Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Christmas!

I love Christmas. From the red and white stockings, to the fairy lights, to the warmth of the smiles that spread from the natural cheer that accompanies most people with this occasion … it’s all just so magical …

Many people complain that Christmas has become too commercial and materialistic, and while I can see where they’re coming from, it saddens me to that the joy that accompanies the season has been marred by this view. I get so excited as Christmas approaches – decorating the tree, putting up stockings, and of course shopping for presents! Still, the holiday is more than all of that … it’s about the happiness that spreads – hearing random people wishing others ‘Merry Christmas’, the desire to give something to others, using the occasion to send holiday cards to old friends and reconnect – remember them and also feeling remembered.

I can’t think of any other occasion that makes me feel this way – so comforted and content … Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lost Thoughts

I’ve been a bit behind posting lately as I recently found out that I’ll be having a surgical procedure. While it’s not a very serious condition, it’s one that has caused me a lot of pain for the past few years. I know that the procedure will be beneficial for me, but it still scares me.

I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention on my health – as much of this blog is already about. I’m trying to build my strength but with the stress/worry that I’m feeling about this procedure, the cravings for chocolate have come back … and of course, with each bite I feel guilty, but it’s been hard to resist.

My doctor says that it may take up to 3 months before I can return to the gym. That has me feeling really frantic and worried. It actually almost makes me not want to go forth with the procedure, but I know (well, at least I’m assured by friends and family) that the procedure is worth it … so wish me luck!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Key

I got my Wellness key today! I booked a training session with one of my gym instructors. A lot of people avoid training with this one particular instructor because she’s the toughest of them all … but that’s exactly why I like her. I got my key and then we started to set up my program. I had to do a fitness test first. I’m never really nervous about fitness tests … what does bug me is that I usually do really well. My level of fitness is not my worry. I know I have strength and stamina … so inside, I’m fit … but outside, it doesn’t look it at all … anyway. Moving on …

So, I went through day 1 of a 5-day/week workout plan today. It was great (and tough). The thing that’s great about they key is that my goal is programmed in. I get immediate feedback on my results and get to see my progress. My instructor designed my program to push me hard … when you’re doing weights and cardio on your own, you can kinda adjust it along the way if you’re feeling tired … or sometimes psychologically you just don’t think that you can do that extra rep, or add some more weight … but here, if you do slow down or in some way ‘cheat’, then it’s all recorded. So, it really pushes you to complete the whole program … and complete it well.

I’m quite good about going to the gym in any case … I’m just hoping this key will give me the extra push that I need.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finding a Balance

Ok, I’ve kinda, sorta fallen off the wagon. It’s been tough this Eid holiday. One thing is that it’s been a total break in my routine. I had really gotten into my groove, but now, it being a week-long holiday, I’ve been totally thrown off sync. I guess on the bright side, I have been getting more sleep, which I know is a good thing. My usual schedule of getting 5 hours of sleep a night works well, but only for about 2 weeks, after which it all starts to catch up on me. Now, I’m getting around 7 hours and it makes quite a difference.

Anyway. The main thing is that there have been quite a few invites – all revolving around food. It’s not like I’ve gone on a crazy binge or anything … it’s little things – something that had a bit of cheese; something that was made with white flour, something that had some sugar … so I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t stick to it more rigidly.

The whole goal is really about being healthy and feeling good. An obvious connection that has emerged – especially as I’m writing all of this down – is that when I don’t exercise, I feel bad. When I eat unhealthily, I feel bad. So … (the conclusion seems obvious, doesn’t it?) Don’t do things that make you feel bad.

This whole reflective thing has also helped me connect what I’ve been reading to what I’ve been practicing. To be honest, some of it sounds very wishy washy – the whole yin and yang with foods and how it all works together and has an overall effect on how you feel etc. Still, I can’t deny that now that I’ve been trying to put it into practice, it does make more sense.

I guess its all part of the cycle.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Detox - day 3

I never want to see another fruit for as long as I live!

I could barely bring myself to chew the fruit today. I just found it so utterly boring. Plus, I didn’t really feel any different. I don’t really know how I was supposed to feel, but it’s not like I felt completely refreshed and energized. I didn’t really feel any better than when I started … so did the detox work? I’m not really sure how I can tell.

In any case, I’m done with the program.

I did it.

Now, on to the next project.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Detox - day 2

I feel like crap. I feel tense. I feel angry. I just feel completely out of control and helpless. I am very frustrated. I feel very depressed.

I’m completely on edge.

I don’t understand it.

I should be feeling light and carefree and fresh with all that damn fruit inside me … but I just can’t seem to find a solid foothold and get a grip.

I didn’t go to the gym today. I tried to tell myself that it was ok since I had been pushing myself really hard lately, but I wasn’t convinced. Not going to the gym made me feel worse … so, I did 1,000 ab crunches at home to try and make up for it. It truly felt like punishment – forcing myself to do them, the soreness that followed. What I really needed to do was sweat it out, but I just couldn’t do it. Instead, I moped.

I thought detox was supposed to make you feel good. Why do I feel so bad?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Detox - day 1

I had a really hectic day today. Lots of things to do at work, lots of errands to run after work, and today was the first day of my fruit detox program. At first glance the program looks like there’s not enough food and it had me wondering, am I going to make it? I didn’t want to get into a program at the expense of being weak and not having enough energy to do any exercise … but, after going through the list of fruits and trying to eat whatever was prescribed for each meal, I found that I just couldn’t consume them all. I mean, a banana, a pear, half a papaya, grapes, and strawberries – just for breakfast! I was stuffed. I know it’s not a fast. It’s not a starvation plan. It’s not even a diet … but still, I was full after a few fruit … and tired of chewing by lunchtime. Still, I’ve committed to doing this. I want to follow it through. After all, it’s only 3 days – what’s the worst that can happen?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Winning the Race

Day 6 and I’m feeling pretty good. I was a bit worried about Thanksgiving dinner tonight, but I didn’t have to be. Dinner was a success and I’m proud of myself for not giving in to any of the tempting food. All that cooking just left me so exhausted that I wasn’t even interested in eating … plus, my appetite has decreased significantly and I’m not really having any cravings. The thing is, I love vegetables – no matter what the preparation … that really makes it much easier. Plus, the light feeling of not eating big meals or meals weighed down with meat etc. has made me feel much more positive.

I’ve been going to the gym regularly, and while I have been feeling a little weak and slightly dizzy during/after my workouts, I’ve been pushing through. I know not to overdo it. I mean, I’ve pushed myself to that point in the past before and it’s terrible – pushing hard for 10 days only to collapse and not do anything for a week … moderation is definitely the goal …

I still have to concentrate quite a bit on my eating habits/patterns. I’ve got to make a conscious effort … it doesn’t always come easy. I just have to remember to keep being patient and focused. Changes don’t occur overnight. As long as I’m making a concentrated effort, I should be fine. Still, it’s hard to block out the worries that are crowding my mind. I know that if I make this adjustment process to tedious, then it won’t last. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Slow and steady … slow and steady …

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Day 3 and things are going well … except for the headaches. The headaches are really, really bad. I can’t keep my eyes open; I can’t even keep my head up straight. I have resisted taking any of my migraine medication or any painkillers at all. I keep reminding myself that since I have changed many aspects of my routine, it is only natural that my body will be responding in some ways. As Simon Brown wrote in his book, it’s the toxins leaving the body … so obviously there are some reactions … so I’m just going to stick it out.

It’s taking a bit of time getting my food sorted out. At the moment I’m just having steamed vegetables and ½ a cup of rice for lunch and that’s just fine. Today I felt a bit more hungry so I had another half cup of vegetables … I’m trying not to feel guilty for eating. I mean, if I’m really feeling guilty for basically eating boiled peas and carrots, then I’ve really got major issues! Anyway.

I went to take a nap at 3:00. I woke up with a start and checked my watch, only to see that it was 3:12. I forced myself to stay in bed until 3:30 – just trying to relax and meditate and rush around (and not really get anything done!). I felt great when I got up from bed. Very light, lots of energy … I think not having a big meal for lunch has really made a difference. Not that I ever ate that much … but I did eat more than what I’ve had in the last 3 days … so again, I’m sure every little change is making a difference.

I’m feeling pretty positive at this point and that in itself is making me feel good. I’m actually surprised at how quickly I’ve adjusted – or maybe it’s just the initial enthusiasm/motivation that comes with starting something new. We’ll see.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Change in Motion

A combination of increasing frustration, a motivational email from J, and the arrival of Jessica Porter’s book The Hip-Chick’s guide to Macrobiotics lead to me to finally step and make a change. Not just a small change, but a drastic one.

The first thing I need to do is stop being so afraid. Afraid of change. Afraid of things being difficult. Afraid of struggle. I find it slightly ironic that I’m saying that to myself since in many aspects in my life I am not afraid to work hard through difficult situations and make the changes necessary. However, when it comes to dealing with the biggest chip on my shoulder, i.e. loathing the way I look, I seem to fall short of that extra step I need to take to really make things happen.

If I really wanted things to change, then I would be more aggressive about it. The measures I’ve been taking in the past have not worked … obviously I need to change things up so that I can actually see some results from the effort that I am putting in … because I know I am putting in the effort. Spending 2, sometimes 3, hours at the gym almost daily should show some improvement … and I’m not just taking about improving my strength and stamina – yes, those things have improved. I’m talking about my appearance. I want to lose weight so I can feel better. I want to lose weight so I can lessen the paranoid I feel about diabetes and heart disease lurking around in my not-so-distant future.

You have to understand … all those people out there who are supportive and encouraging and make reassuring statements telling me that I’m overreacting and being too hard on myself etc. etc. … I do appreciate those words, honestly. But this problem is much more than that. It’s eating at my very core, making me discontent and dissatisfied in so many ways that it’s ruining me and totally bringing me down. So … it’s time to change.

The second thing I need to do, and this is a big one, is to be patient. I need to be patient with myself, patient with my body, patient with reality … changes do not happen over night. The effort that I’m putting in, is not for short-term results, it’s for life. So I must be patient. I cannot get frustrated, as I often do, and think that if things do not change in the first 48 hours then all the effort is worthless. I cannot beat myself up if I fail to go to the gym one day or breakdown and have a piece of chocolate. It’s about the bigger picture. It’s about the bigger picture. It’s about the bigger picture. (Ok, I think I’ve convinced myself.)

So here are the initial steps – all starting right now.
No caffeine (yikes!), no sugar (that sucks), no white flour, no meat – only fish occasionally, no dairy, no artificial products.

Here I go – wish me luck!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Charity in Bangladesh

On November 15, 2007, Cyclone Sidr struck Bangladesh and left thousands of people dead and around 3 million people without any shelter or food. This is one of many natural disasters that has affected Bangladesh over the years.

As one of the poorest countries in the world, millions of people in Bangladesh are stricken by diseases as a result of water contaminated with arsenic and water-borne diseases in general. Poverty also leaves many without any food or proper shelter. Building deep water wells helps provide arsenic-free water to people in the village. Over the past 3 years through donations we’ve (my family – aunts and uncles personally go into the villages to make sure the wells are constructed properly) managed to provide 7 tube wells. Each tube well costs around KD 300 (almost $1,000) which can be used by around 50 people in a village.

Moreover, for several years I have been closely working with an orphanage in Dhaka that provides shelter, food, and education to the children. KD 60 (around $200) takes care of all expenses needed by one orphan (food, clothing, materials for education (books, pens, paper etc.) for one year.

Among our charity projects are providing school supplies to village children – our usual school packs include one waterproof backpack with an umbrella, 6 exercise books, 12 pens, 12 pencils, 1 geometry box – costing KD 5 (around $20). Last year we were able to donate 5,000 backpacks throughout Bangladesh.

We also provide vaccinations against and medication for various water-borne diseases (typhoid, cholera etc.) which are ever so common throughout Bangladesh. In addition, during the cold winter months it is very difficult for villagers to stay warm, especially without electricity. To help them we distribute blankets to as many villages as possible. KD 10 (about $40) provides enough blankets for 20 people.

Many of you have been extremely generous with your donations for these various causes. Your donations have helped provide corrugated metal for shelter, rice for sustenance, and deep tube-wells for clean drinking water. Thank you for placing trust in me and my family to make sure that 100% of your donations go directly to the people in need.

I have attached some photos from when my aunt (father’s sister) went to Bagerhat to distribute rice and shelter materials to the people in the village after Cyclone Sidr of last year.

Your donations are much appreciated. Please spread the word and feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our charity projects.

Some of the destruction of Cyclone Sidr.

Stand that was set up to distribute rice, lentils, and other food to villagers affected by the cyclone. All were bought using money contributed from friends in Kuwait.

My aunt (father's sister) at the village distributing food. 100% of the money goes directly to those in need. The time, transportation, and all other things to make it happen are on us.