Category Archives: Distinctions

Day 23 – family tahlil, emotional/inspiring songs and another big break

Joined a family tahlil ceremony(ies?) tradition on my father side. Every ramadhan, usually on a sunday. We go to 4 or 5 burial sites in one day, and recite surah yasin and tahlil. I used an a simple pdf based app I made a few years ago. The tahlil and yasin app I created was from a booklet that my brother had printed for our late father. It was because at that point there was none available then that was close to brunei’s traditions, it is surprising to know that different countries have different practices despite having the same language and the same religion, it was only then I found that the practice is considered by some muslims as bid’ah or innovations, at which different xountries have their own customized customs.

https://islamqa.info/en/734
Regardless, I find the customs of yasin and tahlil to be a meaningful practice. For one it gets people to practice the recital of the surah itself. The tahlil, itself is a form of dzikr, or the remembrance or the self reminder towards god, and dedicating it all to the departed loved ones. While the whole practice is also a very good way for relatives to come together. While my uncles like to remind their kids and others of who was who, was buried where, and so on. It makes for a good reminder from where we came, our roots, our commonality.  and it also makes a good reminder of where we all are headed, to know that we will remembered long after our deaths. To be be honest, I feel the whole tradition is for the benefit of the living more than it is for the dead.

The locations we visited were 3 burial sites at Batu Satu, 1 burial site at makam di luba, and finally 1 burial site of my great grandfather at Kuala Belait. I have only started visiting that last site for the last 3 years. I remember my father, often visited that site whenever we were passing by to go to miri. But I had never visited until 3 years ago, where my uncle usually makes it his last stop, but most of us don’t want to make that almost 2 hour trip. That time around I decided I had nothing else left to do, so I went. According to my uncle, my great grandfather, was working in KB, but he got sick and passed away. During those days it would be very troublesome to transport a body that far, and it has always been a custom to bury a body close to the location of death instead of their life.

On a related note, at this point I was already sleep deprived, having only 5 hour sleep. But one trick I learned a while back was to play emotional and inspriring songs. And the feeling I got will usually counteract any sleepiness. Its not heavy metal songs, but meaningful inspiring songs. My playlist that afternoon was Linkin Park, Nickelback, Imagine Dragons, OneRepublic and covers by boyce avenue. Songs that I would belt out to, if I remembered the lyrics.

In the afternoon my swimming class cancelled due to the rain, so we proceeded early to my wife’s sister’s home. We bought some grilled salmon to complement the seafood fried rice they were preparing. Being there early I thought I would finally take a nap, but no, I didnt feel the need. Later that night I slept at midnight again, while waking up early for work the next day.

Me and my wife shared a single salmon. My wife decided to make a simple dessert out of some flour, nutella and ice cream to make a simple lava cake, and separately a sort of sardine puff.

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Day 13 – despising and disgusted what people tend to do in ramadhan

13th day of ramadhan, 

Weight update: 85.2kg
In the morning, I had a management meeting followed by another meeting. After that I finally went to the toilet, a long seating session in the toilet. I guess how slow I eat also reflect on how slow I $#!+.

Broke fast with my wife’s sister’s family, over ate as we underestimated the amount of food that was bought and prepared. Next time check in with them how much they are preparing. Most of us were full and bloated, ao bloated my wife cancelled the night ride.

At night I was grocery shopping, and I saw a cart of nutella being moved to a car. Don’t get me wrong, I love nutella, despite it being half sugar. I just don’t have it as often. A thought came to me, a quite despising and disgusted thought, of how people misuse the month of ramadhan.

Ramadhan for me is a month where we are suppose to learn to control and discipline ourselves, understand how it feels by the less fortunate, to truly feel hunger. To clear our mind and body of impurities. We can do it in several ways and several levels. 

But what I see is some of us indulge ourselves, especially during the break/iftar/sungkai or the sahur. I admit I used to do this as well, being taught to eat a heavy meal during this time. Having to eat a full stomache. To which even though through ramadhan in my youth I used to lose 2kg, but I often gained that 2kg back during raya/eid and even more. 

It has only the last few years I realized why it was so, and how I could truly and significantly reduce my weight. In general, not to eat as much. In 2012, I broke my fast with low carb, in 2013, I broke fast with light food like nasi katok and ran at night, 2014-2016 I was doing the same. In 2015, I managed to lose 7kg in that one month, but I gained it all back in 2 weeks of raya. It was last year, I realized this was a trend and broke that trend by learning about intermittent fast, and doint it during raya and managed to maintain my weight loss. And this year I have lost 8 kg in 12 days, and I can stand to lose more by the end of the month.  And will try to maintain it during raya. Generally it is only eating between 2pm and 10pm, 8 hours of feast with 16 hours of fast. And maybe another 7 day fast.

I have learnt truly accepting the concept of energy in vs energy out, and the that the body won’t be able use fat if it has energy consumed, and that the body can survive without food for 7 days, and still maintain athletic performance.  In my wife’s case even some improvements.

The disgust I felt led to a sense of sympathy, that most people don’t know what I know, or they “know”, but they won’t practice or accept. I could tell people, as I have done before, and even through sharing on this blog, but some will have their reservations, some even skeptical, and others wouldn’t care. People will still buy what or as much as they usually do, and eat as much as they usually do and more. On the other side, businesses will sell as much food as possible. I admit the food business is the best business to go into during fasting month, a lot of food stalls, a lot of buffet in a lot of restaurants, a lot of hungry people. But with that there is also wastage. Some foods won’t be bought and won’t be eaten or finished. 

I myself have had sold food during these ramadhan stalls. And in the last one I realized wasn’t being in integrity. Despite the fact that I was already into less carbs in food, but I was selling food like burgers and waffles, because people were hungry, they liked it, and bought it, and I could get money. Where was the integrity? How could I promote a healthy nutrition if I was part of the problem as well? But how do I fix it? I preach either low carb or low consumption, and even by selling a low carb meal (like fish or chicken) will be more challenging and more work, and that would still be eating a lot. Heck, when I was selling, it was also tempting to buy the food around me, and a few times I did and ate until I was full. So since that realization I stopped selling during these stalls. And it had been a lot easier for me to eat less. These year, less than ever, with A 7-day water fast.

The 7 day water fast has taught me a few more lessons as well. How far I can push myself, really experiencing fat burning through fasting. How hunger, real hunger feels like. The normal 1 day fast does help a person sense a difference, but a 7 day fast helps me to feel for those more unfortunate ones in the world that rarely eats. That last day I felt a weakness, if I didn’t have to work that day, I would have taken a day off, or at least be too weak to be productive. I bet a 30 day fast would show me even more, but I am not ready for that…. Yet.

I know selling food is a source of income for many entrepreneurs this fasting month, I can’t blame them for making money. I have done so in the past. I just wish I knew what the useful alternatives are, or else it would be a very quiet month. Maybe it should be? A month of rest? Of abstinence? maybe even some self reflection?

The search goes on…

Completed the Putrajaya 70.3 Ironman!!!


I completed the Putrajaya 70.3 Ironman.  that means I did 1.9km swim followed by a 90km cycle, followed by a 21km run. mind the fact that the pros finished under 4 hours, and I finished it under 8 hours. I did it, I completed it, and under my expected time of 8 hours. I did it in the blistering heat. my cycle ended after lunch time, and ran through till 3pm. I had to slow jog in the end, confident that with a slow jog or fast walk of 9-10min per km, I would finish the whole thing under the cut-off times.

ironman putrajaya results

 

The swim is the easiest part for me, using total immersion, I glided through the whole swim course, the fresh water was more comfortable then open sea water, and the water were calm, no harsh waves that would cause me sea sickness. only a matter of slight current and sighting the turning points. I may have went off course a bit, but that’s expected in open water swimming. did it in 51 minutes. my pool time usually 45 minutes.

after the swim, ran to the bike, spent almost 5 minutes to set up for the bike. wore my helmet, wore my socks and shoes, put on some sunscreen (wear sunscreen!) wore my arm band for the run, ate 1 banana, and packed 2 in my back pocket, and off I went. I forgot to turn on my endomondo for a few minutes. The bike was hilly thats for sure, but I found myself comparing it to the mentiri highway, but longer. I am glad that I built up my engine for the hills. Previous 80km ride, my average was 20kmph, but training on mentiri highway i got up to 24kmph, and some point at muara-tutong highway got 27kmph. for the ironman my average was just under 25kmph. so I ended earlier then I had anticipated.

I was glad there was 3 water points in the route, so we could have water, isotonic and coke… coke!!! i decided not to take the coke until the last lap due to fear of dehydration by caffeine. on the second round, as expected based on my training my water reserves of 3 bottles ran out. so on the 1st water point of the first lap, I decided to refill one bottle. I should have refilled all, considering I stopped at the next points refilling that same bottle. Could have save time by refilling all my bottles at that point, so I wouldn’t need to stop at each point.

Riding along I felt sorry for those whose bike punctured, or fell off due to sharp and narrow curves. to be fair the race managers did warn about that part, in the first round there were people around signing to us to slow down. I felt so motivated looking at other people cycling, and felt even inspired when I saw signboards meant for other people felt it applied to me. “pain is your friend”, “this is your hill”, “try to today and relax tomorrow”. the spectators were no different in cheering us on. cheering for their friends and family members and any other stranger that was competing. 🙂

ironman putrajaya run

 

When my ride ended, i was happy to see that my riding time wasn’t 4 hours, but it was just above 3hr and 30minutes. I felt that I could relax mentally and not stress about the run, because now I have 4 hours to run half marathon, in my worst time it was 3.5 hours. Hoping for the best, I slipped my mobile phone on arm band, but disappointed to find my phone unresponsive (to the moisture collected on the bike bag). so I spent a few kilometres holding on to it waiting for it to dry before turning on endomondo for the run. Going on the first lap, saw a few people whose pace was quite face, and a few others that ran and walked, and then those who walk. I’ll admit a lot of people were running faster then I was. But I told myself that I don’t need to push myself, just play it safe and jog slow. With the day heating up, I realized I forgot to pack my cap, which i usually wore in my training. as of writing the skin of my forehead is flaking off. I did not put any sunscreen on my head, for fear the sweat would run off into my eyes. There was a aid point for almost every 2km, and for each aid point there was a toilet, medic tent, water tent, isotonic tent, food (watermelon, banana, sweets), and water… again. The medic tent had those muscle sprays (I have never needed them, just a few stretches usually clear them off for me), and sunscreen. I asked the medic to give me on my palms and I covered myself again. (I had experience terrible sun burn/blister before in my training).

ironman putrajaya cycle

At the end of the 1st lap, I noticed some runners had wet sponges embedded within their clothes. What a wonderful Idea I thought, then I realized on the last aid point that they actually provided it. On the 2nd lap, the first water point was out of cups, so I drank from the bottle, the next point was out of water, so I didn’t use any to cool myself down, on the subsequent one there was also no water, but i saw other runner taking water from the drink containers and pouring on themselves as well as putting some of the ice down their shirts. I thought good idea, so I did it as well. REMINDER on this one, do not do this for a one piece suit. my ice ended collecting around my ass, which felt cooling, but after half an hour later felt my leg muscles close to my ass cramping up. bad idea. good thing after almost an hour it dissipated, but i had to be careful. the last few km of that second lap was miraculously (THANK GOD!) cloudy, so I could run slightly faster. I had noticed during the heat that even with a slow run my heart rate went upto 145, when usually it would be 120 around that pace. I maintained under 150bpm to be safe. that last round I actually caught with a guy walking and asked me about the time, and I assured him that with the pace and time, we would make it. he later caught up to me and we had a chat till the finish line. It was interesting to note that while chatting my pace went faster, coinciding with the cooling of the weather. both probably contributed. Reminder next time to find a running partner to talk to earlier in the run.

At the finishing line, I saw my wife waiting at the sidelines and took a picture of me. I crossed the finish line and the organizers place a medal around my neck, gave me an ironman towel. and one guy gently took away my timing chip from my left leg. At the finishers’ area, they provided drinks, fruits, ice cream (ICE CREAM!!!) and massage (people had to seat in line for that one). I drank a whole bottle of isotonic, took 2 ice cream, and went to talk to my wife for a while. then I went stretching and cool down while looking at the other finishers crossing the line. I admit it was quite inspiring and emotional to see the finishers greeted by strangers and by their loved one.

Thank you to the organizers, to the other participants/competitors, the volunteers, to the cheerers and supporters, especially to one that I realize I might have been rude to by saying “please don’t push me, I just want to relax”, after she cheered me on. Thank you for the experience. Every single person that I was around on my 70.3 ironman journey was a contribution to my inspiration to keep on moving. Love you all. 🙂

Insights on cycling

biking

biking (Photo credit: henna lion)

I usually have insights while swimming or running, when I picked up cycling again, my mind was focused on techniques during the ride, looking at my progress through my endomondo. I guess those are becoming background noise, cause now I’m getting insights on the bike. Again this insights are on how the cycling itself reflected on my life.

A few insights occured during my last few bike rides specifically about:

  • hill rides – dealing with highs and lows in life
  • speed training – on goal setting, measurement and achievement.
  • long slow distance – on being prepared and being disciplined.
  • remembering a cycling accident I had.

On the hill rides, I generally put on a low gear to climb up easier, as well as to lower the strain on my thigh muscles. and when going downhill, I can then use the high gear with no strain, I just have to be careful where I was going. the insight was that in life, when things get tough, I need to slow down and take it easy, if I don’t I might get burned, then I’ll stop. Sometimes after the stop I might continue, but in worst case I may give up. When I did the hill climb frequent enough, I eventually was able to maintain my speed and in some instances, I actually was able to speed up. At the top, I am relieved to have reached it, and going down hill,  when life gets easy, I may take it easy, or I may choose to take advantage of the height and speed up as fast as I can, and if possible bring that momentum the next up hill battle, which would lessen the burden upto a point. There will be ups and downs in life, it matters how it is handled.

In speed training, I realized that I was going at a slow and comfortable pace, I wanted to go the speed of an average cyclist. So I first found out exactly my current average speed (18-20kmph) and the average speed of an average (not amateur or beginner) cyclist, which happened to be 30kmph. Then I found out how they have achieved it, how their training regime is like, and emulate. In life, we have goals, but we need to find out where we are, and where we want to be, how we are going to reach it, and just do it. improving things a bit at time.

On long steady distance rides, I needed to maintain low gear, keep my pace. I needed to prepare hydration and nutrition to maintain my energy. one time  after a huge binge meal the day before,  I thought I could do 100km with 1 bottle of isotonic drink. I was wrong. It only lasted a bit more than half of the ride, the last half i rationed it but it wasn’t enough, so I rode really slow and tired… and thirsty. Most of the things in life will not be reached instantly, sometimes it is a long journey, it is best to be prepared, but if it turns out it we weren’t, find out how it could have been improved, and do it next time.

One time, I had a self accident. the pedal was squeaking, and I was looking at the cranks during the ride. then I noticed that a rubber cover of the hood over the breaks was peeled off. I tried to fix it, but I lost track of the road and swerved to much to the left, I tried to realign but it was too late. I rolled over with the bike, I was ok with some bumps and bruises, the bicycle had a bent handle, and some broken spokes. but from that moment on I learned to be focus on what I am doing, if there was something wrong, or I need to adjust something, I need to stop and then check it. In life there are distractions, certain distractions can pull away focus from what is important. If necessary, stop and deal with the distractions itself, then continue on the journey.

It is interesting that a simple thing like riding a bike bring insights to life and how it is lived. from the highs and lows, reaching a goal, being prepared and being focused and how to deal with distractions. I expect this is just the beginning, and I look forward to having these insights on the bike.

 

 

Intelligence

Not so long ago, I stumbled frequently on the subject of financial intelligence, it got me thinking, what was financial intelligence? I know a few things, but when I look around I found different definitions. Heck, what is intelligence? And when I went swimming the thoughts stormed my mind.

What is Intelligence?
Intelligence is what we know, how we attain it, use it, share it.
Why is it important?
It is important because it helps us too survive as an individual and as a species.
What types of intelligence are there?
If it is for us to live, then we can use the trinity of mind, body and soul. Intelligence of mind how to use our minds, how to think, how we communicate our thoughts, how we learn things. Intelligence of body is knowing how to take care of it, how to improve it, how to make it last long. Intelligence of soul is how we know ourselves and connect it to something greater than ourselves.
One may also look at maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Physiological and safety (mind and body), we need knowledge how to survive, how to keep on surviving. That is mainly to get and maintain the resources including, food, water, money, etc.
Belonging, how to make and keep friends, how to work and live with each other. For the benefit of the self and others.
self esteem (mind and soul), how to take pride in owns achievements, learn to give praise to one self and others.
Self actualization(soul), learn to do what one really wants or enjoys. A skill or activity that may not be necessary, but one that gives satisfaction to one self. This may include music, dance, games, art, and many more.

I have read about the standard intelligence, emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, etc.
One can argue that there are a myriad of other types, which can be related to any of the types suggested above. What is important is not which is better than the other, but which of the intelligences would benefit us as individuals and as a whole.

Another aspect to consider is the level. there can be none, rudimentary or fundamental, technical, practical, and what some would call genius.

The next few articles I’d like to elaborate more, and which I have knowledge to, or I’d like to explore are the following:
Financial intelligence,
ICT intelligence
Business intelligence,
Musical intelligence,
Athletic intelligence,
Swimming intelligence,
Health and nutritional intelligence,
Creative intelligence,
Problem solving intelligence,
Scientific intelligence,
Memory intelligence,
Academic intelligence,
Communicative intelligence,
Social intelligence,
Persuasive intelligence,
Emotional intelligence.

I will google this up, or wiki it, but I’d like to get readers can suggestions or comments on my thoughts, I’d like to get some feedback and discussions going.