me to train with a personal trainer 3 times a week. Hopefully I would be able to use this opportunity to learn how I can maximize my workouts to get even more gains than what I am already achieving. I might even try out the free weights area now that I know there is someone with me to guide me through the steps there.

This experiment is going well and what’s more, I’m having fun with it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

4 Years Free

This week marks the 4th year I have been nicotine free.

During those 4 years, I have only had 1 puff from a lighted cigarette which was enough to cause a coughing fit and brought me close enough to want to barf the meal I had earlier. This was a far cry from my 3 pack a day habit back in 2003 before I decided to quit. Nowadays, I try to place myself upwind from any smokers around me to avoid having to deal with the nausea due to second hand smoke. I try not to be too militant about it but I generally try to arrange it so that any smokers with me would have a less than ideal opportunity to light up as long as I can help it.

Trying to quit smoking was not easy for me. In fact it was a hellish time in my life that I would never want to ever have to go through again. Heck … it was an experience that I wouldn’t even want to wish on my enemies. It took all of my will power to get me through those dark days into a smoke free life. It was one of the earlier milestones in life that proved to me that regardless what I think, I do have the will power to go through something that I have set myself up to. It didn’t have to take an outside intervention or big push from someone that got me to quit. It just took my realization that if I don’t quit, I would just get worse faster than I would get better.

My life has changed since I decide to stop smoking. Other than the obvious health benefits, the way I live out my daily routine had to be adapted to a smoke-free existence. I didn’t lose any of my smoking buddies but I had to met up with them in different situations instead of the habitual gathering around the ashtray bin for a group smoke. I stopped going out to clubs as I became more sensitized to the amount of second hand smoke in them (on top of being over the age group that one became seen as a troll in those places). I started to become more health conscious especially while trying to lose all that weight I gained after quitting the cancer stick.

Do I feel tempted to smoke? I would be lying if I said I don’t. There have been times that the temptation was so strong that I found myself very close to succumbing to it. There were so many reasons that I could make up to justify why I would be OK with lighting up just that once but then I remind myself of the hell that I went through to stop. Granted that the temptations come less and less as the years go by but it’s still there in the back of my mind patiently waiting for a moment of weakness. It is up to me to remain vigilant against the slide back into nicotine dependency.

Do I regret my years as a smoker? A part of me does but then there is this other part of me that takes it as a life learning experience. Being a smoker back then opened doors and social opportunities that I would have not got had I not smoke a cigarette in my life. I’ve met fellow smoker friends who I would have not gotten a chance to talk to had I not had to bum a light. There was a point in my life back then when I would equate the level of trust with the willingness to let someone bum a smoke. If I had never started smoking, I would have never had to go through an ordeal that proved to me the extant of what I was able to accomplish if only I put my mind to it.

What I tell people now is that if you don’t smoke, don’t start. It’s a hard habit to break and something that won’t provide any beneficial returns in the long run. For those who are currently smoking, I would just ask them to look at the reasons why they are smoking. Those reason may have long been moot so consider whether they still need to fulfill that reason by smoking. I have no problems with people who continue to smoke. I just wished that I could stand closer to these people and not feel like I need to puke at the first whiff of their breath. Wouldn’t it make more sense to be able to talk face to face instead of having to stand a few feet upwind from the smokers?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Supper/Sahur for One

Went to gym tonight forgetting that they are only opened till 10pm on Sunday evenings. I had skipped last Sunday workout since I was in Selayang and worked out on Sunday mornings before fasting month started so I came to the gym tonight oblivious to the shorten hours. I was only able to so my stretching, cardio and abs before I had to rush through my shower and leave the gym with 10 minutes to spare. I guess since I could not come earlier to workout on Sundays, I just have to skip Sundays until the end of the fasting month. That would only leave me with a 4 times weekly gym schedule but it’s just for another few weeks. I’ll come back in full force soon enough especially when I know I’ll have more to burn off after the Raya break.

Supper/sahur tonight was a solitary affair after a weekend of having company to join me for my meals. Honestly, it felt a bit depressing not having company tonight to eat with after the truly enjoyable weekend but I soldier on as I have always done. Tonight’s supper/sahur was even more noteworthy tonight as I found all my favorite dishes at the Sunway mosque Ramadhan food bazaar earlier in the day. Of all the foods, the ones that I bought today (pictured above) would be the closest I would say to be my own version of what comfort food was suppose to be. Tonight’s supper/sahur menu was white rice with fried tempe, batter fried ikan bilis Mayang (anchovies) and lemak pucuk ubi (tapioca shoots in turmeric infused coconut milk).

I would be the first to admit that I have an obsession on all things tempe. I’m like that character in “Forrest Gump” who knows everything there is about shrimp but in my case it was about the humble tempe. I just can’t get enough of the stuff either fired, boiled, barbequed, sautéed or in anyway that it can be cooked. I have been know to just have pieces of fried tempe with crushed cili padi with soy sauce dip with white rice to eat contently for a whole week. Being a fairly good source of proteins, the tempe has always been my go to dish whenever I wanted to avoid any kind of meat. Some people tend to like them very thinly sliced but for my little morsels of heaven, it has to be sliced not too thinly that it would just be to crispy to the bite. Deep fried, properly drained of the frying oil before being stir fired with a little turmeric and chili – I’m just a happy camper when I can get them done that way.

Ikan bilis Mayang was basically soft boned anchovies fried in batter till they become crispy on the outside. Growing up, the only types of fish that I would eat was the tenggiri (mackerel) since it didn’t have a lot of fish bones and ikan bilis Mayang which I can eat whole with it’s bones. Since the tenggiri was more expansive (grandma use to call it “ikan orang kaya”) of the two, I would most often have batter fried ikan bilis Mayang as my fish dish. It was such a specific fish for me that my late grandma would make it a point to make it every time I visited her. It was also the last dish that she made for me before she was admitted to hospital and died a few weeks later. Since then, I would always be reminded of my grandma when I have the dish and to see it on sale today there was no way I would have skipped it. It’s not just having a dish to eat but have the comfort of me remembering my late grandmother who I miss dearly to keep me company tonight.

Last but not least on the menu tonight was masak lemak pucuk ubi which have always been a favorite of mine. I remember back when we would drive from KL to Johor in our old 1972 Honda Civic hatchback to visit relatives and come back with a trunk full of pisang tanduk, pucuk paku and pucuk ubi. The pisang would usually be from my maternal grandfather’s banana tree grove but both pucuk paku and pucuk ubi would be from the plants growing wild in the back of their old house. It was always an adventure as a child to go with the older people into the secondary forest looking for the wild ferns and tapioca trees. Having them cooked just right after an afternoon of looking for them was just icing on the cake for me. The only caveat for me was that no one put tempoyak (fermented durian) in my masak lemak pucuk ubi dish. I just can’t stand durian and tempoyak (yeah minus marks for my “Melayu”-ness).

I’m content just getting one of the dishes but getting all three from one place for supper/sahur tonight makes me a really happy camper. It was enough for me to throw the plan of not having carbohydrates tonight out the window. The food tonight was slice of home that reminds me of where I come from, what family means to me and gives me the assurance that wherever or whatever happens, I will always have these simple things to make me happy. Nostalgia aside, each morsel was for me to enjoy though it would be better to have someone to share it and the stories behind it with.

Guess there is always a next time to do that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Confessions of a Gym Junkie

It has been a week since fasting month started and I have to say that I’m getting the hang of working out at the gym during the fasting month. It was not as daunting as I thought it would be even when I go through the same workout routine that I use before the fasting month. I did have to modify it a bit from the original routine but those modifications were more due to time constraints rather than me feeling more tired after the day of fasting. I have to be honest that it does get more challenging every time to get myself to go to the gym as the days go past this month. An acquaintance on mine commented that I’m going to find myself looking for excuses not to go as the weeks roll on this month but I’ve determined to prove him wrong. It’s not done out of spite but to take his comment as a personal motivation to challenge myself.

For the past 3 weeks, the gym has become somewhat of a therapeutic sanctuary for me to get away from the house. When I work out, I can focus myself on what I’m doing and how my body is reacting to the loads or routine I’m putting it through. I become more aware of my pain thresholds and when I can try to push beyond it. Not surprisingly, I find myself zoning out during the work and becoming oblivious to what’s happening around me. It’s strange but true that I find myself getting more mentally relaxed when I work out at the gym. There is no need to think about anything else other than meeting that goal of the distance that I have to cycle within the amount of time I’ve set or the numbers if sets or reps that I still have to do. Each time I finish a routine, I get that rush of personal accomplishment and the reaffirmation that I can do what I set my mind to.

I usually go for my gym workouts between 8:30 – 10:30 pm and the number of people at the gym during that time seems to be varied from day to day. There have been a few days that I get to work out at the gym with scarcely 20 other people around but other times the gym gets packed with people working out. The crowd at California Fitness Sunway generally seems to be both local and international students from the nearby colleges, some people my age who must live around the area and a few fitness fanatics with biceps the size of soccer balls. After going there for a few weeks, I’ve began to notice a few people who came to the gym as regularly as I do. I usually just give them a nod of acknowledgement if they happened to catch my eye but haven’t really talked to any of them yet other than the staff at the gym.

As for the G-factor, a blogger friend of mine called my gym “West Hollywood Fitness” but personally I have yet to really find how much of it warrants the moniker. There are quite a few regulars who are pleasing to the eyes to behold but I’m much too absorbed in my own workout to notice anything more than the cursory glance. And that was because on top of looking like they just stepped out of a fitness magazine photo shoot, some of the more eye pleasing regulars were really vocal with the grunts when they work out which makes them even harder not to notice. However, given my track record and the absolutely uselessness of my rainbow senses, I wouldn’t be surprised that I would not notice a thing until they come up and bite me in the behind. On second thought, even that may not do it since there is nothing back there to bite. It’s so flat that everything would just slide off like a Teflon pan.

After working out, I usually indulge myself in a 15 minutes sweat session in the dry sauna room. Having heard about the horror stories of what goes on in saunas in some other places, I was relieved that nothing of the sort goes on here (at least that I know of). It used to be that most often I would get the room just for myself but lately the sauna room does get a bit crowded when I go to use it. Not that I don’t mind other people using it but I could appreciate it more if some people would be considerate enough not to be too loud when they’re in it. Seriously, some people can just go on and on jabbering loudly to their friend in the heat without a care in the world for others who are trying to use the 15 minutes to relax and wind down.

Regardless, I’m still happy with the progress that I’ve made working out these past week especially those that are becoming more noticeable in the mirror. Call me narcissistic and shallow but part of the reason I signed up for gym membership to develop a better self image of myself. I’m tired of feeling inadequate and desponded about the way I look when I now have the means to change all that. A more positive self awareness seems to be a welcomed byproduct of the efforts that I’m putting in at my workout routine. I feel more relaxed and confident nowadays compared to before I started on this journey. I still have a ways to go to reach my goal but at this point I can safely say that I am happy with what I have achieved.

Knowing that I can achieve this will just spur me on to do more.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Blues

Weekend at the parents was uneventful although I did get a bit of flack from my mum on the change in my eating habits. I had to assure her that I will not be doing it until I get sick but she knows how obsessive I can get about my weight that I don’t think that she was totally convinced. As long as I can prove to her that I’m trying to lose weight in a healthy way then she would be ok with it. She wasn’t too thrilled with the amount of time I spent at gym as well but I told her that it’s still new for me and there is the novelty factor to figure it. I guess mothers are just like that even when you’re already over 30 years old.

We have all our Raya kuih plans sorted out as well this weekend. As like previous years, I would be responsible for making the dodol and for buying the London Almond cookies. This year I’ve decided to try another source for the cookies as I’ve lost contact with the person who I used to buy them from. None of his numbers work anymore and usually he would have contacted me about my yearly order by now. I have to assume that he won’t be making them this year and I have to find someone else who makes them to buy from. As for the dodol, I’m thinking of making Dodol Pulut Hitam this year instead of the usual dodol partly to compare if there is any difference between the two types.

Got my alumni batik shirt back from the tailors with some minor items that I was not totally satisfied with. However, I could not blame the tailor totally for the oversight as the batik pattern the alumni uses was quite difficult to figure out what goes where without a diagram. Fortunately for me, the wrong pattern was only used on the sleeves which was still ok as long as the main body and back was according to spec. I also ended up buying 3 more long sleeve shirts for work even though I just bought 2 the week before puasa. It’s not that I have money to burn on clothes but I have not found a shirt that I can be comfortable in and long lasting at the same time. I think I finally found them this weekend and hopefully they would be the last that I buy for this year … at least until I find another reason to buy more.

Spent the whole day today installing anti-virus and software management applications on a server in China which crashed last weekend. Good thing that they didn’t bugged me about it when it happened or I would have been really ticked off for having to forego my weekend. The tasks were not that difficult to do but I do need to baby-sit the process all the way through. I still have to continue it tomorrow as I need to get some items completed by another group before I can proceed so I would have that to occupy my time at work this week.

Feeling a little bit under the weather today. I do hope I don’t get the flu especially during the fasting month. I am a really cranky person when I get the flu and not being able to self medicate during the day would make me even more crankier. I hope that I will feel better after sweating it out at the gym tonight.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Blipvert Update

Blipvert #1

Yesterday was my first time working out at the gym during the fasting month and it wasn’t as hard as I expected it. Either it is just because it is still early in the fasting month or if my current workout routine is just not as taxing as I would like to think it is, I was able to go through with the plan with some adjustment. One thing that I had to drop from my original plan was the 10 minute that I spend on the rowing machine for cardio exercise. I had to drop this as I was late going to gym yesterday after breaking fast. I only broke my fast with 3 pieces of kuih, half serving of bubur pulut hitam and a mug of Complan mix but I still had to wait for about 45 minutes before I felt comfortable enough to go.

Even without the 10 minute rowing workout, it was still a good one as I managed to get through all the goals that I set for myself. Guess that just means that I have more than enough fat supply to burn off on top of the fasting which exactly why I need the gym time. I fully intend to stay with the program for the duration of the fasting month so we’ll see how it goes in the days ahead.

Blipvert #2

The route that I take to walk to and from work used to be full of stalls selling food for buka puasa every fasting month. That changed a few years back when they started the food bazaar in the parking area of the Sunway mosque which gathered all those separate stalls into one location. I’ve always looked forward for the Ramadhan food bazaar there since it would be the time that I could get dishes that I normally can’t get for dinner during the rest of the year. This year is no different but I have to be mindful of not overindulging like I always do.

For the 1st day, the food bazaar was quite good. There were quite a wide spread of selection and of course the crowd was out in full force. There were a few sellers that I recognized from previous years returning so I already know the quality of their dishes which make the task of selecting what to buy that much easier. I’ve overheard some of the sellers talking that they expect more stalls to start operating at the end of the week so there would be more to check out later in the month. I would definitely make a return visit soon.

Blipvert #3

I will be going back to my parents house this weekend to break fast with them. I have this rule that I would make sure that I came back at least once during the fasting month for that. This year it looks like I will be coming back twice since this weekend is just so I could get everyone together to plan what our Hari Raya plans will be at the end of the fasting month. Since most in the family have families of their own, we have to make sure that we have plans drawn up in advance so there won’t be any grumbling about it later. It was different when we were all younger. Hari Raya meant that everyone us at home with the parents. Nowadays my siblings have in-laws and related parties on their spouse side to consider.

Obviously, I don’t have that to take into consideration but I still like to know who would be around to celebrate Hari Raya with my parents. If nothing else, I know how much “duit raya” to prepare for my nieces and nephews which as I rule I dole out only on the first 3 days of raya. The other agenda that I have for going back this weekend if to check how many of my siblings will be helping me to make the dodol this year. I’ve already scheduled that for the last weekend before Hari Raya so I need to get their commitment that they would be there to help out. I would definitely need their help as making dodol can be somewhat a back breaking job if one had to do it alone.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ramadhan Mubarak

To all who will be fasting in this Ramadhan, I would like to wish all …

Now if I can only wake up at 5am today for my sahur ....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gym Workout Routine

I’ve decided to document my current workout routine that I have been using for the past 2 weeks at the gym. This routine was one that I came up by myself since I had not had a chance to talk to my PT about it yet. I designed this routine based on the understanding that I should really focus on one muscle group at a time to effectively train them. Other than the stretching and cardio workouts that have time and distance targets, the numbers next to the routine in the list represent the number of target reps to be completed. I usually break then into sets of 10 reps with as little rest time in between sets that I can handle.

My current workout routine starts with stretching, cardio and abs before going to the focus muscle group of the day with the exception of Sunday when I go through a whole body workout. I would normally set the weight stack at a level that I could comfortably handle to complete the number of target reps with some effort. Too much weight and I might over strain something but too little weight would not make the workout worthwhile. The usual indicator that I use to gauge that I have the right weight setting is that I break into a sweat by the time I’ve gone through half of the number of my reps. After going through the focus muscle workouts, I usually go through another round of abs work before ending with stretching to work out all the kinks from the workout session.

All of my current workout routine are done on weight stack machines that they have at my gym. I feel more comfortable and safe using them rather than the free weights that they also have on the same floor. For one. I don’t need a spotter to help me on the weight stacks unlike working with free weights. I don’t really know anyone yet at the gym to ask to be my spotter if I wanted to work with free weights. Furthermore, looking at the crowd who uses the free weight area, I get a little be put off by them. To be frank, the people who use the free weight area at my gym can be put into either one of 2 groups. They are either poseurs who lift weights for 2 or 3 reps then spend more time posing at the weight machines or huge middle age men with muscles that looked like they would burst out of their skins if they sneezed too hard. I hope that I would never fall into either category.

Current workout routine

Stretching – 5 minutes
- focused on back, hamstrings, hips, inner groin and shoulders to increase flexibility.

Cardio – 30 minutes
- Stationary bikes – try to complete 8 km under 20 minutes
- Rowing machine – try to complete 2 km under 10 minutes

Abs (M/W/Th/F/Sun)
- Upper abs crunches – 50
- Right external oblique twist – 50
- Left external oblique twist – 50
- Lower abs crunches – 50

Monday (Focus: Arms and Shoulders)
- Seated dips (triceps) – 30
- Bicep curls – 30
- Shoulder press - 30

Wednesday (Focus: Chest and Back)
- Chest press – 30
- Seated rows – 30
- Lateral pull down – 30

Thursday (Focus: Lower Body)
- Leg extension – 30
- Leg press – 30
- Leg curl – 30

Friday (Focus: Upper Body)
- Chest press – 30
- Bicep curls – 30
- Seated dips (triceps) – 30
- Seated rows – 30

Sunday (Focus: Full Body)
- Seated dips (triceps) – 30
- Bicep curls – 30
- Shoulder press - 30
- Chest press – 30
- Seated rows – 30
- Lateral pull down – 30
- Leg extension – 30
- Leg press – 30
- Leg curl – 30

Abs (M/W/Th/F/Sun)
- Upper abs crunches – 50
- Right external oblique twist – 50
- Left external oblique twist – 50
- Lower abs crunches – 50

Stretching – 5 minutes
- focused on back, hamstrings, hips, inner groin and shoulders for cool down.

For the fasting month that starts for me tomorrow, I’m thinking of keeping to this workout routine initially to see if I can handle it. Obviously I might have to modify the routine that I use on Sundays since it’s planned for a 4 hours workout session rather than the 2 hours as with the other days. My first fasting month workout is currently scheduled for this coming Thursday so I will know by then if the number of reps will be manageable then.

This will be my personal challenge for the month.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

30 Minutes to Midnight

I normally finish at the gym at about 11:30pm on my weekday schedule and would walk past the closed shops at Sunway Pyramid on my way back. The place is not actually deserted as there are many workers putting up things in preparation of the new wing opening later this year. They had put up new coats of paint everywhere and had new lighting systems installed overhead. For the past 2 weeks, I have been observing how busy it is at Sunway Pyramid after hours. It’s a pity that I can’t really hang around long to see more of what they are doing to the mall but I guess I would get my chance to see it when the new wing opens.

Being able to walk in the mall after closing gives me a different view of the place. There is definitely a different vibe to the surroundings since what was usually filled with shoppers had turned silent with only the occasional hum of machine running in the background as company. At times it felt like you had the mall all to yourself except that none of the shops were opened and none of the escalators worked. The feeling of solitude really helped to center myself after each gym session.

The solitary walk allows me a moment of reflection on what I had done in the day and what I need to do tomorrow. It also allows me to focus on my accomplishments at the gym that day and what I need to do to top that the next time I’m there. I am still getting a hang of things there but I’m fairly certain that I’m there for the long run. It’s going to be one of those things that I hope not to turn into just another chore to do but instead a part of my daily routine that would help me wind down after a day’s work.

God knows that there are days that I really need that ….

Friday, September 07, 2007

Blipvert Update

Blipvert #1

I finally decided to bite the bullet and went ahead with my decision to invest in Public Mutual’s unit trust with the money from my EPF savings. Filled up all the forms and signed them this week and the first withdrawals from EPF should be completed in about 1 week’s time. I’ve decided to spread out my investment risks by putting my money into 2 separate fund. My first would be a moderate risk Islamic fund which at the moment is a good buy as the units are due for an upward price correction. The next time when I am eligible to withdraw more money from my EPF account, which is after 3 months of the prior withdrawal date, I’m going to put that money into a conservative risk Islamic fund. Hopefully having both would allow me to balance my investment risk.

It took me 11 years of working for me to be able to even think about investing my money into funds like this. I guess I would have been able to do this sooner had I gotten a higher paid job but I am happy with what I have now. Years of hard earn money have given me an adequately diversified investment portfolio that I can be comfortable with. All that I’ve done in terms of investments is with the goal of being financially independent by the time I retire. I’m sure that I would never get to be one of those millionaires with these investments but I would be happy enough to be able to know that I will be able to pay off all debts and retire comfortably.

Blipvert #2

Luciano Pavarotti died this week at the age of 71.

I was first exposed to his music back when I was a college student in the US. Until then, I always thought that opera made no sense and was just a bunch of people singing at the top of their voices in an unintelligible language. It all changed when I first heard “Nessun Dorma” sung by Pavarotti and immediately I was hooked. I started to look for more of his arias just to hear more of that wonderful voice even when I hardly understood what the words meant in English. There were occasions back then that I would be moved to tears just from listening to a CD of him singing as one could not help by feel the heartbreak that reverberated from his voice.

He made opera less daunting to appreciate, at least for me. He’s was a voice that would never be forgotten and rightly so as a voice like his comes very rarely in a life time. I don’t think that I would be able to ever hear “Nessun Dorma” without a lump coming up in my throat.

Good bye, o’ great maestro.

Blipvert #3

This week is my second week of going to the gym and I must say that I’m starting to get into the hang of things there. Breaking up my work out routine into different days does actually help in allowing me to focus on my goals more efficiently. The only thing that worries me is that I’m spending more time at the gym than I originally planned. I’m currently averaging a 2 hour workout session 4 times a week with an extra session of 4 hours during the weekend. I could be more disciplined and stop my workout early but when I get into the zone when I work out, I tend to ignore both pain and the time. When it comes to working out, I take the old adage that “No pain, no gain” quite literally.

I have to watch out that I don’t over exert myself and hurt something major. I could easily do that being the obsessive compulsive person I am. This would be something that I would need to discuss with my PT when I have my sessions with him.

Blipvert #4

Fasting months starts next week and I’m really looking forward for it. Aside from the spiritual aspects of fasting, I am also anxious to see how I can keep up with my current diet plan for the duration of the fasting month. I have always dependent on small meals every 2 hours to keep my metabolism up but that would not be possible to do during the daylight hours starting next week. I have to find a way also to keep up with my workout sessions as I believe that the fasting month would also a good time to lose more weight and gain more lean mass since the fat reserves are not replenished as fast as they would during the non-fasting month.

I’m also looking forward to my annual buka puasa do that I organize yearly for my old secondary friends. It has been my tradition since I started work to get my friends together for breaking of fast on my treat at least once during the month. This year I’m also thinking about organizing another buka puasa dinner for my other set of friends whom I’ve know from my blogging activities but I have not decided on that yet. I know that I’m going to be having buka puasa with one blogger at least so I might as well get some of the others in as well.

I’m also looking forward to making dodol for Hari Raya again this year which I’m currently scheduling for the last weekend before the end of the fasting month. I have to put it in the calendar early lest my dodol – stirrers i.e. my bothers and brother in law tries to escape their duties.

I’m such a slave driver when it comes to making our traditional dodol .

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Merdeka Weekend That Never Was

My Merdeka weekend plans turned out to be a bust.

It was already a bit late when I went back to Selayang on the Merdeka eve for us to find a suitable place to park and join in the festivities. My sister had her own plans at UiTM that night and would not be joining us. Both my brothers had another birthday party to attend in Bangsar for one of their friends. I didn’t know that particular friend so the thought of being the only one at the party not knowing anyone else there was enough for me to not join them there. In the end it was just me, my mum and my nephew sitting in front of the TV to watch the countdown. Of course by the time the countdown started, 2 out of the 3 people watching it was already asleep.

The plan to watch the parades the following day also fizzled out. My dad got back from Terengganu at 3am which was about the same time as my brothers got back. By the time I woke up at 6 the following day, everyone was too exhausted to go which kind of meant that I had to go there myself if I really wanted too. In the end, I just decided that being in the middle of the gazillion people that would surely be at the parade route was too much for me to handle on my own. Went back to sleep and later watch the whole parade on TV in the comfort of my own house. When everybody woke up, we all went for a late breakfast at the nearby mamak shop.

It wasn’t all bad. I did get sometime to spend with the family and my nephew. I also got a chance to send the batik material I bought to the family tailor for my alumni batik shirt. Hope to get that back in about 3 weeks so I will have it ready by the time of my alumni dinner next month. Picked up my monthly shipment of comics from Mind Shop which thankfully was less this month that what I usually have to pay in the previous months. While the amount that I have to pay was less, I still have months of comics in my read pile to go through. I’m just adding to the read pile every month now since I don’t get to go through them as often as I would like to.

I also got a chance to put it some time to my Neverwinter Nights 2 PC game which I have to install on my brother’s PC since it can’t run on my laptop. Even then the graphic performance was too slow and had it not been for the engaging storyline, I would have given it a miss a long time ago. Given the quality of the graphics in this installment of the franchise, I wondered why it demands so much from the hardware. It’s times like thing when I get tempted to spurge on a PC gaming system with the latest AV hardware but then I realize that I have a whole boatload of PS2 games that I have not even touch yet!

September also means that the fasting month is just around the corner. I have to start planning my schedule as I’m hoping to get in some gym time as well the fasting month. Unlike most people, I usually gain weight during the fasting month instead of loosing it. Never could understand why especially I usually watch closely how I eat when I break fast. Hopefully I would be able to change that this year.

That reminds me that I will have to go to the gym tonight to burn off the amount of food that ate during the weekend. It’s so hard to say no to a home cooked meal especially when my mum cooks it.