I feel very sheepish about posting half-baked ideas, particularly the ones that I am still labouring to process. However, I am a practicing imperfectionist, who is learning to embrace the idea that: if I wait for all my ideas and research to be perfect, then I may have missed the most valuable element: time. Or, in the words of Alex Hormozi, whose work ethic I revere: “By the time you have complete information, the opportunity has closed.”
So here I am, squirming to post these raw, unrefined thoughts but posting them nonetheless. 🥂 To stepping outside of our comfort zone.
November came and went in the blink of an eye. I am still trudging through my “third-life crisis”, trying to discern which axioms to best live my life by. While I have been holding tightly onto the people who love me and remind me of the essence of who they know me to be, I also know that I have strayed into the company of vague acquaintances and surfaced conversations. My excuse is that: after long hours of working, learning, and deliberating about the directions for the next stage of my life, sometimes my mind just needs a break, an escape. While I am not too proud of those nights out, nor the company that I had kept, I think they just might be necessary to preserve my sanity for the moment.
Besides my struggle to equilibrate between Romanticism and Pragmaticism (as per my October update), I have also been vacillating between living in the present and planning for the future. Specifically:
How Does One Hope for the Future and Live in the Present Simultaneously?
There are countless wisdom and philosophies about the only path to pure and absolute happiness in living in the present, and just as much teachings about striving for the future. Here’s what I mean:
True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
Henry David Thoreau
We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
If these two concepts weren’t dichotomic, then perhaps I wouldn’t be having such a hard time.
Anyways! Here are some photos for those of you who are more visually inclined:
November in Pictures
That’s it from me! Thank you for reading, and for being part of this journey with me💙 Until next time!
The only constant in my life are: change, and my healthy appetite. All the different iterations of me seem to pine for something wildly different. In some seasons, I wanted to settle down and have children, in some others I want to move to a monastery and forsake the world.
Often, I wonder if I have a gypsy soul or have caught some sort of an ‘adventure bug’ that compels me to chase new experiences ’til the end of the world.
My current adventure bug has metamorphosed into: big hikes and new sports. So, essentially, challenging both my physical and mental limitations.
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
My last proud achievement was summiting Black Tusk in Squamish in one day (on a sprained ankle). Looking forward to unlock more mountains!
This is another ‘fluff’ post on LOVE, because I unabashedly enjoy capturing the abstract, intangible feelings, and etching them into words.
In a world cloaked in a myriad of temptations, staying in a committed relationship requires relentless and adamant effort on both parties to choose each other. Every text soliciting your attention, every invitation beseeching your presence, every exciting possibility enticing your imagination, every palatable spark wetting your ravenous appetite for adventures—is an occasion in which you will have to decide whether you are going to choose your partner, or not. Since—so often— love is a slippery steep slope (hence the phrase “fall in love” instead of “walk in love”), who knows what a quick rendezvous could lead to?
Fall in love with someone who is both your safe place and biggest adventure.
Over the years, I have developed special “tunnel vision goggles” that I put on whenever I am in a committed relationship. What I struggled with, was when I wasn’t chosen the same way. Whenever that happened, I’d find myself entertaining an occasional ‘friendly’ dinner, accepting a ‘friendly’ afternoon stroll, or things alike. I have never cheated. But I guess at that juncture of the relationship, cheating was already besides the point. The point would have been: When two people stop choosing each other, the relationship is on its way out.
So, perhaps that’s the first telltale sign of falling out of love, of the demise of a relationship—when two people stop choosing each other all the time. Because, if one’s only faithful 99% of the time, are they still faithful?
What do YOU think the first telltale sign of falling out of love is?
I started Intermittent Fasting (IF) about 5-6 years ago. Since then, I have fasted nearly every single day. That in and of itself is rather mind-blowing to me—I have done almost 2,000 fasts! That said, the types of fast I do and the purpose behind why I fast have changed drastically. I thought I’d share my journey with you, corroborated by scientific research for those of you that require more data-based evidence (like me!).
I can think. I can wait. I can fast.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are many well-documented researches that delineate the physical and mental health benefits of IF.
It is most popularly known as a diet strategy for weight loss. The narrowed eating window is helpful for reducing calorie consumption for individuals; however, it is important to keep in mind that: the only sure method of losing weight is to be at a calorie deficit. In other words, regardless the size of your eating window or how long you have fasted, as long as your caloric consumption exceeds your caloric expenditure, you will not lose weight!
Besides weight management, studies have discovered IF to have neuroprotective effects by enhancing hippocampal neurogenesis and long-term potentiation (LTP) at hippocampal synapses (Baik, Sang-Ha et al.). In short, IF activates the mechanisms that fortify our central nervous system against injuries, both acute and chronic, such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, etc.
Another benefit of IF is the induction of autophagy, which is a metabolic process that our body employs to dispose of damaged cells. This quality is commonly associated with anti-aging! Typically, autophagy begins when glucose and insulin levels have dropped significantly (Bagherniya, Mohammad et al.).
Finally, the last efficacy of IF that I am going to share here is: mental clarity. When we fast, our norepinephrine levels increase; it is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that enhance mental focus, and memory storage and retrieval (Fung and Moore).
Types of Fasts
The Warrior Diet Eat only one large meal a day
Eat Stop Eat // 24 Hour Fast Pick one day of the week and fast the entire day
Time-restricted Fast Fast for 12+ hours every day and reduce your eating window A popular one is: 18/6 18 hours fast and 6 hours eating window; and 14/10 14 hours fast and 10 hours eating window
Alternate Day Fast Fast every other day
5:2 Fast Eat as you normally would for 5 days, restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 on the other 2 days
Tips to Get Started & Risks to Avoid
In my years of fasting, I have tried all of the fasts listed above, for various reasons. I first stumbled across IF when I was trying to lose weight. I was assiduous in my fasting, so much so that I overlooked and neglected all biological signals, and subsequently lost my period. As a beginning faster, I had no way of discerning: how much I was supposed to suppress my hunger cues; which cues were derived from hunger, which ones were from boredom; when to abort the fast, etc.
I will share some of my tips (from personal experience and research) but since all of us are different, please note that what works for me may not work for you.
1. Start Slow
I leaped straight into a daily 16/8 Time-Restricted Fast (16 hours fasted, 8 hours eating window) as a beginner. After nearly a month of 16/8, I felt rather good and confident, so I increased my fasting window to 18 hours, while at the same time reducing my caloric intake because I was trying to lose weight ASAP—huge mistake! This foolishness and naïveté lost me my period, which took me months to recover. To avoid making my mistake, I’d recommend starting with a smaller fasting window, say 12 hours, and slowly work your way up.
2. Drink LOTS of Water
You may be tempted to be strictly drinking caffeinated beverages to stave off hunger but those are diuretics. It is highly—HIGHLY—recommended that you drink a copious amount of water to remain hydrated.
3. It’s Okay to Abandon a Fast
Some days you may be so so so close to completing your fast yet your blood sugar has already dropped too low and you are beginning to feel dizzy. Abandon fast. Eat. The beauty of this social construct of time is you will get another 24 hours the next day to fast! In the grand scheme of things, one incomplete fast really doesn’t make any difference.
My Current Routine
Currently, I fast 14+ hours daily, unless I am feeling unwell. My body prefers this fasted state in the morning wherein my thoughts are crisp and agile. While I fast, I drink an obscene amount of water, along with some black coffee. I no longer fast for weight management, rather mental clarity and personal preference.
That’s it! I hope this post was informative. Let me know if you have any questions! I’ll be happy to impart my flawed wisdom! 😉
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
—Susan David, “Emotional Agility”
I find myself anthropomorphizing Life and Universe, a lot. I know it’s not unique to me but I do often catch myself saying or thinking: Life/Universe has a strange sense of humour.
Last week I wrote about Flexibility versus Rigidity in fitness and dietary routines. Simultaneously I was also processing and learning about our emotional intelligence (EQ). I chuckled in my head when I came across Susan David’s book “Emotional Agility” after I had written my post.
“‘Agility!’ It’s that word again! Universe has a strange sense of humour.” I thought to myself. “It must be guiding me through my lessons for this season.” (I don’t actually think the Universe lines up lessons. The same way I am not sure if everything happens for a reason. I mean, if the Law of Action-Reaction and the natural order of consequences count as “reasons”, then yes. Otherwise, I am agnostic.)
Oops, I digressed. I am still working on keeping my writing tight. Back to Emotional Agility.
How does Emotional Agility differ from Emotional Intelligence?
Succinctly summarized by Andy Brett, Emotional Intelligence is: “the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions.. [and] to shift negative patterns to more positive ones.”
Emotional Agility, on the other hand, is the ability to recognize your patterns, without necessarily changing them. It is about living in a way that allows you to align with your core values in life.
How Does One Become More Emotionally Agile?
There were quite a number of techniques that Susan David had outlined in her book, amongst them there were three that particularly stood out for me:
Continuity of Self
Continuity of Self is a term in psychology that refers to one’s connection to their past, present, and future self. You know that exercise in which you write letters to your younger self? That’s one of the common exercises you can do to strengthen your Continuity of Self.
This continuity is important in helping you examine what your core values are, how they were formulated, and how to best support and live in accordance to them. Not so surprisingly, this concept of aligning one’s behaviour to their core values is not a new one. In fact, it is similar to Viktor Frankl’s psychotherapeutic method—one that he had devised whilst trying to survive the Nazi concentration camp—to help his patients find purpose, and consequently: their meaning of life.
Emotional Granularity is the ability to express feelings with a high degree of accuracy and precision. For example, instead of broadly categorizing your feeling as “stressed”, dissect this feeling into more detail. Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do? Are you feeling anxious about not being able to complete certain task? Once you can identify the granular details of your emotional state, you can better address it. While sometimes you may just need to hold that feeling, other times you may be able to come up with a plan to alleviate it.
Extend yourself the compassion you would a beloved friend, family. Understand that going through that range of emotion is part of the human experience, that there is absolutelynothingwrong with not feeling rainbows and sunshines all the time. In fact, are there anyone who only feels rainbows and sunshines?
Self-compassion also means not caving into Toxic Positivity.
🚫”Positive Vibes Only!”
🚫”Don’t worry, be happy!”
Toxic Positivity invalidates and negates the gravity and weight of emotions and our experience. It creates this unhealthy illusion that it is possible to have one’s life together, all the time; along with the implication that: if others have their lives together but you don’t, there must be something wrong with you.
NO. No, No, No, No, NO! No one’s life is perfect, not even remotely close. Allow yourself to experience your emotions, hold them. Avoid minimizing and hiding them away. Bravery is holding gaze with your fear and discomfort, recognizing that life can be hard, but you soldier on anyway.
Because after all, growth happens outside of your comfort zone!
For the record, just like all the other topics I write about, I definitely do not have life all figured out. I will be the first to admit that there are still so much work to do, so much room for improvement. However, what I have figured out and committed to, is that I will tirelessly learn and grow, even if it takes a few million iterations. It all started with Andie 1.0, then Andie 2.0, and maybe one day I’ll get to Andie 5,172,321.0.
Thank you for reading! I hope it has offered you a modicum of insight.❤️
Discipline and Consistency, Plus a Splash of Flexibility
Some time in the last few years, “Discipline” and “Consistency” have become two High Frequency Sight Words in self-help books and motivational essays. As an ‘everyday girl’, I wholeheartedly subscribe to the significance of them both. HOWEVER, what I think is not as commonly communicated, is the Flexibility that can symbiotically coexist with Discipline and Consistency. In fact, I believe that in order to achieve lifelong Consistency, one would REQUIREFlexibility in their practice.
So often, there is this rigidity that is associated (or even celebrated) by those who are considered to be Consistent and Disciplined. The ‘5am-club’, the ’16-8 intermittent-fasts’, the ‘keto diet’, the ‘upper-lower-recovery workout split’ — just to name a few. Don’t get me wrong. Those routines and habits are great; there is nothing inherently wrong with them. Except, how often is life neat and tidy, such that it allows you to rigidly execute those routines?
Flexibility is Paramount
The ‘All or Nothing’ mentality is one that often causes people to stay astray when your routine gets interrupted. Here’s what I mean:
“I need 45 minutes to finish my set and I only have 20 minutes left before I have to go. Might as well just skip it.”
“With all my friends visiting from out of town, I’m going to be having dinners at restaurants all week. Might as well take this week off as ‘cheat week’ and go back on my regular diet when they’re gone.”
Now, imagine adding Flexibility to your routine and execution. On the days when you are not delivering the most ideal outcome, you can still show up and move towards your goal:
A 20-minute workout is better than no workout at all.
Just because you are having dinners with friends that may not align with your dietary goals, it doesn’t mean you have to sabotage your breakfast and lunch, too.
Healthy Lifestyle is a Lifelong Endeavour
“Becoming limitless involves mental agility; the ability to quickly grasp and incorporate new ideas and concepts with confidence.”
As we expand our minds about science, nutrition, and fitness, it is important that we consciously pivot and grow our routine. Healthy lifestyles are not built in a day. Give yourself some grace, allow some flexibility and fluidity as you intentionally and consistently move towards your goal. You will sooner reach the results that you are looking for than you would with a rigid routine!
THANK YOU for all your generous support of my writing endeavour! It really means the world to me.🤍
As a way of giving back, I thought I’d start a series on Health and Fitness—something that I am unabashedly passionate about, and have invested an obscene amount of time researching on—in the hope that it could be of some use to you.
If you have recently decided to embark on your Health and Fitness and/or Weight Loss journey but are not sure of where to start, here are some simple, easy-to-follow tips!
1. There Are No Quick-fixes
The only guarantees in life are death and taxes. There are no quick-fixes, no guaranteed rules that will help anyone lose weight miraculously. If anyone were to tell you otherwise, they are lying to you.
2. Calories In and Calories Out
The law of thermodynamics is strictly what governs the success (or failure) of your weight loss journey. To burn a pound of body fat, you will need to reach a deficit of around 3,500 calories. When you have reached a deficit of 3,500 calories, then you will lose a pound! No magic, just math.
In order to calculate your caloric deficit, you will need to first figure out how many calories you roughly burn every day, which is also known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This entry level calculator will help you get started. Our TDEE is more complex than what the calculator gives us, which I will dive into later in this series, but for now, this calculator will do the job!
3. Start with a Small Change
Increase your daily activity level by adding a short exercise routine that you can commit to—one that is realistic and not a daunting task for you to accomplish every day. Start with 15 minutes, which is only the approximate length of 3 songs only!
4. Eat More Protein
“Thermic Effect of Food”, or TEF, is the increase of the metabolic rate that occurs from digestion. The simple act of eating foods that has a higher TEF will biologically require your body to burn more calories when digesting them. As a general guideline:
Protein: 20-35% of calories burned through processing
Carbohydrates: 5-15% of calories burned through processing
Fats: 0-5% of calories burned through processing
5. Avoid Drinking Your Calories
There can be a lot of hidden calories in drinks, usually from all the added sugars. Besides the undesirable calories, another hidden pitfall of sugary drinks is the spike in insulin level. When your insulin level subsequently drops from the sugar spike, the dip is when your body sends you hunger signals. In other words, you may feel the munchies (and potentially consume more calories) that your body does not actually need.
6. Change Your Self-talk
Be kind about how you talk to yourself. You are courageous enough to embark on this journey for yourself; allow yourself the grace of patience and time. Weight loss and/or lifestyle changes are not easy nor expeditious. A paradigm shift on this journey will allow you to enjoy the process and make more lasting, sustainable changes. In the grand scheme of a lifetime, what’s a year?
Thanks reading! I hope you found this entry helpful. Stay tuned for more specific workout regiments and nutritious meal ideas.
Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.
Winnie the Pooh
34 has been nothing short of exciting! While I attempt to come up with words that could do it justice, I am going to park some highlights here in the form of photos—without captions, because some memories are better left untempered.
This was taken in 2018, when I was the most cut I had ever been. I did it to test my physical and mental fortitude. Little did I know how much it would’ve cost me to recover from it.
Was it worth it?
No. Nothing is worth one’s health and their relationship with food.
Would I do it again?
This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous and embarrassingly absurd but yes, yes I’d do it again if I were to go back in time. This ruthlessly painful journey, from training to recovery, indelibly defined a lot of who I am today. Because of it, I now have razor sharp discipline to carry through days when my motivations may be lacking. Because of it, I now have newfound appreciation of my body, of how it allows me to live this active life.
What does my current routine look like now?
Much has changed since then. Exercising is no longer on my to-do list as a task to cross off, rather, a mindfulness break I cherish.
As an ‘Everyday’ girl, I do the following every day:
Cover 10km (walk, run, hike)
Intermittent Fast 14-18 hours (almost every day)
Meet my macro split (1/3C, 1/3P, 1/3F)
Eat a high protein diet
Obtain my micronutrients from whole foods
Today, I may not have a chiseled six-pack that could grate cheese but I am healthy, strong, and blissfully happy. I have finally healed my relationship with food and with my own body.