Healthier Fitter and Better Body

I started going to gym about a year and half ago.  Since then, I was very passionate about getting healthier and getting fitter – body, mind, and soul.  I never struggle with my weight, but I have been trying to gain some weight since I was still in school.  I was very skinny.  I weighed only 39kg back then.  But, I was happy by the way, I didn’t have problem with my health.  However, I didn’t like people to tell me that I am too thin, I still don’t.  I wasn’t just skinny, I only stand about 5 feet tall, that makes me tiny, even today.  Finding clothes was a bit difficult.

I love sports, I joined tennis when I was 13 and I was…I’m not trying to boast here, but I was one of the best female tennis players in my town, despite my size.  Too bad, I never pursue that.  I stopped playing when I was 16 ( I think so..can’t remember).  Reason? Examination…my study.  I still played with friends, once in a while, not that often anymore.  At age 18, I joined the beginner basic coaching course.  So, basically, I am a certified tennis coach for beginners.  I stopped playing when I entered University in 2006.  I was 20.  Well, not all together stopped.  I was in my second year in University, and one of my seniors found that I could play tennis, asked me to represent his team for competition.  That only lasted for about a year.  By the time I left University in 2009, I weighed 42kg.  That was my ideal weight, some people told me.

I gained 3kgs of weight over the three years in University.  Three kilogrammes of FAT! How do I know it? My belly.  I did not not look as skinny as I was in school, but people still look at me, and asked me to put on more weight.  I had a very bad body posture.  I think it is common with those underweight people.  When I got my first job immediately after graduation; it was the beginning of my inactive lifestyle.  I stopped exercising altogether, and the effect of that started to show about a year and a half later.  I had bad constipation problem, I would catch flu once every few months, and I was just tired everyday.  I even had digestive problems, which badly affected my appetite.  I did not enjoy eating anymore, because I wanted to throw up if I ate too much, constipation made it worst.

I was 25, and that was when I realized, I needed to do something and so, I started going to gym, with my mom.  Unlike me, mom struggles with her weight.  She lost 8kgs of weight in two weeks, since started gym and her health improved tremendously.  Her diabetic level went down to almost normal; her high blood pressure also went down to normal. However, she stopped going to gym for almost eight months, because she had to take care of grandma.  She had to start from square one.  I am glad she started to lose weight again, today.  I am happy to see her smiles when she started to wear her old clothes again, clothes that once too small for her.

As for me, my health improved too.  My constipation problem gone, I had my appetite and energy back.  I even sleep better.  About a year or so, I actually lost three kilogramme.  I was back to 39kg.  Probably I did too much cardio exercises, and I decided to do some weight training as well.  I also started to explore the importance of nutritious product, and taken some organic oatmilk and organic protein since then.  With the weight training and the nutritious product I took, I gained 2kg in a few months, and I believe it was the muscle weight.  The last time I stood on the weighing scale was the first week of 2013 during my second body analysis.  I weighed 41.3kg – muscle weight.  The first body analysis was in December 2012.  Comparing the two – I actually gained muscle weight, my body fat went down, I went from underexercised to thin.  My metabolism rate went up from 17-year-old to 16-year-old.

My bones density has improved as well, thanks to the muscle mass I gained.  My point is, I’m not showing off, but I am happier, stronger, and younger.  I don’t get sick very often now.  I’m turning 27 this year, the big 30 is coming, and I realized looking and feeling younger is important.  I got rid of some of that flabby stomach I’ve tried to get rid for years.  For the year 2013, I hoped to do better in my health and to see mom lose all those weights and get healthier.  Mom and I started to take our protein shakes few mornings in a week.  Thinking about it, all it takes is a start.  Mom and I had been talking about going to gym a few years back.  But, we never start, until some health problem I experienced.  We were lazy at first, but today, it has become our routine.  Mom stopped going to gym in a while though, but she does her workout at home.  I, on the other hand, has busy working schedule, but I slot in time, whenever I can for workout.  Once an effort is not an effort anymore.  Getting a healthier and fitter me has become a part of me.  It can be part of yours too, if you start now.  You’ll be amazed by the changes.

(I started yoga recently, will post that soon.  So, this will be my last entry as I would be away for five days.  As I pledged (to myself of course) to be more active this year, and I want to keep you entertained, new entry will be up as soon as I’m back from traveling).

Frames From The Phone

My smartphone has been such a great tool for me in photography.  Whenever my DSLR camera is not with me, the 8 megapixels camera from my phone has been a great help.  I usually take them for fun.  These are some of them.  Colour wise, they are not good, so I have to do some editing before putting these up.

2012-07-14 14.07.09I was waiting for my mom at a pot factory, I guess that’s what it calls. I got so bored of waiting I started to take pictures from my phone.  Not supposed to do that, but I did it anyways.  I was sneaky really.

2012-08-23 20.28.35This was taken at the entrance of the International dance festival a few months ago.  It was a concert by the way, and I got a free entry.

2012-08-23 21.24.40This was taken during the curtain call of the International Dance Festival.

2012-09-14 11.45.42I don’t know how to describe this.  The butterfly has a very unique pattern.

2012-09-16 20.25.08This was taken during the 2012 Lantern Festival.  I don’t  know what it calls, but it is some kind of candy.

2012-09-16 21.36.20Lamb spaghetti I think.  The flavour was okay, but it was too expensive.

2012-10-14 11.31.25I found this very unique though.  I just love the beautiful colours.

2012-10-15 13.13.22Can you see the bird?

2012-10-23 16.45.17 The momma guppy gave birth to more than 30 fry.

2012-10-27 11.09.29I sent my car to have the air-conditioner fixed.  The mechanic shop was very messy.

2012-12-04 12.21.49Took this at a cafe during Christmas season.

2012-12-04 12.30.41We call this ‘Mee Mamak’

2012-12-16 10.30.25Lots of pineapple.

What Is The What

If I were to tell you what would be one of the most moving books I’ve read to this date, it would be ‘What Is The What’ novel by Dave Eggers.  I picked up the book during a school out/clearance sales at one of the bookstores in my town last year.  It is a yearly event, will be expecting soon again this year.  There are always a lot of people and a lot of books.

Anyways, ‘What Is The What’ book was wrapped in a plastic and it looked extremely old and rusty, buried underneath all those piles of torn and unorganized books at the clearance section.  It does look like that the book had been stored at the storeroom for years.  How much it worth?  RM9.00 (about 2.98 US dollars) if I’m not mistaken.  Original price is RM60.50 (about 20 US dollars). Really cheap at that time (after all it was a clearance sales).  I saw the book when I was digging all that piles of books.  I looked to my left and I saw the book facing up.  The title ‘What Is The What’ caught my attention.  I finished reading the book a long time ago, and had been thinking of sharing it in here.

‘What Is the What’ is a true story of courage and endurance in the face of one of the most brutal civil wars the world has ever known.  It tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng aka Achak, who is a refugee from the second Sudanese civil war (1983-2005).  He is one of the 20,000 so-called Lost Boys who walked thousands of miles to Ethiopia and later Kenya to escape the Murahaleen, who wiped out his Dinka village, Marial Bai.  The book is called a novel because it has both non-fictional and fictional elements with Valentino as the main character for the story.  It is however, his real story, but because Valentino couldn’t remember everything that happened as refugee, the writer has to re-create the conversations, streamline complex relationships, add relevant detail and manipulate time and space in helpful ways – all while maintaining the essential truthfulness of the storytelling.

Do you remember watching it on TV in the 1980s and 90s? There were thousands of Africans walking across the desert with bags on their heads.  They were so skinny, I remember I asked my parents ‘Look at them…they are so skinny.  Why do they want to go away and leave their home if they have food at home?’ Okay, I was naïve…hey…I was only a kid, probably 9 or 10 years old (1990s).  And I was curious with all these things.  I remember my mom told me ‘Their house were burned, the enemy tried to kill them, what can they do? They have to run.’

Then there are these images of the refugee camps.  I knew about their running, but I never thought that the inside stories were so (how to put it?) painful, so devastated.  I couldn’ help but think, poor children.  What had they done to deserve such miseries?  The story is about what it was like to be one of the Lost Boys in Sudan.  Valentino was just a boy when the conflict separated him from his family and forced him and other refugees through a war zone to resettlement camp to find safety – for a time.

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The story opened with Valentino was robbed in his apartment and was beaten by two black Americans in Atlanta.  While in confinement, he recalled back and and silently addressing his assailants, later disinterested cop, an ineffectual hospital staff on his brutal epic of his past.  Describing in riveting details, Valentino told his stories during those merciless journey to Ethiopia.  Journeying through the desert, there was nothing to eat.  Some ate mud during those desperate times.  Some even ate dead animals and drank human urine to stay alive.  They grassed grass like cow.  Because there was no food, the refugees would look for something that could fill their stomach.  Some were naked, without clothes and at night it got so cold and there was no blanket to cover themselves with.

Many died along the way due to starvation, dehydration, diseases, some eaten by lions and hyenas, and some just gave up.  Some small children who were homesick simply didn’t want to continue the journey and left dying in a middle of nowhere.

“I don’t want to wait here forever.  People are getting sicker here.  We’re just waiting to die.  If we stay, we’re just going to catch something and wither away.  We’re all part of the same dying, but you and I are just dying more slowly than the rest.  We might as well go and fight and get killed quicker.”

The struggle did not stop at the refugee camp.  There was not enough food for everybody.  However, it became a community of people.  Children were given education there.  Because there was pen and paper, they would write on the dirt.  As if their struggle wasn’t ordeal enough, the lost boys had to crossed rivers to make it to the safety in Kenya.  Some drowned, some eaten by crocodiles.

I always love stories that touch on humanity, on compassionate, struggles, courage, tragedy, and triumph.  What is the What is definitely a truly epic in scope, an eye-opening account of life amid the madness of war and an unforgettable tale of tragedy and triumph.  I read it and my heart was filled with sadness with the pain and sufferings they had to endure and the death along the way, could not help but feeling disgusted during those disgusting moments, and my heart raced during those intense moments, hoping many could make it through.

Trading Skyscrapers For Big Trees

Imagine you received a letter asking you to play an important part in the conservation effort.  You were required to trade the life in the city for the life in the wild.  A place you never even heard before.  What would be your reaction?  Would you reject the offer immediately or would you take it?

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City girl Lily Sir had a second thought, but she accepted it.  She was a University fresh graduate after finishing her practical at Sarawak Forestry Corporation.  She was only 24 then.  Just like any other city folks out there, her real fear was to have to start her life at a completely different environment.  She was appointed to Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) – the last frontier for the conservation of the threatened primate in Borneo.  LEWS is a place totally cut off from the outside world, for it was meant to stay exactly the same today and years to come.  The only thing that connected them to the happening around the world was the radio.  In LEWS, instead of the sound of the busting traffic and buzzing sound of people, the only sound she would ever hear was the sound of the nature in the stillness of the thick jungle.  LEWS is about 10 hours upriver boat ride from Sibu town.  The roughness of the river was not something she anticipated all along.

“I did not expect nor was I ready for that rough ride to LEWS.  There was a fear of crocodile, and the fear that the boat would capsize.  I remember I kept asking the man maneuvering the boat whether or not we had reached our destination.”

All that Lily ever thought of was conservation.  When she got that offer letter, she became one of the team members.  Despite the determination, it didn’t get easier accepting the new environment during the first few weeks.  She missed the 7Eleven, the shopping malls, the cinemas, the cars, the entertainment, the televisions and so many things she sacrificed and left behind at her home in the city to get to LEWS.

“However, as time goes by, I got used to the new environment, and I feel that life becomes easier and everything seems to become normal to us.”

As the only communication system of LEWS is the river, today, Lily and her colleagues would have to travel for hours to Song (a very, very small town) twice a month to get groceries.

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Because LEWS is too far upstream, the groceries boat would not able to reach the place.  Lily is the conservative executive, apart from her job scope, she also deals with wildlife and conduct conservation awareness programme at the longhouses and schools, she also involved in research and surveys.

“I think the reason why we are able to let go whatever we had in the city is because we are really into our jobs and conservation, we like our job and that is why we are still here.  The most rewarding thing about this job is that I am able to be with the nature, to be with the local and to be part of the conservation team and watch all these beautiful creatures everyday.”

LEWS was gazetted in 1983.  The thick undisturbed jungle is a home to large presence of orang utans and hornbills and other animals that almost come into extinction.  With 193,039 hectares, it is the largest Wildlife Sanctuary in Malaysia.  LEWS is in itself and by description is not open to tourism and is the largest totally protected area in Sarawak.  The biodiversity of LEWS is in the top 12 in the world.  There is a mega diversity both flora and fauna and there has been many discoveries of species which are endemic and endangered.  These biodiversity is what never bores Lily in her daily life in LEWS.  Since moving to LEWS, she was given a rare opportunity to see all the wonderful things such as orang utans, monkeys, and hornbills feeding on the local olives just a few meter away.

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One of her colleagues is Laing Lesley and he is a ranger.  His job includes patrolling and boundaries maintenance, making sure that no one enters the sanctuary.

“We are focusing on the critical areas such as logging areas and plantation areas.”

Another amazing thing about these young  people was they left their families behind.  It could probably the biggest sacrifice they ever make in their lives.  Although it might be temporary, Lily and her colleagues did not know how long would they be there.  It could be another 10 years, or maybe 20 years, or maybe until their retirement.  There are others been there for more than 10 years and amazingly no complaints.  One thing for sure, they could always apply for a transfer, but apparently, it never crossed their mind to do that.   Lily still goes back to city in Kuching once a month to catch up with her family and to buy the necessities that Song did not have.  She’s turning 29 this year and still could not get enough of the beauty of LEWS.  Watching the wildlife isn’t part of her job anymore, it had become her hobby.  Others go back maybe a few times in a year, or maybe once a year.

The heart of the beauty of LEWS is beyond watching everything passing by; the crystal clear river, hornbills flying overhead, every bird calling, and the gushing of river, but the experience of just being there.  It is something that the word ‘breathtaking’ seems too small a word for the hidden wonders it provide.  Because of that and also considering that this virgin forest is the last frontier for conservation in Borneo, this place is so precious in the eyes of conservation project.  That is why, the conservation team never tired of educating the people, and doing research in protecting LEWS.

If conservation was not done today, apart from the beautiful wildlife and aquatic creatures, its natural beauty would be gone forever.  When it is almost wiped out, even costly conservative activities could not restore the beauty that the nature provides to this earth.  That is why these conservation team such as Lily, Laing, their team members, and the locals living nearby, whose life dependent much on the produce from the jungle are so passionate about keeping the forest as safe as possible.  And so…I SALUTE THEM!!

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Angels In Our Lives

A walk around the park at night could be somewhat refreshing; for your brain, your consciousness, your emotions, your body.  Every part of you just seemed to be there after felt so lost during hectic day at work.  At this massive park, all sorts of people were having fun; young and old.

Children were running around, catching their LED flashing flying toys; adults, and children stood there blowing bubbles from the bubble toys.  It was a hit too at the park.  I was tempted to get one, but retreated the thought before I could even start to decide.  In the midst of this; of the crying of babies, loud noises from the carnival at the other side, and the youngsters hanging out among themselves, I noticed one thing – smiles waited to be seen.

I saw all that, and it didn’t take a real effort to make it happen.  I’m not good in observation, but when it comes to self consciousness, I am extremely good at it.  I was awake by the joy that I felt, and it made me to be conscious enough with the people around me, although it was only for a short time.  Writing this piece had been a torment to my brain and energy.  I wanted to finish this piece a long time ago.  What can I write concerning Angels?  That was in my mind, for a few months.

I finished reading a book titled ‘Angels in my life’ by Carlos G Valles.  It was an old book, which I bought from the church, but indeed, it was a great book.  For few months, I flipped through these pages, convinced that I could finish this material.  Few months passed, I still flipped those books, but it got me nowhere.  I got stuck and began to doubt myself.  I just simply couldn’t continue where I started, until that fateful night at the park.

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Angels is such a great topic to write.  Everyone was given one since birth.  ‘The angel that is assigned to us from birth, remains with us forever.’  Carlos wrote it in his book.  Deep down, I’ve always believed that.  I was reminded of this fact when I got hold of the book.  If the angel helped me in my childhood, he/she would definitely help me even when I am adult, especially in writing this material.  That simple.

That was why, I was so convinced I could finish it.  I thought my angel would be there always to help me, but nothing happened.  I needed something for inspiration, and I realized the closest thing for inspiration wasn’t book, but people.  I see more and learn more about myself from other people.  In his book, Carlos mentioned something that really got me thinking.

We do not understand our own lives.  We see much and understand little.  The shape of things, the direction of events, the meaning of life.  And, far beyond, the mystery of death.  We live with the riddle of our lives before our eyes, and we never quite unravel it.  If at least we knew the sense of our life and the purpose of our sufferings, we could better face that life and shoulder those sufferings.  But we are haunted and bewildered by not being able to make sense out of all that happens to us.  Why this? Why now? Why to me?

I found this very true.  I am quiet you know.  Although I take pleasure in solitude, and not saying much most of the time, sometimes, I really wanted to be outspoken.  When I see my friends able to make spontaneous conversation to anyone, I thought of myself.  Why can’t I do that?  Being a host could be fun, but I would make a bad host.

Carlos in his book says that when human and angels are together, it brings creativity.  When I could not continue this article, I realized that I focused so much on the book; nothing came out of me.  I focused too much on the technical stuff that I forgot the real experience itself.  I was so close to cancel this.

I started to ask, where is my angel at any given moment?  I needed him/her to help me with this because I got nothing.  I had all these questions in my head, but I had not even a single idea to put that into words.

Negative feelings can close the door before the visiting angel.  When there is jealousy, envy, anger, annoyance, contempt or over-attachment, the channels of communication are blocked, the windows of the soul are closed, the heart becomes deaf and blind, and we lose contact with the best in ourselves, with our sensitivity, with our humanity, with our angel. 

When we harden in the inside, we block inspirations from the outside.

I was just coming out from a hotel when I decided to walk to the park across the street.  I thought of Carlos’ book, I thought of my angel, and I thought of the blog, which I wanted to finish so badly.  That short walk was just what I needed.  I was tired, but I went to the park nonetheless.  Something in my conscious asked me to go there and I did.  After all these, it dawned on me that the book guided me, but the angel in my life could only make this material possible.  It is all about life-experience after all.

One of the things I am impressed with myself is that, why I got this job in a first place.  Why I chose journalism as my career path?  I am afraid of people, I’ve always do since I was a little girl.  It’s not that I’m not a people person, on a contrary, I love people very much as I love myself.  Another thing is, I am not the brightest, probably one of the worst writers out there.  I fear that, because nobody wants to be at the bottom.  However, to be able to face those facts, it takes courage and guts to accept.

I didn’t have a good start when I started this job.  I forgot my notebook and pen on my first day of work (pretty stupid huh?).  My work was bad.  I didn’t know how to write, the style was so poor and so forth.  But I got to admit, I improved a lot since then, but there are still so many rooms for improvement.  After reading Carlos’ book, it got me thinking – I could do all these because not only I have God in my life, but also I have the companionship of my angel all along.  I never want people to read my raw materials, because I felt so shy about it.  What would people thing about my stuff? My ideas? My styles?  My voice? Writing a good and readable piece is a challenge.  Nevertheless, I started this blog a year ago anyway.  I needed that, and I know that my angel played a part of it.  My angel probably wants me to write and to let people to read my stuff.  Only then, I would have greater confidence in my writing.

The angels keep us literally on tiptoe, full of expectancy, surprise and joy because we know that they have been with us and that, when we least expect it, they will come again.  They are never far from us.  In fact, they are always on our side: 

Sometimes in a hazy way, and, the more we open ourselves to their reality and their presence, in a more tangible and colourful way.

In his book, Carlos’ mentioned that angel always associated with children.  That is because children represent various aspects of adults’ personalities.  They represent the happier, the cheerful, creative, loving, and even mischievous sides of every adult.  They are the flower of life.  They are the joy of life.

I also know, on the other end, persons who are a joy to live with, whether in the family, the community or the group, and that is because their ‘child’ is alive in them, and they know how to fool around, play jokes enjoy jokes being played on them, wonder at small things and laugh heartily.

 When I lost my ‘child’… I lost my Angel…

…When my ‘child’ awoke within me…I woke up to my Angel’s presence

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I faced so many fears and worries when I started writing for the newspapers.  The reality is that being a journalist isn’t all that glamorous job, we don’t earn much, we work long hours, we had to meet all kinds of people, receive criticisms from readers, and complaints too.  Sometimes, I asked myself… ‘why do I choose this’  Amazingly, I would not do any other else than writing for living.

Put an angel in your life is wholesome advice to improve living and attain joy.  The angels are always there.  It is up to us to discover them, feel them, bring them into our life.

Thank You, my angel for helping me to write this piece.  Thank you for guiding me through this one year since I started this blog.  I know that sometimes you let us stumble in our own good way and our learning.  When we trip over potholes in life, it is also that we may better know the ways and better know ourselves.  I pray that may you guide me always in my life and in writing this blog, so that I may have more and improved materials to come, and  my readers will not get bored reading my piece.  Amen.

New Year Fireworks

Happy new year everybody!  I have not made up my mind on my New Year resolution yet.  So, I decided that best days are ahead of me.  Year 2012 had been a rollercoaster ride for me.  However, it was a great year filled with ups and downs.  In addition, it was a year I started this blog.  Amazing!! One year!

Anways, what is New Year without the fireworks, huh? I was called to work on Dec 31, 2012 for the 2013 countdown at Sibu Gateway.  The first countdown event I covered.  This also means the first fireworks display I ever photographed.

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It’s new year and everybody’s having fun!

Hope you enjoy these photos.  This is a work of an amateur photographer; I took a lot of photos that night, only a few can be used.  I’ve pick the best ones.  Compared to the fireworks display in other countries, this one might not show any creativity.  But, what the people in this small town cared about was the celebration, and the fireworks was part of it.  The highlight of the whole event.  Hope you  like it.