Monday, May 26, 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing

I'm in a suburb of beautiful Auckland, New Zealand, a brisk 11 degrees Celsius right now. There is not a single cloud in the sky, and the slight breeze is very welcomed by the cat that is curled up next to me on the porch.

See? No clouds.

I'm sitting in a wooden lounge chair made by a teenager several years ago that seems sturdy enough that the cat doesn't seem to be worried I might break the chair and smoosh him into a splintery cat pancake. My belly is still full from last night's feast. I've been feasting pretty much every day since I arrived. And I mean 'feasting' in the most literal term meaning 'stuffing my face silly with utterly delicious foods,' as I've been getting spoiled by 4-6 course meals every night, homemade by a magical wizard lady in the kitchen. 


 New Zealand wine, crackers, and Almond/Apricot cheese

 Salmon sashimi, fresh ground ginger and garlic with soy, and gerkins 'n sausages

crunchy Salmon skin chips 

Sesame paste noodles 

Champagne with berries 

Really freakin good ice cream

I just went for a run down the street. Let me rephrase: I just did some hill sprints about a mile away from the house. And by hill sprints, I mean I jogged up a steep, grassy hill towards an awesome-looking tree with a tire swing several times. 

Awesome tree with tire swing 

Hill. One angle of it.

I haven't worked out in a while. My lungs have gotten stale from being stagnant in use. Although I've been in a place with crisp, clean air for about a week now, and I've done a quick hike or two in the mountains (hills? It's NZ...I'm not sure which is which now), I haven't done anything incredibly challenging for my body, and I can tell it misses it. My allergies and asthma have a lot to do with my shortened workout today, and I know that in the matter of a couple days, my lungs will wake up, my energy will skyrocket, and I will be able to do a much better workout. But as for today, I'm taking it easy. 

I used to push myself to the limits every time I worked out. Used to. Like when I was an athlete. Like when I wasn't an athlete. Like when I didn't know that there is such thing as too much. I used to push myself until my body would want to quit, and then I would push myself a little more, and call it "mental training." Just a little more. Gotta get to 10, 20, 50....just a couple more. And I would do it, rain or shine, because I had to. Anything easier, and I would consider myself a weak "normal" person who wasn't going to succeed. I would train 2-3 times a day, especially if I was prepping for a competition. I would be maticulous about my eating, following the "low fat" trend that was popular back then. I listened to what the magazines said would be good for me. What the media said. Train hard, don't eat fat, train more, and override what your body tells you when it says it's tired because you can push through it! You can do it! No pain, no gain!

Is life really about disregarding what your body tells you to do? Should that be the marker of how 'great' you are at physical accomplishment? You decide to run a marathon because it shows you can do more than your body is meant to do naturally. You decide to train for your recreational sport 2-3x/day, 6 days a week, hard, even though you're tired and hurting all the time, and you're falling asleep at work, but have insomnia at night. You go on a strict diet 6 days a week, eating "really healthy" foods at perfect portions so you can get the perfect body you've been dreaming of, despite the fact that all you can think of are cookies and steak and never feeling satisfied. 

I've done that. All of it. It's gotten me nowhere. Your body inevitably wins. If you train too hard, it shuts down for a few days. If you train too much, it might shut down for a few weeks. You get sick. You get injured. You just can't. If you're too strict with your diet, all you will think about is food. What you have to eat, what you can't eat. And when you have your "cheat day," you eat like you've been starving for the past week. Because you have. 

I don't know about you, but this has always been a problem for me...

"Too" has a big psychological impact. Too much, too little. We've all heard that moderation is key, but the hard part is to implement it, especially those of us with a competitive nature. It's great to keep fit and healthy by exercise and eating nutrient-dense foods, but I've realized that It's impossible to do it 100% all the time. When you're on vacation, enjoy your vacation. Don't worry about being on your diet all the time, or working out every day. But listen to your body. It will tell you when enough is enough. It will tell you when it needs to exert some energy. And don't feel guilty while you're on vacation. Ever.

With your every day life, remember that habits make a person. Keep on somewhat of a regular schedule with your workouts/physical activity/Play, to make sure you get it in (because over long time, your body can and will get accustomed to a sedentary life, and your brain will go with whatever is easier to do at the time), and eat healthily most of the time. If you want that ice cream because it's a new flavor that came out and is limited time only, get it. Just don't make it a habit. Habits are hard to break. If you've ever tried to break a bad habit before, remember how hard it was, and if you want to go through that again. 

If you're in a sport, train like you're trying to perfect the sport, not like you're trying to win at every practice. When it comes time that you have a competition coming up in a few weeks, that's when you go hard. But in the meantime, don't do too much. That's probably the hardest habit to break. 

Where's Goldilocks?

Monday, May 19, 2014

In limbo...

During the first leg of my flight to New Zealand,  our captain informed us that due to poor weather conditions, we would have to stay in the air until they got the 'ok' from ground control to land. So while we're up here,  circling the landing strip like a vulture anxiously waiting for an animal below to die, I got to thinking. Where does your brain go during these times of limbo? 

At the first announcement of the delay,  I heard some people murmer some angry sounds. We had already had  ~30-45 minute delay during take-off (I'm not exactly sure how long it was,  as I have a tendency to konk out once the engine starts whirring) ,  and now another delay of unknown minutes,  further delaying tired travellers to their final destinations. 

Some other people peeped sounds of fear. When can we land? Will we run out of fuel? What happens if the weather doesn't get better? What if they take us to another airport? When will I be home? 

And then there were the people who just continued doing what they were doing before the announcement was made. 

I was part of all three of those categories of people.

I can remember a time when my temper was a little(or a lot) more delicate,  and I would get mad if there was a delay in my travels (I had terrible road rage. Thankfully I discovered the music of Ludicris). But now,  as I become older, and hopefully as they say 'wiser,'  I have learned how to think before I let my emotions take control. The world is full of circumstances we can neither forsee nor have any control over. 

So what do you do?

I eventually tried to go back to sleep,  as I never know the concept of time while I am flying and it annoys me not to, and sleeping is a pretty easy solution for that. But then I found myself wide awake, not knowing what time it was,  nor any idea of how long it would take for us to land. My Kindle app decided it didn't want to work (probably needed some sort of update),  so reading was out, so I decided to write, which brings us to now. They are currently announcing the continuance of the delay amd thanking us for our patience. We have been vultures for about an hour now. More people are rustling,  and the level of aggravation is rising. But,  there is nothing any of us can do, except for wait. And wait we shall. 

But what do you do when you wait?  Where does your mind go when there's nothing to do?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Collaborative Stupidity Wins Again (sigh)

So there's this article out now about how Vibram Five Fingers got sued for causing injuries to people wearing them. You can read the article here. I've been getting asked about my opinion on minimalist footwear a lot since I got mine (a mere 3 years ago, I believe), and have nothing bad to say about them, other than the fact that they don't make rainboots (it makes Taiwan winters a bit of a hassle....). Minimalist footwear, if properly fitted and properly used, can help a person's foot strength and laxity, proprioception (think about how your hand feels naked versus in a tight mitten), posture, and probably ego, since they're the coolest-looking thing you can put on your feet (ok, that last one might be a little bit of a stretch).

I dunno...these might be even cooler than wearing shoes that look like feet...

The article states that people were injured in the "transition process" of wearing the shoes, so people sued. And sometimes when the people sue a big company and make a big deal out of it, they end up pooling their piggy bank contents and getting a pretty decent lawyer and they win the damn case. So in this case, Vibram lost. 

But my qualm isn't with the fact that Vibram lost. Or even that they got sued. Every big corporation will get sued many times over the course of their business-ey years. It's just gonna happen. 

My qualm is with the fact that the people who sued Vibram were idiots with no common sense. Anyone with a brain should be able to figure out that if you're going to make a change as big as the type of footwear you wear on a regular basis, that it should:
        a) not be a drastic difference from the type you are replacing
        b) probably be a gradual process if it is pretty different (maybe alternate between old shoe and new until your feet get used to it? or *gasp* make sure you can WALK comfortably in them for a long time before you run in them??)
        c) not go on the foot that shares a brain with someone who thinks that instant gratification applies to fitness and health

Seriously, think about it. You protect your feet for the majority of your life with a bunch of pillows and a shell. And then all of the sudden, you decide to throw your feet out into the world, fending for itself, and expect it to survive. Anyone who's watched shows on animals in captivity knows that this is a bad idea. 

He was probably in on the lawsuit.

This makes me think how often people wear those shoes, too. I'm asian, so I never wear shoes inside someone's home (even if they're wearing shoes, I'll probably end up taking mine off anyway....just a habit). But some people do. And some people wear their shoes every place in their house except for IN their bed. Those poor, captive feet. I bet they have an awesome case of athlete's foot. The people who blame the company that designed the shoes probably are the same people who are "gluten free" for no reason other than the fact that it's the latest trend in health/fitness. Perhaps some people like these?

I also have been in martial arts since I was 8 (so no shoes there, and plenty of foot-strengthening movements), and my favorite pair of shoes in middle/high school was a pair of blue and white Converse. After I moved to California, all I wore were flip flops. So my transition into toe shoes were pretty fluid. 

The reason I got the Vibrams, by the way, were because all those years of martial arts kinda screwed up my big toe a bit, and I realized that normal shoes were compressing my toes inward, where my "black belt feet" (as my ex boyfriend called them) wanted nothing to do with being squished. Either that, or it was catching my big toe in the puzzle mats for 5 years of my training in California. To this day, I still hate puzzle mats. The Vibrams solved my problem within a week or two. Now, they are all I wear. But it wasn't hard to transition into them, because I was used to being barefoot or wearing shoes with minimal soles, and I rarely wore high heels.

I'm lucky this never happened....knock on wood.

So these people who whined about these shoes who ruined their lives...probably should have thought a little more about how to transition into something, instead of just "going for it 100% (I have thoughts on 100%, but in a later blog....). But since they're probably pretty competitive people and like to keep up with the trends, I have a suggestion for an award they can compete for, so they can feel like they accomplished something. Apparently there are more contestants now than there ever were before.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Birthing of this Blog and the Reason for "Live to Play"

In light of what my life has become, I find myself in a pretty grateful situation where I can finally squeeze some time in to write. I am thankful to have some awesome people in my life for making this (among other things, like the capability of vacationing, _finally_) possible. Thank you to everyone at Live to Play (especially Sam), for allowing me to do something I love to do for a living, be surrounded by purely awesome people all the time, and still be able to have time to roam the globe without worrying :) I love you all, and appreciate every one of you.

During the past 20 months of Live to Play being officially open, I've come across many things I've wanted to write about. Thus, the birth of this blog. Let's start with the reason why Live to Play exists. 

*Disclaimer; I like to veer off tangents from time to time (read: often), so....yea :) This is a blog, not a scientific article, so I can write however I want. Take that, college English Composition class!!

Sam and Spencer doing the cutest one-handed handstanding!

Whenever anyone asks me what my definition of "success" is, or what my plan for the next X years is, my answer is always the same: to be happy. Happiness comes in many forms; wealth, possessions, health, instant gratifications, company, activity, experiences, etc. But these are all superficial things that can be taken away or just simply made unavailable. For one to be happy without these things is a great achievement that most never see. But for the rest of us imperfect humans, those superficial things are also the result of choices. Choices we make every day, choices that become habit, choices that make us who we are. If we are smart with our decisions, we can create our own happiness. When we do that, nobody can take it away from us anymore, because we know how to keep ourselves happy.

One big component in being happy is physical Play. Think back to when you were a kid. Yes, a kid with the only responsibilities of getting to the dinner table on time, brushing your teeth, and getting dressed. Back when all you did was play outside with your friends, climb trees, play "Capture the Flag," or roll down grassy hills. How happy were you back then? I'm guessing superbly happy. 

Now think to how you were in high school. Did you get your physical play in? Perhaps it was through sports, or a club of some sort. Maybe it was weekend Frisbee Golf. Maybe it was through a class like Drama or Phys Ed. But you had more responsibilities, so you had less time to Play, right? So maybe not as blissful as your single digit-aged days. The hours of Play diminish as you grow older and have more "big girl/boy things" to do. 

And an adult, a contributing member to society. With all of the responsibilities you have now, because you have to take care of yourself. Work, housework, schoolwork, What do you do with your spare time? Television? Movies? Video/computer games? What about physical Play? Maybe meeting once a week for a game of flag football? Or does your physical activity consist now of this thing called "exercise"? 

By the way, I despise exercising. It's so boring. And there's no point to it. Moving around just for the sake of moving around is, in my opinion, stupid. Have a purpose for what you do. If you have to distract yourself with a screen during a physical activity, you should pick a different physical activity. I promise you, you will have a lot more fun, you will look forward to that activity, and you will be a lot healthier. 

Why does our term for physical activity change from "Play" to "exercise" as we get older? Are adults not allowed to Play? I say screw that. I believe everyone should have a Playtime. Play is a physical activity in which the person/people participating can express emotions of joy, excitement, achievement, and a peace of mind. It is an activity where an individual can have FUN. The emotions (and boost of adrenaline, testosterone, and dopamine) that come with Play are extremely beneficial in lifting your overall mood, increasing your health, and upping your general happiness factor. The emotions associated with "exercise" are typically negative (know anyone who hates going to the gym?). Of course, any idiot would be able to see that FUN is preferred, and boring is not. Required boring exercise every day? Uuuggggghhhhh.... Required Fun Time every day? Yes, please! 

The problem is, the day you are forced to be seated for more than 2 total hours of the day is the day you start losing mobility. So that's......kindergarden? First grade? I'll get into specifics of this on another day, but for now, just do the math. How many years have you been working on your immobility? That's a lot of bad habits, by the way. So when adults try to start up Play after decades of immobility practice, they end up getting easily injured, easily tired, or just incapable of Play. 

This guy is clearly excited to be sitting at his desk.

And so the birth of Live to Play (whew! A little long-winded, but we finally got there)! Live to Play is a place where people can rebuild what they tore down in the last few decades of their lives. It's where you can re-learn how to Play, in a safe way. It's where everyone is encouraged to laugh, try new things, be upside-down every once in a while, and have random dance parties. It's a place that can be your Play if you don't already have Play, and if you do, it'll help you Play even better! There's no dress code (as long as the X-rated parts are covered, we don't really care what you wear), no shoes, and nobody making you do more than you're safely capable of doing (sorry, high-rep super tiresome workouts, you're not allowed!) We do this by strength and mobility training, by the way, in a very specific manner. It's fun to be strong and mobile. You can do things you weren't able to do before....easily. Some of the movements we do at Live to Play that look the easiest are often the toughest things to do. Our goal is to make everyone a better and happier version of themselves, one day at a time. 

So I encourage you all to Play regularly. Find something physical you enjoy doing, something that tires you out without you noticing. Something that makes your abs hurt from laughing. Something that makes you get "mystery bruises." And if we can help you at Live to Play, you're more than welcome to come Play with us! Just be forewarned of the weirdness you might WILL encounter!

Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 
As I typed that, I just got a text from Sam saying "I just burned my butt. 
Don't ask me how. I'm not exactly sure." 
Normal. Super normal.